I was listening to a lecture from a professor of theological studies and he made a point that resonated with me. It’s always amusing when a side note gets your attention. He was talking about the faithful characters in the Bible and how even in their failures God was pleased with their faithfulness. He reminded the audience that salvation comes through faith, not through success or results. We can thank Jeremiah for that example. Poor guy professed God for a lifetime and was repaid with rejection and failure, if you measure through results. The professors example was of two Christ following people who disagreed about the meaning of a piece of scripture. He explained that their faith in what the derived from the scripture was pleasing to God. This is a good example of the failure of Christian legalism in growing spiritual maturity and a stronger relationship with Jesus.
I thought of an analogy that made me smile so I wanted to share. God gives us direction through His Word and even an example in His Son, but we fail continuously. Many people get discouraged, but that should not be the case. Imagine as a parent you tell your child to get dressed. They run off and come back mismatched, different shoes and buttons done out of order. Are you angry at the lack of perfection or happy that they followed your direction the best they could? It’s probably a proud moment that they put so much effort into following your instruction and trying to make you happy. I feel God has a similar mindset for His children at times. He doesn’t give exact direction for all situations but allows you to honor Him in your actions and decisions. Then just like the parent of the mismatched child, He is more than willing to help add correctness and completeness to your faithfulness. Your Heavenly Father will rebutton the shirt and find the other shoe. Follow His Word and stay in communication with Him. God never asks for perfection, He only ask for your heart.
David made many mistakes and the Lord still blessed Him and allowed his line to bring about the Savior of the world. He was a man after God’s own heart even though he was far from perfect. We can also look at Joseph who was amazing in his faith because he was guided by a God honoring heart as opposed to directions from God. He trusted in God and honored him with his actions and the Lord prospered him and his family. A follower’s walk in faith is more loved by God than a perfection we can never achieve.
God has already given victory and completeness to His children through their faith. He sent Jesus to make a way for us to reach Him. We should never count on our ability to do everything right. We should be thankful that the grace and mercy of God are ours as His children through our faith in His Son.
Grace gives us what we don’t deserve, Mercy doesn’t give us what we do.
I was listening to a sermon about spiritual warfare and had a thought about what kind of motive and opportunity the deceiver has to try and derail the walk of God’s children as they sojourn in a world where they are not made to walk. Our dependence on God, to lead us in this foreign place, leaves us vulnerable and leaves the enemy salivating as he prowls looking to devour. As believers we can accept that our Father loves us. He made that clear through His son, our savior, on the cross. He makes it clear again with His grace and mercy. I see the patience of my Heavenly Father as I stumble through this journey. At the same time, we have to recognize that the enemy opposes God in all things. He hates us because we are loved by our Creator. When God blesses us, the deceiver grows frustrated. When we turn our voice and heart to God in prayer, the deceiver is angry in his helplessness against the name of Jesus. A name that will force the devil to flee as we resist his attacks on us because of who we are in Christ.
Have you ever met a person that opposes instruction or advice just because of who said it? They want to cause trouble and make the person giving instruction seem ignorant or wrong. We can benefit when we see this motive in the deceiver, God’s adversary. We have to remember that he is our adversary too, because we are children of God. He doesn’t want to see God’s plan prosper in this family, His kingdom. The devil wants to steal God’s word when He gives it to us. If it can’t be stolen, he wants to manipulate it in order to make us struggle. If the word finds its place, the deceiver will manipulate the things around us to reduce the effectiveness of the word in us. When the Lord is working in us and through us, we will get the attention of the opposition. Count your alliance with God as joy along with the trials that will come in the process.
When we see the method and intent of satan, we can become more effective at receiving God’s word through the bible and through His Spirit. We can develop discernment and become tuned to God’s voice over the deceiver and even over our own. Not only do we need to get better at receiving the word but also more effective at walking in that word. We have to walk in trust with God, growing our faith. We have to rely on God as our refuge and strength. Walking with God creates opposition in our lives. If the deceiver is not against us, we haven’t gotten his attention with our walk and its effectiveness in the kingdom. When we wake each morning with new mercy to face the battle with the devil, find comfort in your certain victory in Christ and in the alliance that brings the adversary of your Father against you His child, His prized possession.
The exile/ correction of God’s people in the Old Testament can be compared to the difficult times God allows His people to go through today. He let His people in the OT suffer in their turning away from Him so that He could return the faithful/ humble/ obedient to their former blessedness. The same occurs today in difficult seasons where a believer’s faith draws them closer to God and His sovereignty; or turns them toward worldly security. When painful situations draw out the believer’s faith, humility (reliance on God) and obedience to His will; God is able to grow their spirit and mold them to His purpose. God allows trouble in our lives to grow and mature His children.
The reaction of the afflicted is what decides the result of a difficult circumstance.
The tendency of people in their sinful fallenness is to turn to their own ability and understanding to correct their situation in their own power. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6) Any battle fought with human power will not be finished. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12) Only battles where God is our defender find completion for all time. We cannot fight spiritual battles with earthly weapons. Our flesh will only hinder the work of God in our spirits. let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles (Hebrews 12:1)
With every difficulty we face there is also a plan for revival. God does not seek to bring us to ruin but to correct His children with love. He wants His faithfulness to lead us to a fullness of life beyond our dreams; and to grow us in faithfulness toward His provision and sovereignty. God is glorified when the result of a difficult season is a deeper relationship with His children and when His power and love is shown to those who are witness to His work in the lives of His faithful.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. (Isaiah 55:8)
so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)
Those who God calls are awakened to their fallenness and desperate need for a Savior. Their pride falls away and they become aware of their depravity. They stop believing they are good by comparing themselves to the fallen world and realize in the eyes of a holy and perfect God all have fallen short. I love to share with people that even their curiosity about God is a gift from Him. If you are looking to reconnect with your Creator it is because He has gifted that desire to you. Praise the God who actively seeks you and offers His only Son so that you can be reconciled to Him and begin a new life with possibilities that far exceed the worldly imagination that has held you captive. We are called to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and to let the sacrifice of His life for us cover our sin debt. If we were to truly look at the sin of our lives we would realize the debt we are in is too great to overcome. It would compare to a credit card that we have no chance of paying of the balance. God loves you in your fallen state enough to erase that debt. He refuses to let you stay a slave to sin and debt that piles up with it. When even one spirit is awakened to Jesus all of heaven rejoices. Another child of God has come home to the Father and they are now on a path that allows them to fulfill the purpose for which they were created. The can take their place in the Kingdom of God for all eternity and will never taste death but have eternal life in reconciliation with their Eternal Heavenly Father.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)
So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. (Romans 9:18)
Our faith identifies Jesus as the Christ, our Savior. He was also the Son of the Heavenly Father. Believers are identified as God’s children who are adopted into His promised inheritance of eternal life with Him. The triune God used this structure to give us a better understanding of Him in His infinitude. As we identify Jesus as the Son of the Father and we also are children of God, we can see Jesus as not only Lord, but a big brother. A big brother who showed us how to be instructed by and walk in submission to our Father. Our big brother was ‘first in inheritance’ and leads us by His example. We see how our Father leads our brother and we do our best to follow His example. God represented Himself in flesh through the Son. He showed us what a sinless nature guided by, and reliant upon, the Holy Spirit looks like. Jesus showed us what the power of the Holy Spirit looks like in a pure and sinless vessel. Jesus showed us how non-conformity to the ways of man can reverberate through time. He was God’s word made flesh and walked it out in completion, to perfection. Look to your big brother, first to overcome death and this world, and follow Him to the Father. He is the way and the truth and the life, forever.
(Hebrews 2:11) So now Jesus and the ones he makes holy have the same Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them his brothers and sisters.
(John 14:6) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
(John 1:12) But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God
(Ephesians 1:5) he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will