Good Advice and the Path Ahead

goodadviceThanks to a suggestion from a fellow blogger (T E Hanna; he has a great site) who was kind enough to give me some advice and words of wisdom, I will be moving my regular updates to Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  My goal, as God directs, is to eventually update at least 5 times a week and be involved in Matthew515 as a full time ministry but for now the 3 updates a week will be a good starting point.

I’m very new at this.  If you have read my “Purpose” page then you know that the idea for Matthew515 did not come about until May the 15th of 2013.  The last 2 months have been equal parts exciting and exhausting as I have endeavored to learn all I could about how to start and administer a blog and then actually commit to doing it.  What you see here is just a beginning but I am fully confident that He who began a good work will be faithful to complete it if I will just stay right with Him throughout this process.

I say all of this to say that I am still learning and will be for a very long time.  God is excellent and for me to settle for less than excellent in my service to Him is not something that I will do.  We are told in Phillipians 4:19 “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” and since God has great riches and great glory then his supply of my needs will be great indeed.

I know that God will encourage, strengthen and empower me to make Matthew515 exactly what he wants it to be if only I will be faithful to Him.  1 step at a time, never knowing exactly what is ahead; in faith and hope we must follow Him.

“When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

(John H. Sammis, 1887 Trust and Obey)

That old hymn speaks powerful words of wisdom to all Christians.  I find it a great comfort as I face the unknown.  It is not given to me to know the future.  I have something better.  I am a child of the One who holds the future and I have been given a simple task with a great promise.  If I will trust and obey then I will be happy and fulfilled as a Child of God.  It really is that simple!

For now, I would request your prayers as I continue on with my King and His ministry through Matthew515.  I am excited about what He has in store and I cannot wait to see what God is going to do.  I am daily praying the prayer of Elisha as he stood atop a city wall with his servant all those years ago.   And Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:17)

“Open my eyes, Lord, that I might see the awesome and mighty work that you are doing!”

Stay with God Again

StayagainOn Monday we looked at how important it is for Christians to stay right with God in all areas of our lives.  We discussed abiding with Him as a foundational truth of Christianity and how not abiding in Christ leads to error and ruin.

Today’s question then, is why are so many not abiding with Him?  What’s happening with Christianity today when so many Christians appear to be little different than the non Christians around them?  Where, exactly, is the problem?  And what, if anything, can we do to correct it? I’ve identified three reasons for not abiding with Him and although there are probably others as well, I believe these three cover the majority.

The first reason, I believe, is one of ignorance.  How can someone practice a truth that they have not heard and have not been taught?  They cannot, of course.  It is exactly why in the Great Commission found in Matthew 28 that Jesus did not stop with verse 19 but continued on to verse 20.  It reads like this: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” The 20 is in bold font to show the transition between verse 19 and 20.

If you follow Jesus’ directive in verse 19 then folks are getting saved and baptized and that’s great.  But please don’t stop with verse 19.  Otherwise you end up with Christians who’ve accepted the gift of God but who don’t have the necessary teaching and training to grow and develop as a child of God.  Talk about setting someone up for failure!  Let us not do that.  Let us take responsibility first for ourselves and then for all of God’s children around us to make sure that they are properly taught and instructed in all matters of truth and righteousness.

The second reason, and this one applied to me for a very long time, is distraction.  Too much of the world’s influence and not enough time spent with God is the root cause.  We get involved with “stuff” and “things”, many of which are harmless in and of themselves but because of the focus and attention we give them they become like idols to us.

We worship at the altar of our television.  We worship at the altar of our favorite sports team.  We worship at the altar of food.  We worship at the altar of making money.  We worship at the altar of leisure time.  The list is endless but the effect is the same.  We put our whole heart into something else other than God our Father and then wonder why we aren’t happy and fulfilled and where our joy went.

We can even be distracted by very good and Godly things like our families and our Christian service!  We get so easily involved with serving and making sure others are happy and comfortable that we forget to spend time with the Lord and keep Him first.

I believe modern Christianity is a case study in distraction.  Like Peter on the water (Matthew 14:29-30) we look around at all the things of this world and by doing so take our eyes off of Jesus and so of course we begin to sink.  We sink and we fail to abide with Him because we let ourselves be distracted.  I think that there are an awful lot of sinking Christians out there.

The third reason that we fail to abide with Him, I believe, is enmity.  We are mad at God.  He has allowed suffering to come into our lives or He has taken something from us that we did not want to give up or He has asked us to do something that we just do not want to do.  And so we walk away.  We voluntarily step out of His Light into darkness and shame.

I call this a Romans 8:28 breakdown.  Somewhere along the line we either forget or stop believing the words of Paul in Romans Chapter 8 where he said “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose“.  I have been there.  I have done this on more than one occasion in my life.  I know what it is like and looking back now I can firmly say that it is never worth it.

God is working His plan and His purpose in all and through all.  Romans 8:28 does not say that everything is good.  We know that there is evil in this world and that everything is most certainly not good.  What Romans 8:28 does say is that God is actively working all things, both good and evil, to His ultimate purpose.

God is smarter than I am.  I trust Him and His plan.  I want to be involved in what He is doing.  To be involved with God I must abide in Him.  I must stay with God in every area of my life.  Let us examine ourselves and see if there is any reason or excuse we are using to not abide with Him and take care of it right now.

Stay with God

StayI originally had something much different in mind for this morning’s update but this idea of “staying with God” and the truth that it represents is so important that I cannot put it off for a later time.  When the Lord says “now” it must be now.

It all started yesterday morning in Sunday School when I had my class participate in an exercise where we each picked out a Bible verse or group of Bible verses to share with the class and to explain what they meant to us.  One person chose John 15:1-8 and shared how much it had helped her to realize how important it was to abide with the Lord on a daily basis.

As she read the verses and begin to speak I could feel the Holy Spirit speaking to me and prompting me to examine my life.  John 15:4 says “Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”  Verse 5 adds “I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

This is what I consider to be a foundational truth of our faith.  Jesus Himself is telling us that we must abide with Him in everything that we do, think and say.  Abide is a synonym of stay or dwell and it literally means to live with someone or something; in this case Jesus Christ.

While we are abiding with Him we have God’s love, God’s peace, God’s strength and God’s nourishment from which to draw.  When we are not abiding with Him we have only our own strength and wisdom to draw on and it is in this state that we fail and stutter and suffer most terribly from the temptations of the evil one.  The difference between a Christian who is abiding and one who is not is literally night and day or, more accurately, light and darkness.

We are children of God.  We must walk in the Light.  So many of our number have accepted the gift of salvation and then chosen not to abide with Him and have walked back out into darkness.  Should we wonder why the rate of divorce, infidelity, lying and cheating is so high among those who profess to be Christians?  It is because we are not abiding with Him and are stumbling around in the darkness of this world.

What exactly does it mean to abide with Him?  How do we do this?  We must center our lives on Jesus Christ.  We must make Jesus Christ the most important thing, the most important person, the most important relationship.  We must “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33 NKJV).

God knows our needs, our wants, and our hearts.  He created us and he knows what we truly desire and truly need better than we do ourselves.  It is only when we become fully committed to getting to know God for who He is and for staying right with Him that God can finally produce His love, His joy and His peace in us.  This is what it means to “abide with Him” and the rewards for doing so are infinitely better than anything the world has to offer.

Christian, do you want to be truly fulfilled and live the most awesomely abundant life that God has planned for you?  Then you must abide with Him.  Start now, today.  Commit to staying with God from this moment onward and you will never regret it.