There’s Always a Way

That’s what people say when they don’t know what it is! Then, they unsuccessfully try this and that to no avail, and finally say, “It’s too much. I can’t handle it.”

The strange thing is — they were right about it at first: there always is a way—God’s way!

That way may not be one to our liking, it may not be one that we find easy, but He has an answer to every problem that a Christian ever faces. That’s what He told us in 1 Corinthians 10:13:

Look it up. You will find three things that He says about tests that come a Christian’s way:

  1. No problem overtakes a believer but what is common to other believers. That is to say, no one’s trial is unique. People are always complaining “Nobody has ever had to face what I’m facing”—or words to that effect. They are wrong. Many have before—and have (by God’s grace) been able to overcome it.
  2. God will not allow a Christian to be tested beyond what he is able to handle (if he handles it God’s way, of course). God promises: though the problem isn’t unique, it is uniquely suited to each individual believer.
  3. God will, with the test, also send the way out in order that one may be able to handle it.

What wonderful promises!

Here it is . . .

You wanted to know how it is that a person can change his lifestyle? The answer is simple:

Anyone can change if he is determined to do so. Some change for health reasons (they may stop smoking). Others change in order to please a certain girl—or fellow—as the case may be (they change their language habits, for instance). And, it is true, that there may be certain temporal benefits to the change. Life may be easier. But if the person isn’t a believer, then his change isn’t pleasing to God (Romans 8:8[1]). And in the long run, it isn’t for the better at all. Even a believer (by ignoring the Spirit) may change in the same way—and not please God (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:1-4, where believers were acting like unbelievers). True biblical change is different.

How so?

When a Christian changes in ways that do please God it is by

  1. Doing so because he wants to obey and honor Him. He seeks to make a certain change because it is God’s will for him to do so—as he finds it in the Bible; by
  2. Doing so by replacing sinful ways with righteous ones (or as the apostle Paul put it: by putting off the former and putting on the latter; Colossians: 3:9); by
  3. Doing these things through seeking the help of the Spirit a) enabling him to understand God’s will in the Word; b) empowering him to make the changes involved (cf. Philippians 2:13).

Thus, in essence, it is change that one makes in consort with God Himself. Thus both the motive and the method are of God as well as of the believer.

[1] To be in the flesh is to be without the Spirit of God.

Paths

Everyone’s on one. That includes YOU. It’s interesting how God describes the pathway of His people:

The path of the righteous[1] is like the light of the dawn , shining brighter and brighter until midday (Prov. 4: 18; HCSB).

It’s a path that runs from sunrise till noon! How descriptive! The longer we walk on it the more clearly we see! The brighter life becomes, the more shining the landscape! What a beautiful description the writer gives us.

Sometime, shadows do obstruct clear sight; often we tire along the way. But the great truth all of God’s true children must admit is brilliantly expressed in these words!

The closer to the end of the journey, the more the way is illuminated. Jesus Christ is the one Who stands at the conclusion of the walk—how could it be otherwise?

 

[1] The righteous are not those who are righteous in themselves, but those who have been declared righteous by faith in the work of Christ on the cross

They Both Boomerang

You know, of course, how a boomerang works—you throw it out, it does its work, and then comes back to you. It was originally used as a weapon; now (in our society) has become a toy.

Listen to what else becomes a boomerang:

A merciful person benefits himself; but the cruel person hurts himself.   Proverbs 11: 17 (CCNT/Proverbs)

What you throw at another returns! Of course, you shouldn’t show mercy in order to receive it. And, you certainly won’t be cruel in order to receive cruel treatment in return! But in God’s order of things, you can look for boomeranging events to happen!

“Why don’t people treat me better?”(you may wonder). How do you treat others? It’s an interesting concept—isn’t it? Think about it and start interpreting your life experiences in relationship to their boomeranging effects.

A Challange for You

what is highly admired by people is revolting in God’s sight (Luke 16: 15 HCSB).

Here’s the challenge—

  1. List as many things as you can that fall into the category of “revolting to God.”
  2. Place a check mark next to all that have a place in your life.
  3. Determine (biblically) what you must do to eliminate them.

Skillful in the Wrong Things!

Things had gotten worse than many realized. But God was about to let them know how bad they really were. He said:

My people are fools. They do not know Me. . . They are skilled in doing what is evil, but they do not know how to do what is good (Jeremiah 4:22, HCSB).

As a result, God was about to send the Babylonians to invade and destroy the land, including Jerusalem and its temple. Then, they would awaken – but too late.

How about God’s church today? Are there fools squabbling over non-essentials, teaching all sorts of heresy, and drifting farther and farther away from the truth? How much evil living is there among those who purport to serve God—but actually do not? Have they become skilled at doing all of the wrong things . . . and have no idea how to do the right ones?

How does one acquire skill? By constant practice. Obviously continuation in the foolish ways in which modern Christians live is just such practice. Search your lives. In what are you skilled—good or evil?

If you are contributing to the breakdown of society by your foolish ways, repent and begin to do those things that please God! That is the skill that you need to acquire. Time may be short before destruction takes place. Don’t wait to begin.

A Level Path

Tough going? The way seems rugged, hilly, twisted and crooked? Well, no matter what the problems are, your Christian walk need not be hindered by it. If you are sinning; if your life is confused, and you don’t know which way to turn next, that need not happen. How do I know that? Because I read these words from in God’s Word:

The path of the righteous is level; You clear a straight path for the righteous.—Isaiah 26:7.

But what does it mean to be righteous? To put the word in simple terms it means to be “right” in God’s sight.

Ah, but how can one be right? First, he must be justified. This takes place by a once-for-all judicial act in which God declares a person “righteous” before Him. But how can that be, since we are all sinners?

A person is justified by faith. Faith in what?

In Jesus Christ. When he hears about the Good News and believes it, it is faith that makes the difference. The good news is that Jesus died, taking the punishment for all those sinners who would believe the good news. The good news (or Gospel) is that Christ died for sinners and rose again from the dead (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:1-2). Believe that He took your punishment for your sin and you will be justified before God.

But it isn’t forensic (declared) righteousness about which the passage is speaking—it is talking to those who have already been justified (declared righteous), who can actually become righteous before God in their daily walk because they are His children, and are doing His will. This righteousness is actual righteousness by which one, through the help of the Holy Spirit, more and more obeys God, day by day becoming more like Jesus.

Live righteously—doing what Christ commanded—and you can expect a level path. That doesn’t mean trouble will be removed, but that, as you face it, God will clear your way through it.

A Body for Christ

Why do you do what you do? Have you ever asked yourself that question in frustration after you did something that you knew you shouldn’t—or that, down deep, you really didn’t want to do?

Well, of course, the first answer to that question is that you are a sinner. Even if you have come to faith in Christ and have been saved you will continue to sin—even against your better intentions. There still is corruption in you.

Paul faced this problem himself. In the seventh chapter of Romans he deals with it. He says that he does the things he doesn’t want to do, and fails to do those things that he wanted to do. Not all of the time, of course, but frequently enough to speak in exasperation about it.

Paul located the problem in his body (which, of course, includes the brain—everything that dies and goes into the ground is body). Not in any Gnostic sense. Rather than think that evil is an essential trait of all things material, which the Gnostics believed was the source of such problems, he held it was the habituation of the body toward sin prior to becoming a believer that he carried over from his former life.

Paul speaks of having once become an obedient slave who yielded the members of his body to sin as a master over him. Then, when he was saved, he was freed from slavery to sin. But he found himself going back to the old ways that had become habituated in him. Now, he says that as he once yielded his bodily members to sin, he was learning to yield them to God for righteous purposes. He wanted his body to become an efficient, well-trained instrument in the Lord’s service.

As he prayerfully yielded his members to righteousness, the Lord enabled him to put off the old ways in order to replace them with the new ones. When he cried out, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” he was quick to answer his own question—the Lord Jesus Christ will! He was now yielding to his new Master and asking Him for grace and mercy to develop a well-trained body that would be available for service to his new Master.

When you struggle with this problem, turn again to Romans 7 and 8 and find the solace and assistance necessary to put on God’s new ways. For further help in this matter, see my book, Winning the War Within.

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Wonder What He’s Up To?

Have you ever thought much about the way in which God works to bring about His purposes? Take the story of Joseph—what a chain of events to finally land him in the position by which he could influence all of Egypt and save his people!

Because he was unable to fathom where each event was heading, he might have become discouraged, turned his back on God, or complained bitterly as seeming misfortune after misfortune occurred. But, no. He handled each one with faithful integrity—much like Job did.

There is a lot to be learned from his story. I wish, however, to observe but one thing: today’s seeming tragedy may be only one stop on the route that leads to tomorrow’s glorious outcome.

Since God sometimes brings us to long term outcomes by means of short term stepping stones that lead there, we ought not complain if we get our feet wet in the meantime as we cross the streams that lie between!

Certainly, Joseph’s prison experience wasn’t pleasant, but it was the way God planned for him to make the important contact that moved him forward toward His goal for his life.

How do you not know that an unlikely event like his, may not be the key to some remarkable future blessing?

All I wish to observe is that if you are His, God presents His own with difficulties which, ultimately, are for their good. And, often, for the good of His church as well. Who, but He, knows what he has in store for you? Stop that whining and start winning!

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Your Brother, The Son of Man

From now on the Son of man will be seated on the right hand of God’s power.                                         (Luke 22:69)

When Jesus said this, He was making an incredibly strong statement about the place in the world that He would assume in the very near future as the God-man. When He stated this fact to the elders of the people, assembled as the Sanhedrin, He was officially declaring to them what they fully understood, that He was the One Who was about to fulfill the long-awaited prophecy of Daniel 7. That He was the Messiah.

To Him would be turned over “all authority in heaven and in the earth,” as He later explained to the Twelve when He charged them to disciple all nations. This reception of authority happened when He came with clouds to the Ancient of days to receive power and glory and authority to rule.

This was a stupendous claim—the Son of Man, a human being—raised to the ultimate place of power at the Father’s right hand! If false, He should have been convicted; if true He should have been worshiped. It is true, and means, therefore, that a human being-one of us—is at the right hand of God. Think of that astounding fact!

Jesus began reigning as the God-man upon His ascension and is reigning still. Indeed, He will continue to do so until He puts down all of His enemies-the last of which is death. If you have trusted in Him as Savior (see other blogs in the archives to understand the way of salvation), you have taken your place along with Him as a fellow heir to all the promises of God, one whom He is not ashamed to call His brother (Hebrews 3; 11).

He is the firstfuits of those who will be raised from the dead to eternal life. He is the One in Whom all that we were incapable of doing as sinners was accomplished perfectly so that, being “in Him,” we are counted (reckoned) to be just before the Judge of the universe since His righteousness is reckoned to us.
You have much to rejoice about, Christian. Sure things go wrong here-very much so. But in His time, all will be set straight. And, at that time, you will enter into all of the joys, privileges and love that will be realized when you shall see Him as He is. There is much to look forward to. Remember that fact when things get tough here.

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