When I first surrendered to Jesus Christ, it was without question the greatest experience of my life. I could not describe the incredible joy I had. Shortly thereafter I was introduced to the hymn Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. It was written in 1757 by Robert Robinson who penned the words at age 22. I really enjoyed singing that song but I had a problem with one of the lyrics… Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love,…
Personally, I could not imagine ME being prone to ‘leave the God I loved’. I was too much in love with my Savior; I was too committed! I guess I was in the same camp as the Apostle Peter when he said, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” Mt. 26:33.
In my zeal to follow Christ, I had not yet read Matthew 26:41 “You should have learned by now that your spirit is eager enough, but your humanity is weak” Mankind was born with a sinful nature and therefore has a propensity [pull] to return to its origin. But I remember the words of another song… This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
The pull may be strong but remember “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us…” Romans 3:31-39
In my last blog, I spoke of two different views on life: a worldview and a Biblical view. Whichever view you choose it will dictate the decisions you make and how you live your life. In today’s culture, most people view truth as relative. That is what is true for me is not necessarily true for you. But the truth is NOT relative. Take, for example, Jesus said that He was the only way to the Father [Heaven.] John 14:5-7 Many people do not accept that. They feel there are many ways to heaven and their way is just as viable as yours.
So often we look to “experts” to determine what is true or false. I once had a person ask me a question concerning a relational issue they were facing. They asked what I thought about the issue and I said,“Well, the Bible says...” They cut me short with, “There you go again always bringing up what the Bible has to say!” I asked for your opinion!” If you ask me my opinion on what color to paint your living; no problem, I will give you my opinion. But if you ask me a question that Bible addresses; I’ll tell what Scripture says!
The Bible was given to us, not as a law book, but more as a manual for living. When we violate a Biblical Principle (knowingly or unknowingly) there are consequences. So it pays us to study God’s Word. Jesus says both knowing and applying the Word creates the foundation for our lives: “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” Matthew 7:24
Choices. We make them every day. Some choices are intentional, while others are not. If you do not have a work uniform, you choose what you are going to wear to work. Breakfast? Hmm. Cinnamon roll or whole wheat toast? Choices. Read my Bible or watch Fox News? Choices. You are tempted to share a “juicy” bit of gossip. To tell or be quiet? Choices.
I have been thinking about making choices all week. We all know there are some choices that are right or wrong; black or white. But I wonder if we give much thought to the consequences of our choices? Much (if not all) the decisions we make have consequences. Take that choice at breakfast. Nothing inherently wrong with eating ONE cinnamon roll but that choice can have consequences; weight gain. I cannot tell you how many of our friends look back on their ruined lives and regretted their wrong choice.
I think if we were to give more attention to the consequences of our choices; we would make wiser choices. In the spiritual realm, we are tempted to instant gratification but we do not think where it will lead us. Someone once said, “Sin will take you farther than you intended to go, cost you more than you expected to pay, and keep you there longer than you planned.”
I guess it’s human nature to think we are the exception to the rule. It won’t happen to me! I can handle it! I can walk away any time I want. Really? I cannot tell you how many of our friends look back on their ruined lives and regret that wrong choice. They never thought it would end this way.
I am reminded of all the choices that are recorded in God’s Word. Some were wise; others foolish. God wanted them recorded so we would make wise choices. Choices cannot be avoided; so choose wisely.
This morning I am on Holmes Beach, Anna Maria Island, Florida at the beginning of a wonderful vacation. The sun is shining, there is a cool ocean breeze and everything is right with the world. Well, not really.
There is a steady stream of people filling the beach: young, old, families with children, singles, surfers, sunbathers and a myriad of others. To that add the billions of people around the world. The thought came to me that one day we will all be together again but in a different setting.
“We shall all be judged one day, not by each other’s standards or even our own, but by the standard of Christ. It is written: ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God’. It is to God alone that we have to answer for our actions.” Romans 14:12
I look at all the people playing in the surf, searching for shells, playing volleyball etc. The majority of people are not even aware that such a event is going to take place! Which leads me to my second thought: Who is going to tell them? Preachers cannot reach those who do not come to church, so it is up to all of us to share to message.
Suffering comes in many shapes and sizes. You can suffer from a cold or cancer; from a trial or a tragedy; from the loss of a friendship to the loss of a friend. Suffering can last for a few moments or months or years. If you are normal, you will try to avoid suffering at any cost. A large majority of television commercials are geared to the elimination or the avoidance of pain.
Let’s face it, we do not like to be uncomfortable. The reason most of us do not exercise as we should is that it is unpleasant [suffering]. The reason we do not eat the proper foods is we do not want to deprive [suffer] ourselves from those foods we crave. But the reality is life, to some degree, is suffering is a part of life.
Sometimes suffering is the result of the trials of life or the challenges that come from following Christ. Suffering is inevitable: “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” 2 Timothy 3:12 Other times, suffering is the result of living in a fallen world. “Though our bodies are dying,…” 2 Corinthians 4:16
Suffering can be beneficial: “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” James 1:2-4 The Message
Ultimately, suffering is preparation for reigning with Christ eternally. “ If we endure, we will also rule together….” 2 Timothy 2:12
When I was a boy, my mother bought me a series of books. They we called “We Were There.” They were stories based on historical events as though you were personally part of the story. That probably contributed greatly to my love of history.
I have often wondered what it would have been like to personally experience the events recorded in Scripture. I think we have a tendency to view Biblical characters as totally foreign to modern man. But the fact remains that man has basically been the same through the ages. Solomon wrote, “Everything that happens has happened before; nothing is new, nothing under the sun.”
So figurately, the characters involved in the Nativity basically represents mankind of all ages. There were three groups of people, of the three groups, you will find you were there.
Group One: True Worshippers; the Magi. This group recognizes who Jesus Christ is and worships Him.
Group Two: The Indifferent; Chief Priests and teachers of the Law. These learned men knew all the Scriptures concerning the coming of the Messiah and yet they totally ignored the most important event of history. This group represents the majority of people today; they knew all about Jesus but they are indifferent. They are not against Him but they do not see how Jesus can make a difference in their lives.
Group Three: The Hostile; Herod. The Roman Senate had given Herod the title King of the Jews since he was part Jewish but when Herod heard there was another King; he sought to kill Him. You do not have to look far to find those who oppose Jesus: Radical Moslems, the Human Rights Campaign, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and the list goes on. The Washington Times has identified 200 ‘openly bigoted’ anti-Christian groups.
So the question is which group represents you? If you were there, which group would you identify with?
My wife and I have friends who have three year-old twin girls, Rebekah and Hannah. The parents are doing such a great job raising them to love God. Their mother over-heard them talking and discovered they were reciting Scriptures they had learned. Here is the passage they quoted:
“In the beginning, God created the heaven and earth.” And like all Bible scholars, they quoted the Bible reference = God 1:1 Out of the mouths of babes,