Thursday, January 26, 2012

Am I On the Right Path?

This is a question that I find myself asking a lot while on my walk with Christ on this earth. Am I choosing the right way? Am I following God's will for my life? Am I trying to do things on my own? Sometimes I find that I go through life without considering what God would have me do in situations that come up. As I think about it now, it is like playing the game risk. Do I make moves on my own that may hold serious consequences if I am wrong, or do I place my trust in God for Him to guide me on the right path? Do I look for the advice of others, and give that equal value to what the scripture says? It seems like there are always going to be things that will pull us from our walk and get us off course. This reminds me of a set of scriptures from 2 Timothy.

2 Timothy 4:2-5
"Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry."

How do I make sure I am on the right path? I need to stop, wait, and be ready. The first thing we should do is stop where we are. If you can not honestly say that what you are doing is pleasing in the sight of God, then it stands to reason that you might not be in the will of God. And this is a path that does not need to be traveled on. Because danger awaits us in the form of sin.

Genesis 4:7
"If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

Secondly we must wait on God to act, and show us the right path. Too many times we place our trust in other people. And usually the ones that say what we want to hear as described in 2 Timothy 4. We want our ears tickled. We want to believe what we are doing aside from God is justified. And we continue down the wrong path.

Lastly, we must be ready when God says move. The best way to be ready is constant devotion to the Word of God. Because by this, we draw nearer to God, and it is easier for us to hear God lead us on the right path.

Psalm 119:105
"Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path."

And when He speaks, we must go. It may not be the path that we think is right. It may be something that we really do not want to do. But, we need to realize that God looks at everything by the big picture. We see things just where we are.

I heard the story of a pilot who on many occasions flew from Charlotte to Wilmington in the course of a year. On one such trip, the air traffic controller gave the pilot a new course. Feeling that the course was incorrect, the pilot started to move back to the course that was familiar. Within seconds the air traffic controller radioed and asked why the pilot was changing course. The pilot explained that they felt they should be on a different course. The air traffic controller replied that if the pilot did change course, his small one seat air plane would crash into a 747.

So the question again, are we on the right path?

Thanks for reading, and God Bless you all this week!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Poor Peter: A Life Lesson

We are all confronted by our sins daily. Even as Christians, we still sin everyday. It is not something that we can help, because it is the nature of who we are. To me, I feel like a failure a lot of the times when I think back on some of the things that I have done, and think how in the world God could use me or even want me. Because there is nothing about me that will ever be good enough for Him that I could do on my own. This makes the awesomeness of His grace take so much meaning in my heart and mind. Yet, I still struggle and make mistakes.

This reminds me of a sermon that I was blessed to be able to give a year or two ago. I was asked to fill in for my pastor while he was on vacation. I love the opportunity to share with my church from the pulpit on such occasions, and it is a great honor that my pastor trusts me enough to do so. I gave a sermon on the life of Peter, which I believe we all have a connection with in the way we live our lives. So I am going to give a brief synopsis here of that life lesson and how it may give some encouragement in times when we feel like we just mess up too much.

1. The Call of Peter
Luke 5:1-8
"Now it happened that while the crowd was pressing around Him and listening to the word of God, He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret; and He saw two boats lying at the edge of the lake; but the fishermen had gotten out of them and were washing their nets. And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the people from the boat. When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered and said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.” When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break; so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!""

I believe that Christ will call every man and woman in the right time. And He usually does it in a way that is up close and personal to that person. Many people will tell you that Christ got in the boat just to distance Himself from the crowd. That is probably true, and I have no issue with that, but I believe there was another reason also. I believe He wanted to be up close and personal with Peter. Peter was right there in the front row, so to speak, for the sermon. And then, Christ performed a miracle right there for Peter to get his attention. To show Peter who He was, and that He wanted Peter to follow. Christ does the same with us. When He calls us to be saved, it is a personal event. We sometimes feel like a sermon was meant solely for us, and no one else seems to be in the room. At least that is how it felt for me when I surrendered to Christ almost 15 years ago.

2. Making the Mistakes
Matthew 14:28-31
"Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and *said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”"

Matthew 18:21-22
"Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven."

Mark 8:31-33
"And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and *said, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”"

Mark 14:37-38
"And He *came and *found them sleeping, and *said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”"

Mark 14:71-72
"But he began to curse and swear, “I do not know this man you are talking about!” Immediately a rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had made the remark to him, “Before a rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” And he began to weep."

After Peter's acceptance of Christ and the beginning of his walk with Christ, we see that Peter made a lot of mistakes. The examples above are but a few of them. Peter was always known to be the one to ask why about every situation as well. Sometimes we feel this way. We always want answers, we always make those mistakes just like Peter. The great thing though, is the love and patience that Christ had for Peter. Even with all the problems that Peter had, God still had a plan to use Peter.

Peter's Commissioning
John 21:14-18
"So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus *said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He *said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He *said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He *said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He *said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He *said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” He *said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus *said to him, “Tend My sheep."

It is here that we see that Jesus was not done with Peter. After all he had done wrong, after denying Christ, Christ still wanted him. He still wanted to use Peter for great things. And Peter became the leader of the church after the resurrection. Peter became a great man for God. We can see this all through the book of Acts. Did he still mess up? Yes, lets not forget the incident with Paul rebuking him with separating himself from the gentile believers. But, God still had a plan for Peter.

The same is true for us. We are going to make mistakes every day. We are going to fail occasionally. But, that does not mean that God is not still in control of our lives. He can still use us inspite of all that if we will surrender ourselves to Him. His grace is greater than all yours and my sins.

Thanks for reading, and God bless you all this week!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Just Let Go

I loved playing sports when I was younger. It did not matter what it was, I just wanted to play. I can remember the excitement of tryouts. Doing everything that I could do to impress the coaches so I could get a spot on the team. And, I got the same feeling every time a game rolled around. I would get nervous. I knew that the beginning of the game usually sets the tone for the rest of the game. I always wanted to do my best to get my team out to an early lead, and let that carry us through to a victory in the end. I remember what a lot of my coaches would tell us at the beginning of the game. They would tell us to "Just let go, and leave it all on the field/court."

Now, I am the coach. And I get just as excited about the game now, as I did when I was younger. And I find that I tell my athletes the same thing. Just let go. Drop all fear and anxiousness and go for the prize at the end. Leave everything on the field, never surrender, and success will find you inspite of the outcome. Is this not a parallel to our Christian walk?

Philippians 3:13-14
"Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

We have not yet tasted what life eternal will be yet. However, we keep striving towards that goal. We do not need to live our lives based on the sins of our past. When we become saved we are a new creation. The old is gone and we have put on the new in Christ Jesus. We need to live a life of praise for what Christ did for us on the Cross at Calvary. We need to go through everyday looking to what we will get one day when we meet our Savior face to face. No matter what fears, anxiety, trials we face, we look toward the goal. Which is eternal life with our Savior in Heaven. Paul wrote to Timothy just before he died:

2 Timothy 4:6-8
"For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing."

Thanks for reading, and God bless you all this week!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Starting Things Anew

Happy New Years everyone!!!!!!!!! 2011 brought many joys and some sorrows to my life. I am thankful to make it through to another year. I was blessed when my wife gave birth to our third child, Lauren. She was a band-aid on broken hearts as 2010 left us with two miscarriages. I am blessed to still be employed in a rocky economy, and I was blessed to start this blog in January of last year. Writing here on this page has really increased my focus on God, and what He wants from me here on this earth. I pray that God will continue to bless me in writing this blog, and that He will use it to His glory, and not mine.

Traditionally, everyone this year likes to come up with a New Year's resolution. Something that we are going to try better to do this year, that we could not do last year. While viewing the news last week, a learned of a poll that was done that said that 85% of people quit on their resolution in the first month, and 90% never make it past the second month. I can honestly say that I am in the 85% group that never makes it past the first month. I have finally got to the point that I did not make them anymore. But, I noticed that all of them were of a physical nature. I wanted to lose weight, exercise more, eat healthier, etc. All things that I tried to do on my own for me. There was never any inclusion of God in what I was doing. So I decided to do things a little differently a year or two ago. Instead, I just try to take a good honest look at my spiritual life, and see where I need the most work, and do my best to work on it that year. And I pray for God's guidance and help to get me through. Is it always easy, no, absolutely not. Will I fail? I will probably make many mistakes along the way, and there will be consequences I am sure. But, I know that God is right there with me.

This caused me to think on the story of King David. The first time we see David is in 1 Samuel 16. He was hand picked by God to become King of Israel. David was faithful to God. He demonstrated that in the killing of Goliath in chapter 17 of that same book as well as the rest of 1 Samuel and the beginning of 2 Samuel. However, in chapter 11 of 2 Samuel, we see David fall. It is here that he falls to sin in the murder of Uriah and the affair with Bathsheba. This was certainly not a good time in David's life. We see his punishment with all that happens in his family afterwards. However, David does ask for forgiveness. He asked God for His help. And God was faithful. And because of this, David was able to persevere through his trials.

God will help you through things that are going on in your life.
Philippians 4:11-13
"Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."

To those who are lost, there is a promise.
Romans 10:9-11
"That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”"

And once you are truly saved, you will be forever new.
2 Corinthians 5:16-18
"Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation,"

So, with this new year, will you choose to make God a part of your resolution this year? If you are lost, and seeking God, I encourage you to click the link at the top of this page for the Plan of Salvation. If you are a believer, I hope that this will help you set good goals this year to help in your walk with God.

Thanks for reading and God Bless you all in 2012!