Wisdom Avoids the World’s Current

A few weeks ago, we shared on New Year’s spiritual resolutions. We encouraged you to ask the Lord to reveal something to you that could be a focus for this year. Start by asking yourself if you are satisfied with your relationship with God. Is there something keeping you from experiencing greater joy and peace?

It’s time to grow upwards in Him. Ask the Lord to reveal to you what you can trust Him to let go of. He took everything we deserve, and He  gave everything He deserves.

We schedule everything into our lives – why not make a daily appointment with Jesus? Before Jesus, the commandments – a holy life – was focused on do, do, do. But Jesus declared “It is finished.” Done, done, done. Jesus tells us that the greatest commandment – the best thing you can do – is to love the Lord with all your being.

Romans 12:1-2 HCSB

Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you  to present your bodies as a living sacrifice,  holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship.   Do not be conformed  to this age,  but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,  so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will  of God.

2 Corinthians 3:18

Ephesians

2 Timothy 3:16

God’s Word is not just words on paper. It is living!

Paul, who authored several books in the Bible, was a Pharisee. He was on a mission to stop Christianity when Jesus intercepted him on the road to Damascus.

Ephesians 5:15-21 HCSB

Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk — not as unwise people but as wise — making the most of the time,   because the days are evil. So don’t be foolish, but understand  what the Lord’s will  is. And don’t get drunk  with wine,  which leads to reckless actions, but be filled by the Spirit: speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music from your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.

What are you walking on? Where are you about to walk into? At all times, you have a choice. Really see where you are going. Paul is telling us to be wise in determining our course. The days were evil then, and they’re still evil today.

If our feet are not on The Rock, we get swept away by all the currents swirling around us in the world. If you’re standing in a river, and you lift your feet, it will carry you wherever it’s going. Paul says we must be wise – we can’t afford to be foolish.

Do you go out of your way to do things your way? Paul says “do not be foolish (unwise), but understand…” There are 2 versions of “but” in Greek; this one is the one with the most emphasis. Are you hearing Him? What are you doing with what He says? No more excuses.

Do not pretend that the wrong way will lead you to the right way. Don’t say “I’ll get there, eventually…” Satan is a pro at deception. What are you leaning on more than Jesus? You’re basically saying you trust that thing more than Him.

It’s not what you’ve done in the past. It’s not what everyone else is doing. Look for God’s desires in your life. He gives “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning.” Who doesn’t want that?

Facing the Future with God’s Peace

Today, we honor and encourage our high school graduates!

When someone is pregnant, what can they do to cause that baby to grow? Nothing, except take in food and water. The same is true in our spiritual life. All we can do is to pray and read God’s Word – it is God who does all the rest of the work.

This is what the Lord says:

The wise man must not boast in his wisdom;
the strong man must not boast in his strength;
the wealthy man must not boast in his wealth.
But the one who boasts should boast in this,
that he understands and knows Me—
that I am Yahweh, showing faithful love,
justice, and righteousness on the earth,
for I delight in these things.
This is the Lord’s declaration. (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6)

…how much more will the blood of the Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:14)

God did not come and do what He did to simply patch us up. He came to make us entirely new.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own understanding;
think about Him in all your ways,
and He will guide you on the right paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Some translations call us to “submit to Him in all your ways.”

Hearing the Word of God is a daily act. Just as we need water every day, we need the Word of God every day. Don’t resist what He tells you.

“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

When we manipulate circumstances and try to make it happen, it doesn’t. It’s as though He steps back and says, “Go ahead. I will wait until you allow Me to work.” If we stop struggling and rest in Him, in prayer and reading His Word, then He takes our burden and He does the work.

And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)

The Lord wants us to experience His peace every day, not just a couple times a year. It is a peace that cannot even be explained. If you are fully dependent on God, you can fully have His peace.

Fear is the opposite of peace. There are over 300 scriptures that tell us not to fear. If Christ is in your life, you do not have to live in fear.

17 In this, love is perfected with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, for we are as He is in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love. 19 We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4)

“…we are as He is…” And where is Christ? He is seated at the right hand of God, in His presence. You don’t become more holy by fearing God’s punishment. “…fear involves punishment…” (Some translations say “torment” instead of punishment.)

Your character does not produce righteousness or blessing. Only resting in Christ does that.

I am in them and You are in Me.
May they be made completely one,
so the world may know You have sent Me
and have loved them as You have loved Me. (John 17)

I will be with you
when you pass through the waters,
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not overwhelm you.
You will not be scorched
when you walk through the fire,
and the flame will not burn you. (Isaiah 43:2)

Who can separate us from the love of Christ?
Can affliction or anguish or persecution
or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?…
For I am persuaded that not even death or life,
angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers,
height or depth, or any other created thing
will have the power to separate us
from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord! (Romans 8:35, 38-39)

 

Time

There is a time for everything. A time to … sleep… wake up… work… buy food… eat food… play… make a mess… clean up a mess… go out… come home… We just know when it’s time to do these things (although we don’t always do them when we’re supposed to). God has created time, but He is outside of time.

38 While they were traveling, He entered a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. 39 She had a sister named Mary, who also sat at the Lord’s feet and was listening to what He said. 40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked, “Lord, don’t You care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So tell her to give me a hand.”

41 The Lordanswered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Out of all the things we do everyday, out of all the ways we spend our time, is there time for spending time with the Lord? Is there time to sit at Jesus’ feet? (Luke 10)

Once time has past, it is gone. It is the most precious thing we have to spend, invest, or waste. Jesus was busy every day, but He was never in a hurry, and He always took time to spend with His Father.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)

Yesterday was history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift.

Psalm 90: A prayer of Moses, the man of God.

Lord, You have been our refuge
in every generation.
Before the mountains were born,
before You gave birth to the earth and the world,
from eternity to eternity, You are God.

You return mankind to the dust,
saying, “Return, descendants of Adam.”
For in Your sight a thousand years
are like yesterday that passes by,
like a few hours of the night.

God is our eternal home. Can you come home and feel at peace? Is it your refuge?

Our lives last seventy years
or, if we are strong, eighty years.
Even the best of them are struggle and sorrow;
indeed, they pass quickly and we fly away.
11 Who understands the power of Your anger?
Your wrath matches the fear that is due You.
12 Teach us to number our days carefully
so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.

Why should we remember how short our lives are? So we realize how valuable time is. There are no rollover minutes in life.

34 Then the crowd replied to Him, “We have heard from the scripture that the Messiah will remain forever. So how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?”

35 Jesus answered, “The light will be with you only a little longer. Walk while you have the light so that darkness doesn’t overtake you. The one who walks in darkness doesn’t know where he’s going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light so that you may become sons of light.” Jesus said this, then went away and hid from them. (John 12)

Put your trust in the Lord while you still can. Sometimes we say, “oh, I’m just killing time.” Let’s think instead of how we might be better stewards of time. How can we invest our time wisely? The first thing to do is to spend time communing with the Lord.

The Mystery of Time (Ecclesiastes)

There is an occasion for everything,
and a time for every activity under heaven:
a time to give birth and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to uproot;[a]
a time to kill and a time to heal;
a time to tear down and a time to build;
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance;
a time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
a time to embrace and a time to avoid embracing;
a time to search and a time to count as lost;
a time to keep and a time to throw away;
a time to tear and a time to sew;
a time to be silent and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.

There is a time… a reason… a purpose… for everything that happens in our lives. Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes as he was struggling to understand the difficult things which happen to us on this earth.

Birth and death, sowing and reaping… These things happen physically, but they also happen in relationships and ideas, and in the things we say and do.

As time passes, we gain perspective. As parents, we might remember times they told young children not to do certain things that would ruin things in their house, especially the expensive things! But as the children grow older, time causes us to realize that material things pale in importance to how we treat our children.

The Lord created us body, soul, and spirit. There is no time in our lives that He does not want to be in. This year, invite the Lord into all the times of your life. Try spending time with Him first thing in the morning, before time is taken away from you by the demands of the day. Reflect on your past – see the ways that people and events have been planted or invested in your lift to bring you where you are today.

What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. (Ecclesiastes 3)

15 Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise— 16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5)

Knowing God’s Will (part 2)

“For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

“When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth.” (John 16:13)

Sometimes we want to make up our own plans and then ask God to bless them. But Jesus said to pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done…”

For some of us, it is time to move on from what we are currently doing. For others, it is time to stand firm in what we are doing.

“And now I am on my way to Jerusalem, bound in my spirit,not knowing what I will encounter there, 23 except that in town after town the Holy Spirit testifies to me that chains and afflictions are waiting for me. 24 But I count my life of no value to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus…” (Acts 20)

Paul was willing to give up his own safety to become a blessing to others. Sometimes God calls us out of our comfort zone.

We live in a time of hurry and rush. Hurry will destroy everything God is trying to do in your life. The most important things in life cannot be rushed. Can you hurry while listening to a child? You can’t. Can you hurry through spending time with the Lord? It is impossible. Jesus was busy, but He was never in a hurry.

“Enthusiasm without knowledge is no good;
haste makes mistakes.” (Proverbs 19:2)

Sometimes following the Lord’s lead can be painful — leaving the comfort zone, or giving up something that is important to you. Perhaps what you have been given is meant to be given away.

Warning signs that what you are doing might not be in God’s will:

  • Making a huge life-changing transition quickly
  • Going into debt
  • Putting someone else in danger or in an awkward position
  • Compromising against God’s Word
  • Causing unrest or division between believers

The Lord has given you specific gifts. He has a will and plan for each of us. You’ll find the most joy in life when you’re operating in your gifts and talents. Ask Him to reveal your gifts to you. What excites you? What are you passionate about?

We often look at disappointments as obstacles, but our disappointments do not cancel His plan, or His presence. Sometimes we hit a disappointment and we quit and walk away. Pray for grace to accept the doors He closes, and faith to walk through the ones He opens. His grace supplies what we need, and He is with us always, even to the end of the earth. (Matthew 28)

If you’re missing out on your calling, you’re also missing out on the joy and peace that come from living in His will. Take your calling seriously — you only have one life to give. It is so much more than eating and sleeping!

When the Lord reveals some of His plan to you, it is wise not to rush out and tell everyone. Instead, let it percolate. Wait for the Lord to prepare you, and others, for the next part of His plan.

God knows the calling He has for each of us; it is up to each of us to discover it. “15 Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise— 16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17 So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”(Ephesians 5, HCSB) Also, “15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.” (NLT) Diligently seek Him; you will be rewarded! (Hebrews 11:6)

“You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.” (Psalm 139:16)

Know this: The greater the call of God on your life, the greater the attack of the enemy. So, encourage one another, and pray for one another. Whatever happens, pray for humility. David experienced a great triumph over Goliath, but he did not write a song bragging about it. Humble people seek the well-being of others. Staying humble means God can guide you in His will.