2004-08-12 - Personal Detour?
Ever try to get someplace? And you knew the shortest way to go but found a road block detoured you into some really uncharted territory that was long and stressful and you wind up wondering if you made a wrong turn? I feel often times our Christianity becomes just like that. I tend to accept the Bible at its face value - if it says it I believe it. Yet when I was younger in the Lord, I made my journey very difficult. I really did not understand what it said. In my life I made the mistake of trying to do the work to separate myself from the world and live that life consecrated unto God. Something which is not done in the flesh - but by the Holy Spirit.
My biggest problem was that I was zealous to do God's will and really did not have much knowledge of how that was done. Baby lambs are really dumb. And we can hang around church our whole lives and stay babies, because sometimes we never grow, because we simply do not listen and allow our Shepherd to really be our Shepherd. I took it upon myself to do some dumb stuff. Ummm, now I know why Jesus described us as sheep; they are some really harmless animals, but they also need a shepherd if they are to survive and they, most importantly, need to abide - "I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain (abide) in me and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me."
When I was young, I failed to really understand the scriptures and accept them and to be shepherded along the proper path, so I took some of those personal detours. Perhaps this is why Paul says this in Philipians chapter 1 verse 9:
Phil 1:9 "And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight"
The Bible outlines some fairly simple things that I'd like to emphasize do not contradict themselves. The problem is not the Bible; what I found the problem to be was me. I found I was driving, and I was asking God to be my copilot. Since then, I have learned to let him drive! Over time and obedience to three things which makeup the heart of abiding in His Grace - the Lord changed me by and by. I believe my sin was atoned for on that cross of Calvary and that glorious day I accepted and in prayer asked Jesus Christ to be the Lord of my life, and was forgiven for my sins, and when I turned away from those sins, I became a son of God. That is a gift that lasts forever, and assures my place in eternity with the Author of Life himself, the Creator of Heaven and Earth.
Romans 8:1-2 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
Anyway back to the basics: Since now there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, being honest and realizing that I still have this ugly sinful nature that plagues me night and day (though I am not in bondage to it any longer), what is it and how is it that I can change? I mean it really really bothers me tremendously -- how about you? Truly I want to be more like my Saviour and with love reach out to a lost world with knowledge and depth of insight, winning, discipling and sending people for Jesus Christ. Don't you feel the same way?
I think the answer to our dilemma is a fairly simple one. Last week at my midweek church service my Pastor explained that we will notice the change over time, as we do three things the Bible tells us to do, which are in complete accord with abiding and allowing the Holy Spirit to do the work within us. Those three things are after we come to Jesus for salvation, of course:
I Corinthians 2:14 The man without the spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him and he can not understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
The starting place for all believers is at the cross; then we need: To pray, read our Bibles, and to fellowship. It is here within these three dynamic basic tenets of the faith, that I changed. I have been a Christian since the early 80's, and I certainly can look back and see that it is God who has pruned that ugly deadwood stuff off me so that I can be a fruitful part of this body that to His delight and will, bears much fruit for His glory.
To sum up what I am saying here: Christianity and change go hand in hand. All of us who are honest, realize that there are some pretty ugly and nasty things within our very hearts, which the Lord God full well knows.
Psalm 94:9 - Does he who implanted the ear not hear? Does he who formed the eye not see?
It is my desire that He has His will in my life, and over time I have seen Him make a lot of changes. Yet I had to learn to abide and do those three things. Is it your deepest desire, Christian, to really be conformed to His image? Are you stuck in traffic because you took a detour? As time passes and you abide in the three things we are asked to do: 1. prayer, 2. reading your Bible, and 3. fellowship, then God will make you more and more into that thriving, healthy, fruit-bearing plant that He wishes us all to be. The consequences of taking a personal detour can be disastrous, as in John chapter 15. He does say too if we refuse to do it His way, He will cut us off. Not that we lose our salvation, but we suit no purpose to Him, unless we follow Him like we love Him. He who has called you is faithful and true, and He promises to do the work. His yoke is easy and His burden light. Will you let him guide your steps?
I Thessalonians 5:24 - " The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it."
But of course we can take the long way around the block ... that detour ... and choose that road that seems right (doing the work ourselves) trying to separate ourselves and we probably will get to where we are going I would say eventually, yet it is a pretty hard and harsh road ... so as for me I will just abide. When I pray I experience a spiritual intimacy with the Holy Spirit that is as sweet and as fresh and clear as a cool mountain spring. And when I discover truth in the Word of God my faith is increased and my soul is filled like I just partook of a banquet with all the trimmings. It is like the curtain of the heavens are peeled back and I can see so much more with depth and insight. And when I meet and fellowship with the brethren I see the glow in their faces as God conforms them and me into His image. When I sing my praises to God with them and encourage them and receive encouragement, I am lifted and transformed. Lifted and transformed In His time, In His Way, as I do it His way, according to His plan, as I simply abide and trust my Lord and Savior to work it out.
In His Service,