Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Choose Your Own Adventure

The plot thickens.  The character must decide between any number of choices.  What will he do?  If you choose for him to (a) follow God’s will completely for his life, turn to page 67.  If you want him to (b) follow God’s will from his 30s on but make his own decisions in his 20s, turn to page 43.  If you (c) choose for him to wait till the end of his life to follow God’s plan for him, turn to page 88.  If you choose for him to (d) neglect God’s plan for his life altogether, turn to page 101. 

I never got into Choose Your Own Adventure books.  Personally, I liked stories that had already been written for me to enjoy with me as a reader taking less of an active part in making choices for the hero or heroine. 

And yet, I wonder . . . how often do we as believers live our lives as if we are in the midst of a Choose Your Own Adventure book?   

While some things in life certainly are left to personal choice, much specific direction for life is found in God’s Word.  Christianity isn’t a “choose your own adventure” world.  Rather, it’s a “find God’s will in His Word and follow it” world.  God has given us the Holy Spirit, who uses the Word to guide us into all truth, so that we can discern His perfect will for our lives.

God's will never leads us to a place of less surrender.  His will never leads us to a place of less love for Him or less worship of Him.  If we are indulging in sins of the flesh today that have taken us from His path of life--where His presence remains (Ps. 16:11), where full joy exists--we should examine our choices.  His Spirit is one of truth that leads us into “all truth.”  Are there portions of the Bible that we pick and choose, deciding whether or not to obey them?  If so, we will reap many negative consequences—but they will come in a different season than the season in which we sow.  

Today we are faced with many choices.  Will we spend our time seeking God in His Word and interceding for others in prayer?  Will we choose to love people to Him by giving them the Gospel and seeking to open our mouths with Spirit-led boldness?  Or will we stagnate in our Christian walk?  Will we live our moments and minutes in God-dependent faith, letting the Spirit produce His fruit in our lives, or will we cope by running to our own way—busyness, entertainment, self-indulgence?  Are our minutes consumed with His way or our own?

Today’s choices are tomorrow’s realities.  What we think about today we will begin doing tomorrow, for how we think shows who we are and will eventually display itself in the actions we choose.   

Let us, then, examine our thoughts.  Are we thinking only about “whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report”?  

If not, we can expect negativity to emerge from our lips.  Unkindness to emanate from our spirits.  And disregard for God’s ways to color our world.  Further, we can expect our own adventures to be riddled with inner turmoil and unbelief. 

In Numbers 13, only two men reported what God saw when He viewed the Promised Land.  How do we report our reality to the people about us?  If we are people of praise, thanking God morning, noon, and night, worshiping Him in our spirits--then faith-filled and God-honoring reports will emerge from our lips.  If we are people of complaints, bitterness, and unresolved anger, we will report our world through a negative lens as being the result of someone else’s poor choices. 

If you’ve chosen your own adventure instead of God’s, I plead with you to return to His pathway today.  Let God color your world, shape your perspective, and give you the eyes to see His plan as perfect and good for you.

Return to our Lord, Who says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jer. 29:11).


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Power of Listening

Have you ever been corrected and known that the person seeking to admonish you was a bit off in his perspective?  Have you ever heard words from another that hurt so deeply because you felt at your core that they didn’t really see the situation properly?  Did you ever feel misunderstood when being reproved?

A situation occurred recently in my life in which someone corrected me.  I have asked this person at various times to please let me know if they see something off in my life.  But when the individual said the words, it really seemed her perspective was not quite on.  I felt hurt.  Misunderstood.  Like I didn’t want to be as close to this person as I had in the past.

But God wouldn’t let me think that way.  He showed me that, as a Trinity, He is united in perfect fellowship.  As Father, Son, and Spirit, He is perfect Love.  His desire for believers is that we, too, have “fervent charity” among ourselves (I Peter 4:8), that we “endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:3).  So I knew that, even though relationships can become messy and sticky and uncomfortable, I couldn’t by any means treat this person with a casual relationship or diminish the significance of the person’s words.

We set up an appointment to talk, but I wanted to get God’s mind on the issue first.  I examined myself in light of the individual’s words but wasn’t getting clarity.  I looked into the Word and saw in my devotions a situation reflecting my own from the Psalms.  But I still didn’t arrive at conclusions.  However, when I looked into Proverbs the following day, God showed me exactly my own problem, brought clarity to my thinking, and helped me to correct a wrong pattern that had developed in my life.  I was so grateful that I hadn’t chosen to make null and void the words from this dear sibling in Christ. 
The tentacles of pride are a great source of opposition in believers’ lives.  God clarified in my spirit that, to respond by avoiding this person or annulling what she had said would be to respond in pride.  His Spirit works as we humble ourselves before Him. 

While my sister in Christ was not quite on in her evaluation, her words assisted a journey to ask the Lord the root of something in my heart, and He showed me in living color where I needed to turn to Him. 

“Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath,” James tells us (1:19).  God does not want us to become irritated inside when someone speaks a truth perspective into our ears.  Even if they haven’t exactly hit the nail on the head, God wants us to listen and examine our hearts to see “if there be any wicked way in us" (Ps. 139:24).  He wants His people to live in unity, fellowship, and harmony with one another.  Although relationships with people can become sticky, He longs for His own to “seek peace and pursue it" (Ps. 34:14; 1 Peter 3:11).

Believers have been designed to live in community.  In fact, Christian community and fellowship with each other is one incredible feature of God’s church.  That fallen creatures can live through the power of His Spirit in peaceful, harmonious, and beautiful relationships is none other than the product of Spirit-filled living.  But God’s working in us demands that each of us “be clothed with humility" (I Peter 5:5).  The gracious God of the universe has actually promised to resist us if we respond in pride!  But grace—His amazing grace, the kind that sent Christ to earth—will fill us and enable us as we humble ourselves before Him.

Oh, let us pursue such openness with our siblings in Christ that we will be propelled to the throne of grace, with hearts worked over by Christ’s own humbleness of mind!  Let each of us be quick to hear, slow to speak, and ready to let the Spirit shape us in yet one other area of life.



And each day until eternity!