Friday, April 29, 2016

When Things are Out of My Control


The Serenity Prayer is the common name for a prayer authored by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892–1971). The best-known form is:

 

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,       

Courage to change the things I can,

            And wisdom to know the difference.

 

The Serenity Prayer is one of my favorite prayers. If we could master the concept of this prayer, we would become close disciples of Solomon’s wisdom and Jesus Christ! Each one of us needs the courage to change the things we can. We all need wisdom. However, the first part of the prayer gives me the most trouble. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.”

 

I don’t like to believe that certain things are out of my control. Honestly, I had more trouble with this early on. I find myself getting used to the idea that certain things are beyond my ability to change. However, I still have difficulty believing that I cannot fix everything that is broken around me. I would love to think that “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”[1]Even when we are living in God’s will and trying to serve him, things can go wrong.

 

When I was a kid, we had four television stations to watch: ABC, NBC, CBS, and PBS. On occasion, the television station would interrupt the broadcast. You would hear this high-pitched tone that would sound. An announcer would begin to speak, “This is a test of the emergency broadcasting system. This is only a test.” After the test, the station would resume the ordinary programming.

 

Often, our usual program is interrupted by a test. At best, we are annoyed. In the worst case, we go through tremendous pain. All of us desperately want life to go back to the ordinary program. Jesus had something to say about the tests we face.

 

John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

 

When you soak a sponge in water and press down on it, what’s inside comes out. A test or trial is an opportunity to see what we have been soaking up on the inside.

 

David wrote many things in the Bible about his struggles with feeling victimized by circumstances and enemies. In his writings, he always found an audience with God. When David was nervous, sad, anxious, angry or overwhelmed, he turned to God for direction and support. David humbly admitted that he needed God to teach him to do his will in difficult times when things seemed out of control.

 

Psalm 143:1-12 Hear my prayer, O Lord;
    give ear to my pleas for mercy!
    In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness!
Enter not into judgment with your servant,

    for no one living is righteous before you.

For the enemy has pursued my soul;
    he has crushed my life to the ground;
    he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead.
Therefore my spirit faints within me;
    my heart within me is appalled.

I remember the days of old;
    I meditate on all that you have done;
    I ponder the work of your hands.
I stretch out my hands to you;
    my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah

Answer me quickly, O Lord!
    My spirit fails!
Hide not your face from me,

    lest I be like those who go down to the pit.
Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,

    for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,

    for to you I lift up my soul.

Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord!
    I have fled to you for refuge.
10 Teach me to do your will,

    for you are my God!
Let your good Spirit lead me
    on level ground!

11 For your name's sake, O Lord, preserve my life!
    In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!
12 And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies,

    and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul,
    for I am your servant.

 

In the heart of this psalm, David gives us wisdom for responding in those moments when things are out of our control. Look at verses 5 and 6.

 

Psalm 143:5-6 5I remember the days of old;
    I meditate on all that you have done;
    I ponder the work of your hands.
I stretch out my hands to you;
    my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah

 

Four responses to the things we cannot change:

 

1. I remember God’s faithfulness in the past. God is faithful.

 

When we reflect on God’s deeds in the past, it helps us to find God in the present. God may seem to be silent as we cry out to him with a fervent, sincere request. Remembering God’s goodness to his people in the past reminds us that he is faithful in the present and will be faithful in the future.

 

I’m glad that God is more faithful than we are. Many will show up to church when nothing is expected. Many will follow a version of Jesus, who doesn’t demand any life change. However, God is truly faithful. He has proven his faithfulness to us. We can remember his faithfulness from days of old. God has never quit. He will never quit. He is faithful.

 

Sometimes we feel distant from God because we relegate him to the outskirts of our lives. Interstate 459 is the beltway around Birmingham. You can circle around part of the city on 459. It is on the margin of the city. It is far enough to keep you from getting caught up in some of the traffic through Birmingham, yet close enough to give you access to certain areas.

 

Most people treat God like the beltway. We keep God close enough to get us where we want to go in life, but far enough away to keep him out of the center of our lives. God intends to be in the middle of our lives, not on the outskirts.

 

God is faithful to us. You can look back at history and see the dependability, loyalty, and stability of God. David said, “I remember the days of old.” The faithfulness of God is a constant theme in the pages of the Bible. God is the faithful God who keeps his covenant.

 

Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.

 

When we are tempted, God is faithful to deliver us. When we need assurance of salvation, God is faithful to comfort us. When we need forgiveness of sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us.

 

2. I meditate on all God has done. God is loyal.

 

The implications of being a child of God are staggering. If Bill Gates were to adopt a son, that would be staggering. If the president of the United States of America were to adopt a child, the implications of that are staggering. Because we have been adopted into God’s family, the implications are staggering.[2]

 

We are children of God. He does not abandon or forsake his children. The implications that we are his children are staggering.

 

I remember telling God as a young man, “God, I will do anything you want me to do, but I will not be a pastor.” I’m sure God smiled. God is full of surprises. His ways are not our ways. However, God is not going to leave us hanging. God is loyal.

 

3. I ponder the work of God’s hands. God is powerful.

 

There is great power in an intimate relationship with God. When Lauren was a toddler, she was afraid of dogs. She did not want anything to do with them. She went to visit her grandparents. They had a yappy little west highland terrier. He could get stirred up. When she was on the floor playing, the dog came up and let out a shrill bark and snapped at her. Lauren cried. She ran to me.

 

When Lauren was safely in my arms, I looked at the dog, and I said, “Mean dog!” I shook my finger at him. Lauren, now with daddy was no longer afraid. She looked at that dog with authority and shook her little finger at him. Her closeness to her daddy gave her confidence.

 

When we are near to God and sense his power, we can face the enemy. We can be confident in an anxious moment. We can shake our finger in the face of trouble knowing we are in the Father’s arms.

 

David said, “I ponder the work of his hands.” Think of all that God has made! Consider that great power of God.

 

I recently heard a photographer say that he believed that cameras using 35-millimeter film produced better, more authentic photographs than digital cameras. I have seen photographers carefully develop the film in a darkroom. When we go through the darkroom of life, we can often see the most beautiful image of who Jesus Christ is in us.

 

4. I stretch out my hands to God in prayer. God listens to me.

When things are out of control, God can work in our prayer life. C.S. Lewis wrote, “Pain is God’s megaphone.” We get hungry for God when things are not going the way we had hoped.

 

When Carol and I lived in Roebuck, you could get off of the interstate and find panhandlers under the overpass on the way into our neighborhood. Sometimes they would hold up signs that read, “Hungry. Please help.” One way you could discover if the person was hungry was to offer them food or something to drink. It was possible that they were hungry.

 

It was also possible that the panhandler wanted a bottle of Thunderbird or Jack Daniels from the liquor store a block and a half away. By the way, the liquor store was a converted Omelet Shoppe. The new owner changed a few letters in the sign and it now reads, “Bottle Stoppe.”

 

A lot of people are hungry for the wrong things. Difficulty has a way of fine-tuning our spiritual hunger. Only God can satisfy our deepest hunger. The great news is that he will satisfy our hunger if we stretch out our hands to him in prayer.

 

The most powerful prayer comes from a heart that places its trust in God who has acted and spoken in the Word of God and Jesus Christ. A confident, effective prayer life is built on the foundation of Jesus Christ’s work and the promises of the Bible.

 

When we stretch out our hands, as David did, we discover that God, for good reasons, does not answer every petition just exactly as we see fit. Some things will inhibit our prayers such as sin in our heart, stubbornness, lack of generosity, pride, and doubt. However, God does answer our requests as we pray in his will and trust in him to do as he knows best.

 

Hands lifted in prayer form a powerful spiritual symbol. Prayer is the way we find freedom from fear, strength for our souls, guidance and peace, wisdom and understanding, and deliverance for our souls. When we lift our hands in prayer, we are admitting to God that we need his power and wisdom in our lives.

 

In the Bible, prayers enlarged Jabez’s influence, delivered Jonah from the belly of a great fish, caused the ground beneath the early Christians to tremble, and opened the doors of the prison to free the jailed apostles! Our prayers do make a difference in how God works in our world! Stretch out your hands and pray!

 

Are you up against a situation that you cannot change? Remember God. Meditate on his works. Ponder his power. Stretch out your hands and pray.

 

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,       

Courage to change the things I can,

            And wisdom to know the difference.

 



[1]William Ernest Henley, “Invictus.”  
[2]Tony Evans, Tony Evans Book. . ., (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 2008), 104.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Embracing Change


Your company isn’t doing well financially and is laying off employees. You may be next. Your husband is unhappy at work and comes home angry, impatient and irritable. You’ve just had a biopsy for a suspicious lump, and you’re awaiting test. These are times when we can think of God’s attributes or characteristics.

 

When life brings changes, we need God—the Rock of Ages—who does not alter. God’s changeless nature is one of the several attributes scholars have identified in the Bible. Theologians distinguish about sixteen different qualities or attributes of God. These characteristics help us get a picture of God.

 

A boy was talking to his pastor and drawing on a piece of paper. The pastor said, “Son, what are you doing?” The boy said, “I’m drawing a picture.” The pastor asked, “What is the picture of?” The boy replied, “I’m drawing a picture of God.” The pastor said, “But we don’t know what God looks like.” The boy said, “Just hang on a minute and you will when I get finished.”

 

God’s Attributes[1]

Mercy—God is merciful.

Grace—God blesses in ways that we do not deserve.         

Goodness—God is good, abounding in grace and truth.     

Eternality—The Triune God existed in eternity past and will into eternity future. 

Omnipotence—God is all-powerful. He is unlimited in his power to accomplish his will.

Omniscience—God is all-knowing. He knows everything and cannot learn anything.

Omnipresence—God is ever-present. He is everywhere.

Self-Existence—God does not need anyone or anything.

Sovereignty—God is in complete control.

Holiness—God is morally pure and separate from Creation.

Righteousness—All that God does is right and holy.

Justice—God is the ultimate, perfect judge over all of the Creation.

Immanence—God is near to us and works in the minutia of life, in the smallest details.               

Transcendence—God is separate from us and is incomparable, beyond our ability to describe.    

Love—God loves his Creation and loves infinitely better than his Creation.                                   

Immutability—God is in control, all-wise, and complete; he does not change.

 

The last one on this list is immutability. Our infinite God is so perfect in his righteousness, justice, wisdom, love, etc., that he does not need to improve! God will need a refresher course or learn anything new. God will never love you more perfectly than he does right now. He will never act with more justice. God is the standard! God has no need to change. He is immutable.

 

Malachi 3:6 — "For I am the Lord, I do not change."

 

James 1:17 — Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

 

Of all of the characteristics of God, this is one of the most comforting for me. The fact that God is not going to change his mind about loving us, his character, his plan, or anything else about himself gives me the security to go out and face life with courage! God will not adopt you into his family and then send you packing when you fail. God has chosen us and will not change his mind and let us fall into hell. God never changes his mind.

 

When we don’t trust in God as we should, we begin to cling to traditions, the past, and other things. We are afraid of change. We see it in the church. People resist changes in church like music, programs, Bible study groups, schedules, etc., even though an update would improve things. With changes in our career or family, we believe that church should never change.

 

If you do not like change, I feel your pain! Just ask my wife about my responses when things get moved around the house. Ask her about how I deal with changes in family schedules. Ask her how I feel about buying new clothes. I don’t cope very well with change sometimes!

 

Things will change. If you are not changing, you are dying! What we need to remember is God does not change!

 

Truths for a Changing World

 

1. We can trust an unchanging God with an eternal plan.

 

Are you faced with unexpected change? I am sure many of us are. Our world is changing quickly, but our personal circumstances change all the time too. Change unsettles us. We’re often frustrated and frightened when the people and things we rely on are no longer what they were.

 

We can always rely on God. No matter how difficult our circumstances, no matter how uncertain everything may be, God is eternal. God made everything according to his plan. He established the world. He made you. Only God is eternal and unchanging. He does not change his covenant promises.

 

Psalm 102:25-26 Of old you laid the foundation of the earth,
    and the heavens are the work of your hands.
26 They will perish, but you will remain;
    they will all wear out like a garment.
You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away.

 

The old belief, centuries ago, was that the sun revolved around the earth. As we now know, this was totally wrong. The earth revolves around the sun. In the same way, God doesn’t revolve around us. We revolve around him. We have to change our way of thinking. God is the eternal center of our lives. He never changes. He is stationary. God will remain while all else changes.

 

Acts 17:28 For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’

 

The sun is shining twenty-four hours per day, all week long. The sun shines all year long. The sun has been shining for years and years. Darkness comes to the earth even though the sun never stops shining. Night happens because the earth spins on its axis. The dark side faces away from the sun.

 

If there is darkness in your life, it is not because God has turned away from you. God has not changed. There is no darkness or shadow in God. He is faithful and never changes. Like the sun, God is always shining. We need to make sure we are facing him.

 

God’s plan, according to the Scripture, is that his purpose with this world will be complete; he will create a new heaven and a new earth. All of this is a part of God’s plan. This means that everything that is material, all that people cherish and value, every business and company, every work of art, will perish.

 

2. Our unchanging God is our place of safety in our changing world.

Moses, the one God used to deliver Israel out of slavery in Egypt, understood the changelessness of God. Moses had moved around a lot in his life. He lived in Egypt. Moses wandered in the wilderness. He went all the way to the edge of the Promised Land. In all of Moses’ moving, he knew that his home was in God.

Psalm 90:1-4 Lord, you have been our dwelling place
    in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth,

    or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
    from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

You return man to dust
    and say, “Return, O children of man!”
For a thousand years in your sight
    are but as yesterday when it is past,
    or as a watch in the night.

What is a dwelling place? It is where you live, your home. God is our dwelling place. This is a reassuring statement! I have moved many times in my life. I have had several addresses. However, from heaven’s perspective, my address has not changed since the moment I became a believer in Jesus Christ, my address is with God.

 

We need places to keep us from rain and snow, heat and cold.  We need a place to rest, to eat, to feel safe. We need homes. But just as a person needs a physical dwelling place, so he also needs a spiritual dwelling place. We need an abiding place for the soul, for our spiritual life. 

 

Where are you living these days?

 

Knowing God is more than knowing about him.

You may have discovered a lot about God today. Sports fans know a lot about players and coaches—people they have never even met. They can recall details and statistics about games that happened a long time ago. In the same way, gossips read posts about public figures and know the dirt on who is hanging out with who and who dumped who. Pop culture junkies watch the latest movie trailers and download the latest music. The celebrities have no idea who these fans are.

 

A Christian can come to church or small group for years and only know about God. They may know the details of God and what happens at church. Real knowledge of God requires a two-way conversation. Many people say they want to know God, but they are stuck knowing about him.

 

I want you to know God today. God has revealed himself through Jesus Christ his Son.

 

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

 

 






[1] https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/attributes.cfm (Retrieved on April 12, 2016).

Friday, April 15, 2016

Life's Unknowns


We face a lot of unknowns in our fallen world. Will I ever get married? Can my marriage be saved? Is my career going to improve? Will I be cured of my health problems? We each have questions that cause us to wrestle and wonder.

 

Many try to handle life’s unknowns without God. Let’s face it: we will face uncertainties without God or with him. Many of us are spiritually “self-employed.” We work for ourselves. There is one major negative for working for yourself; you have to cover your own benefits. When you work for yourself, you have to pay for your own expenses. You cover your own insurance. You are free to work for yourself, but you will have to bear the entire burden.

 

I am a living witness that you cannot bear your own burdens and problems. I have no problem saying, “I need God!” I need him to wake up in the morning. I need him to think, feel, act, and breathe. Without a doubt, I need him to live in this uncertain world.

 

Psalm 37 is a treasure trove for those who are struggling with life’s unknowns. This psalm is long and comprehensive, dealing with issues like character, mortality, wisdom, justice, stewardship, and God’s character. The psalm has also been understood as a prayer of the persecuted who has taken refuge in God.

 

I think most of us here know that we need God in our uncertain world. We just take God for granted. When you don’t realize what you have, you take things for granted. I have talked to people who have felt that way about their spouse. “I feel that all I do is taken for granted. If he doesn’t appreciate me, then I cannot take it much longer.” We get used to cooked meals, folded laundry, and the taxi service for the children. We take people for granted, especially those we say we love. “I’m a hard worker. I listen to her problems. I don’t feel like she respects me,” one man said.

 

We take God for granted. Our salvation cost him Jesus Christ, his only Son. We take God’s love and grace for granted. We neglect our time with him. We don’t worship God and adore him for his presence with us in the good and bad of life.

 

David did not take God’s grace for granted. King David, as an old man, wrote Psalm 37 as an acrostic poem, the stanzas of which begin with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. He helps comfort those who have become discouraged by the prosperity of those who do not honor God. David is the ideal king to the Jewish people—although he had many flaws; his song demonstrates why he is held in reverence. David knew that he needed God.

 

We are going to look at a few of the verses from Psalm 37 which encourage us to take refuge in God during uncertain times.

 

What keeps us “sane” as we deal with life’s unknowns?

 

Carol enjoyed the mission trip to New York City. They made a tremendous difference while serving the people there. I enjoyed looking through her pictures. She took one picture from the street with the lens pointing straight up toward the tops of the surrounding skyscrapers.

 

If a person stands on the ground in a city like that, they can’t see too far up or out because the buildings loom so tall. All a person can do is stand on the street corner and look down the avenues.

 

We all stand at ground level. Problems seem large without God’s perspective. We cannot see over them. Money problems, people problems, work problems block our view of what is around the corner. If we could see from God’s perspective, wouldn’t we feel a lot more confident?

 

David is going to help us see life from God’s perspective. Let’s look at a few selections from Psalm 37 and our worries will begin to look a lot smaller.

 

1. Trust in God’s promises.

Psalm 37:1-7 Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
    be not envious of wrongdoers!
For they will soon fade like the grass
    and wither like the green herb.

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
    dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord,

    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,

    and your justice as the noonday.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
    fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,

    over the man who carries out evil devices!

 

God will give us our heart’s desires when he is our delight. In God’s presence, we find intense joy. When we commit our plans to God’s direction, he will act. God is not passive.

 

Trust, faith, and perseverance in God will be rewarded on God’s time table. The longer we live, the more we can validate these words. The advice that David gives helps us gain perspective in an uncertain world. God keeps his promises!

 

Most people don’t come to church, stand in front of a chair, and wonder if that chair can hold them up. Most people don’t evaluate the chair or perform a series of tests to determine the strength of the chair. They just sit down when someone says, “You may be seated.” They exercise faith. The faith is not based on a feeling about the chair. It is based on confidence that the chair will hold them up.

 

The opposite is also true. If a person says, “I believe that the chairs in the auditorium can hold me up. The chairs are beautiful. The seats are comfortable. The chairs are durable.” However, if they never sit down, they are not exercising faith because they did not act on what they said they believed. Faith is acting like God’s promises are true. Do you embrace the promises of God?

 

Start by praying and believing God’s promises. You’ll experience peace and comfort in your prayer life when you talk to God about whatever is bother you and bring his promises before him. Every moment, every thought, every circumstance is an opportunity to rely on the promises of God. Your prayers express your willingness to rely on God and trust him. His promises provide the basis for your relationship with him.

 

Take your prayer life to the next level by making praying God’s promises a continuous part of your everyday lives. Practice the presence of God. When I think of this type of constant connection with God, I think of Brother Lawrence, a monk who lived long ago. As he washed the pots and pans in the monastery, he spent time talking with God.

 

Delight in God, verse four reminds us. Wait patiently for God, verse seven tells us. When we spend time with God, we find that we are no longer preoccupied with our worries, adversity, or problems. We discover that our trust in God helps us to rely on his promises and to keep our lives centered around him.

 

2. Trust in God’s provision.

Psalm 37:23-26 The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
    when he delights in his way;
24 though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,

    for the Lord upholds his hand.

25 I have been young, and now am old,
    yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
    or his children begging for bread.
26 He is ever lending generously,
    and his children become a blessing.

 

Our steps are “established” or made firm. God will not allow us to be utterly destroyed. Even when we sin and fall, God is there to help us get back on our feet again. David knew this from personal experience. David was guilty of pride, deceit, sexual sin, and murder. Although David’s failures created painful circumstances, God’s grace brought David back to righteousness.

 

When we face the unknown, we are tempted to question God’s provision. At times, we feel like we will go lacking. When our provisions are lacking, our faith can be shaken. Jesus commanded us to pray for our “daily bread.” Paul reminded us that we walk by faith.

 

2 Corinthians 5:7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.

 

A missionary friend told me, “Where God guides, he provides.” The same missionary who reminded me that connecting with certain cultures meant speaking their language and eating their food. His motto became: “Where he leads me, I will follow. What he feeds me, I will swallow.”

 

God has always been a provider. When Jacob’s family faced famine, he called them down to Egypt. When the Jews wandered through the desert, he provided manna for them to eat. Jesus fed 5000 with five loaves and two fish. Even when God’s people have been ungrateful, God has provided.

 

The economic circumstances of Israel were relatively good during David’s reign. Rich and poor lived in the land. The Israelites would lend with no interest. In the year of Jubilee, all debts were forgiven, and the land was returned to the original owners. Israel was to be a light to the nations, preparing them for Jesus Christ. They did this, in part, by working hard and providing for one another.

 

God is our provider. His support to us in trouble and provisions for our needs remind us of God’s faithful presence. When we face the unknown, we have difficulty believing that God will provide. God always proves our doubts to be wrong.

 

God is a giver by nature; giving is the nature of those who are closest to God. As God provides for us, we are to observe his nature and take on his ways. The stingy, greedy person has not taken the time to learn from God.

 

Think about your present life circumstances. The Scriptures tell us that even when we fall, we are not cast headlong; in other words, we are not allowed to plunge to destruction. God is holding our hand. His greatest provision for us is himself. What about your current level of trust in God? Be honest with yourself. Is your level of confidence where you want it to be? 

 

3. Trust in God’s protection.

Psalm 37:39-40 The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
    he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
40 The Lord helps them and delivers them;
    he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,

    because they take refuge in him.

 

God will sustain us when we face trials. He has given special protection to his own. When we trust in God, he saves us. The Psalm answers that the prosperity of those who reject God is only temporary. God will reverse things, rewarding the good and punishing the wicked here on earth.

 

“In one of the Superman movies, Superman saves a man from a burning building. He rescues him from the top floor and is carrying him to safety by flying through the skies. The man looks at Superman and then looks down to the ground. ‘I’m scared. Superman. Look how far down that is.’ Superman gives him a great answer. ‘Now, if I delivered you from the burning fire, what makes you think I am going to drop you when I’m carrying you to safety?’”[1]

 

When God saves us from a burning hell, what makes you think he will let you go before he safely puts you down?

 

The more confident we are in God, the less we need to know all the details.

 

In our uncertain world, we serve a God we can trust. He offers to us his promises, provision and protection. In the midst of giving us these, he meets our deepest need and desire. Every person, down in their heart, has a passion for something. They want to do, be, or attain something. Some want a loved one to become a believer. Many are praying that a prodigal will come home. A few want to be loved and understood. What is your desire? Do you trust God to meet your needs?

 

God has offered us his promise, provision, and protection in Jesus Christ, his only Son. Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose again to give us eternal life. If we trust in him, we have forgiveness and peace with God. We cannot earn salvation. The fact that we need God’s promises, provision, and protection are reminders that we cannot save ourselves from the judgment to come.

 

If we were going to have a jumping contest and try to touch the ceiling of the worship auditorium, no one would win. I’m sure you would jump higher than I can jump. Nevertheless, I guarantee you that no one is going to meet the standard by reaching the ceiling. If the ceiling is the standard, then the fact that you can jump higher than me is irrelevant. You would fail in attempting to meet the goal.

 

We need God to save us. We cannot attain salvation on our own. We cannot lower the standard so that we may attain it. God wants to raise us up to where we need to be through Jesus Christ. 

 

I watched the news recently and discovered that a teenaged boy in Florida was posing as a doctor. I was amazed. He had an office in a storefront—the whole nine yards. He was arrested![2]

 

If a person wants to be a doctor, he doesn’t go out and buy a white coat and a stethoscope. That decision would have been made years in advance, and it requires a process of preparation. A person doesn’t go out and try a case as a lawyer without taking the bar exam. You don’t decide at the age of 65 that you want to retire as a millionaire in a week.

 

My point is that there will be a day of judgment. We will all stand before God, and we will give an account for ourselves. And when that day comes, it will be too late to make any preparations. Your decisions and preparations should have already been made by that moment in time—long in advance.



[1]Tony Evans, Tony Evans’ Book. . . (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 2008), 90.
[2] http://time.com/4229405/florida-doctor-teenager-love-robinson/ (Retrieved on April 4, 2016).