January 10, 2017
The true follower of Christ will do exactly what his/her name implies: they follow. This means, of course, that over the miles of their journey God will take them to new destinations. They will go away from some habits, places, relationships, etc., and into others.
THE BACKWARD PULL
But it is always tempting to go back. The Israelites, traveling to the Promised Land, were pulled in a moment of need to return to the ""leeks and onions"" of Egypt. Jesus in the New Testament reminded his followers that ""no one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."" The wise writer of Proverbs says such a turn is often like a ""dog returning to his vomit.""
Recently our church experienced a miraculous step of faith by hundreds of families to begin to give at a new level of generosity, beginning with the tithe. They were called by God to ""Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse"" and test God that ""He would not open the windows of heaven."" I have never seen the depth of such a turn by a whole church in my 47 years of ministry. We have moved to a whole new place and God's promises for this new step are stunning.
That happened in October. I have thought this morning at the temptation, as the New Year begins, of slipping back from this resolve. How easy, in this particular area especially, to subtly slide back into Egypt. To slip out of faith. To turn back.
This is just one of many areas where we will be tempted to go back to the familiar. Why would our enemy not seek to pull us away from those places that illustrate God’s dynamic faithfulness to those who follow Him?
""The Lord had blessed Abraham in every way,"" Genesis 24:1 records. The reason? When God spoke, Abraham followed in faith. God had led a trusting man into the land of blessings and he was experiencing the fruits of that journey.
And now, close to death, he is seeking a bride for his son, Isaac. He tells his servant to return to his old homeland to find a wife. His servant asked the very practical question: ""Suppose the woman is not willing to follow me to this land; should I take your son back to the land from where you came?"" (Vs. 5).
Abraham's response is immediate and strong: ""Beware that you do not take my son back there!"" (Vs. 6). He says this in the strongest possible language. God had given the land of promise to him and ""to (his) descendants"" and that same God, Abraham said, would provide a wife for his son. But then he says again, ""Only do not take my son back there!"" (Vs. 8)
Abraham knew the depth of faith and resolve it took to get up and follow God into the promised land. He also knew how easy it would be to slide back into the familiar. The old ways, old relationships, and old path.
BEWARE AND BE STRONG!!!!
Perhaps you are being called by some naive friend, (or demonic enemy in disguise), to fall back into the familiar, old ways. Old habits, old pleasures, old relationships, old doubts, old disobediences. Do not give in! Stand strong and firm following Christ into the new places of places He has taken you. The lands that were gained by faith.
""I have decided to follow Jesus,” the old chorus says. ""No turning back, no turning back!""
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January 22, 2020
The omnipresence of God is a reality (that God is everywhere all the time). “Where can I go from Thy Spirit?” David said (Psalm 139). And, since the coming of Christ and Pentecost, which was the sending of His indwelling Spirit to all who believe, the true follower of Christ is assured that Christ will never leave them nor forsake them personally. Once the Spirit comes to reside in the believing heart, He is there permanently.
But, it is possible to have our head turned by the world, the flesh, and the devil. We can quench and grieve the Spirit who lives within us. We can ignore Him or resist His leadership. If we do so, we will lose the conscious awareness of His presence. We will begin to operate on our own, not walking by the Spirit, and the results are always disastrous. We get what our humanity brings. Like an unseen guest standing in the shadows, He is still present, but not prominent.
January 21, 2020
January 20, 2020