January 21, 2021
The true follower of Christ will do precisely what their name implies: they follow. This means, of course, that throughout their lives, God will take them to new destinations. They will go away from some habits, places, relationships, etc., and to others.
THE BACKWARD PULL
But it is tempting, at times, to go back. The Israelites, traveling to the Promised Land, were tempted 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" (Luke 9:62). The wise writer of Proverbs says such a turn is often like a "dog returning to his vomit."
One fall, our church experienced a miraculous step of faith by hundreds of families to begin to give at a new level of generosity, starting with the tithe. I have thought this morning at the temptation that came, as the New Year began a few months later, of slipping back from this resolve. How easy, in this particular area, to 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.
"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 most robust 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 for him to get up and follow God into the promised land years before. He also knew how easy it would be to slide back into the familiar: the old ways, old relationships, and ancient paths.
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 ways and lands He has taken you. The lands that were gained by faith.
Father, thank You that when we walk with You, we are going somewhere. You lead us from lesser ways to greater ways. From not having Your presence, into Your presence. From not serving you and others to serving You and others faithfully. Help me today to resist the devil who would tempt me to turn back to my old life. Give me the courage to say "No" and the grace to take each successive step in faith with You.
March 29, 2023
As a pastor for the last 55 years, I have had the joy of being encouraged and blessed and prayed for by so many people. It is what carries you in your task of shepherding people. As I look back over five decades of ministry, their love has dramatically enriched my life.
But also, a pastor leads. And when anyone leads, there are almost always some who disagree.
March 28, 2023
March 27, 2023