Wednesday, August 31, 2016

God's Timetable

One thing we need to remember in facing problems in our lives or others is God’s timing. God is big enough to deal with our problems. But He does not always do it in the way and with the timing we prefer. Take the example of David. God had chosen him to be anointed king over Israel. David then faced a giant, and the giant went down. But afterwards, he spent many years running from King Saul, who was trying to kill him. God kept His promise, and eventually David became king. But he had to get there the long way around. God never lacks the power necessary to handle the giants. But He also does not do it on our time schedule.

God is in total control of the events in our life, and if we are those who have put our faith in Christ, He works them for our good (Romans 8:28; Ephesians 1:11; Isaiah 43:13). But He tells us we will face problems in this life (Acts 14:22; John 16:33; 1 Peter 4:12,13). Therefore, God does not promise He will remove all problems from our life. Rather, He says He will use them to make us better servants of His (James 1:2-4; 2 Corinthians 4:17,18; 12:7-10). But this is often frustrating from our perspective. We want help, and we want help now, from the things that plague us. We know that God has the power to help, but He does not. At least not immediately. And even though we realize God has a bigger plan, we can struggle.

There are things we can remember that will help put this in perspective. We should remember that God has saved us through the work of Christ (Romans 5:6-8; John 3:14-18; 1 John 4:9,10) and that He offers that salvation freely to all who put their faith in Him (Romans 4:4,5; Ephesians 2:8,9; Philippians 3:9). Also, He has promised that, if we have put our faith in Christ, we will one day dwell forever with Him and all suffering will be done away with (Romans 8:18-23; Revelation 21:3,4; 1 Corinthians 15:53-57). If we remember these things, it will remind us that God loves us, and it will put our present sufferings in perspective. Also, we should remember that God Himself became a Man and went through suffering to redeem us (Hebrews 2:9-18; Philippians 2:5-11; Isaiah 53:4-9). God is not looking down from the safety of heaven, telling us it is necessary for us to suffer. He has come down Himself and gone through suffering and understands what we are going through. So while we may have to suffer and we may not understand why God does not immediately deliver us, we need to trust Him to bring us through (Proverbs 3:5,6; Psalms 37:3-6; 46:10). And we need to remember the big picture of who God is and what He has done for us.  

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Need of Integrity

Sometimes it is easy in living for Christ to miss the nitty-gritty things that are involved in doing this on a day-to-day basis. Now I do not want in any way to deny that our salvation is by grace (Ephesians 2;8,9; Romans 4:4,5; Titus 3:5,6). Nor do I want to minimize the fact that it is only by the power of God working in us we can live for Him (2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 2:13; Colossians 1:29). But Scripture does say that growth in godliness is a process that requires practice and effort (1 Timothy 4:7.8; Philippians 3:13,14; Hebrews 5:14). In this process, integrity is one of the basic qualities we need to acquire. It is also one that is hard to maintain. And it is easy (at least for me) to fall into the error of the Pharisees, splitting hairs to try to cover my tracks.  

First, we need to refrain from lying (Proverbs 6:16-19; John 8:44; Ephesians 4:25). This particularly refers to slander, telling false things about others (Exodus 20:16; Proverbs 10:18; 1 Peter 2:1). The problem is that it is often easy to rationalize this if we let ourselves. We particularly need to keep the promises we have made (Psalms 15:4; Matthew 5:33-37; 23:16-22). But it is easy, like the Pharisees, to come up with a system of which promises really count. And we as a society tend to take our oaths lightly, whether wedding vows or other types of agreements. We have a whole legal system based around the technicality, and it is easy to fall into that kind of thinking. We also should not say things that tear down another person, even if they are true (Ephesians 4:29-31; Colossians 3:8; James 3:2-12), particularly behind their back (Leviticus 19:16; Proverbs 11:13; 26:20-22). Now there is a place for correcting those in sin, but it should be to their face, with a proper attitude (Matthew 18:15-17; Galatians 6:1; Hebrews 12:12,13). But it is easy to come up with excuses: I was just concerned, or I was sharing a prayer request. Perhaps the hardest area can be the area of money. We live in a culture where the love of money is a fundamental motivator (1 Timothy 6:10; Matthew 6:19-20; 19:16-22). Easy credit and other questionable practices do not help here. Also, a part of our character is our choice of companions (Psalms 1:1; 1 Corinthians 15:33; Proverbs 13:20). Now there is a place to reach out to people to win them to Christ (Matthew 9:11-13; Luke 19:10; 1 Corinthians 9:19-23). But we need to be careful we are pulling them up and they are not pulling us down. It can often be difficult to know how to maintain our integrity in this midst of the real world’s dilemmas. To do this we must decide to follow Christ (Romans 12:1,2; Titus 2:11-14; Ephesians 2:10), and we must trust in His power (Proverbs 3:5,6; Psalms 127:1,2; Galatians 5:16).