In light of the present pandemic the world is facing, many people are having to start all over again, or at least having to make many adjustments they had never thought about before. The list of adjustments is almost endless. For many, there are adjustments to their personal financial situation, their employment or lack of it, their family life, their travel, their shopping needs, their relationship to their local church, maybe medical needs, and the list goes on and on. Some of these adjustments are more difficult than others. Some are just inconvenient, while some are life changing, at least for the present.
I’m thinking, perhaps this is a good time to consider whether we may need to make some adjustments to our spiritual walk! Have we allowed some things to get in the way of our walk with God? If we are believers, is not our walk with Him of utmost importance? Is this not a time to think more seriously about some changes we should make to realize His presence more in our lives, and to honor Him in all that we are and do?
Our first consideration should be our relationship to God. Do we know that we truly have eternal life, that we are children of God by the new birth? This is something different than just being a member of a given church as significant as that is. Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, ‘Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God’” (Jn. 3:3). In the same context, He said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, “‘Ye must be born again’” (Jn. 3:6-7). The fact is, there is no alternative to being born again. It is only when one has been born again that he receives the life of Christ. Religion and good works do not bring the life of Christ to one’s soul. Only faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ brings new life, indeed, eternal life.
When we are going through a crisis such as we are facing today, it is a good time to consider our relationship to God. We still don’t know how the crisis will end, and it is important to be ready for whatever the future holds. But, because He holds the future, we can rest confidently in Him if we have rusted Him as our Savior.
The ABCs of salvation are very simple and available to all. J D Farag, a pastor from Hawaii, always concludes his messages with the following: A is to admit to God that we are sinners in need of salvation. The Bible is clear regarding our sinful condition. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
B is for believing. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16).
C is for calling on Him. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:13). Salvation requires a response from the heart. “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. 10:10). So, the question is, “Do we know beyond the shadow of doubt that we are born again, that we are children of God by faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son who died for our sins?”
A Second consideration should be our personal walk with God as believers. Salvation is only the beginning of our walk with God. When a baby is born, it is a wonderful occurrence! Everybody greatly rejoices. However, no one expects the baby to remain a baby for a long period of time. He is loved, fed, exercised, and cared for in so many ways. In due time, he begins to grow. We fawn over his first steps and first words. Finally, he begins to talk more fluently and eventually goes to school and the story goes on.
In like manner, we rejoice in the birth of a new believer! Jesus said, “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance” (Luke 15:7). We all need to repent of our sins, to have a change of mind about our sins. When one does believe, there is great rejoicing in heaven!!
However, it is expected that the new believer will grow in his relationship with God. There is the matter of believer’s baptism, faithful church attendance, and growth in his personal walk with God. The Word of God is clear about the believer’s walk, “Be ye therefor followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not once be named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient; but rather giving of thanks” (Eph. 5:1-4).
If a believer does not grow in his relationship with God, he will not have the joy and peace of God he otherwise could have. He will be like one window shopping, looking at some very desirable things but never able to purchase them for himself. In considering the present challenge of the virus, he will never have the assurance of God’s presence and safe keeping as would otherwise be possible.
Most of all, if one does not grow in his walk with God, he will not be a witness of the grace and keeping of God to those about him. His life will be given to fear, anxiety, and the lack of assurance.
Perhaps we need to start over in our walk with God. Thankfully, He invites us to do so. He is longsuffering and merciful regarding our failures. We need but to acknowledge our sins and confess them to Him and then each day look to Him for His direction. He promises to order and guard our steps. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil” (Prov. 3:5-7).
I especially like David’s prayer, “Teach me Your way, O Lord: I will walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name” (Psa. 86:11).
A third consideration should be our faithfulness to the Lord regarding such things as our church attendance, giving, and serving in any way we can. It is so easy to let things slide! We know what we should do, but fail to follow through. Time goes by and often we must acknowledge that we have failed the Lord in many ways. Maybe it would be helpful to make a list of the things we have let slide, confess our failures, and make a new beginning in known areas of responsibility.
A fourth consideration might be our personal relationship with other people. Too often it is easy to ignore the importance of relationships. Such relationships might include our family. Are we taking the place God has given to each one of us? The Bible is clear regarding relationships within the family. God has given a specific place and responsibility to the husband and to the wife. Ephesians 5:22-33 speaks particularly of this issue. Many people, even many believers, disregard this truth, but they do so to their own peril. Man cannot improve on God’s order! No counsel can stand with His blessing that is contrary to His Word. Do we as husbands and wives need to consider our obedience to His Word? Do we need to consider our sins and make a Biblical commitment to God’s order and one another? God’s Word regarding such issues is, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” (Eph. 5:21).
Of course, children are to be submissive to their parents. Where this is true, harmony is much more likely to reign in the home. The home will then be a place of blessing and comfort.
Church members need to be walking in fellowship with other church members. Often this is not the case and so disharmony reigns. Where the Holy Spirit reigns in the hearts of the church members, there can be wonderful fellowship. Where this is not true, the church is not a pleasant place to be!
Note that fellowship is more than sharing similar likes and interests. Christian fellowship is way beyond that. Christian fellowship is sharing the reality and verities of Jesus Christ. It is having something of the same mind and heart for the reality of God and His Word. It is having the same goals and objectives that come from God Himself.
Perhaps we need to ask ourselves if there is any disharmony caused by our words or actions. If so, we need to get right with the Lord and one another. We may need to examine our hearts for careless words spoken, for indifference shown to someone, for not being faithful to our word to others. The question to ask ourselves is whether our life is truly light and salt to others. Does our life truly exalt the Savor and bring blessing to others?
A fifth consideration might be our response to the trials and difficulties of life. We all have times of trials and hardships. Some have especially hard times. The question is, how do we respond to the hard things of life? For many, the “easy” way may seem to complain, find fault with others, or to continually ask, “Why me” Lord? Christians have a far superior way to respond and that is to take our trials and burdens to the Lord in prayer and to seek the face and will of God. This seems simple enough, right? Still, our hearts may need to be made right with God so we are able to hear His message and respond as He would have us to respond.
God has a reason for the trials we endure, though the reason may not always be obvious to us. One of the main purposes is that He might be glorified in the midst of our trials. James speaks to the matter of trials, “My brethren count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-3). Trials are not easy to bear, but if they bring us closer to God, they are worth it! Often we fail to see the greatness and glory of God. Trials help us to see more of who He really is. One of the greatest blessings of life is to get to know more of God, to see and appreciate His handiwork.
Another purpose of trials is to experience His sufficiency and to know that He is enough! As long as our greatest concern in trials is to be restored to our previous condition of well-being, we will fail to know His love and care for us. God wants to be known for who He is and what He can do. Other than Jesus Christ, perhaps the greatest Bible example of suffering is Job. He suffered in many different ways and yet, he would not turn his back upon God. Note Job’s response to his wife who urged him to turn his back upon God, “Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? Curse God, and die. But he said unto her, Thou speaketh as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil. In all this Job did not sin with his lips” (Job 2:9-10).
Lest I be misunderstood, it is not wrong to pray for the restoration of our well-being. If we are sick, we pray to be well. When I was in the hospital with a broken hip, many prayed for my healing and well being, and God answered wonderfully! Likewise we pray for others. We pray for God to intervene in the everyday circumstances of life. The point is, as believers, we desire to know the will and working of God in the hardships of life.
Some things will never be restored to “normal” as we see them. What then? Are we left desolate and totally defeated? No! God still has a purpose for our lives and that purpose may come with wonderful rewards if we can but trust Him and see something of His working in our life. When Jacob wrestled with God, he was left with his hip being shrunk for the rest of his life. However, it was a continual reminder to him of God’s working in his life. I wonder if God doesn’t sometimes give us an unresolved difficulty so as to remind us of His sufficiency. We need Him in all the circumstances of our lives! Paul prayed three time for the removal of his thorn in the flesh, but it was never removed. Did that hinder Paul’s ministry? No. Instead, Paul’s response was, “And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (II Cor. 12:9). This is an amazing conclusion! Paul is seeing that the presence and blessing of Christ is more important than his physical comfort. This can be true for the believer today as well, as he surrenders himself to God for His will to be done.
Maybe you have an unresolved difficulty in your life. You can take it to the Lord in prayer and leave the result with Him, knowing His will is always best. That is not always easy, but it is the way of His working and blessing. In a sense, we need to let God prove Himself to us. The psalmist said, “Blessed is the man whose strength is in Thee [God], whose heart is set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a spring…” (Psa. 84:5-6). The valley of Baca was a place of trouble, of difficulty and dryness. Still, with God’s presence and sufficiency, they made it a place of springs! In like manner, God can make our hardships a place and experience of great blessing! Maybe it is time for us to start over, to bring our problems and difficulties to Him for His working and blessing.
A sixth consideration might be our knowledge of what God says about the future. Many, even believers, have little knowledge of and concern for what the Bible says about the future. I don’t think we can live as God would have us to live if we disregard His Word about prophecy, His revelation about the future. Many live as though all things will continue as they have always been, but that is not the teaching of the Bible. Yes, we have lived in a pretty good time and we thank the Lord for His provision in the days of our lives. However, things will not always continue as they have been! God has determined the future for the entire world, a future we can truly rejoice in if we know Him as our Savior.
The next really significant event in God’s program for the world is the rapture, the catching away of the church, that is, of all those who have trusted Him as their personal Savior. There are several Scripture references such as I Thess. 4:13-18 that teach us about this. As believers, we should be waiting for and looking for His return in the air for His church which the Bible teaches is imminent. Indeed, the rapture is the great hope of all believers.
The world is rapidly moving toward a one world religion, a one world economy, and a one world government. That will be fully realized in the tribulation, the time following the rapture, a time of extreme trouble and suffering.
Maybe we need to rethink our knowledge of what God has planned for the future, as it will personally affect all of us.
For sure, our lives are changing these days. But the changes don’t have to be all discouraging! There is much good news as we arrange our minds and hearts according to the truth of God’s Word! The question is, “Are we really willing to do so or will we continue with mostly a disregard for God’s Word?” Hoping for the best is not a good option. There is a far better scenario than that, an outcome planned by God Himself.
There hasn’t been much change in our lives this past month. The greatest blessing is to be in His Word and behold more of the beauty and will of God. I was blessed by the following statement of Jesus to Martha regarding her brother who had died, “Did I not say to you that, if you would believe, you would see the glory of God (Jn. 11:40). Indeed, believing leads to seeing something of the grace and glory of God!
Like most people, we are pretty much home bound. We have wonderful neighbors who have been very helpful to us in many ways.
An interesting and really beautiful thing has taken place in our yard! Under a nearby tree, a pretty little bird, a killdeer, has built her nest and has been sitting on four eggs for many days. We are anxious to see the little ones.
Spring is in full bloom now, and the handiwork of God is seen everywhere. Should not our Christian lives likewise be an evidence of the presence and work of God?
Regarding the situation with the virus, it is so good to know that the Lord is in control of all things. We don’t know what the outcome will be, but He does! We have but to believe and rest in Him.
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