I believe the most important key to Christian living is seeking to do what is right every time, in every area of life. As I type I am thinking “this must be an over statement” yet I cannot come up with anything more important to Christian living!
To seek to do what is right every time I must abide in the Bible – the objective Word of God. The Bible does not change – and when I read it I am continually brought back to reality! God said to Joshua “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.” God provided His Son to demonstrate the nature of God, to clarify what God would have us do, and ultimately to die on the cross for our sins. When Jesus left earth he provided the Holy Spirit to comfort and guide us. The Bible teaches about all three.
As you read the above paragraph it is easy to get up tight…to become afraid you will do the wrong thing. To live worried about sinning does not sound much like: “My yoke is easy, my burden is light” The Lord is always good news to those who truly seek to live a life pleasing to Him – to seek to live our lives “In Partnership With God. Jesus died that our sins could be forgiven. God knows our hearts!!!
When we live obediently, we will at times make decisions that, when we look at the total picture, just do not make sense. To act in this way requires faith -faith in God’s direction and in His provision so we are able to do what He would have us do. Hebrews 11 tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God. God seems to provide us with opportunities to be obedient and to see Him provide, or to be disobedient and to see/live the consequences. God’s provision may take considerable time – but if we got our signals straight, it will happen!! In the same way, if we choose to run our own lives, it may take considerable time for us to live out the consequences of our decision, but it will happen.
So where does all this? My making of two decisions: one easy, the other was painfully difficult. I do not remember making the first decision – yet it was made. The building committee developed the plans to provide the finest possible parsonage for the Bakerville Church. When construction began, Sally Jo, who was the director of the children’s choir, said she thought we should have a piano in the parsonage – it was difficult for her to take a baby and toddler to church for the rehearsal, and during the winter months the sanctuary was heated only minimally. I agreed. The decision was made that quickly. The young organist and went to the piano company, picked out a piano and put our name on it. I did not give much thought to the fact that we had no money with which to buy the piano. God had provided before – my challenge was to do what I believed was right/best…every time!
About a month later the piano company called: “We have a piano with your name on it – and you have not made a down payment. How do we know you will purchase the piano?” I responded with “you have my word” He responded with “No one has ever said that to me before. When will you pay for the piano?” I said “When the parsonage is finished in a couple weeks, and the piano is delivered”. He was as surprised by my answers as I was surprised by his call – and my answers. What had I just promised? And then…I just got on with life.
As the parsonage neared completion, Sally Jo and I were building the low retaining wall at the entrance to the basement. John Kinsey drove up and as I went to greet him he chewed me out for having Sally Jo work so hard, and then said: “You will be receiving a dividend check from Waterbury Bank and Trust…it is a gift. I don’t need it.” A few days later the check came – within $7 of the cost of the piano! My guess is that John and Edith spent no more time thinking about their gift than I did about the purchase of the piano. That the check matched the cost of the piano confirmed to me that God had guided us both! A week later the piano was delivered to the newly completed parsonage – and I paid for it in full!
Please, please do not go and make a foolish decision – based upon what I have just written! On the other hand, do what you believe God would have you do – every time! As you will see next Monday, when we seek to Live In Partnership With God, sometimes it is tough to know and do the will of God. The piano resides in our home – a reminder of God’s ability to guide me – and of His ability to support my obedience. “God’s work done in God’s way never lacks for God’s supply” (Hudson Taylor) Our challenge: to do God’s work as God would have us do it!
On this page is a biblical basis for what I have written above.
Our key to successful Christian living is doing what we believe God would have us do – to do what we believe is right every time. There are times, under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, when we must make decisions that are not logical…we make them because we believe they are right before the Lord. Keeping God’s directives separate from our personal desires is at times tough…but if we do, God will guide us. I firmly believe this. If we live under the Lordship of Jesus Christ there will be times He will guide us – when we are not aware of His leading. But most of the time we will need to make a very conscious decision…to know and do the will of God for us.
What other conclusion can we come to? “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” The King James translates the end of the passage: “And He will direct your path”. Proverbs 3:5-6 the next verse underlines the truth of 3:5-6. Verse 7: “Do not be wise in your own eyes”.
When we say…”God answers prayer”, we need to remember the context of the promise: ”Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself…I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” John 15:4-8 To tell people, including children, God answers prayer without their understanding the context is cruel! It sets them up for disappointment – possibly to destroy their faith: ”it does not work for me!!!” Often we say: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.” Psalm 23:1 or “I shall not lack any good thing.” This promise of provision is to those who live with the Lord as their shepherd.
Paul writes “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” Philippians 4:13 in the context of persecution – not as truth to be applied in every area of life – we cannot lift buildings! And for a person to quote this verse after winning an Olympic metal…this can sound great, but is a total miss-use of the verse. When Paul writes “but my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:19, he does so in the context of persecution, but the teaching is consistent, in a broader sense, as seen in other biblical passages. “All” is all to those who abide in Christ.
It is sheer folly to think for you or me to ignore what we believe we should do when, deep down, we know our decision would not be God’s best and expect God’s best for us – and through us, for others