Stepping Out – Are They a Christian in a Boat - Purity 548
Purity 548 10/13/2021 Purity 548 Podcast
Today’s photo of a blue cloud filled sky over the Adirondack Mountains which is reflected in a lake, pond, or stream comes to us from a pair of friends who took “another fall trip deep into the Adirondacks” to enjoy the sights and the rewards of trout fishing. Subsequent photos from our friend assure us that they are not a “catch and release” fisherman and the Lord provided a bounty on this fishing trip that would not only nourish their souls but also their bodies.
With the holiday Monday, we find ourselves already at the “hump” of midweek so although the peaks of the Adirondacks in this photo are not prominent, they are present and make this photo’s selection appropriate for “hump day”.
With the recent revelations of the changes that will be coming in the days and years ahead due to my engagement and future wedding and marriage, I have been overcome by a sense of wonder of how a life that has been surrendered to God can move in all kinds of directions.
Like our friend who doesn’t “catch and release” the trout he catches on his autumn fishing trips, God doesn’t “catch and release” those He chooses to come into His kingdom. Since coming to Christ, I have endeavored to increasingly surrender my life to His ways and His purposes and along the way have often speculated on the direction that the Lord was leading me in.
I confessed last evening to a fellow traveler on the path of Christian Discipleship how I thought that the move to my new house “down by the river” would lead to an assignment from God to co-pastor a church that was just down the road a piece. I also admitted to how I had “felt moved” to apply for an executive position at a local rehabilitation agency in Columbia County because I anticipated that the Lord would choose to move me out of my corporate job and place me in a career that would serve the recovery community.
At the time, I could see both of these directions as real possibilities for the Lord to move me in. In hindsight, I was working with incomplete information and making “best guesses” as to where the Lord might be sending me on this journey called life. As it turns out neither “revelation” came to pass, and I no longer “feel” that the Lord is calling me to those vocations.
That’s the great testing of God’s will for your life: If it doesn’t happen, it wasn’t God’s plan for your life. Unfortunately, you only discover that something wasn’t God’s will for your life, AFTER you have tried and failed, hoped, and prayed, and envisioned the next steps with excitement and expectancy.
Disappointments, regrets, and dreams that failed to come true are actively used by the enemy to drive us into depression, idleness, and separation from God. One of the enemy’s favorites lies to whisper in our ears is the painful speculations over “what could have been”.
“Oh what could have been, if only MR or Mrs. Blank would have loved me?” “
Oh what could have been if I had gotten that job?”
“Oh what could have been “IF ONLY”…..”
The enemy takes those hurts and uses them:
1. To beat up the individual as lacking or inadequate, hello condemnation!
2. To blame God for not granting us the “desires of our hearts”
3. To convince us that there is no God, and we are all alone in our suffering and inadequacies.
But on the flipside of those disappointments of “what could have been” and those “if only” speculations, is the fact that we can see the will of God reflected in what we don’t get, where we have been, and in in the present moment and where we find ourselves.
“Que sera, sera” – Whatever will be, will be - may sound like a listless or fatalistic way to face the future if we just “wait and see” what will happen in our lives but the truth of God’s sovereign will should give us great peace and challenge us to boldly pursue what we think the Lord is calling us to.
I know the series of “Checking the Clues” is over but this morning in my ponderings of future possibilities in the days ahead considering “where will I live”, “where will I go”, and “what will I do”, I imagined Dr. Seuss’ Sam I Am appearing to ask another “Green eggs in Ham” question in regards to our faith life:
“Are they a Christian in a Boat?”
As the previous series taught us about examining the “clues of authentic Christian faith”, when we ask a question about someone else’s faith walk, the question invariably is posed to ourselves as well.
So contemplating Sam I am’s inquiry about “boats”, I envisioned the Apostle Peter calling out to Jesus Christ walking on the sea of Galilee and saying: "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." To which Jesus only gave the single word of assurance to “Come!”
Would you step out of the boat onto shifting seas, based on one word from Christ? Would you take the risk of falling? Would you dare to possibly look foolish and get “all wet” in another failure?
Are we a Christian if we just sit in the safety of “the boat”?
Or are we to step out in faith to whatever the Lord calls us to, even if it’s scary or uncertain?
I’ve told you about some of my speculations regarding my faith walk that didn’t come to pass. As the song says, “The futures not ours to see”, but that doesn’t mean we are not to try to discern where the Lord is calling us to go. While we are operating with incomplete information, we have to make our best guesses about what the Lord would have us do.
The dreams and hopes we have may not come true, but our failures and disappointments will be a part of our journey that leads us to God’s will for our lives.
Just because “whatever will be will be”, it doesn’t mean that we are not to call on the Lord and ask Him if we are to step out into new possibilities.
Some may look at Peter’s fear and failure to walk successfully on the water as a reason to not take any chances, but the thing is although Peter may have looked foolish in the eyes of man, he learned what it was like to boldly step out in faith and most importantly he learned that even if he fell the Lord would always be there to catch him.
The same Peter who denied the Lord Jesus out of fear of persecution, was convinced by the Resurrected Christ that Jesus wouldn’t just catch him in this life. Seeing that Jesus was the Son of God and God the Son, caused the one who ran away to come back and lead the church and to face a martyr’s death knowing that Jesus would catch him on the other side of this life too.
So keep walking and talking with God. If you feel that the Lord is calling you somewhere or to some new opportunity, answer the call and “step out of the boat” knowing that even your failures will be part of God’s plan for your life. The futures not ours to see but when we are in Christ we know that where we have been, where we are now, and where we will be will all be for our good, will be a part of God’s will for our lives, and will be for His purposes.
Today’s Bible verse is drawn from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
Matthew 28:20 (NLT2)
20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Today’s verse reminds us of what we are to pass on to those we teach and assures us of the Lord’s presence in our lives.
In the previous verse the Lord commands us to : “Go…. and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”
Beyond baptizing them, we are to teach the disciples that we make “to observe all the commands ” that Jesus gave us. These words of Christ command us to know what He taught the Apostles and to “obey”, or apply, the teachings to our lives. As disciples we don’t just know intellectually what Jesus taught, we are to live by what he taught.
Also we are not pick and choose what teachings of Jesus we are to obey; we are to obey all the commands Christ gave to us.
So the picture Christ is painting for His followers is to live a devout and holy life.
Jesus knew that the world hated Him for what He taught and tried to live out in their presence so His final words in the gospel of Matthew are designed to assure us that He will be with us “even to the end of the age.”
Teaching others to and choosing to observe all the things that Christ commanded for ourselves may not be an easy path to walk upon, but Christ’s death, resurrection, and words assure us that it is the right way to go and that He will be with us all the days of our lives.
So know the word of God and the teaching of Christ that are contained within it. Observe all that Christ commanded us and go and make disciples of all the nations knowing that when the end of the age comes, Christ will be with us, always and forever.
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we continue sharing from June Hunt’s Dating: Secrets to Great Relating When Dating
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase June Hunt’s books for your own private study and to support her work. If you need this title you can find it online at several sites for less than $5.00:
F. What Is God's Heart on Dating and Courtship?
God is the author of relationships, a fact clearly revealed in His relationship with the first man and woman He created. He spent time with them daily and knew them intimately. His heart is for every person to have a relationship with Him, not just as Creator but as Friend, as a close companion. And He is also deeply interested in our relationships with one another and has revealed His heart... His thoughts...His desires for us in His Word.
Since dating is essentially an activity in which relationships are formed and either valued and nurtured or devalued and destroyed, God is thoroughly tuned in to our dating experiences and nothing escapes His eyes....
"Does he not see my ways and count my every step?" (Job 31:4)
God's Heart on Dating
- God desires that believers date only those who have yielded their lives to Christ and are in right relationship with Him.
"Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?...Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?" (2 Corinthians 6:14-15).
- God desires that we know, practice, and recognize the attributes that accompany someone who loves the Lord and His people, and choose to date only such a person.
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres" (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
- God desires that we and those we date live according to His Word and be committed to purity.
"How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word" (Psalm 119:9).
- God desires that we and those we date be sanctified—set apart for God, set apart from sin—by avoiding sexual immorality.
"It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality" (1 Thessalonians 4:3).
- God desires that we learn and practice self-control both in our minds and bodies, especially regarding those whom we date.
"Each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable" (1 Thessalonians 4:4).
- God desires that we and those we date flee sexual lusts and pursue purity of mind and heart along with peace, faith, and love.
"Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart" (2 Timothy 2:22).
- God desires that we make a habit of regularly confessing our sins and viewing ourselves and those we date as forgiven by God, purified of all unrighteousness, and worthy of being treated with respect.
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).
- God desires that we speak the truth in love to one another and grow to become mature in Christ.
"Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ" (Ephesians 4:15).
- God desires that we encourage one another and build each other up.
"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing" (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
- God desires that we sharpen one another in character and in our spiritual walk.
"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another" (Proverbs 27:17).
Biblical Counseling Keys: Dating: Secrets to Great Relating When Dating.
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