27 Steps to Walking in God’s Will

where living begins, Pastor, Richard L Rice

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6)

There are 27 words (steps) here. Follow them, and you’ll walk in God’s will.

Put your faith in God, not in your own strength or ability, knowledge or traditions.

Study and know God’s Word, the Bible; it contains His perfect understanding.

Make your every goal and purpose the praise and glory of God.

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Prophecy and Prediction

Since man’s days are determined, the number of his months is with You; You have appointed his limits, so that he cannot pass. Look away from him that he may rest, till like a hired man he finishes his day (Job 14:5-6).

God isn’t like a fortune-teller sitting with a crystal ball outside a circus tent. He doesn’t look across history to see what’s ahead so He can tell us what He sees. Prophecy isn’t God predicting something. God doesn’t predict, He proclaims. He doesn’t fortune-tell, He forth-tells. He knows what tomorrow holds because He predestined it to happen before time began.

This is a blessed truth to the Christian. It reminds us that nothing is a surprise to God. He’s not in Heaven wringing His hands in worry over tomorrow’s stock market, your health, or someone’s political agenda. Instead, everything is moving exactly according to His eternal plan. We can rest easy in His sovereignty today and tomorrow.

A God of Gobbledygook?

We have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God (1 Corinthians 2:12).

In 1948, US President Harry Truman accused his opponents of following the motto, If you can’t convince them, confuse them. Some people claim this is God’s modus operandi.

God talks like a man whose mouth is full of marbles and mush in his mind; His Word can be understood in many different ways. For them, He’s a mysterious being of eternal gobbledygook. The Bible is nothing but a fairy-story full of cryptic babble left for the listener to decipher.

Christianity has always posited that God’s desire is to clearly reveal Himself to His creation. He created the universe to point man to Himself (Romans 1:20); however sin deafens man (Romans 1:21).

The Apostle Peter wrote that the Bible came via holy men of God who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit and is not of any private interpretation (2 Peter 1:20, 21). A Bible of many different meanings suggests an addle-minded Holy Spirit incapable of rational thought, when the problem is a sinful man with a “private interpretation” who has never undertaken to study the absolute reliability nor documented historicity of the Scriptures.

When we receive the Bible for what it says of itself, that every word has been inspired, directed, and preserved by the Holy Spirit to give His people an unmistakable statement of His will, then it is easy to comprehend. Simply stated: God says what He means.

Scripture is only hard to grasp when we desire to find ways to get around what He’s clearly and specifically said; that’s when it becomes a fairy-tale with a thousand different secret meanings.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Truly, does this sound like God is a con-man, playing a shell game with the way to knowing Him and His will?

Beyond our Yesterdays

Years ago I performed a memorial service for a man whom nobody liked, even his own family. At many funerals, people are given a chance to share thoughts about the deceased, but I feared it would end up being 5 minutes of very awkward silence. I was surprised so many people had something kind to say about a very disliked man.

It’s a shame we have to wait until someone dies before we lay aside the anger, bitterness, and disagreements to find the person’s good qualities. It’s sad death is usually the one event that makes us recognize how much we’re all alike.

When you look at a family member, co-worker, or friend, do you immediately recall her flaws and failures or do you see someone an awful lot like yourself? The specifics may be different, but really she’s the same as you are. We’ve each said and thought and done things we should never have said, thought, and done. We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

One of the great things about the God of the Bible is that when we come to Him in faith and accept His gift of salvation in Jesus Christ, He does more than forgive our sins, He forgets them completely. It’s not that He strains to think of something good about us to improve our self-image; rather, He moves beyond our yesterdays for His own sake.

I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins (Isaiah 43:25).

On Sunday Morning

JFK

Nearly a decade before I was born, President John Kennedy said in his Inaugural Address: My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

In America, this attitude has become a platitude. Kennedy’s words are long forgotten as people routinely fight each other to get more rather than to consider what they may freely contribute.

Sadly, this same mentality pervades the church set. We ask: What can I get by going to church? What will God, or the church, or the pastor, or the musicians, or the people there give to me today?

People attend church for the social experience. They seek a smiling face, friendship or a handout. They want heart-stirring music, an emotional charge, or a platform for income equality and gender-fluid politics. Others make it a cover of godliness to hide a lust for material possessions or a place to lurk after vulnerable, hurting people.

The Bible portrays the Church as a spiritual organism in a material world. It pictures the Son of God coming to Earth to reveal the Father and be the redemption for man’s sin. Christ’s mission wasn’t social engineering or political revolution, but ending sin and death. Jesus is eternal life rather than health or wealth here and now.

Few ever arrive Sunday morning and ask, “What will God receive from me here today?

The Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him (Habakkuk 2:20).

 

The Blood of Bulls and Goats

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

In many ways, the Old Testament is like the “storybook” of the New Testament. The Old Testament reveals in pictures the truths of the New Testament.

Blood, for example, is a symbol of life in the Scriptures (Leviticus 17:14). God prescribed for the Jews a long-list of sins for which the blood sacrifice of an animal was required. Yet despite all those sacrifices under the Old Covenant, animal blood never forgave a single sin. Those Jewish sacrifices were given to point Israel to the need for a better, a Perfect Sacrifice which the Father would make by His Son.

Redemption has always depended upon the Lamb provided by God rather than a lamb provided by the sinner. Only the blood of Jesus removes sin and sin’s stain.

For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place, once of all, having obtained eternal redemption (Hebrews 10:4; 9:12).

The Vasa

where living begins

On August 10, 1628, after two years of work, the pride of the Swedish navy slid from its berth in Stockholm into the harbor. Dignitaries and royalty aboard the Vasa were impressed as the sails caught wind and billowed. Less than 400 feet from the shoreline, a strong gust of wind caught the ship causing it to roll over. Water rushed into the open gun ports, and the Vasa sank to the bottom of the harbor.

King Gustavus Adolphus was eager to show off the pride of Sweden and its growing military power. The Vasa was covered with intricately carved figurines, and a massive, ornate stern. The 5-deck ship, however, wasn’t fitted with ballast to keep it balanced in the water.

Sweden was so ashamed of its folly, that the ship wasn’t spoken of again. It remained at the bottom of the harbor until 1961. Today the Vasa sits in a museum in the Swedish capital.

The story of the Vasa is the story of you and me. God knows our every frailty and failure, despite the grand appearance we make to the world. We may impress others and even our self, but God knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust despite our pretensions (Psalm 103:14).

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the plunder with the proud (Proverbs 16:18, 19).

A Visa

One of the steps for my travel to Kenya is obtaining a visa. A visa isn’t a plastic credit card. It’s the approval from a government to visit and then leave a country.

To get into the nation of Kenya, an American must have the permission of the Kenyan government. The visa will allows us to stay a certain length of time in Kenya, and later it will become our ticket to leave.

Without a visa you can’t get in. If you lose your visa, you can’t get out!

The Kenya visa application isn’t too bad. It’s all done online, is only about 5 pages of questions, and a fee of $51.

There are countries which have treaties allowing citizens to travel without a visa. American citizens, for example, don’t need a visa to travel to Canada or Mexico. Americans can visit 99 different countries without prior visa approval, but that leaves 97 others where a visa is required in advance.

It’s easy to understand why people are confused about world travel. It’s even easier to understand why people are confused about getting to Heaven. Ask and you’ll get all kinds of answers: everyone goes to Heaven; good people get in free; those who engage in certain religious rituals like water baptism can go; after you die you can work your way there by good deeds and the good deeds of others.

Getting into Heaven, though, isn’t about what you or I or the guy next door thinks, it’s about what the King of Heaven says. Who does He let into His Kingdom? His answer is the only one that matters.

Jesus said it best to the Jewish leader Nicodemus. Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3).

Each of us is born into this world of humanity. We were born of blood, of the flesh, and of the will of our parents. These things, however, don’t matter to God. His government works differently. It’s about those who were born – not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man – but of the will of God (John 1:13). To those born again of God’s will, He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name (John 1:12).

More Boring than a Wheel

Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day (Exodus 20:9, 10, 11).

A CBS News story reported in May that Jews and Christians made up the idea of the 7-day week as a form of time slavery. The “week is man-made, arbitrary, a substance not found in nature.”

Instead of time being a continual revolving cycle of renewal, “Judeo-Christians decided that time was actually linear, beginning at creation and moving toward end times. This idea stuck—and it’s way more boring than a wheel.” To improve the conquest of time, the author of the report said we must elevate the weekend, which she claims was invented by socialist-minded politicians.

If you think that socialism is compatible with Christianity, here’s more proof you’re wrong.

God has a different idea about time than communists. The Bible says that He created the idea of a 7-day week when He created the heavens and the earth in six days and then rested on the seventh. It’s not man-made, it is inherent in His creation.

Instead of conquering time, we must be living circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-16).

Bible Preaching

where living beginsAnd beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, Jesus expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. And they said to one another, “Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:27, 32).

I visited a local church where the sermon was about the godly use of money. At the end, the pastor asked the congregation to bow their heads and close their eyes, and then said, “… and if you want what we’ve been talking about today, raise you hand.” They were asked to repeat a prayer and each person was then counted as a new convert.

I sat amazed. “If you want what we’ve been talking about today.” What had the pastor talked about? Getting money, spending money, and saving money. Who doesn’t want those things? I can understand people wanting to use their money in a better fashion, but the sermon was about the listener and not about who Jesus is or what He has done.

This weekend many of you will sit in a church service. The pastor will use a Bible verse or more as the basis of the sermon. It may be the story about Peter walking on the water and how you can make faith-based decisions. Maybe it will be a message about Joshua marching around the city of Jericho and how you can persevere through difficulties by patience or praising the Lord. Even John 3:16 becomes a talk about what you can do, instead of what God through Christ has done.

Bible preaching centers on Christ Jesus. He and His works are the focus and heart of Scripture, not you the listener. Biblical preaching glorifies Jesus, the Creator and Saviour, rather than you, the creature and sinner.