Friday, March 30, 2007

Jesus is Your Model

Interpret Experience by Scripture

During your life you will have times when you want to respond based on your own experience or your own wisdom. Such an approach will get you in trouble. This should be your guideline: Always go to the Bible for truth (or, for the Holy Spirit to reveal Truth).

Look to see what God says and how He works in the Scriptures. Make your decisions and evaluate your experiences based on biblical principles.

When you study the Scriptures, do not base your decision on one isolated case. Look to see how God works throughout the Scriptures. When you learn how God has worked throughout history, you can depend on His working in a similar way with you. Your experience is valid only as it is confirmed in the Scriptures. I do not deny any experience that a person has had. However, they must always be interpreted according to what is in the Scriptures. Someone might say, "Well, I don't care what you say, I've experienced this."

My response is, "I do not deny your experience. I do question your interpretation of what you experienced, because it is contrary to what I see in the Word of God." Our experiences cannot be our guide. Every experience must be controlled and understood by the Scriptures. The God revealed in Scripture does not change and the Truth of Scripture will never contradict itself. You must be cautious about isolating a single experience from the context of Scripture. You will want to see how God works throughout Scripture. You will never go wrong if, under the Holy Spirit's instruction, you let the Bible be your guide.

The Bible Is Your Guide

Christians are becoming more and more disoriented to the Bible as a guide for faith and practice. Because of this, Christians have turned to worldly solutions, programs, and methods that appear to be the answer to spiritual problems. The Word of God should be the only guide to what we should be doing. Some people say, "That is not practical." They want to move away from the Bible and rely on the world's ways or on personal experience. As a Christian disciple, we cannot abandon the guidance found in the Bible. The Bible is the only guide for faith and practice.

How do you let the Word of God become your guide? When I seek God's direction, I insist on following the directives that I see in the Word of God. The previous blog post Jesus Is Your Way is an example. Does God call people to follow Him without giving them all the details up front? We know that He called Abram to follow that way. Is that a pattern consistent in the Scriptures?

Matthew 4:18-20
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him.

Matthew 4:21-22
Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

Matthew 9:9
As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

Acts 9:1-20
Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"

"Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked.

"I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied. "Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."

The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.

In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, "Ananias!"
"Yes, Lord," he answered.

The Lord told him, "Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight."

"Lord," Ananias answered, "I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name."

But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name."

Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit." Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.

In some cases God gave more details than in others. In Moses' call, God gave him a bigger picture of the assignment than he usually gave. In every case, however, the individuals had to stay close to God for daily guidance. For Moses and the children of Israel, God provided daily guidance through the cloud by day and the fire by night. For Peter, Andrew, James, John, Matthew, and Saul, God gave very little detail about their assignments. He basically said, "Just follow me, and I will show you."

What Is God's Will for My Life?

When people seek to know and do the will of God, many ask, What is God's will for my life? Seminary professor Dr. Gaines S. Dobbins said, "If you ask the wrong question, you are going to get the wrong answer." Sometimes we assume that every question is a legitimate question. When we pursue an answer and always come up wrong, we cannot figure out what is happening. Always check to see if you have asked the right question before you pursue the answer.

What is God's will for my life?- is not the right question. The right question is, What is God's will? Once I know God's will, then I can adjust my life to Him. In other words, what is it that God is purposing where I am. Once I know what God is doing, then I know what I need to do. The focus needs to be on God, not my life!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Jesus Is Your Way

For 12 years, Henry Blackaby pastored in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. One day a farmer said to him, "Henry, come out and visit with me at my farm." His directions went something like this: "Go a quarter mile past the edge of the city and you will see a big red barn on your left. Go to the next road and turn to your left. Take that road for three-quarters of a mile. You'll see a tree. Go right for about four miles, and then you will see a big rock..." Henry wrote all of this down and eventually got there!

The next time he was to go to the farmer's house, the farmer was along for the ride. Since there was more than one way to get to his house, he could have taken them any way he wanted to. You see, the farmer was the "map". What did the driver have to do? Simply listen to the farmer and obey him. Every time the farmer said, "turn" they turned. The farmer took them a different way than before. The farmer was the "map"; he knew the way.

When you come to the Lord Jesus to seek His will for your life, what do you ask?

Lord, what do you want me to do? When do you want me to do it? How shall I do it? Where shall I do it? Who do you want me to involve along the way? And please tell me what the outcome will be?


Lord, just tell me what to do one step at a time, and I will do it.

Isn't the first response most typical of us? We are always asking God for a detailed "road map". We say, "Lord, if You could just tell me where I am heading, then I will be able to set my course and go."

He says, "You don't need to. What you need to do is follow Me one day at a time." We need to come to the place where the second response is ours.

John 14:6
"I am the way and the truth and the life."

Who is it that really knows the way for you to go to fulfill God's purpose for your life? God is. Jesus said "I am the way."

He did not say "I will show you the way."
He did not say "I will give you a road map."
He did not say "I will tell you which direction to head."
He said, "I am the way." Jesus knows the way; He is your way.

If you were to do everything that Jesus tells you one day at a time, do you suppose that you always would be right in the center of where God wants you to be? When you get to the place where you trust Jesus to guide you one step at a time you experience a new freedom. If you don't trust Jesus to guide you this way, what happens if you don't know the way you are to go? You worry every time you must take a turn. You often freeze up and cannot make a decision. This is not the way God intends for you to live your life.

I have found in my own life that I can release the way to Him. Then I take care of everything He tells me one day at a time. He gives me plenty to do to fill each day with meaning and purpose! If I do everything He says, I will be in the center of His will when He wants to use me for a special assignment.

Abram Followed One Day at a Time
Abram (later, God changed his name to Abraham) is a good example of this principle at work in a Bible character. He walked by faith and not by sight.

Genesis 12:1-5
1 The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.

2 "I will make you into a great nation
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.

3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you."

4 So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran. 5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.

What did God say? How specific was He? "Leave" and "go." Go where? "To a land I will show you."

Are you ready to follow God's will that way?

Many times, as with Abram, God called people just to follow Him. He is more likely to call you to follow one day at a time than He is to spell out all the details before you begin to obey Him.

Matthew 6:33-34
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Now, spend time with God in prayer and...
... agree God is absolutely trustworthy.
... agree with God that you will follow Him one day at a time.
... agree that you will follow Him even when He does not spell out all the details.
... agree that you will let Him be your Way.

If you cannot agree to these right now, openly confess your struggles to Him. Ask Him to help you want to do His will His way. Claim the promise: "It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose" Phillipians 2:13.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

...Worth a Thousand Words

She even makes sand look cute!

Thursday, March 01, 2007


John 17:3
Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

The heart of eternal life and the heart of Experiencing God is to KNOW GOD and to KNOW JESUS CHRIST whom He has sent. Knowing God does not come through a program or method. It is a relationship with a Person. It is an intimate love relationship with God. Through this relationship, God reveals His will and invites you to join Him where He is already at work. When you obey, God accomplishes through you something only He can do. Then you come to KNOW GOD in a more intimate way by EXPERIENCING GOD at work through you.

John 10:10
... I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Relationship to Jesus Christ - a Prerequisite

The understanding here is that you already have trusted Jesus Christ as Savior and acknowledge Him to be Lord of your life. If you have not made this most important decision in your life, the rest of the Experiencing God study will have little meaning because spiritual matters can only be understood by those who have the indwelling Spirit of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:14
The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.

If you need help with this important decision, please call on your pastor, a deacon or a Christian friend for help. They will be there for you and direct you to the relationship you seek.

Looking for More in Your Experience of God?

You may have been frustrated in your Christian experience because you know God has a life for you that you have not experienced. Or you may be earnestly desiring God's direction for your life and ministry. You may have experienced tragedy in you life. Experiencing God will help you to:
-hear when God is speaking to you
-clearly identify the activity of God in your life
-believe Him to be and do everything He promises
-adjust your beliefs, character, and behavior to Him and His ways
-see a direction that He is taking in your life and what He wants to do through your life
-clearly know what you need to do in response to His activity in your life and
-experience God doing through you what only God can do!

This is an impossible task for a Bible study course. These are things that only God can do in your life. Experiencing God will be a catalyst for your deeper walk with God.

The most important thing to remember about a relationship to God is His interest in you. As His precious child, He is infinitely more interested in your life than you or I could possibly be.