This morning I had a lot of things ringing in my ears, and the one that would not let me alone was something my preacher Terry Cooper said in his sermon yesterday. I will have to paraphrase it, “I cannot make you believe in Jesus.”
You know, I wish I could make people believe, but that is not God’s plan. It makes my heart ache to see people I love that seem to ignore him or worse yet pay Him lip service. No, I cannot know their heart, but you can see the fruit and makes your heart ache. God is specific:
John 6:44 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
I am going to paraphrase Terry one more time. “I cannot make you believe it I can only tell you about it. You need to believe”
So that is what I try to do is share what is in my heart every day. But today did not stop with that thought and concern, but it bounced around a bit more.
I felt like I was sighting in a rifle this morning that had been dropped. I started with a blog post by Bob Russel on the book “The Shack.” Then a devotional by Oswald Chambers in Utmost for His Highest – “God’s Assurance” and finally into the scriptures from Proverbs to Peter.
I began with this focus on believe and trusting God. That began with John 6:44
John 6:44 (ESV) 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
Then John 11:25-26
John 11:25-26 (ESV) 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
Finally John 14:6-7
John 14:6-7 (ESV) 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Christ defined that he was the only path to salvation. He is our hope and “If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him (Jn 14:7).” It is so clear, and I am filled with a peace as I read each passage. There is a joy in knowing that all of this is here for all of us and within reach. But it is not a spare tire that you pull out when faced with a trial; it is living water that you rely on in good times so when the trials come you have the strength to get through them. A super food or multi vitamin you take in every day because the path is not always easy and we need the nourishment of the Word.
The Way is Hard
Jesus warns us that the way is hard. He tells us that the gate is narrow. He reminds us that not everyone will make the right choices.
Matthew 7:13-14 (ESV) 13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
I read this passage, and I think instantly of all the warnings that are in the Word of God to Guard our Hearts and cling to Christ Jesus and test all we hear against the scriptures. I thought of Act 17:10-11
Paul and Silas went to Berea from Thessalonica, and they were impressed with the brothers there because they tested what they taught them against the Scriptures.
Acts 17:10-12 (ESV) 10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.12 Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.
To me, that is an example that I am not to blindly follow the teachings of man, but to test all against Gods Word and to do that I must study. My preacher Terry I admire as a willing servant of God. But I must test what he says against the word. You see half of his preaching is my listening, and I could miss something. I love that he includes the scriptures he uses in the bulletin.
We are blasted every day by so many incorrect messages that we must guard our heart against them. I thought of the comments from Bob Russel on “The Shack.”
I have not seen the move nor read the book. I just had no desire to. If you have or if you are considering doing so you might want to read Bob’s blog post. He has some important insights. The one that struck me was the importance of being certain to know the scriptures well enough to discern biblical doctrine properly. His Blog leads me to Ephesians 6:10-20 (ESV) and 1 Peter 5:6-11 (ESV). Both of these warn of the importance of God’s Word as a defense against the adversary. But when I was doing some research on scripture I found a passage in Proverbs that I liked.
This passage touched my heart.
Proverbs 4:20-27 (ESV)
20 My son, be attentive to my words;
incline your ear to my sayings.
21 Let them not escape from your sight;
keep them within your heart.
22 For they are life to those who find them,
and healing to all their flesh.
23 Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life.
24 Put away from you crooked speech,
and put devious talk far from you.
25 Let your eyes look directly forward,
and your gaze be straight before you.
26 Ponder the path of your feet;
then all your ways will be sure.
27 Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
turn your foot away from evil.
I look at this passage and am reminded that all through God’s Word He wants us to listen to Him and pay attention to His Word. “22 For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. 23 Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life (Pr 4:22-23). I am thankful.
I read all these passages this morning and as I ponder them against the things of this world I am thankful. God has blessed me with so much and replace my heart of stone with a heart of flesh.
He has shown me that I must guard that heart, but he has given me His Holy Word, Prayer and Repentance to help me in all circumstances. Through the gift of His indwelling Spirit, He has taught me discernment and understanding and I am filled with thanksgiving. He is there for me in all circumstances.
Father God, I believe! Help me with those moments of doubt and unbelief. Lord, I cling to you and your Holy Word. I know that you will never leave me or forsake me and in you rests all my hope.
In Jesus name, I pray, Amen!