Over the last blog post or two, I have talked about putting my trust in the Lord and being obedient. I also talk a lot about being in the Word of God and testing everything against the Word. But if I do not do those things myself I am not truthful with God or anyone else. So, I had this one issue that I was dealing with, and I thought I was done with it. But God knew it was still troubling me. He knew that it hurt to decide as I did, even though I had decided in keeping with His will and His Word.
Apparently, God knew more than I did because as my morning started my first attempts at prayer were jumbled but after some time, they became clearer. I gave thanks, and I prayed for those in need, and a posting by a friend came to mind, and I prayed that as well; it was Psalm 139
Psalms 139 (ESV)23-24
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
I read that prayed that passage and paused my prayers and I read some devotionals.
I read two more devotionals and resumed my prayers, and my thoughts and prayers returned to the issue that I had felt I had resolved, but evidently, God did not agree because it came flooding back from a completely different perspective. I had prayed, and He had revealed the answers in His Word. Evidently, I did not go deep enough to put my mind to rest the first time. The issue has to do with where my focus should be. On my past or my future.
The reason for the focus on the past was a study to look back and see where I had been and how my past had affected my attitudes. I considered the study, but something about it bugged me so I went to God in prayer about it and he revealed to me in some scriptures that it was not where I should focus my energy. I needed to be looking forward to what the Holy Spirit had planned for me, so I opted not to do the study. Philippians 3:13 -14 was what got my attention.
Philippians 3:13-14 (ESV)
13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
God just poked me in the ribs with this passage. But evidently, I was still struggling with my decision, because for me it was not easy. I love the guys I am meeting with and hated to miss out on any discussion. So, I found my prayers going over this plowed ground and this morning God gave me more and reminded me to trust him when He tells me something. The answer came in more scriptures when I did a topical search. First, it was Colossians
I went to the third chapter and began at the first verse.
Colossians 3:1-3 (ESV)
1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
I read that passage a couple of times and it was clear that my past had died when I gave my life to Christ Jesus. I had repented, and I had made peace with God. From here I went to Hebrews and there I was startled a bit.
Specifically, I went to Hebrews 12 which follow the “Faith” chapter where the author outlines all the great people of the faith and verses 1 and 2 are pretty piercing.
Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV)
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
I read this, and I was humbled. Evidently, the decision I had made not to participate was more difficult than I had realized. But when the Lord showed me this passage I was less troubled.
It was difficult to make that decision. My wife Pat was a great help and encouragement as well. She helped reinforce the scriptures. Everyone in the group was supportive, but it was still tough, and as I reflect on the last few days, I did question whether my decision was sound. But the thing is every time I turned toward my own understanding the Holy Spirit turned me back. Sometimes he used Pat or sometimes he just used a phrase, but he kept me focused. And rather than allowing this doubt to fester the Lord pushed me deeper into His Word.
He once again proved to me Matthew 7:7-8
Matthew 7:7-8 (ESV)
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
The exciting thing for me is so often the prayer is where I pose my questions, and the Word of God is where I find my answers. I cannot speak to why I am the only one that was led in this direction. But I trust God, and I know He has a plan for each of us. Sometimes they are different. But never stop taking your troubles to God. He will put you at ease.
Father, thank you for your constant grace and teaching through Your Word and prayer. Thank you for teaching me not to settle for partial answers but to pursue a fuller understanding. You, Lord, are an awesome God, and I am thankful for the gift of Grace and Repentance. In Jesus name, I give thanks and praise, Amen!