Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.”
We all have goals in life–goals to graduate school, start careers, beginning a family, taking trips, or even retiring. One of my goals as a young man was to make it to the year 2000. In the 1980’s the turn of the millennium seemed so far away and so futuristic. I would think about how old I would be when that date came along, and I would wonder what my life would look like as a 31 yr. old. That event is now twenty-two years in the past and the thoughts of things to come has changed for me.
I’m beginning to see how quickly time goes by and how quickly life seems to pass as we get older. I’m learning that unless I live in the present and take care of the issues at hand now, I can go for years and still not progress.
The goals we make now, dictate the path we take for our future.
Colossians 3:1-2 “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”
There is an old Chinese proverbs that says “the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” If our walk is to be set on the right course, we must have a good starting point.
A ship’s captain must first get his bearings before he sails off across the seas. If your first waypoint is wrong, it doesn’t take long to veer off course. A deviancy of even 1 degree can result in missing the mark by hundreds or thousands of miles.
What are the first waypoints in your life?
Have you checked your spiritual bearings lately, are you still on course?
To know where your going is to understand where you began.
Psalm 90:12 “So teach us to number our days
That we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
When we recognize our position before a just and Holy God, a position of weakness, insecurity, and foolishness, we are forced to position ourselves in a more reliable place of trust. If we venture out on our own, we are forced to rely upon our own understanding and this can be unreliable.
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.”
We don’t know when our last breath will occur and yet so often we think we have life all planned out. Humility is an absolute necessity to begin a journey with God. Wisdom recognizes our weaknesses and declares, ‘Lord, I trust you for where you are leading me.’
If we don’t place our eyes on Christ, our sin eventually will.
The Path of Sin
Numbers 32:23 “But if you do not do so, then take note, you have sinned against the LORD; and be sure your sin will find you out.”
Sin leads people down a path of destruction, the more we follow it, the darker our lives become. If we continue to disregard instruction we will suffer not only from the effects of sin, we will suffer the wrath of God. The Lord has made it very clear that vengeance belongs to Him. This vengeance may either be realized on earth or for eternity in Hell. Sometimes the Lord removes His hand of protection and you find out very quickly how rapidly your world descends into chaos.
God has declared that He holds the Universe in order, the world and it’s cycles are maintained by Him—-Do you suppose that just maybe, your life is balanced because of Him as well?
Hebrews 1:3 “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high”
When we choose rebellion against God’s moral law, we choose to remove ourselves from His care and place it on ourselves. I don’t know about you, but for me this is a scary thought. I know my understanding is limited to the knowledge of my immediate surroundings, my limited capacity to see is only perceived by my senses.
How can we expect to have one ounce of understanding regarding our future if we can’t know anything apart from Him?
True spiritual insight comes only from God.
Jesus taught that there were those who thought they were righteous and acted like they followed Jesus but their hearts were far from Him.
Matthew 7:22-23 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness!”
What was the goal of those whom Jesus said, “I never knew you”?
They seemed to be very busy doing the work of the Lord, unfortunately for them, it wasn’t the Lord’s work they were doing, it was THEIR work. It was work that made them feel good, it was something others praised them for, or for which they received honor from men…but God was not in it.
The world will look at people and say, “My, what wonderful men and women for God!”. These people will eventually become leaders in congregations that don’t have the discernment to distinguish between Spirit led work and work of the flesh.
Do you know what Spirit led work looks like?—Jesus is glorified in the work…not people.
Jesus is our Waypoint
If the Father has exalted Jesus, then it is imperative that we exalt Jesus. For a believer—Everything in life begins and ends with Jesus.
Acts 5:30-32 “The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
When God’s people are led by the Spirit, love for others is also the focus. When we show love to others then the Lord is glorified. When people serve because of their love for God, God is honored in their midst. When a love for Jesus and the desire to please Him is our motivation, we leave people with a greater understanding of God’s love for them.
Food and clothing come and go, they are here today and gone tomorrow, but leave them with Jesus and you give them a gift that is more valuable than gold.
How do we know what the path to following Jesus looks like?
The Moral Law is the guideline that should govern the actions of every true believer in Christ.
Psalm 40:8 “I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your law is within my heart.”
This is not old theology, this is relevant for us today. It will be relevant into eternity.
Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”, in John 14:15. This commandment was given by Jesus, not Moses or Abraham. The New Covenant of the Lamb of God is founded in continuing to keep His commandments. It is not the measure by how we are justified…Jesus already fulfilled that role. The law is the measure by which we show Love for God, after we have trusted in Jesus as our redeemer.
The Wayward Path of Unbelievers
For those who are not believers, the law is an indictment against their lifestyles and rejection of God’s favor.
Psalm 1:6 “For the LORD guards the path of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”
The law makes sin utterly sinful. Unbelievers do not know or understand sin unless we show them by God’s law why that is. Paul used it in evangelism, Jesus used it in evangelism and so did every other believer up until the 20th century. It was at this point, the church began to move away from the moral law in evangelism and towards prosperity preaching.
The church began to lose its power by focusing on getting people into church rather than taking a stand for righteousness.
God’s power has always been in the church but in terms of the demonstration of God’s power in evangelism, it began to fade.
Don’t get me wrong, there have been some very faithful people who remained true to the message, O. Chambers, A.W. Tozer, Billy Graham, Luis Palau, to name a few. The break came in the small, hometown churches across the world who lost their focus for preaching God’s justice and only began to preach about God’s love.
We are now seeing large regions where the church has simply died. We have friends that were missionaries in England, simply because the church got old and died. There was no influx of new believers because their means of true evangelism faded away. Many of the young people who grew up in churches, left their respective churches because the doctrine of happiness just didn’t make them happy. The message gets real old-real fast when life begins to be difficult and the emotional high from another Sunday service filled with false promises leads to the labor of the valley we must endure through the week.
The signs of a weak church have been evident for many years. Divorce has been as high in the church as it is outside the church. Pornography grips Pastors at a rate of almost 50% of all mainline denominations, up to 65% of men in the church, 40% of women and even more striking 65% of youth pastors. It’s no wonder divorce has been so predominate and the power of the church has simply ebbed away.
What could be another good waypoint? How about Holiness?
Return to Holiness
1 Peter 1:16 “Since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
God’s people are characterized by the ability to separate themselves from this world.
Holiness is characterized by ‘apartness or sacredness‘. We render ourselves to be in the world but not of it. We look at our position in Christ as one of sacredness because we represent His name. When we live contrary to His moral law, we blaspheme the name of Christ. We blaspheme His glory and His goodness when we allow sin to reign in our lives unchecked.
Jesus’ goal is that we remain in Him and that He remains in us.
If Jesus is your goal, you will see the end of the road one day and where your goals have led you, then you will see the future Jesus has promised to those who believe.
There are many waypoints in life, Jesus will lead you to each of them as you trust Him. He is leading you back to Himself, He will be your great reward and the journey will be worth the prize.