- From the Cedar Street Times, Pacific Grove
What does God say about His way?
Rom 5:5, “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” God wants us to know that His way is love. We cannot seek love, it has to be freely given, and those of us who think we can demand it will be sorely disappointed. Love is selfless, so if we want to enjoy the love of others, we must first freely give our love, by living it. Then, as we are drawn to God because He first loved us, 1 Jn 4:19, “We love him, because he first loved us.” others will be drawn to us because we first loved them. Therefore, we must first learn to love the way God loves, Jn 15:12, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.”
When we ignore God and His way, we think we are making the best decisions. However, God is warning us, Prov 14:12, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” God’s warnings are not a sign He is going to punish us for doing things our own way. He is warning us that He has seen the future, and there are better choices to be made. Like a man with a flag on the highway trying to get us to stop, so he can tell us the bridge is out. God and the man on the highway are just trying to warn us. If we are too stubborn to listen, there will be problems. Both the man on the highway and God are ministering us, Matt 20:28, “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
Our way can be identified by the decisions we make in defiance of God’s will for our lives. We must remember, God loves us and only wants the best for us, Jer 29:11, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” How are we responding to God’s love? Are we just making one decision after another, without thinking about the profound effects each of those decisions might have on some other part of our lives or our eternal future? Are we living as though we are in a lifelong game of unintended consequences? One example might be the drug, which we took to deal with a physical problem that resulted in a totally different issue. Isn’t it ironic, that so many people tell us God’s way is wrong when they have not even considered reasoning with it? This is especially ironic since so many of them are living examples of lives gone wrong.
Maybe, we need to stop and understand God’s way, before we dismiss it? Can we really know we are smarter than God if we haven’t first reasoned with His advice? Is 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” God seems to think His way is best. He also tells us He is perfect, and He wants us to seek perfection, Matt 5:48, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” But how can we become perfect? 2 Tim 3:16-17, “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 perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” A July 31, 2014, HuffPost article, “What do Seventh Day Adventists get right that lengthens their life expectancy” tells us that the average Seventh Day Adventist lives ten years longer than the average American. Could they be listening to God and making better choices?
Micah 6:8, “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” When we humbly reason with God, it is not God and His truth that change, but our understanding of them. We learn to be more reasonable, and it leads us to listen to other people’s opinions, which do not conform to our current thinking. Humbly reasoning with God means we open our hearts and minds to the possibility we do not know everything. Each time we do this, we move closer to perfection.
So, what are the steps leading to perfection? Apparently, the formula is; listen to God’s advice, examine our lives, then compare the two to see what we need to change, Prov 4:26-27, “Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.” Can we trust God to lead us to perfection? Numb 23:19, “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” He is telling us He cannot lie and once we understand this, we will gain the hope, which leads us toward perfection and the eternal life He has offered, Tit 1:2, “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;”
So, let us reason with part of His Word, to get examples of how His way leads us to perfection:
He tells us we must come to His Word with a desire to do good works, rather than satisfying our own selfish desires, Heb 10:22-24, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:” He is not forcing us, just providing the truth that teaches us to love as He does, which produces the fruit of the Spirit, Gal 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” There is nothing about money or wealth in the fruit of the Spirit.
He tells us He is the way to truth and eternal life, Jn 14:6, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
He wants us to be humble, gentle and kind, Col 3:12, “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;”
He asks us to seek peace whenever it is possible, Rom 12:18, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” This can only happen if we are willing to say no to evil, Prov 1:10, “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.”
He wants us to focus on what is good in this life, so that we can have His peace and spread His Word by our example, Phil 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
He wants us to use the wonderful minds He has given us to reason with His Word, so we can then prove that it produces the good He is offering, Rom 12:2, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
He wants us to understand we do not deserve His offer, however, He is inviting us anyway, Rom 5:8, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” and when we believe in Jesus, we will be part of His eternal family, Jn 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” It is the belief in Jesus that allows God’s love for us to penetrate our protective shields, thus leading us to the eternal life He is offering. How many people have to die as martyrs, before we will open our minds to His love? His love is real, unselfish and leads us to love Him, ourselves, our neighbors and eventually those we perceive to be our enemies, Matt 22:37, 39, “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind…And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” and Matt 5:44, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” God’s way is love!
He has asked us to obey the laws of the land we choose to live in, 1 Pet 2:13-15, “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:” and Deut 30:16, “In that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.” God doesn’t just tell us to blindly follow His way, He tells us why it is important. He wants us to know that when we follow His advice, our lives will have less conflict, more peace, and less stress. We cannot break laws without becoming hypocrites. He tells us people will not listen to a hypocrite, for long, and we are God’s representatives in this world.
Ultimately, our gentle creator has given us the freedom to decide our own eternity. We can ignore His way and enjoy what this life has to offer. Or, we can accept His offer of grace, mercy, and peace, which leads us to follow His way for our lives to the eternal family He is creating. Free will is at the heart of God’s love for us. Yes, we do choose our own destiny, and God has already seen who among us will choose to go our own way. This is why He sheds tears for those of us who will choose this life only. Not His choice, but ours, Eze 33:11, “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?”
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