Have you every wrestled with the same questions as Paul in Romans 7:14-20? Many times I find myself saying with him, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Have you, like me, been there done that. The Apostle also gives the reason for his dilemma with these words, “Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it but it is sin living in me that does it.”
Often as believers we would like to deny that we are really sinners who continually need God’s mercy and forgiveness. Yet in 1 John 1:8 we read, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” John continues with the good news that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and will forgive our sins and purify us. But he also warns us not to feel self-righteous with no need to confess our sins. I find it important to note that in chapter 2, verse 1, John indicates that he is speaking to believers rather than non-believers.
James also seems to be fully aware of the believer’s weakness with his warning, “We all stumble in many ways” (James 3:2). These many ways may be a short temper, a sharp tongue, an unforgiving attitude, an old habit, or numerous other sins we find ourselves stumbling over.
We are encouraged not to allow our being forgiven to be an excuse for continuing to stumble over these things (Gal. 5:13). Yet we know that our sinful nature requires God’s constant forgiveness.
It seems to me that Jesus explained God’s willingness to forgive us if we ask Him when He told Peter he should forgive his brother “not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matt. 18:22). We dare not assume that God’s willingness to forgive us is any less than he asks us to forgive our brothers.
Therefore, take courage when you stumble along life’s pathway as a believer. Our Heavenly Father is ready to forgive as we confess our stumbling and ask for His forgiveness.
Did you ever ask that question? I have many times when circumstances seemed to be piling up on me or when I was facing a situation I would prefer to avoid. Such is the case now as I again face a significant surgery next week. In times like these one can feel rather helpless and alone. So I found myself asking that question once again.
It did not take long for God to answer me, as the immediate thoughts flooded my mind. I am right where I have always been waiting for you to call on me. Remember my promise that I am near to all who call on me (Psalms 145:18), and if you draw near to me I will come near to you (James 4:8). He also reminded me that He is “an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalms 46:1).
Why is it so easy for us to lament over our circumstances, to seek comfort from our families, our friends, and acquaintances? In our loneliness we, like the Psalmist, cry out, “I lie awake; I have become like a bird alone on a roof” (Psalms 102:7). Although we can not add a single hour to our lives (Luke 12:25-26), we so often worry over the rest of our lives.
So, if you find yourself asking God where are you, perhaps it is because you have forgotten that the Lord is your rock, your fortress and your deliverer. With David you too can say, “In my distress I called to the Lord…from His temple He heard our voice” (Psalms 18 2-6).
As in many of the circumstances that come my way, I find myself again being asked Will You Trust Me Now? The challenge for each of us is to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). When we do so, He promises that “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”(Philippians 4:7).
Do you have it—the will to believe? Yes, each of us possesses the will to believe and we exercise it many times each day with little conscious thought. When we turn on the faucet to draw water, turn the switch to start the car, or flip the light switch, we exercise the will to believe that our action will produce the desired results.
Having just returned from having coffee with a group in our mobilehome park clubhouse, I became vividly aware that we each determine what we choose to believe. I recalled a couple old saying: “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still” and “You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink”.
As human beings we were created with a free will which allows us to believe or not to believe certain things. This is born out by numerous examples of lawless behavior by those who do not really believe that, if they break the laws of man or God, unpleasant consequences will follow.
Each of us has made up our minds about the issues of life. Some have chosen to believe the message of the Scriptures concerning God and His plan of salvation; others have chosen not to believe. In either case, it is we ourselves who make the decision to will to believe or to will not to believe.
The message is so clear and all inclusive as Jesus gave it in John 3:16-18. It is the question I would put to you. Do you have the will to believe in what you may not totally understand and cannot see? (Hebrews 11: 1-2) Just as Jesus explained to Peter, it is not what others say but “Who do you say I am?” (Matt. 16:15)
Though Peter faltered many times in his will to believe in things he could not see or explain, he maintained his will to believe as he explained in 1 Peter 1:8-9. Like Peter, I too have faltered many times in believing in things I could not see or explain, but I well remember when God like the Good Shepherd helped me once again have the will to believe as told in my story, It’s Never too Late – A Prodigal Pastor Returns. www.faithrescued.com
Which of these two wills do you have? The will to believe or the will not to believe?
Perhaps what came to mind as you read this title was the Ten Commandments given to Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 20). But did you think also of Christ’s commandments?
Christ did not repeal the original commandments given to Moses. He did, however, endorse every one of them and explain there complete meaning (Matt. 5:27-28). He not only did that, but He also added a few new ones. “A new commandment I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34).
As I read Christ’s words, I became aware that many of them were commands—not just advice for the good life or recommendations. He plainly showed His authority to issue these commands when He said to His Father, “Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them” (John 17:7-8; John 10:30).
As we take a fresh look at the words of Jesus, we see that He gave many commands. They were not just invitations or suggestions, they were commands. When He said to Peter and Andrew, “Come, follow me” (Matt. 4:18-19), He was not extending an invitation but issuing a command—not only to follow Him but also to leave behind their former way of life, their property, their businesses and their families.
The same call still utters from His lips. It is a call for us to turn in repentance from our old lives, follow Him, and commit to Him fully and totally.
In the parable of the sower (Matt. 13:18-23), Jesus told of those who would start out (try Jesus) and then be turned aside by various enemies. He told Peter what following Him meant and what was ahead of him (John 21:18-19). It was not what Peter would have liked to have heard, but it was what was ahead of him if he followed Jesus.
Although sometimes stumbling along the way, as we all do (James 3:2), Peter did continue to follow Jesus. We learn from studying Peter’s life that, when he was in trouble or stumbling, over and over again he reached out to his Lord and Savior (Matt. 14:27-31).
The Master Himself tells us the importance of keeping these commandments, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching…He who does not love me will not obey my teaching” (John 14:23-24).
If we are having trouble keeping any of these commandments, like Peter we must reach for His hands. James tells us how to do this: “Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray” (James 5:13). Prayer is the way we connect with God and receive the help He offers us (Psalms 46:1).
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