Focus, Faith, and Fervor For God’s Plans

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In the modern era we are over-saturated by information. Many times I find myself acquiring new information, and there’s definitely a beauty in being able to access it at a moments notice. The majority in my generation, for the larger part of their lives, has had accessibility to the Internet at their fingertips since we were capable of using keyboards. Although this is often a benefit, it can also become a detriment as well. There are some negative results that we expose ourselves to in having such broad accessibility. When we have a question pop into our heads, we’re able to satisfy our curiosity practically instantly with a quick search through Google. Instead of having to find a book with the information, or learning it from another source, now anybody with the time, computer, and an Internet connection can research it. While this is quite handy for work at school, and helpful to us when the information plays a relevant role in our lives, we can also tend to overuse or even abuse such tools if we’re not careful.

For example, instead of writing my book diligently, I might think to myself “I wonder how the weather at the beach looks like today.” Suddenly I find myself opening the South Florida Beach Cams to get a real time look at the seashore. I notice that it’s pristine, and I recognize that there is an unusually beautiful low tide that paints a picture of a great day. Furthermore there are few people out there, and it’d be very easy to find a centrally located spot near my favorite piece of beach. Instead of writing, I think to myself I can now procrastinate on it. I can always work on it later, and spontaneously I choose to go to the beach. All of a sudden I find myself making plans for something I didn’t even initially intend. The beach we know isn’t intrinsically bad, is a very beautiful aspect of nature, and can be very relaxing among other things. The loss here is that I allowed my thoughts to sidetrack me, and that lack of discipline led me to elect to go to the beach before a priority was taken care of.

We know as a believer not a day is promised to us. It’s possible that today may be my last day on earth, or that God desires for me to live a far longer and prosperous life. (V*1). Fortunately, we don’t have to know, but we do have a responsibility to prepare for our departure. We need to be ready to face eternity at any moment, and that scarcity of time should help us to recognize the urgency of our call to preach to the lost, feed and clothe the poor, and share God’s love with all people from all nations here on earth. Evangelism is a pivotal part of God’s plan to bring salvation to the lost by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. (V*2).

Occasionally we allow irrational fear to pervade our thinking when it comes to evangelism. We think we need to have the precise eloquent speech to convey Biblical ideas. We might buy into the lie that if we’re not properly equipped to handle every question that could be thrown at us, that we’re unfit to share the Word of God. When we do this we’re missing the point, and we need to ask God to help us remember the core message of the Gospel. It doesn’t need to be marketed, sensationalized, or sugarcoated. It only needs to be faithfully delivered the way God desires for us to do so.

Many people spend years learning apologetics, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. In fact I believe many who are convicted to delve into the depths of theology will have a positive impact in this world. They may help deliver convicting evidence and Biblically sound doctrine to those who might otherwise dismiss the Christian worldview for lack of understanding. They have a high threshold for understanding before they want to commit to Jesus Christ; they want to learn more before they make a decision. More often than not however, I believe it’s still the core message that we need to be focusing on. The auxiliary topics that we often find ourselves addressing aren’t a waste of time, but they have a time and place within the parameters of God’s will for us.

A lot of the times I ask myself when I am discussing the intricacies of Arminianism and Calvinism, or perhaps discussing the Young Earth Creationism or Old Earth Creationism view points with fellow believers, I wonder if it’s yielding fruit or close to breeding discord in the Church. This is not to say that such discussions are always problematic, but we need to examine closely the context of the situation at hand. Is the person I am speaking to a mature believer who is not easily offended? Does the person I am speaking with know that their eternal security in regard to salvation will not benefit from knowing or not knowing the answer to these questions? Do they know that while we may disagree on even highly important points of theology, that if they or I are wrong we are not going to be condemned for not knowing the age of the earth?

This is where I think we benefit from taking a step back from the deeper theological lessons, and need to go back to the basics. When we faithfully convict non-believers, I think we put a focus on sharing the reason they need Jesus Christ their Savior. Once they understand the fallen nature of humanity in the eyes of an infinitely perfect God who demands justice for our iniquity, then by God’s grace they might embrace His plan. That’s when we can reaffirm that Jesus Christ died on the cross for them. He lived a life none of us could ever live: perfect, flawless, and without blemish. Then He paid a price that none of us could pay by dying on the cross for all our sins: past, present, and future!

He did this before we loved Him, while we were still yet sinners. (V*3). His death justified us, allows us to become heirs and co-heirs with Christ (V*4), and one day we can be certain that we will have been glorified once we arrive to Heaven. (V*5).

So our salvation rests not on what you or I could do, but the acceptance of the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ by God the Father. He saw it fit to raise Jesus from the dead three days after His death, and this proclaims to us two essential truths:

The sacrifice of Jesus Christ was perfectly acceptable, pleasing, and unblemished to God the Father on behalf of all who are His children and have embraced His sovereign plan for salvation.

Jesus Christ was, is, and will always be the Son of God. He is co-equal and co-eternal with God the Father and the Holy Spirit. He sits at the right hand of God, and He intercedes on our accord. (V*6).

When you cut right through all the broader theology, and address the core of the message first, you promote unity among true believers. When we agree on the essentials, that firm foundation allows us to disagree on other things without causing a rift in our understanding of one another. I may not agree with you in regards to the age of the earth, but as long as we both know God knows the age of the earth, that doesn’t have to stop us from trusting Him. I may not agree that Arminianism and Calvinism need to be mutually exclusive, and I actually think there’s a harmony perhaps only the Lord can explain to us because of our finite human understanding, but I don’t need to pick a side in order to be saved.

The Bible is simple enough that a child can understand the core message and be saved. That’s why it’s amazing when we are blessed with the capacity to have child-like faith in God. When man is rich, and is capable of providing for himself, the illusion is that we are self-sufficient. This is not the case, even among those who have vast fortunes; it was God who gave you every ingredient that you needed to arrive to where you are. He gave you the strength, vision, tools, talent, people, opportunities. He gave all that you needed in the right time so that you would have what you have, and hopefully you recognize how important it is to be a good steward of what you have been entrusted.

While managing time, energy, money, and resources well isn’t a prerequisite for salvation – since then we would be undermining the grace of God, we should feel delighted to serve God with everything we have been, are, and are capable of. It’s not ours to begin with, and God doesn’t need us, much less does He need our material resources. Consider carefully how we are used, and prepared to be used, by God. Such a privilege should never be undermined, and we need to understand that we’d be foolish not to answer God’s call. When you’re a believer you know that the Holy Spirit will lead you to where you need to go, provide you with what you need, and help you to persevere amidst all potential storms and adversaries. Who would throw away the opportunity to store up heavenly treasure? Gaining the world has no value if we’ve lost our soul. (V*7).

Many times in life we can over-emphasize the acquisition of new information at the expense of not applying old information. What good is it to learn more about God’s Word, and saturate our minds with head knowledge, if we are not practicing what we already know to be true? This is why we also need to be vigilant to pursue God’s will on the basis of what we already know from His call for us, and what He has already revealed through us in His Word. There’s always room to grow, learn, and apply more as we develop by God’s grace in maturity of faith. I am confident that there’s really never a point we arrive in life where we assume to have learned it all, because even if we had truly learned almost everything, there’s a high chance we will need a sobering reminder of something we’ve taken for granted. That’s the nature of humanity, forgetfulness, and our finite minds. God is omniscient (all-knowing), but we don’t have that capacity. Once we learn something it’s pivotal that we continue to access and apply that knowledge. That which we don’t access on a regular basis can easily become a forgotten memory, and that’s when we can use that reminder again.

This is one reason why memorizing scripture can be such a valuable asset. If you’re having a difficult situation or feel tempted severely, yet your Bible is not within arms reach, we know you can rest on God’s promises.

When I am feeling Spiritually weak, and I need to remember important pieces of God’s promises to us, I recall the scriptures I have had the privilege of memorizing over the years. When you are facing a difficult trial, why wouldn’t you think about Psalms 23 or Joshua 1:9 to remember that God is with you? Even through the valley of the shadow of death, you don’t need to be afraid. Likewise in Joshua, we recognize that God is with us everywhere we go. Sometimes the reminder we need pertains to the consequences of sin in order to encourage us to evade it, so we can remember the wages of sin are death in Romans 6:23, while we simultaneously receive the beautiful reminder that the gift of God is eternal life. What if you’re facing tremendous pressure physically or in terms of Spiritual warfare, might the reminder we need be found in 1 John 4:4?

“4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4 (NKJV).

I know that the Holy Spirit dwells in my body, because my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit! (V*8). We have already won the war, because Jesus Christ died for our sins. God the Father sees it fit to view us as righteous, not from our own good works, but rather because of the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ.

I would like to end this article with a prayer:

Dear Father,

Thank you for your Word, and the guidance by your Holy Spirit to regularly apply it in our daily lives. I thank you for seeing it fit to call me one of Yours, and I pray that you would assure my brothers and sisters in Christ that they are part of your flock. We all desperately need You, more than we need to drink water, dear God. We have physical needs, and you know and meet them faithfully Lord, but apart from those our Spiritual needs are even greater. Please lead us to thirst for righteousness, and the Godly wisdom we may only find in your Word. Furthermore help us to recognize that it’s only fully utilized when we submit to the lead of your Holy Spirit, and that we live out what you have revealed to us. We know that we are your servants, ambassadors for Christ, friends when we obey your Word, and adopted children who are heirs and co-heirs with Christ.

I know that suffering is a part of this fallen world that we live in, but help us to be encouraged that you will help us in the midst of our struggles. Despite all suffering we will persevere, and You will make it clear to us that there’s a purpose behind that which we cannot even comprehend. Please help us to know when it’s time to absorb less information, especially when it’s distracting or worldly, but also when we simply need to get back to the core message of Your Word. There’s no shame in going back to the basics, to be refreshed in the fundamental and universal truths found in your Word. Let us not be deceived by false doctrine, cults, false teachers or any other forms of deception that frequently attempt to divide your flock. We are yours, and nobody can pluck us away from Your hand Father.

You own us all, and we have been elected by You for good works since before the beginning of time, just as you also own those who don’t acknowledge You. Yet we know Father that it isn’t our good works that save us, but rather that your free gift through Jesus Christ was, is, and always will be perfect and more than sufficient for us. Likewise we recognize that out of gratitude for your eternal provision, and out of our desire to fully submit to You and serve You, we want to express the fruits of the Spirit in conjunction with good works. Your grace fuels our desire to delight, honor, glorify, and acknowledge You both now and forever.

Let us forgive ourselves for what You have already forgiven in us, and help us not to wallow in the guilt, self-pity, or condemnation of sin You have already delivered us from. Help us sever ourselves completely from habitual sins so that you may properly and gently restore, repair, and rebuild us. Help us not to spurn your correction regardless of our circumstances. We need you daily, and I know that I am nothing without You. I am thankful for your deliverance, and I know we desire deeply to draw nearer to You as you draw nearer to us. Help us to cleanse our sinful hands so that we may do so.

Please bless us with the grace to forgive those who have wronged us. You have forgiven us beyond measure, so who are we to withhold forgiveness from anybody else? Furthermore, we ourselves are blessed for not holding grudges, anger, or enmity against anybody else. We ourselves know we have sinned against others similarly, and hope dearly they have found it in their hearts to also forgive us.

Thank You for Your mercy, love, grace, and supernatural provisions of all kinds. Thank You for having fullness of knowledge, being everywhere, having all power, and possessing all authority. You have perfect justice, judgment, grace, and mercy. You lack nothing, but still see it fit to use Your children. Thank you for choosing us despite our many imperfections.

Help us to faithfully fulfill Your Great Commission. Please continue to bless us with the boldness to proclaim the Gospel. We don’t want to see that any of our future brothers or sisters in Christ would perish, but that instead You would see it fit to have mercy on them and draw them to Your heart in Your timing. Please open their eyes to your truth, and give them ears to hear. Let us never to be ashamed of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

We pray all this in the precious, holy, and mighty name of Jesus Christ!


Biblical References:

V*1- 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. James 4:14 (NKJV).

V*2- 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV).

V*3- 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 (NKJV).

V*4- 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. 18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:16-18 (NKJV).

V*5- 28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. Romans 8:28-30 (NKJV).

V*6- 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Romans 8:34 (NKJV).

V*7- 36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? Mark 8:36-37 (NKJV).

V*8- 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 1 Corinthians 6:19 (NKJV).


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