Taught by God – Isaiah 48:17

Choose Your Instructor Wisely

This is what the Lord says—
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“I am the Lord your God,
who teaches you what is best for you,
who directs you in the way you should go.”

Time of Teaching

Whether or not we admit it, we are always learning.  We (hopefully) learn from our mistakes.  Technology forces us to learn new skills.  Television shows us new things.  When we read books, magazines, pamphlets, and words put together in any medium, we see new ideas.  People talk to us about new products and experiences.  Satan whispers in our ears.  In everything, unless we close our eyes, put our fingers in our ears, and shout “La la la la la la la” over and over again, we are learning something.

We can choose from whom we will learn.  For those who can see, what you allow your eyes and mind to be exposed to will influence you.  For those who can hear, what people, music, and other audio you allow yourself to be exposed to will influence you.  We choose, whether we realize it or not, what programs our mind.

God states that He is the one who is able to teach us what is best for each of us.  It should be noted that what is best for you may not be best for me.  Being created by God for specific purposes, not every person has the same purpose nor is given the same gifts:

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

Because this is the case, we need God, who is all-knowing, to teach us how to use the very gifting that He has provided to each and every one of us.  When we don’t do that, we will not be able to fully honor Him nor glorify His name for His purposes in His timing.

Directionally Driven

Everyone is driven to move in a direction.  Whether that is standing tight, in circles, or towards a specific location which is the goal, we are moving in a direction.  We can choose which direction we want to take.  Do we:

  • Listen to the world where everyone tells us where we should go, what we should do, how we should act, and how we should think, and what we should say?
  • Listen to the devil who tells us where we should go, what we should do, how we should act, and how we should think, and what we should say?
  • Listen to our own flesh that tells us where we should go, what we should do, how we should act, and how we should think, and what we should say?
  • Listen to God who directs us where we should go, what we should do, how we should act, and how we should think, and what we should say?

Each of us chooses one or more of these influences when choosing a direction.  It is only by consciously choosing which influence (or influences) that we pay attention to and heed that will ultimately determine which direction that we will take.

Particular Path

We are told in the Bible that, effectively, there are really only two directional paths that we can take:

Any path that was not entered through the small gate and is on the narrow road was entered through the wide gate and broad road.  Only one path leads to heaven.  Jesus has said:

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

We all make our own choices because God has given us free will.  We need to carefully examine the advice that we have available to us, and choose wisely, for actions have consequences.  The good news is, if we are on the wrong path, we can stop, ask God for directions, and get on (or back on) the narrow road that leads out of the small gate.  And Jesus is the small gateAllow the Good Shepherd lead you into the way everlasting.  It is only there that you will find rest and provision, not only in this life, but in the next life as well.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  What influences am I allowing into my life that are directing my path?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have provided for all my needs.  You seek me out when I am lost and stray from You.  The Holy Spirit provides me with instruction, encouragement, and empowers me to do what You desire.  Help me to stay on the straight and narrow path, that You would be honored and glorified.  Forgive me today of my sins.  Bring to memory all that I have done that displeases You, that I may turn from it, and walk in righteousness.  Show me where I should go, how I should think, and how I should act.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

 

 

Identity in Christ – John 15:5 (ESV)

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Just as a branch needs the sap of nourishment from the tree, so do we need the same from Jesus Christ.  The branch is attached, and attached tightly; it’s not on the ground, or off doing its own thing.  It is bonded (even if grafted in) to the plant itself.  We should be so firmly bonded to Christ and in Christ, that there is no break between Christ and ourselves.

And Jesus shows us the benefit of this: when we are In Christ, we will bear much fruit.  When we go off and do things ourselves, there may be a result, but it is not bearing spiritual fruit in accordance with the Will of God, for the Purposes of God, in the Timing of God, and to the Glory of God.  Jesus also says,

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 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 in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ 

This is a sobering thought.  When we are not in/attached to the vine, receiving nourishment and direction, we may be doing things, but not bearing the correct fruit.  It is as if we were a foreign, invasive species of plant trying to imitate the original plant.  Others may think that we are part of that plant, because we have mimicked the original; however, we have no part in the original plant.  Jesus gives us this direction as well:

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. 

When we have our identity in Christ – when we solely and ONLY identify with Him – we will bear much fruit, receive nourishment from the vine, and find the small gate with the narrow path.  Once we do that, we, like Christ, will be able to say,

“Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

Our citizenship will be solely in the Kingdom of Heaven, rather than in earthly things, like race, ethnicity, nationality, religious denomination, Northerner or Southerner, political affiliation, sports team, male or female, Jew or Gentile, slave or free, or any other thing on earth.  For when we identify with Christ, all are ONE in Christ.

So, let’s ask the question:  With whom or what do I identify most?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, we thank You for the wonderful opportunity to be reconciled to You through the blood of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  You love us so much that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us on the cross.  Lord God, we have been set free from sin; but we were made to worship and serve.  I greatly desire to serve You and You alone.  Remove from me any and all identity with earthly things that would hinder my walk with you.  You have shown me the small gate and the narrow path.  Guide my feet, my heart, and my mouth, that as they see to glorify your name in and offer themselves as a living sacrifice to You, that my feet would not slip, and that they would not wander off the path.  Bring revival to Your body, that it would turn away from the draw of temporal blessings and set our hearts on Heaven, so that our treasure may be found there.  This I ask in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?