Is God with you?
I was a reading a post by a good friend this morning – Alan – over on his blog, Devotional Treasures. He titled it “The folly of doing it your way“. As is his usual approach, there was a scripture at the beginning, which I read, and then he took some time to bring the scripture to life in his ever unique style.
It was taken from the Old Testament (Numbers 14:40-45 NASB), but is still a fairly familiar piece of scripture. I’m not gonna give a summary of it here. Read the scripture for yourself, or, even better, go read Alan’s post!
Anyway, the last half of one verse really jumped out at me this morning:
"Do not go up, or you will be struck down before your enemies, for the Lord is not among you."
I wonder if you think that God will be your side no matter what?
Many years ago I was at Spring Harvest – one of the largest, annual, Christian festivals here in the UK. As you get nearer to the site where it is all happening, you start to see ever more cars that have Spring Harvest stickers on their side car windows – just like the one you probably also placed on your own car. And, obviously, they tend to be driving nice and slowly, and oh so very politely!
And I remember hearing a speaker state that, if you drive at 70 Miles Per Hour – the legal speed limit on a motorway here in the UK – then you’d have two angels sitting on the bonnet of your car, protecting you and your car. But, so they said, if you drove at 71 miles per hour, you were driving illegally and the angels would leave, as would their protection.
Now, to be blunt here, I’ve rarely heard such an unscriptural piece of spoken word. In so many ways it is utter nonsense! Although I’m not gonna explain why in this post – suffice to say, that simply is not how it works, and making statements such as the one about angels on the bonnet is, at best, simply an over simplified un-truth that is just not rooted in the bible!!
Don’t over simplify God
In the scripture I referenced above it is clear that God will not always go with us wherever we go – you can’t argue against a line like that: there are actions we can take, that simply are not God’s plan for our lives. God can not sin, or lead us into sin, therefore there are things we will do where God will simply not journey with us!
I’ve heard it said, often by someone who is well meaning, that God will always be with you. But this, too, is another over simplification of the truth. It isn’t actually in the bible!
God is everywhere – He is God.
But that doesn’t mean He is also like some sort of a faithful dog that just trots along behind us, ready to do our bidding when we get into trouble, or just to make us feel a little more comfortable. To even contemplate that attitude is wrong at so many levels.
To understand what ‘being in God’s protection’ really is, we need to understand the simple truth that if ‘the Lord can be NOT among us‘ then ‘He can also BE among us‘.
If we understand His nature, then the ‘how to be in His presence’ part begins to make some sense.
One thing to note here is that the mistakes that we make are not all bad either. When you walk with God, it isn’t a guarantee of a smooth ride, and a life that is problem free.
Just take a quick glance over what happened to the disciples after Jesus had died and ascended to heaven. There is no doubt they were walking with God, and yet they all faced horrible ends to their lives – in their faithful service of God.
In fact, I’d go as far to say that if your life is permanently devoid of any struggles or issues, you simply aren’t walking actively with God: the life of a Christian is not an easy one, which is why we should never seek to rush people into a faith with Jesus – they need to consider it carefully, in order that they can passionately commit to being a disciple of Jesus Christ, as scripture reminds us so to do clearly.
Gods ways are not our ways
God frustrating the intelligence of the intelligent is a brilliant example of understanding how God thinks and works so utterly differently to us. We simply are not God, and therefore can not fathom His ways of doing things!
So, how do we know; how do we make sure, that God is walking with us? Well that comes down to peace, and faith, and hope.
Walking with God doesn’t mean we avoid all issues. Actually, I’d easily argue that the life of a Christian means we’ll likely have more problems to face (although not by ourselves). That also doesn’t mean that having problems in our life means we’re walking with God.
The New Testament , in 1 Peter 4:12-19, tells us that if we suffer for our own foolishness, then God will not be with us (this is clearly a recurring, if infrequent, theme). But, if we suffer for the Gospel, then God will be at our side to comfort us (not in order to bypass the struggles, but in order to help us through them, for His glory).
To know peace is, essentially, to be walking the path God has for us.
We can’t judge whether we’re getting it right based on the number of issues we are facing, or not
We can’t judge whether we’re getting it right based on the number of friends we have, or not.
We can’t judge whether we’re getting it right based on the number of followers, or likes, or comments we get.
As much as we are urged by God, through scripture, to live lives that are dependent upon other Christians, we also need to balance that by living an individual relationship with God. Note that I used the word individual, not independent – independence leads to pain and suffering, every time, that will not be accompanied by God’s comfort. Independence is, to quote my friend Alan in his post, very much like the words of the Frank Sinatra song, “I did it my way”. It doesn’t end well for us, not ever!
The only comment I’d love to hear people say of me, is that I lived my life God’s way. I truly don’t care much if people approve of the decisions I have made, faithfully, prayerfully and with the guidance and counsel of other Christian believers. I’ve often heard this, sadly, and usually attached to an insult.
I’ve spent most of my adult life being harshly judged by other Christians because they, for the most part, simply haven’t taken the time to understand the decisions I’ve made. It’s easy to judge the life of someone based upon their actions. And the bible does teach us that our actions (or words) come from our heart. But, ultimately, the only person we should ever be concerned with answering to is Jesus Christ.
To walk His way, and to ensure that the peace of God stays with us, means we must be absorbed by scripture; passionate about prayer; willing to hear the promptings of the Holy Spirit and holding ourselves accountable to our brothers and sisters in Christ, wisely!
"To obey is better than sacrifice." (1 Samuel 15:22 ESV)
So, what are you willing to sacrifice today, in order to obey God, find his peace, and keep it?
If you’re not willing to sacrifice something, however important it may be, then you’re simply not putting God first, but placing Him second.
Look for His peace, and you’ll live your life with God ever by your side.
Keep God as your first priority, and everything else will follow quite naturally and peacefully.
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