Each and every day I set out with the determination to live my life completely for Christ. Yet, each and every day I fail God in some way. Why is living the Christian life such a struggle? Let me suggest four possible reasons:
Most of the time, when we pray to God about our problems, we expect an immediate answer. Sometimes God does answer immediately. Sometimes God has already begun to send His answer, even before we make our request. Yet, there are other times when He doesn’t. There are some things that I have been praying about for years. There are some things I may need to pray about for the rest of my life. Does this mean that our prayers are useless? Why pray if God is not going to immediately answer? Consider this part of the Apostle Paul’s life.
2 Corinthians 12:3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. 5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses.
I remember a time many years ago when my worry over a particular situation was tormenting me. The ‘what if’s?’ kept flooding into my mind and it was hard for me to rest. To make matters even worse, we were on vacation!
One night, as I was tossing in bed, my mind went to something the Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians –
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
What is most amazing about this verse is that God said this to His people during a time when they were in captivity and their deliverance from captivity did not happen the very next day. God told His people that He had determined for them to spend seventy years in Babylon and seventy years it would be. Why did God make them go through such a lengthy time of sorrow when He had already determined to deliver them? In this same passage the Lord also said to them, “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:12-13)God knew that the seventy years of sorrow were necessary in order to bring His people to the point of where they would seek Him with all of their heart.
Life can sometimes be very confusing, even for the believer. Things happen to us that we do not understand. Therefore, if we’re not careful, we can become guilty of accusing God of doing what is wrong. Job came very close to this. During his time of great suffering Job said, “Therefore I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.” (Job 7:11) Job could not understand why these terrible events were happening to him. His friends told him that it was because of some sin in his life, yet Job knew of no such sin. Therefore, because of the ‘anguish in his soul’ he ‘complained in bitterness.’
Philippians 1:27 Only let your conversation be as it becometh in a manner that is worthy of the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
In some translations, the word ‘conversation’ is translated as conduct. “Let your conduct be as what is becoming to the gospel of Christ.” In a few of the translations it is written as ‘citizens’ or ‘citizenship.’ “Let your citizenship be as what is becoming to the gospel of Christ.”“Live out your citizenship in such a way that it brings honor to the gospel of Jesus Christ.”Or, as today’s sermon title states, “Live on Earth as Citizens of Heaven.”
We live in a world filled with uncertainty. Whether it’s the economy, our health, or even the possibility of another world war, many are afraid of what might happen tomorrow. Yet God does not want His children to be afraid. We read from the book of Isaiah – “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10) Over the next two weeks we are going to consider various verses of scripture that will help us feel secure when our future is uncertain. I pray that these studies will be a blessing to you.
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“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)