The Walk

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As I’m sitting in my office this afternoon, I’m thinking of different spiritual disciplines. I know that we don’t always think of things like this, but as I said in this morning’s message, “We live our theology everyday.” That means that whatever we believe is how we live. Unfortunately, the more that I study the Scriptures, the more I come to realize that there are things in my thinking–opinions, preferences, expectations–that really don’t fit in with what God desires for me. In fact, I find that this is true for all of us. But for what reason? The reason is that He is God and we are not! The Bible is pretty clear about who He is and who we are, don’t you think? Isaiah 55:8, 9 says, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher thant he earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

“Yikes! You mean to tell me that I don’t always have the right thinking?”

Yep! That’s right! None of do compared to the Wisdom of the ages!

So how then shall we live? I quoted this morning John Frame who wrote in his book The Doctrine of the Word:

“Christians sometimes say that Scripture is sufficient for religion, or preaching, or theology, but not for such things as auto repairs, plumbing, animal husbandry, and dentistry. And of course, many argue that it is not sufficient for science, philosophy, or even ethics. That is to miss an important point. Certainly, Scripture contains more specific information relevant to theology than to dentistry. But sufficiency in the present context is not sufficiency of specific information but sufficiency of divine words. Scripture contains divine words sufficient for all of life. It has all the divine words that the plumber needs, and all the divine words that the theologian needs. So it is just as sufficient for plumbing as it is for theology. And in that sense it is sufficient for science and ethics as well.”

That’s pretty powerful if you ask me! Frame says that the “Scripture contains words sufficient for all of life.” That is, as we continue our relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ, He has given us everything that is suffient to walk in Him in this journey called life in love of HIm and in obedience to Him.

So you want to have success in life? You want to have prosperity in your life? Success and prosperity does not by necessity mean material wealth. Rather, success and prosperity in life means that we have a good walk with the Lord Jesus Christ. This is foundational to our spiritual success: keep close to Jesus Christ! This theme of being close to Jesus Christ is equivalent to “walking” or “lifestyle” and how we conduct ourselves as we go through life. Maintaining that relationship with Jesus Christ is essential.

So here are some basics for you to consider when walking with Jesus Christ:

  1. God’s words to us through the prophets are insightful for what is needed. Micah 6:8 says, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (ESV)
  2. A major aspect of this walk experience is remaining close to Christ. John 15:7, 10 says, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. … If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” (ESV)
  3. Depending on the Holy Spirit produces fruit of the Spirit rather than deeds of the flesh. Galatians 5:16 says, “But I say, walk by [means of] the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desirs of the flesh.” (ESV)

Here are some specifics for each of us to learn this week:

  1. Romans 6:4 – Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. (NASB)
  2. 2 Corinthians 5:7 – For we walk by faith, not by sight. (NASB)
  3. Ephesians 5:2 – And walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. (NASB)
  4. Ephesians 5:8-10 – Walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. (NASB)

“So how do you do this, Pastor Denny?” Here are some practical steps to help you this week:

  • Take time to review what you truly value (relationship with God, spouse, family, health, etc.). Examine your values very carefully to see if they line up with the Scripture. Write out Biblical goals to help support the values you have that are Biblical and goals to rid yourself of the values that don’t match what God says in His Word.
  • Practice journaling. Writing the events of the day, good and bad, will help remind us of our constant need to walk closely with Jesus Christ. Review your thoughts from time to time to check your progress. Evaluate! Examine!
  • Daily time spent in the sufficient Word of God, the Bible, and daily prayer is the key spiritual discipline for maintaining this close walk.
  • Charles Ryrie writes that “walking is by its very nature a succession of dependent acts.” First, we need to make up our minds to do it. And then “progress can only be made by trusting.”

As we walk with Jesus Christ individually, we will find that collectively our Fellowship is growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:23-25, NASB).

(Adapted from Quick Scripture Reference Guide.)

Remembering

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It is amazing that after five years I still mourn the loss of twin sister, Denise. Although I know that she is fine in Heaven–and I do believe that she is in Heaven–and although I know that she is healed from cancer, there are times that I just want to speak with her and hear her voice. She encouraged me. Yes, we had our moments of disagreement, sometimes heated disagreement, but she was always the one who asked for forgiveness first and apologized. I would always let it go just as she would and we were back to normal. She would always let me know that we were always best of friends and that we were always going to be just fine no matter what.

It’s true. She’s fine and I’m not doing too bad either. In fact, when she first passed away I thought that half of me died. We always referred to each other as “1/2” of each other. That is mostly found in identical twins; we were obviously not identical as she was a girl and I am a boy (and there’s no confusion about that!). I realized after about a year and half of her being gone that I’m 100% me! Even though I identified myself as 1/2 of another, I know that I am me and Denise was herself. When I finally came around to this thinking, I was relieved that half of me had not truly died with my twin sister. However, we did think alike. We would agree Biblically, theologically, politically, and philosophically. I understood her and she understood me. That’s rare it seems to have siblings actually understand each other. We had a lot of the same likes and dislikes. We had similar tastes in music, drama, action, and comedy. If there was one thing I loved to see was when she would laugh. Her eyes were get real squinty and her shoulders would go up and down from laughing so hard. It was great to see her laugh.

She was delicate and gentle but at the same time she could hold her own. She didn’t put up with people being rude to her and could snap back at them just as they snapped at her. Yet, she seemed to have so many friends. Whenever I went somewhere with her she always introduced me to someone as her twin brother and would let them know that we were close. When someone would ask if we were identical twins, I’d always respond, “No, but we look alike when she grows her beard!” She would always retort, “Or when he grows his hair out and puts it in pig tails!” We’d laugh and then as the person walked off we’d roll our eyes at each other because we’d heard the question so often in our lives.

We understood each other. I miss that. Death stinks when it’s your twin. Death stinks when it’s your closest friend. Death stinks when you miss someone so much that you can’t stop thinking about them so often. And, yet, I know that I will see her again. And when I see her again, we will understand each other more fully because we will be changed to be just like Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior (1 Corinthians 15:51, 52). We never truly understood everything about each other; we couldn’t even understand ourselves much less each other to the fullest. But we know the One who knows us perfectly well (Jeremiah 17:9, 10). He knows us–everything about who we are. She knew that and knows it perfectly well now! I know it but I don’t get it all right now.

Well, I’m just remembering her again today. I miss her. I love her more today than I ever have. I’m sure that I’ll love her more tomorrow and that I’ll miss her more. That will never go away.

I know that she loved flowers. I have a number of pictures of her sitting in fields of flowers. She was beautiful inside and out. There is no flower on this planet as fair as my twin sister.

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Inclinations

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Whatever you do in this life is because of inclinations. An inclination is “a disposition or bent, especially of the mind or will; a liking or preference.”* It is something for which all of us struggle. We want to do this thing but instead we do this other thing. In other words, we don’t do what we want to do but do those things that we don’t want to do! Paul says this so clearly in Romans 7 because as great as an apostle that he was, he, too, struggled.

Now we will do whatever we are inclined to do. If we choose to do this or we choose to do that then it is because we were inclined to choose what we are doing. This is not by necessity a bad thing, but it is a thing which causes us to struggle because sometimes we know that we are doing the wrong thing or the sinful thing, but we still do it without regard to consequences–whether they are good or bad consequences. It is our natural bent to choose to do what we do.

There are those that believe that because we get to choose that we are free from any outside source or force. It is our choice as to whether or not we do whatever is inside of us and we are not biased by anything else. However, the reality is that the Bible teaches us that we are naturally inclined toward sin. Whatever we do it’s because we are inclined to do that thing. Our choices are not without bias. It is something that is innate because we are all with sin. Prior to salvation in Jesus Christ we have no problem with sin because it is something that comes naturally to us; it is innate. The Bible also describes us as being “slaves to sin” prior to salvation in Jesus Christ. This means that our inclination is going to be to do whatever we do because of the master whom we serve, namely sin.

Herein lies the problem with our inclination: once we come to salvation in Jesus Christ we still struggle because now we have a conflict between our sinful nature and our new nature in Jesus Christ. Our bent is still toward sin but now we also have a new bent toward Jesus Christ. However, whatever is going to bring us pleasure at a given moment is to what we will be inclined. In other words, that which brings us pleasure will be the choice that we choose to exercise because we do not want to be in pain nor do we want to do that which will cause us not to feel the pleasure.

So we still struggle with the sin that so easily ensnares us. It is common among all Christians even though the world expects for us to be completely perfect. As the old bumpersticker says, “Christians are not perfect, just forgiven!” As cliche as that may be, it is absolutely true. We will always have struggles between the flesh and the spirit. Again, Paul the apostle understood this. We will always struggle with our inclinations for pleasure over pain. We will always do that which is easier than that which is difficult. And what is so difficult? To crucify the flesh in order to live by the Spirit. That’s what’s so difficult for us to do. When Jesus said that we are supposed to take up our cross daily none of us want the pain of that. No one wants to have to work hard in this life. No one wants to fight the temptation but to give into it because it is the easiest road that we can take, that is, to just give into the inclination of the flesh. He was telling us that this battle between the flesh and the spirit is a constant battle and we need to stand firm in Him to win this battle. After all, He did win the battle: even though being tempted as we are He was and is without sin!

What do we do then? How shall we then live? We need to understand that through Jesus Christ we do have forgiveness of sin–all sin! We need to live our lives not beating ourselves up over our sin, but certainly confessing our sin and having a change of mind about our sin; this is called repentance. We need to then grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ and see that we truly can do all things through Him because He strengthens us. We need to take up our cross daily and crucify the desires of the flesh and live according to the Spirit of God. Is it difficult? Absolutely! This is why we see so many fall away from the faith because they stop fighting the temptations and just give into them. Will it forever be this hard? No, not forever. When we finally finish our race here then we will be completely free when we see Jesus Christ face to face. My only prayer is that He will say, “Well done, thy good and faithful servant.”

So we have inclination to do that which is easiest, that which brings us pleasure over pain. What will you do today? Will you give into the flesh or will fight the good fight and live by the Spirit? My prayer for you and for myself is that we will keep the fight going and that we will stand firm in Jesus Christ who strengthens us.

* DICTIONARY.COM UNABRIDGED BASED ON THE RANDOM HOUSE UNABRIDGED DICTIONARY, © RANDOM HOUSE, INC. 2019

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