Tools - Boots 5

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”  “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

We are all familiar with these well-known Bible passages, the 23rd Psalm and the Lord’s Prayer.  These are words that speak to us of comfort.  These are words that remind us that God is with us to help us through the difficulties of life.

While we can take comfort in knowing that God is with us there are so many times in life when we have our doubts and our fears.  We may begin to wonder if we are alone in our troubles.

The prophet Isaiah speaks about the assurance of God.  What do we experience in life?  What hope do we have?  Whose voice will we hear?

Life has its share of ups and downs.  There will be those times of goodness and happiness, but with them are also times of trouble.  Isaiah claims that God gives us the bread of adversity and the water of affliction.  But before we blame God for our troubles, let us look at this expression in the light that God simply provides life and existence, and troubles are just the unavoidable part of all we experience.

In spite of the challenges we may experience we need to remember that God is with us.  If we will follow the leading of the Spirit, if we will be wise, if we will walk in step with the Lord then we can be assured that as we go through life we will have the voice of God showing us the way to go.  God can be with us if we allow it, if we invite the Lord to be our guide.  He will tell us about the way in which we should walk.

How do we know about the way?  We must listen to the teachers.  Our teachers are Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and God the Father.

If we can focus our faith journey on doing the will of God and sharing the love of God, we can follow the leading of God.  If we listen to the voice of our Master we will know how to be in step with the Lord in all we do.  Then we will have the confidence to face the trials of life without fear.

DAILY CHALLENGE:  Where can you hear the voice of God?

Tools - Boots 4

If you have ever been on an escalator and turned in the opposite direction so that you are walking against the movement of the escalator then you have created that illusion of walking forward when in fact you are not moving.  It can be an amusing thing to do.  It can appear that you should be moving forward but all of your steps take you nowhere.

If we will walk in step with the Lord, if we will be guided by the Spirit and deny the sinful nature in us, we must live out the love of God.  This is walking in step with the Lord.  This is how we choose to be wise and not foolish.  This is how we gain a deeper understanding of God – by living out the love that God has given us.

Living in step with God means that we do godly things.  We offer kindness and care to those in need.  We live a life of humility and gentleness, putting others ahead of ourselves and working toward the good of all people.  When each step we take is an expression of love and care we are walking in the footsteps of Christ

John gives us an observation on how to live a life of love, an expression of the love that God has given us.  Through the example given how are we to express love?

There are times when we as Christians are doing little more than the escalator trick in our walk with God.  We can appear to be walking in step with the Spirit – we can look good on the outside – when in fact we are doing nothing.  I believe that it would not take much effort for each one of us to find a person in our area who is in need.  The poor and genuinely needy are around us all the time.

But do we do anything to help others?  Is the love of God really in us?  If we truly love God and truly have the love of God in us then we will walk in step with God.  We will allow the Spirit to guide us to do good and merciful things that will help those who need it.

When we offer help to the needy and the poor, the spiritually wanting people around us, we are expressing the love of God.  When we help others we are being wise and not foolish.  We are denying the sinful nature and following the leading of the Spirit.

DAILY CHALLENGE:  How will you demonstrate that the love of God is in you this week?

Tools - Boots 3

I remember being on a trip one time with family and friends when I was a teen-ager.  We were traveling through Boston and our friend was driving when we came to a place where the highway split.  Our friend asked which way he should go and no one in the car could give him an answer, so we drove closer and closer to the barrier between the two lanes until we almost crashed into it.

The inability to make a decision took us to a very dangerous place.  But a wrong decision can also take us places we do not want to go.

This passage from Ephesians gives us some options about living.  According to verse 15 how should we NOT live?  How should we live?  What two options are presented in verse 17?

Life is full of choices.  Should I turn this way or that?  Should I use paper or plastic?  Should I do this or do that?  Our spiritual life is also filled with choices.  We can either follow along the leading of our sinful, human nature or we can follow the leading offered by the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 5 points out two ways of living – unwise and wise.  Naturally, the recommendation is to live as wise people.  In our wisdom, according to Ephesians, we will make the most of every opportunity.  If we are wise in our choices, wise in how we approach life, our lives will be filled with satisfaction and fulfillment.  We will know the joys and happiness of being in step with God.

We can also choose to be foolish.  We can choose to follow our selfish desires and head in a direction that takes us far from the love and goodness of God.  Our other option is to understand the will of God.

If we will choose to abandon unwise approaches to life and abandon foolish behavior, and instead try to draw closer to God in our understanding and thinking we will avoid the terrible spiritual crash that might await us.  Rather we will discover the goodness of being in sync and in step with the goodness of God.

We must, in wisdom, choose to know God better.  In this choice we will find that every opportunity in our life will be filled with the holy goodness of God.

DAILY CHALLENGE:  What unwise choices should you abandon?

Tools - Boots 2

There are times when I am at home trying to get things accomplished – like doing laundry, cleaning up dishes, straightening the house or working on the Sunday service – that I find myself walking back and forth throughout the house.  Sometimes I just stand in one place uncertain which way to go and what to do next.  The many demands that I face pull me in so many directions I don’t know where to go.

The same can be true in our faith life.  We can feel pulled in so many directions – drawn this way by our jobs, that way by our family, this way by what we desire, and that way by what we ought to do in God’s kingdom – that we end up going nowhere.  If we will grow in our faith, if we will accomplish anything good, we must have a clear path and direction for how to move forward.

This passage from Galatians gives us some guidance in how to approach our faith.  How should we live?  What will we do when we live by the Spirit?  What is the relationship between the Spirit and the sinful nature?

The sinful nature we must confront is the sum of all of our selfish desires.  The sinful nature is the human side of us, that part of who we are that seeks gratification in material possessions, social acceptance, financial gains, and physical pleasure.  We can be tempted and lured by all the earthly happiness that draws us away from godly things.

But when we try to straddle that line of living as others do, but also trying to live as children of God, we can find ourselves going nowhere.  The struggle between our sinful nature and holy aim leaves us stuck in one place.

What we are to “want” to do is to follow the Spirit of God.  We should desire to be in step with the Holy Spirit, the love of God, the goodness of imitating Christ.  Once we make that decision we have a clear path to follow.  We can then move forward in our faith journey walking in step with the Spirit and growing in faith.

Let us walk in step with the Spirit, moving as we are led by God.  We will move away from the sinful nature and closer to holy perfection.

DAILY CHALLENGE:  How can you follow the leading of the Spirit?

Tools - Boots 1

Ephesians has given us the backpack of our faith, the flashlight of God’s love, binoculars from the Holy Spirit to look at our faith differently, and a compass to keep our faith moving in the right direction.  Now Ephesians gives us the hiking boots we need for our journey.

The fifth chapter opens with a command for us.  What is it?  Why should we do this?

If we will go on a journey we need to wear boots on our feet to protect them.  These boots can be a reminder of how our feet work together.  It would be very difficult to move if we walked only with one foot or if one foot did not match the stride of the other.

Just as our feet must work in tandem with one another for us to have success, so it is with our faith.  As we move forward in our journey we must match ourselves with our Savior.  Ephesians 5:1 is clear.  “Be imitators of God.”

If we can imitate God we will be in step with God.  Just as one foot works equally with the other our life of faith must keep the pace that has been set by Jesus.  We are told to act like God.  We are told to live a life of love.  Living a life of love means that we will care about other people and assist them in any way we might be able.

Ephesians 5 reminds us that we are children of God, and as such we are to “live a life worthy of the calling.” (Ephesians 4:1)  This may require sacrifice on our part.  It may not necessarily be the sacrifice of money and material items.  It may be the sacrifice of our time or simply the sacrifice of caring about others.

Whatever the sacrifice, we are again given the example of Christ as the guide, the pacesetter for our spiritual walk.  Through his love for us Jesus was willing to give himself up for us.  If we will walk in tandem with the Lord, being imitators of God, then we must also be willing to give of ourselves to express love to others.

In this way we will be walking spiritually side by side with the Lord in our faith journey.  We will have Jesus as the guide, the footsteps we should follow.

DAILY CHALLENGE:  How can you imitate God?