Friday, May 29, 2015

Always Led By God

These are some preliminary thoughts I'm writing up in preparation for a message to be shared at Crossroads on Sunday, May 31. Three or four situations of life are needing to be addressed by the Word this weekend - people moving from one stage of life to another (graduation and our family move), the Crossroads church transition and the ongoing ministry opportunities among people who need and are sometimes seeking the Lord's intervention in these days. The main point of this message will be that God is ready to lead us at whatever point we are in life today. There's no need for despair or fear no matter what brought us to the place we are. God knows very well how to lead us triumphantly from where we are now.

Is this a real quote? If so, who said it?
It has been said, I'm not sure if it was by Oswald Chambers or by someone else, that God sometimes confuses us on purpose. I'm not sure if that is a real quote, and I don't know for sure that it's true, but I know I read something like it somewhere in the last few months.

I took that little phrase as a good word from God to help me as we are going through these days.

We are certainly in a time of trial and testing, no matter what words we use to describe it. And because I believe God is in everything working things out for good, I will say, in faith, that whatever confusion we are in God's purpose in it is to grow us and stretch us and to come to trust him more and more -- so that we are more and more filled with HIM and less and less with our own selves. This is true whether we're graduating, going through changes in our families or church family, needing a big change in our personal lives, or, as is true for Toni and me, preparing to make a big move. Sometimes we don't know just what's going on or why -- but we do not need to fear. God can lead us from wherever we are. God is not confused.

In the scripture reading that the Lord gave me to share today, 2nd Corinthians 2:14--3:6, the Apostle Paul and the church group he was writing to were dealing with confusing times. The Corinthians were confused because the normally trustworthy Paul had changed his plans, and there had been what Paul calls a "painful visit" and some difficult words and misunderstandings between him and at least some of the people of that town. Some rather severe correction had been brought to them by the Lord through Paul, and not everyone accepted it with in the spirit of love that was behind it. And Paul was going through his own trials -- he had poured himself out for the good of the people of that church but some of them had turned against him. And there were other things that took away his peace of mind -- missed appointments and some loneliness. And that's when our scripture begins.

In spite of all these confusing things, Paul writes, "thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession." That's the first encouragement God's Word brings to us today -- no matter what has gone on until this moment, God can, and will, lead us, in Christ, in triumph -- from this day on. We know this because of the promises from scripture [I'll insert some here] and from the stories of men and women of God we see in scripture [insert here]. But the best evidence is that Jesus himself went through the worst confusion and trial as everything went horribly for him -- in his relationships, in his reputation, in his physical condition. He died in shame and many went away "beating their breasts" with sorrow. But then Jesus rose from the dead. God the Father had not abandoned him after all! And now Jesus will always be victorious -- and be brings us through -- no matter how confused our life may be right now. He will lead you and he will lead us. There is nothing to fear. No matter where you begin.

Second, there's a line here that "through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere." He then says this: "We are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.."

One of the confusing things for Paul was the different reaction some people gave to his message. That can be true for any of us when we tell others of what Jesus has done for us. Some can't get enough and some turn away. The point here is that you can't judge the messenger or the message based on the reaction of the hearers. Some may love the message of Christ and love you when you bring it, but others will turn away. You can't control that. It's out of your hands. And, honestly, that's good news because no matter how accepted or rejected you are, when you're with Jesus, when you're following His lead, you can be confident that you're in the right spot, even when it doesn't feel like it at the time.

It doesn't matter where you are. God will lead you from where you are. We will always be led by God. There is no need to despair. Every day is a completely new one. So we release control, and let ourselves be led -- whether we're in [list college towns etc.] or in Dassel-Cokato or in the Twin Cities.

Toni and I don't know just where God is leading us -- but we are trusting his good purposes for us. And if we get off track and make a decision that isn't the best, God will be ready to lead us right from that very point. The same is true for you. When you get off track, the Lord will be there ready to lead you from right where you are. Always. You can always be led by God from right where you are.

This is just a very beginning of Sunday's message. I just wanted to get something done tonight because there's so much going on these days. At least I've got a starting point now for Sunday morning. Please pray that God will use it as he desires.

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