One way God speaks to his children is by asking them questions. We see him doing this throughout both Testaments of the Bible. And the way he poses his questions exposes the thoughts of the heart. For example:
Jesus said, "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you" (John 14:18).
When Christ said this, he was addressing his disciples just before he went to the cross. He had gathered his chosen ones for a last moment of communion before being crucified.
What a sad, sorrowful lot these men were. Their sole source of comfort on the earth was being taken from them. Jesus was their guide, their teacher, their joy and peace and hope. And now he was physically leaving them.
The Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren" (Luke 22:31–32).
When Jesus walked the earth, he knew all too well about the fierce powers of evil. Satan came with every weapon in hell to sift Christ's disciples. And he came to tempt Jesus, too.
We are called to provide for our families. We have jobs, careers, and we face financial problems—but we must trust God for all direction. This entire message is about binding ourselves to his leading.
I want to tell you about a deeply significant experience in my walk with the Lord. It became a spiritual milestone for me. And I believe it's a lesson that speaks directly to what the church of Jesus Christ needs today.
We all have a high calling from the Lord. And at various stages of our lives, he has set before us a preordained plan we are to fulfill. Moreover, God promises that if we act in faith, trusting him, he will bring that plan to fulfillment.
Yet this isn't always easy. As everyone who has walked with Jesus for any length of time knows, following his high calling means we're going to meet obstacles. And one of the most common obstacles is the skeptic's voice. As we seek to cross the Jordan into the Promised Land, we'll hear every kind of voice telling us not to go.
"He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me. They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the Lord was my stay. He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me" (Psalm 18:16–19, my italics).
I want to talk to you about the subtle danger of a tendency common among many Christians. On the surface this tendency may seem harmless, but in reality it can cause shipwreck. I call this dangerous tendency the practice of "taking a step in the right direction."
Now, it is always good to take a step of faith when we have placed our trust in Christ. As a minister of the Lord, I applaud that kind of step. Yet the Bible shows us there is great danger if we don't follow up that first step with increased faith.
Most Christians know what the Bible says about God's great love for his children. Yet even after years of walking faithfully with Jesus, many have never learned to appropriate that great love. Sadly, there are dedicated servants of God who have never enjoyed the glorious experience and benefits of knowing the Father's love. And nothing saddens God's heart more.
In my years of ministry I have identified three main hindrances that keep Christians from entering fully into the special love our Father has for us.
Throughout the Bible we hear these wonderful words spoken by many of God's servants: "Your God is merciful, kind, gracious, anxious to forgive, full of lovingkindness, slow to anger" (see Exodus 34:6, Deuteronomy 4:31, Jonah 4:2, Joel 2:13, Romans 2:4). These words about God's lovingkindness are recited again and again by such men as Moses, Jonah, David, the prophets and the apostle Paul.
I believe few Christians consider themselves impatient. Most true followers of Jesus will admit they have not arrived, that they're not as Christ-like as they want to be. They will tell you there are areas in their lives that need great improvement. But few Christians recognize in themselves a certain form of impatience that is spiritual in nature.