Saturday, August 3, 2019

Which Way Are You Going?

In this life, we are either going forward or going backward, but we never stay in the same place. Some processes, like time, move us relentlessly in a single direction Apart from science fiction, no one can go back in time and rewrite history, and no one gets any younger.

Progress, or regress, but don’t think you can coast and remain where you are. The influence of this world is like a river, continually pulling us downstream. As we can see just by glancing at a newspaper, downstream in this world is neither a safe nor a pleasant place to be.

Engaging in the Christian walk (Romans 8:1,4; Galatians 5:16), running the race Christ has set before us (Hebrews 12:1), and fighting the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7) is like paddling upstream. Every moment of every day is a battle (Ephesians 6:12) in which we must crucify the flesh (Romans 8:13), resist the devil (James 4:7), and separate ourselves from the world that wants to conform us to its image (Romans 12:2).

Only in this way can we advance, not through our own power, but through the Holy Spirit Who lives within every believer from the moment we are saved (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13). In our own strength we can do nothing (John 15:5), but His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), and with Him, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). 

Once Christians are born again (John 3:3-8) by trusting in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6), we are assured of eternal life (John 3:16). We can never lose this most precious gift, for we have done nothing to earn it (Ephesians 2:8-9), and it is the shed blood of Christ that has paid in full for all our sins, past, present and future (Romans 3:25).

In thanksgiving and joy over what He has done, we should want to devote our life to serving Him (James 2:14-26) and following His perfect plan for our life (Jeremiah 29:11-13; 33:3), which is the best blessing we could ever receive. We become a new creation at the moment of salvation (2 Corinthians 5:17), and when Christ returns for His children at the Rapture, we will receive a glorified body that will never age, sin, die, or experience pain or sorrow (1 Corinthians 15:35-58). In that blissful and perfect state we will live with Him and with our loved ones in Christ forever.

In the meantime, during that all too brief period between salvation and Rapture or going home to be forever with Him, is our Christian walk. Ideally, this is a time of progressive sanctification in which we become continually molded into the image of Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:10; Isaiah 64:8). God accomplishes that, if we allow Him to, through trials that strengthen our faith in and closeness to Him; through prayer in which we ask the Spirit to reveal His will; and through instruction and meditation in God’s Word.

Yet so many times we see Christians who, once being saved, rejoice briefly in their salvation, yet are then content to drift along the river of life. The problem is that drifting does not allow us to hold our ground, as Charles Stanley said in a sermon on this topic. It can be so pleasant to float in a raft on a mountain stream, enjoying the scenery and the warm sun. But if we are not careful to chart our course and to pay attention to warning signs, we may soon find ourselves in whitewater or even about to tumble down steep falls to our sure death.

Drifting begins slowly – perhaps a casual glance at something we should not be admiring, “social” drinking, or going somewhere we shouldn’t go because we don’t want to seem too prudish to our “friends” (Proverbs 1:10-19). Once we give place to the devil (Ephesians 4:27), he can establish a stronghold (2 Corinthians 10:3-5) in our life, and we may start backsliding into sin and away from God (Proverbs 14:14; Jeremiah 2:19).

Before we realize what has happened, we can get caught up in the undercurrent pulling us inexorably to where dangerous rocks threaten the safety of our raft. The temptations of today’s world are pervasive, ubiquitous, and addictive, whether they involve pornography, gambling, alcoholism or other substance abuse.

If we keep our wits about us while in the raft, we may become aware of the warning signs that we are headed for destruction – drifting into unfamiliar, choppy waters; increase in speed headed the wrong way; and even the constantly increasing roar of the falls nearby. But if we’re not careful, it will be too late, and we will plunge over the edge, losing not only our self-control and our blessings, but our life itself.

As Christians who have asked Jesus to be Lord of our life, we cannot lose our eternal life (John 10:27-29; Romans 8:35-39). But if we continue to drift away from Him and ignore the Holy Spirit’s warnings (1 Thessalonians 5:19; Ephesians 4:30) to get back on course, we may lose privileges including our testimony, ministries, material blessings, health, and family. All these corrections, which God allows as part of His chastening process (Hebrews 12:6), can be the direct consequences of sin. We can even lose the joy of our salvation (Psalm 35:9; 51:12) and the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

Ultimately, if we continue to rebel, even if passively by allowing the world to draw us under, God may allow Satan to end our earthly life, destroying our flesh before we dishonor Him any further (1 Corinthians 5:5). A Christian in that situation will still go to Heaven, but will suffer the loss of rewards he could have had by following God’s perfect plan for His life (1 Corinthians 3:11-15). As our former (late) pastor used to say, sometimes God gets more glory from a Christian’s death than He does from His life.

What a sad commentary and what a waste of the awesome privileges we have been given! Once we are saved, we are not only God’s children, but we are His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) and fellow workers (1 Corinthians 3:9) with Christ! May we not through our own carelessness be relegated to the shelf or be a castaway (1 Corinthians 9:27), separated from opportunities for service. May we daily yield to the Holy Spirit’s direction, listen for His still small voice (1 Kings 19:12), pray, study His Word, and diligently paddle upstream, against the wicked undercurrent of this world to heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3; 2:6) with Him! 

© 2016 Laurie Collett
Reposted from the archives


Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie,
As one who is fascinated with the beauty of the Grand Canyon, I have both read and watched videos of dories carrying tourists downstream along the Colorado River. When the river is smooth, all is fine, but when it comes to the rapids, special skills are needed by the navigators, who are well-trained professionals. Unlike the early explorers whose lives of some were lost in their attempt to navigate the rapids which were unfamiliar to them.
Just as it's impossible to got back in time and rejuvenate ourselves, so it's impossible to navigate the Colorado upstream.
But thanks be to God for allowing his Holy Spirit to live within us and who is able to empower us to navigate through our lives until we reach the calm, beautiful water of Lake Mead, within all our troubles will be over.
An excellent post, God bless.

Laurie Collett said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laurie Collett said...

Dear Frank,
My husband and I opted for a "whitewater" raft trip on the Colorado River. We chose a calmer trip rather than the more adventurous one, as I am not a strong swimmer and would have easily panicked had we capsized. Even the calmer trip made it clear that you can't navigate the Colorado upstream, any more than you can fight the will of God (Jonah being a prime example).

Looking forward to the crystal sea and the peace that will be pure and eternal.

Thanks as always for your insightful comment. God bless,

Donald Fishgrab said...

Unfortunately, many times the guides on the Christian journey do not warn the people of the dangers, or teach them how to use the paddles to steer away from danger. This is where the guide, the leadership of the church becomes crucial, because if the people are not warned of the danger or taught how to escape it, they are unlikely to succeed. Great illustration,

Laurie Collett said...

Great point, Donald! Too often the "guides" are too busy promoting their own agenda or self-esteem, and they neglect to preach and teach the Word that saves the flock from destruction.
Thanks for your comment and God bless,

Brenda said...

Hi Laurie,
there is a reason why we have the written Word of God, it is to teach us God's ways and change our thoughts to His thoughts, that we might truly become the children of God. The flesh gains nothing, it is the Spirit that is important, and once we are born of that Spirit then that written Word becomes a new language - a true language of love.
Unless we are born again we can not enter the Kingdom of God. I thank God for the internet so that we can interact as a true Spiritual family with others all over the world.
God bless you my sister in the Lord.

Brenda said...

By the way Laurie, I like your analogy of paddling upstream.

Laurie Collett said...

Hi Brenda,
Amen and Amen! God's Word molds and shapes us into His image. We can love only because He loves, once we are born again as God's children.
Praise the Lord that He gave us the Internet to unite His children all over the globe, allowing us to freely encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Thank you for sharing your spiritual insights. May God bless you too!

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Brenda! God bless,