April 13, 2010

Start with God


have thought a lot recently about how important it is to turn things over to God instead of trying to do things under my own power. I seem to have real trouble doing that. So again today I was reminded in my morning devotions of the need to focus on Christ rather than on myself and to turn my efforts over to God rather than fighting the fight alone.

Proverbs 3:3-8

Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

I usually use the English Standard Version of the Bible, but today I was directed by an audio devotional to consider Proverbs 1:7 as presented in The Message: Start with God—the first step in learning is bowing down to God; only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning. I am struck particularly with the first phrase in this verse: “Start with God.”

It makes such sense, and so often I forget God when I begin a new effort. I don’t turn to God first before I take my first step of the new journey. But that’s the wrong way to do it. I should always start with God.

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Romans 8:28 seems a perfect summation of the thought: And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. So start with God and he will work all things together for good. That sounds like a wonderful deal to me.

I think it’s time for me to get started ... with God.


1 comment:

  1. A good article, Rich. And a good reminder to each of us. Our lack in this area is one of the several problems that lead us into serious sin. How thankful we can be, then, that the God we should meet with every morning is a forgiving God - even when we fall into awful sin. Notice what John MacArthur says,"“Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, ‘Before a cock crows, you will deny Me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly.”-(Matthew 26:75) Even when a believer sins greatly, God is there to forgive and restore.
    Peter’s denial of the Lord Jesus was a great tragedy. But Peter had already taken a number of steps toward denial before uttering a single word that repudiated Christ. First, he presumptuously boasted that he would never fall away (Matt. 26:33). Second, Peter was insubordinate to Jesus and blatantly refused to accept the Lord’s prediction of his disloyalty (v. 35). Third, he was prayerless in the Garden of Gethsemane (vv. 40-41). Fourth, he foolishly and unnecessarily wielded the sword to defend Jesus (vv. 51-52). Finally, Peter compromised himself and willfully went to a place (the high priest’s courtyard) of spiritual danger (v. 69), where his faith could be tested beyond its endurance.

    As Peter tried to wait inconspicuously in the high priest’s courtyard, on three occasions he was confronted by other bystanders and accused of being one of Jesus’ followers. Peter’s reaction showed he had lost all sense of reality and awareness of God. Each accusation was a bit more incriminating and provoked a more vehement denial by Peter. After the third denial, according to the Lord’s providence, Peter’s slide was halted. A penetrating look from Jesus Himself (Luke 22:61) and his remembering of Jesus’ prediction that he would deny Him three times were enough to bring Peter to his senses. As our verse explains it, “he went out and wept bitterly.”

    Peter’s tears were not merely tears of remorse—they indicated a true sorrow and turning from sin. It was not until he saw Christ’s face and remembered His words that Peter grasped the seriousness of his sin and repented.

    This is a profound lesson for you and me. Peter’s sin itself did not cause him to repent; his forgiveness and restoration came only when he turned from sin to God. After His resurrection, Jesus affirmed Peter’s restored love three times (John 21:15-17). This gift of restored fellowship through God’s gracious forgiveness is available to all believers (1 John 1:7, 9).


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