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Previous Message From Virtual Church

Whose Way?

Godís Way or Our Way?

Eph 4:17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. (NIV)

Rev. 3:16 So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, `I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. (NIV)

What Jesus says about the Scribes and the PhariseesÖ
Matt. 23: 5 "Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them `Rabbi.' 8 "But you are not to be called `Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth `father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called `teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (NIV)

Nearly every page of the Bible is a scenario of man battling between going Godís way or manís own way.

Suffering can produce a glorious result if we let it push our way, out of the way, and then follow Godís way. We can let suffering humble us, and when we let suffering humble us, that is the moment when we can let God have His way. When we want our way, suffering has no meaning and we ask, "Why?" or "Why Me." or "Why do I have to go through this?"

To win at life by going Godís way we have to give up to receive back. To lead others we have to surrender. Surrendering (which means we go Godís way) is the secret of the ages. Surrendering to Godís way produces endurance, protection, and armament. Surrendering to Christ means we inherit or receive eternal life. If we go Godís way, then we are dead to the Ten Commandments because we always do the two greatest commandments. And when you love the Lord with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your might, and you love others as yourselfÖyou automatically; honor your father and mother, you never lie, you never commit adultery, you never steal, you never commit murder, and so on.

When you go Godís way, you have to step down to move up. You have to lose yourself in order to win your soul. You must lose your life to find it. You must lose your ego to find your true self.

If you let God have His way, suffering will destroy your ego, and the destroyed ego leads to the highest point in the Kingdom of God.

What are the benefits of Godís way?

1. We experience a peace that passes all understanding, even in the face of the impossible.

2. We experience a love that fills us and that overflows to others.

3. We experience a caring or a knowledge that God cares for us.

4. We experience compassion from God.

5. We find eternal life through faith.

However, here is another painful truth. It should not make any difference if there are benefits to going Godís way. Because if we want the benefits, we have not surrendered to God, and we are not really going Godís way. It takes wisdom to know that we are to surrender to God, and to fight for the right. In this life, we often have to fight off temptations, trials, and tribulations to be all God wants us to be.

What are the benefits of our way? (Our way means, "Taking care of No. 1.")
If you are going to take care of No. 1, then you will want to accumulate wealth or money. You will want all the tangible things money can buy, and you will get the worries, fears, frustrations, and anxieties that go with wealth or money. In the secular, non-religious world, all the secular folks will agree that our goal of "Taking care of No. 1" is right but they can all be wrong. We all know, on some level, that the secular people will support and encourage us right into the pits of hell.

What are the difficulties of Godís way?
Godís way is not tangible. You cannot see, hear, or touch the substance of God or His way. With God, pain is often a price we pay. Paying a price for our faith is not a popular sermon topic today because too many people want the free and easy road. Sorry. Suffering is a price you may have to pay to follow in Jesusí footsteps. Denial of self is a price. We cannot serve our selves and serve God at the same time. To go Godís way requires that we deny our wants and needs. This idea of self-denial is also not a popular topic for a sermon. In fact, in the last days, you may be required to pay for your faith by giving up your life. If you are required to pay this ultimate price, you will not be the first person to do so.

To go Godís way you have to believe without seeing. You have to use faith. However, if we sincerely believe that Christ died for us and we are willing to die for Him, it does not make any difference if there are difficulties on the road we travel. If we have surrendered up, we will not care if there is a pay-off from God.

What are the difficulties of our way? Going our own way means there is no upward direction except in the eyes of others. When we live to see ourselves reflected in the eyes of others, then we have to get them to say how great we are. Going our way means there is no eternal hope for our life. In addition, any hope we carry within us is something we have to generate on our own. Going our way means we will experience suffering and pain without purpose. If, by chance, we discover a purpose to our pain and suffering, the purpose is one we must assign. In addition, going our way means we will carry within us an emptiness and darkness. Persons who are self-consumed and self-absorbed drink alcohol and use drugs to ease the pain of the emptiness and darkness. When we go our way instead of Godís way there is the inner gnawing that makes us feel the need to run and run and run.

What is the price of Godís way?

1. Your life.

2. Everything you are.

3. All that you have.

4. All your possessions.

5. All your children.

6. All your suffering and pain.

However, if we are truly going Godís way it does not make any difference if there is a price. In addition, we do not care if there is a pay-off.

What is the price of our way?

1. Your time

2. Your money

3. Your effort

4. Your family and family life

5. Your health

6. Your soul

When we go our way, we want a pay-off we can never get. No matter how much money we haveÖ
No matter how much time we devote to our goalsÖ
No matter how much effort we put into our plansÖ
We will never get back what we really want and need when we try to go our way instead of His way.

The outcomes of going our way or His way are different. When we go Godís way, there are both present and eternal outcomes. Selfless charity begets a love around you. Even in pain and suffering there is a spiritual comfort and a contentment of mind and spirit when you are going His way. When faced with fearsome challenges or obstacles you find courage. With Godís way, there is a fullness of life. Regardless of your circumstances, you find that God is faithful in being near you and the ones you love. You will find the inexplicable wonder of Godís grace, His forgiveness, and through Him, hope. You will also find joy, companionship, love, freedom, mercy, peace, well being, trust, wisdom, and a freedom from worry.

When we go our way, there are also present and eternal outcomes. When we go our way there is not the prospect of eternal life so we must somehow deal with the realities of deathÖboth the physical and spiritual. Our way can produce anger, which in turn generates high blood pressure, strokes, and heart attacks. There is the frustration which comes from the drive to achieve material things, the continual discomfort of battling through one day and then another. When we go our way, we must also deal with fear. There is the fear of tomorrow, fear of others, fear of life, and the rootless fear called anxiety. When we go our way, we must also confront the issue of guilt, which is often unwarranted, but which is still real without forgiveness from God. There is also the pain of lonelinessÖthere is just us, us alone, and no one else in our life with whom we can share the outcomes provided by God. We must also remember that when we go our way there is a hopelessness that makes us put off until tomorrowÖmenial chores and big issues that hinder our lives. In our society, which is so consumed with self, there is the enormous problem of depression. Although not all depression is caused by spiritual issues, one must wonder, in the secular world, what kind of answer is there to the questions of "What kind of end is there?" and "What is the basis for real optimism in life?" When we go our way, there is a sense of poverty. The poverty can be monetary, spiritual or both. Material wealth has never been a guarantee of spiritual plenty. Going our way means we must deal with our own vulnerability. We must see the reality that we are open to attack, sickness, darkness, evil, and death. Going our way means we are prisoners because we are not free to be who God made us to be. We must also deal with the darkness of failure which hangs like a dark ghost over us and which causes us to scramble hard to make it to a goal defined only by ourselves. When we live our life our way, we must deal with the lurking edginess of distrust, because he who does not tell the truth cannot trust anyone else.

When we go our way, we can be full of self-confidence for awhile. We will think we have our life all together until something happens, thenÖwe find we may not control very much at all.
Ask the victims of the super-storm in India about control.
Ask the victims of the earthquakes in Turkey.
Ask the people who saw all their earthly possessions blown away in the Oklahoma tornado about control over their lives.
We do not control everything in life.
Ask the people in a hospital bed, or the resident of a nursing home about control over what happens in life.

We love ourselves and our accomplishments (going our way) until something happensÖ
When we go our way, we can be pushed off the track.
When we go Godís way there is an eternal life force, a love, and a power called God, Christ, or the Holy Spirit with us.
Who does this idea of going our way or Godís way apply to?
Every human, because every human is tempted to go his own way.
Even Jesus was tempted.

The temptation to go our way is part of the sin plague with which we are born.

How does God teach us to go Godís way?
Through suffering. Through examples of the faith of others. And through wisdom. However, is suffering fair? Why do the innocent, the just, the good, and the righteous have to suffer? Why isnít there an earthly pay-off to suffering? When will my suffering end?

Let us tell the truth here. Let us tell the hard, cold, bitter truth about these questions. These are selfish questions asked by selfish humankind.

Do we have to be willing to be taught to go Godís way? Yes. To go Godís way requires we surrender our self. To go Godís way requires we give up and give in.

Why is going Godís way so important? We cannot share with God and go our way at the same time. Going Godís way is the key to our survivalÖif we survive as a human race. The lessons about going Godís way or our way are everywhere. However, will we look, listen, and learn? From our history, probably not.

Our problem on earth is that human beings who are going their own way are generally in a war with others who are caught up in going their own way. This leads to thinking expressed as "we must get them before they get us or we die".

What does Jesus teach us about going Godís way? He was going Godís way. He took our sins. He took our desire to go our way with Him to the Cross. He took our pride with Him to the Cross. We can surrender to Him, because of Him. The pride that keeps us away from God, He bore on the Cross, so we could be near to God. And be near God for ETERNITY. Not too many people fully take in the meaning of the Cross. Because to understand the Cross we must let our ego evaporate in Godís love.

How does going Godís way connect to our culture? It does not. Our culture is based upon pride, ego, success, and achievement for the self. Every bit of advertising works on our pride, ego, vanity, need for success, and achievement. Millions have died and will die over pride. Germany was humiliated in W.W.I. Then German pride was stirred up by an egomaniac named Hitler, which started W.W.II.

How does going Godís way connect to the world culture? In the world culture there isÖland to be conquered, wealth to be gained, and  power to be retained and increased. In addition, in most military conflicts today there is never a surrender of any kind because victory is ill defined.

What does going Godís way have to do with connecting to God? Going Godís way is the way to connect to God. Pride is the wall between man and God. Pride teaches meÖI can do this on my own. I do not need God. Going Godís way is the stairway to heaven. Going our way is the stairway to hell.

Job 11: 13 "Yet if you devote your heart to him and stretch out your hands to him, 14 if you put away the sin that is in your hand and allow no evil to dwell in your tent, 15 then you will lift up your face without shame; you will stand firm and without fear. 16 You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by. 17 Life will be brighter than noonday, and darkness will become like morning. 18 You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety. 19 You will lie down, with no one to make you afraid, and many will court your favor. (NIV)

Job had lost everything and everyone. In one respect, look how ludicrous it is to talk to Job about tomorrow. Look how incredibly abrasive to rub his losses in his face. How terribly insensitive to say this to a person who is so devastated. However, the words of these verses are the truth, and they contain the hope, care, and tenderness we all need. Going Godís way is a choice. In Verse 13, we see that we must devote our heart and stretch out our hand to God. Clearly, going Godís way is a choice.

Whose way will you choose today? When you give thanks this week, thank our Lord that you have a choice and can go His way.

 

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Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSIONģ. NIVģ. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (RSV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Copyright © 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Shepherd's Care Ministries author and webmaster, Rev. Patrick Kelly, is affiliated through ministerial ordination with Church of God Ministries, Anderson IN 46018