Having authors, pastors, and speakers that you really connect with is not a bad thing and God has the ability to use these people to help draw you closer to him. That is the role of people called to ministry in different forms! However, when we start to trust any one given voice above the words of the Bible, it becomes a very dangerous proposition indeed.
Frequently I am standing there with a staff and God invites me to strike the stone, but I hesitate. He invites me to strike the rock, but I still want to do it under my own power. I insist on turning to other distractions to fill up my cup instead of turning to him.
When we are walking with God on a daily basis, truly seeking after his will in the world, asking him to open our eyes to the needs of those around us, and joyfully obeying promptings of the Spirit; it is impossible not to see the extreme need in our world that the Church is able to meet if we are willing!
As marketplace missionaries one of the most critical things we need to be effective reaching others of the Kingdom is God is having our own feet on solid ground when it comes to what Jesus actually taught. If we are off chasing false images of Christ given to us by these conmen that Paul describes, then the Jesus we are introducing others to will be not be Jesus at all.
Whenever I read about the Israelites in the Old Testament I am always struck by what a group of whiners they are! Here is a group of people that were rescued from slavery and yet they complain about anything and everything. How quickly they seem to forget what Egypt was like! They conveniently forget backbreaking labor from sun up to sun down, being beaten and whipped, and having their male children killed in an attempt to suppress their growing population.
Reading passages like this one in Psalms is such a welcome and necessary reminder. The money we make and the things we acquire in this life are all so incredibly temporary. We are but a breath. However, with that breath we have all been given here on earth, we have also been given the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others that, along with helping their lives here and now, will also last for an eternity!
It is not about what we are “allowed to do now” because of our new found faith. As a Christian our chief mission in life is to share the good news and help others come to saving faith in Jesus as well. To this end Paul challenges us to not put stumbling blocks in front of others. He challenges us to stop thinking about ourselves so much when it comes to these issues and rather to ask ourselves whether our actions are going to act as a catalyst to bring someone to faith or potentially push them away.
What about Hitler? What about Stalin? What about the whole host of world leaders today that run tyrannical regimes bent on genocide and extinguishing from the face of the earth certain ethnic groups or political rivals? Did God set those leaders up? Did he establish those authorities? Paul can’t really mean this, can he?
It is easy from time to time to fall into a very narrow view of God. I catch myself frequently thinking about God primarily through the lens of his love and faithfulness. I have seen repeatedly through my life the truth in what David writes; God’s love truly does reach to the heavens and his faithfulness to the skies. And yet I don’t spend as much time contemplating God’s righteousness and justice.
It is so easy look around and see people having a high degree of success in their lives that are teetering on the line of ethical behavior, pushing the envelope a little too far, or blatantly taking advantage of others and doing the wrong thing over and over again. If we are simultaneously in the midst of a season of life where we have not felt God’s blessings on our work over the course of a few days, months, or years, it is easy to become envious. It is natural to start to ask, “Am I possibly being a bit too uptight in the way I am going about things? Would it really be all that bad if I was to…”