Giving Max a bath can be quite the ordeal. Since he’s a larger dog, it’s not so easy to get him into the bath tub. Plus he is not fond of getting a bath and I am not fond of cleaning all of the hair out of the tub when he finally decides to comply with his mom’s request. Every so often I take him to the dog wash, which is a dog bath at the local car wash.
Max never wants to go up the ramp to the bathing area. Although it is the good path to take, he does not want what will follow. He loves to be clean. He loves to have his hair blown dry. But he detests the bath itself. When the bath is over, I have to stand beside him when he gets put back on his leash for he wants to hop out of the bathing area rather than taking the ramp down to the ground. Today I got soaked because he rammed into me as I blocked the dangerous attempt
Many times God will try to lead us down a particular path in life. Sometimes it does not appear so great and sometimes the path brings about trials and obstacles we do not desire. However, God has a perfect plan and His direction will help us to get to where we are meant to be in life. There are moments when He opens doors for us to enter but we hesitate because we fear, we doubt, or we think we know better. There are also moments when we try to go another way, a way that might lead toward something not in our best interest. At times He will block it to keep us safe and at times He will allow us to take the other way to help us to grow closer to Him. It is as if He says, “You want it. Okay, I’ll give it to you.” Oh the lessons He has taught me by giving me what I wanted. I soon realized I no longer wanted what I wanted—I wanted instead what He wanted. Today, if God is leading you down a particular path, if God has opened a door for you to enter, I pray you have the trust to follow. Following His direction is always the best way.
“Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes;
I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way.
She will chase after her lovers but not catch them;
she will look for them but not find them.
Then she will say,
‘I will go back to my husband as at first,
for then I was better off than now.’
She has not acknowledged that I was the one
who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil,
who lavished on her the silver and gold—
which they used for Baal.” – Hosea 2:6-8 [NIV]
“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.” – Psalm 16:11 [NLT]
When a danger is called “huge” it should not be taken lightly. In this case, the people were being warned of the danger of associating with a country that worshiped false gods. The concern was that by living closely with these people, the people of Israel would begin to accept some of the practices and culture that was against the Word of God.
Jesus ate with sinners. He spent time with many people who were not pure. However as we read the Gospel, it is clear that Jesus did not spend all of His time with these people. He spent a lot of time with His Father in prayer. He spent a lot of time teaching and preaching as He traveled along with His disciples. He was so engrossed with His mission and He spent much time with the Word as was demonstrated during His time in the wilderness and while teaching. He often recited Scripture. It was written on His heart. It was at the core of His being.
If we do not go out in the world to share the Gospel, then the Gospel won’t get shared. We cannot isolate ourselves from the world to stay safe from temptation. Even in isolation, you will be tempted. Temptation is everywhere. But you can be cautious and keep yourself from spending too much time around “huge danger.” Paul wrote about focusing on what is worthy of praise. You can opt to take in a lot of negative and find out that what you take in will eventually come out. Or you can opt to focus on Him and the right, the pure, the lovely and find that it begins to pour from you.
“Don’t make any deals with them or their gods. They are not to stay in the same country with you lest they get you to sin by worshiping their gods. Beware. That’s a huge danger.”
– Exodus 23:32-33 [MSG]
When I recently asked my daughter to give the dog his food, there was a bit of a mishap. She had some difficulty getting the food out of the can because she had never done it before. When she finished getting out what she could, she tossed the can (still with food) into the recycling bin. The dog quickly noted that there was food still in that can and he retrieved it from the bin. From the next room, I heard the sound of a can moving along the kitchen floor. I quickly retrieved the can and verbally scolded the dog. Then I noted that the can had a good deal of food still in it and realized why he was behaving that way. He saw the good stuff was still inside and could not see the danger—the danger of getting his tongue cut on the can.
We have this same problem in life. There is danger (temptations) all around us. We sometimes cannot hear or see the danger warnings because we keep looking at the good stuff. We see a little good stuff and fall to the temptations. We do not always catch ourselves before it is too late. The devil does not put up flashing neon lights saying, “Danger, I’m going to try to get you to sin with this here.” You won’t hear a “temptation alert” sound when temptations are lurking around the corner. Usually the path to sin is a slow and winding road. C.S. Lewis wrote that the path to hell was gradual. It is when we see the little bit of good stuff and slowly slip away that gets us the easiest.
I cannot warn you of what is around the corner. I do not know what temptations you will face today. But I can point you to Christ who faced every temptation and did not sin. He is our only answer.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.” – Hebrews 4:15 [NIV]
“For the word of the LORD holds true, and we can trust everything He does.”
– Psalm 33:4 [NLT]
A friend of mine is a teacher and she explained to me how she has her students walk as a group to get to their bus. The children each hold hands with each other and they walk forward following her. They don’t look around to see the traffic, the people, and the dangers around them. They simply trust her and walk forward with all eyes on her. This type of trust we are to have in God. We are to have this faith where we give it all to Him and do not think a second more about it. We are to have this faith that causes us to simply do as He asks with no questions asked, not concerning ourselves with the result because we understand He is faithful and has promised us a hope and a future.
A big issue is that faith should not be seen simply as having faith in the power of God. These kids weren’t following the teacher because she had power to keep them out of danger. Danger was certainly possible. They followed her because they trusted her. They trusted her because she was a person of good character. She never let the kids down and they remembered that as she led them onward. Though God is all-powerful, if our faith in Him is only in His power, we will have a problem. Oswald Chambers saw it this way: “Faith is unbreakable confidence in the Personality of God, not in His power… We must have confidence in God over and above everything He may do, and stand in confidence that His character is unsullied. Faith stands under all tests—‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.’” (“If Ye Shall Ask”). If we only have faith in God’s power, and not in His character, we will never fully follow God or fully trust Him.
This past summer I was challenged to walk in faith. I could not walk forward simply trusting in God’s power. I had to trust His character. I had to trust His promises. I had to trust His Word. Yes He has the power to do anything in His will; however, is it in His character to use His power in a particular situation or will He sit back and not use this power He has so that we are able to spiritually mature from the circumstance? If we have faith merely in God’s power, where is our faith when God choose to not use His power, when God chooses to be silent? To have faith in God’s character is to truly trust God, to trust His Word and to trust His promises. Knowing that God was leading me forward, I was able to walk in faith trusting in Him. Perhaps He would use His power to take care of anything that would arise, but that didn’t concern me. I trusted Him—I trust God. He didn’t use His power, but He was faithful. He did what He promised. Job trusted God, not simply God’s power. Abraham trusted God, not simply God’s power.
Today I ask you, do you trust God? Do you trust God so much to walk forward even if God may choose to not display His power? Do you have confidence in the character of God? Could you handle trusting God even if you were to be worse off than Job during his time of great trouble? Is your faith in God simply in His power or do you truly trust Him?
Did you ever ask yourself why a bird runs when it could fly?
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
– Isaiah 41:10 [ESV]