By Tim Sullivan


Turning the Page

A new calendar year is an opportunity to close a chapter to your past and start afresh, making the adjustments necessary to ensure your present course will take you to your intended destination. As we make our plans, we do well to remember that our most fruitful path is a secret thing that can only be revealed by God.

Jeremiah 10:23
O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.

We need the Lord's supernatural guidance to find our way.

Psalm 31:3
For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.

God illuminates our path though his Word and his Spirit. His lamp shows us our next step; his light gives us direction.

Psalm 119:105
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

The Holy Spirit is our guide.

John 16:13
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

Life is full of expected and unexpected changes but throughout them all, God is constant.

Malachi 3:6
For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

James 1:17
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

God orchestrates all the good changes in our life, both immediate and ultimate:

2 Corinthians 3:18
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Philippians 3:21
Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

Paul's Past, Present and Future

In this passage from his letter to the Philippians, Paul contemplates his past, present, and future. In verses 3 to 6, he looks back to the man he once was.

Philippians 3:3-6
3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:
5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;
6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

In verses 7 to 11, he considers his present situation:

7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

In verses 12 to 14, he reveals his future course:

12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Paul knew where he came from, where he was now, and where he was going. He wasn’t looking back.

Luke 9:62
And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

The Buddha on the Road

Know thyself: all people are resistant to change.

Luke 5:36-39
36 And he spake also a parable unto them; No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agreeth not with the old.
37 And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish.
38 But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved.
39 No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.

In the extreme, people want to change God rather than change themselves.

Romans 1:23-27
23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

In this life, the search for truth is never-ending. Learning grinds to a halt the moment you think you are beyond the need for it. It is at that point when people would rather try to change God (or his Word) that change their beliefs.

I once saw a book called “If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him.” I never read the book but the Lord used that title to teach me how easy it is to make an idol out of a person or an idea, and how those idols need to be torn down. In more Christian terms, I quote from Acts.

Acts 17:11
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

It doesn't matter how revered the teacher is by his students. Does his doctrine pass the acid test of the Scriptures? Are these things really so? The trickiest messages are the ones that sound most biblical!

I've always admired the meticulous work of the theologian E.W. Bullinger whose scriptural analysis resulted in his Companion Bible. But I had a real “moment” when I realized that, as far as Bullinger was concerned, if two men used different words to describe something, they were talking about two separate things. If one man called a house aqua and the other blue-green, Bullinger would say they were speaking of two different houses. This kind of logic led to his conclusions that there were four men crucified with Jesus, and Peter denied Christ six times. When I compared verse to verse, I came to the conclusion that these things were NOT so.

1 Thessalonians 5:21
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

So long as you remember that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge" (Pro. 1:7), there is nothing wrong with "proving" the Lord with "hard questions" One cannot grow and learn without it.

1 Kings 10:1
And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to prove him with hard questions.

But we should always keep in mind that the Lord is proving us as well.

Psalm 26:2
Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.

Loyalty is good when it is properly applied. Loyalty to the Lord is always right. Loyalty to a favorite doctrine can lead a person astray. As we go through life trying to decide what we believe, let us be as the Christians of Berea who searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Let us embrace the good changes that will lead us to our desired end.


Presented December 31, 2017