Reflections: The Next Best Thing

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

~ Lao Tzu

What do you do when you don’t know what the right thing is to do?  Well, whatever your answer, I hope “fast” and “pray” are somewhere in there.

My dad once told me, “When I don’t know what to do, I pray to God, and He gives me the answer every time.”  Whatever else you might think of his spirituality, you have to admit that that is faith in action.

There may be times when the answer is still not clear, though.  The problem is, you have to do something.  A point of time will come where not deciding really is the same as making a decision.  You don’t know what the right thing is, so you make a decision and do the next best thing, whatever that may be.

Perhaps the fork in the road really is equal.  Perhaps it comes back together on the other side.  If you burn no bridges behind you, in some cases, you might be able to backtrack if you find yourself on the wrong path.  If you prayed for the right path and then choose a path, do you have the faith that it is the right one for you?  Perhaps “right” does not mean smooth, comfortable and with no ruts.  Perhaps it is a lesson in how to prepare for other circumstances ahead.

Have you ever considered that there may be times when God isn’t interested in what you do as much as how and why you do it?  The Bible says that God tests the heart.  “Heart” is a metaphor for the seat of emotions.  Are you doing what you are doing from fear?  Anger?  Resentment?  Love?  Kindness?  Mercy?

God told ancient Israel something rather shocking.  He said that He despised “your feasts”.  Yet, in Leviticus 23, we clearly see God’s feasts.  So, what was He referring to?  Amos begins chapter 5 with a lament of all the evil that Israel participates in.  Righteousness and judgment were cast aside.  The poor are taken advantage of.  They may have physically been sacrificing to God, but in their hearts they were devising evil.

Not too long ago, our pastor gave a sermon about “The Next Right Thing”.  There was a newspaper column about when you are confronted with something overwhelming, break it down and do the next right thing.  He then expanded on that.  We must, as Christians, also think the next right thing.

The Christian walk is a little different from a physical journey.  Granted, when you are walking, you must place one foot in front of another and in the right direction.  However, how you conduct yourself on your walk is just as important as the direction you are going in.  Do you stop and help someone along the way?  Do you greet fellow travellers and try to encourage them?  Do you help others with their load for a while?

Have a major decision in your life?  The temptation is to dwell upon the outcome.  Perhaps God is more interested in why you will choose a particular path.  Perhaps God is more interested in how you will go about the journey, how you will prepar for it and how you will conduct yourself on it.  Whatever outcome we might be devising, His view is of a much larger picture that we can only vaguely see.

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  1. You COG folks get taken every time. I suggest you consider the latest group of Herbert's Hirlings to start a new "Worldwide" church. Look at all of the names of the leaders. Without exception everyone graduated from a defunct bible college and immediately began to live off of people who actually work for a living. Their entire careers have been dedicated to maintaining their perks and privledges. If people don't support them, they may be forced to get real jobs and contribute something potivive to their local communities and society. Why don't you folks follow the NT example and have Elders who work and relate to the real world?

  2. I could not agree with more with the above comment. That was always my opinion. Those ministers should follow Paul's example by working with their owns hands and mixing with the real world out there. In this way they would experience what it is to loose a job with a family to support especially when it comes to feast time. Who said that one cannot work at a real job and preach the gospel at the same time. you can do it right on the job with your example by shining your light.

  3. My UCG congregation watched Dennis Luker's address to the COE this weekend for a "split sermon." In that message, he openly admitted he's a "heart person."

    For some people in my congregation, that statement may have been alarming. After all, we hear Jeremiah 17:9 all the time — about the "heart being deceitful" and "wicked." Thus we hear a lot in messages about thinking and having the "mind of Christ."

    Yes, God tests our hearts. The question for many is which sector should dominate.

  4. You know, it troubles me the way some generalize about these ministers that have left ucg or are leaving ucg: Not all of them immediately went into the ministry after graduating from AC. Some actually did work for others, start businesses, work with their hands for years before going into the ministry. At least one I know gave up a lucrative business in order to become a minister in ucg because he was called to do so. Speaking of the "heart" of a man and then condemning all men as a group who left the ministry of ucg without regard for their "heart" seems less than Christian to me.

  5. Good try Debra:

    If you read the post… the person said leaders. No one questions there are some fine men who have made sacrifices later in life. The problem is that every generation of problems is led by men with the same dysfunctional AC background. Walker, Kilough,Franks, Salyer,Horchak,Thomson, Register. ALL are the profile mentioned in the first post. The same game repeated for 50 years is not a coincidence

  6. Not a "try" at anything other than that I do not think it is wise or truthful to lump everyone together. I suppose I consider elders to be "leaders" and I'm sure others reading it could draw the same conclusion. I think, organizationally, the physical 'churches' of God are inbred in their leadership, and no one who knows me would ever mistake me for a "company man (woman)". I'm also not one who would offend for the sake of argument, nor do I take pleasure in the chickens coming home to roost in this fiasco, but I am not surprised by it. Words are powerful and we should take care in the use of them. My hand to you in peace if you thought my words to be intentionally provoking in any way – merely stating a fact: elders who are genuinely converted, dedicated to their assemblies, and not in it for the money DO exist.

  7. It is my observation that the first two anonymous posts above are very negative to COG groups and called out people of God, as I have read here for other titles and comments. I would like to remind all who are COG students and true believers what was inspired to occur right before the kingdom of God is set up on this earth;
    Rev.12:10 "Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, "Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down."(NKJ)
    Dear brethren, please take encouragement from the words "OUR GOD" and "OUR brethren"—we are different and have lived with that kind of negativity for years–but the time will come when those scoffers and our accusers will either repent or burn up in the lake of fire!!
    I hope they will repent–wise up and come to understand that they do not know anything about true Christianity as it is found in the bible, or they would not say the things they do about people in whom Christ dwells. This very thing proves them to be of a different spirit. (1John4:1)

    Anony Jon

  8. Anony Jon: Let's back up a bit in time. Prior to the coming of the Kingdom, there's tribulation.

    Check out Micah 3:9 Listen to me, you rulers of Israel, you that hate justice and turn right into wrong.
    Mic 3:10 You are building God's city, Jerusalem, on a foundation of murder and injustice.
    [Isn't this happening with the rulers of our nation?]
    Mic 3:11 The city's rulers govern for bribes, the priests interpret the Law for pay, the prophets give their revelations for money—and they all claim that the LORD is with them. "No harm will come to us," they say. "The LORD is with us."
    [Pastors are more concerned about pay and salary while claiming, "God is with us!"]

    Mic 3:12 And so, because of you, Zion (Mr. Armstrong taught Zion referred to the Church) will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will become a pile of ruins, and the Temple hill will become a forest.

    I don't know if any of this applies, but interesting prophecy! Not too many pastors cover this prophecy.

  9. Reflection on the law and Promised Land:

    Moses was not allowed to take Israel into the Promised Land. Why? In God's sovereign plan Moses would never be allowed to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land because he represented the law.

    Joshua on the other hand (whose name means "The Lord is Salvation") represented faith and belief in God (Num 14). Moses made one mistake and was not allowed into the Promised Land! That should be a clear lesson to us today. Remember that our keeping of the law will never save us. It's God working through us.

    Moses' example does not negate the law, but rather establishes it. It is holy and it kills for an infraction – he struck the rock in anger (and that Rock was Christ). The law can never save. We better not elevate the law above Jesus Christ. Jesus (name in Hebrew is Joshua) saves! I'll cling to Him and live for Him, proclaiming His salvation from day to day.

  10. Anonymous said; "I don't know if any of this applies, but interesting prophecy! Not too many pastors cover this prophecy."
    I venture to say that you don't know much about a lot of things. It is obvious to a Spirit led mind that you do not even understand what the COG really is. Have you bothered to find out the meaning of the word "Zion" in that passage?
    Your synopsis of Moses not entering the promised land also is somewhat flawed.
    I also venture to say that if you think you can have salvation "thru Jesus" without keeping the Ten Commandment Law–then your "Jesus" is not the one of the Bible.

    Anony Jon

  11. Anonymous wrote: "Moses was not allowed to take Israel into the Promised Land. Why? In God's sovereign plan Moses would never be allowed to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land because he represented the law."

    Please quote me the passage that supports your contention.

  12. OK, John (or should I call you Peter):

    At the Mount of Transfiguration the Father showed the supremacy of His Son over Moses (who represented the law) and Elijah (who represented the prophets) to Peter, James and John. Moses and Elijah both spoke of Jesus' upcoming death. Peter wanted to build three tabernacles – one for each person (Moses, Elijah and Jesus). But the Father told them and showed them that Jesus was to be listened to. God showed Peter, James and John in two ways – 1) they saw the glory of Jesus (v. 32) out-shining M & E; and 2) M & E disappeared after the voice said, "Hear (Jesus)." The Beloved Son was and is supreme. (Luke 9:28-36)

    It is clear in the Bible that Moses and Elijah both represented the law and the prophets. It's not Jesus plus….

    Now if we are saved by faith plus law keeping, then Moses and Joshua both would have led the children of Israel into the Promised Land.

    "For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come and not the very image of the things, can NEVER with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year make those who approach perfect." Heb 10:1

    "For by ONE offering He (Jesus) has perfected (past tense) forever (long time) those who are being sanctified." Heb 10:14 Even the sanctification process we are currently in is by GRACE, if you believe it. The law then is written on the heart, not the outward letter; and the lawless deeds are remembered no more (10:16-17) Praise God!

    I always wondered why Moses was not allowed into the Promised Land. That always seemed quite harsh of God to keep him out, especially all the work and labor, patience and intercession he made on behalf of Israel. Afterall he was the most humble man on earth (Num 12:3). I mean all he did was strike the rock in anger (Num 20:7-13). Wasn't God angry with Israel? Wasn't He going to wipe them out at one point and Moses stepped up to intercede and save their butts in the past (Num 14 & 16)?

    God said speak to the rock. Moses struck it twice out of anger. Moses and Aaron did not believe God! (Num 20:12). One slip up, although Moses and Aaron had hallowed God for years – one slip up and no Promised Land. "God by no means clears the guilty…" Num 14:18

    Why not let one sin go? Because there is no clearing of the guilty for those who depend upon and trust in the law. Moses was representation of that law. Does that then mean, "Hey, I can sin now and let grace abound"? God forbid.

    On the other hand Joshua was a type of Jesus Christ. His name means, "The Lord is Salvation".

    Deut 31:1-3 "…the Lord has said to me (Moses), 'You shall not cross over this Jordan.' 'The LORD your God *Himself* crosses over before you.' He will destroy these nations from before you, and you shall dispossess them. Joshua himself crosses over before you, just as the Lord has said."

    Moses as representation of the law was not allowed into the Promised Land due to one time not believing and not hallowing God, although he had hallowed God 100's of times before. Trusting in the law and your obedience? Then only one slip up and you're done. You're out! You won't be in the Kingdom.

    Trust in Jesus Christ and He will never leave you or forsake you. He goes before us. He saves. "He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified." Praise the Lord! He is Savior, not me, not the law, not Moses, nor anyone else.

  13. Anonymous wrote: "Now if we are saved by faith plus law keeping, then Moses and Joshua both would have led the children of Israel into the Promised Land."

    So, after Moses died and Joshua took over and the Children of Israel crossed over the Jordan, they didn't have to keep the Law any more?

    BTW, just one small hint: Keeping the Law cannot "save" you. I don't know why you insist that's what we believe. It is the Law breakers that need to be "saved", which includes everyone of us. Rather than doing away with the Law, being "saved" should reinforce the idea that the Law is necessary.

  14. I've got a question for anonymous. If Christ did away with the law, and gave a better law, "the law of love", what makes one a sinner and worthy of death after the cross?

    Breaking the law of love? I thought the law of love was perfect and the old law was what put one under bondage.

    I thought it was the old law that was against us. Now are you telling me the law of love can be against us too?

    Just what makes one a sinner after the cross?

  15. Paul was inspired to write; Rom 4:15 because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression."
    If the law was done away by Christ then there is no transgression. However, John was inspired to write many years later; I Jn 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.(KJV)It appears from this that sin was still around–meaning the law was as well–and still is today!
    "Trusting in the law and your obedience? Then only one slip up and you're done. You're out! You won't be in the Kingdom."
    As I have said to you before–what you are saying is very telling about your understanding of Scripture.
    You do not seem to grasp the real reason for Christ's sacrifice.
    Rom 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." We are to strive to overcome sin–but even Paul recorded that he still sinned on occasion even though that was not his desire.

    I Jn 2:1-4 "My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.(This means you to, anonymous)
    3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.(NKJ)
    Maybe you should read my article on "Repentance" or the Bible study on "coming out of darkness" and I am sure there are other things on my site (www.mtcogsm.com) that could help you understand more truth, if you really desire it.
    With Christian concern,
    the Editor

  16. Two questions, John. You state, "Keeping the Law cannot "save" you. I don't know why you insist that's what we believe."

    If you really believe the law cannot save you, then what's the problem with my statement about Moses not making it into the Promised Land due to his representing the law? Or do you somehow want to tie the law like a mistress to God's perfect grace (like tying Hagar to Sarah)?

    As for Kevin, I don't believe Jesus destroyed the law. He fulfilled it, brought it to it's fullest living meaning and put it in its proper perspective. The only way I can walk in it is to bask in the grace of Jesus Christ believing He saves, which then puts the law in it's proper perspective – as a guide, pattern and shadow. When belief in Jesus truly happens, that results in fruit, obedience and yes, walking in the pattern of His commandments. But that walking does NOT save. God saves, which results in walking.

    MTCOGSM: I think you missed the part in my post where I wrote, "Hey, I can sin now and let grace abound"? God forbid." And "God by no means clears the guilty." Guilt implies law, which implies sin.

    How do I view sin? A non-Christian sees God as a corrective barrier to sin. A Christian sees sin as a barrier to an open loving relationship with God. The point in this is what is the goal in life? To the non-Christian it is sin and God is the corrective barrier. To the Christian it is a right relationship with God and sin hinders that. Huge difference.

    The law is never more misapplied than when it is used as a means of salvation, a means of overcoming sin or a corrective rod to hold over other Christians.

    CH Spurgeon said, "We do not wish to drive the law out of chapels, as long as it is kept in its right position; but when it is set up as mistress (think about that! Represented in Galatians as Hagar), away with her; we will have nought to do with legality."

    We are saved by grace, period. The rest just follows. Moses did not get into the Promised Land. That makes a point – it is only by the Grace of God that we make it into His blessed Kingdom. This is the crux of the matter.

    The law was not done away after the children of Israel made it into the Promised Land. But Moses foretold what would happen to them after they got there (Deu 31:14-29). Words like "utterly corrupt", "evil", "works of your hands". Deu 31:29 They would be a H-U-G-E, fantastic failure!

    So what was their response? More laws by the Pharisees in order to avoid breaking God's laws. More F-A-I-L-U-R-E.

    Their only hope was God's grace. And they kept misunderstanding. Does this ring true with anyone today? You continue to struggle with a certain besetting sin and your response? Do better! Try harder. Wrong! Our response should be run to Jesus for help and grace.

    John wrote, "Rather than doing away with the Law, being "saved" should reinforce the idea that the Law is necessary."

    How so? If I understand what you're saying, then being saved should reinforce the idea that Jesus was necessary. For salvation can only come by God, not the law; not of works lest any man should boast. When Jesus has graciously granted salvation and changed your heart, then you love God with your heart – not the sweet, syrupy infatuation that we call love today. In fact sin bothers you to the point you want to fix the relationship, so you go to Jesus out of love repenting of that sin.

    Moses was not granted the Promised Land. Why not? If anyone earned it, he certainly did. God did not bestow that gift of grace on him. Who calls the shots? God or us?

  17. Anonymous wrote: "If you really believe the law cannot save you, then what's the problem with my statement about Moses not making it into the Promised Land due to his representing the law?"

    Because the Bible does not say that. That's why you don't get it. You don't believe your Bible.

    "John wrote, 'Rather than doing away with the Law, being "saved" should reinforce the idea that the Law is necessary.'

    "How so? If I understand what you're saying, then being saved should reinforce the idea that Jesus was necessary. For salvation can only come by God, not the law; not of works lest any man should boast. When Jesus has graciously granted salvation and changed your heart, then you love God with your heart – not the sweet, syrupy infatuation that we call love today. In fact sin bothers you to the point you want to fix the relationship, so you go to Jesus out of love repenting of that sin."

    Sin is the transgression of the Law. You are talking in circles again. If "sin bothers you" that means you keep the Law. Why? To please Jesus. Stop making it so hard.

  18. MTCOGSM,

    When you mentioned:

    "You do not seem to grasp the real reason for Christ's sacrifice.
    Rom 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." We are to strive to overcome sin–but even Paul recorded that he still sinned on occasion even though that was not his desire.

    Now without placing too much "conjecture" into the explaination. How would you contrast another statement he wrote in 1 Cor 4:4? Was Paul not knowingly concsiously committing sin any more?

    " For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not acquitted because of this. The one who judges me is the Lord.

  19. Paul was simply saying there was not one of his known sins that he had not repented of by crying out to God for that forgiveness. Christ is the mediator and Paul placed himself in his hands for judgment. Read what he concluded in Romans 7 where he talked about finding sin in himself and hating it–but knowing that it was only through forgiveness could come the grace. obedience is required but salvation is still grace or a gift–it cannot be earned.(which I am sure you must know)

    Anonymous–my friend, it is you who miss the point. You seem to have a lot of Scriptures that you think support your arguement and you state this; "The law is never more misapplied than when it is used as a means of salvation, a means of overcoming sin or a corrective rod to hold over other Christians."
    are you forgetting who gave the Law to Moses? was it not the one who later became Jesus Christ–who is also the one who said He was the same yesterday today and forever? Did he not also say that as long as heaven and earth existed–not one "jot or tittle" would pass from the Law? He also said that he had kept the Law as an example to all others who would be Christian–telling his disciples to keep it also.
    What is it that has gotten you so imbittered to the truth of God?
    To be human is to sometimes be in error—(Which includes me)but there are no contradictions in the word of God in its intended form—but you seem to believe that the Scriptures you site to prove your point make all others void. What makes you right and all of us so wrong?

    The Editor

  20. Kevin McMillen from West Virginia

    anonymous wrote:

    "As for Kevin, I don't believe Jesus destroyed the law. He fulfilled it,"

    Exactly. But what you seem to not understand is how he fulfilled it.

    Every law has two phases.

    1. The stated law.
    2. The penalty.

    70 mph is the stated law on most Interstates.

    What we tend to forget is the penalty is also a part of the law. If we go over 70 mph, and get caught (God is always watching) then we get penalized.

    As you said, "I don't believe Jesus destroyed the law, he fulfilled it".

    What he fulfilled was the death penalty. He paid the price (death) for us.

    Since as you say, Jesus didn't destroy the law, the law is still in existence. Mind you, its purpose was never to be a means of salvation.

    Anyone that looks to the law or his/her law keeping as a means of salvation has fallen from Grace.

    Yet, as Paul said, do we sin (break the law) that Grace may abound? Certainly not.

    Anonymous, the bible teaches that we are to try to keep the law but not as a means of salvation, if we do break the law or sin, as John said, we have an advocate in heaven, who fulfilled the law, or paid the price for us. He died so we don't have to.

    The truth is so simple, I don't know why people love to complicate it.

  21. Kevin McMillen from West Virginia

    Anonymous. It wasn't the law that was the mistress, the mistress was the Mt. Sinai covenant.

    The law existed long before Mt. Sinai, see Ex 26:5

  22. Kevin McMillen from West Virginia

    Anonymous said: "As for Kevin, I don't believe Jesus destroyed the law. He fulfilled it,"

    Anonymous, please help me to understand this. If Jesus didn't destroy the law, but fulfilled it, just who did he fulfill it for? I see two options, perhaps I am missing one or more.

    If Jesus fulfilled the law for everyone who lived after him, my original question still hasn't been answered.

    If the law is fulfilled for everyone after Christ's death, how does one incur the death penalty?

    By breaking the "law of love"?

    If that's the case then the "law of love" would also be "against us".

    The other option would be that the old law is only fulfilled for those who accept Christ.

    The problem with this line of reasoning would be, if a person after Christ's death broke the old law, they sinned and came under the death penalty. If they accept Christ, according to this theory, the old law is now fulfilled for them by Christ.

    This theory is supposedly telling me that, those who hadn't accepted Christ were under the old law. They had to keep the Sabbath, clean and unclean, etc, or else they were sinners.

    But once they accepted Christ, he fulfilled the law, and now they could go out, break the Sabbath, eat unclean, etc, and now they are just fine.

    Neither one of these theories make sense, yet they are the only two options that I see for:

    "I don't believe Jesus destroyed the law. He fulfilled it,"

    Is it the old law that was against us, or the new law of love that is against us?

    I say it's neither, it was death that was against us.

    The fact is, the law is the law, it's the penalty for breaking said law that has changed.

    The penalty was death, now the death penalty has been fulfilled for those of us in Christ.

    We now keep the law because that is what God wants us to do. "Oh that they had the heart to obey."

    Not because we somehow earn anything from keeping the law.

    The law has never been a means of salvation, and even in the old WCG, it was never taught as a means of salvation. The approach in WCG was legalistic, but the basic understanding of the law was basically correct.

  23. Kevin McMillen from West Virginia

    Sorry, I meant Gen. 26:5

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