|What Is God Trying to Teach us?|
Elisabeth Elliot: No matter how frantic and hectic our modern life continues to become, we can make choices. We can choose to spend time with God, but it's going to mean sacrifice-the sacrifice of some interesting things that you would like to do, groups that you might like to join.
Lisa Barry: Thinking like that puts a lot more accountability for time spent on our shoulders, doesn't it? In fact, just yesterday when I was feeling overwhelmed and frantic about things I had to do, God reminded me that even He took six days to make the world. Was it because He couldn't do it all in one day? No. But He used this example as a reminder to prioritize and to pace myself. What has God been trying to teach you lately? That's the subject of Gateway To Joy, as Elisabeth Elliot uncovers spiritual lessons in the classroom of life. Find out more as we begin this Thursday edition of Gateway To Joy.
Elisabeth Elliot: "You are loved with an everlasting love." That's what the Bible says. "And underneath are the everlasting arms." This is your friend Elisabeth Elliot. I've been talking during this week, using some of my listeners' letters as a jumping off point. On Monday it was about spiritual entitlements. On Tuesday, a transformed life-the testimony of a Vietnamese woman. Yesterday, on discontent-somebody who was insistent that God ought to give her what she wanted. God just wasn't doing that.
Well, when I got to today's, I thought, "This one embraces all three of the preceding." What is God trying to teach us? It's sort of amusing to think of God trying to do anything, because He is almighty, isn't He? He can do whatsoever He pleases, and yet we have to use what we call anthropomorphic terms-ordinary human terms to describe spiritual things. It's not always very easy.
But we hear people say this rather frequently. "What is God trying to teach us?" Well, I could begin by reminding us what He tells in His Book. 1 Thessalonians 4:1-3 is pretty plain on this. "Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more, for you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is God's will that you should be sanctified." Now there's a comprehensive answer as to what God is trying to teach us. Throughout all of our lives, long or short, happy or sad, He is always willing that we should be sanctified.
Only God knows the process whereby each individual becomes sanctified. The word "sanctified" simply means holy. None of us would claim to be holy. We have some friends, perhaps, that we think have a "holier than thou" attitude. Well, it doesn't take much to be holier than I am, I'll tell you that. I am of the earth, very earthy. I need all the help I can get. So I know that what God is up to, every minute of every hour or every day of every week of every month of every year is sanctification-making Elisabeth Elliot much holier than she is so far. I thank Him for His patience.
2 Timothy 3:16 says, "All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." How do we become equipped? By God's teaching in Scripture, His rebuking, His correcting and training in righteousness.
You who train animals, you know what patience and kindness it takes. A calm, quiet voice. Simple commands that the animal can understand and consistency. Well, those apply just as much to the training of children and to the training of us old, recalcitrant folks who still need to be corrected again and again by a loving Heavenly Father. This is what sanctification is about. It means holiness. He wants to make us like Himself. He wants to make us glorious without spot or wrinkle or any unclean thing.
I have here a letter from someone who is saying, "What is God trying to teach us?" "I'm a stay-at-home mother of four children, and wife to my husband of six years. My husband is my joy and delight, and I am, with God's help, learning to be a servant to others out of Christian service and love to Jesus Christ, and to be truly content and joyful in my work. This is a busy, noisy, hectic household as you can imagine. On top of the stresses of having young children, my husband recently fell off a ladder and broke both wrists, so he is unable to help me with childcare, house care, driving to do errands, etc. I have to care for him.
Both of us have tried to figure out what God is trying to teach us. I think He is telling me to trust Him more. Do not worry. Have faith. Lean on Jesus in times of trouble. I would like to hear more on mothering, loving our husbands, home schooling, teaching our children spiritual and religious lessons, dealing with non-Christian parents, family members and creating a pleasant home. Hospitality lessons.
My biggest problem is finding other Christian friends and women mentors." Do you know what my answer to that question would be? I would suggest that this lady be a Christian friend and a mentor. I'm very much aware of the fact that there are not very many godly older women who want to take time helping younger women learn to be true followers of Jesus Christ. Younger women need all the help they can get.
It's sad that the instructions in Titus 2 to the older men and the older women to teach younger men and younger women-those instructions are seldom followed. There are a great many people, like this young dear woman who writes to me from Mississippi, who would love to have Christian friends and mentors. Well, my answer always is, "If you can't find one, be one. Ask the Lord to make you one." So I don't think that should be her biggest problem.
She says, "I'm so busy at home that I barely have time to lift my head and look around for fellowship opportunities. Sadly, my small church is not feeding me spiritually, but I feel committed to it."
I would like to say to that woman, and to any others like her that may be listening to me, make sure that you have a quiet time of your own. If your church is not feeding you, if there are no older women mentors, it's essential-it is absolutely necessary-that you somehow arrange your schedule so that you can have a quiet, uninterrupted time with the Lord. Probably the best time would be early in the morning.
I can hear you groaning and saying, "How in the world am I going to get up early in the morning when I've been up half the night with my little children?" Well, of course I can't tell you how, but I can tell you that it is necessary.
"Blessed is that simplicity that leaveth the way of hard questions and goeth in the plain and steadfast way of the commandments of God."
No matter how frantic and hectic our modern life continues to become, we can make choices. We can choose to spend time with God, but it's going to mean sacrifice-the sacrifice of some interesting things that you would like to do, groups that you might like to join. But are any of those things more important than quiet time with God?
Romans 12:9-21 gives us some clear instructions. These are some of the things that God is trying to teach us. "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Bless, and do not curse."
Well, I don't think I'll read on as far as I was going to, to verse 21. If you're listening carefully, you're probably saying, "Oh, my goodness! I haven't begun to keep all the commands of just those first few verses in Romans 12:9." If you don't know where to begin with your quiet time, you might try that tomorrow morning. The whole chapter of Romans 12 is one to read and reread and memorize.
I'm up to here with counselors who offer such advice as "You need to work through so and so. Work through your feelings of anger and bitterness." The Bible doesn't say you need to work through them. The Bible says, "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and evil speaking be put away from you." Put away. That's fast. That's now. "Put away from you, with all malice. And be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving."
Just do it. Quit stalling. Quit allowing some problem to rule your life. Take quietly whatever comes. Offer it up. Trust and obey. And remember that what God is trying to teach each one of us every day in every way is that He loves us. He asks for our obedience and He is looking for people who are thankful and contented and willing to say, "Yes, Lord. Yes, and always yes."
Lisa Barry: That's the kind of reminder I need every day. And how rich and purposeful my life becomes when I live that way consistently! If you'd like to be reminded of the things that Elisabeth has been talking about this week, then you'll want to purchase a copy of this one-week series entitled SPIRITUAL ENTITLEMENTS. I'd also like to recommend a great resource by Donna Otto called MENTORS FOR MOTHERS. It's a curriculum for churches and women's groups who want to start a mentoring program. It has absolutely everything you need.
For more information on how to purchase that or the weekly tape, give us a call here at 1-800-759-4JOY. That's 1-800-759-4569. Or you can write to Gateway To Joy, Box 82500, Lincoln, Nebraska, 68501. If you have a computer, we'd love to have you visit our Web site at gatewaytojoy.org. It's full of interesting details about Gateway To Joy. Gateway To Joy has been a production of Back to the Bible.
Be with us again tomorrow when Elisabeth wraps up this series with a look at overeating and weight control. That's next time on Gateway To Joy.