Anytime the family gets ready to tear out on a long haul across the country, dad springs into action. The vehicle must be worthy and ready for the road ahead. This usually begins with an oil change and fluid check. A check of the belts and tires, brakes and lights. Accompanying the luggage may be some tools, water and blankets. Much effort is made to prepare for the road ahead.
What about spiritually? Have you made preparation for the road ahead? This life is a pilgrimage (Hebrews 11:13). It is a journey in which men can and do find themselves ill prepared. That is not the Fathers desire. God wants men to be well prepared for their journey (2 Peter 1:3).
The essentials for the road ahead that will be covered in this blog are (1) faith (2) family (3) focus and (4) fuel.
Faith is the great essential of the Christian life. You show this writer someone short on faith and he will show you someone unprepared for the road ahead. The journey of life is one that is filled with temptations and trials. The Christian is promised situations to put them to the test. “That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto” (I Thessalonians 3:3). It is no wonder why the child of God needs to daily stoke the fires of faith in his life. “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). Men and women grow their faith and fortify their faith by being active in the faith! Christians cannot fortify that which they do not exercise (Hebrews 5:14)! When the storms of life rage about a child of God, they must have an unwavering trust in Him (Proverbs 3:5-6). Paul put it like this, “For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless, I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (2 Timothy 1:12). It is that knowledge of God that empowers the solider of Christ to rise above the onslaught of life to be able to proclaim, “I reckon that the suffering of this present world are not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). A mountain moving faith birthed the words, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8). Faith is essential for the road ahead.
Family is the great blessing of the Christian life. God has never desired anyone to go at this life alone. Seeing that this life is marked by storms and trials, God has provided for all a family. “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22). In this family, God has provided a pedigree (apostles, prophets, and Jesus), a place (holy temple in the Lord), and a presence (habitation of God through the Spirit). What a family to be a part of! “I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God. I’ve been washed in the fountain, and cleansed by His blood” (William J. Gaither, 1970). This family affords me a community of likeminded loved ones who are striving for the same goal and serving the same Master. “So, we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another” (Romans 12:5). Relative to Romans 12:5, Winton says, “Comprising the one body of Christ, Christians are members of each other. We belong to each other; we are part of each other. Paul is emphasizing the closeness of relationship that saints have. As any member of our physical body would not exalt itself over the other members and would not work contrary to the best interests of any other member of that body, so the members of Christ’s body should not do such. When one member encourages, supports, and helps another member, he helps himself to that same degree. We need each other; we depend on each other for strength; when one member falters, in the interest of the whole body and one’s own self, we support and help the weak member” (Bob Winton, Romans, P.240). It is here noted that Winton is correct, for Paul in another place recorded, “And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26). Without the family of God, you’re unprepared for the road ahead!
Focus is the great guidance of the Christian life. Since the devil is always after the mind of mankind (1 Peter 5:8; 1 John 2:16), it is imperative to focus on the mission, the master, and the message. To transverse this life in a successful manner the mission must remain in focus. Faithfulness in this life, regardless of the cost, is the goal. “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall receive tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). It is a crushing thought to consider all those that gave in or gave up on “day 9.” The essential guiding force through all the pain and struggle the devil throws at Gods people is the ability to focus on the eternal. “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). Paul makes the case just here for the guiding force of focus in the Christians life. The man who endured more as a minister of Christ, second only to Christ, said, “Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft” (2 Corinthians 11:23). What guided Paul through a lifetime of pain in service to his King? “Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:28). Paul was focused on the mission. The next area of focus that needs to be discussed is focusing on the master. The Hebrews writer exhorted, “Wherefore seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest you be wearied and faint in your minds” (Hebrews 12:1-3). The focus of every child of God needs to be on Jesus. Paul would say that men who have committed to Jesus need to lift their eyes to horizons beyond this world. “If you then been risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-3). Do you want to go to heaven? Then “follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth” (Revelation 14:4). One cannot follow that which they are not focused on. Focus on the Master and you will end up where He is, isn’t that the goal? One cannot be mission and master focused apart form the message. The Bible is certainly a great focal point for any successful child of God. The message will guide one through the darkness. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). The message must be a priority to be profitable. “Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself and to the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Timothy 4:13-16). The salvation of one’s self and anyone else they may influence hinges upon the priority of the Bible in their life. But, Paul went deeper into the personal aspect of profitable Bible study. Notice he said “take heed unto thyself”. One will not study the Bible long until he is able to see himself. To end this point, the message is practical. The principles that made the people of the Bible strong, strengthen men today. So, if men will make it a priority to personally practice the principles revealed in the message, their focus will profit them from here to glory.
Fuel is the great propeller of the Christian life. When Gods people were running low on fuel, and were ready to give up on Christ and return to Judaism, God wrote them a letter of encouragement (See Hebrews). Encouragement is a great tool to propel the weary on to success. God is the author and originator of encouragement. “Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad”(Proverbs 12:26). When a child of God works to grow their faith, involve the family, focus on the right things, they will never run low on fuel. It is ever encouraging to know that the faithful forever have the presence of God and the provisions of God. God wants you to remain courageous and not fearful. Just as in the days of Joshua, “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed; for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest” (Joshua 1:9). Jesus, in like fashion said, “And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Mathew 28:20b). His presence is a provision. He provides strength. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). The man who is totally given to Christ will always have provisions for the journey. “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.
Be prepared for the road ahead. God has supplied all you need to build your faith, belong to the family, tighten your focus, and fill up on fuel. “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).
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