"Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
Swimming Against The Current
Jeremiah 2:19 (KJV)
19 Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord God of hosts.
Jeremiah 3:22 (KJV)
22 Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings. Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the Lord our God.
James 4:7-8 (KJV)
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
Romans 12:2 (KJV)
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
There is always opposition in this world whether we choose to face it or not. While there is a certain amount of spiritual warfare and resistance that will come, we should never add to it with our actions. Like an elevator that is occupied, we are only going two directions in life: forwards or backwards, but we never stay still. We can never be still because we are either growing in the Lord or we are backsliding. I can prove that to you....
Hebrews 6:1-3 (KJV)
6 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
3 And this will we do, if God permit.
Here in NC we have several main rivers that run East off of our elevated Appalachian mountain chain. One of those rivers is called the Roanoke River. We have a town called Roanoke Rapids where this river runs South East into the town’s area. This town got its name due to the speed of the current of the river at its location. It's known for its fast current and danger, however it's also a great location for catching large fish. Unfortunately, it is not an ideal location for man to be in the water. We are not equipped naturally for such strong currents as we are made to live on land. While we can walk in water that isn’t that deep or we can swim in it, it is nearly impossible to swim against such a strong current as we find in the Roanoke Rapids area.
Just as the progress of swimming against a current is determined by the speed of the water coming against you, the progress of our walk with God is determined as well. The things that we allow to be in our lives, the doors of sin that we open allow the current of life to come against us. This is true both corporately as a church and individually as Christians. We can open doors of resistance both as the church by living in complacency and not obeying the will of the Lord and by individuals by the same methods or by entertaining the sin of the world.
However, we are the controller of our own current. How comfortable we get today determines the speed of the current which comes against us. The more comfortable we get today, the more power the current will have tomorrow that we fight against. This is because our own comfortability and complacency has allowed that current to build up speed. This is where we are in America today, swimming against a current. Our children deny God because of our complacency. The world denies God because of our complacency. Babies are murdered because of our complacency and now we can't swim back because the current is to strong.
Salmon which are a type of fish do the same thing. They will sometimes swim as much as 2,000 miles upstream from the ocean to spawn. There drive to do what they do makes them fight with all their strength to reach their goal and destination. Yet many times, they do not make it or they die in the process.
Some of us are just like that fish Dory on the “Finding Nemo” movie by Disney. She loves to say, “just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” It helps her stay on course when the going gets rough, but is that always the best thing to do? It is if you serve God and abstain from sin, but not if you’re still held captive by sin, SWIMMING AGAINST THE CURRENT!
How many of us search this world over and over, swimming upstream, yet we do not find what we are so desperately seeking?
We will not find what we seek swimming against the current. We must grab ahold of a tree branch or whatever we can find. We must grab ahold of the hand of Christ as He convicts us, sends the gospel our way, or knocks on the doors of our hearts to let Him in to begin to free us. Let Christ throw you a life vest today! Let Christ save you from the sins which come against you in the current you have created against yourself! Don’t let another minute go by as you fight for your life, let God save it today!
If you are a seasoned Christian and have professed Christ as your savior, stop the bleeding of your backsliding and turn back to Him. Do as Jeremiah 3:22 tells us to “return, ye backsliding children.” “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil!” “Draw night to God today, and he will draw night to you!”
The Professional Opinion
Numbers 13:1-3, 27-31 (KJV)
13 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel: of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a ruler among them.
3 And Moses by the commandment of the Lord sent them from the wilderness of Paran: all those men were heads of the children of Israel.
27 And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it.
28 Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there.
29 The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan.
30 And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.
31 But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.
Mark 4:35-41 (KJV)
35 And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.
36 And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.
37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.
38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?
39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?
41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?
Mark 7:1-16 (KJV)
7 Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem.
2 And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault.
3 For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders.
4 And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables.
5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?
6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.
7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.
9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.
10 For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death:
11 But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free.
12 And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother;
13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.
14 And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand:
15 There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.
16 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.
Many of us have encountered situations in our life that have required us to go seek someone else with a more specialized knowledge. I know that I have done this many times myself. I do not trust my limited understanding of concepts which I am not experienced at. I don’t fix my own cars or do my own plumbing. That is who I am, I call someone who does those things well.
The specialist you may have dealt with could be a number of things such as a carpenter, electrician, or painter. It might be a more specialized professional such as an I.T. security consultant, a financial professional, maybe even a medical specialist.
There are times when that knowledge helps us, while other times their specialized knowledge is not knowledge at all, but rather more like a walking book reference.
Sometimes these so called “professionals” speak from their limited experience or their negative outlook on life which they have gained from the pressures of life. Sometimes these individuals may even go beyond their area of specialty into areas not as well known.
We have just witnessed this type of situation in all three scenarios we just read about.
Looking at Numbers 13, the Israelite spies were self-proclaimed professional advisors to Moses. God told him to assemble a team of “heads of the children of Israel” as they were called. Notice they were not trained soldiers. God didn’t ask them to go get an opinion of the area, become experts in the field of war, navigation, planning, consulting, none of those things. The Word says they will, “search the land of Canaan” or another way of saying it may be, “explore the land of Canaan.” They were to report back, not give an analysis of what they believed God could do. Listen to what it says next, “which I give unto the children of Israel.” However, when they returned, a few seemed to believe that they were specialists in all of the above. Some of the spies, in their “professional” opinions, did not believe that they had the firepower necessary to take on such a feat as this, while others believed in the process God had laid out for them. They had seen what God had done and heard what He would do.
In Mark we see the disciples were professional sailors and fisherman. They were very well experienced and had the knowledge to navigate the water. They had made a living navigating some of these same waters prior to joining Jesus. However, they were not the creators of that water and the weather they faced. If they had just enough faith to ask God to remove that danger from their presence, He may have done it without even waking Jesus because only the Lord knows how much Jesus needed that sleep at the moment.
In Mark 7 the Pharisees were professional ministers of the Law, however little did they know that the fulfillment of the law stood right before their eyes. Their focus was so beamed in on idols that they missed the whole purpose of the law which had been given to them. These guys were so dilerious that they must have thought they were health inspectors, chastising Jesus over having unclean hands. This is why God knew He had to provide another way because the way that was already provided had been distorted and misconstrued by the religious of that day. That same attitude attempts to pervert the gospel today as well. However, unlike the law, we no longer need anyone to read God’s Word to us in order that we may understand it. We don’t need anyone to dictate God’s blessings, make sacrifices, and to pray for us as a holy priest. Jesus Christ has stepped in as our intercessor for us today, making atonement for our sins and restoring our relationship with God.
We have all witnessed “professional” opinions like this in our day.
You might have been the recipient of such a “professional” opinion recently. That opinion may have brought bad news about what is to come or what could happen. What they don’t know is that you serve God and what you do know is that God is greater than all these things. He is our creator, He is our provider, He is our healer, our restorer, and our promise of eternal life. We must have faith in the real professional who created all of these things and knows our situations.
There is only one professional opinion worth always listening to and that is the opinion of Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior!