Greetings along with good tidings of much grace from God to all of you this day. 2023 is moving right along and I hope you are as well. It’s not really all that important that we “keep up with the Joneses” as it is that we follow Jesus! Following Jesus keeps us going in the right direction. If you and I are trying to live selflessly and responsibly, even in deal- ing with our problems, we are into the new year in the right step. Putting your best foot forward means walking by faith and not by sight. Even though we may not be able to see Jesus Himself, in person, we do see His tracks!
I know that deer live behind my house because I see their tracks on the dirt road every morning. I don’t always see the deer, but I always see their tracks. And I know the difference between deer tracks and dog tracks, or turkey tracks. I also know, and so do you, what Jesus’s tracks look like. His tracks make nail prints in the sand. These are not toe nail prints, they are nail scars that nailed Him to the cross. If you are tracking Jesus and the tracks you are following don’t show any evidence of scars, you are tracking an imposter; and you’re on the wrong track!
One place that I see a lot of Jesus’s tracks is at SPBC. Every Sunday morning about 10:30 I can see the impressions on the pews of the body of Christ. Thanks to each of you who are able and willing and are so faithful to make the Lord’s presence trackable. I also appreciate those of you who cannot come to the service in house, but worship with us via the internet or phone. I ordered a book a few days ago through Amazon Prime. Immediately following my order confirmation, I received an email saying I could track my package. In a like manner, even though I can’t see those who may be worshipping virtually, I can track Jesus’s tracks the moment you connect with the SPBC media, and so can others. What a blessing it is to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. His tracks are everywhere!
“And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together is heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:6
I want to encourage all of us right now while the year is still new to follow Jesus more closely and fervently than ever before. And, even when we can’t see His tracks, we can trust His teachings. Let’s try to stay close enough to Jesus this year that we can see our tracks right along side His. And, if we see only one set of footprints, we’ll know that is when He is carrying us!
Even though God’s footprints (and fingerprints) are everywhere, there will most probably be times when we just can’t see them. Sometimes the dirt road where I often see deer tracks gets real dusty and dry and I see no tracks. Then, there are times when it rains a lot and the road is muddy, even covered with water, and I see no tracks. Every now and then the county road scraper plows the road (This is usually a sure sign of rain.) and I see no tracks. But none of these circumstances mean that deer are not out there. My knowledge of the area and the habits and habitat of deer out shout all doubt, tracks or not! So, when adverse circumstances cover God’s tracks, we can trust His teachings and know He is with us, tracks or not!
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20
What a privilege it is to be in the kingdom of God! I know it’s hard to fathom or wrap our finite minds around the fact that poor, unworthy sinners like us are joint heirs with the owner of the universe, but it’s so! Being a child of God is the only thing I know that is too good to be true, but really is. Every kingdom has a king and the king of the kingdom of God is Jesus Christ!
“And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.” Revelation 19:16
Over the past few months, I have cited from God’s word certain truths intended to open our hearts to opportunities to enjoy God and to encourage one another to witness the blessedness of kingdom life on Earth. These spiritual truths are presented as keys, so to speak, which will open closed doors of doubt and unlock the dungeons of despair dur- ing our pilgrimage as Zion travelers. Jesus Christ has already opened the hardest door to get through. He did that by dying on the cross of Calvary for us. He had the only key that would open the door to God. That key was His sinless, precious shed blood. We do not have that key, nor do we need it, for He has opened the door, even is the door.
“I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out and find pasture.” John 10:9
Jesus also said that He is the good shepherd, His sheep hear His voice, and He knows them and His sheep follow Him. Sheep in the Bible refers to God’s people, His elect family. Sheep though are not the smartest animals and so they need a lot of help to be where they need to be and to do what they should do. That’s why the sheep have a shepherd. As children of God, (His sheep), we too need a lot of help to stay on the right road following Jesus during our time on Earth. It’s good that we can’t lose our salvation, but we sure can lose our way!
By God’s grace and His gift of eternal life, we have the capacity and the desire to know the Lord Jesus Christ. We follow Him because He first found us, forgave us, and fed us the Bread of Life. In God’s kingdom, it’s not what you know that matters most, it’s who you know! The more you know Jesus, the more you will love Him and others. The more we know about the King of Kings and the Great Shepherd of our souls, the more likely we will know where we’re going and what we’re supposed to be doing and why.
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou has rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” Hosea 4:6
The dictionary definition of knowledge is facts, information, and skills acquired by a person, through experience or education. Knowledge is the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. Knowledge is the awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation. The knowledge the world needs today is spiritual knowledge. When a culture lacks spiritual knowledge, it will be destroyed, no matter how educated it is. There are a lot of educated fools in leadership roles in America today. (Can I get a witness?!) This desperately needed spiritual knowledge won’t come from universities or think tanks, it will come from God. Wisdom is built on knowledge. The Bible says that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. Now, we can be both wise and knowledgeable but we can’t be wise without being knowledgeable. But just because we’re knowledgeable doesn’t mean we’re wise. This is proven in natural, practical life when we realize how smart our parents were as we get older.
Listen to the teacher.
Teachers are very important and are the ones who unlock the door to knowledge. Think about it! Where would you be without the teachers you have had the privilege to learn from during your pursuit of career and education? Teaching is a gift from God that He uses in His church to edify or strengthen the faith of His people.
Our part in the quest for spiritual knowledge is to be teachable. A disciple of Jesus Christ is a learner from Jesus Christ. When His disciples called Him Master, He told them they had it right, “For so I am,” He said. Mary sat at Jesus’s feet to hear His word. She was teachable and Jesus complimented her for that. A multitude of people sat on the grass on a hillside to be taught the kingdom life. They didn’t daydream, doze off, or think the sermon was too long, because their teacher was perfect and powerful. If we want to know what God is like, what life’s purpose is, and how to deal with problems, especially sinful ones, then we should listen to Jesus.
“In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:3
A good teacher inspires learning! The more we learn about Jesus and from Jesus the more we want to learn. What’s so inspiring is that we realize how little we do know and also how important things we didn’t know really are. An example of this principle is my gardening skills. I learned recently that planting sunflowers in your vegetable garden will adversely affect your tomatoes and beans. I was encouraged to learn that! I am looking forward to planting a garden this spring, without sunflowers.
We should never quit learning from or listening to Jesus. We never graduate from the Bible, nor do we get too old or spiritually mature to learn something new about life or about God. I understand there is a shortage of teachers today. We surely need to appreciate, pray for, and support the teaching profession, both in schools, and especially in our homes. The first and best teacher is a godly Mama or Daddy! The key to learning is the teacher and a key to the kingdom is knowledge. If we are to grow in grace and knowledge we must listen to the teacher. Jesus gives us a listening ear and He also provides the teachers, the Holy Spirit and His Word.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doc- trine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” II Timothy 3:16
Live the trail life.
We are pilgrims and strangers on Earth. Actu- ally, we are foreigners here because our destination, and final home is Heaven. God has given us by his grace an internal compass to keep us heading in the right direction. The magnetic field is empowered by the Holy Spirit and gives us an affinity for godliness and a hatred for sinfulness. Eternal life is really about knowledge, knowledge that we are sinners, that we have a Saviour and that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us, knows us, and wants us to know Him.
“And this is life eternal, that they might know the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” John 17:3
Even though trail life is often a trail of tears, the knowledge that God is with us and has planned the route and assured us of the Divine destination, life is worth the living. This knowledge works wonders even in the worst of times. The one thing that kept Job on the right trail during his terrible losses was the knowledge that God knew what he was going through.
We must have a “scout” mentality to live the trail life. Scouts have to be aware of their surroundings, noting potential dangers, enemy activities and constantly looking for landmarks of assurance that the right trail is being followed. Sometimes trail life takes us through the valley of temptation. When that happens we must stay on the path and also keep moving. When Jesus was in the wilderness, the devil tried to make Him take another route, but Jesus kept on the trail by telling the devil whose directions He was trekking by. When Jesus had truth to tell, the devil had to tuck his tail and leave. When trail life takes us through the valleys, we need to know that the valley has an opening, we are not in a cave. Knowledge is a good kingdom key because it keeps us moving. Kingdom life is a lot like riding a bicycle. You have to keep going; if you stand still you will fall.
“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever. Amen.” II Peter 3:18
Love the Truth.
Biblical knowledge or godliness is a treasure to be revered. If someone offered you ten million dollars for your Bible, with the stipulation you could never read it or another ever, would you take it? Buy the truth and sell it not the scriptures teach us because the truth will make us free. The scriptures are the source of our faith’s increase and this source is renewable, it never runs out! Biblical knowledge is not only profitable in this life, but also for Heaven and immortal glory. The glory brought to God as we see all His precious promises come to be fulfilled will surely be an awesome site to see! Also, loving the truth is the same as loving Jesus, for He is truth. The Bible is the living word and when we live by it we are living the life and living life in the Light. Knowledge is light and knowledge is power and when it comes our time to die, we’ll love it even more. As the Apostle Paul was departing from earthly life he said, “I have kept the faith, I have finished my course, I have fought a good fight.” He might as well have said, “I love the truth.”
Knowledge also can keep us from a lot of harm and destruction. There are people who don’t know what they don’t know. Spiritual knowledge is a revelation from God and without the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment none of us would know God as Lord and Saviour. This fact alone should stir our hearts to love the truth even more. There are also people who know they know but act like they don’t know. This category of folks are prime targets for God’s chastening grace. God chastens those He loves and He does so to keep us from danger and the devil. Sometimes God has to get our attention so that we’ll listen to the teacher. While living the trail life, if we get on the wrong track He may switch us; but, in the end we learn from our mistakes, we appreciate the safety of spiritual knowledge and we love the truth enough to worship Him from which it came.
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” Ecclesiastes 12:13
We shouldn’t be ashamed to say, “I don’t know” since nobody, other than God, has perfect knowledge. We should all be ashamed, however, to say “I don’t want to know.” A news reporter asked a person on the street what the two greatest problems in America were. The person being asked replied, “I don’t know and I don’t care!” The reporter exclaimed, “You got them both right!”
“More about Jesus would I know,
More of His grace to others show,
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love who died for me.
More about Jesus let me learn,
More of His holy will discern,
Spirit of God, my teacher be,
Showing the things of Christ to me.
More about Jesus in His word,
Holding communion with my Lord,
Hearing His voice in every line,
Making each faithful saying mine.
More about Jesus on His throne,
Riches in glory all His own,
More of His Kingdom’s sure increase;
More of His coming, Prince of Peace.”
Sweney, John Robson. “More About Jesus,” Hymns of Grace, The Primitive Baptist Foundation, Inc., 2003, p. 388.
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