In past services, I have mentioned that God has a purpose for your life. It doesn’t matter whether you are young or old, He has something for you to do. You will probably find that He has been preparing you for that purpose all of your life through your education, your work, your life experiences. You perhaps thought that it was by chance that you were born on this island, moved here or had certain interests and hobbies. Perhaps you had some rough times in childhood or throughout your life. God can use everything in our lives – the good and the bad. We can be more help to others if we have been through similar problems.
The Bible says to find God you must seek Him with all your heart. First you go where He is taught and talked about – Church! Jesus says “Learn of Me …” That message was emblazoned at the front of the beautiful Sacred Heart Church in Portland where a funeral was held for Mr. McCann, an older man who was recently brutally murdered. Two of our island families were directly connected to this tragedy.
The family of Mr. McCann did not stand alone. The whole city of Portland rose up in anguish over such a senseless tragedy. I believe we will see some good come of this horror, such as more help for those mentally ill who seem to fall through the cracks of our society.
The assurance that Mr. McCann knew salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ was a great comfort to his family. They know that someday they will meet him again in heaven.
The Bible is God’s instruction book, providing direction for life! It contains wisdom and knowledge and fascinating stories which illustrate the principles taught. And as you read and study, you’ll find that it isn’t ancient wisdom; the information and instruction is relevant for today. If we are to succeed in life, we need to know what is contained in those pages.
God’s Word helps us through hard times through promises of hope and healing. The Book of Psalms especially provides comfort when we are in distress. Psalm 23 tells us that the Lord is our Shepherd and we rest in green meadows beside peaceful streams. When we feel in danger, we can read Psalm 91, receiving protection and finding rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 103 reminds us that God forgives all our sins and heals all our diseases.
Finding God’s Plan
The Lord’s Prayer says, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Jesus said, “I am the bread of life…” Just as we need physical food each day, we need spiritual food for our spirits. Without physical food our bodies will shrivel and die. Without spiritual food, our spirits die. (Matthew 6:9-13, John 6:35)
To feed our spirits, we need a special time with God to pray and read His Word. It isn’t enough to go to church on Sunday. God speaks to us through His Word, giving us His manna, His instruction. God fed the Israelites in the desert by giving them manna each day, just enough for that day. To overcome the challenges we face each day, we need to have a quiet time with God. In that time we can tell Him of our fears and hopes and ask for His direction. Without this quiet time, we can get overwhelmed by our problems and lose our peace. Our prayer time restores that peace. (Exodus 16:4)
As we get closer to God and begin to know His voice, God starts to reveal His plan for our lives. Pastor Phyllis, I am sure, has quite a story to tell about how God has led her from managing a Ford dealership here in Maine to pastoring an island church. Does that mean that God wants us all to be pastors? No. It may mean that He wants us to be the best historian in the library, a teacher who instills Godly values in his or her students, or a successful lobster man who is mentor and friend to a young person here on Long Island (Maine).
How Does God Lead Us?
Some may hear an audible voice at times but most of us hear a still small voice. Many times we hear two voices – one that says, “Go ahead do it, it won’t hurt, everyone else is doing it.” But the Godly voice, the voice of our conscience, says “I’d better not, it’s not right!” We chose which voice to follow.
God’s instructions are not meant to hurt us or spoil our fun. His instruction is for our own good. When we violate His principles, we will eventually be hurt. Sin may feel good for a time, but ultimately we pay the price with our health, our relationships, our finances or even our lives. The right choices give us peace; wrong choices ultimately cause destruction.
The good news is that we are forgiven. If we have repentant hearts and ask for forgiveness, God forgives all our mistakes. He wipes our slate clean and restores our relationship with Him. (1 John 1:9) This doesn’t mean that we don’t have to pay society back for our mistakes.
The young man who killed Mr. McCann heard a voice – the voice of the evil one – telling him that Mr. McCann was the devil and needed to be killed. We know that voice was not of God but what is the test? How do we know when it is God speaking, the evil one tempting or goading us or just our own desires and thoughts?
The most important test is whether the direction agrees with God’s instruction in the Bible. If it disagrees with scriptural teaching, then the direction is not from God. What the young man did was a direct violation of the commandment, “Thou Shalt not Kill!”
God Speaks Through People
God also speaks to us through people. They rarely will give us a whole new idea. Instead they will confirm an idea or plan that is already being birthed in our heart. God gives us those desires and ideas and He wants to bring them about. When others confirm what is in our hearts, we know that we are on the right track.
Once you see where God is leading, you get courage to take the next step. God rarely shows us the whole picture at once. If He did, we would probably get frightened and run. God’s plans are usually much bigger than our plans. Let’s pray.
Dear Heavenly Father:
You love me with an everlasting love.
Even before you formed me in my mother’s womb,
You planned each day of my life.
When I get off track, You watch over me.
You lovingly wait to welcome me back.
Please guide me. Know my heart and test my thoughts.
Help me to fulfill Your plan for my life.
When I get to heaven, I want to hear You say,
“Well done good and faithful servant!”
DLH – January 28, 2001
Evergreen United Methodist Church
Long Island, ME