I thank the Lord often for the godly men and women who have helped motivate me to stay true to God until the end of my days. Probably none has influenced me more than the late Dr. John G. Mitchell, founder of Multnomah Bible College and Biblical Seminary. The late Dr. John F. Walvoord once said Dr. Mitchell reminded him of an aged apostle. Never have I met a man who was more in love with the Savior.
On two occasions Dr. Mitchell made a point of reminding me—more than sixty years his junior—that there are only three reasons Christians die. These reasons are true in Scripture, in church history, and in our experience today. Believers die:
·because of the discipline of God (1 Cor. 11:29−30; 1 John 5:16)
·for the glory of God (John 21:18−19)
·because their work is finished (2 Tim. 4:6−8).
Dr. Mitchell also urged me to make sure, when it comes time to die, that dying is all I have left to do.
Thanks to the influence of Dr. Mitchell and others, I love God’s Word. As a teenager, I started reading it from cover to cover, and before college I had memorized nearly 100 pages of Scripture. I’ve read through the Bible dozens of times. And I’ve discovered that only four chapters don’t talk about sin and temptation.
From Genesis 3 to Revelation 20 we find that the biggest temptation is for believers to experientially “lose” our faith. How? We stop doing what God says. Why? We stop listening to and believing what God’s Word says.
What are the nine (9) biggest faith wreckers? Based on my research the past decade, they are:
1. Experiencing evil and suffering
2. Living recklessly as a rugged individualist
3. Making our own rules, whatever the cost
4. Believing that anger is justified when my vision of God is clouded
5. Neglecting my time with God and failing to see him in my life
6. Studying about God without heart devotion
7. Experiencing the most crushing circumstances in life
8. Giving myself permission to do as I please—especially sexually—pushing reality (and God) out of sight
9. Being wounded in or by the church
The startling truth is none of us are exempt from such trials and temptations, no matter what our age — 13 or 113. So let’s stop fooling or deceiving ourselves. Let’s sit up. Let’s pay attention. Let’s live differently.
It’s bad enough when the economy messes up our lives. Why in the world would we bring further disaster on ourselves?
Instead, let’s seek God’s favor and blessing and joy and strength and peace. Not material or financial success, but — first — let’s seek a closer relationship with Jesus Christ — and second — let’s seek to be used by Jesus Christ to bless our family, church, and community in His name.
Throughout Scripture in the writings of Moses, Joshua, Job, David, Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and the words of Jesus and his apostles, the same promise is given over and over again: God will bless and prosper us if we actively listen to and obey God’s Word.
Over and over, I have to emphatically dissociate “blessing” and “prosperity” with the material.
It’s what’s currently unseen — spiritual — immaterial — that is most real.
David Sanford loves working with leaders in the very busy intersection of speaking engagements, media interviews, social networking, and publishing.
David and Renée Sanford are the parents of five and grandparents of twelve (including one in heaven).
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