Tag Archives: instructions

Read The Instructions

  
Have you ever purchased something that had to be assembled? How did you put it together? Did you read the instructions first and then try to do it? Did you have someone else read them to you and then you tried to build it? Or did you look at the picture and try to do it from that? I confess that I’ve been the latter more often than not. I’m getting better at looking at the instructions though. I’ve found that it’s quicker. As I age, it’s becoming more important to me to take a little longer and get it right the first time than to have the pride of building it on my own without instructions and having parts left over.

The same way we approach an assembly project can be the same way many approach being a Christian. Some people want to read the directions (Bible) to find out how to do it right while they build their faith. Others prefer to have a pastor read the instructions to them and then they try to figure it out from there. Still there are those who feel they have no need to read the Scriptures. They feel like that they can figure it out as they go. They try and fail over and over again until they get it or until they give up. Either way, they either have missing parts or there are parts left that they don’t know what to do with.

I’ve tried all three approaches to God at different stages of my life. When I was a teen, I tried to get by just by listening to my pastor and teachers. I got a decent understanding of what Christianity was about, but because I didn’t have the instructions in my hands, I didn’t have a clear picture to go by. In college and the years that followed, I tried the “who needs instructions” approach. I failed miserably. Things in my life kept breaking, parts were falling off and I was missing a lot things that I needed in order to be successful. The outside of my life resembled the picture on the box, but the inside infrastructure was missing. When I had weight applied to my life, it fell apart.

I’m a try, try again kind of person. I don’t easily give up. I may not have gotten it right in the first few tries, but I’m on the path to getting it right now. I’m spending more time reading the instructions and less time looking at the picture on the box. If I spend my life trying to create the picture on the box, I’ll never be the picture of who God wants me to be. We all have different gifts and talents which create different pictures, but our infrastructure has to come from God’s Word. We have to build ourselves up in the most holy faith as Jude 1:20 put it. We each are a work in progress guided by the Holy Spirit. If you’ve found your method isn’t working, try the original plan God had for you. Read His Word and follow the instructions He has for living this life of faith. Don’t ignore the instructions that are right in front of you. 

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Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth

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Have you ever purchased something that had to be assembled? How did you put it together? Did you read the instructions first and then try to do it? Did you have someone else read them to you and then you tried to build it? Or did you look at the picture and try to do it from that? I confess that I’ve been the latter more often than not. I’m getting better at looking at the instructions though. I’ve found that it’s quicker. As I age, it’s becoming more important to me to take a little longer and get it right the first time than to have the pride of building it on my own without instructions and having parts left over.

The same way we approach an assembly project is the same way many approach being a Christian. Some people want to read the directions (Bible) to find out how to do it right while they build their faith. Others prefer to have a pastor read the instructions to them and then they try to figure it out from there. Still there are those who feel they have no need to read the Scriptures. They feel like that they can figure it out as they go. They try and fail over and over again until they get it or until they give up. Either way, they either have missing parts or there are parts left that they don’t know what to do with.

I’ve tried all three approaches to God at different stages of my life. When I was a teen, I tried to get by just by listening to my pastor and teachers. I got a decent understanding of what Christianity was about, but because I didn’t have the instructions in my hands, I didn’t have a clear picture to go by. In college and the years that followed, I tried the “who needs instructions” approach. I failed miserably. Things in my life kept breaking, parts were falling off and I was missing a lot things that I needed in order to be successful. The outside of my life resembled the picture on the box, but the inside infrastructure was missing. When I had weight applied to my life, it fell apart.

I’m a try, try again kind of person. I don’t easily give up. I may not have gotten it right in the first few tries, but I’m on the path to getting it right now. I’m spending more time reading the instructions and less time looking at the picture on the box. If I spend my life trying to create the picture on the box, I’ll never be the picture of who God wants me to be. We all have different gifts and talents which create different pictures, but our infrastructure has to come from God’s Word. We have to build ourselves up in the most holy faith as Jude 1:20 put it. We each are a work in progress guided by the Holy Spirit. If you’ve found your method isn’t working, try the original plan God had for you. Read His Word and follow the instructions He has for living this life of faith. Don’t ignore the instructions that are right in front of you.

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Action vs Inaction

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I mentioned a couple of days ago that my uncle and I built a swing set for my son. What I didn’t tell you was that we did it without instructions. I downloaded the picture you see above here thinking there were instructions involved. This turned out to be a material and cut list. There were no instructions included. We were able to take that picture and create what you see just below this sentence.

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Walking in faith is a lot like that. God gives us a picture of where He’s taking us, but doesn’t provide the step by step instructions on how to get there. It’s hard to know where to begin, what’s next and how to make it happen. We feel overwhelmed. When I looked at that drawing of what could be, I got excited. When I looked at my driveway full of cut lumber with no instructions, I got worried.

When I look at the plan God has for me, the big picture, I get excited. When it comes down to taking the next step in the process, I get nervous. I start to wonder, “Is this really the next step? What if I mess up? How do I know this will work?” Question after question fills my mind until I question myself out of the next move. Fear of messing up or taking the wrong step paralyzes me.

My uncle and I must have gone back to the initial drawing a hundred times. I’d ask, “What do think is next? What cuts of lumber go there? How many of those do we have?” He’d say, “Just grab it and let’s go. If it’s not right, we’ll unscrew it and try something else.” When God says, “Move”, our fear of inaction should be greater than our fear of incorrect action. God is more than capable of correcting our wrong actions.

When we fail to move or fail to act, we aren’t just holding ourselves up, we are holding someone else up. My son was watching us through the window the whole time. He was anticipating and hoping to play on his new swing set, but he needed us to do our part first. The same thing happens in faith. Someone else, who you may never meet, is praying for God to answer them. God is asking you to act on their behalf even though you don’t know it.

What you do in faith isn’t just for you. There’s a ripple effect going on and your action is their answer. Someone else’s action is your answer to prayer. God could do all of it on His own, but He chooses to allow us to participate with Him in faith. He chooses to use you and me to accomplish His will. It’s a big job when you think about it. It can be scary. Your mind tells you that you don’t want to mess things up for God or someone else. But God can’t use your inaction. He can only do something with your action.

What is the next step in what He’s asked you to do? What excuses have you been using to keep from doing it? What can you do today to start acting in faith and moving towards that complete picture of what He’s shown you? Don’t be scared and don’t be upset if your next step is small. It’s a series of small steps that create the greatest works of faith.

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Foggy Vision

It’s often foggy when I drive to work in the mornings. It gets so thick I can hardly see very far in front of me. I know where I’m headed, but the exits and interchanges are difficult to see in the fog. I typically have to drive slower on days like that to make sure I don’t wreck or miss an exit. As the sun comes up, the fog begins to dissipate and my vision becomes clearer.

I think it’s a lot like that for most of us when it comes to God’s plan and vision for our life. We might know where God has us going in this life, but we can’t see very far into the future. When we look down the road of our life, all we see is cloudiness and very few street signs. It’s hard to know which way to go, where to turn or when to brake. Others pass us as if the fog doesn’t exist. Are they being careless or is their vision somehow more clear than our own?

I know personally how difficult it is to not be able to see very far ahead. I know I’m heading in the direction that God told me to go. I don’t want to end up like the Israelites where I’m wandering in the desert for 40 years. I want to know where the Jordan river in my life is and make my way to it. I want to be camped on its banks when God says, “It’s ok to cross it now. I have dammed the river up and you can cross on dry ground.”

There are choices we can make when dealing with the inability to see very far ahead in our lives. The first choice is to be frozen by fear of the unknown and to stay where we are. I’ve always heard people say, “If you aren’t moving forward, you’re moving backward.” The longer it takes me to move forward, the longer it will be until we get to where He wants us. What if Abraham had waited around when God said, “Go to the land that I will show you”? What would have happened if he had stayed where he was until God showed him where he wanted to go?

God simply said, “Go.” God can correct our direction and movement, but only if we’re moving. He can’t change our course if we are sitting around. That brings us to our next choice. We can move in the fog and deal with the limited sight distance. I’ve noticed that when I move forward in a fog, I can see a little further than I could from where I was. Each step forward reveals things I had not seen before. I begin to see the signs I couldn’t see before. Moving forward in faith reveals more of God’s plan.

The more time I spend with God, the more I allow His light to shine in my life. If I lift up the Son in all I do, I’ve found that my focus changes from the fog to pleasing Him. The fog is lifted because my faith has grown and my vision improves. I begin to see further down the road than I had. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God has plans for us. They are good plans and we need to trust Him one step at a time. He will reveal those plans for us as we move closer to Him and in the direction He is sending us.

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