“Principles for Life”
Hello and welcome to “Key to the Kingdom.” My name is Bret McCasland. Throughout our lifetime, we experience all kinds of problems and difficulties. We encounter various challenges and obstacles, ups and downs, and sometimes we get overwhelmed. We don't know how to respond or how to handle it. We may even wonder if there is somewhere we can go to get some relief and some much needed advice and counsel on how to make it in this world. We might also wonder if there are some basic principles, or guidelines by which we can live, that will take away all the confusion. Well today on "Key to the Kingdom," we will look at some basic teaching found in the Bible that hopefully will help our life go a little smoother. We will focus on some lifestyle changes that will help us, not only personally but in our relationships with others, as well. Oh, God does not want the challenges of life to be so overwhelming that we simply give up. That may be one reason why He gives us some principles by which we can live. I hope you will stay tuned to this station as we open our hearts and our Bibles to study together.
Every day we experience things that cause us to worry and be anxious. We encounter things that are confusing and make us wonder how we need to respond. Every day we get mixed messages on how we are to live in this world and every day we look for solutions on the best way to deal with and overcome the challenges we face. Those are ongoing things we deal with, and we try to overcome and handle, on a regular basis. Now many people, as they seek to handle them, turn to the pages of what we call the Bible, the pages of the Word of God. They believe that the Bible is their guide on how they are to live in this world. Many believe that the teachings and guidelines that are found here in the Bible offer great insight and wisdom on making decisions and how to live from one day to the next. As we think about the Bible today, I want us to go to it and to find some guidelines that help us not only work through our daily challenges and problems but also to better our relationships with other people and even improve our walk with God. Today in our lesson, I want us to look at what I would call 7 principles for life. 7 ways we can live that encourage us and that help us make sense of some of the things in this world, so that we can be better able to rise above the challenges and the obstacles presented to us. I want us to think about 7 principles for life that allow us to live quiet and peaceful lives as we enjoy our walk with God and also our relationships with other people. So, with that in mind let's begin today with life principle number 1, and that is live at peace with the past. Many times, it seems, we allow the pain of the past to affect how we live today, and that in turn makes an impact on how we live in the future. No doubt, all of us have some broken relationships. We've experienced some lost opportunities with people, with our spouse, with our parents, or with our children, and those things really hurts us. And yet, if we don't work through and process some of that pain of those past relationships, it's hard to move on. Well, we understand we cannot change the past. What is done is done. And try as we might, and as much as we want to go back and change it, we know we can't. Oh certainly, we can learn some lessons from those past relationships and lost opportunities that help us move on and make life better, and that's what we are encouraged to do. I think about the apostle Paul. He was a man who tried to stand in the way of God doing His work in this world. He persecuted Christians. He tried to stop the growth of the church. But one day God got Saul's attention, as he was called then. He shut his eyes for a few days so that he could focus on God, and it was then that God revealed to Paul a new plan; that he would be a great minister and servant of the Lord for many, many people throughout the world. Toward the end of Paul's life, he was reflecting on some of those things, and he writes these words in Philippians chapter 3, beginning with verse 13. – "One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." – Paul basically said; I made some mistakes in the past but I will not dwell on them. I'm going to forget about those things and I'm going to strain forward. I'm going to move ahead to what God has in store for me; and that was a heavenward prize, a crown of glory that he would receive with Jesus. The same is true for us. If we don't forget what is behind then we will run the risk of not being able to move on with our life. And so we do not allow those painful events, or lost opportunities, or broken relationships to keep us from making things better in the future. And that is life principle number 1; to be at peace with the past knowing God forgives and He gives 2nd chances. He forgives our sin and our mistakes, and He gives us as many chances as we need to move on with a brighter future. Here is life principle number 2: what others think of us really does not matter. Some may think very highly of who we are and what we do while others think we are not worth very much and really don't have anything to offer. But I want us to understand, none of that really matters. No matter what we do or what we try to accomplish in this world there will always be somebody who criticizes our efforts, who wants something more from us or demands this approach, or that activity. There is no way to please everybody. But if we are in Jesus Christ all of that is okay, for our significance and our worth come from Him. Our identity and our self-esteem is found in Jesus Christ, and it is not found in what other people might think about us, or say about us, or even do to us. Once again, I think about the apostle Paul. He had some struggles with people in the city of Corinth. They did not think he was much of a minister. They were always asking for his credentials and letters of recommendation. They didn't know about this Paul, surely, you are not an apostle of Jesus Christ. And he felt like he was always trying to measure up to their evaluation of him and so he wrote these words. – "I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me." – Paul said; I hear your comments. I know what you're saying about me, but it really doesn't matter. I don't care about that because I have one judge that I will be accountable to, and that is the Lord. He judges me. And yeah, I'm not innocent. I've got my faults and failures, but He will judge me accurately and so I will stand before Him. With that kind of confidence for us today, there is no need for us to focus on what others might think or say about us; understanding that whether it is full of praise or condemnation it only lasts for a short time. What does matter, however, is what God thinks of us, because that will last for all eternity. And so, life principle number 2: value what God thinks of you more than what others think of you. Here is life principle number 3. Time is on our side. If we allow it, time will heal almost anything. Time heals our physical problems, ailments. Time heals emotional scars. Time gives us the opportunity to overcome some spiritual deficiencies in our life. Yes, time heals lots of things. If there is one word, however, that describes many people in the world today it is the word impatient. We don't have time, or we don't make time. It seems we're always in a hurry to get somewhere else. We are not content with where we are right now and we are always looking to move on to something else. We want things to happen quickly, don't we? Whether were talking about our health problems or our relationships we want things to move on ahead. Even while waiting at a traffic light we find it hard to be patient and to wait. Yet, on the other hand, God is not like that at all. He is not impatient and time is of no concern to Him. We read that from passages like 2nd Peter 3:8-9 – "Do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you." – I don't know about you but I need to hear those words; God is patient with me. I'm glad He is because I stumble, I make mistakes, I get in a hurry, but God is always patient. He is patient with me in every aspect of my life. He is patient with me in regards to salvation, or relationships, or anything else. And when my employer, or my family members, or other people are not patient with me, I know God is. When I am not patient with my employer, or family members, or other people, I know God is still patient with them. That's some good news, isn't it! God's patience never runs out. He never gets tired of waiting. And no matter what problems or challenges we face in this life, usually in due time, if we give it enough time, if we are patient enough, things will work out. Yes, time has a way of healing old wounds and solving current problems. Time is on our side when we learn to live with patience, when we learn to take the patient approach, just like God takes the patient approach with us. And that is life principle number 3: getting in a hurry often times gets in the way of God doing His work in us. Here is life principle number 4. Judging others is a waste of time. Yes, judging others is a waste of time. Now, that sounds similar to point number 2, and I guess in a way it is, but I wanted to take it just a step further. When people look at my life and make some kind of evaluation on who I am or how I am living, many, many times they get it wrong. They don't know of the past that I've had. They don't know some of the challenges or obstacles I have had to overcome and deal with in days, and months, and years gone by. They look at my outward appearance, what I am saying, or what I am doing. They don't know if I'm having a good day or a bad day. And they make an evaluation of me, and they often times are wrong. And no doubt, the same is true when I seek to judge other people, when I look at a person's outward appearance, or what they are saying, or what they are doing. I don't know about them. I don't know about their past life. I don't know whether or not they are having a good day or a bad day. And when I make a judgment on a particular person, based upon that, I too, often times, get it wrong. In fact, there is no way any of us can tell what someone else's journey in life is all about, and therefore it does us very little good to pass judgment on other people. Jesus seemed to know all about that, and that's why He said these words, in Matthew 7:1 – “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." – Oh, that makes sense, doesn't it? If we have a measuring stick or guide by which we evaluate someone else's life that's ours, it's not God's. And then, it should not surprise us if they use that same measuring stick, or guideline, to judge us. And if we have wrong judgments on them, then in turn, they will often times have wrong judgments about us. And so Jesus says don't even go there. Don't even spend any time judging other people. Paul adds this, in Romans 14:4 – Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? – Well, the answer is obvious, no one. We are not in a position to do that because we can't do it. Oh, there are so many important things that deserve our time and our attention here upon this earth, instead of trying to judge or evaluate the life of someone else, and we spend our time on them. We can leave the task of judging others to the one true and faithful judge, who is Jesus Christ, Himself. And we can know without a doubt that His judgments are always true and they are always accurate. And so life principle number 4: there is no value in judging others because they will never measure up to our expectations. Here is life principle number 5. Life is too uncertain to figure out. For me, there is one thing certain in life, and that is life is uncertain. Try as we might to figure out and to understand all of the ups and downs of life, the challenges, the successes, the joys, and the defeats, we will never be able to figure it out. Yes, life is totally unpredictable. Let me take that one step further; so is God. God is unpredictable. We can't figure Him out. We cannot manipulate God. We cannot control God. We cannot put God into some kind of box and say, God I want You to do this or that, and dictate to Him how He runs this world, or even our lives. God works in mysterious ways. He sees and He knows what is going on in this world. He sees and He knows what is going on in your life, and in mine. And we will never be able to understand all of that, this side of eternity. And even in eternity, there may still be some questions that are left unanswered. And so, because of that it does us very little good to seek to figure out life and to run it by our own standards, and our own ideas and purposes. Maybe that's why the words of Proverbs 3:5-6 are so important. – Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. – That's pretty simple to do, isn't it? Say, hey Lord, I'm not going to go by my plans in my purposes but I'm going to trust You to figure out my life. You're going to make my way straight and I'm going to trust and depend upon You, and follow You, instead of my own desires. It's true, we don't have to have all of the answers to life's questions, and in fact, we cannot. It is okay to let things run their course, knowing full well that God is in control. Life is too uncertain, and things will work out. None of us are able to know everything there is to know about life, but when we learn to trust the Lord, we can know without a doubt, it will be okay. We can also take comfort in the fact that when we trust the Lord, and began to walk according to His ways, that sometimes things will just begin to work and we don't have to worry. We don't have to fret. We don't have to become anxious because we know God is in control, and with that, we can be at peace. And so that is life principle number 5: God's ways are always better than our ways. Life principle number 6. Allow no one to control our happiness. One thing we sometimes forget is, no one can take away our happiness. And we understand that, don't we? In fact, we have been taught that before. We have been taught: you are responsible for your own happiness. No matter what happens in this world you can determine how you will respond, either be happy or sad. No matter what happens we have a choice to make and we are in control of how we respond to the people, or the situations in life. Well, we can respond with criticism and fear. We can respond with anger, with bitterness. Or, on the other hand, we can respond with happiness and joy. We can learn the lessons of life God is trying to teach us and we can be happy knowing that everything doesn't always have to be my way. Now that takes the pressure off, doesn't it? When we say, okay I don't get my way this time but that's okay, I'm still going to be happy. Things aren’t going to go my way today but that's okay, I'm still going to be happy. I'm going to respond with joy, knowing that I don't have to be in control. Oh, I love the words of Psalm 118:24 – This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. – No matter what happens today, the psalmist says, I'm going to rejoice. I'm going to be glad. I'm going to be happy and rejoice in what God gives to me today, because I'm not promised tomorrow. The apostle Paul writes something similar in Philippians 4:4 – Rejoice in the Lord always. I say it again: Rejoice! – The most interesting thing to me, about that statement, is Paul wrote it while he was in prison. He was content knowing that God would provide for him and so he was going to be happy. He was going to rejoice in his circumstances. The same is true with us. No matter what we encounter in life, we can still rejoice and be happy understanding that nobody controls our response. And so, when we live with joy and happiness, instead of sorrow and sadness, life goes much smoother. We have less stress and less anxiety, and we are better able to handle the challenges that come our way, because we know that no one else besides us is responsible for our happiness. And that is life principle number 6; in whatever situation we find ourselves in, live with joy and happiness. Here is life principle number 7, the last one. Refuse to take on other people's problems. Do you have all the problems you can handle? Oh, I know I do, and sometimes those problems come in waves. Sometimes those problems are overwhelming and I cannot find a solution to any of them. We encounter problems all the time, don't we? With our family members, our job, our health, our church, our friends, our neighbors. The list goes on and on. Our hands are full and we don't have time to take on the problems of someone else, and yet here's the most interesting thing. Often times we do. Often times we become involved in the problems of other people, and why? Because we think we can help them. Because we have some experience in some of those ways. Because we feel like we need to be an encouragement to such people in the midst of their problems. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. For the Bible tells us to be engaged in people's lives, to offer comfort, and hope, and encouragement, and to bless them in ways that we can. But here's the difference, we cannot allow those problems to become our problems; understanding we have enough of our own. We can help, and encourage, and bless, but we don't adopt those problems as our own. Instead, we live a simple life trusting the Lord to provide for what we need. The apostle Paul writes, in 1st Thessalonians, that we are to mind our own business, and live a quiet life, and work with our own hands. Yes, we take care of our own affairs, and when that happens we can confidently say that we do not own the problems of this world and those problems do not own our lives. Again, we go to the words of Jesus. He had this all figured out. He teaches us this in Matthew 6:34 – "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." – Oh, that's true, isn't it? Every day brings enough trouble for that day, and for our lives, and we don't have to adopt the problems of other people. And when we do that, things usually turn out much better. We take ownership of our problems, and that is enough. We can then relax and enjoy the life given to us, while still being an encouragement and a blessing to other people. And that is life principle number 7: taking on someone else's problems may bring about even more problems of our own. Oh, it is true the Bible guides and blesses us, and gives us direction, in a number of ways. Today we've looked at 7 principles for life. 7 things that we can incorporate into our daily activities that hopefully will help us; not only in our walk with God but also in our relationships with other people and how we deal with the stress, the problems, the anxiety this world presents. I would encourage you to think about these 7 principles and begin to live by them today.
Thank you for joining us for today's broadcast. Hopefully this message offered some insight on how to better deal with the challenges we face in life. In addition to these broadcasts, our ministry offers other teaching materials. On the website, keytothekingdom.com, one can find previous lessons, a Bible study enrollment, along with short inspirational messages. Everything on the site is available without any cost or obligation. While you are on the website, please take a minute to send a message letting me know how and when you heard this broadcast. Another part of this ministry includes a free app for Android and Apple iPhone. If you have not already done so, please take a minute to download it onto your phone. The app features 1 minute daily devotionals along with short inspirational videos. At “Key to the Kingdom,” our desire is to encourage you in your walk with the Lord. If you prefer to call the number on the screen to request a free Bible study, I want you to do that. We are here to help you. We want to offer any assistance that we possibly can. Again, thank you for watching today's program and please join us again next time as we continue to study the Bible on “Key to the Kingdom.”