The Next Step

in-each-step

Psalm 37:23-24 (NLT) The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.

Since my mom had open heart surgery, I have made a several trips back and forth to check on her. A few years ago, my parents bought a new house in a community just outside of the city limits of their former city. Thankfully my phone has a map application that gives me step by step directs how to get from my driveway to their front door. When I plug in their address, it gives me options to choose regarding my route. There are many ways to get to their home. I can choose the fastest route which means at some point I will take the busy interstate. There is the option of the completely rural route with winding back roads which takes a while longer. I can choose a combination of both if I would like. Once I choose a route, the nifty little helper will let me know if there is an accident or traffic jam up ahead and an alternative route to avoid the congestion. If I choose it, the device will reroute me so I can keep moving. When I complete a turn, it gives me the next step in the instructions. As I proceed, it will give me indications of the remaining distance at certain increments. As I approach the next turn, it will begin to countdown even measuring it in feet until the kind voice tells me to turn here.

I remember when the original Global Positioning Systems first arrived on the market. They were a bit hit or miss and not nearly as accurate as they are now. As of February 2016, there are 32 orbiting satellites in the GPS constellation. In order to obtain accurate information, at least three of those must be able to measure a single user’s position accurately. The advance of such technology is incredibly fascinating and a bit disturbing to think that this is constantly monitoring each person’s human activity according to the device that is a dependency in this day and age. What would we do without the directions of our GPS traveling through life? I have forgotten what it is like to pull out a map and try to discern my direction. I am completely dependent on map application in my phone.

Today I am praying about my some important steps in my life. Oh how nice it would be if the Holy Spirit worked like my navigation system in my phone. If an audible voice would come across the car radio telling me when to turn, go straight or reroute because of danger up ahead. The Lord is a still small voice. He directs our steps but just like the tracking system allows us to choose the direction to take. If the voice grows silent, it is human nature to wonder if somehow we are lost. Have I missed you God? Did I make a wrong turn? Have I miss-stepped missing your plan and now fully engaged in my own? These are questions that I am asking myself today to be fully transparent. I do not want to take another step if it is not by His Design.

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will not fall. He holds them by the hand. Looking back at Peter, who stepped out of the boat into the water by faith, it is clear that his faith was not yet big enough for the journey. Yet later in the midst of his booming ministry, he offers these words, For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.” (I Peter 2:21) I think when Peter stepped out of the boat that he expected the Lord to carry him safely across the water. But what he learned is that each step to Jesus requires faith, not in the current conditions of our life but total trust that even when we fall, face hardship or don’t know where to step next – the Lord is holding our hand. Faith will not allow us to necessarily “see” the next step but allows us to walk on water for those who believe. Believe that Jesus is in each step of life – He is the Way Maker.

Exodus 20:24-26 (NLT) “Build for me an altar made of earth, and offer your sacrifices to me—your burnt offerings and peace offerings, your sheep and goats, and your cattle. Build my altar wherever I cause my name to be remembered, and I will come to you and bless you. If you use stones to build my altar, use only natural, uncut stones. Do not shape the stones with a tool, for that would make the altar unfit for holy use. And do not approach my altar by going up steps. If you do, someone might look up under your clothing and see your nakedness.

Plugging the desired destination into my time with the Lord today, I came across the passage tucked right after the Ten Commandments. The section was labeled, “Proper Use of Altars”. Our purpose in life is always to find our way to worship the Lord with all of our heart. To follow Him wholeheartedly (Jeremiah 29:13) and seek His Kingdom above all other things. (Matthew 6:33) How we get there is mandated by the Lord, but we are free to choose our path. God is in each step. To reach the Promise and obtain the Kingdom, my feet must always be pointed toward the altar of God, pursuing His Presence and taking steps toward total surrender and submission. Surrender is to our Savior and submission is for our Lord.

“Build for me an altar of earth…” As I journey with the Lord, God has provided everything I need for proper worship in my present life. We do not have to make it up as we go along or try to do anything ourselves. Jesus Christ did it all on the Cross. “Build my altar wherever I cause my name to be remembered…” God promises to come and bless those who live a life of identification with the Presence of God in each footfall. God is always pursing us with unfailing love and overwhelming goodness. (Psalm 23:6) As long as my want and desire is His Kingdom and I am committed to Christ – God will bless me each time I stop and worship Him. To stop what I am doing and build an altar (worship) is to develop a consistent life of worship as the Holy Spirit cultivates faith in us helping it to grow. “If you use stones to build my altar, use only natural, uncut stones.” Religion can allow us to think that we can rework the pattern of worship predetermined by God which is just not the case. My ability to worship is innate. The right to worship fruitfully is a product of grace alone. I cannot make my worship anything of worth. Worshipping the Lord is an absolute surrender of my Will, Way and Works to the Cross to be covered in His Blood and made acceptable to God. It does not in any way influence God’s Love and Acceptance of me. This is completed start to finish by the Work of Christ on the Cross. This is simply how I choose to serve Him the Master of my life. Finally, “do not approach my altar by going up the steps. If you do, someone might look under your clothing and see your nakedness.” Humility allows me to walk God. Nothing more or less. If I ever come to the place that I feel somewhat entitled or think I have reached a higher level of saving grace, I have lost my way.

Micah 6:8 (NLT) No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

Many steps have added up to where I am today in this moment. Yet the sum total does not equal my expectation. As I sit and think upon God’s Word concerning the next step in my life, I am overwhelmed with a burning desire to be where He is. I want to walk humbly with my God. I want to do what is good. To do what He requires. To do what is right. I don’t want to move a single inch if it is away from Jesus. Today I am building an altar in this place, I am waiting for Him to come. To cleanse my heart and clear my mind. I don’t need to see the next step as long as I can hold His Hand all the way to the other side. There is pain in this process. Fighting hurt and discouragement every moment of the day. Yet standing here looking forward, I know that God is in every single step that I take and delights when I choose godliness.

Proverbs 2:20-21 (NLT) So follow the steps of the good, and stay on the paths of the righteous. For only the godly will live in the land, and those with integrity will remain in it.

Reading today, I revisited Joshua in the moments before crossing the Jordan. All those years and miles of journeying to the Promise Land culminated in these final moments. (Joshua 3) The exodus was over and now it was time to enter in. The only thing between the Israelites and their promise was the surging Jordan River. God had a plan. The waters did not recede before they arrived or because they prayed. Give this command to the priests who carry the Ark of the Covenant: ‘When you reach the banks of the Jordan River, take a few steps into the river and stop there.’” They had to get their feet wet. Stepping out on faith is never easy, but the Lord will not show you the next step until you take the first step of obedience and trust in His Word. Psalm119:133 says, “Guide my steps by your word, so I will not be overcome with evil.” It is not enough to just read God’s Word but it must become the guide for each step. We can plan our next fifteen steps from here to what we want and desire, but the moment I cry out to the Lord to have His Way all that changes because He is the Way, Truth and Life. (John 14:6) I cannot get to God expect through Jesus. My steps must line up with His Steps and follow His Way.

Proverbs 14:12-16 (NLT) There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death. Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains. Backsliders get what they deserve; good people receive their reward. Only simpletons believe everything they’re told! The prudent carefully consider their steps. The wise are cautious and avoid danger; fools plunge ahead with reckless confidence.

Finally, there are some pitfalls to avoid as we walk in step with Jesus today. We must not be caught up in being right but being righteous. Rightness is driven by pride. Righteousness is the fulfillment of a life surrendered to Jesus Christ. My heart must be in it. All of my heart must be invested in this journey. My heart cannot remain heavy laden with all the burdens and cares that Christ has requested yet still think I have the strength to move one step closer to Him. Backsliders get what they deserve. I cannot entertain sin. To do so is to rebel against God. The thought that I am doing all these things right so I am better than anyone else is false. To go about God’s Work my own way is wrong. The only way to keep from falling is to hold His Hand firmly. We must be prudent in pursing the Truth. The Word of God is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. I will not get through to the Promise without God’s Word and His Spirit to guide me. Finally, we must carefully consider each step in life. Commit the one’s not clear to prayer. Don’t move until God lights up the way. Be patient and enduring when we just want to escape and run away. As I sit and think about all these things, I have peace that God has considered my next step and is clearing the way. I just have to surrender my way to have His Way.

Psalm 43:3-4(NLT) Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live. There I will go to the altar of God, to God—the source of all my joy. I will praise you with my harp, O God, my God!

My prayer today is for the Lord to send out His Light and His Truth to guide my next step. To lead me to the place where He is and to where He lives because that is where I long to be. This is the place of worship that I need to be and the place He has reserved just for me. This earth and the things in it are temporary so I must focus on the eternal. Forever. When I read about David today in 2 Samuel 6:12-16, he was in the process bringing the Ark of God – His Presence back to the city. The priests and David stopped every six steps to offer a sacrifice to God and David danced before the Lord. The life of worship is in each step. What might happen if I stopped looking for the whole staircase and took a single step wearing it out with my worship and treading it with praise. I may not be certain but my God is for sure. Life is to be lived in each step. Each one is important. It is worthy of an altar. It is worthy of my Lord. Lord, lead me.

Psalm 73:23-25 (NLT) Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny.  Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth.

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