September 8, 2015
by Peter Amsterdam
It’s a challenge to live as a follower of Jesus in today’s world, but when our thoughts, actions, and days are guided by godly principles, it becomes easier to navigate our course. The right decision generally comes into focus when we measure the options before us in the light of our Christ-centered values; when we consider how Jesus might have approached the situation. As we go through life, we have experiences, we learn lessons, we have aha moments, often followed by the thought, I hope I remember that in the future.
Learning is a journey that takes a lifetime, and unfortunately, we sometimes make the same, or similar, mistakes down the road. We knew … but we forgot, or we missed connecting the dots. If we could just somehow keep all the truths we’ve learned—whether from our own experience or that of others—at the forefront of our mind, we’d save ourselves a lot of trouble. But we’re human. We get too busy. Distracted. We forget. We need the help of others. We need reminders.
Second Peter 3:1 touches on the power of godly reminders, as one way that God intends for us to help each other to stay strong in the faith, and to stir ourselves up, to inspire progress, and to spur us to good works. This verse says:
This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder…
The apostle Peter was writing a letter to the believers in northern Galatia. His audience was made up of solid Christians. He refers to their “sincere minds”; they loved the Word of God. In his first letter, he addressed his readers as individuals of strong faith, equal to the apostles.
To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours [referring to the apostles] by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ …1
The intent of his letters was not to try to convince them of something or argue with them. He was motivating these dedicated followers of Jesus; drawing their focus to things that they already knew, that they believed, but that perhaps they hadn’t been thinking of or acting upon. Here is an example of some of the reminders he gave to his fellow laborers in Christ.
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder.2
We all need such reminders from time to time, and they can come from many sources: an audio podcast, counsel from a friend, quiet time spent studying God’s Word, meditation and listening to God’s whispers, etc. Godly reminders are an important component in our spiritual growth; they can help to keep us spiritually active, healthy, and well rounded.
Perhaps there is an area or two in your spiritual life where you need a reminder. Or maybe your faith is flagging and you need to be reminded that God is able, that nothing is impossible for Him, and that He is going to help you through this tough time. We all need reminders to keep us striving to be like Jesus—gracious, loving, compassionate, honest, longsuffering, gentle, good, slow to criticize, and generous with encouragement.
In this post I’m going to share three such “reminders” in the hopes that they will serve as both encouragement and motivation. By its very nature, a reminder is something we already know. It’s not new information; rather, it’s a valuable truth (big or small) that we may not have thought of for a little while. Regardless, we can draw strength, hope, or fresh resolve from a godly reminder and hold that in our hearts as we go about our days.
GPS for daily life
I could really relate to this story told by Francis Chan. This is one of the things I love about how God works with us.
The thing I love most about my GPS is how she (my GPS is female) deals with my mistakes. Sometimes she’ll tell me to turn right, but I still miss it for some reason. I feel so bad. She told me clearly, but I was distracted or something so I messed up. But she never gets mad. All she says is “Recalculating.” That’s it! She never says, “Why didn’t you turn? Now I have to do all of this extra work!” I’m sitting there feeling bad. It’s my fault. I’m the one who didn’t turn when she told me to. And she just recalculates and directs me there by another route.
I love that voice. It’s so forgiving, so full of grace. When she says, “Recalculation,” what I hear is, “Francis, you made a wrong turn, but I’ll get you there. Don’t worry. It’s going to take a little longer now, so be careful to listen to me next time. But I’ll get you there.”
That’s really what the Holy Spirit has done with me my whole life. I’ve taken some wrong turns. And He says to me, “Recalculating.” “Don’t worry. I’ll still get you there. I’m still going to form you into the man I created you to be. It’ll take a little bit longer because you really screwed up this time. But don’t worry. I still know how to get you there.”
I hope you hear the Holy Spirit saying that to you when you’ve made a wrong turn, when you find that you’re not where you thought you’d be in your walk with the Lord. “Recalculating. Don’t worry, I’ll still get you there.” At some point, you have to listen. At some point, you have to trust that God’s Word is trying to direct us to life. It’s time to listen to the instructions God gives and ask yourself where you’re going to go.3
Reminder: When you take a wrong turn in life, all is not lost. The Holy Spirit is “recalculating” your route, always working to get you back on track. God is faithful and wants to help you get to your destination. You just have to listen and follow.
Jesus vs. Satan
The need to stay filled up with God’s Word is a reminder that we’ve heard a whole lot in our lives. So much, in fact, that it can become cliché. But it’s vitally important that we actually make the time, imbibe God’s Word, and let it fortify our hearts and minds.
You’ve probably heard it said many times that God has a plan for your life. Did you know that the Devil has a plan for your life too? Both God and Satan’s plans for your life are summed up in a single verse. Jesus first outlines the Devil’s intent, goal, and plan, and then God’s. Here’s what He says:
The thief [referring to Satan] comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I [Jesus] came that they may have life and have it abundantly.4
The Devil is out to destroy us in any way possible. Jesus came to give us life abundant. Which plan do you like? It’s a no-brainer, right? Besides giving us this heads-up, Jesus has also given us the secret to protecting ourselves from the Enemy’s dastardly plans for us. That protection is God’s Word and our obedience to it.
Matthew 13 tells the parable of the sower, referring to the “seed” as the Word of God. We need to tend to the “soil” of our heart so that the “seed” will take root and grow. Jesus says, “The seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it.”5 Jesus goes on to say that this person bears fruit.
For our hearts to be “good soil” that bears fruit, we need to be passionate about God’s Word. We need to make reading and studying God’s Word a cornerstone habit in our lives. How often do you go for a whole day without eating or drinking anything and not notice? It doesn’t happen, right? It should be the same with our intake of God’s Word. We shop for physical food. Likewise, we need to plan our spiritual menu. We set a time to eat meals. We should likewise set a time for spiritual nourishment.
God doesn’t mean for His Word to just be studied, or even hidden in our hearts. He means for it to be lived and applied on the battlefield of life, in the most difficult situations that we face, including the moments when Satan has us in his sights and we are in crisis. God’s Word is given to us to provide us with strength and hope, to see us through tribulation and to make us victors. Of course, to avail ourselves of that power, we need to regularly study the Word and bring it into the reality of our daily life.
Daily life can be a fight. Life is full of challenges. But there is a spiritual “fight” going on as well, and as a member of Team Jesus, you’ll want to tank up on God’s Word, tend to the soil of your heart, and guard yourself from the attacks of Team Satan. Satan’s plan for you is not good, so use the protection of God’s Word against his evil intentions.
Reminder: God’s Word not only gives you strength, hope, and spiritual sustenance, it also protects you from Satan’s intentions and attacks on your life. Give God’s Word importance, time, focus, and a place in your daily life.
Now, not later
We don’t have to wait until “someday” to be involved in God’s work or what He has planned for us. We can be part of God’s wonderful plan today, right now, no matter what we’re doing.
Pastor Louie Giglio put it well when he said, “Often we think being powerfully used by God is a ‘someday’ thing instead of a ‘right now’ thing. We live in holding-pattern thinking that sets us up for a ‘not yet arrived’ mentality, always waiting for what comes next instead of taking hold of the right now.”6
Rather than thinking about some not-yet-realized opportunity in the future, think about right now. Look at the situation you’re in today and embrace what God can do in the middle of it, even if it seems messy, temporary, or challenging. No situation you’re in could disqualify you from being part of spreading the wonderful news of Jesus.
It can be a temptation to look toward the future, either wondering what God’s plan will be for you then, or figuring that “maybe next year I’ll be in a better position or place from which I can do more for God.” Or “I’ll have more time” or “will be more ready.” You don’t have to be more “ready” for God to be able to use you. He wants to move in you, work through you, and empower you to be His “salt” and to shine as His “light” to those around you today.
If you say, “God, I’m available. Use me now, today, right here, as You would like,” and you look for ways to lift Jesus up, God will maximize your little light. You’ll not only find increased fulfillment as you make yourself available to Him, but you’ll probably gain clarity on your current situation and what your next step should be.
As someone said, referring to Jesus, “It doesn’t matter so much where you go; it matters what you carry.” Isn’t that the truth? It’s human nature to focus on our challenges, our concerns, and the uncertain future before us, but those things aren’t the most important thing. The most important thing is what we carry. Through the Holy Spirit, we carry Jesus with us and His power, purpose, light, message, and His eternal gift of salvation.
Of course, this doesn’t diminish the many responsibilities we each have, such as making wise choices, providing diligently for our families, doing excellent work, and being a good testimony of our faith, but we’d be wise to remember that it doesn’t matter so much where we go as what we carry. We carry Jesus with us everywhere we go, and He is the true treasure, the pearl of great price.
Reminder: You are ready now, today, to be part of God’s great plan and purpose. Don’t put off being available to God. Jesus wants to use us right now, just as we are.
1 2 Peter 1:1 ESV.
2 2 Peter 1:5–8, 12–13 ESV.
3 Francis Chan in Louie Giglio, Passion: The Bright Light of Glory (Nashville: W Publishing, 2014), 63–64.
4 John 10:10 ESV.
5 Matthew 13:23 NIV.
6 Giglio, Passion, 198.