Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,

at the presence of the God of Jacob,

who turns the rock into a pool of water,

the flint into a spring of water.

Psalm 114: 7, 8

 

God’s redemptive hand is not always easy to understand. Yet, when it has been experienced, it becomes very real. He takes lives that were dead and by the work of His touch, brings them to life in a manner that redefines life into something that is beyond term and time. So, we may not always grasp fully God’s reasons for the way that He speaks to us or to others, and we are frequently mystified by the way that some people accept the truth of the gospel of Christ and others consider it to be foolishness. However, that gospel is life for those who believe.

 

It is even more difficult to grasp the way that God works to redeem the non human aspects of creation. It is hard to deny the fact that we live on a planet that seems to be going rogue. The earth breaks, and the sky unleashes destructive furry on a regular yet entirely unpredictable manner. Even in places of seemingly pristine beauty, the earth might open up or tumble down in an assault that destroys homes and people and disrupts the peaceful sense of security of most of our lives. The earth experiences the damaging effect of sin, and all of its structures, from the core of the planet to the edge of the sky, and everything that lives in and on it carries that brokenness in its makeup.

 

Yet, God has promised redemption for all of His creation. He made it all perfect in a way that established peace as the core of all being. God’s Word tells us that this will become true again. However, that day is not here. So, until then, we must continue on in living with faith in our God as our foundation, and trust in His greater purpose as our daily strength. We can journey forth into this world with the certain knowledge that the same God who provided food and water to the Israelites in a barren wilderness will sustain us in all ways along today’s road.

Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and forevermore!

From the rising of the sun to its setting the name of the Lord is to be praised!

Psalm 113: 2, 3

 

This week that leads to Easter is usually a rather somber and reflective one for the Christian world. Quite rightly we look at the cross and the terrible way that Jesus was handled by all elements of His society during the hours of His arrest, trials, and torture. We see the agony of isolation, the grinding hurt of betrayal and abandonment, injustice and cruelty played out on His body and His mind, and that final agonizing execution. Of course we look beyond the events of Friday to the glory of Resurrection Sunday, but it is still hard to look beyond the rest of the week.

 

However, I think that it might be helpful to consider the reason that the crowds and Jesus were in Jerusalem at that time. It was Passover. This was a season of celebration, and one of remembrance of that time when God caused death to become life and when slavery was turned into freedom. The God of Passover is worthy of praise. He is the one who saves His people from all that holds us captive. The Lord calls us to join Him in the feast that is set out at His table of grace; yet, He requires nothing of us for the sacrificial price has already been paid.

 

So, I would like to set out the idea that this can be a week of great celebration. The festive, colorful elements of spring that we display are appropriate for the entire time. Joyous and celebratory words of praise can fill our hearts and spill out from our lips in adoration of our great God! For the Christian world, this is truly our season of Passover, for Jesus stepped into our rightful place as condemned sinner. It is His blood that marks the door to our hearts with a seal of salvation. Praise the Lord from the first waking breath of the day until weariness has gained its hold on us at day’s end. Let each moment be a living expression of that praise.

 

Draw near, O nations to hear, and give attention, O peoples!

Let the earth hear, and all that fills it; the world and all that comes from it.

Isaiah 34: 1

 

Listening to the voice of the Lord is a good thing to do. This is where wisdom is found, and His word is the source of life in all of its forms. Yet, in this instance, the voice of God as spoken by Isaiah is delivering a message of destruction and impending desolation. The text that follows is all about the way that the judgment of the Lord will be handed out to those who live lives of wickedness and bring their violence to bear on God’s people and upon His creation. The outcome for these doers of evil is not pleasant, and it is stated in terms that demonstrate its absolute certainty.

 

However, before we get too excited and start filling in this story with the names of people or groups of people who we have a problem with, we need to read further. We also should consider that these events involve a brief moment in the long history of God’s interaction with people. In other words, God is just, and His justice is a fearful thing to face for all people who do evil in His sight. Yet, Isaiah recounts and we know that God’s aim and purpose in all of this is not destruction; rather, it is reconciliation, restoration, and salvation. He speaks so that we can know truth and live righteously. The Lord’s voice utters the words of life for all to hear.

 

In light of this I believe that we can trust fully in the promise of a coming of God’s judgment and the establishment of His holy reign on this earth. This means that we do not have to fix every wrong and stop the working out of all evil in our world. This is ultimately the province of God to accomplish. Yet, this same reality should free all of God’s people to speak His truth openly and freely. The grace of Christ can take away all fear and concern about what this day or any future one might bring for us; for, in Christ, we live in the center of the Lord’s present and future victory. So, now is the hour and here is the place to proclaim the glorious day of the Lord!

The Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed.

2 Timothy 4: 17

 

When you feel weak in the knees, look around and see the glory of the Lord in all of His creation. If the task seems too big for even an entire cast of Superheroes, stretch out your hand in faith and in trust, for the King will send His host of angelic and human warriors to aid in the cause. Should you find yourself in a situation where God seems to be asking the impossible of you, look at the cross, and allow Christ to redefine possibility.

 

It is truly amazing how God chooses to work through flawed vessels such as myself, but He does do this, and He has been doing it from the beginning of mankind’s story on this earth. It is mysterious yet grand that Christ, perfection in flesh, came out of the splendor of heaven to live as one of us. He didn’t just live among us in the manner of a lord visiting the rougher districts of the kingdom; rather, Christ became fully human so that He felt as we do and suffered like we do; He even died painfully at the hands of people. Still, my Lord remained the unblemished and victorious ruler of the universe, and sin and death no longer hold dominion here.

 

God has granted to us His own continual presence in the Spirit of Christ. He is in us and in our world in a way that is total and completely involved. There is no place on this earth that the Lord does not claim as His own territory. So, when He sends us there, the Lord is close by our side. As we engage the daily struggle, He is already holding our hands aloft in celebration of His victory. Jesus has done it all before us; yet, He still wants us to trust Him enough to take steps into places that are dimly lit and unknown to our hearts. He wants us to have enough faith to look into the mouth of the dragon without counting the teeth, speak up boldly of the love of Christ that saves the lost, and rejoice as He transforms the horror of sin into the beautiful child that was His creation plan.

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5: 23

 

The thought of preservation brings to mind the specimens that we would get to dissect in biology class. They didn’t bear much resemblance to actual life. They were no longer the color that they had been naturally; they didn’t feel very real anymore; they were cold and a bit slimy; and they certainly didn’t smell like life. Of course this was all true because there was nothing of their living organism present except for the form of what it had been. Sometimes people tend to think of the preserving work of God as the same sort of thing. They believe that in order for God to make people righteous that He will remove everything that makes them who they are and that He would leave behind only their shell. Frankly, this thought is frightening, and I don’t disagree at all with resisting having this happen.

 

However, this is not my experience with the way that Christ works in the lives of people. God is truly the peacemaker, and a lot of the peace that He works to effect is located inside of the hearts, minds, and spirits of individual people. As the Spirit of Christ comes to dwell within our beings, He works to cleanse us of the painfully destructive thoughts and actions that sin has caused us to engage in. These are the elements of corruption that have infected all people from birth and that are at war with the absolute love and the total goodness that is God’s true design for everyone. Christ brings the possibility of purification for our spirits, and He gives us His Spirit to do this work in us. In and through Him, we are blameless in the eyes of God.

 

Christ’s preservation, unlike anything that we can do on our own, brings about a complete and a total restoration of the life that has been God’s intent for us from the very beginning of creation. All people were created in the image of God Himself. So, His plan for preservation is one that takes us from the dead state of being that is our birth existence and changes us into the fully alive state that is His desired one for us. Unlike the preservative chemicals that covered those lab specimens, the Spirit of Christ causes our skin to glow with His presence, our touch to bring peace, our hearts to be filled with the warmth of love, and our aroma to be the sweet fragrance of the Spirit of Christ.

Thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths,

where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.”

Jeremiah 6: 16

 

Have you ever been a little lost, or even worse, a lot lost? Now, visualize those feelings in a truly foreign place, make that a frighteningly menacing place where evil appears to be lurking around every corner. One wrong turn and disaster could strike. Who do you ask for directions? Which door is safe to knock on? This is the plot line of a slasher film; or the content of a really bad nightmare. This scenario is also reality for the Christian who is living any place in this world. There is no quiet country corner, no “Safest city in the world” location, and no mountain top retreat that is not touched by Satanic evil. The presence of forces that are intent on doing harm to anyone and to everything that represents true goodness is reality. Rest can be so hard to find that real rejuvenating calm and strength restoring peace become elusive.

 

Yet, the source for calm, the safe harbor, is there. It is as old as creation; it is the true ancient path. The Apostle John said this, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1) This is the road that took Moses and Abraham through their long journeys, and this is the same road that continues to take people through life day after day until they reach the glorious finish of a life well lived. Although there will continue to be the danger, turmoil, and struggle of living in a world where sin is aggressively fighting against righteousness, Christ walks with His people and His path leads to real security for their souls.

 

This eternal, all encompassing truth; the essential nature of God; this is the door that we need to knock upon. This is the safe place to go for directions. Our Lord is with us in the fight. After all, He is the winner of the contest. Although His path is ancient, it is not in the slightest outdated; although, His path may seem counter to our culture, it is our culture that is invested in a losing cause. As we meditate on truth, seek out goodness, and move down Christ’s road, we can shout for joy in the presence of evil. The path of the Lord will bring peace to the soul, and that is a peace that brings out the joyous laughter in life.

 

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you,

But to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6: 8

 

It is interesting and strangely contradictory how that area of life that we call human nature can lead to some very serious questions regarding who God is and how He wants me to relate to Him. I think that almost everyone at one time or another struggles with being able and willing to do the things that we think that God requires from us. We begin to think things like, He wants too much, His standards are too hard and constricting, and these requirements are simply not realistic. So what exactly is it that God does require from people? What is it that is so hard to follow?

 

Perhaps God does get it that I am too often understanding challenged and that I need things presented to me in a straight forward and easily grasped manner. Thus, He gave me this very direct and truly simple statement of what His heart wants to see out of me. We all desire justice, at least until we are the ones who are on its receiving end. It is justice that produces a solid, trustworthy foundation for truth in life. God’s justice is always closely linked to His kindness or, as stated in other versions, His mercy, for justice without kindness is like the Law without grace; its effectiveness and its ability to truly change lives is very limited. These characteristics are bound together in our lives by staying close to their source and by surrendering our own predetermined understanding of them to His perfect one. That humble, openhearted and continual walk with the Lord is what affects the type of change in our hearts that makes this Christ-like justice with mercy a personal operating platform for life.

 

Still, what we do with this understanding is the thing that matters. When we enter into lives with an open-hearted willingness to walk through this day with others and with a preset determination to value them and to actively listen to the story that they have to tell, we bring Christ into their lives. Humility before the Lord brings us to a place where we are compelled to follow Him and to fulfill His desire to put feet to justice and loving compassion into its application. When this happens the world is touched by the redemptive hand of God, and The Spirit of Christ touches the doer with an anointing of grace.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 221 other followers