Teach me to do your will,

for you are my God!

Let your good Spirit lead me

on level ground!

Psalm 143: 10

 

David gives us a prayer that all followers of Christ can speak on a regular basis. It is full of aspiration, and it is covered in faith in God. There is nothing more that we can ask for than to know God’s will and to do it. This idea embraces a very wide range of what it means to live a righteous and a holy life. The attitude expressed about that life is one of humility and submission to God. It says that I do not know it all and that I do not possess a clear view of what is best or most important. However I know that God does, and He will take me where it is best for me to go.

 

There is also expressed a true understanding of the reality of living as a follower of Christ, for that involves a daily process of yielding myself to the guidance and the direction of the Spirit. It is a life of adventure and of purpose. God is not arbitrary, and He does not operate on whims or flights of fancy. Yet, He does ask us to trust His intent and purpose so that we can respond to where He desires for us to go and what He directs us to do. His Spirit also guides us into the truth of God’s Word and keeps our hearts and our minds grounded in that source of knowledge and wisdom.

 

All of this takes us onto God’s concept of level ground. This is the place where our feet are secure and our vision is clear. This is the path through life that is most secure, for it is a way that God has cleared for us. It is not true that this way of following Christ will be easy or without struggles, we all know that there will be hardship and opposition in this life. Rather, it is a road that God walks with us, and He keeps us upright and holds our feet on the trail despite the ruggedness of the terrain. God’s level ground is found by knowing Him and seeking His will, and His Spirit is our guide and companion on the journey.

By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God, stand firm in it.

1 Peter 5: 12

 

Peter knows what it means to live outside of the stream of culture. He also understands from first hand experience what it is like to stand against the wishes and the desires of those in power, both governmental and religious. He is sharing this hard earned knowledge and Godly wisdom with others in his circle of contact. Now, as God’s Word continues to be just as valid in our world as it was in Peter’s, he is sharing these same life-giving truths with us. In short form, this is a hard world to live in as a committed follower of Christ. We will encounter opposition and we will be out of step with our culture if we are in agreement with Christ’s will. So, how are we to live?

 

The fact that Peter says to stand firm is not surprising, for fear, doubt, wavering, and compromise are the outcome that Satan intends to accomplish in his assault upon followers of Christ. What is interesting here is that Peter directs us to stand firm in grace rather than truth, the word, wisdom, or courage. Yet, as I do reflect on what grace means to me, this does make a great deal of sense. Grace is God’s acting out of His love. It was love that sent Christ to Calvary, and it was grace that brought my soul into eternity with Christ. Now, that same grace is poured out to cover me with Christ’s robe of righteousness, and it is poured into me to fill me with His love, truth, and peace.

 

This process of standing firm in grace demands humility of me, for the very idea of grace reminds me that there is nothing that I have done to deserve God’s loving care for me and that there is nothing that I will ever do to earn His continued favor. Strangely enough, standing submitted under the grace that has set me free is the singular position of enduring strength that I can adopt in order to hold up under the pressures and the assaults of this world. In Christ I live in a state of freedom that is far greater than any that can be conferred upon me by human institution, and by grace that freedom provides the strength and the courage to stand for what is righteous at any cost.

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

Isaiah 12: 3

 

Water is something very basic; it is truly not very magical. Its appearance doesn’t suggest that all that much is there. It is relatively clear. It has minimal flavor. Water is found almost everywhere on the earth, and it goes largely unappreciated in the way that most of us live our lives. Yet, it is absolutely essential for that life to continue. It is one of the great difference makers in the way that God created our planet, and not by accident I believe, it provides a great metaphor for the way that God interacts with and relates to people.

 

God has made His salvation very simple to understand. It is available to everyone. It is often taken for granted by people who have accepted it, and others very frequently ignore it. The salvation that Jesus Christ brings to us flows like water over the earth. At times it seems to gush out and explode like a mighty river, and at other times it trickles as subtle rivulet along the side of solid rock. Christ comes to save our souls from an eternity apart from God. He also stays with us through all of the days of our lives and continues to save us from the traps and snares, the defeat and destruction that Satan attempts to throw into our paths. Salvation is at the center of God’s design for relationship with people. The Lord asks us to accept it, and He continues to lead us further and deeper into its reality throughout our days.

 

As Isaiah says, salvation is joyous. That doesn’t mean that the salvation life is easy or that seeking it is always pleasant or comfortable. As we draw the water of Christ’s will from God’s well, we are asked to abandon the false pleasure of sin and to replace it with the deep sustenance of truth. Much of the time these salvation wells will be located in hostile lands, and God’s enemies guard them with violent words and actions. Yet, Christ is there, and He stands guard over our hearts and our minds as we lift that bucket of righteousness from the dark recess where evil would have it remain. Yes, it would seem that water is not very magical until it becomes a metaphor for the life that is found in and through Christ. Then it speaks of the greatest magic in all of creation as it represents the transformation and the restoration that knowing Christ brings about in the lives of all who are thirsty and who drink.

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.

1 Corinthians 16: 13, 14

 

Although it is really easy to get caught up in the contemplative aspects of connecting with God through prayer and meditation, it is important to take what we learn in this manner and to put feet onto it throughout our day. These words are filled with the action of a life lived in a close relationship with Christ. Faith is not something that we hold quietly inside. It is not a passive quality of our lives as Christians. It is the fuel of the words and the actions that are the substance of what we do and of how we are perceived each day. Faith in the God that we have come to know and who knows us deeply, who made us to fulfill the life purpose that we are faced with each day, this is the faith that provides the strength and that opens our hearts and our minds to the ways that the Lord will use us this day.

 

We are to continually look for and to be attuned to the needs of others, and we should seek out opportunities to speak and to act in the name of Christ. We are also to be alert for the satanic attacks that will go with a life lived for Him. It is important to prepare to stand up for what we believe. Sometimes this is in words; more often it is in the actions that we take and in the way that we treat others. This takes courage and strength. We may be required to do and to say things that the world around us will look at as irrational or just plain dumb. We still need to be ready to do it; for, we need to be ready to set aside the rational processes of considering our personal risk and be willing to let the Holy Spirit take charge of the moment. As the famous add campaign says, “Just Do It!”.

 

One final thing to consider, action can be very powerful and a bit addicting. We can get caught up in the adrenalin rush that comes from our desire to live fully for Christ; therefore, the final instruction here is that we should do everything with one, singular and overarching motive. Faith tells us that we can trust God’s love for us as his primary motive in relating to us. Perhaps the most courageous quality that we are called upon by God to employ in our daily living for Him is that of love. Faith gives us the strength that is needed to drop the sword that we naturally want to let lead our way through life and to open our hands and our arms in order to embrace the lost and the hurting people that Christ will place into our paths.

 

Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?

Galatians 3: 5

 

Life is miraculous. Being alive in the sense that God views it is even more so. All of us, although dying by virtue of nature and the passage of time, are already dead when we start out in life. Our souls are separated from God and our natures are owned by the sin that is the true bringer of death. So, we come into soul-deep life and into the eternity with God that is its result by virtue of nothing less than the miraculous work of that same God in the person of Jesus Christ. His sacrifice and victory over death grant to all who believe the gift of a new existence that is fully alive.

 

This comes about through the gracious gift of God’s love. There is nothing that we can do to earn it, and none of our efforts will secure it. It is ours through faith in Christ, and the new life that is granted to us is also lived to its fullest by and through that same faith. It is faith that empowers us to enter into the realm of the miraculous in our daily lives. Faith speaks to the heart and says to it to have courage and walk boldly into the day with Christ on our lips and love in our hands. This thing that we call faith is a quality that focuses the mind on Christ and that helps to shut out the voices of doubt and the images of fear that come at us from all sides.

 

Although Paul was speaking about other forms and types of miracles here, I know that he was more than aware of the greatest of all of the miracles that God works in and among people in that it is absolutely miraculous to me that God chooses to come and to dwell in me. He grants to me and to every one of us who believes in Him the miracle of this new life. Then Christ takes a broken and lost soul and fills it with the presence of His Spirit so that this new life has a purpose that is to be a part of God’s redemptive plan for all of creation. This is the miracle of new life in Christ!

Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him,

but the righteous shall live by his faith.

Habakkuk 2: 4

 

The prophet Habakkuk is engaged in a dialogue with God in which Habakkuk is complaining bitterly to the Lord and wondering about how long he must wait until justice and fairness will become visible in God’s dealing with people and with nations. These words are those of God in response to the prophet’s lament, and the actor in line one is probably either Babylon or its king. So, there is a contrast established between the way that people who were not following God, the Babylonians, rely upon their own wisdom and strength to navigate their way through life and the way that a follower of God gains the same direction and fortitude by virtue of faith in God.

 

This theme of faith in God as foundational to living life well is as old as is the existence of humanity. Its lack is a fundamental problem behind the rebellion of the first people in the garden, and it is my problem today. In simple words, God has the capability and the capacity to accomplish anything that fits within His will and desire, and I have none of this capability and even less capacity. God possesses all wisdom and knowledge, and I am severely limited in both. The Lord cares about my outcome and calls me into the most meaningful service possible in order to bring glory to Him while granting to me a life of eternal worth.

 

Faith in God is the difference maker in my life and in the lives of all people. As we seek to know our Lord and let Him into the deepest recesses of our soul, He enlightens our heart with His love, mercy, grace, and wisdom. This is the truth that truly frees us from the oppression that our soul was held under by sin’s grasp upon our lives. As my faith grows and infuses more and more of my being, I have an ever decreasing need to hold onto my own prideful competency and skill. I am also able to come out from under the heavy shadow of doubt and fear. Faith in God clears away the mountain that blocks my view of His glory and that cuts off my path into service to my Lord.

 

 

This God — his way is perfect;

the word of the LORD proves true;

he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

2 Samuel 22: 31

 

David knew troubled and turbulent times. He fought and contended with enemies from outside of Israel and from within his own family until he was too old to stand on the field of battle himself. Then, his followers took up the cause of leading the defense of the nation. Yet, despite their great successes in battle, David knew that the Lord had always won the real victory. In fact, on many occasions David had prevailed despite himself because God remained true to His calling of David to be King over the nation.

 

So, the aged King reflects upon his life and his relationship with God in this song of thanksgiving and praise. This God, the Lord God of the Universe, is the singular example and model of perfect righteousness. His voice is the one that leads people along a path that takes us to a life that is lived out in close proximity to the center of God’s will. As we consider our own lives and the times in which we live, I think that this is still an absolutely true statement. The Lord is calling us to follow Him in waging war against the deceptive evil of an enemy that is violently bent on the destruction of souls. Yet, I think that this war is to be fought with a different form of weapon than the ones that David used.

 

For us, Christ stands as the example of a warrior for the cause of redemption. God’s Word provides us with knowledge and understanding of the nature and the character of God and leads us into His will for us. The Spirit of Christ grants understanding and wisdom to our hearts and our minds so that Christ’s love for all people and God’s desire for redemption for all souls can guide our prayers, thoughts, and efforts. In today’s worldwide battle against evil, I think that followers of Christ are called upon by God to be the ones who are trusting in our Lord to protect and to care for us, and we are to be the ones who are holding God’s shield of refuge up for others so that they can come into that same saving relationship with Christ.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 367 other followers