June 2009


How precious are your thoughts to me, O God!

How vast is the sum of them!

Psalm 139: 17

 

That period of newness is such an interesting time in our lives; new house, new shoes, new car, new love, and newly committed to Christ have in common a focus, interest, and passion that is hard to find elsewhere. Unfortunately, it always seems to fade, become distracted, and be replaced by a lesser reality, for the roof will leak, the shoes will pinch, the car will stall, your lover will fail to meet all of your needs, and we will become disappointed with God.

 

The Lord wants us to understand His view of all of this; He gives us a perspective that is completely different from our human one; thus, it is quite foreign to my earth-bound soul. When I view the house, shoes, and car as a part of what God gives to me in order to meet good, normal, and natural needs that He designed into me, it is a lot easier to cope with the minor irritants that come along with things that exist in this decaying world. The Spirit of God wants me to understand that God is the source of all love; so, my love relationship is created by Him, and the Lord needs to be at the center of making that relationship successful. As I come to understand these truths, I am led to look at my involvement with my God and to realize that the key to retaining that new love zeal and passion is found inside of my heart and mind.

 

When I look intently at Christ and focus my thoughts on Him, I am brought back toward the intensity of those newly connected days, and my heart is awakened from the apathetic sleep of sameness. As this day unfolds, I need to seek out the Lord’s truth and pursue His understanding for all that I will engage. By seeking out the Lord’s desire for me and by opening my heart to the unlimited potential that He sees for me, I begin to regain the passion for serving Christ and the passionate heart that He has designed to beat in my chest.

And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

1 John 5: 20

 

The famous New York City coffee company Chock full o’Nuts uses a marketing tune that refers to their product as “Heavenly Coffee”, and it, no doubt, is quite good; yet, even when brewed with care and perfectly served, there can be no comparison to the rich and full truth about God that John provides for us in these two short sentences. These words are chock full o’life!

 

Understanding is the thing that I believe we need most; ultimately, it matters more than wisdom, for understanding is what directs, focuses, and applies the wisdom that God gives us. Through understanding we are able to pour out love, grant grace, and apply truth in our daily lives. God increases our comprehension of Him and of His ways as we pour our selves out onto His altar of transformation and open our hearts to the filling of His Spirit. Without the unveiling of God’s true self that was accomplished through Jesus, people do not have the ability to fully and completely grasp the totality of God and of His gracious love; thus, the Lord remains a veiled mystery.

 

Through Christ our lives are filled with the gifts that God desires for us to have; among them are peace, joy, comfort, wisdom, grace, purpose, protection, and courage, and by the interaction of God’s Spirit in our lives we are granted the great gift of understanding so that these other gifts can be used to truly bless us and the lives of others. Somehow, I think that this is a picture of the true heavenly coffee, and the aroma of this brew can fill the world with the one eternal fragrance.

Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

1 John 5: 5

 

There are forces all around us in this life that not only can harm us but that  are actively seeking to overcome us; I am not thinking about situations and circumstances that are overwhelmingly difficult; although, they are quite real, I mean that there are spirits and powers that have evil as their core intent. They are set on a coarse of assault, entrapment, and disablement that is placed into every one’s daily path of travel.

 

However, everything that is in opposition to God has already been defeated by Jesus; every human failing, each flawed thought, and all of our unloved and unloving images have become traps with their springs removed by the power of Christ’s love for each of us. We need to accept this reality and believe from the center of our hearts that it is true and that it is my own, personal and absolute truth.

Jesus is the victor in my life and over all that seeks to harm me and to lessen my ability to demonstrate the life changing and transformational love of God in a lost world.

 

Belief leads to faith, which takes us to a place of trust; then, trust allows us to walk with bold confidence through the mine field that is this world while knowing that we are safe in every way that matters. Since I believe in Christ, who has given me the promise of His victory, I can face all of the situations, people, and decisions that will come to me today with the strength and the boldness of the knowledge that the Lord will use them all for His glory.

I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but take heart, for I have overcome the world.

John 16: 33

 

Jesus tells things as they are; He had just informed the group of followers who were closest to Him that there would be hard times coming very soon and that during those times, they would not do a very good job of being strong, steady, and faithful to Him. Still, during the hardest moments of His life on earth, Jesus would not be alone, for God, the Father, would never leave Him. Likewise, God never leaves us.

 

Living in this world has its tough moments, its harsh hours, and its tragic days; episodes come to us all where simply living can be a challenge that seems almost impossible. Yet nothing that we are required to endure comes close to the stress, pain, and feeling of abandonment that Christ endured on the cross for each of us. I am absolutely amazed at the fact that Jesus took on so much for me, for you, and for everyone; yet, all the while He knew just how ungrateful and unfaithful we would be. God wants to be close to each of us so much that He would endure anything to make that a possibility.

 

As I go about the business of this day and as I adopt the attitudes that will shape may approach to what comes my way, I am praying that God’s Spirit will keep me remindful of the overwhelming victory that is mine through Christ. I am praying for the trust and the faithfulness to allow Christ to direct my mind, and I desire to claim this day and all of my interactions during it for the glory of God.

You have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God.

1 Peter 1: 23

 

Lasting change comes only from an everlasting source. Real transformation is brought about through a process that involves personal agreement that something needs to be different; it starts when we decide to yield ourselves to the change agent; and it is effected by God through the work of His Spirit in us. When we submit our lives to God’s authority by allowing Christ into our hearts, we begin a lifelong journey of regeneration, for God begins to replace the dead and the dying in us with His living word of truth.

 

God’s word is broad, far reaching, and multifaceted; it covers every subject possible, and it is relevant to the current life situation of all people. The expansiveness of the Word is truly beyond my ability to imagine, for it is found in many forms and in all places. The obvious source is the Bible, and its words are the ultimate source for wisdom and understanding to use in my travels through this life; it also gives me a written frame work of knowledge about God and for understanding God’s nature, character, and will. God’s word, both as written in the Bible and as expressed through other means, is brought to life by the work of His Spirit in me; without the Spirit, I would not have the ability to understand what God is saying, for otherwise, His living word would be spoken in a language that is completely foreign to me.

 

The word of God is expressed through and by all of Creation; the hand of the Creator is on everything in the universe. As we look up and out of our own needs, wants, and desires and start to seek after God’s will and way of living, His word becomes more apparent, and His voice becomes louder and clearer. The voice of the Lord calls each of us to be alive; He desires to transform us into people who are fully living and in order to do this, He speaks life into our hearts and minds.

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.

John 6: 63

 

Try as I may, no matter how much effort I put out, and without regard for my diligence in doing the work, I can’t breath one additional breath of life into my soul. Death is resident in my cellular makeup, and it pervades every corner of my existence; thus, the cold hand of mortality reaches out and chills me to the core. So it is not at all unreasonable to consider that my reaper-owned flesh can do absolutely nothing to move me from the realm of mortality into that of God’s eternity.

 

Still, God, my Creator and Eternal Father, has committed to bringing me close to His side and to keeping me there forever. In my experience, God is always good to His word; so, there must be a bridge from the short lived existence into which I was born and to which we are all condemned and the unending, immutable, and perpetual aliveness that the Lord promises.

 

The connection is made in and through Jesus, the Christ, for He brings life to the soul and assures us of the unending nature of our existence in the loving presence of God. As wondrous as is this prospect, there is much more; since, the Lord does not leave us waiting and wondering about a distant future, and He wants us to live a life that is infused with the blessing of His gracious love and perfect wisdom. God gives us His Spirit to bring true life to our hearts, minds, and souls. For me this reality brings freedom; since, the Spirit does in me and for me what I am completely incapable of accomplishing myself; thus, I am free to live everyday in the joy of eternity.

The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending His angel to His servant John who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.
Revelation 1: 1, 2

 

 

 

 

For many people God seems to be hard to understand and very difficult to relate with, for our human condition has a very hard time with being open to the fact that we don’t have all of the answers and that our processes of understanding, our systems of science and religion, aren’t adequate to provide everything that we require, either. 

 

Because God wants to us to understand Him, and He desires to be close to each of us in ways that exceed all of our human experiences, God communicates with us. As He did with John, the Lord reveals Himself and He provides us with a clear understanding of what He wants from us and of how He desires that we should live. The Spirit of God speaks to our hearts; thus, we have access to truth that is unchanging and invaluable. God also demonstrates His love and compassion, He gifts us with His gracious acceptance of us despite our failings and disobedience, and the Lord stays with us throughout everything that occurs in life.

 

It seems that as I seek God and the more I open my heart and mind to allow His Spirit access, then He reveals not only Himself but also He shows me more of who and what I am. As I come to understand God more fully, I come to understand myself, for I, like all people, was created in the image of the Creator God. When I seek God’s revelatory truth and surrender my will to it, He removes the sin infected tissue from my heart; then, He regrows it with its originally created purity restored. The true self that God wants me to see is the blessed, beloved, and purely loving person that I have been transformed into through Christ. This is God’s great revealing to me, and this is the potential of revelation for all people.

The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending His angel to His servant John who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.

Revelation 1: 1, 2

 

When I am in the middle of a very hard day or during the times when life seems utterly unfair, God and His love seem remote; yet, life is filled with situations, circumstances, and events that, by their very natures, are infused with pain, loss, and sorrow. As the old proverb says, “Life is hard, then we die.” A proposition that is bleak if we hold the belief that this life is the pinnacle of existence, and if it is mitigated by the thought that there is nothing else after this life, a heart deep meaningless and sense of futility is all that is left to cling onto.

 

God has never left me in this place; I admit that there are some very real times when I put myself there, when I let my own incapability, fear, and hurt divert my mind from clearly focusing on everlasting, eternal, and irrefutable truths. In these hard times of wandering, these days of desert dwelling and exile, God, my own loving Father, the protector and savior of my soul seeks me out and His truth penetrates through the darkness that surounds my heart.

 

For from the beginning of Creation through the final expression of God’s restorative plan in His word, there is one very clear message that the Lord has been communicating to all people. He designed, fabricated, and works in all of the created universe for the sake of His greatest pleasure and joy, and God finds these in His relationship with people; thus, in His relationship with me, even me!

 

God’s word is intended to show us Him and to show us ourselves; Christ seeks to bring us into the presence of God during every moment of our lives and to give us an unshakable assurance and hope of the unending nature of that relationship. Thus, when the day seems hopeless and your mind is shrouded in the fog, open your heart to God’s revelation of truth, and find His peace, joy, and comfort.

And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the gap before me for the land that I should not destroy it, but I found none.

Ezekiel 22: 30

 

God has really simple desires; He doesn’t need much, and He seldom leaves us guessing about what He wants. Still, the things that He asks us for can be the hardest things for us to give; yet, when we do give the Lord what He seeks, the impact on our world is profound.

 

Ezekiel presents us with a very Old Testament sounding proposition that actually is as current as today’s sunrise, for what else does God seek but people who will listen to His voice and respond to what He says. Does the Lord need anything from me beyond my heart, my openness to His Word, my response to the Spirit’s leading, and my willingness to serve Him? How much simpler could it be?

 

So, let’s suppose that I accept that these words that were written about 2,700 years ago are more than a history lesson and that they have an application to my world; now consider that my city doesn’t have a wall around it and that there are no marauding armies camped outside its perimeter; then, I need to reach a conclusion about what it is that God wants from me.

 

Here’s what I see, God has very little concern or regard for our cities; He isn’t interested in preserving our culture or my way of life. The Lord has always been concerned with and has invested Himself totally in people, and there are armies of evil camped out around everyone in this world. Christ calls to us and the Spirit of God directs each of His children to stand between those forces and the souls of the people that He loves dearly. God created, equips, empowers, and directs each of us to fill our world with His love, compassion, grace, and truth; thus, through our willingness to serve our Lord, the only thing that truly matters, the souls of His beloved people, will be preserved.

Having been freed from sin, you became slaves to righteousness.

Romans 6: 18

 

The drive to achieve freedom is an ancient one in both the history of people and in each of our lives, It is an essential urge that runs deeply in our hearts and that helps to define the boundaries of our existence, for from Icarus to astronauts we have been compelled by this urge to rethink and to expand the horizons that create a perimeter around our worlds.

 

We can strive to gain freedom throughout life; yet, there is always an illusive quality to it, for regardless of how much we have, it is never satisfying. There will always be something that ties us down and that inhibits us; we will never have enough resources to acquire all of the land that our hearts desire to roam. We can jump on the largest motorcycle made, ride as fast as we can to catch the sun, and there will always be an ocean in our way. True and lasting freedom will always elude our grasp.

 

Yet, beyond all of the other boundaries and stronger than any other ropes that tie us down, there is one aspect to life that is supremely constraining, there is one law of nature that is stronger than gravity; this is the law of sin and death. We are all born into bondage to sin, and we will all live out our lives in a constant struggle for freedom from it. However, Christ gives us the only freedom that actually matters, for it has no boundaries, no horizon, and it is not defined by time, by space, or by death, itself. In and through Jesus we all gain a freedom that can not be purchased with anything that we could ever earn, and as we surrender more fully to being slaves to Jesus, our hearts and our minds gain an ever increasing degree of freedom.

 

Pray for understanding of the things that are enslaving you; then, surrender the control of them to God, and live in His total freedom.

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