July 2009


I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and He will hear me.

Psalm 77: 1

 

If you are at all like me, there are a lot of times when you try to go it alone; for I’ll just worry, scheme, plan, fret some more, and struggle with life’s big stuff and little issues using the knowledge, wisdom, and strength that are resident in my mind to sort it all out. Sometimes it works and at other times it doesn’t, but even when I get it all sorted out and find my answers, I have consumed more of my precious and hard to replace strength and energy than I would have liked to give up. Then, the next wave of challenge hits, and I have less than enough oxygen in my lungs and blood flowing through my muscles to keep swimming toward shore.

 

The Lord is totally relational; although, He relentlessly pursues everyone, and He absolutely sticks with us through every aspect of life, He still wants us to seek His wisdom and understanding, and God allows us the opportunity to learn through the processes of living. Thus, He does give us the freedom to solve our own problems and to chart our own coarse through each of our days; however, He makes available to us the eternal partnership of His Spirit, and through Him, we can live in the freedom of God’s will, direction, care, and provision.

 

Sometimes crying out is a shout or even a wail of anguish, it can be a whisper through dry and tortured lips, God may be the sole audience, your lone trusted friend in this life might be the hearer or it could be recited before a massive hoard of listening ears. The point of it all is that God wants us to bring our greatest needs and concerns to him, and He desires to lead us through the smallest of decisions and actions in our lives. Every aspect of our lives is important in living as God’s children and as Christ’s image-bearers in this world. The lord is my strength, wisdom, and provides the grace to live in His glory and victory every moment of this day.

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You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

Ezekiel 36: 28

 

Everyone lives somewhere; it might be a modest house, an apartment in the city, a wonderful mansion sized custom home, a hut, your car, or the ground that happens to be near to the place where your feet stopped moving this day; this is the physical place that each of us lives. This place may seem vitally important, and many of us spend remarkable amounts of time, energy, and our financial resources on acquiring and improving this place.

 

Still, living in our allotted and chosen spot on this globe has very little to do with how well we are truly living; the real quality of our lives is determined by how we choose to live, the attitude that we hold regarding the life that we have been granted, and the  depth of our desire to serve God through our lives. God has promised that He will give every one of His children a true dwelling place, not just an existence. The Lord created the perfect environment for people to flourish in, and He wants to give that quality of life back to us.

 

When we dwell in our world, we have a sense of comfort that comes from possessing the wisdom, understanding, and guidance of the Creator; although, we will never be totally settled into this environment with its infusion of evil and destruction, we can travel through every one of our days with the sort of confidence that comes from being the only true heirs, the ones who God has proclaimed as His own, and the people that He has selected to bring the message of salvation to our generation.

Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon, I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses.

Joshua 1: 3

 

Consider the possibilities, think of the potential, embrace the confidence that could come out of owning a promise like this. These are the words of God spoken to Joshua when he had just taken on the leadership of the people of Israel. He was about to take steps that would lead to the completion of a long journey; he was about to move in a manner and a direction that required that he have faith in God and trust him totally. So God told Joshua to believe that everything was already handled.

 

Now, move ahead in time to now; how does this promise from God relate to this world? Is it possible to go out into our own land, to move through the day with the sort of faith based boldness, the fearlessness and confidence that was given to Joshua? From my perspective, I often spend way too much time in asking the questions rather than in trusting God for the outcomes. He made a promise then; that promise is still good today.

 

I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous.

Joshua 1: 5b,6a

 

If we follow the direction of God to live our lives with an attitude of taking back our world, he promises to be with us for every moment of the engagement. What does it mean to take back our world for God? Firstly, it was his and has been temporarily taken over by Satan and his followers; secondly, God wants all of the people of this world to be in a close, personal, member of his family type of relationship with him. Finally, God has created each of us with the skills and the talents that are needed to make the connections with people, and he desires that we would trust him and that his love for us would be important enough for us to share this love and truth with the others that we meet as we go through life.

 

So, trust God from the beginning to the end of the day; know that he walks with you through all of it; so, every place that you step is holy ground, for he is stepping there too. Feel safe to love those that you meet, share Jesus with them in your actions and thoughts, and through words. Every person that you meet today needs to know him, and he wants to know everyone of them. Today is the day to claim your corner of this world for it’s creator and for your saviour.

I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

Ezekiel 36: 27

 

When I made the decision to give my will over to God’s desire for me and to surrender my lame attempts at controlling my life to the Lord’s mastery of the universe, I was not left with less than I had before; there was no gaping hole in the functional areas of my heart, mind, and total person. I am not trying to suggest that my journey has been smooth or without some very large detours that took me far outside of God’s desired way of living, but through everyday and in all ways conceivable, my Lord has been with me, and He has continually been available to guide and to direct me. It has been through His specific interaction and, at times, intervention in my life that I have known what relational and spiritual successes that have come my way. In simple words, everything and everyone who is good in my life has come to me through the direct involvement of God, for I am not worthy of any of the goodness, and I am not even capable of recognizing and properly responding to it.

 

The relationship that God wants to establish with His children is a two way, fully involved, and totally engaged one; He has never operated from far off in the manner of one who dictates the rules of living and then waits for our failures so that He can correct or punish us. Rather, the Lord gets into the middle of my life; He walks with me through all of the aspects of my day, and He stays with me even when I am stubborn and self-centered; then, He lovingly yet firmly draws me back into His will. This is what the Spirit of God does with and for me; just as Jesus promised, He is within me, and the Spirit continually guides me into living more and more fully as the transformed, image of God person that I became when I entered into the relationship with Christ.

 

In addition to giving me the gift of His Spirit, God has also provided a frame work for how I should live if I am to truly function as His image bearer in this world. Although there are many concrete statements about what living as God intends looks like, the real essence of God’s rules and His statutes is found in the very simple concepts that have always been at the center of His word and that are at the heart of His plan for restoration of our world to its intended state of peace and harmony; this restoration is available for each individual, all relationships, and the entire world.

 

Jesus gave us the central focus for living as God intends when He said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourselves.” (Matthew 22: 37-39) This is what the Spirit of God is leading me toward every day; I pray that I will soften my controlling grip on this day and allow His will to prevail.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 36: 26

 

God wants every person to know Him at a level that changes the way that we interact with the world and the way that we view ourselves into a perspective that is like His. This is the sort of change that comes from the heart out, and it is something that will never be accomplished on our own. We are born with hearts that are already on the road to being hardened by the effects of the evil that surrounds us and by our very natures which are under the control of those same forces of evil.

 

When we try to change the way that we deal with others by embracing any of the systems and approaches that people have developed and when we seek change by looking to our own resources, we are doomed to failure, for we are trying to operate on the most complex organism in the world while using tools and knowledge that are far short of state of the art. When we yield our wills to God and allow His Spirit the opportunity to start working in and on us, we will be profoundly changed, and we will continue to grow in our application of God’s grace, compassion, and love.

 

The hardness of our natural hearts is incompatible with the deep desires of our beings; we were created to be people who are spiritually alive with the closely bonded relationship to Christ that brings about that reality. It is this hardened heart that is the foreign body within our chests; so, the lord’s transplantation of a new heart of flesh is, in fact, an act of restoration. We are changed from a person whose body is continually at war with itself and with the God whose image we were created in; thus, in Christ, we are transformed into people who have the heart of God beating within us.

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleans you.

Ezekiel 36:25

 

When we wash our cars, regardless of how deluxe the program that we select, there is one inevitability, the car will get dirty again, and this will usually happen within the first few blocks that we drive. Take that morning shower, and guess what, you’ll need another one shortly; do the laundry, wash the kitchen floor, and run the dishwasher and the result is always the same, more opportunity to clean up the messes that are a part of simply living. It seems that there are too many times when my internal life is like this also.

 

Although, in Christ, we have the answer to the totality of sin that separates us from God and from living in his presence, we still live inside of a body that was conceived and that grew and developed under the influence of that old sin infused nature. The more that we try to cleans ourselves and to wash away the filth and the grime of living in this world with our legacy of defiant egocentricity, the more frustrated we become, for when we work so hard at self purification, we are inevitably reusing the same water; so, it is like taking a bath every day without draining the tub. We may get just as wet each time, but eventually we are simply layering old dirt on top of today’s.

 

God brings us clean water from His spring which is the only source of truly pure goodness, and He provides the sort of cleansing that gets deep into our hearts and our minds and that penetrates into the dark crevices of our greatest needs and rinses away our most tightly held fears. All that the Lord asks from us is that we continually look to Him for our cleansing and that we open our hearts to the searching of His Spirit. As we allow ourselves to be showered in the blessing of His grace, the Lord lifts the weight of carrying the energy draining and life depleting burden of our former lives, and He frees us to experience His love and joy more fully.  

I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. Ezekiel 36: 24

Do you ever feel disconnected, scattered, dispersed; does the sense that you are truly out there someplace and that the rest of the world is moving to a different rhythm and rime scheme than the one that you hear just swirl around in your head and heart? Well, that could be happening because it’s actually true. Everyone is born disconnected and distanced from the true home that we were intended to occupy; our distant parents moved themselves out of the center of God’s will, and He relocated them from their intended home. We start out life in the same state of exile, and our bodies will probably spend all of their existences in a foreign land, too.

However, our hearts, minds, and souls don’t need to remain in this nomadic and tenuous state indefinitely; God has always had a plan for the return of our essential selves to His desired state of close relationship, and that plan was fully achieved through the life giving actions and death defying sacrifice of Jesus. It is all up to us; we can make the choice to live in the beauty and the bounty of God’s kingdom, or we can decide to stay in the harsh desert wasteland of our exile.

Choose Christ, and choose life in abundance; this is the choice that God, the loving Father, yearns for each person to make. There is more, for when we make Jesus our choice, we are just beginning a fabulous journey that can lead us deeper into the glory, majesty, and joyous blessings of living in the continual presence of God. In accepting Christ, we are given all that God has to offer, but there is so much to be gained in that relationship that it will take the rest of our lives to just start to see, appreciate, and understand it all. Yet, the more that we are willing to allow God’s Spirit the freedom to guide us into our new home and His gift of life there, the more meaningful, peaceful, and joyous our days will be, and this will be true regardless of the chaos and turmoil that may fill the world around us.

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