August 2009


The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Philippians 4: 23

 

The thing that I needed more than all else was God’s grace, for here I was, interested, even fascinated with God, listening to His word, and hanging out with His people; yet, until I was ready and willing to open my heart to Him and surrender control to His Spirit, I was as lost and as dead as any person who had never come near to His presence. In fact, I was more so; since, if I had continued to ignore His call, my intellectual knowledge could have become a very large barrier to entering into a true relationship with Christ. However, God’s grace continued to pursue me until I stopped running away and accepted Him.

 

This need for grace continues throughout my life; in fact, it seems that there are many times when the need has become even greater than before I had entered into the relationship with Christ, for now, evil tries to speak to me with a voice that tells me in detail about every way that I fail to follow God’s will, and it keeps reminding me of each instance of moral, ethical, relational, and spiritual deviation from the direction that God tells me to travel. It is the truth of the Lord that brings me back to my senses, and it is the truth about my Lord’s grace that overcomes the lies that Satan keeps speaking to my mind.

 

I know, based upon my life experience, that there will be times today when I will need to focus on the truth of the totality of Jesus’ saving work and on what that means for me right now. The glorious aspect of this fact is that when I do closely consider the love of God for me and then get on with living as someone who knows from the heart that this love and acceptance is total and absolute, my spirit is lifted out of the depths of worry and concern that fear tries to push it into, and I am set free to live as God intends for me to live, for grace carries the weight of life that I keep attempting to hang around my spirit.

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.

1 Peter 1: 22

 

A pure heart is certainly not something that we come by naturally; at least, it is not the condition that exists in us before we enter into a relationship with God, for a very good argument can be made for the fact that a state of being in a close and an intimate relationship with God is our only truly natural state. Thus, through Christ, people are granted a return to the spiritual and the functional life condition which was God’s intent for us.

 

It is faith that leads us to a place where we can trust God and His word to the point where we are willing to grant Him access to our hearts; from there, it is obedience that leads us deeper into the relationship. Then the deepening understanding of God’s way through His word and by His Spirit leads us to trust the Lord more completely; which, in turn, increases faith in a manner that makes obedience all the more natural. This is a life long process; it is the way that we grow in our connection to our God, and it is the way that God intends for us to grow in our love for each other, too.

 

One of the most telling tests of the state of my heart and of my willingness to be obedient to God is the way that I interact with other people. If I am open to their messy and often challenging personalities and their never ending array of needs and neediness; then, I am probably a lot closer to God then on those days when I simply want them all to go away and stop filling my world with their clutter. The Lord calls all of us to truly love others in the same manner that He does; in case that is not clear at this moment, that is a very high and a very challenging standard; yet, through obedience to God’s word and acceptance of His will as expressed in each of our hearts by the Spirit, loving others can become the most wonderfully natural act in our day.

He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.

1 John 5: 12

 

There is being alive; breathing and moving about while working hard at crafting a meaningful life; then, there is having the life. When Christ becomes real for an individual, and we surrender our selves to Him, we gain a form of life that is impossible otherwise, and we gain an existence that is both eternal and has eternity written all over it.

 

The only way to become infused with the wisdom, understanding, and love of God is to have His Spirit enter into our beings; thus, the only way to gain access to the presence of God in our lives is through trusting Jesus enough to accept who He is; then, by surrendering control of my life to Him, i am able to enter into a relationship with Him. For me the yielding was a one time decision that has been followed by a lifetime of accepting the fact that God is continually gracious toward my wandering heart; thus, He needs to keep on redirecting my heart and mind toward His loving purposes.

 

In the few simple words of this verse John sets forth the fundamental truth and the basic need of all people’s lives, everyone requires the life if we desire to truly live, each of us needs to stay in intimate touch with the giver of the life if we want to live noticeably as children of God. When we live in this manner, the Lord will compel us to share the simple truth of the importance of this relationship and the means for others to transition from simply being alive to living in the full expression of the life through Christ.

The sound of joyful shouting and salvation is in the tents of the righteous.

Psalm 118: 15a

 

Let’s all fill our tents with the raucous celebratory shouts, songs, and dancing of those who have been released from the bondage of sin and death, whose hearts have been set free and whose lives are filled with the real meaning of living in close friendship and in true relationship with God.

 

In Christ we can and we should be lifting our voices to heaven and telling the whole world about the amazing and the absolute ways that God takes our worthlessness and our shame and turns it into something that is priceless beyond all comparison. This is the God who leads us to the best life possible, and this is the God who brings healing and wholeness to our broken bodies and our shattered souls.

 

Every day should be lived as a song of praise; the world that we touch should feel that it has just attended a concert of the angels, for the Lord’s song cries out from every pore of each redeemed being. Make expressions of thanksgiving and praise the lyric of this day, and fill the canyons and the mountain tops of your world with your salvation poem.

Lead me in the paths of your commandments, for I delight in it.

Psalm 119: 35

 

For a human being, especially a modern, western world, male like me to express delight at adhering to a set of rules is truly unusual to the degree of being weird. The oddity of it all gets taken a step further when I ask God to actually take hold of me and lead me along His rule guided path. Yet, as I pray to God in agreement with the writer of this Psalm, that is exactly what I am doing.

 

From experience I have learned that seeking to do those things that God commands, and even more importantly, allowing God to change my way of thinking so that His commandments are the driving forces behind my decision making creates balance and harmony in me that dwells deep in my soul; thus, it is a foundational resource for daily living. God’s primary commandment is that I love Him, and its close companion is that I would love others. Love is the foundation and the total expression of all that God desires for people. For if we love God, we will seek to do what is pleasing to Him, and if we love others with the sort of deep commitment that God does, we will desire to see their lives brought into a close and a permanent relationship with the Lord.

 

So, this is the delight filled life, start each day with personal attention to God’s word and by purposefully seeking alignment with His will and His guiding touch to direct the way to go through life. Then we need to continue to listen to His Spirit and accept its direction as situations and interaction with others unfolds. Finally, the day will be made complete by taking the time to reflect on what actually did happen; thanking God for all that He did to take care of the needs of this day, and seeking His guidance along the path that will be encountered tomorrow.

It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be exalted in my body.

Philippians 1:20

 

Does every fiber of your being shout about their freedom in Christ, why not? When you think do the thoughts that are generated by the Spirit of God dominate, or how about the way that you act, do people see Jesus in His full expression when it is your hands that are touching them? When I answer honestly, my sad response is, “No, not so often, not as much as I should, not even on the same continent as my potential.”

 

Yet, God’s Spirit of transformation and change reaches into the very deepest and the smallest bits of our beings; He brings about a state of being that is completely redefined and whose orientation is brought into alignment with God’s. When I don’t face my day with this sense of anticipation of living in the center of the glory of Christ and when I enter into contact with people with a aura of fear and dread surrounding my heart and mind, I need to seek the wisdom, truth, and discernment of God, and I should seek to set aside the old life concerns and my now, through Christ, outdated perspective on interacting with others, too.

 

When I accept the change, recognize the transformation, and trust the Spirit to direct me, I can and should live in a manner that shows the confident love of God to my world. This life perspective is grown on the inside, in my heart and mind, and as it takes over each and every cell of my body, as I stop holding onto the old and embrace this change, I am filled with a reasoned courage that compels me to engage life in a fresh and a vigorous way. Then every molecule of my being can truly shout with joy at the presence of the Lord.

Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free.

Psalm 118: 5

 

When challenged, threatened, beaten up and down, and just completely overwhelmed, I have turned to many different sources of knowledge, strength, encouragement, and protection. Some work some of the time, and others don’t ever seem to get the job done; there are even tactics, strategies, and sources of supposed wisdom that take me further into the bad place that I am attempting to escape.

 

On the other hand, the Lord has always answered, for He responded to me when the need was as basic as it can get; Jesus took me in, accepted my lost soul, and released me from the death grip that Satan had on my life. Since that moment, God has continued to stay with me through it all; there have been fires and floods, plagues and famines, and disobedience and deceits all coming from within the hearts of people. Some of the damaging actions and events have been of my own doing and others have been done to me; regardless, God stays with me totally, completely, absolutely, and always.

 

When I reach out to God in prayer, raising my voice to Him with expressions of the desires and the needs of my heart, the Lord responds. What is the extra weight that you are carrying around with you, where is your heart torn or weary, what is making you fearful and apprehensive? The Spirit of God who resides in you already knows the answers and more, but it is necessary for us to reach out to our God and to trust Him with our own sense of our needs. The Lord will respond with love, compassion, understanding, and solutions, for His truth is the answer to all that we encounter in this life.

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