September 2009

And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” Zechariah 3: 2

This is a strange conversation to imagine with God talking to Satan and saying such powerful yet odd things; although, I do admit that the oddness is not really so far from what I might expect from God, who does say and do some things that are way outside of my usual understanding. So why does God need to speak so sternly to Satan, and what is this little encounter really about?

It would seem that Satan has been going about his usual business of accusing people who love God of being flawed failures, hypocrites, and sinful wrecks so that he can convince us that we are of no earthly good to God’s kingdom and that we should just stop trying to serve the Lord, for we are just getting in the way. This is the sort of thing that evil has been speaking to people since those first whispered lies, and he hasn’t slowed his poisonous outpouring for even a moment since. Thus, when this is the sort of thing that Satan is saying to you or me, we need to consider what is true and what is righteous in our world and tune in our hearts to listen to the voice of Christ as He defends us, and as He provides us with the factual perspective that we need to function well as God’s children.

For the Lord is quick to remind us that we were once much like the stick that is in the center of the blazing fire with our substance being consumed by the heat of sin in our lives; thus, our future was one of waste and certain destruction. Yet, while we were still in the center of the fire, Christ reached out His hand of grace, and He retrieved us and brought us to the safety of His eternal presence; then, the Lord stands mightily before evil and defends us absolutely.

If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.

1 Corinthians 8: 2, 3


When I think that I know the answers and when I believe that I have gained complete understanding, I am frequently living in the moment right before a big disappointment, for my world often shows me how little of God’s truth about it is in my grasp. When my thinking is out there on its own, and I am feeling confident in what I am thinking; thus, I am not choosing to seek the Lord’s wisdom before I take action, I often find myself lying face down on the floor, trying to figure out who pulled that old slippery rug out from under my feet, and looking for the biggest towel that I can find to get all of the mud off of my chin. 


When I need to back up, go back over what I have done and said, and figure out how to start over in the process of solving problems and dealing with people, it is always hard to admit that most of the missteps and wrong solutions were caused because of my own stubborn failure to utilize the best resource available to me in the Spirit of God. 


How much better it is to allow that I don’t have the answers and to accept my need for wisdom that is deeper, greater, and more loving than any other form of understanding that is in my world. As I embrace my relationship with God and realize the depth of my love for Him, I am set free from the need to be the authority, and I am empowered to allow that my loving Father will lead me to all the knowledge that I require to handle everything that comes my way in life.

Abraham prayed to God; and God healed Abimelech.

Genesis 20: 17


This is a story of fear and failure to trust, a tale of how the very human man, Abraham, couldn’t find it in his heart to remain strong, or better, to live in the center of the strength that God grants to His children; thus, Abraham deceived Abimelech and came very close to putting him directly into the path of God’s righteous anger and all of its consequences. Although he was not one of God’s chosen, God came directly to Abimelech and warned him in clear and honestly direct terms about the dangerous coarse that he had entered upon by Abraham.


There was a spiritual disaster in the making in these events, for here was a man who God, Himself, had visited and had eaten a meal with, a man who was to become known as a “friend of God”; still, Abraham was allowing fear, uncertainty, and his inability to trust God above his own understanding to cause him to fail miserably in his mandate to bring the Lord’s truth and His loving grace into the lives of the seeking souls around him. Still, the Lord’s plans and His will are greater than anything that we people are capable of doing to thwart them; also, through His grace, God permits us to redeem the catastrophic situations that we create.


So God called upon Abraham to enter into a time of focused and concentrated prayer on behalf of Abimelech in order to seek healing for him. Whatever my have been hurting or diseased with Abimelech’s body, it was his soul that needed healing, for he would never be whole until he had surrendered his own life to the God of all Creation; thus, this is what Abraham sought for the his new friend. This is what God asks all of us to do as well; we are all to seek God’s gracious and saving intervention in the lives of all people without regard for what our past experiences with them might have been like; then, we need to watch in amazement and joy as the Lord brings these people into common familial relationship with us and with Him.

All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.
Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.
Proverbs 16: 2, 3
Isn’t it interesting how what we think about the quality of our own thought processes and the results of all of that planning and contemplation can be be so far apart from the way that God may view the same efforts. It is very easy to become highly focused on the things that seem important, the issues, plans, and desires that are capturing the majority of our attention and energy at any given time; yet, I know that in those same situations I can so readily miss the real truth of God’s wisdom that the outcome of all of that planning can be far removed from what is right and best.
This is why it is so important for me to slow down my own thinking and to allow time for God to interact with my heart and my mind so that the ideas that I begin to consider have been formed with the involvement of God’s Spirit, and the actions that I plan to take are ones that will bring glory to God. The Lord is the One who knows the actual intent of my heart, and He wants to show me the righteous way to handle each and every situation that I encounter; thus, He wants me to let Him in on my thoughts and my plans, for the Spirit of God will respond to my concerns, desires, and wishes by helping me discover the truth of His will in everything.
There is nothing that I desire to do, and there is no issue that is causing me concern that is too small or insignificant for the Lord’s involvement; also, everything that I seek to accomplish, engage in, or pursue commands the complete interest of God; He will provide all of the wisdom, knowledge, and encouragement that I will need to do it all. God wants me to surrender my will and my own attempts to find the answers to life’s challenges and my desires to His infinitely superior understanding; then, He will provide me with a plan that is guaranteed to succeed.

God shows no partiality.

Romans 2: 11


There are times when we simply want someone to be impartial; thus, we could count on that person not prejudging us and our motives and not entering into a conversation with us with the outcome already determined. Also, this idea conjures up the image of being given equal opportunities and of standing on our own merit and being awarded for our own accomplishments. This seems like the ideal world; yet, when I consider my merit and worthiness in contrast to God’s standard of righteous living, I think that I would prefer some sort of special treatment from Him.


For impartiality cuts both ways, and my efforts at living as the Lord tells me to live are seriously flawed. Still, God means it when He says that He loves, cares for, protects, guides, and relates to everyone with no regard to where we are from, who our parents were, what we have done, and what we may have believed about Him; God takes us where we are and as we are; from there, He gives Himself totally to everyone who will allow the Spirit of Christ the opportunity to perform His transformational work upon them.


The Lord wants me to react to His impartiality toward me by accepting it in its totality; as I embrace the fact that God does take me just as I am and uses all of me as the foundation for performing His amazing and wondrous feats of love in and through me, my sense of worth and status in the eyes of my Father, God, are elevated to the highest of places. Then I am called by God to view others without the prejudices that are natural to people, and instead, Christ shows me how to see the potential that has been created into everyone.

Praise the Lord!

How blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commandments.

Psalm 112: 1


There is no doubt in my mind that I have experienced many blessings that have come from God through His active involvement in my life; the Lord does interact with my world in ways that make Him known to me, and He continually brings His wisdom, understanding, and grace to the place where I am currently living. Yet, there are other ways that God blesses me, and these are also very important to me, for they help to draw the complete picture of who, how, and what God is for me.


It is truly interesting to note that as I seek the Lord and as I align my attitude toward being receptive to His communication with me, the essential aspects of my life seem to improve; this may not be manifest in a change in a difficult situation or a noticeable turn around in a hard circumstance, but my ability to deal with it all is dramatically impacted. Thus, my comprehension of the blessed state that God has placed me in is enhanced; through the process and the practice of focusing on God and on the deeply life enhancing nature of His truth, my core attitude, my heart, if you will, becomes aligned with God’s will, and I can live in the center of the peace that comes from knowing and understanding His loving grace.


This all starts with me on my knees before God, for it is necessary for me to humble myself and to get my own ego and self-generated understanding of life out of the way; then, I start to hear the voice of God as His Spirit speaks to my heart, and the eternal truths of His word flow into me as a healing stream of peace, comfort, and joy.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation.

1 Peter 4: 12, 13


Maybe you view your own life differently than I do mine, but I really don’t use the expressions “fiery ordeal” and “keep on rejoicing” in the same sentence very often; they just don’t seem compatible to me; also, there is no logical connection between going through the ordeal and describing it as bringing on the rejoicing. This would come close to the sort of bizarre thinking that receives funny stares and that most people would consider to be totally nuts.


Yet, God doesn’t ask us to do the things that the world around us considers normal, and He doesn’t hide the truth about the potential challenges that we will face because we choose to follow His way, either. There is real opposition to God’s way of living, and it will come after everyone who desires to serve the Lord; however, God is always with us when it does, and He never fails to bring relief for the pain and healing for the temporary injuries that we suffer in the struggle.


These times of hardship, struggles, and suffering serve to focus our hearts and minds on the Lord, and they bring about a clarity of vision that is not found through any other means; since, after going through a very hard time or situation and experiencing the peace, freedom, and joy that Christ brings to me out of it, it is only natural to sing out loudly with praise and worship for my savior.

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