October 2009


The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.

1 Peter 4:7

 

The oldest promise that exists in the history of people is the one where God makes a commitment to us that the fatal disease of sin will be cured, and this applies not only to the people who elect to accept Christ’s act of saving sacrifice, but it is also true for this entire evil tainted world. However, in order for the blood of atonement to have its permanent effect, all of the diseased elements must be destroyed; thus, all things that we know that are in this world and of this world must soon come to an end.

 

This is a good thing; yet, it is a hard and a frightening prospect to consider, and it is very easy to lose track of how God calls upon us to live and to wander off the course that He would have us follow. This is where seeking the sort of wisdom that leads to sound judgment comes in, and the sort of deep seated, core thinking that can be relied upon in even the most challenging of times comes from the Lord, and it is defined by His character. It doesn’t come naturally to us, but it is ours when we seek it through searching God’s word, by staying closely connected to His people in honest and loving relationships, and as we live in intimate proximity to God’s Spirit.

 

Understanding, clear thinking, and righteous living are the result of surrendering our fears, concerns, anger, and distrust to the Lord, and we begin to gain the sort of level headed, sober, approach to life that God desires for us to have when we lay all that gets in the way of living life in the fullest expression of Christ’s freedom on the altar of prayer as a love offering to our Savior. There is release from captivity in the prayer; there is strength to be found in the praying; and God’s eternally promised wisdom becomes clearer in a life where prayer is constant.

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These things I have spoken to you that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

John 15: 11

 

Jesus is talking about the basic truth of staying close to Him as we go through life; He is telling us that following His way of living doesn’t require us to just grit our teeth and give up the pleasurable aspects of being alive, either. When we look to God for everything that we need to understand and for the wisdom to apply that understanding to our lives, the results for us will be a form of internal peace that is as the famous ad expression says, “Priceless”.

 

In following Christ in every aspect of life, we are granted a gift that exceeds anything that can be purchased, for we are filled with the joy of our Creator, and that is how He desires for us to live. This doesn’t mean that there won’t be hard times, days, and situations; however, it does mean that we can trust in God to have a plan for us in those times, and we can enter into the hard situations with the joy of Christ to anchor our hearts and to clear our minds.

 

Deep seated joy may be expressed in smiles or it may be seen as a ribbon of tears on the cheek, and there are many times when it is both; yet, it is always a gift from the Lord. Joy is found in quiet meditation and prayer, it is discovered in God’s word, and the breath of the Spirit as He fills our lungs with life implants the joy of Christ within us.

God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16: 7b

This is an unfortunate truth that I deal with and that most of us do, too; we look at someone and make judgments about their worth and seek to get to know them better or to avoid them based on nothing more than our first impressions of their appearance. Additionally, people are doing the same thing to us most of the time; so, we live in a world where opportunities to have our lives enriched by the deep insights and the interesting personalities of various people are lost due to the judgmental nature of people.

The ability to see beyond the externals and to value the real qualities of people is a characteristic of God, and this same ability is something that He wants all of His children to learn from Him, too. When we are willing to take the time to get past the difficult aspects of other people so that we start to truly know them and when we stay engaged with them enough so that God’s Spirit begins to provide us with a clearer understanding of their hearts and minds, we are blessed by these wonderful people.

When God looks at each of us, He sees an image of Himself; thus, He wants us to open our eyes so that we can also see Him in others. As God relates to us, He understands the needs and the hurts of our souls; the Lord wants us to allow others into our lives so that we can understand them at this same level. God’s understanding involvement with me brings blessings and joy into my days; so, He wants me to seek to do the same for the people that He has placed into my life.

But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness. Romans 4: 5

 

Some days are just hard working ones; these are times when life demands so much effort that the soul often feels exhausted from it all, and every once of creativity and the longing to achieve personal goals are wrung out so completely that collapse into stupor is the highest point of the day. This is a difficult reality to live in when this is a description of our work life; it is a tragedy when this is the best that we can say about our spiritual life.

Paul knew from first hand experience that hard work and diligence weren’t enough when it comes to honoring God and to living a life that is itself an expression of worship. The Lord wants us to stop sweating and straining in an attempt to win the world for Christ, and He tells us that we are never going to earn His favor by the intensity of our efforts; rather, God wants us to trust Him and to allow His hands the opportunity to work in our lives; then, He will perform the same work in others by using us as willing operatives.

When I stop putting out all of the effort, my strength is increased; when I stop owning the outcome, my joy is multiplied. Christ wants us to be willing vessels that will carry the oil of salvation to a dry and needy world; then, we, too, can enjoy the deep rest that only the righteous can achieve.

The Lord established the earth upon its foundations, so that it will not totter forever and ever.

Psalm 104: 5

 

Am I alone in wondering about the accuracy of this comment? The world that I live in seems to be so far off its axis that I am more amazed when there is a day where I don’t hear about some sort of major natural disaster than I am at the accounts of lives turned upside down and whole countries thrust into chaos by what seems to be the whims of climate and instability of the earth. Additionally, these natural events aren’t even the most terrifying and disturbing of happenings, for the cruelty, anger, and hatred that people act out against each other leaves the destructive forces of nature in their wake.

 

Yet, as simplistic as this might sound, I trust God to be true to His word and to follow through with what He pledges; thus, my mind needs to reconcile the fact that the earth seems to be totally off its foundation with God’s commitment to keep it there. My greatest challenge in understanding all of this is my own lack of perspective and my tendency to get caught up in the wrong things. The Lord is looking at this world from a viewpoint that sees its beginning and that contemplates the glory of its restoration through Christ’s return at the end. He is allowing all of this current upheaval so that we will understand the severity of the consequences of our sinful disobedience to His created plan; additionally, the disastrous mess that we people cause when we operate outside of God’s will does lead us to seek the Lord and to desire His loving involvement in our lives.

 

Although the world around me continues to be touched by earthquake and flood, by disease and famine, and by the horrors of violence and oppression, my understanding of these events is made clearer by my relationship with Christ, and my involvement in doing something about all of the related suffering is clarified, too. My own world is truly set on its foundation, and nothing can knock me out of the grip of my God. In a day when many of the people around me are shaken and disoriented, the Lord wants me to be a voice that tells about the solid rock that my soul stands on and the One who is continually restoring me to the glory of my creation.

Make me to know Your ways, O Lord;

Teach me Your paths.

Psalm 25:4

 

Perhaps this is a sign of maturing in my relationship with God, but I have become more aware of just how tightly and stubbornly I hold onto the sense of security I get from doing the things that I have been doing. Its not that those are all bad things or that I am headed off in some hell bent on destruction sort of tangent away from the will of the Lord, either. My tight grip on my life does cause me to respond slowly or to even shut out God’s voice when He speaks of new ventures and changes in important things that I am doing, and it seals away my heart behind a thick stone wall of doubt and fearfulness.

 

This is why it is so important to follow David’s lead and purposefully open my heart and recognize my need for instruction in the direction that God wants me to take in my life. The first and the most important step in learning God’s will and following His way is to get to know Him in a deep and an intimate manner. The Lord never just lays out a map and sends me off with a set of directions to follow; instead, He shows me a picture of how He thinks, of why I matter in His plan for restoration of the world, and of where my support for the journey will be found.

 

There is a wonderful benefit that comes out of this process of trusting God; so that, when I seek His will and focus on listening to His voice, I gain immeasurably in my understanding of the Lord. As I get to know God better, I realize that He is more interested in the relationship with me than He is in how obedient I am or in what I am doing. God, my Father, wants me to be close to Him, and He will spend any amount of time, and He spares absolutely no effort in bridging the gap between us that was caused by sin and that is held open by the resultant fear, insecurity, and pain of life. There is something that the Lord wants us to know and to respond to today; pray for the openness to hear Him, for the trust to follow, and be ready to thank God for the blessing that He will provide.

Bring my soul out of prison, so that I may give thanks to Your name;

The righteous will surround me, for You will deal bountifully with me.

Psalm 142: 7

 

All people are born with souls that are locked away in the dark, cold, and lonely isolation of a cell that is called separation. Removed and apart from the presence of God; we all had already received an eternal death sentence that was handed down by the highest judge of all; yet, the undeniable appeal of that sentence was perfected by Jesus, has been sealed and attested to as authentic and irrevocable by God, and is waiting for each of our acceptance. All God requires from us is to reach out our hand, humble our heart, and accept His truth of salvation through Jesus, the Christ; then, the key enters the lock, and we are freer than imagination could ever contemplate.

 

Still, there are too many times when I find myself looking out from what seems to be the inside of that prison cell, and I feel the oppression and the isolation of being apart from my Lord. These are times when dark thoughts and troubling motives swirl around in my heart and obscure the clear thinking that God’s righteous light brings to my mind. It is for times like these that God designed us to live in the company of others, and He promises us that He will bring into our lives other people who know Him and who seek after His way of living, for friends are one of the greatest aspects of the bounty that God provides to His children.

 

If the walls of the prison seem to be closing in on your heart, and the coldness of isolation is seeping into your bones, it is time to look toward those friends that the Lord has placed into your life. In these times, we all need to claim the reality of the freedom that has been granted to us by Christ, open our hearts to the Lord who already knows the answer for our pain, and allow a friend the opportunity to bless us by helping us carry the burden of the moment.

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