October 2009


At the acceptable time I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you;

behold, now is the acceptable time, behold, now is the day of salvation.

2 Corinthians 6: 2

 

Most of us experience times of questioning and wondering about the timing of certain decisions and about the best way to proceed through various situations that we encounter. God has equipped all of us with an inquisitive mind and with the ability to discern what is right so that we can make wise and informed decisions; however, there are also many times when we need to operate from a perspective of trust in our Lord and simply do what is right and demonstrate what His righteousness looks like in our world.

 

When we hit the point where our need for spiritual life exceeded our will to push on without God’s direct and personal involvement in our lives, God was there with a heart that listened to every urgent cry and that counted each of our tears as precious. At that point in our life journeys, Christ was ready to accept our surrender and to provide us with the purifying blood of His sacrifice so that we were made perfectly righteous in God’s eyes.

 

Now we are the ones who are called upon by the Lord to live as if that cleansing were our total reality; we are to behave as if everyone that we meet is in that same spiritually dead state, and we are to seek to live in a manner that makes every breath that we take an expression of the saving grace of Christ. Today is the day to live with your heart lifted up by your confidence in the saving grace of Christ; this is the time when your life will matter for the eternity of another, for this can be the day of salvation for someone that you will meet.

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Behold, we count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.

James 5: 11

 

Does the sort of endurance that God counts as worthy of His blessing require that life be lived in some form of perfect obedience and complete submission to Him? I hope not, for I take too many side trips and seem to have a continual need to head off in my own direction; thus, there are all of these scrapes and bruises on my body and all of this damage that has been done to the world around me from my poor navigation and stubborn disobedience.

 

Rather, the Lord seems to value, understand, and appreciate the way that we respond to these times of wandering. He is always ready to redirect those errant steps, God provides the map back to righteous ground, and His Spirit helps us understand how to avoid the same poor decisions in the future. Endurance involves recognizing the truth of God’s commitment to me, accepting the Lord’s grace which is expressed in compassion and mercy, and seeking His wisdom in order to live in the center of His will in the future.

 

It seems that endurance also involves taking the gifts that God has given to me by way of His acceptance and love and allowing those attitudes to become the ones that prevail as I interact with others. The Lord does not desire to be the sole source of compassion and mercy in this world; He wants everyone who knows Him; thus, who receives His blessed gifts to relate to others in the same way. As you meet people today, this is a great time to show them the face of God.

The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;

The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

Psalm 19: 8

 

There is a right way to live that is a part of the our very created make up; yet, it is often buried so deeply beneath the layers of self determined personal code and law that it gets hidden and locked away so deeply that the ensuing thoughts and the behaviors that are their result don’t look much like those of Christ. There is a sadness, a heaviness that runs through our culture that is the result of the prevalence of this sort of human devised interaction. Our vision is clouded, and our hearts are made heavy.

 

Yet, there are answers, and there is relief from this oppression; for God has implanted a desire for truth in our hearts, and He provides its source to all who seek it. God’s hand made our world, and His law binds it together; thus, when we act in ways that are contrary to the will of the Lord, the tension and the disconnectedness that follows is nothing more than the natural outcome of acting in a manner that is contrary to the forces of true nature.

 

Peace, joy, and restoration are readily available through God’s plan for living, and His plan is clearly defined in His word and by His Spirit. When we decide to listen, He provides the insight that is needed for what we are facing today; as we allow His truth into our hearts, our thinking is changed to reflect God’s loving ways.

Behold, You delight in truth in the inward being, and You teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

Psalm 51: 6

 

God is like most loving fathers in that He delights in the characteristics of His children; this is especially true for those times in our lives when we most closely resemble our Father. Thus, when we allow truth to prevail in our lives regardless of the outcome, God’s smile is as broad as is all of the universe. The Lord implanted truth into the hearts of all people when He created us, for this is an essential part of how we were made in God’s image; so, it is up to us to respond to this basic component of our beings by allowing it to influence our lives.

 

As we open our hearts to God’s Spirit and seek to develop a relationship with Him, the Lord’s truth starts to have an ever greater influence on the decisions that we make and on the manner that we approach our interactions with others. It is in this process of growing closer to God that the innate, implanted truth of God is worked and processed into the operative component of decision making that is wisdom. Then wisdom guides us from the natural realm of self centered actions into the Lord’s desired one of self sacrifice.

 

This process of growing closer to God by allowing His Spirit the opportunity to reveal more and more of the person that He designed us to be never ceases in this life. Whether we are deeply committed to living in the center of God’s eternal truth or if we are still rejecting most of it, we have only begun to probe the actual depths of understanding. The person who makes silly and harmful life choices on a daily basis needs to get to know the author of wisdom, and so does the person who lives most of life in the center of the Lord’s will. The fact that I still have miles and miles to travel in gaining in understanding of God’s truth and in learning to apply His wisdom is strangely comforting, for God makes this life a great adventure of discovery and growth, and He is continually delighted with me when I choose to travel through my day with Him.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

James 1: 5

 

There is almost a note of challenge in this “if” expression, for should I answer that I have it all, in other words that my wisdom vial is all filled up, thank you anyway, then I am probably labeling myself as a fool; since, absolute and total wisdom belong to God alone. This thought also causes me to consider if I have all the wisdom that I need for what I am doing and have going on in my life at this moment; again, the Lord is quick to show me how little of it all I truly get and how much of a difference His grasp on matters can make in my success and in the real quality of my life.

 

The way that God hands out His wisdom and leads me to the understanding of life that comes out of it is one of the most special aspects of knowing Him. The Lord isn’t like most people and He certainly isn’t like me, for we tend to make a big deal out of sharing our special insights and leading others to the profound truths of the universe that are stored away in our brains; people become overbearing, condescending, and seek to gain an advantage over others through the use and the manipulation of knowledge; yet, all of these anti relational ways of interacting with others are unwise from God’s perspective. In contrast, God holds out His hand and says that here is a gift; let me bless your day with all that you need to serve me well and to bring my presence into the lives of others.

 

As for myself, and I speculate that this is true for all of us, I can change the conditional “if” of this verse into an absolute “when”, and I need to add that the time for my need for God’s wisdom is always. The Lord grants me total access to His understanding of every situation, circumstance, and condition that I encounter in my day; also, God uses this learning process as a way of showing me what righteousness looks like; thus, He brings me closer to Him through it all. When I seek God’s wisdom, I am opening up myself to the wondrous, transformational, and restorative work that He desires to do in my heart and in my mind.

For ground that drinks the rain that often falls upon it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God.

Hebrews 6: 7

 

It is the goal of the horticulturist who is working in the controlled environment of a hot house to provide the artificial equivalent of rain in just the right amount and sun that is sufficient to balance the moisture and to bring the soil up to the perfect temperature for growth. This is done through careful planning, consideration of the needs of the specific plant species that are being cultivated, and continual attention to the way that the crops are responding. When all goes well, the result is a great abundance of healthy and productive plants and a room that is filled with the bright colors and sweet fragrance of their flowers and an abundance of the fruit and vegetables that are a joy to look at and a pleasure to eat.

 

We are like the soil that was placed into the pots in that hot house, for God created each of us with the perfect blend of everything that we will need to accomplish His purposes in our lives; then, we are set into an environment where that purpose can be fulfilled. There is no error in our composition or in our location; since, who we are and where we are living are perfect for today’s growth processes. Our part in all of this is marked by receptivity; we need to allow the rain that is provided by God the opportunity to soak into us, and we must allow His radiance the opportunity to shine on us so that we are warmed and purified. While we are in these seasons of growing, there will be times when the Lord will pull the weeds that we have allowed to grow in our environment, and He will also prune away the parts of us that are not productive.

 

The difference that exists between us and the grower’s plants is that we can choose how we respond to what the gardener seeks to do with and for us. We can harden ourselves and cause the rain to run off, we can shut out the sun and remain chilled in our souls, and we are able to even attempt to change which gardener works in our lives; however, there is still only one way for us to live that will produce an abundance of fruit. We need to embrace the gifts that God gives to us every day, delight in the person that He has designed each of us to be, and surrender our wills to His greater wisdom; then, the Lord will fill our worlds with the sweet fragrance and the rich flavor of His blessings.

Once God has spoken; twice I have heard this; that power belongs to God.

Psalm 62: 11

 

Most of us spend a considerable amount of time, much of our energy, and often large sums of money in seeking after things that promise to give us position, strength, value, and significance; ultimately, the end objective of all of this effort might be summed up as the pursuit of power. We are born into this life as totally dependant beings, and we grow, develop, and gain knowledge in order to establish our Independence, and this is the way that God designed us, and it is how He intends for us to be; yet, as we gain in this state of free-standing existence, we should also increase in our understanding of our basic need for a balancing dependence on God.

 

There is nothing wrong with physical strength and cultivating a healthy body; in fact, God tells us to take care of ourselves; additionally, the Lord wants us to grow in our knowledge and to develop our minds; so, education is truly worth seeking after. Occupation and career, our appearances and clothing, and homes are all gifts that God gives to us; thus, they are all good and worthy things. However, when any or all of these become the source for our sense of worth, are the way that we establish our authority and gain respect, or become the primary point of focus for our lives; then, we are missing the true point that God is making, and this is why He needs to repeat Himself.

 

The Lord has always delivered a consistent and unchanging message. He is the Creator of all, He is the source of everything that is worthy, and He will provide each of us with what we need to flourish and to live gloriously victorious lives. Thankfulness and humility are the starting point for understanding God’s view of successful living; then, as we seek His will, wisdom, and direction for this day, the Lord will empower us to live it in the full expression of His promise.

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