January 2010

The Lord bless you from Zion, and may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life.

Psalm 128: 5

There seem to be a lot of days when thoughts about all that needs to get done and everything that is still outstanding on my list of important activities gets in the way of actually getting to where I need to be during my day. Additionally, I struggle with keeping that target in view, or maybe, I have a problem with identifying the true target; either way, I can expend a lot of energy and still not be able to lay my head on the pillow that night with a sense of satisfied accomplishment.

Yet there exists a perspective on my life that is clear and that will lead me to expend my energy and to focus the passions of my heart in the right direction, for the Lord views me, my life, and the details of it from His vantage point and with His clarity of vision. Additionally, God is neither distant nor uninvolved; He wants to share His vision for my life with me, and He desires for me to experience the joyous blessings that living each day in the center of His will brings. For God has a mission, a purpose, and a plan for each of the days of my life, and these have very little to do with the lists of important activities that I typically create.

Therefore, I need to set aside my calendar and put down the post-it note pad that I use to write out my lists of important things to accomplish; then, I need to seek God’s face by reading His word and through conversation with Him. As I listen to God speak to me, His clear vision for what matters and for how to get it all done becomes apparent; also, the Lord opens my eyes so that I can see the beauty, the riches, and the glory that He has filled my life with. When God creates the to do list, the burden of accomplishing it is truly light, and the day ends with joyous anticipation of tomorrow.  


Holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession.

Hebrews 3: 1

The ability to see a picture or to have something demonstrated is often the best way to learn a new skill, to change an old habit, or to understand a different concept. Jesus is our perfect demonstration of what life should look like, and He gave us a complete picture of the way that He lived so that we can more readily grow in our understanding and application of the righteousness that God calls all of His children to follow.

When we need to love an unlovely person, look at Jesus; when we are faced with pain and hurt, look at Jesus; when life seems cruel and unjust, look at Jesus. He shows us how we should respond to oppression in our world and in our own lives, and Christ provides us with the answers to all of our most troubling questions and concerns. Jesus experienced it all, and His Spirit caused all of His experience to be set down for us in His word; then, that same Spirit talks to our hearts to explain how these events that took place 2,000 years ago are even more valuable and pertinent today then ever before.

If you are in Christ, you are in this life with God, and the Lord, God Almighty of the Universe, is in your life with you. He loves you totally; He leads your steps through this day; and He counsels, corrects, praises, strengthens, and supports you in everything. Turn to the Lord with praise and worship throughout every day, for He is the only true High Priest of your life’s journey, and His truth, which is based upon real life experiences, will take you through this day with heart-deep peace and joy.

In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.

1 Corinthians 8: 37

This is a short and sweet thought that is so very hard to accept as a moment by moment, always operative principle of living in a relationship with God. This is the goal that God had in mind for all people when He committed Jesus to become the sacrifice that would bridge the gap between us and Himself. Sin entered our world, became a part of our DNA, and continues to corrupt the perfection of Creation. Christ grants everyone the opportunity to defeat all of those influences and to be reborn, transformed, and to live in His victory.

People need to recognize the victory that is already theirs. That doesn’t mean that there are not hard days and very real trials in the lives of those who follow Christ and who love Him, for there will be hardships and difficulties that can be painful beyond imagining; yet, even the worst of these days are a part of Christ’s victory. By knowing who we are as children of God, understanding that every moment of our lives has a purpose that He has given to us, and trusting in Him to provide the strength and the encouragement that we need to live joyously despite what is happening to us, we can claim the Lord’s victory in our daily lives.

For me, I need to continuously look at the nature of Christ’s victory; it is overwhelming, for there is no close score, no split decision, and no question or doubt about the outcome; He has defeated all of the forces of sin and the death sentence that it brought to all people. As I start my day, as I reach its mid point, and as it is finished, I can keep my eyes focused on my own status as a child of the Living God who has been granted the status of a total, indisputable, and absolute overwhelming conqueror by the love that Christ has for me.

I will set no worthless thing before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not fasten its grip on me.

Psalm 101: 3

This is a purpose statement that is rather broad and sweeping in its content and intent. At first glance it seems to very limiting in that it applies a definition of worth onto an individual’s entire world, and it sets value on everything that we allow into our lives. There is also a direct statement about attitude toward certain people that could become very narrow and even harsh. If we are to take David’s thoughts and apply them to our lives, we will require the ability to discern worth and to understand the human heart, and these are core actions of the Spirit of God in the life of everyone who knows Him and who listens to His voice.

As I open my heart to the Spirit and really look at the content of my life from His perspective, the scene that plays before my eyes can be troubling, for a lot of the worthlessness that comes into my path is placed there by my own hand or is allowed into my sight by my unwillingness to stand strong for what is righteous and good by relying on the courage that Christ gives to me. Also, the falling away is too often the result of my feet walking away from the center of God’s will; thus, I become my own bad influence. David knew all about these challenges to living in the joy, peace, and righteousness of God’s calling, and He provides us all with the hope of his understanding of God’s victory in our lives.

Like David we each need to determine two things and own one truth. We can control what we allow into our minds so that the thoughts and the images that will distract us and that will confuse us can be eliminated; also, we can choose to trust Christ and the leading of His Spirit with determining our path through each day, and we can allow them to be our continual filter of what is true and what is worthy. Finally, we need to accept the promise of God that He will never let go of His children, His grip is unbreakable; so, no matter where I have strayed or what I have done, the Lord will restore my heart and my mind. This is God’s eternal promise.

Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know me, Phillip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how do you say, ‘Show us the Father?'”

John 14: 9

There are a number of concepts that I have encountered in the course of living that are vague or mysterious, and there are some things that come my way that are just simply hard for me to understand. For me these include a number of math principles, plumbing connections, and most of my attempts to learn languages other than English. Yet, I am afraid that there are too many times when I operate a lot like Phillip and want some sort of proof and clarification of who God is and what He desires from me before I will trust that knowledge to the level that I just live like my Lord is real and that all He says in His word applies directly and specifically to me.

Our relationship with Christ is a faith journey, for we are asked by God to trust that everything that He tells us is true and that He is the agent for making it all happen. People are more comfortable with things that we control and in situations where we are the agents of our own destinies; since our self directed and determined nature is a result of the disease that is caused by sin, God calls us to accept this most basic of changes in our natures when He brings us into a relationship with Him. As we grow in our ability to let go of the old self anchors that we hold onto for comfort and for security and gain in our ability to trust the truths about ourselves that God reveals through His Spirit, we gain greatly in our understanding of God.

This is the perfect time to let go of one of those old ways of thinking and to release my grip on an aspect of my life so that Christ can grasp hold of my hands and show me His far superior way to go about the business of this day. This process of trusting the Lord with all of my life is an ongoing one that requires me to continually seek God’s will, and it requires me to purposefully set aside my apprehensions, pre conceptions, and the safety net of self and accept the far greater life that I always find in Christ.

I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide;

I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”; and You did forgive the guilt of my sin.

Psalm 32: 5

My far too human capacity to think and to act in ways that are far from righteous, in other words, my ability to sin, is an unfortunate part of the person that I still am. It is possible to be engaged in an experience of deep, personal worship of God at one moment and then to have thoughts or to take actions that are hurtful, selfish, and contrary to who my Lord has called me to be. Despite the fact that God knows this about me and about all people, He continues to love us, and He doesn’t become frustrated with us to the point that He gives up on us.

What the Lord does want us to do is to talk with Him; He is always patiently waiting to hear the voices of our hearts calling out to Him with an expression of our understanding that the way that we are living is sinful. There is nothing that is too small an issue, and there is certainly nothing that is too great, for the grace that was perfected by Christ is total, absolute, and all encompassing. Additionally, it is rather irrational to try to hide the dark aspects of our lives from God; since, He knows it all, anyway. What God does want from us is for us to recognize our need for forgiveness; then, our hearts are opened to the change that His Spirit will work in them, the weight of the hurt and the pain that these actions cause others can be lifted, and deep healing will begin.

The question for me is not what have I done that is sinful; rather, it is what am I trying to hold onto as a secret from God, and why am I still pretending that He doesn’t already know? We all need to open our hearts to the Lord and allow Him to see our deepest selves from our own viewpoint. God will forgive us completely, and He will lift the disabling guilt of the sin from us. Once the barriers of secrecy are gone, it becomes possible to work on healing the harm to our selves and to others that the sin is causing, and this sort of healing brings us and those involved on step closer to living inside of Christ’s perfect peace and joy.

Did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?

James 2: 5

Poverty can be overwhelming, for when we look at images of the people who are living in the poorest of conditions from across the world and from right next door to us, it is hard not to feel a sense of just how oppressive that condition is. There are other forms of poverty beyond those that are dictated by financial condition and by social status that can be equally challenging for us. When the bank account that contains our savings of faith, trust, and hope has been drained by either the long term effects of constantly drawing from it without a plan for replacing what has been removed or when something happens that is so enormously costly that all of our reserves are gone in a moment, we can be knocked to the ground and left with a sense of being near to bankruptcy.

These are the times in life when all of the things that have held us up and that have provided the cushion of confidence that we have come to rely upon have either failed us or have suddenly become very fragile. In these days we find that youth, health, human love, education, position, and community status are all things which can be taken from us in a moment; then, we are left to look to other sources for the underpinnings that keep us from falling into the depths of depression and under the oppression of doubt. This is the answer that Christ gives to us, for when all else and everyone else fails us, He stands with us, and in these times of deepest poverty, the Spirit of God brings the riches of all creation into our lives.

When the darkness that surrounds our heart seems to be too heavy for anything to penetrate it and we are at the bottom of that well known as despair, there is a source of light and there is a way out. As we pour out our pain to God and look into the truth of His word, He starts to bring hope into focus. The Lord has a track record of taking people who are in desperate situations and providing them with His presence, comfort, encouragement, strength, and practical solutions. In our days of deepest poverty, Christ actively seeks to honor our love for Him by filling us to overflowing with the riches of His kingdom.

There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.

Ephesians 4: 4-6

People sometimes think that faith is something that we exercise at specific times or under certain circumstances. We believe that God is involved in this aspect of our life or that it is important to take Him along for that conversation; we seek His intervention when the thing that we are facing is too big or too frightening to handle on our own. We may try to say that the routine of our day is too trivial for us to involve God with, or we may just not even consider that it matters to seek spiritual influence and guidance for some of the areas of our lives. Yet, it seems that Paul saw his life in a rather different way.

There is nothing that people do or that we are involved with in our life that does not have the hand of God hovering over it. Whether we like it or not and regardless of our comfortability or our desire for the involvement, the lives that we live belong to God; thus, we can choose to seek His wisdom, guidance, and strength; or we can do it our own way and hope that ours way is good enough. Regardless of our choice, the Lord will be with us, and He is prepared to enter into the process of the life that we are living at any time. In Christ we are all unified into one organism, bound together by the Spirit of God; we become individuals who are intimately connected to other individuals, and we all, individually and collectively, are joined together in Christ.

When we take any part of our lives and try to live it without involving God in it, we are diminishing our own prospect of success, and when we go off on our own and do not engage with the faith body that is around us, we are denying ourselves the use of a powerful resource, and we are decreasing the strength of our community. Christ calls us into unity, into community, and into an all encompassing and ever present faith journey through life.

And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into the world, that those who do not see may see; and that those who see may become blind.”

John 9: 39

Perhaps this is overly simplistic, but there seem to be two basic ways of viewing a personal relationship with God; in one, the person lacks an awareness of who God is and of how He works in this world and, more specifically, of how He seeks to relate to each of us. In the other, the person believes that he or she already possesses all the knowledge and understanding of God that are required and that there is no need for any change in these beliefs; this is essentially an attitude of self control, determination, and reliance. Fortunately, God understands both of these perspectives, and He seeks to communicate truth to all of us regardless of where we are coming from.

From my own experience, these states of being at times blinded to the truth and at other times overly confident in my own understanding and application of it continue throughout life; although, I have known Christ and have been seeking to live in an intimate relationship with Him for a very long time, there are times when I still need to apply His healing mud to my sin obscured eyes, and there are others when I need to have the Spirit of Christ grab me by the shoulders and shake the delusional thinking from my mind. The extraordinary thing about God is that He will continue to do both of these things for me for as long as I need Him to, and He never stops seeks to bring all people into a place of sound, solid, and complete understanding of His loving truth.

It is true that Christ came into this world in order to judge our sinfulness; however, the story doesn’t stop there, for He also came in order to bring healing and restoration to our wounded souls. For people who do not know Him, Jesus removes the blindness from their eyes and lets the light of relationship with God into their hearts, and for those who do know Him, Jesus is the answer to our need for ongoing guidance and direction in order to navigate the dangerous path that is the landscape of this life. Like He did with the blind man and the Pharisees, Jesus asks each of us to trust Him for our vision, to open our hearts to His truth, and to follow the path that He sets before us.

Faithful is He who calls you, and He will bring it to pass.

1 Thessalonians 5: 24

Everyone faces issues and challenges that are hard to deal with. There are the long standing personal characteristics and traits that continue to plague us, and the issues of sin that are wound around our hearts and minds in a manner that makes them resist our best intentions and our genuine desire to change. The hard to win battle may be wrapped in a seemingly impenetrable covering of fear, doubt, and uncertainty, or it might be anchored by the hardened cement of our stubbornness. However, whatever it is that is causing you to hesitate to commit fully to Christ, to trust Him absolutely with everything, or to release your grip on the remnants of your old way of thinking and acting; God has an answer for it, and He will do all of the hard transformational work for you.

All that the Lord requires of us is that we be willing; He wants us to desire the change and to seek the relationship with the change agent; that is, with His Spirit. As we become open to the need for a new or a different way of viewing various aspects of our lives and we allow God access to those areas of our hearts and minds, His Spirit will start to change us, and this change will always be for the better. The Lord never requires us to give up something that He doesn’t replace with something far greater, and He always stays with us all the way through the process. 

This all starts with accepting Christ as the One who makes that crucial difference; the difference between life and death, and the difference between futility and fulfillment in this life. Then, once we are engaged in that relationship, true living can begin; for then, the Spirit of God becomes engaged with us in molding our hearts into ones that function more and more like God’s, and He provides us with the direction, process, and strength to make these changes. The Lord calls us to live a life that is full of promise, hope, and joy, and He will make it all real for anyone who desires to allow the needed change.

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