May 2010

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever.

Psalm 111: 10

This verse from Psalm 111 starts off with one of the most repeated expressions of faith that is found in the Old Testament; it means that it is essential to have a level of respect, reverence, and awe for God that recognizes Him as the foundation, the creative initiator, of all that stands up over time as wise in this universe. We can not hope to think, believe, and act wisely if we do not begin to look toward God as the one who brings true wisdom into clear view and focus.

The Lord wants us to model after His approach to acting on this wisdom; for, He is never still, silent, or absent; God is continually engaged with His Creation, and He is especially involved with His people. Likewise, God wants us to seek wisdom; then, He wants us to use it. I believe that the concept of commandments as expressed here is much broader than any formalized list; I believe that everything that the Lord has told us about living in His word, through His Spirit, and by the gathered understanding that is developed by His body equates to God’s commandments.  We are to be people who seek to act wisely from God’s perspective, and we are to be people who demonstrate His wisdom in this world through the way that we fearlessly love others.

People who know the Lord intimately and follow Him passionately bring great joy to God’s heart, for they bring Him into daily contact with multitudes of others, and they are tangible sources of the sort of loving wisdom that everyone needs in order to live in peace and with real joy. The greatest form of worship that we can give to God is expressed by lives that are lived in a state of actively seeking His wisdom in all things, and we praise the Lord when we take that wisdom and make it the foundation of the way that we treat others.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, for He cares for you.

1 Peter 5: 6, 7

When I look at how hard I work to hold onto my fears, concerns, and anxieties, I am amazed. My mind continually goes back to these familiar old scripts where the behaviors that I exhibit are damaging, counter productive, and even harmful; yet, these scenarios are the text of my life, and they have been constructed over time to form a very comfortable shell that surrounds my heart and my mind and that keeps me from straying too far into the risky waters of fundamental change. God sees this behavior as arrogance and as a form of pride.

By holding onto ways of thinking and behaviors that have proven to be unproductive in the past and by continuing to grasp them as if they were my greatest treasures, I am saying to God that I know better than He how I should live my life, and I am demonstrating to those around me that when I say that I trust God and that I desire to follow His will that what I really mean is that I do these things only to the extent and so far as my own definitions of what is safe and acceptable will allow me to venture. Unfortunately, this way of living is self-centered and hypocritical, and it shuts me out of experiencing the full extent of the wondrous blessing that God has in mind for me.

The answer to all of this seems to lie in no longer being concerned about what others will think about me or about my own sense of my short comings or weaknesses; God’s answer for me is found in the extravagant love that He has for me and through the moment by moment reality of His care for me. When I stop looking at myself and start focusing on God’s face, I see the way that His Spirit envelops me, and I hear the reassuring words of His counsel directing me to step forward and to engage the adventure that He has prepared for me in this life. Lord, God, I pray that as I go through this day I will continue to cast away the spirit of anxiety that keeps my eyes focused on myself and that I will continually gaze upon Your face and follow your path into glory.

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than a two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and the intentions of the heart.

Acts 4: 12

Here it is, friends and neighbors, the ultimate household tool! There is nothing else that you will ever need to own in order to take care of all of those difficult, messy, and seemingly impossible tasks that you encounter during the preparation of that meal that is life. The next thing that we might expect to hear is the easy payment plan and the extra value added items that we will receive if we act now. That is about the point when this parallel between hundreds of infomercials and this Holy Spirit inspired statement of truth breaks down; for, there is no amount of money that we can send that will begin to pay for what has already been purchased for us by Christ, and there is absolutely nothing else that we will need to make the relationship complete beyond what God has already gifted and delivered to us.

The word of God came into existence through the actions of the Holy Spirit, and its words remain actively viable throughout all of time through the presence of that same Spirit in the hearts and the minds of people who read the words. The words and the books that they are printed in are not sacred, and the translations of the words, although these are usually the product of people who are passionately committed to presenting God’s word in forms that are accurate and accessible, are not to be worshiped; yet, the life and the clarity of the truth that is found within the word is sacred, for that is where the Spirit of God communicates with the minds of people in order to make these words a vitally important part of the on-going dialogue that is at the center of our relationship with God.

The word of God will answer every question that we have in life, and it does respond to each of our individual situations with the sort of honest insight that cuts through all of the surface issues and distractions, and with the precision of the finest cutting tool ever made, the sharp edge of truth exposes the real issues that our heart and mind need to be focusing on; then, the Spirit will provide us with a type of understanding that brings righteous thought and action into view. The Spirit also has this annoying habit of showing me the intentions of my heart; for then, as I give up my futile thinking, He has cleaned away the last remnants of the fatty waste that sin has formed in my thinking, and this precise tool that is the word of God has given to me the ability to enter more fully into the great feast that is the Lord’s banquet of life.

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