July 2011


And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments; this is the commandment,
just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.

2 John 6

From time before the creation of the world, through every moment of existence, and until
all of God’s design is complete and perfected, the singular thread that runs
through and forms the structural strength of it all is God’s love. He loved
each and every one of us before any of our ancestors waked on this earth. God
continues to love us through every breath that we draw; and all people who come
to accept His love will continue to experience it for a period of time that is
immeasurable in its length and in its breadth.

God’s righteous order for living is based upon His love for us. He asks us to care
deeply and to give greatly to others in His name and for His sake. For when
this happens, people have an opportunity to see the true character of God in
terms that are accessible and understandable; thus, they get God’s love
delivered by someone who is clothed in skin. Christ wants us to enter into a
civil and a respectful form of engagement and discourse with each other; He
desires for us to approach rather than avoid, and He leads us to care for
others regardless of what they may look like or how they might act toward
us.

People when we are operating out of our own devices, tend to gather together in order
to gain power and control. We tend to oppress and destroy. Christ brings us
together in His will, to follow His way, and to share His love so that people’s
lives and their souls can be cared about and for. The Lord asks that I do the
following things. Think of someone who I struggle to like, and pray for
Christ’s love to come through me to that person. Consider someone who I should
love greatly but am struggling with, and take God’s love to that person. Open
the back corner of my heart to Christ, and allow His love access to that area
of myself that I have been hiding and withholding. From the beginning of every day
to the end of all days, God wants to walk with us with His loving arm around
us, His love filling our hearts, and that love spread into His
creation.

 

The Mighty One, God the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to
its setting.

Psalm 50: 1

Song, prayer, joyous greeting, tears, dancing, raising of hands, reading God’s word,
teaching its truths, and learning through the Spirit’s touch are all a part of
a time that we call worship. God delights in the times that His children gather
together and share with each other the expression of our relationship
with Him. There is something very special and truly wondrous in the way
that God’s voice is heard in the gathering of His people. There is also
something that is truly incomparable about the way that the Lord makes Himself
known as He speaks.

God speaks to everyone; He provides the essential knowledge of who He is and of how
He desires to meet the most fundamental and the most profound
needs that we all have. Still, God speaks through people; He gives every
one of His children understanding, knowledge, and wisdom to share, and the Lord
directs us to interact with each other in ways that bring us closer together as
people and that open up our hearts and our minds to the needs and to the
possibilities that exist in our communities.

Whether the gathering is with one or with many hundreds, God delights in it. He is present
in a time of silent prayer and meditation and in a room filled with raucous
shouting of praises to our Lord, and His joy can fill the room. Although God
enjoys the artistic expression of our love for Him, He doesn’t
actually care if the floor of our worship hall is made of mud and the walls are
falling down or non-existent. All of the beauty and the splendor that are
required by the presence of a king are provided by the King,
Himself. Every bit of decoration that God wants to see in our worship
halls is found in the hearts of His people. God is not impressed with the
things that we build, for His joy is with us. So, come and gather,
leave isolation and individualism behind, join together in praise and
worship of the Savior of your soul and the protector of your heart. Strength,
comfort, and family are found in the gathering of God’s
people.

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong
support to those whose heart is blameless toward Him.

2 Chronicles 16: 9

There are many people who claim that God is either passive or non-existent, that He has
no relevance in this world, and that He is unnecessary. Others believe that the
only god that anyone needs is to be found inside of themselves; thus, each
individual is the master of his own universe and is totally equipped
to do and to handle everything alone. I find all of these perspectives to
be frightening, incredibly lonely, and disastrously wrong. I have learned that
my strongest and most capable times are ones when I am yielding my will to
God’s and when I allow Him to work with and through me. It is also true that
God doesn’t just passively wait for things to happen; He is with me, He goes
before me, and He protects my back. The Lord is a very real presence throughout
my world for every hour of each day.

Now consider what it means to be blameless. I am not close to perfect, and my heart
is certainly not always aligned with God’s will. Too much of the time my
thoughts and actions are no where near to righteous; yet, I know that God sees
me as blameless, as forgiven of everything. Jesus has paid for all of my evil
ways, and God sees Christ’s perfection when He looks at my weakness. The
Spirit of Christ goes with me through everything and guides me toward His will,
and His will is perfect, too.

Perhaps the most important word in this ancient verse is “strong”, for that
is what God brings to me. He gives me strength, He makes my frail will mighty,
and He gives my cloudy thinking clarity. There is no partial or conditional
involvement from the Lord. He is fully invested in our lives, and He
is totally committed to us forever. Grant God access to your heart, to
your concerns, and to your plans; He will continually fill you with His
strength.

 

Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate.

Amos 5: 15

God deals with us in a fair and a just manner; that may not always be what we would like
to see happen, for there certainly are times when I would prefer to just
get away with one; yet, God makes it clear to me that He knows what I am
about and that He does not always approve of it, either. Christ is truly at war
with evil in this world, and He is fierce, unceasing, and unstoppable in
fighting against evil’s attempts to capture the hearts of people and to destroy
our lives.

Soldiers who are in intense combat situations often have a hard time separating the
cause that they are fighting against from the people who are shooting at them;
in fact, it is not really possible to do this. On the other hand, God does
discriminate between the people who allow themselves to become agents for evil
and Satan who has deceived them into giving allegiance to his cause and
into acting out of that affiliation. Christ has made it possible for grace,
forgiveness, mercy, and restoration to be available to everyone who recognizes
their need for a Savior and accepts Him.

Christ wants us to follow His lead in the ways that we deal with people and in how we
assess their behaviors. His goal is to open people’s eyes to what they are
thinking, believing, and doing so that they can see the way that evil is
twisting and perverting truth in order to control them. God desires to be
allowed into the hearts of all people and to fill those hearts with His
love so that they can, in turn, love others with the self-sacrificing love
of Christ.

When we establish God’s justice as the filter over the gate to our hearts and our
minds, we allow Christ to be the One who judges people, and we are granted the
wisdom to discriminate between the evil that has captured a person’s
heart and that person, who God loves totally. This is not easy to do; yet, the
more we are able to fight our battles against evil, itself, and against the
deception and anger that it causes, the more we are able to show Christ’s love
to the people that we are engaged against. This is freeing for us,
and it can be life changing for others.

 

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 1: 1

Creation involves a beautiful and complex series of actions that were taken by God. It
happened in a remarkably orderly and incredibly powerful series of events. I
think that it all had one primary purpose. That wasn’t to demonstrate God’s
ability, capability, or might, and it wasn’t done because, like the puppet
master, He wanted to gain total control over this world. God already was in
control, and He didn’t and doesn’t need to demonstrate His abilities to
anyone.

My belief is that God created this world for me. He had a plan for this world and for all
that surrounds it, and that plan was formed around His concept of the
people that He would create to be His companions. This world was designed in
order to provide all of us with a place to live that would meet our needs and
provide us with a suitable context for our lives. This world is God’s well
thought out gift to His children.

Every mountain and each river was envisioned by the Creator to serve our needs and to
give us pleasure. The Lord wants us to delight in this world; the challenge for
us comes when we stop seeing God’s face when we look upon this world and we
start to focus on the creation itself. When that happens, our worship tends to
shift to nature and to the works of people and away from the Lord of Creation.
Instead we need to keep thanking God for all that He has given to us, marvel at
the intricate detail of His workmanship, and seek out His guidance in our
approach to caring for this world. Every blade of grass and every bird in the
sky is here as a result of God’s design. We need to delight in His love
for us when we see them, and we should love and care for each of them just as
He does.

 

Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.

Hebrews 10: 24

Sometimes God speaks to us in simple terms, and at other times, He lays His thinking out
in complex expressions. Here is a really simple statement that says a lot, for
it speaks about some of the most important aspects of living as a Christian.
When God asks me to consider something, I think that He is saying to slow down,
take time, and allow Him to talk it over with me. The Lord wants me to discuss
the idea. Often it seems that He really wants to dialogue about the people that
are on my mind. The Father wants to give me an opportunity to truly understand
His children while He is helping me to know that He absolutely gets who I am
and where I am in life. This is the heart of prayer, conversation with God that
leads me to grasp His viewpoint, to embrace His approach to living, and to
become ever closer to His love for me.

Jesus’ primary motivation for all that He did was to love people; He gave everything
so that we could begin to understand God’s total love for us. The most
important thing that God calls upon His people to do is the same, for He wants
us to love others and to love them with the same totality of our beings that
Christ brings to His relationship with us. The Lord desires for me to be a
person who brings love to the people that I encounter. In order to do this, I
need to be confident and secure in my relationship with Christ; then, I can
open my heart to give to others, and that is one of the most important ways
that people are also compelled to give to others the deep care and concern that
is motivated by Christ’s love.

Living well, doing good, is an expression of love, for this is the motivation that
makes the things that we do offerings of worship to God. Love is what prevents
us from doing good so that we can look holy and righteous in order to gain
respect and praise from people. This gets back to the idea of being confident
and secure in how God views me; then, I don’t need the praise of people,
and I can serve them as a form of truly fulfilling God’s wish to love
and to care for them. Deep, intimate, and personal conversation with
God leads to an openness of the heart, and an open heart is receptive
to loving others as God does. That love is the source for every good thing
that we will do. When we follow this path, others will be motivated to do
the same, for the ultimate expression of God’s love in my life is to lead
someone else to the One who first loved me.

 

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit in me.

Psalm 51: 10

Heart disease is a killer, both men and women die from it every day, and entire
floors of hospitals are devoted to its treatment. There are drugs, diets,
exercise programs, and stress management plans that are intended to increase
heart health and to overcome the existing bad effects of our lifestyles. This
is all good stuff; God wants us to take care of our bodies; yet, none of
this deals with the most fundamental of issues. When people do not know
God on a personal basis, when they have not surrendered their minds and
hearts to Him, their orientation is toward the darkness that is evil by
nature and that creates a state of perpetual death. When we are at
this place in life, God’s response to the plea in this Psalm is to ask us to
come to Him, accept the sacrifice that Jesus made for us, and accept Him
into our lives.

After we have come to the place where we do know God on a deep and an intimate
basis, we still need to look to Him for direction, orientation, and the
strength to live in a righteous manner. It is as if our
arteries begin to become blocked by the build-up of plaque that is the
result of misdirection, selfish ambition, hurtful interaction, and lustful
desires. Our heart muscles are weakened by the stress of attacks by evil,
and our best intentions for preventative exercise and for consuming a
healthy diet for the soul are subverted.

The first step to take in seeking to rebuild a healthy heart comes by recognizing
the need. We need to talk with God about the issues and the aspects of life
that are distracting us from looking Him squarely in the face; share the pain
and the frustration that is creating stress; and allow the voice of
the Lord access to our minds and to our hearts so that truth can drive out the
misinformation that Satan has been planting there.

Like all life style change and improvement programs, this process takes time, and it
won’t always go perfectly. In my experience, the unfortunate aspect of all
of this is that I am the one who makes the decisions about following the
health plan, and I continually follow the path of much of humanity and
have a bad track record of inconsistency. The best aspect of it all is that God
never quits on me. He always puts me back on the program, and when
the heart-felt pains that result from my inattention come back,
the Lord eases the guilt and the sorrow, and He even helps me
lift my tired feet to start me on my heart muscle strengthening walk with
Him.

 

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