July 2011


Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.

1 John 4: 4b

This is a statement to delight in, to cling onto, and to claim as personal reality. This
is a fact of living in relationship with Christ that establishes the platform
for victory over every evil thing that can and that will come your way. The
point of convergence of these two absolutely contrastive and opposing forces,
God verses evil, is the flash point in the on-going struggle between
the Lord and Satan. Like the collision that happens at the end of a full speed,
head to head charge of two rams, the collision that results can seem to shake
the earth.

The good news is that the spirit of Christ is infinitely mightier than any and all
forces that Satan can bring forth. At times evil seems to be winning or at
least seems to be winning in our personal struggles; yet, this is never true.
It is an illusion, and any ground gained by evil will be taken back
several fold by God. Still, the fight, the struggle, will continue, for Satan
simply will not surrender until Jesus, in the perfect timing that only God
knows, will totally and permanently defeat him.

Until then, we need to recognize the simple truth of victory through Christ over
everything that will try to knock our spirits down. In Jesus, I win; evil
loses, and that is all I actually need to know. Even in those days when the
blows of life are hard and the painful aspects of living are crushing, I know
that I live because my Redeemer lives in me. Although the clouds of despair may
try to engulf my spirit, I am certain that the glory of the Lord will reduce
them to vapor and disperse them with His soothing breeze. The Spirit of Christ
lives in me, and because of this, I am alive, lifted up, and totally
victorious!

 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with
thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God,
which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in
Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4: 6, 7

There are days, sometimes strings of days, where the background noise in my head is the
buzzing sound of worry, concern, and anxiety. It forms an uneasy and an
unsettling sense of almost random motion inside of my body; for, it is like all
of the drops of blood in my veins have decided to seek their own, individual
courses through me and nothing is working with the harmony that it should. This
tension consumes energy and depletes focus; it makes me indecisive, and it
makes me irritable, too. This is not a pleasant feeling.

The crazy thing about this state of mind is that I know the answer; I have been in this
place before, in fact, I have been there too many times to really count. The
resolution to this sort of disabling anxiety has always been the same. Still,
my nature just seems to need to get to this place and then to stay there long
enough so that, in the end, I can’t possibly claim ownership over the
resolution. The issues that cause the concern can be specific, and they can be
general. They are singular concerns, and they are many. They may be little
things, and they may be very large; yet, their resolution is always the same.
The specific answers vary widely, but the resolution does not.

Christ tells us that we need to take our worries, concerns, and challenges to Him.
There really is no need for them to grow and to multiply until they become
anxiety, but, at least for me, that seems to be the way that I function. Maybe,
in truth, this is the way that I dysfunction; still, it is the way that I am.
Even then, God tells me to come to Him. He doesn’t judge me for my holding
on to things for longer than I really needed to; instead, He tells me
to open my heart to Him and to let go of the worry. The Lord will provide the
answers. All of the concerns, issues, and situations that can cause
my stomach to churn and my hair to turn grey have resolution in the calm
wisdom that the Lord brings to my mind and to my heart. There is nothing that
He does not go through with me, and there is nothing that He does not have an
answer for.

 

And it will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for
Him, that He might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for Him; let us be
glad and rejoice in His salvation.”

Isaiah 25: 9

Impatience just seems to go with the territory of living in these times and in our world,
for there is a fast moving and relentlessly progressive drive that infuses life
in our culture. Thus, the very idea of waiting can seem to be highly
counter-cultural. We can be made to feel like backwards thinking and culturally
irrelevant people simply because we waited for the walk symbol before starting
to cross a street.

Consider how much harder it can be to wait for answers and solutions from someone who
measures time with a clock that is calibrated to eternity. In God, we
are also dealing with someone who views relationships as important over
results, depth of interaction over quick resolution, and spiritual growth over
individual gain. The Lord says to wait, meditate on me, pray, and listen, and
He promises to give us results. God is committed to our outcomes.

It is understandably human to become concerned, worried, and frustrated when answers,
solutions, growth, and forward movement seem to be so incredibly slow to come;
yet, God tells us that there is something more important than the solution, He
wants us to understand that trust is the true foundation of our relationship
with Him. We need to trust God to be good to His word. He will save us, in the
absolute sense of our eternal souls and in this life. We can take all that
is troubling and worrisome to God, wait and listen for His resolution, and
trust the Lord to fulfill His promises; then, we are already living in the
reality of the answer.

 

The Lord shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and
there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or
crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.

Revelation 21: 4

As I have known several dear people who, in recent days,
have died after battles with painful illness and I do know several more who are
living under the oppressive pain and suffering of harsh illnesses or injuries,
the thoughts that Christ gave to John in this vision seem truly pertinent for today.
Almost everyone knows people who are in these challenging times of life or we
have been there ourselves or we are working hard at living through it all
today. In this broken and sin plagued world our own bodies will become victims
of the universal decay and collapse of a creation that God intended to be
perfect and eternal. There is simply no escaping the reality of human frailty
and mortality.

The pain that people experience during these times is very
real, and it is often devastatingly hard to endure both for the sufferer and
for those who love and care about that person. Yet, that period of endurance is
a mere moment when you contemplate the Lord’s eternity. It is a short journey
down that long and brutal road that Christ walked on His way to Golgotha and beyond as He secured and sealed our right to
freely and totally enter into the presence of God. We are granted a glimpse into
those eternal hours when God’s plan for the redemption of humanity and for the
restoration of Creation was made complete and was consecrated by Jesus’ blood.

It is my belief that in this verse Christ was giving John a
picture of the way that this world will be restored when Christ returns, and I
also believe that He was providing us with a very hopeful and encouraging look
into the new reality that His children experience when they leave this life and
enter into their eternal one. Much of the way that we people process and
understand life is based upon experience. The things that we have thought and
experienced become the overlay and the filter for evaluation and for
comprehension of virtually everything we encounter. Christ is telling us that
when we enter into His presence we will no longer have the pain and the tears
of our human lives as our basis for understanding; thus, there will be no need
for mourning. Death no longer holds us in its grasp and it no longer has any
control over our existence. In that moment when we leave this life and enter
into eternity, we are taken into the presence of Christ who is the author of all
joy, peace, and comfort. Then we are dwelling in a home where there is no more
sorrow or suffering.

But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be
fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the
lion’s mouth.

2 Timothy 4: 17

Do you feel the hot, smelly breath, hear the growl, and feel the knife-like sharpness
of the teeth; then, you are in the lion’s mouth. The heart starts to race
uncontrollably, sweat pours from the brow, and you need to decide whether to
run for your life or to just surrender to the inevitable, while hoping that the
pain will be over quickly. Life is full of lion’s mouth experiences. We are the
victims of circumstances in some of them, and we are the ones who jumped over
the protective fences and climbed into the cage with the big kitty in many of
them.

Despite my own behaviors and actions with their impulsively, unpredictability, and pure
foolishness, God stays with me. He pulls me out of the cage, He stops the bad
events, and He shows me the way to survive it all. I may still need a shower to
wash away the saliva, I may have some serious wounds that will need to heal,
and I may have a lot of relationship damage to repair, but the Lord saves
and preserves my life.

So why would God continually do this sort of thing for a silly and headstrong child
such as I? He loves me; there is no other answer that is greater than this one;
my God is the Savior of my soul and of my life. He redeemed me from evil’s
grasp so that I could spend an eternity with Him and so that I could start that
eternity now. The loving Father that is God wants all of His children to come
home, and He wants each of us to be the ones who deliver the invitations to the
homecoming. That is the primary role that we have in life here and now; this is
what God calls us to do and what he strengthens and equips us for.

Everyone has to confront lions; so, all are in need of the services of a lion
tamer. Those of us who already know Christ personally are the ones who are best
equipped to make the introductions. In Christ, we can live in the sure
knowledge that our lions have been defeated and that the love that wins that
victory is available to everyone who needs to be saved from the
destructive teeth of evil.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time
He may exalt you.

1 Peter 5: 6

We humans do not always do so well with the concept of humility; in fact, we often work
extra hard at demonstrating the many ways that we are capable, competent, and
superior to others. This approach to life is taught by our parents, teachers,
coaches, and bosses, and it is reinforced by the majority of the messages
that we hear continually in our culture. There is a place for the kind of
confidence and self-esteem that allows us to face the day with our heads held
high and to take on challenges with the idea that, when it is all done, we will
prevail. God’s word speaks frequently of the marvelous and highly capable
person that He sees when He looks at us, and the Spirit of Christ speaks to our
hearts and our minds about the wonderful truth of our glorious beauty that is
made real in and is expressed through our relationship with Him.

What Peter is talking about here is the source of our confidence and the force behind our
competence, for when it comes to us, there is a very real connection between
source, resource, and outward expression. The more that we are looking inwardly
at our own skills, intellect, and might as the reservoir of energy for
living a confident life, the more we will live that life for the glory of
ourselves. Yet, as we recognize the Lord as the true giver of strength,
wisdom, and direction, we become more Christ-like in the ways that we move
confidently through the day. As we stay closely connected to God through
His word, prayer, and meditation on Him, we do have the ability to look
inwardly; however, we are then looking to God’s Spirit within us, and that
makes all of the difference.

God’s might is not used to hold us down, and it is never oppressive; He always lifts
up, holds up, and elevates our hearts. His mighty hand never
crushes us; it protects and provides us with direction; and it holds us in
the loving embrace of a Father. God puts His arm around my
shoulder, speaks intimately to me, and sends me into life’s game with His
purpose, plan, and confidence alive in my mind and resonating through my
heart.

 

Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.

Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37: 3, 4

Sometimes where we are is where we should be, and what we are doing is the very thing
that will bring fulfillment to us and put a smile on God’s face. The job
that we have, the city where we live, and especially the relationships that we
are engaged in are usually gifts from Him. What we do with them, and how we act
while doing it are the things that we get to choose.

David is telling us that we need to embrace God’s view of life, for the Lord wants us to
trust Him enough to go deep into our world, to get to know the people who live
there, and to let them know us. When he says that we should dwell in the
land, David is telling us that God wants us to take up residence in our
world in a well invested and deeply committed manner. We need
to demonstrate our faithfulness to involvement in people’s lives.
This is the way that Christ interacts with me, and this is the way that the
Lord wants me to demonstrate Him in my community. When we bring love,
compassion, grace, and humility to our neighborhoods, we share the Lord
with our neighbors in real and understandable ways.

This all starts with trust and with focus. We need to trust God to equip and to
protect us, and we can count upon Christ to produce the outcome as we go out
into our world without the defense mechanisms that we might normally
employ. We need to turn our hearts and our minds toward Christ and
keep Him and His love clearly in view so that the real purpose and
Christ’s motivation for our actions stay continually
defined.

As we delight in the Lord and allow Him access to our hearts and as we live openly in
faith and trust in our community, God brings joy, peace, and
fulfillment to us. Also, our world will become a better place as one
person here and another there come to know the source of peace and love that
does change everything. With the Christ’s purpose in mind and His presence
in my life, this land is my perfect dwelling place.

 

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