March 2012


If a malicious witness arises to accuse a person of wrongdoing, then both parties to the dispute shall appear before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who are in office on those days.

Deuteronomy 19: 16, 17

 

If we expect that justice will prevail in our land, we need to be willing to yield its interpretation to those who know its source. God’s Law as expressed by Moses was intended to create a framework for humans to access the mind and the heart of God in the ways that we dealt with each other. The Israelites were required to transact life along in Accordance with the way that God intended for them to do it. They were to be respecters of property rights, to care about the long term impact of their actions, and to hold life as a sacred gift to be protected and nourished. They were to be a people who occupied the land on behalf of its righteous and just King.

 

The details of the judicial code have changed. The way that our societies are organized is very different. Our property rights and human rights are managed by a different system than was in place in those ancient communities. Yet, the underlying truth has been altered very little by the passage of time and through our cultural development. God still holds humanity to a standard of behavior that is above any that our legal codes consider. He continues to speak a truth to our hearts and our minds that exceeds that which our governments have created. Thus the Lord calls upon people to be bound to a commitment to justice that comes from deep within our beings. We are to be lovers of humanity who are determined to live in the center of Christ’s righteous grace.

 

Unfortunately, there is much that is broken in our world. We live in the middle of moral decay and of ethical emptiness. I think that God wants us to do something that these ancient people of Moses’ time would have done. When things were going against God’s clear will, they frequently went before God and confessed their own participation in the sin. They turned first to God and sought out His voice so that they would know what He was calling them to do to bring about the restoration of righteousness in their land. No one is without guilt. None of us are sinless in this time of world-wide sin and godlessness. It seems that God wants us on our faces in humble submission to Him. He wants us to repent and to listen for His voice. Then He desires for us to take the actions that He calls us to without regard for ourselves. We are to pray unceasingly, to love boldly, to sacrifice all of ourselves, and to seek justice for everyone. The only justice that we can anticipate and count upon starts within our hearts and culminates in Christ.

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Jesus said, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, He may give it to you.”

John 15: 16

 

Contained in these words is one of the great mysteries of the Christian faith. Although everyone is given the opportunity to accept God’s invitation, He picked you and me. He chose us, His people, and He says with all of His heart that He wants us to be with Him in every way possible. Also, for some strange reason that only God knows, He wants this to be for a period of time that starts at this moment and continues beyond the counting of days. There is something uncomfortably comforting in this thought, for I truly delight in the idea that the Creator of all is this aware of my existence; yet, this awareness requires me to respond to Him.

 

This understanding that God possesses of us is not just some sort of surface knowledge, either, like counting the items in an inventory. Christ truly gets me. He knows the thoughts that are beneath the ones that I am starting to form. He knows my most hidden secrets, and He is fully aware of the totality of my potential strength. God views my life as one that is defined by infinite and unstoppable potential, and He views your life in the same manner. God reveals His perspective to us; so, He wants us to look on other people and see what He sees.

 

Jesus picked each of us to be the objects of His love so that we can start to live in a manner that brings all of the wondrous and magnificent gifts, talents, and skills that God designed into us out into the open. Then we can have a life changing, world renewing influence on others also. As we embrace Christ’s calling and believe His words of truth about ourselves, we are granted the grace and the freedom to seek to love others and to serve Him out of that love. We are led by Christ to love others and to pray continually for their salvation and restoration. When we do this, Christ promises to us that the sweet fruit of our belief will carry on forever.

 

But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

2 Timothy 4: 5

 

These words were spoken by Paul to his disciple, Timothy. They are also directed by Jesus to His disciples, and that includes you andI.The message has not changed, and it will not ever change. We are to take the business of serving God with a seriousness that makes it the singular most important thing that we do. The challenge to this comes in the form of distractions, disillusionment, and discouragement. In these times the message that God lays on our hearts comes out in a weakened and altered form that bears little or no resemblance to the truth that Christ revealed to us.

 

Sometimes the hardships that we will need to endure come in the form of tangible fear and loss. These are times of true persecution, rejection, and danger that come our way due to our zeal for living and for sharing God’s truth. At other times, the hardships that we may need to endure are generated in our own minds. These are the times when we fear the response that we will get or when we seek to soften the message of truth that God has given to us in order to make it more palatable. When I do this I find that the sense of frustration and the degree of personal disappointment that are mine are very real hardships.

 

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if we are serving God as our occupation or not. The calling and the mandate are the same. Serving God is a full-time, all the time, never off duty type of occupation. As we know Christ, He leads us to set aside all of the things that get us off track. The Lord prompts His people to seek out His heart through reading God’s word and in prayer. The more fully we set aside our fears and concerns and sacrifice our self-interest to God’s great glory, the more He will lead us to serve the needs of others in this life and to show them the way to Christ in order to meet their eternal needs.

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh.

2 Corinthians 10: 3

 

Just in case this reality has passed you by, let me say this in very simple terms, for children of God, life is lived on a battlefield. There are traps and pitfalls, wounds to bind, fear to overcome, and an aggressive and relentless enemy who opposes us. In order to come through the day with our hearts and minds whole we need to stay close to the source of the truth that equips us for the fight, and the One who leads us through it.

 

This is where the self-reliant conditioning of a lifetime and the hard work that we have put into developing ourselves comes to odds with God’s way. When we are dealing with the routine and the human aspects of living, it may seem that this approach is more than adequate. So, logic suggests that it is only when the struggle takes on a spiritual dimension that we may need to employ God’s truth to the conflict. The flaw in this concept is that there is no aspect of life in this world that does not have a spiritual component to it. There is nothing that is exempt from the interaction of evil and from resolution through the involvement of the Spirit of Christ.

 

In order to engage the battle of life fully equipped, we must actively seek God’s truth each and every day. We need to stay covered by it as we go through the day, and keep developing the relationship with Christ that is central to loving His truth. Truth is effective, it works. As truth works in my life, I come to trust it even more; then, as my trust increases, my desire to know more of it does, too. For me the central element in this process of embracing truth; thus, the core element for living in the center of God’s victory each day is found in continually getting to know Christ on a deeper and more intimate level. The better I know Him, the more I realize and accept that His love for me is infinite and that His truth is designed to allow me to dwell in the center of that love.

 

Day and night they did not cease to say,

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.”

Revelation 4: 8b

 

Take a moment and call to mind the brightest and most glorious sunrise that you have ever seen. Consider the beauty of it and the feeling of peace that comes as the light fills your eyes and sinks into your heart. There is a sense of awe, wonder, and amazement that comes into my mind as I look on this wonder of God’s creation. Yet, this is nothing; this is as the darkest moment in the blackest of nights in comparison to the scene that John is describing from his visionary visit to the throne room of God in Heaven.

 

Still, in the presence of all that is glorious, those who know and serve God are continually engaged in prayer. They speak their love, understanding, recognition, adoration, and praise for the Lord of the Universe. This is the constant expression of their hearts as they stand before God. I will point out that they do not have any needs, for they reside in the continual presence of God and He has eliminated all needs, worries, and concerns. Sometimes I wonder if we are not missing something in the way that we approach our relationship with God. Consider that, in and through Christ, we, too, do not have any needs that will not be met. Our lives are in the hands of the Almighty Lord of the Universe, and He loves each of us totally. Although I believe completely that God wants us to talk with Him about everything and to take all of our cares and concerns to Him, I do think that most of us don’t spend enough of our prayer time doing what those who are gathered around the throne of God in Heaven are doing. Remember, we are there, too.

 

So, here is a challenge for today. This is a personal challenge as well, for I certainly do not have this handled in my own life. As you pray, focus on God Himself. Speak of His character, attributes, and worthiness. As you do this don’t be concerned about repetition, for those who surround God seem to have reduced it all to a few simple phrases. Let the wonder and the majesty of the King soak in to your being. Quiet matters too. I tend to fill my prayer time with my own words and thoughts when God has so many of His own that He will speak to me when I listen. Try this and see how God speaks back to your heart.

 

When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations.

Deuteronomy 18: 9

 

Even when God grants us possession of a part of this world there is still danger in the hills that surround us; it’s also in the valleys and in the towns. Like the children of the exodus, God gives us territory. It seldom has the definite borders that enclosedCanaan, but it is just as real. The Lord desires for all of His people to live in a manner that is distinctly different from those who do not know Him. Christ calls upon us to have an impact on our neighbors, our communities, and our world that will bring about a hunger and a thirst for His righteousness.

 

Unfortunately, I know that I am not alone in my too frequently experienced chameleon-like adaptation to the culture that surrounds me. When I look at my words and deeds, I confess that there is not necessarily enough of a distinction in them for the outside observer to discern that Christ is in me and that I serve a different master than the one that has falsely assumed the role of king of this world. This thought is troubling and disturbing. This self assessment is condemning, too. Yet, into my troubled heart and mind comes Christ with His grace, love, and forgiveness. It doesn’t stop there, either. God doesn’t just tell us to stop sinning and to live differently, He gives us His living word for comfort and for instruction, and He has come to dwell with us. He personally leads the occupation forces in this land of conquest. Christ dwells in this world with us.

 

Christ brings into this world the light that drives back the dark shadows of sin, and He calls upon His people to carry those torches of righteousness. He also desires for us to bring the warmth of His comfort to those who have been damaged and dispossessed by life in this earthly war zone. Often the difference that we can demonstrate is shown through compassion and mercy. Christ is made real to people by our patience with their situations and acceptance of them as valuable. God is warning us that when we stop caring about and for the weak, the homeless, and the broken people of our world and start seeking to protect our selves by building fortresses of safety and security around our homes and our possessions, we are truly adopting those abominable practices of the land. Christ calls upon His people to set aside safety, comfort, and security as we trust Him and follow His lead in loving people as He does and in seeking to be active agents for restoration in our world.

The sound of joyful shouting and salvation is in the tents of the righteous.

Psalm 118: 15a

 

As we are in Christ, we should be a noisy bunch of people. The sounds of our joyous faith can fill the air of our neighborhoods with the sensations of a sweet celebration of life party. So, let’s all fill our tents with the raucous celebratory shouts, songs, and dancing of those who have been released from the bondage of sin and death. We are people whose hearts have been set free and whose lives are filled with the real meaning of living in close friendship and in true relationship with God.

 

In Christ we can and we should be lifting our voices to heaven and telling the whole world about His eternal love. We can shout out choruses that speak about the amazing ways that God takes our worthlessness and our shame and turns it into something that is priceless beyond all comparison. This is the God who leads us to the best life possible, and this is the God who brings healing and wholeness to our broken bodies and our shattered souls.

 

Every day can be lived as a song of praise. The world that we touch should walk away from an encounter with us with the feeling that it has just attended a concert of the angels. The Lord’s song cries out from every pore of each redeemed being. Like the sweetest of incense it fills the room with the perfume of salvation. As we make expressions of thanksgiving and praise the lyric of this day, we can fill the canyons and the mountain tops of our world with Christ’s joyous salvation poem.

 

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