September 2013


And let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; and do confirm for us the work of our hands; yes, confirm the work of our hands.

Psalm 90: 17

 

The singular most favorable thing that God has ever done was to come into my world, Himself, to spend His days with people who were just like me, and then finish those days by volunteering to climb onto the altar of sacrifice in order to make real the fact of salvation. God, the Father, sovereign over all of creation, and owner of everything has granted me the favor of His presence in the world of corruption and loss where my body dwells, and He has given me the favor of a total relationship with Him. There is nothing else that I need that actually counts for much of anything; yet, Christ continues to shower me with gifts both great and small.

 

The Lord is present in the person of His Spirit throughout every moment of my life, for He speaks courage to my heart and wisdom and understanding to my mind, and His Word brings knowledge and grants me perspective on every situation and issue that comes my way. Christ has paced me into a family of people who also know Him, and it is through Him that the barriers that our human, sinful selves construct to keep us safe and others at a distance are removed. So, I am blessed daily by the riches of the diversity of the people that are with me in the body of Christ. Jesus, through His life example, by His blood, and in His Spirit grants to me the favor of His purpose, direction, and capacity for impacting my world with the truth of salvation.

 

In my humanity it is easy to become confused or to lose sight of the continual fact of Christ’s presence and provision. Yet, all I need to do is to open my heart and calmly listen to His voice, and the truth that, in Christ, fills my world becomes evident. What I do matters far less than who I am doing it for, and the results of my efforts are insignificant in comparison to living in the center of Christ’s love and righteous truth and to demonstrating them while I am working. Still, my God does grant me the favor of doing His will, and He makes His delight in my humble and too often flawed obedience clear to me.

 

 

Advertisements

Arise sleeper, awake from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.

Ephesians 5: 14

 

When Christ comes into our lives He changes the status of our souls from ones that are dead and already in the process of decaying into ones that are fully alive and that are then in the process of being transformed into ones that shine with the glory of Christ. Turning my life over to the Lord and following His path of righteousness in my life has the effect of quite literally awaking me from the deep and dark sleep of that spiritually dead state into the light Christ’s life. As Christ shows me truth and His Spirit makes acting upon that truth an imperative, my now wide open eyes begin to see that my world has a profound level of need for a savior.

 

This awareness is not a part of the thinking of a person who is still asleep, and, I fear, that there are times when those of us who do know Christ are also caught napping. We tune out the voice of Christ as He points us toward the hurt, the broken, and the spiritually needy people around us, and we excuse our untimely slumber by pointing to how much energy we are using in order to survive the day or to all of the really good things that we are already doing for the sake of our religious practices. To Christ, these statements are simply excuses, and He asks, “Am I not enough, am I not all that you need?”

 

The honest, true, and real answer is, “Yes, You are more than all that I ever need.” I speak to myself when I say that we should awaken, arise, when our hearts and minds have slipped into a drowsy state. It is time to pull back the curtains and let the glory of Christ in. Then, it is also time to become like a rooster in the world crying out in celebration of the new dawn of life that is to be found in and through Christ, alone.

 

Jesus therefore said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent me, I also send you.”

John 20: 21

 

The presence of the living Christ in our world can be highly disturbing. He asks for a lot, and He isn’t really willing to compromise on the things that He wants from people, ether. So, it almost seems like a paradox that these were the first words He said to His disciples after He left the tomb and appeared among them. Now Christ was certainly wishing for them to be at ease and to realize and understand that the person who stood among them was the same Jesus that they had known and loved and who had loved them over the last few years, but I think that Christ had much more in mind than just that reassurance. He wanted them to embrace the fact that they were called to continue His work of bringing the reconciling love and grace of God to and into the world; so, the disciples were to go out and to bring the essential message of peace between people and God and, thus, between people and our world.

 

Jesus knew and He wants us to understand that bringing peace is hard work, and it is a relentless process, for there is an enormous amount of energy in our world that is dedicated to creating turmoil, separation, and animosity. Also, our own natures tend toward the troubled, self-protective, and fearful sides of behavior. Still, Christ wants His deep-seated peace to rule our hearts and minds so that we will interact with others with the clear headed inner calm of Christ. When we do this we can make a difference in our homes, neighborhoods, and communities, and that difference will be a tangible expression of Christ’s love.

 

With this eternal peace well settled on us, we can speak the hard truths of God’s Word and still be heard as compassionate, and when we interact with others, the peace in our hearts will help to filter out our human defenses and it will allow a true dialogue to begin. The peace of Christ is something to accept and it is something to seek. You see, we humans just don’t naturally settle in peaceful places. Yet, in response to our tendency Jesus says, “Peace be with you.” True peace is not something that is created by treaties, by force, or by governments. True peace is the result of individual people who choose to believe Christ and who are willing to set aside their human responses and thinking in order to allow the Holy Spirit the opportunity to send us into our world as committed peace makers.

You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

1 Corinthians 6: 11

 

Here is a simple fact, when we invite Jesus into our lives we become someone else. We are not the same person that we were before. Yet, many of the behavioral and attitudinal changes will continue to develop over the remainder of our earthly lives. Our newness has to redirect life-long ways of living. The change is really a process of exchange in which self centered and sinful parts of our being are replaced with the spirit of love that is the nature of Christ; thus, Christ’s character becomes our new nature. With this said, should we be willing to accept the fact that we will continue to do and to think in ways that are in opposition to our Lord’s expressed will; should we be alright with our own continuation of sinful living?

 

Just in case you are wondering, the correct answer to the pop quiz question above is, no. God reminds us of some of the basics of what He does for and with us when we invite Him into our lives. He cleans us up, but this is not just an external scrubbing. God purifies our hearts so that our essential nature is changed from an orientation toward evil to one that God sees as pure. Then He separates us from the rest of the world, from the unsaved world. God marks us as holy, His sacred children, and He engages the battle with Satan when evil tries to grab us and pull us back into its den. Finally, in those times of struggle, when sin causes doubt and when its darkness is swirling around our heads and especially when we do fail to follow God’s plan, when we sin, Jesus speaks out for us before God; and He claims us as His own.

 

Our part in all of this is to recognize our newness, realize its impact on our core being, and allow the Spirit of Christ the opportunity to work His miracle of change in our lives. For, in Christ, it is reasonable and totally rational to expect that during each hour of every day we will see Christ claim fresh territory within our own hearts for the new person that we have already become.

 

So teach us to number our days so that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.

Psalm 90: 12

 

How many days have you had? A simple bit of math can figure this out; yet, if your life has gone anything like mine, the simple number of them is going to be a frustrating thing to consider, for I have not done nearly enough good with them and have not spent the sort of time that I could have in true worshipful service to God. This accounting would show that I have consumed many of those days in ways that were self-centered or in seeking after things that were safe, comfortable, and within easy reach rather than in trusting the Lord to take me to the heights that His Word promises me I can reach by pursuing His will. The good news in this is that God cares far more about the days that are to come than about what I have done with the ones that are past.

 

So, in preparing to go after today, it seems that the first thing that God desires for me to do is to focus on His instructions for it. When I consider the fact that God has a plan for my life, I am amazed that the Lord of the universe cares so much about something as insignificant as that, but, based upon the promise of His Word and upon the things that He has already done, I know that He does care. Also, God is interested in and will be involved with the details of each day, and He already has a workable plan for this day. So, God does want me to look at my life and to count each of the days that I have remaining, but He doesn’t want me to become focused on the finish of my life as the goal. Rather, He wants me to consider each day as His and to dig deep into His Word so that I can understand the Lord’s will as it relates to today.

 

God is showing me that He wants me to count every day of my life as something to be offered to Him in worship, and like the soldier in battle who needs to make every bullet count or the teacher in a classroom who desires to make each word meaningful, the Lord desires for me to make this day one where He is at the center of all that I consider, plan, and do. This is not a matter of priorities, for the Lord doesn’t desire to be a part of a list of the things that are most important to me. It is a matter of the orientation of my entire being. Serving God and making my life one of worship of my Lord and Savior is what counts. Then, I can establish my priorities based upon the eternal wisdom that God writes on my heart.

 

And He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

Luke 22: 46

 

Jesus had just finished praying, Himself; talking with the Father about the world-changing events that He was about to become the center of. So, He came back to His close friends and followers and found them asleep. Stress does strange things to people; for, it can make sleeping when standing guard seem logical, hiding out when facing the issues becomes rational, and saying nothing when a few simple words of God’s truth would have impacted someone’s life mightily is too easy.

 

When life throws curves at us and what had seemed orderly in the morning becomes chaos by night, our human tendency is frequently to head into our caves for a long winters nap. The mind decides and the heart agrees to pull the covers up over my head; let the storm pass; stay where it is safe so that I won’t be sorry later. This type of reaction is so very human, and it is exactly what Satan wants us to do. If we are undergoing hard situations, so are people around us. When we are living through challenges, others are watching how we handle them. Jesus told his followers that there is great risk in this sort of behavior and that there is no gain. When we try to handle difficult situations in our own lives and in those of the people around us by essentially turning away from them, we are, in fact, denying God’s capacity to deal with them, His interest in people’s lives, and His intimate involvement with us in all things. We are hiding from God, not from our challenges. Jesus reminds us that our first response to hard situations needs to be prayer. We can talk it over with God and develop a plan of action with the Spirit’s guidance. Then pray some more as we put the plan into action.

 

We live in difficult times and in challenging circumstances. We are caught up in the middle of a daily struggle between God and evil for the souls of the world. Jesus tells each of us to stay continually in a state of prayerful communication with God and to follow Him into engagement with the lives of others. Together with the Spirit of Christ as our guide we can be agents for change in our world, helping to turn the very worst of times into the best one for the redemption of people’s lives. So, even when the situation at hand seems to demand that we cover up and just sleep until it passes, Christ leads us into prayer and prayer can lead us into service to the King.

 

You are members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure being joined together grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In Him you are also being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

Ephesians 2:19-22

In a world where people seem to be moving farther apart every day, where separation and isolation become ideals, everyone who knows God is also a member of His household. We each have a specially designed purpose to fill in that family, and we are each designed, shaped and placed in a manner that makes it possible to fulfill that purpose. This is true because God has given to each of us everything that we need to serve those around us right now.

However, He also does much more than that. He also continues to grow us, to build us into so much more than we were yesterday and than we are today. We continue to gain wisdom and knowledge of our Lord, and we are made stronger in our ability to use what we know. The person that we are, in Christ, is the dwelling place of God. The Holy Spirit lives in each of us, and His Spirit actively works in our lives. It is as if the hands of God are continually on us, and with great sensitivity they are working on our form so that over the course of a lifetime, we are reformed into a person who by virtue of our love, connection, and interaction with others looks very much like our Creator.

The true expression of our new selves is found in the way that we interact with others. When we choose to defend the weak, support those who are injured, and bring love into the face of evil, we are bringing the face of Christ into those places, and we are providing the people that we meet with a look into eternity. The Lord calls to His children to bring His Spirit into the darkness around us, and He promises to use us to reclaim these places for His kingdom.

Next Page »