October 2013


So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord, His going forth is as certain as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth.

Hosea 6: 3

 

There is no situation or circumstance that I might encounter in life that the Lord does not and will not speak to, for there is nothing in this world that He does not have authority over and that is out of His area of interest. God cares deeply about the people of this earth, and He also has great concern for the rest of His creation. For me the key to understanding the Lord’s perspective on all of this is to seek to know Him better.

 

God does not attempt to conceal Himself from people, for in and through Christ, God has become knowable. Certainly there is still mystery, and there are aspects of God’s wisdom and of His plan that are shrouded deeply in that seemingly impenetrable cloud. Yet and still, Christ and His Spirit provide the degree of access to all understanding that we actually need. My mind, heart, and spirit are the ones that grow weary and that settle for finding answers within my own understanding. Meanwhile, the Lord continually calls to me to stop listening to the easy but uninformed voice of self and to look closely and deeply into Him.

 

If I desire to know truth that will respond to everything that I will encounter, and if I want to find the source of wisdom that is solid and unwavering; then, all I need to do is to look into the heart of truth’s author. He comes to me, and He opens His heart to me, and Christ fills me with tangible and actionable insight into living a life that is full and fulfilled. The Lord blesses me with the warm light of His glory, and He refreshes my soul with the mist of His mercy and grace.

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When He saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Matthew 9: 36

 

What kind of man is this that could look upon the faces of people who would laugh at Him and who would refuse to grant him any respect and have His heart break over how lost they were? What sort of person can know that He will be totally abandoned and still seek to show the foresakers the way to eternal belonging? These are attitudes that I would find impossible to live out, and this is an approach to life that most people would consider to be completely crazy.

 

That is why this kind of love had to come to live with people, for we would never accept its possibility much less its reality if we had not seen it in the flesh. So, this is how Matthew described Jesus’ attitude toward the people that they were meeting as they traveled and shared God’s message of restorative love with ever growing and always needy crowds. Sheep can be a remarkably helpless lot; easy meals for predators, worried into collapse and death by simple things, and unable to move on their own the few steps that are required to find food and fresh water. Sheep will crush themselves to death by pressing against a rock wall if not turned in a different direction. Yet, when properly cared for, provided with good food and plentiful water, and protected from danger, they are among the most productive and valuable of all animals.

 

Jesus looks at each of us and sees the pain, the fear, and the hurt that grips our hearts. He looks at us and knows our needs and our insecurities. Jesus not only understands the struggles and the dangers of our lives, He is the good shepherd who enters into that life. He is the one who will guide, provide for, and protect us. Jesus will never leave anyone in a state of vulnerability, directionless and alone. He is the only reliable shepherd for our souls, and He is the true answer to all that we need in order to be the most productive creatures in all of Creation.

 

And now, Lord, for what do I wait?

My hope is in You.

Psalm 39: 7

 

This life is filled with times of waiting. We go through the years of our youth waiting for the opportunity to make our own way in the world; then, we go through our adult years with anticipation of the time when the dreams of our youth will actually be realized. Yet, frustration has a way of becoming our relentless partner in life as one desire after another is crushed under the weight of reality and as dreams and aspirations are pushed down by the heal of adversity. Tomorrow can stop being a promise; rather, it becomes a curse.

 

Still, hope asks for a basis, and it signals a new dawn. When hope is formed from deep within as it is based on a relationship with Christ, it can speak the language of encouragement to a battered mind and spark the exhausted heart to action. It is hope that helps me to remember that the Lord has promised that He always has answers, and it is hope that causes my eyes to continuously look for that first sliver of morning light that, because of Christ, I know will break through even the blackest of times. Just as the relentless oppression of sin met its answer on the torturous cross, hope in Christ leads to faith in the answers to life’s suffering that my Lord provides.

 

As I consider the question about what I am waiting for, the answer is nothing, for through and in Christ, God has given me everything that I could ever have dreamed, desired, or aspired after. Now He continues to answer each and every need that arises in life. Yet, I am waiting for everything; as, Christ has given us His promise of total victory over the evil that plagues this world and that attempts to destroy the joy of life. Hope points me to the fact that although the pain that I am experiencing is very real, it is also temporary, and hope reminds me that the Lord is the ruler of all and that He wants to fill my soul with the endless blessings of His presence.

 

For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

Romans 15: 4

 

God must have an amazing drawer filled with writing tools; there would be a stylus for etching stone, some quills for dipping into ink, fine and broad tipped markers, and all manner of electronics. He also uses His breath to speak His Word into existence, He uses the softest touch imaginable to write love onto our hearts, and Christ came out of eternity and into my life to scribe my tale of salvation..

 

The Lord did not want any of us to miss what He has to say. So, He wrote it everywhere. God’s truth is found in the light and the darkness of every day, it is found in the power and the subtlety of nature, it is written across the pages of the bible, and it is spoken from the mouths of His people. The Spirit of Christ reaches into the depths of the human heart and implants the literal presence of God. We frail and sin weakened humans are lifted out of the darkness of this world and into the glory of Lord.

 

The thing that God wants me to understand is that there is no obstacle, no fear, no insecurity, no pain, and no condition of my heart that He does not have a perfect and a timely answer for. If I will continue to seek him and desire to know Him ever more intimately through the word of truth that God has literally surrounded me with, I will find the deep joy and satisfaction, and the undeniable hope that Christ desires for me.

 

“So shall My word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to Me empty,

but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” declares the Lord.

Isaiah 55: 11

 

God is known for His resolve. When He determines to do something, He just doesn’t stop going after it until it is done. Granted, the timing of reaching that finish line is also His to control, and that part of the entire process is often the one that seems the most mysterious and perplexing to me. For there are a lot of things that I am certain are the expressed desire of God’s heart that He just seems to take way too long to bring to completion, and either my attention span or my willingness to stick it out, or both, are tested beyond what I believe to be their limits of endurance.

 

However, that is really my problem, and, also, these situations provide me with a chance to engage in a little spiritual and emotional workout session. The simple truth is that I can trust that God really means what He says here. So, if I am hearing His word and perceiving His desire, God will make those things happen, and regardless of my skill, intelligence, or patience with the process, He will cause a great result to come out of it all. What I am seeing here as the greater truth is that God’s true desire is not about the situation, itself. He did not send His word of truth specifically to heal the illness, to provide the job, or to free the oppressed. Rather, God gives us His Word to bring us to Him. The Lord’s desire is fulfilled when people learn to love and to trust Him with all of our hearts and with all of our minds.

 

As we grow in our ability to trust God and to wait on His timing, His word starts to open up to our hearts in ways that it had not before, and the deeper truths that the Lord wants us to hear and to understand start to reveal themselves to us. There is a process here that is of God and that is His to accomplish. For I have found that as I start to embrace the fact that God will respond to everything in my life that is reflective of His heart’s desire and wait in trusting obedience on Him while continuing to act on what He has revealed to me, God’s Word speaks ever more clearly and with a voice that is impossible to ignore. I can rest in and trust on the reality that the Lord will succeed in and over all.

 

And it came about that when Christ had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized Him.

Luke 24: 30, 31

 

This is an amazing scene where Jesus has joined with His followers after they saw Him crucified and buried, and He has walked with a couple of them while teaching them. Now, Christ has joined them for an evening meal. Still they don’t realize who they are with. Although I don’t believe that anything actually happens to the bread or the wine that we use in our memorial celebrations of Jesus’ sacrificial offering of Himself, there should be something rather mystical about it. Whenever we participate in this event that many in the church call Communion, the Holy Spirit is present with and among us, and we should be taking the time and opening our hearts to reflect on who Christ is and on what He means to me at this time.

 

Like the bread and the wine, Christ sustains my body and He satisfies my thirst. He does this by providing the most basic things that I need and by inviting me to join Him in the daily banquet feast of His Spirit. His word shows me who He is and how that has been true from the beginning of time, and Christ shows me who I truly am and what that reality means. He opens my heart to the love that He has for me, and Christ breaks down my defenses and takes away my fears so that I can open my arms in love to embrace the people that are in my world. The Lord continually reminds me of the person that I have become due to the redemptive work of His grace and the transformative work of His Spirit. This new person is free to celebrate Christ’s victory over sin with all who would join in and worship the God who saves.

 

As I taste this simple bread and pour the drink into my mouth, there is truly something magical happening, for this is a time when Christ’s presence is profound. He is at the center of the room and in the depths of my heart, and the Lord speaks the breath of His peace, joy, and understanding into me. Christ tells me to open my eyes and see, and He says to open my ears and hear; for, He is always with me to fill me with all that I need and to sustain my soul throughout the day.

 

Be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might.

Ephesians 6:10

 

Some of the things that we can do to become strong are to eat well, exercise regularly, and do a little weight lifting. These are all good things that generally won’t do any of us harm. However, a powerful body is not the most important type of strength that we can seek. For it is a strong soul and a mighty spirit that will keep the head up and the feet moving through the battlefield that life can become. This is a type of strength that we need to seek, but we will never be the source of it. Let’s look at the two basic elements of spiritual strength that Paul mentions.

 

When I am strong in the Lord, my relationship with Him is at the front in everything in my day. There is nothing that I am in engaged in that is too trivial and there is nothing that is too big for God’s involvement. His strength comes to me through reading His word, through talking with Him, and through listening to His voice. My attitude is the key. When I am open to hear God’s will and to follow it; when I am receptive to His input whether it comes to me from His Spirit, His word, or His people; and when I am willing to surrender my will to His way, I experience His strength to the fullest.

 

Paul also speaks about the muscle mass behind our spiritual strength. Thankfully, it doesn’t come from bulging biceps or six-pack abs; yet, it does come from a much more reliable source. A mighty spirit becomes a personal reality as we align our hearts with Christ. The first step and the hardest one is the one where I trust Him to take control, where I let go of the wheel and accept that the Lord has the perfect and the right way to take me through this moment and this day. Then, I need to allow God’s will to prevail, and I need to follow the coarse that He has set for me. When I do this, the Lord will do mighty and wonderful things through my humble hands. I also need to be willing to keep watching and continue to listen to the Spirit of Christ as we move forward together. Strength comes from yielding, from releasing my controlling grip, and from letting God in. Might comes when we purpose to live in the glory of Christ’s victory. So, be strong and live mightily today!

 

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