Life Ballance


See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of
God; and so we are. The reason that the world does not know us is that it did
not know Him.

1 John 3: 1

You know, estrangement and isolation are not all bad; living as a stranger in this world
is also fine if this sense of separation is due to our movement away from our
old way of being and toward God and into His righteousness. There is a tension
that exists between God and the evil that has taken temporary residence
here in our world; we can feel it when we are conflicted between
doing what Christ tells us is right and what may seem best for us at
a given moment. These are times when the border war for our hearts has flared
up into open conflict.

We are all born into allegiance to God’s enemy; yet, even while we are so aligned,
God sees us as beloved children, as lost sheep. He calls, and He comes
searching, and He never stops loving us. Christ’s blood placed
the official seal on our adoption papers; thus, we already have
a new home for our hearts and our souls with God. All that is
left for us to do is to accept that gift by allowing Jesus in and by
trusting Christ with our lives. Then we become fully invested members of God’s
family; we are children of God in every sense and with all of the entitlements
that go with that status.

Our place and our purpose in this life changes, too. We are given the role of
peacemakers; we are commissioned to seek an end to the strife that exists
everywhere in this world by bringing the news of God’s love to conflicted
people. True peace is found when our relationship with God is active and alive,
and it is this peace with Him that matters totally. We need to embrace the
strangeness of this world in that the more we move into the center of God’s
will and the better we know His love, the more He will place us into contact
with people who need to be loved by God. We should let people see the
difference in us, allow them to know us in our estrangement from the world, and
we need to help them see the way to this new life of living inside of God’s
total love.

 

“And I will strengthen them in the Lord, and in His name
they will walk.” declares the Lord.

Zechariah 10: 12

There are days when the first thought that runs through the
mind after the feet hit the floor in the morning is along the lines of, “Just
where am I going to find enough strength to make it through the next hour?”
Whatever sleep there had been the night before was in no way sufficient to
recharge the body, and the mind and the spirit are still depleted to a level
that is beyond the red zone. Life with it’s never ending demands and with it’s
unyielding pressures can take any of us to this place of seemingly total
resource depletion. This happens over time; yet, it can become reality with the
events of an instant.

God, Himself, is always strong, and His strength is of a
nature and a depth that goes beyond anything that we experience in this world.
It seems safe to say that God’s strength is, in fact, both the source and the
definition of all righteous strength in the universe. The Lord is not selfish
or stingy with it either. He calls people to Him when we are weak and broken.
Christ came into our world and experienced the pain, suffering, and bone
crushing weariness that is the life experience of all humanity; still, He
overcame this world. Now His Spirit stays with us through all that we endure.
Christ calls to us to turn our eyes toward Him. He gifts us with His strength
and with His wisdom in it’s use.

As the Spirit provides the resources that are needed to
enter into the demands of the day, He also goes with us step by step and moment
by moment to provide encouragement and comfort in the journey. In Christ we
have an almost science fiction like ability to defy the laws of gravity and of
entropy. We are no longer weighted down by the inscrutability of the demands
and the pressures of life, and we are not bound by the inevitability of sin’s
decay and death. We are now transformed and renewed into the likeness of
Christ that was our original creation birthright. True strength comes from deep within, in our
spirits, and it is found at the source in Christ.

The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;

to the one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God.

Psalm 50: 23

We can set out all sorts of things that we plan to give to God. There is nothing
wrong with the idea and the fact of giving up the elements of life that
distract and that divert us from focusing on Him and that interfere with
serving His will. Yet, the primary thing that God desires for us to give to Him
is our appreciation for and understanding of His centrality in our lives.

If this verse is to be an honest expression of our hearts, then God must actually
be the central focus of our days. We need to orient our minds and our hearts
toward receiving and acting upon His input, and we need to seek God’s loving
perspective on the events and the activities that we will engage throughout
life. When I do make God the central focus of the day, I find that everything
starts to make more sense; for, a sort of super natural order begins to develop
out of the swirling winds of people and tasks and priorities that otherwise can
tend to overwhelm me. The Lord is the master of orderliness and of calm. He
will cause the solutions to the most stressful and chaotic moments
and to the crises of the hour to unfold in my mind. He also gives
my soul the peace that it requires to stay strong and to trust God’s way
regardless of contrary external input.

There is only one right way to order and to orient
our hearts, and that is to reclaim the order of Creation. Jesus has answered
the need for a path back to that soul and life saving state of being,
and He takes the hand of anyone who desires to start the journey into
the center of God’s will; then, His Spirit walks every step of those
travels with us. Thanksgiving and praise make the long days short and the
hard times bearable. Take the moment to thank God for His role in your life;
recognize His will for this day; and open your heart to the peace, calm, and
order that Christ grants to us as we seek Him.

 

 

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the
presence of His glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through
Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all
time and now and forever.

Jude 24, 25

When you take a stroll along a path and suddenly, ingloriously find yourself planted
face down in the dirt, why did you fall? Was it inattention, moving too fast
for the terrain, a lack of adequate knowledge of where you were going, or
perhaps it was too dark to see the hazards ahead? The fall is always painful in
some way; sometimes real injuries are the result. Falling is never a good
thing, and we all get to experience this event from time to time.

When I am navigating my way through my day, the presence of tripping hazards seems
guaranteed; they will be there, and they often seem to emerge as if from out of
the ground. I have a bad habit of walking rapidly toward someplace, even
someplace very familiar, and thinking about an entirely different time, place,
and situation than the one that I am in. Suddenly, some part of my body,
usually my knee or my forehead, will collide with a solid object like a table
or a cabinet door; this is startling and painful, and it makes me feel really
silly, too. As painful as this is, it is much worse when the collision is with
a relationship or a moral or ethical value; unfortunately, this sort of
collision is also way too real to me.

In order to avoid as many of these trip and fall incidents as possible, it is important
for me to maintain clear and steady focus, to keep my life as debris and
confusion free as is possible, and to allow the brightest of the light of
Christ the opportunity to shine on me and on my travels. I need to orient my
mind and my heart toward Jesus. Like that satellite dish on the roof, when I
turn toward Him, I receive input and insight on everything that life brings my
way, and I am directed through the day by the loving Spirit of Christ. What a
wonderful partnership that is! Let Jesus, the Christ, into your heart, into your mind, and let His brightest of all
lights shine on your path today. Recognize Him for who He is, and seek His
guidance and direction. He will walk every one of your steps with you today.

Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of
grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4: 16

 

Grace is a characteristic that is lacking in this world. We
are a people that are in a hurry to get on with all of the urgent and important
activities and actions of the day, and we have almost no time for hearing the
stories that others may need to tell. Yet, in Christ, we all have a hearing for
all of our needs. He came to everyone with the grace of God, and He gives that
grace absolutely and completely without condition and for all circumstances.

 

When we receive the grace that Christ provides, we are
standing in a high and holy place, for we are the recipients of one of the
greatest treasures that God, the High King, has stored up in His throne room.
When we come to Christ, He seems to lift us up out of the darkness and despair
of this world, and He places us at His side in the holy place that is God’s
residence. Christ also goes before us to that place, and His righteousness
covers all of our sinful shame. Therefore, we can walk confidently into the
eternal presence of love, mercy, and grace. Through Christ we are now living in
the glorious home of the author of all that is good, and that place is now our
dwelling place.

 

As we are now residents of grace; so, we should now be
givers of it. Christ grants us the confidence that we need to set aside our
personal agendas and our safety nets of rules for living and for interacting
with our world. He tells us that we can be people who grant the grace of a
moment and the mercy of a thorough hearing to others who are in need. When we
do stop the busy course of our day long enough to give a smile or to grant an
understanding ear to someone who has been battered and beaten by what life has
granted, we are experiencing the true splendor of heaven, and we can bring the
other person into direct contact with the loving grace and mercy of Christ.

I pray that according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened
with power through His spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in
your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have
strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and
height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that
you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3: 16-19

These words are a grand prayer of a life savvy senior pastor for the people that he
knows and loves. Paul was a man who had known God for his entire life; he
was a man who could discuss the intricacies of faith with anybody, for he could
go toe to toe with any religious scholar of his day and come out the winner. He
had a great mind, a tenacious spirit, and a desire to win in any religious
debate. Yet Paul was an empty shell of a man spiritually until Jesus
introduced Himself to Paul’s heart, and filled him with a love that was beyond
comprehension. It was love that made Paul full, and it was Christ who made all
of that knowledge useful.

This prayer is about allowing Christ to go deep into the heart, to fill the
emptiness, and to recreate the core of our beings. This prayer is all about
allowing Him to fill us with His strength and with the power that is found in
Christ’s Spirit. This is about letting God penetrate into the most hidden
recesses of our hearts and our minds. This is a statement of trust and of
faith. As we trust God with more of our heart’s hidden places, He will change
those dark corners into places where the glory of His love resides, and He will
give us the faith that we need to trade in a life lived in human weakness
for one where we live in His strength.

The more deeply we allow Christ to go into ourselves, the more we get to know Him.
We come to experience more and more of the endless, boundless love
the Jesus has for us and for everyone. It is this deep rooted and
all encompassing love that broke through the hard shell
of knowledge that surrounded Paul’s heart. It is this same love
that goes deep into our hearts. This is the love that continually softens the
hard corners and drives out the doubts and the fears that are hiding in
the recesses of our souls.

 

 

 

Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.
Psalm 139: 16
There is a perfect balance and symmetry to the number of days that each person is granted in this life. Admittedly, that idea seems to be absurd to people who are faced with the end of those days, but it is a fact that has remained unchanged throughout human history. It is something that we can do nothing to change; yet, we are granted the opportunity every day to determine the effect that those days will have on our world. God, the Father, has granted to each and every person certain aspects of Himself; these are the qualities, characteristics, and talents that define our God-image bearing selves.
We get to put those gifts of the Lord to work. We are granted the freedom to choose to enter into relationships with others and to love them. The impact that our days will have on our world is something that God trusts us with. He provides the basic material for us to use in seeking after His way, and He grants to each person the opportunity to be a world changer. How we go about this is up to us. The most powerful thing that anyone can seek to do is to live in a manner that reflects the most basic and foundational of God’s character qualities. We can enter into life with an uncompromising passion and a commitment to care about and for others, to protect the weak, to support righteousness, and to love everyone regardless of what they return to us.
God entered into my life; for, He came to experience all of the joy and all of the pain that life affords, and Christ took Himself to the end of those days with purpose and with the intent clearly defined that His death would bring about my life. Christ engages with me during every moment of each of my days, and He grants me the ability to follow His lead by entering into the lives of others in a way that brings them into contact with life, itself. This is the nature of those days that God has ordained for me and for everyone. We can choose to follow Christ and make the moments impactful. God has given us the gift of Himself invested totally into each of us, and He has granted us exactly the right number of days in which to use that gift.
Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.
Colossians 3: 2
Getting stuck on the details of every day life is the most human of tendencies. These are the things that consume us, for these are the things that are right in front of our noses as we navigate the day. All of this, and I do mean all of it, can be a distraction from setting a true course for the journey. Even worse is the fact that becoming so earthly focused moves us away from the peace, joy, and the glory that Christ intends for us to enjoy every day. When my mind is set on studying the details and on solving all of the mysteries of this world, I lose my best capability to do those very things.
Christ is the singular victor over the forces of sin and death that have tried to rule this world from the early days of creation. There is a tangible element of brokenness and decay that has embedded itself into all of the elements of our existence on earth, and this element is bent on a relentless path of destruction. It is the author of our fears and our anger; it is the source of human oppression; it is the cause of our disintegrating earth; and it is the wedge that has been driven between the God-image creation design that humans were gifted with by our Creator and the frail physical and emotional forms that we live with. The more energy and effort that we expend on the condition of our world, the farther we will wander from the truth of our real state of being.
The answers to poverty, to emotional pain, to natural disasters, to disease, and to lostness are found in Christ. In His life, death, and resurrection Christ defeated all of the Satanic forces that bring about these conditions. The painfully decaying state of affairs that surrounds us on earth is not the one that God intended, but when our first ancestors chose to defy God, it is the one that they determined to bring upon themselves and upon their descendants. We can choose to do something about this. We can determine that we will set our hearts and our minds on Christ and seek His perspective on everything. We can offer up our lives in loving service to righteousness, and we can trust in the absolute goodness of God’s heart. It is from this heavenly and eternal perspective that all of the events, situations, and decisions that we need to make in this life can be handled with confident peace.

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6: 2

There are times when having some of the weight of the day lifted is not only helpful, but
it can be almost life saving. Sometimes that involves something as simple as
having another person come to me and offer to help with a task, talk through a
situation, or pray with me for an answer. My shoulders lift a little higher,
and my heart can beat a bit slower from the relief. On other days and in other
times, I wind up being the one with a part of my friend’s load of bricks on my
back; there seems to be a wonderful balance to the way that life goes in this
regard. God doesn’t give us more than we can handle; however, I think that He
looks at our capacity to take on weight based upon both our own strength
and endurance and upon that of the other people that He will bring into our
lives.

God desires and plans for people to have a form of healthy interdependence that
multiplies each of our strength, endurance, and effectiveness in ways that are
supernatural. The Lord makes us sensitive to the needs of others, and He gives
us the ability and the sense of security that are required to be vulnerable
with others, too. One of the distinctives of the Kingdom of God
is that none of us are all sufficient; yet, none of us are without capacity to
help others. We are each uniquely, specially, and specifically given personal
gifts and areas of strength that when combined create an unbeatable group that
is a living, human image of Christ.

Christ’s law is one of grace, love, and selflessness; although, it does not remove the
stresses and struggles of living in this fallen and fractured world; it
does provide the freedom, the skill, the strength, and the support to go
through that life with our heads high and our hearts made lighter. This
lightness is of an unworldly, a heavenly form, for it can exist in the middle
of pain, crisis, and the hardest of times. It is born out of the certainty that
Christ has walked the same path that I am following, that He is walking with me
in the here and now, and that I am joined on my journey by a world-wide
community of faith. Jesus calls each of us to seek the opportunity to walk
with others and to support them in handling the burden that they are carrying,
and He asks us to trust others enough to open our hearts to let them shoulder
our weight. Although, this may sound like a strange prayer request, Christ will
smile if we ask Him to bring another person’s heavy load for us to help
carry today.

 

Be diligent to be found by Him without spot or blemish and at peace.

2 Peter 3: 14b

Face creams, medicated cleansing wipes, and spa treatments are great in the short
term; those nasty skin eruptions and the annoying wrinkles can be removed and
softened so that that youthful glow is restored—for a moment. Then, the
reminders of age and late nights and worry return. We spend money and time on a
remedy that doesn’t ever really work; eventually, we tend to just surrender to
the processes of life and blame all of the ill effects on a thinning ozone
layer or on too much time in the sun and the wind.

When the source of the unsightly condition of our outer selves is found in our hearts,
the fix gets even more problematic and can seem to be totally elusive. You
think that the anger is under control; then, you turn a loved one into
over-done toast in a moment; or you have your thoughts under control; then, the
fantasy overcomes all reason. Each of us can write our own stories about the
ways that the peace of our lives is disrupted by issues that we hoped were
under control. When these events happen in my life, I feel no peace within; it
is as if there is an ugly lump on my nose that the entire world is looking
at.

Christ wants us to live in peace. He knows us, and I am fully aware of the fact that
He knows all about my numerous spots and blemishes. I am also completely aware
of the fact that God forgives me for all of them and that He wants to take me
deeper into my relationship with Him in order to permanently eliminate them.
This may seem rather contradictory to logic and reason, but Christ wants me to
take each and every one of my ugly thoughts and actions to Him. His desire is
that I tell Him about them and recognize the pain that they cause to others,
to myself, and to God; this is the heart of the action that is called
confession. Then as I allow the Spirit of Christ to guide me into
healthier ways of thinking and acting, the magic of God’s grace truly removes
the blemishes and smoothes the wrinkles of sin.

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