The LORD your God is in your midst,

a mighty one who will save;

he will rejoice over you with gladness;

he will quiet you by his love;

he will exalt over you with loud singing.

Zephaniah 3: 17

 

After the certainty of salvation that comes from knowing Jesus Christ, this is the most comforting thought that I can hold onto as I travel through life. Although this comment was directed to the nation of Israel, it applies equally well to Christ’s church today, and the Lord is also speaking to each of us who follow Christ. The Lord, my God, is here now and always. He has chosen to reside in the world where I live and to dwell with me, and it is Christ’s presence that changes everything. He takes a broken and dying world and makes it a place where His people can find joy and peace and be in constant relationship with our loving Father.

 

It is in and through this presence that God’s great love for people is clearly and continually expressed. He is with us, and He is engaged with our lives in all aspects and areas of them. The Lord is that loving parent who delights in even the simplest of actions that His child undertakes. So, when it comes to actions that reflect the character and the nature of Christ, God is especially delighted in us. For, although He is present in our world, that presence is expressed and magnified by the lives that we live out as we engage with Christ and follow His will, as we live as citizens of the Kingdom of God come to earth.

 

So, for me, God’s joy and celebration of the life that I live leads me to desire to worship Him; thus, the songs that my heart sings become the words that my mouth expresses. The blessings that God is pouring out on me are given to others in the world around me. I desire to live with the joy and the peace that Christ has granted me evident so that the world will see and seek after their source. As God’s great joy over souls saved and relationships established pours out of His people and into our world, we become a public testimony to the King who saves.

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.

Philippians 4: 8

 

The thought strikes me that I could just stop right here and allow Paul’s words to speak for themselves, for he has come up with a great list of qualities to both look at and to desire for myself. If only my own heart and mind operated in this simple a manner; you know, just dwelling on truth and not getting distracted toward diverse thoughts and weak actions. However, I am a wanderer by nature, still traveling along the roads of life and my heart still stops at too many of the wrong places along that journey.

 

So many of the attractive diversions that pull my mind off God’s course have very little substance, they do nothing to sustain me for the travels, and they cause me to waste time and energy in the process. Yet, the bright, shiny object or the flashing lights catch my eye, and off I go. Some of the distractions that I indulge in are activities, some are attitudes, and some are ways of thinking. All of them are the result of losing clear heart-focus on Christ and on the reality of how He lives in and through me.

 

Therefore, God tells us to keep looking at these qualities of life which are His gift to us. He calls upon His children to seek those qualities in the people that we trust deeply, to desire to live so that people will describe us as possessing those qualities, and to guide others to their source. I can prepare for my daily life by taking the time to focus my mind and orient my heart toward the character of Christ; then I need to seek His will for me for this day; finally, as I proceed through this day, I must keep checking on and redirecting the focus of my too easily wandering mind. For, in fact, the shiniest and the most enticing of worldly pursuits is nothing but a shabby, mud-covered rag in comparison to the glory that is Christ and joy that is found in His righteousness.