For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward Him.

2 Chronicles 16: 9 

There are many people who claim that God is either passive or non-existent, that He has no relevance in this world, and even that He is unnecessary. Others believe that the only god that anyone needs is to be found inside of themselves; thus, each individual is the master of his own universe and is totally equipped to do and to handle everything alone. I find all of these perspectives to be frightening, incredibly lonely, and disastrously wrong. I have learned that my strongest and most capable times are ones when I am yielding my will to God’s and when I allow Him to work with and through me. It is also true that God doesn’t just passively wait for things to happen; He is with me, He goes before me, and He protects my back. The Lord is a very real presence throughout my world for every hour of each day.  

Now, consider what it means to be blameless. I am not close to perfect, and my heart is certainly not always aligned with God’s will. I fear that for too much of the time my thoughts and actions are no where near to righteous; yet, I know that God sees me as blameless, as forgiven of everything wrong and hurtful that might come from within my heart and mind. Jesus has paid for all of my evil and sinful ways, and because Christ lives in me, God sees Christ’s perfection when He looks at my weakness. The Spirit of Christ goes with me through everything and guides me toward His will as He speaks truth, love, and life into my being. Thus, it is His perfect will that is seen by God and by the world as I live out the calling of Christ with my life. 

Perhaps, the most important word in this ancient verse is “strong,” for that is what God brings to me. He gives me strength, He makes my frail and easily discouraged will into one that is truly mighty, and He gives my cloudy thinking a form of clarity that comes from out of eternity and that runs straight and true until the end of time. There is no partial or conditional involvement from the Lord. He is fully invested in the lives of His people, and He is totally committed to us forever. If you are willing to yield to Christ and to grant God access to your heart, to your concerns, and to your plans; He will continually fill you with His wisdom as He encourages and strengthens your heart. 

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For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: – a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.

Ecclesiastes 3: 1, 7

In God’s view of life, there is a perfect balance in and to all. The Lord sees the cause and the effect of each of our thoughts and actions, and He has complete understanding regarding all that we need to think, say, and do. This knowledge of our lives is given direct personal application throughthe way that the Spiritof Christ is continually engaged with me. Thus, there are times when I need to still my racing mind and hold my too quick tongue in order to allow God’s words and their wise counsel an opportunity to be heard. There are other times when I need to speak up and to give human expression to the love, grace, truth and understanding that the Lord has revealed.

In those times of silence, God wants me to wait on Him. The Spirit will speak to and regarding everything, and He always does give me the truth that I need at this time in order to act as He wants me to act in each situation that I encounter. Yet, I am an impatient soul who doesn’t always want to listen for that long a time or to pay that sort of deep attention. Still, the Lord has infinite patience, and He will wait for me to reach a point where I am still enough so that I am able to actually hear and comprehend His voice. In fact, the stillness can be the fullest and the richest time of all, for in that immense quiet, God’s greatness speaks and my heart is filled with the glory of His presence.

With my heart filled and my mind sharpened and focused on the Lord’s will, the Spirit implores me to go into my world and to speak about Christ’s desire to know everyone and regarding the path to salvation that comes only through Him. Sometimes those are very direct words that speak specifically about belief in Jesus, and sometimes the language that is called for is expressed in thoughts and acts of love, humility, and service. Christ is in me, and Christ in me is such a compelling story that it demands expression. So, He gives each of us a continual string of seasons of the Lord. Each of them represents a different but a still compellingly perfect time for giving voice in worship and praise of the Lord for our own salvation song.   

And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.

Luke 1: 45

Mary believed what the angel told her. It might seem natural to say something along the lines of, “Certainly, of course. Why wouldn’t she accept and embrace this great thing that she was singularly selected to do?” Yet, think about this for a moment. How might any of us respond to being told that our world was about to be completely interrupted and turned upside down by an event of this magnitude? This might not be the sort of thing that would even seem plausible or possible to comprehend. Still, Mary’s acceptance and belief are portrayed as complete, absolute, and without hesitation or doubt. In looking at her story, it strikes me that this little line of scripture that is buried in the flow of the narrative is very significant to others of us, as well. Her faith in God’s goodness and love is so complete that she is ready in body, heart, and mind to follow the Lord’s leading and to serve His will with all of her being and in every aspect of her life.

The Lord makes promises to all people. He did not start or stop in this sort of engagement with us with Mary, with the Apostles, or at any other point in history. From the beginning of time until the very end of it, God is a covenant making and keeping being. His word is given with great care and consideration of the purpose behind the promise that is made, and He does not waiver of recant on follow through and completion of His word. Creation was promised that God would provide a Savior for us when we rebelled and grabbed ahold of death as our new destiny. Then, in due time, Mary gave birth to the One who is the fulfillment of that promise. Jesus the Christ was miraculously born to this young woman, and our lives are redeemed from the state of separation from God and the living and eternal death that was the natural result of that estrangement. This is the greatest of all of God’s promises, and He has made it available to everyone who will respond to Christ’s appeal, “Come to me!”

There are many other ways that God has made promises to me and to others who follow Him. The Lord is generous beyond my ability to count or to measure; yet, I do not fully appreciate the breadth, depth, and scope of God’s commitment to me and to His kingdom on earth. Although I do not doubt God’s presence or the reality of what Christ means to and in my life, I admit that I do not think and act in a manner that fully and continually reflects a state of existence that is absolutely infused by the love, grace, mercy, justice, and righteousness that is the outworking of Christ’s presence in my life. I do not operate out of the simple, direct, and unwavering faith that are so apparent in this description of Mary’s response to the Lord. This lack of such a faith is something that demands repentance on my part and submission to Christ in any and all areas of my life where I continue to hold onto my flawed and much weaker form of control. So, I pray, “Lord, my faith is incomplete. I hold onto parts of my life when You have asked that I give it all to You. I repent of my sin, and seek to follow Your will and way in all that I think, say, and do. Lord, please grant to me the full and absolute faith that Mary knew. This is my prayer and my plea. Amen.”  

For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.

1 Thessalonians 5: 5

In general, the day is characterized by visibility. There is present in it an abundance of the bright and dependable light that comes from the sun. This stands in contrast to the night when the brightest source of illumination is the elusive and less than reliable moon. In the sense of spiritual things, Christ is also that powerful and constant light source. This carries through into all aspects of life and into the way that followers of Christ live, too. Christ gives us a perfect example of what it means to conduct ourselves in a manner that can be examined under that bright light and found to be, in all matters, above reproach and without even the slightest taint of corruption. This radiance of purity, the holiness of God exemplified, fills our world with its presence as it becomes the true light that God’s own people see and that provides the clarity of eternal wisdom to all who seek to know it.

In this way, we are changed by surrendering our lives to Christ. The light that He grants to all who follow Him is transformative in the work that it does with hearts and upon minds. We literally see the world differently when Christ is the source of the illumination that makes it all visible, and everything that is made visible by Christ’s light is also made known to us through the filter of God’s Word of truth and wisdom. This new perspective on life is a great gift that God gives to His people. Yet, it is left to us to fully utilize it and to exercise it to the greatest extent possible in conducting ourselves as Christians in our world. Unfortunately, none of us do this with the same consistency as Christ exhibits in granting His love, grace, truth, mercy, and righteousness to us. Most people go through life with our eyes half closed and with our vision obscured by selfish interests, prejudices, and the outworking of our fears.

As we are new beings in Christ, so we can let go of all of these remaining aspects of our old selves by surrendering them all to Christ and submitting every aspect of our lives to the control of the Spirit and to His work within us. The statement, “We are not children of the night or of the darkness” is an affirmative one. We can enter every day that we face with it upon our hearts, implanted into our brains, and spoken as our motto upon heading out into the world. Christ has taken us out of the perpetual darkness of sin and its death shroud of separation from the glory of God, and He has bathed us in the newness of the light of his Spirit now resident within us. We can enter into the challenges and the adventure of each new day with the certainty of Christ’s presence with us in all that we will encounter. We will face into situations and we will engage with people who desperately need to know the love and the grace of the Savior. There will be many moments along the path that we follow through each day when the light of Christ pouring out from us may be the illumination that is needed to change a small corner of the world; so, I pray that in those moments I will let the glory of Christ shine out unfiltered and without restraint or restriction.   

Great peace have those who love your law;

nothing can make them stumble.

Psalm 119: 165

 

There are many parts of life where balance is everything. This is true when we are dancing, running, using tools to build something, and very true when we are engaging in relationships. Balance avoids the extremes of overreach and lunging awkwardness. It also keeps the world within our grasp as it helps us to extend our reach to its greatest possible extent. This balance that keeps us upright and moving forward is a product of the sort of peace that God grants to our souls and with which our souls grace our hearts and minds. Peace that so saturates the soul is granted to us by the presence of Christ within us.

 

Christ transforms our hearts into ones that desire what is good and guides our minds to seek out thoughts, considerations, words, and actions that are righteous and just. The Spirit speaks to us with words of encouragement as He also provides us with wisdom and understanding of God and of His will. He leads us into the deep truths that are contained within God’s Word so that we are infused with the Lord’s new law for living in this world. This is the law that brings life to us and that blesses the world around us with Christ’s redemption from death into His light and life.

 

As we traverse the track over which we are required to travel during our days, God’s law, in its full expression, guides out steps and gives us the assurance that we need to stride boldly when the ground is often uneven and the light ahead is uncertain. God’s law is not so much a rule book or a formalized statement of beliefs, although it does include these things; rather, it is an ethical and a moral guidance that comes from within the heart that Christ has transformed and that is called into use and is given expression by the mind as it is operating under the direct guidance of the Spirit of Christ. So, Christ gives us a peace that brings about the ability to rest calmly and quietly in the Lord while entering into the calling of service that He has for our lives

Be angry and so not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.

Ephesians 4: 26, 27

 

Anger is a natural and a normal response to forces, factors, and situations that do come about during the course of our days. The capacity to feel anger is something that God placed within us in His creation of our nature. We are told that God, Himself, feels anger. So, we cannot just discount these feelings as something that is wrong or that comes solely from some dark place within our fallen natures. Anger, itself, does not demand redemption; however, the way that it tends to play out in our lives is another story, indeed! For, anger is far too often something that we do not resolve. We carry it around with us and even summon it up again and again in order to fuel a particular need or desire to convey personal perspective or to gain an advantage in situations. This retained anger adds force and fury to words and expressions that might otherwise have gone unnoticed or under-appreciated, or so we think.

 

Yet, anger can turn from something that is a part of the nature that God gave to us and that is good and useful and become sinful in a very short amount of time. When we hold onto it and do not seek to resolve its causes it begins to eat away at our souls and to erode the love out of our hearts. The force and the power that may have driven us to seek justice and to demand righteousness quickly becomes a corrosive substance that defaces our understanding of the value and the beauty that God placed in others. We begin to see an enemy when we should see a sinner that is in need of understanding mixed with truth in order to bring about Christ’s redemptive work in them and in our relationship with them. That is why Paul places so much urgency in his directive about resolving our anger. Although there are some cultural aspects to what he says about not carrying anger with us over night, the more important aspect of this is the fact that resolving our differences needs to matter above and beyond all else as it is more important than sleep, itself.

 

Almost everyone will be angry from time to time, and there will be a number of different causes for this anger. Some of it will be generated by the injustice, violence, and oppression that are rampant in our broken world. At other times, anger will arise when people that we know are either harmed by the sinful actions of others or when sin is perpetrated upon us. Still, other anger boils up out of disagreement and dispute with others. Regardless of the cause, the emotion that is anger has a short life span as a healthy response to people. It needs to be worked through and responded to in a manner that leads toward resolution. Sometimes that next stage in its expression is found in prayer, in writing letters to governmental officials, in bible study that leads to the teaching of correct, Scripture-based responses, and in forgiveness of wrongs real or imagined. Sometimes anger is resolved by repentance and by entering into a dialogue with another person. Anger is powerful. It is a big emotion. It is best worked out in the much bigger power of the Spirit as that working out, that resolution, requires commitment and hard work to accomplish; yet, that end result leads us closer to Christ and to the center of His unfailing love and grace.

 

 

 

 

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Philippians 3: 20, 21

 

Paul was onto something. He knew one of the truly great secrets of the universe; something that brings miracles into being, and its basis is described in these words. They are not some form of incantation or magic spell that needs to be recited in a certain way or at a specified time; instead, these words describe a relationship and a way of viewing life and of living it that comes forth out of that relationship. In Christ, we change homelands and gain a different set of allegiances. Through Christ, the way that we view the world around us is also reshaped along the lines of the way that God views His Creation. Because of Christ, the Spirit works within and upon us to transform our hearts and minds into ones that are no longer focused upon the darkness of this world but that are oriented toward the glory of the Lord.

 

This new way of believing, of thinking, and of viewing the world around us changes the nature of our responses to others and to the life situations that we encounter. Sin is still sin, wrong and hurt are still painful, and that which is lost remains troubling; yet, Christ brings His redemptive view of it all to exist within our otherwise earth-bound and worldly view. So, Christ opens our eyes to see forgiveness where we might see strife. He brings us to offer grace when it would seem that rebuke might feel more powerful. We come to see the Lord of the Universe bending down to touch those who were unclean and stopping to scandalously enter into talk of true love with a shameful woman. Thus, in seeing Jesus with the eyes of a heart that is awakened to His desire to call each of us into service to His Gospel, we too can stop in the midst of our seemingly important journey through life and bend down to lift up those who are beaten down and fragile and to enter into the stories of others who have been cast aside by the proper and too correct authorities of our day.

 

As He did with Paul, Christ transforms the rules for living for us, too. Our citizenship in heaven also means that we are now to live under the laws and within the economy of God’s Kingdom come upon the earth. We now dwell in a place that is framed in by the presence of the Spirit and whose boundaries are defined by all the God claims as His own. In this sort of land, all of us who know Christ are called upon by God to seek peace with everyone, to love all others with a form of love that willingly sacrifices self in order to portray Christ and His love, that grants grace and mercy to those who seem least deserving of either, and that serves the will of our only true King, Jesus Christ, in all matters. This is a place where we still stand on truth and hold God’s Word as holy, absolute, and righteous, but we also possess the freedom in Christ to deliver this eternal truth with the sort of love that God framed it in at its inception. We are here for one purpose and that is to bring the redemptive love of our Savior into direct contact with every person and place in our world that we may go during each of our days here.