This is the covenant that I will make with them, after those days, declares the Lord:

I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds.

Hebrews 10: 16

 

It is an absolutely true fact that Christ has put an end to the very idea of a formal system of sacrifices that work to bridge sin’s divide between humanity and God. This old way of seeking the framework for righteous living has ended. The many layered code book of laws and rules that people devised and which assured our inability to ever comply has been burned upon the alter of Christ’s final sacrifice. However, despite what some people may say, Christianity is not a hollow set of beliefs that leaves its adherents on our own to figure out how to live righteously and to know what it is that is pleasing to God.

 

God has granted to His people a great gift. He has given us His Spirit. The Holy Spirit lives with us and lives in us. This is the person of God Who brings His Word to life and Who informs our hearts and minds about God’s essential foundational truths. It is this knowledge that directs our lives out of the wilderness of sin and into the great promise of Christ. In Christ and through God’s promise of His Spirit we are granted a form and a depth of guidance for life that far exceeds any codebook or even the most extensive judicial system. The author of the concept of rule and order now informs us. Our hearts are embraced and guided by the righteous designer of truth and justice.

 

Christianity is not a formless and rule less way to believe that allows its followers the freedom to think and to do as we please without regard for anything other than the assurance of forgiveness. God implants His people with His truth, and He holds us accountable for living up to it. If we truly know Christ and surrender our lives to Him, we have no choice in this matter. The Holy Spirit is with us and He does speak to our hearts and our minds. In fact, it is in yielding to God’s desires for the way that we think and live that we come into a full expression of Christ’s peace in our being. God, Himself, is made known to us in the true natural order that comes out of His law written on our hearts.

Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by Him without spot or blemish, and at peace.

2 Peter 3: 14

 

We live in a time that might be called The Day of the World or perhaps The Day of Man. You see, the conditions that exist for us today are ones that we have made for ourselves. They are a reflection of the world that we humans have desired for ourselves since the first people defied God and moved themselves and everyone since out of dwelling in God’s perfect shalom and into the violent brokenness that is our home. We need to own what our hands have created, and we must accept the fact of the chaos that is the product of our industry. Yet, in stark contrast to all of this stands God.

 

The Lord is not distant or disinterested in our world. He is very engaged in it and with us. Even with those first people and their almost unimaginable rejection of God’s truth in favor of the temporary image of being like God, the Lord poured out grace and mercy on them. So He continues to do this for all people to this day. God had promised to bring about the purification and the restoration of His Creation. In Christ He provided the means for each and every person on the earth to be a participant in this restorative work. This is what Christ does in and for everyone who sets aside our inherited and false god-likeness and yields our self to the one true and eternal Savior and Lord, that is, Christ.

 

So, as we await that day when Christ will come, and God’s plan for the cleansing away of the evil that is sin in our world, we have choices to make. We can determine to live our lives in a manner that honors God and that follows Christ. We can do this absolutely or we can set out conditions and circumstances for our commitment to God. Most of us land somewhere in the camp of people who do hold back some things and parts of ourselves. Yet, God wants all of us, and He wants us to seek Him always. The standard that Peter sets for us in being found by Christ to be “without spot or blemish” is impossible to achieve. We all sin, and we all fall short of that righteous glory that is Christ. Yet, the One whose blood cleanses us absolutely is also the One who pronounces us holy and fit for God’s presence. Thus we can live in our imperfection yet diligently seek Christ and His will while resting in that perfect peace, the eternal shalom, that is found only in the presence of God.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Philippians 4: 23

 

Here is a blessing that cuts to the very heart of our ability and our capacity to live with the peace, joy, strength, and purpose that God desires for each of His children. Although we may understand grace as that uniquely God given gift of His love and forgiveness that comes our way despite our total lack of merit, most of us don’t do such a good job of taking in that grace so that it resides deep within us and acts as a continual agent for transformative change in our hearts and minds. Yet, that is God’s real intent when He grants His grace to us.

 

When I realize that no matter how big a mess I make of my life, how far I wander from God’s righteousness, and how difficult I am to love that my Lord will remain faithful to His promise to never leave me, I am, at first, humbled; then, His Spirit works within me to start to change the ways that I think and act so that I am made more like the God-image bearer that I was created to be. As grace works in and on us, we should begin to see that it also cries out to be shared with the world around us. The Spirit of Christ filling our spirits with His love and grace should be leading us to need to pour out this same grace upon our families, friends, neighbors, and communities.

 

The transformation that receiving grace can accomplish in our own lives can also be the force that brings about true change in our world. Grace needs to be taken in deeply, but it should never be held onto as if it is a finite and irreplaceable commodity. Instead, we should make it the filter through which we view the rest of our world. Then grace can become the way that we connect with others in a way that brings the living Christ into their lives.

 

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, for He cares for you.

1 Peter 5: 6, 7

 

When I look at how hard I work to hold onto my fears, concerns, and anxieties, I am amazed. My mind continually goes back to these familiar old scripts where the behaviors that I exhibit are damaging, counter productive, and even harmful. Yet, these scenarios are the text of my life, and they have been constructed over time to form a very comfortable shell that surrounds my heart and my mind and that keeps me from straying too far into the risky waters of fundamental change. God sees this behavior as arrogance and as a form of pride.

 

By holding onto ways of thinking and behaviors that have proven to be unproductive in the past and by continuing to grasp them as if they were my greatest treasures, I am saying to God that I know better than He how I should live my life, and I am demonstrating to those around me that when I say that I trust God and that I desire to follow His will that what I really mean is that I do these things only to the extent and so far as my own definitions of what is safe and acceptable will allow me to venture. Unfortunately, this way of living is self-centered and hypocritical, and it shuts me out of experiencing the full extent of the wondrous blessing that God has in mind for me.

 

The answer to all of this seems to lie in no longer being concerned about what others will think about me or about my own sense of my short comings or weaknesses. God’s answer for me is found in the extravagant love that He has for me and through the moment by moment reality of His care for me. When I stop looking at myself and start focusing on God’s face, I see the way that His Spirit envelops me, and I hear the reassuring words of His counsel directing me to step forward and to engage the adventure that He has prepared for me in this life. Lord, God, I pray that as I go through this day I will continue to cast away the spirit of anxiety that keeps my eyes focused on myself and that I will continually gaze upon Your face and follow Your path into the Your perfect love has set out for me.

 

He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.

1 Thessalonians 5: 24

 

When God calls to us, and, by the way, He always does, the Lord doesn’t just leave us alone to figure it all out. He always has a plan for how we can respond to Him and for what sort of support we will need in order to accomplish His mission in our life. Yet, I have discovered an interesting thing about the way that God works in my life in that His plan is not ridged. Therefore, He allows me to make choices and to reach decisions that are my own, and He still supports me in making them happen.

 

Taking action is more important than getting every detail perfectly right. Yet, moving forward is also much harder for me than planning and analysis. The Lord wants me to trust Him with taking care of the details as we go out into the great adventure of living for Him. God continually speaks to me; sometimes He whispers into the quiet of the night, at other times He shouts like the winds of a storm, and in some instances He speaks through other people. Still, His voice is a constant presence.

 

Christ’s call is not so much expressed in terms of “go there” or as “do that”; rather, He calls on me to seek righteousness, to draw near to Him, to love absolutely, and to serve the gospel of Jesus with all of my heart. Christ also tells me to let go of my hard but faltering grip on control of life. He reassures me that He is the actual doer of all that He calls upon me to accomplish. So, as I do these things, God promises that He will make His will my reality.

It is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish.

Matthew 18: 14

 

If Jesus meant this with His usual sincerity, then what does He intend for us to do about making it so? Maybe we should provide financial support for the work of our local church and to missionary efforts around the world, perhaps we need to continually seek the Lord’s intervention in the lives of the people that we know who don’t truly know Him, and it may be that we should live in a manner that looks more like God’s descriptions of righteousness. I think that all of these are true statements, and I also think that all of them are more the result of what Jesus is instructing us to do than they are the actual direction that He is telling us to go.

 

By His own example, Jesus was a goer and a doer. He went to the place where people lived, and He entered into the real aspects of their lives. It didn’t matter whether it was at a party, on a hot and dusty road, by a sick bed or a grave, in a crowd, or in isolation; Jesus went to the place of need to meet the life needs of everyone who would listen to and trust Him. While doing that, He also fulfilled their most basic of longings by providing the means for their souls to be brought into relationship with God. Jesus prayed to the Father for guidance and direction; then, He acted upon God’s expressed will.

 

It seems that the primary thing that Jesus is telling me is to go and to do. Christ wants me to enter into the lives of people, and this includes all types, sorts, and descriptions of people. He wants me to get out of the safety and the security of my church, my family, the rules of proper social behavior, concern over the possible reaction of another, and everything that stops me from acting as a flesh-bearing, life-living, Christ’s love filled bearer of the good news of the Lord’s saving grace. “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.” (Matthew 18: 11) As the Spirit of Christ fills us, so we are called to live our whole lives with this truth on our lips and with sharing and demonstrating its reality in our lives as our continual focus.

 

 

To Thee, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise,

For Thou hast given me wisdom and power.

Daniel 2: 23

 

Everyone has a family history of faith, and it doesn’t matter if your parents and your grandparents knew God in a deep and an intimate way or not. For each of us who does know the Lord in this personally redemptive way is a direct descendant and a personal participant in a long line of people who have likewise been close to God. Their stories and my story are entwined by Christ’s redemptive love. I am truly thankful to God for the way that He has always been the active seeker of the hearts of people, and I am very blessed by the way that He has worked trough these people to make Himself more accessible and better known to me. God has caused others to write down their story of how they came to know Him, of what the Lord has done in their lives, and of the transformation that His love brought about in them. Then, He continually speaks to my mind to provide me with an understanding of these stories that makes them applicable to my life.

 

God wants to be understood and clearly available to all people. He doesn’t need the type of power that comes from being obscure; so, He makes the process of entering into a relationship with Him very simple. Then, God stays with us through the entire journey of life, and His loving grace continues to make it possible for even a person as flawed and weak as I am to stay in close relationship with Him. Thus, I am thankful to God for His love for me, for His desire to be close to me, and for His continued interest in my life. Additionally, I praise God for the amazing ways that He works in my heart and my mind on a daily basis to bring about an on-going process of growth and of movement toward His will.

 

It is through this process of recognition of all that God is in our lives that we come to a place where we are made open to the interaction of His Spirit in us. As I look at the stories of my spiritual fathers that are told in God’s word and as I reflect on the odyssey that is my own life, I am led to see the never ending and unfailing touch of the Lord’s hand at every turn of those roads. Knowing God is to know His power, mercy, grace, and love. Truly knowing God places me in a position to humbly allow Him to be my strength throughout the day.