To you, O God of my fathers,

    I give thanks and praise,

for you have 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 the 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, as I read His Word, God 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. After we truly know Him, 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. His presence encourages me when there is doubt in my mind, and His strength upholds me when the things that I am encountering are too big, loud, and ominous for me to see my way through. Finally, I also have a long history of God’s unfailing faithfulness to look upon so that I can count myself truly blessed and fully supported by my Savior, Lord, and King.

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Then the King, will say to those on His right, “Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

Matthew 25: 34

 

Life is about one thing and only one thing. Every good deed and loving thought comes from that, and all of our ability to withstand the hard times and the great sorrows that can come our way is derived from it. Whether you have accepted God’s call to believe in the totality of who He is or not, you live in a world where all of the love, thus, all of the goodness, comes from the One who wrote the script and who provides the energy behind those positive forces in our world. The Lord is not exclusive as to who He touches with His loving care, and He does not withhold access to it from anyone; yet, the possibilities that exist are much greater than just access.

 

For God has always had a desire to enter into a relationship with us; thus, He prepared a way for that to happen through Jesus, the Lord wants us to enter into the new dwelling place of His Kingdom, and He wants us to live in the full reality of our new home from this moment onward. So, all people are called by God to gain a blessing that He wants to give by accepting the totality of who He is and by agreeing to enter into a relationship with Him. If we agree with God’s calling and submit our lives to Christ, we are packed up, moved out of our worldly shacks, and relocated into the palace of the King Eternal.

 

Jesus calls; yet, I know that I don’t always listen; still, He keeps calling, and His voice wants to lead me out of the dark places of sadness and fear and into the center of the great festive hall of His kingdom’s glory where the Lord has a place prepared for me to live. Jesus calls to all of us who know Him to come and to reside in the center of His loving grace and care; for, the Kingdom of God and His royal palace are today’s reality for God’s own people; thus, we can claim our place there and never allow the lies of this world to make us believe that we live any place else. Believe in God’s promises and trust in Jesus’ words of wisdom, grace, and love. This new home and the relationship with God that leads us into it are here for the taking foe all who will listen to the Lord’s call and come.

Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.

Psalm 90: 1

 

There is a famous line from the Wizard of Oz that states, “There is no place like home.” This is a very true statement, and when you throw in the idea that “Home is where the heart is”, the thought behind this ancient prayer is complete. Because of the natures that we possess from birth, people are wanders and nomads, for we are continually looking for that greener spot to settle down and for a better way to fulfill our need for importance, significance, and to find a sense of belonging. Even after we accept Christ as our answer to the homeless condition of our hearts, we still continue to respond to the urge to go off on our own and to seek out a different and a better way to live than the one that God wants us to follow.

 

So, God continues to keep a light on for us to find our way back to Him. Yet His light is different from that low watt night light that our parents may have left on in an otherwise darkened hallway. The light that the Lord displays for a wanderer’s heart to see is the very active and dynamic one that is His Spirit, and He doesn’t just sit at home and worry or fret about our situation, He comes looking for us. Christ has no fear or concern about going into the dark streets and the rough alleys of our lives, and He never stops calling and appealing to a wandering soul to come back to that true home that provides comfort, safety, and restoration.

 

No matter where I am today or what condition my life is in, it is important for me to realize that my home is found in the presence of the Lord. Christ regularly demonstrates to me that His presence is continual and constant. If there is any sense of separation or distance in my relationship with God, it is always caused by my actions and attitudes, and that estrangement is the product of my own wandering heart. The Lord wants me to return to Him, and He takes me home with the quickness of prayer and the suddenness of His forgiveness. Then, when I return to God’s perfect place of calm and peace for my soul, He always seems to have ready for me the sort of food for my soul that I need to bring back my strength and to encourage me to set out on Christ’s path of service in God’s kingdom

 

 

 

 

Trust in the Lord forever, for in God the Lord, we have an everlasting rock.

Isaiah 26: 4

 

Trust can be hard thing to do; yet, we all do it continually throughout every day. We trust the floor to hold us up when we get out of bed in the morning, we trust the water that we drink to not poison us, and we place trust in numerous human relationships that we engage in during the day. It is the ability to trust that often defines just how we negotiate our way through life. It is the capacity to trust that greatly impacts our ability to enjoy the deeply felt freedom that God wants us to know. Where we place our trust defines us and it refines us.

 

When the stresses of living are resulting in that form of tension that seems to grip every fiber of the body, and it seems that it is impossible to find a clear and reasoned thought in your mind, you may be experiencing a trust-deprived time in your relationship with God. It is our all too human tendency to want and to need to own all of the answers to each of the situations that we encounter in life. After all, we were designed and equipped by God, Himself, to navigate our way through this world. However, the problem with this thinking is that it leaves out the most important part of the Lord’s plan for us. In God’s design for living and in His plan for life, we are also intended to be actively involved in a relationship of trust with Him, and this is where true and lasting freedom is found.

 

The sort of trust that allows us to face into the hard issues and the difficult uncertainties of life is founded on an understanding of who God is and of how much He cares for each of us. The Lord is that rock solid foundation under me that will not fail and that can not be knocked out from under my feet by any forces or pressures. He is the rock that will crush all of Satan’s attempts to attack my spirit. The Lord is the grinding stone of truth that will polish my mind so that the lies that creep into it are turned into dust to be blown away by the refreshing breeze of wisdom and understanding that comes from Christ’s Spirit. God is my Lord; He is the rock solid fortress where I can dwell always in complete safety and from which I can boldly live out my freedom.

 

For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

2 Corinthians 5: 1

 

As we live in this world today, Paul’s first statement above about the destruction of our earthly tents seems quite real and totally personal. Everyday and all around us we hear about and even experience events that take take hold of our lives with the iron grip of chaos, destruction, and loss. People’s lives are turned upside down, and we are thrown about by forces that we don’t control and by circumstances that slip up on us with the stealth of absolute darkness and the swiftness of demonic zeal. These events can take our homes, destroy our churches, and even shake our faith to the point of serious questioning of our relationship with God.

 

The Lord knows our world just as He knew the very similar one that Paul lived in; for, you see, the forces of evil have been loose on earth since the early days of our human history, and Satan wants to take our weak spirits into his hands and give us the sort of trials that strike us in our areas of greatest vulnerability. The Lord protects us, and He strengthens us so that we can handle these attacks. He also promises us with a certainty that is unshakable that this life and this world are not all that we have. In fact, the most magnificent structures and the greatest thoughts that we can enjoy in this life are nothing more than dim shadows of what we will experience in our next lives with God in Heaven.

 

Therefore, we need to remain hopeful despite everything that is happening in our world, and we need to continue to seek the face of God while in the center of our circumstances. It is this solid, tangible hopefulness that sets God’s people apart from the rest of humanity, and it is this ability to see beyond the moment to an eternal perspective that keeps us going on during times when our immediate world has been turned on its side. Our families, friends, neighbors, and communities are desperately looking for hopeful signs in these troubled times; so, people of faith who stay focused on the Lord’s promises can bring the light of salvation into their lives and the hope of eternity to their souls.

 

“The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.” Jesus

John 10: 10

 

If you have ever had anything stolen from you, you know how it feels. Although the circumstances of the theft and the personal importance of the items that were taken dictate the magnitude of the impact, there is always a very real and highly personal sense that someone has harmed you and that your world has been invaded, and it is the sort of feeling that lasts well after the event is done and the visible damage is repaired. This must be how God felt when Satan invaded His relationship with people, for evil literally broke in to the sacred heart of that relationship, and through deception, lies, and our own weakness, he took light and life from us, and Satan caused distance to come into that marvelously close connection with God that had been its essential nature.

 

However, the Lord is a lot like one of the characters in any number of films where someone is grievously harmed and then proceeds to search out the evil doer and to take them out; you know the story type, the revenge genre. Yet, God is even more into the thought and the actions of rescue rather than those of revenge, for He comes after everyone, every soul, which is taken from Him; therefore, the Lord comes after you, me, and all of the people that have ever or who will ever live. He is relentless in His pursuit, His plan is perfect, and the Lord will not stop trying to rescue us until we draw our last breath on this earth.

 

This rescue story doesn’t stop there; for, God wants us to live our lives in a state of peace, joy, and blessing that is like what He originally intended in the garden. The Lord wants us to be continually close to Him, and He continues to work to defeat Satan’s ongoing attempts to rob us of that quality of life. When there are things in our lives that interrupt and that disrupt that close relationship with God, they are usually caused by unresolved areas where sin has taken root in us. These are the aspects of ourselves that we need to submit to the Lord, and these are the issues that we need to open up about with our spiritual family so that we have the support, accountability, and strength to defeat the robber’s attempts to break into our lives. Jesus has already won the victory over Satan, and He has won that same victory for us; therefore, we simply need to trust Him and to claim what Christ intends to be ours.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18

 

This is the sort of thing that we hear a lot in the world of Christian thought and direction for life. Yet, does this really make any sense? Is this a reasonable or even a reasonably human reaction to the sorts of things that happen to us? Even God tells us that He wants to hear our fears, doubts, concerns, pain, and grief. The Bible is laced through with examples of godly people who pour out their agony and dread to the Lord in the hope of relief or comfort or salvation. So, going about life with thanks to God on the tip of the tongue and praise for the Lord as the instant response to bone-crushing situations seems to me to be utterly crazy and not even close to reality. However, if Paul was anything at all, he was a realist. He knew his way through the harder sides of life, and he had experienced Christ’s redemption in a profoundly real and life-altering manner.

 

For Paul and for each of us, the difference maker in all of this is Christ Jesus. Paul knew of and about God. He was devoted as fully as any human had ever been to the pursuit of that knowledge and to the carrying out of God’s will as he perceived it. Yet, without Christ he did not truly and actually know God, and he was not capable of living out the will of this Father who he did not know. This is true for all people. Many of us think that we are following God, and we may consider that we possess all that we need in order to do so. However, God’s Word makes it very clear that there is one and only one way to enter into the sort of relationship that leads to the close, intimate, and life-giving connection that God desires to have with people and that is by and through Jesus the Christ.

 

So, in Christ everything is changed. Life is ours, and this new life is one that fills our days here and now, and it grants to us the fullness of eternity with God. Christ transforms the perspective that we have on the world where we live as He grants to us His vision of it all as the dwelling place of the Lord and of His heavenly host of angelic beings. As Christ is in me and His Spirit counsels, guides, and directs my reaction to the world and engagement in it, everything looks and feels different. Pain, hurt, disappointment, fear, and grief are not eliminated, but the Lord’s strength and comfort overcome their power over me, and my heart and mind are set free from the oppressive hold that the author of all loss is attempting to gain on me. Christ makes it reasonable and even rational to be thankful in the midst of great trials. As I surrender to God’s will in Christ Jesus, He brings every day of this life into conformity with His desire for me to live with the internal peace and calm reassurance of His presence filling me to overflowing with thanksgiving and with praise.