Trust in the Lord forever, 

For the LORD GOD is an everlasting Rock.

Isaiah 26: 4 

There is so much in life that can rock our worlds, and I don’t mean in a good way, either. Just go to your favorite news source and read the top ten leading stories and see how much pain and suffering is afoot in our world on a regular basis. Escape isn’t found in the Sports or Entertainment pages either. Scandal, death, and wasted lives are commonplace themes in those “soft news” venues, too. What is even harder is the fact that so much of the sort of distress that is facing people across the globe is also staring each of us in the face at home. 

While the stories about lives turned upside down and shaken from their foundations by acts of nature and actions of man swirl around us in a seemingly never ending river of chaos that leads to fear and discouragement, there is another news story that needs to be read. It needs to receive continual, constant, and even total focus. God has written His story of relationship, love, and redemption across the history of the world. He sets it before our eyes and He scribes it onto our hearts if we are willing to simply open ourselves to receive and to hear His voice. 

As we shift our thought from the evil and the darkness around us and onto the light of Christ’s grace, the Spirit replaces confusion with clarity. He provides us with a sense of security that is based upon the actual fact of its existence. The Lord takes our swirling thoughts and emotions and calms the storm so that we can make reasoned and rational decisions while standing in the middle of the downpour. As we trust in God as the only valid source of truth and as the one who shows us the way to live with integrity, peace, joy, and love, in the midst of the world’s chaos, we are standing on the unshakable foundation of all of Creation.    

If we die with Him, we shall also live with Him.

2 Timothy 2: 11

 

There are elements of my being that are very hard to change. They just continue to come to the surface whenever the situation or the circumstances are right, and I am not talking about good things like courage or resolve, either. These are the parts of me that cause me to seek to go it on my own, to hurt others rather than take the pain myself, or to operate out of fear and doubt rather than from complete trust in God. Fortunately, the Spirit of Christ continues to point out all of this to me, and He faithfully takes on the fight that is needed to effect the changes in me that will get me beyond my weakness.

 

Jesus died a very public death so that everyone who desires to become completely alive would have the opportunity to do so. He gave His blood to free us from a state of eternal servitude to sin. That eternity of oppressive bondage begins at birth and never ends unless we accept the gracious gift of salvation that comes through Christ. Even after we have accepted this transformative gift, the change process is not close to completion; for, there are elements of our temperament and personality that have been infected with sin’s unhealthy way of thinking and acting, and the process of cleansing, healing, and retraining takes wisdom, recognition, understanding, and time.

 

It is important for me to continually seek the wisdom that the Holy Spirit brings so that I can recognize these undesirable traits in myself. Sometimes He speaks to me through God’s written word, at other times He uses the voices and the heartfelt concerns of people, and there are situations where the voice of understanding that leads to my desire for change comes from inside me. God wants me to take these ways of thinking and the behaviors that result from them and surrender control over them to Him. He wants me to publicly put them to death by talking with Him about what I am seeking to change in my life and by sharing this area of needed transformation with someone who will walk with me through the process. Finally, I need to realize and to accept the fact that as I surrender control and seek Christ’s work in me, then I am truly alive.

 

“For the mountains may depart

and the hills be removed,

but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,

and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,”

says the LORD, who has compassion on you.

Isaiah 54: 10

 

The language of Isaiah 54 has an emotional and a highly figurative quality to it. Yet, the nature of what is described is quite real. Mountains are a point of reference for us. If you live within sight on them, they create a frame in which the home environment is set as in a statement like, “The mountains are to the north, “ or, My city is surrounded by mountains.” So, the idea that the mountains and their foothills would be destroyed by an act of God’s hand or by the destructive forces that seem to operate at will in this broken world is powerful. This is the sort of societal upheaval that is on display here. This is a description of a world where the sorts of things that we use to set our frame of reference and to get our bearings are torn apart and turned over.

 

So, this statement from about 2,700 years ago seems to be accurately directed at our times and this world today; thus, the point that the prophet was making is also for us in our culture. He is saying that regardless of the upheaval and the chaos of the world where we live, God’s love remains constant and is poured out onto His people. The Lord has called upon us to trust Him and to trust in Him because God’s trustworthiness never falters or fails. The Lord is with us in and through the tumult and trials of living in this land where evil conceal itself in order to pounce upon the unwary and the innocent, and He protects our souls and brings peace to our hearts in all circumstances.

 

In simple terms, God cares deeply about people. He desires to be in relationship with all of us. There are no limits or limitations on God’s willingness to pursue people in order to save our souls from destruction and to bring our lives into the peace of His presence. He will even allow evil to operate with little restraint at times and in places in our world if that will bring some of us into that place of realization that we need Christ in order to truly live. There is nothing that anyone can do; there is no act of violence, anger, or oppression that can defeat the unceasing love that Christ has for us. Thus, we can walk with confidence in our world, and we can love others without reservation by pouring out this same love that Christ is constantly giving to us.

 

 

These things I have spoken to you that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

John 15: 11

 

Jesus is talking about the basic truth of staying close to Him as we go through life. He is telling us that following His way of living doesn’t require us to just grit our teeth and give up the pleasurable aspects of being alive, either. When we look to God for everything that we need to understand and for the wisdom to apply that understanding to our lives, the results for us will be a form of internal peace that is as the famous ad expression says, “Priceless”.

 

As we follow Christ in every aspect of life, we are granted a gift that exceeds anything that can be purchased. For in choosing to live this way we are filled with the joy of our Creator, and that is how He desires for us to live. This doesn’t mean that there won’t be hard times, days, and situations; however, it does mean that we can trust in God to have a plan for us in those times. We can enter into the hard situations with the joy of Christ to anchor our hearts and to clear our minds. Also, we can be completely confident in God’s promise of protection from the sort of harm that destroys our true selves.

 

Deep-seated joy may be expressed in smiles or it may be seen as a ribbon of tears on the cheek, and there are many times when it is both. Yet, it is always a gift from the Lord. Joy is found in quiet meditation and prayer, and it is discovered in God’s word. Joy springs up out of God’s Word as His truth provides us with the refreshing nourishment that our weary hearts and minds demand. As the breath of the Spirit fills our lungs with life, it implants the joy of Christ within us.

 

However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.

Romans 8: 9a

 

This is one of those highly personal and truly in my face statements. It would seem that Paul is really good at hitting me with thoughts that can penetrate to the depths of my heart. Note the twist of irony in his expression; “if indeed”. I think that he is saying that all of my times of living badly, particularly of thinking badly, should cause me to stop and to consider my life’s primary orientation. In essence, ask myself the question, “Does the Spirit of God live in me?” I do know that the Spirit does, I know it with the certainty of God’s promises to me, and this fact is confirmed through God’s Word and by His interaction with me every day of my life. Yet, I can still act like the spiritually dead person that I no longer am.

 

It is not that I should expect the temptations and the challenging times to disappear. They will always be with me. It is my response to them that is in question. The Spirit of God gives me a lot of room to navigate through my world as I choose. He also gives me wisdom and insight to do it without crashing into too many walls and causing harm to myself and to others; yet, He allows me the opportunity to decide whether I want to turn on the GPS or not. There are times when I wish that He would just force me to use his guidance. I would welcome situations where God would equip my life with a sort of spiritual breathalyzer test that would not allow me to start driving if I can’t pass a standard for spiritually safe movement. He won’t do that, for He wants me to grow in trust; therefore, I will be better equipped to deal with life in the moment and to show Christ to those I am involved with by the way that I do it.

 

It is this trust in God, linked to Him through His Spirit, with the connection created by Christ, which makes us alive. For, although we draw breath and blood courses through our veins, without this relationship we are living a dead life in a dying world. We are made alive by entering into the relationship with God. Thus, as we allow the Spirit access to our daily living, as we let our old thinking die, our spirits will become more alive with the new life that is found only in Christ. As Paul continues in Romans 8:11, “But if the spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you.”