Archive for May, 2015
“The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in peaceful dwelling place, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest” (Isaiah 32: 17-18).
Each of us chooses our dwelling place. By the hundreds of choices and decisions that are made each day, we are building a structure, a framework, a house, a paradigm, or context in which we will live our lives. If our choices are a reflection of our commitment to Christ and the teachings of His Word, our dwelling place will be firmly established, giving us peace and confidence as the storms and trials of life come against us.
“Do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will have received what he has promised” (Hebrew 10:35-36).
We have all questioned before the injustice of seeking to do everything right only to see everything go wrong. Perhaps you have even pondered whether or not the life of faith is worth it. The abandonment of faith, however, seems to be without reason. For once faith has been flung away, what is put in its place? There simply is no adequate substitute. Though our confidence may be broken in times of hurt and disappointment, it is a confidence being restored and fulfilled time and time again as we persevere, with the anticipation of what He promised being received.
“You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead” (Deuteronomy 11:18).
A dynamic faith cannot be accomplished apart from an intimate knowledge of and relationship with the word of God. Like any meaningful relationship it grows only by intentional effort. While the bible might seem daunting it can be read in about 72 hours at a casual pace. Reading just twelve minutes a day, you can complete the bible in a year. Many books of the bible can be read in less than 20 minutes; most under 40. Another challenge is to read through the New Testament every thirty days. This can be accomplished by reading seven chapters a day. By reading five Psalms a day, you can read through the entire psalter every 30 days. Additionally, consider a proverb a day to complete that book in a month. It’s never so much the plan, however, as it is the execution of the plan.
“…because the good hand of his God was upon him. For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel” (Ezra 7:9-10).
Three times in chapter 7 it is stated that the hand of God was upon Ezra (v.6,9,28). The conjunction “for” (Ki in Hebrew) offers the key (pun intended) to this becoming the reality for any one of our lives. Like Ezra, we must set our heart–the totality of our being–upon three pillars of discipline necessary for the formation of an abiding faith–the study of God’s word, the practice of God’s word, and the sharing of God’s word.
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you” (Psalm 32:8).
God’s faithfulness to instruct and guide us in the life of faith is evidenced in the provision of his inspired word and the person of the Holy Spirit. He has not set us upon a path of aimless meandering, but is keenly aware of our lives, circumstances, potential and, thus, has provided for us the resources to direct our paths in a way that honor and glorify his preeminence in our lives. It is the teachable spirit that continually seeks his counsel and possesses an insatiable longing for his wisdom that is never satisfied with present knowledge and understanding.
“How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered” (Psalm 32:1)!
Have you ever been haunted by a wrong committed? Does grievous sin from the past continue to haunt your every thought? You’re in good company. Who would have imagined that the man described as being after God’s own heart; whose intimacy with God and eloquence of language would produce the 23rd Psalm, would someday be writing the 32nd Psalm? While Satan’s one dimensional attack is to immobilize us with poisonous thoughts of the past, the resurrected Christ proclaims and provides for all who would receive it a three-dimensional atonement that is sufficient to cover all our sins — past, present, and future. Let it go. You have been set free.
“Because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before Me, I truly have heard you, declares the Lord” (2 Kings 22:19).
God’s grace and God’s wrath creates a dynamic tension through the entirety of scripture. Josiah receives the former and Judah the latter. While any attempt by our finite minds to reconcile the mysteries of the faith that belong to God certainly fall short, the consistent portrayal of grace throughout the biblical narrative is to view it as God’s unbroken chain of opportunity for humankind to turn their lives toward him. In contrast, God’s wrath is the final experience of those who refuse to do so; who continually live for themselves. God’s grace is his unlimited offering of mercy to undeserving people. Thus, doesn’t he deserve our best?
“Forget the former things; do not dwell in the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:18-19).
Dwelling on the past–the failures and the successes–is emotionally and mentally draining, and an utter waste of time since it cannot be recovered or redone. The greater tragedy, however, of being preoccupied with the past is that it causes you to miss what God is seeking to accomplish today. Faith is always a view forward; an optimism that, even in the dry, parched seasons of life, looks to the horizon ahead for the streams of hope that bring refreshment to our soul and a renewal of our strength.
“Because Jesus himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:18).
Just as there is a power the Tempter uses to lead us down destructive paths, there is a power the Savior uses to deliver us from the temptations set before us. We can never deflect blame—“The devil made me do it.” Just as the forces of evil ably provide the means necessary to fulfilling your temptation when you choose to act upon it—which then becomes sin—our Savior is faithful to provide the power to walk away from temptation when you choose to do so. The choice is always yours.
“Before him there was no king like him who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him” (2 Kings 23:25).
If family background is any indicator of future possibilities, Josiah didn’t have a chance. Both his grandfather, Manasseh, and his father, Amon, did evil in the sight of the Lord and were considered the worst of the kings in Judah’s history. Even so, Josiah receives the highest commendation for the life he lived and the leadership he offered. It’s the needed reminder that Godly transformation will always trump genetic predisposition. We are not hapless puppets dangling on strings of DNA. The encoding of the Holy Spirit opens the door to endless possibilities.