Friday, July 31, 2009
After being reminded yesterday of God's justice and patience when it comes to evil, David immediately responds to tell us the type of people who will inherit the true gifts of God and enjoy the peace that goes along with those gifts. Though this is another short verse, there are so many places God can teach us through this passage. We must always be reminded what 2 Timothy 3:16-17 states, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." Therefore, each and every word from God is useful.
Understanding this scripture is not difficult but applying it is. We already know that it is a reminder that those who love God obtain the type of eternal mindset that allows us to recognize nothing surpasses the gifts we receive when trusting God. It's difficult to apply because it is much easier to trust ourselves and pursue our own fleeting idea of perfection even though this pursuit is typically done by acts that are the opposite of meekness (i.e selfishness, evil, etc...). I find it incredibly interesting that the word used to describe the people who will inherit God's land and experience His peace is "meek". Typically we think of the word meek as a synonym for the word "weak" (probably because of the SWEET rhyming effect). However, in Hebrew the word meek is translated into "anav". this word is not a sense of weakness but instead is defined as "a sense of being humble".
One of the best definitions of humility that I've heard is "humility is not thinking less of yourself, instead, being humble is thinking of yourself less". Can you imagine a place where our number one focus is a love for God and others. Even Jesus when asked by a Pharisee in Luke 10 how to inherit "eternal life" responded by saying, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind';and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" Clearly, the abandonment of our own self interest for the sake of Christ and the love of others is where we begin to live in God's eternal Kingdom.
Some of my favorite stories are ones about humility (meekness). Just today on sports talk radio I heard a story about Lamar Odom of the Lakers. They were expressing just how humble this player is. Out of his love for his teammates, he decided last season to be a bench player even though he may very well be the second best player on the team. The response to this act was that the team developed into a Champion and avoided some of the turmoil that comes when mixing selfish ego's. Even more surprising is that in this world of selfishness and contentment by financial gain, he decided to do this in a year in which He would become a free agent and have the ability to obtain a huge contract financially if he played well. Because of his humility and love for others he was able to win a championship and was still blessed by a contract for four more years.
Today don't be afraid to think of anything but yourself. This isn't done by telling people how you "don't matter", or that you "aren't special" because not only are those sayings a sense of false humility but they are actually blasphemy. By telling others of our irrelevance we remain focused on our own "self" and are indirectly complaining about the way God made us. Instead, become excited by the fact that we will receive a gift from God and inherit "the land" due to our love of God through the acceptance of His Son. We will also eternally be with a number of people who love others like they love themselves. I know that if I can love those I'm in contact with as much as I love myself, they will be some of the most thought of, cared for people on Earth (not to mention they will have a new mirror and hair product). What an amazing promise to look forward to!
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Where is your focus today? Are you focused on the people around you? Are you focused on yourself? Or are you focused on God? Clearly all three are of great importance in our lives, but focusing only on God is what gives us the kind of perspective needed to bring contentment to our own lives and be a blessing to the lives of others. By focusing on God, we learn to trust Him in the way He handles both good and evil around us.
Psalm 37:10 is a reminder that not only does God have my life in His hands but He also deals justly with every other life He created. We need not worry or wonder about whether somebody will get the punishment we believe they deserve. God is just and He clearly states that "the wicked will be no more, though you look for them, they will not be found". How often do we sit in judgement of a person living wickedly, or "ungodly" and then wonder why they have not been struck down by lighting or end up covered in Nickelodeon slime? Then, we see a good person die of Cancer and we respond by questioning God's goodness. The answer to both of these lies in the perspective of the realness of God and a life in His Kingdom. God knows what's best for all of us and by allowing Him to give to each of us as He sees we need, we get out of the way of our own opinions of what is "needed" in favor of His justice and foresight.
This scripture is a great reminder not only of God's justice but also His patience. Notice that the scripture started off with "A little while..."If God responded to evil the way we do, everyone would be dead instantly and the grace and love that He gives through Christ would not be needed. 2 Peter 3:9 states, "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." God desires that we all choose Him, and when we live a life of evil and wickedness without accepting the gift of grace and love through Christ we can expect nothing less than being without God and those who love and worship Him.
We need to constantly be reminded of God's control over everything. More than destruction and hell for those who are created in His image, God wants everyone to be with Him in His Kingdom for eternity, that's why He is patient in His long term punishment (though the repercussions of evil acts can of course be felt in this earthly life). It is not our job to look around and hope something awful would happen to those who do evil because God will give them the punishment they deserve if they decide against the invitation of forgiveness through Christ. We also need to remember that every evil act needs forgiveness, therefore, we ought to pray for those who don't know Christ that they may come to know Him for who He is: Savior, Lord, Redeemer and Friend.
Today, trust that God knows what's best for all of us. He knows that there are consequences to our actions in this life and the next. It is not our job to decide who "deserves" to be gone today. If you are tired of evil, be patient, God is, and He will do away with all evil on that amazing day that we come into His presence. In the meantime, focus on Him and be a blessing because we are blessed.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
During my morning reading of "My Utmost For His Highest" by Oswald Chambers I came across an interesting thought. In speaking about the importance of learning during the tests, "trials" and circumstances of life, Chambers pondered the thought that maybe what we are learning during those times is to "unlearn" what we already know.
Clearly in Psalm 37:9 David is continuing to distinguish between two perspectives. One perspective (the finite and worldly) states that getting the most out of this life at any cost (evil, deceit, etc...) is (and always has been) the social norm and those people will be cut off from God. The other perspective is that we need not fear our place and hardships in this life. The answer to true peace, joy and happiness (the state of being and not the emotion of being "happy") lie in trusting God, letting go of ourselves along with our desires, and living a life based on truth instead of emotion. We are being reminded that, "... those who wait and hope and look for the Lord [in the end] shall inherit the earth."
The American version of Christianity has been infiltrated by selfish thinking pawned off as "self-help". We are taught to trust in our savings accounts, IRA's, 401k's and Investments as our security. We are led to believe that life can truly be found in how comfortable we make ourselves. Many times it's much easier to thank God for what "He's given us" instead of waiting on His perfect plan for us. We are also led to believe that God is our version of "Aladdin" who grants our wishes and makes everything better (from our own finite perspective of what "better" even looks like). We've been fed motivating lines like "you can do anything you put your mind to!" or "if you just work hard enough you can obtain anything you want out of this life!" without proper perspective that this ability is a gift from God for His good to be done. We treat statements like those as if that they are the answers to what life is all about, pleasing ourselves and then thanking God that we've obtained our version of "heaven on Earth".
Now don't get me wrong, enjoying the fruits of ones labor, wonderful vacations, paying bills, saving money (not hoarding out of fear) and having a "nice" house are all GOOD things. But what we need to "unlearn" is that the habit or worldview of believing happiness, peace, contentment, joy and LIFE reside in a completely checked off list of the "To Do's" mentioned above (along with many other things we put on that list). Our true happiness lies in trusting that a life of abundance from an eternal perspective is found in following Jesus Christ. As Jesus clearly states in the gospels, "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?".
I read another quote by Madeleine L'Engle that I wanted to end with today. Her words really put this idea of "unlearning" into perspective. I want to note that we can just as easily become so "spiritual" that we forget we are also living in a "natural" world. In the midst of trusting the goodness of God we still manage to over-spiritualize things for our own sake and benefit. When we do this, we again make our own relationship with God about us and believe that if we please Him by forsaking "things" of this natural world He will somehow like us better. The thought of pleasing God in that fashion takes out the idea of His grace as we take on the Spiritual weight of proving ourselves to Him.
L'Engle states, "I would like to travel light on this journey of life, to get rid of the encumbrances I acquire each day. Worse than physical acquisitions are spiritual ones...that self which, coddled and cozened, becomes smaller as it becomes heavier. I don't understand how and why I come to be only as I lose myself, but I know from long experience that this is so."
We need to "unlearn" the theory that we will be fulfilled as obtain "bigger and better" things or that we have "made it" in life only if we cross off more "to do's". This is true in both the natural and spiritual life. The idea of unlearning is actually "addition by subtraction" as the Sports cliche says. Unlearning what we have been taught is "living" in exchange for the simplistic beauty of what God says is "living" is one of the truth's that allow us to trust God more deeply and eventually "...inherit the Earth".
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
"Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil." Psalm 37:8
I had a life altering conversation with a close friend last night. After letting him in on how great things have been going with my family, how I've really been overcoming and dealing with some health issues as well as how my work situation frustrates me more than watching Lifetime movies while the Lakers are on, he noticed a strange sense of anger and entitlement concerning my current circumstances. He asked me a couple questions that were a little out of the norm in my opinion considering I had no scripted answer. I decided to open up a little bit more and after explaining to him that I have really been surprised by how difficult and upsetting it's been for me to not feel back to "myself" after dealing with anxiety the past year and a half as well as how I can't stand the field of work I'm currently in he asked , "Have you ever had to eat Top Ramen?". I replied, "Of course I have" slightly giggling as every person that has gone to college has eaten Ramen. But being so tired I absolutely missed the point. (In my defense, if we measured my depth as a thinker last night when I walked in the door I'd say I was about as deep as the ocean in Death Valley.) As I'm sure you can tell, asking this question was his way of asking if I've ever had to deal with tough times. He then said, "I mean, really, what are you angry about? Why do you feel things should be perfect all the time? Haven't you ever had to work for anything? Things aren't perfect for anybody else, why should they be perfect for you?".
This was the part I was not expecting. I had to look at the cause of my anger and entitlement issues. (A slight bummer when I planned on watching the finale of the "Bachelorette".) My answer to him was, "Hmm, well, I don't know what I'm angry about, I do expect to 'feel' normal all the time, and I guess everything in my life has come pretty easy...but I always work hard (had to plug myself). I haven't really had to spend long periods of time in order to see success though." My own response made it clear to me that my anger and fear were stemming from the fact that I've never learned to trust anybody other than myself, and because I had the ability to make things turn out as I wanted them to go in the past, I have never have had to patiently wait for anything. Now, as life is taking some uncontrollable turns over the past 18 months, my response is to whine, complain and get mad as I no longer have the answers.
We talked a while longer and I was able to realize something very important, if we are playing God in our own lives, we are only one uncontrollable situation away from "losing it". As trends forecaster Gerald Celente is quoted as saying "When people have nothing to lose, they lose IT!" When I come to a place of frustration, I feel as though I have nothing to lose and in response I become angry and am willing to do whatever it takes to get back to a place of "normalcy". This morning, as I read this scripture, it took on a whole new meaning for me as I considered the fact that every time I sit in God's place in my life, each failure leads to evil as I can't help but get angry. So what then is the response to the truth of today's short verse?
The truth always comes back to letting go of the tight grip we have on our own lives and the sense of entitlement that goes along with expecting everything to turn out as we believe it should. These types of expectations are the seeds we plant that bloom as anger and frustration. Realistically, we can only become angry, if we (or somebody else out of compassion) is being wronged. That's entitlement! If we step OFF the God shaped throne in our own lives we become a solution to the anger that leads to evil. Therefore, if I allow God to manifest himself through me, I would have everything to gain (eternal perspective) and the anger, wickedness and evil are gone from my life. As we've mentioned in days past, if we let go of everything in our life and trust God we have nothing to fear as we know that "...in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Let go of your fear and anger today so that we never be the type of people who bring about evil and instead allow God to bring goodness through us.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Stillness is a difficult word to swallow in this culture. To us, being still is nearly impossible as we constantly run around in a hurry and complain we don't have enough time to rest. Even if we are not doing anything physically our mind is constantly racing about what we still need to do in order to make life more comfortable. Fortunately for us, this scripture is actually teaching us how to become more still, how to let go of our whole self-righteous thinking in favor of God's righteous ways, and to once again gain perspective on the role God plays in our lives. Much like the way we become righteous (by allowing God to take our lives over) we become "still" or learn how to "rest" by dying to "self".
In Hebrew, the words "Be still" or "Rest" (as some translations read) in this scripture come from the word "Damam". "Damam" is difficult to define in the English language which is probably why we take the words we read and figure it is something else we have to "DO" in order to become still. But always remember that God is not a God of "confusion", so he can't possibly mean that we have to get busy doing something if He wants us to be "still". Fortunately the true definition of "Damam" implies that we need to do less, or stop thinking so much about what we think is right. Defined, the word "damam" is a way to tell somebody to "be dumb" or "to perish" (to die to yourself). In other words, the beginning of this verse is telling us to get over ourselves enough to recognize that if we become "dumb" before God, He is actually able to operate in our lives much easier as we get our human heart out of the way in favor of His. It is also important to quickly re-define the words "to wait patiently" in the Spirit of the text. "To wait patiently" defined in Hebrew is the word "chuwl". It can be better explained as "to twist or whirl, specifically to dance".
So let's iron this thing out. This verse is telling us to become dumb before God and dance in a sort of care-free (trusting) way as we wait for Him and what He knows is best for us. Isn't that amazing? The way to gain perspective in this life is to become "dumb" to what we think is right in favor of what God knows is right and then more or less ENJOY our time as we wait for Him to give us His vision. God wants to remind us that our lives become complete when we trust Him wholeheartedly. When we quit "interpreting" what He's truly saying in order to fit our own wants and desires.
I don't know about you but I constantly sit on my thrown and play God. I play God for myself, I play God for others and even more insulting is that I play God for God. Quite honestly, I don't know why He operates in such a unique fashion, or why he let's "men succeed in their ways", or why He claims that Jesus is the only way, but clearly He does. When David reminds us to be still before God and wait patiently for Him, he is providing us with the ability to substitute our worldly minds (which may be influenced or jealous of those people who succeed without moral inclinations and evil schemes) in favor of the mind of God.
Today, stop focusing on the good or the bad going on around you. Instead focus on letting go of what "seems" to be right and TRUST that God will provide us with what we need to know.
I Corinthians 3:19 reminds us that "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: 'He catches the wise in their craftiness'". Can we trust that God see everything including what is good and evil? Can we trust that if we let go of the stronghold we have on our own personal beliefs in favor of what He can do through us, then the world would truly see Jesus Christ instead of a bunch of people using His name for personal gain? Get your mind off of what everyone else is doing wrong and trust that the LORD will have his way with them. Instead, become dumb before Him and dance in delight as we trust in His love and grace for us.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Yesterday was the first true "cliffhanger" of this blog. Though I'm being a bit sarcastic it was definitely a scripture that makes you wonder what God's response is when we "commit" our way to Him . Even more importantly is the question, 'WHAT is God going to give us, that we clearly need to let go of ourselves in order to get?'.
The answer is that he will change our appearance and our appeal to the world from the inside out. "He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn..." No matter how hard we try, we can never be righteous on our own. Sure, we can try and make ourselves better people, do good, say the right things, be nice to the right people, and keep from getting angry but we can never be God's equal when it comes to His righteousness and His goodness. Only when he takes us over (after he is allowed by our commitment to Him) is he able to shine through us.
We then read, "He will make...the justice of your cause like the noonday sun." We begin to see how much brighter TRUTH "shines" when we let God live through us. It is no longer our opinion that is shining out loud but instead His truth. When our desires (see Day 4) become His, He is then allowed to reveal His righteousness and justice through us. We must also remember that because we have submitted to Him, our "cause" is actually His cause. Taking on His causes should be no surprise when we picked that up back on Day 4 as we were delighting ourselves in Him. It all comes together and abandoning your "self" is the only way to get where God is willing to take you.
This scripture does beg another question though that needs to be discussed. We must note that because God's letter to us always leads to His ultimate plan, then why is making us "righteous" and "just" to the outside world of any importance? Aren't we citizens of His Kingdom? Aren't we "in the world but not of it"? Jesus answers the importance of our righteousness from God's perspective in Matthew 5:20 at the Sermon on the Mount when he says, "For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven."
We need to obtain God's righteousness because if we do not, Christ says that we are unable to enter His Kingdom. This isn't opinion, this is fact. If you have an issue with it, take it up with Jesus...He said it. Now, Jesus also makes something else very clear. He compares (actually contrasts) the righteousness needed to enter the Kingdom with the most "righteous" religious folk of the day. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were always so busy "doing" religion and "trying" to be righteous, they never let God take over their hearts so that they may indeed have His righteousness and justice shining through them. The Pharisees were amazing God "pleasers" but they were terrible God "trusters". As Oswald Chambers once said, "The good is always the enemy of the best" and these Pharisees and teachers of the law settled for the good they could produce themselves instead of committing their ways to Him and receiving His best in terms of righteousness, justice and goodness.
What are you doing today that you are not letting God into because it "seems" good enough to you? Let Him into your whole life and trust that His righteousness is the only righteousness that allows you to live in His Kingdom. Trust, Delight and Commit to the LORD and watch how God uses you to promote His truth. Let Go of trying to impress God and watch Himself press His love onto others through you as you Trust Him.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
To not state the obvious wouldn't be fair to any person who is reading today. This verse appears to be a "run on". If I had a dollar every time I heard those two words in English class after I received a paper back in High-School I'd have somewhere between thirty and fifty dollars. Therefore, I specialize in "run on" sentences and I feel right at home today. It is also important to state that the scripture will eventually let us in on what God WILL DO, but we can focus on that tomorrow since "today has got enough problems of it's own". We must always remember that because of the greatness of God every word He says has meaning and in this case, the little "run on" of verse five is no different.
We've talked over and over about trusting Him. About letting go of ourselves. But why? The big reason is right here. If we "commit" and "trust", He will "DO"! That's it. Trusting Him allows us to take the weight off of making ourselves perfect, gives us relief from making tough decisions alone, and frees us from taking on the stress that comes with the "cares of the world". It allows God to be the "doer". Because some days I feel as though I'm about as sharp as a marble, I figured I'd share a quote with you I tore out of a calender earlier this year that says so much about the truth in this verse. It was written by Joni Eareckson Tada and it says,
"God wants us to lay our burdens on Him and rest in His love. It's His responsibility to work out the purpose and plan in our hardships. Only our refusal to trust Him...can hinder His purposes in our lives."
I couldn't have said it better myself (which in the Spirit of stating the obvious today is the reason I used the quote). When we refuse to trust God, we hinder His purposes in our lives. All the times we try to "do" Christianity or "do" what we think is right, we actually get in the way of the Spirit who does the work of Christ through us in His perfect timing. So often, we believe doing means moving in some direction, but aren't we still doing "something" even if we're doing "nothing"?
For those of you who always feel like your actions must be defined by a verb, this is a great time for you to "Let Go". Letting Go of your will is what will allow God to move in your life. This scripture is a true reminder that God is always at work, but He cannot fulfill His purpose in you, until you get out of the way of His plans. By letting go of ourselves we are actually increasing our Faith and most importantly we are allowing God to be who He is...God!
I've reached a point,
I've found the place,
To live in His Anointed One;
'Tis the answer "that leads to life"
And has made me Abba's son.
Dancing alone through this petty life
Has given me no direction
And even though I've encountered strife
It's defeated by His resurrection.
"Why then on Earth do I have meaning?"
Is now my lingering question.
The answer found both clear and loud
His word saying by both love and selection.
If life is not about me, then "what do I do?"
The question that won't leave my mind,
'Til I think straight and remember to
Trust the Lord and his perfect time.
So if I'm to live for Christ alone
And my dreams are no longer selfish,
I'll take up my cross, now that I've grown and make all my days here selfless.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
This is one of those nuggets of scripture that can be found in every Christian bookstore. It's on stickers, bumper stickers, bracelets, necklaces, posters, signs for your front door, signs for your bathroom, T-Shirts, scratch and sniff stickers and Wine bottles. (Ok maybe not the last two but you get the point)This is one of those "goodies". We memorize it because it has to do with us getting what we want. It's kind of fun in that it makes us believe that if we just hang out with Him, talk to Him, pray a little more for some other people and recognize He can do some things that we can't then He'll give us whatever we want. Seems like a pretty great deal! But is that really what this means?
Sadly, the meaning of this scripture has been lost in the translation. It's not the translation from Hebrew to English that's the problem, instead, like so many others, this scripture becomes a funny game of telephone that starts with our eyes, enters our brains and trickles down to our hearts. We so badly want this to mean what it doesn't, but if we twist it enough on that little journey from our eyes to our hearts, we can really make it seem like God is here to give us whatever we want. Let's face it, we wish this read, "Buddy up with God, recognize what He is able to do, and He will give you whatever you want. Just perform for Him, and he'll give you a sweet reward!"
Unfortunately, this scripture is so much more than the shallow game of scratch my back and I'll scratch yours we love to play with God. If we look at the entire Psalm, this line comes immediately after we are told to trust Him and feed on the fact that He is faithful. You see, our delight doesn't come from what we can do, but instead who God is. On this Earth, we see everybody out to please themselves regardless of the cost. There is no delight, only constant striving, hustling and fighting and our life is typically nothing more than a speed bump on the road to another persons gratification. That's why we constantly hurt. We are always being run over by people who love themselves more than they love us. But God is not like that. His love is unwavering and trustworthy. He proved it on the cross. He died for those He new wouldn't even accept Him. Talk about loving, now that's something to delight in!
The fact that we can delight in who God is and how much he loves us is where this verse and our life truly begins. We must start with that before HE gives us the desires of our heart. When we delight in God, we begin to take on His character, our desires change because they become His. His desires of love, justice, peace, grace and mercy will flow out of us and we don't need to wonder what we "desire" any longer. Without understanding why we ought to delight in God, we lose sense of the meaning of this scripture and the word desire is translated into "wants that gratify us" without God. But if we truly delight in the Lord, our desires become so much bigger than us and it allow us to be the vessel that God uses to show His love to the world.
Let go of what you WANT today and trade it in for the delight of a life lived in God's presence. In God's presence we are given desires that make us see the world like Him. Seeing the world like Him is what you need in order to see from an eternal perspective. Don't forget, if God thought our personal desires were more beneficial to us than delighting in Him, he had the authority to make this read, "Getting your hearts desires is what God wants, and when you get them, you can delight in Him." Fortunately, God knows better than we do, now there's something else to delight in!
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
After talking with a few people regarding this blog, it's been brought to my attention that these devotionals need to be shorter. So...let's get right to it!
Trusting God is one of my favorite topics. Let's face it if I can't trust Him, then I don't really believe in Him. If I don't trust that he'll take care of my needs (which He knows better than me), than I don't really believe in who He says he is. If I'm stressing about my life, than I don't really believe He has my best interest at heart. If I'm not trusting Him, then I'm counting on my "mortal" self to take care of my present and future. But as I'm learning day by day, we don't have to strive any longer. God is trustworthy and we can feed in this life on His faithfulness to us.
God's theme for me since July of 2008 has been to "Let Go". It's crazy that two words totalling five letters can mean so much. Those two words are literally life changing if we allow them to be. Letting go means abandoning ones self for His sake. Letting Go is what we do so that we can truly trust Him. It means forsaking what we think is best in our own lives and trusting that God's knowledge of the past, His future foresight and His current insight are where the best circumstances lie.
When we dwell in God's land we can feed on the faithfulness that our Creator does not change His character. He is a God who loves us, a God who provides, a God who is just, and a God who is eternal. When we put our Trust in Him, we are letting go of treating this life like it is all there is. When we trust in God's faithfulness we may rest in His peace knowing ahead of time that we are taken care of.
If you are going through a tough time (and who isn't?), take note of what area in your own life you are trying to control. Hand over that area to a God who loves you. Taking control and trying to "fix" our own lives leads to tension and discontentment as we never allow our problems to leave our mind. Instead, hand your issues over to God and trust in the fact that He is faithful and will provide. It was Jesus who said in Matthew 11:28-30, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for you souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Trust Him and live in the land of His faithfulness.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
This scripture is all about perspective. You'll hear it over and over these next 40+ days. After reading about the need not to fret those who do evil or be envious of those who do wrong, David immediately gives us perspective on why it doesn't matter what people do here on Earth to get ahead. This verse translated in today's language would read, "No matter what you do, big, small, ordinary or extraordinary, some day YOU WILL DIE".
I don't know about you, but I for some reason try not to believe this truth. You see...I have a terrible habit of fear. Besides fearing things like failure, my job situation, my money situation, my family's health, where I'm going to live in the future and what's going to happen to the United States, my biggest fear is that one day I MUST die. Talk about being a hypocrite, I claim to know and trust Jesus, and yet I don't believe His word that "to live is Christ and to die is GAIN".
But something in this Scripture really sticks out to me. it's those three little words in the middle of it. The "Like green plants" line before he says "they'll all die away". (No, this isn't the part where I make a joke about buying a hybrid or eating organic.) When I think of green plants, I think of words like healthy, thriving, lush, beautiful, perfection, well taken care of and of course photosynthesis and chlorophyl (doesn't everybody think of those last two?). In today's world the equivalent of green plants are the CEO's, the Athletes and Entertainers, the thrill seekers and those who live on the Ocean somewhere. It's the guy with the cars and the women, and the woman with the diamonds that is constantly found at the "Spa". It's those who have it "all" in what I'll call "Satan's Kingdom". But David quickly reminds us that no matter what you do to get ahead, no matter what people have in this life, it is always fleeting. No matter how green the plants get, or how much money you have, one day you and they are going to die. Plain and Simple.
So what does that mean to us? How do we respond to the simple fact that we are going to die? We respond by losing all fear that if we die, we will lose out on making the most out of this life. Isn't that what we're scared of anyway. That we'll never finish our "bucket list". That we never got to go on the vacation "we had" to go on, or never bought the "dream house", or never got the "position" we dreamed of. Sure, all of these things are fun and are gifts from God, but if we don't do them, do we really need to fret? I mean, if God is as great as He says, then isn't being in His presence when we die, way better than the best trip or house we could ever imagine?
Once again it's the big picture that David is after. When we realize that we're going to die, we are then able to take Paul's words to heart in 2 Corinthians 4:18 "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal." When our life is about realizing that we are here for God, and not the other way around, we change our focus on to becoming more like Him in the way we love and live, the way we feel compassion, the way we define needs versus wants, and the way we let go of the fleeting things of this world.
What are you doing today that you think you can't "live without"? Or what eternal thing are you missing out on, because you are chasing a temporary high right now? I challenge you all today, to recognize your own mortality. To figure out those things in life which are eternal and pursue them. It's the best investment you will ever make. I have God's personal guarantee!
Friday, July 17, 2009
We all need perspective. Like most people, I get jealous of those "doing well" by Earthly standards. Out of pure anger and jealousy I'm quick to find their flaws and even tend to get worried that I may not be able to keep up with them, regardless if their business practices are what some consider to be"shady". As I read this Psalm, I feel as though it could have been written by me. In the Psalm you can hear a quiet struggle going on inside the writer (David). In one sense, because David knows the "Truth" he is able to have the same perspective as God himself. However, in a strange way, the things being noticed throughout this Psalm and specifically in this verse make it seem like the Psalmist is needing a reminder of why he shouldn't chase after a life that pursues the gratification of self at any cost.
As I look at culture in America, nothing truly sets Christians apart anymore. You can find us in the middle of political debates, drunk in bars every day of the week, getting divorces at an even pace of non-believers, speaking gossip, making idols of created things, blaspheming God and so many other cultural norms that you'd wonder if we've taken God's word seriously. One of the more disturbing habits in which we've conformed to the World is in chasing after the "things" of this life at any cost.
When I first started my company, business took off incredibly fast. So fast, that many times I was making decisions so quickly that I didn't have time to pray through them or check them to see if I was making them to please myself or please God. As this was happening i became concerned that I was sacraficing my integrity as a means to financial gain, new business relationships, and enhancing my worth in this world all at the expense of keeping up with the people who's acts could be considered "evil" and "wrong". One day a man who has since become a mentor asked me, "Ryan, do you consider yourself a Businessman who does Christian, or...a Christian Man who does business?".
I remember the knots in my stomach as I tried to answer that question. In my heart I knew I was the Businessman first. Not because I didn't love Jesus, but instead because I was concerned that if I didn't focus on business first, the "evil" and "those who do wrong" would pass me by. Basically I loved me more and didn't trust that God has my best interest in mind for His purpose. You see, it all comes down to perspective. My shallow view allowed me to agree with culture without even realizing it. This World doesn't want us to have the perspective that God takes care of everything and everyone in His Kingdom. Instead, the Prince of this world has told us that we must remain busy, keep up with those around us, pursue that which gives us pleasure, and please ourselves at any cost.
We must remember that life is more that what we possess. If we truly TRUSTED that God loves us, we wouldn't need to take note of the practices those around us are using to "get ahead" in this life. Our focus does not need to remain on those around us who we cannot change, but instead on our life in Christ which is always being transformed to His likeness.
Today please don't fear or be jealous of those who get ahead in this life by "evil" and "doing wrong". This isn't a suggestion but instead an order from God's word. Our focus should always be up on Him instead of out in to our future. Focusing out only adds worry, fear and anxiety to ones life as we try to figure out ourselves how to get ahead, stay ahead or add comfort. Focusing up leads to increased trust, perspective and peace that only comes from a God who promises to provide all your daily needs.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
So... after a lot of praying, reading, journaling, suffering through an anxiety disorder, having a little girl and taking God at His Word that my citizenship could be found in Heaven, my entire thought life has shifted. This perspective change came by the grace of his Son Jesus Christ and through the power of His Spirit. I'm grateful that God reminded me that though I may act as though I sit on the throne of my own life, it is He that gives me breath, He that gives me life, it is He that provides me and my family with food, He that breeds contentment and He that promises eternal life. I had to come to the end of my own fleshly desires and realize that He wasn't here for me. Instead, I am here for Him.
So with all that being said, I'm excited to see what God does with this blog. I wouldn't write it unless He asked me to do it and though I haven't audibly heard His voice, He has made it absolutely clear through His people that He wants to speak through my fingers. To be honest that scares me a little but as His word says, "To obey is better than to sacrafice". So instead of meeting with guys twice a week to give them a word that was really meant for me, I'm going to meet with you daily and give you all a word that is most likely meant for me.
I hope you are all excited to start living in the "Light Before the Tunnel". My hope is that we learn to live so seamlessly in the light of Christ that when we pass on from this life to the next we may be able to skip the tunnel part. May God Bless you and may this be His blog and not mine!
Ryan J. Moreau