Archive for February 2010

Walk in His Ways

February 23, 2010

Professing Christians are a strange lot. We read things which are clearly set forth in Scripture, then we say this means thus and such, and most of the time we are wrong because the “thus and such” is something we have interpreted for our own benefit, we put words in God’s mouth. We suppose that we know what God was talking about and we shift His meaning into whatever is pleasing to us. Then supposing that God’s hand can be forced, we use His words to try to remind Him of what we suppose He said.
As humans who think that we have fathomed His meaning we are building a house of cards, for the interpretations we hold dear and the thoughts we entertain are the products of our own minds, the extensions of our minute understanding of God and His ways. And that is not all, we do not even know our own hearts, for we say we believe in salvation by faith, and then we show the world that what we really believe in is salvation by religious works.

Ah, you say “faith without works is dead” James 2:17 but I say to you that while true faith will produce good works, works alone never produce faith. The equation only works one way. Many people think that James was exhorting people to do good works, no, he was exhorting people to the true faith which produces good works, which is a heart at rest in God, not merely a busy body. There is quite a difference between the two.

So we see that many people have the cart before the horse, they think they will show God how faithful they are by seeking every opportunity to do whatever they consider to be good works.They refuse to understand that what they decide on, is useless, that it is only what He is directing that will bear fruit.

When we set out to show God how faithful we are, we are relying on our limited understanding and our powerless condition as human beings. God has made it clear to us that He doesn’t think like we do, His ways are not our ways. So how do we learn His ways? By devoting ourselves to the study of Bible studies and commentaries? No that would only teach you the views of the man or men who wrote them. We will only learn His ways from God, Himself. If you don’t understand a Scripture take it to Him. He is alive, He is real, He wrote it, and He is perfectly capable of answering your questions.

“5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
6 Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 New Living Translation

Does this mean go ask your pastor?
No, I dare say it does not, what if your pastor is wrong? What if he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and is intentionally misleading you?
Do you think that poor, old, sickly God needs the pastor’s help?
No, of course not! I declare to you that God is none of those things, and He is capable of preserving those who trust in Him, He is capable of guiding us, and teaching us. He is not powerless as we are. He is able to keep us safely in His hands, and He will because He loves us. To entertain any lesser concept of Him is to bring Him down to our level, to build a false idol.
There is no way that the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Father of Jesus Christ, and Jesus Himself, is anything less than Magnificent and Supreme, as His glory filled the temple, allow His glory to fill your heart. Rest in Him, and walk in His ways.

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Spirit?

February 19, 2010

There is trouble brewing in the lives of professing Christians today, it lies in the distinction between the Spirit (the Holy One) and the flesh.

Jesus spoke of His life in the Spirit, in perfect union with the Father, and then He provided that same Spirit for us, so that we might live in perfect union with the Father as well. He opened the door to us so that we might live in the Holy Spirit that resided so wonderfully in Him during His ministry. This very Spirit is waiting to take up residence in the hearts of anyone who truly wants to know God and walk with Him. I am speaking of the identical Spirit which empowered the Lord to heal people, to raise the dead, to set people free from demonic oppression, the Spirit of God which restored His own beaten and scarred body to life and raised Him from the grave.

Do you see that kind of thing happening today?
Yet, all around us there are people who claim to have that Spirit and at the same time they have no power. Often you hear them saying that they wished they knew that they were saved or that they hope that they are doing God’s will. They reason that if they believe in Jesus they have the Spirit. But this is not a matter of reasoning. It is not a even a matter of belief, if by using that term you mean that you believe in Jesus the way a person might say that they believe in a political candidate or the Easter Bunny. The kind of belief I am talking about is a deep kind of knowing, and you know this because the Spirit is living in your heart. It is something which is hard to define, the word which is often translated in the New Testament as belief can also be rendered as trust. Sort of like the trust a little child has as his Daddy carries him safely across a treacherous river. The child does not have to hope that his Daddy is there, the child can feel and see that his Daddy is there and holding him, keeping him from harm. Furthermore the child can hear his Daddy speak to him. Do you think that the life Jesus died to give us would be any less than this?

If the life of Jesus is going to have any impact on you whatsoever it will be because the Spirit of God has taken up residence in your heart, and set up the Holy of Holies which is to be the center of your being. The dwelling place of God in your life, and in your heart.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
Hebrews 11:1 (NASB)

Do you understand what I am saying, this is not some wishful existence that we hope may be so, it is the firm assurance of what God is doing in your life, because you know that He is in you, you can feel His presence, and hear His voice. You are being transformed by His power, day by day, and step by step. You are being transformed into the image of Christ, and you know it.

Nathan

nathan@cherandana(dot)com

Splash

February 9, 2010

I am standing on a dock, it is a crisp, cool morning and the water looks cold, it is calm this morning and little ripples lap quietly against the dock pilings. Appearances are deceiving, because I have been in this lake before. The water has always been warm and comfortable, but my skin crinkles up in goose bumps at the thought of entering the water, the chilling mist which drifts up around me only heightens the feeling that I should stay away, I know what I need to do, I need to get over my fears, I need to be in the water, I need to just jump.
The decision is made and I am flying through the air, I am about to hit the surface, I am smiling, I am happy, soon, oh so quickly I will be one with the water. I will be where I am supposed to be.
Splash.

I once looked down into a pool, at the deep end, I was young seven, maybe eight, I couldn’t swim, oh, I could dog-paddle a little, very little, but no, I really couldn’t swim, off to the side my parents were urging me to jump in. They didn’t know what I knew, they didn’t know that if I jumped in I would drown. I knew this, but at their insistence I jumped in and I started flailing and sinking. My Dad swam over and pulled me out. He seemed disgusted with me. I never wanted to enter the water again, but I was wrong. I learned to swim despite my parent’s attitude. I had to, I had to get past the jeering, the looks of disgust, or die of shame, I did get past them, because God helped me.
We can spend our whole lives on land, we can build our worlds in such a way that we needn’t think of entering the water. We can shut off the views of the river, the lakes, and the endless ocean beyond. But there is something which calls to us from the water, the constant motion of the waves, the wind in our faces, the smells on the breeze, the quiet depths. Sometimes, short of putting on our swimsuits, we just like to look at it.

This is what it is like for us, we are all standing on the brink of God’s great mercies. We are looking down into the depths of the inestimable love of the one who died that we might live, and we are tempted to chicken out.
It is because in our native form we are dry, we are dry and water scares us. We imagine that our dry substance is what we are. We are empty desert and moisture would destroy the dry uniformity we have become comfortable with, but we need not fear, dry dirt plus water is mud, the kind of thing God made us from in the first place. If we look to Him the Spirit of God will bring forth in each of us a spring of living water. This is not a vain imagining, Jesus said it would be so. When we have a spring we are sprinkled with His provision and in our moist potential, He can mold our mud into something wonderful. When we have the spring inside us, we need no longer fear the water. We can jump into the sea, into the fullness of His grace.

Oh, Muley Me

February 5, 2010

I am but a bellows for pumping air in and out.
I am but an ant running about in orderly confusion.
I am but a weed whose very success is a bane to the gardener.
I am a mule whose every step is tempered by the inward desire to cease stepping forward, to halt and resist progress.
There is a sense in which I am all of these things, yet I am no longer just these things.

I am an abandoned and useless bellows, if I am not allied to the Smith who uses the bellows to perform useful tasks. Does the bellows understand what the Smith intends?
No, surely not, at least not the “big picture”. Does the bellows do something useful?
Under the guidance of the Smith the bellows makes many useful things happen, but without the Smith’s guiding hand, it is just so much air going in and out, to no purpose. A plaything for children who do not know the proper use of the bellows, or a decorative item gathering dust.
May the Smith use these bellows for the useful functions He intends.

I am an ant running about in apparent confusion. Without the purpose of maintaining the colony the ant’s movements have no meaning. there are many actions of the ant which have no meaning at all without the maintenance of the colony as the end view. It is the Lord’s heart which is my home, my colony if I am not guided by His purposes I am indeed in confusion. Yet I need not fear, He has set up His quarters in my heart to direct me, to lead me home to Himself. My actions though hard for others to understand have a deeper purpose, a purpose which I am beginning to grasp, due to His tutelage.

I am a weed, my growth up to the point where I met the Gardener was useful only to myself, no one else stood to benefit from my luxurious foliage. But then when I met the Gardener, He recognized in me some use, some future benefit. He pruned me and cut me back, I now know it was for my good as well as His. Now I stand to bear fruit as a consequence. There will be fruit, where before there was only wild growth in every direction and branches covered only with leaves. My fruit will delight my Gardener and be useful to others as well.

I am a mule, In my flesh lie all of the elements of a grand rebellion. No forward progress will be made so long as it has it’s way. But if my mind and heart can be won over, the stubbornness will decrease a little each day. the heart and mind will lend themselves to His victory over my stubborn nature. I will at last be able to relax in His plans for me, knowing that my Mule driver is indeed smarter and more reliable than I will ever be apart from Him. His Spirit will gain victory over the resistance of the flesh and the war will be over, the mule will die in the process, but the result will be a Spiritual creature of His making, wholly given to his will. A glorious horse perhaps, who will tremble in anticipation, and leap to do the will of the Master.

I embody all of these things sloth, stubbornness, waywardness, but the wonderful truth is there are seeds of greater things, placed in me by Jesus. Things which through His patient cultivation will blossom and bring me out of the shadow of my own rebellious stubbornness into the light of His purpose.
But to accomplish that I must,
hand over the bellows,
allow Him to colonize my heart,
give Him my garden plot,
and hand Him the reins of my mule.
This is not a dictatorship, it is a relationship,
I ask, and He answers, He speaks, and I respond.
He prunes and I grow fruit.
I hurt, and He comforts me.
I give Him my hurts, and He heals me.
I am walking with Him, and He is walking with me.

What Is Fair?

February 5, 2010

In the day to day world you live in there are a few rules people usually live by, to make a complicated issue simple, most people, when not driven by greed, try to be fair. Fairness, as they see it, is the apple divided into equal parts. One roughly equivalent piece for each partaker. Things get more complicated when each partaker represents a family or two, but as long as it stays relatively simple most people can go along with that, the person representing two families, gets two pieces, this is elementary. But as things get more complicated the average person’s mind quails at making so many judgement calls, and soon they can be persuaded, if approached from the angle of self interest, that the other partakers hardly deserve anything, otherwise the ones who worked so hard for the division of the spoils, the ones who set it up, will not get the extra shares to reward their labors. Now we see how greed has stepped in. The people who organized the division of the spoils, become the ones who can create a surplus and who end up with the extra shares. So the competition to be the organizers becomes quite keen.

In this country we elect the organizers, and one way or another through publicly visible means or covert ones the organizers get a lion’s share of the proceeds. Hardly anyone notices anymore that elected officials usually leave office wealthier than when they were sworn in the first time.

Folks in our country have become quite obsessed with the idea that they are not getting their fair share. It’s a bit odd, but when greed enters into the picture the idea of the “fair share” becomes inflated beyond all practicality. Politicians often play on the fears of the worried John or Jane Doe and blame others for taking too much, other ethnic groups, people from other faiths. Yet no one seems to think about the shares the politician is skimming off the top of the turmoil he/she has stirred up. No one wants to realize that they are being duped. How often have funds been allocated to a project only to blow away as if on the wind. It does not matter who is in charge, one side may claim to be doing the things they do for the sake of all the citizens while the other side claims to protect the interests of the fewer “real citizens”. It makes little difference which one has control, somehow the funds still evaporate into thin air. These evaporated dollars flow into the pockets of a few instead of the pockets of the many.

So now you turn to me and say, “You are so full of hot air on the subject, what is your solution?”
I say there is a solution, and yet there isn’t. As long as there are politicians of any stripe, they will act like selfish barons, hoarding wealth and power. There is no solution on that front. But I say there is something we can do. We can stop trusting men to solve our problems and turn to God.
Yes, I know, you might say “We don’t want a bunch of hymn singing ninnies telling us what to do”. And I would say you are right. I am not speaking of the “god” that protects the wealthy, the privileged, the smug. I am speaking of the God who was not afraid to get His hands dirty, the one who turned His back on His own self interests and died for you and me. There is such a person, He does not live in a “church building” He does not even live in the pages of the Bible, He will surely speak to you through those pages, but He is not limited to that form of communication. No, this God is with you everyday, He is in the poor guy, on the street corner, He is in the guy or gal working next to you. He has always cared for the plight of others more than you do, and certainly more than any politician does. He also cares deeply, intensely for you.

But this is not a campaign for another politician, this is not “Jesus for President”. Oh no, this is something a lot more serious than that. This is an announcement that Jesus is willing to take up His natural and proper residence in your heart. If you will respond to His knocking and let Him in, He will heal your heart and set your feet on a path which few have trod, a path full of His love and His compassion. He has riches to share beyond our understanding, and far beyond what we deserve.
He will give you what you need, for you see He understands what fairness is, because He invented it.

We Must Respond

February 3, 2010

I am beginning to understand that there is no such thing as a right place to be, there are no holy places, and there isn’t any such thing as a correct state of mind, so long as we are apart from Jesus.
It seems that the most important attitude we have on our own is the response we make to Him, when He has knocked us off our high horse and brought us down to the desperate hunger of the prodigal.
The new found humility of knowing our futility and how we react to it is the key.
A man cannot forge his destiny with God, no matter how many scratchy robes he wears or how many “Our Fathers” he lisps.
No, you cannot pack up the car and hit the road some morning and find God.

The wisdom of how we are to find Him was set down very early, very long ago, as He walked in the garden calling to Adam.
Adam would have been wise to respond, to seek forgiveness, but he didn’t, and in so doing he set the course for his children.
But we can reverse this age long tendency.
It is the simplest thing imaginable, as God calls to us, we are to respond.

Therefore the journey is not to God, the journey is in God, but we must respond to God to place our feet on that path.
We have always gotten the story wrong because we have been trying so hard to make ourselves the heroes of the saga.
We thought of it as our adventure, instead of His.
We are but, annoying little children who refuse to see the reality, we catch a glimpse here and there, but we fail to comprehend, because it does not fit our pre-conceived notions.
We do not truly grasp that He is the Shepherd who comes after the lost sheep.
The God who seeks us.
Oh yes, as Jesus once taught, we are to seek Him, but we must understand that we are not heroic in our quest, we are not the initiators.
We are to seek Him because He first sought us, He called out to us long ages ago, from the cross, and from the empty tomb.
The path is secure, for Jesus has already blazed it.
The path is secure because it is His finished work, not ours.
And now it is our moment to act, we must respond.

Nathan

nathan@cherandana(dot)com