Friday, February 10, 2017

Beautiful, Part Eighteen

What now?

Here is the way I look at it. If this life is all about Him, and it is, then ALL IS WELL, ALL THE TIME. Why? Because He never changes, never fails or forgets, never loses control or becomes less worthy. He knows what He is doing—we can trust Him. When we keep our focus on Him instead of ourselves, there is never any reason to worry or despair. He is able. He never expects anything from us without providing us with the needed strength and wisdom. Whatever happens, He either caused or allowed, and He has a good plan for it (for those of us called according to His purpose). (Romans 8:28)

Many people have stumbled over the grief caused by the passing of their loved ones, but our family and friends have always been meant to be temporary blessings from above. They don’t really “belong” to us and were never to have been placed above our relationship with God. Those who truly belong to Him can never be shaken from His grasp (John 10:28-29, Romans 8:38-39). When this short life is over, that is the beginning of the best part, which lasts forever.

Do you have stress, worry, anxiety and fear? Wouldn’t it be great to have all of that taken away, to be replaced with peace? Only God can do that. He is a solid rock—faithful and steadfast. God alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. Psalm 62:6

Cast your burden upon the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never allow the righteous to be shaken. Psalm 55:22 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27

Where is the love?

When I started writing this, it was in response to how it grieves my heart when people don't comprehend and appreciate the true cost of their salvation to Jesus. He deserves so much more from us—as we have just seen the Bible teaches. Once I “woke up” and realized this for myself, I was very distressed at the lack of love I had shown Him in nearly 20 years since I had come to know the Lord as my Savior. This message from Jesus to the Church in Ephesus got to me in particular: But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place--unless you repent.” Revelation 3:4-5

I made a list of what I did when I first became a believer. It was sad how many things on that list had fallen by the wayside. Even my prayers were long on worry and short on trust. As I sought to know and do God’s will and to please Him, I came to understand two things had been missing from my Christian walk: knowing God well enough to genuinely love and trust Him, and submission to the Holy Spirit. We can’t love and trust anyone we don’t know very well. (I’ve already covered how to know Him–the Word.) And without the Spirit, none of us could believe in God or love Him at all, let alone understand the Word and His will and have a desire to do it. Without His ministry, there is no hope whatsoever of victory. Jesus overcame. We need to rely fully on Him in order to triumph over our old self that loves the world and pleasing itself instead of God. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. Romans 8:7-9 (Also Philippians 2:12-13 above.)

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is God’s good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17

Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. Colossians 1:28-29

I had bought into the world’s idea of “my rights” and the American “dream,” among other things. That is not the example that Jesus, in whose steps we are to walk, set for us. He was meek and humble—He told us that the greatest is the least—the lowest servant. “The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23:11-12 It’s one thing to listen to a sermon and know these things in your head, but an altogether different thing to actually do them. I realize now that there is only one “right” that is important: But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:12-13

Giving up all of the rights to our life is exactly what we do when we become followers of Jesus, His disciples. (We weren’t told to go and make believers, but rather disciples (Matthew 28:19)—only God can give the gift of faith. Ephesians 2:8-9) That is why Jesus said to count the cost before following Him. (Luke 14:25-33) Paul said: I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

This is Part Eighteen of a series.  You may download the entire devotional in a "pretty" format here or in a basic, small file size format with highlighting here.