Every single action has a natural consequence.
Whether a decision was made by us, or for us by another person, there is a natural consequence to the ultimate decision.
Whether a path was selected by us, or a path was selected for us with the expectation that we would obey, or be forced to obey, there is a natural consequence to the path ultimately followed.
Whether we chose to obey or chose not to obey, or whether our obedience was forced upon us, when another person made a decision or selected a path for us, there is a natural consequence to the choice made.
Ultimately, no matter how it happened, we own the responsibility of the action taken. Whether we accept that or deny that, is our choice, however truth does not rely on our acceptance or denial of it. The natural consequence of the action is ours to bear. It may in our eyes be a good consequence, or a difficult one, or it may have facets of both, but regardless, the natural consequence is ours.
Anything that happens that is more positive than the natural consequence, or above and beyond the goodness in the situation, that is a miracle, and a gift from God. It might never have happened, but God granted it. His grace. His mercy. Grace is the free and unmerited favor of God. We did nothing to earn it. He gave it to us. Mercy is not getting what you deserve. The focus is not on us, but on God. That perspective makes all the difference in life, and in the world!
(Genesis 37-50) Moses gives Joseph more time in Genesis than he does anyone else, a noteworthy fact given how significant the others in Genesis are (Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob.)
Joseph. He had no family to support him. His only family sold him into slavery. Joseph could have blamed his family, circumstances, or his past for damaging his “self-esteem” and messing up his life. However, he owned the responsibility of the action taken, even though he had no say in it. He chose to lean into God, despite the reality that God clearly allowed this tough situation. Joseph did not use it as an excuse for any sinful behaviors, nor did he use it to blame anyone.
Something miraculous happened as we read the entire story of Joseph linked above. By owning the responsibility for the situation he was in, he remained faithful to God. He accepted that God was ultimately in charge, through the intensity of the situations Joseph endured, and I can only imagine the pain, hurt, anger, unfairness of it all he must have felt at moments, yet he remained confident in God and with God. In that he chose to honor God, recognize God and God’s way in all that he did.
Joseph illustrates how divine sovereignty and human responsibility intersect. After all his ordeals, Joseph was able to see God’s hand at work. As he revealed his identity to his brothers, Joseph said to them “And God sent me before you to make for you a remnant in the land, and to preserve [it] for you for a great deliverance. And now, you did not send me here, but God, and He made me a father to Pharaoh, a lord over all his household, and a ruler over the entire land of Egypt.” (Genesis 45:7-8)
And in Genesis 50:20 “Indeed, you intended evil against me, [but] God designed it for good, in order to bring about what is at present to keep a great populace alive.“
Timing and perspective. It was in God’s time that everything came to pass. And it was Joseph’s perspective that sustained him through the torment. He knew with complete faith that God was in complete control, despite what it looked or felt like. Man’s most horrific intentions can never thwart the perfect plan of God. Now let us be clear, the perfect plan of God may or may not look like what we would envision it to be. But God does have the perfect plan in the biggest picture, the one we do not fully see as we are not Him. God is sovereign.
God’s sovereignty is a tremendous and visible theme in Joseph. We see how God puts Himself into situations that to us seem impossible, and yet God still keeps His covenant promises. Genesis records a series of threats that endanger the covenant line. In the chapters of Joseph, all the threats converge, creating an impossibly grim situation for Jacob and his children. But God. God uses Joseph to resolve each of these threats. While Moses writes Joseph as the central figure in this section of scripture, the main figure, the focus, is actually God.
All of life is under the direction of the almighty God. I will delve deeper into God’s providence in a blog post in the near future. For right now, I pray that in our life situations, we recognize in a deeper way than ever before, that God is in full control of every single aspect of everything, for good in the biggest picture, the full picture that we cannot possibly know. I pray we accept the responsibility for the natural consequences of actions, whether or not we feel we made the decision or choice that led to the consequences. And I pray that we see God’s miracles for what they are. His grace. His mercy. His love. My friend, you are loved!
Practical atheism is an acting as if but lacking substance. External forms of religion are maintained but self is the focus, not God. Ethics may be preached and often even attempted, but separate from the nature and essence of God. It becomes living as if they was no God.
Another term that was coined is “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism” or a moralistic approach to life with good being defined by the popular culture rather than by what God says. God exists in this approach but again living is as if He didn’t. Life is about us and the eternal belief is that “good” people go to heaven.
The devil, the enemy of our souls, he is a practical atheist. He knows there is a God, but operates as if there were no God. The enemy believes in God, but he does not love God. The enemy knows he will give account to God, but he persists in his rebellion. The enemy acknowledges God, but does not glorify God.
The practical atheism of those who say they are religious, or Christian, or followers of Jesus but live as if God does not exist is a greater threat than actual atheism.
Actual atheists may think deeply and ponder the typical life questions and existence questions we all have at some point, and then they reject belief of God for a myriad of reasons. And actual atheists are often quite passionate about their rejection of God. They are often just as passionate as, and sometimes even more so than, true believers in God.
Practical atheism however leads to indifference towards faith and God.
Revelation 3:15-17 “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.”
Psalm 14:1 “The fool said in his heart, “There is no God.” In his heart. So technically one can give lip service to saying, yes there is a God. However, what is in the heart? What will reflect my heart’s condition is my behavior. Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and when it is sick, who will recognize it?”
So, a person may not even recognize their own atheism.
Joshua 24:15 “And if it displeases you to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the river, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell, but as for me and my household, we shall serve the Lord.”
If we are honest, there are times when, yes, even as a follower of Jesus, if we are not careful, we live like fools even when we say that God is there. We live as fools, practical atheists when we live for ourselves putting our self gratification above God, when we devour and worship the gifts God has given us in family, friends, home, belongings, rather than worshiping the giver, God, when we act as if we were self sufficient, don’t pray, don’t read the bible so don’t have God’s truths sinking into us each day, look to the once a week worship service to fill us or nourish us, we whine, complain, blame. Sure, we acknowledge Jesus with our lips but our behaviors say otherwise.
Today, I pray for us who are followers of Jesus that we each repent of living as a practical atheist. Whether it is all the time or occasionally, I pray we each turn away from the temptation to make this life all about us. I pray we each live like one who truly believes and knows, that God is real, He is with us. I pray for each one of us to be genuine in our faith.
For those who are not yet believers, I pray that you find yourself moved towards God, repenting which means exactly that, turned from your ways and turned to God. If you have any questions about what this means or how to do it, please feel free to contact me. It would be a privilege to discuss this with you.
Jeremiah 33:6 “Behold, I will bring it healing and cure, and I will cure them, and I will reveal to them a greeting of peace and truth.”
Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.“
Peace and truth. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Okay, we all fall short. Those who profess to be God loving, Jesus following saved people and those who are not. However, momentary lapses are far different from a constant and regular pattern of speech and behavior.
Hiding behind an online presence on “social media” and spewing insensitive comments and commentary about real life, current day issues? That is far more than simply airing a viewpoint or sharing information. That is hate speech and it is unfathomable how anyone believes this is becoming of any person, never mind one who professes to be a follower of Jesus/a Christian.
The insensitivity and crass commentary is not limited to online either.
Compassion is a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is hurting, in pain, or has misfortune and is accompanied by a strong desire to help the suffering. It is not always easy to show compassion, especially when we feel strongly about the issue(s) surrounding the situation. However, if I am who I say I am, a follower of Jesus, a Christian… (as an aside, I happen to be a Christian who is also Jewish, a first generation American woman of European descent)
Colossians 3 “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
Psalm 116:5 “The Lord is gracious and righteous, and our God is merciful.” And for one who professes to love God and follow Him, if God is gracious, righteous (moral) and merciful, that is who we are called to emulate. For one who professes to be saved, a Christian, we, our self focused, pompous, ungodly self has died and we have been given a new life, in Jesus. We understand the exchange that occurred at salvation. We understand our inheritance that is of far more value than anything money could buy.
- Our destination when we die here on earth, is now to everlasting life with God. Heaven (Colossians 1:10-14).
- The flesh (our sin nature) is crucified through the cross of Christ (Galatians 5:24).
- We are dead in the sense that the old unbelieving self (soul) has died (Romans 7:1-6, Romans 8:2,4).
- Our old stony heart has been removed and has been replaced with a new heart of flesh (soft, pliable) with God’s laws written on it (Deuteronomy 30:6, Jeremiah 24:7, Ezekiel 36:26-27, John 3:3).
- We have been given the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).
- We are a new creation, a new soul (2 Corinthians 5:17).
- Our source of strength is “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 why the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10)!
- We have an incredibly beautiful new identity, for here and for eternity. Our inheritance! Please read these verses and allow them to sink deep into your heart.(Colossians 1:10-14; 1:21-23; 2:6-15, Romans 6:1-11, Ezekiel 36:22-30.)
Only God is the ultimate judge of someone’s heart. However, what I say and do, and what you say and do, we are representing who we claim to be. Matthew 7:16 “You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?” 1 Samuel 24:14 Tanach (24:13 OT) “As says the proverb of the ancient one; ‘From the wicked comes forth wickedness,’ and my hand shall not be upon you.”
Historically people claiming to be Christians, or doing horrific things in the name of Jesus have certainly given Jesus and Christianity a bad name. People watch how other’s react and behave in and through many different situations. We all do that. Many times it is that watching that draws people to us and opens minds and hearts to learn about God, Jesus, the gospel. And many times it is that watching that draws people away from us and what we claim to represent.
1 Corinthians 1:20 “Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God. You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
Do we realize the depth of what it means that God gave us salvation? Do we realize that we are not our own, removed now from death in it’s permanent eternal state, purchased by the final atonement, the propitiation, our savior, Jesus. No more covering. It is finished. Do we realize how intense that is? Glorifying God in one’s body carries a ton of meanings and situations. One of which is our tongue. Another our fingers as we type across the keyboard on social media. Glorify God. Love as God loves.
Romans 6 “Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.”
I pray for myself and for each one of you this day, that our walk becomes deeper in the truth of what it means to be God’s redeemed.
Shaking the dust off one’s feet is a symbolic indication that one has done all that can be done in a situation and therefore carries no further responsibility for it. Nehemiah 5:13 “I also shook out my garment and said, “So shall God shake out any man who does not fulfill this matter, from his house and from his toil, so shall he be shaken out and empty.” Then the entire congregation said, “Amen,” and they praised the Lord, and the people did according to this word.”
We speak, we show in scripture, we converse, we engage in conversation, and we wait to see what God will do in that person. If the person is receptive, we keep speaking and showing in scripture, conversing, engaging. If a person becomes combative, argumentative, insulting, rude, or simply disengages from the conversation, until or unless God provides another opening at some later time, we have done all we can do and we remove ourselves from further dialog on that matter, turning them completely over to God, however, praying for them. Praying keeps us from becoming bitter or upset over anything in the interaction, keeping our mindset God focused and love filled as we beseech God to intervene in this person’s life and turn them from where they are, to God and His truth (repentance.)
God calls me, and each and every other believer, to stand firm and proclaim truth. Biblical truth. The clear and undiluted truth that is unequivocally in the Bible. God leads us to situations, both with not yet believers, and believers, where He expects us to draw from scripture and minister to these people. Minister means take care of. Taking care of someone can be a physical act, for instance someone needs food, company while a loved one is undergoing a medical situation, help when ill and unable to run errands…the list goes on. Taking care of someone is also an emotional/spiritual act in addressing emotional pain, turmoil, life crisis, or even simple questions. And in all, we minister standing on God’s word as the foundation and we share the truth of that foundation, with love and in love, in all we say and do.
For the not yet believer, we look for God granted opportunities to share the gospel, openings for conversation, dialog. Some people will engage in conversation. Others will not. It becomes clear, as in any conversation, when it is time for us to be silent and simply let the person digest. Conversation may pick up again at another time. So when do we “shake the dust off”?
Regarding the not yet believers/not yet saved: “Go rather to the lost sheep and proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand. And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town.” Matthew 10:6-15 “Do not speak into the ears of a fool, for he will despise the sense of your words.” Proverbs 23:9 “And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” Luke 9:5 “He who chastens a scorner takes disgrace for himself, and he who reproves a wicked man, that is his blemish. Reprove not a scorner lest he hate you; reprove a wise man and he will love you.” Proverbs 9:7-8
Regarding interactions with both the not yet believers/not yet saved and the believers/saved: “Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:14-26
“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.
But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” Titus 3:1-11
“Shall a wise man raise his voice with opinions of wind, and does he fill his belly with the east wind? To debate over a matter from which he derives no benefit and words in which there is no avail (benefit)?” Job 15:2-3
Praying for you, and I, to remember even more deeply that we once were foolish, no different from those we hope to reach with God’s truth, but when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of anything we did but according to His own mercy. We are justified by His grace and heirs to eternal life. We are justified! This means we have no need of justifying ourselves, we do not have to prove anything to anyone. We are justified by God. So we have nothing to lose by spreading God’s gospel of Jesus and we also have nothing to lose if it becomes time for us to “shake the dust off.”
What a HUGE concept and what a comforting yet also at times disconcerting realization.
Isaiah 46:9-11 Remember the first things of old, that I am God and there is no other; I am God and there is none like Me.[I] tell the end from the beginning, and from before, what was not done; [I] say, ‘My counsel shall stand, and all My desire I will do.’ [I] call from the east a swift bird, from a distant land the man of My counsel; yea I spoke, I will also bring it; I formed it, I will also do it.
Another translation says:
Isaiah 46:9-11 Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.
Comforting because there is something, someone, who is in full control of every single aspect of every single little thing, even when from my human perspective, the world, or people or my situations feel out of control. What that really is saying is out of “my control.” And that is absolutely so. I do not possess the control. But someone does.
God declares how things turn out long before they ever happen.
God declares not just natural events but human events; happenings, things that are not yet done.
When God “declares” ahead of time what will be, God says that He will accomplish all of His purpose. God possesses that authority, the freedom, the wisdom, and the power to bring about everything that He intends to happen. And therefore, everything He intends to come about does come about. God plans and governs all things.
We are called to pray. For healing and about every situation we are brought to. And while we may pray in accordance of God’s perfect will, not every prayer we pray will be answered in the way we hope. Not every person in need of a healing will be healed here on earth. Not every situation will turn around to be what would be the best result to the best of our knowledge. The list goes on. Does that mean we do not pray? Oh no. We pray because God tells us to pray. But we do not and can not make God do something, even when our prayers line up with what His word says. Psalm 5:3 Hearken to the voice of my cry, my King and my God, for I will pray to You. 1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us.
And this is where the disconcerting realization comes in.
The sovereign will of God can be divided into His efficacious will (producing His desired result) and His permissive will. Important to make the distinction because while God is sovereign and He does permit all events that occur, God does not directly cause every single thing to happen. Permitting it also does not put a stamp of approval on it. There are many things God allows to happen that He takes absolutely no pleasure in. And yet, God is allowing it to happen. That on it’s own, can be a disconcerting realization.
All the horrific things that go on in life, our lives, the world, and God is allowing it? Yes. Some may question what kind of God would allow such atrocities. Some may say if that is your God, well, I don’t want anything to do with Him. Well, first of all, none of us have a choice. God is God. We are not. We can “disown” Him but that is simply our foot stomping. He still remains our Creator and He still remains in charge, whether or not a person wants to believe it or accept it.
So, we have this God who is in full control of every aspect of everything and who allows things to go on that are horrific, why?
His efficacious will (producing His desired result.) Some of what occurs is efficacious (it directly contributes to the fulfillment of God’s desire); other things are permissive (allowing for an indirect fulfillment of God’s desire yet not His perfect will, meaning not what He approves of but allowing for the reality of people’s sinful nature.)
God’s sovereign will is often hidden from us until after it comes to pass, and sometimes even then as we may not see the big picture, there is one aspect of His will that is completely clear, His preceptive will. What He desires us to do and behave as is found in Scripture. We do not have the authority to violate it however we definitely have the ability to disobey. That is called sin. It may be God’s sovereign will that we be allowed to sin as He brings His purposes to pass even through the means of the sinful acts of people. However, it makes the sin no less evil, God does not take pleasure in seeing the sin manifest in people, and yet He allows it. The true mark of a level of spiritual maturity in a person is seen in those drawn to know the will of God that is revealed in His preceptive will. Salvation, what it is, what it means, how to receive it, and then how we walk it out in our lives.
So is God this sadistic being deriving some perverse pleasure in watching destruction. No. So how to reconcile God and His purposes allowing horrific events and situations for what?
Genesis 50:20 Indeed, you intended evil against me, [but] God designed it for good.
Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
I realize that realizing and accepting God’s absolute sovereignty over all things is hard to fathom. However I am not helped at all by removing God from the equation, by making him a spectator watching the tragedy unfold.
God holds complete sovereignty over all of our actions, while also preserving our genuine freedom. Our actions are as free as they can be. We form our intentions and carry them out. God does not act on our will from the outside, manipulating us to get his way. He actually has created us as beings that possess will. If he had not done this, there would be no “us” to will at all. Evil exists so that Good can triumph.
God could have created a world without evil. If God had not created anything, there would be no evil. If God created a world where people could not choose, God could force everyone to stop before they were able to carry out evil behavior. But is such a world where freedom does not exist good?
If you do not grasp the infinite holiness of God then you may think that somehow the suffering in this world is out of proportion to what is deserved. Meanwhile, the point of our sufferings, pain, miseries, corruption is to teach us the horror of sin and alongside of it, the beauty and preciousness of redemption and hope.
It is good for me that I was afflicted, in order that I learn Your statutes. Psalm 119:71
Suffering in it’s all encompassing, simplest definition is receiving something that we do not want or not receiving something that we do want. And yet, the psalmist says that it is good. Romans 5:3-4 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. Rejoice? Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Glory?
Isaiah 35:10 And the redeemed of Zion shall return, and they shall come to Zion with song, with joy of days of yore shall be upon their heads; they shall achieve gladness and joy, and sadness and sighing shall flee. Isaiah 51:11 And the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and they shall come to Zion with song, and [with] everlasting joy on their heads; gladness and joy shall overtake them; sorrow and sighing shall flee. Revelation 21:4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
Salvation means that after we die here on earth, we go to live with God in eternity, full healed, fully whole, complete, lacking nothing. We get a taste of this here on earth, but nothing compares to the fullness of what we receive after. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:12 Our inheritance.
When you pass through water, I am with you, and in rivers, they shall not overflow you; when you go amidst fire, you shall not be burnt, neither shall a flame burn amongst you. Isaiah 43:2
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33
I pray this day that God renews and deepens our thinking, quiets our hearts, and deepens our worship and understanding of who He is. May the truth of God’s gospel of Jesus become bigger and deeper in us expanding our trust and faith in Him.
When we feel wronged by someone (whether or not they actually did do something wrong but we “feel” wronged), our human nature would love to see the person learn from their mistakes, come to realize that they were wrong, have it come back at them in some way. We hope for a realization from them just how wrong they were and an apology to be forthcoming. Basically, if we are honest, we would like to see the person suffer just a little bit for the way they were wrong. It is a self-focused, self-righteous indignation we may feel. It is anger or annoyance provoked by what is perceived as unfair treatment.
Some people refer to it as Karma, the what comes around goes around theory. Karma means action, work or deed. It also refers to the spiritual principle of cause and effect where intent and actions of an individual (cause) influence the future of that individual (effect.) Good intent and good deeds contribute to good karma and future happiness, while bad intent and bad deeds contribute to bad karma and future suffering.
The philosophy of karma is closely associated with the idea of rebirth in many schools of Indian religions (particularly Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism) as well as Taoism.
Now while it is human nature to want to somehow see justice done, here is the truth of the matter. It is not our place, nor our responsibility, nor our privilege, nor our burden. No person will ever know the absolute everything about a particular situation. It is not possible. There is only ONE who knows the complete story, every side of it, the actual truth, and that is God. “Remember the first things of old, that I am God and there is no other; I am God and there is none like Me. [I] tell the end from the beginning, and from before, what was not done; [I] say, ‘My counsel shall stand, and all My desire I will do.'”Isaiah 46:9-10.
“You have searched me out and You know. You know my sitting and my rising; You understand how to attach me from afar. My going about and my lying down You encompassed, and You are accustomed to all my ways. For there is no word on my tongue; behold, O Lord, You know it all.” Psalm 139 “Can anyone teach knowledge for God? But He judges high-handedly.” Job 21:22 “Do you know about the revelations of the clouds, of the wonders of Him Who is perfect in knowledge?” Job 37:16. “Our Lord is great and has much strength; His understanding cannot be calculated.” Psalm 147:5.
“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.” Romans 11:33; Hebrews 4:13; 1 John 3:20.
In light of that reality, guess who is in charge of vengeance and justice? Yes. God. We may perhaps see the justice occur, in a limited earthly way. However to fantasize about the perfect ending to a situation where another person “gets what they deserve” (according to our mindset) and the other person apologizes to us, and to stand on that self- righteousness any time we think about or mention the situation, that is unfortunately a delusion, a product of our own fantasy life. It also keeps us in bondage, trapped in that thinking, which keeps the situation alive in our head. We may say, oh, the situation does not bother me, or I have forgiven that person, but how we speak always indicates just where our heart is.
God says numerous times, vengeance is His. “You shall neither take revenge from nor bear a grudge against the members of your people; you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19:18.
“Vengeance is poised with Me, and it will pay at the time their foot stumbles. For the appointed day of their reckoning is near, and what is destined for them hastens.” Deuteronomy 32:35
“Do not say, “I will repay evil.” Hope to the Lord, and He will save you.” Proverbs 20:22
“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ That no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For we know him who said, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’” Romans 12:19; 1 Thessalonians 4:6; Hebrews 10:30.
For someone who has received God’s salvation, the vengeance has already been paid for, by that salvation, by Jesus. For someone who has not yet received God’s salvation, they will incur God’s wrath unless of course that person receives salvation before dying here on earth. Let us be clear however, we very often will suffer the natural consequences for our actions here on earth. However there are times that we do not see the other person suffering those consequences. And there are the times that the other person actually does not, they appear in our self focused eyes to be “getting away with it”, whatever the “it” may be.
Freedom. Your freedom, my freedom, is to own our own sin and our own behaviors and let God be God in everyone else’s life. “And I shall walk in widely accepted ways, for I sought Your precepts.” Psalm 119:45.
“The spirit of the Lord God was upon me, since the Lord anointed me to bring tidings to the humble, He sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to declare freedom for the captives, and for the prisoners to free from captivity.” Isaiah 61:1.
“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.'” 1 Peter 2:16; 2 Corinthians 3:17; 1 Corinthians 6:12.
Praying that you and I, we, are strengthened in the Lord this day.
Is God enough? It is a question that life constantly brings me back to. If I lost EVERYTHING that I deem of value to me, immense value, top value, the tangible stuff like my husband, my adult children, my home, even my health, money…if all that was gone, what would be left? God. And despite the evidence that may to some minds point to the contrary, a God who loves me more fully and completely than any one else ever could and a God who if I have lost everything, has allowed it to be so.
Through different circumstances in my life I have learned that not only is God enough, but He has to be. If He is not, than I clearly am putting something in front of Him in importance and value (also known as an idol.)
It takes effort, a conscious choice, to stay in that truth. Do I get the intensity of what God did for me in salvation? What did He do? What was I given? Who am I?
I was designed for more than pursuing things or pleasure. We can keep pursuing, we can have more and more, but yet, we will never find relief or full satisfaction through people, through possessions, through activities. We may think we are, but it still does not satisfy that hole deep within. Our behaviors show that to be true. Take a close look, an honest look, at yourself and your habits and behaviors.
So, back to God. God has given me an inheritance, that I possess right now, in a down payment form of sorts. The fullness will be mine in completion when the time comes. It is huge, it is of more value than anything else. And if I choose to focus on it, all else fades away. That doesn’t mean that these other things are not important, God gave them to me, to enjoy. They are gifts from Him. BUT, should they go, one thing will always remain. THIS!
I have God’s unbreakable promise that I will receive my full inheritance. This inheritance and as the meaning of it as my understanding, knowledge, heart, mind comes to know it more and more, deeper and deeper, is an energizer, as the entire purpose for my existence here on earth takes on a new meaning and purpose. And it is in this focus that more and more I grasp that God is and will always be, enough no matter WHAT happens in my natural life. Let’s take a look.
- My destination when I die here on earth, is now to everlasting life with God. Heaven (Colossians 1:10-14).
- The flesh (my sin nature) is crucified through the cross of Christ (Galatians 5:24).
- I am dead in the sense that my old unbelieving self (soul) has died (Romans 7:1-6, Romans 8:2,4).
- My old stony heart has been removed and has been replaced with a new heart of flesh (soft, pliable) with God’s laws written on it (Deuteronomy 30:6, Jeremiah 24:7, Ezekiel 36:26-27, John 3:3).
- I have been given the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).
- I am a new creation, a new soul (2 Corinthians 5:17).
- My source of strength is “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 why the joy of the Lord is my strength (Nehemiah 8:10)!
- I have an incredibly beautiful new identity, for here and for eternity. My inheritance!
I, Diane, am strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified me to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. For He rescued me from the domain of darkness, and transferred me to the kingdom of His beloved Son in whom I have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. And although I was formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled me in His fleshly body through death, in order to present me before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach if indeed I continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that I have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven. I was washed, I was sanctified, I was justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. Therefore as I have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so I walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in my faith, just as I was instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. In Christ I have been made complete. When I was dead in my transgressions and the uncircumcision of my flesh, He made me alive together with Him, having forgiven me all my transgressions. God has given me a new heart, and put a new spirit within me: His Spirit. My life now is walking out (experientially here on earth) what has already been credited to my account (positional identity in Jesus); empowered, energized, enabled, excited by that new heart and God’s Spirit put in me! Therefore, my beloved (God says to me) as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. (Romans 3:21-26; Colossians 1:10-14; Colossians 1:21-23; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Colossians 2:6-15; Colossians 2:6-15; Romans 8; Ezekiel 36:26-29; Philippians 2:12-13)Is God enough for me? Absolutely! No matter what happens to me in this life. Scary sentiment on the one hand. And yet, even in the Tanakh (Old Testament) there is a powerful illustration of that through Job.
I pray for you, and I, to be brought deeper and deeper in understanding and immersion in God’s gospel. Jesus is truly our all in all, for those who believe.
How many times have you heard it said “he doesn’t really have a choice, does he?” or “I don’t have a choice, I have to do this.” or “You have no choice, go do…”
The reality is, you always have a choice in what you think, say, and do. Yes, always. Our choices are influenced by what we perceive to be the consequences of our decision. Yes, perceive because our reasoning is often faulty. Sometimes, you may not recognize that you have a choice because the circumstances are huge, overwhelming and overpowering. And yet, the reality is, you absolutely do.
Something is always influencing you leading you to make a choice. The choices you make will show the foundation you are standing on and your value system. Yes, it is a healthful choice, a biblical choice, to submit to our authority, for instance our boss on the job. God is the one who raises up our bosses, or those in authority. “And He changes the times and the seasons, He removes kings and sets up kings; He grants wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who know understanding.” Daniel 2:21 “My son, fear the Lord and the king; do not mingle with dualists (another word is rebellious) Proverbs 24:21
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” Romans 13:1
However what if this authority is doing things that are illegal, or immoral and there is the expectation that you are to remain silent or show your support in some way? Some examples might be cutting corners that could result in a dangerous situation, fabricating stories, manufacturing evidence, cooking the books. Do you cozy up to your boss and look the other way because you value your perceived job security or image more than you do honesty? Another way to look at it is, and this is harsh way to word it but an honest one. Do you have a backbone when it comes to standing up for what is right? Or are you a wimp, bending with every shifting wind regardless of what the wind is carrying, clinging on to your job, perceived job security and concerned what the consequences of upsetting the status quo might be?
“If you have become lax, on a day of trouble your strength will be weak indeed.” (Another translation reads “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.“) Proverbs 24:10
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” Hebrews 12:1-3
It can feel extremely uncomfortable, painful, scary if you feel that your job may be at risk if you don’t go along with the status quo, regardless of whether or not it is honorable. You may very well be taking a risk with your job. Or you may not. However if you are, does that mean that you should look the other way when something is way off base in what your boss is doing and expecting you to follow along with? For many, there is the belief that it is you alone out there in this world. For those who have received salvation, hopefully you know there is someone higher and outside of ourselves. Of course we may suffer the natural consequences for our actions, but behaving out of fear is forgetting that it is God who gave us the talents that enabled us to do this job, God who provided this job, God who is allowing the situation we are enduring, and God who will make the way, one way or another. God will provide for you what you need.
“Who prepares for the raven his prey, when his young cry out to God, they wander for lack of food?” Job 38:41
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the fied, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:25-34
So, it is a choice, in all things in life, to serve God, with all the rewards and yes, at times hardships that it brings, or to serve oneself in an attempt to make our life easier, or “save ourselves.”
“And if it displeases you to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the river, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell, but as for me and my household, we shall serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15
Praying that you will be strengthened this day!
This morning while walking I was listening to a message Order From Chaos by Sinclair Ferguson. Some points were so powerful and graphic to me that it influenced my blog post for today.
How are your spirits? In our everyday vernacular someone is asking how is your mood, how are your emotions, how are you feeling? When someone is in good spirits, it seems to influence their outward countenance along with their speech and behavior. The same is when someone is in poor spirits or sad, dejected, depressed, frustrated. In general our spirits show the character of how we are at that moment, our insides, and that tends to spur our thoughts, words and outward behaviors, restrained or curtailed somewhat depending on circumstances, but still there.
Genesis 1:1-2 “In the beginning of God’s creation of the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was astonishingly empty, and darkness was on the face of the deep, and the spirit of God was hovering over the face of the water.” The spirit of God. His character. His insides.
Genesis 1:26 “And God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and they shall rule over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the heaven and over the animals and over all the earth and over all the creeping things that creep upon the earth.”
Proverbs 8 “Will not wisdom call out, and understanding give forth its voice? What is wisdom? It is found in the Word of God. So back to Genesis 1:2 and 1:26, let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Who is our? God, Genesis 1:2 mentions His spirit. And Proverbs 8, wisdom, the Word of God. God, His spirit, the Word of God.
“At the top of the heights upon the road; at the crossroads she stands. Beside the gates, at the entrance of the roof, at the entrance of the portals she cries “To you, O men, I call, and my voice [is] to the children of man. O simpletons, understand cunning, and you fools, give understanding to your heart. Hearken for I will speak noble things, and the opening of my lips shall be right things. All the sayings of my lips are with righteousness; there is nothing twisted or crooked in them. They are all true to the understanding one, and straight to those who find knowledge.” Who is “she”? A harlot, a tempter yet here, clearly one who has been turned from her ways to something bigger, better, different and she is imploring people to please listen to what she has to say, what has happened to her, her testimony.
And here is what happened to her. Or perhaps we should say who happened to her. “I am wisdom; I dwelt [beside] cunning, and the knowledge of devices I will find. Fear of the Lord is to hate evil, haughtiness, pride, the way of evil, and a perverse mouth; [these] I hate. I have counsel and sound wisdom; I am understanding; I have might. Kings reign with me, and rulers legislate righteousness. Through me princes govern, and nobles, yea, all judges of righteousness. I will love those who love me, and those who seek me eagerly will find me. In the way of righteousness I will go, in the midst of the paths of justice. There is substance to give inheritance to those who love me, and I will fill their treasuries. The Lord acquired me at the beginning of His way, before His works of old. From the distant past I was enthroned, from the beginning, of those that preceded the earth. I was created when there were yet no deeps, when there were no fountains replete with water. I was created before the mountains were sunk, before the hills; when He had not yet made the land and the outsides and the beginning of the dust of the earth. When He established the heavens, there I was, when He drew a circle over the face of the deep; And now, my children, hearken to me, and fortunate are those who observe my ways. For he who has found me has found life, and he has obtained favor from the Lord. But he who sins against me robs his soul; all who hate me, love death.”
However, what an interesting description of the Word of God. The Lord acquired me at the beginning of His way, before His works of old. From the distant past I was enthroned, from the beginning, of those that preceded the earth. Certainly sounds like a person is being described. John 1:1-5 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Back to discussing the spirit. Numbers 23:19 “God is not a man that He should lie, nor is He a mortal that He should relent. Would He say and not do, speak and not fulfill? Malachi 3:6 “For I, the Lord, have not changed” So, while our human spirits change, being in good spirits, being in poor spirits, and with it our thoughts, words, outward behaviors often reflect our spirits, God does not change. He is the same yesterday, today and will be the same tomorrow. So, with that, God’s Spirit does not change. How do we know about God’s Spirit, His inner workings, His personality? Through His Word, which interestingly is expressed as being a person. Who do you think it is? How about Jesus?
So, when I or others talk about focusing on God, not on ourselves, and that it is a supernatural natural maturation and growth, evolving in thoughts and behaviors that results after receiving salvation, well, what happens at salvation? Ezekiel 36:26-27. “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the heart of stone out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My spirit within you and bring it about that you will walk in My statutes and you will keep My ordinances and do [them]” Wow! This is how it happens!!! With God’s spirit in us, His inner workings, His personality have been placed in us. And what is in us, when we focus on it, it flows out! And how do we know what God desires, His statutes, His ordinances? Through God’s Word. That is how it is through Jesus motivated and powered by the Holy Spirit, we walk in God’s ways!
I pray for you to be brought to deeper revelations wherever you are at on this journey called life!
I love to walk/hike. Prior to the flu, I was walking 5 miles/3-4 times a week. In flu recovery, with stamina not quite there yet, since this past Monday I have walked around my block, adding one time around each day. 3 1/2 times around is one mile. Today I was on day 7, so 7 times around. Two miles and I was exhausted yet what a sense of accomplishment.
Locally where I live it is basically walking as the terrain is fairly flat in addition to city sidewalk walking. With a bit of travel, the terrain becomes hilly/mountainous and hiking offers more of a physical challenge along with awesome views and fun.
Walking/hiking is exercise but beyond that it is a time of fellowship and fantastic conversation when I have my husband or a friend walking with me. Alone, I sometimes plug in my earbuds attached to my smartphone and listen to a message Ligonier.org is one of my main go tos, and they also have an app that I have on my phone. Sometimes I walk with nothing other than the act of walking, focused even more fully on what I am seeing. Unless the weather is completely prohibitive, I walk outside, for so many reasons, the main one is how wonderful it feels feeling outdoor air on my face, even when it is cold (I can bundle up) and even when it is hot (I walk early mornings then before the heat becomes oppressive.)
In advance I mentally create a route so I know where I am going, what I am doing, and sometimes even a hint of what I will see. So many directions I can go in, but I am looking for one consistent path. A safe one, yet sometimes a challenging one. When I get tired, shortcuts are tempting. I stay the course because there is a reward for me in walking a certain amount, physically and also emotionally. It is also exciting, in the movement, in what I see, feeling the outside air on my face, and in the awesome sense of accomplishment. Perfect, no. I cannot profess to have the ideal posture and pace every moment of every single walk I take.
I walk because I love it and I walk even more so because of how it enriches my life. However if I focus on the act of walking, I get tired, bored, every step becomes drudgery. The temptation to take shortcuts or stray from the path or becomes more tempting.
Spiritual parallel? Of course. Isaiah 30:21 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying “This is the way you should go, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. In salvation, God sets us on a path as we walk through life, ways in which the different areas of our life will honor Him, glorify Him and while it may not always feel like it, it will also enrich our life. His goal for us is for us to walk out experientially the new identity that became ours positionally the moment of our salvation.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
God has a plan for me. He has a purpose for me. He has a path for me to walk on. It is so exciting! And God has the same for you!
However, just like my walking hobby, if I focus on what I have to do, basically if I focus on myself and my own stuff, my journey in life with God becomes drudgery, legalistic, rule based, tiring, crushing. When I focus on the Creator of my path, whether the path I am physically walking on, or the path my life is on in every facet, it becomes so doable, rewarding, sometimes tiring, sometimes difficult, sometimes painful, never perfect, but always miraculous, incredible, beautiful and exciting. To God be the glory!