Walking in the Word

My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:20-23

I can name any number of people in my life whom I think needs healing — something needs fixed! How ’bout you? In fact, it’s super simple to come up with such a list and forget (or disregard) the very thing God is most interested in healing . . . me! Sure, He shares that same love with those I think about too, but it’s my heart He is after (and theirs) and I must answer to Him and Him alone.

Walking in the Word of God requires little of your feet and every bit of your mind. The power of the mind is life changing! How it is given reign dictates a very specific path and ultimate end . . . it leads to either death or life. What it is we choose to dwell upon, what we choose to think about or meditate upon drives where we walk.

How many trips have you ever taken? No, I mean vacations, adventures, discoveries? How many have you ever taken and never left the couch or your favorite chair or front porch swing? How is this possible? How can we walk on the sands of Cancun or trek the Aspen forests of Colorado or swim with a whale or enjoy that slice of double layered triple-chocolate miracle cake . . . with vanilla ice cream and never spend a dollar or leave the comfort of our own homes? Because we think it! The power of our mind is strong and the ability it has is remarkable.

Romans 8:6 says, “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace …” This holds true regardless of our circumstances — not just in or about sin. In crisis, in pain and grief, in the midst of life’s most challenging moments, walking in the Word — with the mind controlled by the Spirit brings life and peace to the swirling chaos and confusion. It is the key to “health to a man’s whole body.”

So, what keeps us from putting on the mind of Christ? What keeps us from thinking with the mind of the Spirit? Well, it’s a matter of choice often led by the evil one through a deceptive measure. Making us think that whatever is in our mind is good when it is destructive takes our eyes off the Spirit’s thoughts and onto our own. It’s then no longer about the Spirit who lives in me that is most important . . . it’s that what I think is most important.

By keeping watch of my thoughts through walking in the Word I begin to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ Jesus!

Lord Jesus, my mind is a tool. Sharpen each edge by the refining of my heart with the stone of your Word. Strengthen in me my mind to meditate on you both day and night. Continue to show me ways of your Truth so that I may trust you in all things. Thank you Lord for your Spirit, for you grace and for being Truth!

Would I Know If God Moved?

“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.  That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”  Ephesians 1:18-21

I was snorkeling off the shore of one of the Bahamian islands a number of years ago.  It was a most picturesque and peaceful time.  The still blue-green water of the Caribbean with a mask and snorkel — perfect!  I spent a good hour or so just floating on the surface looking at the sand below in waters only four feet deep or so as it was well known for the many sand-dollars.  Every now and then a needle-fish would zip under me or schools of little silver fish would flash by — really hard to describe how cool it was.  But after a while, something just didn’t seem right.  Ever have that feeling?  It had been well over an hour, I stayed parallel with the shore so I knew I hadn’t drifted far from there, and everyone who had come with me was off doing their own thing.  It was just me, God and the fishes of the sea!  But I felt like someone was staring at me.  That’s really an uneasy feeling when your bobbing in the ocean like a cork thinking you’re all alone!  It was very unsettling — for good reason — I slowly lifted my head and what I saw straight in front of me took my breath and I managed to put my swim in full reverse.  There were three — THREE — Barracuda starring directly at me, moving their mouths — filled with teeth mind you — open and close.  I was done — through — out of the water — snorkeling had come to a close!

I often reduce my experiences with God down to a feeling — some kind of sense of His presence.  I think you know what I mean — when your reading or singing and a chill goes up your spine.  God?  When someone says something you needed to hear.  God?  When you barely miss the biker you never saw as you pulled out of the parking lot.  God?  When you have this feeling.  God?  We certainly can’t deny the involvement of something or someone that stirs, reminds, provokes or prevents.

But how would I know if God really moved?  Would it be a swift breeze to the back of my neck?  Would it be the wrestling of the branches on a still morning?  Would it be a red-bird that lands in front of me? Would it be a miracle over the impossible?  Maybe.

Paul knew!  When your heart opens to the understanding of Christ in you, all sorts of moving can be felt.  It’s the little glimpses of truth, flashes of God’s fingertips on your life that spark with knowing . . . God just moved!  When His glory merely twinkles in the time of this place it overwhelms our being.  It’s stirring!

And Paul says to the Ephesians, when you open your heart to understanding who you are in Christ . . . you begin to KNOW the hope, the riches, the incomparable GREAT power in Christ alone!

Oh, my God!  Lord, Jesus, how majestic is your name in all the earth!  That I would see just a small glimpse of you moving in my life, in my world, demonstrating your great love like I have just seen is overwhelming!  Thank you for extending just a glimpse for I’d dare say I am not capable of seeing the fullness of your glory!

. . . His glory covered the heavens and his praise filled the earth.  His splendor was like the sunrise; rays flashed from his hand, where his power was hidden.  Habakkuk 3:3-4

 

Lifter of my Life

But you are a shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.  To the Lord I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill.   Psalm 3:3

Satan is a great suppressor.  He thrives in throwing the grappling hook of despair in our direction with the weight of self-pity, depression and everything negative tied to the other end.  And then, once that hook is set good, he gently and quietly slips it over the edge and with it plunges our countenance.

There’s no question that Scrat, the prehistoric squirrel from the very popular Ice Age movies is a long favorite of many.  His quest for the “acorn of life” is without doubt one of great persistence and commitment.  In the most recent of the movies, Scrat finds himself on a very small island with what appears to be a skeleton of his own kind.  And just off shore, to the depths of the ocean, he discovers through clues from his boney ancestor the acorn settled on the ocean floor.  Too far to swim, too deep to dive — he must find another way.  And with a boulder as his anchor, he holds on for dear life as it sinks, with a tight grip, to the resting place of the acorn.  And what appears to be his best idea yet to get this nut, turns into him only getting pulled down into deeper waters.  The deeper he sinks, the more powerful the pressure becomes.  Poor Scrat will never learn — but he sure can teach us a few things!

When we fix ourselves to the boulder of negativity and free fall over the edge, the weight of discouragement, despair and doubt destroy our mood.  And as we allow for these thoughts to captivate our minds we are no longer behaving with the mind of Christ.  Christ is our example here.  Christ, when all things appeared certainly negative, maintained a positive attitude.  He encountered personal attacks, betrayal and abandonment from his disciples when he needed them the most.  He was strongly misunderstood, misrepresented and deserted.  He was mocked and called a liar and left alone.  He had every reason to be negative — yet, he turned to the Lifter of his life.

Lord Jesus, you turned to the One who lifts the heads of those whose lives are struck with despair and doubt.  I know when I’ve experienced this it weighs so much it drives me to the floor.  Yet, somehow, this burden is light for you!  As though your finger touches the underside of my chin, much like a father does with his own child and you lift it to gaze upon your glory!  Oh my God — the Lifter of my head, the Lifter of my life!  You not only hear my cry . . . you lift me up!

Who is this King of glory?  The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.  Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.  Who is he, this King of glory?  The Lord Almighty–he is the King of glory.  Psalm 24:8-10

How Much To Trust

. . . because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.  II Timothy 1:12

How much do I trust Him . . . really?  Oh man, this question is one I have always avoided.  I would suspect that it has been one that many choose not to ask of themselves for fear of the truth that lies beneath the selfish surface of our own sufficiency.

One of my boys thinks it’s fun to randomly fall backwards toward me without notice.  I’ve told him over and over again this is not a good idea.  “What if I don’t see you or notice you falling?  What then?”  His reply . . .  “Dad, you wouldn’t let me fall, you’ll catch me, right?”  That’s some firm trust!

Unlike my son, unlike Paul or Timothy, I’m looking behind me to see if God is there to catch me — before I take the plunge.  That’s not faith — nor trust.  That’s doing things my way.  God wants me to abandon my way and have faith in His way — though it doesn’t make sense at times.  But my plan seems to abandon His way for mine most of the time.

Yes, Lord, I pray for your provision on those I love.  Give them the fruits of your hand in whatever form you see fit:  sunshine or storms, abundance or famine, wealth or poverty, health or illness, peace or conflict.  Whatever it takes to draw them nearer.  And for me, I pray the same!  Give me the confidence to fall into you with all things, in all things, from all things.  I do trust you Lord, with everything!  And even when I don’t, I know you will give me a chance to find out if I am.

. . . being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  Philippians 1:6

Taking Position

‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army.  For the battle is not yours, but God’s.  . . . You will not have to fight this battle.  Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.  Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’   II Chronicles 20:15, 17

Busyness and a burdened life will drag on your walk with Christ like an anchor in the shallows.  These things remove our focus from our Savior and creates an atmosphere of worry, anxiety and wonder.  We stand in our daily battle, “not against flesh and blood,” and merely survive.  But in our survival we lose sight of the cross in all things.  Oh, no doubt that we acknowledge the presence and purpose of the cross, the presence and purpose of our Savior in fact, but we tend to discount the call to complete surrender.

There was no question from David that the God of Abraham, which is our God, was present and the essence of life to the shepherd boy.  He was, in fact, so much united with God that when faced with a battle against a giant Philistine, he never questioned the outcome.  Worry over victory, anxiety over opposition, wonder of consequences never crossed his mind.  But the confidence in the One whom he served, trusted and obeyed was the capstone of strength that gave him the ability to worship and praise in reverential fear.

Lord Jesus, my days feel busy, burdened and otherwise overwhelming.  I need to pull up anchor and rest more in your peace and trust more in you than I do with my life.  Speak to me in the areas of needed change.  I am taking my position and standing firm to see the deliverance you have for me.  Thank you Lord for never leaving my side — ever!

‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.’   John 14:27

Rest of God

Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.  Hebrews 4:1

Years ago, when I was a bit more able (and willing) to get up and set out on a great adventure, I remember the weekend I hiked over a 13,000 foot mountain in the Colorado Rockies.  This Florida boy was pretty skilled at running barefoot through sand, but trekking through rocky terrain, over logs and standing on top of the world (so it felt when I reached the top!) was considerably outside my skill set.  It took me and the others over 10 hours to make it up, over and down the other side.

There are many dynamics at play when taking a hike of this kind.  In the Colorado Rockies, weather can change every 15 minutes and even though it may be mid summer, it doesn’t mean that snow couldn’t be in the forecast in an unexpected minute.  The first 3-4 hours through the Aspen forests, creek beds and elk trails were pretty high octane — relatively easy.  But as the terrain turned to more rock, steeper steps and less shelter around hours 5 and 6, my body was begging for rest.  To discard the need to take a break would allow for potentially unsettling consequences.  So, the whole team found their own spots and rested in the glory of God’s great creation to restore ourselves.

The rest of God is a place we choose to enter, but it’s not something that is placed upon us — it’s present within us.  Peace is a fruit of the Spirit and grows as a result of our abiding in Christ.  Jesus said in John 15:4, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”  This is the result of abiding in Him!

But peace is exercised through faith in knowing — through believing that Christ is King and the power of Christ lives in me through obedience.  Peace, while present, comes through choice.  I must choose to think on things that promote peace rather than on things that open the door for mental torment.  Psalm 37:8 says, “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret–it leads only to evil.”

The rest of God comes easy in simple times when there’s nothing to upset us.  But for those who follow Christ, the rest of God is that special and great gift during times of trouble and crisis.  It is met in the midst of abiding in worship of Him.

Lord Jesus, it feels a bit odd realizing how much latitude you’ve given me to choose your rest.  My worry, my fret, my anxiety are all a choice and fanned by the breath of the author of lies to deceive me into trusting more in me rather than you!  You have “prepared a table before me” to join you in worship and praise — to dine — to abide in.  As I face times of difficulty, moments in opposition to your peace in me, remind me of the gift you have given me to rest in you!

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.   Matthew 6:33-34