God is the good in all things!

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28, KJV).

There is nothing inherently wrong in the common translation of this major, familiar and meaningful verse but we often miss the deeper insights of faith-giving implications of truth woven into the promises found in this verse.

We often make this verse about “things” when the truth is far more powerful and life changing. We diminish the powerful and incredible direct attention, responsiveness and work that flows gracefully from the extravagant love of our Heavenly Father as Almighty God upon our lives by making this verse about concepts of good feelings, things and outcomes that we as created beings long for.

The truth is much deeper as to the point and purpose of this verse. The greater context of the verse revolves around our purchased and secure relationship as heirs and children of God through the redeeming and interceding work of  Jesus Chris as our Savior and the Holy Spirit as the Comforter in all things.  Thus the days that make up our lives are really not about good things coming to us or even having faith to perceive things as good.   This verse is also nestled directly in thoughts and truths regarding suffering throughout our lives and the unwavering involvement and care of the Holy Spirit in all things including suffering.  Suffering is seldom evaluated as good in our fleshly understanding but going deeper in our faith as children of God.  We must seek to understand Heavenly Father’s love upon us and His working through and in all things by His Spirit alive in us.

Thus we give Him all our things and all our days that He might do His work in and on our hearts of clay with His masterful hands as the “Potter” who knows all things and crafts us as His masterpiece as we yield to Him.

The truth is and will always be, faith is not about things being good but about knowing and trusting God to be the good in all things. Thus our lives are not about things being good or bad and trying to make sense of them but about living in God’s love and letting Him work in our lives through all things for His purposes. God is in the good in all things because He is good at all times in all things.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28, NIV)

 Suggested Reading … Romans 8

You shall not murder!

“Thou shalt not murder” (Exodus 20:13, NKJV)

Of all the commandments, the commandment to not take a human life is one of the easiest commandments to dismiss.  “You shalt not murder” (Exodus 20:13, NKJV) is a more correct and a better translation than “You shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13, KJV).  The number of murderers in most societies is quite small. Yet from time to time, murder does take place on occasion. We see systematic brutal slaughters in nationalistic or religious fanaticism and pointless or senseless murder at times in our own culture and cringe, but generally it becomes somewhat easy to dismiss this commandment because it might apply to others in other places but never seems very near to us.

Yet Jesus … takes this commandment from the realm of a general non-applying rule and thrusts it like a burning ember into the lives of all human beings. Thus the commandment that most lends itself to being easily dismissed becomes a cautionary truth about anger which should sear the tendencies of rationalization and non-application in all of His followers (Matthew 5:21-26).

Although most people do not carry out plans for the taking of a life, Jesus identifies the source of all fiery and burning deeds of murder lies in the tinder of anger that leads to the beginnings of any such action. In the Kingdom of God, judgment from Christ comes to those who are unrelenting in their anger, sentencing follows on those who attach contempt to their verdict and severe and lasting condemnation to those who in anger would curse another person.

Jesus desires his followers to understand in deep ways the danger of anger and need for forgiveness, reconciliation and redemption. We can see our need for these actions for our salvation but their application is needed in our daily walk and in every relationship we have in the world around us that we may save ourselves from our own destruction.

Jesus later identifies all sin as coming from the heart (Matthew 15:19) and any strong and unreleased anger in our hearts will bring about many of these sins including the taking of any life. Thus the commandment to not murder is not a commandment without appropriateness in our lives but one of daily application to listen to the Spirit of God to release and even crucify our dangerous contempt and anger so the “Fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23) may grow in our lives.

Suggested Reading … Matthew 5 and Galatians 5

His Precious Name

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain (Deuteronomy 5:11, KJV).

How easily the name of God is spoken  in off-handed, thoughtless and most casual of ways! How frequently the name of God is used flippantly to emphasize a point or endlessly and randomly inserted almost as punctuation to change the course of a thought or to start or end a sentence or a story. Then there are the bitter and angry sequences that use the name of God as a rebuking and damning condemnation as if the speaker can decide for God judgment on other people.

All of this vain speaking using  of the name of God makes genuine believers in God, sad and uncomfortable as they hear it happen or leaves them feeling  the sting of guilt if they slip up and fall into an occasion of sinning in this way. It should and must be noted that it is a serious and dangerous thing to take the “Name of God” in vain (Leviticus 24:15-16) as God’s Word proclaims the most serious of judgments as coming to those that practice this sin. Yet the commandment is much broader than most care to consider.

It is a sin to mock Almighty God.  It is just as much a sin to appropriate God’s name as a token banner over a personal pursuit that has nothing to do with the will or ways of God.  This is blasphemy and although that word is virtually unknown in our language, the false teachers and leaders that are using God’s name in vain are very much in danger of His judgment.

Anything that is spoken or done to diminish God’s place of sovereignty, power, majesty and glory is to use or take His Name in vain. Anything that is spoken or done to diminish the name of Christ as the Savior of the world is to take His Name in vain.

It is an amazing thing to be given life by God’s grace, how can we not realize and be ever grateful for the “Precious Name” by which we have our very breath of life. It is an amazing thing to be redeemed from our sin and our words and deeds should never become vain, disrespectful or voiding in their manner, when only praise is due our God!  What God gives us, is precious beyond words and His precious “Name” deserves nothing less than our utmost worship and praise.

“Give unto the Lord, … give unto the Lord glory and strength.  Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” (Psalm 29:1-2 KJV).

No Coveting

“Don’t desire with obsession the things of your neighbor and do not be consumed with possessing the affections of the spouse of your neighbor,” (Deuteronomy 5:21, Paraphrased).

Why are the things that others around us possess so appealing to our human heart? Why those things seem better and glitter like gold to our eyes as they consume our attention and poison our minds? How is it, that we can be consumed with the beauty, charm or physical attractions of the spouses of our neighbors?

To desire something or someone so strongly that determined and obsessive actions follow with the intent to possess something or someone is deadly because the coveting leads to sin and sin leads to destruction and death. Coveting is the tainted well of the human heart from which comes the poisoned water of obsessive selfish desire that when consumed as sin leaves sickness and death as its consequences. Still, coveting is almost never talked about and is seldom even considered a sin in the lives of most people.

Numerous examples of coveting becoming sin and leaving heartache, pain and even death in its wake are found in Bible from the beginning until the end.  Coveting and the greed that comes along with it, leads to manipulation, conniving and stealing with dreadful consequences.

Coveting is not innocent and even if it sneaks into our life in the form of ambition, lust, gain and greed, it can become toxic and deadly.  Coveting is dangerous because it takes us beyond desire into sin.  The Commandments of Moses leave little doubt about coveting as the clearly state that God’s people should not covet!  The opposite of coveting is contentment in the love of God as you rest and live in God’s provision and blessing; trusting Him in all things!

Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13, NKJV)

 

The Neglected Blessed Walk

O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8, NLT)

The walk through many of the days of our lives is oft made more problematic and challenging not by the circumstances of the day but by our choices in each particular day. Of course, one must acknowledge challenges and problems can and will come on any given day and those must be dealt with using faith and fortitude but what about the neglected matter of often choosing not to step into the faith we might so righteously claim is so important to our lives.

Faith is not something to be claimed like an award, at various moments in our lives. Faith is the vital dynamic action of believing and stepping into what is around us and what is unknown before us with our hearts and minds anchored in God’s love and truth while trusting God’s ways will be right and His blessing will follow us as we obey.

What is good in our lives always originates from God and yet we neglect Him and His ways with regularity, choosing instead the easily manipulated and malleable foolishness of our own human emotion, self-centered will and aggrandized intellect.

Oh, that we would see the light of God’s truth and stay on His pathways that will always lead to life and blessing. What contentment we abandon in our hearts when we fail to do what is right and just according to His Word. What joy we forfeit when we fail to love and implement mercy and grace in our involvement with those around us. What peace evaporates and vanishes from our lives when pride inflates and escalates our self-importance at the expense of the truth of our real deficiencies and need of God’s saving and redeeming grace.

I leave you with a simple prayer … “Wonderful Heavenly Father, help me to be thankful and rest with full assurance that everything good comes from you! Give me a contented and courageous heart to always do what is right according to your Word and your Spirit. Help me to love the mercy and grace that saves me through Jesus Christ and help me to freely give it to all of those around me. And Dear Father, let me walk, in all my days … forever and truly humble in my need of you and full of praise for your steadfast love in and on my life. Amen.”

Suggested Reading … Micah 6

The Sabbath is not about a day but about our Great God!

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8, KJ21).

The Commandment regarding the Sabbath is clear and concise in its tone, content and purpose, yet it yields numerous debates as to its application and its day of relevance in the present time.  The Sabbath is first mentioned in the creation of the world as the Creator completed His creation as He rested in His delight in its goodness.  The Creator God did not need to rest from His labors as He does not tire or become faint (Isaiah 40:28) but rather He delighted in all that He gave in creation. Later the Creator would have to become the Savior to redeem the fallen previously created from their intentional sinning.

His intention in giving the commandment regarding the Sabbath involved both the stopping of human toiling and working routines to be thankful to the Creator and Savior of those that would follow Him. This is evidenced in the two distinct versions of the Sabbath Commandment found in Exodus and Deuteronomy. Over time the commandment became lost in the desire to do all the commandment might require.

As Jesus came to complete the Law: we see Him doing good, healing and eating on the Sabbath as He desperately tried to reclaim the purpose of delighting in the goodness of the Creator, the blessing in life and the peace found in the salvation giving God.  His words often failed to penetrate the hearts hardened by tradition which failed to be thankful or delighted in the God they claimed to know. Eventually He offered Himself as the completed redemption for all time as the rest and peace for all souls from the toil and strain of work and days as the Lord of the Sabbath.

The point of the Sabbath was never about the Sabbath Day and what work should or shouldn’t be done on the day.  The point and purpose of the Sabbath was about the stopping of the normal. It is about being abundantly thankful in our delight of knowing the Creator God, the Savior of all people and in the sanctifying Holy Spirit.  Remembering the Sabbath is to let the “Lord of the Sabbath” be the Lord of all things and of all the days of our life.

“Therefore the Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:28, KJ21).

 

Honor

Honor your father and mother, as the Lord your God commanded you. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you (Deuteronomy 5:16, NLT).

What is honor and why in its holding others in esteem and respect will blessing be found?  Something transfers in all relationship when in the exchange of seeing others as worthy and valued and in the actions that follow, which give honor; both parties are blessed.  Honor God and His blessings come into your life by His grace and love. Honor your parents and blessings flow from your relationship with them. Honor others by giving and serving them and relationships on many levels are supported, strengthened, secured and even guaranteed.

It is a strange thing really that something so beneficial to every one of us as honor is something that is lacking in most relationships. The true honoring of others is rare in many ways but it something that marks God as God and something that will mark us as real followers of Him. Honoring involves both the decision to honor and the resolve to give honor through our actions. God values us and He honors us with His love.  Thus we must see the value of others in all of our relationships and honor them with our love, service and action to really be His children.

Eventually honoring others as an action comes around to honor being bestowed on the one who does the honoring. Thus the verb of honoring in and through our living becomes the noun of honor found in the truth of our character and the respect given to us.

The greatest honor is given to those who from their heart and values honored others in their giving and doing. It is from their character and in their actions that specific deeds, times or even a lifetime of dedicated service is given real honor by others.  It is in out of their humility that they are honored. Those that would seek honors from doing a deed, or being in position of leadership that they may be honored, may fool some people by their actions but their inflated pride will give little joy or satisfaction. The truth is quite simple … choose to honor others as God desires us to do and you will be blessed.

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.  Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other (Romans 12:9-10, NLT).

To retain, might not be gain …

What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? (Mark 8:36, KJ21)

Much effort is put forth in the course of our living to retain things. We have deep desires as human beings to retain as much as possible during our days on this earth. Retaining things in life seems to be a natural aspect of our living, yet our intention retaining does not always bring gain.

Retaining a career or business position might not always be the best for us, if our superiors are demanding more than we want or can psychologically, morally or physically deliver. We could lose our enthusiasm for life, our health and most importantly the moral core of our being that gives us direction and strength for living. We might have retained a position, but we have gained nothing but our wages.

Investing considerable time and effort in our home or a system or plan to retain our material possessions and our monetary savings might work for gain, but it can evaporate in an instant, due to innumerable events beyond our control. What we intended to retain, can be lost.

Jesus Christ as Lord and Master of all things offered a different course of action in His kingdom than the typical way of living, where time and effort are devoted to retention of things in this life on earth. He knew how flimsy and futile all the best intentional retaining in life could be. Much of what we desire to retain is of this earth, and it can easily be lost. Even to gain the whole world would be no gain in the eternal sense if you miss the salvation and keys to the eternal kingdom Christ freely offers.

Thus, Christ asks us, as He asked His disciples to let go of our dedication, efforts and our great desire to retain things that cannot be retained for His eternal Kingdom. It will be of absolutely no gain to retain everything in this world but lose your soul. It is the letting go of the things of this earth and through the giving up of ourselves that we will gain the only things, which will be retained for eternity.

Suggested Reading Mark 8

 

Seeing, Realizing and Living

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth with a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord or as his counselor has instructed him? Whom did he consult for his enlightenment, and who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him understanding? Behold the nations are like a drop from a bucket and are accounted as the dust on the scales . . . All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing! (Isaiah 40:12–17)

When we really and truly see who we are, and when we really and truly see who God is, we are helpless and hopeless in our reach for God until we realize God is reaching to save us by sending Jesus Christ to be our Savior and Lord. The Almighty and Living God rules and reigns beyond every perceived and comprehensible human sense of perfection in His holiness. He is so utterly indescribable in the countless realms of His power and essence that the sum of all human vocabulary and language fails to begin even to touch in all He is and does.

Yet, we long with all our heart and soul to know Him even as we are barely able to grasp and know the slightest and minuscule amounts of His glory and greatness.  To have an intimate relationship with God is our created purpose, but our sin obscures this connection until we find salvation at the cross. It is from the cross forward hopeful in the Risen Christ; we find the endless grace to come again and again in the humble acknowledgement of our limited human strength and capacity and our need for all that an indescribable God can give by, through and in His incomprehensible love.

Continuing down the road of life and faith, we can and will find ourselves time and time again wandering, weary and confused in all we experience and all we face. It is in these moments that both weigh against our hearts and challenge our emotions and our intellect, that we need more than we can gather or find in our being.  It is here in the deepness of our struggle, pain, and difficulty that our needs for the Indescribable God pour forth in our cries for help and clarity in understanding and direction.   It is here again that we must truly see our God for who He is.  Nothing is impossible with Him and nothing is out of His capacity to heal, sustain, restore and redeem in the ever sufficient and overflowing grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

It is a humbling thing to truly see who we really are and a glorious and wonderful thing to realize our need for all that the Almighty and Living God can give. Seeing and realizing this great truth brings will always lead us to praise, thankfulness and the worship of our Heavenly Father and our Savior.  Abiding every day in the truth of our need for God and knowing He has the strength and power by His love and grace to give us everything we need, is life giving on this earth and for eternity.  Take time today … to be still and thankful for who you are and who your God is!

Suggested Reading … Isaiah 40