The Golden Rule: Treat Others the Way You Want to be Treated

The golden rule, although existing in many cultures globally, is a biblical principle that has been passed down through generations. Certainly, my parents faithfully attempted to instill this foundational way of thinking and behaving into my conduct.

The golden rule points us to see others with value. Speaking the golden rule is easy; remembering it during critical moments, a little more difficult; harder still is consistently living by it.

Self Assessment

Matthew, the former tax collector, writes of the need for such a principle. Few people, now or then, admire those who work for the tax department, enforcing governmental laws of personal and corporate taxation. In Matthew’s day, tax collectors were considered traitors and thieves — mostly for good reason. Before Matthew was introduced to Jesus, his barometer scale of compassion probably ranked quite low. Filling his own coffers was one of his highest priorities, and he didn’t care who he stepped on to do it.

“So in everything, do to others
what you would have them do to you,
for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
Matthew 7:12

When he met Jesus, however, his former mindset did an about-turn. He began to view those around him not for temporary benefit but from an eternal perspective. He also knew such a change of thinking came only through divine intervention. 

In the preceding verses, Matthew addressed the need for taking the plank out of my own eyes (vs 5). It amazes me how blatantly obvious the smallest failures of others appear while living ignorant of my own overbearing and incredibly dysfunctional behavioral patterns.

God forbid that we ignore the pain we see others suffering through. Before jumping into action, he challenges us to assume the responsibility of seriously assessing ourselves. Then Matthew calls us to do whatever is necessary to effectively help others. 

“. . . first take the plank out of your own eye,
and then you will see clearly to remove
the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Matthew 7:5

Planks hurt! Specks hurt too! Oh how we need each other to help us see clearly.

God First

What wisdom Matthew has acquired in his short time with the Master! 

He points our attention to the loving Father. I know this is a long passage, but every word is worthy of our attention. 

Ask, and it will be given to you, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
Matthew 7:7-11

If we stop reading here, we easily assume that it is a one-way channel of blessing upon blessing coming toward us. We could stand at the door of prayer asking, seeking and knocking for more in our give-me-bags to satisfy our selfish desires and satiate our lustful appetites for the good things God offers. 

This, however, is the preamble for the real intent, as an appetizer to the full meal, of Matthew’s message. In short, he says, “Look, everyone! Look how loving and gracious our Father is! Does His mercy ever end? Will He ever shortchange you? Does He treat you carelessly?”

Golden Rule

If there are three words that I continually stumble upon as I’m reading the Bible, it is those little words “how much more.” No matter how generous, loving, good and gracious we believe God to be, He is so much more. Matthew says, “God is our pattern. The way He treats us has become the standard by which we treat all others.” 

“So in everything, do to others
what you would have them do to you,
for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
Matthew 7:12

That’s it! The golden rule capsulizes everything God has written. This one principle satisfies everything else completely. “In everything,” in every way, to all people, treat them as God treats us.

Let’s get real! When I look at the level of this standard, I feel like I’m standing under a bar hanging 50 feet above my head with no means of reaching it. My failed attempts, through 67 years, only proves my powerlessness to achieve such a high mark. 

Who will help? How will I ever attain it? Through the grace of God alone — day by day asking Him to intervene in my life, moment by moment trusting Him, time and time again seeking forgiveness for my failure.

“As You Have Done”

Matthew knows full well the intervention of God that must occur for us to hold such high conduct. He isn’t presenting something new. Hundred’s of years prior, Obadiah gave a warning to Israel’s enemies, 

“. . . As you have done, it will be done to you;
your deeds will return upon your own head.”
Obadiah 1:15

Israel’s enemies were guilty of “gloating” over them in their “misfortune,” “rejoicing” when “destruction” hit, and “boasting” when they were in trouble. Doing the wrong thing comes easy; doing the right thing takes practice and effort.

Sometimes, we do pretty good at following the golden rule principle with our friends. The real litmus test is how we respond to our enemies. Do we nurse a twisted gratification when they stumble and fall or when they are down and out?

My parents would often add, “Don’t kick someone when they’re down!” In other words, the golden rule includes lending a helping hand to those we least want to help, being kind to those who have treated us harshly, and refusing to judge those who have cast the broad net of judgment our way. 

God reminds us through Obadiah that the same portion we so generously give to others, either good or evil, will return to us. 

Sowing and Reaping

What a marvelous God we serve. God  refuses to lower the bar to meet our inadequacies. He sets the bar high, then lifts us over it. He presents the standard, then gives us everything we need to accomplish it.

“…I will not leave you helpless
nor forsake nor let you down,
nor relax my hold on you.
Assuredly not!”
Hebrews 13:5 AMP

We don’t struggle alone to fulfill God’s mandate. The beauty and simplicity of the golden rule unfolds like a delicate flower, as we rest and trust in God to guide and help us. What we sow we will reap.

Paul writes to the Galatians, 

“Do not be deceived; God cannot be mocked.
A man reaps what he sows. . .
Let us not become weary in doing good,
for at the proper time we will reap a harvest
if we do not give up.”
Galatians 6:7-9

So friends, let’s keep going. Keep reaching. Keep aiming. We will attain the reward of living for and giving to others according to the golden rule. Let’s not give up! Reward may seem a long way off, but it might be sooner than we think.

Do Clothes Make a Man or Woman? Are You Ready?

How important are the clothes we wear? Do clothes really make a man or woman? Is our dress that closely associated with the success of an individual?

My mother always dressed beautifully. She knew exactly what accessories to put with whatever top to go with whichever shoes. Me, on the other hand, missed the gorgeous-garment-gene completely. There was nothing glamorous about most of my life doing farm work. Carhartts and steel-toed boots hardly qualify as a fashion statement. Jewelry? Any deer, rabbit or coyote I encountered would have been non-appreciative of such accessories.

Not that I haven’t tried on rare occasions to “doll myself up.” One failed attempt at dressing-for-success ended up with arriving at church only to realize I had completely forgotten to wear shoes. Horrified I discovered I had left home with incredibly comfortable, fuzzy, blue slippers! An illustration perhaps of God humiliating the proud.

Seriously though, God has a lot to say about the clothes we wear that have little to do with appealing to the human eye, but rather the heart.

So before I worry about dress codes and fashion statements, the latest trends and hot new looks, let’s check out what is far more critical. God points to quite a different wardrobe for clothes appropriate for any man or woman.

The Old for the New

When we moved off the farm, I happily traded in those muddy boots and work clothes for casual office attire. The transition was easy and inexpensive thanks to second-hand stores and bargain hunting.

Paul compared the new life of a Christian as being similar to a wardrobe change, taking off the old and putting on the new.

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life,
to put off your old self,
which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;
to be made new in the attitude of your minds;
and to put on the new self,
created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Ephesians 4:22-24

Sounds easy, right? Maybe for some, but it certainly hasn’t been for me! I may not even own those old clothes any more, but I still smell the stench of them from time-to-time. Deceitful desires are deceitful because I’m the last the recognize how deceived I am in them. My attitudes can become downright foul before I catch a whiff of my own disdainful aroma.

Unfortunately, I’m not alone.

“We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our unrighteous deeds are like polluted garments.”
Isaiah 64:6

Humility

If you think I might be exaggerating, I’ll be specific. I’ll begin with the truly gritty and tough.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people,
holy and dearly loved,
clothe yourselves with compassion,
kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
Colossians 3:12

Taking off the old man, or garments, may appear like an instantaneous magic act for some, but for me, it has been more like peeling layer by layer slowly and painstakingly off my entire being. Oh don’t get me wrong, I would love to be clothed with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. These are the real attributes making any woman or man great.

The selfishness, inconsideration, pride, harshness and impatience of my old man sticks like crazy-glue, showing itself in the most unexpected ways. I fear I grieve the Holy Spirit far too often, in my failure to rid myself of these old offensive garments. As a matter of fact, the more I try to rid myself of them, the more hopeless the process appears to become. If these godly qualities make the man or woman, without divine help, I’m in big trouble!

I, like everyone else who acknowledges the Name of the Lord Jesus, have been robed in His righteousness. But the message has taken longer than I hoped to seep into the essence of my whole being.

Salvation

I love Isaiah’s declaration:

“I delight greatly in the LORD;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”
Isaiah 61:10

“He has clothed me with garments of salvation!” Don’t you love it? Do you hear the past tense? It’s a done deal, an irreversible act, an undeniable fact. These garments truly make us women and men of God.

Unlike my personal wardrobe transition, this garment change cost the highest price, the life of Jesus Christ. But God looked at each of us and said, “That one is worth it! Look at her. See how valuable she is. Look at him all you heavenly host, watch how I clean him up and transform him into someone that turns heads, capturing attention. Everyone will know it is My doing when they see these children of mine in their new clothes.”

Garments of salvation . . . robes of righteousness . . . fit only for the bride of Christ. Yes, Lord, bring it on!

My meager wardrobe change is nothing in comparison with the magnificent exchange that God has orchestrated. God’s clothes do make the man or woman.

Magnificent Exchange

In Matthew 22, Jesus tells a parable about a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent out invitations far and wide to the elite and the chosen — the list was long and impressive. Few responded; most vainly excused themselves. Quickly the invitation list was changed.

“Go into the street corners and invite . . . anyone you find.”
Matthew 22:9

The anyones and the everyones gladly came.

“But when the king came in to see the guests,
he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes.
He asked, ‘How did you get in here
without wedding clothes, friend?’
The man was speechless.
Matthew 22:11

Don’t miss the compassion and intimacy with which the king called him “friend.” The king knew him and loved him. The king had both extended the invitation and provided the necessary apparel for the occasion. The man was without excuse.

Obviously, when our Heavenly Father throws a wedding for His Son, He fully expects us to come dressed in the righteousness that He has already provided.

Fit for a King

Jesus spoke in parables while John witnessed the grand occasion through a vision.

“Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder shouting:
Hallelujah!
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.”
(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)”
Revelation 19: 6-8

God has given us everything we need, but it is up to each of us as the bride of Christ to make ourselves ready. I, for one, don’t want to have the King ask how I got into the wedding, still wearing the old garments of my past.

So, here I am kneeling in prayer, peeling away the old, receiving the new, and doing whatever it takes to be ready. Won’t you join me? If you are an anyone, the invitation still stands.

Don’t Worry; Be Happy! The Battle for Peace of Mind!

If you’re like me a “Don’t worry; be happy!” admonition isn’t exactly effective. The battle for peace of mind can’t be minimized. The struggle many people at times face is significant and life altering, causing emotions to sway like a skyscraper during an earthquake.

Sometimes even temporary issues can send one into extreme frustration or anxiety, whether the pivot point is a serious health problem, financial crisis, relational issues, or any number of other life events large and small. Paul challenged the Corinthians to “take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor:10:5)

That sounds like attempting to have a dozen toddlers sit still for a photo. Toddlers don’t stay still and neither do my thoughts or over-active imagination.

Nonetheless, God places on us the full responsibility for the thoughts we choose to dwell on. So how can we and do we win this battle for a mind at peace? Fortunately, God doesn’t leave us groping for our own solutions to this immense problem.

Rejoice

When hope seems lost and expectation for improvements buried and gone, the command to rejoice sounds cruel at best. Unless of course, the one giving the instruction was himself familiar with facing life and death situations.

“I am in chains for Christ . . .
and will continue to rejoice . . .
I eagerly expect and hope that
I will in no way be ashamed,
but will have sufficient courage
so that now as always Christ
will be exalted in my body,
whether by life or by death.
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Philippians 1:13,18-21

Maybe that is sufficient evidence to heed the advice of Paul whose struggle, pain and loss far exceed our own. When the chips are down and all natural support is stripped away, he concludes that everything apart from Christ is “garbage.” (3:8) In essence, he reminds us all that life is short and eternity is long.

Paul sets the context for his encouragement just before reminding us all that the “Lord is near!” When we sense that deliverance is close at hand, we have the capacity to endure much more than we previously thought possible.

Rejoice in the Lord always
[delight, gladden yourselves in Him];
again I say, Rejoice!”
Philippians 4:4

Don’t Worry; Be Happy

Paul, through personal example, demonstrates the possibility of maintaining joy in difficult situations. Then he adds to his clear command to rejoice, another, “Don’t worry!” During less intense problems it’s perhaps easier to find something to be grateful for and happy about, but when you’re facing foreclosure, your marriage is heading to divorce court, or the illness is diagnosed as terminal, “Don’t worry; be happy” sounds empty and unrealistic.

Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything,
but in every circumstance and in everything,
by prayer and petition (definite requests),
with thanksgiving,
continue to make your wants known to God.”
Philippians 4:6

Gradually, I’m beginning to understand Paul’s admonition. Prayer changes everything, starting with me and my perspective. Thankfulness perhaps improves the nature of our thoughts and emotions more than any other quality. Jesus encouraged his listeners that God knows and loves each of us so much that He even knows how many hairs we have on our heads. (Luke 7) Apparently, that’s about 150,000 hairs per person. Then He says,

“Don’t be afraid; you are worth more. . .”

When you consider there are about 1 billion trillion stars in the known universe and God has each one not just numbered but named, we understand how great God is and how much He really does care. (Ps 147:4) Suddenly, I view God and my life from a new context.

It is only as I fully know my need, that I come to know the goodness and greatness of my God. Maybe, “Don’t worry; be happy” isn’t such a far stretch after all.

Peace in the Storm

As I take those things that rob me of joy and shadow me with fear, placing them in prayer before God, peace becomes possible.

“And God’s peace [shall be yours,
that tranquil state of a soul assured
of the salvation through Christ,
and so fearing nothing from God
and being content with its earthly lot
of whatever sort that is, that peace]
which transcends all understanding shall garrison
and mount guard over your
hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:7

I’m beginning to see the strategy for winning this battle over depression and anxiety. I’m not sure about anyone else, but for me, the decades long struggle with mental illness proved to be largely a spiritual issue. I can say, at least in part, that I’ve been transformed by the renewing of my mind, aligning it to who God is and what He declares. (Rom 12:2)

Though once impossible, now “Don’t worry; be happy!” is completely attainable.

Thinking

For a  brain like mine that was once deeply rutted with “stinking-thinking,” rerouting thought patterns has taken persistence and time. That’s why Paul continues his exhortation,

“. . . whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence
and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just,
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable,
whatever is kind and winsome and gracious,
if there is any virtue and excellence,
if there is anything worthy of praise,
think on and weigh and take account of
these things [fix your minds on them].”
Philippians 4:8

My thoughts are becoming increasingly a more accurate reflection of this description. At times, however, it is downright scary how ragged, selfish, and putrid any random thought rolling through my head might be. But just imagine! Imagine how different life would be if every thought was taken captive and aligned with Christ through this short, albeit challenging, list.

Practice

If I stop reading here, however, I will miss the mark. “Don’t worry; be happy!” will remain an elusive impossibility. To embed these truths deeply in my life, they must be practiced.

Practice what you have learned
and received and heard and seen in me,
model your way of living on it,
and the God of peace
(of untroubled, undisturbed well-being)
will be yours.”
Philippians 4:9

Reading our Bibles and knowing the truth begins the process but will leave us lacking if we settle for knowledge alone. Winning the battle for the mind takes effort — a praying and petitioning God kind of effort, plus diligently censoring our thought life kind of effort. When we willingly practice and model what we have learned, that process continues until radical mind-renewing, mind-healing transformation occurs.

Jehovah Shalom, the God of Peace, remains untroubled and undisturbed. He grants us His perfect peace that supernaturally garrisons and guards our hearts and minds. Then, through Christ, “Don’t worry; be happy!” becomes a daily reality and peace truly does win.

Psalm 81 – Open Wide Your Mouth and I Will Fill It

God says, “Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.” But what does He mean and how inclusive is this guarantee? These are the questions I asked my friend when she reminded me of God’s promise to supply. Though I already knew the verse, our conversation sent me on a quest to find out more.

The first image that came to my mind as she spoke was of a nest of hungry birds desperately chirping and cheeping upon their parent’s approached with a thick juicy worm — each tiny featherless upstart demanding more. Yes, that’s me! The one right in the middle insisting to be filled!

But as with all promises in the Bible, fulfillment is contingent on our response to God. He is more than willing and able to come through for us, but are we positioning ourselves to receive the fullness of His promise?

Worship God

Psalm 81 can be divided into three distinct sections, the first of which calls us to worship God for who He is.

Sing for joy to God our strength;
shout aloud to the God of Jacob!
Begin the music, strike the timbrel,
play the melodious harp and lyre.
Sound the ram’s horn . . .”
Psalm 81:1-3 

Loosen up your voices, tune up the instruments, get ready for a noisy, all-out shindig! This is God we are celebrating, not some here-today-gone-tomorrow celebrity. No instrument is too large or too small; it isn’t too soon to start. “Begin the music!” the psalmist announces, “Let’s get this praise rolling!”

This isn’t a new admonition. As a matter of fact, it’s been in existence since God brought His people out of Egypt. That was a LONG time ago. Surely you remember! Well, maybe it wasn’t literal Egypt for each of us, but we’ve all known our share of sins cruel chains of oppression. Those who have claimed the Name of Jesus have experienced the freedom of His deliverance.

But then we catch the first startling glimpse of trouble.

Unknown God

“I heard an unknown voice say . . . ”
Psalm 81:5

What? Did I read that right? The God who once set us free is now “unknown?” How could they, and for that matter I, forget? Oh, but it’s our human nature to easily forget the greatness and goodness of our God.

“I removed the burden from their shoulders;
their hands were set free from the basket.
In your distress you called and I rescued you,
I answered you out of a thundercloud;
I tested you at the waters of Meribah.”
Psalm 81:6-7

Since God has done so much for each of us, you would think we would always remember his goodness. Surely, after all the grace and mercy He has shown, we would remain grateful. Even though the call to remember resounds throughout the Bible, we too forget. We forget not just His deeds but the sound of His voice — His voice that reveals His unchanging character and love.

The title for the second segment to this psalm could easily be, “My Forgetful Children.” As a mother of many, all too often I felt the exasperation of not being listened to and my wise counsel left unheeded. (Of course, what sounded wise to a mother didn’t always ring true to fledgling children — then or now!)

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.”
Psalm 81:10

“Open Wide Your Mouth”

Little birds open wide their mouths because their very lives depend on it. My problem isn’t forgetting to open my mouth or making my need known, but rather how I attempt to satisfy that need. As another friend once told me, “There are many non-gods we can go to.”

She is right. If I forget who God is and lose awareness of His voice, I will seek fulfillment in many other places. As horrifying as it sounds, it’s true. And I’m not alone! We live in fleshly bodies that refuse to be satisfied, filling our proverbial mouths with lust, greed, and gluttony of various kinds. Humanity reeks. We are too often like self-made garburators of the vile and disgraceful.

Our electronic devices buzz with incessant pollution to minds and souls, drawing us ever deeper into a new, yet all to familiar, bondage God once delivered us from. Oh, but God’s heart cries to us still,

Hear me, my people, and I will warn you —
if you would only listen to me . . .
You shall have no foreign god among you;
you shall not worship any god other than me.
I am the LORD your God,
who brought you up out of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.”
Psalm 81:8-10

In spite of our failure to hear and to heed, God calls with open arms, “Come back to me and I will satisfy your hunger.”

“But my People”

The third segment of this psalm might be called, “They Would Not!” This is only my opinion, but I think the greatest crisis of mankind is forgetting that we are people made in the image of God, with purpose and destiny. When we fail to remember our God, we quickly fail to remember who we are as well.

“But my people would not listen to me . . .
If my people would only listen to me,
if Israel would only follow my ways,
how quickly I would subdue their enemies
and turn my hand against their foes!”
Psalm 81:11-14

Do I close my mouth long enough to listen, refusing to self-gratify, self-satisfy or self-proclaim? Do I open wide my mouth to acknowledge my God with singing and shouting His praise? Maybe not with cymbals and ram’s horns, but noisy acclamation of His greatness? Will I remember that I am His and follow Him?

If I will, and that is the BIG “if,” the promise is mine! When I open wide my mouth, no matter what the need, God will fill it.

“You Will Be Fed”

God brings us back to the promise. If only they will lay aside all their “would nots” the promise still stands.

“. . . you would be fed with the finest of wheat;
with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”
Psalm 81:16

“Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.” Whatever the root of our hunger, whatever the need or longing, God is good enough, strong enough, and loving enough to fill it. But He is waiting to hear our voices sing and shout, for the ram’s horn to blast His praise; He’s waiting for us to turn our ears intently toward His voice; He is waiting for us to remember all He has done for us; He’s waiting for us to catch the passion of His heart, to turn from lesser things. When we do, He’s prepared to swoop low, satisfying every deep craving within.

Our God is enough! No other god will do!  “Open wide your mouth and I will fill it!”

 

David, A Man of Wholehearted Devotion to God

Only a few biblical personalities are said to possess wholehearted devotion to God.  What qualifies such a description? How can one develop this attribute? Who were these individuals?

All were exceptional yet ordinary people. They are people God continues to look for and calls us to emulate.

“For the eyes of the LORD move
to and fro throughout the earth
that He may strongly support
those whose heart is completely His.”
2 Chronicles 16:9

The list of those who possessed wholeheartedly committed to God reads like a who’s who in the spiritual hall of fame:

  • Noah was called “righteous and perfect in his generations” and built a means of salvation for all who would listen. (Gen 6:9)
  • Mary Magdalene followed Christ with wholehearted devotion in her worship, attentiveness to his teaching, faithfulness at His crucifixion and stalwart declaration of His resurrection to His unbelieving followers.
  • Job was declared to be a “perfect and upright man, one that fears God and shuns evil” (Job 1:8)
  • Because of Hannah’s unwavering commitment and sacrificial devotion her nation was turned to God in a single generation (1 Sam 1 & 2)
  • Hezekiah’s self assessment reads, “I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion” (Is 38:3)

What about Abram and his wife Sara, Esther and Mordecai, or many New Testament forerunners, world changers, fearless defenders and promoters of the faith? The Bible says of Jehoshaphat,

“His heart was devoted to the ways of the LORD…”
2 Chronicles 17:6

Above All Others

The Hebrew words often translated as “devotion” have the sense of “being complete or full, whole and wholesome, innocent, and having integrity.” It also stands for “truth, virtue and uprightness.”

The person the Bible describes as having wholehearted devotion above all others is, beyond a doubt, King David. Every succeeding king and ruler would be measured by the devotion found in this godly man.

David was a young shepherd tending “a few sheep” — out of sight, unnoticed, and insignificant by all earthly perspective. In obscurity, however, David’s heart became a God-shaped container of radical devotion to the one and only true God!

Even David’s son Solomon, the wisest of all men, was unable to emulate his father’s example,

“…his heart was not
fully devoted to the LORD his God,
as the heart of David his father had been.” 
1 Kings 11:4

I appreciate the honesty with which David judges his own heart, however. He, as much as any other man, knew the pitfalls of walking wholly committed to God while living with human passions, desires and weaknesses. 

I’m trying my best to walk in the way of integrity,
especially in my own home.
But I need your help!
I’m wondering, Lord, when will you appear?
I despise what is evil
and anything that moves my heart away from you.
I will not let evil hold me in its grip.
Every perverse and crooked way I have put away from my heart,
for I will have nothing to do with the deeds of darkness.”
Psalm 101:2-4 TPT

A Committed Path

Do you ever feel like David? “I’m trying, Lord, but I could use some help!” I sure do!

Wholehearted devotion requires a commitment, a predetermined resolve to allow nothing and no one to separate us from our allegiance to God. But how exactly did David foster and protect such an attitude?

David makes no excuses for himself. A quick glance at Psalm 51 reveals his all-to-real struggle with human weakness.

“For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me…”
Psalm 51:3

Four key elements are evident in David’s life: a soft heart, value for God’s Word, persistence in prayer, and unrestrained worship. All are essential to obtaining wholehearted devotion.

Soft Heart

David’s hope and anchor rested in his personal relationship with his Heavenly Father. A soft heart, quick to repent, always leads to wholeness and restoration.

“Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.”
Psalm 51:10-11 

Humility, a quickness to forgive, concern for the oppressed, and genuine love stood as witness to the softness of David’s heart. 

Value God’s Word

David wisely established godly disciplines to live above reproach. The Hebrew word for “fully devoted” also  means “truth, virtue, uprightness and righteousness.” It is impossible to possess these attributes without saturating ourselves in the oil of divine truth, the Word of God.

David attributed many defining benefits to God’s Word.

“… perfect, refreshing the soul…
trustworthy, making wise the simple…
giving joy to the heart…
radiant, giving light to the eyes…
pure, enduring forever…
 firm, and all of them are righteous… 
more precious than gold…
 sweeter than … honey from the honeycomb.”
Psalm 19: 7-10

Persistence in Prayer

Maintaining an undivided heart toward God also requires transparency and vulnerability. David recognized God’s law as a perfect light shining upon his heart, revealing what would otherwise remain hidden even from Himself. He prayed,

“But who can discern their own errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
innocent of great transgressions.”
Psalm 19:12,13

Because hidden faults and willful sins are common to us all, Jesus told us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” God lovingly reveals our hidden faults when we ask — either speaking through the Holy Spirit or mentors and trusted supporters He has positioned in our lives. 

Unrestrained Worship

The Hebrew word for “steadfast” also means “get ready or be prepared.” The attitude of prayer turns the key to wholehearted devotion, while the practice of worship opens the door, preparing us for godliness.

The psalms ring with David’s anthems of adoration and worship. Communion with God in prayer, combined with worship, prepares the hard ground of our hearts, tenderizing and mellowing it into fallow soil, yielded to God.

“You, God, are my God, 
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.
Psalm 63:1-3

Wholehearted devotion recognizes God as the sufficient Source of all we need.

God’s Promise

Let’s finish where we began,

“For the eyes of the LORD move
to and fro throughout the earth
that He may strongly support
those whose heart is completely His.”
2 Chronicles 16:9

God is looking, scanning the nations, browsing the streets of our cities, searching through our homes, peering into pulpits and pews, desiring to find someone, anyone, he can “strongly support”! His eyes are watching for those He can strengthen, fill with unwavering courage, and give power to overcome all opposition, because that is what strongly support truly means.

Oddly enough, this same word for “strongly support” defines David’s “triumph, prevail, and defeat” over Goliath (1 Sam 17:50). When God found a boy whose heart was fully devoted to Him, He moved with strong support to help the lad. The shepherd’s stone hit the mark with supernatural accuracy and force.  The giant fell never to rise again!

As God gazes upon our generation, may He find many, young and old, men and women, with wholehearted devotion to Him above all else.

**********

 

Wait Patiently for the Lord: The Lord is Sufficient

More than once someone has encouraged me to “wait patiently for the Lord.” Dare I say these are not my most cherished words!

My dictionary defines patience as “the capacity to accept or tolerate delays, problems or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious.” Understandably, my name is not inserted near that definition as a prime example. As a matter of fact, my children laugh at the way I carefully choose routes of travel to avoid stop signs, traffic lights and construction zones. Neither the words “wait” nor “patiently” form the foundation of my genetic makeup.

How about you? What thoughts enter your mind as you read this passage?

Wait patiently for the LORD.
Be brave and courageous.
Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.”
Psalms 27:14

Note the double emphasis David used. Perhaps first to remind himself and then a second time to remind the rest of us.

Wait Patiently

The Hebrew word for “wait” means to bind together and to expect. I’m not alone in choosing more tangible, readily available things or people to “bind” myself to rather than trusting and relying confidently in God as my soul support.

Israel had a similar problem. They had a habit of “going” when God specifically asked them to “wait”; they “mumbled and grumbled” instead of “patiently” binding themselves to God as the source for all they needed. No finger pointing here! I associate more with their twisted attitude and off-centered focus than with the psalmist’s clear directive.

God is loving in all He does; He is an inerrantly good and gracious Father. As such, He works His friendly persuasion to lead us to rely on Him as our soul support and help.

“The Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies
will take away from Jerusalem and Judah
everything they depend on:
every bit of bread and every drop of water.”
Isaiah 3:1

If God were to do the same with me, removing every level of support and supply, every attempt to protect or sustain myself, every self-created prop I so confidently depend upon, what would remain? I fear that I would quickly realize how little, rather than how much, I am actually waiting patiently on God.

Trusting on God

Two years ago, I purchased a small weeping birch tree. Although it was about eight feet tall, the trunk was quite slender and weak. To protect the new addition to my landscape, I staked it firmly on three sides, and tied it securely with soft cords. Weekly, I gave it the water and fertilizer it needed for steady growth and  root development.. There it stood flexing and bending during the summer storms.

In early winter, however, a fierce winter blizzard hit with freezing rain. The gale force winds and weight of icy boughs broke the support cords, pressing my little tree horizontal to the ground. All natural support had failed! I gently broke the ice from its frail branches and retied the little sapling, hoping it would somehow survive winter’s assault.

“But I am trusting you,
O LORD, saying, “You are my God!”
My future is in your hands.
Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly.”
Psalm 31:14-15

Man made help and support might be adequate for the everyday “storms” of life, but only God is sufficient for all seasons and circumstances. David learned this truth on the hillside protecting his sheep from lions and bears — a truth reinforced while hiding in desert caves from a king who put a bounty on his life.

How willing am I to wait patiently on the Lord declaring, “my future is in your hands?” If I find it difficult to trust Him in this moment, with patience, how will I possibly trust Him with my unknown tomorrows?

Grace to Wait

Though I look impatiently to the destination God is pointing me toward, He is creating in me the grace to wait. He patiently develops my character with a greater “capacity to accept or tolerate delays, problems or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious.” With God, patience is an attribute of His character: for me, however, patience is a process.

Although I don’t experience it moment by moment, through hindsight I vividly see the grace, strength and ability to endure taking form. What once caused a great deal of anxiousness and annoyance, now has far less power to control my emotions. Progress may be slow, but God continues to faithfully work in me.

My little tree doesn’t need artificial staking and support any more. It has developed an ability to bend and flex in the wind and endure extreme conditions. The trunk has thickened sufficiently to support the tree through the worst weather thrown its way. The unseen roots have spread out to securely anchor the sapling, producing vibrancy and growth. I hope the same can be said of each of us.

If we back up a few verses in Psalm 27, we discover the reason for David’s ability to wait patiently for the Lord with strength and courage. We see clearly where he plants his spiritual roots for optimum growth.

The LORD is my light and salvation —
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life —
of whom shall I be afraid?”
Psalm 27:1

The Lord Is!

When God removed every previous support system that David had once depended on, David was still secure, confident and solidly grounded. Why? God was enough! When all else is stripped away, we discover (often to our surprise) that the Lord is enough — He is sufficient to satisfy our every need.

Herein lies the joy of having all human and artificial supports removed from our lives. What nothing and no one else can bring, God supplies within Himself.

One thing I ask from the LORD this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock. . .
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!
Your face, LORD, I will seek.”
Psalm 27:4-8

When we finally come to realize that the Lord is all we need, the essential for our lives, we too possess an ability to wait patiently for Him. In Him, we find the strength and courage not just to wait, but to move ahead into what God is calling us to do — trusting fully that our future indeed is in His hands.

Looking Ahead

This one thing I want to remind myself of and encourage you with, “God is enough!” As we enter a new year, either with trepidation or optimism, we wait patiently for the Lord to lead us through.

“Do not be anxious about anything,
but in every situation, by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God,
which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6,7

Adonai Jehovah – The Giver – The One Who Pours Out

As we approach the season of giving, I’m reminded of the ultimate Giver who continues to out-give us all. His very name means “The One who pours out.”

During our first years of marriage my husband and I often tried to out-give each other. Our giving started out with loving intentions, but it didn’t take long for our practice to become foolishly insane. Eventually, we realized that it was the simple day to day giving of ourselves that reaped the greatest relational dividends. Over the years, we developed an ever deepening appreciation for each other as we increasingly valued the moments we shared.

These lessons came with much struggle. Yet, the joy of daily serving each other in a thousand little ways out measured the futile task of finding the perfect gift to demonstrate inexpressible gratitude.

The Inspiration

Around $10 billion flows into charitable donations annually in Canada alone. Thirty percent of those donations occur during the Christmas season. Why? It’s recognition of the Giver, the One who poured out His very best to us all through the Gift of Jesus Christ.

“For God so loved the world
that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him shall not perish
but have eternal life.”
John 3:16

That most precious of gifts, generously given by a loving Father to us, His needy children, continues to inspire giving globally. Of course, no monetary giving compares to God’s ultimate gift of salvation through Jesus. Yet, out of gratitude, humanity imitates God’s example becoming givers and thereby meeting the needs of others. Even in this small way, we reflect His compassionate heart.

Adonai, one of the names for God, means “Giver or “One who pours Himself out.” Giving is who He is, not just what He does. It is an attribute of His nature.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,
who does not change like shifting shadows.”
James 1:17

Out-Giving the Giver

David also captured a bit of God’s heart wanting to give something back to Him. David wondered how he could live content in “a house of cedars” (1 Chronicles 17:1) while God inhabited a tent. He wanted to build a house for God to dwell in, giving God the best he could.

Just like in our marriage, the desire to give backfired for David. As soon as he disclosed his aspiration, God turned the tables out-giving David’s greatest intentions. First though, God reminded David of his humble beginnings.

“…I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock,
and appointed you ruler over my people Israel.
I have been with you wherever you have gone,
and I have cut off all your enemies from before you.”
2 Samuel 7:8-9

David’s desire to give reflected God’s own gracious favor. His capacity and opportunity to give originated from the heart of The Giver. In response to David’s intention, God opened His treasure trove of promises offering even more gifts of grace, to not just David but to all his descendants.

“...I will make your name great,
like the names of the greatest men on earth.
And I will provide a place for my people Israel
and will plant them so that they can have
a home of their own and no longer be disturbed…
I will also give you rest from all your enemies…
the LORD himself will establish a house for you…
I will raise up your offspring to succeed you…
And I will establish his kingdom…
I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever…
But my love will never be taken away from him…”
2 Samuel 7:9-16

Relationship

Can you imagine how David felt in that moment? His intended gift to God held no comparison to what God now presented back to him. Immediately, David sensed an even greater awe and reverence for the God he thought he knew.

“Then King David went in and sat before the LORD…”
2 Samuel 7:18

Something became more intimate about their relationship. Deeper revelation of the Giver above all givers permeated that moment. Seven times in the next ten verses David refers to God as “Sovereign LORD” — Adonai Jehovah, the One who continually pours Himself out to the unworthy and undeserving.

I’ve experienced brief encounters with God, coming into His presence for no purpose other than to offer my little in worship to Him. Consistently, He turns the tables and lavishes upon me such a sense of His favor and grace it has left me in a weeping heap — speechless and helpless.

Though undefinable, something supernatural triggers a divine flow through even our limited imitation of the heart of The Giver. He sweeps in with love that will never be taken away.” He plants us secure in Him “no longer disturbed” as He welcomes us to come and sit close. Over and over again, God gives us the gift of His Presence!

Adonai Jehovah

Adonai Jehovah speaks first of relationship, either as Master and servant, or as Husband and wife. Both a slave and a wife in biblical times were “not their own,” but rather bought with a price. Whether voluntarily or involuntarily they became the property of their lord, fully dependent upon His faithfulness. But the Master made the first move through covenant willingly pledging Himself to sustain, keep and provide.

Paul and the other apostles considered it the highest honor to be known as a servant of the Lord, their beloved. In the Old Testament, Adonai Jehovah, signified a person’s hope in every weakness and encouragement in times of great struggle. God’s covenant presence guaranteed security and favor.

When everything around Isaiah seemed to have reached its darkest most desperate level, he says,

“In the year that King Uzziah died,
I saw the LORD (Adonai),
high and exalted, seated on a throne;
and the train of his robe filled the temple.”
Isaiah 6:1

In times of despair, Adonai comes giving Himself in the most intimate of communion with His people.

“For your Maker is your husband
the LORD Almighty is his name —
the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;
he is called the God of all the earth.”
Isaiah 54:5

The images of God’s loving care to his bride abound throughout the Bible, lavishly providing for her, extending all He is and has for her benefit.

The Giver

Just as the Lord loved us and gave Himself to us, He desires that we now give ourselves to Him. This personal relationship between the Giver and His people flows with intimate and mutual confidence.

“They that know His name will put their trust in HIm.
And they that trust in Him shall never be confounded.”
– Andrew Jukes

Adonai came to humanity over two thousand years ago, pouring Himself out in complete servanthood — through life and death — that we might give ourselves back to Him. The best and greatest Gift has already been given. In receiving Him, we, like David, enter into a new sense of reverence and ever deepening fellowship with Him.

Adonai, the Giver, pours Himself out to a world in need of The Gift that all earth’s riches could never purchase. In both the giving and receiving resides great joy.

The Privilege of Prayer – I Am Praying for You, Pray for Me

Praying for others is an amazing privilege. Though I don’t know each of you personally, I’m praying for you. I humbly ask that you pray for me as well. This kind of praying network, connecting one with another, releases anointing, provision, protection, and power for Christians.

For many years, I thought that praying for myself or asking for prayer was selfish. I’m not even sure how I got such a distorted idea, but I’m glad it finally shook loose. It was when I began to ask people to pray for me that I experienced serious breakthrough. Whether it was for a major project, a decision, or another specific need, I immediately noticed the difference when others were praying.

There is perhaps no higher honor than being able to take the requests of others before God. It amazes me every time! Yet, I continue to struggle to ask for prayer for myself.

Jesus Prayed for Himself

The Bible passage that awakened me to truth came through the Gospel of John. Jesus wasn’t ashamed to ask for His Father’s help, how much more should I be willing to ask!

“…Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”
John 17:1-5 

Ultimately Jesus prayed that God would be glorified, that others would receive life, that He would finish well, and would receive His reward in heaven. Sounds like everything we would also like to accomplish.

God has given each one of us a work to complete. He desires that our lives would bring love, life and hope to the people around us. We cannot do that in the fullness that Jesus did, but we certainly can in part. Ultimately, we want our lives to reflect Jesus and bring as much glory to God as possible.

So in many ways, Jesus’ prayer for Himself, is one that we can continue to pray for ourselves as well. Jesus taught by example, “Pray for me!”

Pray for Ourselves

In the darkest moments of Jesus’ life, while in heavy travail in Gethsemane, Jesus commanded his disciples to

Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.
The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Matthew 26:42

Even His three closest companions couldn’t keep awake to pray, failing the test. Even though Jesus was in great duress, His concern was more for those He loved than Himself. Prayer would give them the support and help they needed to triumph during the next hours and days. Jesus wanted them empowered and enabled to withstand the upcoming events.

It is interesting that this is the last directive Jesus gave to His followers before His death. His words question my heart as He surely as He questioned them,

Couldn’t you… keep watch with me for one hour?”
Matthew 26:40

Prayer cooperates “with” Jesus. What is on His heart? Am I willing to “keep watch with” Him? My willingness to join with Him will help me to overcome the weakness of my own flesh. “Pray for me?” Jesus asked.

Pray for Others

I have partnered with others in prayer and reaped undeserved rewards. Together we have seen miraculous births (naturally and spiritually), supernatural healings, financial breakthroughs, miracles of provision and dire events turn around to become overwhelmingly good. That’s not all but it’s a beginning! Praying together  unleashes God’s power.

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions
with all kinds of prayers and requests.
With this in mind, be alert and
always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
Ephesians 6:18

Paul instructs the believers to “be alert and always keep on praying.” The word “alert” means to stay awake or sleepless. Sounds like the same thing Jesus asked of His disciples to do, doesn’t it?

Just yesterday, on a quiet Sunday afternoon, my husband and I stretched out for an afternoon nap. Neither of us could sleep, however. Thoughts about one young couple were continually stirring in our hearts. Though we had just seen them a few hours earlier and appeared to be doing well, we sensed God calling us to pray for them. Immediately, we got up, shook off our sleepiness and prayed. It really doesn’t matter if we ever know what the need was. God knows their need. This was one time we were alert; but unfortunately, we’re not always that responsive.

Have you ever been woken up in the middle of the night to pray for someone? Good for you, if you did! I’m so thankful for those who are alert and willing to pray even before I ask.

Pray for Me

Paul goes on to express his personal need to the Ephesian church,

“Pray also for me, that whenever I speak,
words may be given me so that
I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel
for which I am an ambassador in chains.
Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”
Ephesians 6:19-20

“Pray for me,” Paul asked. He knew that prayer is the work! There is nothing done for the Lord of any value apart from prayer.

Prayer prepares speakers, writers and artists to declare fully and freely the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It removes fear replacing it with boldness and tenacity to share God’s message succinctly and boldly. Prayer also prepares the hearts of listeners, stirring the seed bed for the word of truth to land and grow.

Let’s all try to be alert, praying for those who carry the weight of sharing the Gospel locally, nationally and internationally. Heaven will reveal the difference that our prayers will made.

“What difference does the prayer of one person make?
You will never know until you pray.
– Anne Graham Lotz

Your prayer might very well be the prayer that tips the scales releasing God’s intention to those around you.

I’m Praying for You

Perhaps the response to my writing that inspires and excites me the most is when someone leaves a request for prayer. I never allow these personal requests to be seen by the public, but I certainly make them known, loud and clear, in the heavenly realm.

What an honor it is to pray for you? That occurs mostly in a general sense. My daily clicks and likes are very small on my website, but I consider it an awesome responsibility to  pray for those individuals and nations that check in.

May it be an encouragement to know that someone is praying for you. What joy when we will one day be eternally united in heaven! Thank you for trusting me to be praying on your behalf. I know that many of you pray for me too. I send a sincere thank you!

 

The Kingdom of God – Righteousness, Peace and Joy

Why would Paul include righteousness, peace and joy as the key ingredients in the kingdom of God? What sets these three qualities above all others? Why are these components indispensable?

“For the kingdom of God
is not a matter of eating and drinking,
but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,
because anyone who serves Christ in this way
is pleasing to God and receives human approval.”
Romans 14:17,18

I confess to having more questions than answers. However, one thing appears certain, righteousness, peace and joy create the fertile soil from which they each thrive, co-existing for their mutual benefit.

Righteousness

Recently, I’ve had more than one conversation surrounding the frustration we can feel regarding righteousness. (Or perhaps the lack of it.) Why does it seem to be too easy to do the things we would or should not do, while at the same time difficult to do the things we truly want to do? Oops! That’s another question!

Before the initial sin, humanity could freely choose to obey God and maintain close relationship with Him without feeling pulled and tugged in other directions. Since that time however, our propensity bends continually toward disobedience and rebellion. For every son and daughter since Adam and Eve, we now need to make a deliberate choice for righteousness — to walk in innocence and freedom. Without this focused attention, we automatically default to sin and error.

Just a few verses earlier Paul despaired of the same frustration I experience, “Who can possible help us?” he asks. Then immediately he gives the answer,

“Thanks be to God, who delivers me
through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Romans 7:25

There’s hope! Righteousness means to be faultless, innocent, and guiltless or observing divine laws. Only God fits this description. In light of His holiness, we all end up far short.

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us,
so that in him we might become
the righteousness of God.”
2 Corinthians 5:21

God solved the problem in Jesus. Through covenant relationship with Him, God counts us as righteous. Because of Jesus, righteousness now becomes the hallmark of all other relationships as well.

Peace

Through the liberty of Jesus Christ, we are no longer forced to continue in negative patterns. He came to deliver us from the stronghold of sin. With righteousness in place, we can start growing upward and onward. Maturity and development in any area isn’t always easy, but possible through Christ.

“The fruit of that righteousness will be peace;
its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.”
Isaiah 32:17

The apple tree in my yard doesn’t have to work at producing apples; it simply bears what it is genetically designed to produce. The fruit of righteousness however does take work, or at least active involvement. “Fruit” here is an activity or byproduct of action taken.

Isaiah says with certainty, the byproduct of righteousness “will be” peace. Peace effects us inside and out, giving us a sense of undisturbed quietness, complete safety and absolute security.

When I’ve violated God’s standards, I’m immediately robbed of peace and void of internal quietness and confidence. In Christ, however, I am able to be restored again to right relationship with God, producing “fruit” naturally.

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you,
live at peace with everyone.”
Romans 12:18

Peace works its way outward spreading to others with enough fruit to share!

Joy

It’s hard to believe that someone like me, whose life was marked by depression and anxiety for decades, could experience such complete joy. But it’s true! Perhaps more than any other quality, joy marks my life . Because of what Jesus Christ has done in me, I easily share the overflow of joy with others.

“Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul,
produced by the Holy Spirit, as he causes us to see the beauty of Christ
in the word and in the world.”
– John Piper

When we begin to walk in right relationship with God, living at peace with ourselves and others, we possess an ability to see the world in a new light. God enables us to view His Word and the world around us from kingdom perspective.

In a sense, God gives us spiritual contact lens, that allow us to see those we encounter here on earth from His viewpoint. At the same time, we are able to maintain clear focus on Him. Righteousness, peace and joy retrains our minds to see with His vision.

Paul prayed,

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy
and peace as you trust in him,
so that you may overflow with hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Romans 15:13

Righteousness produces more and more. This time in the form of overflowing, bubbling over and abounding hope.

Kingdom of God

Listen to how the Message Bible phrases our original verses:

“God’s kingdom isn’t a matter of what you put in your stomach, for goodness’ sake. It’s what God does with your life as he sets it right, puts it together, and completes it with joy. Your task is to single-mindedly serve Christ. Do that and you’ll kill two birds with one stone; pleasing the God above you and proving your worth to the people around you.”
Romans 14:17-18

The kingdom of God isn’t so much about what we do, but what God does in us. He “sets it right, puts it together and completes it with joy.” He does it all!  What we need to do is rest in the process, co-operating with the Holy Spirit, while He does the heavy lifting.

 

We have only one part to play — “single-minded” service. By keeping our eyes on God, all the pressure falls off of us. No matter how old we become, how mature in the faith, or how seasoned in the Scriptures, we constantly depend on Him to lead, equip and enable me.

Though we try our best to please God in every way, our own efforts matter little. Through righteousness, peace and joy we automatically become pleasing to God and valuable to others.

Righteousness, Peace and Joy

Righteousness, peace and joy are byproducts of living wholly for Christ. Through my vain efforts to try to do and be, I actually hinder the natural flow of God’s design.

God has planted us firmly. The Holy Spirit washes us continually with the Word, watering us deep to the roots. We rest in His finished work producing the fruit of the heavenly kingdom to which we belong.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness and self-control.
Against such things there is no law.”
Galatians 5:22-23

Don’t ignore the last sentence. “Against such there is no law.” We no longer have to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, or the law pointing out right and wrong, like our first ancestors did. Because of God’s grace, we eat freely and fully from the tree of life where righteousness, peace and joy thrive.

No wonder Paul declared these three ingredients as essential in the kingdom of God. This is how God sets our lives right, puts them together, and completes them with joy.

 

“I AM WHO I AM” – He Is Who He Is!

When I talk about God, I say, “He is!” When God speaks about Himself, He says, “I AM who I AM!” Is who I say He is, the “I AM”? Or when I speak about God, do I speak of someone less than the “I AM”?

I am not a self-professing theologian. Although, theology is simply the study of God, so in some ways, I classify as an amateur in the field. The more I see of God, the more I want to see; the more I know of Him, the more I want to know. I often feel like the seraphim who surround the heavenly throne, one faint glimpse throws me face downward, crying “Holy, God, You alone are amazing!”

“What comes into our minds when we think about God
is the most important thing about us.”
– A.W. Tozer 

What does come into our minds when we think about God? A white haired anarchist holding lightning bolts, ready to hurl them at any moment in our direction? A soft, fluffy, weak and disinterested once-was? What is our honest perception of God?

Only when we possess an accurate view of God will we obtain an accurate view of ourselves and the world around us. The link between the Creator and His created inseparably joins us, like it or not.

Here I Am

Moses had spent 40 years on the “far side of the wilderness,” ending up at “Horeb, the mountain of God.” My running from God and everyone else may not have lasted 40 years, but I ended up deep in the wilderness, nonetheless. Not to worry! No one can run so far or fast they can outrun God. The harder we try to run from Him, the harder we will run into Him when we least expect it. 

Even in the desert of our own choosing God calls us by name.

” When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look,
God called to him from within the bush,
“Moses! Moses!
and Moses said, “Here I am.”
Exodus 3:4

When we don’t know Him, He knows us. When we would rather hide out incognito, He finds us, redirects our wandering into purposeful walking, and speaks identity and value into our being. Eventually, like Moses, we are prepared to respond, “Here I am!”

“Here I am” for Moses was an admission to 40 years of aimlessness: circling, re-circling and swinging back to circle again.

The I AM

God calls the once-upon-a-time prince, now full time shepherd, into a new career path — a path Moses wasn’t exactly enthused about. God had heard the miserable cries of His enslaved people, who just happened to be Moses’ relatives. The Sovereign Lord used those 40 years of shepherding as His perfect training ground to prepare Moses to lead several million people out of Egypt. 

Moses argued and quickly excused himself. He hadn’t yet learned that those who argue with God always lose!

“So now, go, I am sending you to Pharaoh
to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
Exodus 3:10

Moses argued on! “Who am I?” “Who are You?” It’s one thing to know our own inability; it’s quite another to not know God’s ability! Moses confidently knew that he could not possibly be the one for such an important task. At this point, he wasn’t sure God was either! 

“God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.
This is what you are to say to the Israelites:
I AM has sent me to you.'”
Exodus 3:14

He Is

In determining relationship there must be an unchanging fixed point of reference. God introduces Himself as “I AM,” establishing Himself as the only fixed point from which everything and everyone else can be measured. 

“I the LORD do not change.”
Malachi 3:6

He is our moral compass point, the place from which we get our bearings. 

“We are right when, and only when,
we stand in a right position relative to God,
and we are wrong so far and so long as we stand in any other position.”
– A.W. Tozer

So here is the million dollar question, “Am I willing to receive God as He is — the center of everything else?” All difficulties we face as Christians stem from our unwillingness to take God as He is and align ourselves accordingly. Too often, we insist on attempting to modify Him to our liking in our image of what we need, want and wish Him to be. 

Alignment

Comfort and inexpressible joy flows from acknowledging God for who He is and loving Him as He is — the unchangeable I AM! The most holy moments we will ever encounter will be spent in the awareness of the reality of I AM. 

To the degree that I am out of alignment with Him, I will miss those opportunities of beholding and loving Him in the pureness and power of who He is. I don’t have to be running away on the back side of the wilderness to experience such loss. I can be standing beside Him, but turned ever so slightly away, and yet completely miss out

As we pursue knowing God for who He is, we embrace the labor of conforming ourselves to Him — bringing ourselves into complete alignment of His identity and purpose.  Then we worship Him as He is.

“You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being.”
Revelation 4:11

Here, centered around worship, we find alignment as our eyes and hearts are fully focused on Him alone.

Worthy

It is complete contradiction to see Him and not worship. All worship, adoration and praise rests in Him. Do I know and worship the I AM for who He is or something less?

God Most High, The LORD of Angel Armies,
King Eternal, Yahweh,
Creator and Sustainer,
Great Deliverer, Mighty Warrior, 
Wonderful Counselor
Redeemer and Savior of all,
the Healer and Shepherd of our souls. 
the Anchor that holds us fast, 
the One who sees and knows,
our Light in darkness and Hope in despair.

There are no words to define the greatness of His being, no adjective that completes the image. The I AM is and always will be the fullness of Himself — incapable of being any more or any less.

Who do I say He is? Is who I say He is all that the I AM truly is? If so, bravo! If not, I need an alignment! My life will continually be a pursuit of knowing, discovering, learning, seeing, and possessing the greatness of I AM. But today, right now, I set myself on course to know Him more.

To know Him is to love Him; to see Him is to stand in awe.

Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth.”
Psalm 96:9