Americans cherish their freedoms! Our wealthy society allows us many options that would be unimaginable in those places in the world where it can be a struggle just to survive. I am ever so thankful for those privileges that I enjoy in my day to day life. There is a downside to our independence that is destroying us. Many will not allow even God Himself to reign. His will, His Word, His ways are ignored or rejected if they infringe on personal “happiness.”
More than a few Christians have told me, “I know what the Bible says, but I don’t accept that part.” The reason that follows usually has little to do with careful study or deep prayer. Usually it is more about what they believe they must do to be happy in life. I’ve heard the following and more:
“Stay in this marriage?”
“No way. Life’s too short to waste it on her.”
“Forgive that person who has offended me so terribly?”
“You just don’t get it. I hope he has a miserable life and I’ll hate him ‘til he dies.”
“Pastor, I’ve got just one life and I’m going enjoy it to the full.”
Reading in Deuteronomy, in which Moses’ tells the people of Israel how they must live, I am reminded anew that God rules, I do not. This little line stuck in my mind this morning, “You are not to do as we do here today, everyone as he sees fit,” (Deuteronomy 12:8, NIV) God’s people were to discover and obey His will. History tells us that they largely failed. He asked for single devotion; they pursued other gods. The book of Judges, written after they had settled in the Promised Land, reveals moral and spiritual chaos, closing with this sad note. “And, everyone did as he saw fit.” (Judges 21:25)
Is Jesus in charge of your heart, your mind, your life?
Do you desire to know Him as Savior, but resist serving Him as Sovereign?
Peter tells us that we must “set apart Christ as Lord.” (1 Peter 3:15, NIV) It must start in in each of our hearts. Christians have a reputation, often well deserved, for being judgmental of society’s sins while ignoring their own. I am concerned about the moral depravity that I see all around me. I am broken-hearted by the refusal to acknowledge the sacredness of life. The greed that keeps many in poverty weighs on me. But, before I start pointing at those ‘sinners,’ making public pronouncements of judgment, I must ask myself, “Is Jesus Lord of all of your life, Jerry?” God wants integrity, desiring that my words and actions align, that I am willing to let Him lead even when His way is costly.
Let us not be one of those Christians who miserably surrenders, with much sighing and crying. When we ‘give in’ but without enthusiasm, doing what we know is right only because we must, we rob ourselves of the JOY of the Lord. It’s like a child who only obeys to avoid consequences. The obedience is minimal, isn’t it? When we delight ourselves in Christ, when we accept His way and will, by faith, as THE pathway to the fullest life possible, right here and now, our embrace of His authority will be born of true love.
Ponder this word from the Word today, disciple. It reveals the Way to life at its best.
“If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world at large cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you do, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.
No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. In just a little while the world will not see me again, but you will. For I will live again, and you will, too. When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Those who obey my commandments are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them, and I will love them. And I will reveal myself to each one of them.” (John 14:15-21, NLT)
Jesus, be the Lord of life. Amen.
(Casting Crowns sings a great song about learning to thrive!)
Here in this worn and weary land
Where many a dream has died
Like a tree planted by the water
We will never run dry
So living water flowing through
God we thirst for more of You
Fill our hearts and flood our souls
With one desire
Just to know You and to make You known
We lift Your name on high
Shine like the sun make darkness run and hide
We know we were made for so much more
Than ordinary lives
It’s time for us to more than just survive
We were made to thrive
Into Your Word we’re digging deep
To know our Father’s heart
Into the world we’re reaching out
To show them who You are
Anything is possible
We were made to thrive
Mark Hall | Matthew West © 2014 Atlas Holdings (Admin. by Atlas Music Publishing)
Highly Combustible Music (Admin. by Atlas Music Publishing) House of Story Music Publishing (Admin. by Atlas Music Publishing)
CCLI License # 810055