May I come in?

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In this age of smartphones, all of us have experienced attempting a conversation with someone who is absorbed by whatever is on the little glowing screen. I would have to plead guilty to that charge, at least occasionally, as well. It’s a not so subtle way of saying, “Whatever I am doing on this device is more important to me than you are.”  Not good, right?

Then, there are those interactions that happen when we receive clear signals that the other person does not have the slightest interest in helping us, even when they are paid to do so. A few days ago I was in a busy supermarket. The lines were long and the check-out person was uninterested in even basic service. My greeting went unacknowledged. An inquiry was met with a blank stare. I attempted a final ‘thank you’ and he turned, without a word, to start checking out the next customer. I felt sad as I walked away, not for me, but for that person who seemed so miserable. I wondered if he was that apathetic about the rest of his life.

How does the Lord find you when He shows up, by the Spirit?
Does He find a person taken up with the present?
Does He find you unwilling to engage with Him, to listen and learn from Him?
Or do you warmly welcome Him, inviting Him in, setting aside everything to focus intently?

John heard the Lord Jesus addressing a church that had grown apathetic about knowing the Lord. Read the words of Jesus.  “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.

So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:14-20, NIV)

Allowing ourselves to be so distracted by lesser things that we lose our spiritual passion is the most subtle of sins. It’s an old saying but still so true. We experience the tyranny of the urgent which drives out the truly important. It happens in many ways in our lives beyond the spiritual. Many marriages fail, not because of abuse or infidelity, but because two people get so busy making a living, keeping a home, parenting children that they become strangers, without intimacy. Once beautiful friendships can die not because of some awful offense, but because days turn into months that turn into years without time to renew and best friends turn into strangers.

It is not my intent to add to your guilt or time pressure! In these closing hours of 2019, I want to turn your mind and heart to truth, to encourage you to make the right choices about your priorities. None of us is rich enough in time to do all the things we think we ought to do or even the things we want to do. So, we must decide what comes first and organize our time around those things. In my understanding of the world, Jesus is first … all other things, occupation, home, even family … are lesser.

Will you make Him a priority in the new year?  That does not mean that you have to join a monastery, throw out your TV, or attempt to spend 2 hours a day in prayer and meditation.  Radical efforts usually fail.  In most situations, change needs to be intentional and incremental. If there is no time for personal prayer, carve 15 minutes into your day, not when you are exhausted or sleepy, but when you are at your best, so you can listen.  If you have not read the Scripture at all, start with a Psalm and a chapter from the Gospel, read aloud, with real mental engagement.  And do these kinds of things faithfully, not for a few days, but one day at a time, day after day.  When you sense the Spirit leading (and you will) respond with a real obedience – forgiving, giving, confessing, serving, loving.  Growth will come.

Here are Jesus’ words. They are full of promise, anticipating that we will open our hearts to Him. “So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

__________

Living Hope
(Listen, learn, love)

How great the chasm that lay between us
How high the mountain I could not climb
In desperation I turned to heaven
And spoke Your name into the night
Then through the darkness Your loving-kindness
Tore through the shadows of my soul
The work is finished the end is written
Jesus Christ my living hope

 Who could imagine so great a mercy
What heart could fathom such boundless grace
The God of ages stepped down from glory
To wear my sin and bear my shame
The cross has spoken I am forgiven
The King of kings calls me His own
Beautiful Savior I’m Yours forever
Jesus Christ my living hope 

Hallelujah praise the One who set me free
Hallelujah death has lost its grip on me
You have broken every chain
There’s salvation in Your name
Jesus Christ my living hope

 Then came the morning that sealed the promise
Your buried body began to breathe
Out of the silence the Roaring Lion
Declared the grave has no claim on me

Jesus Yours is the victory
Jesus Christ my living hope
Oh God You are my living hope

 

Brian Johnson | Phil Wickham © 2017 Phil Wickham Music (Fair Trade Music Publishing [c/o Essential Music Publishing LLC])

Simply Global Songs (Fair Trade Music Publishing [c/o Essential Music Publishing LLC])

Sing My Songs (Fair Trade Music Publishing [c/o Essential Music Publishing LLC])

CCLI License # 810055

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