Closing The Gap

Euphoria” is a profane story about teens who drink heavily, use drugs, and engage in promiscuity. A recent article spoke of how most people claim it is shocking and ugly,  yet it is currently a TV hit!  Yes, there is some hypocrisy in that, isn’t there?  Who among us does not tend to have those kinds of inconsistencies in our lives?  For example, Christians universally agree that prayer is an important part of the Christian life.  But, studies reveal that a tiny percentage of people of faith actually engage in daily focused times of prayer and meditation.  I am quite certain that most intend to have better prayer practices than they do in reality, but the urgencies of life overtake good intentions.

Christian, can we simultaneously claim that Jesus is our Lord and serve our own agenda? What do we do with those choices that we know are wrong, that are more than a momentary lapse?  Can we close the gap?  I wrestle with Jesus’ pointed words that ask  – “why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46, NKJV) Living in two worlds, conflicted by our love of God and Self, is not a new thing. Isaiah wrote of God’s lament over Judah 2600 years ago! “These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” (Isaiah 29:13, NLT)

When we ignore the Holy Spirit’s counsel, when we choose to live with hatred, unforgiveness, greed, selfishness or _____________ (fill the blank with your own struggle) one of the results is a lack of true joy.  Like a willful child who avoids a parent, we cannot enjoy being in the Presence of a Holy God.  A Christian living in self-will is spiritually compromised, diluting his call to be ‘salt’ and dimming the brightness of ‘light’ because the Spirit’s work is limited.

How do we integrate our profession of faith with our daily lives, closing the gap between “I believe” and “I live?”

First, we confess Christ as Lord daily!
When I awaken in the morning, one of the prayers that I breathe is quoted from the Psalms. “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14, NKJV)  Some days close with an awareness that the prayer was left unanswered, not because God failed, but because I chose to live in my own willful way.  Others close with a quiet realization that He was honored in my words and actions and there is peace.

Second, we fill our minds with Truth!
Romans 12 calls on us to “Let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him.” (Romans 12:2, CEV) Is your mind full of Scripture?  When we are soaked in the values and principles of God’s Truth those things become foundational in our thoughts, and then in our actions.

Third, we become part of a holy huddle!
When the football team steps away from the line and players put their heads together for several seconds, they are getting the play from the quarterback, regrouping and getting ready to move the ball in a team effort. Living as a Believer of deep faith requires a team, too!  God’s counsel is this – “My friends, watch out! Don’t let evil thoughts or doubts make any of you turn from the living God. You must encourage one another each day. And you must keep on while there is still a time that can be called “today.” If you don’t, then sin may fool some of you.” (Hebrews 3:12-13, CEV)

Call out the best effort in each other.
Get on the same page.
Challenge one another to a high level of service.

Fourth, we kneel at the Cross!
Here is the most important part – we are ‘made holy,’ by Christ. IF we focus on our failures, determining with gritted teeth to ‘do better’ the likely result will only be growing shame and/or guilt. Even mature Christians sin. Even those who love Jesus fail.  The sinful nature remains a part of us until the moment that we arrive at home in Heaven.  Confession of our need and focus on the completed work of salvation in Christ Jesus is that which truly makes us free.

So, day by day, we kneel at the Cross to be washed, to be renewed in our acceptance of a holiness that is not of our own making. The remarkable declaration of the Word is this – “For He (God) made Him (Jesus Christ) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NKJV)  That does not mean we excuse or ignore the failures, sins, and gaps. We stand in the sure hope that the One who knows us best, loves us most.  And we ask the Spirit to make us whole.

Feeling conflicted and confused today? Torn between what you want and the will of God?  You’re not alone or unique. Go to the Father. “Here I am again, Abba, in need of grace and strength.” He gives both liberally to those who ask.

Here is a word from the Word. “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.” But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.” (Hebrews 10:35-39, NIV)

(Video of this blog at this link)

______________

Lord I Need You

Lord I come I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
And without You I fall apart
You’re the one that guides my heart

Lord I need You oh I need You
Ev’ry hour I need You
My one defense my righteousness
Oh God how I need You

Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are Lord I am free
Holiness is Christ in me
Where You are Lord I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

So teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus You’re my hope and stay
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus You’re my hope and stay

Lord I need You oh I need You
Ev’ry hour I need You
My one defense my righteousness
Oh God how I need You
My one defense my righteousness
Oh God how I need You

Christy Nockels | Daniel Carson | Jesse Reeves | Kristian Stanfill | Matt Maher
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