Is there anything MORE energizing than God’s love?

Perhaps, when I ask that, you’re response is one of being positive that you could make a list with plenty of things that might beat-out God’s love in the energy-producing department. But, let’s test that thinking. Your assumption may not be as secure as you think. God’s love may appear to have very little going for it in the competition for your heart, but perhaps this is because you don’t quite understand the worth of this treasure.

If you have thought for most of your life that including God in your life was supposed to be a drag, His love cannot possibly be a blessing to you. In fact, you will not even be able to KNOW His love if you perceive Him only as a drain to all your resources and ambitions. God never meant for you to see Him that way. His presence in our lives is meant to be a gift; more than that, because of what Christ did to make God’s presence in our life possible, it is a privilege. But this privilege is not to be equated with those thinly-veiled responsibilities that no one really wants to be given.

God’s presence is meant to be a pleasure; it really can be! The reality for you to consider today is that if you are not experiencing God’s presence as a pleasure, you cannot truly be experiencing His presence. To actually know God–for who He is according to His unchangingly perfect character–is to know boundless joy. Conversely, to regard all the negative and untrue press-releases that Satan manufactures about God is to know absolutely no genuine joy.

That’s a big deal. Don’t miss out on the implications here. In this debate concerning God being our Friend or Foe, His personal leaning is not the main focus; what you choose to listen to is. If you tune your heart into what the world tells you about how you should handle God in your life will never be in short supply, yet neither can it be trusted.

The world’s ambition is to get YOU to choose not to be God’s friend. The enemy of your love for God is not uncertain about the state of God’s love for and commitment to you. The person in question is you. And his goal is to “help” you decide that you don’t want to have any part of the God who pursues you–not based on what is True but on what he can get you to feel and think according to the lies he twists.

It is dangerous to not be aware that his words about God come to us through any voice that he can get to speak for him. Therefore, we should not take anyone’s word on God above God’s own Word on Himself. Find out what that says first. Ask God to make it sink into you and take up root, becoming a living part of you that shades your thinking and fills your heart with the fruit of His goodness. Then you will become acquainted with the unceasing, and energizing benefits of His love that cannot be equalled in all the earth.

When has God ever done something new in our midst?

Do you like starting something new–whether it be a new hobby, a new job, a new relationship, a new goal? Have you ever thought about whether or not God likes starting new things?

Well, you could answer, considering He started everything in the universe, I imagine there was a time that He enjoyed starting something new. But, that was a long time ago and He hasn’t done a new thing since.

It might surprise you to realize that God and new come together as themes in the Bible quite often, actually. Let me share a few verses with you.

God’s Word shows that He delights in and works out in us

A New Creation:

Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. (2 Corinthians 5:17, The Message)

A New Life:

Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4)

A New Start:

And you will make a new start, listening obediently to God, keeping all his commandments that I’m commanding you today. God, your God, will outdo himself in making things go well for you: you’ll have babies, get calves, grow crops, and enjoy an all-around good life. Yes, God will start enjoying you again, making things go well for you just as he enjoyed doing it for your ancestors. (Deuteronomy 30:8-9, The Message)

A New Covenant:

Like a will that takes effect when someone dies, the new covenant was put into action at Jesus’ death. His death marked the transition from the old plan to the new one, canceling the old obligations and accompanying sins, and summoning the heirs to receive the eternal inheritance that was promised them. He brought together God and his people in this new way. (Hebrews 9:16-17)

A New Heart/New Spirit:

‘For here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to take you out of these countries, gather you from all over, and bring you back to your own land. I’ll pour pure water over you and scrub you clean. I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed. I’ll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands. You’ll once again live in the land I gave your ancestors. You’ll be my people! I’ll be your God! (Ezekiel 36:24-28)

After seeing enough of these verses, you would think that God actually liked the idea of new, even being involved in making things new. If you’ll notice, everything new that God has purposed in the passages above involves people–He wants to do things in and with you and me. He does not do new things merely for the sake of having new things to look at and show off. Instead, He sees the necessity of things in our world being made new. Thus, a new creation, a new heart (in us), etc. He chose to do these things because they were very good (and for us, very needful).

Perhaps, if you are feeling disappointed that God hasn’t done more new things in your life, you have not seriously investigated God’s policy on doing new things. You see, He has His own way of doing things. And if we want Him to do something, we must first find out whether our wish is, in fact, consistent with what He does and how He does it. If it’s not, we are not truly looking for a work of God when we expect it, but a work of some gene who grants our every wish–whether it be good or not.

You may be interested to know that some of the magic-like tricks that we long for God to display in our lives are really not very God-like at all. Rather than pull things out of thin air, He displays His affinity for newness by redemptively working with what He’s already made. He doesn’t like to see anything that He’s made get old or wear out or even become unusable. What He really desires is for us to lose the oldness that has come upon us by sin and gain the newness that comes into us by His Spirit, which reconsecrates our lives to God.

If you spend enough time with God, you’ll find that He just can’t seem to leave messed up things alone. It appears that He loves so much the things that He once made very new that He wants them to become that way once more. Apparently, He’s not too content with old things–maybe He’s just like we are in that way. Anyway, when you wonder what God’s doing new, just take a look at yourself through the eyes of His Word. Ask Him to reveal the new thing that He wants you to be a part of next. When you join Him in the new things He’s doing, you just might discover that some of your penchant for having and enjoying new things is a quality that shows your likeness to Him.

So, am I do for a lifestyle change?

Do you know one of my least favorite words? Lifestyle. There it is. A concise description of who I am. You look at what I do and you know me very well. When I look, I see where my policies on life don’t intersect with my practice. Why does the pattern of my life not match the blueprint I started with. Maybe it’s because I have two: the natural one that functions in my head and the supernatural one that often sits buried within the gold-rimmed folds of my Bible. I want them to be the same thing, but this requires that I become more and more faithful in choosing the one the Bible presents that it may transform the one already inside me.

O Lord, fix Your Word within me

convince my heart of Your ways

and endorse my days with Your signature

because You’ve lit my being with Your love!

And You’ll do this for me without end?

This Psalm breaks my heart with the weight of God’s unspeakable kindnesses, and then lifts my spirit from those fetters He has crushed so I can fly free in the wonder of who He is.

Thank you! Everything in me says “Thank you!” Angels listen as I sing my thanks.
I kneel in worship facing your holy temple
and say it again: “Thank you!”
Thank you for your love,
thank you for your faithfulness;
Most holy is your name,
most holy is your Word.
The moment I called out, you stepped in;
you made my life large with strength.

When they hear what you have to say, God,
all earth’s kings will say “Thank you.”
They’ll sing of what you’ve done:
“How great the glory of God!”
And here’s why: God, high above, sees far below;
no matter the distance, he knows everything about us.

When I walk into the thick of trouble,
keep me alive in the angry turmoil.
With one hand
strike my foes,
With your other hand
save me.
Finish what you started in me, God.
Your love is eternal—don’t quit on me now.

Psalm 138

Increasingly worthy of his calling

Below I have included two verses that have really stood out to me in the past few days; I pray that they bless you too!

“May God make you increasingly worthy of his calling and may he fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:11–12). Amen.

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, 
for God can be trusted to keep his promise. --Hebrews 10:23, NLT

A Classic Character with A Climactic Claims

There is something about classic things — they just don’t die. No matter how old they are in our time, they never cease to be alive and authoritative to us. Their value is in their ability to portrey a moving portrait of the longings and behaviors of mankind. They affect how we see ourselves and what we believe to be true of the world around us — whether it is a novel, poetry, history, law or a futurist outline.

Perhaps a little surprising is that the Word of God is all these things. And yet it has a greater claim on our lives than any other classic held up against it. It has been written for one purpose and that is to reveal the Word (Christ) that came into the world to save men from the deceit of their character.

I don’t know about you, but I have a problem with what the Bible says. I can sit there with you and profess that it is a beautiful book that certainly has a perfect right to its particular status, but beneath what I say there is more that I don’t say.

I like the Bible, but I don’t want it to be right so long as it is discussing me. (I will admit that is highly convenient when I find a place where it slams an individual that I deem is worthy of it, but when I am its subject that is not the kind of treatment I want to get.)

I crave honor and exaltation and I believe that the Bible, of all things, ought to give it to me. You can tell me that I am a sinner and that I need saving — yes, even forgiveness — but don’t force me to accept all the features of this reality that I was once too dishonest to see.

I don’t care for the fact that every discussion of sin and wrong-doing that I find in Scripture is in some way a disortation on me and why I need Christ’s righteousness to stand in for my lack thereof. And the more I grow in god-like-ness — the more I reflect the beauty of God’s original design for me — the less I have a legitimate case for boasting in what I have done to make myself good.

Yet, all these problems show one glaring misconception of the text’s overall theme: Those beautiful words that begin Genesis and carry through the entire story of mankind and beyond, “In the beginning God…” In reading this I must ask myself, Where was I? Clearly this story contains me — missing nothing of who I am or what I was meant to be — but does not rely on me or revolve around me.

This is a problem if I live as though those things are the case: I risk never knowing who I truly am because I have missed the point of the tale into which I was so lately born. I must ask another question of myself at this point: “Do I truly love the Word (book) or its object the Word (the Person of Christ) if I live vigorously opposed to everything He speaks, everything He stands for, all that He is?”

This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into

I thought this is so beautiful in its presentation of Christ that I wanted to share it with you:

“This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step. He never did one thing wrong, Not once said anything amiss. They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right. He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing. You were lost sheep with no idea who you were or where you were going. Now you’re named and kept for good by the Shepherd of your souls.”
1 Peter 2:24

Alone, my heart cannot tell me where I’m going

How can what I do under the guidance of Your hand be pure and without spot? How can my thoughts and intent be in agreement with the holy purposes by which You dictate my obedience? Only You can convert my heart through Your Word; it’s truth takes hold of me and instructs me in the way of Life — the way that none can travel but with You.

How can a young person live a clean life?
By carefully reading the map of your Word.
I’m single-minded in pursuit of you;
don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted.
I’ve banked your promises in the vault of my heart
so I won’t sin myself bankrupt.
Be blessed, God;
train me in your ways of wise living.
I’ll transfer to my lips
all the counsel that comes from your mouth;
I delight far more in what you tell me about living
than in gathering a pile of riches.
I ponder every morsel of wisdom from you,
I attentively watch how you’ve done it.
I relish everything you’ve told me of life,
I won’t forget a word of it.

Psalm 119:9-16

Thank God for His miracle mercy to we, the children He loves

Oh, thank God—he’s so good! His love never runs out.
All of you set free by God, tell the world!
Tell how he freed you from oppression,
Then rounded you up from all over the place,
from the four winds, from the seven seas.

Some of you wandered for years in the desert,
looking but not finding a good place to live,
Half-starved and parched with thirst,
staggering and stumbling, on the brink of exhaustion.
Then, in your desperate condition, you called out to God.
He got you out in the nick of time;
He put your feet on a wonderful road
that took you straight to a good place to live.
So thank God for his marvelous love,
for his miracle mercy to the children he loves.
He poured great draughts of water down parched throats;
the starved and hungry got plenty to eat.

Some of you were locked in a dark cell,
cruelly confined behind bars,
Punished for defying God’s Word,
for turning your back on the High God’s counsel—
A hard sentence, and your hearts so heavy,
and not a soul in sight to help.
Then you called out to God in your desperate condition;
he got you out in the nick of time.
He led you out of your dark, dark cell,
broke open the jail and led you out.
So thank God for his marvelous love,
for his miracle mercy to the children he loves;
He shattered the heavy jailhouse doors,
he snapped the prison bars like matchsticks!

Some of you were sick because you’d lived a bad life,
your bodies feeling the effects of your sin;
You couldn’t stand the sight of food,
so miserable you thought you’d be better off dead.
Then you called out to God in your desperate condition;
he got you out in the nick of time.
He spoke the word that healed you,
that pulled you back from the brink of death.
So thank God for his marvelous love,
for his miracle mercy to the children he loves;
Offer thanksgiving sacrifices,
tell the world what he’s done—sing it out!

Some of you set sail in big ships;
you put to sea to do business in faraway ports.
Out at sea you saw God in action,
saw his breathtaking ways with the ocean:
With a word he called up the wind—
an ocean storm, towering waves!
You shot high in the sky, then the bottom dropped out;
your hearts were stuck in your throats.
You were spun like a top, you reeled like a drunk,
you didn’t know which end was up.
Then you called out to God in your desperate condition;
he got you out in the nick of time.
He quieted the wind down to a whisper,
put a muzzle on all the big waves.
And you were so glad when the storm died down,
and he led you safely back to harbor.
So thank God for his marvelous love,
for his miracle mercy to the children he loves.
Lift high your praises when the people assemble,
shout Hallelujah when the elders meet!

God turned rivers into wasteland,
springs of water into sunbaked mud;
Luscious orchards became alkali flats
because of the evil of the people who lived there.
Then he changed wasteland into fresh pools of water,
arid earth into springs of water,
Brought in the hungry and settled them there;
they moved in—what a great place to live!
They sowed the fields, they planted vineyards,
they reaped a bountiful harvest.
He blessed them and they prospered greatly;
their herds of cattle never decreased.
But abuse and evil and trouble declined
as he heaped scorn on princes and sent them away.
He gave the poor a safe place to live,
treated their clans like well-cared-for sheep.

Good people see this and are glad;
bad people are speechless, stopped in their tracks.
If you are really wise, you’ll think this over—
it’s time you appreciated God

Psalm 107

O my soul, bless God!

O my soul, bless God! God, my God, how great you are!
beautifully, gloriously robed,
Dressed up in sunshine,
and all heaven stretched out for your tent.
You built your palace on the ocean deeps,
made a chariot out of clouds and took off on wind-wings.
You commandeered winds as messengers,
appointed fire and flame as ambassadors.
You set earth on a firm foundation
so that nothing can shake it, ever.
You blanketed earth with ocean,
covered the mountains with deep waters;
Then you roared and the water ran away—
your thunder crash put it to flight.
Mountains pushed up, valleys spread out
in the places you assigned them.
You set boundaries between earth and sea;
never again will earth be flooded.
You started the springs and rivers,
sent them flowing among the hills.
All the wild animals now drink their fill,
wild donkeys quench their thirst.
Along the riverbanks the birds build nests,
ravens make their voices heard.
You water the mountains from your heavenly cisterns;
earth is supplied with plenty of water.
You make grass grow for the livestock,
hay for the animals that plow the ground.

Oh yes, God brings grain from the land,
wine to make people happy,
Their faces glowing with health,
a people well-fed and hearty.
God’s trees are well-watered—
the Lebanon cedars he planted.
Birds build their nests in those trees;
look—the stork at home in the treetop.
Mountain goats climb about the cliffs;
badgers burrow among the rocks.
The moon keeps track of the seasons,
the sun is in charge of each day.
When it’s dark and night takes over,
all the forest creatures come out.
The young lions roar for their prey,
clamoring to God for their supper.
When the sun comes up, they vanish,
lazily stretched out in their dens.
Meanwhile, men and women go out to work,
busy at their jobs until evening.

What a wildly wonderful world, God!
You made it all, with Wisdom at your side,
made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.
Oh, look—the deep, wide sea,
brimming with fish past counting,
sardines and sharks and salmon.
Ships plow those waters,
and Leviathan, your pet dragon, romps in them.
All the creatures look expectantly to you
to give them their meals on time.
You come, and they gather around;
you open your hand and they eat from it.
If you turned your back,
they’d die in a minute—
Take back your Spirit and they die,
revert to original mud;
Send out your Spirit and they spring to life—
the whole countryside in bloom and blossom.

The glory of God—let it last forever!
Let God enjoy his creation!
He takes one look at earth and triggers an earthquake,
points a finger at the mountains, and volcanoes erupt.

Oh, let me sing to God all my life long,
sing hymns to my God as long as I live!
Oh, let my song please him;
I’m so pleased to be singing to God.
But clear the ground of sinners—
no more godless men and women!    O my soul, bless God! 

Psalm 104