An Invisible Act of the Heart

The command we are given in Hebrews 10:22 is to draw near to God. The great aim of this writer is that we get near God, that we have fellowship with him, that we not settle for a Christian life at a distance from God.

This drawing near is not a physical act. It’s not building a tower of Babel by your achievements to get to heaven. It’s not necessarily going to a church building. Or walking to an altar at the front. It is an invisible act of the heart. You can do it while standing absolutely still, or while lying in a hospital bed, or on the train as you commute to work.

This is the center of the gospel — this is what the Garden of Gethsemane and Good Friday are all about — that God has done astonishing and costly things to draw us near. He sent his Son to suffer and to die so that through him we might draw near. And all of this is for our joy and for His glory.

He does not need us. If we stay away he is not impoverished. He does not need us in order to be happy in the fellowship of the Trinity. But, he magnifies his mercy by giving us free access through his Son, in spite of our sin, to the one Reality that can satisfy us completely and forever, namely, himself. “In thy presence is fullness of joy, at thy right hand are pleasures forever more” (Psalm 16:11).

That is God’s will for you, even as you read this — that you will draw near to God.

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Our Attitudes And Choices

1 Peter 1:1-9

Peter wrote his first letter to build up readers in their Christian walk. That purpose still applies today.

Our life is to be based on the atoning work of Jesus Christ, who died to redeem us from bondage to sin. His precious blood paid in full the cost of all our transgressions—past, present, and future. Upon acceptance of the Lord’s sacrificial death on our behalf, we experience a second birth and become spiritually alive.

At that moment of salvation, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us. His presence is proof of our new position in Christ, as well as a guarantee of our future inheritance and our place in heaven. As God’s children, we’re commanded to live a life of holiness, marked by a deep reverence for the Lord.

Our desire for holy living comes from knowing our Father’s character, understanding what it cost for us to be saved, and recognizing we will face a future judgment. Though we won’t face condemnation, we will one day stand before our Lord so He can assess our work and determine our heavenly rewards. He will examine our inner feelings as well as our outward behavior. Acts of obedience will be rewarded; times of rebellion will not. In other words, our attitudes and choices really do matter, both in this life and in the future.

Take time regularly to ponder these truths. Use them to increase your desire to follow God, to make changes in your conduct, and to be His faithful, obedient servant.

Is God’s Love Conditional?

Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. (James 4:8)

This verse means that there is a precious experience of peace and assurance and harmony and intimacy that is not unconditional. It depends on our not grieving the Spirit.

It depends on our putting away bad habits. It depends on forsaking the petty inconsistencies of our Christian lives. It depends on our walking closely with God and aiming at the highest degree of holiness.

If this is true, I fear that the unguarded reassurances today that God’s love is unconditional may stop people from doing the very things the Bible says they need to do in order to have the peace that they so desperately crave. In trying to give peace through “unconditionality” we may be cutting people off from the very remedy the Bible prescribes.

Let us declare untiringly the good news that our justification is based on the worth of Christ’s obedience and sacrifice, not ours (Romans 5:19, “as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous”).

But let us also declare the biblical truth that the enjoyment of that justification in its effect on our joy and confidence and power to grow in likeness to Jesus is conditioned on our actively forsaking sins and forsaking bad habits and mortifying lusts and pursuing intimacy with Christ, and not grieving the Spirit.

Enduring Hardships With Patience

What modern believers can learn from the patience of biblical saints like Abraham, Joseph, David, and Paul is that waiting upon the Lord has eternal benefits.

Look at Israel’s most memorable monarch. David left behind an incredible testimony of God’s faithfulness for each of us to read and ponder. He was committed to waiting upon the Lord, and as a result, he had the Father’s approval and blessing. We cannot underestimate the reward of living in divine favor. That isn’t a special state reserved for the “giants of the faith” like David. All who obediently endure until the Lord acts on their behalf abide in His favor (Isa. 40:31).

David didn’t receive his blessings because he was special; he was honored among men because he honored the Lord above all. And since he trusted in God’s faithfulness, he endured hardship with patience. We, too, can expect to be blessed when we wait upon the Lord.

How Well Do You Know God?

“Behold, God is great, and we know him not; the number of his years is unsearchable.” (Job 36:26)

It is impossible to know God too well.

He is the most important person who exists. And this is because he made all others, and any importance they have is owing to him.

Any strength or intelligence or skill or beauty they have comes from him. On every scale of excellence, he is infinitely greater than the best person you ever knew or ever heard of.

Being infinite, he is inexhaustibly interesting. It is impossible, therefore, that God be boring. His continual demonstration of the most intelligent and interesting actions is volcanic.

As the source of every good pleasure, he himself pleases fully and finally. If that’s not how we experience him, we are either dead or sleeping.

It is therefore astonishing how little effort is put into knowing God.

It’s as though the President of the United States came to live with you for a month, and you only said hello in passing every day or so. Or as if you were flown at the speed of light for a couple of hours around the sun and the solar system, and instead of looking out the window, you played a computer game. Or as if you were invited to watch the best actors, singers, athletes, inventors, and scholars perform their best, but you declined to go so you could watch the TV season’s final soap.

Let us pray that our infinitely great God would open our eyes and hearts to see him and seek to know him more.

Compassion. . .Does It Matter To God?

Compassion matters to God. This is a time for service, not being self-centered. Cancel the pity party. Instead, love the people God brings to you. This test will be your testimony. Second Corinthians 1:4 reminds us, “God comes along side us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, He brings us along side someone else who’s going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us” (MSG).

You didn’t sign up for this crash course in single parenting or caring for a disabled spouse, did you? No. God enrolled you. Why? So you can teach others what He has taught you. Rather than say, “God, why?” ask, “God, what?” What can I learn from this experience?

Your mess can become His message!

Success With The Scriptures…It’s Easy

Writing a blog can be interesting and challenging at times. When I sit down to write a post I usually don’t have anything in mind to share with my readers. At the same time, however, I know it’s important to post to my blog those life concerns that deal with our relationship with Jesus and God the Father.

I ask myself, what do my readers need to hear or read that will be spiritually uplifting? When I am quiet for a period of time I believe God gives me direction. That direction is usually something that will help someone but not necessarily everyone. I think you’d agree we all have our unique challenges in life and they are something each of us struggles with. Some kind of sin or bad relationship or our life attitude in general.

The success you have in dealing with your daily challenges and living your life in a way that is pleasing to God involves reading, studying and knowing the bible. I found this to be particularly true in dealing with a personal issue. I found the appropriate verse in the bible and any time I started to lean in the wrong direction for my life, I quote the scripture verse I memorized. I repeat it to myself over and over until my situation resolves itself.

I had never done this before by using scripture to defend myself against the enemy of life. I always thought in the back of my mind, “How can that work just repeating the verse over and over?” I am here to tell you that it does work. You see, Satan can’t stand God’s word and what it represents in our life. He will do anything to keep us from reading the bible or even applying it to our daily lives. He knows that when we do he loses big time.

The next time you find yourself in front of a mirror asking yourself, “Why do I keep doing that thing I know is a sin against God and myself?” And then later on you find yourself beating up on yourself emotionally because of what you’ve done. If you’re tired of that vicious cycle and being attacked by the enemy you need to find the one verse that is right for you and your challenge.

Once you find your verse you need to memorize it, and then repeat it over and over to yourself until it becomes a part of you. Almost second nature if you will. Then when the enemy attacks, you automatically go into your scripture repetition mode and watch Satan flee from you because you resisted him. (James 4:7)