Sometimes Your Place in the World Brings You Down

You know what I’m talking about. It happens to all of us when we go through the ‘valleys’ of our lives – when you shake your head in disbelief, despair, fear, frustration, maybe even anger. You find yourself lamenting, ‘Oh God, why me?’ Or worse, ‘Have you left me God?’ 

And yet, God is exactly who we want to reach out to. He is always watching and always ready to help:

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven… Eccl. 3:1 NKJV

In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity, consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that no one can discover anything that will come after him. Eccl. 7:14 CSB

‘Do not fear, for I am with you; do not look anxiously about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ Is. 41:10 NASB

‘Even to your old age I will be the same, even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it, and I will carry you; and I will bear you and I will deliver you.’ Is. 46:4 NASB

God is not idly sitting on the sidelines. Whatever is happening in your life, if you are a child of God, (in right relationship with Him), there is a purpose behind it, that many times we cannot fathom. (Is. 55:9) Nevertheless, He is always just a prayer away, waiting to come to your aid to get you through your trials. 

…they cried out to God in the battle, and He answered their prayers because they trusted in Him. 1 Chr. 5:20 NASB

And yes, sometimes it looks like your prayers are not being answered; but that’s where your faith is being tested and strengthened. While you wait, ask the Author of your faith for that strength:

He gives strength to the weary, and to him who has no might He increases power…those who wait for the LORD [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] will gain new strength and renew their power; they will lift up their wings [and rise up close to God] like the eagle [rising toward the sun]… Is. 40:29 & 31. AMP

“I do believe; help [me overcome] my unbelief.” Mk. 9:24 AMP

The foundation for faith comes from our trust in our all-powerful, truth-telling, ever-delivering God:

“For I am the LORD, I do not change [but remain faithful to My covenant with you]… Mal. 3:6 AMP

Now, we must also consider that some of the valleys in our lives are of our own manufacture – especially when we fall back into the ways of the world. There is always a price to pay:

Disaster pursues sinners… Pr. 13:21 ESV

“With reproofs you chasten a man for iniquity…” Ps. 39:11 NASB

That’s why we want to get those slips handled immediately by going forward in humility to the God whom we have sinned against:

Tremble [with anger or fear], and do not sin; meditate in your heart upon your bed and be still [reflect on your sin and repent of your rebellion]. Offer righteous sacrifices; Trust confidently in the LORD. Ps. 4:4, 5. AMP

The LORD is near to the heartbroken and He saves those who are crushed in spirit (truly sorry for their sin). Ps. 34:18 AMP

The LORD is good and upright; therefore he shows sinners the way. Ps. 25:8 CSB

For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon you. Ps. 86:5 NKJV

And when you are back on track, God starts helping you journey towards your new ‘peak’:

His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning. Ps. 30:5 NASB

God is the only one who can deliver you from your trials, be they your fault or not. There is not any other kind of ‘idol’ (e.g. money or addictions) that can. They only leave behind hell to pay. 

Our Creator knows what He’s doing. Jehovah God has a good plan for each of His children; and as long as they stick with Him, He will make it come to pass. Furthermore, in a way that only He knows, God will dovetail the elements of your experience that were necessary for you to encounter, in a way for you to gain an ultimate eternal benefit:

…God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son… Rm. 8:28, 29. NASB

God’s grace in Christ is forever moving us through our peaks and valleys, toward our eternal redemption to an eternity that is unimaginable. Meanwhile, we need to keep our eye on that prize, and not on the moments of our life’s discontentment. For help in that process, we can lay our sufferings regarding the parts of them that we seem to have no control over, at the feet of our blessed Savior:

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Mt. 11s:28 – 30. NASB

In fact, our entire focus should be on Jesus, and then all the aspects of our life will come together. He is the source of our satisfaction (Jn.6:35), He is the only way to the Father (Jn. 14:6), our doorway to heaven and eternity (Jn. 14:2; 8:51.) and the living Word of God that gives us all the answers and bolsters our faith, (Jn. 1:1; Heb. 12:2.)

We were put on this earth to do certain things that only we can do, to bring Him glory by reflecting it from ourselves to others in those deeds, which ultimately have their roots in loving the Godhead, ourselves and all others. (Mt. 22:37 – 39.) We do that by giving of ourselves in spite of what is going on in the world around us. 

All of a sudden you will notice, that those valleys in life will not be so deep or protracted as your problems shrink in the light of your servitude. And your life begins to take on the unbridled joy of your eternity, where your place in the world can no longer bring you down – because that place is God’s place…

Goodnight and God bless.

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Relating to God

Recently, we have been examining the Holy Spirit-inspired scriptural interpretations of St. Augustine from his book The City of God, translated by Marcus Dods, (see previous posts: ‘Defenders of the Faith,’ and ‘In Further Defense of the Faith’) – a work for strengthening the faith of the Christians in Rome during the demise of that empire.

Let’s continue on by perusing his analysis of our intimate relationship with our Creator – beginning with this declaration:

…for we are all His temple, each of us severally (separately) and all of us together, because He condescends to inherit each individually and the whole harmonious body, being no greater in all than in each, since He is neither expanded or divided. Our heart when it rises to Him is His altar; the priest who intercedes for us is His only begotten…

Do you not know and understand that you [the church] are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells [permanently] in you [collectively and individually]? 1 Cor. 3:16 AMP

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is within you, whom you have [received as a gift] from God, and that you are not your own [property]? 1 Cor. 6:19 AMP

Christ Jesus is the One who died [to pay our penalty], and more than that, who was raised [from the dead], and who is at the right hand of God interceding [with the Father] for us. Rm. 8:34 AMP

We are walking, talking temples of God – recipients of the Father’s grace, maintained through the intercession of His Son. For that, we are grateful, and we should act in ways that keep that gratitude in remembrance. Augustine puts it this way:

…to Him we devote and surrender ourselves and His gifts in us; to Him, by solemn feasts and on appointed days, we consecrate the memory of His benefits, lest through the lapse of time ungrateful oblivion should steal upon us; to Him we offer on the altar of our heart the sacrifice of humility and praise, kindled by the fire of burning love.

It is that we may see Him, so far as He can be seen; it is that we may cleave to Him, that we are cleansed from all stain of sins and evil passions, and are consecrated in His name. For He is the fountain of our happiness, He is the end of all our desires.

God does not need our devotion, worship or capitulation. He asks of us all these things for our benefit – to position ourselves for love. Augustine says:

For no man would say he did a benefit to a fountain by drinking, or to the light by seeing.

He does require sacrifice – that of a contrite heart, again, to place oneself in humility before Him, in order to receive His grace:

My [only] sacrifice [acceptable] to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart [broken with sorrow for sin, thoroughly penitent], such, O God, You will not despise. Ps. 51:17 AMP

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you except to be just, and to love [and diligently practice] kindness (compassion), and to walk humbly with your God [setting aside any overblown sense of importance or self-righteousness]? Mic. 6:8 AMP

All of our sacrifices, regardless of their nature, must always have an increased union with God as the focus of those activities. In essence, our ultimate sacrifice is to die to the world, as we draw closer to Jehovah God in relationship:

Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh [and died for us], arm yourselves [like warriors] with the same purpose [being willing to suffer for doing what is right and pleasing God], because whoever has suffered in the flesh [being like-minded with Christ] is done with [intentional] sin [having stopped pleasing the world], so that he can no longer spend the rest of his natural life living for human appetites and desires, but [lives] for the will and purpose of God. 1 Pt. 4:1, 2. AMP

Thus, in our relationship with the Godhead, we are bolstered in our attempts to overcome the world, and the god of it, the process whereby, is succinctly expressed by Augustine:

…men of God cast out the hostile power of the air which opposes godliness; it is by exorcising it, not by propitiating it; and they overcome all the temptations of the adversary by praying, not to him, but to their own God against him. For the devil cannot conquer or subdue any but those who are in league with sin…he is conquered in the name of Him who assumed humanity…Christ Jesus…

Indeed, it is our faith that cements our relationship with God – faith that is filtered into us by Jesus Himself:

…God’s Son, assuming humanity without destroying His divinity, established and founded this faith, that there might be a way for man to man’s God through a God-man.

…let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity]… Heb. 12:1, 2. AMP

It is a wondrous thing, a blessing,  this relationship that God makes available to and for us. We alone were made in His image. Augustine states:

…nearer to Him in nature than any other of HIs works, and is destined to be yet restored, that it may bear a still closer resemblance.

Above all, what is at the heart of all this relating to God, is His unending, immeasurable love – whereby He brings us into His bosom for all eternity…

Goodnight and God bless.

Is Your Focus on Jesus?

Why focus on Jesus? It’s because of what He does for you when you do:

…the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, is all speech and knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Cor. 1:4 – 9. NASB

When you accept Christ as your Savior, He fills you with the Holy Spirit, so that you will receive an enriched plethora of revelation with regards to who He is, what He did, and why He came. The Spirit then fills you with the spiritual gifts that you need to walk by faith, and to spread the gospel message, advancing the kingdom of God.

From this oneness that you were called into with the Father and the Son, you are cleansed of sins, so as to be prepared for your date with eternity.

As a child of God, you have all the tools to stand in unison with the body the church of Christ. The last thing in the world that God wants, is for His children to be divided in purpose:

Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 1 Cor. 1:10 NKJV

The church of Christ was supposed to be as one – required to have Jesus as its focus. Jesus can only be saddened by the advent of a Catholic, Protestant, Presbyterian, Calvinist, Lutheran, Unitarian, or Jehovah Witness church to name a few – churches focused on man’s interpretation of the scripture as well as the interpreter.

The church of Christ has unfortunately been fractionated almost since its inception:

What I mean is that each of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephus,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or where you baptized in the name of Paul? 1 Cor. 1:12, 13. ESV

‘Cephus’ was another name for the apostle Peter. Apollos was a highly skilled Christian orator. What the apostle Paul is trying to convey here, is that it is the message of salvation from God through Christ that is paramount, not the messenger.

When you have God in your heart, through Christ Jesus, (not by something man has done or thought), the Holy Spirit will open your eyes and the scriptures will come alive for you:

Where is the wise man (philosopher)? Where is the scribe (scholar)? Where is the debtor (logician, orator) of this age? Has God not exposed the foolishness of this world’s wisdom? 1 Cor. 1:20 AMP

…your faith should not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. 1 Cor. 2:5. NKJV

…no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 1 Cor. 2:11, 12. ESV

So, it is by embracing our spirit, which is connected to God’s Spirit, that the revelation of His word is given to us. Unbelievers don’t get it, because they deny their spiritual side, and thus they cannot connect to the Spirit of God or to His Son.

We can and should appreciate our pastors, priests, etc., but we always want to have our focus on the Source:

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants no he who waters is anything, but only God gives the growth. 1 Cor. 3:5 – 7 ESV

For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 1 Cor. 3:10, 11. NKJV

So then let no one boast in men. For all things belong to you, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death of things present or things to come; all things belong to you, and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God. 1 Cor. 3:21 – 23. NASB

I am not a big fan of church denominations, because I feel that they invite division, strife, judgment and one-upmanship. None of these things belong in the house of God. Yet, I do not bring fault upon anyone who chooses that route.

Just as long as you take what you hear and bring it under the scrutiny of the word of God, and most of all, keep Jesus your focus…

Goodnight and God bless.