Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Work in progress

Solomon showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the instructions given him by his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places. 1 Kings 3:3

In 1 and 2 Kings, we read the accounts of the ancient kings of Israel and Judah. In these men we find the full range of humanity’s capacity for both incredible good and faithfulness to God, as well as unthinkable evil and brokenness. We are reminded of God’s goodness to his people, even in spite of their failures and betrayals. As I recently re-read these stories, I was struck by the persistence of the “high places.”

Solomon, lauded as one of the wisest men to have ever lived, faithfully ruled and continued the legacy of his father, David. And yet, like every human who lived before him and everyone since, Solomon had a divided heart. While genuinely and truly loving the Lord, his heart was at the same time pulled away, leading him to create shrines and centers of idol worship, “high places” dedicated to the pagan gods. Following Solomon’s example, the kings that follow him, even those who “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord,” failed to remove the high places (see 2 Kings 12:2-3).

As our name implies, we believe Wisdom is something to be pursued, cultivated, hunted. This is a journey that demands nothing less than our entire lives, daily submitting to the Lord’s guiding hand. If you can view your life with God through this lens, I believe you will find both encouragement towards continual growth, as well as the peace needed to make it a life long pursuit.

Every breath you take is an invitation to grow. Every day brings with it a fresh opportunity to encounter God’s love and to offer your own life as a gift. And within this invitation, we are asked to examine our hearts and lives, identifying places of alignment and misalignment with God’s very best for us. This is, by design, what it means to be a human made in God’s image! God is infinite in his goodness and love, and we therefore will spend eternity ever more deeply entering into the very life of God.

The death and resurrection of Jesus means we experience a taste of eternity in the present. We as his beloved children even now begin this journey of transformation. And so, we celebrate and rejoice in his grace at work in our lives, yet we must also learn to tend to the “high places” in our lives. Learn from the lives of our forefathers in the faith: it is possible to walk the way of Wisdom in one part of life, while at the same time walk in disobedience in another.

You are a work in progress. Where you have seen progress in your life, give thanks to the Lord for his grace at work in your story. At the same time, pray for the courage to tear down every “high place” that remains, freeing you to offer to the Lord a life of total devotion

Thursday, January 16, 2020

God-sized Vision

The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven. Nehemiah 2:4

How God-sized is your vision? Is it doomed to failure unless, by faith, our heavenly Father comes through? Hard times can torment us and drive the passion right out of the big dreams we dreamed with God, but vision can sustain us. Good times can cause us to become lackadaisical, but a compelling vision can challenge us to trust the Lord.

Greater than any American Dream culture will offer us are the God-given dreams He gives to His people. And these great dreams come with vision that can sustain and propel us forward.

Don’t let yourself fall into making earthly excuses for not chasing after God-sized dreams. Rise above excuses, like Nehemiah did. And don’t forget to be bold to ask for provision from unconventional sources. Nehemiah saw God open up for him an opportunity for help from a Persian king, so he took it.

“It pleased the king to send me, so I set a time” (Nehemiah 2:6, NIV).

Our Lord Jesus Christ the King of kings, is waiting to work through earthly authorities on our behalf. Our part is to make a plan, prayerfully show up with that plan, and ask unashamedly and boldly for what it takes to fulfill the vision.

Don’t waste time wondering if it is the right time. Set a time, and by faith trust the Lord that He will come through beyond our expectations. Collaborate with Christ. Get counsel from godly advisors, and then present your case by faith.

You have worked hard, overcome adversity and sacrificed to see the fruition, your dream come true. Big vision may bring out big people and big resources. Pursuing your dream with your own resources and relationships may lead them to dwindle. But with God’s vision and your faith, they will flourish, and new resources and relationships are likely to become available.

A big vision of the Lord brings out the best in you and the best in others. Keep Christ as the central focus of your faith, and be faithful to his compelling call.

Do I confidently cast a compelling vision? Am I trusting the Lord for big things, or am I too bound up by earthly expectations?

Compelling vision is your motivation to move forward by faith and see your Heavenly Father work in ways you can’t imagine.

“The love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Ephesians 3:19-21, KJV)

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Living spiritual

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:24-25

The Holy Spirit fuels spiritual living. This is where freedom resides and where fruit bearing takes place. The flesh is pre-conversion to Christ living; it is reliance on self to secure security. The Spirit is post-conversion to Christ living; it is reliance on God to secure earthly and eternal security. The Spirit and the flesh conflict, but the flesh has been put to death by faith and the Spirit has come alive. Spiritual living submits to Christ.

Spiritual living thrives as we daily surrender our soul to Jesus. In the same way we became a Christian—by grace through faith—it’s the same way we continue as a Christian. Yet, the flesh tries to flaunt its old habits as teasers for us to not trust God. But we know better—it’s better to not boast in the flesh, but to be humbled by the Spirit. When we walk in the Spirit we are empowered to bear the fruit of the Spirit.

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” Galatians 5:16-17

The Spirit brings wisdom, when we consider ways that are unwise. The Spirit brings conviction, when we begin to drift from our convictions. The Spirit brings comfort when we struggle with discomfort. The Spirit leads us into God’s will when we are tempted to follow our own will. The Holy Spirit is heaven’s secret to spiritual living. When we walk by the Spirit we are everything, if we ignore the Spirit we are nothing.

Are you looking to love better, rejoice more and be at peace? If so, allow the Spirit to grow love, joy and peace in the soil of your soul. God is your Gardner whose green thumb of grace always grows an abundance of fruit. Forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are all seeded by the Holy Spirit to produce the Lord’s luscious fruit that remains. Fertilize with faith and then water with God’s Word.

Invite the Holy Spirit to pull out any weeds of sin from your heart. And like a kudzu plant climbs, coils and covers in a hot and humid climate, the fruit of the Spirit covers your life in Christ-like character. Your part is faith and His part is fruit. Your part is surrender and His part is victory. Your part is prayer and His part is answers. Your part is humility and His part is a harvest of righteousness. Spiritual living lives by the Spirit’s power.

“You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9).