Friday, 6 June 2014

The Desires of Your Heart

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 ESV

I suspect at some time or another each of us has taken a Biblical verse out of context and applied a meaning to that verse or portion of a verse that was not intended by the ultimate Author.  Take today’s verse for example.  If I put the emphasis on the back portion of this verse I am looking to God to meet my desires.  I always desired to be good enough at basketball to play on the high school team.  Sadly I was too short, too slow and not a good shot.  I always desired to be a jazz pianist.  I didn’t desire to practice.  I have had a strong desire to be a better than average golfer.  As of now average would be a huge improvement.  So what am I missing?

It wouldn’t take a genius to understand that all my desires are about me, accomplishments that would make me feel good about life and about me.  News flash, life is not all about me but it is about my relationship with God.

So the deeper meaning to this verse must be found in the beginning of the verse, i.e. “Delight yourself in the Lord…”  What does that mean? 

To delight in someone means that I derive enjoyment from our relationship, or that I take pleasure in being with them, or I find our time together mutually satisfying and gratifying.  To follow this train of thought might suggest that to the extent that my relationship with the Lord is rich, to that extent I will be able to thoroughly appreciate my time with Him.  God becomes the object and source of my joy.  The desire of my heart will be to spend more and more time with Him.

What if because of the joy I derive from my relationship with the Lord I desire to please Him.  One way to please Him is to be the husband/wife that He has called me to be.  This is important because God only created two institutions, both were to be show cases for His love, grace and mercy.  Specifically God created the Church and marriage.  Each of which provides a witness to the watching world.

As I relook at the verse my focus has changed from it’s all about me to its all about Him.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Is Heaven for Real?

20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.  Philippians 3:20-21 NIV

There has certainly been much conversation over the past several months about the existence of heaven.  Much of the talk has been driven by recent books and a few movies.  While the topic makes for an interesting conversation during a dinner party it is much more germane to everyday living.

I guess there may be many options open when you consider the subject but only a few come to me.  Choice “A” there is no heaven, life ends at death.  Choice “B” there is a heaven, which by the way 68% of Americans tend to believe.

Here’s where it gets a little dicey.  When these sixty-eight percent were asked if they thought they would be going to heaven the majority answered in the affirmative. When asked on what basis they thought that God would allow them to enter invariably the response was “I’ve led a fairly good life.”

I have limited Biblical knowledge but two things I do believe the Bible makes reasonably clear.  First there is a heaven and there is a hell.  Every person on this planet will go to one place or the other when they die.  The second point is that the only way to heaven is through Jesus Christ.  You are part way there if you believe in the resurrection account and all that it implies.  There should be evidence of a transformed life, the Fruit of the Spirit should be in evidence.

It is my opinion that merely having an intellectual assent is not sufficient.  Satan acknowledges the existence of Jesus and knows He rose from the dead but I assure you he won’t be in heaven.  So what is a transformed life? It means that the life you are attempting to live, with the help of the Holy Spirit, is progressively becoming more like the life of Christ when He was on earth.  By progressive I do not mean a consistent growth or trajectory up and to the right as we see in corporate projection charts.  I mean that over time there is evidence in the way I live my life that I am being influenced by Biblical principles.
This brings me to my final point which has to do with marriage – I bet you thought I’d never get around to that topic.  If you believe there is a heaven and you truly understand that believing in Jesus is more than an intellectual assent then the way you treat your husband/wife would be an indication of whether or not your life is being transformed.  Just sayin…

Monday, 2 June 2014

As for Me and My Family…

15 “If you decide that it’s a bad thing to worship God, then choose a god you’d rather serve—and do it today. Choose one of the gods your ancestors worshiped from the country beyond The River, or one of the gods of the Amorites, on whose land you’re now living. As for me and my family, we’ll worship God.”  Joshua 24:15  the Message

The wife says to her husband “you say that you would die for me, but you never do.” As corny as that is don’t many of us essentially say something similar when we say “I love you Lord” but act in a way that belies that statement.

I don’t think anyone who professes to be a Christian would say that it is “bad to worship God” or that they would consciously acknowledge that they have “chosen” to serve another god.  The reality is that at some point in any given week, more likely any given day, each of us who profess to be followers of Jesus worship at the altar of another god.

Before you protesteth too much let me ask you have you been impatient this week?  Have you gotten irritated with someone this week?  Have you done something this week that didn’t glorify God?  Have you lost your temper, sought food for comfort, or watched something on the internet that you would be ashamed if your children were to see,etc.

Ideally God is first in our life and if we are married our spouse is number two.  Any time something leap frogs in importance over either of those two choices we have erected an idol, if only for a brief time.  That idol is a form of god.

To make matters worse, I usually neglect to ask God to forgive me for my transgressions.  This is not a salvation issue but it could be a relational issue.  There is certainly some Scriptural basis for believing that my inappropriate behavior, when not acknowledged, might affect my prayer life. (1Peter 3:7)

All this is to say that all of us, yes even me, will continue to sin and “occasionally” worship at an altar of a false god.  But if I am determined that in my house we will worship the living God, there will be much evidence that I want to put Him first.  The evidence will manifest itself in the way I treat my wife, children and neighbors.  It will be in evidence if you looked at my calendar or checkbook.  Finally I will notice that the Fruit of the Spirit is more apparent in how I live my life than it was two years ago.