“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord .
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
Yes, we are a prideful and rebellious generation.
Yes, there are few who seek to follow the narrow path.
Yes, we are a cold and hard hearted generation of religious zealots.
Seek the Path, know Hope
We don’t know it all. In fact, we know so little. A fool stands his ground and says, “It is this way, and there is no room for discussion.” A wise man says, “This is how I understand it, but let’s discuss together with open minds, let’s pray about it and examine it against the Word of God, let’s test it and prove or disprove our theories.”
You see, if we seek, we will find. But if we are stubborn and prideful, we won’t even search after truth or knowledge or understanding or wisdom. We will think that we have grasped it and it is firmly within our hand and under our control.
And it is the same with salvation. It is the same with Hope. It is the same with this Good News of the glory of God come in the flesh, incarnate as Jesus Christ who walked among us to die on the cross for our sins, and who extends an offer of mercy and forgiveness and love to all who seek Him.
But do we seek Him, or did we just seek forgiveness once because we recognized guilt and shame? Have we been called and chosen and are we His, or did we just hear the voice and wiggle within our shell in reaction to the very Word of God, but not take root and begin to grow?
If we think that we’ve grasped salvation and placed it like a ticket in our back pocket to use upon death for, “One ride to heaven, please” while we use our false idea of grace as an excuse to continue in our sin – can we say that we know Hope at all?
If we use the phrase “all fall short of the glory of God” to excuse our daily chasing of sinful things, to excuse us who would call ourselves Christians from living in open rebellion against the Word of God, to chase after the things of the flesh, and to call what is sin good and what is good sin – can we say that we are wise in the ways of the Lord or that we are just fools.
So how do we know the difference? Fear of God.
If we have no fear and awe and respect for God, if we twist and contradict the Word of God to fit our own purposes and intents, thinking that we are wise, then we are fools.
If we take Him at His Word and examine it deeply for guidance and instruction, even when it hurts, even when it causes us to reflect and male change within ourselves, even when it requires sacrifice and trials and suffering – we are understanding and ate at least seeking wisdom.
You see, our Hope comes from God, not from our own education, thoughts, works, or religious practice. It isn’t about us, it is about surrendering to Him. It is acknowledging our need for Him not just once, but daily. It is seeing Him as our only Hope to making it through.
Lean to ourselves in foolish pride, and we will fall to our deaths. But if we lean to Him, if we stand upon the solid rock of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we will be raised to life.
Seek the Truth, Follow Faithfully
And once we have laid our hands upon hope and understanding just once. Once the Holy Spirit has been planted within our shell, we want to receive water and light for it daily so that it will grow. So that the growth inside our shell will reach the point that the pressure inside shatters the old shell, breaking it to pieces as our root springs forth in new growth. And we want that root to grow deep into fertile soil and our branches to grow high and wide and be fruitful, because we are a fruit bearing tree, we are not a briar bush. We are to provide nourishment to others and be a blading, not be a useless thorn bush that only brings trouble to man but provides a safe hiding place for the serpents.
You see, a life of Faith is not about a one time event, it is about life changing growth. It is about a daily dedication to seeking His will, His glory, and His honor. Yes, it is about a life of surrender, and in that surrender, we find freedom. But without surrender, there is no freedom, because there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ but not everyone that calls upon His name is in Christ.
Without surrender, without repentance, without a change in direction to seek and obey His will, without a turn from seeking the things of the flesh to seeking the Kingdom of God, we cannot say truthfully that we are a fruitful tree when our life proves us to be a thorny bush. We cannot say truthfully that we are a Child of God when our life is full of disobedience and is a reflection of the evil one.
You see, this freedom and what we choose to do with it proves our hearts. If we use it as an excuse to wallow in the mud of our sinful lives, we never knew Him at all. If we use it as a means to cast away all of the shame and guilt over past sins, and in grattitude we choose to change and walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh, to “Go, and sin no more” – it will prove both our love and fear of God.
We are given the example of Christ who lived among us and walked in the flesh, He who is the Word of God. We are also given the divine instructions and guidance of God, His wisdom and inspiration gathered in the written Word of God. And those whom He has called and chosen, and who have received the gift of the Holy Spirit also have the Word of God written on their hearts. And the proof of His wonders are evident in the world all around us, so we have no excuse for ignoring the glory of our creator each day, even each moment.
So if we are healed, we should take up our mats and walk. We should go and sin no more. We should walk in the Spirit, not in the flesh.
How many of us would claim Christ by name but don’t believe that we are healed?
“Pick up your mat, your sins are forgiven!” Thus says the Lord or God!
How many of us would claim Christ by name but don’t trust Him to carry us and overcome sin in our lives?
“You are healed, go and sin no more!” Thus says the Lord our God!
Know the Path, Show the Love
You see, there is healing. There is power in the Word of God. And many of us need the healing touch of the hand of God upon our lives. We need our hardened hearts softened by the touch of His love. We need to be filled with the mercy and forgiveness and peace that comes from His grace.
And spiritual things operate differently than physical things. With physical things, if I have a little for myself and I give some to another person, I have less than I had before. But with those high things of God that are beyond our understanding, the opposite is true.
If I have just a little love in my heart, but I share love with another, it multiplies, and we both have more than before. If I have only a little patience, but I exercise it in mercy towards someone else, I gain more patience myself and have given them an example of patience instead of frustration – we both come away with more. If during a time of great struggle I demonstrate peace and trust in God instead of worry and anxiety, I come out with greater peace from trusting God, and my example grows trust in others as well.
You see, exercising our spiritual gifts and feeding those around us with the fruits of the Holy Spirit has a multiplying effect upon the world around us. This is how one person can start a forest fire of change in the world around them.
But those fires work the other direction as well. We can set fires that destroy with words of hatred, anger, jealousy, deceit – or we can feed the hungry and thirsty with the bread of life and living waters.
Today, I want to remember how little I understand of His ways, acknowledging His authority over all things. I want to thank Him for all of the wonderful blessings, physical blessings and more importantly spiritual blessings which are eternal. I want to place my Hope in Christ alone, trusting in Him for my salvation, and surrendering my life in grattitude, as a living sacrifice and testimony to what He has done and is doing in my life. I want to live a repentant life, free of guilt and shame, trusting that I am forgiven and that together with Christ, the sin in my life will be overcome as I resist temptation and as He proves Himself ever faithful and true. I want to share this love, this Good News, so that others might hear His familiar voice and might be fed and that these spiritual fruits will multiply and grow and spread, cushion this world around us for the better. But mostly, I want to learn His will and purpose for my life and fulfill it. I want to drink the cup of His will for my life, and live a life of grattitude to Him for what He has done for me. Because He knows better than me.
Help us follow.