This article is well worth your time if you are seeking some direction from the Lord. Hope this helps in your quest of getting a little closer to your King. When God Tries to Speak to You | Ron Edmondson.
Category Archives: spiritual life
Everyday is a new gift from God. Some of our days are filled with joy and some are filled with pain. It’s 365 days of twists and turns, ups and downs, that’s what makes each of our days an adventurous mystery. The only true stability one can find in life is the constant sustaining power of God, and for that I am truly grateful.
During the past year I have experienced his sustaining power. In my darkest moments and in my biggest failures, Christ was there. When my actions of stupidity or selfishness created pain for myself or the ones I love, I heard His voice. He brings light and gracious healing no matter how far our prodigal heart wanders from home. Christ’s forgiveness rediscovered; not only from Him but from the ones wounded from my actions.
I have discovered the beauty of seeing my children grow in the majestic truth and grace of Christ. I also learned I do not possess the strength, skill or wisdom to parent in my own ability. I am thankful I can lean on Him in this task of raising my children. He is strong enough. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
I have come to know the strongest and most godly woman is my wife. Her grace and compassion is unwavering in all her relationships. She is relentless in her pursuit for God and his glory. Wisdom and beauty are her gifts She makes me proud to be her husband while at the same-time I am humbled the LORD gave her to someone like me.
This past year has been a rediscovery of God and his goodness for me. Its not been a rediscovery in the theological sense, but in the everyday practical ways of his constant powerful presence. In 2012, I will still be learning to live in Christ’s steadfast love.
Summary statements of things that captivated my thoughts this past year:
1. Selfishness is the worst kind of blindness.
2. We should unlearn successful methods from our past.
3. The hard work of family is a gift.
4. Forgiveness received is too beautiful for words.
5. My children often teach me more about life than I teach them.
6. I remembered what life without God was like. Very scary!
7. The depth, joy, and strength of biblical oneness.
8. Gray is becoming a reality (hair that is).
9. My wife is becoming more beautiful each day.
10. I still like Rock and Roll and very little country.
11. There is a greater need for gospel-centered churches in traditional places.
12. Repentance is not saying sorry, but surrendering to the active workings of God.
Looking forward to 2012. God is with me. Praying you too will discover Christ’s sustaining powerful presence.
Is it possible to live as a disciple of Jesus without spending significant amounts of time in the Scriptures? Can you really follow Jesus without reliance upon the Holy Spirit? Obviously, the answer is no to these questions. Unfortunately, many well meaning church goers pursue a Christian lifestyle, but neglect the importance of Scripture and personal reliance of the Holy Spirit. You simply can’t live the christian life without dependence upon the Word and Spirit. Here are a few passages that reveal our necessities.
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:14-17 ESV)
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:5-7 ESV)
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 ESV)
God is not all that interested in me changing my behavior; turning over a new leaf. What he desires from me is a surrendering of my affections to his kingship. I have noticed that we often confuse changed behavior with repentance.
Don’t misunderstand, genuine repentance will produce changed behavior in us but changed behavior does not necessarily mean we have come to true repentance. The journey of repentance is not opening ourselves to life coaching or good advice for the purpose of behavioral modification. The journey of repentance is about submitting ourselves under the lordship of Christ and his Word. This submission is about changing the condition of our hearts in order to keep us from falling into sin. In other words its not just the act of sin we are in need of forgiveness for, but for the heart in which it was born.
David understood this when he said in Psalm 51 ” Create in me a clean heart O God, Renew a loyal spirit within me.” Verse 12 has an interesting phrase, ” Make me willing to obey.” This phrase is interesting because David knows he can’t obey God if God does not create a new heart within him. Psalm 51 is the prayer of a broken man filled with repentant sorrow not for his actions, but sorrow for the kind of man that would commit such actions. David is forsaking his sin and turning to God. He is not sorry just because he got caught, but because he broke the heart of God.
A few years back singer songwriter Shaun Groves sang a song that communicated true repentance quite appropriately using the metaphor of a home for his heart.
“Welcome to this heart of mine I’ve buried under prideful vines
Grown to hide the mess I’ve made
Inside of me come decorate, Lord
And open up the creaking door and walk upon the dusty floor
Scrape away the guilty stains until no sin or shame remain
Spread Your love upon the walls and occupy the empty halls
Until the man I am has faded no more doors are barricaded
Come inside this heart of mine
It’s not my own, make it home
Come and take this heart and make it
All Your own welcome home
Take a seat, pull up a chair forgive me for the disrepair
And the souvenirs from floor to ceiling gathered on my search for meaning
And every closet’s filled with clutter messes yet to be discovered
I’m overwhelmed, I can’t understand, I can’t make this place all that You can
Come inside this heart of mine
It’s not my own make it home
Come and take this heart and make it
All Your own welcome
I took the space that You placed in me
And redecorated in shades of greed
And I made sure every door stayed locked
Every window blocked, and still You knocked
When You come inside this heart of mine it’s not my own
Come and take this heart and make it
All Your own, welcome home
The spirit of repentance is inviting Christ to renovate our hearts in such a way that we cannot refuse obedience.
It starts out innocent but turns out devastating. This is always the outcome of idolatry. I have recently read a little book with a huge punch by Timothy Keller, titled Counterfeit Gods. In our culture when it comes to idolatry most of us have an archaic and mythological imagination thinking of Greek gods or statues. Bowing down to statues or praying to graven images does not seem all that popular these days, but that does not mean we don’t have a problem with idolatry.
Our society has made things like beauty, money, power, and achievement the idols of our day. As Keller writes, “we may not physically kneel before the statue of Aphrodite, but many young women today are driven into depression and eating disorders by an obsessive concern over their body image. We may not actually burn incense to Artemis, but when money and career are raised to cosmic proportions, we perform a kind of child sacrifice, neglecting family and community to achieve a higher place in business and gain more wealth and prestige”.
We are only fooling ourselves if we do not think we can quickly bow before these modern day idols. We must understand that our heart and mind are idol factories. We humans can make anything into an idol. It can be career, relationships, family or material possessions. As soon as we set our heart on the good things of this life and turn them into the ultimate things, we have shifted our worship from God to things. Only God can give lasting satisfaction, God is the ultimate. Things on the other hand can only promise satisfaction but never deliver.
“You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods.” Exodus 20:4-5
Thomas à Kempis has nicely separated The Imitation of Christ into four segments, which he calls books. The first tiled book is, Thoughts Helpful in the Life of the Soul. The first chapter, Imitating Christ and Despising All Vanities on Earth.
To begin the book the author mentions that we are to live our lives in the light of our Lord, mentioning John 8:12, which states, “Jesus said to the people, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t be stumbling through the darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”
There is great insight here on the part of the author. Biblical Christianity is not a faith that is based in the physical. Yes, we live and experience God in our physical world, but left alone in our humanness, physical eyesight, hearing and moving we miss much of the Lords activities.
I was thinking of the worship tune that we sang yesterday morning at the Metro Campus. The lyrics reflect Thomas à Kempis thoughts quite well.
Everlasting, Your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending, Your glory goes beyond all fame
In my heart, in my soul, Lord I give you control
Consume me from the inside out Lord
Let justice and praise become my embrace
To love You from the inside out
Your will above all else, my purpose remains
The art of losing myself in bringing you praise
Christianity is a faith that moves from our hearts to the outside world. When we walk with Christ in intimacy, our relationship with him remove the blindness of our hearts and provide light to our lives.
The following two paragraphs are from chapter one. There are some cool statements here and I would like to hear your thoughts.
“The teaching of Christ is more excellent than all the advice of the saints, and he who has His spirit will find in it a hidden manna. Now, there are many who hear the Gospel often but care little for it because they have not the spirit of Christ. Yet whoever wishes to understand fully the words of Christ must try to pattern his whole life on that of Christ.
What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God. I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it. For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God? Vanity of vanities and all is vanity, except to love God and serve Him alone.
Within the last few days, I have stated reading once again the classic work penned by Thomas à Kempis. He was a late medieval monk belonging to a school of mystics who were scattered along the Rhine from Switzerland to Strasburg and Cologne and in the Netherlands. His, The Imitation of Christ has been an inspiration for Christ-Followers for the past five centuries. Translated in more than fifty languages this book has literally touched the lives of millions, if not more.
The purpose of Thomas á Kempis writing is to urge the reader to pursue a life of following the example of Jesus Christ and to be conformed in all things to His will. There are not many books, which will stir your soul quite like this book.
Over the next few weeks, I am going to be reading and then blogging comments, quotes, prayers, and maybe a few personal thoughts. I would love to hear your comments about the post. If you have a copy of The Imitation of Christ, I invite you to join me. Look for my first post in the next few days.