Rejoice in the Lord!

In this life there will always be hard things. We will have less than perfect relationships, jobs, finances… you get it, because your life isn’t perfect either. Sometimes, our circumstances can seem so big, that we just can’t see anything else. It is in these times, right now as a matter of fact, that I remember, Paul wrote these words from prison. Not fairly warm well fed American prison, but from a prison under Roman rule. A prison during and era and in a society that was arguably one of the cruelest societies ever.

My joy doesn’t come from the things of this world and I am thankful for that. As much as I love my husband, my children, my extended family I would be remiss to allow them to be the source of my joy. AS fallible humans they will let me down. Just as I too will let them down. Jesus; however, will never let me down. My finances may be insufficient to pay all my bills, but the grace of our great God will never be insufficient. This is the source of peace that passes understanding. In the midst of the storm, I am joyful, because I know that the promise was never to pull me out of my circumstances, but to love me through them. Sometimes, he calms the wind and the waves, but other times He walks me through. I am thankful today for who God is and that he is in control no matter where I am. If I will stop and listen, he will guide me through.

He will guide you through too! Draw close to him. Listen to his voice, he will keep you on the narrow path.

34They did not destroy the peoples, As the LORD commanded them, 35But they mingled with the nations And learned their practices, 36And served their idols, Which became a snare to them. 37They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons, 38And shed innocent blood, The blood of their sons and their daughters, Whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; And the land was polluted with the blood. 39Thus they became unclean in their practices, And played the harlot in their deeds. 40Therefore the anger of the LORD was kindled against His people And He abhorred His inheritance. 41Then He gave them into the hand of the nations, And those who hated them ruled over them. 42Their enemies also oppressed them, And they were subdued under their power. 43Many times He would deliver them; They, however, were rebellious in their counsel, And so sank down in their iniquity. 44Nevertheless He looked upon their distress When He heard their cry; 45And He remembered His covenant for their sake, And relented according to the greatness of His loving kindness. 46He also made them objects of compassion In the presence of all their captors. 47Save us, O LORD our God, And gather us from among the nations, To give thanks to Your holy name And glory in Your praise. 48Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, From everlasting even to everlasting. And let all the people say, “Amen.” Praise the LORD!

How ironic that I should pick up this scripture today. I am struggling with very real issues that stem from allowing the world to sneak in the back door. You let one little seemingly harmless thing into your life and next thing you know all his friends are throwing a proverbial party right there in your living room. Suddenly, you find yourself out of control being carried by a force that has become much bigger than you wondering “how did we get here?” If you have sin in your life, no matter how small you must eradicate it. You must war with your flesh and get rid of all that is not directly of God.

As we fight to rid ourselves of the “old man”, it is helpful to turn our eyes on how we can be blessing to those around us. While it is imperative that we examine our own hearts, we lose the point if we spend too much time focusing on ourselves. Our holiness is all about our relationship with Him, our relationship with Him is all about relating to others and fulfilling the great commission that all man would become followers of Christ.

There is a precarious balance between loving the world and being part of it. We are told in the Bible that Jesus spent his time with liars and thieves. It was them that he showed love to. The religious sects were the ones that he was hard on. The ones that he called “white washed tombs”. We must be the love of God, exude his fragrance to the world around us and that does mean going where people are; however, it does not mean to do what they are doing. For example, I have been known to go to the local bar and hang out with and talk to some of the people there; however, while I am there I do not participate in lascivious or drunken behavior. It seems as though I should mention that I do not, nor have I ever had, an issue with alcohol. If I had ever had such an issue, I wouldn’t be tempting myself in that way. It also seems pertinent to mention that I don’t “Lord it over them” that I am not getting drunk or doing other things that would sully my testimony. If I act like I am somehow better than others they are not going to like or want to be around me. My purpose in hanging out there though has been served multiple times, because I am seen as the “religious” one, they come to me when tragedy strikes.

In my humble opinion, the key to balancing loving hte people of the world and not being part of the world is being others focused. That is to say, not thinking about what I am or am not doing, but about being interested in the lives of other people. Reaching them where they are for the gospel first requires that we are walking the talk so to speak and living holy lives. It also requires that we spend time letting people know that we care about them as people. It is an insult to think that someone who does not know me, would have any of the answers to my life problems. Jesus is always the answer, but our goal in sharing with them it to clear the way for them to see their own personal need for Jesus and most of the time, this is a process that takes time. Just like the process that each of us who already know Jesus as our personal saviour is in becoming the person He intended us to be.