Monday, August 26, 2019

Who I Am and Why it Matters

Years ago, our pastor cautioned me, "There is only one inspired Book, everything else is written by sinful people. Identify their bent and you can use it all to God's glory." That has been helpful advice. No matter whose material I read, study, or listen to, I look for the author's Achilles heel and it puts things in perspective. The extension is that you and I have our own Achilles heel--and it affects how we view life, God, and others.

Some individuals view everyone and everything in life with suspicion. No matter what happens, they have to be on guard lest they're taken advantage of.

Some see God's Word as a set of rules to be followed. It's about doing this and doing that. Though they long for grace, they don't seem to find it.

Others play their way through life. The more the merrier; eat, drink, and make happy, for who knows what will happen tomorrow?

Still others fight, forcing and pushing limitations and circumstances in an effort to overcome and experience personal accomplishment.

In all of this, life revolves around me--my likes, dislikes, desires, comfort, convenience. I fail to admit it and become defensive when caught, but I honestly think life would be better if it met my standards and expectations.

The key, then, is knowing myself as I come to God's Word, and being willing to change. It's not about reading the Bible religiously, rarely missing church, and staying on my best behavior. God desires transformation and change, not appearance.

I will receive God in the same way I come to Him. If I come proud, stiff-necked, "it's just who I am and nothing's going to change," I will receive rebuke and live under regulations until I am broken and bereft. God opposes the proud--and His Word will work to break those who fall on it. If I come to God broken, helpless, and desperate, I will receive grace and help in my time of need.

A true sense of myself exposes my inability and weakness. A true sense of others reveals their inability and weakness. But a true sense of God lends to greater trust and reliance; a lack of fear, anger, despair, and drive for personal pleasure or potential. He does control it all. He is all wise, all knowing, all loving, and all powerful. I can rest and stop striving.

God is not looking for people who have it all together. He is not out to get us or take advantage of our willingness and need. He is not about me having my own way or experiencing accomplishments. God is about Himself--because He is the best, the most, the greatest, the purest. He is the mold we were created to image and only in Him and His glory will we fully live our our original design. Apart from Him, we are nothing. But in all things He will be glorified. He's just that big; just that grand and glorious.

What is your Achilles heel? The sooner you and I bring our true selves to the Word of God, ready to be healed, the sooner He will effect His goodness and grace in our lives. Choose brokenness. Seek. Knock. Ask. Be a beggar...because you are.

I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul will make its boast in the Lord;
The humble will hear it and rejoice.
O magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together.

I sought the Lord, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces will never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
And saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him,
And rescues them.

O taste and see that the Lord is good;
How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
O fear the Lord, you His saints;
For to those who fear Him there is no want.
The young lions do lack and suffer hunger;
But they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing.
Come, you children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Who is the man who desires life
And loves length of days that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil
And your lips from speaking deceit.
Depart from evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it.

The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
And His ears are open to their cry.
The face of the Lord is against evildoers,
To cut off the memory of them from the earth.
The righteous cry, and the Lord hears
And delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the Lord delivers him out of them all.
He keeps all his bones,
Not one of them is broken.
Evil shall slay the wicked,
And those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
The Lord redeems the soul of His servants,
And none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned. Psalm 34