Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A River With No End. . .

High in the crystalline air of the Andes mountains of southern Peru, there is a remote cliff on the flank of an otherwise unremarkable 18,363 foot high mountain called Nevado Mismi. Each morning, as the sun’s rays gently warm the mountain’s snow pack, flake by flake. . . drip by drip the snow melts and begins to flow down the shoulders of the mighty mountain.

Ecclesiastes 7:8
Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

A simple cross marks this lonely and humble location. Monuments to beginnings are not common, and if they exist at all are most often simple markers, rather than grand memorials. . .but without beginnings nothing comes after. From this desolate scene of rock and scree, the mighty Amazon River is birthed.

Rivulet adds to rivulet, as day succeeds day. . . meandering mountain streams add to numberless and nameless brooks, and springs. . . flowing and ever growing the waters move relentlessly onward to their last measured destiny in the Atlantic Ocean.

A picture of any spot along the path of the Amazon River, is not a picture of the river, but a mere snapshot of the process which is the river. A river exists in breadth, depth, length, and importantly in time. . .The great river at it’s mouth is a culmination of every drop of water. . . every day. . . every moment. . .every cloud which shed its rain the drainage basin and joined that mighty volume.

Such as I am not a snapshot of where I was yesterday or last year, nor where I am today, but I too am a process which started in the remote and hidden place of my conception, and continues for ever more. For the waters of the Amazon do not end at the Atlantic Ocean, but they are transformed and join the waters of the endless sea. . .

Psalms 139:13-16
For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. (14) I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. (15) My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. (16) Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

I began in remoteness. . .darkness and obscurity. No marker for my beginning. No memorial for celebrating or remembering that day when my parents came together and I was created. . . but my soul itself, as a testament to that union, now continues for ever more. From that secret and humble beginning, my journey has taken me past wondrous scenes of grandeur and excitement. From the frolicing and joyous rapids and falls of youth, through dark stormy days of sadness and loss. . . to the widening and slowing of pace of life’s current. . .I now enjoy the more languid and steady pace of the last leg of life. More breadth and depth than of my earlier days, I too am a culmination of my path. . . mighty tributaries, small streams, violent storms, and gentle rains have fed me, and helped me to grow. I shall be transformed again, when I enter the endless sea of eternity.

But unlike a river, I indeed control the channel of my course. By my decisions I determine the Ocean of Peace for my destiny, or the Sea of Darkness. By the sacrifice of Jesus, the way is open to either eternity. God has made a way. . . His great work as in the construction of a great canal, connecting one sea to another. . . He has opened the door to everlasting life in joy and tranquility. He has made a way where there was no way. . ., but in the end. . . it is our choice.

At the end of the day, no one can point a finger at God and claim Him to be unjust or unfair. . .

Psalms 18:30
As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.

Deuteronomy 30:19
. . . I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:

I choose life. . .
I choose peace. . .
I choose light. . .
I submit to you my God. . .

I thank you my God. . .
I love you my God. . .


Saturday, April 18, 2015

Meditations on God's Word. . . 2015-04-18

I drove over 1200 miles over the last week, on my recent trip to Ontario for business. As is my usual practice, on the dashboard of the car, I have Rex Humbard’s book, Personal Promises From God’s Word.

This book has quite a number of sections, with Bible passages arranged in various topics. . .verses for when you are afraid, or sad or lonely, etc. etc. etc.

So what I do is, I choose a passage, and I chew on it. . . I meditate on it. . . I pray on it as the hundreds of miles of my journey pass by. The section of verse that I chose this last week was:

Proverbs 3:1-2
My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.

First noticed. . . my son. Written with an affectionate warmth. . . Not an edict from a cold, and unfeeling king. . . not a harsh commandment from an anonymous rule maker, but a kindly gentle reminder: My son, forget not my Law. You know this law, but do not misplace it. This law is familiar and known to you. It is your father’s law. Your father who loves you, and only wants the best for you. . . It is His Law.

But let thine heart keep my commandments. . . Your father believes that your wish, your desire is to be obedient. . . He encourages you to allow this side to prevail.

For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.

It appears that the first 2 phrases: length of days and long life are repetitious, but looking at the Hebrew the first phrase, ‘length of days’ does mean to live a life of many years, but the second phrase, ‘long life’, seems to have more of a meaning of having a life of vitality and vigor up to the very end.

We see this in the description of Moses life:

Deuteronomy 34:7
And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.

He maintained his energy and virility up to his last days . .

All of these three are necessary for a life of fulfillment. A life of long years. . . A full life of mental and physical capacity. . . and a life of peace. If any one of these attributes are missing, then a life would not be a life of full blessing.

Looking at the reverse of this passage, following the Law, keeping God’s commandments does nothing for God, but is solely for our benefit. . .a long life. . . a life of strength and vigor. . . a life of peace is the consequence of a life of obedience to God’s law, and submission to Him as your Father and King.

Everything we see in life, supports both the premises and promises of this passage. . .

Over 1200 miles. . . well over 20 hours of meditation on this passage, and my spiritual weapon. . . the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. . . my offensive weapon has gained another well sharpened cutting edge. . .

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Power of the Present

Life is a process. Each moment of life, is but a snapshot. . . a slice across the spaghetti noodle which is our journey from birth to grave. This tangled strand of our life begins in the womb of our mother, in her days and ways of pregnancy. It winds its way across far flung latitude and longitude and pages of the calendar until our soul’s departure from this world.

We are a culmination of every day. . . every breath. . . every step and experience of our past. Every meal or every lack of a meal contributes to what we are today. . . Every personal interaction. . . every experience, good or bad makes us what we are. We are unique by way of our DNA, and from our cumulative life’s experiences.

We walk on the ever changing razor’s edge of the present moment. Endlessly moving in the flow of time. Within this ephemeral passing moment, is the only power we have. We are shaped by and we reside in the result of all our yesterdays, but this past need not and indeed must not be allowed to control our tomorrows.

The Hebrew people had spent 400 years residing in Egypt, when God delivered them from that evil land. What expectation did they have. . . What knowledge could they have had of any other life or land? And yet. . . and yet. . . In the physical Jehovah delivered them. God gave the vision. . . the message. . . the mission, and most importantly the power to a man, to physically lead the Hebrew people out of Egypt and into the promised land.

The journey was not without its hardship and travail. From their familiar slave masters in the land of Egypt, they were transported to a camp of righteousness, isolated in the unknown wilderness of Sin. And in the tough times of hunger, thirst, and weariness some even wished for a return to their former land.

Though it was undoubtedly within their power to do so, for all their grumbling, it is not recorded that any of the Hebrew people actually returned to Egypt. They were delivered by their following of the man chosen by God, and by the miracle of the parting of the waters of the Red Sea. They were separated from their old lives by the distance, the hardship, and the isolation that a return journey would have entailed.

What shadow or type. . . what metaphor is there for us today. The physical lessons of the old testament are images of the Spiritual in the New Testament.

Ephesians 2:2-6
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: (3) Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. (4) But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, (5) Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) (6) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

I came to God in a wrenching deliverance from my old life. . . I departed my old abode in the land of sin. I attached myself to a people living in a righteous camp. . . . I submitted to and determined to follow a man of God. . . . a man with a message and vision for the future. . .a spiritual leader who knew the path to the New Covenant promised land. I was baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of my sins, and subsequently as described several times in the Bible, God’s Spirit came to abide within me, thereby completing my rebirth.

I know the location of my former land. I could reject my deliverance and return to the flesh pots, but Jesus has taken away the power of the past over my life. I have repented of my old ways, and beyond belief. . . He has completely forgiven me. He has given me an unfettered present. My account with Him is cleared. Yes, I am still a product of my past. I carry scars. . . old emotional, physical, and spiritual wounds are still with me, and I will carry them to the end of my days. I cannot afford to give them up. They are too precious to me, for to forget the pain of Egypt, is to risk great danger in turning back to it. I must never forget the sickness and decay of that land. . .

A great gulf separates me from my old life, from my old people. . .a gulf of relationship. . . a gulf of fellowship and community. . .a gulf of joy. . . a gulf of power over those things which formerly beset me.

2 Samuel 22:29
For thou art my lamp, O LORD: and the LORD will lighten my darkness.

Now my footsteps are not dictated by my past. Regardless how I came to be where I am today, the decision of direction from this point forward is my decision. God cannot make that decision for me. It is my choice. It is one road that I travel. . . that we all trave. . ., and it is a two way street. There are no byways. I can either decide to travel towards God, or I can decide to turn away from Him.

There is no standing still on this road of life. To think that you are going to rest. . . to take a timeout. . . to pull into a rest stop, and quit traveling for a time, surely is to be growing more distant from Him. We are either spiritually growing or we are dying. Like a tree, we only have those two states.

Our past is forgiven, and we are freed from it. Our future. . . our destination is assured if we stay focused and committed to each moment of our present. . . step building upon step. Not wavering. . . not looking back. . . not looking past our next step in the present. As great as the danger is in looking longingly backwards, there is a less visible, but equally fatal danger in overlooking the present and focusing on the future.

We will only arrive at our desired future, by measured and righteous steps in the present. There are no shortcuts to the future. Every breath. . . every moment. . . every step, making the right decision. . . making a correct choice. . . taking a stand that we will live for God to the best of our ability to the end of our days.

We describe ourselves as Christian’s. . . Lots of roles in life end in ‘ian.’ Some are electrician’s. . . Some are physician’s. . . Some are politician’s. . . The ‘ian’ ending means: relating to. After 5 o'clock an electrician can take off his tool belt, wash his hands, trim his fingernails, and stop being an electrician. A politician can go on a private vacation and put off the mantle of politics for a season, and so it goes, but this does not work for a Christian.

We strive to be like, and we model ourselves after the image of Christ. Never do I read in the Bible where Jesus stopped being the Messiah. . . .Never did he take a break and let his hair down so to speak. . . To be a Christian is to be a Christian. . . is to be a Christian. . . in all seasons. . . in all places. . . to all people. . . friends. . . enemies. . . neighbors. . . strangers. . . in the darkest night, we must maintain our likeness of Christ. If we allow the devil to convince us to look past the next step in our walk. . . to look past the decisions we face tonight, and to jump ahead to our returning to the path of righteousness after a small detour. . . then we will find that the land of Egypt is much much closer than we would ever have imagined.

The old fable story. . . my kingdom for a horse. Victory is in the small things. . . How many have fallen for the sake of one toke. . . one sip. . . one kiss. . .one pill. . .one lie. . .just a small sin. . . Our next step is always the most important step of our life, no matter what it might be. It is always either leading us closer to God or leading us further away from Him.

Before coming to Christ, how many times did I stop after work to have a beer. . . a single beer was on my mind. That was my intent, but many hours later. . . many beers later. . . intending only a small seemingly insignificant step, I found to my horror that I had journeyed all the way back to the land of Egypt.

Psalms 16:11
Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

The old saying goes, a journey of a thousand miles begins with 1 small step. That may equally be a journey to righteousness or a journey to great evil. Ignore the present at your great peril. To overlook the small steps of today, is to risk tripping and falling.

There is immense power in the present. Power given over the past by the cleansing of the shed blood of Jesus and His forgiveness. . . Through the washing away of my sins by the blood of Jesus, and the grace and forgiveness of God, I am freed from my past. I am given a fresh and new present. . . I can gain the future by the power of the present. . .

I am forgiven. . .
I am free. . .
I am a new creature in Christ. . .

Thank you my God. . .
I love you my God. . .