All posts in Submission

The Journey

There is a new commercial out by the transportation company Lyft.  It says that “It’s not where you’re going that matters; it’s how you get there!”  I wonder about that…  It seems to me that both the journey and the destination are important, but for very different reasons.

The Journey

Man Standing At Beginning Of Winding Road — Image by © Images.com/Corbis

One of my dearest friends in the world is suffering right now and has been for an extended period of time.  He is stressed financially and at 65 years old has little hope of recovering, save a miracle.  His family is in conflict and can’t get along; The hurricanes of recent have messed with his house. His insurance it threatening to cancel and he just found out that his wife has breast cancer and she only gets 2 weeks of paid absence from work; not to mention that they have a $6k deductible on their health insurance.  He has asked me, “Can it get any worse?”  Yes, it can get worse, but it sure doesn’t feel like that is possible from his perspective right now.  Plenty of people have it worse off, but this is a very heavy load and it makes a person wonder about the efficacy of prayer and whether God really cares.

The Destination

On the other hand, if all we ever worried about was what goes on in this fallen world, then we would be very short-sighted, wouldn’t we?  Paul said it best when he said,

“If in this life only we have hope, we are of all creatures, most miserable!”

~ 1 Corinthians 15:19 ~

For many, the hope of eternity with God is all they have to justify the suffering in this life.  However most Americans, even in the worst situation, live like kings compared to the rest of the world. And if you are a Christian, you believe that God is preparing a place for us where we will be eternally happy, safe and secure.  Consider these great promises from the very lips of Jesus:

“In my Father’s house are many mansions … I go to prepare a place for you that where I am, there you may be also.”

~ John 14:2 ~

And the Apostle Paul assured us …

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard the things which God has prepared for those who love Him!”

~ 1 Corinthians 2:9 ~

This brings up a foundational question:  Do you love God?  We don’t need to waste our time asking whether He loves us, because He already told (and showed) us that was the case.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but has everlasting life.”

~ 1 John 3:16 ~

So why do we suffer?  Volumes have been written on this subject, but let’s consider a few answers and see if they satisfy our need to understand God’s ways:

  1. This world is fallen …
  2. We may need correction …
  3. We are being prepared for our future assignment …
  4. Suffering builds our faith …
  5. Others are watching how we react …
  6. Suffering may be the first necessary step to getting to success …
  7. The answer from God is either No or Not now …

Now look back on some of your sufferings and ask yourself if those thoughts help in any way?  If they don’t, then I would offer an additional thought to consider that we can only take in by faith:  If we knew what God knows, everything would make sense; therefore trust God!

Do you consider God trustworthy?  That is what it all boils down to … Is He as good as His Word?  Your answer to that particular question is the most important decision you will ever make.  God loves you and demonstrated that on the cross of Calvary.  That is a hard fact you can take to the bank.  Trust in God and in the end you will be glad for every step He has taken you on in your journey; no matter how rocky the road.  I can personally attest to God’s faithfulness in my life and hope you can too.

Scripture tells us that King David was a man after God’s own heart.  Here is what he was thinking as he went through some very troubling times in his life.  I pray it will help you as it has helped me when I had to look up to see bottom.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

~ Psalm 23 (NIV) ~

 

 

Cast Aside

A recent issue of National Geographic Magazine disclosed that Michelangelo’s great work, entitled David, the 17 foot tall masterpiece carved out of a single block of marble, was fashioned out of material that other artists had discarded because they deemed it unfit to work with. Today this work resounds in history as one of the most outstanding artistic creations ever fashioned by man. This reminds me of what the Psalmist prophesied concerning Jesus.

“The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.” ~ Psalm 118:22-23

This story is replete with irony in that King David, who was the subject matter of Michelangelo’s creation, was also a flawed man.  He was a poor father, an adulterer and even a murderer but God had a plan that superseded David’s shortcomings.  What enabled the fulfillment of this master plan despite David’s weaknesses? The answer is revealed in the New Testament book of Acts (13:22) where we read that David sought with all of his heart to follow God.  He failed often but his failures were not fatal.

God had a plan for His beloved Son Jesus as well, which was established in eternity past and no one could negate it; not even all the demons of Hell. The crucifixion of Christ made it seem to some that Jesus had not succeeded in His mission. But just the opposite was true.  For had not Christ suffered and died on our behalf, there would never have been the redemption of humanity. What may look like failure to men often looks very different from God’s vantage point.

In the same way God has a plan for you and me. What He has in His heart to perform will come about no matter how unlikely it may seem to us. You have tremendous potential and purpose that is uniquely designed for your life. Knowing God and fellowshipping with Him will allow you to participate in God’s plan to the fullest extent possible so that not only does His plan come about, but it will be beneficial to the greatest possible extent. Don’t run from God’s will or merely accept it; embrace it with all your heart!

God never makes a mistake and even our greatest failures have been accounted for in His master plan. Take heart. You will never be cast aside if you belong to God.  Dedicate yourself to serving Him as did both King David and Jesus – his Greater Son.

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.”

~ Psalm 37:23-24 (KJV)

Attitude Determines Altitude

The Way Up Is Down …

You have heard that attitude is everything … right?  Well it’s true!   Let me tell you why that is so.  Psychologists tell us that it is not actual reality but how we perceive reality that is the most important factor.

In our model Jesus, we can see this perfect example.

Philippians 2:5-11 (KJV)

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

What words come to mind as you meditate on this passage?  Humility…  surrender… exaltation… those are some which come to mind for me.  Let me answer my question with another question:  How was it possible for Christ (the God-man) to be so yielded to God that he could be perfectly aligned with his Father’s will?  Set aside, if you can, the fact that he himself was God and concentrate on the fact that he was also fully man.  What can you and I learn from His example?  Can we get to a place in our personal life where we are fully directed by the will of God?  And if we can arrive at this place, how can we achieve this depth of Christian life? Do we even want to follow Christ that closely?

Paul said that he wanted this kind of walk with Jehovah God.

Philippians 3:10-12 (KJV)

1That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

Let us join Paul in making this our goal and pursuit.  God is willing if we are. Do you believe that?  What stands in our way?  If we begin with the attitude of Christ and believe that no price is too high, we are well on our way to the heights which only heaven can offer.

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” ~ Philippians 4:13

Where would you like to start in your own life? Let’s begin by listing the top 3 or 4 areas of our life where we tend to be least spiritually submissive to God. What kind of strategy can we put into place to move us in the right direction? Do you have an accountability structure? Can you memorize Scripture that references your battles? What other ideas can we build into our life to assist in this pursuit? Give this discussion serious consideration because your attitude will determine your altitude.