I ask You, Lord to “teach me to do Your will, for You are my God.” I pray, “May Your gracious Spirit lead me on level ground.” I trust You Lord to help me navigate the rough places in my life; and make them as if they are “level ground.” You promise me this, O Lord, saying, “I go before you and level the mountains; I break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. I give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I Am the Lord, who summons you by name.” (Isaiah 45: 2 – 3) You promise to be there with me even in “darkness;” to show me the “riches stored” in unexpected situations. I am able to rejoice in moments of pain, knowing that You are in control, that nothing takes You by surprise, that You are the One who steers my course; that You have plans for me, plans for good and not for evil.
You say to me, “I take you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I call you. I say, ‘You are My servant;’ I chose you and do not reject you. So do not fear, for I Am with you; do not be dismayed, for I Am your God. I strengthen you and help you; I uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41: 9 – 10) God promises to “teach me to do” His will; He promises to give me His Holy Spirit who “leads me on level ground.” God promises to level the rough places, and to break down the barriers in my life.
Hallelujah! God comes to set me free; and I am free indeed.
Jesus says, “If anyone loves Me, he keeps My Word. My Father loves him, and We come to Him and make Our home with him.”
“As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be committed and repent. Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I come in to him and have dinner with him, and he with Me. The victor I give the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I also won the victory and sat down with My Father on His throne.” (Revelation 3: 19 – 21)
Belief, commitment, endurance, repentance under discipline, listening, opening, communing — these are the keeping of God’s Word of which Jesus speaks.
Jesus commands us to listen. We are reminded to be still and know God. His Word speaks to us in stillness and silence. “If anyone hears My voice,” says Jesus. Without hearing, how can we believe? Open the door when He knocks; let Him come in. Sit at His feet, and listen.
Love “does not keep a record of wrongs.” Forgiveness is like erasing a blackboard of chalk; then cleaning it so that it is black (or green) again. Forgiveness creates a blank slate. God says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far do [I] remove [your] transgressions from [you.] As a father has compassion on his children, so [I] have compassion on those who fear [Me].” (Psalm 103: 12 – 13, NIV)
God “knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.” (Psalm 103: 14) And, God “does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.” (Psalm 103: 10)
Jesus says, “Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6: 37) He says, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?” (Luke 6: 32) Anyone is capable of being kind to those who are kind. Jesus calls on us to even love our enemies. He tells us,”Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6: 36) And, He warns us that God will not forgive us if we refuse to forgive others; for this means we have no concept of God. We — if we live in a spirit of bitterness and hatred of others — do not know that “God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.” (1 John 4: 16, HCSB)
How many times are we to forgive one who wrongs us? Jesus says, “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and comes back to you seven times, saying, ‘ I repent, ‘ you must forgive him.” (Luke 17: 3 – 4, HCSB)
Those whom God has forgiven much, love much. “But the one who is forgiven little, loves little.” (Luke 7: 47, HCSB)
Paul calls us to “keep before [us] an outline of the sound teaching [we] hear from him.” He tells us to “guard the treasure put into our charge, with the help of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us.”
The sound teaching of Paul is what we must guard — this is a treasure beyond compare. Paul is able to say this because he knows that his teaching is directly from God. He meets the resurrected Jesus on the road to Damascus. He travels to the “third heaven.”
What a weight! No wonder God allows a “thorn in the flesh” to keep Paul humble.
Paul also knows that “among [sinners he] stands first.” He says, “But I am mercifully dealt with for this very purpose, that Jesus Christ might find in me the first occasion for displaying all His patience, and that I might be typical of all who are in future to have faith in Him and gain eternal life.” (1 Timothy 1: 15 – 17)
Paul is telling us, “If I am saved, then anyone can be saved.”
Jesus says it a bit differently, “With men it is impossible; with God, all things are possible.”
Here is the good news – the gospel of Jesus Christ; this is the treasure we must guard.
“I Am the Lord your God; I teach you for your own advantage and lead you in the way you must go.”
If someone leads me on a path that is the “way [I] must go,” I better follow. If this path is “for [my] own advantage,” then the only reason I might not follow that path is if I do not fully trust the one who is leading.
Peter steps out of the boat during the storm to walk for a short while atop the waves. Then he looks around, sees the storm and allows his fear to destroy his trust in his best friend – his Savior and King – causing him to sink beneath the water. Peter briefly trusts Jesus, then loses that trust. He stops following.
God “ransoms His servant[s]. Though He leads them through desert places they suffer no thirst, for them He makes water run from the rock, for them He cleaves the rock and streams gush forth.” (Isaiah 48: 20 – 21)
God says to us, “If only you listen to My commands…” (Isaiah 48: 18)
“The earth is full of Your never-failing love,” O Lord. Nowhere we might go, nowhere we might hide can we escape God’s love. His love finds us out.
Adam hides from God in the garden of Eden after he and Eve sin; and God finds him. Moses runs away after he kills in anger, and God finds him. Hagar wanders into the desert after Sarah threatens her, and God finds her. Jonah winds up in the belly of a great fish after refusing to preach to Nineveh, and God finds him.
We are incapable of successfully hiding from God. Even in our darkest hour, God is watching.
“For nothing is hidden unless it is to be disclosed, and nothing put under cover unless it is to come out into the open.” (Mark 4: 22)
“A man may think he is always right, but the Lord fixes a standard for the heart.”
A person justifies his acts to himself. For example, if you are running late to an important meeting and many are waiting on you, is it right to run a red light if there are no cars coming in either direction? Some say, ‘Yes.’ Others say, ‘No.’ Some are just bewildered, knowing they’d consider running the light.
Whatever you decide, you justify your decision to yourself as the correct one. Otherwise, if you are like most people, you won’t do that which you’ve decided is wrong. In order to commit an illegal or immoral act, you must first decide it is ‘not so bad,’ ‘the correct or better thing to do in this situation,’ or ‘okay because everyone else is doing it.’
You see yourself as being in the right.
“But the Lord fixes a standard for the heart,” writes Solomon. Jesus knows that it is what comes out of the heart that defiles a man. And, unfortunately, a person’s heart is deceitful above all things, says Jeremiah.
God’s standard is high; fixed so high we can not attain to it. We must place ourselves under the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ where God’s mercy overshadows us. Here we are justified not by ourselves, but by God Himself. Rejoice! I say again – Rejoice!