It’s Not Magic. We all have one thing in common, how to keep sin out of our lives? Even the Psalmist asked the question: “how can a man keep his way pure?” [Psalms 119:9 NIV] Then he turned right around gave the answer by saying “by living according to your word.” Our world is full of “how to” books and seminars. The most consistent answer to living as God would want us to live, is by realizing that it’s only by a divine intervention that man can shape his character so that is pleasing to God. God has provided us that divine intervention. It’s not magic. How do we do it? Be intentional about living according to God’s word. We start the process and God does the rest.
For example, suppose at the beginning of the New Year I make a resolution. I am never going to look at pornography again, ever. But that resolution soon gets broken. The problem is I am seeking God with my head and not my heart. It’s easy to agree with God’s word in my head. But it’s in the heart where God makes the changes. Jesus makes it clear that it is from the heart where the “want” to look at pornography comes from, along with every other sin. God has the solution for us.
Memorization is one of the most effective tools God provides for us in combating sin. “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against You.” But you might say “Well memorization is something you do with your head.” And you’d be correct. But here’s what happens. As we memorize God’s word we are actually hiding it in our heart. The Holy Spirit can remind us of how He wants us to live. It’s at that point that we have the opportunity to meditate on what we memorized. IF we choose, we can apply it to our lives. As we go through the process of considering what we memorized and considering what God is telling us, we gain the opportunity to try to apply it to our lives. And here is what’s really cool. One outcome is discovering that we are changing. We start delighting in reading His word. And the more we work the process the more we find that we will not neglect finding time get into His word.
The process memorizing, meditating and applying God’s word is much like the old illustration but we’ve all heard. A glass of muddy water stands on the counter. Move the glass under the tap and let the tap run water into the glass. Eventually the running water will push out the dirty water. As we fill our life with God’s words, the pressures of sin become negated and pushed away, replaced by God’s word. “I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.” [Psalm 119:15-16 ESV]
Here are four things that from my experience I can count on:
- When I meditate on God’s precepts [directions for living] this affects my thoughts.
- When I fix my eyes on God’s ways this changes my attitude.
- When I delight myself in God’s statues [God’s permanent rules established to govern my internal life] this affects what I strive for.
- When I make a conscious effort not to forget God’s word, this changes what I remember; old things get nailed to the cross and God makes things new in my life.
Like I said the beginning this is not magic. God wants to support me changing my life. All He wants me to do is to start the action. Listen to the Psalmist: I seek…, I have hidden…, I rejoice…, I meditate…, and I delight. [vs. 10, 13, 14, 15 & 16] Only I can start the process of exchanging my dirty undrinkable water with His clean living water, Jesus. What are you waiting for?
It is all about the heart. Solomon comments that “A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.” [Proverbs 15:13 ESV] A heart restored is a heart that can experience peace. A glad heart is a choice. God is as in Christ given us what we need to be His icon in the world. We are image bearers of the Creator Sovereign King. There is no magic in living the Christian life. There is no magic in walking with God. There are only two choices for or against God. We either choose to trust Him or to reject Him.
Think about it. If we refuse to trust God [Usually we say that it’s too hard.] we are choosing to reject Him. All our struggles and angst is caused by our moment by moment choices. It’s not rocket science. The same choice that we made at our conversion is the same type of choice we make in choosing to trust or reject God in each circumstance of our life. What makes life hard is trying to go it alone. Buddy Greene in one of his songs has this line: “Faith is not counting on me.” Faith always requires a choice. People say “I can’t have faith because I have too much doubt.” Guess what! Faith is not faith without the possibility of doubt. Without doubt, without something opposing faith, saying we believe God really amounts to nothing more than a nice platitude of words; is nothing but God talk.
When life comes crashing in on us and we are choosing life with God, we will have a cheerful face. It is the result of trusting God that His way is the perfect way. The cheerful face is a outward sign of an inward sense of peace that God promises to those who continually choose to trust him when life is hard. To quote Tom Hanks in the movie A League of Their Own:
Jimmy Dugan: … Baseball is what gets inside you. It’s what lights you up, you can’t deny that.
Dottie Hinson: It just got too hard.
Jimmy Dugan: It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.
[ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104694/quotes ]
It is the same with walking with God in faith. If God made life easy we would have no reason to trust Him. If the Christian life was easy, everyone would be following hard after God.
One final thought. Have you considered the implication of saying “I believe God.” What are we really saying? We are saying that we trust in, rely on and adhere to all that God does in our lives. We are saying that we are trusting God that he knows best even when it seems counterintuitive. We are saying by our actions that we are relying on his wisdom is life unfolds and not trying to countermand his purposes for us. And finally by saying we believe God we are moving closer to God in the midst of trial and not further away. We bring much sorrow into our lives after by not allowing God to work with us. When we try to go it alone we end up with crushed spirits. Life can be more than we can bear. Trust Him today and He will give you a ‘glad heart makes a cheerful face.’
Col 3:5 “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you…”
It is difficult to live as a living-dead man. The seat of my desires shows itself in the different parts of my body. I like the old English word “members.” My body is composed of different members. All of the members are subject to earthly desires. The eye is different from the hand. The brain is different from the mouth. Yet the eye, brain, mouth and hand all feed information to the seat of my desires. This is where “sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness” are fed to the seat of my desires. In the Garden, where perfection reigned, the information flow was untainted. But the proverbial “I” rebelled and garnered the wrath of God. “I” was expelled. “I” now became a creature of idolatry. Now I live, as a citizen outside of the Garden, in a body of members who tainted by earthly desires that are hostile to a holy God. And the only remedy is death, but to not the physical members, as that would harm or even kill me. It is the seat of desires that will be dominated and killed. It is a beast; a wild horse that refuses to be broken. As anyone knows who has been horseback riding. The reins are for keeping the horse from running away with the rider. By denying domination to the seat of my desires I keep the control; I keep rein over influence of my members from running away with me. My experience teaches me that not putting to death this pale horse allows it to gain power and morph into a raging bull elephant. It is warfare. In warfare, you kill the enemy bent on killing you before he succeeds.
“…the word of the Lord stands forever…” 1 Peter 1:25
As a new Christian I some older Christians challenged me to develop the habit of reading my Bible daily. I took up the challenge eagerly. About half way through reading the Bible cover to cover, I suddenly wondered “What am I going to do after I finish … there will be nothing left to read!” I asked my Christian mentors and they said something like “You could read the Bible for a lifetime and not ‘scratch the surface.” At the time I did not believe them. But over the years I have found that there just is no other book like the Bible. In my 70 years of living I have found no human being that would have written a philosophy for living to such a high standard. The Bible speaks from outside the human condition. I think that it was Martin Luther who said: “The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me.” I have found that the Bible creates a sense of God’s presence that forces a reaction in public places. I can lay a newspaper on my table in a Starbucks and no one gives me a second look. However, when I lay my Bible on the table I get looks. Some see the Bible and then stare as they walk by as if I am going to jump up and preach! So for the last 50 years I have worked on maintaining a daily reading schedule. The Bible is and will be the last word. ‘The Word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us to what we really are’ (Hebrews 4:12 NLT).
“Worship God.” That is the final command in the Bible. [Rev 22:9] The wisest man in the Bible said that the only duty of man was to “…fear God…” as that was the conclusion to the matter of our living life. This does not require brains, money, political power or education. All it requires is my heart…to love God with all my heart and mind.