“I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad and my glory [my inner self] rejoices; my body too shall rest and confidently dwell in safety, for You will not abandon me to Sheol (the place of the dead), neither will You suffer Your holy one [Holy One] to see corruption. You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore. ” Ps 16:8 – 11
In many previous blog posts I have emphasized the fact that we should simplify our Christian vision and look away from all that will distract unto Jesus (Heb 12:1-2), who is the Author and Finisher of our faith. If you want to read more about this, look at some of the following posts: Sin-conciousness versus God-conciousness; Run your own race; Simplicity and Busy with too many things.
David believed the same principle – he mentions a few wonderful things based on the fact that he set God continually before Him (meaning He was aware of God, and only God – making Him his only focus). Nothing could move him (physically – dwelling in safety, or mentally – a body that is at rest). Happiness and fullness of joy followed him wherever he went.
By looking away from all that will distract unto Him, you will become aware of the true character of God. By seeing Him as He really is and continually hearing the right message, you will also be able to say that at His hand and through His doing there are pleasures forevermore.
I wonder who has more power? This is a silly question – yet so many Christians believe that the effect of Adam’s sin was more powerful than the effect of Jesus’ death on the cross.
The moment Adam sinned, death spread to all men. Death includes suffering, pain, disease, destruction – every kind of negativity and evil you can think of. Romans 5:12 also tells us when sin entered the world, death followed in its footsteps.
Jesus, on the other hand, brought life and restoration to all men. His death on the cross accomplished God’s plan to bring mankind back into the place he was before Adam fell into temptation. He uttered the words: “It is finished” with His last breath (John 19:30). Who are we to think that He did not really succeed? How can we believe that Adam’s actions had more power than the actions of the Son of God?
“But God’s free gift is not at all to be compared to the trespass [His grace is out of all proportion to the fall of man]. For if many died through one man’s falling away (his lapse, his offense), much more profusely did God’s grace and the free gift [that comes] through the undeserved favor of the one Man Jesus Christ abound and overflow to and for [the benefit of] many. Nor is the free gift at all to be compared to the effect of that one [man’s] sin. For the sentence [following the trespass] of one [man] brought condemnation, whereas the free gift [following] many transgressions brings justification (an act of righteousness). For if because of one man’s trespass (lapse, offense) death reigned through that one, much more surely will those who receive [God’s] overflowing grace (unmerited favor) and the free gift of righteousness [putting them into right standing with Himself] reign as kings in life through the one Man Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). Well then, as one man’s trespass [one man’s false step and falling away led] to condemnation for all men, so one Man’s act of righteousness [leads] to acquittal and right standing with God and life for all men.” Rom 5:15 – 18
We can believe (with total confidence) that the effect of Adam’s sin has been removed for all who believe in the sacrifice of Jesus. We don’t have to live in a mentality of suffering due to the fall of man – we can live in a mentality of victory and abundance, reigning as kings in life.
As humans we would feel very vurnerable if every man on street could read our minds. Imagine if every person you came into contact with knew everything about you – your personality, your dreams and secrets? With God, no fear is necessary.
“O Lord, you have searched me [thoroughly] and have known me. You know my downsitting and my uprising; You understand my thought afar off. You sift and search out my path and my lying down, and You are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue [still unuttered], but, behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.” Ps 139:1-4
God knows every single detail about you. He knows every thought, every worry, every aspiration – every hair on your head is counted. With God we should never feel exposed or vurnerable. Once you are born again, He immediately qualifies and accepts you as righteous, regardless of how ashamed you still are about your life or what He knows about you. He reached out to save you while you were in your worst condition – why would He cast you out now because you don’t think you are holy enough?
Share every single aspect of your life with God – even the parts you don’t feel proud of. Know that there is NO condemnation for those who are in Christ (Rom 8:1), and that you are free to BOLDLY approach the throne of grace!
What do you think about if I tell you NOT to think of a green donkey? No matter how hard you try, your mind will be filled with interesting images of a green donkey.
The same principle applies to sin-consciousness. Many churches (with the best of intentions) focus on eliminating the sin in the lives of Christians. The more these Christians are told NOT to do a specific thing, the more they will be inclined to focus on it and dwell on it daily. Before they know it, they will once again stumble into the trap that the Law sets. Paul preaches the same thing in Romans 7:
“But sin, finding opportunity in the commandment [to express itself], got a hold on me and aroused and stimulated all kinds of forbidden desires (lust, covetousness). For without the Law sin is dead [the sense of it is inactive and a lifeless thing].” Romans 7:8
Once again I want to direct you to the verse that will set you free: Hebrews 12:2. Throwing aside every hindrance (in this case, an obsession with sin and what you are doing wrong) while looking to Jesus is what will lead you to a life of victory. The end-result of this singular focus will be natural, spirit-filled living as Christ finishes the work that HE started in you. This was they way God intended it to be. That is why JESUS came to fulfill the law – and why the onus is not on you any more.
We cannot do it – but Jesus already did it!
Today I was filled with a renewed sense of wonder at the incredible creation that surrounds us. So much thought went into every detail – the ecosystem in which we are able to breathe, an earth from which we are able to harvest crops, a body which is a continuous miracle in itself…
We can sometimes get so used to the miracle of life surrounding us. It is easy to forget how incredible it is that our bodies can regulate temperature, breathe without concious thought and convert an apple into expendable energy (to name just a few)! We are truly spectacularly and wonderfully made!
There is so much to discover around us each day – God filled the earth with good things for mankind to enjoy. Take some time to just stand in awe of His creativity and wisdom each day. He will always reveal Himself to you.
“I know that You can do all things, and that no thought or purpose of Yours can be restrained or thwarted…Therefore [I now see] I have [rashly] uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” Job 42:2-3
Athletes cannot compete very well if they are constantly looking behind or around themselves to compare their race to the other athletes. They also won’t run very focused if they look to the spectators to see if they are enjoying themselves! Athletes need to clear their minds of all distractions in order to achieve the best possible result.
In the same way, as a Christian, you need to clear your mind of any comparison to other Christians around you. God has planned a unique ‘race’ or journey for you to enjoy, which is unlike any other person’s. Don’t waste your time fretting about how insignificant your are in comparison to others, or think you have accomplished more than they have.
If you are a preacher, don’t worry about the congregation and if they are enjoying themselves. The best you can offer the world around you is to look to Jesus, and make Him the sole focus of your Christian journey. He will finish the work that He started in you, and naturally touch everyone you come into contact with.
“Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection].” Heb 12:1-2
“For God so loved the world…”
We have heard the above mentioned statement so many times – but do we truly realize what it means? After the fall of man, God made a plan to restore mankind to Himself. He valued our relationship with Him so much that He had to do this. He was motivated out of love!
When we think about Jesus, and what He had to endure on the cross, we usually only see an image of suffering. Don’t get me wrong – the punishment He took upon Himself was the greatest sacrifice anyone could ever make – but the mindset from which He did it was joy.
“He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb 12:2
The joy of reconciling the world to Himself was what motivated Jesus. He did not do it reluctantly – He was aware of the fact that His sacrifice would completely cleanse and perfect all those who believe in Him, forever. This made the sacrifice worthwhile.
“For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.” John 3:16