Deeper into truth, closer to God, further into love, more of true life is the path of Kingdom kids. So much more of the unimaginable mystery in Christ to live and love His way, is heaven on earth. This is the joy unspeakable and a glorious, superior life of being grafted into the True Vine.
Within the struggle, stress, bother and buzz of making a living and getting ahead in life, we hear the wise words that rinse us like a gushing cool shower on a hot day.
Don’t lose your grip on Love and Loyalty.
Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart.
Earn a reputation for living well
in God’s eyes and the eyes of the people.
Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.(Proverbs 3:3-6, The Message)
The older version is well known:
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
The word for direct in Hebrew is: yeyasher (transliteration), which means to straighten, to smooth, to make right.
This is so contrary to what people around us say in conversations, formal seminars, and meeting agendas, absolutely everywhere. You have to be smart enough to figure things out. You have to make it on your own.
God will direct our paths. His hand will go before us. What a relief! He never asks us to switch of our minds, thinking or any operating or executing skills that we have, to do what we need to do. He will partner and guide in a surrendered life in love and grace. It is the guarantee for success. It is the assuranceof a reputation of living well in the eyes of the people as well as God.
God calls out to us: for joy – independent of circumstances, (Nehemiah 8:10)
for love – laying down His life and our trademark of love to one another.
To be a slave to God was a title of honour. Moses, Joshua, David and Paul all described themselves by this title.
Jesus comes with a new concept – even greater: you are friends.
Abraham was called a friend of God (Isaiah 41:8). God talked to Moses like a friend. (Exodus 33:11)
In Roman times there was a select group of “friends of the Emperor” who had access to the ruler at all times. He talked to them before he talked to the generals and government. It was the closest and most intimate circle.
Friends are invited into the presence to enjoy conversation. It is very different from being a slave.
A slave could not speak his mind to his master. Jesus calls us to be His partners in His work. Jesus shares His heart, which is the heart of God, with us, to become full partakers in His missionof living the law His love-kingdom on earth. A slave was a living tool.
We are His ambassadors. Just think of the tremendous risk He took. We are His representatives. Our fruit bearing is His advertisement in this world.
We are members of the family of God. Whatever we ask in prayer He is ready to answer. Our prayers are to be rooted in the Word of God.
Prayers of faith (James 5:15) are not merely routine rhymes with empty words. Our words are the root of our belief in God. (Hebrews 11:6)
We pray in the name of Jesus. We cannot pray against Him. It is not a magic phrase. The test of your prayer is to measure your words to His character.
Seek first the Kingdom of God…(Matthew 6:33) and the “other things” will be added unto you. How often our focus is on the “other things” when the character of Jesus taking shape in us through prayer, will give us all we ever needed and more than we ever imagined.
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! (Ephesians 3:20, The Message)
God is good – always. Our prayer for provision is always in His will. He knows best. It is at times hard to see and explain, but to God belongs the mystery. We carry His mysterious ways in us. It will always remind us that we cannot explain God. He is God. He is a good parent and He will not, like some earthly parents give a sports car to an irresponsible 15-year old, trying to show off without a driving license, for whom it might be fatal.
We live in contrast to the world. We can never be in harmony with the world. Our values and principles for living are in stark contrast. In the first century Christianity was punishable by death. In the words of the English poet Sir William Watson: the panting huddled flock whose crime was Christ.
What about today?
We have been warned. Jesus said we would be beaten and hassled. Today it happens, not only physically in some parts of the world, but also in words and deeds, when society is organized directly against God’s principles.
The Romans hated the Christians because they thought them to be disloyal. The empire was vast. The Romans didn’t know God and the Jews were not sharing. It is very understandable that the emperor should think he himself is god. Caesar-worship was a unifying factor throughout a diverse empire. The spirit of Rome was the goddess Roma, symbolized in the emperor. Rome brought justice, kept the various national rulers intact, dealt with pirates and robbers. It was widespread peace, the Pax Romana, and it made a difference to ordinary men’s lives.
Caesar worship began in Asia Minor. Nobody could stop the movement. The advantages as a unifying principle were clear. Once a year all non-Romans had to burn incense to the Emperor and declare Caesar is god. They got a certificate from the local magistrate or legal officer and could then go and worship anything they choose. This annual ritual was the root of the persecution of the Christians.
The Jews spread slanderous things about the Christians. Nero’s favourite actor and his adulterous empress, Poppaea, were Jews. They whispered in his ear against the new movement around Jesus.
Christians were accused of being:
- insurrectionaries because of their denial of Caesar-worship
- cannibals because of the doctrine of communion
- immorality because of the weekly meal called agape. The people greeted each other with a kiss of peace.
- incendiaries because they were looking to the second coming of the Lord. They foretold destruction with the help of the elements. Nero blamed them for the destruction of Rome by fire.
- divided families because Christianity sometimes brought division.
Today we experience a vicious attack against our values and way of life. It is a very different approach. Over many centuries society have felt judgment from organized religion. Now everybody wants to reject and trample the loveless religion that ruled. The secular world suspects the difference and non-conformity of true Christianity and hates the unavoidable judgment that true love has built in. The rejection of love is judgment. It is a natural consequence of the rejection and not intentional of the person that lives a godly life.
We have to live in the courage to be different. We know the truth. We have to live it in love and win the world with love.
Knowledge brings responsibility (John 15:22-25). Jesus brought us God’s heart. We have no excuse. We know what God is like. Why would we reject Him? Jesus showed us unconditional, divine love and grace.
Jesus exposed sin and provided the remedy for sin. Do we go to the doctor, get the diagnosis and then ignore the prescription?
Again – we are not alone. We do not need to do it on our own. We have the promise of the Father, the HELPER – the Spirit of Truth (John 15:26-27).
What a comfort! It is not our own efforts – it is surrender. It is the Holy Spirit who moves us to respond to Jesus.
Being a witness can only happen when we practice the fellowship and intimacywith Jesus that the Holy Spirit enables us to have. Thus we can say: this is true – I know it.
Spirit words communicate truth subconsciously.
Our inner conviction is true faith. It comes from the response to Christ so that the miracle in the inner man takes place.
Our testimony is the words we are speaking in truth. It is a privilege to bring people the good news. The world is waiting…