A policeman is supposed to uphold law. He would have a tough time doing that if he didn’t know or agree with the law that he is upholding. A surgeon is supposed to open and fix whatever has gone wrong in a human body. She would have a tough time doing that if she didn’t know anatomy or agree with the way it is supposed to work.
Even an artist has a set of ‘rules’ that ensure the music or paintings produced is pleasing to the eye or ear, and every mother knows she cannot use chopped cranberries to replace the chocolate when her children expect chocolate chip cookies.
Laws, rules, standards make a framework for nearly everything. I spent most of Saturday trying to fix a problem with my hubby’s laptop. Computers are not fussy; they merely operate according to a set of on/off switches and they all need to agree with each other. Otherwise, the machine does not behave in an expected and acceptable manner.
The physical world would be chaos without this framework. It is no surprise that the spiritual realm also has a framework, a set of principles that keep Christians on track with God. Because of these, I am guided into a walk with Jesus Christ that not only pleases Him but gives me great joy.
In general, a major principle is believing that God exists. Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Romans 1:19ff says that God makes this plain so we have no excuse for not believing it.
For those who accept that principle, two other principles come into play. One is that God loves us. This is most important, but also Satan’s target for an on-going lie. Deep in our hearts, we hear his suggestions every day. He points us to the trials of life, our messy culture, a trouble childhood or any number of negatives that seem to verify his lie. However, if we believe it and fail to abide by the reality of God’s love, we step outside that firm foundation and find ourselves unhappy and with all sorts of problems.
The second principle that believers in God need but struggle with is the one that says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) We deny it, or pass the buck, or make excuses, but without agreeing with this one, we put ourselves outside the framework of spiritual stability. We cannot be godly people without admitting our need for His mercy, grace and forgiveness.
Rather than write a book on this topic, today’s devotional helps me jump to the one for me today. Jesus is talking to His disciples . . .
“Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.” (John 14:21–24)
Knowing the commands of God is vital. Keeping them is more so. Living within this framework requires effort on my part. I must read and study the Word of God. I also need to pay attention to life’s lessons. Even more important, I must keep short accounts because knowing the will of God is for those who regularly confess their sin. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8) Having a pure heart is about short accounts as well. I must stay in a place of continual cleansing, a cleansing that comes to those willing to see and acknowledge all sin and selfishness.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
The idea of God living in my heart is mind-boggling yet my astonishment soon gives way to the responsibility of it. Because He is here, always with me, always loving me, how can I not pay attention to what He says and what He wants of me? The liar would suggest that God is not here, not loving me and His principles are harmful, not for my good . . . which is another principle of God’s kingdom — He loves me and wants good for me, not evil.
Obviously, this framework is built and maintained in a battlefield, a place of spiritual warfare. If I am going to fight and win, I must stick to the Lord’s rules of engagement.
Lord Jesus, I’m so thankful today for the grace You give, grace that keeps me where You want me, grace that rebukes, corrects, teaches, and fits me for the place that I am in, the place that You are in with me. Thank You for making Your home in my heart and for being a wonderful homemaker who knows how to continually dust and clean. Most of all, thank You for Your Word that fills me with instruction but also with an increasing love for You.