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signsofthetimes(A Brief Meditation on Psalm 46 and Matthew 24)

The way of grace teaches us that our hope for life begins in repentance. We prioritize out of necessity and for the sake of aligning ourselves with the truth.

We believe in the Lord Jesus Christ because man-made opinions and bubbles burst and the world tries to bustle us into becoming entangled with its causes, wars, and disputes. We believe so our ways might be exchanged for the ways of God, worldly reactions and responses exchanged for the will of God’s Kingdom.

We build up our faith because the systems upon which we lean and depend will be kicked out from under us. There will be divisions along ethnic lines and realms of thought.

We bless others in the power of the Spirit because a spirit of bitterness is taking hold of our society. There is a famine of taking in God’s Word.  We are called to move as free people, willing to let go of our own lives for the sake of those who are locked into their limiting fortresses of unbelief. We know soon all the vain things which leech and consume our attention will be consumed by God’s fiery judgment so while the light of grace still shines we are working.

We bring life in Jesus’ name to those pestered and plagued by sin, seemingly bound to turmoil, chaos, and unrest. We influence this wicked and perverse generation by the rest and stillness we have found in the presence of God. As we allow God to ascend in the midst of what we do, even the ‘fools who say there is no God’ may discover otherwise.

We breakthrough as the One whose name is above all names is exalted in our lives. Everything we know will be shaken including the ground upon which we stand. The confidence we carry is “The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” (Psalm 46: 7, 11)

onethingWhen God first calls us, Romans 8: 28 tells us we are called to live according to His purpose. Most just want to be energetic in their love for the Lord (and that’s important) but our will has a short shelf life. To achieve the calling of being energetic and entrepreneurial in our love, we have to undergo a shift from trying to empower ourselves to being empowered by the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that teaches and discloses and provides the energy for living according to God’s purpose in our lives.

The way of grace 1) Begins in repentance, 2) Believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, then 3) Builds up that most holy faith through prayer in the Holy Spirit. (Jude 1: 20-21) Notice, to keep ourselves in the love of God, there has to be more than just our energy in play.

Think for a minute on the words of Gary Keller and Jay Papasan in their blog, 3 Commitments that Lead to Extraordinary Results. “It’s the difference in mindset between ‘get it done’ and ‘get it done effectively,’ and it’s important because the ‘E’ approach will bring us to our limits very quickly. We all have natural ceilings on our ability, time and energy, and when we try to push through relying just on our natural tendency, we end up burning out or bumping up against challenges we can’t solve.

Shifting to the ‘P’ approach helps us take a step back, prioritize and think outside of our normal boxes to find innovative, effective solutions that take us to the next level.”

The next level in the pathway of grace is the place of 4) Blessing, then 5) Bringing Life, then 6) Breakthrough. If you are to reach those levels of mature service to the Lord, your mindset needs to shift from self-empowerment to Spirit-empowered.

Left to our own energy, it is almost inevitable that we will fall back into the way of sin. We will 1) Betray and fall short of our calling. We will get locked into a blind, 2) Biased way of doing things. When that doesn’t hold up we will move to 3) Blame and when our energy runs out short of fulfilling our purpose we will become 4) Bitter and get stuck replicating our own limitations.

• Are there any indicators in your life right now that you need to move from “E” to “P”, from self-energizing yourself to being empowered by the Holy Spirit?

• Have you put in a child-like request to the Father to give you a fresh experience of being soaked by the Spirit?

• Can you imagine yourself having received the Gatorade® shower of grace and being carried across the field as the winner and victor God wants you to be?

• Have you committed yourself to keeping God’s call and purpose being what continues to move you forward rather than the level of energy you have available at the moment?

pridequoteThe seed of sin holds its own destruction. When it first flowers you may not see it. In the beginning of sin, there is only the betrayal, the small failure, the falling short of victory. We feel the dis-appointment. We hopefully are conscious and aware that we have missed the mark. But, we’ve been told, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” So, one sin begets two; begets a thousand.

We got locked into a self-serving, sin-perpetuating biased way of doing things. At first, the dis-appointment nudged us towards introspection and evaluation. Now, it moves us to look for someone to blame.

True self-improvement will always pull us back towards humility and truly starting over. Sin with all its bitterness will simply demand repetition or recruitment of a crowd that agrees with us.

Pretty soon, a battle is being fought, sides have to be chosen.  Alignment to a path with those committed to breakthrough becomes impossible for us. Why? Because, we are no longer committed to breakthrough and newness of life. We are now committed to putting off and forestalling our breakdown and downfall.  This translates into a commitment to destroy anything or anyone who will once again expose our dis-appointment.

To what are we appointed? The Bible says, we  are all appointed to death and after that the judgement. (Hebrews 9: 27) But, what if that judgement had already been borne by someone else? Indeed, it has been. “so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” (Hebrews 9: 28)

For those, who await a different outcome, it is not too late for you. Today, if you will hear God’s voice, the offer of grace stands.  Yes, you are appointed to death but come before the Lord in humility and repentance and let that death be a death to self, a confession of your sin, and a turning to the Lord that uproots you from the life you’ve lived up til now and roots you and grafts you into God’s kingdom.

Yes, you will still be fighting a battle but this one will begin in humility.

responsibilityIn a word, we have one responsibility as a person of faith: FOLLOW! That’s it. We don’t have to make up anything. We don’t have to justify or defend what we do. We don’t have to tell anybody else what they have to do. We just need to follow.

The good news about following is we don’t have to create the path or set the goal.The bad news for some of us is, if our one responsibility is to follow, our intentions – our why we do what we do – doesn’t matter. Our intentions have no bearing on anything at all unless our only intention is to follow.

Let me explain. The way of sin follows a very predictable path. It always begins in betrayal. That betrayal locks us into a self-serving biased way of doing things. That bias will look for someone to blame when things don’t hold up. Blame will give way to bitterness. Bitterness will move to bloodshed and bloodshed will bring us to the breaking down point of judgment where the cycle of sin carries us from deceit to destruction again and again.

Now, if I am rooted in my betrayal or bias or blame or bitterness will any amount of good intentions keep me from avoiding the inevitable result of sin in my life? No, if you are rooted or tied to sin (no matter your intentions) the results will be the fruit or wages of sin.

Let’s say you join a group whose stated reason for existence is to protest or blame someone for some terrible thing they are doing. Where will that protest take you?…

Wait a minute, let’s get grace up in front of our eyes to weigh what will happen in our hypothetical. Grace always begins in repentance as we are bound in alignment to the will greater than our own – to the Lord. Grace calls us to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ so we can have a means of exchange to move off of following our will to following the word of Jesus. Grace then builds up our most holy faith giving us the means to take responsibility for everything in our lives. Building up our faith produces blessing as we are led by the Holy Spirit. Blessing brings forth life as we give and sacrifice our lives in the following of Grace. Finally, we break through into newness of life, bringing better solutions to the mis-alignments and problems we face tomorrow.

Now, back to our protest. How will you take responsibility to make things better by following in solidarity those who follow after blame? You say you have the intentions of grace on your side. It doesn’t matter. Intentions don’t matter. Whose band wagon are you riding? Riders don’t steer the wagon, they just ride. They might be loud riders. They might insist the wagon head for a particular destination but their words are in vain.

So, if you are going to be carried along by the movements and currents that are at work in the earth make sure you’re riding in the stream of the gospel and your one responsibility is to follow Jesus. Do not be deceived. God is not mocked. To whatever you root yourself to follow, regardless of your intentions, out of what you follow the fruit will come.

 

Have you ever played pin the tail on the donkey?  You don’t appreciate the accuracy of your aim or the lack of aim you have until the blindfold comes off.  This is much the same way with grace.  Before we appreciate and appropriate grace the blindfold needs to come off and we see by the revelation of God’s gracious Spirit the nature and scale of our sin.  “We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3: 23)  To appreciate that we miss the mark comes right beside recognizing the goodness of God in leading us towards repentance.

Until, we admit that we miss the mark and our life is lived out of congruence with the glory of God we remain in darkness.  Our roots remain unexposed, covered over with apathy, disobedience, deceit, and unbelief.  The ax of repentance strikes a very dull surface and our heart remains unchanged.

Awaken fully to the nature of sin.  It has a one-track existence that runs from deceit to destruction.  It always 1) Begins in Betrayal.  It locks us into a self-serving 2) Bias.  That won’t hold up in the light, so unless it moves towards repentance it will follow a very predictable trajectory towards 3) Blame.  Blame unrepented of will bring forth 4) Bitterness.  Bitterness unresolved will lead to 5) Bloodshed and bloodshed will bring us to a 6) Breaking point of judgment.

If you do not stand in the grace of Jesus Christ today, trusting Him for the forgiveness of your sins and for the fulfillment of your life as your Lord and Saviour, you are still walking blind down the pathway of sin.  This principle and corrupting power of missing the mark desires to acclimate you to its way.  You must master it.  You must tear the blindfold off and humble yourself before the Lord in repentance. Continue to yield yourselves to the Lord daily as an instrument of grace rather than yield yourself to sin.