Be Patient, It Will Happen

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18 “So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.”

2 Corinthians 3:18, NLT

9 “Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.”

Colossians 3:9-10

“Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.”

Ephesians 4:22-24

The very essence of your discipleship is to change. Maybe that’s why we are still here on planet Earth. We’re simply learning to be like Jesus. Sometimes we can feel the swirl of frustration and depression. Why is it taking so long? We seem to go through the same lesson over and over again. As a bipolar person, I especially understand this, I ‘bounce’ through life without going anywhere. (I think some will relate.)

My sanity comes from God’s consistency—not my own. One name He goes by is the ‘rock.’ This comforts me a great deal. He stays faithful, even when I cannot or don’t. He is the singular stable point in the quicksand of living.

In the midst of stripping “off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds,” we will encounter opposition from evil. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil” (Eph. 6:11.) So the battle is within as well as without. I must remind myself of this.

“O God, if in the day of battle I forget You, please do not forget me.”

God supplies all that you need, in spite of these adversities. It can be hard, sometimes it seems like I’ve been ‘slathered in bacon grease’ and let loose in a tiger’s cage. But there can be no victory without opposition. There are three ways to implement sanctification (becoming Christlike.)

  1. You must ‘put off’ your sinful nature
  2. You need to ‘put on’ Christ
  3. You will have to be ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’

This isn’t a formula for Christlikeness; it’s more like lines to help you stay on the path–guidelines. Theoretically, we can simply give these a glancing assent. But that will ‘cut the nerve’ of any victory that you might receive.

One more thing. Prayer is the venue in which this almost always take place. Some pastors wield the need to pray like a club. This is most unfortunate (but be easy onpray1 them, they are still learning to shepherd God’s people.) Overlook much, but learn to pray. At its essence, it is just being alone with God for a few vital minutes. But it also can be more than that. It seems prayer is a ‘microcosm’ of your discipleship.

The struggle for holiness is first won in your prayer closet. There are no short-cuts to speak of— nothing quick or easy. But there are also no time-clocks to punch. Every person is different, but all believers will pray. Pray poorly, pray weakly–but by all means pray.

Be patient. Often it will take some time to make it become natural. There is much to learn and unlearn.

“Prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge for Satan. “

John Bunyan

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A Jubilate Discipleship: Psalm 95

Montage-Jubilate

A Psalms Study

“Come, let’s sing for joy to the Lord.
    Let’s shout praises to the Rock who saves us.
Let’s come to him with thanksgiving.
    Let’s sing songs to him,
because the Lord is the great God,
    the great King over all gods.
The deepest places on earth are his,
    and the highest mountains belong to him.
The sea is his because he made it,
    and he created the land with his own hands.

Come, let’s worship him and bow down.
    Let’s kneel before the Lord who made us,
because he is our God
    and we are the people he takes care of,
    the sheep that he tends.

Today listen to what he says:

Psalm 95:1-7, NCV

Such joy: it just bubbles through the words. This is a psalm saturated with excitement. These first seven verses are ‘carbonated joy.’ They pronounce an excitement of a living God that excels in every way. These are simple words made to escort us into a true worship, unlike any other. We might use the word, “jubilant” when hearing this psalm. And we wouldn’t be far off.

“The Lord is the great God,” and He is the King of any ‘so-called’ gods. Everything concerning the earth is His doing– for He created it, with His own hands! And our creating God is also our Shepherd, tending and caring for us as His very own flock.

These verses extol our God, to the point of exuberance. It channels us to the point of worship upon our knees, with the realization of the greatness of God. But this Psalm continues for four more verses.

Today listen to what he says:
“Do not be stubborn, as your ancestors were at Meribah,
    as they were that day at Massah in the desert.
There your ancestors tested me
    and tried me even though they saw what I did.
10 I was angry with those people for forty years.
    I said, ‘They are not loyal to me
    and have not understood my ways.’
11 I was angry and made a promise,
    ‘They will never enter my rest.’”

Psalm 95:7-11

There are two parts to Psalm 95. The first is of jubilant worship. But the second part emphasizes a solid obedience. The phrase, “Today listen to what he says:’ welds these two sections together.

Worship must always lead to obedience. You can do ‘cartwheels’ on Sunday morning, as long as you follow Him on Monday.

The issue is an history lesson that goes back to Israel’s days of Moses and the days following the Exodus. Because they were so hard and stubborn, they would wander for forty years in the desert. Their continued ‘stubbornness’ not only closed off the Promised Land, but also closed off their relationship with God— a relationship that would’ve been ‘jubilant’ and  profound (at the same time). They missed out on verses 1-6 and settled on verses 8-11. How tragically sad.

There is a thread that works through scripture called “the rest of God.” The book of Hebrews uses in 12x usually as a warning:“Now, since God has left us the promise that we may enter his rest, let us be very careful so none of you will fail to enter.” (Heb. 4:1).

 “Let us try as hard as we can to enter God’s rest so that no one will fail by following the example of those who refused to obey.”

Heb.4:11

To be in God’s rest is to be in harmony with Him. It is a mixture of confident faith mixed with a careful obedience. When you combine these two, you have the recipe for joy.

I believe this rest is the believer’s place of joy, peace and confident faith. It obeys because it really wants to. It is Psalm 95:1-7 in action. It is for the jubilant Christian.

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Tricycle Theology, Psalm 106:1-5

tricycle
Johnny’s new trike

A Psalm Study

Psalm 106:1-5, New Living Translation (NLT)

Praise the Lord!

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
    His faithful love endures forever.
Who can list the glorious miracles of the Lord?
    Who can ever praise him enough?
There is joy for those who deal justly with others
    and always do what is right.

Remember me, Lord, when you show favor to your people;
    come near and rescue me.
Let me share in the prosperity of your chosen ones.
    Let me rejoice in the joy of your people;
    let me praise you with those who are your heritage.

These five verses cap a “Psalm of Rebellion,” tragically found in part two of this psalm (vv. 6-46.)  This work dates to ‘post-exile’ times, and Daniel is believed to have written it. Nehemiah himself quotes from it as he intercedes for the nation upon Israel’s return from captivity.

But these five verses are very different from the rest of the Psalm. They ably serve as a positive introduction to some pretty depressing stuff. I like these first five, they carry a refreshing quality about them. I read them and I’m happy I did.

V. 1, Thanksgiving is to be a normal part of the believer’s life. Imagine little Johnny. He is celebrating his sixth birthday today. His uncle has brought over a gift—a bright red tricycle, with ribbons out of the handlebars! Johnny is estatic, he can’t believe it. Mom steps in and says to him, “What do you say, Johnny?” Johnny thinks. “Thank you, Uncle Ed. This is what I’ve wanted my whole life.”

If the truth be told, Johnny’s response to his uncle’s perfect gift is much like the believer’s response to God. “What do you say, Johnny?” Johnny’s mom would say— and that is what the little guy did. We are to also give thanks. To do is an easy thing, and perhaps does more for us than our Father in heaven.

V.2, “Who can ever praise him enough?” Excessive displays of affection are ‘nothing to roll your eyes at.’ Some wag defined a fanatic as “someone who loves Jesus more than you do.”

V. 3, is an observation by Daniel about the joy available to us if we will only work-out our issues of obedience. This verse might seem out of place, but I assure you its not. It fits in well with vv. 6-46.

V. 4, Remember me, Lord,” contains the desire to be included in the grace that will follow. We should let our heavenly Father know that we want to be part of what He is doing.

V. 5, “Let me” is repeated three times. This phrase is critical to the believer’s walk; it is a statement of submission combined with desire. The writer is asking ‘permission’ from God to become part of the aspects of His kingdom. Matthew 7 gives us the principle that God is looking for. So ask.

8 “For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Matthew 7:8

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