The Ups and Downs of Life

rcWhen I was a freshman in college, one instructor required his students to memorize a motto of his.  I did, and I have never forgotten it:  It’s not what I can remember, but what I can never forget that constitutes knowledge; therefore, drill, drill, drill, and review, review, review.

Over the years I have been able to memorize many Bible verses, because I drilled and reviewed them until they were tucked away in my mind.  One of these is Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

When I meditate on a particular verse of Scripture, I focus on the individual words within the verse so I can understand the specific meaning of each one of them.  The word “through” caught my attention this morning, so I reflected on some verses that use this word:

  • God led Moses and the Israelites through the Red Sea on dry ground (Exodus 14:22).
  • The Israelites were led through the wilderness (Deuteronomy 29:5).
  • In Psalm 23, the Good Shepherd leads His flock through the valley of the shadow of death.

There are times when life seems like a roller coaster and you are tormented by a series of bone rattling, and hope shaking ups and downs.  These are the times that you need to kick the “I can’t” thoughts in the seat of the pants, and focus on the “I can” of Philippians 4:13.

 

The you should review its truth and drill its meaning:

  • Through Christ, I find the strength to face the obstacles of life.
  • Through Christ, God lavishes me with his strength to overcome (Ephesians 1:7-8).
  • Through Christ, you are blessed with God’s unwavering love and mercy (Psalm 103).

When you live your life through the strength of Christ, you will be thoroughly blessed:

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;

when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,

    and the flame shall not consume you.  ~Isaiah 43:2

Hoarding The Holy

 

stack-of-books1Be honest, do you live a “keep-it-just-in-case” life?  If so, you probably think of yourself as thrifty, but this rent-more-storage- mentality can come at a high price.

Because some people are so reluctant to depart with anything, their life is a huge, messy, and disorganized existence.  The International Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Foundation calls attention to this troublesome lifestyle by calling it hoarding and listing three criteria that defines it:

  1. A person collects and keeps a lot of items, even things that appear useless or of little value to most people, and
  2. These items clutter the living spaces and keep the person from using their rooms as they were intended, and
  3. These items cause distress or problems in day-to-day activities.

There is a classification of non-typical hoarders who are referred to as Bibliotaphs.  Their compulsion is to cache or hoard books, and they may even keep them under the security of lock and key.

From a Biblical perspective, the Bibliotaph can be thought of as being healthy. This is true in the limited sense of the Bible being memorized or hidden in your heart.  David confessed to being a Bibliotaph, and Joshua encouraged people to practice it as a discipline:

  • Psalm 119:9-11: How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!  Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.
  • Joshua 1:8: This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Clinging to the world’s goods will never fill the void in your soul, so avoid them and add God’s blessings instead.  Solomon gave this piece of advice that’s worth hoarding:

My son, do not forget my teaching. Let your heart keep my words.  For they will add to you many days and years of life and peace.  Do not let kindness and truth leave you. Tie them around your neck. Write them upon your heart.  So you will find favor and good understanding in the eyes of God and man.  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not trust in your own understanding.  Agree with Him in all your ways, and He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:1-6 NLV)

A Five-Five Relationship

3-9-12-CMI-hands_of_god_and_adam-400-300x250One of my favorite sections of Scripture is Romans 5:1-5, and I read it again this morning. I call it the 5-5, and I share it with you below:

“Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, 4 endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. 5 This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

In these brief verses, we find a long list of truths that provide the secret of our relationship with God through Jesus Christ:
• You are justified and declared righteous before God when you accept His son as your Savior.
• The initial result of your salvation is that you now have peace with God.
• As a child of God you have around-the-clock access to God—24/7.
• You can gain a better understanding of your affliction because hard times increase your endurance; the new found endurance builds character; and, Christ-like character produces hope.
• The hope within you is based on the love of God which has been “poured out” into your heart, and it is always available because the Holy Spirit now resides within you.

There is a reason I like to think of this section of Scripture as the 5-5. The 5-5 is a mnemonic that I use to help remind me of the relationship I have with God. SpeedLimitReduction55MPH Whenever I see a 55 MPH speed limit sign on the highway it reminds me of this Scripture and the peace I have with God through Jesus Christ.

God Remembers to Forget

elephantI’m glad God is no elephant when it comes to remembering my sin. Hebrews 8:12 comments on this: “For I will be merciful toward their evil deeds, and their sins I will remember no longer.”

It’s not a matter of God having a short memory, it’s the fact that when it comes to my sin He has amnesia. He has forgotten my sins; blotted them out; and, according Psalm 103:12, He has “removed our transgressions as far as the east is from the west.” God has done more than forgive my sins, He has forgotten them.

Listen to how Isaiah describes the work of God on our behalf: “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool (Isaiah 1:18).”

When God forgives you and forgets your sins, he changes your relationship with Him. He sees you as justified, glorified, and purified because of the sacrificial death of Jesus.
Because God gas forgiven and forgotten, He freshens: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).”

Here’s the good news: If your life is a mess, confess and profess. When you confess your sin, and profess Jesus as your Savior, God will bless.