Running my race. Sometimes I do well; too often I do not.
I have recently, again and again, fallen short of the Glory of God.
I am a sinner.
I have hurt others, and I have been hurt by Christians I look up to and admire. And I have used that as an excuse to sin even more.
How did all this happen, I wonder. Maybe you wonder, too. Well, it was all too easy.
A lot of it happened through social media. Through the news. And most terribly – in my own heart.
Friends I admire and look up to would send me jokes about democrats, and I would laugh – some of them were really funny. And some of these were not just funny, some were also quite nasty.
Other friends would send me descriptions of religious republicans and the twisted things some of them are encouraging, and I would agree.
Friends from different parties would send me news articles. Too often full of truths that make my heart recoil. And too often — one sided or twisted versions of events. And I would agree for a while, before I saw more broadly and inclusively.
Friends with high ideals and good reasons sending me twisted, one sided, soul shrinking propaganda. And I would read and agree for a while. Until….
Everybody has good reasons. Too often amplified beyond reason – the kind of thing that gives opportunity to unclean spirits. Too often twisted, to make a point. Too often so one-sided as to be sinful in themselves, yet very convincing.
And here I am, a well meaning feckless chameleon; first agreeing with this and seeing it clearly. Then agreeing with that, and seeing that clearly. Boy, talk about being double-minded. I’m an expert. A friend tells me the Greek literally means two-minded, a person with two minds – actually two souls.
I have lost all sense of proportion and of the larger picture: I am bound by love, previous repentance, and duty to a King and Kingdom that is at hand: Immanuel and his Kingdom. How often do I forget the Good News of the Kingdom? Too often.
I get caught up being for this or for that; or against this and against that. As though these were my first allegiance. I forget Whose I am.
I have sinned. Repeatedly. Forgetting Whose I am, forgetting the Kingdom and Immanuel. My first allegiance. I am ashamed.
So I again repent and ask for more of Holy Spirit. For help to live not for what I eat or drink but for righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Putting the Kingdom first.
Lord, help me be a beneficial influence in the culture that surrounds me, influence, share and spread the Kingdom of God. And to do this first, before and more strongly and with more skill, love and determination – than any good thing I do in well intentioned and wordly politics. Help me follow Holy Spirit so well and so much that I am full of Fruit of the Spirit. Love, self-control, kindness, patience…and control my tongue.
The Untamable Tongue
3 My brethren, (A)let not many of you become teachers, (B)knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. 2 For (C)we all stumble in many things. (D)If anyone does not stumble in word, (E)he is a[a]perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. 3 [b]Indeed, (F)we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. 4 Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires.5 Even so (G)the tongue is a little member and (H)boasts great things.
See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6 And (I)the tongue is a fire, a world of [c]iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it (J)defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of [d]nature; and it is set on fire by [e]hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. 8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, (K)full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made (L)in the [f]similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? 12 Can a (M)fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? [g]Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.
Heavenly Verses Demonic Wisdom
13 (N)Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have (O)bitter envy and [h]self-seeking in your hearts, (P)do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 (Q)This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For (R)where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17 But (S)the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, (T)without partiality (U)and without hypocrisy. 18 (V)Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Half the country is upset, and half the country is feeling glad.
Here’s a very, very radical idea: love everyone.
Love your favorite politician. Love the opposition. Love followers of each of them – all of them. I didn’t say you should or have to agree with them!
So calm down and try it again if needed: love everyone! You don’t have to agree with anyone you don’t want to. You don’t have to like or love their positions. You just have to love God with all your heart, soul and strength; and others as yourself – and please love yourself with the God kind of love.
Agape everyone. Your politician. (Yes, I know you’re not as attached when you do this; it’s all right.) The opposition. Yes, you really can do it; or it would not be the most important commandments. Love everyone. God, your politician and followers, the opposition and their followers. Agape them all. God first, everyone else second. Everyone.
Yes, that’s right, everyone!
And you don’t have to agree with anyone that you don’t want to.
Agape. You can do it. And when you have difficulty, ask for help.
Ask for more of Holy Spirit; receive with faith – already given! Follow Holy Spirit. Express love out of your New Person, to everyone. The generous, God kind of love.
Now go ahead and disagree all you want. Just keep agape – for everyone! What a radical idea. Doing as Jesus says. Radical.
In the culture of the Old Testament, normally people were considered clean, unless they came into contact with the unclean, such as by touching a dead body.
(Various bible translations use “Holy” and “Clean” for the same word; and “Unholy” and “Unclean” for another word. For me, “Holy” is more powerful; and “Clean” is more clear. Which words do you prefer?)
There is an important key principle here:the Unclean is more contagious than the Clean.
There is an important and parallel principle: When the Unclean came into contact with the Holy of Holies, the Unclean became Clean.
This is a ceremonial lesson about Jesus: who is the Holy of Holies and who makes clean whatever he comes into contact with.
So there is another important key principle here:the Holy of Holies is more contagious than the Unclean.
Which has important implications in healing and other ministry.
Jesus, his Anointing, and the Holy of Holies are a great context for ministry, such as preaching the Good News of the Kingdom of God, healing the sick or freeing the bound.
The Holy of Holies is a model of Jesus, who makes everything clean, who makes us whole, and who heals who has set us free. Jesus has overcome the world!
Help is closer than you probably expect, is easy, and quite rapid. When you do these two easy things:
Ask for more of Holy Spirit.You will receive. Guaranteed. (See Luke 11:11-13.)
Then follow Holy Spirit; intend to follow Holy Spirit. Ask Holy Spirit to help you follow Holy Spirit even more.
Yes, it’s this easy, just:
-1. Ask for more of Holy Spirit, and
-2. Deeply intend to follow Holy Spirit or even ask Holy Spirit to help you follow. (See Gal. 5).
That simple. Easy. Check – now you are more single-minded. You are not so overwhelmed and maybe not overwhelmed at all.
I do this to get help when I am too sad at the loss of my wife. I ask for more of Holy Spirit. Then, automatically, with zero drama, grief is small and Holy Spirit is huge. What a wonderful and easy transformation!
I am operating out of my New Self, not my old self. The same for you. New Self with Fruit of the Spirit, including –
Galations 5:22 – …the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control.
Our Lord cares about how you respond. While what happens to you is not always within your power to control, your response is always within your power. Why does Father care so much about your response?
It’s an opportunity for faith, which pleases God.
I hope I can learn this well and deeply, it will change my life and I believe it can change yours. And this lesson is being brought to me these days in multiple ways, and I would be foolish not to learn.
Worship is our key response. Which opens doors to so much else.
I got sick: this is a call to worship my Healer.
I had financial pressures: this is a call to worship my Provider.
I have a family member who is under tremendous pressures: this is a call to worship my Creator.
(My special thanks to Amanda Rankin who teaches such things as this and who provides timely, needed and loving reminders. May everyone be blessed to have a good friend like she is.)
See the pattern? Problems are literally a call to worship the One who provides help and everything that we need.
You could simply ask for help. Worship as a first response is better; not only is such worship an implied request, it has side effects on you: greater faith. Puts our Lord highest, instead of making idols in your heart out of what you desire.
Putting righteousness and the Kingdom first, all of these other things are added to you.
And…asking for help after you have worshipped connects you better to the One who Helps. Puts the King first instead of your need. Allows and assists you to receive help better from your Helper.
No evil can stand in or resist any aspect, nature or quality of God. No unclean spirit can exist or remain in God’s Glory — these are just too antithetical. Too different. It is impossible.
So…in the Glory or Presence of God, no devil, no demon; no evil or unclean spirit can remain – they are too opposite. Only God is bigger and more inclusive and wins every time. No evil can be equal to any nature or quality or aspect of Jesus, who is the perfect representation of our Father and who sends Holy Spirit to us.
How is this different from the promises of Psalm 91?
Go. Pray. Be secure and safe in the Presence and Glory of Jesus.