“LOOK – SQUIRREL”
The grass withers, the flower fades, Because the breath of the Lord blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” – Isaiah 40:7,8
On my grade one report card, my teacher, Mrs. Dolman, wrote that "Craig needs to focus more and not get so easily distracted." Back then (my daughter would tell you that it was a very long time ago) we did not have all the acronyms and abbreviations for that kind of behavior that we have today. But even today I am easily distracted and much prefer to start things and not have to worry about the details of finishing them.
We live in a world that is bent on distracting us and sadly that has become part of our spiritual journey and relationship with God. And if the distractions of the world are not enough, we have an incredible ability to create them, come up with excuses or just procrastinate getting things done.
We even get distracted within our belief structures, church life and relationship with God. I call it “doctrinal distraction.” There are so many tools available these days that it is often difficult to know where to begin in our attempts to pull ourselves from a spiritual slump or to find the necessary motivation to push through the tough times.
When money is tight should I read a book on prosperity or stewardship? When children are not listening, should I dive into a book on discipline or relationships? When marriage is the worst thing in my life, should I bury myself in a book on getting through divorce or one on submission?
So many Christians seem to exhibit an insatiable hunger to find the one devotional or one power phrase that will complete their Christian “quest” and make sense of their journey with God. Just as they feel they have found it, something happens that seems to make no sense and the quest begins again. In the process they miss some basic divine truths; truths that hold the key to solving both individual challenges and global problems. Truths that God Himself has wired into every one of us.
As individuals running in this sometimes seemingly endless hamster wheel of faith versus reality versus the self-help book we are currently reading, we begin to shape churches around how we feel, manufacture scripture that makes sense and create a journal of man-made doctrines. We find a set of activities that seems to fill our God need. These activities become our world; and then when we meet others who don't agree with our activities or have activities of their own that seem to fulfill them, we plant another church, give it a new mission statement and start the whole process over again: a process that is far from God and His principles and one that can easily be called religion.
The church cannot fulfill her destiny as the hope of the world if her individual members cannot grasp and practice life based on the basic principles of the God whom they claim to serve.
Our easily distracted mind, the self-oriented answers we offer or the abundant resources available are not the real problems. We have developed into a society that does not focus, study through and discover God's principles for themselves. Like my first grade report card said, we "need to focus more and not get so easily distracted." We seldom delve deeper than a feel good read or a temporary motivation.
But there is still a place where we can find out who God is and how He genuinely feels about us. There is a place that we can discover principles that have been put in place for our benefit that not even God would change. Principles that were so wise in their creation that they stand for all time. These principles were placed in us so that we could gain a sense of completion and wholeness. When we deviate from them we find ourselves in turmoil and disconnected from the peace that we were designed to enjoy. Scripture is the story of mankind wrestling with these principles and working through them. Scripture is not a set of rules and regulations, or even a set of principles imposed upon us. Scripture is God letting us know how he wired us and what principles were molded into who we are.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. - 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (emphasis mine)
We are made complete when we turn to scripture to find the answers, direction and the vision that we desire. Scripture connects what we know about God to what we know about ourselves. Rarely do we find a book that is able to completely revolutionize a community, that can directly highlight the error of our ways and passionately give us fulfillment and not fear: a book that, with some study, meditation and application, changes our lives so radically. But it’s not just the Bible that can change our hearts. We need to have a full revelation and understanding of who God is, how he sees us and how He has wired us to be. Otherwise we get right back to our search for the quick fix, and we will use the Bible to find scriptures or quotations to simply give us momentary answers to immediate problems or that temporarily fills some gap in our lives.
If God is to work powerfully and constantly in our lives, He is not only interested in the singular and isolated issues that we expect Him to solve, but He is concerned with our complete spiritual being, the complexity of who we are and who we are becoming. He loves the challenge of not just fixing the immediate problem–the miracles–but also finding a chain reaction of events that will constantly propel us into greatness and eternity—the blessing.
He does not just want to remove the pain of a lost loved one, He wants to see an entire family change despite the grief. He does not just want a church to hand out a piece of bread and a cup of soup to a few hungry children in downtown Johannesburg South Africa, He wants to see churches come together and transform the entire city.
He summed up His desire for us to catch the dream, when He asked us to pray “Let Your Kingdom come.” He wants us to desire far reaching, long lasting and earth shaking change that shouts out mighty messages of His glory. He does not want us to just settle for the warm feeling of a good read, the momentary motivation of a good sermon or the brief sense of belonging through the scheduled program of the local church.
God is a global healer. His touch is thorough, deep and complete and leaves no part of us unaffected. Our worship of Him and obedience to His ways exposes us to a cause and effect on a Divine scale. A single act of obedience sets off a chain reaction of supernatural interventions in multiple areas of our lives.
I have been blessed to counsel many people and have seen one singular truth that in most cases has unlocked not just a revelation of the immediate solution to a problem, but in keeping with the wholeness of who God is, has reshaped entire lives.
When we begin to understand the principles of who God is, and who He is in us, then we begin to understand that those principles, when implemented, affect every area of our lives, not only through their simplicity, their practicality or their relevance, but also by their total and global effect on our lives and our walk with God.
We can run around like chickens without heads, reading this or watching that in an attempt to grasp what He means, who He is, what He is in us or we can stand tall, firm and triumphant knowing exactly what the Word is saying to us about the God we worship, and we can give our all to unashamedly worshiping him.
The Word is straightforward and true. His Word is constant and global, yet simple and comprehensible. It lasts forever. The plan, as laid out in Scripture, for relationship with God and blessings from Him, never changes. What it asked of servants in the days of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, it asks of us today. Where Adam and Eve failed, we often fail today. The consequences of ignoring its Truth are as dire today as they were then.
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