Loving God’s Laws

Psalm 119:97-104 (NIV)

Oh, how I love your law! 
  I meditate on it all day long. 
Your commands are always with me 
  and make me wiser than my enemies. 
I have more insight than all my teachers, 
  for I meditate on your statutes. 
I have more understanding than the elders, 
  for I obey your precepts. 
I have kept my feet from every evil path 
  so that I might obey your word. 
I have not departed from your laws, 
  for you yourself have taught me. 
How sweet are your words to my taste, 
  sweeter than honey to my mouth! 
I gain understanding from your precepts; 
  therefore I hate every wrong path.

When I first read this, I think of folks that spend hours reading and studying their Bibles to know every last law in the Bible.  I found it suffocating!  Then I stopped and reflected on four short verses in the New Testament:
Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV)
Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

When I frame the Psalms in terms of this scripture, it takes on a totally different meaning.  

I do truly love that law, loving God and loving my neighbor.  Does it make me wiser than my enemies?  Of course, they want to kill me (here in the USA it is a figurative thing, not a physical thing), I want to love them and turn them into friends.  It is simple, not easy to love your neighbor, thus it isn’t always easy to keep from straying from the path of loving them.  Having lived out the concept of loving my enemy, I truly understand how very sweet the law really is!  And in the end, I do, truly hate it when I see others hating their enemy, it is so counter productive. 

Crucifying a Raise For God

Romans 8:15–17

15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

A small group I put together is doing a study based on the book Covenant and Kingdom.  Meanwhile my church, Mason Vineyard, is doing The Journey Home series (put together by Crossroads Church) which was inspired by the book From Spiritual Slavery to Spiritual Sonship.

As I was preparing for the small group tomorrow I looked up Romains 8:15,16, scripture The Covenant and Kingdom pointed to when discussing the mark of the Covenant.  It ties together the Spiritual Sonship concept of the Journey Home with the Covenant theme of the small group really well, so I looked it up.  What I find really fascinating, though, is verse 17.

The first thing I ran into is the concept of an heir.  It is a core theme of the Journey Home.  Think what it would be like to be Donald Trump’s heir, or maybe Bill Gates’ heir.  You would be set for life!  But we are not, we are something better, we are God’s heir!  That is a truly beautiful thing!

But wait… there is an ‘if’, a BIG ‘if’!  The if is, if we suffer with him (Christ).  The suffering of Christ always brings me to the crucifixion.  I always think of Mark 14:36 — “Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” The way I see it, verse 17 states if we want to be glorified with Christ, we need to crucify our will for The Fathers, exactly as Jesus did that Thursday night in the Garden of Gesemity.

Simple, not easy, but so well worth it:

I did that a little over a week ago when I choose to NOT leave my job.  My company was purchased by the leading competitor.  The leading competitor wanted to keep all of us , but I saw it as a great opportunity to move up in my career.  It is the classic case: I have been preforming a role in which I don’t have the official title, nor the pay, but I do have the experience.  The result in a new job with the title would be a 15%-20% pay increase.

I put myself out there and it seems that my skillset is highly sought after, fore my phone and email simply lit up!  Two weeks into the hunt I pulled the plug, I choose to crucify my desire/will of getting that 15%-20% raise in favor of God’s desire/will.

What was God’s will?  I realized that what had been giving me life at work was not the work, but the investing I have been doing in those around me, and it is starting to bear fruit.  It was clear to me that it is God’s will that I do not walk away from all the relational capital I have built up with my co-workers.  Walking away from that would be walking away from the inheritance God has for me.

What exactly is my inheritance?  I don’t know, all I know is that I am a child of God, and if I am willing to suffer my will for his, the inheritance is going to be far greater than anything I can imagine.  What was really cool, though, was that once I told my co-workers I was not leaving, and I told them why, I got to share in a bit of Christ’s glory.

Christ IS the center of everything!

God works through the Sinners, not the Pharisees

John 9:30-34

The man (blind man in which Jesus gave sight) answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” They (Pharisees) answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out. 

Last night was the first night of the Community Group I was part of in at my church, it turns out that I lead it.  It was one of those things where I knew I was one of the leaders, for the most part was driving things, but…  It wasn’t until I got there and all the other leaders were looking to me for what to do and when to do it, that it really hit me that I was the leader.

Well, I am a optimistic pessimist.  The pessimist part is the realization that I, like the blind man, have been born a sinner.  That all I do, in my name and to glorify myself is doomed to failure from the start.  But when I crucify my will for the Father’s will and yoke myself to Jesus, it is easy, and all things turn out great.

My initial thought at the end of the evening was:  Well it cannot go anywhere but up.  It might sound negative, which it is a bit, but…  I also know the only way it is going to go up is through the Father’s will.

What really hit me when I read John 9:30-34 was how God really does use us sinners to spread the Gospel, not the Pharisees.  It is truly challenging to stay that pessimist (sinner) and live out the optimism (our identity as a beloved child of God).  It is so vitally important to stay humble and remember who is the true navigator!

What gives you life?

But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives.
                                                    — 1 Timothy 5:6

My wonderful wife, Irma, read me Greg Laurie’s daily devotion today, Creating a Monstor. It is centered around 1 Timothy 5:6.  Greg does a wonderful, thought provoking job of enlightening us to what life is like when we live in pleasure.

I reflected on that and realized that the process of living in God will and living in your well is the exact same, the only difference is which is life giving and which is not.

I love photography and all the toys of the hobby.  I am always wanting that next toy.  The process of seeking out the toy, learning about, the anticipation of getting it are all a ton of fun.  Then I get the toy!  The excitement, the joy, what fun!  Then after I use it a bit, the newness wares off and  I am on to the next toy.  Over time my selves fill up with toys, some are used all the time, others never used.  I look back and ponder… And the point was?

I am learning to love doing God’s will by serving others.  The process of seeking out the need, learning about how Jesus would best meet the need, the anticipation of fulfilling the need are all a ton of fun.  Then I get to actually meet the needs!  The excitement, the joy, what fun!  Afterward I bask in God’s glory for a bit, the feeling wares off and I am off to find another need.  I look back and ponder…  Why have God blessed me so much to be able to meet the needs of so many!  Give him praise!

One is life draining, one is life giving.  It is amazing how it is the EXACT same process, totally different focus.  One is your will, the other is Gods.  Whos will do you want to serve?

Being loved

I am a Senior Software Developer/Team Lead. Over the last year I have embraced Jesus and take to heart both the Great Commandment and Great Commission, in that order.  At work in the secular world, living the Great Commission is a bit tricky, well, that is if I don’t want to get fired:)  But living the Great Commandment is most definitely possible.  Thus I strive to living the Great Commandment at every turn.

Over the weekend one of the gentlemen on my team, Bhoj, saw this tshirt and thought of me, of which, I am now the proud owner!  Thank you Jesus, for showing us the way!