How To Walk the Narrow Road! Day 4: He Gave You a Mouth to Speak. Use It and Talk To Him.

”  Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you .For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

-Matthew 7:7-8

Even more so than just seeking God’s forgiveness, we need to get into a habit of seeking the entirety of God Himself. Why? Because God isn’t just a god who is far away, some being who creates rules and expectations we have to try to meet. God is a God of intimacy. He wants a relationship with us. If you think about it, all other world religions have the first “god” I described. It’s humanity trying to build a ladder to “god”. True, real Christianity, however, is the living God reaching down to humanity. We need to seek Him because He seeks us. Romans 5:8 says that “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners”. Did you see that?

WHILE WE WERE YET SINNERS.
Before we even had a thought about turning to God, He loved us so much to the point of death! So there’s the WHY we need to seek God. The Perfect One, who created everything you see, who gives you breath to get up in the morning, wants to have a personal close intimate relationship with you. With me. 

Why is it hard for people to feel like this relationship is real? Communication. Humans are built for communication. Relationships are built on, and fall apart because of, communication. For example. My girlfriend lives a half hour away from me. Because of schedules and things, I don’t get to see her that often. It’s about once or twice a week. Therefore we need to be able to communicate! We talk almost constantly-and it’s not all the lovey dovey couples crap. we just talk throughout the day. I’ve seen what happens when there is a lack of communication-it causes separation. 
I’m going to say that again. 
Lack of communication causes separation.

And it did. We had to sit down and talk things out to figure out what was really going on, and how we could fix it. On the other side, when we are able to communicate things go much better. Even if the issue hurts a little bit, it’s so much better because we can address the issue and the needs for this relationship and continue to grow. 

It is the EXACT same way with God. A lack of communication with God results in a separation from Him-not on His part, because He doesn’t leave us. Rather, we drift farther and farther away. We start to seek after other things because we don’t have the closeness with the Lord. We either then fall away completely or begin “Playing the game”, going through the motions. Isaiah 29:13 states this: 
“And so the Lord says, “These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.”

When we don’t communicate and talk with our Lord, we become like an empty shell. There’s no real life behind the things we do. Conversely, when we do have that relationship with God, we are full of life and we are able to hear His voice and see His doings much more clearly. Then, we can live our days in the joy that God is with us! Because while God is always there, we have a part to play as well. That’s why it’s becoming more important for me to daily reflect, meditate, talk to, pray to, think about, praise, etc…the Lord. I want to develop that intimacy in our relationship because I want to KNOW Him. Not just on an intellectual level. I want to know the God who decided I was important enough to die for. Who spoke the universe into existence, who breathes and leaves a trail of galaxies*. I want to know who this great terrible wonderful mysterious all powerful being is who made me! Who saved me from being the wretch I am to someone who stands tall and is confident in my place in life. 

“1 As the deer longs for streams of water,
    so I long for you, O God.
2 I thirst for God, the living God.
    When can I go and stand before him?”

-Psalm 42:1-2

This needs to be the cry of our…and my own heart. A unyielding desire to be able to be in the presence of our Lord. We need to be seeking after God with EVERYTHING THAT WE HAVE because THAT is the price we pay to follow Him. It costs nothing to come into the Kingdom of God. Salvation is free. But to follow hard after Christ requires we give up everything to Him as He gave up everything to us. We need to want to know our God. It is SO important that daily we make time for Him. Even just starting with 5 minutes to pray in the morning. If you stay disciplined enough to do that, watch it grow. 10 minutes. 15. A half hour. My style in writing these blogs is changing. Each day I’m rummaging though more Scripture, praying more, talking to God. He’s on my mind during the days now more too! This relationship is two things.
1) The most important one you will ever have in your life. More than your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, co-worker, cat, best friend, boss, etc…fill in the blank. He is worthy of our time and effort and entire lives!
2) It’s not a one way street. Christ didn’t die just so you could continue living as is. He died so you would have a way to be able to be a part of the family of God! But that only works if you are willing, to daily die to yourself, take up your cross, and follow Him. Talk with God. Cry if you have to, yell if you have to, sing laugh dance pray write. Whatever helps you to best talk with and continue that relationship with the Lord, DO IT. It will be the best thing you ever do and will show itself in ways you cannot begin to imagine. 

In conclusion,
If you love somebody you talk to them, right? You get to know them. Their likes, dislikes, hopes, fears, dreams, quirks. Annoying habits you have to learn to put up with. In the same way, yet on a bigger scale, If you love God you need to talk to Him as well. Get to know the Lord you serve. Get to know the Christ who died for you. Know what He wants, His loves, His dislikes, His plans for you, His ways in life and in your life.  Tomorrow we’ll look at one way to continue that relationship-staying in the Word of God.

God bless!
~Michael Wright, Jr.~

 

*a lyric from the song by Natalie Grant, “Alive”. I just love it. The first part goes “Who but you, could breathe and leave a trail of galaxies..and dream of me?”. Beautifully put! Just needed to give credit where it is due!

 

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How To Walk the Narrow Road! Day 3: Take a Shower Daily

Longer Scripture passage today, but it’s all relevant. Trust me.

“Have mercy on me, O God,
    because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
    blot out the stain of my sins.
2 Wash me clean from my guilt.
    Purify me from my sin.
3 For I recognize my rebellion;
    it haunts me day and night.
4 Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
    I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
    and your judgment against me is just.
5 For I was born a sinner—
    yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
6 But you desire honesty from the womb,
    teaching me wisdom even there.

7 Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Oh, give me back my joy again;
    you have broken me—
    now let me rejoice.
9 Don’t keep looking at my sins.
    Remove the stain of my guilt.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God.
    Renew a loyal spirit within me.
11 Do not banish me from your presence,
    and don’t take your Holy Spirit  from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and make me willing to obey you.
13 Then I will teach your ways to rebels,
    and they will return to you.
14 Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves;
    then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness.
15 Unseal my lips, O Lord,
    that my mouth may praise you.

-Psalm 51:1-15

What David is talking about here isn’t just a one time deal. If you read the Psalms, David is constantly asking God to forgive him, to save him. to rescue him. David was called a man after God’s own heart. That is an amazing statement within itself! David, the man after God, is asking for forgiveness in a most humble and grieved manner.

I find it interesting that in today’s society we spend a lot more time justifying our own actions rather than just admitting we are wrong and asking for forgiveness. There’s two things at work behind this-the false belief that we are always right, and the stubbornness to admit we are wrong. One of the HARDEST things to do is say “I need help!” This is true in my own life. I’ve had plenty of times where I stubbornly kept on believing the lies that were told to me. Satan had me thinking nobody understood me, that nobody cared, that it was easier to keep the problems inside. I was committed to this. It’s funny-at the same time I so desperately wanted to have someone love me, care for me, care about my hurts. What Satan did was take me away from the Lord and show me other ways I could get the “love” I was looking for. I needed attention and got it in the wrong places. I needed love and got an empty substitute. I needed forgiveness and got a mask. I was not willing to admit I had a problem because I got stuck in the hurt.

Does that make sense?

We are not willing to admit we need help and forgiveness because we get comfortable in the mess we are in. We become okay with struggling. It sounds ridiculous! Who would want to dwell on their past, on their sin, on trying to make it? On “just getting by”? Yet we all do it, day after day. It’s saddening.
The other reason we aren’t willing to accept the forgiveness of God is pride. We have this stupid, somewhat admirable stubborn tenacity to try and hang on to things. I have continuously tried to fix situations I know are not getting better. Why? Because it’s a ME thing. I got into this mess and I can get out of it. I can pull myself up and make something of myself, and then people can praise ME for the things I have done for MYSELF.

We need to make our lives less of a ME thing and more of a GOD thing. 

Like it says in John 3:30, “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.”
Forgiveness starts when we realize we are less and that God is greater. We can’t be forgiven if we think we are all that. Take the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector. The Pharisee boasted and thanked the Lord that he wasn’t like that sinner over there. The tax collector just fell on his face and admitted he was wretched, and asked the Lord to forgive him. The Lord has the capacity and the want to forgive all, but He can’t and won’t operate in a heart that won’t allow Him in. Recognizing our wretched sinful state and the fact that we can’t do this alone lets God move in you and heal, rejuvinate, and forgive.

The point of this series, though, is how to develop a intimate relationship with the Lord. So what do I have to do? I can’t just pray a prayer, say some words and BOOM. I’m saved. There is a continual work that needs to occur if my heart is to stay focused on the Lord. So every day, I need to start with asking God to be the center of my day. I need to let Him be my guide instead of myself. And I need to end my day asking God to cleanse me and thanking Him for the day I was able to live for Him. Every day. That’s a hard thing! But when we are able to discipline ourselves to daily ask for His forgiveness and cleansing of our spirits, one will find that they feel much more joy in life. When you have a clean heart, a new mind and spirit, you can’t help BUT to feel joy! And as you persist more and more in letting the Lord cleanse and guide you, the more you will start to recognize His voice and His presence in your life. In my life, just keeping this series I’ve noticed a change over the past few days. I’m not sad anymore. I’ve been coming to God in prayer and reading into different scriptures, and I have noticed my conduct changing as well. Knowing that I’m resting in His eternal grace and being washed by Him each day is such a joyful and comforting thing!!!

In conclusion,
First let us recongize we are sinners. For all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. ALL. This is a fact of life. We are human and we mess up.
Because of that fact, daily we need to convene with our God and ask Him to prepare us for the day. We need to ask for His continual forgiveness, for that blood to not be poured out just once on our lives but every day over our head. We need to be comfortable asking Him to search our hearts and continually be showing us areas we struggle in-because there will always be areas. It has to become a DAILY CLEANSING. Not just a giant shower of tears every few months when we fall way back into sinful paths. But a Shower of forgiveness and grace and joy every day will keep us close to God and farther and farther from sin!
Tomorrow we will see what it means to not just seek God to be forgiven, but to seek Him. Period.

God bless!

~Michael Wright, Jr.~

How To Walk the Narrow Road! Day 2: TURN BACK NOW.

“12 Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. 13 You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.”
~Hebrews 3:12-13

We are human. We are creatures who, by the sin of Adam, are designed to fail and make mistakes. As it says in Romans 3:23, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”.  Every single person who was born since Adam has messed up. It’s human nature to fail. Let’s get that established right away. 

Now, why would a God who is perfect put up with such an imperfect people? The answer is simple-love. He loves us because, aside from the fact that He created us, He IS love. He is that attribute itself. God loves us unconditionally. In Romans 5:8 (Romans appears to be the book of choice today!) Paul states that “…God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” . Isn’t that remarkable? Even while we ignored or denied or just disobeyed the presence of the Almighty Lord, He loved us. He’s never NOT loved us. I think that a big reason many people have a hard time returning to the Lord is because they think “God can’t love me after what I’ve done. He can’t! I’m too messed up.” This is as big of a lie as they come. In fact, it’s a disservice and an insult to God to tell Him He can’t save you from the place you lie. He is the God of the universe, omnipotent and omniscient, all knowing, all powerful, and all loving. That NEEDS to be known. God loves unconditionally. So what does that mean for us?

For me?

I have definitely had times in my life where I just felt far from the Lord. Where I wasn’t in communion with Him like I should have been. This resulted in two things. First, there was a lack of spiritual strength in times of trouble. Second, a desire to figure things out MY way. Both of these go hand in hand, and pose a very dangerous problem. As a human being, I am automatically born into a world of sin. It is only by faith in God through the death of His Son that I am able to have life, washed in the blood of the lamb. I have this! I know it full well. But I still slip and slide and fall down. What happens when this combination occurs?

We humans are very interesting. For all of our social outreach we like to feel like WE are in control of our own lives and destiny. We like making the choices, the decisions, and having a God who says “relinquish that control to me” is a scary and resented thought. Therefore, it’s only a natural regression that when we get away from God we try and rely on ourselves. Again, this past month or so I’d been relying on myself to make it through the almost seemingly endless waves of problems coming my way. I have to try and make things better, to make my own way.
Did I do it?
Not really. I ended up stressed, breaking down, not sleeping, depressed. I saw no end in sight, I saw no way that I could fix this. Because I couldn’t. 
Now with my reliance on the Lord, I can see the changes starting to happen in my life. It’s not all at once. It hasn’t been some miraculous happening (although that’s not impossible at all.) It’s just been getting by, day by day.  It’s been little things. Praying more. Reading my Bible more. Spending time meditating on Him. And slowly I’ve felt my joy returning. My faith. My peace in knowing that He’s got this, He knows what’s happening even when I don’t. I’m able to carry on and focus throughout the day because my God is bigger than my problems. Did you read that?

THE GOD OF THE UNIVERSE IS BIGGER THAN THE PROBLEMS OF THE WORLD.

It is in this knowledge that I rest. 

I say all of that to come to this point. If you have fallen away from the Lord, GET BACK RIGHT AWAY. Matthew 24:42 says “42 “So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. 43 Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. 44 You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.”

So you too, keep watch. If you fall get back up. Repent, and run to your Father. There is no point in dwelling in the past, for standing still is just as bad as moving backwards. Satan’s goal is to make you feel like you’ve fallen too far to go back to God. But I say to you, run as fast as you can TO Him! We can and should learn from the mistakes of our past, and if we mess up bad? Yea. It’s gonna hurt. But don’t let the hurt come between you and your Father. The best thing to continue a daily relationship with God is consistency. So if you even feel in the slightest like you are drifting, get before the Lord and get back! That’s what this blog is making me do.  You need to do something each day that forces you to sit and think about and talk to the Lord.
Pray.
Keep a journal or a blog.
Write out the problems in your life.
One thing that really helped me is something we did at our church. A great resource to look at is something called “The Strong Challenge”- a six-week program designed to help you focus on God in different and unusual ways. You can find more information here- http://www.strongchallenge.com

In conclusion..if you feel like you’re starting to slip-OR if you know you have fallen quite far from God-it is never too late. There is no time to waste. Turn back to Him, now! Tomorrow we will take a look at how to daily be refreshed in the Lord. 

God bless!

~Michael Wright, Jr.~

How To Walk the Narrow Road! Day 1: Examine Your Faith Regularly.

To preempt this, my girlfriend gave me a list of ten things that one can do to develop a daily habit of spending time with God. I have decided to go through them, one by one, the next ten days!

“Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.”-2 Corinthians 13:5

So. Genuine faith. Not just the expression of “oh yea, I know about Jesus. Cool dude. What? Yea, I believe in Him.” It’s a visceral, real intimate knowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord-that He came down, fully God and fully man, to live among us and eventually give Himself a sacrifice so that we could have life. It’s to have a relationship with Him.

In that regard, yes! I do have genuine faith. I was saved October 9, 2010, listening to evangelist David Owens preach. My life hasn’t been the same since.

But the verse talks about examining my faith. The word  examine means to (according to dictionary.com) Inspect (someone or something) in detail to determine their nature or condition; investigate thoroughly.

Diving into my faith, right now, is it really genuine? Do I fully believe in all of the things that I say, and preach? Well…yes. I have had a rough go of it lately though. My family has been turned upside down, my college life hangs in the balance, I have projects due, I have jobs to find, things to keep in order, sins I struggle with…
In spite of all of this I do believe. In fact, I believe now stronger than I ever have. Would you like to know why?

Because in the midst of all of my troubles and trials, God is there. And that is enough for me. When I try and take the reigns myself-like the past few weeks-I get discouraged, because it’s too much for me to handle.

EXACTLY. THAT’S THE WARNING SIGN AND FLAG AND BELLS AND ALL THAT.

When we, as humans, try and control our own crazy lives, it just leads to more destruction. This I have experienced multiple times, first hand. Even this past month I’ve just been feeling drained, like  had to do allll this stuff on my own. But I don’t. When I told my girlfriend, Selah, that I felt so far from God, do you know what she said? Not “Oh, I’m so sorry Michael, I’m sure it will get better. God’s got you!”. No. She told me to stop complaining about how I feel far from God, get back into the Word and into praying, and get back!
Because she knows that God is always there for us. It’s me that walked away from Him, and it’s me that needs to get back. Now, I need God’s help with the things in my life. But I reach Him through constant prayer, reading, communion with other saints. Was my faith genuine in this time? No, to be honest. I claimed to love God but wouldn’t even turn to Him in a time of need. Instead I looked to other means to find my solace. I’m glad I can see this now, that it’s been brought to my attention. Now I can move forward in confidence!

The thing I have realized is that life gets stressful and overwhelming when I don’t keep up MY end of the relationship-when I don’t walk my talk.  Nobody can accuse God of not fulfilling His end. The victory is already won. It’s just my job to boldly claim it.

In conclusion, my faith is stronger than ever! But my attitude and faith in the immediate situations in life does NOT reflect my overall belief in God. What I need to do is turn back from trying things myself, and get back to God-a topic I’ll talk about tomorrow!

God bless!

~Michael Wright, Jr.~