Recently, I have been focused my times with the Lord on Psalm 23, “The Lord is My Shepherd, I shall not want.” In this Psalm, David lays out how Jesus, the Lord of all, will shepherd my life if I submit to Him. The Psalm is such a profound and comprehensive explanation of Jesus’ divine destiny for each of us and his divine diligence in managing the circumstances of our lives so that we can thrive. To most Christians, this may sound overly obvious but in day-to-day living submitting to Christ can be very difficult. What I am realizing is that, if God is good and God is sovereign, then everything that happens to me is under his divine authority: my fears, frustrations, tensions, appetites should not drive me to offense, resentment, unforgiveness, distraction and pleasure seeking. Typically, my self-will comes screaming forth when my plans are diverted, when I don’t get what I want. This can be as simple as a car driving slower than I want, to as complex as a major work projects falling off the rails. For example, have you ever run into the grocery store for one quick item only to turn a corner and come face to face with the one person who has no sense of time urgency? How do you respond, frustration and preoccupation with ending the conversation or seeing it as a divine appointment intended for building up and encouraging?
A short while ago, I was hanging out with friends. One of them I had known from a previous job where the person was in a more senior role to me. At the time, this person had said some things to my superior that impacted my work and ultimately my career. Life had moved on and I didn’t think I was holding unforgiveness towards this person, but a situation arose on that day that raised up offense in me and I lost all my peace. Jesus, brought up two other situations in the same 24 hour period that made me realize I was carrying a lot of buried offense. In Matthew 13: 18-23 Jesus tells a parable of the Sower who sows the word. Jesus describes the ways in which the truth is stolen from us and our heart becomes divided:
· Satan takes away the word in their hearts
· Affliction arises and one becomes offended and falls away
· Worries, riches and pleasures choke out the truth and it becomes unfruitful
Hebrews 12 talks about what we can do so we will not grow weary and loose heart. Jesus says, “you cannot serve two masters.” James puts it in stronger language, “do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility towards God? … Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” Maybe John puts it the strongest, “if anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” It is really hard not to have a divided heart when the world seems so full of prestige, excitement, pleasure, riches, and adventure with no pressure to measure your moral life against standards, disciplines and expectations. But what I’ve learned with the Lord’s help is that pleasurable satisfaction in the world is illusive and always demands a higher high. It ultimately brings slavery to obsessions and additions. It always begins with not thanking Him and giving Him glory. Then our lives start to denigrate as we exchange His glory for an image made to please man.
We don’t have to take the meaningless and empty path of the world because Jesus promises that the word sown in good soil (i.e. an undivided heart, fully submitted to Jesus) will bring forth fruit 30, 60, 100 fold. Fruit like real joy, peace, patience, and love. Jesus promises us eternity now and forever. Consecrate your hearts for tomorrow I am going to do amazing things among you.