We fiddle about on our facebook feeds, that’s fine.
Let’s keep before us today though, that Yahweh is scrolling through the details of our heart profile.
Whilst we can edit and select that which we present publicly, there is no filtering or managing Jesus’ gaze.
And what he sees as we hold our hearts in the midst of life – promotion and demotion, laughter and weeping, disaster and delight, the mundane and the momentous – moves Him.
He may like it as we hold firm in the trial, he may love it as we keep our heart open to our brother. We surely amuse him as we chew over our plans. We also have the capacity to grieve him as we shut the door to him, and anger him as we unrepentantly trample on the oppressed. Incredibly we can also amaze him, in our moments of simple faith.
The snapshot is not the story.
It’s how we’re holding our hearts in the midst of life that really matters.
And, if we feel we’ve blown it on the heart front, there’s good news. We’re only a 180 turn from yay.
1 Samuel 16:7
You’ve shut your door, you’re keeping it succinct. Here’s what you say:
Let who you are be respected,
Be King here, just like you are in Heaven.
May what happens here be what you want to happen.
Provide us with what we need today.
Forgive us for the things we’ve done wrong.
We forgive those who have wronged us.
Keep us from turning down wrong paths,
Rescue us from evil.”
(The forgiving others bit might sound strange – it’s not another request, but it is vital. If you do that, Father will forgive you, but if you don’t, He won’t.)
Meditation from Matthew 6:9-15
Is a very precious gift, and a key factor in the disciple’s decision making process.
Atleast three ways you should be interacting with your conscience:
Short term – you obey it. You keep your conscience clean, by not going against it. A clean conscience doesn’t mean you’re definitely in the right, but if you’ve crossed your conscience you’ve done something wrong.
Long term – you mould it. You educate it, and bring it into increasing conformity to the teachings and practice of Jesus. Like a muscle, you strengthen and refine it through practice and training.
Always – you protect it. Whatever you do, don’t sear it. Don’t trample over it. Don’t defile it.
Today, and everyday, conscience is a gift to you.
A crunching tackle of a word.
Couldn’t you use something a bit more nuanced? Leave us with a bit more wiggle room?
Yet the prophets repeatedly reach for it as they try to give language to the truth of what’s happened to us.
We’ve forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living water, and tried digging our own cisterns (which don’t really work). (Jeremiah 2:13)
Because of our forsaking of Him, He, in turn, has forsaken us (almost). (2 Chron 24:20)
In the most incredible act of mercy and love, His Son, dangling bloody and naked on a tree, takes on our forsakenness. He screams, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)
This opens up the way for us to forsake our broken cisterns, and return with whole hearts to the Lord.
Now, the disciple, in this life, may be persecuted, but never forsaken (2 Corinthians 4:9). For He has promised – “Never will I leave you, nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
And forever we will be known as,
a city not forsaken.
Today, disciple, you are not forsaken.
Doing life with others should be the disciple’s default setting.
Circumstances will sometimes dictate though, that you’re on your own.
Tired, discouraged, defeated. And feeling alone.
A critical skill for the disciple is therefore – “to encourage yourself in the Lord.”
David honed this skill on the hills as a teenager. Consciously counting on Yahweh, when he just couldn’t keep on keeping on with the sheep counting any longer. It took him to the throne, and it held the true throne in his heart in the midst of every swing of fortune.
Isolated, and eyes-slipping? Call on the Name, and keep calling till you’ve found your strength for today.
Disciple, when you need to, encourage yourself in the Lord.
1 Samuel 30:6
The concept of ‘doors’, is helpful to the disciple for making decisions:
In some places, or amongst some groups, you’ll have an open door to share about Jesus, and do good work.
In other places, amongst other groups, at certain times, you won’t. The door’s just kinda shut.
An open door doesn’t mean lack of opposition, it just means plenty of opportunity. (1 Corinthians 16:9)
You don’t have to walk through an open door. (2 Corinthians 2:12-13)
But after knocking a couple of times, you should walk away from a closed one. Part of Jesus’ training is how to shake the dust off your feet. Don’t waste your spiritual warfare, “violent-men-taking-hold-of” mode on closed doors. That blunt instrument, Paul, didn’t.
Sometimes previously open doors shut, other times closed doors open. But know this – there are open doors out there for you.
So pray. For you and your people, pray for doors flinging wide today. (Colossians 4:2-4)
And when one does, if it’s right, walk right through.
This week’s episode is short, sweet and very practical. Part 2 on small groups. Enjoy!
Question of the episode – what problems have you encountered when leading / being part of a small group?
For all previous episodes and all information about the podcast check out the podcast page here.