One of the things I really like about the life of a believer is that we are expected to live a life of joy.
However, if I look around, I see an awful lot of things that just are not joyous, nor do they call for joy, in fact, if we express joy in the middle of these tragedies, we’re seen as being disrespectful, irreverent even, senseless maybe, or naive, at best.
Our elders teach us that life is somber, hard; our behavior must be subdued. We can look severe at any moment, but light-hearted joy must wait for the right moment. If these admonitions are true, why does the Bible tell us that the joy of the Lord is our strength? Let’s face it, we need strength throughout our life, day and night, grave moments and delightful moments.
The first step in joy may just be looking around and ignoring the awful things and looking only at what brings joy. I’m working at looking at life through God’s eyes. Unlike what some Bible-thumpers say, I don’t see any evidence that God is always looking for what’s wrong, and that if we could see His face, it would be terribly sad with perpetual tears rolling down His cheeks.
Those who have surrendered themselves to Jesus Christ and have received the Holy Spirit as their residential and constant companion, only those can legitimately call themselves Christian. If that is not you, please go to my website, pray the prayer you find there, and believe you receive God as your Father.
www.martydelmon.com or www.martydelmon.fr
When the church is trying to introduce people to Jesus Christ, we must be careful. We have been so glib about having people say the sinner’s prayer, and then whooping and hollering about a new member in the Body of Christ. Anybody can say words, repeating them after someone else, or reading them from a script, but that does not make them a Christian. It takes surrender. A Christian is someone who has given his or her life to Jesus Christ so that they no longer belong to themselves, they belong to the Lord. They live for the Lord; they don’t live for themselves. They do His will, not their own. Christianity is not lip service; it is life service.
Sometimes the promises of God, for which we are waiting to manifest in our lives, come to us in part. We, while disappointed, want to give God the benefit of the doubt, and we say “Well, maybe that’s all God really meant by that promise. He spoke in larger terms, but the results are miniscule.” We say these kinds of things out of our reason. The reality is that only a part has appeared, but the whole will soon arrive. Never dismiss what God has said because so far it doesn’t fit your expectation. God always, and I mean always, does what He says. Patience is not the same as endurance. To endure means to “grit your teeth and wait.” To be patient means to “humble yourself with flaming love and wait for God’s perfect timing.”
I say “flaming love” because we can stand in humility before the Word of God, but the flaming love of humility is to stand before the God who spoke the Word. Ardently loving Him is far more important than standing on His Word. Both are essential, but love always comes first. All the promises of God belong to us, but we can’t “have” them until we are intensely wrapped up in God. When we can let go of how we think things ought to happen—at what time the promise should arrive—when we can let go of our faith in our own feelings, when there is no sense of deserving, when we have done business with God on His Word, and let go completely, then we receive. It comes so naturally that it seems like breathing. God and His ways do not produce histrionics. There’s no drama. There’s just the Kingdom of God settling deeper into our lives with peace and joy.
To walk with God means to walk in a perpetual state of faith. Faith is total confidence in God, walking with Him in a state of trust. Remember those exercises we used to do where one partner stood behind you and you, as partner number one, stood with your back to partner number two? You were then required to rigidly fall backward without looking where you were going to land, trusting partner number two to catch you. Those whose bottoms sagged downward to touch the ground first, were not operating in faith. When we walk with God, relying on our own human possibility, we cease being His children, we cease walking in faith. We pay Him court visits now and again, tipping our hats as we bow, curtsying as we swish our skirts to the side, but we don’t walk as a son or daughter. We don’t rely on His possibility, which is always out of the range of human endeavor.
Our walk with God must expect to be tempted. The man who does not believe in God has life so easy. We look at him, and we see him accomplish much in life because his expectations fall so short of God’s possibility. He can do everything he plans to do. But we, like Noah, are given insurmountable tasks to accomplish, things we cannot accomplish on our own. We’d like to pull down the level of expectation so that our faith in ourselves can perform well. But God wants our faith in Him to operate well. What He can accomplish through us is so much greater than what the gentleman who relies on himself can accomplish, and God asks for that kind of acceptance, that kind of trust. In fact, He will accept nothing less. Walk with God, side by side, building the particular Ark He asks you to build, according to His dimensions, His blueprint, and not according to your own. Your plan has “common sense” as god, His plan has God Almighty as God.
There is one evolution I believe in; I believe in the evolution of evil.
Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually (Genesis 6:5).
Evil can become so bad in a man that he actually takes pleasure in his exercise of depravity. There is a point of no return. The further away from God that the depraved man descends, the more animalistic he becomes, the more society rushes to accept him and his neuroses, the more society becomes corrupted. In our world today evil is blatantly expressed. We watch it on our tellys, cluck our tongues, and change the channel. Why do we do this? Because deep down we know we are the same. We have the same capacity to respond to the devil as the one who practices what the devil wants. When a man becomes brazenly fixed in doing evil, he has assumed a character trait of Satan. If a man persistently tries to justify himself in this, then he destroys the justice of God, and consequently, destroys his own personhood.
We can’t even say “The devil made me do it.” God did not invite Satan into the world; man did. Jesus defeated the devil, but it is man’s job to search and destroy. It is man’s job to send the devil packing, and the place to start is with ourselves. God has already done all He is going to do about the devil. With the authority we have through the Holy Spirit, we sweep that unholy one—the one who did influence us that is for certain—we sweep him out of our existence, out of our territory. The earth we cleanse from his filth is the earth we live in, ourselves. We know now that we want to love “good” and despise evil.
Evil is so easily taken care of. We tell it to go, in Jesus’ name, and it is obligated to leave us alone. Jesus gave us that authority. I have so many personal testimonies of using that authority, for myself, that I know evil lives in terror of me. Is he afraid of you? He should be!
Being born again is death. We pass from one life to another. Scripture tells us that through this death we are given a new spirit, one that can now communicate with God. The Bible tells us that in this new spirit there is even a new language that only God understands. In this new spirit the Holy Spirit now lives with us as a constant companion, a soul brother, a best friend forever. Now the learning process starts all over, only now we learn how to go from independence to complete dependence until we don’t even move our head without the Holy Spirit nodding His approval.
My grandson relates stories to me of his experience on the climbing wall in his school gymnasium, and I am struck by how similar that is to spiritual growth. We start at rock bottom, no matter who we are, we are in the lowest depths of hell, yet when we meet Jesus, we know we can make it to the top. We know that the Holy Spirit will be there encouraging us every step of the way, catching us when our sweaty hands slip, or our shoe gets caught on a rock. We know that with every grip we take on the sure wall of God, a grip we had on ourselves will fade. As we climb we prove the sentence, “The joy of the Lord is my strength!” Every sentence that started with “Yes, but…” goes away. No more “Yes, but You don’t know what I suffered.” No more, “Yes, but they made me do that.” No more, “Yes, but who can control the words that come out of our mouths?” No more self-defense. We were guilty, and our guilt was wiped away.
The story of Adam and Eve explains death. Eve told the serpent they would die if they ate the fruit, and that is exactly what happened. They instantly died spiritually because their communication with God was cut off. No more long walks and talks. Gradually, their bodies died. They were designed to live forever in their glorious state in the magnificent garden, but their bodies returned to dust. Man, in his crowning glory of having learned to control his world, at his peak of dominion, starts to decline and finally ends in a mad dash rush for death.
Am I saying that if we learn to obey God, and we relinquish all our worldly knowledge to obtain all the spiritual knowledge in the Bible, if we take responsibility for the mess we’ve made of the life we were given, and we submit our lives to living like the Bible says, that we will live forever? Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. The first lesson we find is that we must be born again. We must become a baby in the arms of our triune God. How do we do that? By humbling ourselves in front of our Heavenly Father and receiving Jesus Christ, His Son, as our Lord, as the one who saves us from ourselves.
In the spiritual life, we can look a little more closely and see that every decision we make is our responsibility. Every word we say is our reality. Our independence in the natural has placed us as guilty before a holy God because we have learned to operate in a filthy world, and so spiritual maturity requires one more spurt of growth. We must learn to be dependent once again. We must learn to lean on God as Adam and He leaned on each other. We must learn we cannot make one decision without asking the Lord what He wants, and lovingly, admiringly, wait for our best-friend-forever’s counsel.
When I first encountered the Lord in my life (He’d been there all the time, I just looked right through Him), and He told me I must say with my mouth that He was my Lord, my answer was this: “No one is going to be my Lord but me!” I did not realize at the time that there is no deeper section of hell than that. The essence of sin manifests itself by declaring it is god and not God Himself. We don’t have the right to be our own gods, or anyone else’s for that matter. We cannot spend our lives lavishing our attention on ourselves or any other icons we make.
When God made Adam, the two of them did not have to take the time to get to know each other. Adam had been aware of every pat of that Hand that put him together. God knew Adam in more detail than Adam knew he had. They started out as soul brothers, best friends forever, inseparable. It was only when Adam sinned that he became afraid of God. That’s the purpose of sin—to separate us from God. We don’t run to someone we fear. What was Adam’s sin? He disobeyed. Then he blamed his action on Eve. Two sins in a row sent him running for cover in the bushes, hiding from God.
In the natural life, we are born as such weak babies that we can’t even lift our head by ourselves. But we grow, slowly it seems to us, as we want to be so independent. “Mine,” is one of the first words we learn. “I’ll do it myself,” is one of our first sentences, and our parents are proud when such vocalization takes place. After all, we raise our children to be independent, able to take care of themselves, individuals with a sense of self-worth. But the child of God takes it a step further.