“…let no sin rule over me. (Psalm 119:133)”
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8)“
I wonder what Jesus’ audience thought about this statement. After all, the Pharisees had been teaching people to obey the law of Moses and then some for what seemed like forever. For Jesus to say this in the about the same breath as “poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven (Mt. 5:2)” must have seemed a bit strange: He had already begun to unfold the wrapper of grace, was He now exposing more law as the gift?
Or, was it much simpler than that?
Whether Psalm 119 was written by David or Ezra, it is clear that the author’s heart was broken, wrecked, and shattered for the Lord. As we read through v 131 and 133 we hear from a man who opened his mouth, panting for God’s word. Jesus makes it clear throughout the Beatitudes that sincere and pure devotion to God isn’t about the outward behavior, rather a heart desperate for God, dependent on Him, that propels us to outward behavior.
A resume rich in church activity doesn’t necessarily indicate a beggar’s heart for God. Only the poor in spirit have room for God in their hearts.
As we enter week 2 of the fast, there are times when our flesh begs for old forms of satisfaction: “comfort” food, entertainment, and other forms of self comfort rather than on the God of all comfort. Jesus’ statement from Matthew 5.8 is clear – you can’t have both. These lesser gods have not only stolen our full devotion from God, but deprived us of experiencing the God who sent us “the Comforter”. Why would we want anything less? Because it’s wrapped in a more tangible, sleek package and available with free shipping or for instant download?
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1.27)”
Question yourself as you pray – “What in the world is polluting me, Lord? What has my heart leaning even the slightest degree away from You? What can be done about the condition of my heart that would make me hate “even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh (Jude 1.23) and bring me to a place where I pant for Your commands?
How can any sin “rule over” us if our hearts are that hungry for God?
God sent us the Comforter to do just that – comfort us. Let us call on Him today with hearts that desire not God’s blessings, but the God of all blessings. Surely, His blessings will follow, but we cannot manufacture a heart desperate for Him. This is a work of God and it must be begged for. Would you be willing to beg God for this?
My Achy, Breaky Heart When I look up at this massive universe and see how big it is I’ve often wondered, “Why?”, “What’s the purpose?”, “Why am I here?” “Does my life even matter?”
On the one hand there is incredible beauty and on the other incredulous evil.
Recently, I found myself asking, “How do I deal with the pain of disappointment, disillusionment and a messed up world?
It hurts. It aches.
Most of our lives are filled with more good things than we would have ever imagined including love and joy and peace; yet right next to it, we struggle with anger, greed, jealousy and lust.
It is a struggle. It’s a daily battle and we ache.
Men today have many options to navigate the ache.
Often, we choose to medicate with busyness, money, medication or an unsustainable pace. Still the ache lingers.
Too many walk around as Medicated Men.
There is a better way…a more manly way…and it carries God’s seal of approval.
Join us at the tables this Friday as we discover how to deal with the aches of this life.
– John Woodall
What’s Got Your Eye?
This year, as our church-wide fast began, I felt compelled to dig into Psalm 119. Glad I did.
“Direct me in the path of your commands,
for there I find delight.
Turn my heart toward your statutes
and not toward selfish gain.
Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.
It’s All About Value
Free Chapel embarks on a corporate, 3-day “water only” followed by 18 days of “Daniel Fast“. I never truly realize how valuable something is to me until I don’t have it. You? Yeah, I value water. MAN, I value food! Unfortunately, I have an addiction – refined sugar. That’s one food I value above all others. I’ll eat refined sugar products – desserts, cereals, candy, desserts to a gluttonous level – often to control my mood rather than for my stomach. Sugar is nowhere on the Ten Commandments, but abuse of any substance is idolatry and begs the question: “why would anyone want to delight in anything less than Jesus?” For me, it’s a rival god, it’s nutritionally worthless and it’s killing me and my potential with my own fork/spoon/hand.
Not everyone struggles with food addictions, but we all struggle with something. In the past, I’ve tried to manage my refined sugar addiction by behavior modification: “don’t”, much like I used to try to manage my addiction to pornography. Knowing that, Lord willing, this year I will celebrate 12 years clean from pornography, I understand that defeating that demon wasn’t about behavior modification, it was about hating the sin and surrender to Christ… oh, and a supernatural act of the Spirit, no?
When we come into alignment with what God values, we begin to love what He loves and hate what He hates. Selfish ambition is gradually replaced with God-ambition. When it comes to food, I need a double dose of love for God and a dose of hate for what is worthless. What’s your rival god? What are you using to fill that familiar empty feeling? What do you occasionally value more than God and His plan for your life?
Filling in the Blank
|John Woodall will kick
off a transformational
ONE TH1NG this Friday.
We all have a blank spot in us, an ache, a God-sized hole in our hearts that we try to fill in with lesser solutions: accomplishment, material gain(s), sex, drugs, etc, things that at the judgment seat of Christ will be exposed for their true value – worthless. Side note: If you’re a man in the Alpharetta/Cumming area, you don’t want to miss John Woodall at ONE TH1NG this Friday morning at the Cabernet Restaurant at 7AM. He’ll be talking about the ache – an ache that in a Genesis 3 world, refuses to be healed until Christ returns.
In the meantime, the Psalmist points out the relationship between life and things: it is the nature of worthless things to suck the life out of us rather than to preserve our life. And yet, we chase after this stuff, often to the exclusion of the life giving plan that the life giving God has for us. Selfish ambition always finds us knocking on the door of stuff that is utterly worthless in God’s eyes. “Can you please fill in my blank?”
In fasting, I am constantly reminded that I am blessed with opportunities to clean out the clutter that clogs my heart – literally and figuratively. The challenge is keeping it out. Behavior mod is a short road leading back to square one. Only a transformed mind and surrendered heart will do.
Experience True Life
Today, I encourage you to give up food or something incredibly valuable for more than 48 hours. You know your idols and rival gods. Pick one, but try food first. Then, pray as the psalmist did that God will help you keep your eyes and heart delighted in Him and away from things that are ultimately worthless in His economy.
May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ bless you, sanctify you, and transform you into the image of Christ you were designed to be from the start.