9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
The message God is placing on my heart this morning is one that continues to reoccur. It seems to come up, or probably more accurately I only become re-aware of this message, when my heart is right with God.
It is a message that knowledge of God is wonderful, but that in itself is not enough in and of itself. It is the knowledge of God’s incredible love and message of a transformed life that becomes the fuel to LIVE DIFFERENTLY!
I have considered myself an intellectual my entire life. Not that I have a college degree and could make it more than 30 seconds on Jeopardy, but more a person who wants to figure out why myself and others do the things we do; what makes the world tic.
I think that was born of a broken childhood that needed to figure out why I would be hit, or why would adults touch me inappropriately, or why was I being yelled at when I was only having fun or being a boy seeking adventure.
Unfortunately as a child, the only answers that made sense is I must be a bad person with no value; that my existence is only here for the use and discarding of others; that my desires are unimportant, my feelings incorrect, my input unnecessary, my presence unwanted.
Those destructive, damning and soul-wrenching lies of Satan perpetuated by the walking-wounded of this world are simply not true.
Unfortunately being an intellectual growing up with a core internal foundation of brokenness does not diminish one’s chances of becoming a great success in the world, but it is nearly impossible to become a success in relationships. And it is in relationships where the love of God calls us to thrive
As I look over my life, fed by a broken self-image and striving in this world to prove to me and others that I had value, I became an over-achiever. Always receiving the highest awards any company I worked for offered, moving quickly to the top of my field, department or division, having enough wealth to afford nice cars, great vacations, lots of big-boy-toys, plenty of parties and good times which all told me “I have arrived, this is the good life”.
But none of it ever broke through that hardened heart of the broken child within. Each pursuit and attainment of the next better thing that I thought was going to fill that indefinable yearning only left me more disillusioned with this life.
As the successes grew, so did the emptiness, depression, and addictions to money, alcohol, sex, work-a-holism, isolationism and ultimately thoughts of suicide. “Why am I here and would anybody miss me if I was gone?”
It is that life in pursuit of selfish pleasure and wealth that left me utterly purposeless and devoid of any self worth. The lies that were fed to me by broken parents and worldly relationships only fed the reality that I truly had no value to anyone; for I was only seeking my own pleasures and increase.
If we are truly IN Christ, we are given a heart transplant – new desires to seek out a higher purpose, to live out a higher calling, we are freed to pursue things of everlasting value; to touch another life.
God’s word fills us with the knowledge of God’s designs and purposes for us, Christ Jesus modeled a life poured out in pursuit of a true Kingdom calling, and the Holy Spirit is the driving force that lives within us to will and to work in and through us for the purposes of Good Works.
The pursuit of knowledge is a wonderful thing, but if it doesn’t lead to a life-change, a renewed purpose and drive actions for the greater good of our families, communities, nation, world and planet, then for what purpose did Christ die?
Did Jesus go to the Cross so that I as a self-professed believer claiming Salvation could get a better car, hotter girlfriend, bigger house, cooler job, better vacations, nicer toys, fatter 401K?
Clearly no, Christ died so that a fallen world shrouded in darkness could move into the light, and be filled with a supernatural hope, joy, peace and purpose, filled with new desires, dreams, and visions of how I, a broken and lowly sinner, could be used by the Creator and King of the universe to make a difference each and every day in some large or small way.
He calls us to move from selfishness to selflessness.
For 3 years I have been in recovery programs trying to unravel the lies of my life spent running in all the wrong directions fueled by the mis-belief that I am less than I am.
God’s promise that I see this morning is a reminder that I am qualified not by what I’ve done, or who I am, or because I deserve anything, but instead by what He has done, is doing, and promises is to come.
We have all that we need to live fully Christ-empowered lives.
Through the teachings of God’s word, the Holy Spirit within and the modeling of Christ, and having the bondage of sins and condemnation removed, the fullness of the Trinity becomes our world filter.
It is God who gives us a heart that is complete and whole through His atonement on the Cross. He gives us sight to see others through His eyes and thereby filled with a compassion and vision for everyone we meet and a desire that they too would experience Christ within and have their lives transformed from selfish to selfless. It is He who modeled for us a life of action, to travel through this life spreading His message of hope and healing and life and love to anyone we can reach before we are called home.
It is really a simple equation that is hard to carry out. If I follow the pursuit of the flesh I will eat double-cheeseburgers, fries and a shake and be useless for the rest of the day, but if I follow the desires of the Spirit and eat a balanced diet of fruit, vegetables, carbs, proteins, vitamins, minerals, plenty of water and get exercise I will have the energy of a hundred horses.
Garbage in, garbage out
Am I watching late night TV and spending dozens of hours playing video games and going out to night-clubs in pursuit of a good time and emailing dirty jokes and spreading gossip about co-workers and getting angry on the freeway and impatient in checkout lines and resentful over others who have more successes than me and, and, and….?
Or am I feasting on God’s Word daily, am I relying on the work of Christ on the Cross for my self-worth and using His death for the salvation of all man-kind as the yardstick to value the worth of others, and am I relying on the power of the Holy Spirit to engage with the world in a manner that leaves others better than how I found them.
We who rely on Christ are given a new heart so we can live a new purpose filled existence. We were meant to courageously and boldy proclaim the Good News relentlessly to a sick and dying world.
Father God, I thank you for the reminder this morning that I am who I am because of who You are. Thank you for the reminder that my value comes from knowing You, relying on You, seeking You, loving You, worshiping You, longing to live a life more holy and pleasing to You by being of service to others. Thank You for the reminder that knowing that I can never attain these things is not a reason to feel condemned, but understanding that simply desiring and being in pursuit of these things are proof that You are the light that emanates from within me, my old life is dead. Lord God thank You that Your grace and mercy tells me that I have value in Your sight, that you created me and have a plan and purpose for me is so hard for my broken and untrusting heart to let in. I thank You for Your relentless compassion and love that never leaves, never gives up, and promises that I am qualified because of Your Son alone, and in Him I am given new life with which I can proudly and boldly proclaim my right to the inheritance. Help us all this day Lord recognize more fully who we are in You so we may more boldly proclaim the Good News that all are afforded this same gift if only they come to recognize their own need for healing from the One and only Healer. In Jesus’ name I pray…