Published: Monday, 26 November 2018 19:31
Written by Don Goulding
He [God] provides grass for the cattle, and crops for people to cultivate, so they can produce food from the ground, as well as wine that makes people feel so good, and so they can have oil to make their faces shine, as well as food that sustains people’s lives. Psalms 104:14-15 (NETFull)
A balance scale reaches its arms out side to side. My spiritual life sits on the right arm while the left side holds my physical needs.
I often say my only goal is God’s spiritual kingdom but my current assignment is to live in a material world. Without attention to both sides, the scale goes out of level.
Prayer, Bible study and fellowship go onto the right side. On the left, I must add food, rest and godly recreation or the body God gave me will waste away from a lack of stewardship. However, if the left side becomes my primary focus, I’ll plunk down into the animalistic life fit only for hell. I struggle to find the right equilibrium.
To resolve my dilemma, Jesus says, “Move closer.”
His words introduce another dynamic at work on the scale of equilibrium. As I move nearer to him, my hinge point changes which causes the scale to tip down on the physical side. To keep it level, I must lighten my temporal comforts, which is now possible because I’m closer to the Source of life.
Equilibrium is not so complex as I first thought. It’s a joyous life process of daily heeding what is in the pans and inching ever closer to my Lord.
Prayer: Incarnated Jesus, keep my heart in precisely the right equilibrium.
Published: Monday, 19 November 2018 17:41
Written by Don Goulding
The Lord is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one. Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever. Psalms 28:8, 9 (NIV)
A godly father dug a well with his children and used it to teach them why Jesus came to earth.
“Kids, let’s play a game. See if you can find a way out of this hole. I’ll stand outside the pit and you must get up to where I am. The only rule is that you can’t touch the ladder.”
The children debated the problem. The oldest child suggested they stand on each other’s shoulders. This enterprise failed and they tumbled to the bottom of the hole. Next, the middle child said they should jump as high as possible and grab the edge of the hole. This didn’t work because no one could jump high enough.
After much arguing and frustration, the children wanted to give up. The father encouraged them to keep trying.
“I have an idea,” the youngest said. “Daddy please climb down the ladder and get in the hole with us.” The father complied. “Bend down, Daddy.” The father did so and the girl climbed onto her father’s back. “Now, go up the ladder.” As the father carried the little one out of the hole, her smile grew into a squeal. “There, I’m up where you are and I didn't touch the ladder.”
Everybody laughed and clapped.
“You see children, we were in a hole we dug by our sin. No amount of standing on the shoulders of the religious people who went before us or jumping on the legs of self-effort could get us out. The only way out of our sin was for Jesus to come into our hole, bend down so any child could climb on, and carry us back to our heavenly Father.
“That’s why Jesus came to earth.”
Prayer: Humble Savior, thank you for lowering yourself to carry me.
Published: Monday, 12 November 2018 17:52
Written by Don Goulding
The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The LORD protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me. Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you. Psalms 116:5-7 (NIV)
I picked my way down a dirt path around bare trees in Northern California. The smell of decaying forest bit up to the sinuses. As I zipped my jacket the last inch against the cold, a foul spirit drove in from above and behind.
“You are a dirty sinner. Your idle fantasies and callous heart are anathema to God.”
I pushed my hands deeper into my pockets and hunched over. There was bitter truth in those realizations. My frailty in the face of God’s holiness left my soul in defenseless silence. I staggered to a halt.
There are two sides to this coin of truth. Both must be considered. I am a dirty sinner but I’m also completely forgiven. The message of Psalms 116 is stamped on the reverse side of the coin. The simplehearted who sorrow over their treachery are always forgiven because God’s mercy is more potent than our sin.
To brood over my failure is to deny the full sufficiency of Christ’s redemption. Alternatively, absorbing myself only in God’s forgiveness ignores my sinfulness. The coin of truth must be continually turned and both sides examined—my weakness on one side and God’s substitutionary grace on the other.
With both halves of the truth in my grasp, I straightened and walked on. My sigh of relief sent a cloud against the frosty air and my soul fell into the arms of grace.
Prayer: I am at rest once more for you, Lord, have been good to me.