On the one hand, this verse could cause us to bristle with indignation and resistance. How dare God think He can do whatever He sets His desire on in my life! Don’t I even have a say in what’s happening? We could then be like Job and complain out loud, “We can’t dispute what God does.” (Job 9:3) In other words, we can’t cross-examine God, quizzing Him on His motives. So in the end we could end up blaming God, bitter for what has happened in our life, and very unhappy. But if we look at this verse from the viewpoint of God’s sovereign control, we can then rest in His decisions. For even though we may often not understand, we can still trust that God will always accomplish His perfect plan and purpose in our life. Isaiah 55:11, a very familiar passage, reminds us, “So is My word that goes out from My mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” The bottom line is…the Lord’s word, by which He governs history, always carries out His desires…perfectly timed, perfectly executed, perfectly perfect.
These verses give us a beautiful picture of the early Church. From meeting together daily in the Temple to praise and worship the Lord, to sharing meals together and celebrating the joy of the Lord in what they called Table Fellowship… the early Church was united with mutual love and concern one for another. And this kind of lovingkindness did not go unnoticed…for their Christ-like actions and attitudes spoke volumes to those unsaved watching them…”And the Lord added to their number daily.” So what can we take from these verses? Maybe the Church today needs to go back to the basics of the early Church, changing focus from building programs to building up people, from disunity and descension in the pews to unity, righteousness, peace, and joy within the walls…so that others may see our fruit and desire what we have.
” Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.” (Psalm 97:2) In other words, the bedrock of God’s heavenly reign here on earth is honest and truthful, unswerving in adherence to His standard of fairness and divine judgment. God does not judge arbitrarily according to His whim. He never adjudicates His power in an unrestrained or tyrannical manner…that’s because God’s judgment is always fair…always full of integrity…always full of truth.
This verse boils down to one word…unbelief… and whether you’re a Christian or not, you need to be alert for the clever and cunning deception of the world today that will make you question the validity of the Gospel Message. Jesus Christ came preaching salvation for all, but many rejected Him, even though as a Son He spoke on behalf of his Father. He warned of the consequences of rejecting His divine and absolutely binding Word. But still even today people refuse to believe the truth and turn away from the Gospel. But it’s not just unbelief we need to be on guard against but also the subtle nature of deception that introduces doubt and reluctance that can be just as damaging in our life.
The only way to expel the darkness from your life and allow the light in, is to give yourself away. It’s too easy to become introspective and cut off from the world when distress and suffering comes into our lives. We tend to look inward, absorbed with our own thoughts and feelings, unaware of the poverty around us. And as depression and anxiety grows within us, so does the darkness…shrouding our way out of our misery. But it tells us here to give ourselves to the hopeless condition of others…taking our eyes off our own circumstances. The result is an attitude adjustment on our part….a renewed trust in the Lord, relying on His faithfulness to bring us through our trial…and an assurance that regardless of the challenge we’re going through, nothing will stop God’s plan and purpose from being put into effect for us or the people we’re helping. Darkness will give way to light, or as Isaiah 42:16 tells us, “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.”
Elsewhere, in Colossians 1:10 this idea is repeated, “Live a life worthy of the Lord.” So how do we live a life worthy? Well, let’s first look at all the people that poured into your life as you were growing up…all your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, coaches, pastors, and neighbors who modeled social conduct, customs, and mores…showing you how to lead your life in a positive and productive way. Thus, conducting your life worthy of Christ is much the same. As a child you followed the example they set before you…you listened to their sage advice…and you strived to emulate these special people as they modeled exemplary actions and behaviors. The same is true of Christ then…we are to so pattern our lives after Him that when people look at us, they will see Jesus.
Learning to hear that still small voice of the Holy Spirit, responding to His subtle nudging, and becoming acutely aware of His prompting all takes practice. And just like training for any sport, the more effort we put into it, the more finely tuned we become. In this Scripture we can see our training program laid out before us…we just need to follow it. It starts with, “Show me Your ways…” or help me understand Your plan and purpose that I will know when the Holy Spirit shows me I’m not on the right path. Then comes “teach me Your paths, or “Instruct me in what I cannot see.” (Job 34:32) Help me then to discern, with the help of the Holy Spirit, what actions and behaviors of mine are godly or godless. Finally, “guide me in Your truth,” making my ears so attuned with Your voice, that as You lead me I will follow, knowing that You are ever faithful and trustworthy.
I wonder why we’re so surprised every time God moves in the middle of our best laid plans. We need to remember, when it pleases God, He will act…always with perfect intention and resolution of His good pleasure for us. But what do we usually do? We plan, scheme, and even predict what’s going to happen… giving God no elbow room to work. We find our plans set in concrete, our teaching written out word for word, when suddenly it pleases God to move, and we can either welcome it or be upset about Him changing things up. So the best way to make room for God is to expect Him to move…but not always in the way we think. By living in a constant state of expectancy…leaving room for God to break through as He sees fit…we will be showered with His lovingkindness and favor as we watch in anticipation.
Our natural life in and of itself is not sinful. And as a Christian, it’s not a question of giving up sin – it’s a question of giving up my right to myself. My natural life wants to maintain autonym and my right to self-will…so in reality this is where the battle is really fought. Sure, we don’t need to debate over what’s evil or wrong, that’s obvious…but when it comes to things that are “good”, we’ll argue with God , wanting our way. But that’s in direction opposition to what the Lord desires…for He wants only the very best for us. And it’s not until we deny our natural self…crucifying our flesh through faith and love in Christ, that “good enough” will make way for God’s best.
The eternal Word of God, the second person of the Godhead, didn’t merely appear in human form – Jesus actually became flesh and blood – taking on a complete and genuine human nature, and with that becoming subject to every emotion, suffering, trial and tribulation. In other words, Jesus appeared in flesh and blood in order to fully share in our humanity. (Hebrews 2:14) Philippians 2:6-7 tells us, “Who, being the very nature God…took on the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” What this verse is saying is that prior to His incarnation, Jesus existed in the form of God, but in the incarnation, His exalted and divine status didn’t keep Him from assuming the form of a slave…the position He willingly took on during His humiliation here on earth. Jesus was no less God, but also no less slave…in total service to others and obedience to His Father…obedience even to the Cross.