February 10, 2015

Open for 2015 {Week 5}

Earlier in the year, I mentioned that I was starting up a group to discuss Sally Clarkson's new book, Own Your Life.  We are a few weeks in and having a fabulous time of discussion and fellowship on Sunday evenings.

The only trouble with the whole situation is that I am being confronted with the need to be OPEN, not to others, not with my home and space or time, but rather to the content Sally shares with her readers.  At the end of chapter two she has several self-examination and goal-setting questions about these topics: life chaos, influencing voices, worldly values, and healthy but neglected areas of our lives.

A lot to ponder.  It can feel intimidating or, worse, defeating.

Yet, if we never stop to consider what we are doing and where we are trying to go and if what we are doing is taking us there, [pause for breath], then life will keep happening to us.  We will always feel like victims of the chaos, be swayed by whatever voice is loudest, embrace worldly values that are contrary to righteousness, and continue to neglect taking care of ourselves.

As I think about these things and endeavor to address behaviors I feel God calling me to confront, new opportunities to be OPEN emerge: OPEN to admit failure; OPEN to confess sin; OPEN to confront demons; OPEN to tackle behavior patterns that need changing.

Being honest with one's self can be very unsettling.  We see, by God's grace, that we are not as in great of shape as we thought.  He brings our need and depravity to light and we feel the weight of our inability and sin.

But, praise be to that same God, He does not leave us there!  The Bible says it is His kindness that leads us to repentance.  He does not draw us into the light to shame us, but to break our chains and set us free!

wisdom and folly*

As I was mulling over chapter two of Own Your Life, I was reminded of chapters eight and nine of Proverbs, where wisdom and folly are described.  Reading those words highlights the futility of folly in contrast to the beauty, strength, life, and blessing of wisdom.

Being OPEN to be uncomfortable and honest with ourselves before God also offers the opportunity to be OPEN to the blessings that come from that OPENness!

Listen to these words from Proverbs 9:10-12

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
For through wisdom your days will be many,
and years will be added to your life.
If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you;
if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.

If you and I are wise, friend, if you and I choose wisdom, she will reward us!  God's way - the way of repentance and faith and the pursuit of holiness - is a life of reward in this world and the next.

I remember years ago reading Psalm 19 in which the psalmist is praising the law and counsel of God, which the world tells us will hold us back and keep us from fun and good things.  As the eyes of my heart were OPENed to the message, I was amazed.  Wait, what?  God's way is the best way because He made us and knows how best to guide us in this life?!  He is not a kill-joy but rather a joy-giver?!  Obeying His law and walking in His way will 'revive my soul'?!

Looking into the law of God shows us our sin.  Examining our way now and then reveals that we are prone to wander.  But, dear Christian, the Spirit lives in you and these moments lead us to repentance.  Repentance leads to transformation.  Walking in the way of God is a way of great reward: freedom, peace, hope, joy, life, in this world and the next.

Time to take action:  I will leave you with Psalm 19.  Read it here or grab your Bible read it there.  Confess your sins.  Commit to walking in God's way anew today.  (I am going to, too!)  And, finally, praise, sing, rejoice, and give thanks to this mighty God whose glory the heavens declare and whose gentle kindness guides us back to His way again and again.

Psalm 19

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
    It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
    like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
    and makes its circuit to the other;
    nothing is deprived of its warmth.
The law of the Lord is perfect,
    refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
    making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
    giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
    giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
    enduring forever.
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
    and all of them are righteous.
10 They are more precious than gold,
    than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
    than honey from the honeycomb.
11 By them your servant is warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward.
12 But who can discern their own errors?
    Forgive my hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant also from willful sins;
    may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
    innocent of great transgression.
14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight,
    Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

* If you know who did this painting, can you let me know?  Thanks!

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