July 11, 2016

Psalm 85:13 Righteousness goes before him
and prepares the way for his steps.

The first seven verses of this Psalm are a prayer for restoration, and the last six seem to be a record of what the Psalmist heard the Lord say to him in response. In any case, this last verse is a word of Divine wisdom that we would all do well to take to heart. That is, if we want the Lord to show up in a good way in our lives, living right is the way to invite Him. Grace is still grace; we can never be good enough on our own. However, rebellion against God, refusing to live as He has said so clearly in His Word, is no way to walk with Him. This is totally simple and logical, and yet countless people live however they want and then complain that God doesn’t bless them! This is not a matter of earning God’s favor, it’s a matter of not quenching or grieving the Holy Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 5:19, Ephesians 4:30) Looking at the world around us, it’s no wonder so few people have clear assurance of God’s presence and love; it’s because they are totally compromised with the world and live no differently than those who don’t pretend to know God. If your day centers on a pornographic “fix,” for example, you can’t expect the joy of the Lord. We make all sorts of excuses and say things like, “Whatever works for you,” but the Bible is quite clear as to the sort of lifestyle that pleases God. If we want God’s best, then our focus needs to be on His kingdom and His righteousness, just as Jesus said. (Matthew 6:33)

This is something I have learned more and more deeply over the years. I spent entirely too long in pride and presumption, assuming for any number of reasons that God would bless me, all the while my heart was completely self-centered. That didn’t work very well! He was still incredibly gracious, but I didn’t enjoy His best, even though it was available to me. I certainly can’t claim perfect righteousness now (except positionally in Christ) but my hunger is indeed for God and His kingdom, and that is a powerful check on my attitudes and actions. I know without question that I can do nothing good apart from Christ, (John 15:5) so my focus is first to abide in Him, and only then to do anything else. As a pastor I try to communicate this lifestyle to others, but some of them seem as blind and stubborn as I once was! I am to pray for them and speak the truth in love as the Lord gives opportunity, and trust the Holy Spirit to change their hearts as He did mine.

Father, You know who came to mind as I wrote that. I do pray that Your Spirit would work powerfully in each of us, and all of us collectively, so that we may be transformed into the healthy part of the Body of Christ that You intend us to be, for Your pleasure and glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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