As children of God, we are learners. Learners need discipline and correction. Are we responding to His training?
18 Whoever disregards discipline comes to poverty and shame,
but whoever heeds correction is honored.
1 John 3:1 calls us children of God. Romans 8:16 does, too. We pick up where Adam and Eve left off, but with one difference: We have the Spirit of God inside us! I wish we felt more of His Spirit in us, but our walk is by faith and not by feeling. Occasionally, we get to enjoy sensing His “nearness” in the form of peace, joy, exuberance, love and compassion, and even pain for others. At these times, we break out into shouts of praise and songs of gladness, and sometimes into times of intimate prayer and fellowship with Him. It is these times for which I live and base my reality (along with the Word of God). My desire is to know Him and to be like Him.
19 A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul,
but fools detest turning from evil.
In order to enjoy the world to come, we need to see this world as Jesus does. It is broken, but not beyond repair. Rather than a “lifeboat theology,” it’s an “ark theology.”* God doesn’t wipe everything out and start over; instead, He makes everything like new again. Jesus said, “Truly, I tell you, at the RENEWAL of all things…” (Matthew 19:28). “Renewal” means “to make like new,” and it will happen when Jesus returns to earth–with all of His brothers and sisters with Him! Those very, very, very few (compared to all who have gone on before) will meet Him in the air as we all go to Jerusalem with Him to set up His throne and kingdom (see 1 Thessalonians 4).
What is your longing? Is it to sense His Presence? Is it to feel His love, joy, peace, hope, compassion, mercy and grace? The best way to experience these attributes is to start implementing them in our lives in regard to others. We must extend love, joy, peace, hope, compassion, mercy and grace to those around us, even to those who don’t deserve it–ESPECIALLY to those who don’t deserve it! If salvation is like a slingshot, the further a person walks into the band, the greater the effect when he repents and turns around! The “worst” people may be the very ones that will have the greatest viewable transformation in their lives. I say, “viewable,” because we all have a complete heart transplant and are transformed:
26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful [diligent] to keep my laws. Ezekiel 36:26-27
It’s the previous verse that describes the process of sanctification (becoming like Christ):
25 I will sprinkle clean water on you [ceremonial cleansing], and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols.
Getting rid of our idols and that which makes us impure is where we live. It’s the “becoming like Christ” part of our walk. Why didn’t He just make us like Himself when we were saved? Good question! I wish I had a good answer for you. Maybe He had to have it this way in order for grace to work throughout generations. Maybe He likes the interaction of us growing in Him. Whatever the case, we can be grateful that “He walks with us and talks with us and tells us we are His own” (In the Garden hymn).
Let’s be grateful that we are part of His Process! May we LONG FOR Him and regard His DISCIPLINE and CORRECTION as His sweet interaction in our lives.
Abba, thank You that You want to be interactive with me! May I never take it for granted or relegate you to the sidelines. Such arrogance–yet, I have done it before. Even when I get impatient with myself, may Your lovingkindness wash over me and encourage me to simply continue in striving to be just like You. Thank You for the promise that one day I will succeed! May I memorize and internalize 1 Corinthians 13:9-10, 12, For I know in part and prophesy (teach) in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 12 For now I see only a reflection as in a mirror; then I shall see [You] face to face. Now I know [You] in part; then I shall know [You] fully, even as I am fully known. Make it so, LORD Jesus, make it so. Amen.
*Heaven by Randy Alcorn, page 415