Thought for January 21 – Day 21 of the new year
Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
The Christian race is ongoing. All those who have gone before are our observers. We are required to run without the baggage of a thousand regrets. The past of our lives is always the greatest hindrance to our progress. Regret, shame, and guilt slow our progress. We must just let it go and run. It is extremely easy to think and say the race is about the final checkered flag. Yet it seems so far away. I need to just concentrate on the next step, the next few feet. It is about perseverance. It is about focused continual action. The accomplishment of one step is an encouragement to make it to the next after that.
Ezekiel 36:26 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” ——————————————
It is recorded that as Sir Walter Raleigh placed his neck on the chopping block of his execution, the executioner asked, “Does your head lie easy, Sir Walter?” Answering the man holding the double-edged ax, “It matters not, my friend, how my head lies, provided my heart is right.”
The state of my heart is my decision. My soul can be a stone with an associated hardness and lifelessness, or it can be a thing of hope, caring, forgiveness, and love. I cannot allow ideology to supplant God’s will. I cannot let my wants, needs, desires, and my own personal demand for control, take the place of God’s will. My alliance with God’s perfect will, my decision, makes me who I am. It is an act of God’s renewal of me.
Acts 3:19 “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,”
The sun is out this morning. It seems like there has been rain or a threat of rain for almost a month. There are showers of refreshing for all those who are willing to stand out in them without fear of getting soaked. A sign on my wall so aptly states, “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass but learning to dance in the rain.”
God’s favor is for those who have been made clean, made into new creatures, being made in His image. Similar to the hymn we used to sing in church:
There shall be showers of blessing,
This is the promise of love
There shall be seasons, refreshing
Sent from the Savior above.
Showers of blessing we need
Mercy drops ‘round us are falling
But for the showers, we plead.
Refresh me again Oh God.
Colossians 3:9-10 “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”
In California, winter snow is delegated to the high mountains. The stark contrast of white is seen from the valley and is a welcome sight knowing the coming summer will have enough water. Winter is the far edge of spring. At this point in my life, I too am at the far edge of my beginning. At this time of year, I listen to the rain rhythmically on my roof. The leaves have been raked, and all else has been put away for protection. In the summer we pray for rain. In winter we pray for sunshine.
Nevertheless, with winter comes a promise of spring. Spring is putting off the quiet for the new. I look forward to the spring. It is about pressing on to bigger and better things. I am not exaggerating when I say last year was tough. As I move on with my life, I often must stop and remember to cleanse my mind from the negative and fill it with the wonder, splendor, grace, and mercy that pours from the creator. Renewal in the knowledge of my image moving toward the image of Jesus.
Genesis 1:27 – So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
My name is Larry, I am created in God’s own image. I came from Him and someday I will be going back to him. My worth is not dependent upon your opinion. My worth is not dictated by societal norms. My life is much more than what you may see of me or even your judgment of me. Who I am is much more than the cultural group to which you think I belong. Do not segregate me because of some outside, physical attribute. I refuse to be canceled. Just societies are built on the acknowledgment and acceptance of the truth of all human beings are bearers of God’s image. They all have equal dignity, incalculable worth with rights that cannot be taken at the whim of any other. It was C.S. Lewis who wrote, “There are no ordinary people, you have never talked to a mere mortal.” The essence of my dignity is not man-made. I am not an earthy person experiencing spiritual things, but a spiritual person experiencing earthly things.
Romans 8:1-3 “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.”
Discouragement is that palpable thing that seems to sour all that it touches. Discouragement so easily comes to us in a whisper or even in a small task. There are times I raise my hands in surrender and shout to all that would hear, “It is simply too much.” “Forgiveness of my enemies is more than I can do.” “I cannot write one more line.” All my efforts frustrate me. Each morning I rise to a haunting thought of my words making no difference. Discouragement comes in so many flavors. Yet there is only one solution. There is now no condemnation, no discouragement, no reduction, no ill, no sin, no sliding back for me. The Spirit gives me life. And that is good enough for now.
LORD, today is a new day for a reflection of your grace. I will not stop. Help me to see the right reason for doing it. I will keep on keeping on.
Ezekiel 36:25-28 “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 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. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. You will be my people, and I will be your God.
Assurance blossoms in repeated conflict. The discouragement is caused by losing sight of the promise of God. Stand up, repeat the words of faith. The Lord’s power and goodness are not diminished by your conflict. When we are torn apart, God still lives. When we are discouraged, God still loves us. When we are in danger, God still reaches out. When evil stands in the door, God still is your protector. When discouragement haunts you, God is there to remind you of his very presence. God is beyond appearances. You will be my people, and I will be your God.