Who or What’s Your ‘Go-to’?

Bad news surrounds us as new viruses abound, gas and food prices continue to soar, and corruption, violence, and lawlessness becomes more pervasive. It sure can become easy to get caught up with all that’s wrong.

                Who or where you turn to when the going gets tough will determine your state of peace

What’s your ‘go-to’?  A ‘go-to’ is the person or thing most trusted to accomplish a purpose, and relied on regularly for expert knowledge, skill, or performance. When we operate out of our fleshly sinful nature ‘quick fixes’ like shopping, gambling, over-eating, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, etc. are easy to turn to. Some of these alone aren’t necessarily bad in moderation, but when they become our ‘go-to’ the tendency to overindulge, binge, and engage in addictive behavior brings enslavement—not lasting peace. Other drawbacks regarding these ‘go-tos’ are buyer’s remorse, debt, weight gain, ill-health, and premature death. And just as detrimental (when used in excess) is technology in the forms of social media, videos, and online gaming as they high-jack our time away from true, meaningful relationships and experiences. When our ‘go-to’ is our self we can become over controlling and then ironically spiral out of control when things don’t go as we’ve planned.

                Maybe you do turn to God as your ’go-to’ (mostly) but struggle with staying on a steadfast course with Him. It’s easy to get side-tracked, distracted, or preoccupied with earthly things. The author Bob Goff said, “Distraction robs us of the ability to both live in the moment and discern what lasts.”  Cultivating a long-term perspective is necessary because it’s in the things of God that one receives the best return on investment of their time (Phil. 3:20, Col. 3:1-2). The apostle Paul said, “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” (1 Tim. 4:8).  Paul wrote in his 2nd letter to the Corinthians, “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor. 4:16-18).  

                If you’ve ever tried to hold still and balance on one leg, you might’ve found that you could do it longer when your focus was on what you were doing. Once your mind starts veering to other things, you’re inclined to teeter and then fall.  We all know that’s how it is for most things, whether it’s putting in too much (or too little) of an ingredient in baking or tripping and running into something when our mind wanders. Those who take their attention off the road (either by texting or other distractions) while they’re driving are more apt to get into an accident.  We can also be headed for a crash in the same way when we divert our focus away from the Lord and onto our troubles, taking on a posture of fear instead of standing firmly in God’s strength (Eph. 6:10-11, 13). A mind that’s ever renewed with God’s truth remembers that He is so much more reliable, infallible, and eternally powerful than we are or whatever (or whoever) is in the world (Rom. 12:2, 1 John 2:16-17, 4:4). God is the only good, pure, righteous, and superior source to turn to. Our sight is limited while God is all-knowing and not bound by time (Isa. 46:9-10, 40:21-31, Rev. 1:8).

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“He will not be afraid of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord” (Psalm 112:7).

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Our faith is built as we stay in God’s Word and communicate with Him on a daily basis. This helps us to stay in ‘trust-in-God’ mode rather than turn to lesser things. Those who are steadfast in faith repel the devil’s fiery darts (Eph. 6:16, 1 Pet. 5:8-9). Those who cast all their anxieties on the Lord have a peace that passes all understanding as their hearts and thoughts are guarded in Christ Jesus (1 Pet. 5:7, Phil. 4:6-7). It’s helpful to get in a habit of declaring God’s lovingkindness in the morning and His faithfulness every night (See Psalm 92:2). In the morning we can direct our voice to the Lord and look up to Him for direction as we begin our day (Psalm. 5:3, Prov. 3:5-7).   In the evening it’s just as important to refocus our minds on Him instead of on earthly worries. We can put them to rest for the night when we give them to the Lord in prayer (Phil. 4:6).

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“I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep:  For You, Lord, only make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8).

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                This summer disconnect and disengage from your temporary ‘go-tos’. Think long term. Be available to notice the beauty and the opportunities that the Lord has allowed you to be a part of for His greater purposes (Eph. 2:10). Be present in the moment. Pay attention to whatever is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, things of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy. Meditate on these things (Phil 4:8). Let the Lord be your ‘go-to’ and allow your heart to stand in awe of His Word and bring you peace (Psalm 119:161, Isa. 26:3).  

Laura

He Took a Lowly Position


•Even though He had connections He didn’t use them to gain special advantage or privilege to become socially mobile or to impress the ruling class, but chose to make Himself of no reputation (Phil. 2:5-7).

•His first bed was a manger and His earthly family ordinary (Luke 2:12, Matt. 13:54-57).

•His own people did not receive Him (John 1:10-11, 5:43).

•His ministry was heralded in by a scruff, wild man who wore animal skins. (Mark 1:6, John 1:29-34).

•His disciples weren’t gathered from the most prestigious schools or curated from those who had the best resumes, but from the shores of Galilee, where there were fishermen (Matt. 4:18-22). 

•He was basically homeless as He traveled about (Matt. 8:20).

•He didn’t allow polls, ’fake news’, ‘what was trending’, or man’s opinions to affect the mission He was set out to accomplish. He didn’t give in to false praise, worldly temptations and taunting snares meant to entrap Him (John 2:24-25, 9:16, 10:20, Luke 4:1-12, 23, 11:53-54, 16:15).

•He made his triumphant entry, not on a noble steed, but on a donkey—a mark of lowliness (John 12:13-15, Matt. 21:1-22—prophesied in Zech. 9:9). 

•He was likened as a worm and not a man; a reproach of men, and despised of the People (Psalm 22:6).

I guess one could say that Jesus Christ was a PR nightmare.

                The only begotten Son of God humbled Himself, having no set agenda of His own, but obeyed only what His heavenly Father told Him to say and do, even to the point of death on a cross (John 5:30, 6:38-40, 8:28-29, 12:49, 14:10, 24, 17:8, 14, 19:30, Phil. 2:8).  Some have said of Mel Gibson’s film, “The Passion of the Christ” that it was excessive and went ‘over the top’—exaggerating Christ’s humiliation. The Scriptures say otherwise:

•“…His visage was marred more than any man and His form more than the sons of men…” (Isaiah 52:14)

Prophesied of the Messiah in Isaiah 53:

• (vs 3) Despised and rejected by men…a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief

• (vs 5) Wounded for our transgressions—bruised for our iniquities—chastised for our peace

                Matthew records its fulfillment, showing Christ was: seized (26:57), falsely accused (26:59-60), spit on, cuffed, slapped (vs 26:67), scourged, surrounded by a cohort of 600 men, while He was stripped & redressed in a scarlet robe with a crown of thorns on His head and a reed placed in His right hand while they ’bowed before’ and mocked Him, spit on and then beat Him on the head with the reed. After they were done mocking Him, they took off the robe & put His other clothes back on and led Him away to be crucified (27:26-35). 

                While all this was going on He said nothing (as prophesied in Isaiah 53): 

• (v 7) Oppressed and afflicted (yet He opened not His mouth)——Led as a lamb to the slaughter —Christ the Passover Lamb (1 Cor. 4:7, John 1:29, 1 Pet. 1:18-19, Rev. 5:9). His innocence was affirmed by 6 witnesses: (1) Judas (Matt. 27:4), (2) Pilate (Matt. 27:24), (3) Pilate’s wife (Matt. 27:19), (4) Herod (Luke 23:15), (5) the malefactor (Luke 23:41), (6) the Roman centurion (Luke 23:47).

                The true, pure, unblemished Lamb of God remained silent and submitted to the Father’s will and ultimate purpose (Phil. 2:8).  This all was part of God’s greater plan. It was necessary, not only that the Scriptures be fulfilled (John 19:28, Luke 24:6-7, 44, Matt. 26:53, 56), but of the long standing prophecy that God made in the garden of Eden after Adam and Eve disobeyed His Word, which allowed sin and death to enter the world (Gen. 3, Rom. 3:23, 5:12, 6:23). The 1st promise and prophecy of Genesis 3:15 foretold the temporary suffering of the Seed (Christ) and the complete destruction of Satan and his works (Heb. 2:14, 1 John 3:8). Until the promised Seed came and accomplished God’s will on the cross, the only way mankind could have peace with God was through the substitutionary sacrifice of a male, unblemished lamb who took their place to make atonement for their sins—for the life of flesh is in the blood (Lev. 17:11, Heb. 9:22, 26, 1 John 3:5, 1 Peter 2:22-23, 2 Cor. 5:21, Rom. 3:24-25, 5:1, Eph. 2:13).

                 Re: Jesus’ burial, His enemies went to the governor, Pilate to make sure the tomb was sealed tightly and guarded so that Jesus’ disciples wouldn’t come in and steal His body and claim that He’d risen from the dead as Jesus proclaimed earlier in His ministry (John 2:19-22, Matt. 27:62-66, Luke 9:22).

                The stone was rolled away and Christ Jesus had risen, just as He’d foretold His disciples and it wasn’t by any trickery, but by the omnipotent power of God.  Only God’s almighty power could be worked in Christ to raise Him from the dead and then seat Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come (Matt. 16:21, 17:22-23, John 2:19-22, Eph. 1:20-21).                

                The bedrock of the Christian faith (and what sets it apart from other religions) is tied up with Christ Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. And there were many that were witnesses to it (1 Cor. 15:3-8). As Paul preached to the Corinthians in his first letter to them, ”And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive (1 Cor. 15:17-22).

                Jesus was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, but now crowned with glory and honor so that He, by the grace of God, would taste death for everyone.  “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (Hebrews 2:9-10).

                Philippians 2:9-11 says this, “…God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

                                                For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.  He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:16-19).

                                God loves us so much that even when we were dead in trespasses, He made us alive together with Christ Jesus, and raised us up to sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in ages to come He might display the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  We are saved by grace through faith. There is nothing that we can do to earn it on our own—it is the gift of God. It’s not related to our works so that no one can boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:4-10).

 “O Death, where is your sting?”

“O Grave, where is your victory?”

…thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:55-58).

“For our citizenship is in heaven; from where also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20).

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, Rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4)

Laura

BECOMING UPWARDLY MOBILE

Rock that is Higher
Rock that is Higher by Laura Kestly

The Christian life, like mountain climbing, is all about challenge and perseverance–not everyone will reach the summit. It’s akin to a mountaineering expedition that many are content with staying at a low altitude. It’s a wonderful (or as my Grandma would say, “Marvelous”) thing to be saved purely by grace from a loving & merciful God for all that receive it by faith. Thankfully, salvation does come by grace rather than by our works of any kind & we can feel secure that it won’t be taken away (It’s a sealed deal-Eph. 2:8-9, 1:13). Sadly many Christians stop here (at the base) and set up camp. They never desire ‘things above’ or to become “upwardly” mobile (Col. 3:1-2). Some seem content as the Israelites were with their captivity in Egypt. The hazards of “falling rocks” & “avalanches” in their lives keep them at base camp rather than ascending toward the summit.

                To know and be secure in one’s salvation is a glorious thing and it should propel the believer toward good works. After all we are God’s workmanship & He even prepared ahead of time what our good works will be. He’s just waiting for us to walk in them (Eph. 2:10). Even though God has equipped us with all the proper gear that’s needed for our climb, we need to be willing to ‘work out’ what He’s already ‘worked in’–doing so with fear & trembling as a prize awaits to be won & a crown to be gained–but no man is crowned unless he strives within the rules (Phil. 2:12-13, 1 Cor. 9:24-27, 2 Tim. 2:5). The outworking comes as the hideousness of sin is exposed and the mind is renewed & understands what the good, acceptable & perfect will of God is (Rom. 12:2). All these the Lord uses to influence those willing to ascend to a Rock that is Higher (Ps. 61:2).

            BEWARE: LET NO ONE CHEAT YOU OF YOUR REWARD

            It isn’t just the obvious hazards of the climb that keep believers camped out. Satan doesn’t need to waste his time & energy in trying to deprive the believer of his acceptance in the Beloved (Eph. 1:6) as his life is ‘hid with Christ in God’–in the shadow of His wings (Col. 3:3, Ps. 91:1-2, 4). So Satan invests his time in trying to deceive the believer to turn away from the fullness of Christ—causing him to release his grip from the ‘Head’ (like gear protection from falling). The enemy accomplishes this through diversion–tricking the believer to be occupied with the philosophy & empty deceit of men & the basic principles of the world. This includes deluding the believer to delight in false humility, the worship of angels & be brainwashed into obeying the regulations according to the commandments & doctrines of men. These are only a facade of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, & neglect of the body, but are worthless protection against the indulgence of the flesh. Thus the devil’s scheme has effectively dishonored the believer and cheated them out of their reward. Their prize is lost & above all the Savior robbed–for what is a crown to the believer but an added crown to Him?” (Col. 2:1-10, 16-23). It’s not surprising that many have fallen off course in a society where instant gratification is promulgated whereas the reward in God’s economy goes to those who patiently suffer (Phil. 3:19, Heb. 12:1-2).

FOCUS on Upward Mobility. Avoid falling back. Look to the Rock that is Higher than you–where your true citizenship is (Ps. 61:2, Col. 3:2-3, Phil. 3:20-21). Be like the apostle Paul who desired to know what it was like ‘to walk in Christ’s shoes’ which involved a deep, personal relationship that was willing to partake of Christ’s suffering & shame–a fellowship & conformity that knew that the prize, reward and crown were worth the steep climb! So forget those things which are behind & reach forward to those things which are ahead–Press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:13-14)! If we endure, we will also reign with Him (2 Tim. 2:12). You can do all things through Christ who will strengthen you (Phi. 4:13)–So Ascend!      Laura