We are Christians yet, often we don’t live like the work of the Cross is finished. And it is. Jesus said; “It is finished!” Why are there times when we live like we’re finished?
Most everybody has a video library these days with lots of movies that we love. And we watch our favourite movies over and over again. My wife and I have a copy of Chevy Chase’s Christmas vacation that we watch every year. Some movies we watch so many times we can say the dialogue off by heart – ‘Help me Obi Wan Kanobi you’re my only hope!’ We dote on these movies and memorize many wonderful lines – eagerly reliving the experience by speaking these famous lines; ‘Use the force Luke!’
What about God’s Word? Do we ‘dote’ on the Bible? Do we love to read it every season of the year – every day of the year. How many lines of scripture do you memorize and re-enforce your faith by speaking them daily? Do you know that Jesus promised to live with us 24/7 – if we love Him and keep His Word; “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” (John 14:23) If there’s little or no room for God’s Word in our house during the week why would we expect Him to be with us on a daily basis? And why would we expect to meet up with Him in church on Sunday? If Jesus is a stranger in our home, He’s a stranger to us here on Sunday! The more you get to know His Word the more you get to know Him. How do I know that – because He said so! How do I know that He’s as good as His Word? Because when I keep His Word in my living room Jesus is right there with me! Jesus never holds me back.
Sometimes in the middle of the night I’ll get up because I can’t sleep. Often worries and anxieties will creep into my mind and disturb my peace. So I’ll get up. I try not to disturb my wife’s sleep but quite often I’ll be sneaking around in the dark and stub my toe or trip over something. Crash! Everybody is awake now! I’ve learned to keep a little flash light by my bed. If anxiety or worry keeps me from sleeping or disturbs my sleep, I quietly reach for my little light to keep me from stumbling. When worry drives me to God’s Word which is the Light of my life I know where my help is and I know the way through it. The Bible tells us; “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
When life gets dark and things press in on us do we ‘turn on the light of His Word’? Or do we stumble around in the dark – stubbing our toes and disturbing our loved ones peace and that of our neighbours? The prayer of the Psalmist should be our prayer; “I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments. I am afflicted very much: quicken me, O Lord, according unto thy word.” (Psalm 119:106,107) Walking in the newness of life is walking in faith believing God’s word; “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)
You can live in fear – walk in fear by staying in the dark and not turning on the light of God’s Word in your life or you can walk in faith and live by faith; “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’” (Romans 1:17) How wonderful a life of depending on God is if we just take Him at His Word and walk in it; “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) God will never walk away from you but you can walk away from God through your own grudges, covetousness and discontent!
Finally, do you hang on to grudges? Do you hold your resentments closer to your heart than God? This is the sneakiest and deadliest from of idolatry because when we feel we’ve been wronged, let down or abandoned we are certain that nobody has ever been as badly hurt as we have – not even Jesus! Isaiah knew different, he saw Jesus clearly; “He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief and we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.” Jesus was wronged by you and by me and by everybody. Did He nurse a grudge or want to make us pay for what we did? No! He paid the price for our sins so that we might live.
For many this deadly idolatry of self over God is holds them back from an abundant life now and eternally. Jesus tells us you must forgive; “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Matthew 6:14,15) What are you holding on to that is killing you? If you’re nursing a grudge and have an unforgiving heart there’s no way God will nurse you back to health and life no matter how often you show up on Sunday. It’s not because God doesn’t want to. It’s because your pride, anger and resentment blocks His Grace and healing. God will not force himself upon you. Nor will He approach unholy pride, hatred and seething resentment – we need repentance and Jesus to overcome our shortcomings.
Let us ask God to show us what’s holding us back. He will honor that prayer; “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit” (Psalm 51:10-12).