divorce

As I came to the end of a class I am taking for my ordination, I had to write a final paper and the topic I received was about divorce. Since divorce is wide spread and many are affected by it, my hope in sharing this paper with you to encourage you in the way you form your views on divorce and to encourage you in how you respond to the topic. This paper is not the “final authority” on the topic at all – it brushes many of the core aspects of divorce and remarriage from a Biblical perspective. Feel free to share your comments and your thoughts about what I wrote. And please know I write this paper from the position of love and respect. Each person in my biological family (mother, father, sister and brother) have all had divorce in their lives & marriages – and obviously, some of them came from a family where their parents were divorced too. So I come at this seeking answers and seeking to understand more clearly what the Bible truly says about divorce and remarriage.

I received an e-mail from a lady in my church asking me about Christians who divorce. Specifically, she wanted to know if she had biblical grounds, be in God’s blessing, if she remarried a Godly man. She has been married and divorced now twice. Her first marriage she ended after years of physical and mental abuse. Her second marriage was ended by her husband, but there was no abuse or known infidelity. Her first husband has since died; her second husband has been remarried. And, she has been single now for 24 years. She even understands some basic principles about marriage and divorce. She understands what Jesus taught in Matthew 5:31-32, taken from Deuteronomy, that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery. She also said she understand that Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 7:39-40 and throughout Chapter 7 principles as well about divorce. Her main question then was, is this clear cut or not? Can Christians who divorce get married again and be in God’s will. The quandary she finds herself in is all too familiar for many people today, whether they are Christians or not. 

Whether in the church or not, divorce is widespread. Most people have come to accept divorce and remarriage and this growing acceptance of divorce has taken away the sting and shame associated with it and thus, has made divorce all the more tempting. And this truth has become more and more real throughout our culture, and especially within the church culture. God’s plan for marriage is that it would be a life-long commitment, a union between a man and woman. Yet, from the books of Moses to the teachings of Jesus and the letters of Paul, divorce has been a topic of discussion throughout the Word of God. Divorce was an issue then, just as it is now. So perhaps this is why many throughout history have sought the same peace about Christians who divorce as the woman who wrote me. Divorce is everywhere. You do not have to search very far within any one family before you find someone in that family who has been divorced and even remarried. Obviously, we have strayed from God’s plan for marriage when a divorce has been sought out. However, the tension for many people is the fact that divorce has been a means to end a marriage for such a long time – why should it be different now, especially for Christians.

Many Christians struggle with even accepting Jesus’ teaching on divorce and they struggle with taking it so literally – after all, Jesus does quote what was taught in Deuteronomy, by first supporting divorce for sexual immorality but then takes it a step further, but saying those who divorce for any other reason commit adultery. That is a hard truth to wrestle with and own, especially for many Christians who have experienced the pain of divorce for a variety of reasons other than sexual immorality. Jesus links divorce to adultery and just prior to His teaching about divorce in Matthew 5, he speaks about adultery itself, and how one who “looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28) So obviously the issue of divorce and Christians who divorce can be a really tough subject. No wonder the person who wrote me is struggling to understand what is Biblical – for what she desires is to be married. After all, God created us with those desires to be in relationship with others. Yet, because of her past and because of the divorce issue in her life she is left in a quandary. And sadly, many Christians are in the exact same place.

Within in our current culture divorce is wide spread. The statistics that say 40-50% of marriages will end in divorce is a projection based on our current culture of divorce in America. According to Jennifer Baker of the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology in Springfield, Missouri, she says that 50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second and 74% of third marriages end in divorce. Yet, according to the EnrichmentJournal  the divorce rate in America for first marriage is 41%, for a second marriage is 60% and the divorce rate in America for a third marriage is 73%.[1] So although there are great statistics out there about our current culture and divorce, and many are similar, there can be a wide variation in statistics by at least 10%. The Barna Group, out of Ventura, CA has found that “four out of every five adults (78%) have been married at least once. Among adults who have been married, the study discovered that one-third (33%) have experienced at least one divorce. The study showed that the percentage of adults who have been married and divorced varies from segment to segment. For instance, the groups with the most prolific experience of marriage ending in divorce are downscale adults (39%), Baby Boomers (38%), those aligned with a non-Christian faith (38%), African-Americans (36%), and people who consider themselves to be liberal on social and political matters (37%).”[2]

So although there is a variety of research and although those statistics vary from research group to research group, many have identified similar reasons for divorce. These reasons are just as true within the church and Christianity, as they are among non-believers. “Nineteenth-century author Leo Tolstoy observed, ‘What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility.’”[3] Areas of incompatibility and how you deal with them are the driving force behind divorce. Areas of incompatibility are: differences in priorities and expectations, addictions, issues with raising and disciplining children, spiritual and culture issues, boredom within their marriage, sexuality compatibility and infertility, finances, physical/psychological/emotional abuse, breakdown/poor communication, and infidelity. [4] There are many compatibility issues that have lead people to divorce. And for many Christians, the Biblical view on divorce is even more narrow and specific than what most would consider compatibility issues. For even Tolstoy understood this – he understood that a happy marriage is not just made by ones compatibility, but rather how differences are met, understood and worked through in a marriage. Many Christians struggle with the issue of divorce. Many churches and denominations have had to develop strong standards for leaders and pastors when it comes to this issue because of how widespread it is within our culture. And many churches and denominations have had to address various aspects of divorce that are more about a social response to a negative aspect, rather than a strict Biblical perspective on divorce.

Understanding what the Bible says about divorce is important. But more important than that understanding is actually applying those truths to our lives and then being submitted to living them out in obedience. As a Christian, we have a responsibility to respond to what God’s Word says about divorce and thus, remarriage. God’s Holy Word does specifically address divorce – both in the historical context of when it was written and the audience it was written for, as well for our current culture. Malachi 2:16 says, “‘I hate divorce,’ says the Lord God of Israel.” And God’s heart toward divorce has not changed from then until now for in the next chapter of Malachi it says, “I the Lord do not change.” (Malachi 3:6) What we need to understand about God’s heart towards divorce is that in Malachi, when God expresses his hatred of divorce, He does not differentiate between certain circumstances for divorce being Godly or not. Regardless of circumstances or the condition of the divorce, God hates it. That does not mean that the Lord cannot redeem us from a divorce and that His grace and forgiveness does not apply to those who do divorce. Hate, in Malachi 2, is not towards the person, but the action. The action of divorce is what God hated. And, that hate towards divorce will probably have implications towards those who have justified divorce as a means for a solution to their marital problems. God did not say His hate for divorce excluded adultery or abuse. He hates it. He hates it now. He will always hate divorce. And this is an important Biblical truth for us to understand. It should help to shape our heart towards such a big social issue within our culture. And it should guide us in our desire to seek redemption for those marriages that are struggling, regardless of the circumstances. So although divorce is opposite of God’s heart for marriage and can limit His redemptive work in a person’s life, the Bible does address a Biblical means for divorce & remarriage.

In the Word of God many feel there is a guideline for a Biblical divorce. And although God hates divorce, many feel that God did establish for His followers parameters for divorce that are Biblical and Christ honoring. The distinction between justifications for divorce is of the upmost of importance but it does not take away from God’s heart towards divorce. Ultimately our attitude should always be one of forgiveness. After all, Hosea was told to marry a woman who was a prostitute, an adulterous and scandalous woman. And then God said that Hosea was to continue to forgive her for all of the various acts of prostitution she willfully committed. Hosea was faithful to extend forgiveness to her and finally God redeemed their marriage. This Biblical example calls into question those who feel that there is a guideline for Biblical divorce.

Many would say what happened to Hosea was an illustration for others to understand God’s commitment to His people. God keeps cleansing and forgiving His church, His bride, no matter how sinful we are. There is nothing that can separate us from God’s love. 1 John 1:9 says that “He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. And specifically then when addressing the marriage relationship, we are told in Ephesians 5:25-27 that “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” That is strong message of forgiveness and redemption. One that would not happen if God would not have looked passed our sin, our “prostitution” of our souls to Satan and the ways of this world.

Yet many Christians look past the aspect of forgiveness “no matter the cost, no matter problem, or the indiscretion” to other parts of Scripture as a Biblical guideline for divorce. For example, Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:31-32 where Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy 24 about the law governing the Israelites in regards to divorce is where Jesus takes that law and goes a step further by clearly saying that if divorce does happen, and it is for any other reason than “marital unfaithfulness” than that is wrong. At this point, he does not address whether or not they are Christians – he does not distinguish between any other factors such as abuse.  He very simply said, “you have heard this, but I tell you this now.” In Matthew 19, we are told that the Pharisees come to test Jesus and they specifically ask if a man can divorce his wife for any reason. The Law of Moses says he must issue her a certificate, ending the marriage bond. However, and because divorce was just as prevalent in their culture as it is ours today, Jesus responds in a similar way as He did in Matthew 5. He gives a clear response to why God created marriage and how there is a specific allowance for a marriage to end – not because one’s heart cannot work through a ‘difference compatibility’ – but because of sexual immorality. This must mean then, there is a difference between what God allows and what God commands, and we must distinguish between the two. 

We know from Malachi 2 that God hates divorce. God hates divorce because it destroys a pivotal and foundational marker within society, the family. All sorts of evil can break out with, when a family breaks up because of divorce. God hates divorce because of the hurt that it causes an entire family. And, God hates divorce because of the cycle is breeds into a family – and example that extends to children and then their children. Sometimes the cycle of hurt and anger that divorce can create can be endless. God never encourages divorce. Nor should we. Ever. God allows it under certain circumstances and Jesus clearly paints the picture of what that allowance might be – when a marriage bond is broken by sexual unfaithfulness and the marriage cannot be redeemed. And those wishing God’s blessing on remarriage must ensure that their divorce was covered by God’s allowances for such a thing. And in 1 Corinthians 7 we learn more about what God allows in marriage, and thus grounds for remarriage, through the Apostle Paul. Verse 13 of chapter 7 gives us a command for marriage that “if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him.” Then a few verses later the allowance for a divorce is given in verse 15: “But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.” God allows divorce when one spouse deserts the other because he or she does not want to live with a Christian. It is through this lens of Scripture that we get a Biblical understanding of what God is telling those who follow Him what grounds they have for divorce and the parameters for remarriage is as well.

To those wanting to know whether or not they have Biblical grounds to divorce, and as a follower of Christ, you must earnestly and carefully pray about that decision to pursue a divorce and you must be open to God’s leadership in this aspect of your life. Remember, God’s hates divorce and He longs for the redemptive work of Christ in any marriage. God is bigger than the fault and we cannot limit His redemptive work in our lives. However, there are grounds for which God allows divorce and when that criteria is met, and much counseling and prayer have been done, then only then should one be open to it. And, when a marriage ends in divorce and it meets God’s allowance for it, then and only then can remarriage be blessed by God and be an honoring union before the Lord. Churches and Christians today will say that abuse in marriage is a Biblical allowance for divorce. Not because abuse in any form as specifically addressed in Scripture, but because the Word of God does command those who follow God to live in obedience to the laws that govern our society – and abuse is in our society today is unlawful. Many Christians struggle with the issue of divorce. And the Word of God speaks clearly about the issue. Yet many will seek to justify their desires for divorce over God’s command for marriage and divorce – and this must change within our culture and within the church.  

Building Obedience

What are the things you are currently building into your life? What habits and daily activities are apart of and developing? What aspects of your character are you focused on and aware of? All of us, are building something into our lives daily. What are you building into your life?

So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? 47 I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. 48 It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. 49 But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.” (Luke 6:46-49, NLT)

The main point of this text in Luke 6, in this teaching by Jesus, is this word called obedience. It’s not enough to just hear the Word of God and call Him Lord…we must also obey the Word and do what He says. Obedience requires action on our part. Building obedience into our lives teakes work and effort.

So in order to be obedienct, we must first learn the basics. Do you remember the movie, Karate Kid from the 80’s? The character in the movie, “Daniel-Son”, became frustrated with the tasks he was asked to do. However he needed to learn the basics. (Watch a great clip of this here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8aYl7N0JPWs)

The verses in Luke 6 talk about the basics of building a home. Why would anyone build a house without a foundation? Perhaps to save time or to avoid the work. Maybe it is easier to just join others who have skipped the basics and have already built their home in the sandy areas? Maybe it’s because they haven’t heart about the potential of violent storms? Whatever the case may be, those with no real foundation, or weak foundations – those who skipped the most important, yet basic task of building the right foundation, will be sorry.

The foundation of your soul & mind is made up of what is most important to you.

Obeying God is like building a house on a strong, solid foundation. When life is calm, when it is easy, our foundations don’t seem to matter. However, when problems come along, that is when what is most basic, and most important, the foundation – it is tested.

The foundation of your sould & mind is made up of what is most important to you. Don’t become too busy to build into your life things that truly matter. We need to be sure that our life is build on the solid foundation of the Lord. Don’t ever stop pursuing the most basic, important thing in life…and obedient relationship with God. Build up for yourself a solid foundation of knowing and trusting Jesus.

God is offering each of us amazing blessings from our obedience – but we must choose just that, obedience untio Him. All of us are building something…what are you building into your life?

Loving Your Enemies

Have you ever hated someone? Despised them? Have you ever been so mistreated & hurt by someone that you burn with anger against them and/or their actions? Most of us at some point in our lives could answer yes to any (or maybe even all) of these questions. Some of these people we struggle with are family members or co-workers, neighbors or even our friends.

The Jewish people despised the Roman Empire and the Roman authority in thier lives because of the oppression they felt. They were God, Yahweh’s, people and the Romans treated them very poorly. When Jesus began his teaching ministry, one of the cultural problems of the day that he addressed was this very issue of hate and anger.

Jesus had a radicle message that was different than many other teachers of the day. Jesus told the people, God’s people, to love these enemies.

But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you. “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return. “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. (Luke 6:27-36, NLT)

And this message is still true for us today but it makes me ask the question: loving your enemies…what does this mean? As I read through this teaching of Jesus I see one concise truth: loving your enemeies means acting in their best interest. To pray for them…to help them. Jesus asks those who chose to follow to follow His example by loving our enemies. This teaching of Jesus was radical even then and for those of who choose to follow His example now, this teaching calls us to be radical in our love to those we have the hardest time loving.

It is through loving and praying for our enemies, we can overcome evil with good. It is the basic principle of “give what you want to get” really. Yet it is deeper than than that – for when we show love towards our enemie we will show that Jesus is Lord of our lives. But to do that, we have to be fully surrendered to God.

Verse 36 calls us to compassion. How do we show compassion? We can show it in character, holiness, maturity, and love.

Character: We cannot be perfect. But, we can try to be as much like Christ as possible. Often, since we know we won’t ever be totally perfect we end up not trying as hard as we ought to be more like Christ. Our character needs to grow to be more like Christ and in doing so we take on the tremendous compassion Christ offered the world through His very life.

Holiness: We are to seperate ourselves from the worlds sinful values – this is what it means to pursue holiness and to be a true example of compassion. We are to be more devoted to God’s desires than to our own. We are to carry out His love and compassion into the world – this is the manifestation of the holiness of God in our lives.

Maturity: We cannot achieve Christlike character and holiness all at once. It is a working in our lives. Much like compassion is a working in our lives. Much like loving our enemies is working in our lives as well. Normally, it just doesn’t happen – but over time it takes root and gains momentum. We must grow toward marturity and wholeness.

Love: We can seek to love others as completely as God loves us. That is how we show compassion.

Christ calls all of us to excel in this area of becoming more like Him – of loving our enemies. Obviously their a need for this kind of action and living our world today. What do you want to experience in your life: the pain of hate and the seperation that is brings? Or, the fruit of working towards loving others and the blessing you get from your choice to be more like Christ to others, especially your enemies?

Life is built on character, and character is built on decision. But decisions are based on values, and your values must be accepted by faith. Moses made his life-changing decision on the basis of values that other people thought were foolish, but God honored his faith (Hebrews 11:24-29). The Christian, YOU, can enjoy all that God gives if you live with eternity’s values, HEAVEN, in view (1 Timothy 6:17).

So maybe to be more like Jesus and to grow in compassion for others you need to examine your view. What’s your view like? Jesus assumed that anyone who live for eternal values would get in trouble with the worlds crowd. After all, He did refer to those who would follow Him as being salt and light. And sometimes salt stings and light exposes the depravity of sin.

So should we treat our enemies? We must love them of coarse – we must do good towards them, and pray for them. We must ask the Holy Spirit to fill us with His Presence so that we can respond to them with the holy compassion of God. Responding to people with love can only be done through the power of the Holy Spirit. “And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (Romans 5:5, NLT) “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love…” (Galatians 5:22, NLT)

I heard it said before that “hatred only breeds more hatred.” Are you controlled by the Holy Spirit or hatred? Do you express yourself positively when others are negative? Are you generous when others are selfish? It comes back to that basic principle that we must treat others as we would want to be treated.
 
Part of being a follower of Christ is to be like Him and to be compassionate. The important thing is that we become more like God in our character and that we look less like ourselves. This is the greatest reward anyone can receive. Far greaterd than riches, or even food, laughter or popularity. For those things will all be gone some time day, but the expressions of you faith and trust in Christ last forever.
 
Jesus taught those who felt oppressed to love their enemies and to be compassionate. Both are amazing opportunities for us too, to show the world who God is and this is a great way for us to be more like God Himself as we reflect His love and compassion to others.

Our Words

A friend once shared this with me: Everyone of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously.

The way we talk to people and the way we talk about people should do nothing but build up the hearts of others. I have heard and seen so many hurtful things happen because of the words people use.

Everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time!” (Proverbs 15:23, NLT) The right word at the right time – it is beautiful! Words are like that. They are powerful instruments for good or bad. We can use words in distractive ways, or we can use words to build and encourage.

And nothing I am writing is “new knowledge” to you but why then is it such a struggle for so many of us to speak words that give life? Why do some of us get so far off track that we are actually convinced that our sharp words “spoken in love” are justified?

What this adds up to, then is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all…watch the way you talk. Let nothing could or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t such a gift for granted. Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:25-32, MSG)

We live in a world where words are often weilded as weapons. And God has a plan, a deep desire, for you to use your words as a tool to build up the hearts of others. Imagine the Kingdom impact your words would have if what you believed and said was fully surrendered to will of God!?!

Some of us…
…need to cleanse our mouths and minds
…need to stop lying and twisting the truth
…need to start being intentional about encouraging others

But how? How do we do this? My friend answered this question for me once. He said, “Watch what God does, and then you go do it.” We can’t wait for others to change. We must change. We are commanded by the Lord to be like Him – not like this world. Our words and our actions reveal to the world our true beliefs, attitude and motives. Whatever is in your heart and mind will come out out in your speech and in your behavior – it won’t stay hidden forever.

How do the words you use says you ware wanting to be more like Jesus? Our words are powerful.

Lord, I am aware that we may need to just pause before You now and ask for Your forgiveness for the ways in which we have used our words. Friendships, relationships, marriages and exchanges with others are hurting today because of the things we have said. I ask for Your forgiveness Father and I ask that You would fill each of us with Your Presence and that we would allow You to cleanse each of us and that we would desire to reflect Your heart to build others up. We confess our need for You now and we ask that You would use us to speak life-giving words to others today. In your Name we pray, Amen

Everyone of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously.

Judging Others

I am a firm believer that in life, we reap what we sow. We get back, what we’ve given. If we judge, we’ll be judged. If we forgive, we will be forgiven. These thoughts have been rolling around in my mind for the past several days. 

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” Then Jesus gave the following illustration: “Can one blind person lead another? Won’t they both fall into a ditch? Students are not greater than their teacher. But the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher. “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye[c] when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying, ‘Friend, let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” (Luke 6:37-42, NLT)

Our words and actions are powerful; take them seriously. When we judge people, we pick on them. Don’t pick on people, don’t jump on their failures or criticize their faults – unless I guess, you want the same treatment. Scripture is clear – we should not judge others. And not only are we not suppose to judge others, but we aren’t suppose to let others fools us with lies and with their version of the truth. We must discern others motives, but allow God to judge their motives and their is a huge difference…

Judgement is a choice. When we choose to not judge others it releases the love of God in our lives and enables us to help others, even those who hurt us. So before we judge others, we must judge ourselves. We shall be judged by our words and actions. We are being judged by our words and actions. Not only will God judge us at the end of our lives, but people are watching us, and judging us right now; and we receive from people exactly what we give. When we choose to not judge others it releases the love of God in our lives and we will receive from people, exactly what we give.

Judging others clouds of vision. We must see clearly to help others. Christians are obligated to help each other grow in grace. Don’t judge and criticize in order for yourself to just look good. Jesus choose the symbol of the eye in Luke 6 because this is one of the most sensitive areas of the body. The picture of a man with a 2×4 stuck in his eye, trying to help someone else remove a speck of dust from their eye is ridiculous – it’s crazy.

If we don’t honestly face up to our own sins, and confess them, we blind ourselves and we’ll never be able to truly help others grow in grace. If we are blind ourselves then we can’t seen clearly enough to help others. And perhaps that is what this teaching in Luke 6 is all about – the reality that all of us have issues and all of has elements in our lives that are causing us to not see clearly. But instead of focusing on our own problems we want to point out the person in the room with a bigger problem and hope it is large enough that no one will notice yours.

What God has been teaching me is that we must exercise love and tenderness when we seek to help others.  Ephesians 4:15 says, “Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ…” Here is another truth to get: we can do more damage than a speck of something in the eye if we approach others with impatience and insensitivity. How we judge others and who we are must be honestly judged before the Lord. 

It’s only after we have judged ourselves honestly before God, and have removed those things that blind us, then we can help others and properly judge their works. Scripture is clear – if we haven’t take the time to be honest with ourselves before the Lord and if their even a speck of something in our lives, and we try to “help” others, we are the hypocrites. 

A Collision with the Presence of the Lord

Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”

To me, this verse is about repentance and forgiveness. And, we can learn from this verse what repentance and forgiveness unlocks in the Heavenly realms for us…His mighty salvation, His delight in us, His peace, His live, and His joy for us.

Psalms 23:6 says, “Surely goodness and love will fowllow me all of the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

And just like Zephaniah 3, Psalm 23 is more assurance that through the redemptive power and grace of our loving Savior that we can be with Him and abide in His presence continually through an attitude that seeks repentence and forgivness. There is nother other place that I would rather be than in the presence of the Lord, my Savior – to expreience a continual collision with the Presence of the Lord daily. And what I love here is the imagery that we get from these verses, that God wants me – that He wants us – to be in His presence continually. God wants me experience His forgiveness and to be in continually connection with Him.

Psalm 42 says what we must do to experience a continual collision with the Presence of the Lord. We must, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God, my soul thirsts for God, the living God.” God offers each of us His presence but we must thrist for Him and His presence with all that is within in us and the pursuit of the Lord must be our greatest goal. This call us to move away from the excuses we have made of the fears that have held us back in the past.

Look at the story in the Bible of the “Prodigal Son” and look at the story from the point of view of the father. He showed tremendous delight in his wait for the wanders’ return. The story of the ‘Prodigal Son’ was a story that Jesus told to show others the very nature and heart of the Lord. And in this story, Jesus clearly shows us that the waiting father was none other then our Heavenly Father. God is in our midst and He desires for us to know the intimacy He offers each of us and He has tremendous delight in His wait for us to collide with His most Holy Presence.

A.W. Tozer said, “With a sacred expectation, I look for God in all the circumstance of my day.

Thirst for Him and Him alone! May you experience a collision with the Presence of the Lord! May we daily live out what these verses promise us – and may this desire to continually collide with God make such a radical difference in your life that we begin to live out our faith in all that we say, and in all that we do!