Aligned To Achieve
and we receive from Him whatever we ask because we [carefully and consistently] keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight [habitually seeking to follow His plan for us].
1 John 3:22
As believers, we know that success in life isn’t quantum physics or rocket science. If we follow Christ’s directions, He promises to make our lives richer and more rewarding than we can imagine. If we obey His commands, our hearts will be aligned with His heart and He will delight in answers in our prayers.
But do we know what He demands of us? And do we even care? The answers to these questions may not be simple. Somehow, many of us have divorced the biblical truth we’ve learned from our daily lives. If we’re pressed to remember, we can think of some commands God has given us. Let’s see now, do t murder, don’t lie, and don’t commit adultery. But many of us don’t let God’s commands to live and forgive others infuse our daily relationships at home and at work. We leave our church services and go right back to harboring resentments, withholding affection, and blaming people who fail to measure up to our standards.
First, then, we need a refresher course on what God commands us to be and do in every relationship and in every situation. Once we know His instructions, we then need to remember that our choices touch His heart. He is the infinite, Almighty God, but our attitudes and actions bring a smile or a frown to His face. If we know Him at all, we want to make Him smile.
Every command God gives us is for our own good and to expand His kingdom through us to show His love to others. Our obedience is important. People’s lives depend on it.
When you have great desires for heavenly things, when your desires are such as God approves of, when you want what God wants, then you will have what you like.
Sometimes we focus more on what we can’t do than what God has for us to do. When we talk about the will of God, we often speak of it as what God is asking us to do that we really don’t want to do. Many of us approach God’s will for our lives as a reluctant servant who feels compelled to obey rather than loving children who delight in pleasing our Father. In the story of Adam, we often focus on the one tree that he could not eat from, forgetting the myriad of other trees that were available to him.
Much of our effort is spent trying to abstain from what we aren’t permitted to do rather than learning to enjoy all the wonderful opportunities and privileges that God delights in providing us as His dear children.
In truth Christianity is learning to imitate Christ Himself. Like a small child who puts on mom or dad’s shoes or a hat too large for them and dreams of growing up to be just like them, we make our desire of becoming just like our Savior the heart of all we do. James tells us that obeying the commands of God isn’t hard. Some may object to that statement and say that it’s one of the most difficult things in life. That may be true at the beginning of our relationship with God, but as we grow to know Him daily, we find that God has so many good things for us to enjoy that we really don’t find the time for those things we shouldn’t do.
To have this kind of relationship means that we go beyond just attending church services, or feeling pressured to read so many verses of the Bible or having the obligatory prayer at the end of the day. There is no difference in developing a relationship with God than developing one with another human. God is approachable even by imperfect people. I don’t pretend to understand how a perfect God desires to have a relationship with imperfect people. I only know that He has made that choice. I also know that He has demonstrated His love for us n many ways, not the least by sending His Son. That Son further demonstrates the love of God by dying for us and paying the penalty for our sins. How could a God who loves to that level withhold from us the things that bless us and are good for us.
They say that you’re never too old to learn new things and I know that to be true. A week or so ago Sherry and I had our dog at obedience class and the trainer was talking about how to keep our dog from doing unwanted behaviors. She said that if we kept him occupied with good things, he wouldn’t be prone to find things that weren’t good. As she spoke those words, I reflected that the principle applied to us humans as well. One of the ways we cease destructive behaviors is to become heavily involved in constructive behavior. In the Christian application, we engage in godly action and the more we invest ourselves in the kingdom of God, the less persuasive power the kingdom of darkness can exert.
I believe it would be transformational if Christians and the church would focus more on the things God has for us to enjoy and spend time doing them rather than focusing so much on what is prohibited. I think that sometimes when we are so focused on what we can’t do it becomes more enticing. That’s what the trainer taught. Rather than focusing on what we didn’t want our dog to do; we shift focus on what we want him to do. This may sound crazy to us but the more I think about my Christian journey the more I realize that the principle is sound. As I look back over my life I can see that when I was fully engaged in the work of God the temptations lost some of their power but when I was less engaged, they seemed to gain power.
Satan strategically got Eve and Adam to focus on what they couldn’t do rather than all the things God had given to them to enjoy and we know how that ended. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to show us the things that delights God and that He has designed for our good and His glory. If we begin to see what we can enjoy with God’s blessings, perhaps our struggle with sin would lessen.
Dr. John Thompson