Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Press On To Know The Lord

2010 Theme Verse - Hosea 6:3, 10:12

When I joined the staff of Bethel Church in 2001, Doug Anderson - the senior pastor at the time - introduced me to a practice that I eventually came to adopt as my own. It is a healthy practice, I believe, because it invites us to look beyond ourselves and see our lives from God's perspective. His perspective is perfect. It does not change with time. It is not influenced by cultural values. It is not biased by sin or human frailty. This practice encourages us to pursue knowing God and His perspective by establishing His word as the standard by which we live in a very real way! Moses sums the practice up in Deuteronomy 30, where he quotes God:

"Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, 'Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?' Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, 'Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?' No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."

The Theme Verse practice is quite simple. In December of each year I begin to ask the Lord to bring me a Scripture that will guide me through the coming year; a verse which will provide His perspective for my life. There is nothing mystical about it, nothing overtly 'supernatural', other than the fact it is His word, placed in my heart by His Spirit as a guide through the months to come. In 2009 the Theme Verse came from Isaiah 43:18-19, "Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert." As 2009 ticked past, I worked to filter my circumstances and decisions through these verses, reminding myself that His ways are not mine, He is always on the move, and I would do well to trust Him to provide in the bleakest of circumstances and not overly concern myself with the past. I also have been learning that what He does in and through me for His good pleasure may not always 'feel good'. But then, discipline seldom 'feels good', although, in the end, we are the better for it!

So, it's January 5th, 2010. I have been working my way through Hosea, who lived in the 7th Century B.C. during the time of Israel's rebellion and unfaithfulness. In fact, the whole book revolves around the theme of adultery...beginning with the Lord commanding Hosea to take a prostitute - Gomer - for a wife, which he does. Can you imagine? The book spares no detail in describing the Lord's distaste for unfaithfulness and disloyalty. It is sobering and drives me to my knees, for the book describes my heart at times! And yet, we also see a clear picture of the glory of God's grace and the nature of His unfailing love! As I have studied, two verses have leapt off of the page and into my heart. It is these I believe the Lord has led me to for 2010. I am writing them below in two versions, first the English Standard Version (ESV), then the Contemporary English Version (CEV):

"Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; his going out is sure as the dawn;
he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth." "Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you."
(Hosea 6:3, 10:12; ESV)

"Let's do our best to know the LORD. His coming is as certain as the morning sun; he will refresh us like rain renewing the earth in the springtime. Plow your fields, scatter seeds of justice, and harvest faithfulness. Worship me, the LORD, and I will send my saving power down like rain."
(Hosea 6:3, 10:12; CEV)

Seek the Lord with all your heart this new year, my friend. Plow the ground of your heart until it becomes fertile soil in which the Word of Truth can grow into an abundant harvest of righteousness!

Love in Christ,

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