A. Brother

“I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for Him.’”
Lam. 3:24

          Brothers and sisters in Christ, there is a way--there are many ways--that seem right to us, but that are very wrong, and keep us from knowing the blessings of God in our lives.
          We are steeped in tradition, whether the traditions of men in the world, the traditions of our families, or traditions of men in the churches.  We filter everything in our lives through our own filters, and these are formed since childhood by our parents, our churches, and the world around us.  These filters may be as simple as old sayings imprinted from childhood on, or as complicated as intricately detailed religious rituals. 
          Most of these ways are imprinted so deeply in us that without careful examination and testing we may not even recognize they are there.
          We must examine and test our ways, returning to the Lord God and the simplicity of His Way.

“Let us examine our ways and test them,
and let us return to the Lord. 
Let us lift up our hearts and our hands to God in heaven,
 and say: ‘We have sinned and rebelled
and you have not forgiven.’” 
Lam. 3:40-42

            For the man or woman of God, this beginning of seeing starts with faith and ends with faith.  This faith prompts us to kneel and repent, lifting up our hearts and hands in supplication.  We must recognize that we sin and rebel, and that we must be forgiven every day for this tendency.
          One way we’ve departed from simple faith in Christ is a refusal to recognize repentance as essential to faith.  If we don’t acknowledge our sinful nature, and we choose to ignore it, then God must ignore us.  He only hears humble sinners.  They are dear to His heart.  We don’t wallow in our sins, because they are paid for by Christ’s sacrifice once for all, but we must admit them, and weep over them, and let God do the forgiving.
          As Jeremiah recounts his bitter and painful experiences in Lamentations, we see the hope that underlies this man of God’s struggle.  Here was a man who lived by simple faith in God.  He spoke the Words God gave him, and suffered greatly for it.  He was shunned, openly opposed, denounced by the people and the leadership, and had few friends.
          Jesus lived the same kind of struggle, and His life is one of simple faith in His Father, who had sent Him, who held Him in His arms every day, and who ultimately required of Him the sacrifice of going to the cross.  Jesus is our Shepherd, and the One we worship and emulate.  His sheep know Him, and His Spirit empowers us to live lives worthy of Him.  We who follow Jesus are to live lives of simple faith, too.  That’s what He asks of us.  Only to follow Him and be like Him.  To live lives of love and sacrifice for others, as He did.
          Our portion as true disciples of Jesus is nothing religious, nothing in the world.  Our portion, our inheritance, all we need, is Christ. 
          If you don’t have this simple faith today, and are living for other portions in life, then you are in danger of being lost, no matter what your mouth confesses about the Lord.  Only you can examine and test your ways.  Only you know whether your confession of Jesus as Lord is actually true, or if it is a sham and pretense.
          If you are in wandering in sin, or in man-made religion--in separation from true simple faith in Christ--then you must start with the simplicity of repentance and return.  

Jesus makes no high demands of a religious nature.  He simply calls men and women to follow Him, and to love Him, and He and the Father will love them and make their home with them.

“If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching. 
My Father will love him, and we will come to him
and make our home with him.  He who does not love me
will not obey My teaching.” 
John 14:23,24

            Simple faith means simple obedience to the Word of God.  No amount or manner of fancy, intellectual preaching can change that.  Those who follow Jesus obey Him.  It’s as simple as sliced bread.  If you are obeying Jesus today, and loving Him through this simple obedience, then you have the Father and the Son and His Spirit living in you.  You are a child of God.  If you are living a life of disobedience, loving the world and the things in the world, storing up treasure on earth, being selfish and not helping your brethren in Christ in need, not sharing the love of Christ with others, and not making Jesus your portion and all you need in life, then you are not loving Him, and the Father and the Son and His Spirit are not living in you.
          Sound harsh?  Then your filter is set wrong.  The Word of God is the key to life, and if you want to live your life apart from truth, you will live it without God’s blessings of simple faith in Christ.
          We live in a world of compromise, confusion and manipulation.  God will not be manipulated, nor is he fooled by our brilliant little schemes to circumvent His truth.  This simple truth is all we need.  He has designed it that way, so that nobody will be able to boast before Him, and that men must kneel in order to walk uprightly.

“For the message of the cross is foolishness
to those who are perishing,
but to us who are being saved
it is the power of God.” 
1 Cor. 1:18

            Examine, test, repent, love, obey.  If this sounds too simple to you, or has the ring of foolishness about it, then you are in great need of the simple foolishness of simple faith!



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