Eclipsed

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV), “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

If you have read any of my devotionals, or are familiar with my blog, or know me at all, you have figured out that I use this verse a lot. Why? Because I have discovered, the hard way, that it is very important to keep our focus on Jesus, or as Isaiah says in Isaiah 50:&, to “set your face like flint”.

Think about it this way. The sun, which is huge, can be totally eclipsed by the moon which is about four hundred times smaller. How is that possible? The moon gets between the earth and the sun blocking out the light. In the same way we can allow “things” to get between us and the Son, Jesus. Sometimes it is a person, our problems, our anger, our disappointment, even our success and accomplishments. Other times we end up giving more attention to our surroundings, the devil, or our own selfish desires. No matter what keeps our attention, if it isn’t God, we can eclipse His glory.

A total eclipse pretty much caused darkness, a partial eclipse may still give us a small glimpse, maybe a little light around the edges, but God never intended us to live either way. His plans for us are uncountable, His thoughts for us limitless, as many as the sand (in the desserts, in the lakes and rivers, and even under the oceans).

Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV), “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Psalm 40:5 (NLT), “O LORD my God, you have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal. If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them.”

Psalm 139:17-18 (NIV), “How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand– when I awake, I am still with you.”

We can’t fulfill His purpose for us if we can’t keep our focus. A runner has to keep the finish line in his sight, a scientist has to constantly think about that cure, a writer works toward the end of the story, all of these things take focus.

In reality, His Glory should eclipse everything else. His love should overwhelm us! His light should cause every other distraction to fade away, including our problems. His promises greatly outnumber our afflictions!

If you need a little encouragement, listen to the song “He Is Jealous For Me” by David Crowder Band. Here is just a small sample “all of a sudden I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by Glory”.

So, what are you allowing to eclipse Him?

Or have you chosen to allow Him to eclipse all else?

Choose wisely.

Are You Surrendered?

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We no longer live under the law! We are free from the law! Isn’t that wonderful?

Romans 8:1-2 (NIV), “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”

John 8:36 (NIV), “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

Now we can do whatever we want. Right?

People use that as an excuse to excuse just about anything. There is still sin. We still live in a fallen world. As a child of God I don’t have to pay the penalty of my sin, but does that mean I can really just do whatever I want. Paul answers this question for us.

I Corinthians 10:23 (Holman Christian Standard Bible), “Everything is permissible,” but not everything is helpful. “Everything is permissible,” but not everything builds up.”

What God calls sin, its still sin. Can I live with someone before I get married? Of course! Is that beneficial to my marriage? Absolutely not! I know we did it that backwards way. Can I live an alternate lifestyle? You bet. Will God bless that? Not a bit. There are some things God asked us not to do because He is Holy and He wants us to live Holy. Some things He has asked us to do, or not to do, because it is simply harmful to us or to others. Overdrinking, overeating, drug addiction, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and sexual immorality are all harmful practices.

Ok, so maybe you like some of those things that God says don’t do. What is my answer to that? If you love Him, really truly love Him, and you aren’t just doing lip service, you will want to please Him more than your flesh. Simply put: if you continue in sinful behavior, you are not in a true relationship with Him.

When we have surrendered our hearts to Jesus and let Him sit on the throne there, we change. Our way of thinking changes and our habits change. The more we read His word and spend quiet time with God, allowing Him to speak into our lives, the more we change. As we are being led by His Spirit, those ungodly desires just seem to fade away. I know from experience that it isn’t always easy, but it is best. God’s desire for us is a more wonderful, spectacular life than we could ever even dream about. Why would we want to keep doing things our own way and not surrender to His will?

What about all of those other people out there. They seem to do just fine living in the flesh and doing whatever they want. They blatantly live the opposite of the way God instructs us, and people applaud them for their honesty. How do we handle that?

We never accept sin. God doesn’t. However, He never stops loving them. We shouldn’t either. If I love them, do I have to ignore their sin? No! Just don’t beat them up, don’t beat them over the head with your Bible. Don’t call them names, ridicule, or belittle them. None of those things are loving. We need to make friends with people. We have to show them the love of God. The dividing line is if you start to behave more like them, than them behaving more like you. We can’t be everyone’s friend. It’s permissible or lawful, but not beneficial. Be honest, we have all had a friend at some point in our lives that used, abused, or influenced us in a bad way. Stay away from those people.

I Thessalonians 5:22 (Jubilee Bible 2000), “Separate yourselves from all appearance of evil.”

If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. We are supposed to separate (some versions say “flee”, others say “abstain”) from all appearance of evil. Does it look like sin? Does it taste, feel, sound, or smell like sin? Stay away.

Paul also tells us in I Corinthians 15:33 (NIV), “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” In verse 34 (NLT), “Think carefully about what is right, and stop sinning. For to your shame I say that some of you don’t know God at all.”

Paul likes to “tell it like it is.” I would probably be afraid of him, had I known him in person. Most of us are afraid of confrontation. We may be timid and too worried about what people think. However, Paul practiced what he preached.

Ephesians 4:15 (NLT), “Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.”

So if you have surrendered your life to God, stay that way. Daily allow His Spirit to guide you. If you haven’t surrendered, please do. I promise, it is easier than kicking against the thorn. Just ask Paul. Are you friends with unbelievers? Be patient, live right in their sight, be generous and full of God’s love. Show them the father. Let God be your guide in when to cut the ties with an unrepentant friend and when to keep on working with them. He knows.