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The Authority We Want and Need

Attending college in Columbus, Ohio, I introduced a friend to the joy of skating at the OSU ice rink across town. She quickly grew in fondness and ability for this winter pastime, and decided to buy her own skates. While fitting her, the rink worker noticed she was wearing two pairs of socks. “You’ll only want one pair of socks for skating” he told her, at which point I interrupted and said, “No, she’ll need two.” We went back and forth a couple of times, so I pulled out my ace: “I grew up in northern Michigan and played four years of hockey in high school, and I’m telling you, she’ll need to wear two pairs of socks.” To which he replied, “I grew up in Ontario and played five years for the Boston Bruins; she will only want to wear one pair.” With a keen recognition of authority, I humbly conceded.

God’s Word is authority for life. His commands, wrote Paul, are “the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth,”1 and we live “on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”2 Yet our sinful nature is prone to challenge His Word—and thereby, His authority—rebelliously subjecting His truth to our flawed judgments and twisting it to appease our self-centered desires. This is not new, for through Jeremiah God declared of ancient Israel, “every man’s own word becomes his oracle and so you distort the words of the living God.”3 Nor are we immune from it now or in the future, for as Paul warned Timothy, “the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”4

Then amid the escalating cacophony around us, how do we discern and flourish under the voice of authority? First, recognize that truth exists—“[God’s] word is truth”5—and that He who reigns in authority loves us, for “Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.”6 Then in such confidence we, like David, walk today with this assurance firmly placed in God: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”7 God’s Word is authority; we humbly concede. He speaks it in love; we gladly submit.

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”8 Light our path today in the truth of your Word. In Christ we pray. Amen.

1 Romans 2:20 NASB
2 Deuteronomy 8:3
3 Jeremiah 23:36
4 2 Timothy 4:3-4
5 John 17:17
6 Proverbs 30:5
7 Psalm 119:105 KJV
8 John 6:68

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Full Stride and Forward Focused

My brother was a strong high school track athlete competing on a strong high school team. I enjoyed going to his meets to cheer him on, and I remain a track and field fan still. I remember the day a competitor blazed down the track and, knowing he was comfortably in the lead, looked back at the others behind him, eased his stride, and flashed double-peace signs several paces before breaking the tape. When the times for the event were announced moments later, his was one tenth of a second above his school’s record, prompting from him an audible cry of anguish at an opportunity lost. To my knowledge, he never did set the new mark.

In a sense, I think we believers run much of life’s race looking backwards by living in regret of past wrongs or languishing in a pool of past pains. Clearly, there is great value in confessing our sins, forgiving those of others, and confronting the reality of our hurts. Yet our purpose, effectiveness, and destination in Christ all lie before us. Paul grasped this well, shedding the weight of his sordid past and living into his call: “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. . .  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”1 His real and regrettable past was neither defining nor debilitating to his future; his eyes were on the prize.

The same must be true of us, for “if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”2 We are free to flourish, for Paul’s words to the Corinthians remain true for believers of every time and space: “You were set apart for God-like living to do His work. You were made right with God through our Lord Jesus Christ by the Spirit of our God.”3 Our most impactful and meaningful Kingdom work lies ahead, and we are equipped to pursue it. So let us run full stride and forward focused in our race to the end—losing none of the opportunities before us, but living daily into our call.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. —Isaiah 43:18-19

Father, You have redeemed us from our brokenness and established us for Your great purposes. What can we say, but thank You! Draw us near, that, today, our sights would be on You and our actions aligned with Your purposes for us. Amen.

1 Philippians 3:12-14
2 2 Corinthians 5:17
3 1 Corinthians 6:11 NLV

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Good Stuff

Most people who reach my age have a lot of stuff. It’s not that we are hoarders, necessarily, but our “this-and-that” accumulation has gradually morphed far beyond our needs, and a sizeable portion of our wants, for that matter. Many of us have a growing yen to right-size our earthly possessions to what is important as we run the bell lap of life. I think there’s a reason for this: as this life fades behind us and the nearing Kingdom increasingly consumes our field of vision, we realize that much of what we’ve treasured from an earthly perspective is different than what God esteems, and that a godly character is infinitely more valuable and impactful than one’s wealth and possessions. We do well, then, to understand what God values and to align our entire beings to His desires.

Wisdom. Wisdom, wrote Solomon, “is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.”1 For wisdom protects us and watches over us,2 and through wisdom we gain understanding and direction, well-being and honor, and counsel and justice.3 Aren’t these what we want above all else? Pray for wisdom.

Commands. God’s laws moved David’s heart to song: “The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold”;4 it is “sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.”5 For God’s laws lead us in “the way that is good and right,”6 the way of love for God and for each other. In His mercy, He has put His Spirit in us to move us to follow His decrees and to be careful to keep His laws.7 Walk in His Spirit.

Integrity. Observed Solomon, “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”8 We may marvel at worldly accomplishments, wealth, or fame, but isn’t it true that we esteem most highly those of noble character—character that reflects God’s presence? May your good name reflect His.

Faith. Life-giving faith is the complete abandonment of self-righteousness and the total reliance on the righteousness of Christ, for life itself is found only in Him. No wonder Peter declared faith to be “of greater worth than gold,” for it will “result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”9 Trust Him.

These are treasures that last, treasures built up in Heaven. They glorify God who glorifies us. This is good stuff.

Father, send Your Spirit to us to convince us of what is truly important to You and therefore to us. Grant us the grace and wisdom to submit everything to You for Your glory and our good. In Christ we pray. Amen.

1 Proverbs 3:14-15
2 Proverbs 4:6
3 Proverbs 8:12–21
4 Psalm 119:72
5 Psalm 19:7-10
6 1 Samuel 12:23
7 Ezekiel 36:27
8 Proverbs 22:1
9 1 Peter 1:7