bits from bob....
Perhaps this will be the year that we really WALK WITH GOD. What does that phrase mean?
In the Old Testament we read that Enoch walked with God (Gen. 5:24). Throughout the New Testament, the phrase is repeated, we walk with God.
One translation of Ephesians 3:17 suggests our title, "that he might be at home in your hearts." The translation raises several questions: Is Jesus at home in my heart? How much is Jesus in my life? Does he dwell within? Is he real, present? Is he comfortable? With where I go? How I speak? What I say? What I think? Is Jesus at home in me today? Do I walk with him?
Consider our world. Surely you have seen it--the wreckage on every hand in our society is appalling. Not the junkyards, dumps, and unsightly fields, but the wrecked bodies, marriages, careers, lives, plans, families, friendships, prosperity. We would rather not look, it is easier not to notice. In the lives of neighbors, communities, cities, and nations--destruction, doubt, decay, despair. The daily inrush of less than good news causes us to avert our eyes, build emotional defenses, isolate ourselves, withdraw, trying to keep hope alive. On good days, it may be possible to survive with such human effort. But on bad days, days when life crashes, when someone we care about ends in a pile of wreckage, when ruined, disintegrating lives are most obvious, on these bad days, human effort falls far short. Our own hearts fill in the details.
In this world, we walk in these ruins. Some days, our lives are the ruins. Where are answers? Where is hope? Will it get better? Must we become cynics? Are church folks naive in keeping on keeping on? Is all our talk about God within and among, concerned, caring, sharing our lives, "real?" Where is the real world? Are our lives fact or fiction? Are we merely fantasizing? Can we believe it when say, this is the real world. Can we genuinely affirm that the world around us, out there, is the unreal world.
The problems of today's desperate world, the questions, the impersonalization, alienation, doubts deserve answers. But the answers are not easy--easy to formulate, easy to grasp, easy to share. Today I do not claim to adequately answer. But today, know the beginning point. GOD.
God's people in the Old Testament shared similar problems when Jerusalem was about to fall. From exile in Babylon, Ezekiel prophesied the eventual fall of Jerusalem. He detailed the dilemma, he declared the dismay of Israel. With his picture of dismembered skeletons under a pitiless Babylonian sun, we are reminded. We also see bones of those were once laughing and dancing children, adults with dreams and plans, believers who brought doubts and yet sang praises in church. We see bones, dry bones, lifeless, spiritually diminished reminders. What answer can we give? The only power that can possibly bring hope--GOD. It is God who empowers dry bones to live again. It is God who brings order out of the chaos of life. It is God who is at home within us to work and to do his good will and pleasure. Surely the answer must be beyond human endeavor and effort. No answer from within ourselves and our abilities will suffice. No answer from the unreal world ultimately satisfies. The answer must be from this world--the real world--the inside spiritual world, GOD.
From wreckage of our world, from barren bones of the prophet's vision, we come back to our text in Ephesians, to summarize a Christian response, understand life with God, hid with God, protected, committed, dedicated, walking with God, living with God. Jesus at home in hearts.
What does it all mean? What are the implications? God is the beginning point. If God is the power, the hope, the future, if God is our life, if hope is in living with God, toward what shall we strive? How can God be our source of life? What does it mean to live with him, for him. Let us quickly survey five answers Paul includes in Ephesians 4-5. What is this WALK WITH GOD? How shall we walk?
1. I will live worthy of his calling to me, Eph. 4:1ff. From character comes conduct. We may never be worthy, but we walk with God in a certain way while we attempt to align logic and living, creed and conduct, plea and practice, doctrine and duty. What does Paul mean here when he writes "walk worthy"? Humble, gentle, patient, forbearing, loving. Seeking unity, spirit led, spirit filled, peaceful. When these characteristics are a growing part of my life, I walk with God.
2. I will live differently than the world, Eph. 4:17ff. This is lifestyle, this is my distinctiveness. I l;ive with understanding, seeking knowledge rather than ignorance, sensitive to others. This is my new self, like God, righteous, holy, unselfish, truthful, honest, sharing and caring (4:20ff). Now I am kind, compassionate, forgiving. As I seek these and grow into his likeness, I walk with God.
3. I will live in love, Eph. 5:1ff. What is love? Consider Jesus who loved us and gave up self unselfishly. Living in love forbids immorality and impurity, acts without greed; living in love seeks holiness, leaves behind obscenity and raw talking, and is always thankful. Such is no small order, but to see such a life of love is to walk with God in the footsteps of Jesus, imitating him.
4. I will live in light, Eph. 5:8ff. Goodness, righteousness, truth, pleasing the Lord. If we walk in light as he is light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his son cleanses us from all unrighteousness. Precious promise! I want more than anything else to walk with God!
5. I will live wisely, Eph. 5:15ff. Make the most of every opportunity, seek to understand God's will and way. Living in the Spirit, encouraging one another, speaking in song with vibrant hearts before God, always thankful.
In our lives we experience together--worship, God, walk, love, others. Is this real? Is God present? Is this our walk with God? Is Jesus at home? What shall we say? We hear preaching. Amidst wreckage, to at least some, all words may sound as "mere words." We surround the common communion table, are with one another, with God. Our lives, living, sharing, fellowship, oneness, koinonia. Declaring his death, declaring his coming. In the midst of wreckage, what difference can a piece of bread and a sip make? Without God's active intervention in the human dilemma, makes no difference.
But because God has intervened and intervenes yet today, it makes all the difference in the world. Because he values us, hurts so much for us, he gives his son. Not to rescue us from our humanness, not to rescue us from the hurts of this world, but to secure our hope forever.
Today as I live for him in love, in light, in wisdom, seeking the forever world, he is my God, he is my Lord, I walk with him in relationship, fellowship, closeness, confident he hears, cares, knows, understands. He is near--nothing else matters. Walking with God is not sinlessness, not only prayer and Bible reading. Walking with God is forgiveness forever. Through Jesus, his blood, my entire life is his. Have you given him your life? Will you walk with him in obedience, beginning with the death of the old self and the resurrection of the new you? No blessing compares to daily walking with him. Will you let him back into your heart if you have wandered from him? The question still echoes: Is Jesus living in your heart? Is Jesus at home in your heart?
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