Raising My Standards

Raising My Standards

Ephesians 2:4-7(NLT)

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

 

There are peaks, valleys, and plateaus in life. Times when we are pressing up the hard side of the mountain with the sun in our eyes desperate for relief from oppression that seems overbearing. There are those seasons of life in the darkest depths of the valley as our hope is exhausted pursing the sun. I am currently on a plateau. I know I will not be here long experience warns me not to make camp or try to build a home here, but it is a great place to reflect as well as look ahead to what is before me. When life becomes overwhelming, God leads us to this quiet place of reflection to remind us who we are and what we were made for or at least that is what I am asking. I am beginning to believe that this is how God designed it to be a training course for forever. With each challenge and new season demanding more trust than the one before, it is clear that He definitely has a plan that is beyond my comprehension and my scope of knowledge. In this moment as I stand here, the valley behind me so dark and looming surrounded by mountains so high and foreboding I am held by the quiet calm of peace and a refreshing breeze of hope brushes softly across my face. I am not afraid of the days ahead or sullen by days gone by. I am here with the Lord. As He allows me to catch my breath, His Spirit is renewing me day by day. Why such careful attention? I am so undeserving of the love that God continually pours out in my life? I am the least of these. The sin washed away in the sea of forgetfulness surely should have dammed it shut but it didn’t because each morning I am met with new mercy. In fact, the more I seek Him I always find Him.

God wants us to be an example to future ages of the incredible wealth of His Grace and Kindness. I am just that as He has covered my life in it. The only thing that God requires is that we become united with Jesus Christ. It is crazy to me that the one thing He requires only blesses us more and more. He did not ask me to become a martyr though some people will. He did not lead me to my own personal cross to die for my sin but lead me to His Son’s Cross. I think I have always valued my salvation but I did not understand its worth until now. God raised us from the dead along with His Son, Jesus and seated us with Him in the Heavenly Realms. This is our future and destiny both now and forever. Too often we focus on forever having no idea where we are now. What if ever realized that this place of dominion, power and authority does not just apply to our forever but right now? Would it change our life? Yes, it would.

Romans 3:22-24 (NLT)

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

 

Everyone has sinned. Everyone. Even Christians and believers, cannot perpetuate a sinless life. It is all about the Grace of Jesus Christ. This means that we are all on a level playing field when it comes to God. When God’s Favor is evident in my life, I often joke that I am God’s Favorite. I am not really. Actually, we all are. The only thing that stands between us and the Glorious Life established for us (Jeremiah 29:11-13) is sin. God intervened knowing our inability to overcome sin and made the Way. His Name is Jesus. Jesus makes it possible to reclaim God’s Glorious Standard for our life. The word “standard” means an approved model; a rule or principle that is used as a basis for judgment; and an average or normal requirement. God has made an approved model for our life that contains a future and hope. He has provided everything we need to live a contented and satisfied life with inexpressible joy. The more I read the Word of God the more clear it becomes that disobedience has made my life much harder than it has to be as I accept less than God’s Best on a continual basis. The principle that guides my life is grace. It is sufficient for me. His Mercy is new each morning for all those struggles with sin along the way. It is all coming together by faith so that God can create a new average and normal according to His Riches in Glory rather than according to my own fear of lack.

Isaiah 43:1-3 (NLT)

But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…”

 

The Lord promises to go with us through every situation in life for two reasons – You are valuable to Him and He meant to save you. This is not an afterthought or second thought but predetermined by the Lord for your whole life. He is just waiting for some of your life to be committed to Him. When we go through deep waters, who do we cry out to? When we go through difficulties? That’s right, we pray. When we are oppressed, we draw closer to God than any other time. What does He do? Just what His Word says that He will do, the Lord saves us, heals us, delivers us and blesses us. Why? Because in trials we choose to be humble and obedient. It is when we plateau that we stop pressing, pushing and pulling our way deeper into the Presence of God. God says, “No don’t stop now…keep pursuing me!” Why? Why is God so interested in the likes of me and you? Because friend we cost Him everything!

The last four years have definitely taken a toll on our family. We are still unwinding from the battle fought alongside our son. It is evident in each member. When our security in life was shaken to its core, it required a change. I had to decide if I would trust God or not. I didn’t have time to think about it or weigh my options, actually there was no other option. What I found in the midst of deep waters, rivers of difficulty, and fiery oppression is that God is my God. Let me say that again, God is MY God. He is not just my son’s God who loves him, healed him and delivered him. But He is MY God who had a plan and purpose for me in the midst of it all. There are things that I know now and see differently not because the ordeal was so horrible but because in the middle of the greatest pain and fear that I have ever felt in my heart that God never left me. He was right there with me. He comforted me with an inexplicable peace that I carry with me even today. I have an inexpressible joy not born of outcomes but found in the Love of my God who is raising my standard of living from the inside out. I can’t do anything to change my life but follow Jesus. Just walking with Him…but that requires obedience. I might lose some people here.

Psalm 119:108-110 (NLT)

Lord, accept my offering of praise and teach me your regulations. My life constantly hangs in the balance, but I will not stop obeying your instructions. The wicked have set their traps for me, but I will not turn from your commandments.

 

What if the only thing standing between you and your breakthrough is you? Well, that is probably the case. What if the blessing you want is on the other side of something you have or do that you are not willing to change? We expect God to force it upon is right where we are but God cannot stand dishonesty. (Proverbs 20:23) He detests double standards. The Lord demands accurate scales and balances. (Proverbs 16:11) He sets the standard of fairness. It is called His Word. He gives us a partner to help us maintain His Word in our life called the Holy Spirit. But if we are not committed to living our life in alignment with His Word than we fall into the traps of sin set before us and fall short of God’s Glorious Standard reestablished by His Grace. The image of scales and balances imply something be traded…something of worth. What does God treasure the most? Well, it certainly is not money because the streets of Heaven are paved in gold. It’s you! He is asking you to balance your life with Jesus Christ. Living by His Example, following in His Footsteps and answering His Call – when we do it is an automatic that our standard of life will change. Sometimes we don’t even notice in our fight to choose and maintain the balance in our life of grace, love and mercy. When we obey God – we are blessed. When we do not – our standard of life falls short. It is not God’s unwillingness or inability but it is our unwillingness and inability to trust Him enough to do what He says and have what He promised.

Ephesians 4:13-15 (NLT)

This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 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.

I want my life to measure up to the full and complete standard of Christ. I say that without an ounce of reservation knowing full well that it may produce hardship, warfare and hell to break loose in my life but I have found Someone who is better than life. As I stand here turning my back on the past and pressing into the future, I have no idea what the Lord has for me next. As this chapter closes and another one opens, how will it unfold? As this season ends and another one comes, what will it produce in my life? People say that time heals all wounds. That’s not true. There are people who only grow bitter with time. Some will never know peace, joy and love in their life again because of the things that they have gone through. If you want God’s Standard of Life, it is found in Jesus Christ. There are a whole lot of places saying something else even the modern day church. As long as you have love you have God is not true, God has always loved you! He never stopped loving people. People stopped loving God so He sent His Son, Jesus to bridge the gap. We still try to go through deep waters to get to the other side rather than obey the Lord, trust Him and follow Him. I can be who I was and get what I deserve in life. Or I can assume a posture of faith and be saved by His Grace. In this place of total surrender and commitment to God, even when things are tough and we feel all alone, our life gets better somehow. Over and over, time after time, I find that it just gets better and better.

Ephesians 1:5-10 (NLT)

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth.

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