Never Alone

Messages Image(21798604)According to legend, the Native Americans who lived in this region named our little city “Simi Valley.” Many believe the Chumash word, Simi, means “windy.”  Anyone who has experienced the fury of our Santa Ana winds will testify that this can be a very windy valley.  Just look at the large oak tree in our park that was snapped off at the roots by 75 mph winds.

On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came with a noise “like a mighty, rushing wind.”  This wind did not come with the assignment to destroy, but to make men and women truly live.  In the Old Testament, God’s people experienced occasional “visitations” from His Spirit.  Now, all who turn to Jesus by faith become His “habitation” – He lives with us and in us.  We who love and follow Jesus are never alone as He makes our hearts His home!

As Jesus lives in His people’s hearts by faith, we are relieved to learn that He is more interested in who we are becoming than in what we’re producing.  God does not measure us by output and production, but by attitude and character.  Our ladder-climbing in the workplace means little to God; the way we treat our fellow workers along the way means everything.

As He intimately lives in my heart it becomes clear that He is perfect and I’m not, so someone has to change.  His presence is always filled with “grace and truth.”  My heart, by nature, is filled with selfishness and dishonesty.  As His Presence fills my heart I find more and more of His pure and perfect nature being revealed in me.  Less of me, more of Him.

This broken-down world demands ambitious performance and grants affirmation and love based upon personal achievement.  Jesus grants love and acceptance based on His incomprehensible love.

Need some good news?  Jesus is more interested in who you’re becoming than in what you’re producing.  In the midst of crushing failure, He is with you and in you, working the life-transformation He desires.

The apostle Paul identifies the outcome of this transformation as the fruit of the Spirit.  One who has lost his job and financial security may find more success in pleasing God.  As we become more and more like Jesus, we will be filled with His “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”  Galatians 5:22

Blow, wind of God!


Never Alone

Sturdy Guardrails

The ride along the Central Coast of California is one of my personal favorites. State Highway 1 is cut into the side of the Santa Lucia Mountains, which rise dramatically from the Pacific Ocean. While I love the sheer walls of granite on one side and the grandeur of the Pacific on the other, the guardrails along the road have a story to tell. Their very existence, placement, and scars tell the story of near death experiences. Guard rails, when properly constructed and installed, save lives. The most joyful journeys and unimpeded views are found in the center of the lane anyway.

Jesus wants us to “abide” in His love. Just as He is fully loved by the Father, He loves us.* Strong, uncompromising, permanent love, even for the unlovely. Then Jesus opens the truth of eternity and explains how this is possible. How can a selfish, prideful man even comprehend His love, let alone abide in it? Jesus said to His disciples that the key to abiding in His love is to keep His commandments.* Just as the highway is lined with guardrails to keep us safe, Jesus’ commands keep us safe on the path of joy and blessing.

Isn’t that just more legalism? More religious laws to limit my freedom? The answer is an unequivocal “no.” When we obey Jesus’ moral commands, we are abiding in His love. Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City says, “God put guardrails around sex because it is the most delightful yet also most dangerous of all human capacities.”*

Jesus loves us so much that He warns us against self-destructive choices and behaviors. But He also wants us to know the joy of living within God-given moral boundaries. The commands of God flow from His perfect justice and inconceivable love. Like guardrails on a coastal highway, Jesus’ commands keep us in the center of our lane – the only safe place to ride. And, the only safe place to live. His commands are not only a warning of dangerous roads ahead but also an invitation to live in the warmth of His love.

Rather than restricting our freedom, Jesus’ commands set us free from crashing and burning in the canyons. Around 1400 BC Moses received ten basic laws from the hand of God. These laws were called the Ten Commandments. Now it seems like our culture sees them more as options to be considered. God says these are guardrails for a safe and sane journey through life. God is not the eternal kill-joy. He gave these commands for His glory and our benefit. That we might abide in His love and experience His overflowing joy.

Traveling with you on the highway of holiness,

*John 15:9-11
*I recommend reading Tim Keller’s The Reason for God