Thursday, June 23, 2011

Power in Prayer

 For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory:
no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.
Psalm 84:11
There are just some verses in the Bible that bother me because I can't quite wrap my brain around them.  I read that verse and think "Ok, Lord, I've been praying for x,y, & z forever and you haven't answered?" and yet I know His word is true so the problem must be with ME.  As a side note, you'll find life a whole lot easier if you just establish in your heart and your mind that God's Word is always right and if there seems to be a contradiction, the problem is with you (me!), not with the Bible :)

Anyway, I pondered the end of that verse for quite a while...NO good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.  The key word there is "uprightly".  In the 1828, it is defined as:  Honestly; with strict observance of rectitude; as, to live uprightly.  

My first thought was to say, "ok, that's what I thought so what am I missing?"  but then I decided to dig a little deeper into the word rectitude.

In morality, rightness of principle or practice; uprightness of mind; exact conformity to truth, or to the rules prescribed for moral conduct, either by divine or human laws. Rectitude of mind is the disposition to act in conformity to any known standard of right, truth or justice; rectitude of conduct is the actual conformity to such standard. Perfect rectitude belongs only to the Supreme Being. The more nearly the rectitude of men approaches to the standard of the divine law, the more exalted and dignified is their character. Want (lack) of rectitude is not only sinful, but debasing.

The very first thing that popped into my mind in reading that definition is the cries of liberals, screaming "legalism! legalism!" when we as Bible-believing Christians strive to follow God's laws for both faith AND practice!  It's no wonder that good things are withheld from us (me), when we pray.  The word "uprightly" goes far beyond what I thought it did; that is just basically living for the Lord.   When you really start digging, it means to conform *exactly* to the rules (laws, commandments) given by our Creator.  Does that mean sinless perfection? Of course not. There is only one sinless One - the precious, holy Lamb of God.  

However, there a prevailing mentality in "Christian" circles (term used loosely) that God's ways are great for spiritual matters (salvation, forgiveness, faith, love, eternal security) but are irrelevant to practical living.  The fact is that the Bible is FULL of instruction for our daily living but if a pastor preaches it from the pulpit, he is often accused of legalism. 

Do you want to know the difference between holy, Bible living and legalism?  Are you ready, because this is deep.....the heart attitude. That's it.  A person striving to live godly, holy and separate because they love the Lord and want to please Him will be more concerned with their own short comings and less concerned with forcing others to follow in their footsteps. They simply want to please their Savior!  A legalist tells everyone else how they should be living and looks down their noses at those who aren't living up to that standard, usually while being unconcerned with their own shortcomings.  That's it.  In the end, God's Word is the same and each of us will give an account before Him one day as to how we obeyed His Word.  (Incidentally, it is your pastor's calling from the Lord to preach to his congregation the whole counsel of God, which includes how to live right and please God.  We should each thank God for  a man of God that isn't afraid to preach the Word straight.  They are unfortunately, few and far between!)

I read a quote once that said:  "Self-righteousness is being more aware of and irritated by the sins of others than you are conscious of and grieved by your own."  I have certainly walked both sides of that fence, much to my shame, but I can honestly say that the closer I get to the Lord, the less what other people are doing matters.  Why? Because I see myself  for who and what I am and I have enough of me  to work on without worrying about anybody else.  

Our Pastor said once that, "You cannot have sin in your lifestyle and expect God in your worship.".  How very true that is!!!  And while we will never be perfect this side of Heaven, we should strive to be as right with God as possible!
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
(Php 4:8)

That one verse alone could keep us busy for the next five years.  The Lord knows our hearts and He knows when in our hearts we are striving to walk uprightly.  Only when we get to the place that the intents of our hearts continuously seek to please God ~ and only when we are striving and putting forth effort to walk uprightly can we claim that verse...no good thing will the Lord withhold.... I don't know about you but there are things in my life that I do not want the Lord to withhold.  The Lord, in His mercy, blesses us every day but there are obviously some things that the Lord withholds from us until we walk uprightly.  

It's not about legalism....it's about loving God and keeping His commandments in both faith AND practice.

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
(Mat 7:13-14)




© Adorning Grace 2011

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