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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Joy in the following

1 Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord.
 2 Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts.
 3 They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths.
 4 You have charged us to keep your commandments carefully.
 5 Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees!
 6 Then I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your commands.
 7 As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should!
 8 I will obey your decrees. Please don’t give up on me!
(Psalm 119:1-8)

A man or woman of integrity follows hard after the commands of God - searches with all their heart and obeys with a willing submission.  To follow implies that we look toward a leader.  One who follows has the vantage point of seeing the one who has set the course before them.  The follower falls into step with the leader and anticipates every movement of that leader.  For this reason, it is important to have the correct leader before us.  

Searching really describes the anticipation of satisfaction - we move toward something because we believe the attainment of that goal will meet a need or satisfy a craving.  A man or woman of integrity follows with an intensity in their search - there is no half-hearted pursuit here, but a full-on eagerness that is spurred on by renewed expectation.  In the pursuit of God, there is a laying down of what we feel is our right in order to fall into step with God.

Look at the list of character traits that David describes about the man or woman of integrity - no compromise with evil, stays on course, carefully obeys God's commands.  There is no settling for the first thing that presents itself - instead, there is a desire to wait for God's timing and his purpose.  In fact, there is also a desire to live by the standards outlined by God as our leader - not desiring to change the standards to fit the moment.  When we have a reliable guide (leader), it is easier to stay on course.

In turn, the man or woman of integrity reflects the one they are following.  This is a principle of leadership - those that follow somehow reflect the character of the one they are following.  This is because the follower is continually comparing his/her life with the standard of the leader and then adjusting to meet that standard.  We reflect what we most often behold.  The outcome is that we become examples of Christ on this earth.  When there is obedience to principles that are "sure", peace is produced.  Principles that are consistent and trustworthy are easy to follow - there is a certainty in them that makes the next step we take reliable.

Three things I leave you with today:
  1. Integrity is to be desired - comes by following hard.  We have to stay on course and keep the right standard before us.  If we live with a sense of careful focus in our lives, we are able to avoid compromise and will reap the fruit of thankfulness and peace.
  2. Intensity is suggested as the means of attaining this peace.  It is hard work to follow Jesus.  We have to pay attention - and that is hard.  We will never be aware of evil, of opportunity to compromise the standard held out before us, if we are not attentive to the one leading.
  3. Intimacy is promised to those who walk in integrity.  When we are aware of the one leading, open to his leading, the outcome should be that we live right.  In turn, we learn to "relate" to those around us in a manner that always honors.  Our heart needs will be met, as well as those we relate to.
Happy is the man...