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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Less is more when more is no good

The great architect Frank Lloyd Wright once said, "Less is more when more is no good." Let that sink in a while and you might just agree with Mr. Wright. When what we desire is no good, it doesn't really matter if the desire is a little one or a huge one - it is still not good for us to pursue! One of the Roman philosophers of the first century, Publilius Syrus wrote, "If you wish to reach the highest, begin at the lowest." In other words, what we don't think might matter is what usually will give us the greatest difficulty. We take for granted the washer in the faucet until the drip begins to keep us awake at night!

13 So get yourselves ready, prepare your minds to act, control yourselves, and look forward in hope as you focus on the grace that comes when Jesus the Anointed returns and is completely revealed to you. 14 Be like obedient children as you put aside the desires you used to pursue when you didn’t know better. 15 Since the One who called you is holy, be holy in all you do. (I Peter 1:13-15 VOICE)

We are to focus on the grace that comes from, in, and through Jesus Christ. It isn't the natural way of thinking to focus on what we cannot earn, do not deserve, and have no fathoming of the depths of its reaches. The instructions to us today are pretty simple - let's explore:

- Get yourselves ready. I sometimes call my daughter on my way to work in the morning. When I do, I usually have to be interrupted in our conversation several times with her reminding the grand-boys to stop what they are doing and "get ready" for school. They have used their mother's distracted attention to engage in some activity they know is not part of their normal morning routine - simply because she isn't paying as close attention as normal. It is always amazing to me to realize how many times we know we need to be ready for something, but we dilly-dally along the way, allowing for things we know better than to focus on at the moment to get our attention. The first call to us is to "get ready" - not to have someone else ready us for what may come, but for us to put forth effort to be ready.

- Prepare your minds. If we think for one moment readiness is just a state of having a few things "prepared", we have a much too simplified view of being prepared. I live in a community not too frequently ravaged by any type of severe weather, such as flood, blizzard, or hurricane. Yet, my local "big box" store carries pallets of five gallon buckets filled with all manner of food staples - just so people can be prepared for whatever. Maybe they are preparing for the "zombie apocalypse" TV and film seem heck-bent on portraying as a possibility some day! What amazes me is how these things actually sell! Someone believes there is a need to "be prepared" for some "emergency". How much more do we need to prepare our minds for things we don't even realize are coming? Rather than focusing on some of the stuff we spend time on, it is more beneficial to us to prepare our minds through study of the Word, pondering the ways God works, and the true mystery of his grace. When we are preparing our minds, we are preparing our hearts to act - to know how to respond when life throws us stuff we didn't expect.

- Control yourself. Up until this point, I think most of us could find ways to actually "do" what we are asked to do. On this one point, many of us will struggle for controlling "self" is sometimes not the easiest endeavor! The fact of the matter is that God doesn't say he will control us - he asks us to put our focus right, fill our minds with the right stuff, then act upon what we know to be true - in turn, we use the right stuff to produce the right actions. I have talked with believers who wonder why the continue to struggle with the same issues over and over again. If the truth be known, it is probably because they haven't prepared. There is nothing in reserve when the time comes to act - so they reach for what comes naturally - and that may not always be the most godly response we could give. God doesn't control us - but he does give us his Holy Spirit to be "resident" within us to help us sort out our responses when the time comes to respond. If we will do a little work ahead of time to prepare, we might just do a little better when the need for control arises.

- Look forward in hope as you focus on the GRACE Jesus gives. Grace isn't a thing - it is a person. It isn't a condition - it is a living, breathing existence fusing two lives together. As our lives become "intertwined" with Jesus, we begin to draw from his strength - even when the circumstances of life seem to tell us we won't make it. His will becomes the center of what we do - not our selfish desires. We find purpose in things he values - not in the things the world tells us matter. We find hope in grace - when our eyes are turned from what WE can produce to what he IS within us. Just sayin!