Have you ever had one of those times of feeling like you are wondering around in the darkness, lost in a valley, caught up in the storms of life?  You question why you are there and what you are doing there alone.  As for me, I had lost track of how long I have been focused on going through the daily motions and focusing on how I can accomplish my own goals.  I am reminded of the account of Elijah in 1 Kings 19:11-13, “He said, Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.  Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.”  This story is describing the calm after the storm that consists of the intense silence that comes after the unfathomable display of God’s glorious power.  It was the silence that got Elijah’s attention and caused him to leave the cave and get back to work, doing what God had called him to do.  It was only after the storm where he learned to rely on the promises of God and trust that the work is His to define and achieve.

It is imperative to be still and listen to know God intimately, not just His blessings that He has provided, but to become aware of His existence and character.  Romans 12:2 provides guidance by declaring, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”  Jesus has affirmed in Matthew 10:39 that, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”  I really like what the Life Application Study Bible had to say regarding that text:  “This verse is a positive and negative statement of the same truth: clinging to this life may cause us to forfeit the best from Christ in this world and in the next.  The more we love this life’s rewards (leisure, power, popularity, financial security), the more we will discover how empty they really are.  The best way to enjoy life, therefore, is to loosen our greedy grasp on earthly rewards so that we can be free to follow Christ.  In doing so, we will inherit eternal life and begin at once to experience the benefits of following Christ.  Real discipleship implies real commitment – pledging our whole existence to his service.  If we try to save our physical life from death, pain, or discomfort, we may risk losing our true eternal life.  If we protect ourselves from pain, we begin to die spiritually and emotionally.  Our lives turn inward, and we lose our intended purpose.  When we give our lives in service to Christ, however, we discover the real purpose of living.  When we don’t know Christ, we make choices as though this life were all we have.  In reality, this life is just the introduction to eternity.  How we live this brief span, however, determines our eternal state.  What we accumulate on earth has no value in purchasing eternal life.  Even the highest social or civic honors cannot earn us entrance into heaven.  Evaluate all that happens from an eternal perspective, and you will find your values and decisions changing.”

We find in 1 Samuel 15:22-23, “Then Samuel said, Do you think all God wants are sacrifices— empty rituals just for show?  He wants you to listen to him!  Plain listening is the thing, not staging a lavish religious production.  Not doing what God tells you is far worse than fooling around in the occult.  Getting self-important around God is far worse than making deals with your dead ancestors.  Because you said No to God’s command, he says No to your kingship.”  With that being said, we need to be sincere with our faith and serious about our relationship with Jesus Christ.  We need to acknowledge the fact that Jesus completed the work at the cross and has given us a simple mission of spreading the good news of His victory over sin and death.  We study and meditate on the Bible to grow deeper in our faith and relationship with God and with other people.  We are a free, however, freedom can only come by a price and that is submission to authority.  The choice of who to submit to belongs to each individual.  We either submit to the authority of this world in which Satan has temporary influence in and cave in to peer pressure and do as we please that ultimately leads to death OR submit to our Creator, God who gives life and follow His commands that He put in place for our own protection and well-being.

Galatians 2:20 declares, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  Furthermore in Romans 8:1-8:  “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life has set youfree in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.  For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do.  By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.  For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.  For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.  For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.  Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”  I have learned the hard way that we can not live by the Spirit on our own.  Everybody needs each other, Jesus established Church so that those who believe in Him may become strengthened through meeting with other believers and everyone obtains accountability in order to live as we should.

I would like to conclude this blog with Psalm 119:25-32 from the Message translation.  I encourage you to let this be a guide for prayer for those times where you feel lost just as I have during this journey of life here on earth:

“I’m feeling terrible—I couldn’t feel worse!
Get me on my feet again. You promised, remember?
When I told my story, you responded;
train me well in your deep wisdom.
Help me understand these things inside and out
so I can ponder your miracle-wonders.
My sad life’s dilapidated, a falling-down barn;
build me up again by your Word.
Barricade the road that goes Nowhere;
grace me with your clear revelation.
I choose the true road to Somewhere,
I post your road signs at every curve and corner.
I grasp and cling to whatever you tell me;
God, don’t let me down!
I’ll run the course you lay out for me
if you’ll just show me how.”

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