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Simple Steps

I heard Tony Evans speak on Sunday night. He is one of those Bible Teachers who stirs my heart every time I hear him. He was explaining what it means that we are body, soul and spirit. Prior to knowing Jesus, the spirit in us is dead so all I have to work with is my body and soul. When I trusted in Christ as my savior I was “born again” (John 3:3; 1 Peter 1:23) which means the spirit comes alive and was planted in my soul as a seed that began to grow. He then said, “The soul tells the body what to do and, as it grows, the spirit tells the soul what to do.” It was one of those statements that stuck in my brain and has captured my thinking since. Almost immediately I began to ask, “If the spirit needs to grow in order to tell the soul what to do so it can give healthy instructions to my body (the five senses that interact with my world), what can I do to encourage growth in my spirit?” I know that spiritual growth requires the power of the Holy Spirit and that yielding to the Spirit is a big part of the process but I have discovered there are always simple steps we can take as people to set the stage. I found clues to what those steps are in Psalm 27 this morning.
Choose to focus on what is true (v. 1). “The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” The truth is, and always will be, that God gives me direction (light) that is right, stability that can never be shaken (salvation), and safety in his presence (stronghold). A review of these truths creates an environment where fear is uncomfortable.
Search for God even though I know he is close by (v. 4, 8). “One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.” “My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, LORD, I will seek.” David was a very responsible man who could never afford to hang around the temple all day gazing. What he is trying to say is that religious activity is different than seeking to be connected to God himself. He wanted to have the urgency of looking for something that was hidden but necessary to life. I am amazed at how focused I can be when I have misplaced my car keys. I know they are in the house but they I can’t see them so I search and search again. I retrace my steps and ask anyone else who is in the house. I suspend other activities and put enormous energy into the pursuit to find what is close to me but just out of reach. When I finally connect with my keys, a sense of victory arises within me that calms everything. In the same way, we are called to seek God. We know he is near but there is great value in the pursuit and calmness in the capture.
Rejoice regardless of how I feel (v. 6). “. . . at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy.” Joy is presented as a sacrifice we give in honor of who God is. If I want to feed my spirit, I will shout for joy when God gives victory. I will sing for joy when God gives comfort. I will express joy when God brings provision and guidance. I will also choose to rejoice when circumstances don’t work out to my liking, when things appear to be bleak, or when people who don’t deserve it appear to prosper. I will celebrate even in these moments because nothing changed with God. He is still the King of Kings and Ruler of the universe. He is still the Savior of the world and the Son of God. He still works all things together for good (Romans 8:28) and keeps His promises. The only thing in question is timing. I will cheer because God will lead me in victory, I just don’t know how long the contest lasts.
I will wait for the Lord (v. 14). This is the hardest one for me even though I am convinced it is necessary. I like it when the path is clear and I can run at full speed. It is much harder for me when the path is foggy and the command is to wait and just remain faithful to what I already know. Intellectually, I know it is always best to wait for God to sound the charge but I like to press forward. If I want my spirit to grow, I need to be ready at all times to move when he calls to action and I need to be just as ready to be content with the routine work of today.
Lord, as I work on these simple steps, please energize the spirit you have placed inside of me so my soul will instruct my body to engage in healthy pursuits.

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