Monday ~ Psalm 119:11 We hide God's word in our hearts so that we might not sin against him. We won't get it perfect and so we must show ourselves the grace we would show others.
Tuesday ~ Ezekiel 36:26 If we are to have a heart that obeys the pattern of teaching we've been given, we must remember that God has given us a new heart. And if we aren't going to reject the new life he's given us, we must pray for ourselves, keep our minds focused on what is excellent, and spend time seeking what God actually says.
One of the things I have loved most about Nehemiah is his understanding of who he was, what he was called to do, and his level of responspiblity. Several times, at least five, Nehemiah asks God to remember what he has done. Why? Because he knew deep down that regardless of his personal commitment he could not control the commitment of others. All he could do was continue to obey the pattern of teaching that claimed the allegiance of his own heart.
Let's think for a minute about the personal commitments we make that are explicit and the ones that are assumed. The only true difference between these two examples is our ability to admit where our weaknesses lie. I could say I have an assumed personal commitment to not rob a bank. It's just not a temptation for me. But unless I make an explicit commitment to not loudly direct my off-spring in the way they should go, I know that my volume and frustration can easily look like a defensive tackle on a football field.
However, the commitment itself isn't enough. I must also know the why behind the decision because without the why, without understanding how my actions can have long term effects, it is too easy to revert back to old habits. (Think Sully when he scares Boo half to death in Monsters, Inc.)
The problem is that a lack of why in the presence of what we don't understand or a decision that needs to be made is not going to lead us anywhere we truly would want to be.
In Acts 28:4-6 Paul has just shipwrecked on Malta and he has a snake hanging from his hand. The people assume that he has committed murder, managed to escape from prison, but that the goddess of Justice is going to snuff him out. Instead, Paul shakes off the snake and nothing happened to him that the people expected. Their explanation? He became a god in their eyes.
The people Paul was with did not know God as we know him. They did not understand that despite what worldly human logic says, God is not confined or restricted to it. No, we can't go running off steep cliffs and expect to walk away unscathed, but we also can't assume that a cancer diagnosis is going to take us home to Jesus if God says it isn't our time. But without knowing God or what he is capable of, in the absense of understanding, these people were going to create an explanation based on what they most believed to be true.
The same can be said of us when it comes to our choices. If we do not understand the why behind God's commands, regulations, and decrees, we will make our assumptions on their purposes and then decide if they apply to us. That is unless we come to obey from our heart. A heart that is fully committed to the God we know intimately and personally and accept that he has our best interest at heart.
Sadly, the vast majority of our understanding comes through time and experience. Some things, by the grace of God, we never decide to do and see the consequences of others who chose differently. Other times, we look back and see how our choices are still haunting us today. Those are the times we can fully declare that God knew best and we ignored his direction.
But if we can take that understanding and apply it to whatever we are currently facing, won't we understand that doing things his way is for our good? Won't we obey from our heart because we see that his teaching is never about him being a control freak but rather a Father who loves his children so much that he took the time to write down what the best options are?
I could list the things I can now look back and seriously wonder what I was thinking. But I know what I was thinking: I wanted what I wanted and rolled the dice. Some didn't have the worst possible outcomes, but they still had some unpleasant ones. But on this side of the roulette table, I can also see the protection God put in that I pushed through because I not only didn't understand why, I didn't take the time to find out why.
Very few of us have the time to remain in a holy huddle, nose deep in the Scriptures, seeking out every why behind God's direction. Our best hope is to look at the cross and believe that his why is always based on love. And if we can wrap our minds around a love that great and accept that it is for us, even in our absolute worst state, our allegiance is sure to follow.