The things of God

The “assigned” Gospel text for Sunday is from Mark 8 where Jesus foretells his death; Peter rebukes Jesus; and then Jesus in turn rebukes Peter: “Get behind me Satan, for you are not setting your mind on the things of God but on the things of man.”

This “things of God” verses the “things of man” has got me thinking this week.

I started the week reflecting on Psalm 119:1-16 where it says:

Blessed are they whose ways are blameless,
who walk according to the law of the Lord.
2 Blessed are they who keep his statutes
and seek him with all their heart.
3 They do nothing wrong;
they walk in his ways.
4 You have laid down precepts
that are to be fully obeyed.
5 Oh, that my ways were steadfast
in obeying your decrees!
6 Then I would not be put to shame
when I consider all your commands.
7 I will praise you with an upright heart
as I learn your righteous laws.
8 I will obey your decrees;
do not utterly forsake me. 

9 How can a young man keep his way pure?
By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
12 Praise be to you, O Lord;
teach me your decrees.
13 With my lips I recount
all the laws that come from your mouth.
14 I rejoice in following your statutes
as one rejoices in great riches.
15 I meditate on your precepts
and consider your ways.
16 I delight in your decrees;
I will not neglect your word.

I have been soaking these verses in every chance I get this week.  When some down time presents itself to me I open my Bible to read and reflect.  I listen and then read again.  I ponder and wonder if I am indeed setting my mind on the “things of God” rather than on the “things of man”.  Do I mediate on God’s precepts? Do I take joy in learning God’s righteousness decrees?

You see ~ The “things of man” doesn’t encourage you to open your Bible during some down time.  The “things of man” doesn’t encourage you to just sit and listen, as a friend of mine so aptly wrote on his blog recently.  The “things of man” doesn’t tell you that God’s way is best.  And so I am encouraged:

I feel good about myself.
I feel justified that I am doing what I should be doing.
I feel like I am on the right path.

But then I also realize that I have my moments (actually…many moments) when I am setting my mind on the “things of man”.  In a lot of ways Peter and I are kindred spirits.

I want what I think is best without consulting God.
I want to find peace and contentment in the things of this world.
I want to rush in with MY agenda.

So then I feel discouraged that maybe I truly don’t have in mind the “things of God” 😦

But then in Romans Paul reminds us that this battle is never ending.  We are always going to be frustrated by the battle between the desire to set our mind on the “things of God” verses the “things of man”.  We are always go to be tempted to take the easy/pleasurable way over the productive/God-honoring way.  The battle is going to rage on and never calm down until that day when Jesus returns to take us home and redeem the pitiful state we find ourselves in.

So in the mean time, take every moment you can to immerse yourself in the Word.  Find quiet moments to listen to God. Remember to shut up and listen once in a while.  And don’t lose hope.  When you falter; when you revert to your “default” setting of the “things of man” remember the Good News ~ forgiveness through faith in Christ ~ and then update your settings to the “things of God”.

Praise be to you, O Lord; 
teach me your decrees. 
13 With my lips I recount 
all the laws that come from your mouth. 
14 I rejoice in following your statutes 
as one rejoices in great riches. 
15 I meditate on your precepts 
and consider your ways. 
16 I delight in your decrees; 
I will not neglect your word.

“Things of God”…CHECK 🙂
[At least for now]

Praise be to you O God!  Even though I falter and take you for granted, you don’t leave me orphaned.  Even though I often revert to the “things on man” you don’t cast me aside to fend for myself.  O God – I want to strive after your righteousness decrees.  Help me to keep my internal settings on the “things of God” that I may grow closer and closer to you.  Through Jesus Christ I pray…Amen.

edh -|—