No one drifts closer to God.

I was eight hours into my egregiously long fifteen hour drive from Phoenix, Arizona to Wichita Falls, Texas when I heard this phrase in a podcast. I had seven more hours to think through its implications, and later that evening I realized that you can illustrate this reality in Scripture. 21208930_1417528678364805_1062599607_n

No one drifts closer to God. On days that we don’t pursue intimacy with Him we are naturally prone to drift further away from His presence, from the spiritual disciplines, and from His call on our lives. It just happens. Sure there are days where I’m not intentionally pursuing communion with Him and still feel close to Him. But 95% of the time, when I am not pursuing the spiritual disciplines, when I’m not pursuing His glory, I am drifting further and further from Him. If this happens for too long a season, it can lead me into sinful thoughts, behaviors, or lifestyles.

We all naturally drift away from God. This happens. This process is shown to us in the first Psalm. Look with me at Psalm 1:1.

How happy is the one who does not walk in the advice of the wicked or stand in the pathway with sinners or sit in the company of mockers! – Psalm 1:1

We see here in this verse an illustration of the regression that can happen in regards to sin.

Walking with the wicked – – – standing with sinners – – – sitting in the company of mockers.

Man this can happen so fast in our lives if we’re not careful.

It starts with us walking with God in the path of righteousness that is later described in this Psalm. Next thing you know, you’re not actively or intentionally making sure you’re on the path. This leads to a sometimes even subconscious walking on the path of the wicked. The wickedness of the world is thrown at us every waking moment, and so when we’re not communing regularly with God we can begin to walk out our lives on a path of wickedness that is provided to us by this world. It’s our natural inclination towards sin.

After drifting down this path for a while, we can find ourselves standing with sinners. Now, let me be clear, I do not see this verse as an indictment against having relationships and friendships with those who don’t share our faith. Standing with sinners in relationships is not at all what this verse is talking about, nor is it what I’m talking about. When placed in the illustration rather, it should surprise us that this wicked man is now standing. He is not moving towards God. He is not pursuing the Lord. He has set out on the path of wickedness and now he simply stands. Stands unaffected by sin.

In the seasons of my life that I have been drifting away from the Lord, I would find myself standing with sin lifestyles all around me, yet I wasn’t motivated to do anything about said sin. I had become apathetic towards sins that grieve the very heart of God, sins that my Lord and Savior had died for. This is what my heart is prone to do naturally when I do not pursue God. I subconsciously walk down the path of wickedness and soon find myself apathetic to sin.

I wish that was as far as we often get in our lives. Yet this isn’t the case. We can take it one step further – from apathy to mockery.

We can drift so far from the Lord that we go so far as to mock the very things of God.

This isn’t necessarily happening in our lives in pronounced or explicit ways, but it can happen in our hearts and minds. It can happen when we’re at small group or when we’re singing hymns at church. It can happen when we’re listening to a sermon or talking to a friend. We mock the things of God. I confess that this has happened in my life. I will be hearing a friend share about raising money for a mission trip and internally I’m mocking the idea of missions. I would be listening to a sermon and hear about how God is great and good and internally I would think to myself what is good about Him? I would receive godly and wise counsel from parents or other men and women in my life and immediately shrug it off or disregard it. This was extremely present in my high school days, as I sat in my mockery of God.

Now Psalm 1 is not in my opinion a Psalm about this regression, although I do believe David wrote the regression (walk – stand – sit) on purpose. I do pray and hope that as you read this, you are honest with yourself and with God about where you may find yourself today.

Are you walking with God on the path of righteousness, or are you sitting in sin?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. . . . If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. – Galatians 5:22-23a, 25

This is the fruit that should be present in our lives, that should be ripe in our lives. I am not myself prone to all of these things naturally, so again it takes active listening and walking with the Spirit of God in our lives.

The first Psalm gives us a clue on how we can make sure that we don’t drift away from the Lord.

Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night. – Psalm 1:2

The man who is prosperous (not necessarily in an earthly way) is this man. The man who does not drift is this man.

May we be men and women who treasure the Word of God. May we be men and women who delight in the instructions of the Lord and make it a point to meditate on His Word day and night.

No one drifts closer to God.

It takes delightful discipline.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

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Live Long And Prosper

We live in a broken world. The effects of sin wreak havoc upon every facet of the cosmos, including our bodies. This is not to say that we are without hope. For the cross of Christ gives us the hope to carry on. Yet we still have to face the fallenness of our world, often in the ways of physical imperfection, from chronic illnesses to common colds.prosper

How are we to deal with these realities? How are we to pray for our loved ones, our family and our friends? Do we pray for healing? Do we assume sickness is punishment?

Many questions abound in my mind about health. Many answers are found in Scripture.

Look with me at the small book of 3rd John, and specifically John’s greeting and prayer for his dear friend Gaius.

Dear friend I pray that you may prosper in every way and be in good health physically just as you are spiritually. – 3 John 2

These types of wishes for good health were not at all uncommon openings to ancient Greek letters in the time of John. John goes beyond just the standard wish though, proclaiming that not only does he care for Gaius’ soul (spiritual health), he also prays for his physical health with the understanding that our bodies are held in the sovereign hands of the Lord.

Some believe that Gaius was in poor health when John wrote him this letter. Regardless of whether or not this is true, John loved him like a brother and thus desired to see Gaius in good physical health. This prayer for good health was way more valued in their time as medical care in that day and age was often ineffective leading to diminished life expectancy.

I chuckled to myself when I realized that John was essentially saying ‘live long and prosper’ to his buddy Gaius. Now, I’ll admit, I’m not much of a Star Trek fan but I do know enough to humorously recognize how Biblical of a greeting that classic line is.

Back to the subject at hand.

I would attest given this verse, and others like it, that it is normal and encouraged to pray for the good health of those we love and care about.

Just take a glance at Jesus’ earthly ministry and you can see countless examples of Him healing the sick and in need. Our God is a Healer. He is able to save. He is mighty to save. It is Biblical and right to pray for not only good health personally, but good health for friends and family.

So what about when we pray fervently for our health to change, or for the chronic illness of a friend, and God elects not to bring physical healing?

We must hold tight to the fact that God is good, God is great, and what He does is right.

This is difficult. This is immensely difficult. We in our broken nature and limited scope do not often think about the big picture.

I woke up this morning, not with a grand view of eternity in mind, but with March 2nd, 2017 in mind. I woke up thinking about what I’d like to accomplish today, and what I need to accomplish today. With such a minute view of my world, I can see sickness in the life of a friend as a travesty and a terrible blight. Yet in the grand scope of eternity, God uses every aspect of our lives for our good and His glory.

There is not a direct correlation between sickness and personal sin. Waking up with a cold one morning is not because you didn’t pray enough that week. No, in fact, sickness and poor health can bring us closer to the Father, and into a greater understanding of His Word. Take for example these two verses from the longest Psalm.

Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word. – Psalm 119:67

It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. – Psalm 119:71

When I reflect on my life, it’s easier for me to stray from God’s Word and from learning His ways when everything is peachy-keen in my world. When darkness comes creeping in from the edges or close to home, I am reminded of eternity. I am reminded of what matters. I am reminded of God’s precious Word and His ways. In a sense, these times of sickness in our lives can be for our good. The Psalmist here says it was good for him to be afflicted because it produced in him a greater attentiveness to learning the statutes of God.

Please do not read into what I’m saying. Please do not see me saying that our sicknesses are simply to draw us back in from going astray. I know countless men and women who this day are struggling with real difficult things despite amazing faith and faithfulness to the Lord throughout their lives. What I am saying, or what God’s Word is proclaiming, is that God uses every aspect of our lives to draw us closer to Him. In some cases, this means going through physical health issues for His glory.

God is good. God is great. What He does is right.

If you or a loved one is walking through sickness right now, I don’t have the perfect words to say to you. I can tell you that there is nothing wrong with praying for healing. Our God is a Healer. As you walk through this difficult journey, don’t walk through it alone. Walk in community. You may not understand why things happened the way they did this side of eternity. But hold tight to the fact that God is good, great, and He always does what is right.

My prayer is that my friends and family would live long and prosper.

I pray you do to.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

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