Sunday, June 29, 2008

God's Compassion

Filled with compassion
For all creation
Jesus came into a world that was lost
There was but one way
That He could save us
Only through suffering death on a cross

God You are waiting, 
Your heart is breaking
For all the people who live on the earth
Stir us to action, 
Filled with Your passion
For all the people who live on the earth

Great is Your passion 
For all the people
Living and dying without knowing You
Having no saviour
They're lost forever
If we don't speak out and lead them to You

From every nation 
We shall be gathered
Millions redeemed shall be Jesus' reward
Then He will turn and say to His Father
"Truly my suffering was worth it all"

-Noel Richards

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Faith Despite Failure

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

As I was sharing with a dear friend the other evening, they mentioned the fact that we must believe God and His Word even when we don't feel His presence. I was deeply struck by this simple thought as I had been wrestling with the fact that I was not living my Christian life to God's full potential, and feeling discouraged because of that. As I stated in my previous post, we are not promised the fact that we will FEEL God at every moment of our lives, but we ARE promised that He will never leave us.

Likewise, we MUST retain faith in God even when we don't feel that he is doing what he promised. Think of Abraham, and of his promise. He was told that he was going to be the "Father of many nations" (Gen 17:4) and that God would "multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore." (Gen 22:17) How many years did he wait for the fulfillment of that promise, seeing, feeling, and experiencing absolutely nothing. What could have caused him to retain hope against all odds? (Hebrews 11:1) We see in Romans 4 what the core of that faith was: “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;” (Romans 4:20) He trusted God implicitly, because he had a love relationship with him. And so should we. Many times for myself, the aspect of trust is missing from my relationship since I view God as a distant, supreme, non-tangible being, rather than a loving, caring, and understanding Father.

Our culture thrives on performance. Faster cars, cheaper prices, less downtime, optimized workflows. These are all keys to success and advancement. Many times I fear that I attribute that same "American Spirit" upon God. I feel that the more that I do, the better I perform, the faster I get things done for Him, the better my "wage;" His love and acceptance. That is wrong. I am not intimating that we should be lazy Christians, but I think we take this "diligence" thing a little too far. Let's take a quick look at one of Jesus' lesser known parables in Matthew 20 verses 1 through 16. Basically, Jesus likens the kingdom of heaven to a householder that goes out and hires different workers at different times throughout the day. In the end, he pays them all the wages that they had agreed upon; which happens to be the same amount for everyone. This generated no little stir among those that had bestowed the most labor in the vineyard, for they thought that surely they worked harder, and earned more. Somehow, again, I don't think God works that way. Our Christian life is not a race for the top of a corporate ladder, it is a war against the world, the flesh, and the devil, as well as an opportunity to glorify our Father while we are on this earth.

What does all this mean? Well, first off, let me clarify again, as Paul does in his epistles: what then, shall we be lazy in our Christian walk so that we get the most for the least amount of effort? God Forbid! No, God's heart is not to breed laziness, but to encourage the weaker among us. We're not all meant to be "Christian Superstars," if there even is such a thing, and God does not expect us to even attempt to be one. We are all given talents; our requirement is to simply make the best use of what we have. (Matthew 25:14-30) The main point I am trying to make here is that we are all failing in some point or another, but let's not let the devil get us down. We have all sinned, and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) This begs the question: if our performance does not affect our gift, then what is the impetus to keep pressing onward for the Lord? The same exact reason that we don't continue in sin even though we are completely free from the law (Romans 6:1, 15; 7:6) In plain English: L O V E. We don't sin while under grace because of love, and we do the best that we can for Him because of love. Whose love? Both sides. We love Him because He first loved us. The only reason that we CAN love Him is because of His love for us and His love in us. If you love someone and you know they love you, you WANT to do things for them. (Anyone watched siblings or friends go through courtship?) :) You get the idea. It's a 'perform because you WANT to,' rather than 'perform to get ahead,' or 'perform because you HAVE to' deal.

All this to say that God IS near us whether we feel Him or not, and He wants our love, for he loves us "with an everlasting love." (Jeremiah 31:3) He desires the best for us, and sometimes the best is times of dryness; times where we look to heaven and just cry out. Times where we truly seek Him because of desperation.

“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13


Thursday, June 05, 2008

"In My Weakness"

"Bread of life, pure living water; Lover of my soul,
In my weakness be my strength to reach the final goal.

Lamb of God, dear hope of glory, Savior crucified,
By your blood I am redeemed, my debt now satisfied!

Though they slay me, though I fall; in darkness You are light!
Jesus, I will keep my eyes on you 'till my faith becomes sight!

Precious, holy, Lord and King, so full of love and grace.
Though I live, or though I die, I rest in your embrace."

-Lucinda Bateman (1877)

This song circled through my head this morning as I was pondering recent events in life. Lately, I have been struggling with not really feeling God’s power in my life, and feeling like a total failure because I am not some über man of God after a few years of being a Christian.

God never promised instant advancement in this war. He told us simply to follow him, and that we were to be soldiers. “Endure hardness...” That does not really sound inclusive of being “carried to the skies on flow’ry beds of ease.” It also never was promised that we would be coddled and protected the whole way to heaven. Yes, we are promised: “Lo, I am with you alway; even to the end of the world,” but that is not saying that we will ALWAYS have the feeling that God is there. There are times of dryness, times of testing, and times where we may wonder what is wrong… Don’t you think Paul and Silas may have felt rather blue as they awaited their sentence in the prison house? What about all the disciples at certain times? How did they feel when Jesus was securely buried in the tomb?

It was not in vain that our Lord said: “In the world, ye shall have tribulation, but fear not, I have overcome the world.” Our Lord is with us; He will save us, but we MUST NEVER lose faith, ‘sight,’ and trust in our captain.

I think we forget how much that Jesus truly loves us. At least I do. I get this horrific idea that somehow Jesus is so busy with other better Christians, and he doesn't have time for those like me, who just don't quite hit the mark every time. No, NO, NO!. We are weak, but in our weakness, he is made strong. It is only through the blood of HIS death that we are justified in the sight of God. Remember, our debt is SATISFIED because of the suffering of Jesus, who LOVED us! That is so incredible!

That simple little song is so full of meat; it's incredible. And the tune is almost the same way. Very simple, but incredibly beauteous in how she arranged the structure.

“Though I live, or though I die, I rest in your embrace.”