God Never Fails
Believe it or not, I have endured a great many trials during my years of serving Christ. I have often felt that if I had known of them in advance, I would never have said “yes” to His call on my life. In having lived though some of the things that I have, there have been many, many lessons learned. About faith. About the true nature of God. About His enduring love. About how He never leaves us. There was a purpose for each trial I endured, though perhaps it was not evident at the time.
I am convinced that that each time I was asked to carry my cross and follow Him that it was not wasted. I believe that perhaps in ways hidden from my eyes God used or will use these things in a way that gives Him glory. This is what it means to trust Him. I do not even have to see in my lifetime the fruit of my obedience. Though there are times , I must admit, when when I struggle mightily to believe this truth. Yet I can so easily recall when His Spirit within me led faithfully as I walked hand in hand with Him into the dark night of the soul. I trusted then not seeing that anything He led me into would ultimately be for my good. There were times that I was terrified by the might and the verocity of the enemy and the total silence of any friendly voices around me. Though in the midst of what seemed at times total darkness, yet still I was never truly lost to faith. In the face of sometimes unrelenting pain, I learned to trust again and again and again.
I am convinced that any action done in trust and faith must yield fruit for eternity as surely as throwing a ball into the air will yield to the force of gravity and bring it crashing to the ground.. Anything, ANYTHING we do in faith yields eternal fruit. It is an absolute reliable, undeniable, unbreakable, thoroughly trustworthy truth that any action of faith in God yields eternal fruit. If it takes well beyond my death for the harvest to be realized, yet will I trust that each and every step taken along the broken road results in eternal glory and praise and power. There is nothing that can stand in the way of the power of God’s grace. He is. And He is eternal. As it was in my life then, so it is now. God is my rock and my salvation. I shall trust in Him and I shall not be afraid. This is my wish for you as well, my brothers and sisters in Christ. That when you face your own ” dark night of the soul”, as we all surely must, that you will know and trust that God never leads you into anything that He will not walk you through to the other side. Though you may not see the wisdom of it at the time, your trials will yield eternal fruit if you but trust that He always has your utmost good as His highest calling. Amen.
Set Apart by Grace
The Christian life is unlike any other way of living. Once we accept our need for the Savior, Christ Jesus, and for the redemption He offers, the Spirit of the Living God comes to dwell in each of us. This is not a minor event. This is completely life altering! Though we may look the same on the outside, our interior world begins to shift dramatically as we are lead no longer by our own desires but by His. All of this is reflected in our attitude throughout the remainder of our days. We have a new sense that our choices, our words, our decisions, our companions, our thoughts, the use of our time … all of it is more important than we ever realized. In a sense, our whole perspective on time changes, and we realize that every action has eternal consequences.
This is to say that all of life begins to look different to us from the foundation up. No longer is there a need to entertain the question, “What is the meaning of life?” or “Why am I here?”. It has all been answered, if not in detail, certainly we know that there is more purpose and meaning to our lives than we can begin to imagine. This puts everything we ever thought about ourselves and what we have, what we do, who we are, in a new light. This cannot happen without a tremendous shake up of our lives. We cannot help but look back on the “stuff of life” and re-evaluate our entire value system. Our lives have moved from this date and time into eternity. Though we are still in the world, we are no longer of it. We have become residents of eternity and citizens of the Kingdom of God.
We are a people set apart. Set apart by His grace, for His purposes. All around us we may witness those who act in order to preserve their power, influence, position, and other forms of worldliness. We must not be swayed by their actions or their influence, whether we meet such individuals inside or outside the walls of the church. Our highest calling is to remain true to the leading of the Spirit of God within us. This is our compass. This is our guide. This is the Voice which will not be ignored, no matter what conflicting messages we hear from the voices around us. We are His people, called by His name, set apart by His grace, for His eternal purposes. May we daily live in submission to His Lordship in our lives. Amen.
The Illogical Love of Christ
Let’s face it. From the world’s perspective, there is nothing logical about the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. The God of the universe left the heavenly realm and took on flesh to save a people who had long ago set their faces and hearts from Him. He became nothing, gave up everything, so that those very same people who were poor and lost could become rich and found. No logic in these things! Why would He do it? It doesn’t make any sense! The answer to the question is a four letter word: Love. Love is not very logical at all when you think about it!
Those who do not love fail to understand those who do. Those who love the things and the ways of this world before the things of God cannot begin to understand the concept of sacrificial living for Christ. They can afford to be logical about all things and to rely on this logic as a compass for their lives. There is nothing else for them, really. They are self endowed paupers dressed in what they think are riches. The problem is that this temporary world we live in with all its illusions is fading fast. A day will soon come when each of us will stand on the other side of eternity. On that day, we will all be stripped bare of rank, title, wealth, prestige, education, logic and whatever other things we have made a god of in this life in place of the Real One. On that day, the nature of our true soul and our utter and complete nakedness will be all too apparent to the only eyes that really matter.
God in love uses times of conflict and difficulties in life to “dress” us better for the life to come. The more He strips us of the things of this world, the more we find the need to “clothe” ourselves in Christ. To the world we may seem afflicted, poor, abandoned (think of Job here!), but as we grow dim in the eyes of the world, we grow ever more lovely in His eyes. God sees each of us as His bride growing ever more radiantly beautiful as we await with great anticipation the day of our rejoining with Him. So much of the Christian world misses the entire point. This life means nothing at all. In every action, every thought, God is moving past this time to the end of the ages and into the beginning of the next. Those who are wise, those who hear His voice, strive not for a legacy to leave here on earth, but rather focus on building one for eternity instead. Amen!
The Self Created God
Sometimes Christians appear strange to the rest of the world. We are from a different world, in a way. We think outside the cultural box, typically. We are called to be this way. God calls us “a peculiar people for His own possession”. This means that He shapes us in a way that makes us suitable and pleasing to Him. However, this may preclude us from being pleasing to others to some extent. Thus we may find ourselves a bit rejected at times.
In seeking to truly follow Christ, we may have the effect of making those around us uncomfortable. This is because we challenge beliefs that others perhaps hold dear. The problem often occurs when those who follow the true Gospel and the God of this Gospel, encounter others who are following a “self created god”. Believe it or not, you can even find this in churches among those who consider themselves believers! A “self created god” may look a lot like the real thing. But if you look or listen carefully you will note several significant differences. Self created gods are often one dimensional. They may be all about love, but absent of justice. They accept everyone and everything and condemn nothing. There is much talk of heaven but no acknowledgement of hell. In short, self created gods look and sound a lot look the culture we live in! When confronted with the true version of a biblical God those who cling to a self created god often become angry and reject the real thing. And in so doing, they crucify Christ once more.
The True God of the Gospel is not a benign entity. He is a God of power, might, judgement, justice, mercy and yes, of course, love. He is a God who longs for a relationship with us, but desires that we allow ourselves to be conformed to His will. He has expectations of us. There is both a call, and a response required. He is Abba Father. As such he both loves and disciplines his children as any good father would. A self created god is typically absent of one or more of these features. To acknowledge and follow the True God we encounter in the Gospel may put us into conflict with those around us, even within our own church. But to deny Him is far worse. So when you find yourself feeling rejected in seeking to truly follow Christ remember this: Jesus said that as the world treated Him, so they would treat His followers. Should we expect anything different?