October 16, 2012

The hardest truths

As I was searching through things this morning I found this article. It speaks to the character of God.  He is not only just but He makes all things right and new.  No matter how much we have been wronged, God sets things right in His time. Knowing this allows peace  in our lives and the ability to move on when things are hard and hurtful.  God is our protector and defender and so He must be allowed room to move and work while we trust His goodness and choose to love our enemies.

How God Uses the Bible's Hardest Truths

Colin Smith

“They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord” 2 Thessalonians 2:9

To be shut out from God’s presence and from His power is to be without hope and without love forever. This is one of the hardest truths in the Bible. But here’s something I’ve discovered—the hardest truths can produce the most tender hearts. If you grasp this most difficult of doctrines, God will use it to soften your heart today.

To sustain your faith in a suffering world

“He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled... when the Lord Jesus is revealed.” 2 Thessalonians 1:6-7

If you’ve suffered at the hands of other people, or if someone you love has suffered at the hands of others, you will face with this question: Where is God in all this? How can I believe that God is loving and just when so often good people suffer and those who do evil prosper? This doctrine helps. It tells you that you haven’t yet seen the end of the story.

God says to suffering believers: “A day is coming when Jesus Christ will be revealed. Then you’ll see the full measure of My justice and the full measure of My love. Use this to sustain your faith in a suffering world.”

To restrain your desire to even the score

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge... but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” Romans 12:18-19

Someone hurts you. Your immediate instinct will be to want to hurt them back. They brought you down, and you find a certain pleasure in bringing them down. How do you restrain the desire to even the score?

God will repay, so leave room for His wrath. You don’t need to take it into your hands when you know it is in His. You can leave it to Him.

On this foundation God says, "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head" (Romans 12:20). If you don’t believe this, you’ll always be trying to even the score.

To increase your compassion for people who harm you

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” Matthew 5:44

Anyone who’s suffered at the hands of another person, as all of us have, will hear this and say, “Love him? Love her? How is that possible?”

If the person who harmed you was to see what they did and truly to repent, you might find it in your heart to forgive them. But if they just go on with no awareness of what they’ve done, or worse,they continue doing the same thing, it is very hard to have compassion.

Where do you begin in loving this enemy? The Bible’s teaching helps. Think about everlasting destruction in relation to the person who hurt you, and what it would mean to be shut out of the light and joy and hope and love of the Lord forever… You would not wish that on your worst enemy.

A deep grasp of this truth will help you to pray for those who’ve harmed you. Bitterness cannot survive long when you begin to pray, and you’ll be amazed at the way compassion sneaks in the back door of your heart.

October 11, 2012

Whispers His name

My life has not been one mountaintop experience after another.  I have found myself discouraged and depressed more often than I care to admit.  I have been tempted at times to question God’s goodness as well as His plan.  There have been moments where I have made a list of what I have done or given up for God while neglecting all the amazing things He has done for me.  I know it sounds terrible but at this point in my life, I am not going to hide the bad parts of me because I am just NOT “that good”. I did not get to this place in my walk because of anything that I have done.  I am here because He is good and He has done an amazing work in my life!

Throughout the course of my journey thus far, I have learned that God’s word finds me and meets me where I am.  Whether I am dealing with doubt or anxious thoughts or I am in the middle of an ugly spiritual battle, He finds me. Throughout the struggles of life, God wants to meet us. He wants to be the One that we turn to in time of need.  It is in those moments of life when we are feeling down and out that He wants to make Himself known.  If I have learned anything it is that the Bible is not just for the “strong” Christian.  It is not just for those who lead the perfect life.  God is not just for the happy people of this world.  When we lack hope and joy and we doubt His promises, He wants to reveal Himself to us but we must make the discovery.  The discovery requires work on our part.  When we doubt and question Him, we have to put forth the effort to seek Him.  He is there waiting.  His desire is to be the One that confirms His truth in our heart. It is just like a book where we are dying to know the ending. We have to pull that book down off the shelf and make the effort to read until the end in order to discover the outcome.  It is the same with God’s Word. We must make the choice to open up His book and grab hold of what He has to reveal to us.  Then as we put forth the effort and take the time to soak in His truth, a love and a trust for His word will grow. 

So now, back to the part where we can feel sorry for ourselves and question God. God understands our weakness.  He knows we are human but He does not allow for our distrust in Him.  The Bible is full of reminders of His love as well as all of the things that He has done for us.   It is chalked full of His promises of provision and faithfulness. It leaves no room for doubt. The Bible is also a story of how every attempt at man-made salvation has ended in failure. It is the story of how only the grace of God can redeem and save us.  Throughout the Bible, His word reveals that He is the only One that saves and that He alone delivers.  All of the truths written are not just for those throughout the Bible but they are truth for us as well. 

God wants to meet with you.  He wants you to taste His goodness.  Do not be afraid to pick up His book for fear of failure or look at it as a list of things we have to do. God does give us commands to follow but do not fall into the trap of conforming to an image set by people as to what a follower of Christ should look like. Instead of settling for a life of going through the motions of what we think God wants from us, get to know Him. Get to know your Creator.  Get to know the One who has done great and mighty things.  He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for us and every story throughout the Bible whispers the name of Jesus, our Champion.  He is the One who came to deliver us all from the heartache of this life.  Once we come to understand that truth, following and trusting God will bring joy to a life that just does not make sense otherwise.