I love my 2 year old to pieces. We laugh, dance, tickle, sing, and read together every single day. We take slow walks, picking up rocks and sticks, sitting on logs and calling them boats, petting puppies and finding a world full of treasure in a puddle (you know like nut shells and dead leaves, that kind of thing). We also have melt downs- or near melt downs- every single day. That’s one of the parts of parenting I could do without. Continue reading
Isaiah 2:19 “And people shall enter the caves of the rocks And the holes of the ground, from before the terror of the Lord, And from the splendor of His majesty, when He rises to terrify the earth.”
We often hear the fear of God taught as “reverential awe,” and for Christians I think I understand why. The redeemed no longer fear judgement because we abide in God and His perfect love has cast out all fear of punishment (1John 4:16-18). But the same cannot be said of all those who are without Christ, for all who have not called on His name have the wrath of God abiding on them (John 3:36). To tell an unbeliever that the definition of fearing God is to stand in awe is a weakened and partial truth.
Great Expectations and Freedom from Fear
The prosperity gospel has impacted most of us more than we think, even us who recognize that it’s false. Too often, I find myself thinking that I “deserve” something from God. It is pride on my part to believe that God has to work my life out the way that I think He needs to. God’s plans for my life are higher and greater, with more lasting value than mine are, though He often uses painful means to accomplish His will and make us more like Christ. Continue reading
Some Hopes Perish
I have plenty of hopes. When one is fulfilled another steps in to take its place. I have one child, I hope for more. I have a small home, I hope for a larger one. My husband and I have achieved the hope of running a business- we hope for greater success.
Some hopes go unfulfilled for a long time- some maybe forever. Some hopes seem to betray us, and once they are fulfilled we find they are not what we imagined. Some hopes are gained, only to be quickly lost, and we feel the pain of having once had it to be greater than to have never seen it fulfilled at all. Continue reading
1Corinthians 6:9 “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
Sometimes I feel quite done with this world. I hear about the atrocities that men commit and must admit I’d rather stop my ears. People’s hearts in this world are so cold, hard and impartial to others that it is shocking. More and more often I hear news reports that verify what the Bible has taught us from the beginning: that mankind is radically evil. We needn’t be nearly as afraid of bears and lions, tsunamis and earthquakes, as of the evil that is in people’s hearts.
Sometimes, if you’re like me you feel a sense of despair and you just want Jesus to come back now. How can He be so patient? As wrong as I know it is, there are times I feel like Jonah. “Lord, they continue to do evil and why do you let it go on? Come at last in your fury and let all vengeance belong to you. Wipe the wicked from the face of the earth.”
It is not necessarily sinful to anticipate, long for, and even pray for the Lord to hasten His judgement. David, after worshipping God in awe that God would so love and care for Him, suddenly turns from intimate and heartfelt praise to say “Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood depart from me (Psalm 139:19)!” I confess I find it unfortunate that so few people talk about verses 19-24 of Psalm 139.
However, I think that whenever we come face to face with a foul mouthed God hating sinner, a news report about the latest child pornography ring, or the headline about the latest thief who bludgeoned an elderly person- we need stop and think through these words: “And such were some of you. But…”
I used to have this resolution of Jonathan Edward’s taped up beside my bed. I find it mightily convicting, humbling, and effective:
“Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.”
Does my own heart contribute any pure goodness that would prevent me from committing the same crimes as others if I were given the same opportunity and circumstances? No. As Christians I think it is possible (but wrong!) to slip into an attitude of moral superiority, with disgust and disdain towards the people of the world, instead of recognizing that it is only because of God’s grace we have been kept from certain sins. I see nothing wrong with feeling disgusted by sin and in fact we are probably not disturbed enough by it. However, there is something wrong when we stop identifying ourselves as a part of the same fallen race, capable of the same level of depravity apart from the grace of God. We should never look down our noses at other sinful people as if we had something on them.
I have heard people complain, also very much like Jonah, that God should not forgive certain kinds of people. If we think this way, we have too high a view of self, and too low a view of the mercy of God poured through the cross of Christ. Is there a point at which God will give people up to their debased mind with no further chance of hope? Yes there is (Romans 1:21-32, Hebrews 6:1-6). But can finite humans know when or whether God should do that? No.
The potential for a person to come to Christ has nothing to do with how many good things they think they have done, nor how many unspeakable sins they might have committed. Jesus simply said “No one comes to me unless the Father who sent me draws him (John 6:44),” and that “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no avail (John 6:63).” God says “’I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy…He has mercy on whomever He wills, and He hardens whomever He wills (Romans 9:15-16,18).”
Without getting too deep into theology and to put it plainly, He can have mercy on whomever He wants to, whether it is little-goody-two-shoes or a mass murderer. If we are Christians this should provoke gratitude towards God in our hearts for the gift of salvation, as well as a strong desire for all people everywhere to be given the gift of repentance and faith. God is a great saviour; His arm is never too short to save! Jesus Christ has paid the debt in full for whoever would cry out to Him. If Jesus Christ was willing to bare the wrath of God that was headed for rapists and thieves, then why would I not desire that all people be saved? Why should I lose hope for anyone? And if I needed that same saviour to shed the same blood for my crimes, why should I sneer at other sinners who need the very same thing?
“There is a fountain filled with blood
That flows from Emmanuel’s veins
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains.
The dying thief rejoice to see
That fountain in his day
And there may I though
Vile as he
Wash all my sins away!”
I want to get personal for a moment as I close. There is no certain “type of person” that Jesus saves, other than that He came for sinners who would confess that they were sinners. I think sometimes our view of His love and ability to save people wherever they are at is too low. I was a foul person with a crude mouth, a thief with a strong taste for rebellion, acting in pride and ignorance every day of my life. Sometimes that’s all we see of a person on the outside.
I have no interest in excusing sin or making people the victim of their own sin. No, we are willing participants in sin with no excuse. But people would have never thought that I laid awake guilty at night, that I feared there was a God who would send me to Hell if I died, and that I hated myself more and more for my sin each day. You might know people, or simply see them on the street making a scene, but you have no idea what God might be doing in their heart. It’s not our place to judge unbelievers, but to tell them the gospel that can save their soul and change their life. God can redeem anyone, and He is all the hope we need in this dark world. He will either save the wretched sinner, or in the end He will rid the earth of all who remain in their wickedness- but either way, justice will have been dealt and He will receive all glory due to His name. And we, the redeemed, will cover our mouths, bow the knee, and thank the God who loved and spared us.
So may our attitude be this: Lord come and bring both your Justice and your Peace to this world. But until you come, have mercy on sinners Lord, to whatever extent may glorify you as Most High, Gracious, Forgiving, and Merciful God. Thank you Lord for forgiving me of many shameful acts, and sparing me from those I could have easily committed. All credit goes to You. May we be merciful, who have been shown so much mercy. Put the gospel on our lips and let the light of Christ shine from our hearts. Amen.
1Corinthians 2:14 “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”
We discussed above that it is salvation that Jesus talked about as being impossible for men, but possible with God. You may have tried in your own strength and wisdom to comprehend the Bible and even to live like a Christian and found yourself greatly discouraged and frustrated. Such was the case with me. You cannot rightly understand the gospel, nor respond to it, in and of your own desire or striving. It must be spiritually understood, and this can only be granted as a gift from God. Our lack of capability serves a glorious purpose: “so that no human being might boast in the presence of God (1Cor 1:29),”and “that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God (1Cor 2:5).” Continue reading
I have never slept well. Even as a kid I don’t think I can remember having an easy time getting to sleep or staying asleep. Sometimes this can be a very discouraging problem. There are so many things a person wants to accomplish, and it can be very difficult to do with little (or sometimes even zero) sleep. It is physically, emotionally, and mentally draining. I know I’ve written about this before, but I thought I’d remind myself of a section of scripture that has always helped me, and if you have struggles to sleep it might help you too.
One scripture that I tend to read every morning after a hard night’s sleep is found in 2Corinthians 11:23-29 where the apostle Paul boasts in his weaknesses and sufferings. He describes being lashed by the Jews and beaten with rods. He was stoned and he was shipwrecked. He was “in danger from rivers, danger from robbers” and danger from all the different people groups who would have loved to have him killed. Then we see in verse 23 that he was “in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.” Continue reading
Who has loved me more than Jesus, when He bore my sin away? As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed my transgressions from me. Oh what a Saviour! Mighty Redeemer is He! He took my shame and bore God’s wrath to set this captive free.
And now what friend do I have like Jesus, who at sun down watches over my sleep? He keeps account of my tossings; He puts my tears in His bottle, are they not all written down? Who knows my frame like the Lord does? He remembers that I am but dust. He does not keep His anger forever, or treat me as my sins deserve. What rest I have in Jesus! He who keeps me in the palm of His hand will never leave me or forsake me. If I am faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.
I love You so my Jesus, who hears my every prayer, who treats me with compassion, who covers me with care. Even in the darkness His word is a lamp unto my feet and I know that He is working out His perfect will for me.
Who gives hope for the future like Jesus? The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue. Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, but blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.
Jesus Christ, my friend and Lord, I know that He is coming swiftly. Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay. He who has overcome death is coming, He who destroys the power of sin is coming, and He who has loved me from the foundations of the world- He is coming.
Psalm 73:4 “You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.”
When I was off work this summer, experiencing a lot of pain with my fibromyalgia, I was working on an article entitled “Purposes In Suffering.” Purpose number seven was “that we may primarily seek Christ as our refuge above anything or anyone else.”
That we may primarily seek Christ as our refuge above anything or anyone else.
Journal Entry: “There are days when trials weigh so heavily on my soul, and make me feel like I have been assaulted in every part. When these times come the natural and fleshly response is to sit down in your pain and to pity yourself so much that you feel like you would rather die than endure the day. Sometimes, in my flesh, I become angry with my circumstances and have such pent up anxiety that I feel the only way I can get rid of it is to rant about how unfair it is, and to kick or hit whatever object is nearby. I have had other times where I am filled with what seems to be a debilitating sorrow, where I am simply too sad to do anything other than sit on the couch and stare blankly at the wall. This is NOT how Christ Jesus desires me to respond, but these are in fact sinful responses, which break open the gates of Hell for Satan to come when I am at my lowest only to discourage me further. He will then come and tell me that I am a failure and that I should punish myself for having acted like such a fool (instead of fleeing to the cross where Christ freely took my punishment). He will further drive me into self pity and self hatred and take me on such a wicked tumble downhill that if I do not recognize it I will wind up in a state of panic. Is this God’s purpose for suffering? NO! Continue reading
This is my world, but it is not my home. As if constantly walking against the rushing tide, or a fearsome rage of wind, onward I press one step at a time. Dare I not look back at all the crowds of people, who bustle about laughing, easily carried by the wind as if it was a thrill to be tossed to and fro; They are enemies of the cross of Christ, with minds set on the things of my world, and little do they seem to know their perilous state.
But may my eyes be fixed, steadfastly on the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Yes though it may be blurry in the distance, the rain beating wildly and gray in front of it and the devils pushing and prodding at all who walk this path; Yes, though it lies beyond a narrow gate and a restrictive road, may I fix my eyes securely on that prize!
May I not look back, lest I be found not fit for the kingdom of God, and in so looking back prove that my desires are for this world and not for Heaven with my Lord! Continue reading