Thursday, March 31, 2011

What a Love

Hey! You see that little box on the right side that says "archives"? Well, you can see there that I've already posted 4 times in the first 3 months of this year, compared to the 6 times I posted in the entirety of last year. I think I'm making progress in this whole blogging thing : )

But anyway, onto the important stuff. Tonight in Bible Institute class, and JD mentioned a passage in Romans 9 where Paul made a very startling statement:

3"For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh." (ESV)

and I also like the way the NLT puts it; it's a very clear point:

3 "for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would save them." (NLT)

So basically, Paul is saying that he is willing to be cast of from Christ- to go to HELL- if it meant that his friends would go to heaven.


I honestly could not say that. Paul loved his friends so much that he was willing to be eternally separated from God if it would save his friends.

What a love.

And to think that God loves me even more than that.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Seek the LORD

When I begin to feel overwhelmed by my sin, I MUST remember to run to the Lord first and foremost.

This past week, my passion for God was gone, I wasn't even sure if I wanted to serve Him anymore. Doubts of salvation began to creep in and I wondered where God had gone in all of this. I felt like I was doing everything right. Obviously, I had missed the most important part.

I didn't run to the Lord first.

I suffered the consequences until, after many hours of counseling, I finally gave up trying to fix my problems in my own strength, and ran to God as a helpless child, seeking Him and only Him, knowing that "it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure." ~ Philippians 2:13

I began a word study on "seek" (the reason behind that being a very godly friend of mine told me I had to seek God in this, that seeking God was the only thing I could do). So I flipped to the back of my Bible, thumbed down to "seek", and looked at the first entry: 1 Chronicles 28:9. To be perfectly honest, I almost skipped this first one to go on to the passages in Psalms, but I'm SO glad I didn't, for I would have missed a very important lesson

"'And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches ALL hearts and understands EVERY plan and thought. If you seek him, he WILL be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever. Be careful now, for the LORD has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary; be strong and do it.'...Then David said to Solomon his son, 'Be strong and courageous and do it. Do NOT be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the LORD God, even my God, is with you. He will NOT leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the LORD is finished.'" ~ 1 Chronicles 28: 9-10, 20

Just reading through this passage and understanding the context and history behind it opened my eyes to a wonderful, new love for God. David is telling Solomon about how to serve God in the mission that God had given to him (building the temple). David's words of wisdom to his son were to know God, to serve God, to seek God, to trust God.

How wonderful it is to know that I serve a God who is trustworthy. I know that God was faithful to David and Solomon. I know He was faithful to Abraham by providing him with a son. I know He was faithful to the Israelites by bringing them safely out of Egypt.

I also know that my God never changes.

The God that was faithful 2,000 years ago, is the exact same God I serve today. I know and trust that He will be faithful to me. In fact, He already has. He has given me an undeniable passion for Him. He is showing me that He is at work in my life. He has given me an opportunity to share the gospel to an unbeliever. What did I do to deserve His great love? All I can do is sit back in awe of the mighty God I serve.

Monday, March 7, 2011

I'll Never Forsake You, My Love Never Ends

Today has been a difficult day, an emotional roller coaster. I just want to forget all my problems, run away, hide, and pretend like it's not real. But I have to face the reality that all my circumstance ARE REAL. And there is absolutely NOTHING I can do about them.

Overwhelmed. That word perfectly describes how I feel right now. I feel like I am struggling with so many issues: sinful habits, circumstances with friends, and dealing with myself and all of my pride. God is gracious to reveal to me the areas of my life that are not pleasing to Him, but I often find myself looking up to God and saying "God! I cant handle all of this! It's TOO much for me right now. Just give it to me a little at a time. I'm not going to get anywhere if I'm stuck dealing with a million different things!"

But here is my real dilemma. I know those thoughts are wrong. And I know truth to combat those lies. I'm just choosing not to believe it, because it feels good to throw a pity party for myself. But, God is so faithful to show me, yet again, an area that needs work.

You can't ignore the truth.

"I will not leave you or forsake you" Joshua 1:5

"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." 1 Corinthians 10:13

"But He said to me 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness'" 2 Corinthians 12:9

The fact is, I WILL fail without Christ. God is using this in my life to teach me DEPENDENCE on Him. I am at a place where I just want to cry. I feel helpless. I can't fix my problems. But God is teaching me that this is exactly where I am supposed to be. I have gotten so accustomed to my care-free life with no problems, and now I'm in a completely different ball game. I have to TRUST that God has plan, that plan is perfect, and will work out for GOOD. I like to be in control. That's not where I'm called to be. I am nothing, God is EVERYTHING. Who am I to think that I have control over my life? I serve a SOVEREIGN God. He already has eternity planned out. Why would I even WANT to try to fix my life? It makes so much more sense to just step back, and let God take care of me. Why can't I live like that?

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever" Psalm 73:26

Friday, March 4, 2011

God is Faithful

73Your hands have made and fashioned me;
give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.
74Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice,
because I have hoped in your word.
75I know, O LORD, that your rules are righteous,
and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
76Let your steadfast love comfort me
according to your promise to your servant.
77Let your mercy come to me, that I may live;
for your law is my delight.
78Let the insolent be put to shame,
because they have wronged me with falsehood;
as for me, I will meditate on your precepts.
79Let those who fear you turn to me,
that they may know your testimonies.
80May my heart be blameless in your statutes,
that I may not be put to shame!
Psalm 119:73-80, ESV

God is so faithful to show me exactly what I need to focus on for the day. Today, i was reading about the armor of God in Ephesians, and looked up these verses as a cross reference about the Breastplate of Righteousness.

The part that sticks out to me the most is in verse 75 "In faithfulness You have afflicted me". Suddenly it has become clear to me that God is showing His faithfulness to me by bringing me through trials and tests; He is being faithful by showing me that He is at work in my life, and that "he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6). These periods of trial and sorrow are not bad. I just chose to look at them that way. I can choose to focus on God's faithfulness instead, and have joy despite my circumstances.

Also, God's steadfast love is always there to comfort me, and His mercy brings me life.

Father, your law is my delight, Help me to meditate on it, care for it, and use it as my shield against the schemes of the Devil.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

...That I may boast in My Weaknesses

I am so bad with words and writing my feelings. I am thankful for those who are much wiser than I, and are better writers too. This post by C.J. Maheny is a perfect example of what I'm struggling with right now. Prayer is much appreciated : )

"How I perceive myself makes all the difference in how I receive and respond to personal criticism.

When a pastor is on the receiving end of criticism and correction, temptations are never far off. In my experience, the higher my estimation of myself, the closer those temptations are. Criticism contradicts my high view of myself—so I am tempted to respond sinfully.

How differently the Apostle Paul responded to criticism!

We read of Paul’s response in 2 Corinthians, a very personal epistle. In chapters 10–13 Paul responds to the criticism leveled against him. He could have defended himself with an account of his incredible personal experiences or with his years of service to the church. Yet he chose to respond to the personal criticism with words like these:

Though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. (2 Corinthians 12:6)

This passage deserves a re-read. In case you didn’t get Paul’s point the first time (and I certainly didn’t), perhaps the following comment on the passage by Dr. Don Carson will help you comprehend its full weight:

What is remarkable is the way Paul’s stance differs from our own. Many Christians today, even Christian leaders, go through life fearful that people will think too little of them. They quickly become irritable if someone, especially a junior, is praised more than they. But Paul goes through life fearful that people will think too much of him.*

Paul was fearful that people will think too much of him!? That’s not a fear that I am familiar with. Too often my concern is that people think too little of me—that they don’t share my high estimation of myself.

Yet the question every pastor must eventually answer in his own heart is this: Am I concerned that others have too low an estimation of me, or that they will have too high an estimation of me? How I respond to personal correction often reveals which concern rules my heart.

The first concern can ultimately be traced back to the presence of pride in the heart.

The second concern can only be explained by the active grace of God in the heart."