Monday, August 27, 2012
I absolutely love the words to this Clint Brown chorus: "It becomes my highest praise, When all that I am responds to Who You are..."
And I'm wondering how God feels when "all that I am" really does respond to Who He is, and not just what He does. We are so quick to be mindful of all that God does for us (as we should be) but is your love and adoration of God based only on what He's done for you?
I don't mean to embarrass her, but I can truthfully say that, when my wife walks into the room, every part of my heart and soul instantly is focused on her; not because she's pouring my coffee, or making my lunch, or giving me shoulder-rubs, or fawning over me. But just because she is who she is: the love of my life, the center of my world. My day gets better JUST by her being in the same room.
Can I—can you—honestly say we respond the same way when God walks in? Or are we too distracted with other things, or EVERYTHING, around us, to even notice? Do we murmur a quick "Howdy" and call that "worship" when His presence sweeps in? Or do we truly offer Him our "highest praise", because we respond to Who He is, and not simply what He's done...
Think on this: If your love and relationship for and with God is based only on what He does for you, sooner or later, you'll find reasons to resent what you DON'T have. When that happens, you'll find you have a very shallow relationship that's dissolving into resentment.
Be thankful for all that God has done for you; but love Him for who He is.
He is absolutely, unequivocally the most wonderful, amazing Friend you will ever know.
Friday, August 24, 2012
Allow me to share what's on my mind; it's been on my mind since the conversation my wife and I had a couple nights ago during our "dinner date".
Your spiritual adversary, the devil, doesn't really care if you "sin" or not. It's really no big deal to him if the child of God throws their hands in the air, walks away from God, and descends into a life of carnality and godless living. He really isn't interested in causing you to commit a trespass against God, to cheat on your spouse, stick a needle in your arm, drink yourself into an alcoholic stupor, or burn down a church while you curse God.
All Satan wants is for you to quit fighting. Give up. Surrender to the spiritual exhaustion that surrounds you, the fatigue that drains you, the pressure that envelopes you. He just wants you to yield to that whisper that continues to tell you, "Why should this be so tough? I thought being a Christian would be easy; why do I have to sacrifice so much? Why should I have to pray EVERY day? Why do I need to read the Bible so much? There are lots of good books out there about God..."
I don't see Satan doing a "victory lap" when a child of God gets messed up and descends into their previous life of sin. I *do*, however, see him with a slimy, smug look of satisfaction when the man or woman of God decides they no longer need to pray...or pray as much. I see Satan chuckling when the Christian decides that reading the Bible is tedious, and doesn't seem to make much of a difference in their daily life.
I can envision the adversary laughing outright when the man of God concludes that preaching this Gospel straight and true, and declaring Truth from the pulpit, is driving people away, and starts using secular means, or a watered-down message, as a method for enlarging the congregation. I see a band of demons laughing and mocking the Christian who has become convinced they're entitled to Heaven because they gave their heart to God "once upon a time", and no longer feel like it's a goal they should have to fight for.
But Jesus Himself tells us that "...the kingdom of heaven endures violence, and violent men will take it by force."
Some have questioned why "such a loving God" tolerated so much violence and bloodshed in the Old Testament; the children of Israel seemed to encounter battle after battle, conflict after conflict, and literally thousands were slain in one battle, at one time or another.
The very plan of God was put into place as the result of insurrection. When Satan himself rose up and considered himself to be equal to God, and tried to usurp the very Throne of God, and was cast out, along with a third of the angels. If this plan called The Church began with a war, why should we expect it to end with anything less? Even in the very final moments of time, as we know it, when Christ returns "with thousands and ten thousands of the saints", there will be one final insurgence, one last and final battle, when Satan attempts to rise up again.
We MUST pray. We MUST read the Bible. We MUST walk in the Spirit. We MUST yield ourselves to the will of God. We MUST preach the Truth. We cannot compromise; we cannot surrender. We cannot negotiate terms of peace with an enemy who only wants us dead. Satan is not interested in peace; he wants conquest.
Pray. Pray fervently. Pray feverishly. Pray as if your life depended on it, because it does. Pray for your home, for your spouse, for your children, for your family, for this lost and godless society. Although your "righteous indignation" might whisper that this world deserves God's judgment, God is not willing that any should perish. Pray for your country, regardless of how wretched it may seem. Pray for your government; they need God's guidance and direction.
Pick up that Bible again and start reading. Embrace the Word. Love the Word. Live the Word. Don't replace the Word of God with other books that tell you someone's opinion ABOUT God; read His Word, and hear Him tell you about Himself. Commit those favorite scriptures to memory, and draw from them in times of desperation, frustration, loneliness, or pain.
Sacrifice again. Remember "fasting"? How long has it been? If health problems prohibit you from skipping a meal, or three, then sacrifice something else that you're tied to. Give up technology for a day; skip Facebook, Twitter, go a day without caffeine, a computer, a dessert. But learn to sacrifice again. Bring your carnal nature into submission to the Spirit by crucifying it through sacrifice.
Heaven will be a blessed place of rest, an eternity of God's Presence, and a peace that we cannot even imagine in this life. We will rest when we get to Heaven, but getting there will require a violent victory.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
You know the one thing that just really, really, REALLY upsets God? Unthankfulness.
Study the history of Israel, and the times God really got irate with them: it was due to their being unthankful, complaining about what they didn't have. When they turned to idols, and false gods, it was a slap in the face of their True God, because He had delivered them, He had healed them, He had protected them, He had blessed them, yet it was never enough for Israel:
"We got delivered from Egypt, just to die out here in the wilderness..."
"I wish we had garlic and onions like we USED to have in Egypt..."
"All we ever get is manna; why can't we ever eat meat?"
"We want a king like all these other nations have."
Take a look at your life today, and check out whether you're guilty of whining and complaining about what you DON'T have. Trust me: we've all got plenty to moan about: aches, pains, financial struggles, car troubles, and on and on the list could go.
But what truly delights the heart of God is when you look to Heaven and say, "I've got You, Lord, and that's what matters most."
It's a long way from November 22, I know; but should we really wait to express our thanksgiving?