Tag Archives: salvation

Want and Need

What we want isn’t always what we need and what we need isn’t always what we want. That is perhaps one of the most difficult lessons that God teaches us in our lives as we struggle with purpose and meaning, searching for a reason, wondering to ourselves if He is even listening. Sometimes we just, well we have this image in our head of the way things should be or ought to be and it becomes such a prevalent thought that we can’t picture it any other way. Other times it’s that we look around and we can’t seem to understand why it is the way it is when we know it should be different, even if we don’t necessarily know how or why that should be the case.

It’s the question of divine purpose that so often gets to us, that so often weighs us down as we know what we want or how we want it, and yet, as we do, we have a hard time reconciling it to what God knows that we need in our lives. The thing about it is that we’re not even trying to be that terribly difficult, we aren’t trying to make it that much harder, we just want to know why it is the way that it is, we want to know what the plan and the design of it is, and we don’t necessarily get why it has to be the way that it is.

The deepest questions of who we are, and who we need to be, of where we need to be, they aren’t ever questions that come simply or easily. We don’t just become people, we grow into them. Perhaps, along the way or path is changed or altered, it might be that it we are affected, even shaped by the interactions we have with others, sometimes our road is hard, sometimes it is easy, but any way that you look at it, it doesn’t just happen overnight where, one day, we are suddenly who we are at this very moment in our lives. So why would it be any different with a God who knows how we grow, how we evolve as a person, how we learn and we change with time? Why would He make the answers clear to us in a way that He knows would be unclear because it was given without any thought or consideration to who we are and how we became that person?

What God promises us isn’t an easy path, nor a simple one in any way but to our salvation through Christ Jesus. (Romans 5:8) What He does promise is that, through the fires and the floods, through the dangers and the perils, He will be there for us and with us, (Isaiah 43:2) never leaving us or abandoning us. (Joshua 1:5) What He tells us is that what we need, in those times when we question the purpose and the plan of it is all, is trust and patience, because those who trust in the Lord will find His goodness (2 Samuel 7:8) and those who are patient with Him will find their strength and purpose, uplifted in His love. (Isaiah 40:31) This is the wondrous miracle of His hand in our lives even as we find ourselves questioning where He is when we want the most.

Remember, it is not our wanting that exalts us, it is God, our Heavenly Father, and God alone who does that. (Psalm 46:10) It could be, at that moment, we don’t quite get how He is exalting us, but it’s only when we put those feelings behind us, when we let go of them, in the blessings of His hope that He lets us be of one mind with Him, (Romans 15:5) to see as He sees, making more and more apparent the glorious nature of the lessons He is teaching us to become as we need to be as He makes all things possible to us through the power of His grace made perfect in Christ through us. (Philippians 4:13)

Take a moment today, and look at your life, look at what you are struggling with, what is challenging you. Take the time to look at what you have laid at God’s feet, the burdens you still feel weighing on you, and instead of mistaking want for need and putting what you want out there, say to God, “Lord, show me as You will, teach me as You must so I can be as You intend for me to be.” Let go not just of the struggles but of the wants and the desires you have in them, and make it about what the Lord, your blessed Father, intends for you and let Him, in trust, patience and hope, guide you to where you must be.

It is only then that you will find the true path to the peace you are seeking, the only way you will find the true reconciliation of your will with God’s to the glorious ends of the love He has for you as He makes it about you rather than you making it about yourself.

What if God Doesn’t Care

Sometimes it’s hard not to wonder if God actually even cares.

I mean we know He does, or, at the very least, we think He does. It tells us in Scripture He does, and what are the words to that children’s song? “Jesus loves me, this I know, because the Bible tells me so.” After all, if He cared enough to create us, if He made the promises that He made, assuring us that they are the same, that His love, bound to us through Christ, is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8) there has to be something to the idea that He actually cares. Yet, sometimes it feels more complicated than that, does it? Sure it’s the faith of a child that saves, making way the path to Heaven, (Luke 18:17) but we don’t stay children forever, eventually we put away childish things (1 Corinthians 13:11) and adult problems follow us.

During those times God can seem so far distant, He can seem so far removed as we pray for a sign, for any sign that He still sees us, that He still contends with our cause, that He still cares. There are those times when, for as much as we know that He is there, we just don’t seem to feel it, at least not like we did, at least not like we should, and it’s hard. More than anything else it hurts as we just want so badly for Him to make His presence to be known, to let us know He’s still there, that He still sees us. If there is a Hell, if it is being removed from the presence of God, then those moments sure seem like they are as close as you can get to it on earth, aren’t they?

The thing about it is that, whether we feel His presence or not, whether we see His hand or not, God is there, and there isn’t a moment, a second, an instant where He doesn’t care. (Matthew 6:25-34) We know this not just because the Bible tells us that He loves us, that He is always there for us, that He cares for each of us individually with hope and grace, mercy and faith, but because He is the God who gave His only Son as the great sacrifice to wash away our sin and our guilt, to chase away all those problems big and small that would keep us separated from Him. (John 3:16)

You see, this temporal existence is the last great battlefield, and the Devil, our old adversary, he does everything he can to prove to us that Hell does exist, not just as a spiritual plane but as physical one too, and that this, right here is it. After all, if he can convince us that God doesn’t see us here, if He doesn’t see our pain and our anguish here, then is there really a God, is there really a Heaven or a Hell beyond any of this or is it just a moral argument devised millennia ago? After all, for as much as it can be made to feel as much like Hell as it can, our existence this side of Paradise can’t really be made to feel as splendid as Heaven itself, for however close we may wish or want it to be.

It’s not that God doesn’t care, or that He doesn’t understand. It’s that it’s easier for us to believe that He doesn’t see it than it is for us to accept the truth: amidst this life there are going to be struggles and hardships that seem like they are more than we can handle, there are going to be things in it that are going to cause us so much pain we don’t necessarily know what to do, and yes, God doesn’t necessarily stop them from happening. Why? Because even through them He has a plan for them, He has a lesson He teaches us (Jeremiah 29:11) and He knows nothing the Devil can throw at us is more powerful than we are when we put our hope, our faith and our trust in Him. (1 Corinthians 10:13) Just because we know something is painful now doesn’t mean it can’t lead to something amazing in our future now if we let God show us what it means, just like we can’t know if God takes something painful from us now it can’t lead to a greater pain or a deeper anguish in the future. The nature of faith has to be in the trust, as we put everything we don’t know in the hands of a God who does.

Never for a moment believe that God doesn’t care. He does, and, even in your hardship He is sparing you from some greater challenge, some greater hardship, waging a perpetual battle against sin, death and the Devil for you. He is doing it in ways we can’t understand and can’t conceive, and all He asks of you is a little bit of faith as He guides you through it all. It’s here then that we realize that when we can’t see God or hear Him we need to rely on our other senses, on a greater spiritual sense to find Him. When we do, we know then not only does He care for us, but that He also carries us. It’s then that though that purpose may be lost on us for the moment, we are drawn to the greater moments nearer to eternity when all purpose is revealed to us.

Lessons of Faith (Two): Patience


As we are instructed through faith, so we ought to live. After all, there is no lesson in our lives that that can’t be taught to us if we take the time to understand the deeper meaning that the gift of grace that has been given to us through the power of the Spirit and the hold that it has on each of us.

It begins with trust, a trust that comes through letting go and letting God lead us. In a sense, it is both simple and yet hard for us to do. After all, when we are called to the new life that comes through the redemption of Christ, we come to put our hope in our Heavenly Father through the precious blood of the Lamb. Yet, for as much as we may rest on that blessed eternity, it’s the hardest thing for us to let go of our daily lives as we find ourselves faced with challenges: toiling, worrying, struggling as we reach towards who we want to be, who we need to be, knowing we have the capacity to do it but finding that it is just out of our reach.

Only when we remember that our God is the Lord of the great and the small, and put it all in His hand — that’s when we realize the fullness of our potential. But then, for as much as we need to trust, it is nothing if we do not heed the second great lesson of faith that comes to bear in our lives and our plans. This is patience.

Patience is perhaps the biggest stumbling block to trust, isn’t it? A fruit of faith, (Galatians 5:22-23) we know, we understand that it’s important, yet it is the difference between the head and the heart. But then life is short, something we are often times so painfully aware of. (Psalm 89:47) We want what we want right now, because we don’t want to waste the preciousness of that wondrous gift God has given us when He breathed life into us.

What we often times forget is that we aren’t always ready, we aren’t always prepared for everything. Like the Prodigal (Luke 11:15-32) we are so eager to go out and see everything, to feel everything. Perhaps our ambitions and our view of the wider world isn’t as selfish or as self centered as his was. It could be that we want it because we know all the good we can do, all the good that is possible for us and from us if we are just given the chance to be more. Yet when we allow for our impatience to take over, we go out unprepared for what the world has to offer and the resistance it may possibly put up against us.

Remember that God not only tells us, but He warns us as well that there is a time for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) if we are wise enough to be patient in it. God gives to us, He is gracious on to us, and the promise of His love is the same promise He makes over and over to you: He will not fail you or forsake you (Joshua 1:5) as He shows that His time is perfect if we rest it in His hands. (Psalm 31:15) Just because we want it right now doesn’t mean an unchanging God, a God who, in that nature, protects us from all we are not ready or prepared for, (Malachi 3:6) is suddenly going to change.

Faith involves patience just as assuredly as it involves trust. After all, the saints who rested in blessed faith did so patiently waiting for the hour of the Savior’s arrival that the blemishes of their sins might be washed away. They were saved because they looked, and they waited to the appointed hour of God’s anointed one. Even now, in faith, we wait for the second coming of that same Savior that will usher in the final hours of the Lord. If we can wait patiently, if we can look towards these things, trusting in God as we do, knowing the greater importance that they have in our lives, for our spirits and our souls, then why can’t we let go and be patient with Him, trusting in the promises that He has made to us?

Your time and your hour is coming if you just realize it is going to happen when God is ready for it to happen, Then the fullness of His design, the wonders of His plan will be revealed to you in the most significant of ways. He isn’t going to leave you without enough time to do what He intends for you to do even if time is short and our days our numbered. It’s just a matter of having faith in that, learning what it is that He is trying to teach you so you can be who you need to be. When that does happen you will see your faith is rewarded in the most significant of blessings and the most wondrous of miracles.

Be strong, dear disciples; be strong and be courageous, but most importantly be patient. Your hour is near. Just let God show it to you.

A Question of Why

Why? Isn’t that always the question? Often times it’s the one short little three letter word that defines for us our trials and adversity, our struggles and our pain. We ask it as we try to make some sort of semblance of sense out of everything we can’t figure out enough to actually make sense. We do it to the point where it’s not just a question anymore, but the answer as well.

How often have we found ourselves challenged, asking ‘Why’? “Why me?” “Why now?” “Why do bad things happen to good people?” “If God is so good and He loves us, they why would He let this happen?” At times, it’s the easiest and quickest word to roll off of our tongues in our hour of need, knowing we just don’t know and that what we need to know isn’t going to come simply or readily to us even for as much as we want it to.

But then life is difficult, it’s hard and it’s wrought with challenges. Just when we think we’ve gotten our head wrapped around it enough to actually do something, it throws a curve ball that knocks us off our game. Sometimes it’s small, and we’re able to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off saying “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” as we move on from it. Other times it’s big and it’s encompassing and, for as much as we want it to, we can’t quite seem to do it, we can’t quite figure it out enough to do it. It leaves us with this hurt feeling as we wonder if it’s ever going to be the same. In those moments, “Why” is about the only thing that’s uncomplicated about the complicated to us.

The thing is it’s not always about the “Why”. After all, for as unclear as it may all be, for as convoluted as it perhaps seems to be, the “Why” is actually transparent, it’s not that complex at all. We live in a sinful world; one that, since the fall of man, has been marked with trials and temptations. (Genesis 3:1-19) As Peter reminds us, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) Is there a greater “Why” than this?

Even the most righteous, the most faithful, living in this mortal realm, need fear the old adversary, and they need to do so more than the unrighteous. After all, the greater question of “Why” is why would the Devil go after a soul he already has when the nature of man is to abide in fear and doubt? He knows this, and he doesn’t go after the weak alone, but the strong, hunting them, seeking to make them his own.

No, the question isn’t “Why?” regardless of how easy it comes. “Why” is often times the means by which uncertainty attacks that which we need to be the most certain of. “Why” is the easiest way to make the simple become complex, so complex that we can’t begin to understand it. “Why”, for as hard as it may be to let go of, is how comfort and peace is robbed from us as it sends us looking everywhere but where we need to for the answers.

It’s not “Why” that’s the most important thing, but rather “What” and “How”. “What am I supposed to learn?” “How is this going to make me a better person?” “What can I do differently?” “How can I use this to grow in faith and better understand God’s plan for me?” Regardless of the pain and the hardships we may face, these are the questions we not only have to ask but the ones that need to draw us closer and nearer to our Heavenly Father.

The promise of God is the promise that where we are so He is as well. He will never fail us or forsake us. (Joshua 1:5) His covenant with us is the covenant that stands by His blessed assurances to us in the faithfulness of His love and mercy. (Deuteronomy 4:31) So strong is He in that love and care He has for us, in the covenant He has made with us, He would give His only Son to die for us (John 3:16) even when we seemed like we were lost to sin, death and the Devil. How much more then does the wonders of His Word mean when He tells to us that, if we come to Him, in faith and hope, He will give us the knowledge that we so seek? (James 1:5-6)

Even when we stumble, even when we fall, even when the world seems unfair, unnecessarily so, our blessed Savior is there for us, to take the yoke of our burdens from us. (Matthew 11:28-30) Again, the “Why” is simple, it’s a matter then of “What are we meant to do with the freedom He has given us?” and “How can we use His good gifts to be the people He has intended for us to be?” We can only do that, we can only answer that by letting go of “Why”, understanding that it has already been answered for us, and we are not in control of it, all we can control is what we do with the blessed gifts and the wonderful promises God has given to us.

It’s only then that we can find the peace, the hope, and the comfort we so long for.

Hope in God

Psalm 42:11 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

Have you ever reached that point of being at rock bottom?  Have you ever been in the pit of despair, the place where you feel like you’re just never going to get out?  Did you feel hopeless?  The good news is, for those who belong to God there is always hope.

The truth of the matter is, becoming a Christian doesn’t guarantee that all o four problems go away.  It doesn’t guarantee sunny days and smooth sailing.  It certainly doesn’t mean we’ll never have to face depression.  There may be times that life seems bleak.  It doesn’t mean God isn’t with us through it.  He’s right there beside us.

There’s no easy way to explain why God allows us to go through those times without just lifting us out of them.  It may be that He wants to see us grow from the experience or that in some way it brings Him glory.  It may be in your circumstance that you’ll never know God’s purpose.  That’s hard, but there’s always hope.

God loves you.  He doesn’t want anything to harm you unless it’s somehow tied to His plan for your life.  Trust in Him.  Trust that He knows what’s best and has a kind heart towards you.  Cry out to Him and all Him to be your comfort.  Expect Him to rescue you from the pit.  He is good, all the time.

Salvation belongs to the Lord

Jonah 2:8  Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.

Where are you looking to find hope in this lost world?  If you’re looking for hope to come from the government, or from financial security, or even the prospect of world peace, you’re going to be disappointed.

There’s no hope to be found in the things this world has to offer.  That may sound depressing, but there is good news.  Salvation is found in God alone.  Maybe you’ll never find hope where you’re searching, but God is holding out His hand for you to grab onto, offering you hope that you could never know without Him.  He’s for you and He wants to give you that hope.

Even though we waste a lot of our time looking in all the wrong places, only to be disappointed time and time again, it’s good to know that there is hope after all. It’s good to know that we have a loving Father who cares for us and provides for us a way to forgiveness and reconciliation.  It’s good to know that the Son, who is the radiance of the glory of God (Hebrews 1:3) and who holds all things together (Colossians 1:17) stands between us and the Father to serve as our mediator.  It’s good to know that the Savior who rose from the dead will also raise us up when the time comes (1 Corinthians 15:16).

If you haven’t put your hope in Jesus, look to Him today.  He’s all you need in this life, and the next.

 

 

Temptations

There is no greater challenge for the disciple than the internal conflicts that they can face, nor is there a greater stumbling block than the ones that we put up for ourselves. For as strong as the Devil may be, for as much as he comes to us “like a roaring lion” seeking to devour (1 Peter 5:8), the truth is he needn’t do much considering his are but temptations but ours is the rebellious nature willing to take temptations and beyond to whatever next levels there may be.

But then, as the old saying goes, as our blessed Savior Himself reminds us, “The spirit is willing but the body is weak.” (Matthew 26:41b)

Consider some of the greatest warnings of the Bible. They are not warnings against the Devil. After all, the old Adversary, he did his part in Eden to corrupt the nature of mankind. (Genesis 3) Even there he never quite tells Adam and Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit of God. All he does is plant the idea in their head to question. Everything else is up to them as Eve partook and Adam watched to see the results.

If there is one thing the story of man’s fall to sin and temptation proves, it’s that even those who know of the presence of God, who have seen it first hand, have stood in His light and heard His voice calling to them, need nothing more than a gentle push and the worst of their nature comes out. Sometimes that push comes in the form of a want or a desire, sometimes it comes with a snide or hurtful comment, other times it comes from the best of intentions just gone terribly wrong.

The question for the disciple is, if it is such an easy snare about their feet, if it is such a simple trap to fall into, how do they guard themselves from it in their everyday life? How do we make the flesh stronger to match the nature of a spirit given to the love of Christ and the blessings of our Heavenly Father? How do we avoid the temptations that are there?

Quite simply put, we can’t. This side of Heaven, the imperfect side of Heaven given to the more base nature of the flesh, temptations are always going to be there. For as much as we may try to steer clear of them, as soon as we turn from one, another one is always going to be there staring us in the face. The true nature of Christian living, the true nature of faithful devotion to God isn’t the avoiding of temptation, it is not falling into temptation. It is meeting it head on with a heart and a will given over to God with the truest understanding that through Him who makes us more than conquerors (Romans 8:36), we have the power to overcome if we choose to use it.

This does not mean, as they may say, go out and look for trouble so you can exercise a Christian will and strength to demonstrate a power that you may have over temptation. The more we put ourselves in the line of fire, the more prone we are to be hit when we least expect it. What it does mean though is that just because we face temptations and inner conflicts does not mean we are any less the disciples that we should be, or any less on the road that God intended for us.

Faith is about understanding that even through the temptations of the flesh and the weaknesses of our nature God has a divine and holy plan for us, a wondrous design for our lives. Yes, it is true that there will be time when we don’t live up to it and other times when we do better. Yet we cannot live in those weaker times of our lives, and we cannot believe that just because temptations are present we are weaker than we should be, as it is a way of letting self-doubt in, and with it doubt about the nature of our salvation.

Pray and be vigilant. Look to the challenges that are there for what they truly are, a way of proving that you are led not of yourself but through the power of the Spirit to be a better and stronger person. Do not put yourself in a situation where you will be tested but do not shrink from the tests when they are unavoidable. This will tell you not only more about your own character but the character of your faith, showing you where you have been made strong and where you still need to pray for strength, knowing that if you come to God with a pure heart, desiring to do better and to be more, He will give you what you need.

In the end this is how we show ourselves to be the most faithful of His disciples, of Christ’s followers, as we meet the self-conflicts and challenges with the power of His might through the love that He has for us.

Choose The Narrow Way

The Commands of Jesus Series

Matthew 7:13-14  “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way.  14  But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.

The path that has the least least amount of traffic on it is the narrow path that leads to heaven. Don’t think to yourself that the path needs to be improved, there isn’t any reason to make it wider, after all it is more than adequate for the amount of traffic that is using it.

The path is well known, there are a lot of signs pointing out where the path is, it is on all of the good maps, the problem isn’t that the path is hidden or hard to find. The problem is that so few make the choice to use this path, this path isn’t always safe, it isn’t very comfortable, it doesn’t have all of the best places to pull over and rest.

Even less people decide to stay on the narrow path for very long. It doesn’t take too long before the wider paths that are paved and have bright lights on them tempt the traveler to take a cross road. These well traveled ways are a temptation that is hard to resist, they are so easy, they don’t require very much effort or thought, just follow that guy right in front of you.

Luke 13:24  “Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail.

This pilgrim needs to be determined to stay on the narrow path, but I shouldn’t go it alone, I need to invite other people to come along with me as I travel.

Help me to remain faithful to you Lord, increase my urgency to pull somebody off of those big paths.

You might like to read:
The Fruit Doesn’t Lie  //  Obedience Doesn’t Always Seem Logical //  Loving Your Neighbor Isn’t Optional

Seek First God’s Kingdom

The Commands of Jesus Series

Matthew 6:33  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously,and He will give you everything you need.

There is no shortage of things to worry about in this world but for those of us that are Christ followers there is a major concern that we need to be interested in. It isn’t the typical worry of the average citizen of our planet, it’s not about the clothes that we “need” to have or the restaurant that we need to be seen at, it is a far greater concern that is supposed to be on the mind of the Christ follower.

The concern that should occupy our minds should be for the kingdom, Jesus told us that the most important thing in life is to seek first:

  1. The Kingdom of God- I need to seek to be in the kingdom and then I need to tell others how they can be in it as well.
  2. To be righteous- To become interested in His approval, to live according to God’s will

We ought to sacrifice everything else, making the other stuff that this world is concerned with of no importance so that we can work for the advancement of the kingdom, which is of greater value than all the world’s riches. God said that he would supplying every other need that we have. (Philippians 4:19)

We were transferred into a different kingdom when we were saved, I need to be concerned with the Kingdom of God and allow him to rule over my life, the ruler of the kingdom of darkness should have no say over the way that I live and I should not allow him to weigh me down. (Colossians 1:13, Hebrews 12:1)

Lord Jesus, help me to be concerned with the things that concern you and to let the rest of the stuff become insignificant.

You might like to read:
Welcome Home  //  The Mindset Of A Christ Follower  //  So Much Work To Do

Agree With God About Your Condition

The Commands of Jesus Series

 Matthew 4:17  From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near. “

Jesus first command to us is to repent, he begins his work the same way as all the prophets, and John the Baptist had done. That’s the place that we all have to start in our relationship with God, every relation has to be repaired in order for it to grow. If I am still blatantly going against God, then there isn’t going to be a foundation to build a relationship on, it will be like the man building his house on sand. (Matthew 7:26)

Through repentance we are agreeing with God about what we have done that caused the breakdown. This repentance should imply sorrow for our offenses, true regret for breaking our relationship with God, the very sins that resulted in Jesus cruel death. (2 Corinthians 7:10, Romans 5:8)

God did for me what I was powerless to do for myself, I need to realize the only sense of fulfillment and joy in this life is through a relationship with my creator, a relationship made possible by Jesus.

Matthew 3:8  Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.

Help me Lord to be quick to access my sins and to see them the way that you see them. Thank you for loving me enough to desire an intimate relationship with you.

You might like to read:
Be Born Again  //  God’s Adoption Program  //  I Am Thankful For God’s Deliverance