We’ve No Less Days

Day 3 of the “Crazy Love” plan is about God’s love for us. In the lesson, the following verses are given as examples of God’s amazing grace for us, despite our depravity:

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matt 7:11

Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. Matt 22:37-38

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph 2:10

 

I meditated and prayed on that scripture this morning and the song, “Amazing Grace” would return to my head over and over again. A bit annoyed that I couldn’t clear my mind like I wanted to, I gave in and listened to the hymnal version I grew up with in my Baptist church. I wanted to hear an authentic version of the song, which then led my curiosity down the path of who wrote the song. It turns out it’s a pretty great story of conversion and faith by a man named John Newton. I encourage you to read about it in these links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazing_Grace and http://www.anointedlinks.com/amazing_grace.html

1.212818

I won’t go into the full story here but I do encourage you to read about the author, his life and the song itself. It’s a great trip that I think a lot of us will be familiar with…a life of sin and rejecting the truth, conversion and realization/filled with peace and joy. Something to remember as we think of God’s love for us (His children) and our love for our own children (remember rebellion, grace, patience and love I talked about earlier?).

Lastly, since I had to play the song to get it out of my head, I listened to many different versions. I hadn’t heard this version by Mahalia Jackson before but after hearing it, I believe it is my favorite rendition of this beautiful song now.

Advertisements

The Time Has Come

There’s not much I can say to give my study any more meaning and praise than to share with you these verses and images that gave me life this morning…

James 4:13-17

 

13Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

Phillippians 4:4-7

4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

1 Corinthians 10:31

31So whether you eat or drink or

whatever

you do, do it

all

for the

glory of God.

New Bible Study Plan – Crazy Love

While I can say I’ve been “reading” my bible consistently lately, I can’t say that I’ve been studying the Bible as much as I would like to admit. I can’t deny the historical evidence that bible studies, small group, etc. keeps me on track and gives me the push I need to dive in and seek wisdom more than just myself trying to pick something to explore. Hey, whatever works is the way I look at it and, now I’m confident what that looks like so, it’s what I’m going with.

I recently came across this quote that really struck a chord with me: “Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” ― Francis Chan, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God

I have a weird relationship with the word “success”. I say weird but, I have just never felt “successful” from any world point of view. Growing up, I thought success would look like a big house, multiple cars and of course, lots of money. Then I hit my anti-authority, punk rock, “money/greed is evil” phase (age 14) and thought I had everything figured out. I guess I was half-right…we know the love of money is the root of evil at least. Then, I graduated, always worked, always had more than enough, never really struggled with getting by but always had the question, “is this what life is about?”. All of this working, all of these hours…just to buy this…stuff? That question has really never changed but, I have a different outlook on “success” since having a relationship with God and that definitely helps give me purpose when I question where my time, energy and especially, love, goes.

I still have that weird feeling with the word “success”. We have such a worldly definition on the word and what it looks like. If you ask people from different parts of the world, especially from different eras, it is going to look like many different things. To some, it may look like survival. To others, it may look like excess. Either way, it looks different to different people. This isn’t a post about “success” and what it should look like…it should look like however you define it compared to God’s version of this in your own life.

Back to the quote’s purpose…so, reading this quote reminded me of Francis Chan. I never read any Francis Chan books, although I’ve wanted to, I just never took the time to buy one or borrow one (I know several that have his books). No reason why, I think it’s just because I had so many other books and studies “ahead” of his, I didn’t see a break far enough to see a good time to insert another book. I did really enjoy his preaching and hearing about his commitment to servitude and spreading of the gospel, making disciples, etc. so my heart was always open to hearing more from him if it happened to come my way.

I knew it was time for another anchor to help me study so I began seeking out a topic to dive in to. God’s love for us seemed like a really great topic at this moment. Being a parent, you quickly see parallels to this as you witness “sin nature” in real time! It’s actually a bit..amazing? Is that the right word? I’m not sure…I’m not sure what the right word is, I’ll go with amazing because “amazing” is supposed to catch you by surprise yet, it doesn’t always mean it’s a good thing. If you’re a parent, you know exactly what I’m talking about. You’ll witness a child go from a helpless infant to a greedy, selfish, manipulating mini-adult right before your eyes! And the “amazing” part is, YOU DIDN”T “TEACH” THEM THIS! There was no Sesame Street “Letter of the day is T for Theft” episode that taught them to steal toys from other 2 year olds. No “Chomp Goes The Toddler” (sung to Pop Goes The Weasel) nursery rhyme that teaches a toddler to bite someone if they don’t get their way! Nope, these things just happen and reflects the sin that is in our hearts already, even right now.

But, here’s the thing. As a parent, you still love your child. Though these moments and other moments, and even moments you may not have gotten to yet, you’ll still love your child. That won’t change, just like God’s love for us. Which, as you get older and you realize how obstinate you purposely become or act or even desire to be…I’m not sure about you, but I’m just amazed (again) that God hasn’t just turned his back on us. I’m amazed that God just hasn’t tried to kick the planet into the sun like a soccer ball and choose to start over with another Adam on planet Mars or something. But that’s not who He is (thankfully), we know that. These are just thoughts I remember having as I read the Bible for the first time as a believer! Even when I read the Bible with a very skeptical mind, trying to find fault and flaw with the written word, I was amazed at the grace, the “visibility” and the love God presented to mankind.

Which brings me to the study I chose to dive into this week. “Crazy Love”…the title says it all…God’s love for us may very well seem crazy when you think about it…the grace and patience given to us when any one of us mortals would’ve easily given up a long time ago. The first verse to read is Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

That verse hits very hard for me because I think mankind enjoys using the “I didn’t know better” excuse as often as possible. But to me, this verse reminds me of everything around us created by God that we are aware of, that has consequences, that you cannot deny. Take the wind for example. Can you see it? Sort of…you can see leaves move, trees sway, etc. Can you deny it? No. Can you claim ignorance? You better not if you’re in the path of a tornado or on a cliff. I can’t recall having a personal experience of someone denying wind. E.g., no one has ever said to me on a windy day, “What is that stuff moving everything around?” I would say, “uh, wind?”. To which they would reply, “Hmm…I don’t know.” Sounds crazy right? Yeah…we all know people that do that with God ‘tho.

Same thing applies to other elements that you have to acknowledge and respect if you want to live..oxygen, gravity, etc. I’ve never known anyone (in their right mind) to question these things and try to prove otherwise..at least not without consequence. Same thing with God. He has made Himself known to you and I. For us to deny or, even worse, say “we didn’t know better” would not hold up under judgment.

Now, there is another side to this where, people may know “about” God but they don’t know what we know or know the whole truth. This is our opportunity to teach them and make sure they do know so they can accept the whole Truth into their hearts and teach others. It’s almost like electricity, especially high voltage. To someone (maybe a child or inhabitant of a remote island) that has never experienced or at least been warned about high voltage, you would do everything you could to stop them from touching that wire if you yourself knew better, right? THAT is our calling as Christians, to spread the gospel and crazy love of God to others because WE know! When you look at creation, the things you can see and also the things you can’t see but feel and know that they are there (love is one of these things), it’s so easy to show that ALL of that and ALL of this is created by a Creator, a higher power, one who loves us and wants the best for us. Have you ever done that with someone? Someone who really did.not.know.better??

Is that what success looks like? I’m not sure. I know some may look at creating disciples as a form of success and there’s definitely merit in that but, to put such boundaries on an act that we are supposed to do limits the effort of our potential. The problem I have with a word like “success” is it indicates a finish line. Do “this” and you’ll be successful. “Make disciples” and that will be a measure of success. Like I said, there is truth in that statement but don’t let it end there. Make disciples, definitely, but keep investing and keep loving and don’t give up. The only finish line I see is when God calls me home finally. Until then, I’m going to give it all I got.

VOTD – Psalm 56:4

‘In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? ‘ Psalm 56:4 https://www.bible.com/bible/111/PSA.56.4

As part of my quiet time and prayer meditation in the mornings, I am most successful when I choose to open my Bible before anything else. I know this seems like common sense but we seem to either forget or get wrapped up in everything else as we prepare for the day (see my previous 4-5 posts and large gaps in between posts, if I’m being honest).

Psalm 56:4 came up in my Bible app as the “verse of the day” and it was actually just what I needed this morning. In a time of uncertainty, which has always been….the devil has just honed his skills in dishing it out to us in just the right amount to drive us to fear. If I’m being honest, I woke up this morning with several fears, first with the simple (“what time is it, did I oversleep??”) to the familiar (“what’s going on in the news/world today, are we at war, what calamity occurred now??”) to the overwhelming (“are my kids ok, let me run from room to room and check!”). I don’t think these “fears” will every subside but I can learn to not let these thoughts have the impact they have where they overwhelm my thoughts, increase my blood pressure and, ultimately, make me feel helpless (wherein the devil wins because my faith has dwindled). Instead, this verse is a great reminder that our faith can conquer fear. We know this, we have read this a thousand times and…we know this. I can’t justify our fears, not even my own, when I consider the accountability we should have with these verses.

The main thing I wanted to consider with this verse is, the assurance I find when I consider when it was written, the circumstances and the chronology it fits in within the Bible.

We live in such a “wonderful time” with information at our fingertips. God bless those that focus on that information being wholly focused on the Bible and not the other detractors that take our time and attention away. I was curious as to the story behind the verse since it was prefaced as, “For the director of music. To the tune of “A Dove on Distant Oaks.” Of David. A miktam.Title: Probably a literary or musical term When the Philistines had seized him in Gath” in my Bible. With a few clicks, I was able to discover that David likely penned this verse while in captivity in Gath, which, (from my very limited knowledge) was not as a prisoner, but as a temporary location to get away from Saul and take up with the Philistines (later) to fight against the Israelites.

This is while David was living in a town named Ziklag where he was sent to from Gath. From what I can tell, fear of man crept in with the Philistines and, not only did Saul fear the Philistines when he heard David was on their side but, the royalty/leadership feared David would betray them as well and David was sent back to Gath. Long story very short, Ziklag was conquered by the Amelakites and David was protected by God once again.

While we are able to read these verses thousands of years later in a nice chronological form, this story was being lived out in real time by David, thus displaying his faith had to be ironclad in order for his own safety but, also to be understood by everyone who would hear or read these words he penned in the Psalms. This may seem obvious but, when you consider we live in such a time where we have the entire Bible laid out before us, we read story after story of God’s protection and promises, even to the point of Jesus’s birth, death and ascension and we still struggle with belief, surrender and faith.

This is why “fear not” is so prevalent throughout the book. Why there are so many examples of God’s promises coming true. It is an overwhelming commandment that we are given to praise and trust! Praise and trust! When we do this, there is nothing left to fear! Nothing else can have a foothold on our mindset, fear will have nowhere to go, it is an amazing feeling to meditate on David’s writings and other examples of faith overcoming fear, please give it a try!

I’ll finish with this quote I stumbled upon as part of a commentary on this verse, it is simple, yet encompasses our life from birth to realization: “Faith groweth valiant in fight; albeit it began like a coward, and staggered in the first conflict, yet it groweth stout, incontinent, and pulls its adversaries under foot: In God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.” – David Dickson

 

No Longer A Slave

We are living in raging seas of brokenness, pain, abuse, and violence. The sad truth is, it’s nothing new. The life-changing truth is, there is a way out of this slavery of life that seems hopeless.
 
“You unravel me, with a melody
You surround me with a song
Of deliverance, from my enemies
Till all my fears are gone”
 
I encourage you to check out the song, the lyrics, the meaning behind it but, more importantly, the word of God that inspires moments like this and the hope that it brings. Here are a few starting points that I hope will encourage you:
 
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. – Gal 5:1
 
For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” – Rom 8:15 https://www.bible.com/bible/111/ROM.8.15