Thursday, 27 May 2010

Remembering God's Faithfulness

Do you ever think about God's faithfulness and just weep? Have you ever contemplated His goodness and found tears coming to your eyes? Have you ever taken the time to recount the many things He has done in your life and been filled with an inexpressible joy? I have.

I think as Christians, we often fail to remember these things. We get so caught up in the here-and-now and worries about the present and the future that we fail to recognize God's unending faithfulness. I also think God realized this was going to happen right from the beginning or He would not have told His people so many times to remember.

Something I've noticed recently as I've been reading through the first few books of the Old Testament is that God often commands the people to remember or to set something aside as an object of remembrance. In Exodus 13 when God institutes the Passover, He commands them to remember:

"And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day, in which ye came out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out from this place: there shall no leavened bread be eaten." --Exodus 13:3

In Exodus 20, He commands the people of Israel to remember the Sabbath and proceeds to tell them why it is holy.

I've noticed how prone the Israelites were to forget God's faithfulness. When they were brought out of the land of Egypt, they greatly rejoiced, but as soon as difficulties arose, they forgot and began complaining. Also in Numbers 11, the people complain after having tired of the manna that they ate day after day in the wilderness, and longed for Egypt where they had fish, cucumbers, melons, onions, leeks and garlic. It seems they totally forgot about God's amazing deliverance!

It is so important that we as Christians never cease to remember God's faithfulness. It's good for us not just to remember the death, burial and resurrection of Christ that brought us salvation, although that is very important, but to remember the various works He has done for us over the years. I encourage you to take the time to recount the many ways in which God has worked in your life.

I'm amazed at the things I have seen God has done in my life over the past several years. He has shown Himself strong in directing me in areas of schooling and work. I can look back and see circumstances which God has used to shape and mold me more into His image and how He has continued to change me. He has brought me through many valleys and trials and I'm so thankful for His unending faithfulness.

Give this a try and I assure you will be blessed!

Lamentations 3:22-23
"It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassion's fail not.
They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness."

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Why Settle for Less?

Have you ever wondered why people so often settle for mediocrity? Do you ever wonder why people settle for so much less than they could have? Why do people settle for compromise? If you take some time to think about it, it's almost kind of strange. But the one conclusion I have come to on the matter is that some people are not ready for the necessary sacrifice of obtaining more.

If you look at the world around us, there's no doubt about it that standards continue to drop. Compromise and settling simply for what is average, or even less than average, is no longer very difficult. On the contrary, it's actually expected, especially of teenagers. But why would you settle for what is good when you can have that which is great? Why would you settle for average when you can strive for excellence? The two areas that I want to look at specifically in this post is that of marriage and our spiritual lives.

Nowadays, it's no surprise to hear of marriages crumbling and men and women who have divorced and remarried several times. It's considered "normal" for teenagers to go from one dating fling to the next, giving their emotions and bodies away to anyone without much of a second thought. And sadly, it's far too common in Christian circles as well. And yet, God wants us to experience so much more, and not just for a fleeting moment, but for a lifetime.

I've had people suggest to me that I'm too picky about the kind of man I want to marry someday, and that my expectations are too high. However, I know that when I get married, I will be committing "till death do us part." Therefore, I want to marry someone who I know I will be able to love, honour, respect, trust and submit to. At the same time, I also want to be sure that he will love me as Christ loves the church and gave Himself up for it. I want to have confidence that he will be a godly leader of our home and that he will be a good father to our children. He must be a man of godly character, integrity, a man who has a love for the Word of God and prayer. Jesus Christ must be at the core of his life and he must love Him above anything else.

I know this may sound very bold, but I don't believe that's too much to ask for. In fact, I believe that it's exactly what God wants for me and more. And if there's one thing I know for sure, it's that I will never be deserving of the wonderful man He will bring into my life. I know I have a long way to go before I will be ready to be a godly wife, but it's a work that God is doing within me. There are not many men who possess the qualities that I have described above, but I know they're out there, and by God's enabling grace, I intend to hold out for one. Why would I settle for less?

Now, in the area of our spiritual lives, there are also very few who strive to live above the mediocrity of modern North American Christianity. Most lives do not display the power of the Spirit and victory, but utter defeat. For all too many, reading the Bible is a drag, they have no desire to pray and they have no victory over sin and they accept that this is all there is. The think the power read about in Acts and the early church no longer exists. They read biographies of men and women of the past and say "That just doesn't happen anymore." And above all they're afraid that if they try and reach for something more, they will be outcasts. After all, they don't want to be called radical or extreme and certainly don't want to leave a legalistic or "holier-than-thou" impression. They're not willing to sacrifice the comfort of their present lives and endure any pain that may be necessary in living out Biblical Christianity.

The interesting thing is that such mediocrity is nothing new. I was struck by this while reading through Philippians this morning. Paul had a very difficult time finding men who were wholly devoted to God, men whom he could count on to support him in his work. Timothy, however, was a man he could count on and was confident of his genuine love for the church. In Philippians 2:20,21, he says:
"For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.
For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's."

And it's not only Paul who faced this challenge. Missionaries of the past have faced the same problem, that is, the inability to find men and women who are wholly devoted to Jesus Christ and the work of God. All too many are more concerned about earthly pleasures. So we see that yes, these men and women are few, but the truth is, each one of us can be one of the few.

I also never get the impression that Paul settled down where he was at. He always pressed on "toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." He didn't settle and he never gave up. And neither should we.

Philippians 4:8
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."

I could say so much more, but I will leave it at that. But remember, if God has promised you treasure, will you dig until you find it, no matter how long it takes?

Monday, 10 May 2010

Clinging to Christ

When life proves to be more difficult and you feel the pains of God's pruning and chastising in your life, it's easy to grow weary and discouraged. God's cleansing and purifying work is not easy, but we know that we will be stronger for it in the end. In the past few weeks, I've had to really cling to certain things to get me through. I've had to to remember who God is and what Jesus has done for me, remember who I am in Christ, and I have to hold to His promises.

When we realize who God is and what Jesus has done for us, it makes anything He asks us to do appear a little smaller. Just think that the Creator of the entire universe loves and cares about you. Remember that the very Son of God left His throne, lived a pure, sinless life and died a cruel death for you. If you think what you're going through hurts, remember what He did for you. Look to the cross where He hung stripped, beaten, mocked, ridiculed and how the blood flowed from His wounds. All of this He endured for you. We have been purchased by a very great price.

When we go through difficult times, Satan loves to come in our point of weakness and remind us of all the filth and slime we have behind us. He loves to tell us how wretched and sinful we are and top it off with a load of guilt and shame. And so often we believe it, because apart from Christ, it's true. But in Christ, we see a very different picture. In Christ, I am:
  • accepted, forgiven and blameless
  • unconditionally loved
  • held safe in His arms
  • we are pure, sanctified and perfected
Isaiah 43 is also a huge encouragement to me and it shows me who God is, and although God is speaking of Israel, to me is shows me who I am because of Him. I know I've gone over this same thing before, but a review certainly doesn't hurt:
  • God has created and redeemed me, called me by name and I am His (v.1)
  • He is with me through water and fire (v.2)
  • I am precious and honoured in His eyes and He loves me (v.4)
  • I am created for God's glory (v.7)
  • I am His witness and chosen servant (v.10)
  • God is the LORD, Redeemer, Holy One of Israel, Creator of Israel, and King
  • "Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." (v.18,19, ESV)
  • God blots out my sins for His own sake and He will not remember them (v.25)
There are many more verses in scripture that tell us who we are in Christ and I encourage you to search them out. And while you're doing that, search out His promises. I take great comfort in the fact that God will never leave me or forsake me, that I am His bride and He is coming back for me and that one day He will wipe away all tears. In times of trouble, I love to turn to the Psalms because it often shows me all of those things I mentioned above.

I have by no means gone into exhaustive lists here. I have merely scratched the surface, but I would love your feedback. Who are you in Christ? What promises do you cling to in difficult times? And I would also love to know who all my readers are, so please do come out of hiding.

God bless!