Sunday, November 29, 2020

What About Me?

 




Also He spoke this parable to those who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus to himself, 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men - extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.  'I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.'  And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!'  "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." 

John 18: 9 - 14 NKJV 


I was thumbing through a self help book the other day when something caught my eye.  It seems that the author had a surefire way to start a conversation and make anyone feel at ease.  That secret, is to encourage anyone you meet to talk about themselves.  Now, to some this might sound whacky, but I saw a bit of truth in his theory.  Indeed, we as humans have the undying knack of hyping ourselves when nobody else seems willing to.  We all too often seek the limelight.  We desire the compliments of the job well done.  I get it.  I've talked well about myself from time to time as well.  Perhaps the reason that getting someone to talk about themselves in a conversation doesn't seem too hard to do is because we do it so well?  Just a thought.  Now, I don't see anything wrong with doing this, as long as others around you aren't preparing a shallow grave while you're doing it.  That is, if you are talking positively about yourself and those around you agree, then you're good.  I see that as a form of affirmation if you will.  However, if you ever find yourself speaking compliments about yourself and others do not seem interested, your best bet is to abandon the conversation post haste.  Just a little advice on how to win friends and influence people.  In Christian circles, self advertising is all too often seen as being haughty, arrogant or prideful.  But, where do we draw the line?  Well, let me give you a example.  In the past few months, I've gotten quite good at my weight training at the gym.  So much so, that I've been able to press some impressive weight totals.  Now, if I were thinking as Jesus, I would explain that it was through Him that I've been able to accomplish my goals.  However, I could also tell everyone who would listen that it was my abilities alone that allowed me to reach such heights.  Which one of these statements shows the most arrogance?  I'll make it a bit easier, whenever we we place ME above HE...we're going down the wrong path.  What am I without God?  What good are my abilities had not the Lord breathed the breath of life {Genesis 2:7} into me?  Indeed, it doesn't take much to see that, apart from God, we are nothing.  As the Lord is all in all, so He is in all we will ever see or experience.  


But "he who glories, let him glory in the LORD."  For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.

2 Corinthians 10: 17 - 18 NKJV 


I have known a good many people who have been good at a good many things.  I've also known a good many people who have had no issues with pointing out how good it is that they are.  Usually, when I hear someone talking like this my first thought is, 'where is God in all of this?'  Maybe I'm far too humble at heart, but I also recognize that God is to have a significant place in our lives.  One of my main goals is to someday organize these blog posts into a publication of some sort.  If that is where the Lord leads me, then His will be done.  I believe that in order for us to avoid the pitfalls of pride, that Jesus needs to be the central piece of all that we do.  After all, it is Christ Jesus with whom I share everything with.  It is Jesus who lives through me {Galatians 2:20}.  The apostle Paul assured us of this truth.  Can I ever rise above the glory of Jesus?  Through my own pride I might just think that I can.  Remember, Lucifer also had false thoughts of being greater than God {Isaiah 14: 13-13}.  It was also the deceiver who claimed the lie to Adam and Eve that they could be separate from God {Genesis 3:4-5}.  It is this lie which has done much damage to our own relationship with Jesus.  Jesus prayed that we would be one with He and the Father {John 17:21}.  Yet, contemporary Christianity continues to claim that there is a separation between ourselves and God.  The most which we can hope for, it seems, is to 'be like' Jesus.  Well, at risk of being seen as arrogant, I AM Jesus.  Indeed, if Jesus lives through me and experiences all which I do, I am part of Him.  This is the answered prayer of Christ we see in John 17.  Through Jesus, we are one with the Father.  So, knowing this, is there anything we will ever accomplish that Jesus has not already had a hand in?  Yes, I've made some great strides in my exercise goals, but I accomplished that as Christ who is in me.  Whatever it is you are thinking you're good at, it is but a extension of the Lord Jesus within you.


For who makes you differ from another?  And what do you have that you did not receive?  Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? 

1 Corinthians 4: 7 NKJV 


~Scott~ 

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Brothers




"Lieutenant Welsh remembered walking around the sleeping men, and thinking to himself that 'they had looked at and smelled death all around them all day but never dreamed of applying the term to themselves.  They hadn't come to fear.  They hadn't come to die.  They had come to win."

Stephen Ambrose ~ E Company, 101st Airborne 


It's interesting to witness it when you see it.  Even more interesting to become a part of it.  That being the evolution of a group of men from mere acquaintances into a group that will literally walk through hell for their brothers.  History is full of stories of these groups of men who came together to form bonds which were never broken, even after their calling had come to an end.  The Tuskegee airmen, bonding together in their fight against not only the Germans, but the racial divide in their own country.  The young men of the 1980 United States Olympic hockey team, who bonded together to defeat perhaps the best team the sport had ever known.  Then there were the "Band of Brothers" of E company of the 101st Airborne division in World War Two.  From the chaos of Normandy to the end of the war, these men fought, bled and died as one.  Whether it is the hell of war or a common belief that brings a group of common men together, it is always interesting to see the interaction within the group.  While we're not a large group, I enjoy a bond with a small group of fellow believers, some of whom I've known for some time.  However, as I thought about this writing, something else more interesting caught my attention.  Twelve men with perhaps nothing in common other than a few who shared the occupation of fishing for a living.  There were a few fisherman, a tax collector as well as a religious zealot prone to stoking calls for rebellion amongst the Jewish people.  Who would have ever thought that such a ragtag group could ever be molded into something positive?  Nobody...but Jesus.  As Jesus began His ministry, He called each and every one of these twelve men to follow Him.  One has to wonder the reactions of these men as Jesus invited them to "Come and see" {John 1:39}.  As we ourselves consider the possibilities of giving our lives to Jesus, we are faced with the same decisions which the twelve disciples also were.  What if I'm wrong?  What if He leads me astray?  This is all based on fears of the unknown.  The advantage that we have over these men is that we have the advantage of history on our side.  We already know where it is that Jesus will lead us.  If we are indeed willing, He will walk the journey with us.


Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, 'What do you seek?"  They said to Him, 'Rabbi (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), "where are you staying?"  He said to them, "come and see."  They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour).

John 1: 38 - 39 NKJV 


So it is that Jesus called to Himself a group of twelve key followers who would not only follow Him, but live amongst Him as well.  Yes, there were others who followed Jesus from time to time, but this group of men were the core group who followed, and learned from Jesus during His ministry.  It is with this group that Jesus spent His ministry teaching and preparing for His death.  I've often wondered what it would have been like as one of the disciples of Jesus.  Of course, we know a lot of what the day to day life of these men was already.  Fishing, listening and learning from Jesus.  But these disciples of Jesus also shared life with the Lord.  That is, they shared good times as well as bad.  They shared jokes and stories as well as their experiences.  The truth is, I might long to know what sharing life with Jesus would have been like, but in a matter of speaking we already have an idea of this experience.  The apostle Paul tells us in a few various scriptures that we live with Christ Jesus today.  Paul reveals to us that it is Jesus who lives is us {Galatians 2:20, Romans 6:8}.  Not only do we get the benefit of walking side by side with Jesus, but we can also stake the claim that we (gasp!) are Jesus.  Now, try relating that truth to some pastor sometime and you may get mocked as a heretic, but is scripture really disputable?  The Lord spoke it, so it must be true?  I do not disregard scripture simply because it is difficult to understand.  I imagine that some of the teachings of Jesus were difficult for the disciples to comprehend as well.  No matter, I'm happy to be among my group of brothers. 


~Scott~ 

Friday, November 27, 2020

God And Politics

 




Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities.  For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.  Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgement on themselves.  For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil.  Do you want to be unafraid of the authority?  Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.  For he is Gods minister to you for good.  But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is Gods minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.  Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience' sake.

Romans 13: 1 - 5 NKJV 


In all of the turmoil of our recent elections I've lost sight of one very important thing.  I was reminded of this the other day while talking to a friend about the eventual outcome of the election.  He told me that whichever way the election swings, it is God who orchestrated it, not the human voter.  No truer words were ever said.  As emotional beings, we often get lost in the emotions of politics.  That benefits nobody.  It seems that the days are gone where we would look at the two candidates, see where they stood on important issues and base our decision on what matters most to us.  No longer.  For now we have the "party voters" who vote for a particular candidate because he or she is a member of certain political party.  I'm not gonna lie, I've been guilty of that a time or two myself.  But, where does that get us?  Do we ignore a candidate, chosen by the Lord, simply because they don't reside within our chosen political party?  This year my choice was rather easy, I voted for the one man who had the can do attitude and actually implemented policies to help our nations citizens.  That man is Donald J Trump.  Yes, I benefited from his tax cuts, but so did millions of other American voters.  Another aspect of Trump that I admire is that he is unabashedly proud of his country.  I will stand behind that all day long!  Contrast that with Joe Biden, the candidate who barely left his basement throughout the entire campaign.  Granted, we've had virus issues to deal with, but that did not stop Donald Trump.  So, out of the two men whom the Lord presented to us, I chose the one who I felt benefited the country the most.  So sue me.  Looking at the two candidates as being placed before us by the Lord puts this election in a entirely new perspective.  No matter the outcome of Donald Trumps election challenges, it is God who will seat in the White House whom He desires to accomplish His will.  


Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "vengeance is mine, I will repay," says the Lord.

Romans 12: 19 NKJV 


There is another reason that I'm rooting for Donald Trump to succeed in his election challenge.  Some time ago a good friend of mine, who remains in exile in Hawaii, struck a deal on a side bet on who would win the election.  Yes, I know that it's not the most Christian way of doing things, but it was all in good natured fun.  So it is that I have a dog in the fight in this election challenge.  That being said, it does not change the fact that it is God who will ultimately decide this contest.  I guess I kind of feel better, knowing that God is indeed in charge of this situation.  But what if God chooses the candidate I didn't vote for?  Did God miss the boat somehow?  Not really.  However, it is thinking such as that which takes God out of the equation and injects ourselves into it.  Thinking that if a certain candidate wins that all hell will break loose.  That if a certain man wins a election that everything we know and love will come crumbling down.  Well, how would you feel about God if everything you loved came crumbling down apart from a election?  How did Job react when he lost all he had?  Despite his loss, Job remained faithful {Job 2:10}.  Shall we indeed accept good from God but not accept adversity as well?  They go hand in hand.  Job knew in his heart that despite all that raged around him, that the Lord was still in control of it all.  Dare I say that this kind of faith takes a strong believers heart.  I was struck the other day by a town hall interview which former president Barack Obama did on PBS.  A gun rights conservative in the audience asked the president what he would do in relation to gun rights in the wake of recent gun violence in the country.  Now, Barack Obama was not a big fan of the second amendment, that much he made clear in his campaign and presidency.  But as he stood and faced this republican in the audience, Obamas answer was blunt and to the point.  Obama said that, in his time in office to date, that no effort had been made to restrict the second amendment.  Furthermore, he claimed that were such an effort to be made, that the congress and the National Rifle Association lobby would be a huge hurdle to climb.  I respected him for that.  I might not agree with all Obama did, but in that moment, he had my support.  Now, we await the outcome of whatever challenges Donald Trump will bring to a election he sees as unjust.  I just want to win my bet.  


Then his wife said to him, "Do you still hold fast to your integrity?  Curse God and die!"  But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women speaks.  Shall we indeed accept good from God and shall we not accept adversity?"  In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

Job 2: 9 - 10  NKJV 


~Scott~ 

Thursday, November 26, 2020

The Roads Less Traveled

 




Today I went back to the place where I used to go

Today I saw that same old crowd I knew before

When they asked me what had happened

I tried to tell them

Thanks to Calvary, I don't come here anymore! 

~Thanks To Calvary - Bill Gaither ~ 


Not long ago I saw a video online from a health nut I follow every now and then.  His name is Thomas DeLauer and his claim to fame is that he turned from the ultimate couch potato to dedicating his life to helping others be healthy.  Well, he said something in one of his videos that struck a chord with me, and perhaps others who read this as well.  While on a recent shopping trip, Thomas happened to find himself in the candy/junk food aisle of his local grocery store.  There, as he tells it, he suddenly became uneasy, almost anxious.  I get it.  For Thomas, a walk through the candy aisle was akin to a walk back in time to the days of his own addiction.  For those who are not familiar with my own history, you might wonder why I get a bit uneasy whenever I come near a topless bar.  The reason is that this is where one of my main addictions took hold of me.  Those who have experienced the pain and struggle of substance abuse can relate to these experiences I'm sure.  The questions that remain.  Will I go back to my old ways?  Am I still a addict?  Like Thomas DeLauer, I've had ample opportunity to revisit those places I used to hang out in.  These days I just don't see time spent there as productive to what I trying to achieve.  Not long ago, I made a commitment to my health.  From exercise to nutrition, my focus has been on reversing the damages that have been done over the years.  For the most part this journey has been successful so far, except for the actions of one incompetent liberal democrat governor who continues to play games with the lives of people here in Oregon.  But, as I say, I play the cards I'm dealt.  I have had the opportunity over the years to witness the ravages that addictions can have on people lives.  I've had a few friends who have lost jobs and family because they chose their addiction over all else.  I get it.  However, my focus in this post is on those who have overcome their own destructive behaviors and, through faith, found a new beginning.  


Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.  For he who has died has been freed from sin.  Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more.  Death no longer has dominion over Him.  For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.  Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6: 6 - 11 NKJV 


Can I tell you what I believe is one of the most destructive feelings brought on by any type of addiction?  Guilt and shame.  Shame because we realize that what we are doing is wrong in the Lords eyes (So we've been taught).  We feel guilty because we know that we are sinners (Again...so we've been told).  Each time I entered a nude bar, my own guilt and shame struck at my heart as soon as I touched the door to enter.  What if someone I know sees me?  What will God think of me?  How will He punish me?  Through my experience, all of these fears were partly brought on by my own behaviors, but also by what I had learned about God up until that point.  You think I'm joking?  If you ever get the chance, watch someone as they enter a nude bar.  I guarantee that as soon as they hit the door they will look over their shoulder to see if anyone is watching them.  That's the guilt on display for all to see.  So, what have we been told about how God looks upon sin?  Well, I don't know what church you attended, but I was raised in a Christianity that said that the Lord can never be in the presence of sin.  I was also raised to know and understand that I was but a sinner saved by the grace of the Lord.  Knowing this, each and every time I entered a nude bar I did so separate from God.  How could God love me if I kept behaving like that?  If God can never be in the presence of sin...what chance did I even have?  I'm thinking that most people afflicted by their own addictions have felt this way.  What changed for me was a pastors sermon.  One Easter Sunday I was sitting in church while the padre told us the story of how Jesus died for our sins and three days later rose again.  Same story, we all know it.  However, at the end of his sermon, this pastor asked everyone in attendance to come forward and confess any sins we might be carrying with us.  Honestly, my first thought upon hearing him say this was, "what sin?"  Really?  You just finished a sermon where you told us that Jesus died to absolve us from all of our sins.  I never returned to that church.  So, if you are sitting there reading this for the first time, I don't blame you at all for feeling left out because you feel that you are somehow separated from God.  I've been there.  The truth is, we have never been apart from the Lord.  The very notion that we ever were separate from God is a lie spoken by our accuser {Genesis 3:4-5}.  The apostle Paul introduces us to the truth of Christ Jesus in Galatians.  Here, Paul reveals that it is Jesus who lives through us today {Galatians 2:20}.  This is confirmed by the apostle John that we would be one with Christ {John 17:21}.  We do well to remember that even in the darkest of times, it is Jesus who is walking that road less traveled with us. 


"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."

Galatians 2: 20 


~Scott~ 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

The Simplest Of Things

 




"I woke up today and thanked God that I did"

Rush Limbaugh 


A few months ago I was saddened when radio icon Rush Limbaugh shared with his audience that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer.  I have grown up listening to Rush and heeded some of his pearls of wisdom from time to time.  Despite his diagnosis, one thing which I have not heard uttered from the lips of Limbaugh is how he has been cheated in some way.  That the man is keeping him down.  That, somehow, life's events were robbing him of his best years.  What I did hear from Rush is how thankful for each and every day his situation has made him.  In fact, he will often began a show with his now famous quote, "I woke up this morning and thanked God that I did."  Now, Rush has never been shy about espousing his views on his faith in God and his religion, so I was not surprised when he said this.  My take is that it is but one more thing for liberal hate mongers to dislike him for.  But I saw something different in the Limbaugh approach to his diagnosis.  Once again I've seen that the simplest things in life really do matter.  I've never talked to Rush, never even called the show.  Believe me, at times it's damn near impossible to get through.  However, I am contemplating a future call to his program for the simple fact of bringing his attention to something he might not know about God.  Granted, he might already know, but then it would be a affirmation.  The common catch phrase out there is that God works in mysterious ways, and that is true.  We might call ourselves Christians or believers, but the Lord still works events according to His will and desire {Philippians 2:13}.  What if, the Lord used Rush's health condition to draw him closer to Him?  You have to admit, it's been done before.  In my own life I've experienced it.  Now, we may never know the purpose to which the Lord allowed Limbaugh's health situation, but rest assured that He did allow it for a reason.  If Rush ever shares that on his program I'll listen with a open heart.  Yet, that is between himself and the Lord he serves.  


I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Philippians 4: 13 NKJV 


I have to admit, there are more than a few of the simplest of things which I have taken for granted over time.  We're told that through the Lord we live, move and have our being {Acts 17:28}.  Yet, there have been relatively few times where I have woken to a brand new day and thanked God that I had.  It took a radio personality to reveal to me just how important this is.  Yes, I'm sure that God had His way in orchestrating it as well.  So, I'm left with one question.  How many of these simplest of things have we taken for granted over the years?  How many times have we said to ourselves, "Well, it'll be there tomorrow so I'll deal with it then?"  I have no way of knowing for sure, but I'm sure that Rush Limbaugh's thoughts were not on a terminal illness in the days leading up to his own diagnosis.  That's the way it usually goes.  The simplest things are usually those we most take for granted.  I have no idea how many days upon this earth that I will be here, but what I do know is that I will be thankful for each and every one of them.  I've shared more than a few times of how hard I prayed that my mother would recover from her sickness.  When that didn't happen I was devastated.  The first thing I did was blame God for not answering my prayers.  However, in my grief I recalled that He did just that.  See, my mother had been in a lot of pain in her final years.  Many times I prayed that the Lord would take her away from her pain.  Well, He did just that.  Yes, I miss my mom, but I am also thankful to God that she is no longer suffering.  I also thank the Lord for those times that I did share with her.  The simplest of things.  As we head into this Thanksgiving week, many of us will be looking for those things which we are thankful for.  Many of them are obvious...food, shelter and employment.  Yet, we should also be thankful for the simple things, that which we experience each day yet seem to take them for granted.  The morning sunrise, a message from a friend or simply knowing that God is indeed within us.  I am thankful for a good many things, but it took a guy on the radio to show me that the simplest of things are important as well.  


"God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.  Nor is He worshipped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath and all things.  And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'for we are also His offspring."

Acts 17: 24 - 28 NKJV 


~Scott~   

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Knowing God




 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

Hebrews 1: 1 - 4 NKJV 


Have you ever seen God?  Been witness to His appearance?  We're told through scripture that no one has ever seen God {John 1:18}.  The writer of the book of Hebrews also tells us that in times past, that God has spoken to our fathers before us {Hebrews 1:1}.  However, I'm more worried about today.  Where is it today that we can see our heavenly Father?  Yes, we have plenty of illustrations which portray God as a white haired, stern looking elderly man.  But is this the real true image of God?  Awhile ago I purchased a children's illustrated bible, just to see how close it came to the original I carry.  I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when this kids bible sugar coated many of the events in the scriptures.  As I said, even the illustrations of God were of a elderly man.  Unfortunately, this is the image of the Lord that has carried over through thousands of years.  Where did it come from?  I mean, if no one has ever seen God, then who provided the description for this artists rendition?  Well, we did.  That is, man did.  I believe that this image of the Lord was incorporated some time ago in order to give a image to God.  What would your image of God be if you were Moses?  Yes, a burning bush, or a cloud of fire perhaps.  This is just how the Lord chose to reveal Himself to Moses at the time.  But what about me?  I want to see God too.  I want to put a face to He who provides for me.  Well, perhaps there is such an image of God for us to grab onto.  In fact, we may have already seen God and never even have known it.  The apostle Paul reveals to us in the book of Galatians the truth of Christ Jesus in us {Galatians 2:20}.  Think about it, every time you look in the mirror you are seeing God.  How can that be?  Simple, from the beginning we were created in His very image {Genesis 1:27}.  From the beginning, we were created in the image of God.  It is God who breathed into us the breath of life {Genesis 2:7}.  Is it that much of a stretch that Paul would proclaim that Christ Jesus lives in us?  Remember, it was Jesus who proclaimed that if we have seen Him we have seen the Father as well {John 14:9}.  


And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ.  This is the true God and eternal life.

1 John 5: 20 NKJV 


Have you ever felt the need to put a face to the Lord?  To have that concrete evidence where you know who it is that you're talking to?  If so, then realizing the truth of Christ in us might be a difficult pill to swallow for you.  For me, Jesus in me was revealed through a dear friend of mine who continues to remain nameless even while in captivity in Hawaii.  Yet, despite my knowing His truth, I still looked for that image of Him to grab onto.  Now, my illustrated bible has plenty of the commonly accepted illustrations of Jesus, but I know that's not authentic.  Jesus...is me.  Now, if God chose to speak to our fathers before us, will He not reveal Himself to us as well?  Absolutely.  As I was contemplating this writing, another question entered my head which might very well be a future topic.  How far will God go to be glorified and/or known by His people?  This might just give us a insight into why the Lord revealed Himself to our fathers before us.  Why did God reveal Himself to Moses?  To Abraham?  Yes, we all know how the history played out, but why did the Lord choose to reveal Himself to these men?  Could it be that, besides working through them, that God desired to be known personally by His children?  Could it be that the Lord desired to interact with them?  If we believe in the one true nature of God being love, then we must also entertain the idea that God desires to be known by His creation.  When we look at the life of Adam and Eve in the garden, we see a life of daily interaction with the Lord.  After they took of the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve heard the sound of the Lord walking in the garden {Genesis 3:8}.  Could it be that God desires to experience that personal relationship with us as well?  As the events of each day unfold, think of the question of what will God do to be known by His creation?  


~Scott~ 

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Why Should God Hurt?

 




For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Romans 8: 18 NKJV 


I was pondering this week that there seems to be a lot of sad, dejected Christians out there in the world.  Perhaps you are one of them.  You've been told for some time that in order to be a Christian that you need to face trials, that you will have bad times.  Hey, brother, that's life.  But, why do we naturally assume that just because we are Christians that the world will automatically be against us and that sadness will most always accompany us?  While I agree that there is and will be a lot of sadness and hurt in this world, I also set my heart upon the One who created the world and all that we see.  So, I found myself asking a few questions this week.  Was it Gods intention for us to walk through each and every day in misery for His sake?  I would say no.  However, many well meaning Christians would point to that famous scripture out of the book of James which tells us to rejoice in our afflictions {James 1:2}.  Does this guarantee that we are to remain sad due to our own lot in life?  NO!  What James was writing about here was that when the hard times do come, that we should not become lost in our frustration and sadness, but rejoice in the big picture of what God is accomplishing through us.  That is...patience.  Indeed, nothing will teach us more about patience than going through life's trials.  Most all of us can attest to that.  However, there is a huge difference in living a life of sadness and a life of joy in the Lord knowing what to do when the bad times come.  This, I believe, is what James was attempting to get across.  So, are we meant to suffer just because we are Christians?  I would say no.  Why would the Lord, who's very nature is love, ensure that His children are distressed?  Why would God provide for our union in Him only to have us in sadness?  Maybe a good deal of our walking around in sadness has less to do with our situation and more to do with who it is we think we are.  Would you walk in sadness and dejection if you knew in your heart that you were walking as Christ?  The truth of living as Christ is revealed to us by the apostle Paul in Galatians {Galatians 2:20}.  Was Jesus Himself always sad and dejected? 


Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through whom we also have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.  Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Romans 1: 1 - 5 NKJV 


I look back upon the time Jesus spent with His apostles.  I'm talking day to day times when He was not teaching, but living among His followers.  Did they laugh?  Did they tell jokes with one another?  Did they share the good times they all experienced?  Of course.  The notion that we, as Christians, need to walk around as some somber zombies awaiting the bad times in our lives is ridiculous.  I refuse to ever subscribe to that idea.  In fact, I rejoice in the fact that I do follow Christ Jesus.  I am glad in my heart that He does live through me.  I am happy and thankful that God thought enough of me to ensure my union with Him {John 17:21}.  I will never be that sad Christian.  Now, that doesn't mean that I do not know how to handle the bad situations when they arrive.  I do not look upon these bad times as Gods punishment, but as my learning opportunity.  I have gotten into the habit, when bad times arrive, of asking "What are you doing in through this, Lord?"  I know that the Lord always has a purpose for what He does, so I ask Him.  One question I came across this week was...should knowing God hurt?  Should we be destined to a life of sorrow if we follow Him?  Again, I think I've laid out some pretty convincing thoughts on why being a Christian doesn't mean that we should walk in sadness.  Ask yourself, do you see Jesus as always being in sorrow?  After all, for those of us who trust in our union with Him...we ARE Jesus.  This is something we should all rejoice in.  We can't control when or where the hard times will come, but we can control how it is that we respond to them when they do.  


~Scott~