Thursday, May 29, 2008

Who Is God? Part 2

His Lovingkindness

If you knew me before I came to Christ and still knew me today, you would see in action the lovingkindness of the Lord. For God has redeemed me from a pit so deep and so dark that only He has the arms long enough and the will strong enough and the love so merciful to pluck me up out of it, brush me off and give me an embrace that reached all the way from Calvary mount. And His love continues as He is gracious enough to walk the rest of this life with me, loving me, teaching me and still bringing me up out of the pit when I fall.

"A Psalm of David. 'Bless Jehovah, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless Jehovah, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits; who forgives all your iniquities; who heals all your diseases; who redeems your life from ruin; who crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercies; who satisfies your mouth with good; your youth is renewed like the eagle's.'" (Psalm 103:1-5)

As we saw before in Jeremiah, the Lord tells us that the truth regarding His character is that He is a God Who exercises
lovingkindness. Some may wonder if that is true given all that
is happening in our world today. Even in our own personal lives
so many are experiencing very deep and difficult trials. Where is God when those trials are taking place? Is He truly a God of lovingkindness?

In David's psalm, he speaks to his own soul, reminding himself that our God is worthy to be praised and worshipped. That His very name is holy and one that is worthy to bow down to. As David does, may we who worship God as our Lord daily remind ourselves of the endless benefits that have been borne out of our relationship with Him and for those benefits we should be eternally thankful.

Our every sin has been forgiven by the sacrifice of the blood of the Son of God. He temporarily gave up His throne and then His very life to redeem each of us from our own pit of sin so that we could live with Him forever.

That is lovingkindness.

In that salvation that we have received God heals our soul's infirmities. As we seek after Him, He purifies our hearts and our minds so that we are no longer bound by sin as we once were. But we are set free from the chains of bondage as God's Holy Spirit ministers to us and comforts us daily, through every trial and decision and heartbreak and then rejoices with us in every mountaintop experience. He trades our sorrows for His joy, holding us close to Him as He promises to never leave us.

That is lovingkindness.

He redeems our lives from the spiritual darkness in which they were and brings us into the light. He encircles us with His endless lovingkindness and compassion so that there is nowhere we can go without them. And as a perfect parent, He gives us all things that are good for us.

And though our bodies are wasting away, as we abide in our Lord our souls are lifted up as an eagle, soaring over our difficult pasts, our regrets, our failures, so that our remembrance of them is dim, and we instead see more clearly the beauty of Him Who has called us. The youth of our souls has been restored because they can never grow old and die, but rather they will live on forever in His glory.

That is His gracious and merciful lovingkindness.

There is no higher form of lovingkindness than to give up one's own life to save that of another. And God not only saved our mortal lives, but our eternal souls. He could have stopped there and the gift of eternity would have been enough. But He continues to show that lovingkindness as He imparts to us His very character of peace and joy and wisdom and all that we need if we will but open our eyes to the gift He gives us of Himself every moment of every day.

How can you pass on to others the gift of God's lovingkindness?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

An Angel's Point of View

I have a friend who has a 7 year old daughter with blonde ringlets that would make you think she's an angel, albeit a very precocious one.

So the other day my friend, her husband and their two young children were gathered in the older brother's bedroom after having moved around the furniture. The brother's bible was lying on the floor and the younger sister was standing on it. My friend saw this and said to her, "Don't stand on your brother's bible, that's the Word of God." To which the daughter said, "But it's in my way. And besides, it says we're supposed to stand alone on the Word of God!"

An angel I tell you.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Who Is God? Part 1

Let Him Who Glories, Glory in the Lord

Thus says the Lord: "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight," says the Lord. (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

If we possessed all the wisdom and riches of Solomon so that people came from afar to behold the wonder of it all, or all the strength of Samson so that our reputation was known far and wide, the glory of them would only be shades of gray compared to the brilliant glory of knowing our God.

There are people who believe that it is impossible to know Him. That knowledge of Him is too high and lofty to attain. And indeed, He is the High and Lofty One. But God tells us in Jeremiah that He desires for us to know Him. He desires it so much that He did not remain in the heavens, but He came down as the Son and dwelt among us to show us Who He is.

And Who does God say that He is?

He is the LORD, the self-existent One. He is the one and only Eternal God. He is the great I Am. To know Him we must first know this and acknowledge it in our hearts and receive Him as the Lord Whom He is. Once we know Him as Lord, we can begin to know Who the Lord is.

He proclaims that He is a God who not only possesses lovingkindness, judgment and righteousness, but He faithfully exercises those characteristics in our lives. He is not a God Who is uncaring or silent, but He is a God Who is active in the lives of His creation.

Have you ever thought that God didn't care or perhaps wasn't even aware of your hardship? Because we can't always see Him working in our lives does not mean that He isn't. Sometimes He is weaving together the details, taking us through a purification process which when completed, will reveal the imprint of God's own Son upon our lives.

If you are going through a trial right now, I pray that you will not fall into the trap of thinking that God's heart is hardened to your suffering. He has compassion on you and He is near to you. Who knows what beauty He is preparing for you through it? Ah, yes, He does.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Worship in Spirit and in Truth

"But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." John 4:23-24

Lately the Lord has been tugging at my heart, causing me to wonder how much of Whom I believe God to be is true and how much of my perspective of Him has been skewed by my own faults, my own hurts, my own sin.

To worship God is to humble ourselves before Him, literally to prostrate our souls before Him. It is only once our spirits have been regenerated through Christ that we are able to worship the one, true God.

And we must worship Him in truth. The more we know Who God truly is the more we are able to worship Him. As we allow God to purify our hearts through the washing by the Word of God, we will see Him more as He is and not only as we have thought Him to be. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." (Matt. 5:8) As the blinders of fear and unforgiveness and selfishness are cleared away from my heart, I can then focus more clearly on the Lord and see Him for Who He really is.

God has provided His Son as a bridge to the Father, and He has provided His Spirit to indwell us and give us spiritual eyes with which to see Him. All we need to do is abide in Him and we will learn to worship Him more and more as we see His magnificent nature opened up to us. God is seeking those who would worship Him this way. Will He find you worshipping Him in spirit and in truth? What blessing would be opened up to you as you do?

Friday, May 9, 2008

My Beginning...

My life began in a home with parents who didn’t know the Lord and were each very lost in their own way.  I grew up in a so-called "dysfunctional" family, although I don't know many people who didn't, at least to some degree.

I was about 11 years old when I attended a neighborhood church and heard that Jesus Christ loved me.  I heard that He came for the purpose of dying on the cross to pay for my sins. For a little girl who lived in obscurity in an alcoholic and spiritually darkened home, that was an incredible thought.  I needed to know that someone loved me and to hear that that Someone was the Son of God was astounding.

I asked to be baptized and was reluctantly given permission. I was baptized about a week later, but my life remained unchanged for the next 14 years.  When I left home at the age of 17, my life spiraled downward into a deep, dark pit.

I was married when I was 24 and had my first baby boy at the age of 25. Shortly after his arrival I returned to work at a law office where two of my co-workers were friends from the church they attended. I passed them in halls from time to time and heard them talking about the things going on at their church and something pierced my heart each time.

Now that I had this precious child for whom I was responsible, I felt a need to raise him in the church. I didn't want him growing up in the same madness I had and I thought church was the answer. So I went to one of those women at work one day and asked her what church she attended.

She grabbed a pen and a piece of paper faster than the speed of light and wrote down the address and directions to a Calvary Chapel. I thanked her for it and promptly lost that precious piece of paper. But a week or two later my coworker graciously replaced the information for me.  My husband, our six-month old son and I attended the Sunday morning service a week later.

To say that we went to church that morning does not come near giving justice to what I experienced that day.  Walking through the front doors was like walking from darkness to light, from being lost to being found. The congregation was small at the time, maybe 40 people, but I could feel the thick presence of God. We walked down the aisle to find a seat and it just so happened that we sat next to the coworker who had given me directions.  She and her husband were supposed to be away on vacation that weekend, but for some reason (or should I say Reason) they had decided not to go.

The band began to play and I looked around and saw people who were not just singing, but who were truly worshipping the Lord, hands raised to Him, glorying in that thick Presence Who met us there that day. The tears began to roll down my cheeks and there was no stopping them.

The Lord I had heard loved me all those years before was right there with me in that room.  There was no denying it, my heart was His. The joy I felt in the weeks after I have described before as that wondrous joy you feel as a child on Christmas morning. It was Christmas morning for me every, single day. The gift of eternal life had been given to me and I rejoiced in it. Layers of dirt that I had accumulated in the world were sloughed off and I was a new creation.

My coworker later told me that she had been praying for my family and me for about a year. It wasn't a mistake, a coincidence or just emotion. The Lord had His hand on me all those years and had brought me back to Him. Shortly after my husband received Christ as his Lord, too, as have that baby boy who compelled me to go to church, who is now 22, as well as my other precious guy, who is now 20 years old.

I have now known Jesus as my Lord and Savior for 21 years (or 37 if salvation took place when I first believed and was baptized, only God knows) and still, each day is a new experience in Him as I strive to know Him just a little more than I did the day before.

And so I still feel like I am just beginning...

I am in the process of writing my memoir that tells about the darkness I grew up in, the deep trials and pain I’ve faced and how my faithful Savior never let me go until I was His.  I pray it is a story of hope for hurting parents of wayward teenagers, for those lost teenagers, and for fellow believers who find themselves in a place of suffering, of being heartbroken and in pain.  Our God is indeed a good and faithful God Who will truly never, ever let you go.