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Archive for October, 2012

Psalm 16: Glad Heart

Our world is infatuated with options, upgrades, innovations … all of which come with a promise to make our lives more efficient, effective, and enjoyable … heaven on earth. I may have missed something, but despite several thousand years of “progress,” evil, pain, suffering, injustice and death are as common today as they’ve ever been.

Creature comforts are nice, but they don’t begin to approach the incomparable goodness God grants with His presence.

I have lost much, hurt deeply, feared greatly, sinned regrettably … but I wouldn’t exchange my story for another. I can’t help but be awestruck by God’s kindness toward one so undeserving as me. I can trace a long line of grace couriers sent by the Lord to comfort, correct, and counsel my frail and foolish soul.

Left to myself, I’d be lost. But a path to life has been shown me … a path saturated with God’s joyful presence … a path I never have to walk alone. My heart is glad.

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Do I crave the blessing of God with only mild interest in the boundaries of God?

Do I plead for God’s presence in my life, but ask Him to check His holiness at the door?

Do I minimize the gap between my profession of faith and my practice of faith?

Do I long for stability in my own life while carelessly (or even intentionally) causing disruption in the lives of those around me?

It stands to reason that only those who genuinely embrace the holy heart of God would find themselves held securely in the holy hands of God. Both, of course, are undeniable displays of the grace of God.

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Few things are more damaging to the soul than empty optimism about the human condition. The power of positive thinking does nothing to correct our spiritual deficiency any more than a rabbit’s foot can reverse the ravages of a terminal disease.

The only hope we have of genuine spiritual life isn’t an inflated view of ourselves, but rather an honest admission of our hopelessness. The dead don’t need stronger self-esteem, they need resurrection. There is One who can awaken us, raise us, restore us … One who was and is and always will be all that we are not … Almighty God.

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Psalm 13: Hide-n-Seek

Some days it feels like God has left the building.

Those are the days when things aren’t going the way I’d like. I can handle a few of them at a time, but long stretches of suffering feel more like hide-n-seek with God than an episode of Father Knows Best. “Surely, if God were here with me, life wouldn’t be this hard!”

The truth is, my earthly circumstances are poor proof of God’s presence or absence. He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb 13:5) … good days or bad. If God seems distant or absent, it must be me, blinded by the sad reality of living in a sin-wrecked world.

Rather than looking for God as if He were missing, I’m always better off looking for the gift of growth He promises with His presence (Romans 8:28-29). Those gifts are often hard to see and even slower to arrive. But when they do, I find myself thinking, “It’s just what I needed.”

God truly has dealt bountifully with me.

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What do you do when most people in the room don’t agree with you? When saying “Merry Christmas” and the Ten Commandments are considered offensive and made to be practiced privately, not displayed publically?

What do you do when the voice of the faithful have fallen to a whisper? When the voices heralding “alternative lifestyles” as the new normal boom in every direction? When sensuality is a cultural obsession, porn is a billion dollar a year industry, and sex trafficking is among the greatest social concerns.

What do you do when a culture is best described as “spiritual, but not religious?” When truth is reduced to personal preference? When the most fervent promoters of tolerance are decidedly intolerant toward any who don’t think like them?

“Pray without ceasing” (1 Thes 5:17).

Ask the Lord to preserve His people, however few they may be. Ask Him to fill the hearts of His followers with a resolve to stand firm on the truth of His word. Ask God to give His people endurance while swimming against the current of cultural relativism.

And after praying, don’t be surprised when you are preserved … emboldened … strengthened. “He will guard us from this generation forever.”

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Life sure throws a lot at us.

The situations of a single day relentlessly press us, puzzle us, poke us, pull us, and propel us in the most surprising ways.

Options and opportunities appear like windows and doors, opening and closing, promising gain or threatening loss. Fight or flight? Hide or seek? Which way is the “right” way to run?

Perhaps God is less concerned about our being at the right place at the right time, and more concerned about our being the right man or woman for such a time and place as this … wherever we might find ourselves.

We were not created merely to survive our circumstances, but to pass the tests of poverty and prosperity with hearts hungry for God. With Him as our refuge, our circumstances become a showcase … not of our competence, but of the character God is forming in us.

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The professing Atheist assumes because he cannot see God, touch God, hear God – because he cannot sense God in a scientifically quantifiable way – God must therefore not exist.

Professing Christians often pray as if God cannot see, touch or hear what is taking place in His creation because they cannot scientifically verify His physical presence. And if He did see the pain, the suffering, the abuse that we see, wouldn’t He step in!

What are we to do with an invisible God?

Overwhelming evidence all around us that our universe (us included) has been so intelligently designed. Overwhelming evidence from history that God has intruded over and again with redemptive purpose. And yet unseen.

Did He not answer the accusations of atheists and the plea of believers when he “took on flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14) … when “blood and water” (Jn 19:34) spewed from His side after a brutal, humiliating, sin-covering death … when He appeared to “more than 500” (1 Co 15:6) after His resurrection.

Though we struggle to see Him, God doesn’t struggle in the least to see us, to hear us, to know of our pain and bear it. Though He waits at the moment, He will one day break into our world with the greatest of presence and make all things new.

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