Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Nothing Wasted, Part II

As I see loss through the lens of God's love, I realize that not only does God want to transform me through loss, He also wants to comfort me in loss. II Corinthians 1:3-4a says, Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles. In loss and pain, the Lord longs to comfort and strengthen us. Beautifully, the comfort that He brings to us in our loss and the lessons which He teaches us through loss can also be recycled so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. (II Corinthians 1:4b-5)

Yes, the sufferings of Christ will touch our lives, for on the cross He took upon Himself every sin that had or would touch this world; along with that sin came all the accompanying loss and pain. Words are inadequate to describe the burden that He willingly undertook that we might know a lighter burden. Christ allowed Himself to be yoked to sin that we could know a yoke of love.

Though Christ took on this yoke of sin, the yoke of love and truth which He and the Father shared was stronger than that yoke of sin. This yoke of love and truth was Christ's comfort, and this is the same comfort that He offers to us. As we trust His love, we are comforted in our loss -- and the comfort that we experience is recycled through us to bring comfort to others.

Just as in the physical realm, where a flower must die to bring about new life, so it is in the spiritual realm. In John 12:24-25 Jesus tells us: ...unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

Where there is loss, there are manifold purposes for that loss to be recycled into abundant fruit. In order for this recycling process to take place, we must surrender our own way. We must die to the familiar and expected that new life may spring forth. With new life comes a new song: a song from which comfort and encouragement will overflow into the lives of others.

Any loss surrendered to the Lord will bring about transformation that will last for eternity. So until Christ returns, and the ultimate recycling of body and soul is known: trust the Lord's love, surrender to be recycled through loss, because you know that nothing He allows, nothing He does in or through you is ever wasted.

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord. ~Psalm 40:1-3~

Monday, February 15, 2010

Nothing Wasted, Part I

Walk as children of light: (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness, and truth;) proving what is acceptable unto the Lord...walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time because the days are evil. ~Ephesians 5: 8b-10, 15, 16~

Our world is filled with ideas and designs, yet there is not a single idea or design which originated with man. God created. Man, inspired by His creation, imitates. This is seen not only in things that are designed, built or produced, but also in the way that man views this world. The farther man strays from God's truth, the more his worldview becomes distorted; nevertheless, every idea originated with God.

Take for example the idea of recycling. We see the concept of recycling throughout creation: a flower dies but its seeds fall to the ground and another flower springs up from those seeds. But it is not only in nature that such recycling is seen, the pattern of recycling is a spiritual concept as well as a physical. In the language of Scripture, the idea of recycling is termed redemption -- the Lord redeems broken hearts, lives and bodies. He restores by transforming loss into life.

God never wastes anything. What He allows to touch my life in this moment is to prepare, re-shape and provide for what will arise in the next moment. There is depth and design to all that God has created as well as to what He permits His creation to encounter. He is not bound by time, but He ordained the laws of time. While outside of time, He prepares us for what will come in time, and all who surrender to be shaped within the realm of time are redeeming that time for eternity.

In other words, as I surrender to God's will being done in this realm (of time) as it is done in Heaven, time is being redeemed. With such knowledge, my understanding of loss is transformed. I can face any loss with an assurance that it is wrought with multi-faceted purposes of redemption. Some fruits of the Lord's recycling handiwork will not be seen on this side of eternity, but others will be clearly seen. In fact, there are specific recycling promises throughout God's Word.

With any form of suffering or trial there is some sort of loss. The thought of rejoicing in the midst of our losses is foreign to our desires, but Romans 5:3-5 explains tht the Lord's promise of recycling is a good reason to rejoice: because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given to us.

As I surrender to the losses which God allows, each loss will be recycled to enable the Spirit's fruit to blossom from my life...specific loss producing specific fruit; fruit that is essential for tomorrow, fruit that will endure when the pain of loss has faded and fruit which evokes hope, causing me to see loss through the lens of God's love.

Part II will soon follow...

Monday, February 8, 2010

Unshakeable; Indelible, Part II

In Matthew 7:26-27, Jesus relays an example of a kingdom that is shaken: ...everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against the house, and it fell with a great crash. Thankfully, Jesus also gives an example of a kingdom that cannot be shaken: ...everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. (Matthew 7:24-25)

When I build my belief structure on anything other than truth, my very foundation will crumble and I will be shaken...but if I am believing truth, I will be able to solidly stand in the midst of any storm.

This sounds pretty simple, but in actuality it is a process which requires a willingness to submit to the truth of God in every moment of every day. In every thought I must acknowledge the Lord...I must press on to acknowledge the Lord in all my thoughts. As I build my life, thought by thought, on truth, as truth is invested into every part of my imaginations, the rains of pain and struggle will not be able to shake me...the winds of doubt and speculation will not be able to shake me.

To believe God's truth over my own feelings, emotions and imaginations, to trust God's Word and character, even when what He allows brings pain, loss or disappointment, this is to be single-minded. To be single-minded is to be unshakeable.

In Psalm 26:1b-3 David says, I have trusted the Lord without wavering. Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for your love is ever before me, and I will walk continually in your truth.

If I am continually walking in truth, building every part of my life on truth, my focus becomes Jesus, the Author and Perfector of faith. As I am grounded in His truth, His love is ever before me, captivating me. As a result, spiritual thoughts are combined with spiritual words, and the mind of Christ is expressed through me. (Hosea 6:3; Colossians 2:6-7; I Corinthians 2:10-16) What could be more significant than having the mind of the very Word of God expressed through my life? Only Truth reaps eternal rewards...Truth alone can produce an unshakeable kingdom, an indelible mark...and I am convinced that nothing has greater significance or value.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Unshakeable; Indelible, Part I

Hebrews 12:28...since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe...

As I have grown in my understanding of God and His Word, one thing has become a real certainty in my mind: anything that is of God cannot be shaken, what is born of Him will remain.

Psalm 15: 1-2, 5b says:
Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart...he who does these things will never be shaken.

It is only through Christ that one may dwell in the sanctuary of God...and it is only through Christ that a blameless and righteous life can be known by any man or woman. Because of Christ, the great High Priest, Hebrews 4:16 tells us that we can approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may find grace to help us in our time of need. As those in Christ approach the throne of grace, they will find grace to help in time of need...as they trust the Grace that is provided, they will not be shaken.

Kingdom power and Kingdom priorities cannot be shaken, for they proceed out of the solid foundation of the Rock of Truth, Jesus Christ. Luke 17:21 says that, "...the kingdom of God is within us." The moment Jesus Christ takes residence in a heart, the very kingdom of God is within that heart. Within every follower of Christ there is a kingdom that cannot be shaken...but only as we build every part of our lives on this Foundation will we know an implacable stance in the midst of any and every storm.

What amazing grace has been given...that we can come into the very presence of God with confidence...that He has granted a Way for us to be sure-footed despite the terrain...and yet how much time is wasted on crumbling foundations, on things that will not remain?

Deep within every man there is a longing to live a life of significance, but so often insignificant means are used to try to gain such significance -- this is a crumbling foundation, it is an attempt to make a mark on this world with a dry-erase marker.

Only Christ can make an indelible mark...He has made this indelible mark on my life...with His mark upon me, I cannot help but make a mark...but I have realized that any mark which my life makes is of little importance -- that His mark is seen, this is what truly matters, only this will make a difference.

I long for His mark to be projected through my life...I do not want my thoughts, my opinions, my speculations to be projected...I want His truth to be on display...but I must recognize that the mark which is projected through my life will be determined by the foundational ideas which are input into my mind/heart and which have become the structure of everything that I believe. The question is: does my belief structure enable Christ's mark to be clearly seen?

Part II will soon follow...