Sunday, July 31, 2011

Grace ~ Charis

It is a fight to find your joy in Christ alone every day. In some seasons, it feels vastly more difficult than in others, as I have been recently learning. For another "Gospel goodness" post, I thought it would be appropriate to cover Grace.

In most modern church circles, grace has simply come to be defined as an unlimited acceptance of sin without conviction or sanctification. But this comes as no surprise when the church is allowing worldly influences to seep in, rather than making an impact and influence on the world! When the world seeps into the church, one starts to see an increasingly widespread tolerance of sin. It always starts in the "small" things that are subtle and hard to notice. But for those who are in the Word and abiding in the Vine, it is fairly easy to spot. So, as the definition of grace begins to truncate, the danger of sin starts to diminish in our eyes.
Oh how the eyes of man must be opened to take in a fuller view of God's divine grace! To really begin to see and savor His grace should lead us to a deeper abhorrence of sin and its dangers as we see how much sweeter and more fulfilling Christ is!

Here is a definition from the concordance that I really adore!

Grace - good will, loving-kindness, favour - of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.

Grace has two parts. It's unmerited favor and it's a holy enabling. I love that these two things are not separated! It's so utterly crucial to our Christian walk that we begin to grasp the depth of God's grace. Here's why...

1. If Grace was merely unmerited favor, we would rest happy and sluggish in our sins knowing that we are saved for eternity in Christ, but are free to sin as we please because we can always fall back on His grace. This mindset has led many to a spirit of complacency in regards to their sin, feeling that it is futile to strive to be better than what they are since they will "always be this way" or thinking, "Christ really doesn't expect me to live holy {in regards to every area of life} because that's an impossible standard that can never be achieved." This mindset leaves one wallowing in their messes. For such a person, they are content in living in the "desert" as the "Promise Land" seems a bit too idealistic to one living in a fallen world.

2. If Grace was merely a holy enabling and strengthening, we would become quite prideful, religious, and perfectionist in our mentality. For some, this mindset might lead them to continually be on a self-made "spiritual" high. For others, it might lead them to be judgmental and unloving towards others who aren't overcoming their sins "quick enough." It leads one to expect how much of the "higher standard" that they'll be able to grasp in this life, instead of leaning on the Spirit to do the work according to the Lord's perfect timing. This mindset is all about the power and strength that the Christian has in Christ and seems to ignore the humbling reality that Christ often works to make us extremely helpless and weak in many areas of our life (for however long a season He appoints) so that we won't lean on Him just for "power" and "strength" (i.e. what we can get from Him) but rather just to lean on Him for Him alone even when we don't get those things immediately. For such a person, they presume to know how much of the "Promise Land" they'll receive and get to explore in their lifetime.

For those who trifle with sin, perhaps a warning should be heeded:
For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. ~ Jude 1:4

Treating grace as a ticket to "do what you want" is a denying of the LORDSHIP of Christ over your life. Don't do it. Flee such a temptation.

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
Rom 6:12-18

For those who presume to be above their sins, as if they've obtained a certain level of "perfection" or "holiness", perhaps a reminder is needed:

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
~ 2 Cor 12:7-10

There is always debate and disagreement over what Paul's thorn truly was, but I don't think the focus on the thorn is the main point. And some may ask, "why did God allow a messenger of Satan to harass Paul and why would He never take this away from him?" Again, I don't think that is the point. God is saying His grace is sufficient, ALWAYS. For days or for years, we may never "feel" or "see" the relief of a struggle with a particular sin or issue, though we continue to press on after Him through all the difficulty. For days or years, we may never truly know what it means to be empowered by God in a dramatic, life-changing way. Perhaps, our season of weakness lasts much longer than we wanted or predicted it would. Perhaps, we never truly feel like we're living a victorious Christian life even though we pray, read and study the Word, fellowship, and strive to remain in the Vine. But that doesn't nullify His grace. His empowering grace isn't always as we perceive it should or might be. His grace is sufficient when we're going through a long and hard battle because He keeps us through it all. He doesn't let us go, no matter what we think or feel. It's not based on our emotions or thoughts. He children still remain His children. A Christian will always, no matter how dark of a season they travel through, come out of it still trusting and loving Christ. This may look different for many people, but this is God's loving purpose for us through hard times.

The Spirit of God works mysteriously in our lives. We cannot presume that we "control" it now that we are in Christ. Our dear Father in heaven looks down upon us with His smiling face. He has holy, wise, and good purposes for everything in our lives. It's a temptation to think ill of Him when He withholds something from our lives for a certain struggle or hard circumstance. It's hard to find joy in Him and to love Him when He seems to be silent. May we increasingly find comfort in this verse:

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. ~ Heb 4:16

When He withholds, He withholds lovingly. He says, "I love you so much. I know to the depths just how difficult this is for you. But I know what you truly need, even though it is not what you want. Trust Me in My decision concerning this. Is not My love and favor of you enough through the winds and the trials? Hold fast to me, My dear one. Please keep your eyes only on Me and, I promise, I'll carry you through. Don't look to anyone or anything else, no matter how wise or right it may seem. For now, all you need is Me. Am I not enough for you?"
Grace is not an empowering feeling. Sometimes, He call us to walk and obey in something even when we feel completely weak and unable to do it. Sometimes, the strength and enabling (whether that be actual physical strength, or joy, or love, or a willing heart, etc) doesn't come until after we start walking.
For those who seem complacent in their sins and never moving forward in their walk with Christ, we're called to bear with them. To bear long. And when we think they should have overcome already, or when we think we just cannot bear to hold them up any longer, we go to the His throne room of grace, again and again. And again. We are never to tolerate their sins in the way of encouraging or acting flippant of its dangers. No, we love them with truth and honesty, but also with tears and much service. To those willfully stubborn and unrepentant in their sins, we must learn to turn away. As Paul ordered to the Corinthian church to do for the man who was unrepentant in his sexual immorality, we are to deliver {them} to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that {their} spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord (1 Cor 5:5). And, we are to continue interceding for them, that they may come to a place of utter brokenness to find Life. In all these, He gives abundant grace so that we may learn to continue in prayer and well-doing, steadfast and sincere.

There are so many avenues in life where we come to learn what grace means and how it is applied. When it is woven correctly in the cords of who Christ is (Love, Holiness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Kindness, Righteousness), it is there that we will find freedom and change taking root.
We are great sinners, favored and loved by a great God, even in our most awful of states, pressing ever harder and striving ever further to obtain the fullness of Christ. I close with two of my favorite grace verses, praise God!

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. ~ Titus 2:11-14

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. ~ 1 Cor 15:10

Monday, July 25, 2011

Visionary Monday

Your life is short, your duties many, your assistance great, and your reward sure; therefore faint not, hold on and hold up, in ways of well-doing, and heaven shall make amends for all

—Thomas Brooks

"I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."-Philippians 3:14

Found this wonderful quotation at Blessed Femina. Amen!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Gospel Goodness

Reflecting on the Gospel this lazy Sunday afternoon...

What was the precious blood of Christ for?

~ for atonement (Romans 5:11) i.e. making restoration.
~ for propitiation - and just and satisfying offering in our stead (Romans 3:25).
~ for our justification from sin (Romans 5:9).
~ for the forgiveness of sins (Eph 1:7, Col 1:14, Heb 9:7).
~ for the remission of sins (Matt 26:28, Rom 3:25, Heb 9:22).
~ for the cleansing, washing from all sin (1 John 1:7, Rev 1:5, Rev 7:14).
~ for the purging of our consciences (Heb 9:14).
~ for peace (Col 1:20).
~ for reconciliation unto Christ (Col 1:20).
~ for righteousness (Rom 3:22, 2 Cor 5:21, Phil 3:9).
~ for the purpose of saving us from the wrath that will come (Rom 5:9).
~ for the destruction of the devil (Heb 2:14).
~ for overcoming the devil (Rev 12:11).
~ for redemption, eternal redemption - for the purchase of our very beings (Eph 1:7, Col 1:14, Heb 9:12, Rev 5:9, Acts 20:28).
~ for the purpose of giving us life within, eternal life (John 6:53, 54).
~for the bringing back to life (Heb 13:20).
~ for sanctification (Heb 10:29, Heb 13:12)
~ for boldness to enter into the Holy of holies, the very presence of God (Heb 10:19).
~ for the purpose of enabling us to make our daily, hourly, minute-by-minute home in Christ Jesus (John 6:56).

The merits of the blood of Jesus are abounding!

"Your blood speaks a better word than all the empty claims I've heard upon this earth..."
~ Matt Redman

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

~ Robert Lowry

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Mayim Chaim ~ Living Water

It never really leaves. That longing to go, to depart from the hum of the city, to quickly find that place of rest and quietness. Sometimes, I find that I can breathe more easily in the forest or mountain air. It's amazing how Christ as our All in all, meeting every need of ours, is reflected in nearly every part of life. It's reflected in the "needs" we have for solitude and escape. A change of scenery. A chance to enjoy something far bigger than us and the drone of our little lives. It is marvelous that we were made this way. We are not to underestimate the significance of rest, nor are we to abuse this gift as if our need is greater than the needs of other's or than time with our Maker. When I find myself overwhelmed or stressed, I remember this. I remember that I am designed with physical and emotional limits. I also remember that I am to die to self and the "rights" that self demands. And I remember that even when I am called to do something or bear something of greater difficulty than I had wanted, He can do it in me. And when I'm not called by His voice to go further, I am to lay down beneath the Living Waters. Either way, this River of Life is always flowing alongside and within.

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'" Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. ~ John 7:37-39

The woman said to him, "Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock." Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water." ~ John 4:11-15

On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea. It shall continue in summer as in winter. And the LORD will be king over all the earth. On that day the LORD will be one and his name one. ~ Zech 4:8-9

For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

~ Revelation 7:17

Friday, July 22, 2011

Entrusted With Much

Something that I am so incredibly grateful for is the LORD's work in Katie Davis and Amazima Ministries. When I wrestle with discontentment or fear or tiredness from those whom He has called me to minister to, I think of Katie. And I read her stories. She writes, "We want only to represent Him well." To represent Him well. To die deeper to self. To surrender more fully to His sovereign, comforting hands. Yes, I want that. Every time I don't know how to love or serve or pray, I remember that He can. He will. And the heaviness gives way to a more peaceful acceptance.The hardest paths in this life reap a more full, joyful, and abundant reward in our dear Yeshua.

He has entrusted me with so much. And from those who much has been entrusted, much more will be demanded. We want only to represent Him well. So I have taken some time away to feel the weight of it all. 13 little girls, the families in the back yard, friends, family, people in Masese, people in Buziika, people in America looking at me. And satan whispers, “Run. Run and run and run. No book. No blog. No more homeless people in the guestroom. Lock your doors. Take these 13 and just shut yourselves in and stay away from all these eyes because you are not good enough to have so many eyes on you. Run.”

But I look out in the yard and I see only redemption. I see God making thorn bushes into pine trees. I see Him filling our holes with His blood. I see traumatized children that struggle sometimes but laugh mostly. I see them embracing these one-drunk, once-lifeless, once-starving people who are growing in a merciful, healing Father. I see lives changed and I see eternities changed. I see family where there once was only loneliness. And I don’t know why He chose me, this broken little girl, to witness all of it.

I look up. And His voice is so much louder than satan’s. “I have entrusted you with much and I have demanded of you much. But only with me will your life bear much. So run. Run and run and run into my arms. Run. Run and run and run into this world sharing this story that has Me at the center. This making of disciples, it is my business. And I am with you always and my burden is light. I spill through your brokenness and I will be glorified. I promise. I will be glorified.” And that is all I want.

I sat in the heaviness. And I weighed the risks of sharing our entire life, all of it, the joy and the sad, the beautiful and the ugly, with the whole crazy world. And I know. That if on the other side of that risk is the possibility that someone may see Jesus in our brokenness and know that there is grace and purpose in theirs too, then the whole crazy world is welcome. For a glass of water, for a welcoming smile, for a story of redemption, for a place to belong. For a glimpse of a Savior who uses even us, the messy ones. “Come and listen to what He’s done for us. For you.”

We look up. We are thankful for the mess. We are thankful for the much. We are thankful for a story to share, the story of His death and His story in our lives.

~ Katie Davis, Kisses from Katie blog

Friday, July 15, 2011

Under the blanket of snow...

And then suddenly - snow. And all our pleasant things are laid waste, or so indeed it seems, for we cannot see them anywhere; and all our newborn hopes are deep under the snow. For hopes had begun to be: a hope of healing, perhaps, if the trial be of the flesh; of a reversal of decision if it be something that lies in the power of another; or some tough on the wheel that turns our earthly affairs, if it concerns our circumstances; of some break somewhere, some natural human joy, some relief, some comfort in the aching sense of loss - and now the snow has fallen and covered everything.
We see no sign of them. They are all under the blanket of snow, and there is an insidious push towards "the wasteful luxury of depression," or some other deadly form of spiritual indifference. What can we do? If the snow be not something against which we are meant to engage in spiritual warfare, a manifestation of the power of the prince of darkness whom we must always resist, then I know of only one answer: In acceptance lieth peace.
Things may be so that it is not easy to know whether we should resist or accept. And yet, if we wait a little, clearness will be given. Something will tell us. (Rather, Someone will tell us. The sheep know the Shepherd's voice.) Perhaps a verse of Scripture will be brought to mind and illuminated like a mountain peak in sunrise.
St. Paul dropped a shining thread that will lead us through the maze. He resisted injustice: Stripes - "Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman?" Imprisonment - "I appeal unto Caesar."
But when stripes and imprisonment had to be endured, there is acceptance. He does not think of himself as Caesar's prisoner: "Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ." The steel chains of Caesar are his Lord's chains of gold. He is expecting deliverance ("I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you"), but we do not ever find him wrestling for his liberty with the rulers of the darkness of this world, who were behind the powers that had imprisoned him. His wrestling, laboring, agonizing, in prayer, was for others, not for himself. And even though he did not see the answer to all those prayers, he was so peacefully minded that he could lead others into peace.
And so we come back to the though which underlies this chapter. There is no strength to resist the ravaging lion as he prowls about seeking whom he may devour, unless our hearts have learned to accept the unexplained in our own lives, and the delays and disappointments and reverses which often come where our prayer for others seem to fall into silence and we see not our signs, and all is under snow.
Accept the snowfall as the appointed providence for the winter months, and wait till the voice which the winds obey calls to His south wind, "Blow upon My garden."
To accept the will of God never leads to the miserable feeling that it is useless to strive any more. God does not ask for the dull, weak, sleepy acquiescence of indolence. He asks for something vivid and strong. He asks us to co-operate with Him, actively willing what He wills, our only aim His glory. To accept in this sense is to come with all the desire of the mind unto the place which the Lord shall choose, and the minister in the name of the Lord our God there - not otherwhere. Where the things of God are concerned, acceptance always means the happy choice of mind and heart of that which He appoints, because (for the present) it is His good and acceptable and perfect will.
And if it seems impossible to live so, "Rest upon God to do for you more than you can understand."
There is nothing cloudy or nebulous about a life on these peaceful lines. If the trial be illness, there is the prayer of faith, the obedience of faith, and a steadfast working together with the power of healing. If it be the long strain of uncertainty, that weariest of all straining things, there is an eager and attentive and yet peaceful waiting, like the waiting of the little ship near the shore that was ready at the slightest sign to set sail with the Master; ready, too, to wait there till He made that sign. If the sorrow be an absence that must continue for a while, there is the refusal of disheartening, weakening thoughts and the settling of the will to lay hold upon words of everlasting consolation. Unreserved acceptance opens the way for the turning of the captivity - "whoso offereth thanksgving glorifieth Me and prepareth a way that I may show him the salvation of God." It makes for the quickening of life under the snow, and for the serenity which flows from interior peace.

O thou beloved child of My desire,
Whether I lead thee through green valleys,
By still waters,
Or through fire,
Or lay thee down in silence under snow,
Through any weather, and whatever
Cloud may gather,
Wind may blow -
Wilt thou love Me? trust Me? praise Me?

This comes before the shouting song of flowers and the yellow corn.
The snow-time is full of quiet secrets too, for we are carefully keeping secrets with our God about the growing things under the snow, secrets like those a child keeps with its mother, little private understandings not to be spoken aloud. A glance, a smile, a touch of the hand - that is their speech.
Sometimes there are beautiful thing that would not have been if there had not been snow. "There was never any prisons of suffering that I was in, but still it was for the bringing multitudes more out of prison." said George Fox after his bitterest snowstorm. These inward cherishings of joy lead to what the older Friends called "a cool and tender Frame of spirit." There is no futile restlessness if we have hope that another may be helped by something we have found under the snow.

There are some for whom snow must mean such dense darkness that the mind cannot conceive of any light piercing through. As well hope to cage a rainbow and carry it down to them. Behold I am the Lord, the God of all flesh, is there anything too hard for Me? Ah, Lord God, behold, Thou hast made the heaven and the earth by Thy great power and stretched-out arm, and there is nothing too hard for Thee. I know that Thou canst do everything. And yet?
That unspoken question has racked many a heart, especially when some distress has made the thought of others in greater distress intolerable. We forget that something good may be happening for their help, something almost unbelievably good.
Through the dark and silence night
On Thy radiant smiles I dwelt;
And to see the dawning light
Was the keenest pain I felt.

That was written by Madame Guyon, who suffered in every sensitive fiber of her being. The words may seem too high for earth. But it is not for us to set a limit to what God is prepared to do when He is training a soul to endure, not accepting deliverance.
O Lord, Thou art wonderful. Thou canst make a radiance anywhere. There is nothing too hard for Thee.

Suffering, hunger, poverty, baffling circumstances cannot of themselves make anything but confusion. But if there be the touch of the Hand, all these things work together for good, not for ill, not for discord, but for something like the harmony of music.
So the ruin is not out of sight, and thoughts wander round it at times: If it be loss, there is still an aching absence; if it be difficult circumstances, they still dominate the landscape; if it be limitations, they still confine us.
But to stop there is to lose all. What if the crash of hopes, the heartbreak, this that piles itself up as the ruin in the picture of life, does truly make more manifest what our Book calls the Beauty of the Lord? If that be so, we should not wait till we are where life's poor ruins will appear as the tumbled bricks of a child's castle before we let our hearts take comfort from such words as these: "I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end." Rotherham understands God's thoughts to mean His plans: "I know the plans which I am planning for you, plans of welfare and not of calamity, to give you a future and a hope." Thoughts of peace for our prayers, for our intercession for others which seem to be ineffective; a future and a hope for the prayers that we feared were covered by the snow, and for those others that appeared to fall to earth like the falling stars that break and scatter into nothingness as we watch them - even those prayers are folded up in the thoughts of peace that He thinks toward us.
Hammer this truth out on the anvil of experience - this truth that loving thoughts of God direct and perfect all that concerneth us; it will bear to be beaten out to the uttermost. The pledged word of God to man is no puffball to break at a touch and scatter into dust. It is iron. It is gold, that most malleable of all metals. It is more golden than gold. It abideth imperishable forever. If we wait till we have clear enough vision to see the expected end before we stay our mind upon Him who is our Strength, we shall miss an opportunity that will never come again: we shall never know the blessing of the unoffended. Now is the time to say, "My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise," even though as we say the words there is no sense of exultation. "It is possible to gather gold, where it may be had, with moonlight," by which I understand something less helpful than daylight would be in the search and the finding of gold. By moonlight, then, let us gather our gold.
~ Excerpts from Gold by Moonlight, by Amy Carmichael

God gave me Amy Carmichael's writings for whenever I have had no words to describe the innermost turmoil of the soul. She walked through snow, by moonlight, in her soul and with others. And yes, she gathered much gold to share abundantly with others. Her words are refreshing and humbling to me, as they seem to so perfectly depict the present circumstances and trials. The heaviness seems lighter when you allow truth to shine forth. Even when our intercession for others seem to be lost, covered up, and forgotten, His voice will break through the night and cause the wind to blow upon His garden. He alone calls life forth from death. O most gracious Lord, we wait.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Through fire and water...

Bless our God, O peoples;
let the sound of his praise be heard.
who has kept our soul among the living
and has not let our feet slip.
For you, O God have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
You brought us into the net;
you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
you let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.
~ Psalm 66:8-12

The Psalmist makes it clear that it is the LORD who afflicted them and brought them through trials. Some people refuse to accept that about God, from the revelation of the Scriptures. But it cannot be ignored. Pain and trials do come and, when they do, we must have right theology. If the Cross isn't our center and if God isn't the complete Sovereign ruler, how easy it is to fall in the day of adversity. Our Father is not mean or abusive. But His refining work is heavy and hard at times. Yet, He remains forever...our Emmanuel, God with us. He will always bring us out to a place of abundance.

"It is utterly crucial that in our darkness we affirm the wise, strong hand of God to hold us, even when we have no strength to hold him."
John Piper

I don't know if I can say that I have suffered much in my life, though in my own trials I have felt the darkness; however, I have been among those who have and continue to suffer hard. Intensely hard. Waiting for the darkness to lift for others can be just as painful. You wrestle with wanting to understand and to make sense of it all even for them. But the most humbling part is that the LORD does not allow us to fully understand why. And this is why suffering is often a sensitive subject for many in relation to the love of God. Some refuse Him because "how could He have allowed this and this to happen...?" But, we miss the point entirely when we try to reason with the sovereignty of God and the pain and sufferings of mankind. The minute we start trying to reconcile those two things in our feeble understanding, we miss the glory of the Gospel and the power of the Cross for this grieving world. The only thing we're called to comprehend and search the depth of is His love...perhaps because that is the only thing that is eternal. The only thing which we were made to intimately know.

I have been thinking of 1 John 4:16, which in one translation says, "We have come to understand and trust the love which God hath in us." We can never fully understand that love, but we can begin to understand it even here and now, and as we understand we trust. This means that we trust all that the love of God does; all He gives and does not give, all He says and all He does not say; To it all we say, by His most loving enabling -I trust.
~ Amy Carmichael

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. ~ Romans 8:18

We can and will know some of this glory here on earth through the fulfillment of His promises and the indwelling of His Spirit...

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living!
~ Psalm 27:13

Excerpts from Amy Carmichael's Candle In the Dark that have touched and moved me deeply this past month.

More and more I feel that love is the golden secret of life. The very air of heaven is love, for God is love and love never fails. So go on loving not only the loveless but the unlovable, the difficult, the perplexing, the disappointing - unto the end.

All around us is the great, dark, unloving world. How very few care for our Savior; even those who are called by His name sometimes offer Him a very cold kind of affection. He said on the cross, I thirst, and even now His love is athirst for love. Form the habit of using everything that speaks of His presence to remind you of Him, and as you are so reminded, lift up your heart in loving adoration. "Lord, I love Thee; I who am dust of Thy dust, I love Thee; I worship Thee; I adore Thee."If only you do this, then of one thing I am sure. You will not only love one another so tenderly that unkindness will be impossible, but every man, woman, and child who comes to you will feel some touch of His kindness. Love will flow round everyone and far beyond - who can tell how far? And best of all, there will be refreshment for Him as of a drink of cool water on a hot day.

And like Mephibosheth, we wait...we wait. Because Christ is all we have, and He is our Greatest Good. I pray to come to know His love more fully through the fire and water.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Visionary Monday: Daughterhood

Some amazingly inspiring quotations for the week...Amen!

We must teach our daughters that their value and identity lie in the fact that they are image-bearers of the God of glory. This will protect them from seeking significance in the inconsequential shallowness of self-fulfillment, personal happiness, materialism, or others’ approval. Our daughters must know the wondrous truth that their overarching purpose in life is God’s glory. ~ Susan Hunt

Of course, the gospel provides a young woman with the ultimate antidote to the worship of any human’s acceptance and approval. The antidote is the worship of the One she was created to worship, Jesus Christ. He, the God-man, can become her identity as she hears Him call her to come and worship Him and find her life in Him rather than in any other man (Col. 3:4). He welcomes and assures her that, although she is an idolater, she is also loved and welcomed by the only Man whose opinion really matters. She doesn’t need to attach herself to anyone other than Him, for in Him she has everything she needs (Phil. 4:19). He is her Bridegroom. She is clothed in His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21). She is complete in Him (Col. 2:10).
~ Elyse M. Fitzpatrick

She who cannot keep her temper, or be self-sacrificing, tender, bright, and attentive at home, will never be of any real and permanent use to God's poor abroad, however much she may bind herself by rules and pledges. And certainly it is the every-day duties and relations of life that are the most sacred. Hence I repeat as long as you have about you in your own home, parents, sister, brother or servant to whom you can do good, that is the place in which you are appointed to illustrate, and live up to the principle of the lines: "They serve God well who serve His creatures most." Meanwhile, give your heart to God, and then you will find the perplexing questions which now trouble you will vanish, and the home duties, the watchfulness over one's inner life, the devotion to God, and the life of usefulness will all fall into place; you will find also your dreams of regenerating society by the means of sisterhoods and organizations will give way to the simple belief that "the only way to regenerate the world is to do the duty which lies nearest us, and not to hunt after grand far-reaching ones for ourselves. "
-From Life's Everydayness by Rose Porter