Food For Thought: God is Worth It

Sometimes things go wrong. Sometimes it feels like every day has a vendetta against you, that every person is trying to push you to the limit, that life itself is fighting to make you miserable. It’s just one thing after another, and no matter how hard you try to fight your own sour mood you keep falling down deeper and deeper into the gloom until at last you just don’t want to try anymore.

And then you wake in the morning and you know you need to read your bible, but you just don’t feel like it. What difference will it make, really? God already sees you and knows you, and He obviously is okay with your life being garbage, so what’s the point?

The point of reading your bible is not so that God will see you. It isn’t as though opening the book sends out a beacon of light and God says, “Oh look, a faithful servant! I wonder how he/she is doing today.” God already knows how you are, where you are, and most importantly He wants to be a part of your life. And aren’t these the very words of God? Consume them, they draw you closer to His throne.

The point of reading your bible isn’t to magically make you feel better, to automatically fix your life. If all you care about is being happy go watch Hallmark movies—24/7. If you’d read your bible you’d know that 1). God wants a real, deep relationship with you, 2). Your purpose is to glorify God, 3). Suffering is a part of life, and 4). God works together all things for the good of those who love Him. So, read your bible, it will help you understand the Lord and encourage you in your walk with Him.

Not everyone in the bible had everything is easy and happy. There are plenty of instances of people who shared your situation, many times ten times worse. But when they turned to God as their Rock, He helped them through it, in whatever way He saw fit to do so. David before he became king was chased by Saul for eleven years, Job suffered for ‘no apparent reason’ and the only answer he received was that God is God—and yet God blessed him all the more abundantly when the suffering came to an end.

So here is my encouraging passage for you who are having a rough day, week, month, whatever it may be. Be encouraged and go to God. He is always worth it.

 

1Vindicate me, my God,

and plead my cause

against an unfaithful nation.

Rescue me from those who are

deceitful and wicked.

2You are God my stronghold.

Why have you rejected me?

Why must I go about mourning,

oppressed by the enemy?

3Send me your light and your faithful care,

let them lead me;

let them bring me to your holy mountain,

to the place where you dwell.

4Then I will go to the altar of God,

to God, my joy and my delight.

I will praise you with the lyre,

O God, my God.

 

5Why, my soul, are you downcast?

Why so disturbed within me?

Put your hope in God,

for I will yet praise him,

my Savior and my God.

~Psalm 43

Food For Thought: Examination

“Turn to Him so He can… send you wonderful times of refreshment from the presence of the Lord.” Acts 3:19

I saw this posted on facebook today, a picture of one of those calendars with encouraging quotes from scripture. But something didn’t sit right with me when I read it. It’s not that the statement isn’t true; we need to turn to God, and in His presence is many blessings. However, why are there dots so close to the beginning? It makes it sound like the reason we turn to Him is so that we will receive good things. The use of dots in a scripture verse should always make you pause, because maybe it isn’t saying something quite right. And so I looked up the verse in the ESV bible.

“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,” is what Acts 3:19 says fully. Doesn’t sound much like what was posted, does it? Looking at the context, I see that this is Peter’s second sermon to the Jews, telling them about Jesus. That is the point of this; to repent of their sins, not to have wonderful lives. This is from verse 17 through 21.

“And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.”

Yes, there are times of refreshing in His presence when we turn to Him, but we must never forget the center of salvation: Christ. It is by Christ that we can come into God’s presence, it is by Him our sins are blotted out forever, it is by Him that we are free. And God provided Him for us.

So, please take everything you read and hear with a grain of salt. Examine what is taught you, especially when Scripture is involved. Repentance from sin is important, God’s presence is important, and Christ is important. Let’s not forget or cut any of that out.

Have a good weekend!

Food for Thought: For Work

My reaction to the word ‘work’ has usually been ‘ug’, unless it was for money or I was bored out of my mind.  I think of the strain it has on my mind or body and all I can think is “I would rather be doing–” whatever it may be, such as watching a movie or writing or sleeping or whatever.  And then Sunday comes and I’m like “Yes!  A day of rest!”  But more and more I’ve been becoming convicted as I read my Bible: this isn’t what God wants.

I’ve been reading the creation account in Genesis, and believe it or not this is one of the places I feel convicted. This is from chapter two:

“1Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.

2By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

4This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.

5Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, 6but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground. 7Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

Before this, God has been very active, creating the universe and everything in it, down to the very last detail. In each ‘day’ He plans, He works, He surveys it to make sure it is good, and then He rests for the next day. For six days He did this until it was done, and He rested on the seventh day, and He set apart that day to always be a day of rest.

What do we learn about God? He works and He keeps the seventh day as a rest from all of it.

After we are told this the account seems to go backwards to give a bit more description. The plants have not yet grown because there has been no water and there is no one there to work the ground… Hold on, why does there have to be someone to work the ground? This is paradise, right? There shouldn’t be any work, there should only be an easy life and worshipping God, right? This is very often how we think of paradise, a place of eternal rest. But that is obviously not God’s intent for mankind. Adam was created to work. In the first chapter, God gives Adam and Eve this commission:

‘28God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”’

That was the beginning purpose of mankind. To increase, subdue the earth and rule over it. And guess what, that requires work. Suddenly I’m asking myself: “Do I work six days a week?” If the answer is no, which it usually is, I know that I must not be doing something I should. God created me for this, not for laziness. Not only that, but He desires that the seventh day be kept holy. This is even mentioned in the Ten Commandments:

8“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (Exodus 20)

Did you catch that? In verse 9 He says, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work.” We are commanded to be working six days and then resting.

Now I know that not everyone’s rest day is Sunday, and technically the Sabbath is on Saturday. But I do think we ought to take a day each week to rest from our work and to remember God. Also, I know that not everyone can do physical labor—I don’t think everyone is called to be a gardener. But each of us are given a gift from the Lord, and He has placed us in situations in which we can be working. So let me just encourage you to work for Him in any way you can, for when you do that you can truly honor the day of rest.

Have a blessed week!

~

“23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” ~Colossians 3

‘23One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. 24The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”

25He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? 26In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”

27Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”’ ~Mark 2

Food for Thought: God Created

I’ve been reading slowly and comprehensively Genesis 1 ever since I got back from Urbana. While there, they taught us how to do an Inductive Bible study. First you read the passage and make observations, even the most simple. Then you ask about things that are confusing to you, and then you end with these two things: “What does this passage tell me about God?” and “How do I apply this to myself?” I was already familiar with this method of learning because my youth leader did this in Sunday School/Youth Group, but I felt compelled to do this more in my individual bible study time. I thought perhaps that I was moving through the first chapter much too slow, that each point of creation has the same message to tell, but I’m glad I am taking my time. Even if it is the same message essentially, it is good to be reminded over and over about who God is and what that means for me.

Today I read about Him creating the lights in the sky. “And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.’ And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning—the fourth day.” ~Genesis 1:14-19.

First I observed that the subject of the passage is light. He wants to make more light as a distinction between day and night, light and darkness. Something else I noticed was that part of their purpose was to be signs of sacred times; this was before the fall, so what were these sacred times? It seems to me that in forming the stars He already had the fall in mind. Also, these lights weren’t really needed before this; He had made day and night without the moon and sun, He had separated the land and the sea, and planted the vegetation on the earth. It seems to me that His purpose in putting them there was to create even more light.

All of this tells me a few things about God. 1. He is all knowing. 2. He is purposeful in His creating; nothing is done willy nilly or foolishly. And 3. God loves light more than darkness. He didn’t have to put lights in the night and it still would have been dark, still would have been night. But He didn’t desire that.

What does this tell me to apply to myself? First of all I can trust God to be God. He is the creator, He has a good and perfect plan, and so I can trust Him with all things. Secondly, I should be purposeful in the work of my hands, whether it be when I’m at work or when I am creating a document. I want people to read whatever I write and know there was a purpose behind it. And thirdly, I should desire the light more than the darkness; to put it plainly, I should choose the Spirit over my fleshly desires. God wants me to be a light in a dark world, He wants it for all His children. He doesn’t need us, but He wants us.

I hope you can say that you trust God. I hope that you are purposeful in whatever you do. I hope that you are choosing the Spirit, the Light, rather than the flesh and the world, the Darkness.

Have a blessed week!

~

14“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” ~Matthew 5

“31So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. ” ~1 Corinthians 10

“16For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” ~John 3

Food for Thought: Being Shy

“47And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” ~Matthew 5

I have always been shy, for as long as I can remember. I would listen to people talk but then feel very awkward and uncomfortable if anyone gave me any sort of attention. As a result, I’ve grown up feeling like I would rather avoid as much ‘stranger danger’ contact as possible. If I go for a walk I look down when a car passes or I adjust my route if I see that I might cross paths with another person. I’ve always felt a little guilty about it and sometimes I’ve tried to make the change of smiling and saying ‘hello’, but then I draw back inside, finding the place of being comfortable, lined with flecks of guilt.

Some part of me has always seen my shyness as some kind of sin. I know that it really isn’t, but I treat it like it is anyway. I don’t speak easily to people, how can I share the gospel then? I would rather not look up and smile, how is that showing God’s love? I don’t know what to say in the instant, how does that fit with always being ready to give a reason for the hope I have (1 Peter 3:15)?

And in the past, I would read the end of Matthew 5 and feel guilty about it. “43You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” I would read this and somehow always come up with ‘I need to be more outgoing’, because obviously to be perfect like God you need to be able to talk easily and be super friendly, right?

That’s what I used to read whenever I read the passage. But when I reviewed it again for writing the poem for Tuesday’s post, I realized that isn’t what the passage is saying at all. In context, Jesus is talking about friends verses enemies. He’s saying that we need to take notice of others, be kind to them, just as God is kind to us. We are living in a time right now when God is showing mercy to both the ‘good’ and ‘bad’—how much more should we be willing to show mercy? I realize now that God isn’t burdening me to be more outgoing in this passage, but He’s explaining again the calling we have as Christians: that we love one another, just as Jesus said in John 15.

So be encouraged, all you out there that are shy like me. I know that God created all personality types for a reason and He doesn’t despise any of them. But there is a calling we all share: to love one another, good or bad.

9“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command. 15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17This is my command: Love each other.” ~John 15

Have a blessed weekend!

Food For Thought: Let it be

“Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time.” ~Daniel 11:35

I woke up this morning still feeling groggy.  All I could think about was getting some things done that I knew should get done.  And so I walked downstairs, trying to wake up enough to start doing them.

That’s when I encountered a family member, equally as determined to get things done, and so focused was he that he was getting flustered by anything hindering him.

His inward annoyance started rubbing off on me and so I didn’t want to be faced with him anymore.  I decided to just take a shower while he was off doing something.

Turns out he wanted the bathroom first.

As I hurried taking my shower, I felt angry thoughts flying through my head, convincing myself that he was being ridiculous and unfair.  I got out within five minutes, irritable.  I made my way upstairs– and then I let myself go in a torrent of tears, sick of the heavy burden anger had laid on me.  I knew I was being selfish, that I shouldn’t be placing blame on him.  I knew it was all just a big misunderstanding.  I read Daniel 11 at random, and the above passage really stuck out to me.  The appointed time will happen.  It reminded me that God has an agenda.  That He means all things for the good of those who love Him.

My sister later came to make sure I was alright.  She said that he was in a better mood now and I should try to keep him that way, not be mad at him anymore.  And what was my first thought? No one tried to keep me in a good mood.  I instantly regretted the selfish thought.

The truth of the matter is, things sometimes happen.  Sometimes two people’s plans collide, butting heads instead of uplifting each other.  Sometimes the sky is gloomy outside instead of blue.  Sometimes it’s too hot or too cold.  Sometimes you realize just how ugly the world is that you live in.

The real question is, are you going to blame others or circumstances for your negative mood?  Or are you going to say, “Despite this I’m not going to be mad.”  Are you going to go at it alone in self pity, or are you going to dive in holding the hand of family, friends, and God?  Are you going to go out in selfishness and hatred, or love and mercy?

In the end all we can really say is, “God, let Your will be done.  Let it be.”  Because even if we don’t, it’ll happen anyway.

~

“13for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” ~Philippians 2

“6For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.  7He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, 8for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.  9Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path.  10For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.  11Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.” ~Proverbs 2

“5Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” ~Proverbs 3

“A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD determines his steps.” ~Proverbs 16:9