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Fearing the God of Compassion

2 Sep

As a father pities His children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him.  Psalm 103:13

This morning we listened to a message online where the three main points were taken from the book, Your God is Too Small, by J.B. Phillips.  There are three misconceptions we tend to have about God:

1.  God is a policeman,

2.  God is a parental hangover–in other words, we tend to think of God in the same way we think of our earthly father, and

3.  Since God is perfect, we set up absolute standards for ourselves (which we can never satisfy and which are a menace to us as they lead us into bondage).

Thinking about which of the three is my most active area of misconception, I would have to say that it is number 3.  Sure, my image of my father affects my image of God, but I know that I am constantly striving to meet impossible standards I set for myself in my life.  When I read the verse from Psalms 103 the other day my pride reacted–I don’t like to be pitied.  After hearing the message today, I looked up the word “pitied” in my online helps and found that it means “compassion,” which in turn means “a strong feeling of sympathy and sadness for other people’s suffering or bad luck and a desire to help.”  Fearing God means to have reverence, worship, and awe toward Him, while some definitions add hating sin.

If you add all this together in what turns out to be a combination of the New International Version and the Amplified Bible, we come up with this:  As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who reverence and  worship Him.  I need Him to know me in all my ugly self-sufficiency.  I need God to do a work in me so I can rest in Him and stop laboring.  I am so grateful that He cares enough to do this.

Andrew Murray says we need to say, “‘I never, by any effort, can take hold of God, or seize this for myself; it is God must give it.’  Cherish this blessed impotence.  It is He who brought us out, who Himself must bring us in.  It is your greatest happiness to be impotent.”

There is a definite cognitive dissonance here between what I believe (that only God can do–anything) and how I act.  I act and react as if I could do all of this Christian life on my own with just a leetle bit of help.

What misconception tends to pop up in your life?

(By the way, Mike’s Crocodile Dundee adventure [see last post] was pretty mundane, although very nice.  They drove to a village and had dinner with a number of pastors and their families.  Mike shared from the Word and the pastors are quite excited about Bible College.)


Fear of Not Changing

15 Sep

The wood, hay, and stubble of self are so close, and living the crucified life seems so far away

I was thinking this morning that this whole “series” of posts on self have really been on the fear of not changing.  Not growing.  I’ve been grappling with this, and I’m sure I’m not alone.

I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Gal. 2:20 (Amplified)

Andrew Murray discusses the reality that I’m grappling with.  Do you ever feel your “self” elbowing its way into the forefront?  My “self” has been disgusting lately.  The battleground has been at my school.  I have been so aggravated with students, work load, and even some co-workers.  I know this sounds dramatic, but in some ways I feel like a grand battle is being played out on a very small battlefield.  I’m going to paraphrase what Andrew Murray says here:

1.  First we must know the truth in Galatians 2:20.  We must know have died to sin.

2.  We must accept this truth in faith.  “And what then?  When he accepts it in faith, then there comes in him a struggle, and a painful experience, for that faith is still very feeble, and he begins to ask, “But why, if I am dead to sin, do I commit so much sin?”

3.  We must accept the answer to the question, which is simply this, “We do not allow the power of that death to be applied by the Holy Spirit.”  This begs the question, “How?”  We’ll take a look at that in a few days.  Do you ever feel like hollering out, “Easier said than done!”

Sabbath Rest

10 Sep

Enter into a child-like trust: Sabbath rest

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God;  for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.  Hebrews 4:9.10

The word for own in Hebrews 4:10 is auto in the Greek and means:  Himself, herself, themselves, or itself.  When we have rested from the works of the self, we can enter that lovely Sabbath-rest that God intends for us to have.

When we enter that rest, a life of rest, we have learned to trust God.  In other words, we can truly say, “I believe that God keeps me every hour in His mighty power.”  My heart longs for that reality!

One Task Beyond . . .

10 Sep

Last night I was cooking a GREAT dinner, but lo and behold my multi-tasking went one task beyond my actual ability to multi-task.

Let me paint the picture:  I’ve been trying to recreate my favorite dish from Carabba’s, which is Chicken Bryan, for a year.  Some attempts had a measure of success and others not so much.  I tried using the Carabba’s recipe which you might think would be a sure thing.  No deal.  I’ve gradually decided on a chicken recipe from my favorite Italian cookbook for the chicken portion, a new goat cheese that melts well and is not grainy that my husband found, home-dried cherry tomatoes, and a sauce from Julia Child that is reduced vinegar with butter beaten in.  We think the combination even surpasses Carabba’s recipe.

But when I cooked last night I was reducing the vinegar while creating a fruit salad while keeping a watchful eye on the melting goat cheese while listening to a phone conversation Mike was having upstairs on Skype.  Like I said, just one task beyond my multi-tasking ability.  Suddenly my vinegar reduced to a charred, smoking mess in the saucepan.

It was an easy fix as I could start over the the vinegar would reduce in minutes.  But what I realized is that is how I approach life in my human strength.  I multi-task until there is some sort of meltdown and THEN ask for God’s help.

God save me from operating in my own strength!

Trusting God = Deep Rootedness

28 Jul

God’s Message:

“Cursed is the strong one
who depends on mere humans,
Who thinks he can make it on muscle alone
and sets God aside as dead weight.
He’s like a tumbleweed on the prairie,
out of touch with the good earth.
He lives rootless and aimless
in a land where nothing grows.

“But blessed is the man who trusts me, God,
the woman who sticks with God.
They’re like trees replanted in Eden,
putting down roots near the rivers—
Never a worry through the hottest of summers,
never dropping a leaf,
Serene and calm through droughts,
bearing fresh fruit every season.  Jeremiah 17:5-8  The Message

Mike recently preached on this passage and I can’t stop thinking about it.  There are two sources and two results depending upon the source we choose.  Adam and Eve had no needs because of their oneness with the Creator–until they chose the wrong source.  Making a quality choice about source (moment by moment) is the key to living fearlessly.

What is Your Identity In?

2 May

We are like fresh and new blossoming bluets in Christ.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.  I’d like to say that my identity is 100% in Christ.  While that’s true positionally (Due to His death on the cross and my acceptance of the free gift of salvation, I AM in Christ.), I’m on a journey toward that happening practically speaking in my life.  My identity is in being a good mom and wife.  I’m proud that people even outside of the family call me Mama Sue.  However, it’s easy to be crushed in that identity.  Another identity of mine is in being a goodhardworker.  What happens now that my vertigo interferes with my work ethic.  A crushing.

Many men have their identity in their athleticism or sexuality.  What happens, then when the knees give out or the prostrate gland starts causing problems? Crushing.

I’m thinking that this crushing is not a bad thing.  That it leads us to finding our identity in what matters:  in our relationship with Christ.  I am His.  He is mine.  I am fresh and new.  It is a process that begins with initial salvation and continues forever.  My prayer today is to learn from the crushing to find my identity in Christ.

Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17 Amp.

Waiting in the Lord

5 Jan

When I hope in the event, I feel like these flowers which always look semi-collapsed!

but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. Is. 40:31

To hope in the Lord is to wait for Him and expect Him.  The tense could be written more like this:  but those who are waiting in the Lord.  The promise given to people who are waiting is that they will renew their strength. I always thought about “will renew” as being in the future because waiting on the Lord can be so exhausting.

The tense renew is written in is used many ways, but as I reread it and think about it the following usage seems to be the best:  “The kind of progression or imperfection and unfinished condition  of the action may consist in its frequent repetition”.  (Online Hebrew Lexicon)  In other words waiting on the Lord results in renewed strength now and in the future.

One of the meanings for strength is wealth of soil.  This makes me think of Matthew 13:23:

But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

I want to be fruitful and have a wealth of soil!  Iwas listening to Beth Moore the other day and she said that she realized that waiting is so exhausting because she was waiting on the event and not in the Lord.  Oh, did that ever clobber me upside the head.  That’s exactly it.  I’ve been waiting for my loved one to change/to live close to my grandchildren/my vertigo to stop instead of simply waiting on the Lord.  My focus has been on the event and not on Christ.  Help me refocus, Father, please.