Sunday, March 29, 2015

Blessings come in the darkness.

Exodus 20:18-22King James Version (KJV)

18 And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.
19 And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.
20 And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.
21 And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.
22 And the Lord said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven.

God's goal has always been to be in close relationship with mankind. When man sinned, it drove a wedge between God and man. Ever since then, man has tried to find ways to placate God, but without making any real change. It's called religion. 
Here in Exodus 20, God lays down the law for Israel. Yet, when the people saw what an awesome God he is, they grew deathly afraid. Rather than responding to the invitation of Moses to enter God's presence and gain that relationship, they decided they'd rather have one man go and speak to God for them (and for God to them.) They chose religion. 
Religion requires an appearance of godliness, but denies (or declines access to) the power thereof- for it is a divine relationship with the almighty that produces true godliness. 
Religion goes to church and returns home unchanged and unaffected. Relationship causes a person to become a part of the church- for a church is not a building or organization. The church is the born again believers of Jesus Christ. 
Religion gives comforting platitudes that make you feel better. Relationship helps you to face your issues and become who God is calling you to be. 
So, the people (having rejected Moses' call to relationship) stood back and watched as Moses walked deep into the darkness. Why did he do that? Could he not hear the thunder and see the lightning? Could he not feel the shaking of the mountain and surrounding areas? Why would this crazy man willingly choose to enter into such a dangerous place and into such obvious danger?
Because he knew that God was there in the midst of all they saw and feared. He longed for and desired a closer relationship- a covenant- with the God of the universe. He understood that he had to willingly choose God over the wants and desires of his flesh. 
God allows us, indeed puts us into, storms. He calls us into storms at times, in order to work out things in us that need to come out. He allows our world to be shaken so that we will learn that our refuge is him. He leads us through darkness so that we will know that he is our only light in a dark world. 
Hard times teach us to rely on him. This, in turn, allows us to help other people who are going through what we have already been through. We, who have been through the storm, can look into the storm and encourage those that are still going through it. 
In other words, it's not about us. It's about God. It's not about us. It's about helping other people to survive what we have already lived through, by pointing them to the only one who can pull them out- Jesus. 
Don't run from the storms and rely on religious platitudes. God is calling you into the high country. Storms are prevalent in those high places. But, God has called us to dwell in heavenly places with him. And the only way to do that, is to take his hand and walk through the storm. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Is love really blind?

1 Peter 4:8King James Version (KJV)

And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

1 Corinthians 13 King James Version (KJV)

13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

How many times have you seen a couple that seemed to be an odd mix? The one seems to be a good person. The other seemed to be a rough looking character. When you see this couple, how often have you shaken your head and said (or thought), "Love really must be blind?"
It hit me the other day with this thought: "Is love really blind?" 
Do we love people because they are so good and perfect? Does our love stop every time our spouse hurts us, or does us wrong? Do we have to "fall in love all over again" day after day? 
You see charity defined is "love in action, or love being given in a tangible way." The Bible doesn't say that "love is blind." It does say that charity (love being given), "beareth all things,..hopeth all things, endureth all things..." 
How can a loving parent endure the evil acts of an unrighteous child? Because they love their child.
How can a spouse continue to stay with their spouse when they continue to make bad choices and cause bad circumstances? Because they love their spouse.
How does Jesus, the Lord and creator of all the universe, tolerate us when we give in to temptation and fall, when we get angry and react unrighteously, when we look down our noses at the "unsaved trash" that populates the world? Because he loves us! 
Love given (charity) covers a MULTITUDE of sins. That's not one sin. That's not even a thousand sins. That's a multitude! The word in the Greek can mean "a great number of men or things, the whole number,..." 
Did you catch that? The word there for charity is "agape." It is God's unconditional love. So, God's unconditional love covers the whole number of our sins! How? a) because he loves us so much that he took action. His love became charity and caused him to b) become a man and go to Calvary. His shed blood covers our sins. 
And not just once. My wife showed me a coffee filter that we've had for years. It looks brand new. It's not brown and dirty looking like on would expect it to be. Why? She said that God reminds her every once in a while to clean it with Clorox to remove the stains. 
That's why, every so often, the Lord will call his people (that he loves!) to repentance. He'll apply the blood he shed on Calvary all over again, so that (once again) we are white as snow. He removes the stains that our newer sins, and the stains that this world can leave on us, and cleans us all over again. 
As long as we keep holding onto him,  "that he which hath begun good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:" (Philippians 1:6)
That means that, as long as we let him, he will continue to work on us until it is time for him to call us home. No, his love is not blind. Rather his love acts to cover our many sins- over and over, day by day, sin by sin. How can anyone refuse a love like that?