I can honestly say that one of the hardest things to learn in life is to trust. I would even dare to say that the more we know people, the more we tend not to trust. However, if we were to analyze the core of the problem, it does not have to do with the act of trusting in itself. The real issue has to do with the one in whom confidence is placed. When we trust, we rely on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.
Trusting requires only one action: to stand still and do nothing but wait for the one in whom we placed our confidence to operate. It is so simple and yet so difficult! The only thing we have to do is wait and allow the person we have trusted to do what they have said they will do, but our instinct is to try to take the matter into our own hands. Nevertheless, when we are facing battles we know that we do not have the power to do what is needed. The only thing we can do is to trust and wait for the One who does have the strength required, to step in and perform.
The amazing story we have been focusing on in these few days shows us a crucial lesson we must learn. God told Joshua not to be afraid because not one of them (the enemies) were going to be able to withstand him (Joshua). God made a promise, and Joshua believed and trusted in God’s Word. The result: the Lord fought for Israel! Joshua did not have the ability nor the strength to win this battle. The first and only thing Joshua could do was to trust God. God does not forsake those who seek Him.
In the Bible, we have thousands of promises that we can grasp. When the enemy surrounds your life, threatens to destroy you, and you cannot act, the first thing that you should do is set your mind on God’s promises! Trust in God’s power to deliver you from evil. It is your choice whether to focus on your ability or on God’s. All of life is a chance to learn to trust Him more, to get to know Him, to really know Him.
All of life is a chance to trust Him more. Trust in His promises, in His ability, strength, power, and character. God does not forsake those who seek Him.
Contrary to how some people feel, the aim of Biblical justice is freedom. Freedom can be defined as a release from illegitimate bondage in order to make the choice to exercise responsibility in actualizing and maximizing all that you were created to be. Biblical justice encourages freedom through affirming accountability, equality and responsibility by linking the spiritual to the social realm. That is, freedom and biblical justice must be founded upon spiritual truth from our vertical relationship with God and expressed in our horizontal relationship with each other. In other words, biblical justice is all about loving God and loving others.
Jesus links our attitude towards God (the spiritual) with our attitude towards others (the social). Love is not merely a feeling, but rather, an action. Love is compassionately and righteously pursuing the well-being of another. So since loving others is all about pursuing their best interest, then we should seek to free any person from oppression and inequity. We see this in Jesus’ earthly ministry. He preached the kingdom (the spiritual), but He also addressed people’s physical needs (the social).
As we fight for biblical justice and freedom, we need a balanced approach. We must confront sin and spread the gospel. But equally important, we must also stand against injustices, whether they be racial, socio-economical, political or criminal. If the gospel has changed your life, then praise God. If you are doing well and God has blessed you, then praise God. But understand, God doesn’t grant us freedom solely for ourselves. He wants to use us to help others gain their freedom. This is where biblical justice comes into play, and this is why God tells us to fight for the weak, speak up for those without a voice, and defend the rights of the oppressed and marginalized.
How few men have any adequate idea of the extent of the sin of breaking vows! We should be astounded if we knew all that can be said respecting this iniquity. The immorality of nominal Christians in this particular is simply prodigious; so much so that a signature is of no value, a promise is but idle breath, a vow is but a word spoken in heat and allowed to cool into a lie. The Bible insists upon every vow being performed, even though, in some instances, the purpose of it may be to the hurt of the man who is bound by its terms. “That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt vow and perform.” “I will pay thee my vows, which my lips have uttered, and my mouth hath spoken, when I was in trouble.” “Thy vows are upon me, O God: I will render praises unto thee.” If all the vows which we have spoken could be now fulfilled, how great would be the result! Life should be rich with vows: they throw a glad solemnity over us; they come before us as hindrances when we would go in forbidden directions; they are voices that whisper in the wind; they are appeals to our best strength. It is after all but a mean thing to say that we will refrain from making vows; such a condition is not the joy of liberty, it is not the dignity of discipline; it is looseness, license, wildness, selfishness. Throw the discipline of a vow upon passion: build altars all along the line of life’s journey, and let those who come after us see how we have prayed, and how we have turned our vows into holy deeds. “If a man vow a vow unto the Lord, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond, he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.” This was Old Testament morality in the matter of words. Is there any righteousness superior to that in all the writings of subsequent revelation? Words are not mere sounds or terms or symbols; they are pledges, vows, oaths, unwritten obligations, and no man is to be trusted who can make light of his own word, or speak so lightly as really not to convey the meaning of his heart. “When thou shalt vow a vow unto the Lord thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the Lord thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee. But if thou shalt forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee. That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform; even a free will offering, according as thou hast vowed unto the Lord thy God, which thou hast promised with thy mouth.” There is one vow which every soul is called upon to make, and that is to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. If we do not vow in one direction it may be because we are anxious to vow in another—that is to say, if we do not vow in prayer it may be that we may take larger license to sin. A very careful distinction should be made here by the spiritual student. Not to vow may be not to incur responsibility; at the same time, abstinence from vowing in an upward and heavenly direction may be a kind of negative vow to enjoy larger moral freedom from religious restraint. Let a man examine himself and be honest in his decisions upon this great subject. Coheleth says, in this fourth verse, God “hath no pleasure in fools,” nor ought we to have. Fools are the burdens of society; fools have no right in the sanctuary. It does not follow that a man who is merely ignorant is a fool; this is a folly of the heart; it is moral lunacy; many a man who is almost a genius in mere intellect is the veriest fool in conscience, in sensibility, and in honour of soul. A vow is a bond upon the soul , by which we solemnly oblige ourselves, not only, in general, to do that which we are already bound to do, but, in some particular instances, to do that to do which we were not under any antecedent obligation, whether it respects honouring God or serving the interests of his kingdom among men. When, under the sense of some affliction.
The children of Israel were in a horrible spot. They were being mistreated, facing injustice, and in bondage to the Egyptian government. These people cried out from the depth of their hearts: “God help us; don’t You see what’s happening to us?”
Have you cried out that way to the Lord?
God could have snapped His fingers and opened the borders. He could have created an army out of nothing. He could have sent angels to rescue His people. He could have answered in so many ways, but instead of an instant miracle answer, God goes into the desert and finds an old man who’s eighty years old and calls him to rescue His people!
The point is, God has heard the cry of His people—He has not ignored it. Even though the people have not seen the answer yet, God is already working out His answer to rescue them.
There is an important lesson for us in this story. Due to our inclinations for instant gratification—instant answers—we often think our prayers are falling on deaf ears. Instead of being persistent in prayer and having faith, we throw our arms up and say, “What’s the use!”
We need to understand that, as God’s children, He does instantly hear our prayers. He is fully aware of our situation and our heart’s cry. Sometimes His answer is yes, no, or wait.
God wants you and me to keep praying with a heart of faith. He will not withhold any good thing from His children, but He will do what is in our best interest, and sometimes that is not what we think is best. We need to have faith that God will do what is best for us—whatever that may be.
When you sacrifice for what you love, you gain more of what you love
THE LOVE OF A BROKEN HEART
Love is a risk that’s never a risk
To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. ~ C. S. Lewis
“I’ve got more than sixty years of evidence that every day looks better waiting for heaven.”
What if you break open your one heart and risk pouring out your one life in givenness and you aren’t received as being enough to actually be loved back?
What if you take your one life and risk living given — and in the end you feel empty because no one saw you as worthy of being given love?
Who hasn’t read that haunted grief in an old woman’s eyes? Who wants to risk going down to the grave like this?
One thing I never spoke to you about, among a million other unspoken word, as I was growing up there was only I and my older sister who was 8 years older than me. I remember she always played the organ for the church, but my parents never took me to church and they didn’t go either. I never thought much about it because I was only seven during that time. They never opened a Bible at home or read me scripture, in fact I didn’t know God existed.
When I was fifteen we started going to Church every time the doors opened. I always felt comfortable and safe there. Then at the age of sixteen I gave my life to the Lord. I remember the effectual call to this day. After that they never went back and at the time I could not drive. So I was left without any guidance on how to live for the Lord. Now I often look back and wonder why that happened.
But you know the Lord has never left me for one second of my life. I cant count the number of times he has rescued me from harm.
What if you risk breaking open your own vulnerable need, risk exposing your own broken places needing to be touched by love — and your brokenness is left exposed and unfulfilled?
The abundant life is a vulnerable communion. This is what I want — but how do you build a life like that?
The canvas of the crucified Christ hangs up over the table. This vulnerable communion is a risk. Givenness is a risk. The only way to abundant life is the broken way of risk.
But— You are whatever you love. You are, at your very essence, not what you think, but what you love. Open up God’s love letter to us — He says we’re all lovers compelled by our loves. We are all compelled not by what we believe is right, but by what we love the most. You are not driven by duties, you are not driven by doctrines; you are driven by what you ultimately desire — and maybe you don’t actually really love whatever you think you love?
And the saddest of all may be when we give away our lives to insignificant things, things we didn’t realize we subconsciously loved. Turns out — we give our lives to things we never would if we got honest and thought about them for one single moment. It’s happening every moment — our unintentional, accidental lives betray our true loves and what we subconsciously believe.
The cross above is asking me, forming me cruciform, forming me into what I say I love. This is no small thing. Because nobody’s ideals form them like their loves form them.
Why love the wrong things in the wrong ways? Our ideals never compel like our loves. The only way to the abundant life is to love the right things in the right ways.
And I looked down at that little penned cross, drawing me, that’s daring me to daily take the risk to be broken and given~ I know our loves are formed by our daily habits. Our loves are formed by our daily liturgies.
We are made into what we make habits. Is it ever a sacrifice to give your love to whom you love more?
Sacrifice isn’t so much about losing what you love, but giving your love on to whom you love more. When you sacrifice for what you love, you gain more of what you love.
Love is a risk~ that’s never a risk
Do we give up what makes us really happy, whatever we are good at, a lifetime of happiness, to risk our lives on a relationship that might never make us happy? Do we sacrifice what makes us really happy day in and day out — for a relationship that has the potential to make us unhappy?”
You can sacrifice your time, career, sanity, joy for a child, a spouse, a friend, and they might end up forever walking out some door on you, spitting on your reputation, your investment, your efforts, shredding your heart and never looking back. And you can’t get back the time and the lifeblood you gave away.
“There are no guarantees with people.”
And before I could think, the words had left my mouth. “Jesus said,
‘Whoever loses their life for Me will find it.’ — Matthew 16:25
Jesus risked Himself on me. How can I not risk my life on you? You may not love me back. You may humble me, humiliate me, reject me, shatter my heart, and drive the shards into my soul—but this is not the part that matters. What matters most is always the most vulnerable communion. Comunion is always, always the miracle. What matters is that in the act of loving we become more like the givenness of Love Himself. What matters most is not if our love makes other people change, but that in loving, we change. What matters is that in the sacrificing to love someone, we become more like Someone. Regardless of anything or anyone else changing, the success of loving is in how we change because we kept on loving.
Who knew that sometimes if you don’t risk anything — you’re actually risking everything?
Love is always worth the risk because the reward of loving is in the joy of loving itself. Love is a risk that’s never a risk. Loving is itself the greatest outcome because loving makes one more beautiful, more like brokenhearted Beauty Himself. The risk of a vulnerable communion always leaves you tasting the grace of Christ.
No matter what the outcome looks like, if your love has poured out, your life will be successful.
I am what I love and I will love you like Jesus, because of Jesus, through the strength of Jesus. I will love when I’m not loved back. I will love when I’m hurt and disappointed and betrayed and inconvenienced and rejected. I simply will love, no expectations, no conditions, no demands. Love is not always agreement with someone, but it is always sacrifice for someone.
Not one thing in your life is more important than figuring out how to live in the face of unspoken pain.
(11) In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: (12) That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
Do we get the significance of the truth that He works all things in our lives too, according to the counsel of His will? This truth does not apply to just the “big” things of His overall purpose but even to us! Do we really perceive our relationship to Him as being one of the Potter to the clay?
As He formed and shaped Adam and Eve, He is forming and shaping us, and it is our responsibility to accept and submit. Do we live our lives as though He truly is omnipotent, omniscient, and individually aware of us? Do we conduct our lives in such a manner that we fully understand that this awesome Being is actively and personally involved in what we do?
By viewing Him as Potter, do we grasp that He has every right to mold the clay into whatever form or state and make whatever use of it as He chooses? He can fashion from the same lump one person to honor and another to dishonor. He can determine our sex, race, ethnicity, level of wealth, or location. He is under no law or rule outside of His own nature and purpose. He is a law unto Himself, under no obligation to give an account of His actions to anybody else. He exercises His power as, where, and when He wills.
He is not merely overseeing our lives but actively participating in them, and He is ultimately responsible for what happens in them just as much as those national and worldwide occurrences that we hear in the news. The sovereignty of the Bible’sGodis absolute, irresistible, and infinite. Our trust is to be in Him.
God’s purpose and plan has been and is being carried out as He purposed, and nobody can turn Him aside. Now His purpose and plan has reached out to include us just as He predestined when He declared the end from the beginning. Have we caught the vision?
Are we willing to completely turn our lives over to this Being who does not always act in a way that is pleasant to us? God immediately struck Aaron’s sons and Uzzah dead, but He has allowed countless others who perhaps did far worse things to live long and seemingly full lives.
God permitted Methuselah to live almost a thousand years. He chose to endow Samson with strength as no other person ever had.Jesuswent to the pool of Siloam and chose one man to heal, paying no attention to the others. Why did He allow the Morgans, Carnegies, Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, and many others to amass incredible wealth, while allowing perhaps billions of people aroundthe world barely to scrape by in miserable poverty?
When the Israelites entered the Promised Land, the city of Jericho and its citizens stood barring their progress. God brought the walls down, and the city’s defenses collapsed—the one and only time God did such a thing. Every other city had to be conquered by warfare, risking Israelite lives to take them.
Clearly, He treats and responds to individuals according to the counsel of His own mind, and He answers to no one. He does this even in the lives of His children. The apostle John lived to be around one hundred years old, yet Stephen was stoned to death, Peter crucified, and Paul beheaded.
Considering the witnesses of those great servants, what right do we have to complain about the discomforts He creates for us to endure and grow within? He could rescue everybody in every uncomfortable circumstance, but He does not. Have we fully accepted that He may choose difficult things for us?
(19) Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.
That tells us that we are to keep the Ten Commandments under the New Covenant. It cannot be refuted. The Ten Commandments were part of the Old Covenant too. That part is not obsolete; we are still using it in the brand new model. The moral law is still in force and effect. To break the commandments issin, while to do them is righteousness.
That includes all ten – not just nine. Remember Jesus‘ declaration that not one jot or tittle would pass from the law. If Jesus speaks the truth, how can people say that thefourth commandmentis done away? They directly refute their Savior. It is really quite silly.
Most of the rest of the law, that is, part of the terms of the Old Covenant, still directly apply. How about tithing, part of the Old Covenant? We find that tithing supersedes the Old Covenant. What about the food laws, also is part of the Old Covenant? The New Testament records that they were still being kept by people who should have known better if they were done away. Many of those laws still directly apply.
Even those that may only indirectly apply are still applicable in their spirit, in their intent.Intentsuggests “the stretching out.” Those laws help to define sin and righteousness in specific situations. Their positive intent is always to bring us toholiness– to theimage of God.
We need to discipline ourselves never to look at a law ofGod– whether it is civil or ceremonial – and assume it has no application for us, as if God just intended it for the Israelites back then. Far from it!God’s law(and its intent) is always love and eternal, which is why Jesus says that none of it would pass until all is fulfilled.
Obedience to those laws can neither justify nor save us, but they are the wisdom and the love of God, given to guide us. We should be studying them to understand how to make our lives holier than ever before.
For us as believers, contentment should be governed by inner attitude and the decisions we make rather than by external circumstances. Because Paul had learned this secret, he was able to experience joy and peace in any kind of situation–whether he was surrounded by friends or isolated in a Roman prison; whether he had plenty or was in great need.
The apostle understood what it meant to live in Christ and to have Christ living in him (John 15:1-9; Gal. 5:22-23). He had made a simple but profound faith decision to draw his life from the Lord and, as a result, had the calm assurance that what he possessed inside could never be stolen. He was confident in his identity as a child of the Almighty, with full access to the abundant life Jesus offers.
I want to challenge you–this week, when something threatens to steal your contentment, choose to draw from God; decide to stop drawing from other sources and trying to be in control. When you find yourself becoming flustered, anxious, or angry, stop and say, “Lord, You are my source, and I draw from You the capacity to be kind. I draw from You the forgiveness I need to extend right now. I draw from You the love I need to express.” This decision is a matter of simple trust.
Watch and see how God will quiet your spirit and provide confidence when you draw only from Him as your source. You’ll be surprised at your own attitude: when you respond from within–rather than from the flesh–Jesus will give you the ability to respond as He would.