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.
(27) And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (28) And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (29) For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (30) Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
With such postive statements about our salvation, why should we be hopeless and fearfully doubt that God will supply all our needs? Does He ever fail to succeed in whatever He undertakes? These verses flatly and dogmatically state that, if we want to cooperate in faith to bring God’s purpose for us to its intended conclusion, we must, I repeat, must, believe that His watchfulness over us involves every circumstance of our lives.
Verses 31 and 32 put a cap on this issue: “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”
In verse 30, note that the term “sanctified” is missing from the list of the general stages of God’s purpose. Sanctification is the only part of the salvation process in which our cooperation plays a major, consistent, and daily role. Why does Paul exclude it? This was not an oversight; he deliberately leaves “sanctified” out because he wants, for the remainder of this section of this epistle, to focus entirely on the absolute certainty of God’s providence, not on any works we may perform in cooperation with Him during the sanctification process.
Paul is not saying that God will always do what we might want Him to do; he is reminding us that He will always do what is right according to His purpose. God has the necessary powers to do as He sees fit for His purpose and us. He is watching, which is even more reason for us to draw on that power.
Nobody can successfully stand in the way of His completing that purpose in each of us, but based on our knowledge of those powers, are we willing to accept His providence? Do we accept what He provides in any given circumstance, even though what He provides might not be what we would like to have?
All of the things Paul writes here are wonderful, but the key to this particular subject is the answer to the question he asks in verse 30: “If God be for us who can be against us?” God has the power and the will, and He does not make mistakes or empty promises. Paul then lists what God has already done for all concerned. Our responsibility is to choose to put these facts to work in our specific circumstances.
The handwriting on the wall for us is this: Terribly difficult times are coming, and they will affect all of us to varying degrees. The only successful way to complete our minute part in God’s purpose is to choose to draw on His power. We must begin at once to cultivate the habit of cooperating by faith, accepting whatever He chooses to provide in our circumstances. If this habit is in place through long practice, we will be ready when the pressure really mounts.
Because He is the Source of our deliverance in every circumstance, it is crucial for us to know God as well as we can. Our relationship with Him through Jesus Christ is the key that gives us access to the deliverance He provides. He has the power, and it is His will to meet our every need. It is incumbent upon us, therefore, to use our time now to build on our present relationship with Him, making it stronger and more intimate.
(1) Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. (2) Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (3) And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
People spend their lives chasing after a name that will bring them a measure of honor or notoriety. They want to be associated with a “name” university, a “name” team, a “name” company; wear clothing with a certain “name” label; drive a “name” automobile; or marry into a certain family “name.” Yet, the greatest name that anyone could possibly bear has come to us unbidden. Thus, John is exhorting his readers to remember their privileges in bearing that awesome name. Chrysostom, a fourth-century Catholic archbishop, counseled parents to give children scriptural names, urging them to tell the children stories about the person who bore that name so that, as they matured, they would have something to live up to.
Is there a paradox in what John writes? We know that in order tosee God, we need to be like Him. Carnally, we think that to be like Him, we need to see Him.Godsays that seeing Him is not necessary, as He has chosen to conduct His purposes for man throughfaithin His Word. He has revealed what He is by His names and by the life ofJesus Christ. By faith, we can emulate Him through His Spirit. If we saw Him in the flesh, our curiosity would likely be satisfied, or we would be so overwhelmed by His perfection that we would give up. That is how human nature works. God’s way of faith is better.
Malachi 3:16,provides wise counsel befitting the times in which we live: “Then those who feared the LORDspoke to one another, and the LORDlistened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORDand who meditate on His name.” The people described here are pictured as meditating for the purpose of praising, imitating, and passing on their thoughts to each other. They looked for God’s good hand in every area of their lives.
David exclaims inPsalm 34: 1-3: “I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the LORD; the humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORDwith me, and let us exalt His name together.
A wise man once said that our minds are like great bodies of water. Sometimes numerous thoughts, stimuli, or emotions act like rough winds, beating our minds into waves resulting in confusion, anger, sadness, exhaustion, stress, sickness and all the other problems we face. It is only when we surrender our hearts, let go of our cares, and be still that then our soul becomes like it is intended to be… refelecting exactly what is above it. In this painting, we are reminded of “the peace that transcends all human understanding (Phil 4:7)” as we are dazzled by an almost impossible display of the heavens as it reflects on the perfectly peaceful glassy sea. To me, Lighthouses have always held some symbolism to Jesus in that they shine in the storms, keep us from the rocks in life, offer a harbor and shelter in the storm, and guide us. Jesus said ” Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid”. In this painting, the lights are on and the pathway is lit for you to come in to the warmth of Christ’s love, as ships from all corners of the sea, and from all nations are being drawn to the glorious and everlasting. A wise man once said that our minds are like great bodies of water. Sometimes numerous thoughts, stimuli, or emotions act like rough winds, beating our minds into waves resulting in confusion, anger, sadness, exhaustion, stress, sickness and all the other problems we face. It is only when we surrender our hearts, let go of our cares, and be still that then our soul becomes like it is intended to be… refelecting exactly what is above it. In this painting, we are reminded of “the peace that transcends all human understanding (Phil 4:7)” as we are dazzled by an almost impossible display of the heavens as it reflects on the perfectly peaceful glassy sea. To me, Lighthouses have always held some symbolism to Jesus in that they shine in the storms, keep us from the rocks in life, offer a harbor and shelter in the storm, and guide us. Jesus said ” Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid”. In this painting, the lights are on and the pathway is lit for you to come in to the warmth of Christ’s love, as ships from all corners of the sea, and from all nations are being drawn to the glorious and everlasting.