Can a Mother Forget

Gods-love

Yet Jerusalem says, “The Lord has deserted us;  the Lord has forgotten us.”
Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child?  Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible,    
 I would not forget you! 16 See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands. Always in my mind is a picture of Jerusalem’s walls in ruins.”

Isaiah 49:14-16, NLT

Some of us need to be persuaded of God’s love. We are unconvinced. But Isaiah understands. We grasp the theology, but not the meaning. Our own native ideas keep us in disbelief. Perhaps the greatest liability we have as believers is this doubt that God really feels this way about us. But, He does. Isaiah claims the impossible, yet grounds himself in what is real. The Father loves us and we’re His very own. Even if we don’t seem as holy as we ought to be. In His out reached hands, we discover scars.  This is the price He has purchased us with. We once were blind, and very lost— but now we are His own children.

We are given the impression that He more than ‘loves’ us; He ‘likes’ us. That dear ones, is not a point I’m prepared to support with scripture— it doesn’t exist except in my own thinking. I know that He theologically loves me. But I also believe God also likes me as well. Surely, there is such a fine line here, between ‘like’ and love. The more I walk with the Lord, and it’s been almost 35 years now, the more I do love/like Him. I have learned to like Him as much as I love Him. And if God doesn’t like me, I think it diminishes His love.

Some of us must be persuaded again and again of God’s love.

Regardless, Isaiah speaks for the Lord with tender things. Among the people they had the mindset that God had somehow forgotten them. They thought that they were ‘the lost ones.’ God uses the analogy of a mother. A nurturing mother. This metaphor is strong and sure. No, God hasn’t forgotten His people. Look at His hands, your name is ‘tattooed’ on them. You’re His, forever.

“In math, if you divide an infinite number by any number, no matter how large, you still have an infinite quotient. So Jesus’ love, being infinite, even though it is divided up for every person on earth, is still infinitely poured out on each one of us!” 

Charles Spurgeon

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Covering the Sin We Encounter

“The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 8Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”

1 Peter 4:7-8, ESV

 “The time is near when all things will end. So think clearly and control yourselves so you will be able to pray. 8 Most importantly, love each other deeply, because love will cause people to forgive each other for many sins.”

1 Peter 4:7-8, NLT

Same verse, but two translations. There is a need for urgency, an intense decisiveness that needs to be woven into our lives.  Peter understands this.  He engages the church with a deep pressing.  He carries a cruciality and a demand due to the imminence of the return of Jesus.  Clear thinking and self-control are our basic responses to His arrival. Buttressing and enhancing our faith with these will reward us profoundly.

The Bible clearly teaches us of the sudden and imminent return of Jesus Christ.  And yet, in spite of this solid reality, we repeatedly struggle, and short-circuit the work of the Holy Spirit in our souls. We might be just sabotaging the Kingdom unintentionally. If we keep looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along,” couldn’t the opposite be  just as true? (2 Peter 3:12.) Might we ‘delay’ His return by our disobedience? (Just thinking out-loud here folks.)

Biblical prophecy provides some of the greatest encouragement and hope available to us today. Just as the Old Testament is saturated with prophecies concerning Christ’s first coming, so both testaments are filled with references to the second coming of Christ. One scholar has estimated that there are 1,845 references to Christ’s second coming in the Old Testament, where 17 books give it prominence. In the 260 chapters of the New Testament, there are 318 references to the second advent of Christ – an amazing 1 out of every 30 verses. Twenty-three of the 27 New Testament books refer to this great event. For every prophecy in the Bible concerning Christ’s first advent (Christmas), there are eight which look forward to His second coming!

As we try to wrap our minds and hearts around this blazing reality, we must also deal with our personal disobedience.  Often there is a ‘co-morbidity’ to deal within our own sin.  What I mean is that sin and rebellion develop in our hearts in “layers.”  Seldom do you just deal with one issue.  It’s more like a “gang” tackle, followed with a “monkey pile.” Sin isn’t just an act– it is a jumble– a way of living.

The two keys to really understand this passage– energetic prayer, and a covering love.

This new intensity and clarity in our thinking affects our “prayer life.”  We see things differently, and we pray for things alertly.  We start “reading between the lines.”  We examine everything, looking for clues.  We are to grow “sleuthy,” observant detectives watching everything.  A widening of the pupils, inflections of the voice, someone’s posture, a way they use/choose their words– we are being trained to see, inside.

There is a form of love called “agape.”  It is to define us, and we operate out it.  This agape is amazing.  It is a love that is destined to suffer, and die for the one being loved.  It covers, and protects.  When it is present, it will choose to cover the sin that it encounters.  Agape is the way God treats us.  It is now how we grow up and to treat others. Incidentally, it has very little to do with emotion– maybe in a secondary way.

This idea of “love as a covering” is pretty amazing.  Implementing it will alter all that it touches.  And seeing alertly will bring an exceptional discernment to all we touch. We each have two needs.

The first is for forgiveness.

The second is to be changed for the better.

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Outside the Boundaries

boundries

As I spin through this world; I pick up many things. Some are wholesome, but many are not. I’m like a ball of soft wax, and I pick-up whatever is in my path. Some things are good, and others not so. I would love to enlighten you, but am disturbed by all the ‘garbage’ I pick-up. Not everything is good.

In my mind I remember far too much to be ‘good.’ Images of sin are part of the ball, and I can’t dislodge them on my own. Their very presence is wrong, and quite embarrassing. I’m ashamed of what you may find, and yet I know I should be transparent, at least to what I’m capable of. I suppose I am sorry, at least that is I want to be.

Darkness has a way of latching on. At least that is how it seems. It seems what has been seen, can never be unseen. These things are irrevocable and can’t be forgotten. We remember them in the ‘night hours.’ However, the grace of God is such that these dark things are remembered no more. Their evil can never cripple a mind set on the sweet things of God.

I have been damaged by the things I have seen and did. I can admit that they’re shameful and wrong. (Perhaps ‘perverted’ is a better word.) These things are dark and twisted, and far beyond the pale of what is acceptable. I learn to be foul, but deep down I wish to be good.

The Gospel comes to those outside of the boundaries, or it doesn’t come at all. It handles the heavy sin, and easily takes on the lesser. Sin seems to have a way of rubbing through what is true, and certain efforts must be applied. We are meant to soar. We were never meant to be its sin’s slaves.

 “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,”

Colossians 1:13, NIV

We ought to trust in what He can do. Sin can never bind us again. He has done something that defies the darkness, once and for all. We who once were slaves, now walk the streets as free men and women. And we dare not rely on our own reasoning on this matter.

What the Father has done exceeds our rational ability. We are completely released and then exonerated us from our sin; it no longer manhandles us the way it used to. We are now prisoners set free. It is easy to become skeptical at this point; the reality of our iniquity is immense. But He has declared us free.

 “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

John 8:36

We hear many things from our pulpits today. But it is imperative that we receive the word, ‘freedom.’ Freedom—

  • from our many sins,
  • from our flesh that delights in them,
  • from death that comes from our sins,
  • from the destroying influence of this world’s system,
  • to enjoy eternal life.

“You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” (Romans 6:18). We must be convinced that this is so, and be willing to leave the sin behind us. And this is right where believers break down; the leaving behind their favorite sin. But it must be renounced and denounced for any progress can be made. You have to say “No!” before you can say “Yes!”

God is fantastically patient with us. He waits patiently as we decide. Are we going to get sick of our sin, or not? He waits for us to decide. Will we continue in sin, or will we let it pass by?

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We Are Only Amazing, Together

“That’s how it is with us. There are many of us, but we each are part of the body of Christ, as well as part of one another.”

Romans 12:5, CEV

When we follow Jesus, we will not make any real progress unless we commit to following him together.  We must grow to the wonderful, purposeful point when we start to understand that our essential unity is the work of God in our hearts.  He purposefully blends us–our spirits, personality and thoughts.

We learn we can’t make it alone.  I am an American Christian, and independence is a characteristic of my culture.  We inherently become people who ride hard and ride alone.  There is not room for two where I am going.  If you get there, I guess we’ll be brothers. But this is not the Scriptures.

Having tried to live my faith in another culture, I discovered I needed a different mentality completely.  I had to learn to reach out to another way of thinking.  I discovered that my new understanding had to include others.  If we win, it is because we are a team.  We had to think in terms of “team mentality.”  Soccer was the national sport of my new country–I don’t think it has been successful in the U.S. because it’s fundamentally a true team sport. We don’t think like that. We don’t like it.

 “Above all else, you must live in a way that brings honor to the good news about Christ. Then, whether I visit you or not, I will hear that all of you think alike. I will know that you are working together and that you are struggling side by side to get others to believe the good news.”

Philippians 1:27, CEV

Unity will leave its mark.  If we choose this particular approach we need to “think alike”.  That takes a bit of a miracle sometimes.  But this intrinsic unity has become the norm.  We are very used to the idea of Jesus saving individual men and women.  But it is a long leap for us to believe that we are sanctified through groups–called Churches.  I’m starting to understand that this is how things work, to a large degree.  Philippians 1 delineates the “unity” issue.

“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”

1 Corinthians 1:10, ESV

No.  Absolutely zero. Divisions.  There is to be agreement in every person.  There is to be a unity, in the very specific area of our thinking and our discernment.  And this is sent to us in Jesus’ name.  Paul understands that the name of Jesus (the Lord and Christ) is to have a definite preeminence, and his wonderful authority was to lead us to this unity.

The implications are this–not agreeing to Jesus’ authority, divides the Church.  Simple.  And that is exactly how we are to understand these issues.  We don’t need to be “rocket-science theologians” here, after all Paul was directing his remarks to simple believers.  He believed that they would understand. The Holy Spirit is like a magnet. The power that pulls us to Jesus works in us all. We find that iron filings of all shapes and sizes are also ‘connected’ to Him, and we’re connected with each other. It is His magnetism that draws us to  each other.

How committed are you to unity in your town?  The Church gathers on Saturday or Sunday (almost always).  The believers that attend are your brothers and sisters.  They come to worship and pray, and hear the Word.  Do we dare to assume, (a certain pride is being guessed at here), that we (of all people) have become their judges?  It is an interesting point that when Paul refers to the Church, and John in the Book of Revelation–it is connected to geography.  It is the “Church of Rome” or the “Church of the Colossians.” Thinking this way, will change how you perceive the Church of Jesus.

“In necessary things, unity; in doubtful things, liberty; in all things, charity.”

Richard Baxter

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