Friday, December 17, 2010

The Fear of Being Unfaithful

My heart strained within me a while ago considering the fact that life is long, hard, and wearying. Knowing that I am saved and fully believing that God has called me to full time ministry, my mind contemplated how I was going to remain faithful to Christ for all of that time. How was I ever going to continue to pursue holiness, remain faithful to my family, and rightly divide God’s Word? I know my sinful heart and how unfaithful I find myself already. There is no way, in and of myself, to stay within God’s will for a lifetime. My heart was downcast, but only for a moment.

As I pondered, the spirit was quick to convict me of my horribly sinful thoughts. He reminded me of the character of our God. Our God saves sinners and keeps them. How precious is this thought! It is not I who holds myself through life’s trials, but the God who saved me. Yes, I must do all that I can to faithfully behold the glory of Christ, but God does the heart work and keeps me in Christ. Just as the Old Testament accounts God being faithful to keep Israel and bring them back to himself, so does the New Testament account God, under the new covenant, being faithful to keep his people and bring them back to himself when they stray. He is the good shepherd; when one strays he goes and finds the sheep and brings them back into the fold.

When my parents were considering marriage my mom had just witnessed a pastor break up with his wife after 25+ years of marriage. Her heart was in turmoil within her, she asked, “Tim, how can I trust that you will stay with me through our marriage?” And my Dad’s answer has always stuck with me from the first time I heard it- “You can’t trust me; you have to trust God inside of me.” At first glance one might think that is a cliché spiritual comment, but NO- My dad had it exactly right. Other people can’t trust us for we don’t even trust ourselves! We know our weaknesses; therefore we entrust ourselves to our faithful creator. And others must do the same- trust that God will keep us faithful.

Life is long and being saved at a young age makes it a long time to wait to be in the presence of my savior. However, C.J. Mahaney talks in one of his messages about how the pain of waiting all depends on whom you are waiting with and what you are waiting for. Oh, aren’t we blessed when we consider this thought! We have Emmanuel- God with us. We get to wait in the loving care of our savior, beholding more of his glory every step of the way. We get to wait with our savior until the end and at that moment we will immediately be brought into “the presence of His glory blameless and with great joy.” (Jude 1:24) Consider this and let your hearts rejoice.

The character and the promises of our great and glorious God must be our foundation whenever we are fearful of anything in this life- including remaining faithful. Fear not, brothers and sisters, our God is good and WILL keep you.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

On Trials

God’s blessings don’t always come in nicely wrapped packages to healthy people, but as a bowl of broth to a dying man. He blesses amidst pain.

If we didn’t know that every additional trial was ordained by an infinitely loving God, what hope would we have? If we didn’t know every additional trial was our greatest good, what hope would we have? If we didn’t know that every additional trial was ordained by a sovereign God who deemed us fit to suffer for his name sake, what hope would we have? If we didn’t know that every additional trial was only a part of a masterfully crafted plan to maximize our joy and give God the greatest glory, what hope would we have? We would have none.

If, in the midst of trials, we allow our eyes only to be glued to the immanent things to come and to never gaze into what we have in eternity, we will meet fear and despair face to face every time. If the eyes of our heart are not faithfully trained to simply gaze into the face of our savior while the goings are good, don’t believe for a moment that when God brings a trial, brings pain and affliction, into our lives we will find solace in him. If our eyes are cast down, fixed on what we see, when there is no pain, they will remain there when there is. The eyes of our heart must be fixed looking up if we hope to have peace in times of strife.

Nothing but the character and promises of God will calm the seas of a tumultuous soul. Nothing but a sight of the glory of our risen savior will bring true peace to our hearts. But we mustn’t wait until we are in the midst of a trial to behold the glory of Christ in Scripture. For if we wait it will be too late to bring lasting peace to our soul. True rest in the midst of a trial comes from faithfully beholding the glory of Christ in Scripture before you are put through the furnace. It comes from knowing and loving the character of your God before you see what he has ordained for your life. For a Christian who has beheld glory will realize that his present conditions has never been the means by which he received his joy, it was only in beholding Christ. We must be content with our present condition, but be satisfied in Christ alone. When you lack joy in the midst of pain, know that these positions have been switched.

We must rest in the character of our God. We must rest in the promises of our God. The assurance of a promise is only to the degree of immutability of the promise giver. And, oh, how immutable is our God! Our God “is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).” He has promised to work all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). He has promised to never withhold any good thing from those who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11)-the trial is the best thing for us. He has promised that there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”(Romans 8:1)- the trial is a divine grace. God has promised that he is “able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.” He has promised to do all of this-and he will. Upon this rock will we stand.