Thursday, August 28, 2014

God is Not a Man

I have long known that I struggle with believing, really believing that God love ME. Oh, I know,  ♪Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.♫  And I can easily tell others that God love them. And I can corporately include myself when I say He loves everybody. My head gets all that. And my mind can repeat all of that by rote.

But my spirit has a harder time grasping the reality of God looking down on my tiny little piece of the world and that He, the awesomely wonderful creator of the entire universe, can pick out just me and love just me. Perhaps you struggle with that concept, too. We can look to our childhoods and blame our fathers or mothers for not doing this or that - or for doing this thing or that. But there comes a time in every person’s life when we have to look to ourselves and figure how to see things in light of Scripture.

My struggle with believing that I am loved individually by God is not even about all my innumerable flaws and sins. I believe with all my being that Christ died for all sins of all mankind and that every single individual human being can come under the blood of Jesus by simply trusting Him to wash them clean and by letting that choice affect the everyday choices of life. And from the depths of my soul, I am so grateful for God’s plan of eternal salvation. And grateful for how that plan works out in living here on earth. He is the only great and merciful God.

But it seems like I am a face in the crowd of those who trust in Jesus. The Bible tells me that all things work together for good to those who love God. (Romans 8:28) I believe that to my core. But He does that for everyone who loves Him, right?

As I've mentioned before, I’m nearing the end of Breaking Free by Beth Moore, and in the homework, she has helped me see the possible cause for my struggle with this concept. Numbers 23:19 clearly tells us, that “God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill.” NIV

I think even though I have tried hard not to “put God in a box” and have warned others not to do the same, I have mostly seen God through my human eyes and somehow think that just as in human love, especially by that of friends, God's love ebbs and flows. Human love can be affected by distance as people move, time between visits, misunderstandings, severe disagreements in beliefs, PMS, so many variables in human love. But God is NOT human. And, I guess that as a human, I don’t even know how that would look. But I have to believe that His love for me is not the same as friends that have come and gone. Or my indifference to those ebbs and flows. God is not man and He fulfills His promises.

He promises that His love is unfailing. In fact, in John 17:23 Jesus said that God the Father loves us as much as He loves The Son. And He surely includes all of believers in that because just 3 verses before that, and in the same line of thought, Jesus said, "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,that all of them may be one..."  And in John 10:16, He talks about having other folds of sheep that will be brought in – that is the Gentiles. So I guess it’s true – God loves His people as much as He loves Jesus. Wow! Let that sink in.

Beth Moore encourages her students to do a word search for “unfailing love" in the Bible. If you do that, it is clear that God’s love is unfailing – unlike human love. I have been trying to repeat daily, God has unfailing love for ME. I believe it, Lord, help my unbelief.”

“…The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."  

Zephaniah 3:17 NIV

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Whom Do I Serve?

Source Unknown
I have been doing a Beth Moore study called Breaking Free with some of the ladies from church. In week 8 she gets to a key concept for freedom - and that is obedience to God's commands. Hmmm, we struggle with obedience when we are children as our parents try to teach us to respect their authority over us; we struggle with it a lot as we try to teach our children the same thing, or our students or other little ones in our care; and we absolutely struggle with it the most as adults who want to be grown-up and FREE. I want to do what I want to do when I want to do it. That drive becomes very strong in most of us as we get into our teen years. It is a way that our hearts are preparing for adulthood. But wise parents direct that desire into useful, healthy directions of decision-making. (And I was not the wisest at that instruction to my children. My late husband used to say "the teen years make it easier to say goodbye to them.")

But that attitude of doing what I good-n-well please is a path to anger and despair. The God of the universe has given us guidelines for our safety and to prevent us from becoming slaves to sin, slaves to destruction and slaves to death.

"Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey - whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness..." Romans 6:16 NIV

Or put another way, Bob Dylan, in the few years he was writing music for Jesus, wrote this "You Gotta Serve Somebody."  I'm going to serve God or me or somebody/something else. And so are you.

We can look to those who are addicted to drugs, sexual predators, robbers, murders, or any other obvious slaves. But what about me? What about you? I have to fight slavery to my own desires and my own plans And I don't always choose the best. How do I spend my free time? What do I do when I have to make an important decision? How do I speak when I'm with my friends? Do I act like a servant of the Living God and Redeemer or do I act like a servant to my own fancies?

"But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from SIN and have become SLAVES TO RIGHTEOUSNESS." Romans 6:17-18 NIV

I John 3:1 tells me that the Father has lavished a great love on me (us) by allowing me (us) to be called children of God! "And that is what we are." So I really ought to act like I am a child of God. How do I do that on my own? I don't, at least not very well or very often. I try to do it in my own ability but it is not in me to change my behavior by myself. Believe me. But "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." The one thing I must choose to do is to remember to listen for the Lord. He will remind me of His desires for me and will strengthen me to choose right. I only wish that He didn't sometimes have to hit me over the head with a hammer to get my attention.

"Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life." Romans 6:19-22 NIV

So, I guess we all serve someone or something. I want to be a whole-hearted slave of God which leads to freedom. It is a slavery of freedom. "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened AGAIN by a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1 NIV

Oh my goodness, what a wonder!