This article blessed me in so many ways when I read it:
“Chandler is trying to suffer well. He would never ask for such a trial, but in some ways he welcomes this cancer. He says he feels grateful that God has counted him worthy to endure it. He has always preached that God will bring both joy and suffering but is only recently learning to experience the latter.
Since all this began on Thanksgiving morning, Chandler says he has asked “why me?” just once, in a moment of weakness.
He is praying that God will heal him. He wants to grow old, to walk his two daughters down the aisle and see his son become a better athlete than he ever was.
Whatever happens, he says, is God’s will, and God has his reasons. For Chandler, that does not mean waiting for his fate. It means fighting for his life.”
What a demonstration of maintaining faith in the midst of suffering.
Matt, you and your family are in our prayers.
Marveling At God’s Ability To Forgive
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! – 2 Corinthians 5:17 (New International Version)
I believe our God is the God of new beginnings, and I also believe there’s an ongoing theme in the scriptures regarding how God’s mercy and grace allow us to start over, even after great failures and setbacks.
Take King David, for example. David’s story is one of the most beautiful and inspiring stories in the Bible. Of course, we all know how it started… the story of David and Goliath is well known. Yet, although David started out upright and in the full favor of God, later in his life we would see him mess up in some pretty severe ways.
But as a friend of mine once said, no one was better at repentance than David. Reading the Psalms, I wonder at how many times David fell on his face, asking God for forgiveness for some sin he had committed. And, I marvel at how every time, God forgave him and restored him; and this was long before Christ died for our sins!
Or, take the story of Peter, the apostle. Peter was known to be loud and boastful, outspoken and always putting his foot in his mouth. Yet, Christ saw something within Peter that he knew was solid as stone… or at least, that would be in years to come.
18 “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” – Matthew 16:18 (New International Version)
As we all know, Peter denied Christ three times before the crucifixion. I believe that although Christ knew he would, it still must have broken His heart to hear His good friend say he didn’t know Him.
But once again, after the resurrection we see that Christ restores Peter in one of the most powerful scenes from the New Testament:
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” – John 21 (New International Version)
How very interesting that Peter denied Christ three times, and Christ restores him three times. I wonder if this is more than symbolic, but it certainly points to the fact that no matter how many times we fall, no matter how many times we fail, Christ is willing to forgive us and restore us anew.
When I mess up, I try to remember that it’s not the end of the world. Sometimes it takes me a while to seek God’s forgiveness, whether it’s out of shame over what I’ve done, or being too proud to admit I’m wrong. But every time, every single time, God is willing to forgive and restore me, an expression of a love that is so mighty it is beyond measure or comprehension.
And so I continue to be amazed at the everlasting mercy and forgiveness of Christ our Lord; that He would care for us so much He would die for our sins, and continue to express His divine love daily by restoring us with His forgiveness. What a beautiful and amazing love it is to be cherished so by the eternal God.
Faith is a difficult subject to cover, because it is so personal. How many of us have wished we had more faith, prayed for God to give us faith, wondered if we didn’t have enough faith?
18 No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known. – John 1:18 (New International Version, emphasis mine)
Faith is not quantifiable. That’s why it baffles people who don’t share our faith in Jesus. I understand their unbelief; faith in an unseen God defies logic. For those who cling to the transience of this world and the things in it, faith makes no sense at all.
6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. – Matthew 6:6 (New International Version, emphasis mine)
By our very nature we want to cling to things that we can see, touch, and feel. We want to hold the solidness and substance of things in our hands, feel the firm ground under our feet. We want things to be concrete; even our idioms reflect our desire for solidity in our lives.
29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” – John 20:29 (New International Version, emphasis mine)
Yet, that’s the paradox of faith – that things that are able to be experienced in the here and now require no faith at all to believe. And that’s the beautiful thing about faith; it requires a conscious decision to step outside the bounds of what is known. Faith is a choice; you must choose to believe.
1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. – Hebrews 11:1 (New International Version, emphasis mine)
Even so, I also believe that faith is a gift. If this is true, then when it is new faith must also be cared for like a new plant. It must be tended to, fed, watered, given light. This is how we increase our faith; by spending time with a God who is unseen. While this continues to confound those who choose to remain without faith, it’s a beautiful mystery that’s unveiled layer by layer in our lives; and as our walk with God deepens, so does our faith.
Scripture presents faith as more than just a feeble hope we cling to – in the Bible, it’s characterized as being a shield that protects us from harm.
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. – Ephesians 6:16 (NIV)
In many ways, faith is it’s own reward. It sees us through the hard times, and gives us a hope that many don’t have during darker days. That’s why it’s so important to share your faith, even at the risk of rejection and ridicule. People need hope for salvation, and that’s what Jesus brings.
We all lack faith sometimes. I know that times are hard for many of you who will read this. In these, the most difficult times to have faith, take whatever faith remains within you and hold it up to your Father in prayer. Then, turn your worries over to Him and know that God is in control, that He loves you, and that whatever the circumstance you are facing, God is with you.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28 (NIV)
Hi folks – long time no blog, right?
Well, I’m getting back to spending some time on this blog – people are reading the passages and finding comfort in God’s Word here, so I’ll be posting more encouraging scriptures over the coming weeks.
In the mean time, I’d like to share some of Pastor John Burke’s new series from the last few services, “A Life Worth Living”:
Message from 01/04/2009: “A Life of Character”
Message from 01/11/2009: “A Life of Meaning”
“2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4 For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.”
- Romans 13:2-4 (New International Version, bold mine)
Wow, did you realize there is a promise in scripture that our rulers are servant’s of God whose purpose is to do us good and bring punishment on people who do evil?
That’s a far cry from what we hear all the time in the popular media, isn’t it?
Yet, God is in control, 110% of the time. He has a plan, and it is working to bring good to those who love Him and are called to His purpose:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28, NIV (bold mine)
Of course, this doesn’t mean that we should just blindly accept everything our leaders do. Instead, we must accept that God has a purpose for putting leaders into place, and we should trust that the Lord knows exactly what He is doing when He does… even when leaders are seemingly in opposition to what God commands.
There is a peace to be had when we submit to the will of God in this way, as we learn to trust in Him more fully.
So, trust God enough to honor your elected leaders according to the laws of your country.
And, instead of criticizing them, let’s pray for them, that God grants them wisdom and a willing heart to listen to His call.