Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Love of God

This week, a friend & I have challenged each other to spend time at the Lord's feet, and meditating on one passage of Scripture unless the Lord leads us elsewhere. So Romans 8:31-39 is the passage:

"What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, "FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED." But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

There are a thousand things that I could point out in this passage, but I'll just share 2 thoughts. My first thought is that God is the One who justifies us; no one else. So if God justifies us, how could anyone else condemn us (including ourselves)?

My second thought is just bkz I'm experiencing some tribulation, does that mean God doesn't love me? Just bkz I'm experiencing some distress, does that mean God has stopped loving me? Just bkz I don't have any food, does that mean the Lord has ceased to love me? ABSOLUTELY NOT! And yet, I go there often. Why God are you allowing this in my life? It is so hard. Don't you care about me anymore? Do you still love me?

Yes, absolutely, more than I could ever know. I love the verses in Ephesians 3 (14-21) that Paul prays for the Ephesians, specifically the bolded portion in vs. 19.
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen

He prays that they would know (experientially) the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge (it is intellectually incomprehensible!). I pray this for myself, and for other people as well. Oh that we would really come to experience His love which is unable to be known intellectually! Only He can do that . . . I can do nothing, except come before Him on my face with gratefulness and a willingness to live in light of that love.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pursuit of Intimacy with the Lord

I've been struggling recently with intimacy with the Lord, hence why my blogs are fewer & farther between for the last month or so. I can't tell the future, but I have this feeling that the next few blogs are going to be my journey of pursuing intimacy with the Lord again.

Emmanuel . . . God with us. He is here with me, but I have made my relationship with the Lord more intellectual again. I think some of it is a protection against my own struggles. Being a counselor can sometimes be difficult when you are struggling personally. I tend to fight off the same emotions that I encourage the people I talk to to engage with, afraid that I won't be able to think clearly enough to help them. This isn't a terrible thing, as long as I engage those emotions later, but I get used to holding them down . . . and it becomes my practice. Before I know it, everything is intellectual again.

It is easier & less draining to not engage my suffering. I often don't allow the Lord to enter into my suffering with me. Instead, I just tell myself the truth. Telling myself the truth is critical, but I can't ignore the pain in the process.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4. If I don't mourn, then I can't be comforted by the Great Comforter, Emmanuel. So today, I'm going to try to allow the Lord to enter into my pain with me, bkz then I will be comforted with His great Love.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fruit of the Spirit

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Gal. 6:22-23 (NASB)

We all know the fruit of the Spirit, but Iwhen was the last time you felt at peace? joy? love? kindness? Believers should be exuding love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, & self-control.

On Sunday, I was at a bookstore around 2pm, and the cashier was trying to create some conversation by asking if we knew if the church crowd was out yet. She went on to complain about the church crowd. She said, "I've never met so many pastors and Christians that are so miserable & angry as those coming out of church on Sunday afternoons." I've heard this similar comment out of most restaurant servers. Christians can be the worst tippers, but we should be the best tippers.

Am I reflecting Christ by living a life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, & self-control? I can't force myself to be these things without abiding in the Spirit. These characteristics are the fruit (or result) of abiding in the Spirit. So spend some good time with Him today, so that you can taste like the Spirit to those you come in contact with as well as having those things in your own life?