Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Foolishness of Men

Not too long ago, I got a Kindle (thanks to my brother and a gift from another friend). This is a strange thing for me to get in that I don't really enjoy reading. I actually got it because of its free lifetime 3G connection... and I don't want to pay for a data plan on my phone. Anyway, it is a great tool. One of the cool features is that it reads to you. I have been having it read Isaiah to me the last couple days. It covers about 10 chapters between my drive to work and my drive back home. It reads fairly quickly and reads verse numbers and titles and everything. This makes it kind of hard to follow at times so you really have to focus when you are listening to it. I have actually found this to be helpful because it causes me to listen more intently and since it is read in a manner which is different than I have ever read it (or heard it read), I am often finding myself noticing new things that I hadn't noticed before because of the change in emphasis. It is all read so "matter of factly". Anyway, today I was listening to Isaiah and you will probably find this kind of funny, but I was literally sitting there in traffic clapping because of how clear and brilliant God is. I didn't know how else to respond other than to clap for Him and how He speaks to my heart through His Word.

Take a look at this section from Isaiah 44 and 46:
Those who fashion a graven image are all of them futile, and their precious things are of no profit; even their own witnesses fail to see or know, so that they will be put to shame. Who has fashioned a god or cast an idol to no profit? Behold, all his companions will be put to shame, for the craftsmen themselves are mere men. Let them all assemble themselves, let them stand up, let them tremble, let them together be put to shame. The man shapes iron into a cutting tool and does his work over the coals, fashioning it with hammers and working it with his strong arm. He also gets hungry and his strength fails; he drinks no water and becomes weary. Another shapes wood, he extends a measuring line; he outlines it with red chalk He works it with planes and outlines it with a compass, and makes it like the form of a man, like the beauty of man, so that it may sit in a house. Surely he cuts cedars for himself, and takes a cypress or an oak and raises it for himself among the trees of the forest. He plants a fir, and the rain makes it grow. Then it becomes something for a man to burn, so he takes one of them and warms himself; he also makes a fire to bake bread. He also makes a god and worships it; he makes it a graven image and falls down before it. Half of it he burns in the fire; over this half he eats meat as he roasts a roast and is satisfied. He also warms himself and says, "Aha! I am warm, I have seen the fire." But the rest of it he makes into a god, his graven image He falls down before it and worships; he also prays to it and says, "Deliver me, for you are my god." They do not know, nor do they understand, for He has smeared over their eyes so that they cannot see and their hearts so that they cannot comprehend. No one recalls, nor is there knowledge or understanding to say, "I have burned half of it in the fire and also have baked bread over its coals I roast meat and eat it Then I make the rest of it into an abomination, I fall down before a block of wood!" He feeds on ashes; a deceived heart has turned him aside And he cannot deliver himself, nor say, "Is there not a lie in my right hand?"

Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, And all the remnant of the house of Israel, You who have been borne by Me from birth And have been carried from the womb; Even to your old age I will be the same, And even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it, and I will carry you; And I will bear you and I will deliver you. "To whom would you liken Me And make Me equal and compare Me, That we would be alike? "Those who lavish gold from the purse And weigh silver on the scale Hire a goldsmith, and he makes it into a god; They bow down, indeed they worship it. "They lift it upon the shoulder and carry it; They set it in its place and it stands there It does not move from its place Though one may cry to it, it cannot answer; It cannot deliver him from his distress. "Remember this, and be assured; Recall it to mind, you transgressors. "Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, 'My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure'; Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man of My purpose from a far country Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it. "Listen to Me, you stubborn-minded, Who are far from righteousness. "I bring near My righteousness, it is not far off; And My salvation will not delay And I will grant salvation in Zion, And My glory for Israel.
I just love the clarity here! I don't know about you, but I am so prone to trust in worthless things. Things that can never change anything. It is idolatry of the heart. Sometimes I wish I had a physical "idol" whenever I start to trust things other than Him just as a reminder of how completely foolish it is. Don't take that beyond what I mean by it. I just don't see it as "foolish" sometimes... and I long to trust only Him. I want to see idols of my heart as complete foolishness. There is infinitely little reason to trust in anything except for God and infinitely many reasons to trust fully in God. He alone can change hearts. He alone can deliver. He commands and it is. No purpose of His can be thwarted. He will accomplish all His good pleasure. Oh how I long for this to be my heart's desire... that I would not trust in things made with hands, but in the God who has never failed.

God, there truly is no one like You. There is nothing and no one that can be trusted like You. You are the One that carries me. You are the one that gives me even this next breathe. God, I need You to strip away any idols of my heart. I know I have asked this before, but I plead with You once again to reign fully in this heart that You have purchased with Your blood. You have poured out abundance of riches on me... let me not lose sight of You. Let me not grow weary of dependence on You. Restore my joy in trusting You. Make it my passion. Remind me that Your commands are not in any way burdensome. I ask that You would do all these things for Your pleasure. You will accomplish it. Thank You for Your unending grace in even causing me to desire to please You... for anything good comes from You. There is no one like You. Make Yourself at home on the throne of my heart. Be steadfast and immovable here. Slaughter anything that rivals You in my heart for Your glory.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Your Love is Better Than Life

Pastor Tim preached on the love of God today. It was such a refreshment to my soul. The truths of His perfect, complete, and unending love are truths that I need to be reminded of continually. My understanding of His love plays a very vital part in my love for God. We love Him because He first loved us. I must come to know and understand His love for me so that I know how to live Him and others. How thankful I am that His love is not based on anything that I have done, but on everything that Christ has done. He can love me as a son because of Christ's righteousness. God's wrath for my sin has been completely poured out on Christ. It is for this reason that I joyfully say with David...
O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water. Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips will praise You. So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips. When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches, For You have been my help, And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.
God, Your love is indeed better than life itself. While I have never known what it is like to not be alive, Your love that never fails has given me confidence that if all I had was Your love, it would be enough. I seek You earnestly, but not as earnestly as I ought to. Put in me the desire to seek You with all of my heart. Let my soul be completely satisfied in You alone. Cause my heart to sing for joy as I meditate on You and Your deeds. Thank You for upholding me. You have been so faithful in guarding my steps. For the sake of Your name, please guard my heart. Guard my steps. Let me be fully satisfied in You so I look no where else. I love You. Help me love You more.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

How Much Time?

Do you ever wonder how much time you have on earth? Do you dream of things you want to do before that point? Do you actually pursue those things or are they in the distant future?

I was reminded once again today of the need to make the most of my time. I spent a few hours this afternoon at the hospital visiting a friend who was in a coma for over a month... and then unresponsive for another couple months and is just now starting to be responsive. It was a simple skateboarding accident. All at once, his life was changed... his mouth has not uttered a word for 4 months. He was one of the most energetic people I know. Things have changed. Yet, God is still in control.

I sat there on the hospital bed reading Psalm 27 to him and talking to him about Joshua and God's promise to always be with us. It was hard not knowing if he could even understand what I was saying. I think he could understand... but is so hard when there is no response. It was good to be able to pray with his mom over him... but so hard to see him in that state. I'm thankful that we have an all-wise God who has never once failed in doing what is best.

It did cause me to think about the different things I want to accomplish in life... and what I am doing now to prepare myself to accomplish them. I'm talking specifically about the areas in which we can make a difference for the sake of Christ for eternity. How am I living out the reality of the gospel in my normal everyday life? How is Christ and His call to forsake all and follow Him changing me? These are all questions that I ought to ask myself continually.
Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. (Eph. 5:16)
Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. (Col. 4:5)
There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven--A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing. A time to search and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace. (Ecc. 3:1-8)
So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)
God, I ask that You show me my end... remind me of how short my life is, so that I would spend my time wisely. Remind me of the death I must die daily [to sin and my own desires] and of the life that I must live to the fullest in Christ. You have made it clear that there are times for just about everything. Please make Your will clear... show me the things that it is time for. Fix my heart on You and grant courage to make the most of the time that You have given me. Let me not live life without impacting souls for Your glory. Rid me of myself so that I see the opportunities that You are continually placing in my path. Conform my desires to Yours. Make me more like Christ. I want a full life for Your glory. I am Your tool... not one that you need... but one that You have chosen. Please use me as You see fit.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Firm in Your Faith

I was reading in 1 Peter 5 this morning and verses 6-11 caught my attention.
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.
I have been thinking much about what humility actually looks like. False humility is such a huge temptation... but when I am laying all my anxiety at His feet, that is humbling. It is an act of submission knowing that I can do nothing about my fears, but He can do everything. I believe that faith has a huge connection to humility. The result of faith is submission and obedience to His ways regardless of if other roads seem easier. It takes humility to take my ideals and throw them aside for sake of following His perfect plan... but when I have my eyes fully fixed on Christ, there is nothing within me that wants it any other way. He confirms and strengthens and establishes us as we obey Him. It is within His nature to do so.

God, my anxious heart needs more of You. You have given me no reason not to trust You... but it is humbling to trust You. Rid my heart of any pride that would be keeping me from true humility. Guard me against the appearance of humility without the heart behind it. Humble me as You deem best. Thank You for Your care. Give me a heart of steadfastness in faith. Plant my feet firm in Your ways so that when the Satan comes to devour, Your grace would be my shelter in time of storm. I ask for Your perfecting work in my heart... and for Your confirming, strengthening, and establishing. I am needy... but You are awesome in splendor. Cause me to tremble before You. Thank You for meeting my every desire. You are all I need. Help me to truly believe that. Tune my heart to sing Your praise. You make everything glorious. Teach me to love You more.