“He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.”
I never blog anymore. Blame it on the #momlife.
So I feel like, by the grace of God, I’ve been growing a lot lately.
It’s truly all God’s grace. I haven’t even been in the Word much lately.
But God is good. God is gracious.
I think I’m growing in my understanding of just how much grace He offers and affords me. That His desire is not to punish or shame. That His tenderness is extended just as much if not more than His wrath and judgment (theologians… is that correct thinking?? Or maybe it’s incorrect to think of these attributes in measurable amounts…).
I still struggle when considering God’s judgment vs. His long-suffering loving-kindness. Sometimes I still feel like His wrath is the “dirty little secret” of Christianity. But I’m understanding more that God MUST judge evil. And for Him to restore the world and humanity to its intended state, He MUST come in wrath. For Him to be good, He MUST hate everything that destroys, everything that separates us from Him. And His heart’s desire and full intent is to restore us completely to Himself for our great pleasure and His great glory. (Can you tell I’ve been listening to a lot of Piper? Lol.)
For the first time in a good while, I stayed in my seat during the closing set of worship. It felt so good to just receive and let the Lord minister to me.
I’ve been feeling stretched, and yes, as much as I hate the phrase due to all the overuse in college, perhaps a little close to burn out. Life is consumed with so much pouring out, so much ministry.
So as I stood at my seat during service, opening my hands to receive, I felt God encouraging me. I felt Him saying that in order to step into greater calling and greater ministry, I had to truly believe this one thing: that He is good and specifically that He is good TO ME.
Often I can feel His love and compassion and tenderness for other people, but I almost never feel it FOR ME. When it comes to God and how I feel He relates to me, often I see Him as a God who is just waiting to drop the axe (is that the expression?) and punish. As if He’s just waiting for me to mess up so He can discipline me. I see His grace as an obligation that comes out of Him being holy, rather than a loving expression He chooses because of the fact that He is so gracious and so kind that He loves me.
Every week during accountability, we answer this question: are you experiencing God’s love, grace, and forgiveness? And every week, my answer is somewhat. I don’t think there’s been a single week when I’ve answered yes.
Do I truly believe God is gracious to me? Do I truly believe He is for me?
If I examine my life, I can see so many small and large evidences of grace. All these times when I should have been shamed/revealed/disciplined, but God encountered me in tenderness and not wrath.
It reminds me of this article I read by Henry Cloud (it’s great, take a look!): Why You Shouldn’t Give Others What They Deserve
Not giving others what they deserve is a big part of not playing fair. To give them better than they deserve is grace. The word means “unmerited favor.” Sometimes, it means that we give someone loving limits and consequences if other things have not worked. But often, limits are not needed; only a little softness is.
God is so gracious to me. He is long-suffering. He is kind. I don’t always feel it. But faith isn’t always about feeling. It’s about believing. It’s about knowing. (As my dear husband in recapping Todd White, his fave, recently reminded me.) I must BELIEVE God is good and that He is good to me.
When we know and believe God’s character, when we behold Him and adore Him and see just how worthy He is, then we will have fuel and passion and drive in our ministry. When we truly treasure the One we are worshipping, then our worship is not a chore, it’s a delight, it’s a pleasure. Pointing others to Him is no longer a task, but a privilege, a joy, it’s something that cannot be contained.
I’m reminded of one of my all-time favorite verses, Isaiah 42:3:
A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out. In faithfulness He will bring forth justice…
My Lord, my God is SO gracious to me. He is so kind, so tender, so loving. I owe Him everything, yet to receive His love He doesn’t even ask for anything (other than choosing to believe)! Even if I didn’t serve Him, He would still love me. Even if I didn’t grow in Him, He would still love me. Even if I spurned His gifts, cast them aside, lived life only for myself, He would still love me. Even if I followed every evil desire of my flesh, He would still love me.
As someone who struggles with self-/works-based righteousness, that is soooo difficult for me to fathom!!!
How could a perfect, holy, all-sufficient God LOVE me, without ever even asking anything of me?
I just cannot fathom it. I cannot fathom this love He has for me. Yet here I am, exercising my faith, choosing to believe it and letting my inability to comprehend His love point me even more to how great, how loving, how immeasurably precious my God is!
“For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in Him but also suffer for His sake…”
“One discovery that, for me, has made all the difference in the world is that the reason God does not like being taken for granted is not only that it robs him of glory, but also that it robs me of joy. And perhaps the greatest discovery of all is that these two goals — God’s goal to be glorified and my desire to be satisfied — are not at odds. That’s the Gospel to me. And they come together in one silmultaneous experience: worship.”
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”
The world we live in grows more and more hostile toward the things of God. Let us ask for wisdom. Let us ask for resolve to stand strong and not compromise and not be blown about by the reasoning of the world. To stand on anything/anyone other than Christ is to stand on shifting stand. I know I am prone to wander, prone to be swayed, prone to give in to peer pressure and fear of man, yet the verse above talks about faith. Ask for wisdom in faith that God will give it. So in faith I say that God will make me wise. In faith I say that on His solid foundation, His solid rock I will stand. In faith I say that I welcome persecution, I welcome misunderstanding, I welcome the assumptions of others when I make decisions or stand for things based on reasoning and principles they do not understand.
Yes, the world and its values are walking further and further away from God and I can feel it. I see it around me. I feel the tug to give in and doubt and compromise in the flesh part of my heart. So in faith, I call out “Lord, I lack wisdom! I need Your wisdom. I need Your mind. I need Your heart.” And in faith, I know He will answer me.
“But most deeply the way the Bible equips us for every good work is by changing what we find satisfaction in so that our obedience comes from within freely, not by coercion from without. It does this when we read it and meditate on it and memorize it and meditate over it every day.”
“…what God says to us will be more useful than what anyone else in the universe has to say. Not to sit at His feet and soak our minds in His wisdom is sheer craziness if not suicidal.”
“Sheer craziness…” I love that. Lord, help me live my convictions!!