Monday, March 26, 2012

There is a River

Sometimes, even in the midst of confusions, troubles, and the questionings of life, deep down inside there can be a pure stream, a holy river that flows.  It’s a river of joy.  It’s a river of peace.  It’s a river of God that stirs within us a longing for the eternal.  It’s a river that cries out, as deep calls to deep, to be united with God, to know that we were created to be with Him and to be like Him.

On our soulish level of existence, our minds can be plagued by doubts, fears, and unanswered questions.  Our hearts can be weighed down by disappointment, anxiety, anger, or bitterness.  At the least, our hearts can be burdened by sighs of regret, and longings for so much more.  Yet, despite it all, there is a river which flows. 

Psalm 46 says, “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God…” (vs. 4)  The Psalmist says that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (vs. 1)  The earth may give way, the mountains may fall into the sea, the waters may roar and foam, the nations may be in uproar, the kingdoms of the earth may fall, but where God is there is peace.  God is our fortress and strength.  He is our help in time of need.  We can be still and know that He is God. (see Ps. 46)

Whatever you are going through now, know this:  There is a joy and a peace which transcends your earthly experience.  There is a longing of the Spirit which calls you higher and draws you deeper.  In the midst of the most troubling circumstances we can find ourselves drawn deeper into His presence, closer to His heart, and our Spirits expanding higher into greater measures of His glory. 

Psalm 46

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to alamoth.  A song.

God is our refuge and strength,
   an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
   and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
   and the mountains quake with their surging. 

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
   the holy place where the Most High dwells. 
God is within her, she will not fall;
   God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
   he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The LORD Almighty is with us;
   the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see the works of the LORD,
   the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;
   he breaks the bow and shatters the spear,
   he burns the shields with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God;
   I will be exalted among the nations,
   I will be exalted in the earth.”

The LORD Almighty is with us;
   the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Built Up by God

When the Lord appointed Jeremiah as a prophet, part of his calling was “to uproot and tear down…to build and to plant.” (vs. 9-10)  A primary part of a prophet’s calling, or any person in spiritual authority, is to build up the church.  The Apostle Paul wrote that the authority he was given by the Lord was to build up the church, not to tear it down (see II Cor. 10:8 and II Cor. 13:10).  Indeed, to this very day, the Lord is building his church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it! (see Matthew 16:18) 
Of course, building up the church is not just a leader’s job.  As Christians we are called to build each other up.  We do this through words of prayer and encouragement and by serving each other in love.  We are even encouraged to build our own selves up (see Jude 1:20).  We do this through spending time with the Lord in prayer and worship.  One way I like to build myself up is by praying in tongues.    
As the body of Christ, we are connected to one another.  We are “…fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” (Eph. 2:19-20)  God builds up His church in love.  Together we are being built up as a dwelling place for God. (Eph. 2:22)  God desires that we, as a church, be rooted and grounded in love, and that we ultimately are filled “with all the fullness of God.” (see Eph. 3:14-20)
Sometimes God’s love is revealed to us in correction.  When I was young my parent’s had a wooden paddle.  On the paddle there were some words.  I believe they said, “Never hit a child in the face, nature provides a better place.”  I remember the sting of that paddle on my backside.  Isn’t it interesting how when we grow older we are thankful for the good discipline we received as a child?  Likewise, sometimes God’s discipline hurts for a time, but it “produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (see Heb. 12:3-11)       
Discipline may come in the form of waiting.  I don’t see the Lord’s discipline as a form of punishment for things we’ve done wrong, necessarily.  I see God’s discipline as a tool of character formation and faith refinement.  God is molding us, making us more like Him.  Just like muscles, as we face resistance in life, we gradually grow stronger. 
There are times of discipline I’ve gone through that have felt like rejection from God.  But I’m learning that these struggles are not rejection, they may in fact be because God loves me so much.  Surely it hurts God to see His children suffer.  Yet, as we grow in Him, surely it brings Him great joy to see in us a reflection of Himself. 
Indeed, the Lord is building us up.  He is building His church.  Just like a parent who, after spanking their child, holds that child in his arms and reassures them of his love, God holds us in His arms today.  He reassures us of how much He loves us.  He builds us back up again and we are stronger for it.

Prayer Equals Peace

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow...