It’s Not Fair

23 09 2013

“In the natural life our ambitions alter as we develop; in the Christian life the goal is given at the beginning, the beginning and the end are the same, viz., our Lord Himself.  We start with Christ and we end with Him…  The aim of the missionary is to do God’s will, not to be useful, not to win the heathen; he is useful and he does win the heathen, but that is not his aim.  His aim is to do the will of his Lord.” — Oswald Chambers

1 Peter 2:19-24 For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. 21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

In preparing for tomorrow’s bible study I was struck once again by the discrepancy between Truth and my own attitude.  God’s word says that favor or grace is found when I bear up under the weight of griefs that come from suffering things that are not at all due to anything I did or did not do. It clearly promotes the idea that no credit is given for being strong in the face of that which is fairly given.

It reminds me of a credit report.  If I decide to buy a car and need to borrow money to finance it, the dealership will run my credit report.  On that report there is listed all the opportunities I have had to exercise the discipline of debt and repayment.  I get “credit” for the times I have borrowed and repaid.  If I borrow and don’t repay then I get a deduction.  My final score is determined by both positives and negatives.  When it comes to our Suffering Credit Score, we get “credit” only when we bear up under that which is not fair.  If we sin and get what we deserve, and bear up under it, that does not count toward our final score.  Okay, so it’s not a perfect analogy, but you get the point:  if we want that grace upon grace principle at work in our lives than we need to look at the attitudes that might be blocking it from coming.

“Whether we like it or not, all Christians are an advertisement for Christianity; by their lives, they either commend it to others or make them think less of it.  The strongest missionary force in the world is the Christian life.” — William Barclay

Matthew 5:10-12  Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

We have been called for the purpose of bearing up under the weight of unfair treatments because it gives us the opportunity to mirror Jesus to the world around us.  If I am just like the world in my attitude, why would anyone want my Christianity.  Jesus example was absolutely and completely counterintuitive to every other person EVER.  He suffered more utterly unjustly than any of us ever will, and yet, for the joy set before Him, He endured the cross.  He despised the shame of it all but did not waver.  (Hebrews 12:2)

I have dug my feet into the big but of “It’s not fair!” more times than I can even begin to count.  And each time, I have lost out on a measure of grace that could have been mine.

“But, Margaret, if I have to DO something to get the grace, than it isn’t grace at all, is it?”

What a good question!

It is not the work of bearing up under that brings the grace, it is the positioning of a soul that brings it.  The spout of grace is already on, if I am a believer.  I don’t have to DO anything to turn it on, but I can choose whether or not to stand under it or not.

One of the things I love about God is that He is always, always, always faithful to the soul who bows low in humility and dependence on Him.  Even if I sin and bring consequences on myself, if I truly repent and turn to Him, He pours out His grace upon me so that even in those circumstances, I am able to glorify Him.  Too often, though, I am so set on my attitude of “It’s not fair” that I don’t see my need to repent and return to Him.

So, what does that
look like in real life?

How about the spouse who cheerfully sticks it out in a marriage that is not meeting his or her needs and does not stop doing the things that bless?

How about the employee who cheerfully endures ridicule by co-workers and continues to share the kindness of the Lord with them?

How about the parent who cheerful bears up under the weight of rebellious children and continues to pray and love on them?

How about the friend who cheerfully sticks by the friend who is unwilling or unable to return the friendship and never stops praying for them and being available to them?

How about the believers who cheerfully sustains a kind and loving spirit toward the ones who hate them and want their death?

I will never be able to do the last if I have not practiced the principle in other areas.  It is time for me to begin to build my Suffering Credit Score so that when the time comes (and it will come!) for me to stand firm in the face of death for my faith it will be such a habitual part of my attitude that all the Grace I need will be there and it will be a no-brainer.

Oh, Lord!  You alone know what a big whiner I am and how hard it is to move past the attitude of “it’s not fair”!  But You alone are the One who can so powerfully consume my heart and mind with Your grace and truth to set me free from it.  I submit my rights and my right to my rights to You.  I trust You, O Lord, to be faithful.  I trust You, O Lord, to be huge.  I trust You, O Lord, to be here with me so that like the three Jewish boys in the fiery furnace, the enemy will have to acknowledge that the fires have not hurt me but have brought Your presence and glory.


Have You Seen God Move?

31 07 2013

1 Corinthians 1:26-29 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29 so that no man may boast before God.

God is moving today. He is moving powerfully and wonderfully. He is moving in the most unlikely of vessels. He is moving to make bold leaders from the fearful. He is moving to make bright lights from those hidden in the shadows. He is moving to make pillars of strength from the weak in character. He is moving to make vessels of honor for His use from the stained and dirty. He is moving to make victorious warriors from those who were bound and imprisoned. He is moving to make trumpets of joy from the depressed and grieving. He is making teachers of truth from the foolish. He is moving to make prophetic visionaries from the blind and myopic.

Luke 18:27 But He said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.”

Have you seen Him move lately? Are you looking for Him to move? Are you looking for Him to move in the right places?

He is moving to take the things that are not and make them so, because He can. It is those that are, and know it, that become unyielding vessels in which He cannot work.

Our God specializes in the impossible so I will stop praying for the mundane. I will stop waiting for the ordinary. I am going to pray for the AMAZING and wait for the MIRACULOUS. Why wouldn’t I? Nothing is too difficult for Him (Jeremiah 32:17).

Isaiah 57:15 For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, “I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the [crushed] and [depressed] of spirit In order to revive the spirit of the [depressed] And to revive the heart of the [crushed].”

When I see or experience a great deficit than I will know it is the perfect opportunity for His filling.

When I see or experience an overwhelming burden than I will know it is the perfect opportunity for Him to carry it.

When I see or experience incapacitating weakness than I will know it is the perfect opportunity for His strength to be perfected.

When I see or experience the sorrow of something dead or missing than I will know it is the perfect opportunity for Him resurrection to bring new life.

When I see or experience a complete and utter lack of love than I will know it is the perfect opportunity for His unfailing love to ignite a flame of passion that cannot be extinguished.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

The Lord is giving us a vision for our future and it is good, because it is ALL Him. We don’t have to understand it or try to figure out what it looks like in an ever disheartening view of our circumstances and culture, because faith is the principle by which we live. And that small window that He is giving us to Him moving in the weak, the foolish, the grieving, the fearful, and the despised is His Light reminding us that He isn’t done being a God of Miracles yet.

Numbers 11:23 The LORD said to Moses, “Is the LORD’S power limited? Now you shall see whether My word will come true for you or not.”

Here’s My Comfort…

7 05 2012

Psalms 119:50 This is my comfort in my affliction, That Your word has revived me.

  •  affliction:  depression; misery

Being a child of God does not prevent us from feeling depressed or miserable, nor does it prevent us from being afflicted.  The weights of the world seem to pile up continually until we become so burdened by them that we feel as if we can no longer breathe.  The psalmist didn’t pretend that everything was “no problemo”.  He faced his affliction head on and found comfort from the way he was feeling in the Word of God.

Notice, he didn’t self-medicate with anything that the world had to offer.  How much easier it is for us to turn to any number of things that seem to offer to numb the depression or pain!  True spiritual relief and healing begins and ends with CPR from God’s word that breathes new life and hope into us through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is called our Comforter/Helper (John 14:26 – parakletos, #3875; from parakleo, # 3870: called to the side of).  As He reminds us of God’s Word, He also applies it so that by it, we are comforted and encouraged.

The Father God is our Comforter:

 (2 Corinthians 1:3-11) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort. For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many. 

Jesus is also called our parakletos (1Jo 2:1  My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.) in terms of standing beside us to save and to give aid.  He IS the Word that comforts us in all our afflictions.

 The worldling clutches his money bag and says, “this is my comfort”; the spendthrift points to his gaiety, shouts, “this is my comfort”; the drunkard lifts his glass, and sings, “this is my comfort”; but the man whose hope comes from God feels the giving power of the word of the Lord, and he testifies, “this is my fort.” Paul said, “I know whom I have believed.” Comfort is desirable all times; but comfort in affliction is like a lamp in a dark place. Some are unable to find comfort at such times; but it is not so with believers, their Savour has said to them, “I will not leave you comfortless.” Some have comfort and no affliction, others have affliction and no comfort; the saints have comfort in their affliction. — C. H. Spurgeon

The true Child of God treats his misery with God’s Word, knowing it alone can revive a spirit on the verge of expiring.

(Psalms 19:7-8) The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. 

Lord, may affliction always send me to Your Word for comfort.  May I find comfort there.  And may I comfort others with the comfort You give.

Practical Grieving

7 04 2012

Psalms 119:28 My soul weeps because of grief; Strengthen me according to Your word.

  •  Grief: (#8424; tugah) indicates grief, sorrow; refers to the emotion and process of feeling a great loss and loneliness.

This Psalm is nothing, if it isn’t practical.  Dealing with our own grief is a practical and inevitable part of our life.  While grief can come through many avenues, including death, separation, divorce, loss or other misfortunes, this grief is probably tied to verse 25.  His soul is united with the dust and he longs to be revived.  Is it his revived soul that grieves over his sin?  Or is it the part of his soul that is not yet revived that grieves for what it is not given?  Or both?  Either way, the psalmist knows and understands what his soul needs, and that is the Word of God.  No other “fix” satisfies, heals, or strengthens.

 Tears are the distillation of the heart; when a man weeps he wastes away his soul. Some of us know what great heaviness means, for we have been brought under its power again and again, and often have we felt ourselves to be poured out like water, and near to being like water spilt upon the ground, never again to be gathered up. There is one good point in this downcast state, for it is better to be melted with grief than to be hardened by impenitence. — C. H. Spurgeon

COMMAND:  Psalm 27:14 Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.

PROMISE:  Psalm 29:11 The LORD will give strength to His people; The LORD will bless His people with peace.

PROMISE:  Isaiah 40:29-31 He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.

PRAYER:  (Ephesians 3:14-19) 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.

His hope in his state of depression lies not in himself, but in his God; if he may be strengthened from on high he will yet shake off his heaviness and rise to joy again…  God strengthens us by infusing grace through his word: the word which creates can certainly sustain.  Grace can enable us to bear the constant fret of an abiding sorrow, it can repair the decay caused by the perpetual tear drip, and give to the believer the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. Let us always resort to prayer in our desponding times, for it is the surest and shortest way out of the depths. In that prayer let us plead nothing but the word of God; for there is no plea like a promise, no argument like a word from our covenant God. — C. H. Spurgeon

Strength in times of grief comes from the Word in the form of commands (so we know what to do), promises (so we know what God will do), and prayers (so we know how to ask).  The faithful believer finds all he needs in the Word and puts his trust in it, putting all his faith in the God who spoke that Word for his use (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

 Strengthen me to do the duties, resist the temptations, and bear up under the burdens of an afflicted state, that the spirit may not fail. Matthew Henry.

O Lord, do not allow my soul to be lost in heaviness, in grief, or in depression.  Strengthen me according to Your Word so I will not fall or fail, so I will stand and glorify You no matter how I feel.