“I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.” (John 12:46)
This world is dark as midnight; Jesus has come that by faith we may have light, and may no longer sit in the gloom which covers all the rest of mankind.
Whosoever is a very wide term: it means you and me. If we trust in Jesus we shall no more sit in the dark shadow of death, but shall enter into the warm light of a day which shall never end. Why do we not come out into the light at once?
A cloud may sometimes hover over us, but we shall not abide in darkness if we believe in Jesus. He has come to give us broad daylight. Shall He come in vain? If we have faith we have the privilege of sunlight: let us enjoy it. From the night of natural depravity, of ignorance, of doubt, of despair, of sin, of dread, Jesus has come to set us free; and all believers shall know that He no more comes in vain than the sun rises and fails to scatter his heat and light.
Shake off thy depression, dear brother. Abide not in the dark, but abide in the light. In Jesus is thy hope, thy joy, thy Heaven. Look to Him, to Him only, and thou shalt rejoice as the birds rejoice at sunrise, and as the angels rejoice before the throne.
I remember when I was a little boy and my father took us on a family vacation to Ruby Falls. I remember being in a cave and they turned the lights out. A voice came over the speaker and said if you stayed in this dark for too long you would go blind. I don’t know if that is true or not, but I do know that so many Christian walk in darkness for so long when they see the light it blinds them. Like waking up in the morning and someone turns on a bright light.
Abide in the light of our Savior, so when someone tries to shine the light on you the light of God leaves them as deer staring into headlights.
Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless–that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing. 1 Peter 3:8–9 MSG
In Other Words
In summary, God wants us to be agreeable, sympathetic, loving, compassionate, and humble. It gives God no pleasure when we become obsessed with getting even, behave like put-down artist, or become champions of sarcastic word wars. We are called to be different. We are to bless, not curse. When we bless others, even in adverse circumstances, we also receive blessings. Bless and be blessed, that’s God’s way.
ü God wants us to get along with grumpy people
ü He wants us to return sarcasm with sympathy, distain with empathy
ü Jesus wants us to be loving and compassionate, even when surrounded by hate
ü Our Father is not happy when we waste time in getting even or playing “pay-back”
ü He is not pleased when we put others down instead of lifting them up
ü God winces when we willingly become bows for poisoned arrows of sarcasm
ü Jesus empowers us to be different
ü Our Father expects us to both bless and be a blessing to others
ü When we bless each other, then surely we are being blessed
Questions and Thoughts to Aid Digestion
Have you ever launched a counter-attack against sarcasm? Were you happy with the results?
How much do you grow in the Lord when you have vindictive or spiteful thoughts?
Which seems more natural, to turn our cheek, or to slap theirs?
How often are you caught in the act of being a blessing to someone else?
Because God expects us to be meek, does that mean we should be weak?
“Success” does indeed have its rewards. Therefore the temptation to parade the accouterments of achievement in front of others in order to garner their admiration is almost irresistible! After all,
“If you‘ve got it, FLAUNT IT!“ (But subtly, of course.)
Let’s just admit that it’s hard to be humble when you’re soooo good!
God is not against success. But He is against pride. And the pride that often accompanies our success can indeed be seductive.
Take for example the experiences of:
“But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the Lord his God… “ (2 Chronicles 26:16)
“After Rehoboam‘s position as king was established and he had become strong, he and all Israel with him abandoned the law of the Lord.“ (2 Chronicles 12:1)
“Jeshurun grew fat… filled with food… heavy and sleek. He abandoned the God who made him and rejected the Rock his Savior.“ (Deuteronomy. 32:15)
Because “SUCCESS” IS A SEDUCTIVE MISTRESS we would be wise to heed sage old King Solomon — who himself was seduced by his success — when he prayed:
“Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?‘ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.“ (Proverbs 30:8, 9)
QUESTION: How well are you handling your “success” in the eyes of the Lord Jesus?
- Is He pleased as He observes you, His humble, self-sacrificing, and gracious servant? Or:
- Is He grieved by a pride-ridden life that is locked on to spiritual cruise-control?
The problem is that a lot of us are in spiritual cruise control. We are not pursuing God. We are not following after righteousness. The Christian life is like a greased pole: either you are climbing or slipping. How about you? Are you climbing? Are you growing? Are you maturing? Or are you going backward? It is time for us to use what God has given so we can go out and do some serious spiritual four-wheeling.
It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord. (Lamentations 3:26)
As I sit quietly I can hear my heart beat, just listening for God’s Spirit to speak to me. This is the place where my faith grows, in my time of quietness I can feel the Spirit of God preparing me for tomorrow. “The Lord is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him” (Habakkuk 2:20) I heart races and then it seems to stop, my mind is at the center of consciousness that generates my thoughts. My hand sprints across the page of my notebook, my pen feels like a baton waiting to conduct the great performers.
Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be fainthearted”. “In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength”. Such words reveal to us the close connection between quietness and faith. They show us what a deep need there is of quietness, as an element of true waiting upon God. “Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord God” (Zephaniah 1:7) If we are to have our whole heart turned toward God, we must have it turned away from man, from all that occupies and interests, whether of joy or sorrow.
God is a being of such infinite greatness and glory, and our nature has become so estranged from Him, that it requires our whole heart and desires set upon Him, even in some little measure, to know and receive Him. Everything that is not God, that excites our fears or stirs our efforts or awakens our hopes or makes us glad, hinders us in our perfect waiting on Him. The message is one of deep meaning: “Take heed, and be quiet”; “In quietness…shall be your strength”; “It is good that a man should… quietly wait.”
As long as the Waiting on God is chiefly regarded as an end toward more effectual prayer, and the obtaining of our petitions, this spirit of perfect quietness will not be obtained. But, when it is seen that Waiting on God is itself an unspeakable blessedness one of the highest forms of fellowship with the Holy One the adoration of Him in His glory will of necessity humble the soul into a holy stillness, making way for God to speak and reveal Himself. Then, it comes to the fulfillment of the precious promise, that all of self and self-effort will be humbled: “The haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day” (Isaiah 2:11).
“Take heed, and be quiet” (Isaiah 7:4). “It is good that a man… quietly wait.” Take time to be separate from all friends and all duties, all cares and all joys; time to be still and quiet before God. Take time not only to secure stillness from man and the world, but from self and its energy. Let the Word and prayer be very precious. We will discover that it grows upon us, and the little season of silent worship will bring a peace and a rest that give a blessing not only in prayer, but all day.
The quietness is the confession of our meekness. It will not be done with all our willing and running, with all our thinking and praying. We must receive it from God. It is the confession of our faith that our God will, in His time, come to our help the quiet resting in Him alone.
“My soul, wait thou only upon God!”
Sam and Jean had a hellish marriage.
With a history of promiscuity, personal insecurities, etc., etc., both brought excess baggage into the relationship that contributed toward constant
conflict. Both however, had recently become followers of Christ and were committed to living out their marriage vows His way.
That was twenty years ago. Today I was on the phone with Sam as he mused over the fact that he and Jean had become “best friends.”
It seems to me there are several reasons for this remarkable transformation:
1. Both were willing to humble themselves and seek out competent and godly counsel to help them identify and root out the origins of their problems:
“For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure.” (Proverbs 11:14)
2. Both were committed to spiritual growth: Consistent times of prayerful meditation upon God’s Word:
“Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.
Then you will be prosperous and successful.” (Jos. 1:8)
3. Both surrounded themselves with godly people to whom they chose to be accountable; people from whom they gained supportive strength:
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs
with gratitude in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16) (See 1 Thessalonians 4:18; 5:11; Hebrews 12:12-15)
4. Both were committed to persevering through their problems. In their minds divorce was never an option. Thus, they chose to face, rather than deny
or ignore the critical issues:
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9) (See Romans 5:3 ; 1 Corinthians 15:58; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; Hebrews 12:1-3; 1 Peter 3:8-11)
Over the years, I have met few couples who did not face daunting challenges in their marriage. I have come to believe that marital success or failure
is determined not by the size of the problems, but by whether or not the couple is willing to face and deal with the problematic issues, whatever the pain, whatever the cost.
Living as we do in a crybaby world “if it feels good do it” society where marriage vows often read, “as long as we both shall love,”
instead of “till death do us part,” we need to comprehend the fact that God hates divorce, and only granted it because of people’s hardness of heart. (Malachi 2:16; Mark 10:2-9)
QUESTION: Are you demonstrating your commitment to your marriage by taking whatever steps are biblical and necessary to resolve the difficult
issues that inevitably could destroy it? If not, why not?
THOUGHT: If you applied these principles and biblical truths to every area of your life, what would the outcome be?
1 Chronicles 14
David’s House and Family
1 Now Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, along with cedar logs, stonemasons and carpenters to build a palace for him. 2 And David knew that the Lord had established him as king over Israel and that his kingdom had been highly exalted for the sake of his people Israel.
3 In Jerusalem David took more wives and became the father of more sons and daughters. 4 These are the names of the children born to him there: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, 5 Ibhar, Elishua, Elpelet, 6 Nogah, Nepheg, Japhia, 7 Elishama, Beeliadaa and Eliphelet.
David Defeats the Philistines
8 When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over all Israel, they went up in full force to search for him, but David heard about it and went out to meet them. 9 Now the Philistines had come and raided the Valley of Rephaim; 10 so David inquired of God: “Shall I go and attack the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?”
The Lord answered him, “Go, I will hand them over to you.”
11 So David and his men went up to Baal Perazim, and there he defeated them. He said, “As waters break out, God has broken out against my enemies by my hand.” So that place was called Baal Perazim.a 12 The Philistines had abandoned their gods there, and David gave orders to burn them in the fire.
13 Once more the Philistines raided the valley; 14 so David inquired of God again, and God answered him, “Do not go straight up, but circle around them and attack them in front of the balsam trees. 15 As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, move out to battle, because that will mean God has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine army.” 16 So David did as God commanded him, and they struck down the Philistine army, all the way from Gibeon to Gezer.
17 So David’s fame spread throughout every land, and the Lord made all the nations fear him.
1 Chronicles 15
The Ark Brought to Jerusalem
1 After David had constructed buildings for himself in the City of David, he prepared a place for the ark of God and pitched a tent for it. 2 Then David said, “No one but the Levites may carry the ark of God, because the Lord chose them to carry the ark of the Lord and to minister before him forever.”
3 David assembled all Israel in Jerusalem to bring up the ark of the Lord to the place he had prepared for it. 4 He called together the descendants of Aaron and the Levites:
5 From the descendants of Kohath,
Uriel the leader and 120 relatives;
6 from the descendants of Merari,
Asaiah the leader and 220 relatives;
7 from the descendants of Gershon,a
Joel the leader and 130 relatives;
8 from the descendants of Elizaphan,
Shemaiah the leader and 200 relatives;
9 from the descendants of Hebron,
Eliel the leader and 80 relatives;
10 from the descendants of Uzziel,
Amminadab the leader and 112 relatives.
11 Then David summoned Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel and Amminadab the Levites. 12 He said to them, “You are the heads of the Levitical families; you and your fellow Levites are to consecrate yourselves and bring up the ark of the Lord, the God of Israel, to the place I have prepared for it. 13 It was because you, the Levites, did not bring it up the first time that the Lord our God broke out in anger against us. We did not inquire of him about how to do it in the prescribed way.” 14 So the priests and Levites consecrated themselves in order to bring up the ark of the Lord, the God of Israel. 15 And the Levites carried the ark of God with the poles on their shoulders, as Moses had commanded in accordance with the word of the Lord.
16 David told the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brothers as singers to sing joyful songs, accompanied by musical instruments: lyres, harps and cymbals.
17 So the Levites appointed Heman son of Joel; from his brothers, Asaph son of Berekiah; and from their brothers the Merarites, Ethan son of Kushaiah; 18 and with them their brothers next in rank: Zechariah,b Jaaziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, Mikneiah, Obed-Edom and Jeiel,c the gatekeepers.
19 The musicians Heman, Asaph and Ethan were to sound the bronze cymbals; 20 Zechariah, Aziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Maaseiah and Benaiah were to play the lyres according to alamoth,d 21 and Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, Mikneiah, Obed-Edom, Jeiel and Azaziah were to play the harps, directing according to sheminith.e 22 Kenaniah the head Levite was in charge of the singing; that was his responsibility because he was skillful at it.
23 Berekiah and Elkanah were to be doorkeepers for the ark. 24 Shebaniah, Joshaphat, Nethanel, Amasai, Zechariah, Benaiah and Eliezer the priests were to blow trumpets before the ark of God. Obed-Edom and Jehiah were also to be doorkeepers for the ark.
25 So David and the elders of Israel and the commanders of units of a thousand went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord from the house of Obed-Edom, with rejoicing. 26 Because God had helped the Levites who were carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord, seven bulls and seven rams were sacrificed. 27 Now David was clothed in a robe of fine linen, as were all the Levites who were carrying the ark, and as were the singers, and Kenaniah, who was in charge of the singing of the choirs. David also wore a linen ephod. 28 So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord with shouts, with the sounding of rams’ horns and trumpets, and of cymbals, and the playing of lyres and harps.
29 As the ark of the covenant of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David dancing and celebrating, she despised him in her heart.
26 It is not good to punish an innocent man,
or to flog officials for their integrity.
27 A man of knowledge uses words with restraint,
and a man of understanding is even-tempered.
Abraham Lincoln said “I have come to realize that people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
This morning tell your body and soul that I am happy, healthy, and feel great! Speak to your world and create it as man was originally intended to do.
It seems that whatever we say is what we settle for.
Speak to your mountain today and see it removed. Doubt not and simply believe you are created as an agent for change in this world.
Proverb 23:7 says “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
To change your circumstance, change your thinking! To change your thinking, change your words!”
While people look for better methods, God looks for better people. Choose to believe God today, choose to be happy today!
Life is too short and tomorrow is not promised, make every day the best day of your life.
I am praying for a mountain moving experience in your life today.
The Five Star Hotel
“I see what you’ve done. Now see what I’ve done. I’ve opened a door before you that no one can slam shut. You don’t have much strength; I know that; you used what you had to keep my Word. You didn’t deny me when times were rough. “And watch as I take those who call themselves true believers but are nothing of the kind, pretenders whose true membership is in the club of Satan—watch as I strip off their pretensions and they’re forced to acknowledge it’s you that I’ve loved.”Because you kept my Word in passionate patience, I’ll keep you safe in the time of testing that will be here soon, and all over the earth, every man, woman, and child put to the test. “I’m on my way; I’ll be there soon. Keep a tight grip on what you have so no one distracts you and steals your crown. Revelation 3:8-11
So often I wonder if I am losing my mind because of the thoughts I have sometimes. I often wonder if I am the only one thinking the way I think. My wife tells me, normal (not the word she uses, but maybe what she is thinking) people don’t think the way you do. I am sure if John had a wife when he was writing the book of Revelation she would have said him the same thing him, my wife say to me sometime. My suggestion to my wife is always follow me, if I am wrong the worst thing could happen is you will deepen your relationship with God and His people. But what if I am right?
My wife and I spent a week in Orlando, Fl. For the first three days we stayed in a three star hotel and for the last four days we moved into a five star hotel. One of the things I always ask God to do is teach me as I live this life, in everything I do. Well, He always does, however, sometimes I wish I had not asked for the lesson He teaches me.
The three star hotel we were in was a very nice place, but when we saw the five star mega (you know where I am going) hotel it was pleasing to the eye and enticing to the ego. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, 2 Timothy 4:3. The first night we stayed in this mega hotel God begin to minister to me. As I slept I begin to dream as if Satan himself was tempting me to return to the thing I once loved to do in the world. I remember waking up having to go down on my knees asking God for his strength to overcome.
This is the first trick of the Devil, if he can get us caught up in the beauty of the eyes and the praise of the ears he can easily return us to the love of the world. Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. Matthew 4:8 This is the same trick Satan tried on our Lord. So often we lose sight of the Father, behind the building and the pastor.
This is what happened within the mega hotel and so often happens within the mega or institutionalized church. When I finish talking to my Father, I decided to go to the gym for a workout. I went down to the workout room ready to have a great workout. The nice lady who meets me at the door asked me had I signed up for the workout room yet. (The usher with the tithe envelop) I said no this is my first time here. She said I will be glad to assist you; our fee is $10.00 per day. What! In the three star hotel I had just left the workout room was free. So, I took me a long walk for free.
When I arrived back at the hotel my wife was just waking up complaining about her back hurting. She said this bed is nothing like the one at the other hotel. The room was big and beautiful, but it lacks the very essential thing to fulfill the purpose in which we were in it. The hotel that we had just left, the beds were like sleeping on clouds. When you woke up from your sleep you felt refreshed.
When I first came into the hotel parking garage to park my car I was told to just go on through, but the next time they ask for my room number, my name and gave me a pass. I didn’t think much of it; I had asked the lady at check-in about parking. She told they would ask me for my room number and that was it. Well on the day of check-out there was a billed slid under my door for $6.00 a day parking. Man at the hotel we left we have free parking and a shorter walk to the car.
I know you may be saying what in the world are you trying to say? I am glad you are wondering if you don’t have it by now. You see that same thing happen to us when we move from church building to church building, from pastor to pastor, and from body to body (of people).
As I view the movements that accrue within the body of believers 90% of them are made based on sight and what they hear and not based upon the moving of the spirit of God. The moving from one hotel to another was not base upon the needs of my wife and me, but the satisfaction of the flesh. As I am writing this on a fight from Orlando to Cleveland, I just realized that so many people were loving there stay at this hotel. They were so caught up in the luxury of everything; they didn’t realize the price they had to pay for going mega.
This happens to so many of us in the body of Christ. We are deceived by the beauty around us and don’t recognize the price we have to pay to stay where we are within the body (if that’s really were we are). In the same way Satan attached me in my dreams to entice me to my former life; so many have been enticed while day dreaming at the prosperity of the Gospel. However, we didn’t go on our knees to ask God for help. We go to the lottery of the altar with a promise that God would bless you for this act.
In the same way my wife was awaken from her restless sleep with plain in her back. So many of go throughout the week without a day, hour, minute, or second of rest, because this place costs so much to maintain. The peace that we need in God has been replaced by the desire for man to build a throne for him to rule and sit on. Your backs are burden not by the cross we should bear, but by the ministries the body now has to wear. The place we left gave us the rest we needed to show God in our lives. Not like the place we are that make us live through the pain of no rest and fake like we have it going on.
The food that we received at that other hotel was free, refreshing and left no after taste in my mouth. Unlike the food or lack of that I received at this place. The problem with so many of us is that we can’t afford the pimps we have as pastors. You can never pay a hired hand enough to feed you what our Lord gave us for free. So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” John 21:15. The love for the Lord is scarified for the love of church, entertainment and prosperity. The lamb starve from lack of spiritual food and is too weak too even fend for him/herself.
The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. John 10:12-13 This is what happens to us so often living large in the life of mega blessings, mega prayers, mega pastors and the dreams to go mega. Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. Philippians 4:11-13
It was because I loved Him—He rescued me. He protected me only—because I acknowledged His name. I called on Him—He came when I was in trouble. He became my refuge—His eyes watched over me. He delivered me—now here I stand proclaiming the salvation of the Lord to all that will listen. ~KP
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As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone. Mark 10:17-18
God is not only absolutely truthful, but He is also all-good (Omni-benevolent). It is impossible for Him to lie. (Heb. 6:18), and He is love by His very nature (1 John 4:16).
It is debated among theologians whether goodness and love are the same thing or whether they are different. And, if different, whether love is an attribute of God or an activity of God. Some say that goodness is an attribute of God and that love is act of His goodness. But 1 John 4:16 says God is love, seemingly applying the term to His essence.
But, the question still lies on the table, “Is He a Good God?” As we look at the world around us, for so many of us good is defined only by our circumstances.
Do we measure God’s goodness the same way we measure each others?
If your answer is no and the bible says; If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also. 1 John 4:20-21
If “love” is defined as “willing the good of its object,” then for all practical purposes “love” and “goodness” can be treated synonymously. Literally, the word omnibenevolent means “all-good.” Biblically, the basic Hebrew term for “love” used of God means “goodness,” “affection,” “good-will,” “loving-kindness” or “tender loving-kindness.” The Greek word agape used of God’s love means “benevolence,” a self-less “sacrificial” love. Theologically, God’s omnibenevolence refers to His infinite or unlimited Goodness.
If love and goodness can be treated synonymously and God says, “he who love Him must love his brother also.” What happens when we don’t like people because they don’t do the things we think they should do and our feelings change toward them? What happens when we don’t treat people the same because the good circumstance changed?
Let’s be real, the way we treat people is mostly determined by how good they are to us. Friendships are determined mostly by what one person thinks of another, but when that person doesn’t live up to the expectation the relationship becomes less desirable. Most marriages are formed because of desires, needs, feelings or financial security. But, what happens so often is when the goodness is not so good or is taken for granted; the desire to love is questioned.
Jesus said, “no one is good – except, God alone.” But, so often our circumstances in life change our relationship with God or defy His goodness.
February 24, 2008 in “Our Daily Bread” titled “God is Good” it reads the phrase “God is good, all the time; all the time, God is good” is repeated by many Christians almost like a mantra. I often wonder if they really believe it or even think about what they’re saying. I sometimes doubt God’s goodness—especially when it feels as though God isn’t hearing or answering my prayers. I assume that if others were more honest, they’d admit they feel the same way.
The serpent planted a doubt in Eve’s mind about whether God had been good to her and had her best interest at heart. He said, “God knows that in the day you eat of [the fruit] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5). Satan tried to convince her to believe that God was holding out on her and not giving her something really good—more knowledge.
Do you feel as though God isn’t answering your prayers? Are you tempted to doubt His goodness? When I feel this way, I have to remind myself that my circumstances aren’t the barometer of God’s love and goodness—the cross is. He has shown how good He is by giving His only Son Jesus to die for our sin. We can’t rely on our feelings. But day by day as we choose to trust Him more, we learn to believe with confidence that God is good—all the time. — Anne Cetas
In all of our circumstances we have to learn to trust God even when life hurts, because He is still good in spite of. Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. James 1:2-5
One of the many fascinating events in nature is the emergence of the Cecropia moth from its cocoon — an event that occurs only with much struggle on the part of the moth to free itself. The story is frequently told of someone who watched a moth go through this struggle. In an effort to help — and not realizing the necessity of the struggle — the viewer snipped the shell of the cocoon. Soon the moth came out with its wings all crimped and shriveled. But as the person watched, the wings remained weak. The moth, which in a few moments would have stretched those wings to fly, was now doomed to crawling out its brief life in frustration of ever being the beautiful creature God created it to be.
What the person in the story did not realize was that the struggle to emerge from the cocoon was an essential part of developing the muscle system of the moth’s body and pushing the body fluids out into the wings to expand them. By unwisely seeking to cut short the moth’s struggle, the watcher had actually crippled the moth and doomed its existence.
The adversities of life are much like the cocoon of the Cecropia moth. God uses them to develop the spiritual “muscle system” of our lives. As James says, “The testing of your faith through trials of many kinds] develops perseverance,” and perseverance leads to maturity of our character.
We can be sure that the development of a beautiful Christ like character will not occur in our lives without adversity. The Goodness of God pushes us into His goodness that should be reflected in our relationships toward others regardless of our circumstances.
“God is good all the time, all the time he is good.” Let it be a meaningful part of your Christianity and not a mantra.
We may think we have true Christian love (or know God is good all the time) until someone offends us or treats us unjustly. Then we begin to see anger and resentment well up within us. We may conclude we have learned about genuine Christian joy until our lives are shattered by an unexpected calamity or grievous disappointment. Adversities spoil our peace and sorely try our patience. God uses those difficulties to reveal to us our need to grow, so that we will reach out to Him to change us more and more into the likeness of His Son.
Friends of mine, who doesn’t go to church any more, I asked if they could answer these questons for me. Here is their response….its long (25 questions in all) but very interesting.
1. What is your definition of church?
In a general sense the Church is made up of all those who follow Christ — both those who choose to gather together in a formal way and those who do not. The church is not buildings or clergy, it is people who love and are moving towards Jesus.
2. What do you feel is the purpose or aim of church? What should it be?
I may be cynical but in my experience of churches there is a vast difference between what I feel the purpose is and what it should be. Unfortunately I get the feeling that the church is losing its way. This is why I have chosen to remove myself from most elements of it.
To answer the question — I believe the purposes of the church should be numerous.
It should be in the business of creating spaces for people to connect with Jesus in a dynamic way. The church is not responsible for if people do connect or not, that is the individuals responsibility, but the church should be exploring relevant ways to help people on their journey. It should be a place that resources, supports and inspires people in their love and relationship for God.
The church should be in the business of growing community among its believers. Unfortunately this is an area where things often break down. If it wasn’t for the fact that we are all human it would work brilliantly!
The church should be in the business of impacting the world we live in. Call it mission, service or justice — I don’t care — but do it! Jesus constantly called his followers to impact their world — to preach, to heal the sick, to cast out demons and to accept the sinner and ostracised.
As I said — I think the church has become distracted from its core call in all these areas.
3. What issues do you think the church is failing to deal with adequately?
It is failing to grapple effectively with its purposes. I think it often names them. Every church I’ve ever been to has had a wonderful mission statement — but I’m yet to see one that is living it out — or even really attempting to.
I think many churches are paralysed by fear. They are afraid of change, afraid of the world around them (that they are called to impact), they are afraid of ‘sinners’ and they are afraid to commit to real community.
One of the big failures that I see is that they are called toinclusivity yet time and time again are exclusive. It staggers me that we follow a man who entered into community with the most ‘repulsive’ people in his culture, yet most churches are unwilling to even consider such an act.
4. How do you see the church operating in the future?
inclusivity yet time and time again are exclusive. It staggers me that we follow a man who entered into community with the most ‘repulsive’ people in his culture, yet most churches are unwilling to even consider such an act.
4. How do you see the church operating in the future?
I wonder if the church will exist there. If it doesn’t make some fundamental changes it will end up being an extreme minority.
5. If you were to change one thing about church, what would it be?
I would infuse it with love. What’s love got to do, got to do with it? Love casts our fear. Love is at the core of everything Jesus talked about. Love, love changes everything. Hands and faces, earth and sky. Love, love changes everything. How you live and how you die
6. What do you believe to be the necessary actions/behavior of a Christian?
A Christian is a person who is in relationship with and moving towards Jesus. They are not someone who has it all worked out and they have not ‘arrived’. They ‘sin’ but they continue to seek God and allow her transformation and healing in their lives. They seek to live lives of love for God, others and self.
7. Why are you a non-church-goer?
Complicated question. There are many reasons, let me try to sum up some of them (watch out, this could be messy!)
After years of church going I became frustrated by the way it has become institutionalised. It frustrates me that it has become so rigid and closed to change and fluidity. Jesus gives a radical call to follow him, the majority of churches have become too comfortable, they have become like clubs and they have lost the passion. Like you (ed: Darren) said last week on your site, read Matthew 10 and compare the call of Jesus to his disciples with the way your church operates. Read Romans 12 and tell me where there is a church in the West grappling with that stuff! We’ve lost the plot — I have become disillusioned with being virtually the only person in a community of faith that wants it to be more than a nice and safe place to come and feel all warm and fuzzy with my middle class privileged life. Attending church sucked life from me — I figured that it was not healthy for me to continue to go.
8. What role did those who were in the church have on your decision to leave?
I wasn’t asked to leave, although I’ve heard since that some people are happy that I did. I attempted to discuss my frustrations with others in the community including leadership. They just asked me to ‘tone it down’.
9. What or who finally ‘pushed’ you?
The church I was a part of began to talk more and more about money. It was subtle, but it became more and more obsessed with raising money for its new building. The current building wasn’t being utilised, we were not growing, and it was proposed that the reason was we needed a new flash looking building. A campaign started to raise the millions needed to make it so that our community would flock onto our turf to be saved. Related to this was the topic of money in sermons. Our pastor read the book called ‘You need more Money!’ written by a prominent Australian pastor. Some of these ideas of prosperity began to gradually creep into his sermons. I cannot remember Jesus telling his disciples to accumulate resources, buy property and get all the latest and greatest technology in order to further the kingdom. It all made me feel physically sick.
The church rejected one of my friends who was brave enough to tell a pastor that he was struggling with homosexuality. He was told to either leave and not associate with anyone in the church or to repent and change. There was no offer of counselling, there was no understanding that he needed time to talk through what he was going through, there was no acknowledgement of God’s love for him — he either had to change instantly or leave. I felt physically sick.
10. What did you find most hurtful?
I watched my church slowly become obsessed with money. I also watched my friend reject God.
11. What feelings accompanied your decision to leave?
I left feeling broken and emotionally burnt out. I still feel drained years later.
12. Do you think you connect with God more, less or the same amount now as you did when you attended church?
I go through stages of closeness to God, but this is no different to when I attended church. Overall I feel more connected to Jesus now.
13. Do you still regularly meet together with other christians/groups/organisations? If so, please describe.
Not formally. I regularly connect with Christian friends for meals, to see movies, to pray and to talk about faith issues. But it is not formal. I would call it church though.
14. What other groups, organisations do you now go to to meet the needs that church did….if any.
I am very involved in community groups. I volunteer considerable time to local groups that have a social justice outlook on life. I will always serve my community — not just because I’m a community minded person, but out of my faith. I also am involved in a book club which is a place of community building and where we often talk about issues of faith. (although I’m only one of two Christians in the group)
15. How has this changed your relationship with non-christians?
I have so many more relationships with non-christians (I hate that term). I now have more time to connect with them as I’m not totally consumed with church activities. I also feel more free to talk about faith without them worrying about me trying to drag them to church to be saved. Since leaving the church I have had three non Christian friends become Christians. Two have joined churches, one meets regularly with me and another friend to pray and learn.
16. What do you miss about church now?
I cannot honestly think of anything. I feel so much more free now.
17. What is it about church that doesn’t connect with where you’re at?
I’ve said it all I think. Oh…I hate singing, I always found it to be an experience that stressed me out and made it difficult for me to connect with God. Why can’t church have ‘bush walking worship’?
18. Would you go back? Why or why not? Would anything make you go back to church?
I’ve considered it. I actually feel that one day I may go back, not because of what I’ll get out of it but for what I can offer. Not that I feel I have anything much to offer, but I see some little new churches starting in my city that I’d like to support. It scares me though.
19. Which would you prefer – people inviting you to attend church, or leaving you alone in your decision not to?
My old church friends do not talk to me any more because I associate with unacceptable types. So I never get such an invitation. It doesn’t bother me.
20. What are the most important/effective ways for you to sustain your christianity as a non-church-goer?
Prayer, service to others, eating with others. I celebrate life in the small things and see God in them every day.
21. What is the vision God has given you for your life?
In the normal things that I do, every day, I have the ability to be a light, to help others connect with the life that God offers. I always try to find what God is already doing in the world around me and to join him in it.
22. What do you say when people ask you “What church do you go to?”
‘I don’t go to A church’.
23. What question don’t you like other Christians asking you?
Is your belly button an inney or an outy? Mine is a major outy…they always want to see it.
24. What question do you wish other Christians would ask you?
Nothing springs to mind. I think I’ve said enough!
25. Is there anything else that you’d like to mention?
No — thanks for the questions.
Lucky to be in the land, we’re free from enemy worries….I said, “God, be gracious! Put me together again— I have been torn to pieces.”…My enemies are wishing the worst for me….If someone comes to see me, he mouths empty platitudes, All the while gathering gossip about me to entertain the street-corner crowd….These “friends” who hate me whisper slanders all over town. They form committees to plan misery for me….The rumor goes out….Even my best friend, the one I always told everything —he ate meals at my house all the time!— has bitten my hand….God, give grace, get me up on my feet. I’ll show them a thing or two….Meanwhile, I’m sure you’re on my side— no victory shouts yet from the enemy camp….You know me inside and out, you hold me together, you never fail to stand me tall in your presence so I can look you in the eye….Blessed is God! (Psalm 41:2-13) (MSG)
Life is full of surprises, from birth one seeks to have good friends. People to trust, people to love, people to share with, people to laugh with, people to cry with, but evil always corrupts good friendships. Most of us have been scarred from childhood. I recall my first childhood friend, (David Edmond) one I dream would last forever. We meet in Head Start, were brushing our teeth together and after that we did everything together. From Head Start through Middle School we were like two peas in a pod. Then in our Junior year of High School, Satan found his vise, David accused me of having sex with his girlfriend. A love between friends shattered, memories lost, plans destroyed, no hope to reunite.
Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. (Romans 7:20-21) (NIV)
I had never been with David’s girlfriend nor had it ever cross my mine. The hurt of your friendship being betrayed, the trust, and the shared thoughts gone to waste. The very thing that I never thought of doing, because of the hurt (the sin) I did.
There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24) (NLT)
After that I never really looked for anyone to be my friend, but we all lone to have a true friend. Consequently, even without looking you come across people who try to befriend you. Every once in a while I would except the friendship, and betrayal came along. I have always
made it a point if I am a friend, I am a friend, if I am not, I am not. Because, I believe the true friends sticks closer than a brother. However, so many don’t understand true friendship, because of selfishness, pride, jealousy, envy, spite, etc…..
But, should Christians be different? Man, when I became a Christian I hoped so, but…..Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. (John 15:13) (NKJV) What happen to this part of Christianity? Did we stop following Jesus Christ’s teachings? Did I error in thinking that love, friendships and relationships should be found in the Church?
Because this is what I found in the Church; Many will entreat the favor of a liberal man, and every man is a friend to him who gives gifts. (Proverbs 19:6) (AMP) and Wealth addeth many friends; But the poor is separated from his friend. (Proverbs 19:4) (ASV) I am not even talking about material things. Stop giving attention to the man, get broken in your spirit, hurt from church groupies gossiping, speak out on the truth. You will quickly find out that the friend you thought you had forgot; And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13) (NKJV)
If you confess to be a Christian, study to be a friend.
If you confess to be a Christian and you are in love with the church, cheat on it and love people.
If you confess to be a Christian make a friend, keep a friend, love a friend, be a friend.
If you confess to be a Christian don’t be a hypocrite at the funeral!
Life is short and Christ is on His way!