Tag Archives: God

No Small Thing

If I told you how God intervened in my life a couple of days ago, you might think I was gullible or naive.  It was a simple little thing – (OK, it had something to do with hubcaps) – nothing like parting the Red Sea.  But I know Who pulled it off.  I call those brief encounters with God’s grace, winks.  He winks at me and lets me know He’s there and He cares.

Have you ever thought a situation you faced was too small to trouble God with, too silly for prayer?  Consider: Is there anything you face that isn’t small to God?  Check out these words of Jesus:

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.   So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”  –  (Matthew 10:29-31)

God invites us, through Jesus, into an intimate relationship, in which we walk together through the circumstances of life. As we do, we are humbled to discover God cares about how we are doing – even about the “little” things

Knowing He cares makes the tough experiences more “doable.”  Jesus spoke those words as He told His followers not to be afraid to tell people about Him, even in the face of physical violence.  Because God cares and He intervenes or not, depending on what is best.

Taproot – Part 4

“I command you to love me!”  That’s a non-starter, isn’t it?  The greatest commandment, Jesus said, is to love God with all your heart and soul.  But, can love be commanded?  But, instead of hearing the word, command, as a strict order to do something we don’t want to do, think of it like this: This “command” is the most important thing to remember to practice so that things will go well for you. 

God’s 10 commandments were given after He first had arranged a rescue for the people from slavery. 

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”  –  (Deuteronomy 5:6)

His commands were given to protect us from falling back into any kind of slavery.  In other words, His commands were given to bless us.

Walk in all the way that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.”

“Hear, O Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, promised you.”  –  (Deuteronomy 5:33; 6:3)

Our love for God is not grudging and forced, it is the natural response toward our Rescuer who loves us and wants the very best for us.  Our love for God is reflected in our paying attention to how He taught us to live, loving and honoring  Him by obeying.  As John said it, “We love because he first loved us.” – (1John 4:19)

The same is true of our love for Jesus, Who rescued us from spiritual slavery to live life to the fullest.

Taproot – Part 3

Are you afraid to love, believing it will constrain you?  Certainly some neurotic relationships constrain us, but these are not real love.  Real love releases false constraints, setting us free to be all we really are.  That is the kind  of love relationship God wants for us with Himself (See: previous two posts).

It seems counterintuitive: How can submitting to a relationship with someone else, making a commitment, result in more freedom?  Picture those flying suits people wear to jump from high cliffs and soar.  It is strapping oneself into the tight bonds of the suit that allows the freedom to fly.  Additionally, unless they fully commit and jump, they will not fly but fall.  Love works like that, especially love mutually extended between you and God. 

You can see the relationship between love, commitment and freedom in the following two quotes from Jesus.

“Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”   –  (John 14:23)

The word, “obey,” makes us cautious and reluctant, but it is that commitment that leads to freedom.  The Father and Son come and “make their home” with us.  This happens with the life of the Holy Spirit in our souls.  The word for “make their home”, also translated as “abide” is used in this saying of Jesus:

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to (literally, abide or make your home in…) my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  –  (John 8:31-32 with my added note)

It is the love commitment of making one’s home in the teachings of Jesus, the ways of God, that causes us to soar in freedom.  Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10b) 

If you are standing at the edge of that cliff, worried that loving God will inhibit you or constrain you, do not hesitate;  Go for it!  Fully commit and watch how this relationship of love spreads your wings.

Taproot – Part 2

We have all been hurt by love, at least by what was called love.  So when we hear, “God loves you and wants to be joined with you in a love relationship” (see previous post – Taproot – Part 1), we may put our guard up.  But God’s love is nothing like the human distortions of love.

For example: When humans say “I love you,” most of the time they mean, “I want you.”  But God’s love is not selfish, it is otherish, youish (my spellchecker has just melted down…).  God’s love, His desire to be close with us, is motivated by what would be most beneficial for us.  If you are thinking that’s like giving us cod liver oil, think, “… what would be most wonderful for us.”

Compare the consequences of the separation from God, told in Genesis with the consequences of reconciliation, portrayed in Revelation. 

After separation:
To the woman he said,  “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children.  Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
      To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.  It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.  By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground,  since from it you were taken;
for dust you are and to dust you will return.” –  (Genesis 3:16-19)

After reconciliation:
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  –  (Revelation 21:4)

By inviting us to be united with Him in love, God desires to restore everything to the way He intended, for our blessing.  There is no need for us to guard ourselves from God’s love.  We will never be hurt by it, only blessed.

Taproot – Part 1

What does God want from us?  Actually, it’s what He wants for us.  It’s love.  God loves us; He wants us to really know that love and respond in kind.  His desire is for us to be in a love relationship with Him.  But what does that look like? 

Let’s start with this: He wants us to be with Him.  Love works best when lovers are together.  In the first few pages of the Bible, the humans doubted God’s love and broke the togetherness they had with God.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.  But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”  –  (Genesis 3:8-9)

God loves us and wants to be with us, connected by love.  When He announced the coming Messiah, He called Him Immanuel – God with us (Isaiah 7:14).  Jesus came to seek us and make it possible for us to be reconciled to our Father.

Turn from the earliest pages of the Bible to the very end and see this goal of love fulfilled:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  –  (Revelation 21:3)

There’s more to this – lots more.  But keep this thought and chew on it: God loves you and wants to be with you.

What’s Your Excuse?

You probably remember being summoned (or sent) to the principal’s office, that is, unless you were like those goody-two-shoes girls that always who were so annoying…  oops, that’s a different story.  But remember the feeling of dread as you dragged your feet toward that huge oak door with the frosted glass, wondering what terrible consequences lurked on the other side?  For a lot of people, including myself not so long ago, when you hear people telling you to “get right with God,” it feels much the same way.  God is the terrible “Principal” in the sky, waiting behind His desk with scowling, bushy eyebrows and a switch.  Who wants to go through that door?

And yet, Jesus referred to that whole deal as being invited by God to a celebration and a party! 

And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. – (Matthew 22:1-3 ESV)

In those days there was no better party than a wedding party – lavish food and drink, happy times that lasted for days. And this do is being thrown by a king Who sent personally delivered invitations! So why wouldn’t the people come? They were busy doing their own thing.

Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business,…

And others were angry about being invited:

…while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them.

Jesus’ story takes a pretty intense turn there – shocking – and yet He wanted to confront people with the heartbreaking contrast between a gracious invitation to the party and the indifference or outright hostility of those who were invited.

People today also decline this invitation because business calls or because they are too busy with life. Some don’t want to go because they don’t understand it is an invite to a party. Others have decided the whole thing is a hoax! They say, “There’s no King and who would want to go to that kind of a party if He did exist?” When those delivering the invitation persist, sometimes they are belittled, roughed up or killed.

If you haven’t read through the rest of this parable in awhile, I encourage you to do so. It raises a number of intriguing questions. Here’s just two: Are you going to the party? If not, what’s your excuse?

If You Dare

There’s no way Robert Johnson could have sold his soul to the Devil, in exchange for the ability to play guitar exceptionally well.  He couldn’t have sold his soul because he didn’t own it.  We may feel like our souls belong to us, but in reality, Jesus taught, they have already been sold to Satan.  They are being held for ransom.  That is why Jesus posed this haunting question:

“…what can a man give in exchange for his soul? ” –  (Matthew 16:26b)

No matter how much you would pay, it would not be enough.  The cost is impossibly high.  That’s the bad news.  The good news is this: Jesus has already paid the ransom and offers freedom and life for our souls.   He extends the offer to anyone willing to abandon the cage that holds them and dare to follow Him.  But a hostage rescue only works if the hostages dare to follow their rescuer.  That’s a tough choice for those hostages who have gotten used to captivity and may actually feel more secure staying where they are!  Sometimes cages feel like life.

That’s why Jesus said:

“… whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. –  (Matthew 16:25b)