Browsing Tag

God’s love

Christian Life, Commentary, Faith

How to receive God’s direction

August 12, 2016

 

 

 

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.
– Psalm 143:8

 

 

Today you’re at a crossroads. You’ve got decisions (link to fear vs. faith decision blog post) to make that will shift the course of your future in significant ways. You want God’s direction but haven’t been seeing/hearing it clearly. Maybe you’re just in a difficult place, surrounded by opposition and struggling to just make it through another day, desperate to know what to do next in order to survive. Psalm 143:8 contains an important truth for you today.

We serve a God who values relationship over task completion and intimacy over productivity (link to Evil of Good work blog post). Want God’s direction? First you need to be present with him and learn to receive his love.

Receive the Love

In Psalm 143 David is in the midst of a desperate situation with people literally attempting to kill him. In the midst of that he cries out to God, seeking help and hope. The center of this Psalm, the record of that cry for help, is found in the phrase, “let the morning bring my word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.”

Here’s the thing, God wants us to trust in him and know his love before he gives the solution to your problem, lest we be tricked into thinking that it’s the solutions that are God’s love. Note that it is unfailing love that David is longing for an experience of. This love exists regardless of the circumstances you’re in the midst of. God’s love hadn’t been withdrawn from David, David simply had stopped hearing word of it.

Want to hear God’s direction for the next step in your life? First open your heart to receive his love.

Place Your Trust

Trust is the channel through which our experience of God’s love flows. David requests word of the Father’s unfailing love on the basis of the fact that “I have put my trust in you.”

My friends, if your trust or your security rests in something other than God you’re going to have a hard time experiencing his love, no matter how much you cry out for it. If you’ve been desperately seeking an encounter with God and can’t seem to reach it, examine your life to see where your trust is truly resting. Choose today to place your trust in the only worthy object. “The cross before me, the world behind me…no turning back.” Let that be your resolve.

As you entrust yourself to the Father you he will begin to show you the way you should go. Dependence precedes direction.

See the Way

Out of our relationship with God comes the direction of God. It is, “I entrust to you my life,” therefore, “Show me the way I should go”. What beautiful freedom there is in an entrusted life! The light of God’s word and the leading of His Spirit become the path upon which we step by step move forward in faith. We, like David, can trust that our God’s unfailing love will silence our enemies and support us through every trial. He will indeed teach us to do his will. Our part is simply to place our trust and receive his love. The rest will flow naturally from that.

 

 

 

Christian Life, Faith, Spiritual Growth, Theology

Laughing on Judgment Day

March 16, 2016

 

 

The contrast between fear inspired by lack of faith and faith that leads to dauntless courage has been a recurring theme in my spiritual growth thus far in 2016. In the last few months I’ve posted a couple times about it, and during one of our recent Threshingfloor community gatherings we spent a significant amount of time discussing John’s words in 1 John 4 about love casting out fear. Our discussion uncovered a truth in the Apostle John’s words that I’d never seen before. He writes,

God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
1 John 4:16-18

When you picture yourself coming before the judgment throne of God, how do you imagine you will feel in that moment? What will your expression, your posture be? My assumption, fed by various sermons and texts like Isaiah’s throne-room encounter or Israel’s experience on mount Sinai, is that my feelings before God on that day would be barely reigned-in fear, kept in check by the fact that I know Jesus has covered me (but just barely). In my imagination my posture was always one of kneeling, bowing, and trembling. Isaiah-style “woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips,” worried that at any moment I might be obliterated but clinging in faith to Jesus’ saving work. I’d leave the throne room feeling like I’d just survived an encounter with a hungry lion.

Judging by these verses that’s not what John expects, and it’s not what he wants Jesus’ people to expect either.

God is Love

John writes that God is love, perfect love, and that perfect love casts out fear. A verse or two earlier he states, “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.”

If God is love and love casts out fear, why have I always assumed that my encounter in his throne room would be one of fear?

If we have God living in us and we are in God, why would coming before the throne of God be anything more than arriving for the first time at the home that we’ve always longed for?

If love has indeed been “perfected with us so that we may have confidence,” then maybe it’s time that we re-evaluate our assumptions about God, love, and fear.

We Have Confidence

According to John, “we may have confidence for the day of judgment”. The writer of Hebrews echoes this in Hebrews 10:19, saying “we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus,” and Paul declares, “In him [Jesus] and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. (Ephesians 3:12)

The glorious truth about Christ’s saving work is that it doesn’t just get us through the judgment throne of God by the skin of our teeth, trembling lest we damned. Instead it so radically, deeply connects us with God the Father that when we come before the judgment throne we come with confidence and boldness. You won’t tremble on that day, you’ll rejoice. You won’t fear, you’ll be free.

For those who are in Christ the experience won’t be like being sent to the principle’s office. It will be more like coming home to a Father who is wildly excited to see them again.

When we grasp this it dramatically changes how we proclaim the Gospel, how we live, and how we think about our relationship with God. If our imagined experience of our first encounter with God the Father is one of fear rather than love, if our faith is driven more by expectation of judgment than anticipation of joy, no wonder it holds little appeal to the world around us. But if we grasp the radical, life-transforming love that is truly ours in Christ, those around us will be inexorably drawn to it.

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment,” and in Christ all punishment has been done away with. Soak in God’s love. Believe it. You’ll be coming before the throne with boldness on that day. How much more bold and fearless ought you be today?!