God is with us. Whatever you may be going through today, do not forget that truth. I can only imagine what the disciples were thinking when Jesus told them He had to go away. I would have to think they felt abandoned to a certain extent, maybe even rejected. When people walk in and out of your life, it is human nature to feel alone or forsaken. We will search for answers everywhere but where we should. Karl Barth once said, “When we are at our wits’ end for an answer, then the Holy Spirit can give us that answer. But how can He give us an answer when we are still well supplied with all sorts of answers of our own?” In other words, do not rely on yourself, especially when hard times come. Look to the Holy Spirit for guidance. Do not lose heart.
As Christians, we should live fearless; but instead, we agonize over every little detail. The problem is, we cannot always see God’s big picture. We are so focused on what is right in front of us that we forget that He is sovereign in all things. God has seen the beginning and the end. Or in His case, the never beginning and the never ending! Jesus did not leave us to live our Christian lives in our own power. In John 16, Jesus says, “… it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you.” What a promise! He is sending the Holy Spirit to us so that we will be comforted. And He is not only coming to bring comfort to a weary soul, but to bring power. The Holy Spirit comes to shatter the thought that we can do it on our own. Let me give you 3 reasons we should wonder at His presence…
1. It was absolutely necessary. Those things that often seem terrible in your lives are actually good for us. Jesus always knows what is best for us though we may not see it at the time. The amazing thing about God is He graciously overrules our foolish decisions because He knows what is good for us. And when I say “good for us,” that doesn’t always line up with the world’s definition of success.
2. We are to carry on Christ’s interests here on earth. He has empowered us to teach. The Holy Spirit will convict or convince the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. Matthew Henry says it like this: “He will lay open the wound, and then apply healing medicines.” The Spirit will always help us demonstrate what is right. He is the great teacher. The Holy Spirit is not some supernatural force living in the clouds above us. He comes to us, and through us, He carries out His
ministry in the world.
3. There will be suffering for those who stand up for Christ. Throughout history, Christians have suffered. The religious people who thought they were doing God’s work murdered the early Christians. We would
surely go astray if it were not for the Holy Spirit’s presence in us.
I wonder at the Holy Spirit’s presence in my life. He is always with me -- guiding me and teaching me. I am not always perfectly yielded to Him, but He is faithful. I could not live this Christian life without Him, and Jesus knew that. So let us move forward with passion towards the things of God. Knowing that He is with me, I can endure struggles, times of discouragement, and anything else Satan tries to throw at me.
The most compassionate man to walk on the face of the earth was Jesus Christ. I have the perfect example yet still fall woefully short. I can be indifferent about many things and people in this life. We can be so consumed with ourselves that we miss those who are hurting all around us. Jesus did not have an apathetic bone in His body. Matthew 9:36 says, “He was moved with compassion on them.” Christ understands our suffering and he cares about our afflictions. He did not hide his human emotions at this point. Instead, Jesus showed great passion for the struggle of sinners.
We see countless instances in scripture where Jesus shows his colossal compassion. He had compassion on the sick (Matt. 14:14), He had compassion on the hungry (Matt. 15:32), He had compassion on those who were lost (Mark 6:34), He had compassion on those who were tempted (Heb. 4:15), and on and on we could go. As believers, we understand that God is not prone to mood swings. He is immutable or unchanging. Yet Christ, in His humanity, was moved sometimes to tears (Luke 19:41).
This is a picture of how concerned we should be with those around us who are helpless and harassed in our lives. What is your level of compassion on those we may deem wicked in our neighborhoods? Pastor R.T. Stringer once said, “The compassion we have (or don’t have) toward wicked people is an indication of what we truly believe about the Gospel.” You and I were once sheep without a shepherd. We were the wicked until Christ came to show unending compassion on us.
So now what shall we do? Do we see a harvest around us? In verse 37, Christ says, “The harvest is truly plentiful, but the laborers are few.” We should be planning for the harvest. As Jesus walked amid the crowded towns and villages of Galilee, His shepherd nature kicked in. Christ was willing to give it His all for the flock.
First of all, let us be moved by the needs of those around us like Jesus was. Stand up and stand out for the hurting and forgotten. God has sovereignly placed you in the midst of the weary and scattered for a reason. He has given you gifts to fulfill your role in the body of Christ. Don’t look away from them, move toward the desperate and downtrodden. Furthermore, pray for others to be moved with compassion. This is one way we can participate in the fulfillment of God’s strategy. Finally, wonder at God’s great compassion He had on you and me. Don’t ever let that truth diminish in your mind. We are truly a blessed people: we love and serve an amazingly compassionate God!
The last few months have been a whirlwind for me. As many of you know, the Lord has called me into full-time vocational ministry. God has blessed me with many new opportunities. One of the most precious ministries to me comes along every Tuesday morning. Here at Liberty we call it Morning Manna. About 10 to 15 men have breakfast together, share testimonies, and reflect on the Word of God. This is a great time of fellowship. During these early mornings, we have had many laughs but also have shed some tears with one another. But in all things, we have prayed.
One of the hardest things in day-to-day ministry is hearing from those who are suffering in their lives. It may be an emotional hurt or a physical pain. Either way it is tough to see a friend go through these tough battles. On the other hand, I can truly say one of the most beautiful things I see is suffering in the lives of believers. This truth became apparent to me as I ate breakfast with fellow brothers in Christ during our weekly Morning Manna this past Tuesday. I realized that we, as spiritual individuals, need each other. And other than Christ himself, the thing that binds us together is prayer. Story after story of answered prayer poured out as we sat together. These are stories of changed hearts, changed minds, and ultimately changed souls.
This past Sunday we were blessed to have Christian dramatist Doug Whitley here at our local church. From the outset, you could tell that he was not here to entertain. He brought to life great men of God such as D.L. Moody, George Mueller, and Charles Spurgeon. These men, while great evangelists and theologians, were also great men of prayer. It dawned on me that for as long as I can remember, men have been praying for radical change in their lives and in the lives of others. That need is no different today than it was 200 years ago for these great men of the faith.
Recently I have been reading the book by Albert Mohler called The Prayer That Turns the World Upside Down. This book is a thoughtful and illuminating reflection on Matthew 6:9-13, where the Lord’s Prayer is found. In this book, Mohler says “the Lord’s Prayer is the shortest prayer in the Bible, but it takes us a lifetime to learn.” If we could take the time and study this prayer, we would be astonished by how God uses prayer in our lives to grow our faith; to grow us closer together; and most importantly, to grow us closer to Himself. Don’t waste another day without authentic prayer in your life. Sometime soon I encourage you to look deeply at the Lord’s Prayer. You will find many soul satisfying truths as you digest these verses. It only takes twenty seconds to read, but I promise it will be a lifetime of blessing. If you are going to wonder in anything today, wonder in the magnificent privilege of prayer.
This week I want to praise God for His eternal love. I am overwhelmed by God’s concern for me this morning. Even on a Monday morning when the hot water heater goes out, He loves me. To think that the one who hung the stars in the heavens knows my name and cares about my life is unfathomable. No matter how eloquent or poetic I could possibly write, no matter how loud I could shout from the rooftops, and no matter how deep theologically I could preach from the pulpit, I could never put into words how much God loves us. In his book Crazy Love, Francis Chan says this: “A wise man comes to God without saying a word and stands in awe of Him.” I stand in wonder today.
I stand in wonder of God’s beautiful, amazing, transforming, never-ending, and, most of all, sacrificial love. Our feelings come and go, but God’s love for us will never wax nor wane. Psalm 136 tells us to give thanks because His steadfast love endures forever. In this Psalm, we are called to praise because He is merciful, because He is good, and because of creation itself. If you know Christ, you know that He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world. He predestined us to adoption as sons. Love was and is the divine motive for His electing purpose. If you know God, it is because He loves you and His love never changes. It never fluctuates.
Why does our love fluctuate? Are we too busy? Do we get spiritual amnesia? I think we get so caught up in the things of this life that we forget what God has done for us. We should rejoice in that He is immune to the human failing of forgetfulness. He is beyond space and time. Again, God never changes. Not only is His love steadfast, but it is also pure, it is true, and it is sacrificial. We are not deserving of this sacrificial love.
In Romans 5, Paul says, “But God demonstrates His love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” We were in a sad condition, and we couldn’t help ourselves out of that condition. Not only were we helpless, but we were also ungodly. Christ died for us because we were in need of a savior that was holy. God has demonstrated on the cross an unparalleled instance of sacrificial love.
Every day I want to know His love more. Every day I am in awe of the fruits of this sacrificial love. The love he demonstrated in His death. Immediately upon our believing, we are put in a state of justification and reconciliation. Knowing ourselves as much as we do, how can we not be amazed with these gifts? Live a life of redemption every day. Always remember God’s love!
Well, here we go! I have officially entered the blogosphere. As I meditate on how God wants to use me through this outlet, I keep coming back to the power of the Lord. So, for as long as God leads me to blog I am going to use this time to reflect and to praise Him for all the amazing things He is doing in His church, our communities and personally.
The primary thing I want us to do together is ask for wonder. So many people walk in fear today. Think to yourself what is a fear you have currently? One thing that I fear is how this blog will be received. Will some think I am not a writer, will some think this is a waste of time to read, I know some will correct my grammar. You know who you are! Instead of walking in fear today I choose to walk in wonder. Instead of worrying about what I am afraid of I am going to contemplate what I am in awe of.
In the gospel of Luke we read about a man who has been paralyzed for many years. His friends rally to his side and carry him on his bed to see Jesus. When they get to the house where Jesus is they encounter a huge crowd. That doesn’t stop them; these crazy people climb up on the roof! Now this is where I am throwing on the breaks. This is where I start to fear. Am I going to tear into this person’s roof? I am a rule follower; I am not going to break the law. Why? Fear has a grip on me. I am afraid to let go and love. I am afraid to walk in wonder of an almighty God. Thankfully these friends were not gripped by fear. They lowered him through the ceiling and Jesus tells him “Man, your sins are forgiven.” (v.20)
Today let’s stand in amazement of God. Luke 5:26 says, “And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.” Today we have a choice to make; you can either say, my life is awful, or you can say, man my life is interesting! Do not be paralyzed by fear. Instead of fighting and striving let go and love. What is God stirring in you? What is he asking you to do today? Matthew 7:7 says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.” Ask for wonder today, seek after God today, and let Him open to you a new perspective in your life.