CONFESSION

“But they who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength.”  This familiar verse from Isaiah 40:31 has the word wait in it.  Generally not a favorite word for me, and I’d venture to guess not for you either.  Considering that we live in impatient twenty-first century America, you might even say it’s a hated word.  “I hate waiting!”

From this introduction, you might guess that I’ve been struggling with the process of waiting upon the Lord.  In July of last year, I began the procedure for killing cancer with chemo therapy.  It turned out to not be as much fun as I thought.  I have felt pain beyond my previous experience.  A defunct gall bladder and monthly encounters with gout have topped the pain list.

In the midst of the misery and discomfort, there have been delays.  In September, gull bladder surgery put me off for a month, the holidays messed with the chemo schedule, and now I’m delayed waiting for my blood counts to improve.  One last session of chemo left, and I’m waiting.  (While reading this I hope you can refrain from using the word whiner.  Of course I am whining.)

Well, throughout this lesson of waiting on the Lord, I haven’t been doing very well.  I’m hoping to squeak by with a “C”.  I am learning, but this has been tough.  I’m hoping to not be required to take this class over.  I’m glad God is merciful.

The purpose of sharing this with you is not to gain sympathy, although I am willing to receive a minor amount.  Really, I write this blog to share my struggles and growth as encouragement.  You fine people who read this are my fellow travelers.  We share this in common, “we are sinners in need of a savior.”  Thank you Jesus!

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Love and the Ten Commandments

If you truly love someone you will treat them well.  You will honor them, and you will certainly not murder them.  You will not cheat on them, steal from them, lie about them, or covet what they have.  At least, if you love them, you will surely try.

To pull this off you’ll have to be patient, kind, not envious, and not work to look more important than the person you love.  I can’t imagine that you’d be rude to them or easily angered by them.  When they‘ve wronged you, you’d forgive and forget.  You’d protect them, trust them, and hope the best for them.

You may have guessed that what I’ve done here is to connect the Ten Commandments and Paul’s description of love in 1 Corinthians chapter 13.  The Ten Commandments are not just rules to contain us, they are truly about love.  The first four commandments are about loving God.  The other six are about loving each other.  You cannot adhere to the Ten Commandments without love.  As a matter of fact, if you don’t love God or your fellow humans, why would you even try to adhere to the Ten Commandments?

Jesus summed it up this way: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”  “This is the first and greatest commandment.”  “And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)  There you have it.  Love is at the root of what God commands.  Love as well as you can, and ask God to increase the love in your heart.

Humbleness, an Attribute of God

One of my favorite scripture passages is Matthew 11:28-30.  In this passage Jesus refers to himself as “gentle and humble in heart”.  Doesn’t gentle and humble sound safe.  I am drawn to him when I think of him being gentle and humble.  Paul supports Jesus’ statement that he is humble with this declaration in Philippians 2:6-8,

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!

Jesus not only declared himself humble, but he unequivocally demonstrates his humble nature on the cross.  When you think of God, do you think of him as humble?  That’s not my first thought when I think of God, but he truly is humble.  So, what is humble? In all the definitions of humble, I find that not putting yourself first seems to clarify its meaning.  Jesus did not put himself first.  He put our needs ahead of his.

Adam and Eve were humble because they were created in the image of God.  They lost this attribute as a result of the fall.  They then became self concerned.  At the start of Philippians chapter 2 Paul is exhorting us to return to being humble.  He tells us, (Philippians 2:3-4) “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”  He follows this with the scriptural illustration in Philippians 2:6-8 of Christ’s humility.

In our desire to be more like Jesus, humbleness should be near the top of the list.  As I looked at this attribute of God, I had to ask myself, am I gentle and humble in heart?  Am I safe for others?  These questions will dominate my self reflections for the rest of the week.  How about you?

THE LORD OUR TEACHER

This week, I’m still gleaning from Psalm 25.  Verses 4 and 5 read, Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths.  Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior, and my hope is in you all day long.  And again in verses 8 and 9, Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.  He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.  God doesn’t leave us on our own.  Those who come to him he teaches.

As I read these four verses, I remember all that God has shown me through the years.  He has guided me, shown me his truth, instructed me in what is right, and taught me his ways.  He has indeed made life easier.  I say this because I remember how it was when I went my own way.  It was not easy, and it was not smooth.

Let me share an example with you.  When my children were young, I directed and corrected them as a father should.  When they became adults, I released my control of their lives to God.  He is really their father.   He taught me to surrender them to him.  This was hard to do, but very important.

Well it hasn’t gone as I would have planned, but I am very pleased with how things are turning out.  God has patiently worked in their lives.    God’s way is building fine adults that I am very proud of.  By staying out of God’s way, I have gained great relationships with my adult children.  I would never have known how to accomplish this, but God did.  All praise, honor, and glory are to our great God.  His ways are beyond our ways.

RIVER OF LOVE

One of the truths that our Pastor is continuingly emphasizing is that God loves us.   He also says that God’s love is hard for us to comprehend.  I think we all know this.  There’s not an abundance of examples of this kind of love here on earth. 

The other day, I was singing an old song, “I’ve Got a River of Life Flowing Out of Me”, and I thought of this analogy.

God’s love for us is like a river flowing to us.  We throw rocks of sin into this river; they make ripples, but they never stop the flow.  When we choose a life of sin, sometimes, we actually dam up the flow, but the pressure of his love is always there.  One act of repentance permits his love to breach the dam.  And if we allow it, the flow of his love will continue to wash away the dam, and his love will pour into our lives.  Receiving his love makes us a new person.

This river of God’s love doesn’t stop with us; it flows through us and blesses those around us.  When we doubt his love, the waters get murky and hinder the blessings we can bring to others.  Once again, our quest in this life is to learn to trust God.  A big part of this is to trust that he loves us.  The enemy of our souls will shoot fiery darts from the banks of the river to make us doubt God’s love.  The shield of faith will divert them.  

PSALM 25

(Psalm 25:1-2a)  To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God.

While reading Psalm 25, I recalled that this psalm, written by King David, was written approximately 3,000 years ago.  It stands out to me that the soul of man, and our relationship to God, is the same as it was those many years ago.  The truth about God and man has not changed.  King David knew that if we give ourselves fully into God’s trust, we will lead a blessed life.

Imagine starting every day with this declaration: I entrust my inmost being to you, Lord.  Meaning that all that I am or hope to be in this day, I give into your hands my God.

When I first awake in the morning, I lay there thinking of what the day will bring.  I can think it through, make a plan, and then do whatever preparations are needed. Or, I can entrust my being to God, and let him lead me through the day.  Which one would you think to be the most beneficial?

Whether 3,000 years ago or today, this life for us humans is about learning to trust God.  I believe it’s that simple, but I do recognize that trusting God is a lifelong pursuit.

2019 – A NEW YEAR

Here we are in the year 2019.  2018 is now the past; 2019 is the near future and present time.  As we contemplate our new year, we plan and imagine what it will bring.  For me, the end of chemo therapy has my immediate focus.  February will be my last infusion; and after that, it’s mere speculation.  The prognosis is that I will be cancer free which has produced great hope.

I started this Godsworldandus blog four and a half years ago in the month of August, and it will be my delight to continue.  I am planning to change my posting day to Saturday.  The weeks have been so full I’m finding it hard to always be ready by Friday morning.

I hope this year draws you closer to Jesus, and in that closeness you are more able to live in his peace.

God’s blessings to you and yours,

Al Vredenburg