Sunday, September 27, 2015

"Pretty Please God?"

"Pretty please, God, would you make this go away?" or "I promise to change or do some generous deed if you do this for me"  Have you ever begged God or tried to manipulate God for something? Did it work?  What is wrong with this whole picture?

Let's start with the beginning.  God loves us and is pleased to give us the kingdom.  He delights in mercy and meeting the needs of his children.  He has promised to not give a stone to the child who asks for bread.  Hasn't He already given us the most precious treasure He has, in His own Son?  So how can we doubt His heart toward us in wanting to give to us all we need to have abundant life.

Secondly, there is an eternal principle in which God is not mocked, namely what a man sows is what he shall reap.  All through history God has always weighed men's hearts and responded strongly to help and defend those who honor Him.  God gives grace to the humble.  2 Chronicles 16:9 further declares that God is looking for an opportunity to show His power in behalf of the person whose heart is right toward Him.  In simple words, our attitude and actions always make a difference to God, leading to positive or negative consequences.

Thirdly, faith is not something you drum up just when you need it.  Faith is an eternal quality that starts with admitting we have sinned and accepting that Jesus paid it all for you through His death on the cross.  In response to this honest transaction, the life of God, Jesus Christ Himself, takes up permanent residence in our hearts and being. Then each time we read and allow the truth of God's Word to soak into our thinking and hearts, it grows.  Faith is defined as a "conviction" or "assurance" so it requires time of reflection and acceptance to become established in the "knower" part of our inner man.  And every time we choose a right attitude in a difficult situation we likewise grow according to James 1:2-5.  This invisible but clearly tangible quality, faith, is meant to be "ever increasing" and to grow as a plant that proceeds from seed to germination to blade to flower to fruit according to the parable Jesus explained.  Faith is a real spiritual quality and quantity that silently permeates all we think and do, and is not just how we feel at the moment of trial.

The point is that God has a plan for each of us to grow into the image of Jesus Christ, and He has sent His Spirit to make sure we have every opportunity to do that.  He not only wants us to be whole in spirit, soul, and body, but also "He who calls you is faithful and He will do it." (1 Thess 5:24)  So God, who is in us and on our side, is ready to help to change us.  All we have to do is be faithful in the little things such as starting the day with Jesus, reading the Word, asking forgiveness when we fail, and obeying the Spirit as He leads us.  Without even realizing it, our faith will be increasing and getting stronger through every trial and victory we experience.  Then in the day of trial, to our great amazement, our faith will be sufficient to overcome and bring us to a place where thanksgivings will overflow to the glory of God (2 Corinthians 4:7-15).  You never need to beg or manipulate God again.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Hug Your Boulder Today?

  Climbing the "moderately strenuous" class 2 mountain trail from Summit Lake to the peak of Mt. Evans is a formidable challenge, especially with 8 high school students who had never climbed a 14er before, yet the lessons are invaluable and life-enduring.  Parts of the trail and the high altitude lack of oxygen clearly required every bit of strength and determination each one physically possessed.  Encouragements like ''just take one step at a time" and "hug the boulder" were priceless in helping each one move through some of the more difficult assents and ledges.
 Why climb the mountain? The standard somewhat flippant reply is "because it is there." However, a better answer is that inside of man there is a drive to overcome and to know that he can accomplish his goals.  Ultimately the fruit of all labor is the prize at the end.  In this case, after 4 hours of trekking across uneven terrain, steep ascents, and even more frightening descends, we were able to see an awesome view of the peaks of the continental divide and the wide beautiful valleys.  Nothing compares to a first-hand experience of the majestic picture that the mountainous rocks and trees paint.
  Cartoonist Schultz has Charlie Brown saying that everyone needs to lay down and look up at the stars to see how insignificant he is.  The reverse is also true with the majestic grandeur of a mountain top view.  One can get a glimpse of how God sees His creation and all He has done to provide extravagantly for us.  The only conclusion is a powerful realization of how precious and important we must be to God.
  Nothing satisfies like a task completed.  In this case, being able to climb a 14er stands as a giant fortress and lasting monument that each one can tackle seemingly insurmountable challenges one step at a time and hugging the rock that doesn't move in the hard places.  So go climb your mountain (whatever and wherever it is).  Sometimes the hardest task may be the very thing that causes the most growth and lasting results.  Very much like James 1:2 which says to count it joy when trials come because God can use them to make us stronger.  As we push forward and step by step overcome, God plants His unshakeable foundation in our heart that with His help you can and will make it.  Have you hugged your boulder today?