Call to Love

The past few days had been frigidly cold when we found a man sitting near our tables where we serve food to those on the streets. He shared bits and pieces with us of a life I can hardly imagine. And yet, despite his horrible circumstances this man knew something that I’m slow to acknowledge. As we all gathered around, he spoke these words:

“God gave us the Ten Commandments and they’re all about love. I don’t know how we got it so wrong in this country.”

I felt as though his words slammed into my heart and stayed. Because he’s right. And there’s nothing right about it. This man, barely existing, understood what we as Christians should be first in understanding. But we aren’t. Instead we sit in church and think we’ve done our duty. We haven’t even started.

The world is dying because we’ve made the Law a rule to love by instead of the response of a heart captured by love. We’ve become so consumed with making sure we do. everything. exactly. right that we’ve forgotten the spirit of it all. And so the world cries and we do not hear, or if we do we turn away, because the love that touches the broken isn’t in our picture of Christianity.

And we call ourselves His followers?! Him the one who ate with sinners and who waited at the tomb just so Mary’s mourning could be joy, her the one who had been redeemed from defiling sin over and over again. Somehow this doesn’t equate.

When Christ gave the great commission He didn’t mean that His disciples should just preach truth to the world. The gospel is more than that. Yes, it is the truth of redemption and preaching that is a necessity. But unless we live this gospel we are preaching a truth we do not really believe.

If we really love our neighbor as ourselves than we cannot turn away from the pain of the world. By doing that, we permit injustice to continue; lives to be abused; and we tell the world that the God we serve doesn’t care enough to help a life in pain. That’s a problem. And the solution lies, at least partly, with me.

Sir John Powell once said, “Once you say the ‘yes’ of faith to Jesus and accept His blueprint of the fullness of life, the whole world can no longer revolve around you, your needs, your gratifications; you’ll have to revolve around the world, seeking to bandage its wounds, loving dead men into life, finding the lost, wanting the unwanted, and leaving behind all selfish, parasitic concerns which drain our time and energies.”

This is a lesson I’m slow to learn and even slower to live, but I intend to live the gospel that I believe. This doesn’t mean I’ll need to be rescuing those trapped in the worlds worst conditions, but it does mean that I cannot turn away and pretend that they don’t exist. I must let His love flow through me however He asks. And so I’m asking Him to teach me to learn to “love not (only) in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18).

Of course it’s easier to turn away. Love costs. But Love has also transformed my life and I want the world to know Him too.

Fountain of love

Christ’s heart was a fountain…. A fountain of love.
He took the love that He received and He gave it away. Continually.

His heart was ever touched with the cries of human suffering. He always sought to relieve.
He never sought to turn this fountain off. He lived to love.

“Jesus, precious Jesus. A whole fountain of love was in His soul.” (1MCP 201)

This fountain still flows. From it comes Christ’s love for us; from it we receive love to love another.

He asks us to be fountains, too. Fountains to continually share what He gives us with the world; that receive to give; that never seek to keep things to ourselves; that never seek release from duty.

Stagnant fountains grow polluted quickly. Stagnant lives have no hope of staying pure.

Unshaken Confidence

He knew he would not be ashamed and so had set his face like a flint.

There would be no turning back, no turning aside. No believing anything other than what God had told him.

He was confident in this because God was near to Him. Because God had promised to help him, he knew that he would not be confounded.

He knew Truth. And Truth kept him steadfast.

And even though at times all around was confusion, he believed God and remained unswayed.

His face was set. There would be nothing else.  Nothing but God’s truth.

In this a challenge rings true.

Do I trust God this much?

Do I believe that what He has said He will do?

Is my face set like a flint, so that the confusing thoughts Satan throws at me will serve not to confuse but to strengthen Truth in my life.

God’s promises are new every morning.

They never fail, and they never run out.

And that’s because the God who made the promise never fails and never runs out.

The promises aren’t what we trust, it’s the God behind those promises.

He promises:

And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.  (John 8:32)

My grace is sufficient for you for My strength is made perfect in weakness.  (2 Corinthians 12:9)

I will never leave you or forsake you.  (Hebrews 13:5)

God is faithful. Isaiah knew this and he would not be dismayed.  

We can know this too.

And in this God  I, too, can find the confidence that will never be shaken.

(Isaiah 50)

Nothing Less

I’ve been studying the sanctuary for school lately, and I’m  amazed  at the degree of perfection and exactness that went into everything concerning the sanctuary.

 

It was made exactly according to the pattern given.

The priests did their appointed work perfectly.

There was to be no blemish or spot in the offerings.

The priests had to be completely clean before officiating.

The sanctuary was kept free from all dust and dirt.

Nothing that would defile or mar the sanctuary was to enter there.

 

The exactness, the perfection, the attention to detail is mind-boggling. I find it hard to imagine doing such perfect work.

 

And yet, God expects no less.

He requires no less.

 

We are to give ourselves to the service of God, and we should seek to make the offering as nearly perfect as possible. God will not be pleased with anything less than the best we can offer. Those who love Him with all the heart, will desire to give Him the best service of the life, and they will be constantly seeking to bring every power of their being into harmony with the laws that will promote their ability to do His will. {PP 352.3}

 

If we are willing and ready to give our best to our friends, our family, our jobs, how much more we should be willing and ready to give God our utter and complete best.

 

He will. not. be pleased with anything less.

 

 

 

Chained by Righteousness

Isaiah 11:5

“And righteousness shall be the girdle of His loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.”

Girdled. Chained. Manacled. Shackled.

By righteousness, by faithfulness.

I daily fight chains, and shackles of darkness…. but,

This is no slavery. This is willing bondage.

To choose to be controlled, chained, shackled?

Why bondage?

Freedom is not be free of control, of restraint, of rules.

It is not to just do whatever you want.

It is to choose to be guided, restrained, manacled.

It is to choose to obey the rules, the guidelines, set in place for our good.

It is to choose to be in bondage.

In bondage to God. Not as a slave, but as a willing servant.

Where He rules and you serve.

Where bondage is light. Brings light.

For obedience is freedom.

And living righteously and faithfully….

Well, it matters.

For only the faithfully righteous will enter Heaven.

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Relieve the Oppressed

November 9, 2012

Isaiah 1:17

“Relieve the oppressed,”

Sounds like a pretty good occupation. I mean, relieve the oppressed… who wants to be oppressed anyway. And it goes along with seeking justice. To relieve the oppressed we probably have to seek justice at some point or other.

But let’s look at this a little closer.

Relieve: to be straight (used in the widest sense, especially to be level, right, happy); to go forward, be honest, proper.
Oppressed: violent, a robber. From a root which means: to be pungent, sour in taste, fermented, harsh, dazzling (in color).

OK. Maybe this isn’t such a pretty picture anymore.

We could just say it means exactly what it looks like: relieve the oppressed from their oppressors.

But, looking at the word definitions, I not exactly sure that that’s what is meant here.

But to make happy the oppressor. To cause the oppressor to be straight….
This doesn’t quite make sense. But then again, maybe it does.

The violent are held by chains just as much as the oppressed are.
Different chains, maybe, but held by chains just the same.

And yet, the violent are so often ignored. We focus on healing the broken, but we forget that those who break are broken too.

Healing the broken is important. I would not dream of saying we should ignore them, and neither does Isaiah. But healing those who break is just as important.

But to do this, we must forgive. We must truly be washed clean. We must truly want justice.

Because only then can we go out and rattle those binding chains of those who destroyed us.

Grace. Power.

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I am a firm believer in the power of grace. In fact, grace is what I live by. For, if there were no grace there would be no life.

But I am also a firm believer in not just sitting back and expecting grace and divine power to do all the work; but actually in combining my feeble efforts with the perfect power of the Almighty God.

And that belief is strengthened by what I read this morning.

“Human effort avails nothing without divine power; and without human endeavor, divine effort is with many of no avail. To make God’s grace our own, we must act our part. His grace is given to work in us to will and to do, but never as a substitute for our effort.”

(PK 486, emphasis added)

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