Thursday, October 20, 2011

jonah

As I was reading Jonah the other night, given our current message series at Nativity, this verse jumped out at me: Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs (NIV, Jonah 2.8). It is such a crystal clear way to sum up the relationship we have with our counterfeit gods... When we choose them over our Lord, we miss out on grace.

Those of us who are engaged in Missions work are often go-getters. As a result of being involved in a lot of activities, our schedules tend to get crazy full. The idols in our lives can be good things -- like doing Missions work -- it's when they jump a few slots too high on the list of priorities that a good thing becomes an idol... And we start to do things like look to our to-do list to provide a sense of worth and be a source of happiness. Have you ever worshiped your work, your schedule, your busyness? Is that a source of pride for you? Is it a counterfeit god?

Idols aren't always drugs and money. Remember that even good things, when put out of order, can cause us miss out on grace. God calls us to love him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. He doesn't ask us to do a whole lot, just to love.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

sowing the seeds of love

We just finished up a great series at Nativity -- "Taking responsibility for your life." One of the key verses for the series was Galatians 6:7:
Make no mistake: God is not mocked, for a person will reap only what he sows.
To be honest, I didn't think too much of the "you reap what you sow" principle before this series. Sure, I believed it was true, but I considered myself a pretty responsible person and assumed that this would be an uneventful message series. Turns out I was wrong on a few counts... This verse, a little honesty from my friends, and some accountability from my small group has shed light onto areas of my life where I need to step up my responsibility -- mainly with the relationships in my life. Over the past few weeks, in addition to being reminded of some things I need to work on, I've also been reminded about a key aspect of the nature of God...

I was definitely unprepared for the conviction that would come from these messages, and I felt myself getting down, reflecting on all the poor seeds I've sewn and the problems I'm now reaping. Often when people challenge or criticize us in life, it's not out of a spirit of caring but out of competition or envy. It can hurt when people call us out on "our stuff" when it's not done in the right manner or with the best intentions. We all struggle with insecurity, so comments that challenge us can leave us feeling unloved, unwanted, and even unlovable.

Though "God is not mocked" and he does rebuke and discipline us when we need correction (and it's usually the fact that those changes will be painful), the bottom line is he does it out of love. God is love; he loves us for who we are not what we do. And God is jealous; he wants all of us, all of our hearts and our lives. Because he's a perfect and loving father, his love corrects us when we go astray. He does this not because God gets a kick out of seeing us squirm, but because he has greater things in store for us in the future.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit... As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. (John 15.2,9)
God loves you. He is your heavenly Father, and like a father disciples his children, so God may be disciplining you just as he's disciplining me. Always remember to keep in mind that it is done out of love and with the intention of blessing you more in the future.

p.s. I really do apologize for the title of this post -- I just couldn't help myself.