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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Are You A Bad Imitator of God?

I finally finished a painting in anticipation of my surgery scheduled for Friday.
I will likely not be able to use my arm for awhile much, although I was told that using the hands and fingers would be a good thing.  Many people online though make it sound as though that will be a problem, and since I was having a better day than usual I went ahead and finally got the painting done with.
My painting is an imitation of a painting in a book which reminds me in a greater sense how Christians are to be imitators of God as beloved children.  I feel so far from being like Christ, and I sin so much.  I want to see His image reflected in my life as part of His church.   He is the one who sanctifies and cleanses by the washing of water with the Word, so that He might present His church in all its glory having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing. (Ephesians 5).  
Even as a Christian whose sins are forgiven, I continually need to repent of my present sins.  It can be discouraging like looking at my artwork and then looking at the original and how pitiful it looks in comparison.  One day I will be perfected though, because He who promised is faithful even when I feel faithless.  So much grace is needed for a wretch like me.  I want to love Him more and reflect His love to others.  It's a good thing that my salvation isn't dependent on me.
While I may have to take a long break from posting (we shall see), I thought I'd share some links and messages that especially stood out to me recently.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Seeing God's Providence In The Little Things

Sometimes acts of kindness from strangers surprise us.  
When we were seeing my brother off at the airport, my Dad was pushing me in a wheelchair from a parking lot trying to find my family.  It felt like it was quite a distance, and we went through one building and into another parking lot not knowing for sure how far to go.  He was getting tired out from walking and pushing, and my legs were tired of trying to help propel myself along with his pushing.

My Dad finally asked some people for directions, and a man came and pushed me back into the building and even went up the elevator with us.  He wasn't wearing a uniform, and I'm not sure if he was some kind of worker or what.  I gave him a Thank You Gospel tract, but then I wondered if I should have tipped him.  I didn't know.

Later at a creamery, after I bought some ice cream and was trying to get back between tables to where my Mom was, some man with a beard (that had pink on either the beard or his hair in a strange way) offered to make sure that I got through.  I was so intent on getting through and feeling badly that I was making someone's table move that I didn't turn back.  I'm not sure what happened to him, but I don't remember if I thanked him like I should have.  You really can't judge by appearances.

I'll admit that I really don't like strangers coming behind and pushing me.  Part of that is because I feel disadvantaged, or in some cases I feel capable of taking care of myself.  The other part is I feel a healthy sense of danger from strangers (no matter how they look).  Still, I appreciate that there are those who really are generous enough to want to help someone.  There have been others who have done nice things for me in my life.  I'm sure you've likely met people like that.  Maybe you are one of those who has done things like that.

There are other times when little blessings come into our lives.  Meeting someone who is familiar with some of the same people you are and shares common beliefs, or when at just the right time you read something that encourages you either in Scripture or something written by another Christian that is a reminder of God's providences at just the right time.  Sometimes, we get so caught up in our goals and feelings and all the bad things going on in the world that we dismiss from our minds the seemingly random acts of kindness or the blessings that come our way.

As a Christian, I know that God is sovereign even over the little things, and I should be more thankful for these.  Even the bad things that happen in this world have purpose.  It is so easy for me to grumble about things or be discouraged and depressed. 

There is a Biblical precedence for reminding ourselves of the goodness and power of God in the past. This can help us through the difficulties of the present to remind ourselves that He is trustworthy.
Even when I'm down,  I need to remember to give thanks and to look forward to seeing what God will do through my trying times.

God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. (fr. Psalm 46:1 NASB)

Do all things without grumbling or disputing;  Philippians 2:14 NASB

For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.  Romans 15:4 NASB

always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;  Ephesians 5:20 NASB

Friday, October 17, 2014

Remembering God's Grace

I've been reading a book by Charles Spurgeon called All of Grace.
After I posted my previous post, I read chapter 7 which really pinpointed an area I've been having struggle with.
It's focus is on the grace of God and how faith is just a conduit of that grace.
My focus has been too much on whether I feel faith which could be leading towards making an idol out of "faith" itself rather than focusing on God's grace and Christ Himself.

The fountain of God's grace is like a heart pump sending blood through the blood vessel of faith to me (my soul) from God.

Spurgeon says,
  "The peace within the soul is not derived from contemplation of our own faith.  It comes to us from Him who is our peace - the hem of whose garment faith touches - and virtue comes out of Him into the soul..
  See, then, that the weakness of your faith will not destroy you.  A trembling hand may receive a golden gift."

Spurgeon also says,
  "The power lies in the grace of God and not in our faith.  Great messages can be sent along slender wires.  The peace-giving witness of the Holy Spirit can reach the heart by means of a threadlike faith which seems almost unable to sustain its own weight."

My focus then needs to be on Jesus, and also on His grace which saves.

Spurgeon says,
  "Yet, the power is not in the faith but in the God in whom faith relies."

My Dad has also recommended the book The Valley of Vision from which the song I shared came from (a CD that Sovereign Grace Music did based on that book).
I also read my Bible with some of the study Bible notes (as I have been doing), but God can also encourage through fellow Christians who can help me to understand and apply the Scriptures as fellow strugglers who have gone before me on this journey have done.  Even those of us who have been Christians for years go through valleys, but He doesn't let us walk alone.

Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.
Psalm 43:5

Monday, October 13, 2014

My Only Hope Is Christ

There are times when my feelings lie to me.  My doubts depress me.  I want God to do whatever it takes to make me to fully trust in Him, but then afterwards I beg for mercy as I'm tired of suffering physically. 

It is not my own weak faith that my salvation rests on as though it came from me.  I remind myself that God won't let me go.  Why do I doubt my salvation at times (although not all the time)?  Isn't God trustworthy?  I know He is.  If only I would stop listening to my feelings.  There are times when I love reading the Bible.  Why do I have such a mixture of rebellion with a cold heart and also a strong desire to love and trust God more?  I'm tired of my sinful heart.  I don't want to be in the state of having lost my first love of Christ as in Revelation 2:5.

The thing is that I know that I have believed, but my doubts and rebellious thoughts and wavering feelings of love for God make me question how much I really believe.  I remind myself what Spurgeon said about looking unto Christ and living.  If only I could shake myself of listening to my wavering feelings.  We are born from above by God's grace as Christians. I know it isn't dependent on me.  It is good for people to examine themselves, but it is bad when I get to the point that I examine myself and look inward too much.  I begin to doubt, and like Peter walking toward Jesus on the water I start to feel I am sinking and lost. I must step forward and obey God and stop trusting my feelings.  Feelings come and go, but I must believe God is faithful in spite of my sinful weakness.  Feelings will likely come again if I do what I have done when I did feel more love. 
There have been times when I have felt so close to God and a lot of joy.  He truly is faithful even when we're not.  He will keep His sheep. 
Truly my only hope is Christ. 


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Questions for Muslims, Prayer Group, Confrontation & Forgiveness & Upcoming Surgery

Questions to ask Muslims - Do you run across Muslims in your community, at you work or during your travels?  CARM has a set of questions that are thought-provoking and can be used as a springboard for sharing the Gospel of Christ.

There is a new closed group on Facebook that I have started that is called "Praying for Christian Ministries, Pastors, Persecuted & Unreached Peoples."
I'm not sure if I'm biting off more than I can chew so-to-speak with this, so I may end up limiting it more.  If you are a friend of someone in the group or want to request to join it individually click HERE.

I have enjoyed the following video in recent times especially when the topic of forgiveness has come up.  My only disclaimer is that I believe the man singing this is not qualified as a pastor from my understanding of the Bible, but he is certainly a Christian brother.  I have enjoyed his music for many years, went to a number of his concerts, and met him in person once at a church.  His lyrics are generally excellent.  There are times when communications with Christians break down, and online it's especially difficult to work things out unless people are willing to communicate and show Christian love.  Confrontation needs to take place, but some people hold things against people without communicating with the person they have something against.  Then they gossip and slander the person without ascertaining the facts.  Don't get me wrong....there are many false teachers that need to be warned against, but there are those that look for evil or jump on  personality flaws. 
Would we withstand the test that we put on others?

What with celebrating family anniversaries, upcoming surgery, pain, & having an infection that has made me extra dizzy & nauseated, I have not come up with much for my blog recently.  The surgery may greatly limit me for some time to come after my surgery at the end of this month.