VIDEO Stronger

May 15, 2011

“There is love that came for us
Humbled to a sinner’s cross you broke my shame and sinfulness you rose again victorious

Faithfulness none can deny through the storm and through the fire there is truth that sets me free Jesus Christ who lives in me

You are stronger you are stronger
Sin is broken you have saved me it is written Christ is risen Jesus you are Lord of all

No beginning and no end You’re my hope and my defense you came to seek and save the lost you paid it all upon the cross

So let your name be lifted higher
Be lifted higher be lifted higher”

Obedience or Independence?

If you love Me, keep My commandments. —John 14:15

Our Lord never insists on obedience. He stresses very definitely what we ought to do, but He never forces us to do it. We have to obey Him out of a oneness of spirit with Him. That is why whenever our Lord talked about discipleship, He prefaced it with an “If,” meaning, “You do not need to do this unless you desire to do so.” “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself…” (Luke 9:23). In other words, “To be My disciple, let him give up his right to himself to Me.” Our Lord is not talking about our eternal position, but about our being of value to Him in this life here and now. That is why He sounds so stern (see Luke 14:26). Never try to make sense from these words by separating them from the One who spoke them.

The Lord does not give me rules, but He makes His standard very clear. If my relationship to Him is that of love, I will do what He says without hesitation. If I hesitate, it is because I love someone I have placed in competition with Him, namely, myself. Jesus Christ will not force me to obey Him, but I must. And as soon as I obey Him, I fulfill my spiritual destiny. My personal life may be crowded with small, petty happenings, altogether insignificant. But if I obey Jesus Christ in the seemingly random circumstances of life, they become pinholes through which I see the face of God. Then, when I stand face to face with God, I will discover that through my obedience thousands were blessed. When God’s redemption brings a human soul to the point of obedience, it always produces. If I obey Jesus Christ, the redemption of God will flow through me to the lives of others, because behind the deed of obedience is the reality of Almighty God.

by Oswald Chambers

Love in Wrath

Love in Wrath

The supermarket has a unique power to drain the very life from a person. The noise and the lists and the lines, not to mention the endless possibilities for a kid to grab something or beg for a treat on every single aisle—these all conspire to make the grocery store a wretched experience for many parents. I have children; I can testify to this truth.

I recently encountered one beleaguered mom who cracked under the strain. Her daughter, the oldest of the three in tow, had apparently badgered her mother relentlessly. The woman’s eyes drooped, and she shuffled along behind the cart, attempting to find a jug of milk while her daughter ran circles, grabbed boxes, and shouted questions. Mom finally snapped and yelled, “No! Stop! Stop all of it. Stop being so awful!” The girl looked stricken. Her eyes fell, and she silently followed her mother down the aisle, though at a distance.

Who knows the backstory for this poor woman? Whatever it is, certainly no parents in their right mind would cast stones. However, this weary mom’s reaction (which I’m guessing she later mended with apologies and hugs) reflects how many of us believe God feels and acts toward us. God, we imagine, has patience that lasts only so far, but when irritation builds, He snaps. God’s had enough. God simply can’t take our foolishness, ignorance, and rebellion anymore. God blows His top.

Our suspicion is unfounded. If the action of Jesus Christ tells us anything, it assures us that God’s core being exudes unquenchable and (to the human mind) unfathomable love, patience, and forgiveness. As the psalmist says, He is “slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness” (Ps. 103:8). Jesus gladly surrendered to the humility of human existence by taking on flesh and to the agony of the cross as demonstration of the fact that divine love has no limits. Our idiocy and our rebellion do not catch the Lord off guard. Rather, they are the reason Jesus came to us. Our sinfulness is the reason we have this gift called the gospel. In other words, He expects our foolishness and meets it with kindness. God does not blow His top.

Receiving such tremendously good news, some assume this to mean God’s love is one-dimensional. They think God—because He is love—can only offer a grandfatherly smile, even as we do damage to ourselves and rip our world asunder. Of course, a weak, benign inaction is no love at all.

A number of years ago, an older man sat me down and told me in straightforward terms that I was acting selfishly and harming someone I loved. He did not berate me or assault my dignity, but neither did he pat me on the back and dish out sweet words that would have done me (and the person I was harming) absolutely no good. Love required words that would sting. These words were not easy to hear, but they were true and they brought healing. I righted the wrong, and years of joy have been the fruit.

The apostle Paul also offered loving, stinging words. Writing to Christians living in the city of Colossae, he admonished them to live up to their identity as followers of the Jesus Way, to live courageously into the true life and true humanity the Lord had for them. Paul instructed the Colossians to “put to death” those destructive remnants of their old life: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, rage, dishonesty, malice and greed. “Because of these,” Paul said, “the wrath of God is coming” (Col. 3:5-9 NIV).

Wrath? How does that square with love?

Paul understood that the Lord is not interested in merely implementing a new and improved moral code. Instead, He wants to create an entirely new way of being human, a new life created by the generative, stunning truth that we have been “raised with Christ” (v. 1). Jesus willingly stumbled to a cross and triumphantly walked out of a grave in order to establish the kingdom of God and to inaugurate the life this kingdom creates. Everything that had been ruined by sin (and all the resulting devastation) must be undone. However, if humanity is to be restored and the disastrous effects of sin righted, this means that our status quo will be disrupted. If God’s kingdom is to come on earth as it already is in heaven, then the ways of our world will be upended.

God has moved into our world to heal us, to restore us, to enact an entirely mercy, everything changes. Thankfully, God always insists we leave behind whatever dehumanizes us, whatever wrecks goodness, whatever yields selfishness and evil rather than joy, love, and life.

I have a friend who gives her heart away boldly. This courageous posture places her in a vulnerable position because it means she will inevitably endure others’ misunderstanding, rejection, and immaturity. In a recent conversation with her pastor, she shared how she would soon have to enter another of these vulnerable spaces. God was asking her to give herself freely, and she knew it would be costly. Her pastor asked why, and she explained how past experience had proven that, in this venue, she would be dismissed and treated with disdain. As my friend began to recount one of these stories, her pastor interrupted. “I’m sorry—I have to stop you right there. I have to tell you that I’m angry. I’m very angry.”

In that moment, the pastor’s anger on my friend’s behalf was the most righteous and healing action she could have experienced. His anger was not at odds with love. His anger protected and enacted it.

God’s wrath, defined by Jesus Christ’s self-giving sacrifice, declares to us that divine love is both powerful and unrelenting. In fact, God’s love is so fierce that He will not allow those things that destroy us to go unchecked. He will not smile in silence while we demean ourselves or harm others. Our Father gets angry, and this anger is a profound gift; He does not sit idly by when love is slighted and violence or injustice erupts. God’s love is not at odds with His wrath. Rather, His love requires that wrath. The great scandal is not God’s fierce love but the remarkable ways we remain lethargic and timid in response.

However, the kind Father’s wrath is not an explosive fit of rage, like the woman in the grocery market. God’s wrath does not go on benders, making our relationship a place of fear and instability. God’s anger protects His love. His bold, unrelenting action on our behalf assures us that He is strong enough to heal and deliver us. We can rest in the security derived from knowing that divine love is not timid or tepid but so fierce it will never go silent, so staunch it will never break.

by Winn Collier

Guard Your Heart

“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

The Hebrew word nasar, here translated “keep,” carries the strong idea of protection or guarding. It is used 10 times in Psalm 119 to stress the necessity of “keeping” (guarding, protecting) the various kinds of instructions in God’s Word: “testimonies, statutes, laws, precepts, and commandments.” Everything written down by God is worth guarding.

In our text, the importance of guarding our hearts is emphasized since it is the source for the “issues of life.” Jesus said, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh” (Luke 6:45). Our “heart” is indeed the key to much in our life.

It is no wonder that the first commandment of all is to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength” (Mark 12:30).

Here are a few important principles that we must guard if our hearts are to produce the good “issues of life.”

If we seek God with all our hearts, we will find Him (Deuteronomy 4:29; Jeremiah 29:13).

We must believe with our hearts if we are to be saved (Romans 10:9; Hebrews 11:6).

If we hold on to iniquity in our hearts, God will not hear our prayers (Psalm 66:18; Isaiah 59:1-2).

If our hearts do not condemn us, then we will have confidence with God (1 John 3:21).

“He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart” (Psalm 15:2) will live forever with the Lord of heaven and earth. HMM III

Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light

Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.—Colossians

NOT their own, ah! not from, earth was flowing
That high strain to which their souls were tuned;
Year by year we saw them inly growing
Liker Him with whom their hearts communed.
Then to Him they passed, but still unbroken,
Age to age, lasts on that goodly line,
Whose pure lives are, more than all words spoken,
Earth’s best witness to the life divine.

ONLY to remember that such have been, that we walked for a season with them, is a chastening, a purifying, yea, and however much we may miss and mourn them, a gladdening thought. RICHARD CHENEVIX TRENCH.

The beatitude of the Saints is the matured result of the long course of patient strivings, which may have passed wholly unobserved because of their minuteness. One step has followed another in the mysterious progress, of daily, hourly acts, each seeming to pass away, as footprints on the sand are obliterated by the advancing tide; but the end is the Vision of God, and the recompense is the perfection of a nature made one with the Mind of God. T. T. CARTER.

The mighty God

The mighty God. Isaiah 9:6

Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips: therefore God hath blessed thee for ever. Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most Mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty. And in thy majesty ride prosperously …Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. — Thou spakest in vision to thy Holy One, and saidst, I have laid help upon one that is mighty. — The man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts.

Behold, God, is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. — Thanks be unto God, which always causes us to triumph in Christ.

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever.

Psalm 45:2,4,6. Psalm 89:19. Zechariah 13:7. Isaiah 12:2. 2 Corinthians 2:14. Jude 24,25.

Ever follow that which is good

Ever follow that which is good. 1 Thessalonians 5:15

For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; … but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously. — Consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report: if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

1 Peter 2:21-23. Hebrews 12:3. Hebrews 12:1,2. Philippians 4:8.