Can God Be Ashamed Of Me?

October 14, 2019

They [strangers and aliens] desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.  Hebrews 11:16

Shame is a powerful catalyst.  Volumes of books have been written about it.  Countless hours of counseling have been dedicated to those who live under the curse of it.  I’ve had a decade or two when it plagued me badly.  Shame tempts us to hide our true selves from others and from God. While the thought of this is tragic, there’s an even more disturbing thing to consider. Can God be ashamed of me?

I won’t wait any further to answer it.  He is not ashamed.  Let that sink in if you’ve always feared He is embarrassed by you or something you’ve done.  On the days I sin, He does not change His mind about me. I have been declared forgiven and before Him, I am righteous.  Though I will stumble and fall, though I will grieve His heart many times before I die, I still walk in the perfection imputed to me after the death of Jesus.  God continues to build a city for those He has redeemed through the blood of the Lamb.  The hammer never falters when He sees me make bad choices.  The Father never winces and wonders if He should change His mind about the promises He’s made to forgive me and call me His own.  Construction continues without interruptions and without a trace of regret.  Covenant love rules the present, and the future, no matter what failures unfold.

One of my very favorite scriptures is Psalm 34:5. Those who look to Him are radiant, their faces are never covered with shame.  Not all faces without shame are radiant.  They may be stoic and just plain unreadable.  But God’s radical love gives more than enough reasons for eyes to shine and for faces to reveal the overwhelming joy of sins forgiven and the anticipation of eternity in God’s presence.

All of this makes me examine the times I was reticent to openly declare that You are my Lord and Savior.  Forgive me.  Amen

Embracing Pilgrimage

October 11, 2019

These all died in faith without having received the promises, but they saw them from a distance, greeted them, and confessed that they were foreigners and temporary residents on the earth.  Hebrews 11:13

With age, have you noticed that things here become less appealing?  Have you felt more and more out of touch with how the world thinks and what it values?  Have you gotten to the place where you feel like a misfit, a stranger and an alien?

If your answer is yes, you’re in the company of those in the family of God who have refused to dig their foundation into shifting sand.  We know that it is temporal and fragile; far different from the foundation of stone found in God.  It may look more attractive but we’re not fooled.   We enjoy the confidence that comes from living on our solid Rock, Christ Jesus.

The steep way of faith is a lonely journey.  There are fewer and fewer, even among God’s children, who stay on the narrow path. The numbers who hunger and thirst after righteousness diminish as their faith walk gets steeper.  Jesus loses appeal when held up against the opiates of our age.  Those who settle for less have decided that’s it’s too much hard work to dig into the depths of Living Water and not just taste it but live off of it.  Ah, but for everyone who perseveres, our eyes search for other pilgrims, the ones who also talk longingly of home.  At first glance, we might look like people around us, but it doesn’t take long in conversation to recognize other believers who also see their future with eyes of faith.  Everything we’ve prayed for hasn’t happened yet.  Everything we’ve hoped for is deferred.  That’s okay.   Like Abraham, we can see it from a distance.

Ron’s father, a well-known evangelist, would say to a crowd of people before giving an invitation, “I’m as sure of heaven as though I’d already been there for 1,000 years.”  Who talks like that?  Only one who has made his home in the Word and abides in Christ.  The Psalmist said, Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were. Psalm 39:12  I can hear the longing.  I can sense the eyestrain as he perpetually scans the horizon for the lights of Jerusalem.  He reached it in 2006 as Jesus welcomed him home.

My cure for worry, Lord?  Becoming consumed with what awaits.  You will open the door and welcome me too.  Amen

As Good As Dead

October 10, 2019

Therefore from one man—in fact, from one as good as dead—came offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as innumerable as the grains of sand by the seashore. Hebrews 11:12

From one as good as dead ~ came a nation.  Who can bring that about except God!

No one likes to hear the words, “Your chances are slim.”  Or worse yet, “There is no chance for success.”  The latter is certainly what would have been said regarding Abraham and Sarah’s desire to conceive a child in their old age.  The window of time for such a possibility was long past.

What is it you have given up on today?  Your hopelessness is based on the logical evidence sitting in front of you.  It might be too late, too expensive, or too hopeless considering the people involved.  There are many more reasons than these for seeming impossibilities.  But God ~

Do you know for certain that God is going to touch what is nearly dead to bring about a miracle?  Probably not – unless He has appeared to you somehow to declare it.  But that does not mean that you and I should hang our head and live in despair that what we’ve prayed for is an absolute impossibility.  As long as we live and breathe, God can do anything.  And if we consider God and see with eyes of faith, that produces joy and expectancy, not mourning and resignation.  While I don’t have ~ I can still sing with hope.

I laugh like a child at Christmas at the possibilities within the realm of Your power.  Amen

Stop and Consider

October 9, 2019

She [Sarah] considered that the One who had promised was faithful. Hebrews 11:11b

Sarah, facing impossible probabilities for childbearing, stopped to consider the One who had made her the promise of a child.  That’s a good and needed practice for any of us who wilt with doubt when we see no evidence of God’s promises being fulfilled.

What does it mean to consider God?  I consider Him like I might consider anyone who gives me their word about something important.  I ask questions.  “How trustworthy have then been in the past?  Have they ever broken their word?  Do they have character traits that would lead me to doubt their promises?  How have they been intentional to love me well in the past?”

When it comes to my spiritual life, this exercise is imperative where God and I are concerned.  He makes promises that aren’t always realized immediately.  In fact, most are not.  They require faith.  So, I stop to consider and then I remember his track record.  I read other’s accounts of His trustworthiness.  I ask older saints if God has ever broken His word.  I review His character traits and ask myself if someone like Him should be trusted 100% of the time.  And finally, I review how He showed His love for me on a hill outside Jerusalem.  He gave what was most expensive to make me His ~ the life of His perfect Son.

I’m convinced that sometimes faith is weak because we simply don’t know enough about God.  Imagine if the angel had come, not to Mary, but to some other young teenage girl who did not know God at all.  Would the Magnificat ever have come from her lips?  She would have had nothing to say of much theological magnitude; no theology was tucked away from learning and experience.

If I’m weak in faith, shaky on promises, the fix is a daily IV drip of Living Water.  Cumulatively, the effect is huge.  A mind washed with the water of the Word does not even think of doubting God.  It has been transformed into an entity shaped by divine power.  It, by default through years of training and submission, breathes faith.

I consider You where faith is weak and the evidence for trust is ironclad.  Amen

Why Is She In There?

October 8, 2019

By faith even Sarah herself, when she was unable to have children, received power to conceive offspring, even though she was past the age, since she considered that the One who had promised was faithful.  Hebrews 11:11

Our sinful nature encourages us to be unkind and judgmental.  I can be that toward Sarah.  I’ve wondered over the years why she was in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews.  Was she really a giant of the faith?  When God told Abraham, within earshot of his wife, that she would conceive at 90 years of age, she laughed to herself and then denied that she did it.  Not only that, but after ten years of waiting for God to fulfill His promise, she took matters into her own hands and helped God out by having Abraham sleep with her maid.  Ishmael was the result.  So how can God see her as a woman of faith?

Just the way he sees me, and sees you, sin, then obey, sin, then obey.  Does he see our less than sterling moments?  Yes.  Does he hear our spoken doubts, even cynical distrust that we mutter under our breath?  Yes.  Do we take matters into our own hands to shorten the time in God’s waiting room in order to ease our unbelief?  Yes.  Yet, God does not judge us in the end by our moments of weakness.  What matters is how we viewed our sin and whether we repented to make course corrections.  His mercies are new every morning.

Sarah did laugh again – but this time, at the birth of Isaac and in celebration of God’s power.  This last laughter was one of joy that God had done the miraculous for her.  She went public with it too, erasing any notion that her distrust of God had become permanent and turned her into a sour skeptic.  She was no curmudgeon.  She laughed like a child over God’s goodness.

None of us want to be judged by our worst moments.  None of us should judge Sarah because of a few unattractive moments of faithlessness.  God doesn’t.  When He reviewed her life, He saw faith.  So much so, that among all those in biblical history who exemplified faith in astounding ways, Sarah was divinely chosen to be remembered in this lineup of heroes.

Are you wincing over my past mistakes?  Have you defined me by my sin?  I know better.  If I’ve repented, my sins are behind your back, out of sight.  Let me hear your joyful laughter over my life.  Amen

Conceiving The Impossible

October 7, 2019

By faith even Sarah herself, when she was unable to have children, received power to conceive offspring, even though she was past the age, since she considered that the One who had promised was faithful.  Hebrews 11:11

Sarah was enabled by God to conceive what was humanly impossible.  She was past childbearing age as no one has conceived a child in their 90’s.  Physically, she was incapable of fulfilling the promise God made to she and Abram without divine intervention.

Whether physical or spiritual, we are each called to do something outside of our ability to produce it. I’m convinced that few ever discover and engage with their God-sized callings.  As a timid person, I didn’t either until my late 40’s.  What do we do instead?  We play around with natural giftedness, maybe even discover our spiritual gifts, but then set out to use them with very good intentions.

But here’s the problem.  If I’m able to step into a spiritual role and believe that it will achieve the spiritual results God intended – based merely on my personal skills – I am sorely mistaken.  Though my gifts may be large, even admired by others, and though it might appear that I’ve succeeded from man’s viewpoint, I will have achieved nothing supernatural without an empowerment from heaven.  There is no fruit without the Spirit, no harvest without showers from on high.

How can I know if my kingdom work is going to be kingdom effective?  If I fainted at the call.  If, immediately, I knew I was in over my head.  If I felt inadequate and cried out to God to help me do it with His Spirit and His strength.  When someone asks a person to take on a ministry opportunity, they will often say, “Please do it.  You’d be so good at it.”  No one has any right to ask another person to sign up for kingdom work without praying about it first!  And no one has any right to agree to the request without praying about it first!  How much kingdom work is being done in the flesh!  The most dangerous obstacle for any believer is natural giftedness.

The stories of spiritual exploits in scripture have the same things in common; They heard a call.  They stepped out by faith.  They cried out to God for help.   Without any one of these, of what value are the results!

Jesus said, “He who believes in me, from His innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.” John 7:38  ‘Innermost being’ is the phrase for womb.  Each of us is to birth something for eternity that will produce living water.  It begins with divine conception and the obedience of faith.

Forgive me for the times I’ve engaged in ministry like it was busy work.  Amen

When Evidence Begs To Disqualify The Promise

October 4, 2019

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went out to a place he was going to receive as an inheritance. He went out, not knowing where he was going.  By faith he stayed as a foreigner in the land of promise, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, coheirs of the same promise.  Hebrews 11:8

Oh, what faith it took for Abraham to leave the land of Ur to follow God.  Oh, what faith it took for him to embrace Yahweh and forsake the gods of his family.  Daily, what faith it took to sojourn through foreign territory with all the resistance he encountered.  And, what faith it took to believe that he would father a son in his old age.  All of these were steep tests. 

But the greatest, at least to me, was that when he reached the land of promise and it was already inhabited by other people, he stayed to live as a foreigner. He still believed God even though he adjusted to the fact that his time of tent dwelling was not over.  He had to be sick of it.  He’d done it throughout his long journey.  He’d remained true to God and kept himself from calling anyplace home.  He’d kept his family nomadic so that when God spoke, they could move on to their stopping place.  Did he promise his family that when they reached the land God promised, they would leave their tents and build houses?  Probably so.   

It would be like God leading me to move to Finland, promising me a particular home once I moved, but after arriving there I discover that the house is occupied and not even for sale.  The people who live there have no intention of selling and they are hostile when I inquire. 

Was this not what happened to the children of Israel hundreds of years later when they reached the perimeter of the promised land under Joshua?  It was not vacant, just waiting for them.  The Canaanites had no intention of giving it up without a fight.  To make the faith test even greater, the inhabitants were giants and, humanly speaking, no match for God’s people. 

When God makes a promise, one I am to embrace by faith, I can count on the fact that there will be many realities within my field of vision that beg to disprove it.  The fulfillment is rarely instant.  Dave Wilkerson called it ‘the death of a vision’.  God calls, I listen, there are confirmations, but when I set out by faith, all evidence disappears that I am on the right path.  I begin to think I heard wrongly.  This is the journey of faith.  I’m not the first to fear that God led me astray. I won’t be the last to have the foundations of my faith shaken.  So what comprises a man or woman of faith?  It is not that they ever fail to ever doubt but whether or not they obey in spite of their trembling. 

In this chapter, Abraham is remembered because when he was called, he obeyed.  By faith, he stayed as a foreigner in the land of promise.  By faith, he continued to live in tents instead of fleeing in disbelief. 

Today, I steady the course when the enemy comes accusing Your character.  Amen