Monday, May 29, 2006

Strength Through Weakness

God's promises seem easy to claim when the sun is shining, the road is smooth, and temptations seem like a dream. It's easy to approach Him in confidence when our walk with Him seems steadfast, and our heart is free from cares, failures, and discouragement. Struggles seem non-existent, and we are rejoicing that maybe now, maybe at last our walk with Him has ascended to the place where we are free from the insistent attacks of Satan upon every upward step. Finally we can walk on a plain where no clouds ever descend, and all is upward, bright, and joyful.

All too soon, reality hits. We are faced with a problem we can't solve. Circumstances cross our path that we can't control. Our flesh rises up and declares an all-out-war against the ground we thought we had gained months ago. New standards and ideals tower high above our trembling heart, and we realize our complete inadequacy to be what God has called us to. Our heart condemns us as we try to see past our failures and struggles back to the victorious walk we know is possible in Christ.

During these times, our weakness seems despicable to us. We run from it, we try to ignore it, we try to transform it into spirituality. We think that if we could only be strong and courageous, our struggles would melt away and we would be able to claim the grace we need from the Lord.

I believe some of these struggles may have prompted Paul to write,

"...My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness: Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak then am I strong." II Cor. 12:9-10

Satan likes to discourage us with our weaknesses. He brings condemnation and despair that we will never be able to be what we know we should. And he is perfectly correct in that accusation. We can't do it. Every effort we make in our own strength will utterly fail. He turns our eyes inward to self, it's failings, it's struggles, and it's limitations, and as long as we keep that inward focus, despair and discouragement will reign. Satan does not lie in these accusations, but he is also sure not to tell us of the one sure way to victory. There is One whose grace is always there for a heart that acknowledges it's needs, and looks away from itself and onto Him.

Christ does not despise our weaknesses and struggles. Just as His grace was abundant and free when we came to Him for salvation, bringing nothing but our sin-stained soul longing to be cleansed, so his grace is abundant and free when we come to Him, struggling, discouraged, and longing for a deeper reality. Satan loves to bring condemnation to our heart when we come face to face with our failures. His subtle whispers of "Do you really think you can approach God in the state you are in?" brings doubts to the never failing love and mercy of our Father. We start to feel we can only come to God when we have everything together, and when we are walking in victory. We somehow feel that we are more accepted and loved by God then when we are fighting for every new step of ground.

"He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." Isa.40:29-31

An open honesty with God and ourselves is what is so greatly needed. There is such a freedom in just coming to the Lord, admitting complete weakness, knowing that we can do nothing in our own strength, and then resting in the grace He provides. His grace is abundant in our weakness, but how can that grace be there if we don't see our weak and helpless state before Him? How can His love reach down and pick us up when we insist on trying to stand in our own strength? Do we fear coming to God in our weakness and simply crying out to Him, "Lord I can't do it! I need you desperately!" Can we honestly face our own needs and let God undertake for us?

I will be the first one to admit my needs in this area. I have so far to go, and I too easily allow Satan to discourage me with a sense of my need, instead of letting it drive me to my Savior's arms. He is longing to show Himself strong through my inability, and to show His strength when I have nothing left. Acknowledging my complete weakness, and then running to my Lord's strength is the absolute surest, and safest place I can be!

"His strength is perfect when our strength is gone;
He'll carry us when we can't carry on
Raised in His power, the weak become strong.
His strength is perfect."

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Cast Thy Bread Upon the Waters...

"Throw that which I have labored so hard for away? On the water, Lord? Don't you know it will get soggy? It will be completely wasted! Why there? Wouldn't my money be better spent elsewhere? Isn't my time more valuable than that? Why should I spend such effort on something destined to be so fruitless?"

Yet the call rings clear, "Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days."

The Lord has been gently convicting me lately of leaning on my own understanding concerning where I sow the seed He has given me. Yes it's important to be sensitive to His leading in the manner in which we sow this seed, but I see a principle of reckless ababonement concerning where we sow it.

My attention was brought to the parable of the sower. In these days of streamlined farming, economic use of every square foot is monitered by computers, and results are carefully analyzed to ensure the best use of commodities. Why then do we see such carelessness in Matthew 13? Seed seems to be thrown to the wind! What farmer in his good mind would plant his hard-earned, and precious seed in rocks and thorns?

To my shame, this has been my mindset far too often. My heart grudgingly gives when I don't see something as having potential of fruit-bearing. It shuns sacrifice when I don't perceive any good coming out of it. It does not embrace opportunities that seem to only have a dessert wasteland as it's end.

"This person is not interested in the Gospel one bit, Lord! Isn't it foolish to throw my seed into dry, unworked ground?"

"For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not
thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may
give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater. So shall my word be that goeth
forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish
that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." Isa.

A tract is certainly only going to drive this sin-hardened soul deeper into restentment, isn't it Lord?

"Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters, that send forth thither the feet
of the ox and the ass" Isa. 32:20

The circumstances are not at all favorable! There's distractions all around! Surely it would be a waste of my time to talk to this person!

"He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds
shall not reap...In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not
thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or
whether they both shall be alike good." Ec. 11:4,6

"Father, this needy individual is wasting all that I put into their life! Why do I keep serving? Couldn't my time be better used elsewhere?

"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if
we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men,
especially unto them who are of the household of faith" Gal. 6:9-10

Where am I casting my bread, and why am I casting it there? Does my heart willingly give ALL that I have, even if I never see the end results in this life? As I remember that it is God that giveth the increase, my heart is encouraged to give my part, and give my uttermost for eternity when golden sheaves of grain will be gathered into my Father's kindgdom!

Sowing in the sunshine, sowing in the shadows;
Fearing neither cold nor winter's chilling breeze;
By and by the harvest and the labor ended,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

-Knowles Shaw

Friday, May 19, 2006

First Post

Welcome to my new little corner of the web! For various reasons, I've decided to start using blogspot for my ponderings, and I hope and pray your times spent here will be blessed. I chose to start my blog here with a poem I wrote almost a year ago. It expresses the cry of my heart, my goal and purpose in life, and the standerd I hope to lift up through these writings. The night is coming swiftly when no man can work, the time is short, and by God's grace, I will give my utmost for the only thing that will carry into eternity - the soul's of men.

Adoration is Imitation

The churches sit so crowded
singing love to Christ above.
Singing songs of full salvation
claiming our Saviour to love.

Our fellowship times are sweetness
Friends, family, oh so dear.
Yet why is the Father weeping?
Why in His eye a tear?

The harvest fields are empty,
Oh why do they look so bare?
When so many claim to love Him -
In reality so few really care.

The heathen they weep, they long for
some hope to light their way.
Yet all they see is darkness,
a grim future before them lays.

They plead to an unknown Father,
"Send someone to show us the Way!
Our grain is ripened and ready!"
And there is no time to stay!

Christ's cry rings through the ages
to the ones who call Him Lord,
"My love I've freely given,
My all on you I've poured.

I came from heaven's splendor
to a world so steeped in sin.
I came bringing a message
to make you pure within.

My salvation you've accepted,
yet you sit in ease of wealth
my example you will not follow,
this greatest story to tell.

You all still claim to love me,
yet my message you will not take
to the millions of groping heathen,
whose soul's eternity's at stake.

"You claim you are too busy,
You say that you're not called
But isn't Christ's commandment
the same to one and all?

Oh, can't you hear His heartbeat?
God loved and so He gave.
His life laid down for you and me,
Humanity's needs to save.

Our love for Him is proven
by how we follow Him.
Will we rise and take the challenge
Or sit in ease and sin?