Thursday, July 29, 2010

On Earth as it is in Heaven

As I was reading through an article that Jon Bloom (from Bethlehem Baptist Church, MN) posted on the suffering/persecution of Christians around the world he said something that really struck me:

"But American Christians live in the most prosperous nation in world history and the one in which it costs the least to be a Christian. This environment can be deadly to faith. It allows false faith to masquerade as real very easily."

Does it make you feel a bit uneasy? I know it got me thinking. I wonder how I would stand in those situations? I hope to believe that I would let His strength support me (it's our choice to use that strength after all) but there is very little of me that would even consider wanting to be tested like that. I've learned that it's the fires that refine us, but defining a "good week" as being one that didn't include a beating because I profess His name is not one furnace I readily want to jump into.

However, reading last night (The Lazarus Life) I came across this passage and it somehow seems to fit my train of thought:

"[that you] may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." (Ephesians 3:18-19 ESV)
There are a couple ways of looking at that passage, but for me, God's love for us is beyond our comprehension; it "surpasses our knowledge" of what we know. It is so beyond understanding that we can only accept It, or reject It.

However I wonder if my brothers and sisters who go to sleep at night with bruises on their bodies understand more of that love then I do here. I don't want bruises, I don't want to feel pain (or even see it), but I do want that relationship.

May I use my blessings, freedom, and protection that I have here to advance His Kingdom ... on earth, as it is in Heaven.

~Matthew ><>

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

At Peace in Chains - A Reflection

A reflection from my journal entry on July 14, 2008

But as it is, they 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 ESV)
Then: During that time in 2008 things in the economy were really hitting home at Ford. This passage got me thinking about how while I should be thankful for my blessings here, my ultimate home is with Jesus.

When I think now about this "desire" that is spoke of, it reminds me  of another passage I read yesterday
And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. (Acts 12:7 ESV)
What struck me about that was when it was brought to my attention that Peter is in jail (again) because Herod (Herod Agrippa I) had just killed John's brother James and because this "pleased the Jews" Peter was also arrested. He was very likely about to be executed as well. So here he is in jail ...

SLEEPING! Yes, the angel had to wake him up!

Could you sleep? I couldn't! Here he is sitting in chains, waiting to be executed, so he decides to take a nap.

I wonder if it is because his desire, while it is understood he wanted to spread the Gospel, was not of this earth. He knew that God was in control, and that a place was being prepared for him. He truly was at peace in chains.

May we desire a better country; His. And when those chains get fastened around our wrists and ankles, may we find His peace, relax, and wait for when we are called, and watch the chains hit the ground.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Getting Upside Down!

I think I've been getting upside down again for a while; spending time in His Word more for information, than for transformation.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2 ESV)
I'm not suggesting there is anything wrong in reading Scripture for information, but it's wrong when I stop reflecting on that information that I've read. As I continue to read through 1 Kings, I am about to come to a point when King Solomon walks away from God. It's heartbreaking, truly, to see such a great king who was blessed with so much, raise his hands and praise God for all he has and speak beautiful words, only to know his upcoming choices.

1 Kings 8 captures blessings, prayers of dedication, a benediction, and even an amazing amount of offerings to the Lord; yet the promise and warning that begins in chapter 9 is seemingly forgotten by Solomon. It's a reminder for me how quick we can backslide and how easily we get caught up in our own self.

I'm so task oriented, and in many ways that can be a blessing. However, in some ways, like reading His Word, it can get me checking a box that I read something rather than letting Him work on me. Whether it be prayer, Scripture, or a teaching, I need to start taking more time reflecting again.
that he may incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his rules, which he commanded our fathers. (1 Kings 8:58 ESV)
Thank You for continuing to incline my heart to You, and may I get rightside up again! :)

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