Owned

This is a passage that, if you consider it honestly and seriously, will rock your world and radically change your priorities:

Luke 12:31-34 

But seek His kingdom, and these things will be provided for you. Don’t be afraid, little flock, because your Father delights to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Make money-bags for yourselves that won’t grow old, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  HCSB

I’m praying for the courage to take the hard look necessary to be a faithful disciple and change where change is required. 

Transcript of 3 Gifts of the Savior Series: Hope

[Video available on my Sermon Video page here.]

The Gathering, Chattanooga

December 6, 2015

~The doctor slowly walked in and sat down with the look on his face that said it all.  Before he could say a word, tears began to stream down her face as she leaned onto her husband’s shoulder.  He tightly wrapped his arms around her and quietly wept, determined to take care of her for as long as he could.  

~It’s been 2 years since he actually held a steady job.  Never a day goes by that he doesn’t think of his ex-wife and two beautiful young girls, wondering what they’re doing today.  Every passing day on the street is one step further from any chance for a normal life again.

~Hearing the verdict was like a swift punch in her gut.  The color drained from her face as the reality that every tomorrow for the rest of her life would look exactly the same…and it was almost too much to deal with, wishing she could go back in time and change what rage-filled moment in time.


What happens when all options are eliminated and any belief that things can get better begins to fade; when the last bit of good news doesn’t come and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it?  

What happens when hope runs out?  

Everybody has reason to hope so long as there is some possibility that things actually can turn around.  That’s the very way the dictionary defines hope:  the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.  Sometimes, though, things don’t turn out for the best and there is no rational basis to think they will.  What do you do?

The answer to that depends on your starting point.

Many people start from a position that believes that all you get is what you see.  The philosophical term is “Naturalism.”  Someone who holds to Naturalism believes that the material, physical world is all there is; that everything that exists is nothing more than the product of chance.  There is nothing beyond what we can see and there is nothing beyond this life.  There is no God; no higher power, no after-life…and no real hope. 

Some people seem to have no problem with this.  They simply make the most of this life, realizing that this is all there is and they will someday simply cease to exist.

I think there is a problem with this, though.  As long as everything is going well, I can see how people can pretty easily hold to that position, but when we’re faced with no hope that things will get better, it might be different story. When you’re faced with the reality that the cancer IS going to kill you, that the world is falling apart, the harshness of reality can be overwhelming.  

Further, I think the vast major of humans want to exist.  The idea of nonexistence doesn’t set well with most people, especially the closer they get to the point of that non-existence and they can’t live within the worldview they claim to believe.  After all, we pay a lot of money to stay alive.  We seem to want to continue existing and I think the thought of non-existence is a repelling thought.

There is an alternative to having to think this way (at least in the short term).  To avoid the consequences of meaninglessness, many people embrace what is known as Existentialism.  They have no basis for believing there is any meaning in life—with naturalism, there can be no real meaning in life—but they can’t live that way.  They can’t practically live according to the system of belief they’ve embraced.  There is no basis nor reason for things like love,  rational thought, truth or hope. So, they invent meaning and purpose for their lives.   They pursue careers that can give meaning.  They have families so they can build a legacy after they cease to exist.  See, Existentialism separates the harsh reality that there really is no meaning in the world from the desire for meaning; the desire to have meaningful thought, to truly love and to have significance, even when it is known that there is no reason for them; no basis for believing in them.

So they create meaning for themselves; they make themselves who they are.

The problem for existentialists is that they are always faced with the reality of the objective world.  Death is always present; always threatening to destroy their meaning and purpose; always demonstrating the objective truth that what we have created is nothing more than an illusion.  Nothing we have can last, so the happiness and satisfaction we live is a fantasy we have dreamed up to keep us from the truth. They may act as though there is hope, but it’s just a sham.

For that person who is honest with himself and follows his worldview to its logical conclusion (which rarely actually happens), a new reality becomes evident.  They understand that the meaning in their lives is something of their own invention, but in reality, there is no meaning.  All of life is an absurdity and of no value.  We see this most clearly in those who kill for no purpose at all, simply because life has no value, no purpose, with no ultimate meaning.  To live or die is equally worthless.  Those who cannot find meaning and can no longer create meaning find themselves living according to another thought-system:  Nihilism.  

Nihilism is the reality for an honest naturalist.  It is the denial of everything that is real.  It is the end of the line; the natural conclusion for anyone who lives honestly as a naturalist.  It realizes that nothing matters.  Nothing is ultimately right or wrong, good or bad.  There is no such thing as love and commitment because it all ends in the same place—nothingness.  Nothing is worth investing in because it cannot last and means nothing. 

There is only one place for a true Nihilist to go:  Despair.

Few can actually survive living a life in which there is no trace of hope and, as a result, and end up either committing suicide or madness.  They lose it…sometimes taking out as many people as they can in the process.

If this is the case, there is really only one other possibility…one other hope.  That lies in Theism (and I would get more specific to Christian Theism):  The belief that there really is a God who has created everything that exists and moves freely within His creation.  

If there is a God who created it, who is Lord over it, then He must be the Highest of all beings and He must be able to communicate with His creation if He chooses to and in any manner of His choosing. This is where we get into the Bible, a book that tells us there is a God who has created a people in His own image, which means that there is reason for things like love and rational thought and purpose.  

We’re talking about a God who tells us that everything that happens to us can work towards making us better people that will not be lost at the time of that great objective reality, death.  Instead, we can live beyond the grave because He is beyond the grave. He is outside of time and space and makes it possible for us to be, as well.

If true, this is the only basis for real hope and it is one of the greatest gifts we could ever imagine. 

Assuming, then, that what is written in Scripture is true, we have another problem:  Just because there is an almighty, sovereign and holy God, doesn’t automatically result in everyone rejoicing that we don’t have to live in total despair due to meaninglessness.

 To the contrary, because He is almighty, sovereign and holy leads us to a problem:  The Bible tells us that his holiness; his perfection can only allow perfection into His presence.  

Because of the Fall of Man, the perfect relationship God established at the beginning of creation was marred, making mankind unfit for a relationship with God and, even worse, left us liable for our sin, punishable not by annihilation, but eternally paying for the offense against an infinitely holy God in hell.  As a result, God gave Laws to demonstrate what it would take for man to be made right with God and escape the payment for sin:  the Law had to be followed perfectly.  So, now we’re back to despair because no one can do that.

What we come to find out, though, is that God had another purpose for the Law and a purpose for our despair which was to make understand that in our own power, we are hopeless.  We cannot save ourselves.  In the Old Testament, God had made a covenant with man through Abraham that said so long as you obey me, I will be your God and you will be my people.  After centuries of trying and failing, the Bible paints a picture of a people in despair, crying out to God for a savior.  

Then came hope!  God spoke through his prophet in the midst of the despair of the Israelites and gave them reason to believe that things could and would get better!

Jeremiah 31:31-34

 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

God promised that He would do what man could not do…He Himself would satisfy the requirement of holiness.  God would make a way for eternal life, providing hope where there was only despair.  This fulfillment would be through His Son, Jesus, the Christ (the Deliverer) and over 700 years before Christ was born, God said gave his people hope by telling them what was to come:

He would enter Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt (Zechariah 9:9).

He would be betrayed by a friend (Psalm 41:9).

The betrayal would be for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12).

The money would be used to purchase the potter’s field (Zechariah 11:13).

The Messiah would die a sacrificial death for us (Daniel 9:26; Isaiah 53:8).

He would die with criminals but His burial would be with the wealthy (Isaiah 53:9).

He would rise from the dead (Psalm 16:8–11; Isaiah 53:10).

He would speak specific words on the Cross, he would be mocked, and people would gamble for His clothes (Psalm 22:1, 8, 18).

Remember, the definition of hope, according to the dictionary, is “the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.”  God gave the world a reason to hope and he gave the word a new meaning.  

In Scripture, hope is no longer about something that we want to come about or even that we think it might turn out for the best.  Biblical hope is a confidence that was is said will happen because God has said it.  So, when we say that we have hope for the future, we believe that there is a certainty of what God WILL bring about based on what he has said he will bring about. 

OK, so it’s one thing to say that God has spoken and that He has brought about promises, but how do we know that God’s Word and promises are true that lead to our certain hope?  

Put simply, we believe.  Now, I’m not talking about a simple act of the will as in choosing to believe against all evidence.  When we think about what we believe, there are, as I can see it, three possibilities:

1.  You can choose to believe something you know isn’t true (such as, I believe I can fly.  I believe that unicorns exist)— that’s called delusion. 

2. You can choose to believe something to be true but is actually false—that is error. (as in, I believe that the Vols will win the National Championship next year…though that might better be categorized as “delusion”).

3. You can believe something because you’re overwhelmingly convinced by evidence of it’s truth and reality.  In this sense, You know in your heart that the external facts give evidence to what is true.  

In the case of belief in Christ’s death and resurrection, the evidence is solid, but evidence alone is not enough.  Salvation takes faith, and God’s word says that He gives us faith as a gift…an internal certainty that His promises are true.  The Spirit of God convinces us to know what is true even though we can’t see it all with our eyes.

Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

In Hebrews 11:1 we read, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation.”

John 3:16 is clear that the one who believes will not perish but have eternal life.  It is this faith that leads to justification before God and eternal life through Christ.  It also is the basis for our hope that things actually will get better; that even through bad circumstances, we can hope for the good.  Look at Romans 5:1-9:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.

So, when we trust in Christ, we are reconciled to God.  We are made right with Him, being declared righteous because Christ has exchanged our sins for His righteousness.

2 Corinthians 5:21

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

This righteousness makes possible for God to welcome us into his family, but also gives us hope in our lives here on earth.

Hope that even bad circumstances are investments into our growth and development:

Romans 8:28

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Hope that God will intervene when we struggle or when we are in need:

Romans 8:26

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

Matthew 6:25-33

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[g] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Hope that God will guide us every step of this crazy journey called life.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Isaiah 30:21

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

This hope is only found in Christ, but it is found in Him.  It is real.  It is comprehensive.  It is eternal.

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~Romans 15:13 

A Morning Meditation

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

brokenchainsThis is an amazing passage, especially in light of the fact that Paul has just concluded chapter 7 by talking of the war that wages within us; of the struggle, as Christ-followers, to do what we want to do, all the while finding ourselves doing what we don’t want to do as it relates to sin.  His conclusion is that of wretchedness as he declares his imperfection before a holy God…but then immediately follows with an answer to the question of who will deliver him from this body of death with spontaneous praise to God through Christ!  Why?  Because he knows it is not based upon his own righteousness, which does not exist (Isaiah 64:6), but upon that of Christ.  Paul admits the continual struggle between serving Christ in his mind and with his will, desiring to always be faithful, but wrestling with the law of the flesh (sin) that is always close at hand.

That is a struggle with which I am familiar.  That is something that I can identify with.  I desire to follow Christ closely; desire to obey with my whole heart, but I find that I am often found horribly lacking.  I have wrestled with fear and doubt and depression over the condition of my life…why can’t I be a better dad or husband or pastor…a better follower of Jesus?  The enemy is always close at hand, seeking to devour me (1 Peter 5:8), to destroy me (John 10:10), to accuse me before the Father (Revelation 12:10).

What do I do?  I keep reading!  Because of what Christ has done in me, redeeming me from the penalty of the Law of sin and death, there is no condemnation!  NONE!  The Father does not look at me as the failure that I am, but the new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), the child of the King that Christ has made me (Romans 8:15-17).  The Father looks at me and sees the righteousness of Christ that has been imputed to me (2 Corinthians 5:21); credited to my account to such an extent that I shine righteously in the Father’s presence, the only way He can look upon me with pleasure…and He does!

I still struggle with sin and I am to always be at war with my sin nature, but I am not defeated by it.  I can never be defeated because the law of sin and death was destroyed by the means of a Roman cross (Colossians 2:13-15), never to have victory over me because in Christ, I stand redeemed!

Reflections on a Boston Massacre

BostonI have been heart-broken to see the images and hear the stories coming out of one of my favorite adoptive towns. Boston is a city that I spent a lot of time in during my eight years in Massachusetts and a city that Karen and I came to love immensely.

Yesterday was just the latest reminder that we are vulnerable; that there is truly no way to protect everyone at all times.  It is a reminder of the terror that can be inflicted on whole cultures and the changes in life that come as a result: heightened anxiety, tightened security and fear of the most insignicant items, like backpacks and garbage cans.

At any point and any place, explosions can happen or shots can ring out and mayhem ensue.  What do we do?  Well, I suppose the answer depends on your worldview; your source of hope or ideas of the future.  For me, I hope in Christ.  I hope in the God who created, who secures, who cares…who is there.  In all of the situations, both good and bad, the God who is there.  I understand that He doesn’t always prevent.  He doesn’t always stop it.  Sometimes He probably does but we probably wouldn’t know, because it didn’t happen, but in some form or another, He always shows up.  He’s always there…in hope during recovery, in comfort during grief.  

Often, God allows the result of sin and rebellion to run it’s course in this world.  He doesn’t owe us deliverance in this life, though He often provides it.  That doesn’t mean He doesn’t care and it doesn’t mean He’s absent.  I trust that.  I hope in that.

So, I respond by praying for His presence and comfort in the lives of those who need it…right now.  In the pain. In the loss.  

I hope for a better day.  I’m not talking about utopia in this life.  That will never come.  I hope, meaning I wait for with great anticipation, for the day that Christ comes back (and He is coming back) and He puts an end to all of this garbage.  Honestly, it’s days like yesterday that make me long for it more and more.  

Maybe that’s part of God showing up.  Maybe it’s part of the process of allowing sin to strike in order to draw us in to that place where we realize we need a savior.  Maybe it’s to remind those of us who have trusted Him not to hold on too tightly to this life because it really is just a vapor, isn’t it?  Instead, I start to think less of my hopes and dreams right now and long for the dream and hope I have for a day that makes this broken world seem so insignificant.

Even so, I’m still here.  Right now.  I live.  I breathe.  I act.  I respond.  I think.  I grow…and I love.

The most heart-breaking story I’ve heard so far is of the little 8 year-old boy who was eating ice cream, enjoying cheering on the finishers one moment, then killed only moments later from the blast.  In the blink of an eye, a family is literally torn apart.

Life is but a breath and it’s gone. 

So, I determine to love well.  I hug my wife and my kids and thank God for them, hoping He gives me years and years with them, but so thankful for today.  Time is fleeting, my friends.  Last month I wrote a post about that in the Saving Daylight Series.  You can read it here, if you’d like.  

I hate death.  I really do.  As a pastor, I have such a love-hate relationship with funerals because, on the one hand, I get to celebrate the escape and deliverance from this world of those who have made it home. That’s such a good thing.  But I have to go through the agony of separation and absence with those who remain.  God, I long for the day when you bring that to an end! 

Where is your hope?  Where are you spending your time?  How do you respond when tragedy strikes?  Don’t let tragedies go to waste without reflecting on YOU.  What happens if the next one lands in your backyard; affects your family or friends and rocks your world?  

Life happens…but hope remains.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But ktake heart; I have overcome the world.” ~Jesus  (John 16:33)

Walking in the Shadow of the Resurrection

Life's enjoymentEaster’s over, the crowds have dispersed, eggs found, rabbits eaten, services conducted, Monday came and went…now what?

Maybe the answer lies in how Monday went.  Did it seem like Easter to you?  Were you walking in the shadow of the Resurrection?  Was it filled with hope and grace, forgiveness and joy?

It’s so easy to forget that Easter is not a one time a year thing, but for those who have been transformed by the power of the Spirit of God because of the satisfaction of the Father’s righteous wrath towards sin, every day is Easter!  Everyday is marked by the forgiveness of Christ so that today I can take a deep breath and, with hope rather than dread, embrace the adventure that is “today”.

Whatever you’re dealing with today, if you’ve trusted in the One who overcame death, deal with it with the resurrection power that is able to say, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

Death couldn’t defeat Christ and, because of that, you and I “are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37, with context)

T-Shirt Theology

CrossHillBWI’m often amazed at how easy it is to become so focused on a thought we want to convey that we lose sight of truth, often derailing the very point we set out to make.

Here’s an example of what I mean:

This morning, I heard a guy on the radio make the following statement:

The cross was no cosmological accident; no knee-jerk reaction. It was a calculated plan. The moment the forbidden fruit touched the mouth of Eve, the shadow of the cross appeared on the horizon.

Sounds, beautiful, no? It really does.

“The moment the forbidden fruit touched the mouth of Eve, the shadow of the cross appeared on the horizon”.

That could be printed on a T-shirt and sold for $15 with every major Bible bookstore stacking it on its shelves.

The only problem is that, in spite of claiming that the cross was no knee-jerk reaction, the explanation sounds like a knee-jerk reaction.

Think about it.

According to this statement, the cross was a response to the action of Eve. Sounds logical, right?  Problem arises, solution follows.  Sounds palatable. But is it accurate?

If that’s true, then this is false:

18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. [1 Peter 1:18-21. Emphasis added]

And this:

7 Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, 8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. [Revelation 13:7-8. Emphasis added]

In these two passages, both communicating a pre-determined plan of God prior to the creation of the world,  the first part of the above quote is affirmed: The cross was no cosmological accident or knee-jerk reaction. The second part, however, implies the opposite.

Though it sounds good, it’s not good. The only way for this not to be a knee-jerk or something that God had to react to (an assault on his omniscience) is for it to have been part of his plan from the beginning. That affirms the passages in 1 Peter and Revelation.  If that was what was meant, it’s not what was communicated.

Somehow, God had planned to reveal Christ to the world long before creation in the exact way in which He did. At the right time, God began to put the plan in motion (i.e. when the fruit was tasted and the fall occurred), revealing to us the glorious Christ as it unfolded.

I admit, that makes for a bad t-shirt, but it makes for a wonderful, sovereign, omniscient God.

It is especially important for those of us who are charged with communicating Truth to the masses (but applies to anyone conveying Truth), to be extra careful with our theology so that, in our desire for pithy slogan-making and sentimental ideas, we don’t misrepresent the character of God and miscommunicate the very Truths we are trying to convey.

How Deep Indeed!

emptytombheader

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I knoww that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom


[Words and music by Stuart Townsend]

Trusting When It Counts

Most of my married life has been one of uncertainty.  I’m not talking about my marriage, specifically, but rather the circumstances we have been in most of our life together.  Two years after Karen and I were married, we were called up to New England, uncertain of what we were to do, why specifically we were going or for how long we would be there.  I know that sounds strange, but it was a very Abrahamic experience: go and I will tell you later where and why.

As things turned out, it was the most incredible character-shaping and building eight-and-a-half years of either of our lives.  We were involved in so many different types of ministries and had opportunities to learn so many different things, that I can’t imagine life without that experience.  It’s where I finished my Master of Divinity degree and where, as a church-planter, I was specifically called as a pastor (though I was called into ministry at age 15).  New England is where I fell in love with cross-cultural missions and apologetics and worldview studies.  It’s where I began to understand what it means to be a real friend, investing in people for years in order to reach their hearts (New Englanders aren’t called the “Frozen Chosen” for nothing).

Our time in New England is also where we were the most financially challenged.  In spite of Karen and I working throughout these ministry years in the northeast, we were often wondering how we would make our next house payment, how the bills would be paid, and how God was going to see us through.  We didn’t always know…but He always did.  There were times when, literally, money would come through the mail the day before a bill was due to be sent (one with the exact amount plus the exact change for the stamp!).

The point I am making is this: Faith isn’t faith until it’s put to the test.  We never know, fully in our own hearts, that God can be trusted until we really need to trust Him.  That isn’t to say that we don’t believe God is faithful in our hearts and heads prior to experience, but it is still theoretical until we experience it.  Sometimes, we walk into those experiences knowing that God will have to deliver us if we’re going to make it while other times, God does the pushing and prodding until He gets us to a place where we have no choice, only to teach us what it means to trust and to allow us the blessing of experiencing His all-sufficiency.

Most of us are in a situation right now, where it seems hard to see where things are going, economically, in these downward times.  After years of plenty (which, ironically, was when Karen and I were experiencing the least we’ve ever had), the economy has taken a dive and it is affecting everyone.  The question is how is everyone responding?  More importantly, how will I respond and how will you?

Here is where the rubber of your faith meets the road of your experience.  Is God to be trusted?  Are you going to trust Him when there is no safety net?  Our we going to declare with the Psalmist, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” (Ps 91:1-2)?  Is He still God when the 401K dries up and the stock market ebbs and flows, when the savings runs out and when the bills continue to increase?

Sorry...couldn't resist. dp

Like John Piper recently expressed, I’m not one who puts much (read: any!) stock in the prosperity Gospel.  I don’t believe that God simply wants to punch your financial ticket so that you never have to experience want.  It is exactly those experiences that God most often uses to shape us into what He wants us to be.  Why would He short-circuit the process of preparing you for eternity just so you can experience the lap of luxury in this temporal environment?

So, should we expect more difficulty?  Probably.  Is God still in control? Definitely.  Will we learn through it? Hopefully.  I am praying for myself, my family and my friends and my church, that we will trust God when there is plenty and when there is uncertainty, just the same as though there is no different.

Paul said in Philippians 4:19-20, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Look at what that says:

God will supply (HE is the source and the provider).

all your needs (with the exception of nothing that you NEED, not necessarily want).

– according to HIS riches in glory in Christ Jesus (He has all of the resources that flow through our relationship with Christ)

– God gets the glory!

– Amen…so be it.

Trust is not easy.  I don’t like to put my hope in what I cannot see, but I’ve seen that that which I can see cannot always be trusted and God has given us His glorious promises to reveal to us that He will not drop us.  He can be trusted.  The question is will He be?

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