Does God Still Love Us?

Maybe the better questions are: Do we understand how God loves us? How does He communicate His love to us?

The OT speaks about seeking His face and I believe that as we seek His face we are to open our hearts to receive what He has to give us. But I’ve seen a certain behavior in myself, and I’m sure it exists in other Christians as well. When we seek His face and He asks us to receive from Him what we perceive as “negative” we turn away, not willing to receive these things from Him because we do not want to go through uncomfortable situations. But what happens (and it has happened to me and my family a lot) when the very thing the Father wants to give to us is really for our benefit? Maybe what we are to receive will allow us to know Him in ways we could never have imagined, wouldn’t we want to receive those things from Him?

The difficulty lies in the actual participation. Once we receive the “waters of affliction” do not run or turn away and hide from Him, but open our arms, embrace the difficulty, learn from it, find joy in it and give that joy to others. The Father loves us and is willing to allow us to suffer for a little while so that He can have His way with us and allow us to see and participate in His divine family. It’s worth the effort and makes all the difference in our lives.

Unanswered Prayers

Unanswered prayer is one of the things that confronts me as I walk with Christ. So much doubt and fear are injected into my faith when I feel that God is not listening. But my recent experiences tells me that it is not God who is not listening but me. I had struggled for years with my faith attempting to understand why the Father would put me through so much anguish in my life, then one day I came to a better understanding of my walk with Him.

The Old Testament speaks about seeking His face but when I did this I saw a subtlety that I had not noticed before. As I turned my face toward Him and opened my hands and arms to receive whatever He had for me, it was I who turned away (and at times ran away) from Him because I did not want to receive from Him those things that I deemed negative (the positive things, for sure I accepted hungrily) and uncomfortable. But clearly He conveyed to me that those things that I saw as adversarial was His way to allow me to know Him better. So, cautiously I received from Him those circumstances that were hard and looked to Him to teach me what He knew I needed to learn to know Him better. As I began to quiet my spirit and listen to His voice within me I began a journey that took me to a place of dependency upon Him, this, I knew, was what He was attempting to do all along when He set that “mountain” squarely in my path. Where I was only seeing the obstacle in front of me, He was using it to allow me to become more and more dependent upon Him.

My son has been in trouble with the law for many years and it forced me down a path that, at first, I did not want to walk. But walk I did and instead of struggling and attempting to run away and hide, I opened my heart to the Father and received from Him the “negative” circumstances of my life. I quieted my spirit and allowed the obstacle that sat impeding my progress forward to wash over me and receive from Him, because I knew, beyond any doubt, that He loved me and only had good intentions for me. I discovered a gem within the adversity, within the difficult circumstances: a love for my son that I never knew existed. It was His love, originating in Heaven and given to those that are Christ followers. A great and awesome gift for sure.

Now I view obstacles as a way to receive from Him. I don’t run away but trust Him because I know His love for me is very real and awaiting on the other side of the mountain is a deeper dependency on Him with all its glories.

God Still Heals

So many Christians struggle with pain from childhood but because of a lack of knowledge, carry that burden into their adult life. The pain has morphed into something difficult to understand as it expresses itself in ways that are destructive to a healthy relationship with the Father and to each other.

Romans 8:26 says: In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. But Christians have been taught by our culture that weakness is to be pushed and hidden into the background of our life. This is the destructive nature of our conforming to the patterns of this world. The Father, however, wants us to bring our weaknesses to Him so that we may be healed. Hebrew 12:12-13, James 5:16, 1Peter 2:24 all say the same thing – the Father wishes to heal us. We look at our weaknesses and wish to hide them from each other but the Father has determined that we bring these things to Him.

Too often we say it was a blessing to be raised by Christian parents but isn’t the opposite also true? Is it conceivable that the Father placed us in the exact family He desired so that our frailty would one day glorify Him with our own lips for the condition we have overcome with His healing?

Instead of a carrying a pretense of being someone we are not in order to disguise or deny our weakness/sin/pain, allow the Father to be glorified by first accepting the infirmity received in childhood and placing it in front of His throne for Him to powerfully restore us to whole health.

Thoughts on Worship

Why is it so important to worship with other Christians? Many believe that one can consistently worship God alone, individually and have no spiritual need to include others in this intimate act of love and adoration. Worshipping the Father is, by its very nature, a communal act. We, as individuals, can only offer a small reflection of the Father’s characteristic as we worship with others. But together, we can offer each other a much bigger (fuller) picture of the divine Father.

But thinking corporately brings up another issue. If the church is the human community that lives by divine life (Galatians 2:20) and participates in and reflects the divine fellowship (2Peter 1:4), and I am counting on my brother and sister to be a resounding board for revelations from the Lord then it is incumbent upon us all to first of all allow space for the believing priesthood and then strengthen it so that when we come together new revelations of Jesus will permeate our time together.

Can God Still Heal Us Today? (Part 2)

The answer is a resounding – yes! The Father cares about us with a burning passion. He wants us to find His peace, His joy, His love and healing touch. I think I’m a typical Christian in that my thinking about healing has been shrouded in my conformity to the world’s patterns. It has taken many years but I see God totally different than I did almost thirty years ago. I’ve added layers and layers of conformity to my character but as I begin to shed these ill-fitting ideas I’ve begun to see the world through His eyes.

Take for instance suffering. The world has taught me to run away, avoid and even hide from suffering. I complain and ask God why must I suffer? But look at it through His perspective. In God’s economy, suffering is not negative. We see it that way but He doesn’t. He uses the negative effects of the fall from our lofty heights in the Garden of Eden and turns them into something very useful. He is shaping our character so that we become like Jesus. This is not an easy process; considering the lump of clay that we have become, into something that is beautiful and glorious – just like His Son.

We have conformed to the world’s standards that says suffering is bad, therefore avoid suffering. But the Father says yield to suffering, embrace it, learn from it, and eventually find joy in your suffering. If we deny Him this part of our lives we are denying His sovereignty. We are saying that we do not believe He is here in our pit of despair when all the time He has never let go of our hand. If we can go through that process we will find that nothing can ever again disturb our peace that we have in Christ.

I’ve found that once I’ve yielded myself to suffering, healing takes place on all levels; physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. It takes His Spirit down into the darkest areas of my being, where I’ve hidden myself from His loving hands since the beginning of my life.

Does God Still Heal Us Today?

Years ago I was suffering from some long forgotten problem and friends of mine asked me if they could place their hands on me to bring healing. I said sure and sat for their prayerful manifestation for healing of my body. Unfortunately nothing changed and they advised me that it was my lack of faith that prevented the transformation. That stuck with me for a long time.

Many Christians can’t allow themselves to consider the question because it places them in the uncomfortable position of confronting their faith. After all, if a Christian believes in God shouldn’t healing of disease (physical/mental/emotional) be ingrained into our DNA? But it may not be faith that needs to be examined but how He heals. There are deep dark secrets hidden in all of us, most carrying these burdens throughout our lives. These are areas that are not only hidden from our loved ones but also from ourselves. 2Corinthians 4:16 says outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. This tells me that the process of healing may not only be miraculous in nature (Jesus raising Lazarus) but also unremarkable (at least to the casual observer) in the realm of prayer.

But inwardly renewed; how? Matthew 7:7 says we are to ask Him. Can it be as simple as that? Yes and no. Yes, because we must ask first if we are to receive but no because we must pray and ask The Father to show us where we are hurting and in pain. It seems obvious, but I believe that we do not know why we are in pain and consequently need His healing presence to touch us. Ask The Father to show you the long held and now hidden areas of your heart that need renewal. Ask the Spirit to cascade down into your heart and wash it of those seemingly intractable strongholds. He will come and show you what to pray and how He can bring you back to a full and vibrant life that He has held out to us since the beginning.

More to come in my next blog post.

Rich man poor man

I heard a celebrity say the other day that if you are poor you are invisible. That may be true in the world but not in The Father’s kingdom. To Him, you are perfectly visible and extremely valuable (Mt. 10:31). But the real issue goes back to the values of this world and what we believe about those values. The world teaches us (and especially in the United States) that value comes from what you have, what you earn, one’s position in a hierarchal structure. Out of the overflow of a Christian’s heart comes their beliefs. What has the world taught and what have we believed? The world barges in and takes over one’s life at a very early age. It tells us what to value and consequently how we are to live our lives based upon those learned values.

But the scripture forces us, as Christians, to confront these beliefs. In God’s kingdom we should pray for the rich, not envy or attempt to take their wealth. Why? Because wealth tends to inoculate people from reality. The rich can live behind a purchased lifestyle and basically say to God; I don’t need you because I have everything right here. Not an enviable position to be in, hence we need to pray for the wealthy that they can open their eyes and see what is really true.

On the other hand being poor and “invisible” presents other issues altogether. If a poor person looks around and sees everyone getting their share but they remain poor, their heart can easily become embittered, frustrated and full of anger as they feel they have been overlooked. We must continue to pray for the poor so that they can open their eyes and see what is really true.

Freedom Part II

Christians are seeking the freedom that is promised in scripture but even as it extends its olive branch it remains elusive to most. If the believing priesthood (where all, not just a few, are considered worthy) is real then the obvious next question is – how? How would it function? I think it is best if it is illustrated in anecdotal form.
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A woman in our group told the story of her experience with the Lord one night. She felt Him so strongly that it caused her to awake from her sleep. The pressing message from the Lord was that she become involved with a young girl that needed refuge from a tumultuous home situation. She recounted the experience to the group and even though this was not a topic anyone expected to talk about that Sunday every member (functioning as a priest as described in the New Testament) responded with a willingness to help (either logistically or through encouragement or financial) her family deal with the extraordinary responsibility. This is Jesus leading His church. The Holy Spirit spoke and Christians listened and responded.

Within this interaction one finds the freedom that is promised (1Corinthians 12) in that every member has the freedom to express themselves as the Holy Spirit intended. In this way a fresh revelation of Christ is manifested within the body revealing His will to lead His church.

Freedom

Life is full of difficulties and as Christians we are encouraged to release our problems over to The Father. I’ve done this and feel completely liberated from the stress I was inundated with.

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But I’ve also seen another thing happen to me; I begin to grind, think, contemplate over the very same issue I just released to The Father. What I’ve done is effectively taken back the issue from The Father to make it mine all over again. The Holy Spirit allows this to take place because of the never ending love that God has for us. He will not violate our free will, even if we act in a way that is demonstrating our faithlessness. 1Peter 5:8-9 is directly coupled with verse 7 in that we must be alert to how our enemy attempts to disrupt and control our lives. Once we release our problems be alert and restrain our minds to never again taking back what we have once released.

The love of God or the world?

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The Father created us first and foremost to glorify Him but this does not mean we are the center of His universe as many are in the habit of thinking. As Christians we become part of His family, if we are in Christ, thus becoming the objects of The Father’s love through His Son. God is love but this is a reciprocal relationship and He asks that we love Him back. But we cannot love Him and love the world at the same time. With His hand and heart extended He asks; Will you love me today?