Friday, September 23, 2011

...And the Lord takes away - A divine exchange!

How many of the problems that we have in our lives are brought about by things that we as Christians believe as if it’s the truth but it is not? And the reason that we believe them - these half truths or even downright lies – is simply because we don’t fully know who God really is? We know about him but we don’t fully know Him. This lack of knowing influence the way we see and experience life and it can bring about much pain and disillusionment.

Getting to know a person happens when we spend lots of time together over a long period of time. In most cases we never fully get to know every little thing. There is always something more to discover. If that is the case with people then imagine how long it would take getting to know the God of the universe. I can confidently say that we will never get to the end of Him. Maybe today, in reading this, you will discover something new about Him that will change the way you think and affect your life in a good way.

When we read the newspaper, the internet or watch television and even listen to the neighbours in our communities our senses are flooded with all kinds of tragedy, disaster, and circumstances of loss: The loss of loved ones, loss of possessions and money, the loss of relationships, etc. It is mostly at those
times when I’ve heard people say, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.” I get the impression that, although it sounds spiritual to quote Job, it is often an expression of defeat rather than inspiring faith. And in some cases - no mistake - some intended to say that they believe God caused their loss. I’ve heard many unbelievers blame God and saying, “If He was so good then why did He let this happen?” And I've heard some explain that as a reason for not having accepted Him as Lord of their life.

Where does God fit into loss?

Please don’t misunderstand me: I am not talking about the sadness and grief that is felt when we suffer loss. That is a very natural experience to have and we must grieve. I don’t want to nullify those emotions. Instead I want to focus on a different perspective – another approach to loss and a different view of God perhaps. Just maybe it will affect the way you experience your loss today.

Just think about it: When last did you consider that God never created this world or the things in it to exist forever – not even humans?

Ecclesiastes 3 speaks of a time for everything: A time to be born; a time to die - A time to find; a time to lose - A time for keeping; a time to throw away - A time to tear; a time to repair, and so on. David says in Psalm 39 that life is but a breath, a fleeting moment before it is all gone – merely a traveller passing through the earth. 2 Samuel 14:14 (Amp) says, We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. And God does not take away life, but devises means so that he who is banished may not be an utter outcast from Him (i.e. by sending his Son God has made a provision for us so that WHEN we die – not IF we die – we have a way to be with him forever – a hope of eternal glory).

In light of all earthly things being temporary consider this: Does this temporary state of being make God a bad God somehow, one who means us harm? Does it mean that He loves us any less? Did God not demonstrate His love by giving His only Son for our sins? (John 3:16) He didn’t love us so much that He gave us something temporary; He love(d) us enough to give us something eternal! – something that beats everything good that we could ever have in our temporary time on the earth.

Our (sometimes) obsession or preoccupation with the temporary things of this world vs. an omnipotent God’s priority with eternity is often the instrument used by the devil to try to separate us from God. Often and sadly, because of our lack of knowledge of who God is, we fall into the trap and, instead of recognizing the lie, we become entangled in it. The result is crippled, wounded Christians living defeated lives. Knowing truths about God and believing them is not the same thing. Knowing will make you feel ‘warm and fuzzy’ but probably not stand up to the challenges of life, but believing will change your life forever! And that, my friend, is exactly what the devil is afraid of. So he takes the Word of God and twists it, and the ignorant believes it… We cannot afford to be ignorant anymore.

”…the Lord gives and the Lord takes away…” The devil paraphrases: “You step out of line and He’ll take you for all you’ve got, boy (or girl)!” Today someone in the world believes that the measure of God's love depends on earthly things, i.e. if you're good you score points and get 'stuff' but if you're bad then He punishes you by taking your 'stuff'. And so the children of God – those who believe this lie – live in fear: fear of a merciless God and fear of loosing their 'stuff'. In this case all the devil has to do to validate the lie is to meddle with your 'stuff'. You blame God, feeling angry and rejected and distance yourself from Him because it's been "proven" that He means you harm, and the enemy "laughs all the way to the bank" - mission accomplished.

Why would God want to take your ‘stuff' when everything in the universe belongs to Him? The God of the universe has no need for your worldly possessions? God takes no pleasure in the want of his children – not anyone’s lack for that matter. In fact, He is constantly reassuring us that we must not worry, that He is very capable to provide for every need. Instead His greatest desire is for your heart to be His and His alone. He doesn’t want to share your affections with your house, your car or your money – not even your husband or wife. He doesn’t mind that you have them – He wants to bless you – but He wants to be number one in your life. Don’t let your temporary worldly possessions (including relationships) cause your eternal priorities to get messed up.

Today someone in the world believes that if they are not constantly involved in ministry related things and using their spiritual gifts that God might take it back and give it to someone else. That kind of pressure cause anxiety and stress and it actually robs you of enjoying your gifts. If it creates "stage fright" you may even become less effective. If this is you today then listen carefully: So many people have picked up my guitar saying, “I used to play but I haven’t played in years.” (Most don’t even own an instrument anymore.) Then I watch them fumbling about trying to remember what they used to play but their fingers have “forgotten” how. I have one thing to say: use your gifts! Use them to glorify the Lord. That is the main reason why it was given to you. God doesn’t have a shortage of gifts. He doesn’t need to take yours to give to someone else. We “lose” it when we don't use it. The sad part is that buried with every gift is every opportunity that it was supposed to glorify God and touch a soul. Not only that, but I know that it would have blessed the gifted too.

But don’t use your gift out of fear of losing it. Use it because you want to and because you enjoy/love to! Keep the special gift that you received from God dusted off and in use! (1 Timothy 4:11). Keep it ablaze! God doesn’t want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible. (2 Timothy 1:5)

Why do we live in fear that God will take our stuff away? Because we don’t fully know and understand God’s love for us. - - There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love's complete perfection]. 1 John 4:18 (Amp)

But there is hope for us yet! “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away?” For sure He does! In His presence there is a divine exchange! He gives me peace and takes my fear away. He gives me comfort and takes my brokenness away. He gives me liberty and takes my captivity away. He gives me sight and takes my blindness away. He gives me beauty and takes my ashes away. He gives me praise and takes me heaviness away. He gives me joy and takes my mourning away. He gives me salvation and takes my sin away. He gives me power and takes my (self)pity away. He gives me confidence and takes my doubt away. He gives me healing and takes my disease away.

Yes, we live in a world where things get spent, rust, break, are stolen, and erode. Don’t put your hope in things, neither in yourself, your abilities or even your good works. Put your hope in an eternal God who says, “I love you and nothing changes that! I simply want you for my own. What the enemy intends for destruction I can use for your good if you will just trust me. I AM!” Make it your business to know who He is and be assured that He never changes – the same yesterday, today and for eternity!

In the words of Job (1:21)... "Blessed be the name of the Lord."

No comments: