Worry is like a volleyball.
When problems come, we need to take the worry, give it a good whack and send it off. When the volleyball comes our way, if we grab it and hold on to it our team loses the point. In the same way, if we hold on to our worries and meditate on them, we lose the point of it all and head toward defeat.
Rather, when we see that worry come back at us full speed, we must raise our hands and with all our strength send it flying.
And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? (Matthew 6:27 ESV)
“It’s not FAIR!”
How many times we who are parents have heard these words from our children! As much as we try, they still find inequity, and they can be quick to let us know.
Not only children, but adults can also be prone to voice the same complaint. Using more mature terminology, of course, but just reading the news we find an abundance of discontent due to people’s perception of injustice done to them. Righteous or not, many causes are fueled by people’s feelings of entitlement. We have rights, you know!
The process of human maturity is simply our learning that we are not the center of the universe. A baby is born with no consciousness of others’ needs. As we grow physically, hopefully we will also mature emotionally and socially. Some children progress rapidly in their ability to respond to the needs of others, but unfortunately many adults have a hard time leaving selfishness behind.
I used to think that true maturity and unselfishness would be to accept the fact that life isn’t fair, and be able to bear a reasonable amount of unfairness toward us without acting out like a two-year-old. But I can see now that maturity goes a step further; “not fair” does have a place in our unselfish vocabulary.
- It’s not fair that I have so much comfort when others around me have so little.
- It’s not fair that children should be deprived of their childhood and education to help support their families.
- It’s not fair that young girls suffer abuse that changes the course of their lives by becoming adolescent mothers.
- It’s not fair that I should enjoy a right relationship with God when others have not even had the opportunity to meet Him.
And the list goes on.
Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all the needy. Open your mouth, judge righteousness, and defend the poor and needy. (Prov. 31:8-9)
True maturity and unselfishness is more than just turning the other cheek when we are wronged. May we grow in willingness to sacrifice some of our comfort to bring comfort to others.
But the path of the righteous ones is like the light of dawn, leading and shining until the day is full. (Proverbs 4:18)
I was praying this morning with my eyes closed as the sun was rising. Even with my eyes closed I could sense the brightness of the sun, but for a brief moment that light was interrupted. I knew without having seen it that a bird had flown by.
The thought came to me, isn’t that just like life? How could a bird, so small in comparison, block the immensity of the sun? It was because the bird was so close to me. The situations in our lives can be so close to us that they block our view of God, casting their shadow on us for a moment.
But what about those longer periods of darkness, when the night comes upon our soul without even the reflection of the moon to give us light? At those times we need to remember that even the whole earth, which stands between us and the sun, is absolutely tiny in comparison to the immensity of the sun.
The darkness is nothing more than the earth’s shadow on us, and the same turning that brought us into the shadow will also take us back into the light. Our faith is the conviction that the sun shines even if we can’t see it, and that faith combined with patience will enable us to endure without losing our hope.
“I don’t go to church for the people. I only go for the Word of God!”
Somehow when my friend made that statement the other night in my home group it troubled me. She sounded so pleased that her motives were correct; she was sure that her priorities were in order.
I know what she was referring to; she has been hurt by people gossiping and judging one another in church meetings. She meant that she doesn’t go for appearance, or to make an impression on others. As she elaborated on her comment, I could see that she often goes in spite of the other people there.
However, I couldn’t help but think about what Word of God says about our reasons for meeting together. The principles in that same Word (that she was making her only priority in congregating) mention many other reasons than just listening to preaching. (Actually, I have found that when preaching is mentioned in the New Testament, it generally refers to sharing the Gospel outside of the believers’ meetings!)
- And let us continue to consider how to motivate one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another even more as you see the day of the Lord coming nearer. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
- …be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, (Ephesians 5:18-19)
- Then how is it, brothers? When you come together, each one of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be for building up. (1 Corinthians 14:26)
- And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which you also are called in one body, and be thankful.
Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Colossians 3:15-16)
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t include good, solid Bible teaching in our priorities for meeting together. Certainly God desires to unify and build us up as a body through the teaching of His Word. But I have found that many people who put that reason on top of the list do so because they have not developed the habit of digging into God’s Word on their own at home. I can understand that if a person didn’t eat at home they would be starved for a good spiritual meal once a week! But God’s best is for us to seek Him daily, and from the overflow of what He speaks to us we can build each other up when we gather together.
What has your experience been?
How can we encourage people to build each other up?
That which is impossible for God. Possible for men?
Oops! You may think that I got a bit confused with quoting Luke 18:27 –
“And he (Jesus) said, ‘The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.’ “
But no, I meant it exactly the way I put it.
Think about it… is anything impossible for God? The quick answer would be no – He can do anything. But while it is true that He has all power, He cannot do anything contrary to His character. So we could make a list of things that He cannot do:
- God cannot lie.
- God cannot cheat.
- God cannot be unfaithful.
- God cannot be fooled.
- God cannot fail.
And the list could go on. You may notice that people can do all those things. And they do.
But our problems begin when we make God in our image. That often happens when a person has had a father or other authority figure that has done the things listed above. It is too easy to define God in terms of people that we have known, that we can see. Rather, we need to spend time getting to know Him personally so that we may be transformed into His image.
I find great comfort in considering the things that are impossible for God. Each of His impossibilities cancels one of my impossibilities. When I feel trapped with no way out – I have reached the end of my own ability – He is strong. He is faithful. He is true. He loves me and will rescue me without failing.
When it is impossible for me to be strong, it is impossible for Him to be weak; and He infuses His strength into me.
Which of God’s impossibilities has been a source of strength for you?
“No” is a closed door. “No” takes away hope, cancels plans and dashes dreams. It is the end of a dead-end street, and blurs our vision for the future. “No” is the final period at the end of an obituary, extinguishing inspiration and introducing doubt.
“Yes” is a blue sky. It is a flowing river, unstoppable and powerful. “Yes” is the beginning of inspiration, the birthplace of hope. It is the fuel that gives energy to our dreams. “Yes” is sweet music to ears that have only heard discouraging comments.
But as God is faithful, our word to you is not yes and no. For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by us – by me and Silvanus and Timothy – was not yes and no, but is yes in Him. For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us. (2 Cor. 1:18-20)