God Provides

On Saturday my laptop screen broke. On my laptop were my project due on Monday and all my college essays. UC applications were due in a week.

I freaked. Somehow I got my laptop hooked to a monitor. I transferred the UC essays and homework I needed. I tried to get the rest of my files, but the monitor stopped working.

A couple days later I realized I needed another college essay. I tried hooking up my laptop to my monitor again. At first, it didn’t work, but after a few tries, I finally uploaded the essay I needed online.

God gave me exactly what I needed.

I had been inconsistently praying for God to help me trust Him with school and college. Every once in a while I would remember to pray about trusting Him to choose whatever college I go to.

Even though these were half-hearted prayers, God answered them.

My immediate reaction to my laptop breaking was to worry about finishing assignments and essays. It was so easy for me, when things didn’t go as planned, to worry and forget that God is still in control.

I want to control everything about school and colleges, thinking that I know exactly what is right for me. For some reason, I’m afraid to trust God because then I won’t be in control. I forget that I can trust in an omnipotent God who created this universe and has my entire life planned out.

28“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?…33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:28-34

How Far Can I Go God?

It doesn’t say in the Bible that I can’t do that, so technically it’s not a sin. If I don’t go that far, it’s alright. For a good while, I found myself asking God, how far can I go? What exactly can I do? Many times we have this attitude in life where we want to know exactly how far we can go before we get in trouble. How close we can stand next to sin without sinning.

While some things aren’t necessarily sins, God always reminds me of our purpose. Our purpose to ultimately glorify Him in all that we do. A thought that I keep close to my heart is this, how much can I do for God because I love Him? I’m not saying we must not do these “things” because they can totally be alright to do, we just need to ask ourselves for what purpose are we doing these things? A pastor said this during a sermon,

“A heart that’s willing to stand next to sin, is willing to sin.”

At first, I thought that’s not necessarily true. It sort of depends on the situation. And I still think it kind of does. However when I examined my life and my situation, and saw myself trying to justify certain actions, this for sure was the case. We need to read His word, be in prayer, be focused on Him. And when we do this, we set our minds on things above and not of this world.

It’s not how much we can get away with, but how much we can do for Him. How much we can do for God to glorify His Name, and His Name ALONE.

“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved.” -1 Corinthians 10: 31-33

Freely We Receive

Back in September, Franklin taught about salvation in our junior high/high school Sunday school. I was extremely encouraged, not only from the teaching, but also to have had the privilege to see how God has changed his life over these past two years, and how He continues to refine him as he starts off his freshmen year of college.

Franklin had a very appropriate title for his lesson, which was the “symptoms of salvation”, or in other words, what the life of the one who has experienced God’s grace and mercy in our lives through accepting the gift of salvation should look like. Just as one who is sick exhibits symptoms of that sickness, one whose life has been truly changed from the inside out should also exhibit something that is visible. As always, we need to keep our order of operations in check. It isn’t because a person coughs that makes him sick, but rather his sickness that results in coughing. Following that train of thought, we then sought out to identify some “symptoms of salvation”. This brought to mind a slew of thoughts, which will now follow in rapid succession.

This past Friday we watched the movie Fireproof with our junior high and high schoolers, and there is one scene where the father is consoling his son, who is going through difficulties in his marriage. He is venting to his father about how difficult and almost unreasonable it is for him to love someone who does not respect him, does not love him back, does not acknowledge him, and so forth. What blows my mind is if we take that comparison, but instead “move it up a level” to God and mankind. By a worldly standard, He has every right to say the exact same thing about us. Yet He doesn’t. In fact He does the very opposite, and extends that grace, that unmerited and unearned favor upon utter sinners like ourselves. That sort of love, true love, was one of the many symptoms we identified. Not a love that this world has defined, as a feeling, but instead a selfless and sacrificial love. A love demonstrated on the cross.

It is this very love that leaves me in awe time and time again. It is a beautiful reminder of the assurance we have in what was done for each and everyone one of us on that cross. In Ephesians 2:8-10 it reads:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

We are reminded that at the end of the day, there is absolutely nothing we can do to earn salvation, our works are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). It is a gift, extended to us through the grace of the Father, in sending His Son to live a perfect life, and pay the penalty for our sins, so that we can stand justified in light of a perfectly just God, if we choose to accept this gift. Yes, at the end of the day the hands and feet of the church will produce good works, but as we have already stated, let us remember that it isn’t our works or good deeds that make us a follower of Christ, but rather the fact that Christ lives in us, that these things flow outwardly into the world around us.

We also can be confident in this gift of salvation. The word “saved” in verse 8 is translated from the Greek word sozo, and is in the perfect tense, which in the Koine Greek expresses an action completed in the past with continuing results. I remember a sister sharing in our Youth Group a few weeks back about how she lost her wallet, and how God taught her a number of things through that experience. After our time of sharing, another sister prayed for her thanking Him for what He had taught her through this, but more importantly thanked God for what He had given us, His Son, and salvation, something which could not be lost. It is this assurance and confidence that we can hold onto, knowing that this “saving” that is mentioned is completed, and the effects of us being saved continue on forever.

Let us also never forget that this gift is not free. Yes, we freely receive it, and as we receive it we realize we could not have earned it in any way, and we stand confident in it, however it was not free. This gift which we freely receive came at a cost. It came at the cost of Jesus. Through His death on the cross, we stand justified in light of a perfectly just God, if we choose to accept this gift. Just as if someone laid out a plate of <<insert favorite food item here>> with a sign that said, “Please take one”, doesn’t mean that it was free of cost. Someone else bore that cost, so that you could have it. Likewise, it isn’t being forced upon against your will, but you have the opportunity to approach the plate, and pick it up.

Romans 3:23 reminds us that “…all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”. It continues in verse 24 to remind us however that we are “…justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.” We also recognize in Romans 6:23 that “…the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” And as we have just studied, in Ephesians 2:8-10, that it is “…by grace you have been saved, through faith; and it is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God”. If we accept this gift we can be confident in its permanence and what is promised, for in Philippians 1:6 we read that “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Any one who has “walked this walk” can assure you that it isn’t easy sailing. But I know from what God has taught me, especially these past few years of my life, that He who began that work in my heart continues to refine it day after day. For those who have accepted this gift, take comfort in that. We have a confidence in what is promised, and that He who began that very good work in your heart will continue to perfect it. And for those who may have been looking at the plate from afar, or who may have seen it for the first time and would like to know more, feel free to leave a comment with a means for us to get back to you. Out of the many contributors to this blog site, there is more than likely someone in a neighboring city throughout California, and even a brother in Texas, all of whom I’m more than certain would love to meet up with you and share more.

And so ends what was supposed to be a quick post before bed about what God revealed to me through Franklin’s lesson today (er…yesterday now I suppose). Do you show the “symptoms of salvation” as one who has experienced God’s grace? I think I heard you sniffling your nose.

God’s Unfaithfulness?

Philosophy. What does it mean? From what I have seen, it is a human’s attempt to grasp what humans cannot, and act like he gets it.

Currently, I am in a class in my high school that goes over the various Philosophers, from Plato to Descartes, and Locke to Hume. What have I learned? I have seen how God slowly is avoided as the constant, and people regarding the inconsistencies of life as a natural, mental, element.  By examining various philosophies, I slowly grew closer to God because of how inaccurate human reasoning can be. I understood why progressions away from God happened, but it strikes me hard to imagine how the people followed.

But in all this class has given me thoughts beyond what atheism stands for, but also the thoughts of a sort of god that has an almost impersonal touch. This god frieghtens me, and in truth, for a while, I turned to our God as if He was a robot, and not a loving God. That is a very scary thing when your life is dependent on this idea of faith in God.

I began to think, are we even sure of God’s personal relationship with us? I mean, atheism at this point already seems unnecessary, but the question was brought up in my head, that if we were to be people who sought after God, why does God have to seek after us, as the Bible talks about?

Then a very wild thought approached my mind, about His creation, His being:

What if we weren’t God’s first creation? What if he had created a universe prior to ours which died out right before He started to mold ours. I mean, God was in existence for eternity, how could He go without doing something?

This thought frightened me. Everything in the Bible would fall apart, and Christ’s teaching would be invalid. The Trinity would hold no value, and our lives would just be even more worthless than it already is. It really is scary to think about it.

If this was the case, the idea of the Church being a bride that will come together and sing He’s beautiful, would be a sick image. God would have basically divorced his old bride as the universe died, and sought to make a new one and seek after the new bride. It really is scary.

And what if after our universe goes away, and He decides to make another one? Then how could we trust Him with what we have now? We would just be something else before He creates a new toy that will be even more perfect than the previous. Really is scary.

Then I looked at this. It can be considered as a philosophy, one that denies the Good as valid, and pursues a sense of rebellious nothingness. But the truth came quick as I stepped back:

Just because we think and assume something, doesn’t mean that it is true.

This also really hit me because every philosophy that disregards God is not necessarily true. Like a rumor that speaks badly of someone, many of human’s philosophies are only assumptions, because only God is the constant, the Alpha and Omega. He reigns above us, and only he holds the key to all things.

So the idea of multiple creations in time is really an assumption, and like philosophy, we really don’t know if it is true at all. God is the constant, and He holds all things whether we grasp it or not.

That is Beautiful.

Red pill…Blue pill…

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.  We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. -1 John 2:1-6
Everyone asks the question “when do I know I’m saved?”  We are saved through our faith in Jesus Christ as the son of God and the sacrificial lamb who rose from the dead.  So perhaps the question can be modified – when do I know I truly believe and understand what it means to have Jesus die for me? THAT question can perhaps be answered by verse 3 “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.”  Verse 4 clarifies that if we claim to know God but do not obey, the truth is not in us.

One word…three times.  SUBMISSION.  SUBMISSION.  SUBMISSION…SUBMISSION.   Four. I can’t get over it.  I don’t want to submit to Jesus – sometimes, I don’t care enough about what is right to stop doing what is wrong. And for you who believe in gray areas…I don’t care enough about what I should be doing to stop doing what I shouldn’t.
I’m leaving this broad because a lot of us tend to crucify one sin with a verse, and nod and smile…while all our other sins nod and smile next to us.
This subject of submission is the big picture to the sins I struggle with – when it all comes down to it, I don’t want to give God control.  But the thing is, everything that we live for, all that we strive in, all that we care about – and I mean truly care about – all of it rests on the fact that if we don’t submit to Christ, if we don’t die to ourselves, we will be dead to Christ. Even now, Jesus is looking down on my trampled carcass, trying to save it.  If I submit to his care, He will do all He can for me.  If I reject His help, He will move on to another, and I will rot.

The good part? It’s our choice.  The bad part? It’s our choice.  No one else can make it but ourself.  A lot of us, including me, are held back by a simple thought – I just don’t want to all the time.  A lot of the reason why, at least for me, is sometimes I just don’t feel like it.  I think all of us feel like if we just loved God, following Him wouldn’t be a problem. But we don’t feel that emotion of love, and that’s why we don’t.  We say we have no feelings for God. Look into your heart and see if there isn’t something you’re holding back from God, or that you’re bitter against Him for.  That thing is what’s in the way of you and God. I asked my dad last night, “What can I possibly do when I don’t care enough about doing the right thing to stop doing what’s wrong?” He looked at me and said. “Pray with me, every night.”

Submitting sounds easy – all it takes is a line we hear in so many christian songs, “take all of me”, “take it all”, “I’m falling on my knees, offering all of me”.  But getting to that step of commitment can take a long time – and a lot of work.  If you don’t want to do it…find someone else who wants you to do it.  It’s called an accountability partner.  You’ll thank them later.

One thing is for sure.  If you’re sick of doubting whether you’re saved or not, if you’re sick of doubting whether you really know God, if you’re sick of doubting whether you’ve really got your own relationship with God without your family, friends, or church…submitting is the first step.

Your choice.