Archive for October, 2015|Monthly archive page

Unbreakable love

A friend is plagued with night-time fears that he may not go to heaven to be with God.

He assured me that he believes Jesus died for him on the cross – taking his sins upon himself – so that my friend could enter the family of God.  He has put his faith in Christ.

But, in the darkness at night, he is filled with doubts.

I took him to the great passage in Romans 8 where the apostle Paul talks about the unbreakable love of God.  I turn to it often myself.

Paul begins that passage with these words in verse 1: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”

In other words, once you have put your faith in Christ, you are “in Christ Jesus”.  You are free from condemnation for your sins because Christ has taken the consequences of your sin on himself.

I told my friend that Satan’s specialty is to sow doubts in our minds.  When my friend tosses in his bed at night, it is Satan who is whispering to him that he is not worthy of being with God when he dies.

Then, I read to my friend the wonderful words of Romans 8:31-39.

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” asks Paul.

He adds: “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?  It is God who justifies.”

In other words, you may feel you are not good enough, but you’re not the judge.  It is God who judges.  And he has looked at what Jesus has done for you and determined that covers the penalty for all the sins you have ever committed.  You are free of condemnation.

Paul finishes with these words that ring like a hammer pounding a gong:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Wow!  Those words thrill my heart every time I read them.

No one can break God’s love for his children.

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Who’s in control?

Like many Christian conservatives, I was disappointed with the Canadian federal election results.

But I am not bitter or alarmed.

While the previous government was far from perfect, it did stand for fiscal prudence and a foreign policy that I supported. Many government members also held pro-life views although the government believed members should vote their conscience on social matters.  Personally, I agree that is the best way in a democracy.

The good thing is that Canadians live in a democracy and we are still free to express our opinions.  And, by law, no government can remain in power for longer than four years without seeking re-election.

So how should I respond to this new government with its new policies?

Like many Christian leaders, I believe we ought to pray for our government, no matter what party is in power (1 Timothy 2:1-2).  I can pray that God will guide the decisions of our leaders and that they will make righteous choices.  I can pray that the leaders will live lives of integrity.

But most of all, I must remember that underlying everything are the everlasting arms of God.  God holds all things together and is working things out according to his will over time.

That doesn’t mean that things are necessarily going to go the way I like.  It doesn’t mean there won’t be trouble.

Canada remains an oasis in the world no matter what government is in power.  Most Canadians are free to do what they wish within the bounds of the law.  On the whole, Canadians are prosperous compared to people in other parts of the world.

I acknowledge this.  But at the same time, I am not blind.  Christian values and the Christian faith have a declining influence on the Western world.  Many non-Christians regard us with suspicion and sometimes hostility.  We may be partly responsible for this as many of us have lived a life apart from the rest of society.

For Christians, this is an opportunity to pray that Christ’s love will permeate our society and bring many more into the kingdom of God.  That may bring transformation – spiritual and social revival – in Canada over time.  And it may not.

I recall that it took 400 years of prayer by the Israelite slaves before God raised up Moses to lead them out of captivity.  Why did God not answer sooner?  I don’t know.  But his timing is always right.

For me, the lesson of Bible history is that God is working things out no matter what I see with my human eyes.

Reconciled

A friend told me today that her mother and several sisters have been reconciled after years of ill-feeling.

Her mother feels like a new woman.

This follows a discussion our Bible study group had this week about forgiveness and how important it is for the person who has been hurt.  We talked about how clinging to bitterness can poison our lives.

Jesus and the apostle Paul strongly urged the followers of Christ to forgive one another as God forgave them.  Jesus wanted us to be one just as Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit are one.  You can’t be one and fight each other at the same time.

But we are human and we allow our feelings to dominate us rather than the Holy Spirit within us.

I have let my feelings dominate me during my life and sometimes I have harboured resentment against others.

A few years ago, several of us were studying healing prayer in the Bible and we looked at forgiveness as a factor in emotional and physical healing.  That night, we decided to think of some people who have hurt us and we had never forgiven.  We wrote down our forgiveness on pieces of paper and shredded them as a symbol that we would no longer hold those incidents against them.

One person I forgave that night was someone who had hurt me in high school in an incident which left an emotional scar.  It was good to put that case behind me.

Such steps can free us emotionally from the prison of bitterness which leaves us angry and often depressed.

Peter Horrobin says in his book The Most Powerful Prayer on Earth that the ultimate step in forgiveness is Jesus’ prayer for the men who nailed him to the cross:  “Father, forgive them because they don’t know what they are doing.”

When you have given up even wishing God to avenge your hurt, you have truly forgiven the other person.

It is tragic when believers refuse to forgive one another.

When we don’t love each other, what are we saying to the world?

Handling disappointment

Disappointment in love, career, and family are part of all our lives.

They can mark us for life and sometimes destroy lives.

At different points in my life, I have struggled with disappointments and sometimes done a poor job of dealing with them.

So, how do we believers handle these things?

Several thoughts come to my mind about how I should face disappointments:

  • Take the long view:  God may have something in store for me which will change my opinion of this setback;
  • Fix my eyes on Jesus:  Jesus has a compassionate heart and is ready to carry me through the dark period; and
  • Trust God no matter what: I must depend on God and his ultimate plan even if I do not get what I desire in this life.

The wonderful story of Joseph, son of Jacob in the Old Testament, is an example of taking the long view and trusting in God.

Joseph had a roller-coaster life.  He began as the spoiled youngest child of Jacob; was thrown into a pit and sold into slavery by his brothers; became a favourite slave of his new Egyptian master; was thrown into prison after refusing to succumb to the sexual advances of his master’s wife; interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh and became the highest official in the land; and finally saved Jacob and his brothers from starvation by forgiving them and bringing them into Egypt.

Joseph saw the hand of God in his life.  He told his brothers: “It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives.”

The writer of Hebrews urges us to fix our eyes on Jesus as we face trials in our lives.

“Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart,” he writes in Hebrews 12:2.

With examples like that, I can surely hang on when I face disappointments.

I also take comfort in the words of David in Psalm 30:5: “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.”

No disappointment or suffering is greater than God and his goodness.

We are assured of joy with him throughout eternity.