There are clouds in human life, shadowing, refreshing, and sometimes draping it in blackness of night; but there is never a cloud without its bright light. “I do set my bow in the cloud!”
If we could see the clouds from the other side where they lie in billowy glory, bathed in the light they intercept, like heaped ranges of Alps, we should be amazed at their splendid magnificence.
We look at their under side; but who shall describe the bright light that bathes their summits and searches their valleys and is reflected from every pinnacle of their expanse? Is not every drop drinking in health-giving qualities, which it will carry to the earth?
O child of God! If you could see your sorrows and troubles from the other side; if instead of looking up at them from earth, you would look down on them from the heavenly places where you sit with Christ; if you knew how they are reflecting in prismatic beauty before the gaze of Heaven, the bright light of Christ’s face, you would be content that they should cast their deep shadows over the mountain slopes of existence. Only remember that clouds are always moving and passing before God’s cleansing wind.
Streams in the Desert, May 15
Living in the West this seems like a ridiculous question–one that was settled long ago.
However, after living in Uganda, my eyes were opened to the truth that much of the world does not see the value in educating their girls.
John Piper in a post entitled Why We Educate Our Girls does a great job of explaining from a biblical world view.
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Luke 1:46-47
What is Mary saying? What does it mean to magnify the Lord?
In a sermon, John Piper suggested that the word “magnify” can be used in two different senses. It can mean to make something appear greater than it is. My mother does this each time she reaches for her magnifying glass to make words appear greater than they actually are on the page.
Another meaning of the word is to make something that seems small appear as big as it really is. When we look through the lens of a telescope it is for the purpose of making some barely visible pinpoint become more of what it really is. Through a telescope, pinpoints of light in the sky suddenly appear with substance — they are no longer lights but large planets with shape and contours clearly visible. Features and details that were previously unseen explode with brilliance and glory through the powerful lens.
Mary knew that she was not being called to be a microscope for God but a telescope! As she pondered God – His ways, His strength, His plan, His timing, His willingness to use a humble girl—His greatness became clearer and clearer in her own heart. He became for her more of what He truly is! With God magnified in her life–fear, doubt, and shame were minimized.
That experience is available to us as well. When God is magnified in our hearts, the things that are truly small stop appearing larger than they really are. Let’s put away our magnifying glasses and stop looking at small things. There is a God of enormous proportion ruling the universe—One that is exponentially magnificent. As we see Him for what He really is, we will say with the psalmist, “Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together!”
Great and Glorious God, give us eyes to see you as you really are—exalted above all things. Forgive us for seeing you as small and our problems and selves as great. Have mercy and give us clear sight that spills over in great rejoicing and praise to your name forever more. AMEN
“Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work–this is a gift of God.
He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.” Ecclesiastes 5:19-20 (NIV)
I am not sure I have ever read this verse. If not, it sure caught my eye this morning so that I had to read and re-read it. Its message is stunning! The ability to enjoy our work, our lot in life or to experience contentment in our present circumstances is a gift from God—that is, it is a grace from God if you are enjoying your life! There seems to be no area of living that is not grace enabled!
Packer had me pondering joy as he shared that God’s gift of joy flows from four sources.
First, joy flows from the awareness of being loved. No one has joy who does not know that there is someone who values, accepts and cares for him or her. When human love disappoints you, go to the cross and become aware again of how much you are loved.
Second, joy flows from accepting one’s situation as good. People are always fretting about the way things are, wishing they were different, and longing for things to happen that are not likely to happen—these anxious thoughts disqualify you from joy. Ponder that your present circumstance and experiences have passed through the heart of a Sovereign God and been approved for your life as preparation for glory.
Third, joy flows from having something worthwhile. You have something of incomparable worth in a saving relationship with Christ. Added to this precious gift you have spouse, children, home, hobbies, work, and friends that make life worth living. Are you more focused on what you lack rather than on the worthwhile things that you have been given?
Fourth, joy flows from giving something worth giving. If you belong to Christ you possess the one thing that is of supreme worth. Joy abounds as you share what is precious to you.
Joy is like jam – it sticks to you as you spread it.
J.I.Packer, Knowing and Doing the Will of God, Vine Books, 1995, p. 348-9
Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. John 16:24 (ESV)
If I could ban one phrase from our language I would ban the phrase “free will.” This little phrase takes scriptural teaching about our moral responsibility and inability and turns it on its head so that nothing but clouds of confusion remain.
The Bible teaches that our wills were irreparably bent away from God’s will at the time of Adam’s fall – that sin has so tainted all our faculties that apart from God’s grace, we are unable – yet responsible to will what God wills. Nevertheless, in endless Sunday school discussions the last word that hangs in the air as an answer for the hard questions is, “Well, it is because God gave us free will”.
With this frustration in mind, I was grateful for Will Metzger’s insights as he made a “Top Ten Reasons Christians Believe in Free Will” list. It was his hope that it would help Christians pinpoint their own reluctance to surrender their wills to God’s control.
10. A desire to hold humans responsible for actions
9. Confusion of the philosophical (nonscriptural) concept of free will with “human responsibility”
8. A lack of emphasis on the holiness, righteousness and justice of God
7. Encounters with Christians who play intellectual games about the sovereignty of God without lovingly living this truth
6. The display of outward morality by many non-Christians
5. Dislike for the alternative, which seems to make God responsible for our sin, or even the author of it
4. The concept that the ability to choose Jesus is necessary for doing evangelism
3. A human concept of God’s love that leads to sentimentalism and me-centeredness
2. Neglect by pastors and authors to emphasize the importance of theology and the avoidance of teaching the so-called controversial issues
1. A reluctance to allow God to be totally sovereign
Will Metzger, Tell the Truth, IVP Books, 2002, p. 125
“They went after false idols and became false, and they followed the nations that were around them, concerning whom the Lord had commanded them that they should not do like them.” 2 Kings 17:15
Since attending the Advance ‘09 conference in June, I have been thinking about idolatry and trying to identify the idols that claim the affections of modern believers. These quotes have been helpful to my thinking.
“Idolatry is the most discussed problem in the Bible and one of the most powerful spiritual and intellectual concepts in the believer’s arsenal. Yet for Christians today it is one of the least meaningful notions and is surrounded by ironies. Perhaps this is why many evangelicals are ignorant of the idols in their lives…Contemporary evangelicals are little better at recognizing and resisting idols than modern secular people are…There can be no believing communities without an unswerving eye to the detection and destruction of idols”
Os Guiness & John Seel
“An idol is not simply a statue of wood, stone or metal; it is anything we love and pursue in place of God, and can also be referred to as a ‘false god’ or a ‘functional god.’ In biblical terms, an idol is something other than God that we set our hearts on, that motivates us, that masters or rules us, or that we serve.” Luke 12:29, 1 Corinthians 10:6, 1 Corinthians 4:5, Ps. 119:133, Matt. 6:24
“There is always a reason for sin. Under our sins are idolatrous desires…Sin isn’t only doing bad things, it is more fundamentally making good things into ultimate things. Sins is building your life and meaning on anything, even a very good thing more than God. Whatever we build our life on will drive us and enslave us. Sin is primarily idolatry.”
“A triune God could never be a God of human invention. Our idols, our made up gods, are monads – self centered autonomous deities, a bit like bigger versions of us really, a million miles away from the true, and stunningly beautiful, three-personed, eternally loving God.”
Friday Fought blogspot