Positioned to Receive.

I learned a lesson the other day; I’m amazed how God allows me to live through things to get a point across. As a father sometimes I get a glimpse of the relationship my Heavenly Father desires with me.

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him? ” —Luke 11:13 CSB

As a father I love my children and of course want the best for them. I want to help them succeed by discovering and developing the talents and abilities that God has given them. Unfortunately my teenage son hasn’t matured to point of realizing I’m not the enemy. I think my daughter is almost there; perhaps she believes it in her head but not fully in her heart.

My son has an incredible talent for art. His natural ability to create is amazing. About the time my son became school age I had an artist friend give him some art lessons. My friend was amazed how my son could naturally conceptualize and capture how things relate spacially. He said it is a difficult thing and gave an example of how hard it is to draw a human that convincingly stands on the ground. Such things weren’t even challenges to my son.

Perhaps with great talent comes great responsibility. My son is 19 and although gifted, he has yet to develop his talent. By contrast, my daughter, not as gifted of an artist, has produced some amazing art work through a lot of hard work.

In the midst of these lock downs of Covid 19, since he’s home from college, I’ve encouraged my son to develop his art skills. I routinely ask him if de drew something today, if he says, “No” I simply reply, “You’ve still got time.”

I found an art desk on OfferUp that would fit in my son’s room nicely. I purchased it and brought it to my work so he could tighten and replace some screws and relocate the drawers to the left side since he’s a lefty. When I asked him to come to my work, because I needed some help, he refused even though I told him it would only take about 30 minutes. I told him I really needed help and asked about the next day. He begrudgingly agreed. I told him I’d come home for lunch and pick him up. When lunch time came he wasn’t home.

I was disappointed and pondered how to handle this situation; I prayed. I really wanted my son to have this desk. I imagined how he would enjoy it. I wanted to support his pursuit of the gift God has given him. There was a distinct lack of thankfulness and gratefulness in my son that made me want to scrap the whole idea. I wasn’t going to give up however, I decided I would ask 5 times before selling it and then inform him of the missed blessing. That was really a hard decision to make and I hoped that we wouldn’t end up there but sometimes life lessons are a more valuable gift.

As all this was playing out I couldn’t help but draw a parallel with God’s gift of salvation. While pondering why my son was so resistant to receiving my gift I realized my relationship with Father God really isn’t that different. How may times has He invited me into His presence to bless me and I’ve refused? Why do I refuse; why did my son refuse my invitation? Perhaps my son refused my invitation because he doesn’t believe that I have his best interest at heart or he believed I was lying.

Do I believe God? Do I believe that God is good? Do I believe that He has my best interest at heart? Do I believe that God desires to bless me?

My natural response is, “Of course I do!” Is that truth? Deep down, no it’s not; there is a disconnect —my response doesn’t reflect my actions. The problem with such a lie is that it holds me in bondage and prevents me from receiving the blessings that God has for me.

I forfeit God’s blessings by ignoring His requests, just like my son, if he refuses my requests, he will forfeit the blessing that awaits him and was purchased specifically for him.

My Prayer: God thank you for the grace to come when you call.  Please don’t let me miss an opportunity to meet with you.  How silly it is to disregard a meeting with the creator of heaven an earth; please forgive me.  I am broken, please heal my heart and mind; fill it with truth and love.

Lawlessness

As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.”  “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” –Matthew 24:3-14 ESV

The gospel message is foundational for the Christian.  A good foundation becomes ever more important as you build on it.  In construction, a strong foundation is essential to support the heavy loads from the weight of the building along with internal and external forces. (i.e. occupants, storage, earthquake, snow and wind loading etc.)  Isn’t a strong foundation even more important when it relates to eternity?

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?  And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?  And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?  And how can they preach unless they are sent?  As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”  But not all the Israelites accepted the good news.  For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?”  Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. –Romans 10:13-17

If the law is not preached how will men become aware of their sins?1  If men are unaware of their sins, does the gospel have any relevance?2  Once a man becomes a believer does the relevance of the gospel increase or decrease?3  Isn’t it the work of the Holy Spirit to convict us so that we are aware of our need to be cleansed from unrighteousness?4  How do we present ourselves to be cleansed if not through confession?5  Doesn’t the relevance of the gospel grow as our awareness of sin grows, and conversely doesn’t our awareness of sin increase as the gospel comes to fruition in our life?6  Since we are being conformed to the likeness of God7 and since God is love8 9 can we not conclude that we are being conformed to the likeness of love?10 11  If we are not being conformed unto the likeness of love, have we anything of value?12  How do we experience love in the most relevant way if not through the forgiveness of sins?13 14 15  Since the wages of sin is death16 wouldn’t it be natural to love knowing that I’m a sinner saved from death.17  18

My Prayer: Lord, I see lawlessness growing in the world, please let my life reflect the fullness of your gospel message: in my words, in my actions, and in my prayers.  Worldly hostility is growing toward those who speak out against sin; please let me never side with the world against you, let me grown daily in agreement with you regarding sin.  Knowing that light shines brightest in the midst of darkness, let my life shine brightly for you and my life be a testimony of your mercy and grace.  Let my heart overflow love because you first loved me! Amen.

Returning to My First Love

The book of Revelation is written to believers; the very first verse confirms it. 19 Some say we are close to the time of Jesus’ return. No one knows the day or hour however, we can be sure of one thing: we are closer with each passing day. 2 3 Even If Jesus doesn’t return in my life time, I need to be prepared to meet Him.

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.4

Was the Holy Spirit impressing me with the importance of returning to my first love? Have I forsaken my first love?

Honestly, I don’t think my relationship with God has the simplicity it used too and I don’t think I truly rely on Him with the same dependency as I once did.5 6 The fact is, I used to do things, as a new believer, that I don’t do anymore.

My Prayer: God, thank you for calling me back into a deepening relationship with you. I remember, I used to steal away moments, during the course of the day, to delight in your word; back then I wrote down your word and carried it with me everywhere I went. Now that I have your word in a host of translations and commentaries at my finger tips; have I taken it for granted? We used to go on those long walks, now I don’t have the time. Please forgive me, thank you for reminding me of the first things and giving me the grace and desire to return to you, my first love. Amen.