obedienceismine

Insights from the joy of having peace with God

Archive for the category “The Crossing”

Taking Time to Put Time in Perspective

Early this morning our family of five was sitting at our breakfast table and my wife and I were explaining something to our kids that caused me to think deeper. We have recently returned from a road trip and some of the souvenirs that we brought back for the kids  were cups with the printed logo of the park that we stayed in. The fun part about the cups was that they change color when you pour cold liquid into them. To explain further how it worked, I told them to put the cups in the fridge for a while and see what happens. My youngest put hers in and impatiently opened the door after a few short seconds. I recommended that she wait a few minutes, five to be exact, and in return she proclaimed “FIVE WHOLE MINUTES? THAT IS FOREVER!” At first I laughed and then it made me think.

It is interesting in life how there are moments where time seems to take “FOREVER!” (off topic, but I said this as I typed it in remembrance of the movie The Sandlot when the story of the legend of the beast was told), and other times it seems like time is flying by. What causes this phenomenon? Certainly time is moving at a constant pace, but there are circumstances that lead to our experience of the passing of time that make it feel shorter or longer.

At a basic level (knowing that there are other factors) I can think in my own life that when time seems to be taking forever it is usually because I am looking forward to something. Christmas, vacations, mission trips, and my children’s births all seemed to have taken “FOREVER.” (yep, in the voice again) In most of these circumstances the time seemed to get slower the closer it approached, especially the birth of children (so I was told).

At the same time, every time I see my children walk through the house it hits me that they have grown so much and I wonder where the time has gone. Have you ever heard from those older than you that time goes faster the older you get? Why is that? I suggest that in my own experience, time seems to go faster when I am trying to hold on to something.

It would make simplistic sense then, that if I am looking forward to something MORE than I am seeking to hold on to something, then time would go slower as I get older. If I put this in spiritual terms, then I would say if my desire for Heaven is greater than my desire for earthly existence, then I would be more aware of the slowness of time rather than the fleeting of time.

According to Scripture “you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:14) So no matter how much we try to slow down the hands of time they are always short. As believers, we are told that Christ’s return is imminent and that we should make the most of our time (Ephesians 5:16) and to live in preparation for His return (Luke 12:35-40).

So how do we make the most of our time and prepare for Christ’s return? Paul writes that we should “set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2). Paul outlines how we can do this by giving a quick orientation to our new selves (Colossians 3:1-17).  I believe that this is the hardest thing for us in this technological age.

The believer is inundated with distraction of the world that it is near impossible to think on the reality of eternity.

So, when is the last time that you enjoyed the slowness of gazing at Jesus and desiring to be with Him? Eternity is now. Don’t wait to start living in it.

Do you want to slow down the hands of time? Ask God to put the desire for Heaven in your heart and set your mind to it. The desire should burn hotly in us so that we are homesick for our home in Heaven. (2 Corinthians 5:1-10) May we live our lives with the same tension that Paul has in his heart in Philippians 1:21-24 saying that “my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better,” and also acknowledging that God has work for us to do while we are still here. The more you desire it, the longer it will seem that it arrives. Regardless, Heaven is near.

Obedience is mine. The Results are His.

JMC

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4 Things to Remember When You Feel Like a Failure

Recently I have noticed that many members of our church have been under intense spiritual attack. Interestingly, I have found that much of the attack is focused on one specific issue: feeling like a failure. This isn’t just coming up in one aspect of our lives, but seems to be spread across every context of our lives. It is beyond feeling as if we have failed a specific task and goes right at the core of our identity.

I must admit that this is not uncommon and I have even felt the sting of this arrow before, even recently. I am not an expert on adequately defending against it, nor have I found the perfect way to extinguish its flame. The enemy is an accurate shot and the flame burns deep. Thankfully, God has not left us to our own devices to manufacture a makeshift defense. He not only provides our defense; He IS our defense!

Here are 4 Things to Remember When You Feel Like a Failure:

1. Remember who God is.

So often we are focused on ourselves and our iniquities. All throughout the Scriptures God has a singular purpose in His work, to have His name and His power known in all the earth. This holds true in the current circumstances that we find ourselves in. Whatever is causing you to believe that you are a failure, God is wanting to use it so that He will be exalted in all the earth. (see Psalm 46)

There is none like you, O Lordyou are great, and your name is great in might.” Jeremiah 10:6

When we remember who God is, we can begin to see His might as our focus rather than our weakness. His might is our strength and enables us to stand while under attack.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” Ephesians 6:10-11

2. Remember who you are in Christ.

Christian, you are not alone. God is with you. He dwells within you. Take a moment and let this sink in… (John 14:23; 1 Corinthians 3:16)

God loves you. (Psalm 86:14) God is for you. (Romans 8:31) He has adopted you and called you His child. (Galatians 4:4-8) THIS is title of your identity for all of eternity. Though you may fail, you are not identified as a failure. You are the child of the One who never fails.

You are not abandoned. You are not left to despair. You are not orphaned. You are reborn. You are remade. The old you is gone and there is a new you in Christ.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

Instead of focusing on the negative things you are facing, we must focus on the greatness of who God is and who we are in Him. Don’t focus your efforts on the lies told by the enemy, rather focus on allowing God’s truth to enter in.

“It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.” –Screwtape Letters, Lewis

3. Remember what God has promised.

God is faithful. He has NEVER gone back on His word. He has promised us a future of hope, a hope that does not disappoint! (Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 5:5)

This is critically important because of the fact that we are still in a broken world and are still tempted by sin. We have moments where we are faithless. We fail God. However, we are not defined by our failure; we are defined by our Father. He never fails. He remains faithful even when we don’t. (2 Timothy 2:13) His love for us is definite and infinite.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39

4. Remember that you will fail.

This last point of remembrance is important. There are two aspects to remembering that we will fail.

  • Your failing may be a sin issue.

There may be times where you feel like the enemy is lying to you by calling out your failure. Consider that it might not be the lie of the enemy, but the conviction of the Holy Spirit. (John 16:8)

Before we assign blame to the enemy, we must ask God to reveal sin in our hearts that needs to be repented of. This conviction may be God’s way of sharpening you so that you may persevere. The reality is that this life is hard. We do fail. Whether it’s being lazy, procrastinating, forgetting, losing our temper, acting unlovingly, losing our drive, or just simply not prioritizing properly, we all slip. Here is a key that will help you discern who is speaking to you:

Holy Spirit = You have sin that is keeping you from God. Repent! You are a child of God.

The enemy = You are your sin. You will never be good enough.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Philippians 3:12

  • You are not perfect and your witness is not about showing your own perfection, but His.

We tend to view our weakness as something that shames us. Social pressures of this world tell us that weakness is ugly, even pathetic. The Word says that all mankind is dead in sin before Christ brings them to life through faith. For the Christian, we should not spend our time trying to hide our weakness to each other. This is because the more we talk about our weakness, the more we magnify the strength and glory of God!

Christian, we must stop worrying about the things that we seek to boast about. Our only boast to each other and to the world is that Christ has saved us! (Galatians 6:14)

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Jesus says that His grace is sufficient. Do you believe it? I pray that you will not seek a grace that is minimally sufficient, but that you will recognize that His grace is more vast and enormous that anything you could possibly imagine. It overflows…for you!

I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 1 Timothy 1:12-14

Obedience is mine. Results are His.

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