Moving from believing THAT God….to treasuring Him

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Apparently 75% of Americans say they believe in God. Source of statistic here.  Sounds like a lot until you realize that 100 % of Satan’s henchmen believe God exists, for they rebelled against Him!

James writes in 2:19 You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.

Demons believe

Therefore, the frank acknowledgement that there is a god is insufficient. One obvious problem needing clarification is just who is this god that people identify?  Wouldn’t it be more useful if pollsters helped responders spell out just what KIND of god they believe in?

Let’s assume, for the purpose of this blog, that we have clarified and agreed upon the one and only true God. A problem remains.  Is it enough to believe that this God is real?

No!  And if that answer bothers you, then good!  But don’t despair if you suddenly fear that your belief alone is insufficient.  Read on:

I, myself, was assured this morning that I am a Christian and not someone akin to the demons.  For it IS a frightening assertion that belief alone in the existence of God does not make one an adopted child of the Father with all rights and privileges in his Kingdom.  Many people followed Christ during His public ministry, but very few were ‘His sheep’.  Why did they seek Him?  Food that doesn’t run out, replenishing buckets of water, healing, political solutions, purpose and identity come to mind.

John Piper, whose teaching continues to edify my faith, proclaims that valuing God for what He can do for you is not what it means to be a Christian.  That is a perverted version of ‘believing that God exists and is almighty’.  Saving faith is treasuring Christ more than anything He can do for you or give you.

Trembling like you might upon hearing this narrow definition, I often ask myself, “Am I a real Christian, then?”  For I DO appreciate all that Christ HAS done for me and promises to do.

But the Holy Spirit gifted me this morning when I was listening to one of Piper’s sermons.  God brought to mind my attitude toward God as a teenager attending church with my family. During my junior year of high school I fell into the horrible and frightening pit of binging and vomiting – bulimia. No amount of resolve broke the cycle.  Sunday after Sunday, I prayed in that same pew that God would remove this problem.  I knew enough about God’s previous miracles to believe that He actually could deliver me from this nightmare.  But He didn’t and I’m glad.  For I wasn’t seeking Him, just what He could do for me.

A couple of years into married life, the VERY bad news about my rebellion against God confronted me in a gospel-proclaiming service so unlike the pleasant, but anodyne church of my teen years.  If I thought the bulimia was my biggest problem……… (and I’m embarrassed to admit that I did – I used to smugly boast:  ‘My only sin is overeating!’)….. THE frightening and very real fact of God’s wrath against me was a categorically different crisis.

Both Mike and I gratefully grabbed the gift of pardon and adoption when offered the only remedy – Christ’s substitutionary death and life for us.

Did God then remove the bulimia?  No, not right away.  That deliverance did come a few years later when I was carrying our first son.  But more remarkable than that, God has undertaken to open our eyes to the wonders of the gift of salvation and all that awaits us.  I revel and marvel daily that before the creation of the universe, the Triune God planned for me to be one of His adopted kids with full rights and an inheritance and a future of endless joy far greater than the happiness inherent in freedom from food addiction.

The apostle John says in 1:12 – But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on his name.

John Piper explains that it takes a miracle from God to change our desires. We can’t make ourselves savor anchovies if we’re wired to gag every time we pop one in our mouth!  Only the Holy Spirit’s supernatural power removes the lure of cheap delights and creates hunger for the Bread that never perishes, Jesus Himself.

So, if you have ANY interest in Jesus or in reading your Bible, take heart. That’s a permanent holy gift planted in you by our loving Father. Thank Him for it and pray that He would cause your enjoyment of Him and His presence to grow, surpass or replace anything that either this world offers or He offers. Treasuring Him over His gifts is the goal that promises both to glorify Him and satisfy us.

 

 

No need to rush

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In our rushing, bulls in china shops, we break our own lives.” Ann Voskamp

Isaiah 28:16 – Therefore thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a  precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation;  Whoever believes will not be in haste.”

I don’t have to rush? Simply because I BELIEVE in Jesus?  That sounds too good to be true!

Belief actually means much more than intellectual assent.  The Hebrew word a-mán (Strongs # 539) has to do with CLINGING to and being supported by a firm foundation.  Picture a baby gripping a nursemaid who is not going to let him go.  When we are settled in our heart and mind that Jesus is the ‘precious cornerstone’ or foundation of the universe, then we don’t have to rush/haste/speed/or run in frenzy-mode.  Now that is GOOD NEWS!!!

Why do we rush?  I don’t know about you, but I have led a life of grim haste in order to squeeze out MORE TIME for me.  As a member of the human race, my natural default is SELF; I try to maximize circumstances to suit me. And for most of my life I have lived with the false notion that I was in charge, in control of my life and that if only I were disciplined and intentional enough, then I could …… speed things up…… in order to…… bank extra minutes…… to spend on……. ME, MYSELF and I.

Welcome to the condition, so aptly described by Ann Voskamp in the first quote.  Thinking that we are helping ourselves, we cause harm by rushing. We add to the illusion that WE know what is best, that our decisions about time are wise.

As I grow day by day, a member of God’s forever family, having been ‘given new birth into a living hope’(1 Peter 1:3), I’m wanting to focus on God’s sovereign control over every molecule of my life.

Here’s how that God- quality brings me peace.

Yesterday, we drove for eight hours to arrive in Winchester, VA for a wedding.  En route we pulled off to find a SHEETZ gas station.  They usually have clean bathrooms and plentiful sodas.  But THIS service station proved difficult to spot once we exited the interstate. It was NOT well marked.  So first we drove in one direction, dodging the ‘Friday-afternoon-in-the –summer’ traffic.  Mike gripped the steering wheel in frustration at the minutes we were ‘losing’ and did a U-turn where he could to drive in the other direction which led out of town.  BACK again in the other direction, retracing our steps, slowed down by all that traffic ‘personally placed across our path to annoy us!’  No…to show us how ugly our impatience and desire to control LIFE looks like.  We eventually found the SHEETZ and refreshed ourselves.   

What I now tell myself once I repent of this self-centered response and attitude is that if I truly believe that God is sovereign over time and circumstances, then obstacles that ‘slow us down’ are part of His divine plan, meant for our good.

More than an impatience problem, I have a belief problem.  For that I repent.  Lord, thank You for the reminder that I can relax, slow down and go at Your pace because it’s YOU who are upholding the universe and in YOU, I have my being.  Thank you!

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