Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What has He done to you?

Micah 6:3  " 'My people, what have I done to you?  How have I burdened you?  Answer Me.' "

At times, the way we sin against God and actively rebel against Him would seem to indicate that He has wronged us in some way.  To continually reject someone and their attempts to establish and build a relationship with us can indicate many things about how we feel about them.  Sometimes we push someone away because we don't have the time or energy to invest in them.  Other times we reject someone because of something they have done (real or perceived) to offend us.

In this verse, God is confronting His people and asking them why they reject Him.  Often, there is no good reason at all.  It takes the person asking us a simple, straight-forward question to make us realize that.  Or maybe their question opens up the floodgates for us to tell them in specific detail exactly how we believe they have wronged us.  This can lead to an open and honest conversation, possibly the first one ever between the participants.

The end result is often understanding, validation, correction of false interpretations, and reconciliation.  If you reject God for no good reason, let His question serve as a wake-up call and a motivation to come to Him.  If your rejection stems from feelings of being wronged by God, use His question as an invitation to engage in an open and honest conversation with Him.

He wants to be in relationship with us.  He wants to identify and remove any barriers that might prevent that relationship from forming and growing.  Accept the invitation and do the hard work that is necessary to work through whatever anger, rejection, hurt or abandonment that might be keeping you from what He has called you into- a real relationship with your Father.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Give Him a chance

Judges 7:2-3  "The Lord said to Gideon, 'You have too many men for Me to deliver Midian into their hands.  In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her, announce now to the people, 'Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.' ' So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained."

God enjoys demonstrating His strength and supremacy to us.  Just like it gives me a special feeling when I am able to fix something for Aaron that he could not do on his own, God gets that same feeling when He does something for us.

There are, of course, times where we need to demonstrate our own resourcefulness and perseverance to get things done on our own.  Those are valuable lessons, and God gives us those opportunities the same way human parents give their children those opportunities. 

There is a good balance to be found between being self-sufficient and accepting help when needed.  We often tip the scales toward self-sufficiency, though.  Either we become overly enamored with what we believe we have done (or can do) in our own strength, or we don't fully trust God to make up for our deficiencies when we get in over our heads. 

When this reliance on self-sufficiency stops us from taking risks and venturing out beyond what we believe is within our own strength, we stunt the growth of ourselves and God's Kingdom.  God said it Himself to Gideon- He was going to reduce the size of Gideon's army to the point where the credit for the victory in battle could only be given to God.

But what if Gideon had refused to go into battle with such an inadequate army?  What if his own calculations and reason didn't allow him to step forward in faith and trust God?  The battle would have never been won, the Kingdom would not have expanded, and Gideon would not have gained first-hand experience in relying on God. 

How many situations have we avoided, how many opportunities have we let go by, because we didn't see a way to pull it off in our own strength?  How do we learn to trust God and rely on Him if we never give Him a chance to do what we can't do on our own? 

Find an opportunity that seems beyond your reach, seek God's will, and if you believe He is telling you to take the step, allow Him to show Himself as mighty and all-powerful.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Active acceptance of Truth

Proverbs 4:10  "Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many."

Listening and accepting are two distinctly different acts. Listening entails the reception of input, while accepting speaks to the processing of that input. The concepts seem similar in some ways to "data" and "information". Data is simply unfiltered, unsorted words and numbers. Information is the processing, translation or analysis that takes place to turn raw data into something useful.

The idea that we may accept what we hear tells us that we have another choice- to reject what we hear. Rejection can be active (as in, "I've thought about this and I choose to reject it") or passive (as in, "I've not thought about it or am indifferent, therefore I reject it").  Acceptance can be active or passive, with the passive being an assumption that something is true.

An assumption of truth can stem from three possibilities:

1) the source of the information (i.e. if the source of the information has credibility, we presume they speak the truth)

2) the location in which the information was received (i.e. we heard it in church or in a bar, which may imply truth on one end of the spectrum and a false claim on the other) (I'll let you decide which place you think fits each end of the spectrum)

3) the medium through which the message came to us (i.e. something seen on a respected TV program, or read in a respected newspaper or journal can carry a presumption of truth)

The only true source of truth, though, is God.  He can and does, in my opinion, use a variety of means and methods to communicate truth to us. It is obviously important that we listen to Him when He speaks to us. It is also vitally important that we accept what He says.

This acceptance should be a unique blend of active and passive acceptance. The active part means we should meditate on His truth and actively accept and incorporate these truths into our lives. But even if our processing of His truth leads to us resisting or even disagreeing, we can and should accept His truth based on who He is and what He has promised us.

There is another form of listening and acceptance that I believe is equally important. Another source of data and information exists in this world that we are confronted with every day. Satan sends us messages and spreads his version of the truth. We can actively accept his lies (because they make sense to us or otherwise appeal to us) or passively accept (it was said through some channel that is credible, therefore I accept it as true). We must learn to recognize these lies and actively reject them, with equal strength and diligence as we use to accept God's truth.