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Broken Promises, Undying Faithfulness

broken promIf you married someone who was unfaithful to you, would you remain faithful?  The concept of making a vow and actually keeping it seems to have gone out of style these days as divorce rates skyrocket.  The role models we see in media and in our own lives have skewed our perception of loyalty, but I am willing to put my life on the line and bet that loyalty is still the #1 trait we want in our closest friends, our family and especially our significant other.

Underlying the concept of loyalty is the expectation we have of those closest to us.  From the beginning, when our parents made a promise that they would do XYZ, we as children expected them to carry through.  If they didn’t, of course we were terribly disappointed, but if they habitually made promises that they did not carry through, we grow up believing that it’s okay to say what we don’t mean without much regard to the weight of our words.  It’s okay to tell someone what they want to hear and later break your promise because, after all, words don’t mean anything.  When it comes to a life commitment to someone you love, in the back of your mind you might be wondering if this is going to work out in a few years.

What about when it comes to our relationship with God?  If we have been betrayed again and again by others’ lack of substance, are God’s words any good either?  You might hear people’s amazing testimonies about God’s faithfulness; you can buy hundreds of books from Barnes & Noble about God’s promises and really try your hardest to believe that God’s promises apply to you too, but these books just don’t resonate with you because you have prayed and asked God a million times already for that one thing, and He still has not answered.  So yeah, He may be answering everyone else’s prayers except yours.  What gives??

“If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.”  2 Timothy 2:13

Regardless of any poor role models you may have had in life, keep in mind that God was not that father who abandoned you, the mother who abused/neglected you, or the relative/family friend who betrayed you.  Just as you wouldn’t want your significant other to judge you based on his or her experiences with their ex, it would not be fair to God to use your life’s experiences as a metric for His faithfulness.

Because we are not perfect, we are guilty of sinning against God every day, hurting Him with our doubts, our lack of faith, and our hurtful actions.  Constantly He reaches out to us, tries to woo us through some random act of kindness through a stranger or a friend, or maybe He tries to get your attention but you stubbornly refuse to acknowledge His existence.  Despite all your rejections, God still waits for you faithfully, because He longs to fill the void in your broken heart.  God is faithful, and no matter what you do, He will remain faithful because that is who He is. Your behavior does not change God’s character.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9

We are finite, and God is infinite, so is it possible for us to ever understand God and His ways?  Just because God didn’t answer your prayers the way you wanted (or when you wanted), it doesn’t mean that He is deliberately holding out on you.  God is always good, all the time, but trusting Him with your unhealed heart is probably the biggest obstacle standing in the way of your faith.  We are tainted with memories of broken promises and words that meant absolutely nothing.  And the media isn’t very helpful in building up the concept of loyalty in its truest form, either.  How do we rid of ourselves of such polluted, warped belief systems?

“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
    and the unrighteous man his thoughts…”

Isaiah 55:6-7

Negativity, warped notions of loyalty, and wrong actions that result from such thinking are all wicked in God’s eyes.

Let go of your preconceived notions of who God is and allow yourself to fully embrace what the scriptures say about God’s unfailing love and loyalty.  Abandon any presumption that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and fully pursue Him with all your heart.  Don’t allow your bitterness from broken promises to ruin your understanding of God.

“God is not a man that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind.  Does he speak and then not act?  Does he promise and not fulfill?”  Numbers 23:19

#unfailinglove #promises #loyalty #integrity #Godisfaithful #faithfulness #reliable

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Nothing Breaks You Like Being in Need

graceIf I had never been in need, I would never feel the compassion that I do now for others who are in need. As a young woman, I was very independent, self-sufficient and emotionally distant. I expected everyone to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps because that’s what I had to do for myself. With no one to guide me since childhood, I’ve learned to navigate through life trying to survive the hell hole in which I grew up. In the back of my mind, though, I knew that if I fall or if anything happened to me, I had no family members who would offer support. I have nothing to fall back on, so I HAVE to be strong.

This produced an arrogance in me that isolated me from others. It wasn’t the type that made me feel like I was better than other people. In my pride I was so self-deceived that I did not see my need for help so I never asked for it, because deep down I did not believe that anyone would want to help me if I was not their family member. This was the type of arrogance that sucked any compassion that could have resided in my heart, because I viewed others as “lazy” and “needy” if they asked for help. Therefore, when my turn came to be in need, I also viewed myself in the same way: needy, lazy and useless.

Anyone who knows me knows I am a hard worker and through the years I learned that when life deals you a bad hand, it doesn’t matter who you are — you have to humble out and reach out!  “No man is an island,” as the English poet John Donne once said. We exist in community, not in isolation. There are those who are naturally compassionate and nurturing, but for people like myself, we have to be broken twice — or multiple times — to get in touch with our sensitive side.

God calls us to be humble toward one another, to clothe ourselves with humility and compassion (Colossians 3:12).

“But those who suffer [God] delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction.” Job 36:15

Without suffering, there’d be no compassion. Suffering does not always produce compassion; in fact it can produce quite the opposite — bitterness — and in my case there was lots of it!  When you stick with God, however, and allow Him to work on your heart through times of affliction, only He can uproot that bitterness and turn you into someone better.

You can probably help someone in need if you have the means and resources, but if you’ve never been in their shoes, an element of humanity might be missing. When we allow ourselves to feel our need for help (i.e., admit feelings of loneliness, shame, guilt, financial straits, etc.), we will appreciate the assistance a lot differently when we do receive it. In turn we’ll be able to help others more effectively because this time, we’d be seeing them with different eyes.

#compassion #LoveLikeJesus #humility #dontbetooproud #prideisolates #nomanisanisland #musingz4life

Are You Running the Race in Vain?

raceChristianity has often been referred to as a marathon.  Compared to sprints, marathons are longer and require that you pace yourself so that you have enough endurance and stamina to last throughout the whole race.  If you plan on being a Christian until you die, you most certainly have to pace yourself for the next 30, 40, or 50 years! In the book of Galatians, the Apostle Paul said that he wanted to make sure that he was not running his race in vain (Galatians 2:2).  How do you know you’re running in vain?  We can learn a few lessons from our ancestors:

“For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as [the Israelites] did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not combine it with faith.” Hebrews 4:2

The only way to not run in vain is to turn away from your evil ways despite everything you’ve already done.  As Samuel said to Saul, “Do not be afraid…You have done all this evil yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart” (1 Samuel 12:20).

Saul Didn’t Want to Wait (1 Samuel 13:1-15)

Samuel instructed Saul to wait for him.  Saul waited seven days but when Samuel didn’t come “on time,” Saul jumped the gun and did what he wanted.  Even after God took the kingdom away from Saul (1 Samuel 13:14), Saul was given a second chance to repent when he was instructed to destroy all the Amalekites, but instead of following every instruction to the tee, Saul did what he felt best.  He even justified his actions and was thoroughly convinced that he was obeying God (1 Samuel 15:19-23).

It is totally possible to believe you are obeying God with all your heart yet still not be right with God.  Scary, right??  We are living in the New Testament times and Jesus’s blood has cleansed us of our sins if we put faith in His sacrifice.  The scriptures also say that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).  There is nothing we can do to earn salvation but Jesus’s expectation of our obedience is just the same as it was for the Israelites, our forefathers of the faith, in the Old Testament.

The Israelites who never made it to the Promised Land did not combine the message with faith.  Today, you can look at the Bible and think that it’s a bunch of fairy tales written by man, or you can put faith in the scriptures and believe it to be the inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16), thereby backing up your faith with action (obedience).

 What Lack of Faith Can Do

  • You can amaze Jesus with your lack of faith (Mark 6:6)
  • You can be your own miracle-stopper (Matthew 13:58)
  • You can make it impossible for yourself to please God (Hebrews 11:6)
  • Lack of faith gives way to fear (Mark 4:40; Matthew 8:26)

Warning against Drifting Away

“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.  For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” Hebrews 2:1-3

No one is perfect.  Nobody’s going to run this race without injuries, pain or obstacles.  However, we have plenty of examples in the Bible that teach us so we don’t have to repeat their mistakes.  As long as we cling to Christ and allow the Word to cut our hearts, put our sins behind us and press forward to drawing closer to God, everything will be all right.  The biggest clue that will tip you off is when you want to manipulate the scriptures to justify personal gain instead of wholeheartedly obeying God with no ulterior motive.  If you obey God from a sincere heart, you then are not running this race in vain.

#integrity #sincerity #obedience #race #marathon #Christrianrace #musingz4life