It has been several years since I maintained a Lenten discipline. This year, however, it seems like a life giving thing for me to do.
Philippians 4:8-9 came to mind as the basis for my discipline – “Whatever is true, noble(honorable), right, pure…think on these things. Whatever you have learned, put into practice. (the lifehelps revised version)
The focus of my discipline is to reflect on what God is saying about who He is, who I am in Him and what He has or wants for me. This may seem rather basic, but I find that it is easy to get distracted.
The first word in Philippians 4:8 is “true.”
Here is an exerpt I copied from Bible Hub.com:
“what can’t be hidden”) stresses undeniable reality when something is fully tested, i.e. it will ultimately be shown to be fact (authentic).”
Hmm, what can’t be hidden. I am immediately reminded of a paradox:
There are several Bible verses that talk about mystery and how God hides things; then there are at least as many about revelation, hearing, seeing and knowing. I think the key to this is that we cannot know God apart from Him. We need Holy Spirit to reveal and quicken God’s word to us. We need His conviction, confirmation and direction. To “know” God is not about collecting factoids; it’s about personally experiencing and becoming acquainted in a relational sense. That is a life-long journey.
“stresses undeniable reality when something is fully tested.”
If there is one thing about God, all that He is, says and does that brings me great strength and comfort, it’s that He can be “fully tested” and He’ll come out true every time! A lot of things in life can seem very real; yet when they are really tested or challenged, they fail. Any lie is subject to such a fall. What God says is; we can depend on that.
“It will ultimately be shown to be fact (authentic.)”
That’s the kind of truth I want to hold on to: Real, authentic, reliable, eternal, indisputable!
Lord Jesus, lead us into truth; your Word is truth. Amen.
I have struggled with the contrast between what Scripture says and life experiences for most of my life, especially in terms of healing. This has been magnified since my nephew’s death on July 17. He was medically fragile. I had contended for him in prayer from the time of his birth to the moment of his death. An infection ambushed him and caught everyone, including his doctors, completely off guard. He was all right; then he was gone.
I myself have had countless people pray for my healing; yet cannot see. I have probably heard every explanation in the book for my blindness and the lack of healing, from the “hidden sin in my life” to “God doesn’t heal these days.”
In truth, I have had many injuries, illnesses and conditions healed by God, including repeated stress syndrome, anorexia, migraines, FibroMyalgia and more recently, an egg allergy.
I have studied the Bible thoroughly on this topic and have concluded that it is absolutely clear in this matter: God heals. This isn’t something He merely does; it is part of who he is. I can find all sorts of verses to verify this and none that give exceptions, caveats or time limits. Trust me, I have searched diligently: This would have made my dilemma a whole lot easier!
You should see people when I tell them I believe that God heals. They can’t figure that out, when I obviously have a disability. It really messes with them!
I have taken a step forward this past week: A deeper, heart-level revelation about trusting God first. It means believing his word and experiences of him over other life events. It has to do with recognizing that God’s ways and His Kingdom reality are far greater than anything I grasp or understand.
I told my pastor that I have had more than enough prayer for my eyes. HE challenged me: How do I know it’s more than enough? He is right; that is an assumption on my part. All prayer is answered; God is doing something bigger than what I experience.
The war between faith, in the sense of trust or expectancy, vs reliance on experience and understanding goes beyond healing. It is something with which we struggle when it comes to any of God’s blessings: Provision, protection, favor, salvation and all miracles. There are all sorts of doctrines and arguements to support the status quo and plenty of discreditation for people who dare to go out on the limb of absolute trust in God. When a miracle (including healing) occurs, there is no shortage of attempts to explain it away.
My point can be expressed in a stanza of poetry:
I bless You, oh Lord, for all that You do;
I will watch for Your miracles each day.
And even when they seem to be subtle,
I will not explain them away.
How does knowing that God is good, that He is always in a good mood; that He loves you intimately and completely affect the way you live?
I heard a talk several months ago, in which the speaker said that most of us practice what he would call ,practical atheism.” We believe in God; yet when it comes to making decisions, we rely on ungodly counsel or use our own wits, instead of asking God what HE wants us to do and cooperating with him. Interesting. After pondering this for a long time, I have decided that his point has merit.
I remember what big news it was to me when I learned that the saying, “God helps those who help themselves” isn’t true. I was in college. As I read the Bible for the first time, really, I discovered Scripture passages like these:
“I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
And my God will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
“For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37
“Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:27
“God works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
My pastor says that there is no problem or situation that would not be radically changed if we really knew how much God loves us.
What do you say? Is my pastor right?
Most loving Father,
We receive the spirit of wisdom and revelation that You give to us so that we know You better. Open the eyes of our hearts so that we really get how much You love us. By Your grace, we lay down all atheism and put our whole trust in You. Thank You for Your goodness. Amen.
(…spirit of wisdom and revelation is from Ephesians 1:17)