Saturday, January 19, 2013

Look For Christ Where You Lost Him

This blessed me so much this morning; I hope it blesses you, too. Happy Saturday!

Morning, January 19
“I sought him, but I found him not.” –Song of Solomon 3:1

“Tell me where you lost the company of Christ, and I will tell you the most likely place to find him. Have you lost Christ in the closet by restraining prayer? Then it is there yo must seek and find Him. Did you lose Christ by sin? You will find Christ in no other way but by the giving up of the sin, and seeking by the Holy Spirit to mortify the member in which the lust doth dwell. Did you lose Christ by neglecting the Scriptures? You must find Christ in the Scriptures. It is a true proverb, “Look for a thin where you dropped it, it is there.” So look for Christ where you lost Him, for He has not gone away…

Take care, then, when you find your Master, to cling close to Him. But how is it you have lost Him? One would have thought you would never have parted with such a precious friend, whose presence is so sweet whose words are so comforting, and whose company is so dear to you! How is ti that you did not watch him every moment for fear of losing sight of Him? Yet, since you have let Him go, what a mercy that you are seeking Him, even though you mournfully groan, “O that I knew where I might find Him!” Go on seeking, for it is dangerous to be without thy Lord. Without Christ you are like a sheep without its shepherd; like a tree without water at it's roots; like a sere leaf in the tempest – not bound to the tree of life. With thine whole heart seek Him, and He will be found of thee: only give thyself thoroughly up to the search, and verily, thou shalt yet discover Him to thy joy and gladness.”
- Charles Spurgeon

Stepping In

Then Esther spoke again to the king, fell this feet, wept and implored him to avert the evil scheme of Haman the Agagite and his plot which he had devised against the Jews… ‘For how can I endure to see the calamity which will befall my people, and how can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred?–Esther 8:6

This is the attitude that I think believers should have about non-Christians. Those who are not children of God are living as prisoners of the world, and Jesus has sent us to liberate them, just as Esther sought to set her people free from the death grip of Haman.

When I read this verse, it reminded me of another passage we talked about in Apologetics class the other day. I’ve breezed through this passage many times, never realizing its inspiring message. Paul shares his deep love for his people in Romans 9:1-3:

I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow an unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh…”

How crazy is that?! Paul loved his people so much, that he would rather spend eternity in hell if it meant that his people would have salvation. Maybe one day, God will grant me a deep love like this, but I for sure don’t have that right now. I think Paul and Esther are very much alike in that they would go through any adversity or trial in order to see their people saved. This kind of love can only come from God, but we should pray for this love constantly. My youth pastor is very passionate about the idea of being “broken for the lost”, and this is what I desire to have. Just as Esther knelt before her king, begging for the salvation of her people, so should we kneel before our Heavenly King praying for the salvation of those around us.

God and I had a lot of fun this morning as I read Esther, because then He showed me Romans 9:1-3, and then He reminded me of a passage that has stayed with me since I heard it for the first time freshmen year:

It came about, however, when the congregation had assembled against Moses and Aaron, that they turned toward the tent of meeting, and behold, the cloud covered it and the glory of the Lord appeared. Then Moses and Aaron came to the front of the tent of meeting, and the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Get away from among this congregation, that I may consume them instantly.’ Then they fell on their faces. Moses said to Aaron, ‘Take your censer and put in it fire from the altar, and lay incense on it; then bring it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them, for wrath has gone forth from the Lord, the plague has begun!’ Then Aaron took it as Moses had spoken, and ran into the midst of the assembly, for behold, the plague had begun among the people. So he put on the incense and made atonement for the people. He took his stand between the dead and the living, so that the plague was checked. –Numbers 16:42-48

This passage convicts me every time I read it. God was about to pour out His wrath on those who were assembling against Moses and Aaron. But Moses, who loved his people so much, sent Aaron to make atonement for the people, and stopped the plague. There are millions of people in the world today who are under the “plague” of sin, and God has given us the power to do the job of stepping in and stopping the plague. We as Christians claim that we love everyone, including non-Christians, but do we live that love out? Do we love unbelievers so much that we would be willing to do anything in order to see God rescue them from their imprisonment?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Watchman for the Night

It was a total God thing that I stumbled upon this tonight. Today in my apologetics class, we talked about how we should never walk into battle without our Sword. For those of you who don’t know that lingo, basically it means that we should never go through life without the Sword of the Spirit and God’s Word. This life we are living isn’t just Earthly stuff – it’s a spiritual battle with forces we cannot even understand (Ephesians 6:10), and we always need to be ready. And what do ya know, here’s some advice about that very thing. Here’s a word from my good man, Spurgeon:

Evening, January 17
“And it came to pass in an evening-tide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house.” 2 Samuel 11:2
“At that hour David saw Bathsheba. We are never out of the reach of temptation. Botha at home and abroad, we are liable to meet with allurements to evil; the morning opens with peril, and the shades of evening find us still in jeopardy. They are well kept whom God keeps, but owe unto those who go forth into the world, or even dare to walk their own house unarmed. Those who think themselves secure, are more exposed to danger than any others. The amour-bearer of sin is self-confidence…Reader, beware of evening temptations. Be not secure. The sun is down but sin is up. We need a watchman for the night, as well as a guardian for the day. Oh blessed Spirit, keep us from all evil this night. Amen.”

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Hardcore Poem about Jesus

Read this in AP Lit yesterday and I really liked ya go:

Batter My Heart, Three-Personed God

Batter my heart, three-personed God; for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurped town, to another due,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captivated, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you and would be loved fain,
But am betrothed unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

-John Donne

Friday, January 11, 2013

Rooted in Jesus

Read this from Spurgeon this morning and it really stood out to me:

Morning, January 11
"These have no root." Luke 8:13

"My soul, examine thyself this morning by the light of this text. Thou hast received the word with joy; thy feelings have been stirred and a lively impression has been made; but, remember, that to receive the word in the ear is one thing, and to receive Jesus into thy very soul is quite another...

Good growth takes place upwards and downwards at the same time. Am I rooted in sincere fidelity and love to Jesus? If my heart remains unsoftened and unfertilized by grace, the good seed may germinate for a season, but it must ultimately wither, for it cannot flourish on a rocky, unbroken, unsanctified heart...

Let me count the cost of being a follower of Jesus; above all let me feel the energy of His Holy Spirit, and then I shall possess an abiding and enduring seed in my soul."

Happy Friday everyone! :)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Esther on Obedience

Happy Sunday! So I am really having a blast reading Esther…it’s so good! I just finished chapter 4, so if you wanna read where we left off last time, you can read it here.

So in chapter 3, Haman, the man in charge of the king’s princes, “seeks to destroy all the Jews” (vs. 6). When the king gives Haman permission to do as he pleases with the Jews, Mordecai is full of sadness. He shows the ultimate sign of sorrow (4:1) and sends word to his cousin Esther. Mordecai wishes Esther to “implore the king’s favor and to plead with him for her people” (vs.8).

Of course, Esther freaks out at that idea, because she hasn’t been summoned by the king for the past month. If she went before the king now, without being summoned, she would be put to death (unless the king held out the golden scepter so that she could live, vs.11). And this is Mordecai’s wise response:

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”

This awesome reply from Mordecai reminds me a lot of a quote by C.S. Lewis, “Whatever you do, [God] will make good of it. But not the good He had prepared for you if you had obeyed Him.”

Mordecai and C.S. Lewis’ advice, I think, is perfect wisdom regarding obedience. Even if Esther didn’t plead to the king regarding saving her people, God would protect His people. (We’ve seen God do this time and time again throughout history). But when a task is at hand for us to do, and we’re afraid to do it, we can’t just say, “Oh well it’s no big deal if I don’t do this because God will take care of it.” Yes, He will take care of it, but how much sweeter will the results be if we are the ones who carry out God’s wishes?

Something my pastor said this morning was, “One of the most powerful things you will ever do in your entire life is obeying Jesus Christ.” It’s true! Just as Esther has been given royalty by marrying the king, so we also have become royal by being married to our own Heavenly King. When difficult decisions come our way, we should remember that God probably put that decision / task there as a chance to obey Him, because “who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” I love Esther’s response to Mordecai’s advice:

“Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maidens also will fast in the same way. And thus I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish” (vs. 15-16).

I LOVE her response! Not only does Esther choose to be obedient, but she also encourages Mordecai to fast while also fasting herself. Now I’m not saying that every time a difficult situation appears before you, you should fast – that’s between you and God and what you feel led to do. But prayer is what we should always do when faced with a difficult situation. Esther also responds with an attitude we should always have when obeying the Lord, “if I perish, I perish.” In other words, I will obey my faithful God, no matter what the costs.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Come As You Are

Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai who had taken her as his daughter, came to go in to the king, she did not request anything except what Hegai, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the women, advised. And Esther found favor in the eyes of all who saw her…The king loved Esther more than all the women, and she found favor and kindness with him more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. –Esther 2:15,17.

When deciding what Old Testament book to read through next, the book of Esther immediately jumped off the page at me. I saw the movie version of Esther, One Night with the King, before I read the book when I was in middle school. After watching the movie and then reading the book, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the story.

If you’re not familiar with the story of Esther, you can read the first two chapters here. From verses 8-14, we see that the women had to have a year of “beautification” – six months with oil and myrrh and six months with spices and the cosmetics (that sounds crazy to me!). After that – before a woman could go before the king for him to see whether or not he liked her – she was allowed to pick whatever extra jewels / trinkets /etc. she wanted from the harem to bring with her to see the king. In the movie (it’s not mentioned in Scripture, but it’s a funny scene), a woman goes to see the King and she chose pretty much all the gold jewelry in the harem, so when she goes to see the king, she looks ridiculous. She has trouble standing, because of how heavy the gold is…it’s pretty funny.

But Esther chose what no other woman did, which was to not wear anything from the harem except what the king’s eunuch, Hegai, recommended. Because of this (and also because of her personality, I’m sure), the king “loved Esther more than all the women”. So where am I going with this, you may ask?

This might be a stretch for me to apply the text in this way, but I think it works. I think Esther is a great example of how we should come into God’s presence. I think sometimes we try to “prepare ourselves” before we come to God. Obviously we should come with the right attitude; we should come with reverence and fear of our Heavenly Father. But I think God also wants us to come as we are, no matter what that entails. Whether we are joyful because of a blessing or we are in pain because of suffering, we should come to God with no masks or facades. God loves us, and He knows our hearts way, way better than anyone on earth, so why would we try and pretend to appear as someone we’re not?

David is also a great example of how to come into God’s presence. We see David come to God in exceeding joy and appreciation of God’s goodness (Ps. 111), but we also see David almost go insane with sadness and anger (Ps. 137:9, Ps. 86:1). When we come to God as a broken being, with questions that need answering and prayers to be heard, I believe God is glorified. Coming to God as we are, as Esther did, with no facades, is a beautiful thing. Coming as we are is a cry out to God, whether it’s a cry of praise or a cry for help.

So I encourage you to spend some quiet time with God today, and just bear your burdens on Him and praise Him for the blessings He has given. Our Heavenly Daddy wants nothing more than for us to come before Him and sit on His lap, coming as we are.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Years!

Happy 2013 everybody! I don’t know about you all, but 2012 was a crazy awesome year! So many gifts, challenges, blessings…the list goes on and on. Grateful for what’s behind, and anxious about what’s ahead. Kind of nervous about 2013, since it's my graduation year and is sort of the start of this whole "growing up" thing. The decisions I make in the next few years are life-changers, which is both terrifying and thrilling. As daunting as this year seems to be, I know it also has potential to be one of the sweetest. At a Sunday morning service, a wise man preached, “Keep Moving.” It’s a simple but wise statement on how to approach the New Year.

A dear friend gave me Charles Spurgeon’s “Morning and Evening Daily Readings” as a Christmas present, and I’d like to share Spurgeon’s wise words regarding the first day of the New Year.

Morning, January 1
“They did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.” Joshua 5:12

Israel’s weary wanderings were all over, and the promised rest was attained. No more moving tents, fiery serpents, fierce Amalekites, and howling wilderness: they came to the land which flowed with milk and honey, and they ate the old corn of the land. Perhaps this year, beloved Christian reader, this may be thy case or mine. Joyful is the prospect, and if faith be in active exercise, it will yield unalloyed delight. To be with Jesus in the rest which remaineth for the people of God, is cheering hope indeed, and to expect this glory so soon is a double bliss. Unbelief shudders at the Jordan which still rolls between us and the goodly land, but let us rest assured that we have already experienced more ills than death at its worst can cause us. Let us banish every fearful thought, and rejoice with exceeding great joy, in the prospect that this year we shall begin to be “forever with the Lord.”

God bless and Happy New Years!