Though he slay me, yet will I trust him (Job 13:15).
For I know whom I have believed (2 Tim. 1:12).
I will not doubt, though all my ships at sea
Come drifting home with broken masts and sails;
I will believe the Hand which never fails,
From seeming evil worketh good for me.
And though I weep because those sails are tattered,
Still will I cry, while my best hopes lie shattered:
‘I trust in Thee.’
I will not doubt, though all my prayers return
Unanswered from the still, white realm above;
I will believe it is an all-wise love
Which has refused these things for which I yearn;
And though at times I cannot keep from grieving,
Yet the pure ardor of my fixed believing
Undimmed shall burn.
I will not doubt, though sorrows fall like rain,
And troubles swarm like bees about a hive.
I will believe the heights for which I strive
Are only reached by anguish and by pain;
And though I groan and writhe beneath my crosses.
I yet shall see through my severest losses
The greater gain.
I will not doubt. Well anchored is this faith,
Like some staunch ship, my soul braves every gale;
So strong its courage that it will not quail
To breast the mighty unknown sea of death.
Oh, may I cry, though body parts with spirit,
‘I do not doubt,’ so listening worlds may hear it,
With my last breath.
“In fierce storms,” said an old seaman, “we must do one thing; there is only one way: we must put the ship in a certain position and keep her there.” This, Christian, is what you must do.
Sometimes, like Paul, you can see neither sun nor stars, and no small tempest lies on you; and then you can do but one thing; there is only one way. Reason cannot help you; past experiences give you no light. Even prayer fetches no consolation. Only a single course is left. You must put your soul in one position and keep it there.
You must stay upon the Lord; and come what may–winds, waves, cross-seas, thunder, lightning, frowning rocks, roaring breakers–no matter what, you must lash yourself to the helm, and hold fast your confidence in God’s faithfulness, His covenant engagement, His everlasting love in Christ Jesus.
|April 1, 2014
Am I On Camera?
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them …” Matthew 6:1a (ESV)
My eldest son recently turned nine. Like most kids, he was excited to be officially “bigger.” He walked around on his special day with his chest pushed out and his head held high.
After a full day of justifiably being the center of attention, my son told me that because he was nine, he was going to wash the dishes.
He proceeded to go to the sink, squeeze the dish detergent and squirt a generous amount of soap on a dirty plate. He then proceeded to rub and scrub with vigor.
I grabbed a glass of water and rested my hip on the side of the kitchen counter to watch my birthday boy work. He scrubbed on that dish for more than a minute.
That dish wasn’t just clean, it was sterile, sanitized and thoroughly decontaminated.
Then my sweet boy turned to me, cocked his head slightly to one side, donned a puzzled face and asked, “Aren’t you gonna take a picture of me and put it on Instagram?”
I almost spit my water in his face with laughter, shock and a bit of confusion.
My son was doing a good thing with the desire to broadcast his good thing to the world. Apparently, being “on camera” was an important part of his good works.
So I took a few minutes to explain the importance of doing things for the right reasons and not performing for the applause of others.
And then I was convicted.
Convicted because sometimes I do the same thing.
How many times have I served others, not just because it was the right thing to do, but because it also lent claim to a bit of self-righteousness as others watched me do it?
How many times have I put forth more effort to show kindness or compassion to people inside the walls of my church than to those living within the walls of my home?
How often do I aim for excellence when someone is watching but forget to aim consistently for excellence simply because my God is always watching?
And He’s always most interested in my heart.
The Bible is clear. God doesn’t want my good deeds to be aimed at gaining the applause of people. He wants me to have a pure heart and motives undergirded by a desire to live a life pleasing to Him.
Even if no one else is watching.
When my little boy got busy washing his dish, my heart was overjoyed because I thought he was showing growth and maturity by doing a good thing — simply because it was the right thing to do!
When his true motives were made clear, I realized there was still mothering work to be done. My precious son still has room to grow and mature. And that’s OK.
In my Christian journey there will be times when I will need work. There will be times where my heart is not quite right or my motives are not necessarily pure. I still have room to grow and mature. And it’s OK.
And that’s OK if you do, too.
The good news I’ve learned as I grow in Christ is that my heart can change. God is a loving Father who is interested in my heart and willing to take the time to teach me. He’s willing to go the distance, guiding me along the path to spiritual maturity.
The interaction with my son reminded me to do a “heart check.”
Even if no one is watching, when I’m not “on camera,” I should always be conscious of the story my actions tell about my heart.
Dear Lord, I desire to have a pure heart and pure motives, but if I’m honest, sometimes I miss the mark. Help me be aware that You are ever present and to live as though You are watching. Where I have developed the habit of keeping up appearances, teach me what it means to live for an audience of One. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Don’t Be an April Fool
Warning! It’s April Fools’ Day!
I’ve had a lot of AF jokes pulled on me, and I must admit that I’ve pulled off a few pretty good ones myself. But one thing I’ve noticed. No one likes being called a fool, much less being made to look like a fool. We like to think of ourselves as savvy, wise, and sharp—not easily tricked or duped. But when we measure ourselves by God’s standards, we might be surprised at how much we deserve the title.
Did you know, for example, that the Bible says we are fools if we . . .
- spread slander (Proverbs 10:18);
- think we’re right in our own eyes rather than listening to wise counsel (Proverbs 12:15);
- reject our father’s discipline (Proverbs 15:5);
- delight only in revealing our own mind rather than in understanding (Proverbs 18:2);
- are perverse in speech instead of walking in integrity (Proverbs 19:1);
- quarrel instead of keeping away from strife (Proverbs 20:3);
- always lose our temper (Proverbs 29:11)?
Of course, the ultimate definition of a fool is found in today’s verse. The ultimate fool is one who lives as though “there is no God.” Notice that the verse does not say that a fool says with his mouth “there is no God.” It’s a matter of the heart attitude. In fact it would be quite possible to say with your lips that there is a God but then to have your heart think and act as though God does not factor into your dreams and choices at all. When our heart says that there is a God, we readily obey Him and surrender to His will and ways in our lives. Though it’s not always easy, a God-honoring heart is willing to begin the process of forgiving those who have deeply hurt us; to think of others as more important than ourselves; to choose generosity over greed; and to be sensitive to the needs of the poor and oppressed.
One of the most penetrating “fool” passages in Scripture is recorded in Luke 12:13-21. Jesus told the parable of a rich businessman who had more wealth than he knew what to do with. After signing the papers for corporate expansion (bigger barns), he congratulates himself and decides to throw himself a party. Everyone in his town would have said he was a smashing success. But God had a different take on him: “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” (Luke 12:20). Jesus concluded with the point: “So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:21 ESV). It is indeed foolish to be satisfied with our own wealth and to have given no thought to becoming rich toward God by preparing for eternity, or as Jesus said to become rich toward God by giving our money away to the poor and to those in need (Luke 12:33).
When we recognize the rightful place of God in our hearts, our lives are wonderfully transformed to enjoy the rewarding results of wisdom—life from God’s point of view—rather than the embarrassing outcomes of a godless, foolish heart.
I hope you get to pull off a good April Fools’ joke today. In fact, you may even have a good-natured laugh at having one pulled on you. But, while all that is going on, don’t forget to honor God’s will and ways in your heart. Life is too short and too serious to live it as a fool!
Psalm 33 (Good News Translation)
God’s Word: Giving Us Hope
Psalm 33: Today’s reading opens with an exhortation to shout for joy, to praise and thank the LORD, and to sing a new song to him. Assurance of the LORD’s constant love comes from trusting in and obeying the LORD.
Today’s Scripture: Psalm 33:5
The LORD loves what is righteous and just; his constant love fills the earth.
1 All you that are righteous,shout for joy for what the LORD has done; praise him, all you that obey him.2 Give thanks to the LORD with harps,sing to him with stringed instruments.3 Sing a new song to him,play the harp with skill, and shout for joy!4 The words of the LORD are true,and all his works are dependable.5 The LORD loves what is righteous and just;his constant love fills the earth.6 The LORD created the heavens by his command,the sun, moon, and stars by his spoken word.7 He gathered all the seas into one place;he shut up the ocean depths in storerooms.8 Worship the LORD, all the earth!Honor him, all peoples of the world!9 When he spoke, the world was created;at his command everything appeared.10 The LORD frustrates the purposes of the nations;he keeps them from carrying out their plans.11 But his plans endure forever;his purposes last eternally.12 Happy is the nation whose God is the LORD;happy are the people he has chosen for his own!13 The LORD looks down from heavenand sees all of us humans.14 From where he rules, he looks downon all who live on earth.15 He forms all their thoughtsand knows everything they do.16 A king does not win because of his powerful army;a soldier does not triumph because of his strength.17 War horses are useless for victory;their great strength cannot save.18 The LORD watches over those who obey him,those who trust in his constant love.19 He saves them from death;he keeps them alive in times of famine.20 We put our hope in the LORD;he is our protector and our help.21 We are glad because of him;we trust in his holy name.22 May your constant love be with us, LORD,as we put our hope in you.