Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Treasure Chest

This week has been tough, and at the same time I think I am finally learning to trust God a little. Or a little more than before at least. I think that trust is coming from really believing in his love and goodness. Not a selfish goodness that takes care only of me for my own pleasure apart from God, but a goodness that draws me into God's arms knowing He is my greatest good and that His kingdom is worth losing everything else for. Paul said it in these words... "What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ." Phil.3:8 Jesus also tells a parable about the kingdom of God, comparing it to a treasure that a man finds hidden in a field. The man recognizes the worth of the treasure, so he sells all his possessions and buys the field. Jesus is that treasure. Jesus is worth losing everything for. I think I had forgotten that. I think I had grown attached to my own treasures. Jesus also says, "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." When I find something of worth, I begin investing in it. I begin giving my heart. Whether I am investing my money, my time, my thoughts, my efforts into that thing or person, the perceived worth grows. It becomes my treasure, and it holds my heart. What God has been gently reminding me of in the past few days, is to reinvest my treasure. To invest my life into Him, into His kingdom and what He tells me to invest in. When I store up my treasure in Him, my heart will be there too. Right now my heart is torn because I have been putting my treasure elsewhere, in multiple places, leaving me feeling confused and insecure. Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. May you be my treasure, Lord. May your Spirit guide me to place my treasure where you would have it, for your Kingdom.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Joy in Weakness: Refining the riff raff

Isn't it amazing how God knows exactly how he needs to refine us? Wouldn't it be nice if he only gave us challenges that were easy to handle, where our character was already strong? Yeah, he doesn't work that way most of the time. It's exactly in our place of weakness that God throws us in the fire. Like he said to Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Isn't that the heart of the gospel? God's power in our weakness. This apparently was a lesson God drove home for Paul often. Elsewhere, Paul says, "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength." Phil. 4:12-13  We often use this verse as a way to say we can accomplish anything we want through the power of Christ. But it seems to me that this passage is talking about the power to suffer, to be in "unfavorable" conditions. Paul's confidence in the power of Christ gives him endurance, peace, contentment. He doesn't have to strive through the affliction, worrying about how to get out of it or fearing for himself. He knows Christ will give him the power to endure. Oh, that I had that same contentment! That same faith...

God refines where we are the weakest. And he goes back and back again until we learn. God put Abraham in situations that constantly challenged him to have enormous amounts of faith in God's provision and protection. Leaving his country, going into foreign lands where he feared for his life, waiting till he was about 100 to have a child upon which hinged all of God's promise for descendants and a nation blessed by God, then being asked to sacrifice that son. As we see his journey, we begin with a man full of fear, needing to control his circumstances, not trusting in God's greatness, but by the end we see a man who willingly offers up his son, trusting God's power to even raise him from the dead. But it was a journey, and it took God's constant refining.

I have one of those. One of those areas that God keeps refining, and refining and refining. I guess (I hope) I grow a little each time, but it is never easy. I always like to think I've learned to trust God in that area, but then the refining comes, the pain, trying to take control, and I realize I still have not. My hope is that, just like for Paul and Abraham, God's grace will be sufficient for me. That the more I mess up, the closer God gets in there to reveal my weakness and work in His power. The weakness seems overwhelming. Lord, work your power in me. Give me the contentment that comes in knowing that you are, and that you will give me the strength I need in every situation. And may my joy come not in what I do or do not have, but in knowing and being with you.