Thursday, July 19, 2012

II Corinthians 10:3--5

The more complicated life becomes, the more we need to simplify our focus.  So many of the urgings competing for my attention, (some random, some logical, all seemingly urgent), are bogus, sent by the enemy to distract and confuse, keeping my thoughts noisy so that I miss His still, small voice.  My untiring foe knows that his defeat is found in my listening, heeding, and obeying that calming Word to my hearing heart.  Thus, his strategy never wavers: (1) shorten our prayer time, until it is no more;  (2) when we do pray, focus completely on our talking, mainly upon our needs-- no listening for God's response; (3) pray generally, not specifically... that way we will be continually unsure if we've been answered, will grow discouraged, and will go back to (1).  
Why does the enemy oppose it so ferociously?  Why do we find it so difficult to incorporate its discipline into our lives with ongoing perseverance?  Because prayer touches God.  The enemy knows better than we how strongly the Father's heart is moved, how powerfully He acts on behalf of the child who comes to Him, how intensely He longs for His child to call upon His Name.  Why else would he focus so much potency to keep us from the Father's throne?  
May we learn from the one who hates our soul:  pray. Pray on.  Never cease. Never.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Romans 9:14--18

What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, 'I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.' So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharoah, 'FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH.' So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires."

What a delicate whisp of a thing is trust... developed at an early age in most, sooner or later trust becomes guarded, if not imprisoned, within walls of suspicion, abused by fallible folk. For some, it is so mistreated as to disappear altogether, a means of self-protection against the pain of betrayal's repeated rejection. It is a truism, then, that trust comes more easily for some than others... and that on a human level, with beings who can been seen, touched, physically heard, and responded to... little surprise, then, that trusting One Who does not have these attributes proves to be too much for the majority of mankind.  And were invisibility not enough, this One to Whom all mankind is ultimately accountable is absolute in His sovereign rule, reign, and authority... 

These truths (God's ubiquitous, unseen presence, and His absolute right to do as He wishes with any of His creation, including mankind) provoke lost humanity to cry, "It is unjust!," (that anyone should have such power and control over us).  And such a response is understandable, stemming from deceived hearts (Jeremiah 17:9), that are spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1), 
and haters of God (Romans 1:30). 

Yet what is especially troubling is to encounter the same spirit of impugning God's character from some of His own children (!)  Apparently the apostle Paul anticipated such a questioning of the Almighty's motives ("There is no injustice with God, is there?"), and answered with an appalled reply, "May it never be!" 
The feeling is, "Away with the thought!", or "How could the thought even be insinuated?!"   Paul is incredulous that any among the Roman believers could entertain such unworthy thoughts of the Father, as to think Him unjust in anything, but particularly in the matter of salvation. 

Still, the same man-glorifying spirit that was at work among the believers in Paul's day is no less active today.  Now, as then, is needed the God-centered truth that salvation does not depend on man's will, or activity, but His mercy.  For, to attribute to man a part of the salvation event is to give God's glory to another, which cannot be honoring to Him.  Rather, the Father is pleased when His children unreservedly proclaim His unlimited sovereignty:  "The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all," (Psalm 103:19).  

And what is true of sovereign mercy, is equally true of sovereign reprobation.  For some He shows compassion, Paul affirms, and also, He "hardens whom He desires."  In this does God sin?  No.  Nor is He unjust.  For, the "righteous Judge of all the earth" (Genesis 18:25) always does right.  So, the issue comes back to trust... is He trustworthy in His sovereignty?  The world says, "No."  Sadly, even some of His own children agree...  yet, there are those who, like the Psalmist, have come to "know Your Name... [and these] will put their trust in You, " (Psalm 9:10a), embracing the sovereignty of the living God in the salvation of His own.