Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Dear Linwood Family and Friends,
I would guess that you have heard this one before.
How do you learn to become an expert on the identification of counterfeit money? You study and examine – over and over and over again – the real thing!
“Faith, Family, and Friendships” – that is our banner for the upcoming season – and, perhaps for many seasons to come!
Faith – a few weeks ago I talked about “faith” as something that must have an object. We talk about “having faith,” but that faith is always placed in something or someone. Thus there are at least two really important aspects of faith – the strength of our belief or trust, and the worthiness of the one who is the object of the faith. Without question both aspects of faith are important.
However… I wonder…would many of us be better off if we concentrated more on the object of our faith than on the strength (or weakness) of our own faith?
We want to be people of faith. We want to grow and deepen our trust in the Lord. We want to reduce our doubt. We want to increase our confidence in God’s work. “I believe, help my unbelief,” (Mark 9:24b) is the plea of many of us. We believe in God, but we have a long way to go.
Our tendency, when we want to grow spiritually, is to increase our efforts: get up early for Bible study and prayer; make a list of things we want to do differently (sort of like New Year’s resolutions); talk with a spiritual advisor or friend; get a spiritual mentor. It reminds me of someone who goes into training to loose the 20 pounds they gained over the holidays. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t!
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am all for spiritual disciplines. Early morning Bible study can be a huge blessing. I can’t say enough about the value of a spiritual director. An honest look at our lives and what we seek to be different is an essential part of the process of change and growth. These are all good things – as long as – we are keeping the focus on God and not on ourselves – as long as it is a faith journey and not a self-help exercise.
Maybe these are places where we need to make sure our primary attention is on what is “real” – the most real thing in all creation, the presence and the person of God – and not on what is counterfeit – our lives in the midst of a fallen and broken world.
Our God is a God who wants to be known! He wants us to know who He is. He wants us to know His purposes and plans. He wants us to know His heart. And, in Jesus that revelation becomes complete.
So, what difference would this make?
Suppose, instead of searching the Scriptures for those things that relate to my situation and need (you know, read this if you are depressed, or this if you are sick, or this is you are lonely…), we opened the Scriptures asking, “What can I learn about God? What can help me know Him better?” Or suppose, instead of going into group prayer and telling God all our struggles, needs, and hurts (which we have already shared with the group, but are afraid God wasn’t listening), we spent the greater time praising God and focusing on who He is and the things He has done, and asking that we might know Him better?
“We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” – II Chronicles 20:12
This verse is on my “Top Ten Prayers of the Bible” list. Jehoshaphat, the King of Judah has just been notified that a HUGE army (the coalition of three of Judah’s enemies) is heading for his nation. He declares a fast throughout the land and gathers the people to seek the Lord. Instead of asking God’s blessings on their plans, he concludes with this amazing prayer.
I can’t help but believe that the more our eyes are on the Lord, the less appealing and enticing the “fake” things of this world will become, and the greater confidence we will have to withstand whatever enemy we might be facing.
Just something I found myself thinking about. Make any sense?
The Linwood season is another week closer than it was last week! Isn’t that amazing – and wonderful!
Blessings in Christ,
Hu Auburn, Linwood Park Pastor
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