Friday, January 22, 2010

The Barrier Walls are Coming Down!

Recently, I read an article about Haiti and in it a story was told of opposition between a church of believers in Christ and an 84 year old voodoo priestess. When the pastor started his church, she vowed that if they did not leave within a year, she would kill the pastor and every member. When the earthquake happened, the voodoo lady’s house, as well as the pastor’s church building and house, were destroyed along with other members of the church.

This left all of them homeless living in tents and struggling to survive. The people of the church cared for the voodoo lady’s needs and since then, she has been attending their nightly bible study and worship times. There was great loss of loved ones on both sides and it was reported that the voodoo lady and others like her have been coming to Christ.

Ever since these things happened in Haiti, I have been watching and asking God what he is trying to say to the world. I’ve heard Christian people say that they are under judgment from God but I don’t feel that it is my place to determine such things. We do know that the last days will be full of earthquakes, wars, famines and other horrible things (see Matthew 24) and many believers are of the thought that we as followers of Christ will be “raptured” out of these occurrences.

This may be true but I have read more than enough scripture to support the thought that we will not be taken out but this is not my point in writing to you today. I think that Haiti is a snapshot of what is to come as God is using the destruction to bring good to his people who are in bondage and set them free. God had his people positioned in Haiti at just the right time to bring humanitarian aid in some areas and in other areas they were in need just as much as the people they had been living among and serving.

Acts 17:26-27 says “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.” He is the One who determines these things for his purposes.

Like the voodoo lady and the church, God has turned what Satan had meant for bad to bring salvation to his people who didn’t even know they were his people. He broke down the walls between them so that the love of Christ could efficiently flow. The suffering came and gave them a common denominator, survival. The darkness happened so that the light could brightly shine and salvation was the end result.

I popped awake at 1 a.m. this morning thinking of all these things and the Lord reminded me of several scripture that I would like to share with you. We know that there will be those who believe that live through the tribulation because Matthew 24:22 tells us in Jesus’ own words, “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.” What if they are there for God’s grace and mercy through the gospel to be extended to those who are of his kingdom and have yet to come to him?

Romans 10:12-15 speaks of those who believe sharing the gospel with others, this is our purpose and our command once we are saved (see Matthew 28:18-20 for one), but it takes the work of the Holy Spirit using any and all circumstances of life to break down the walls and prepare the heart to receive the Gift of Salvation, who is Jesus.

I have heard people ask the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” and I admit I have wondered about this as well. I think 2 Corinthians 1: 3-7 answers this question beautifully, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

“For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.”

Through our family being touched by my daughter’s cancer and death, I have come to realize that the Lord allows such things so that we can relate to someone who may or may not know him, who is going through a time of pain. The only way we have learned the intimacies of this kind of pain is by walking through it. God has given our family a vantage point with which to see clearly into the circumstances of another, allowing the walls to be broken down and his grace, mercy and love to be able to flow freely to others.

We all suffer for the gospel in one way shape or form, but I never clearly understood why that was so until now. Unless we who believe suffer, we cannot adequately relate the message of the cross. As the scriptures have taught us, our suffering is for others just as Christ suffered to comfort us with salvation. Unless he came and lived among us, sharing in our pain and dying to his life, he could not comfort and save us.

Father, help me not to fear suffering anymore. My flesh screams and trembles at the thoughts that are running through my mind. Help me not to be afraid of pain. Thank you for identifying with my pain, so that I could be comforted. Thank you for dying for me, so that I could be saved. Father, use my pain to comfort others and point them to you. I ask for souls without number for the kingdom and grace in abundance to abandon my life and live for you. Help me Holy Spirit! AMEN.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

From the Depths of my Heart...

As I was worshipping the Lord tonight, I sang the words, “God, you’re all I need,” and it made me think…how many times I go to the Lord with pride in my heart. My lips sing and say to him, “God, you’re all I need,” but my heart says, “I can handle this, I’ll only get from God what little I need to keep walking on.”

I realized that when I go to him, I’m very business-like. I want him to answer my requests and then I’m gone, back into the world to do more for God. I push through and struggle every day forcing myself to take one step then another reaching into the depths of myself, or so I think, to advance but who is it really that is doing the work?

God wants to do the work. He wants us to surrender to him so that his supernatural work can be done in us so that the whole world can see the miraculous and give him glory. We are just helpless people who need an Almighty God.

When will I just surrender? He says, “My burden is light and my yoke is easy.” When will I lay down my prideful heart that tells me that I can just push my way through? God, I’m so sorry, I’ve been lying to myself that I want a relationship when all my desperately evil heart wants is to be able to say, “See, I can do this.”

I lay it down. Loose the chains from me and change my cold heart. Let the cry of my heart be to know you, to speak to you as I would my friend. Help me be sensitive to your needs and desires. Help me to get to know the real you. Melt away all of the traditions of men that have told me what to believe about you. Melt away all of the ideas I’ve had about you and show me the truth of who you are.

When I come to you, let our relationship be first and foremost in my mind. Let me speak to you as to my dearest friend. You are my dearest friend. Thank you for giving me this glimpse into my heart to see what you see. You are so kind to me. I repent. Amen.

Oh, for grace to trust you more.