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Friday, October 29, 2010

Weekly Snippet: Our Eyes Are Upon You

O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.--King Jehoshaphat's prayer, 2 Chronicles 20: 12 NIV

I started out the day a bit discouraged, having discovered that one of my income sources seems to be doomed, based on some new information.  What made the news hurt worse was discovering there is nothing I can do about it.  Surely this is a generalizable problem?

I decided there was no reason to mope around or mourn this news today.  What will happen, will happen, and if something changes, it will be because God intervened on my behalf.  So what now?  When we are left with no alternative but to rely on God, do we stop at accepting this circumstance, or does God require more of us?

I turned on my radio and heard a really old song playing which spoke of praising God, even when there doesn't seem to be a reason to praise him, and it reminded me of 2 Chronicles 20: 4-30.  For those of you with a Bible on hand, please take a moment to turn to this passage and read it.  For the rest, I suggest you follow the link and come back, because I don't have enough time to thoroughly cover this passage today.

To summarize that part of 2 Chronicles 20, Judah (the southern kingdom after Israel's civil war) learned that a large, multi-national invasion force had gathered and was going to dispossess them all.  Under Jehoshaphat's leadership, they assembled at the temple that Solomon had built and prayed to the Lord to intercede for them.  Their desperate, no-win situation was evident in King Jehoshaphat's words, "We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you."  They were sure they were going to lose this battle--the enemy was too numerous and powerful.

Then they did something that doesn't seem to make sense.  As they marched out in battle, they began to sing praises to God.  They thought they were going to their deaths, and yet they sang these bold, brave songs about the greatness of God!

 Suddenly, something miraculous began to happen--the enemy armies began to set ambushes against each other, and fought each other.  As the forces of Judah topped a rise that overlooked the valley that held the enemy camps, I can imagine their songs of praise trailing off mid-sentence as they surveyed the scene below them.  The enemy armies had killed each other before they even arrived--and no one had escaped!  Of course, I can imagine the songs of praise picked up again, this time with more enthusiasm.  God had intervened in an impossible situation!

Now, I know that we have no power to make God intervene on our behalf.  This is not the point of the story.  I do know that God hears our sincere prayers and rewards obedience.  One part of obedience is trust that God's way is the right way, even when it seems that it isn't presently working well for us.

That said, I think the timing of the miracle (at the same time as the songs of praise) is significant here.  God didn't just listen and intervene--He specifically rewarded obedient and sincere hearts.  They praised God because they looked beyond their circumstances and realized that God is always worthy of our praise, even when the road ahead looks too tough for us.  They praised Him because they trusted Him!

If we withhold our praise for only the times when things are going well for us, doesn't that reflect a lack of trust in God?  Maybe keeping "our eyes upon [God]" should not be read as a passive gesture--as if we sat down helplessly in the road and shot God a pleading look.  Maybe we should read that as an active gesture--a willful act of focusing our eyes on God's goodness and His repeated promises of deliverance, which are untouched by our circumstances.

Praising God today, even when my circumstances looked doomed, might not cause my troubles to destroy themselves, but it certainly has lifted my spirits and allowed me to accomplish much more than I would have otherwise.  I believe that God is changing things, and that He always works for my good in every circumstance (Romans 8: 28).  Why shouldn't I trust Him?  Why shouldn't I praise Him?

Until next time, stay savvy!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Gentle Answer Turns Away Wrath

Friday I talked about forgiving your enemy as a gesture of friendship, even if that friendship is not returned.  Today I want to talk about the Christian way to argue.

We all know the non-Christian way to argue.  You know, when you get mad, you get even; payback has to be at least as serious as the offense; and when someone offends you, you don't let that person take it back or forget that it happened.  In short, non-Christian argument techniques always escalate and cause maximum damage, and this is not something God desires or intends for us to do.  It can harm our health and blow a hole in even the most "stable" parts of our lives.

On the other hand, sometimes we are given the mistaken impression that Christians don't argue, and that they aren't allowed to disagree or get angry.  The Bible doesn't support this teaching, either.  In fact, neither does real life.  When we give our hearts to Jesus, we don't lose our minds.  There will still be perfectly valid reasons to get angry, and these reasons will almost certainly make us angry at least once.  What then?  How do we properly "Fight like a Christian"?

Words to Argue By

The Bible talks a lot about anger and what we should do about it--even Jesus.  Here are the basics that Christians should know:
  • "In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent," (Psalm 4: 4 NIV).  What does it mean to be angry but not sin?  It means that when we are angry, we shouldn't add to the harm by coming to blows with someone, saying things that wound the heart, or in any way taking revenge.  We can experience the feeling of being angry, and that feeling is not a sin, but we must not act upon it.  We search our hearts and see that we are not capable of being an unbiased judge, and we hold back. 
  • "It is mine to avenge; I [the Lord] will repay.  In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them," (Deuteronomy 32: 35 NIV).  I have hinted at the human propensity to retaliate, but it is no small problem.  Some of us prefer to launch into shouting and blows when we are angry, while others hatch elaborate plots (like The Count of Monte Cristo).  Either way, the revenge is never as complete as justice, and in the end, we get hurt ourselves.  The fact is, justice from an outside party is better than revenge, because it not only supports the victim, but also requires confession and possibly repentance from the wrongdoer.  Justice is more complete than "making them pay" or "making them suffer, too,"  because it deals with the original offense in a complete way.  It is best to wait for God to institute justice.  It may seem that God is "taking too long," but He has given us His word--no one ever escapes Him.  Compared to the suffering of a sinner being punished by God, ours is brief and easy.
  • "'In your anger do not sin': Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold,"(Ephesians 4: 26, 27 NIV).  Here Paul cited the first verse again, but he also added that we should do something when we are angry--we should attempt to quickly resolve a fight.  When we allow ourselves to stew and think about the anger we are feeling, we are more likely to follow up with sinful retaliation.  The division between us and the one we are at odds with may also become more permanent, the longer we wait.  Ending the standoff prevents Satan from gaining an entrance.
  • "Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison," (Matthew 5: 25 NIV).  It may seem to be a dramatic verse to put here--I mean, the average argument doesn't lead to prison time--but the generalizable point is that we must be quick to seek a resolution when we argue, perhaps even by giving up our "right" to win the argument.  A parallel verse, in which God is the judge and eternal death is the prison, really brings out the meaning here: "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins," (Matthew 6: 14-15 NIV).  It is best to resolve a dispute before God has to step in and make a judgment, especially if we are the ones who started the argument, or the ones who have dragged it out by refusing to forgive.  Is the matter serious enough to take it up in God's court?  At what cost are we demanding our "right" to be right?
  • "Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.  If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also.  If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic," (Luke 6: 28, 29 NIV).  Was Jesus instructing us here to roll over and play dead?  Some interpret this verse to mean it, and from that, get the idea that disagreeing with someone is a sin.  However, what I see is strategy, here.  When people are cruel, they expect cruelty in return.  When cruelty is withheld, it knocks them off-balance and works feverishly on their conscience.  Many cruel people may fool themselves into thinking this is a naive move by a "patsy" and come back again to do more harm, but for the rest, this is a chance for God to use us to gain entrance into the life of a sinner.  Arguments are a given, but how we handle them might just benefit our opponent and give God glory.  This verse also calls us to look closer at the situation.  It is not up to us, in our own strength, to defend ourselves and our own.  God will defend.  Those who keep swinging are only making it worse for themselves, because they are messing with God.
  • "If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you," (Proverbs 25: 21, 22 NIV). This is a similar concept to "turning the other cheek," but here, we are instructed to go farther than just putting up with an offense without retaliating.  Christians "get back" at their enemies by being exceptionally kind!  If a lack of retaliation sets a wicked person off-balance, open kindness might just win the person over--or, if not, it might stop the wicked person from continuing.  When I was small, I loved the image of burning coals; I imagined God taking His revenge on my behalf by methodically singeing hair and eyebrows with invisible coals.  That is exactly what a conscience feels like when God gets to work on it.  "Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone," (Proverbs 25: 15 NIV).  We Christians, of all people, should not question God's way of dealing with our enemies.
There are more examples in the Bible about how to handle anger and to "fight like a Christian," but these are pretty much the core teachings.  If you want to make some further points, feel free to quote Scripture in the comments section below!

Thanks in advance for your comments.  Until next time, stay savvy!

    Friday, October 22, 2010

    Weekly Tidbit: True Love is a Cross

    A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.--Proverbs 17: 17
     Today I am reminded of a conversation I had with a friend a few years back, about a mutual friend who had done something to offend us both the day before.  My ears were still stinging over the matter, but she was near tears, even in a crowded public lunch room.  I still remember her saying, "I know Christians are supposed to forgive, but what can I do?  My heart is breaking. I'm not sure I can forgive.  Not for this."

    I was troubled.  I was still angry, too, and it was true, that wasn't a very Christian way to behave.  I looked down at my plate and begged God to give me a reply.  Suddenly Proverbs 17: 17 came to mind and I shared it with her.  If "a friend loves at all times," shouldn't that include all the times the other person doesn't seem to "deserve" that love?  If we call ourselves friends, it is a requirement to love, and forgiveness is a key part of that love.  If we are a friend, we go on being a friend, even when our friend becomes our enemy (Matthew 5: 43-45).  Didn't Jesus love us at all times, even when it wasn't returned in kind?  How about that moment when those He loved were nailing Him to a cross?

    The implications of this still shake me to my foundations from time to time.  I have seen the end of many friendships, and yet I feel God calling me to remain a friend in my heart, even to those who have done great harm to me and who have written me off long ago.  I must start by forgiving the wrong--that is, not holding it against that person, no matter how it hurt. You see, Jesus said, "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins," (Matthew 6: 14-15 NIV).  Unforgiveness makes the other person something less-worthy of love or compassion than I am. By forgiving, I put that person above myself by counting that person as worthy of favor, just as I would hope for forgiveness for my own transgressions.

    This is not as the world sees love, friendship, and forgiveness.  Outside of the Bible, I see little support in this world for the idea of being a friend, even to an enemy.  My "Quotationary" added a quote under Forgiveness that I thought I'd quote here:
    Who pardons easily invites offense. --Pierre Corneille (1606-1684). Cinna, 4.1, 1639, tr. Noel Clark, 1993
     In effect, Corneille seems to be saying that we should not be quick to forgive, because that only invites more trouble for ourselves.  That is true!  However, this is what God has called us to do.  We are not here to advance ourselves, or protect our own interests.  We are here to follow God's example, and He carried out that example, all the way to the cross.  You see, love, friendship, and forgiveness are not real in our hearts if they vanish on a whim.  If they are real, they do not fail or change with the situation.  This is how Jesus demonstrated that what He felt for us was real--He stuck with it, even to death.

    Today we must ask ourselves this question: Is our love real?  Can we be real friends and brothers to our neighbor, even at great personal cost?

    Just a thought.  Until next time, stay savvy!

    Monday, October 18, 2010

    Have Faith to Cast the Net One More Time

    Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets" (Luke 5: 5 NIV).
    For those of you who don't know me personally, I am currently running an online retail business as well as freelance writing for a living.  The income from these sorts of jobs can be sporadic, and this morning I woke up having one of my regularly-scheduled worry sessions (these usually come around the time bills arrive in the mail).

    I can't help but feel that my line of work has a lot in common with fishing.  When you go fishing, you can have the best boat, the best fishing buddies, the best nets, and the best lures, but if the fish aren't coming, well, you're out of luck.  Similarly, I feel I've been flogging the waters in the best and most expert way I know to do, but I confess that lately the results have been...well...depressing.

    This morning, God brought to mind the passage in Luke chapter 5 verses 1-11 when Jesus took Simon Peter and James and John on a little "fishing trip" on Lake Gennesaret (the Sea of Galilee).  I just wanted to share my thoughts on this passage with my readers today.

    Now, I want you to imagine for a moment what was going through Simon Peter's head that morning.  He and his two partners were heading a fishing operation with two boats and a team of men to help.  It was clear that they had given up for the day, since they were working on cleaning their nets when Jesus walked up.  They were feeling distressed about the lack of fish that night, and that seems to indicate to me that the trouble the night before was not an isolated event.  How were they going to get paid?  Simon Peter was so deeply frustrated that he even complained to Jesus in front of the crowd that had gathered to hear Jesus preach!

    They were worried.  That has been established.  I think most people have been able to empathize, at some point in their lives, with Simon Peter and his predicament.  But where did the worry come from?  I see that on a deeper level, the fishermen were upset because they couldn't, by their own power, change their circumstances, and they felt trapped.  They saw their own hands as their salvation, and this was out of their hands.

    When Jesus came to visit them that morning, He was looking for disciples, but He didn't have to reveal His mission to them that way.  The lack of fish, followed by the abundant supply of fish, was God's way of proving to them that "[their] help comes from the Lord" (see Psalm 121: 1-4). They needed to be reminded, as I must need to be reminded, today, that God is the one who makes things happen.  Our efforts are meaningless if God is not in the work.  If we need anything, we must look to God, because He is the only One who really "makes things happen."  If we expect help to come from anywhere else, we are just fooling ourselves.
    When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!"(Luke 5: 8).
    When the men had hauled in their miraculous catch, I think Simon Peter realized that he had been guilty of accusing God in his heart of abandoning him.  Now he could see that God had shown up to help him that morning, despite the unfaithfulness in his heart.  He felt shame that he had abandoned God, and he was confessing his guilt.  Maybe he hadn't figured out just who Jesus was at that moment, but I get the feeling Simon Peter sensed the truth.

    Then came the best part (Luke 5 verses 10 and 11).  Jesus didn't leave Simon Peter there, even though that was what Peter asked Him to do.  Jesus didn't take Peter on a road to financial prosperity and worldly success, either, but He did restore the broken fellowship between them--not just this once, either!  In this way, God proved to Simon Peter and James and John, in a very personal way, that He was in control, and, furthermore, that He was the kind of loving and generous God they could follow, because He was going to take care of their needs.

    Some of us today may find ourselves flogging the waters in the middle of the night, like these poor fisherman did.  Today I feel God calling me to remind all of you (and myself, periodically) that we need to have faith that God is going to take care of everything.  As the Psalmist wrote, "I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread," (Psalm 37: 25 NIV).  This is still being proven true every day.  Can we hold on until the morning?  More importantly, will we still recognize God when He shows up?  These are some tough questions to ponder.

    I welcome your thoughts.  Until next time, stay savvy!

    Friday, October 15, 2010

    Weekly Snippet: Bible Memory Verses

    Lately I have noticed that it has gone out of fashion to encourage children to memorize Bible passages for church every Sunday.  This used to be the norm; in fact, it was actively encouraged when I was small.  There were organized competitions for who could commit the most verses to memory over the course of a month, etc., and prizes were awarded. My sister actually won a handmade doll in one of these memory verse contests.

    I miss this, and I can't help but think that children are really missing out on something special.  Although at the time it was mostly about winning prizes or candy, I can look back now and see how those memory verses have stayed with me for decades now.  Some days I try to give myself that kind of a challenge again.

    Why is this not encouraged any more?  I'm afraid we are trying too hard to spare the children's feelings,  for fear that they are the kind who have a more difficult time with memorization, or who lack supportive parents at home.  Are we afraid that the children will come to associate the Bible with failure and disappointment?  This seems simple to fix: Reward everyone who does the minimum, help all of the kids with drills when they are with us on Sunday, and encourage some healthy competition to keep up interest.  This is a skill with more value than the ability to drive or the ability to write a good essay!  Even the minimum is a blessing.

    Now, I confess that at times I cannot remember the scripture reference (ex. Joshua 1: 9), but I think it is most important that I remember the words.  I have likely committed thousands of verses to memory, and usually I know the book, if not the section (beginning, middle, or end), so I can find it when I need the reference.  Virtually every scripture I have referenced on this blog was one that I memorized for Sunday school at some point.  I just wish I could say it was every passage.

    I realized what a valuable gift my Sunday school teachers had given me when, of all things, I was reading Uncle Tom's Cabin for a college class assignment a few years ago.  I'm in a rush today or I would find the exact passage in my copy and quote it here for you.  In the scene I am referencing, Uncle Tom has been beaten nearly to death by Simon Legree, the wicked slave owner, and though he cannot see the pages to read the words in his Bible, he remembers what he has read and finds comfort in them. 

    Do you see why committing Bible verses to memory is important?  If and when we find ourselves in a bad situation, where a physical copy of the Bible is not available to us, or perhaps if we found ourselves in a country where it was no longer legal to own a Bible, we can carry it with us in our hearts and our minds.  There it would be safe.  No one could take the Bible away from us!   Then, in that dark hour, it would be there to bring us comfort.

    Just a thought today.  Feel free to leave me a comment!

    Monday, October 11, 2010

    A Better Planner

    Today I had planned to run some things to the post office before I sat down to work on this blog.  The funny thing is that today is Columbus Day, a national holiday here in the states, and therefore the post office is closed.  I came back from the closed doors, grumbling all the way (the necessity of going back again tomorrow has scrambled my schedule for the rest of the week), but I think there is a lesson to be gleaned from my mistake.

    The fact is, we all forget things, and our plans get scrambled, but if we know the Lord, we know that what needs to happen will happen at the proper time.  You see, God plans far ahead, He's never late, and His plans always succeed.  Isn't it great to know a God like that?

    Friday, October 8, 2010

    Weekly Snippet: Peace in the Desert

    Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.--Proverbs 3: 5, 6 NIV

    When the Israelites stepped over the far bank of the Red Sea, they were looking out over a desert horizon to the east.  They had no map, and their own eyes couldn't see what was coming.  How could so many people, with so many millions of belongings and animals, find their way across a barren landscape to a home they had never seen, in a land filled with frightening and powerful peoples?  What they had known was not ideal, but at least it was familiar.  So they asked themselves, "Shouldn't we turn back now?" (Numbers 14: 2-4).

    Too often I have found myself thinking the same thing--wouldn't it be safer if I just went back to the way things were, where I at least knew my way around?  Haven't you been there?

    Sometimes it seems that we pray for change to come, and when it does, we get frightened, look back, and forget what was behind us.  Was the past really so much more peaceful than our present circumstances?  When the impossible stretches across our entire horizon, and God seems to be taking us far outside our comfort zone, can we be happy striking out without a map?  More importantly, can we still find peace there? 

    The answer I found in the Bible today is a resounding "Yes!"  We can find peace in the desert, even when we cannot see where we're going.  Are you intrigued?  Read on to find out how.

    Monday, October 4, 2010

    Look Over Your Shoulder

    The wicked man flees though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion. --Proverbs 28: 1 NIV

     I once watched a funny video of a litter of schnauzer puppies barking bravely at a cat (which was of course bigger than each of them).  They chased it as a group onto a woodpile, but when it turned and arched its back at them, all but one puppy turned and ran to the other side of the back yard.  The last puppy stood his ground for several seconds, barking at the cat, and then peeked over his shoulder.  Seeing that his siblings had abandoned him, he let out a long wailing howl as he fled at full speed back to the others.  I guess big words mean nothing when you have no backup!

    Somehow I saw a bit of myself in that last puppy.  How many times have I been "ferocious" for a cause, but only as long as it felt "safe" to do so?  That especially came into play when I believed that other people were going to back me up.  Going further with that thought, how many times have I taken myself along as my own "backup," only to find my best skills to be inadequate protection for myself?  Of course I "ran," in whatever capacity it took to escape the situation.

    It must be true that everyone has some innate need of "backup," just like that puppy.  If we don't see it, and we feel we've cornered something too strong for us, we run.

    The Hound of Heaven

    Turning back to Proverbs 28: 1, I guess the difference between the wicked man and the righteous one was what each saw over his shoulder.  The wicked man saw that he had no backup, and he was alone against the thing he most feared; the righteous man looked back and saw that there was no reason to run.

    It wasn't until I heard of a poem by Francis Thompson called "The Hound of Heaven," (read it here) in a Ravi Zacharias book, that I began to understand that both the wicked and the righteous man saw the same face over their shoulder--God Himself.

    When we have done what is right, we know we have not offended God, and therefore He is not angry with us.  When we have allied ourselves with God, He is the enemy of our enemy, and we are the enemy of His enemy (Deuteronomy 20: 3-4).  When we have stood our ground with God, we can boldly say, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8: 31 NIV).

    However, when we have disobeyed God, dread of judgment comes over us wherever we are, and the slightest thing convicts us of our sins (Leviticus 26: 36-37).  When we are living in rebellion, we are forever faced with the certainty that we deserve what is coming to us, and the only uncertainty is "When?"  This feeling of dread is especially with our rebellious hearts when the sun comes up, and not even darkness can hide the enormity of sin from ourselves or anyone else (John 3: 19). When there seems to be no refuge and no backup, why wouldn't we run?

    Yet, where can we run?  There is no backup that can stand with us against the truth.  It is an unshakable reality; we can't stop it or outrun it--it would be easier to outrun a beam of light.  All of our backup, whether it be "litter mates" or any other source of strength on Heaven or Earth, will crumble at the presence of the truth, and the One who holds it (Revelation 20: 11).

    But there is still hope for those who are running.  The same God who convicts sin also can forgive us and remove our punishment from us.  We have to stop running from Him, though. As God instructed the prophet Samuel to say to an entire nation who were running away, "if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land," (2 Chronicles 7: 14 NIV).

    Do you want to be healed today so you can stop running from God?  If you are running, I know your heart is in need of healing, just as surely as mine was when God caught up with me.  If this is you, I am telling you, God is not your enemy.  This enemy you've cornered is your own sin, but you don't have to face its reproach alone.  Let Jesus remove the sins in your life and your past from you, and don't look for them again.  He is close enough on your heels that He will hear you if you ask.  Let Jesus cleanse you and make you new; let Him take away the reproach, so that you never have to flee again!  

    You'll be glad you did.
    I love the Lord, for He heard my voice; He heard my cry for mercy.  Because He turned His ear to me, I will call on Him as long as I live.--Psalm 116: 1-2 NIV

    Friday, October 1, 2010

    Weekly Snippet: Looking for Something?

    They do not cry out to me from their hearts but wail upon their beds. They gather together for grain and new wine but turn away from me. --Hosea 7: 14 NIV

    I found this verse by chance the other day, and it struck me as being terribly appropriate for this modern generation of "seekers."  It is so often said that it is good to be in a constant state of seeking God, and frequently I think people believe that if we say we have "found Him," we are really saying that we've "got God all figured out," in essence, that we have limited God and what He can be.  Is this really true?

    Naturally, there are things of God that are unknown to us, and may always be in this life.  For instance, I think it serves no beneficial purpose to demand of God an explanation for why He makes the decisions and laws that He does (Job 40).  God is God, not us, and He does not owe us an explanation, nor do we have the power to force Him to give us one.

    On the other hand, God has explained Himself to us, very thoroughly, in the Bible.  Why?  Because He wants us to know His opinions of things, to know what motivates Him, and to know that His intentions are good toward us.  This is all a  part of His overture to welcome us into a real, personal relationship with Him.

    If we spent years hanging out with a family member, friend, spouse, or date, would we still say that we were "seeking" that person, or would we say that we knew that person?  If we said we knew that person, would it mean that we had somehow limited what that person could be by knowing him/her? Surely not.

    It seems very clear to me that it is better, in God's opinion, for us to know Him and not just to know about Him, and that He fully believes that it is possible to know Him without somehow limiting Him.  Let us be reminded of Jesus' words, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened" (Matthew 7: 7, 8 NIV).  This verse is not just about asking for food or things; it is about seeking God's face and finding it.  They hadn't invented automatic doors at the time Jesus spoke those words, so I have to assume a person was going to open that door!

    Has anything changed about God? Certainly not! It is written, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows" (James 1: 17 NIV).

    If God hasn't changed, and yet we feel distant from Him, as if we cannot know Him, then it must be that we have somehow changed. Like the people in Hosea 7: 14, we might be crying out on our beds because we feel cut off, but we are not telling our Best Friend about our problems. No wonder He seems unknowable--we have stopped speaking to Him!

    Also, for those of us seeking God's presence and blessing in our lives, as symbolized by the grain and new wine in Hosea 7: 14, we can know those things as much as we can really know God. However, we cannot find them when we try to separate them from God Himself and His presence. We cannot really find them in the presence of others or anywhere in this physical world.

    Would we invite someone to a party, take the gift that person brought, and then tell that person to "get lost"? Surely not. In the same way, if we are looking for God, let us find Him; and when we do, let us invite Him in and get to know Him. Though we may never know "all about Him," we haven't limited Him. In reality, all the time we spend running away from knowing God just limits ourselves.

    Until next time, stay savvy!

    P. S. --Since many of these weekend posts have not exactly been "trivial" in nature, I have decided to continue the "Weekly Trivia Files" under the new series name, "Weekly Snippet." Trivia will be tagged as such for better reference.