Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Memory Lapse and Fading Glory

I had an epiphany. It was a powerful experience.

I had accepted a job that I believed would be a great opportunity. A year out of college, still
working part-time and debt mounting around me, I thought, "My prayers are being answered. God is manifesting his glory and provenance in my life.!"

Ten days ago today, He brought me up short in a way that was clear and unmistakable. It was a moment in my Christian walk that shone like the sun bursting suddenly through heavy clouds.

Today, thinking back on it, the glory has faded somewhat and doubts have begun to creep in as to whether God truly spoke to me, or I acted of my own volition in turning down that job.

We are so prone to self-deception. The reason I will continue to believe God spoke explicitly to me through a daily devotion is because this whole experience, the glory of seeing Him acting to divert me from a dangerous path, and the subsequent fading of that into bewilderment and doubt, leads me to a much deeper lesson.

We read of the generation God brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand. He brought them through the Red Sea, and miraculously fed them in the desert, causing clear sparkling water gush from rocks, We read of these things and we read how they doubted and grumbled and rebelled and we say, "What was wrong with these people? They witnessed all these marvellous things and yet they sinned the sin of disbelief!" How could this be?

But then I think of this wonderful manifestation of God's loving care in my own life and the hundreds of small, perhaps even unnoticed, ways he demonstrates his love to me. Then I think of how short my memory is, how much I take for granted, how self-centered I can be and I understand.

We are saved by God's grace and that alone, and it is only through that grace, and the power of the Holy Spirit that we can even remember to be grateful. How much more, O LORD, do we need your grace to see your glory revealed and to treasure it in our hearts.

To remember.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Why Can't We Just All Get Along?

Are the spiritual and the intellectual aspects of faith mutually exclusive? Surely they are two
sides of the same coin. We are saved by the power of the Holy Spirit. Right? We are also called upon, as saved sinners, to work out our salvation "with fear and trembling."

To "work a thing out" means to think about it; to meditate on it. We read about the giants of
the Christian faith who preceded us and find that they waged titanic struggles within their hearts. If you gaze into the pure light of the Gospel, how can you not be overwhelmed with the
sense of your own unworthiness?

But the call to holiness is not a call to Pharisaism. By the psalmist's instruction to "serve the Lord
with gladness," we understand that ours is to be a joyful holiness. Jesus said "ye are the light of the world." Light and warmth go together.

These are things of the Spirit, imparted by Him that we might be witnesses. But Scripture also says that the things of God are "spiritually discerned." Discernment. Not judgement. Do you see the difference? We are commanded to exercise the one. God reserves the other to himself.

In observing, pointing out and remarking upon what has been shown (again and again) to be error, I am to be charitable. We are commanded, after all, my fellow Christians, to love one another. We are to be no less firm, however, in speaking against errant teaching; teaching that runs counter to the whole counsel of the Word of God.

"You are in error because you do not know scripture." These words were spoken by our Lord and Saviour. Paul uses the first chapter of his letter to the Galatians to pronounce anathema on
those who would teach that sinful man can be saved by ANY effort of his own. This heresy, propagated in Galatia by the so-called Judaizers, has taken many forms and had many names throughout the Church Age.

I said "heresy." A different gospel. Another type of salvation. Jesus said, "No one can come to the Father but through me." Do we dare to naysay the Master's words? Is this statement so repugnant as to require all sorts of mental gymnastics to put a different spin on it? Why is that, do you suppose? Pay careful attention to not just the answer, but the thought process used to arrive at that answer. Bear these words in mind as you meditate: "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?"