I once spoke on the battle that is in the mind. It’s an unending war where we as human beings usually will keep falling flat on our faces, out of the will of God. As a Christian, I find for myself that the hardest truths to be learned about God are found in the hardest lessons in life. Each time we get close to God, we are going to be attacked and it’s not going to be an easy fight but a war within our very heart.
Surrounding this battle we fight each day of our lives is something profound and more powerful beyond words. It is that of Spiritual faith and a love relationship with God. Let me ask something here. When Paul was traveling through Asia and surrounding countrysides eventually leading into Rome, how did he know where to go? Was it he himself who decided or God? Concerning other matters, when we speak about God and try to persuade people towards God, who must be speaking? And in what way? And to top it off, the killer here, who do we love most in our lives? Is it our wife? Our girlfriend/boyfriend? Or is it God? The root of all faith and all things concerning our walk with Christ is this: Who comes first in life?
From time to time I find myself in situations that I have to look back and go, “Oh God! That was Your doing!” That’s what happened this first half of the week. Let me share quickly. See, I made this devotion into parts so when Sunday came, I was still unsure what to write at all. Here I am at my desk, Bible open and Im going, ‘Why can’t I write anything? I prayed, I asked God to help me.’ Well, He was helping me but in a personal way not meant to be written down here. What was meant to be written here is this.
Take a look at the books of Hosea and Malachi. This is what Part 2 is on: the love relationship between God and we who are called sons and daughters of God. Before we can walk in a faith relationship with God, allowing Him to direct our lives, we first must come to terms with the fact that we are selfish but God is an extremely loving but jealous God.
In Hosea, God made a point of making an example of Hosea’s relationship with his wife, Gomer. She was a harlot. Yet even in her sin, in all the pain and sorrow she caused Hosea, he had a love for her that must have made people take a second look at him going, What is this that we’re seeing? What they were seeing was the perfect example of God’s relationship with man.
In Malachi, Malachi never sugar coats the message that needed to be spoken. God is a God of love and most times we don’t understand it. We act like the Israelites going, “How can God love me?” or “He cannot be a God of love because He causes all this pain in my life!” When we read Malachi, we read of a man who is harsh in his words because he had to be. Here’s an excerpt from “How Has God Loved Us” from RBC Ministries.
“Rather than choosing the words that would help troubled people feel better about themselves, he seemed intent on creating feelings of guilt and regret.
Shouldn't an understanding of Israel's troubled times have prompted a man of God to offer words of encouragement and hope? The people of Israel must have longed for a soothing voice from heaven to calm their fearful hearts and to inspire courage in the face of profound spiritual disappointment.
But Malachi's love was a tough love. He cared enough to warn those who were arousing the patient anger of God. He exposed the hearts of those who thought they could fulfill their obligations to God by offering that which cost them nothing. He confronted the priests who were willing to accept offerings of the crippled and blind animals of Israel's flocks (Malachi 1:8)”
In the love relationship between God and man, think of it this way as one put it. “What Israel had forgotten is that we cannot treat God as One who will take just anything we give Him. He is a jealous God who asks for first place in our hearts. Such loyalty has parallels. A wife who walks into a restaurant and finds her husband showing affection for another woman isn't apt to be satisfied to be just one of his partners. Neither is God satisfied to be just one of our loves.”
This is what I was having to learn not realizing where my heart had been on recently. I was fooling myself here thinking, hey I love God and I love this other person. The problem is that God wants first place and I forgot for a while how He could ask such a thing. Relationships are a reflections of God’s own relationship with us right? I forgot the reason for a human relationship is a little different than God’s own personal relationship with us. And being in this state of mind, I found as I often find, that faith is hindered, and our whole being suffers as Israel suffered. They couldn’t understand why God was angry with them. They were sacrificing, they thought they were doing the right thing but as Malachi pointed out, their own actions and lip service to God showed their true hearts and what was going on. They wanted to set God up equal with everything else. Then wanted to serve God but also wanted to serve their other wants.
"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other." Says Jesus in Matthew 6:24. I didn’t even realize that I had tried to place God equal with someone else until I found myself lacking spiritually. That is the neat thing about being a Christian. Did you know you can tell when you’re not right with God? He WILL show you! And sometimes it’s not pleasent. When you try to be Spiritually minded, filled with grace and doing the will of God...if you aren’t putting Him first, you’re going to know it very quickly.
On a side note, this is why I think every man should be a little scared if he is contemplating marriage. It’s the responsibility of the husband to direct the wife and the union in marriage towards God always. The nature of a woman is to look to the husband for support, guidance and such. What this means is if you’re a man, you should be a little scared as you contemplate that future because it’s a direct parallel to God’s relationship with man spiritually. As the wife looks towards the husband, the husband must look towards Jesus in the most humble prayer, asking for guidance himself. This is the spiritual union of love in God’s eyes.
Once we have finally straightened our lives out with God and are once again on track, we can get back into the spiritual world of faith. This next few paragraphs are excerpts from a man C.S. Lewis called his master.
“But, friends, what we have to do is let our light shine. Do you get any light? Let it shine. I do not mean be an example to other people. You have no business to set yourselves up for an example; you have to be and to do, and that is letting the light shine. It ought not to be possible to mistake a Christian for a man of the world. His very dealings with every man that comes near him have something to show, something that Christ would have done that a man of the world would not do. Tell me how you would like Christ to come in upon you at any moment in the midst of your business talk. Would you be ready to turn to Him and say, "Master, this is how I am saying the thing to my friend; this is how I see it in the light of Thy love!"? Would you be ready for that, or do you think that a great part of your being and your life can be conducted upon other laws than Christian? If a man does that, he is altogether wrong-- altogether wrong. Christ is God, the all-in-all, or nothing at all. If we were as the bush--if every Christian were as the bush that burned with fire--that would be the shining our light before men. Atheism would soon vanish; unbelief would draw in its horns; reproved, judged, condemned by the very presence of faith.
“I would have you, then, friends, remember that faith is the trying of the thing that you do not see, and that you cannot be sure about, a thing that you do not see and which, not seeing, you have doubt about, you can yet try--that is faith; and if you are honest, that will be a great opportunity and a great help to you; it will start a fresh faith which you have not thought of before, and give your life a new start. Faith is intended to put to the test the unseen world of truth, love, law, hope, redemption. God grant us all faith enough to carry on from point to point till the faith shall vanish into light, and we have never to think about faith more, nor to think about Church more, nor the Bible more, nor prayer more, but our whole being shall be a delighted consciousness of the presence of God and His Christ.” Originally published in The Christian World Pulpit, London: James Clarke and Co., 21st June 1882. http://www.george-macdonald.com/
Hebrews 11:17-19 “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Issac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called,’ concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.”
Our life as a Christian is and always will be based first on faith. And sometimes, when we cannot even begin to understand what God is doing, we must retain that faith that yes, I know Your truth, I have hope in this thing that you have made me hope in.
Where do we go from here? We trust, we press on. If we believe God has shown us a truth, if we are to be doing something that requires a little more faith than what we normally want to show, then we simply have to tell ourselves, “I’m going to press on, I’m going to see this through because I have faith in You Lord.” Even when all around us, circumstances bombard us with thoughts that make us question, that make us think maybe this isn’t exactly what God wants... we must press on. That is what faith is. Hoping in the evidence of God’s truth when we really don’t see the end result.
God’s relationship with man is based on faith. And when He asks us to do something, He may not ask it again in such a clear way or make known something so clear. He may simply impress on us a little and then we have to decide whether or not as to, “Am I going to follow this through?” or “I haven’t heard anything else from God so I’m going to drop everything and wait for Him to give me a clear sign.”
That is not faith. That is doubting God. When we believe truly in our hearts God wants this of us, then we follow it through to the end until God says “Stop” or “I want you now to do something more.” That is the basis of the Christian faith, our union with God. How much of a union do we have with God? Is it so close that when He says even in the smallest voice that we will hear it and then when we don’t hear again that we will act on it? God will not trick us into something He doesn’t want us to do but when we know the truth, is our faith, our union with God so strong, we will walk out in faith? Can people identify us as Christians? Does our walk, our testimony say to those around me, “Hey! I’m a child of God!” Are we labeled a freak or lunatic? Our faith should make it so. When faith demands us to act, we should walk out even when those around us see us as doing the most foolish thing in the world. If God says it, then do it; don’t look back and doubt.
For me, I’m being asked to have a lot of faith. Do I fear? Very much. Why? Because it’s my nature to fear the unknown. Does it mean it’s not God’s will? No because God is constantly testing us, asking us who our hearts are set on. Are they the things of God or the things of this mortal world. That is where faith and knowing God starts. First, we turn our hearts toward Him wanting more and then having faith in the unknown, hoping and believing that which is not yet clear to us. Do you know what comes next? Once we prove we have faithfully trusted God in this matter, God will ask us yet again to have faith in something bigger, tougher, so that always in our constant daily lives of walking with God, we grow that much more dependant on the Ultimate Father as we glean that much more of the things of God.
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