When God Becomes our Satisfaction

My heart hasn’t had much of a desire for God and His word for a while now. Many days I would only pray that God would help me to want Him at all.

It’s a strange type of faith when you wake up in the morning, hoping that your spark of joy in Christ will be ignited. It’s almost like the joy is laying dormant, not necessarily gone altogether.

I don’t know if anyone has experienced this in their walk with Jesus, but it can be very discouraging. Wondering if there’s something wrong with you, wondering if God has abandoned you, wondering if your different sin struggles could have caused this.

As I wrestled with drawing near to God, i knew already that I was the one who moved. I’m the sinner, I’m the law-breaker, God didn’t become less amazing in the past few months, my own fallen self just wasn’t appreciating his Glory.

Something has changed in the last few weeks though. As I wrestled with some personal struggles, God used a combination of a music artist, a preacher, and His Word to grab hold of my heart.

He read from Jeremiah 2:13:

 

“for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
    the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
    broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

We expect Jeremiah to give a laundry list of all the things they didn’t do right, all the things they need to work on, but instead we see something different. God says they have only committed two evils, they forsook God, and made cisterns of water that couldn’t hold any water.

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God’s using this powerful imagery to show them who the ultimate satisfaction is. The cisterns of false gods, food, money, power, sex, recognition, etc. were all cisterns that didn’t hold any water. In essence, even in the Old Testament we see God’s leading us to the heart of the issue: God and God alone can satisfy the deepest longings in our hearts. We can try to make relationships, money, and anything into a pseudo “cistern” but when we pour our satisfaction into it, it goes right through the bottom onto the floor. Left emptier than before.

And this has been my problem. As I’ve started my business, Iv’e felt a deep longing for financial stability, for recognition as a “business owner”, to have more freedom in my life. Though these can be good things, they’d slowly evolved into things I’d become obsessed with.

As my insecurity grew, and my idolatry turned to other things, I found myself medicating my idolatry with more idolatry, a broken cistern smashed into another. Many of us understand this vicious cycle, whether struggles with lust medicated with more lust, or desire for money medicated with visions of future financial success, or even personal insecurity turning to athletic races to gain self-worth.

All these things are worthless. They don’t satisfy. There are many more sins that I struggle with, but they’re all born of these two sins found in Jeremiah 2.

We forsake God. Whenever I want something more than Jesus, it’s an idol. Whenever I place my whole life into something other than Jesus, I become an idolater.

And God designed us this way, we were created for Him, we were created to enjoy Him above all things, and when we realize that nothing else satisfies our souls like pursuing and loving Jesus, we then find balance in the rest of our lives.

I’m slowly learning this on an upward climb to joy. I’m beginning to grasp it in little ways: being freed from worrying about clients because Jesus has purchased my eternal security on the cross, being freed of lust because God is far more beautiful than anything else in this created world, being freed of self-doubt, because God has my steps in His hands and has created me in His perfect purpose to accomplish His ultimate will.

These are only a few examples, and i haven’t lived them out perfectly, but God is working on my heart!

 

Some Resources For You!

I decided, because I had to go and update my auto insurance (which took a decent chunk out of my normal writing time) to give you all a list of awesome resources I have found invaluable in my walk with Christ, below are links and pictures, enjoy!

(click on the pictures for the link)

Desiring God
-For everything related to The Bible and life, plumb the depths of their many articles and sermons!
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Bible Gateway
-A great resource for looking up and reading scripture!

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Plugged In
-When it comes to new movies, it’s hard to tell how crude it’s going to be. Plugged In gives you every instance of Sexuality, Cussing, and anything else before you even watch it!

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Downcast (APP)
-The BEST podcasting app i’ve ever found, though it’s only on iOS, the interface is clean and easy to use. I found ALL of the sermons I listen to and easily download them daily. I great tool for sermon and teaching consumption.

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Every Breath Is Your Ministry

In the midst of life and all of its insanity, iv’e come to realize more and more that all of it, every breath i take is ministry.

But sometimes it doesn’t feel that way.

Our circumstances have been a bit crazy lately, though the car is fixed, (which we are very thankful for!) many things are a still a mystery for the future. But that’s life, an opportunity to learn and grow even when things don’t go the way we want.

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Amidst it all God has been really renewing my faith in His total control. Though it may seem a bit counter intuitive, all the trials and stress have brought me back to the throne of the king who’s really in control of it all. And that’s been the biggest comfort to me, knowing that God keeps His promises. And understanding that even though I may not see the purpose now (or may never until eternity) He is still working all things for His glory and my good.

So really, life is one big ministry.

We live, we die, and what’s it all for? Or rather who’s it all for?

As I watched my wife and cousin play a crazy game of badminton (pictured below) I thought of Gods purpose in the little things. What are ways I glorify Christ while playing a game? How can I love my wife well in the midst of stress? How can I praise Christ in everything?

And that’s when I was reminded that life is my ministry20140720-160059-57659900.jpg. God placed me here for a specific purpose. He elected me, saved me, and gave me the desire I have for ministry, and all I want to do is give back. Give back to His work and not mine. And as I wonder how and what that is, I’m learning to trust Him with every breath I breathe, to give each one to Him and let Jesus do the rest.

As my good friend (kind of) Jon Foreman once said “Every breathe is a second chance” and I want to live for Christ in such a way that each breath I’m reminded of the second chance that Christ’s blood bought for me on the Cross.

Thanks for reading! Make sure to follow me if you’d like more life and ministry updates! I just reached 50 followers and I’m so thankful that what i’ve been writing has resonated with some.

 

 

 

Theology Thursday #10 – The Justice And Wrath Of God

“My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?”
— C.S. Lewis

Many have issue with this doctrine. If you start reading and you’re like, “uh-oh, don’t like this, let’s move on”. Well, I’m not asking you to like it, I’m asking you to hear what God himself has to say for himself.
We’ve established in the past that His word is true and flawless, (which I’m sure I’ll talk about more in the future) so we need to trust him.

Many take this doctrine and throw it out the window with many excuses saying “Well God wouldn’t do that” or, “He’s not like that to me”. Now, I can honestly say that those answers irk me. Mostly because of a lack of understanding of the full counsel of God (reading the whole Bible for what it is), and just plain ignorance to what it says.

“The cross is proof of both the immense love of God and the profound wickedness of sin.”
~John MacArthur

I would like to say it’s fairly natural for our sinful nature to want to paint God in a way that makes us “feel” better, but really all we’re doing is deluding ourselves into believing something that ultimately has no basis in reality. God cares about sin. He makes that crystal clear in scripture. Sin is such a rebellion against Him that He does something so profound and incredible, He sends His very own Son to pay for us. The death we should’ve died.

So the real question is, who does God say He is? We can only have a clear understanding of Him when we hear (biblically) directly from Him. So we’ll be looking at a few key verses topically, and then you can read for yourself Romans (Start in chapter 3, but you can read anywhere if you want!) expositorily that spells things out pretty well in my opinion. The first verse we’ll be looking at is found in Revelation 15:4 which states:

“Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy. All nations will come
and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

We see from here that God alone is holy. Meaning no one or nothing else in of themselves are holy. We see this play out in Romans 3:23 which says:

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

The reason we aren’t holy is that we’re sinners. We all (yes, even you) fall short of God’s glory. We can’t earn “favor” from God by works (Eph 2:8-9), or anything else you may try to think of to bribe God to let you off the hook. We see this play out in many world religions, people trying to appease “god’s” (lowercase) anger by doing good things, sometimes doing very horrible things, or even just looking to yourself to find the good that makes god happy.

It makes no sense to me.

A biblical way of understanding our state before God (sinners in need of grace) is to look back in Genesis 1-3 when man sins and they suffer the consequences for it. If you’re unfamiliar with it, take a quick read and really study to understand it. Our state before God is self-inflicted, and God’s standard is perfection (Matt 5:48), and we’ve fallen desperately short of that mark.

So this brings us to the key doctrine here. God is just.
We learn in many places of God’s complete holiness, no one surpasses him. And He is good, completely good. So he can’t tolerate those who aren’t. So, predestining redemption history even before the fall, God had a plan to satisfy his wrath on those who inevitably fall short. But we’ll talk about atonement in some other post. We’re dealing with the consequence of sin.

So we’ve established the basics:
-God is Holy. (Rev 15:4, Exodus 15:11)
-We Aren’t. (Rom 3:23)
-God must deal with Sin. (Rom 6:23, 5:12)

We aren’t going to talk about redemption in detail in this post, seeing as we’re focusing on the doctrine of God’s perfect justice, so we’re looking at how and why God deals with sin. If you check out Romans 6:23, we see that the wages of sin is death.
“Wages”, meaning what you get in return for what you did. You work hard, you get a paycheck, you sin hard (as an un-saved individual) and you earn God’s wrath. Plain and simple. God has a standard, and you chose what you want, so God gives it to you. But not without the consequences.

So what are the consequences? We see in normal, everyday life that practically, sin leads to death. It’s not the best for us, despite hoe we feel about it. God’s plan for life far superior, so sin practically leads to bodily death (normal degenerating age), and to practical death (Drug O.D.’s, Broken homes, STD’s, to name a few). Though there are many smaller “deaths” in our life (pain, sorrow, empty pleasure) that God ordains to happen as a part of His wrath if He doesn’t save that individual. (Psa 9:17)

But there a more consequences. Most don’t understand this, but there are eternal consequences for those who aren’t covered in Christ’s atoning blood. The reason being that we have willingly chose sin (Rom 3:23), and when God’s righteous wrath isn’t satisfied (when he doesn’t save someone), He must do the just and right thing, because if He didn’t, then He wouldn’t God. He wouldn’t be holy. God must deal with evil.

So how does He deal with it? Well, sinning against an eternally good God reaps eternally bad consequences. We read very clearly in Matthew 25 from Jesus Himself that He is just, and that the unrighteous will not go unpunished.

“And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

You can find in Matthew 10 where Jesus is talking more of eternal damnation. It’s not a pretty subject, and I’m sure this won’t be a very popular post, but it’s clear from what i’ve read from scripture that damnation is eternal, and it won’t be fun. But ultimately Justice is something we all want. We’re so determined to catch the thief, the serial killer, the liar, and even our little brother who stole those cookies, that in all those things all we want is justice. Same as God. His standard is the perfect one, so who are we to say any differently? (Rom 9:20)

Each of us has to wrestle through this doctrine ourselves, knowing the truth of it, being convinced of it, and applying it (however those look in your life). But I plead with you to read the bible for what it says and look into some good resources on the subject if you’re conflicted about it, as many are.

Also, here’s a great resource from a couple of my favorite ministries:
Grace To You, The Wrath Of God (John MacArthur)
Desiring God, The Wrath Of God (John Piper)

Both are incredible Bible teachers, I encourage you to download those sermons and have a listen!
Thanks for reading!

Favorite Preachers – A Review

So this morning, as I was working, I was listening to a man by the name of “Timothy Keller” He was teaching on some core issues people have with Christianity, and giving very logical and scriptural answers to them all. Time always flies when I listen to a good preacher.

Hearing the Bible preached rightly is so important to me. I’m not really sure yet, but Jesus may even be calling me into some form of it.
I honestly wouldn’t be where I am today without good, solid preaching (another reason to “not forsake the assembling of the saints” (Heb 10:25). I love the Church I’m going to now, the Pastor loves his flock and loves Jesus and loves the Bible and wants the bible preached, and preached rightly.

But as I think about the Pastors last sermon, I have other content I love to delve into and tim-keller-head-shot-2011learn from, one being who I mentioned above, Timothy Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church located in New York City.
So far from what I’ve listened to he’s great at unpacking deep concepts and making them understandable to the lay-person.
Iv’e also read some of his writings, including “The Reason For God” also a very good book explaining what we believe, and why. (Though on one occasion, i disagree with a certain one of his hermeneutics.) Check him and his ministry out here: www.redeemer.com

Another great man of faith i love to hear is John Piper, formal lead pastor at Bethlehem John-piperBaptist Church. His preaching is both solid, and intense. He articulates deep biblical truths with clarity and intensity, often loud intensity, which i personally like.
He also has a smaller podcast “Ask Pastor John” where he answers many questions relating to the bible, life, and anything in general! Iv’e found it to be deeply informative and helpful, and i’d encourage anyone to check it out at: www.desiringgod.org
toddfrielThirdly, though not a preacher, but a radio show host, is Todd Friel.
With a deep passion for the bible and a very clear understanding of the gospel, his 2-hour radio show “Wretched Radio” is a real treat for those looking for a daily dose of biblical (and comedic) listening. I find the show very informative on news, happenings in the evangelical community, and topical debate over various issues.
Check it our here: Wretched Radio

 

These are but a few of my favorite teachers, as i have many more i listen to and am encouraged by, check them out and let me know what you think!
Thanks for reading!