Archive for Magnificent God

Worry

“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” (Luke 12:22-26, 31, NIV)

Our Creator offers us freedom from worry. He invites us to come to Him and trust Him with all our needs.

Yet we defend our right to worry. After all, isn’t it acceptable, even wise, to be “concerned” about some things?

But worry is no privilege. I think about what happens to me when I begin to worry. Peace of mind goes immediately. I get frightened about the future, and as I do, I focus on my own needs. Generosity, joy, and perspective are squeezed out. Selfishness, fear, and shortsightedness take over.

I have to be honest here: anxiety is not entirely a defeated foe for me. Work and family situations still gnaw at me occasionally. But the Creator has been patient and faithful in teaching me important lessons.

First, I’ve realized that anxiety is fear, pure and simple. Fear assumes a false reality. Fear assumes that God doesn’t exist, or that He has lost control of the situation. Fear forgets His power. It forgets His kindness and unchanging love.

Fear focuses on self, ignoring God. When I am anxious, my thoughts are on my own needs and my ability to meet them, not on God and His willingness to help me.

Second, I’ve learned through difficult experiences that I cannot make worry go away. I cannot will it away or reason it away (the Lord knows I’ve tried!). Even when I sincerely commit a problem to Him, it sometimes keeps coming back to mind.

But I’ve found that I can keep bringing the concern to Him, simply and honestly, each time it arises.

Further, I’ve found that when words and pretty promises don’t help, He himself is the greatest comfort. He is always with me, even when I forget Him. My Creator still holds my entire life in His hand. The One who made me is still working toward my good, even during the dark times.

When finances are tight, He reminds me, “I am your security, not money.”

When a long car trip is necessary in winter and I’m concerned about slick roads, He whispers, “I am your protection, not the weather.”

And when troubles sweep happiness out of my reach, He is still with me. He draws me to look into His face and say, “Jesus, You are my joy, now and forever.”

In the end, it is not some technique or memorized words that free me from anxiety. It is He himself, my Creator, my God. When He is with me, how can I help but rejoice? How can I help but thank Him, love Him, and trust Him with my life?

Creator, I know You love me. I come to You now with my needs and concerns.

Anxiety is self-centered.
Faith is God-centered.

Hymn: Lord, Why Am I Anxious?
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The Faces of Fear

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.
(1 John 4:18, NIV)

Worry,
anger,
selfishness,
jealousy,
greed—
these, and many more, are
the faces of fear.

Fear and all its fruit grow from our doubt
that God is God,
that He is always able,
always wise,
always good…
always!

Father, You are love.
I will trust You.
You are power.
I will rely on You.
You are wisdom.
I will follow You
gladly and
with confidence.

Fear of anything but God will
always lead you in the wrong direction.

Hymn: Blind Faith
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Trust Your Father

Have you ever listened to children when they’re on an outing? It doesn’t matter what magnificent sights they could be seeing. Their requests are, “I’m thirsty…,” “Do we have to…?” “I’m tired…,” “I wish we could…” They react out of temporary desires. They speak out of pain, fatigue, or false expectations. They don’t know what’s best for them. They can’t see the whole picture.

I think about our Heavenly Father listening to our desires and requests. He’s listened for thousands of years. He knows that what we want often has nothing to do with our happiness. We react out of pain or fatigue or false expectations. We don’t know what’s best. We can’t see the whole picture.

No wonder God sometimes seems to ignore our fervent requests and desires.

Think of it this way:

If you’re married, you know what it takes for two very-different people to live happily together.

So imagine what is necessary for beings like us – who are focused on the moment and on our own comfort – to have a long-term relationship with a Being like God, who sees all of time at once and is all-wise and all-loving.

For such a relationship to endure the hard times, we must keep trusting Him. We must keep our hands in His and stay committed to Him, no matter what. For it’s inevitable that much of the time, we won’t understand where He is leading or how He is working.

We are His children. We can’t see the whole picture. We don’t know what’s best. We must keep trusting our Father’s love.

Sometimes faith leads us to
patiently stand back and let
God do what
only He can do.

Hymn: When I Am Afraid
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Hope That Does Not Disappoint

We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God…And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts. (Romans 5:2, 5, NIV)

I have tasted it – that pain, that sense of loss when hopes fail. I have known disappointment.

But as false foundations give way, we are forced to dig deeper, to reassess, to refocus and refine our hope by remembering what is Rock and what is not, what will hold firm and what time will wash away.

God’s people in Old Testament times learned about such disappointment. They trusted many things: their promised homeland; their financial and military resources; the Temple, their symbol of status in God’s sight. They hoped in His blessings rather than in Him. But as all these were burned away in the fires of judgment, the hopes of the faithful were purified and refocused. Their eyes were lifted higher and higher until finally fixed on One Man–the Chosen One, the Servant of God, the Messiah–who would fulfill all God’s plans for His people and the hopes of all the ages.

I have shared their disappointment, and their sin. In times of prosperity I have gradually grown to look in other directions for security, meaning, and hope. Resting in success, a comfortable lifestyle, and familiar relationships, I have clung to God’s blessings rather than to Him. Taking gifts He intended as means to glorify Him, I have made them ends, glorifying myself. They have become convenient substitutes for depending on Him day by day.

But when one such substitute crumbles, or even wavers, I sense my vulnerability. I feel my foolishness and turn again to my Father–He who so patiently and fervently pursues my deepest affections and my trust.

Father, forgive me. Purify and refocus my hopes–not just the big ones, but the small ones that drive my daily energies. Remove the distractions and substitutes from my eyes, from my heart, until my hopes are fixed on You–You, my Everlasting God, my Patient Forgiver, my Creator, my Companion, my Sovereign Lord.

Those who hope in me will not be disappointed. (Isaiah 49:23, NIV)

Father, my Father,
save me from lukewarm self-satisfaction.
All we desire –
true riches,
true glory,
true health –
comes from You alone.
Keep me constantly coming to You.

Hymn: Only You
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Secure

The eternal God is your refuge,
and underneath are the everlasting arms. (Deuteronomy 33:27, NIV)

We go our own way.
We make our own plans
for our own reasons,
pursuing our own goals.
Then we build walls,
protecting ourselves from every interference.
We are secure.
We are self-sufficient.
We can handle whatever comes.

But the unforeseen happens — it always does — and
we discover that no walls can keep out
the evil that floods this world.
No matter how strong we are,
we are vulnerable.
No matter how watchful we are,
we are insecure.
We cannot control the reality that engulfs us.

But when our false security is stripped away,
we can rediscover the security on which creation itself rests—
the security that keeps the days and seasons revolving,
untouched and unthreatened by human hatred or pride.
We can rediscover that no matter what knowledge we accumulate,
God is our only wisdom.
No matter much power we try to harness,
God is sovereign.

He is love, and we are His children.
That is the only security we will ever have and
the only security we will ever need.

Father,
salvation is always something
You do.
All I do is bow and allow
God to be God in me.

Hymn: In Your Presence, God Almighty
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Father, as I Look Back

What is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him? (Psalm 8:4, NIV)

Father, as I look back,
I realize that as I simply trust You,
You bring a consistency to my life that is
totally beyond me.

I stumble through life.
My response to You is on and off,
lukewarm,
self-centered,
easily distracted.
It is so far less than the truth demands.

But You are always with me,
always guiding,
always enabling,
always blessing.
Thank You,
merciful and patient Father!

Hymn: My Loving Father
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Eternal God

They said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” (John 6:29, NASB)

Eternal God, You overflow
all the vast universe and
all human thought and imagination.
Though You are consistent,
You consistently stretch every comfortable understanding of You.

But what you require of us is amazingly, stunningly simple:
Trust Me.

As we trust You,
we live in the comforting truth of
Your greatness and
our smallness.

As we trust You,
we fear You
and fear nothing else.

As we trust You,
our horizons are as vast as You are.
We share Your character,
Your power,
Your goodness, and
Your unlimited future.

As we trust You,
we are unmoved by threats and
unconcerned about unknowns.
We look beyond today’s ups and downs.
Fruitless worry disappears into peace
when we see only You.

Father,
as we begin to know You better,
as mental beliefs become personal reality,
more and more life is
simple faith.
We simply rely on
You being You.

Hymn: As I Trust You
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The Most Natural Way

All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful
toward those who keep the demands of his covenant. (Psalm 25:10, NIV)

What if it’s all true:
What if all that is was created by a wonderful Being,
more vast and mysterious than the universe itself;
if He formed us and somehow patterned us after himself;
if He loves us as His own children;
if He came to us in person to share our lives,
to deliver us from our wrongness,
to die for us when we couldn’t help ourselves;
if this Creator wants to teach us the happiest way to live . . .
What if it’s all true?

Look at this beautiful, orderly, intricate world. Look at Jesus Christ – His love, His self-sacrifice. Look at yourself. Without God, do you sense a wrongness inside?

If all the above is true, then how should we be living? Shouldn’t we turn to our loving, wise Creator to find the best, the simplest, the most natural way to live?

He has put us here together, His children, to care for each other and to depend on each other. He has given us families, friends, communities. Yet we think and live so selfishly, and so many among us are needy and lonely.

He provides for us beautifully and abundantly day by day. What do we need that His world doesn’t provide? Yet we are anxious, fearful, and greedy.

He wants to enrich us in ways we can’t even imagine. He wants us to know Him better. He wants each of us to have a face-to-face relationship with Him. Yet we consider Him irrelevant and look right past Him.

Look at the people around you. Look within yourself. Is anxiety and selfishness really the most natural way to live? The most common, perhaps, but the simplest, the most peaceful, the most satisfying? In our smallness and helplessness, is it logical to ignore the One who created us?

The One who gives us day and night, sun and rain, work and rest, the One who conceived and shaped this world of ours, cannot He guide us to the most natural way to live?

Cannot He help you become the person you were designed to be, that you want to be?

Is He not listening if you talk to Him right now?

I have a personal, constant relationship with
the Lord of all reality.
We converse freely.
We walk together in relaxed silence,
like loving Parent and child.
What could be more wonderful than this?

Hymn: Present Lord
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God’s Burning Love

God is love (1 John 4:8).
He is deep,
complete,
changeless love.
All He does,
all He says,
all He is
is love.

His love –
deeply desiring the very best for all He has made –
His power –
creating, supporting, and ruling all He has made – and
His wisdom –
completely knowing all He has made –
are infinite and
inseparable.
His love reaches everywhere
His power and His knowing go.
He completely knows and
completely loves
all He has made.
His infinite power,
infinite wisdom, and
infinite love
are simply different aspects of
His all-ness.

There is no indifference in His love –
never,
to not even the slightest degree.
No coolness.
No distance.
No half-heartedness.
No distraction.
No unthinking routine.
His love is a fire
that blazes eternally,
white-hot.

But His love never forces itself on any of us.
He whispers.
He woos.
And yes, He sometimes shouts.
But then He always waits.
He never enters without an invitation.
He watches for even the smallest, weakest response, then
patiently,
unhurriedly,
tenderly,
wisely
fans it into flame,
as His creature allows.

Father, I love You!
Help me to love You and
know You
more and
more.

Hymn: Your Ceaseless, Unexhausted Love
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Go Beyond

[Your creatures] all wait for You
To give them their food in due season.
You give to them, they gather it up;
You open Your hand, they are satisfied with good.
You hide Your face, they are dismayed;
You take away their spirit, they expire
And return to their dust.
You send forth Your Spirit, they are created;
And You renew the face of the ground.
(Psalm 104:27-30, NASB)

Go beyond thinking of God
as merely a means to an end,
as a way to obtain more loving relationships or
inner peace or
even everlasting life.

He Himself is the end of all things.
He is our greatest blessing,
our glorious reward,
our eternal destiny.

Love,
inner peace, and
everlasting life
are merely partial descriptions of
all that He is.

Hymn: The Upward Call
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