Friday, 21 February 2014

What We Sow We Reap

What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.

9-10 So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith. Galatians 6:7b-10

The Message

In my years of counseling I have talked with many couples who would describe their marriage as being a patch of weeds rather than a rose garden.  Which reminds me of that old song “I never promised you a rose garden.”, but I digress.

As we begin to talk about what brought them to counseling I hear an all too familiar theme, “If only he…”, “If she didn’t always…”.  The theme boils down to selfishness and according to today’s verse the “person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others – ignoring God!- harvests a crop of weeds”.  There you have it, the law of sowing and reaping.

Invariably what comes out of the mouths of the people I counsel is that they could be happy if only their needs were met; their expectations were fulfilled; they could be happy; their desires were considered; etc. At our core we are all self-centered, some just keep it in check better than others.

So if I am basically selfish being concerned primarily that I am fulfilled, more interested in my needs and ignoring the needs of my spouse, then I can expect a marriage filled with weeds.  This verse makes it sound as though when I ignore the needs of others I am also ignoring God.

So it would seem that if I were to focus on the needs of others, doing good to others, I can expect that God in turn will produce in me and through me a “good crop”, a harvest of a full life.

You don’t have to be a horticulturalist to know that if we want a rose garden for a marriage we need to plant roses.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

What's Wrong With Me?

What’s Wrong With Me?

16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Ephesians 3: 16-19

In this passage the Apostle Paul has laid out a banquet of offerings upon which I can feast as a child of our risen Lord.  First Paul prays that I (and you) will be strengthened with power through the Spirit.  Then he proceeds to lay out the implications of what that means, i.e. I (and you) am indwelt by Christ and that such indwelling enables me to be rooted in love and filled with the fullness of God. 

I am safe in assuming that God not only heard Paul’s prayer but responded in the affirmative.  The paragraph above describes the kind of person that God has designed me to be yet there are far too many times when I don’t feel “strengthened with the power of the Holy Spirit”.  I find I can’t begin to comprehend how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ which explains to some extent my continued struggle to be obedient to His will.  John 14:15 says, ”If you love me you will obey my commands.”

I continue to get frustrated when confronted with challenges, irritated when people don’t respond the way I think they should respond and discouraged when what I want for the Kingdom doesn’t seem to materialize.  I won’t bother listing all my shortcomings because this could become a book instead of a blog.

I think you get the ugly picture. I can only conclude one thing, my love for God is nowhere near what it needs to be if I am to respond to life in a way that pleases God.  I must stop using my values and beliefs as the standard to which I hold others but instead use God’s love for me as the standard by which I see others.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Does God Hear My Prayers?

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. —James 1:5-8 

Life has provided me with some valuable lessons.  There was a time in my life, not that long ago, that if God answered my prayer in a way that resembled what I had asked for, I wouldn’t give it a second thought.  If His response was different than what I had asked for or He “failed” to respond I would be disappointed.

For the longest time in my Christian walk I suspect my prayers sounded like God was a vending machine, there to dispense what I felt I needed at the time.   Fortunately over time I have learned to ask God for solutions that would bring glory to Him.  By now I have learned well that what seems like silence is an answer and what seems like a different answer is a blessing.  Instead of asking God to change others to fit my criteria I am asking God to change my heart toward those people.  Every time I see some growth I am confronted with some new “weeds” in my life.  Oh that God would just have a solution of “Roundup” that He would spray on me.

Time to connect the dots.  Some of you are in a difficult marriage.  Some of you are learning firsthand what your vows “for better or worse “really meant.  Some of you are just disenchanted and/or discouraged that your marriage is not what you hoped it would be.  In each of these instances you may have taken your worries, concerns and frustrations to the Lord and yet there is no observable change.  You may be asking, “Doesn’t He hear my prayers?”

It comes down to this, does God lie?  Scripture tells us that He doesn’t (Numbers 23:19).  Psalm 147 verses three through five says,He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.  Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.”  If He knows the stars by name and gives you your next breath, He hears your prayers.  He loves you enough to sacrifice his own Son for you and me.  His timing is always perfect and He has a plan for your life.  Expect the best, for that is what He has for you.