for restless hearts

Jeremiah 2:28 – But where are thy gods that thou hast made thee? let them arise, if they can save thee in the time of thy trouble: for according to the number of thy cities are they gods, O Judah.

The children of Israel had forsaken the one true God for a number of false gods. They were to be judged – taken into captivity. The question in this verse is then asked, and the answer is obvious. None of their other “gods” can save them.

Today, Christians often forsake their God, the same God of Israel who sent His Son to pay the punishment for our sins. 1 John 4:24 says, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” It seems, however, that we tend to forget what He did, and we allow false gods to steal our worship. These gods are not objectified as miniature idols or relics, but rather as beauty, relationships, knowledge, materials, wealth, or power. But when the darkest of times come and you don’t know what to do and you seemingly have no answers, will your looks save you? Will your closest friends and family truly be able to help you? Will your education get you out of trouble? Will your wealth buy you a solution? Will power protect you? None of these things are guaranteed. None of these things give you the security or the answers that are found in God and His Word.

Pursue Him and everything else falls into its rightful place. You see yourself as God sees you –  that you are created specifically by Him and He has a special plan for you. You learn that He is your closest friend and knows you better than you know yourself. You find that all the knowledge in this world cannot compare to the wisdom found in the Word of God. You discover that the things of this world don’t matter for they will pass away. You choose to lay up treasure in heaven that are incorruptible. You pursue the eternal over the temporary. You realize that all the power in the world is still in His control for He is omniscient and omnipotent.

So make Him the center of your life. Focus solely on Him and His plan for you. There is no greater happiness and no greater peace found when you choose to love Him and worship Him. Interestingly, one of the primary themes of 1 John is love. In chapter five, verse three it says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments…” Near the end of the chapter (and book) you find, “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true…” Then the very last verse of the entire book says this:

Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

It’s almost as if you will never love God or truly know Him if you put anything before Him.

Place Jesus Christ above all. Love Him. Know Him. Worship Him.

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love the unlovely

an adorable bright-eyed little girl runs at full speed to leap into my arms, never doubting whether or not I will catch her and most likely spin her around to draw out a euphoric giggle.

easy.

the teenage girl who rides the church bus purely for social reasons, rolls her eyes when the bus captain greets her, slips headphones into her ears to drown out my enthusiastic singing of the bus songs, and snaps when i tell her to put those same headphones away.

not easy.

this has been on my mind a great deal these days. i have always considered myself to be a loving person, or at least friendly to everyone. but as i read through the life of Christ, i realized i was comparing myself to other people and not to Jesus Christ, Who loved perfectly.

Paul admonishes the people of Corinth by saying that “they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” he also writes to the Ephesians saying, “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.”

Jesus Christ is the only person to Whom i should be comparing myself. His perfect love cost Him His life. my love cannot even begin to compare. there have been times that i didn’t want to show love simply because i knew it would be me outside of my comfort zone! it’s truly convicting. but Jesus loved everyone, and that is seen not only in His death, but even in His life. He loved the unlovely.

if we truly love the Lord, we will love the unlovely too! in Matthew 25, Jesus says,

For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

wow. i say i love Jesus, but do I help provide for others in need? i say i love Jesus, but do I go out of my way to visit those in trouble? do i really love Jesus?

Amy Carmichael wrote a little book called “If.” i have probably read it over twenty times, and every time i read it the Holy Spirit works within me. one portion says this:

If I am inconsiderate about the comfort of others, or their feelings, or even their little weaknesses;

if I am careless about their little hurts and miss opportunities to smooth their way;

… then I know nothing of Calvary love.

i would venture to say that usually those who are most unloveable are those who need the most love.

there is a young girl who rides my bus. she is loud, boisterous, and basically obnoxious. i used to avoid her, because talking to her was exhausting. one sunday, she was quiet, too quiet. the Holy Spirit prompted me to talk to her, and drudgingly i went. i began to ask her a few basic questions. it only took a minute to realize this girl needed love. her mother had committed suicide. her dad was no where to be found. she was made fun of at school. she had finally reached a point where she couldn’t fake being okay. my heart was broken. i couldn’t believe how self-centered i had been. the next saturday i visited her home, which was a less than desirable environment for anyone. i could tell it made her day. i realized she needed someone to reach out to her and show her the love of Christ. she wasn’t going to see that love at home. she wasn’t going to see that love in school. but she needed to see that love in me! this girl is just as obnoxious as ever, but i love her. this morning i gave her a necklace. it was really insignificant, but she acted as though i had given her a priceless treasure! whether she knew it or not, i don’t think it was the necklace that meant so much. it was the idea that someone thought of her – loved her enough to give her such a trifle. thankfully, this girl knows that God loved her enough to send His Son to die for her. she knows the perfect love of Christ, and i hope she continues to be reminded through me.