Saturday, April 29, 2006

"Let us return into Egypt!"

This evening I've been working on my Sunday school lesson for tomorrow morning. It's over Numbers 13 and 14 and the phrase "Let us return into Egypt" (14:4) really stuck out to me. How many times in our lives as Christians do we only see the giants and obstacles ahead of us? How many times is our focus so much on those obstacles that we would rather return to the slavery of Egypt than to press forward? Think of what God was offering the Israelites: a developed country of their own with fortified cities and abundant crops. Not only that, He had also promised that He would fight for them and give them the land. But, in the moment when they needed to trust His promises, instead they focused on the obstacles. They focused so much on the obstacles that they limited themselves in their effectiveness and eventually, they never made it to the promised land.
How about us? What great task does God have ahead of us that He has promised to help us to accomplish? What battle, as it were, faces us that He has promised to help us win? Will we trust His power and His authority and His promises? Or, will we sell ourselves, and also God, short and rather stagnate in our Christian life than press forward and accomplish great things through His all-sufficient power?

"Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God." - William Carey

Monday, April 24, 2006

Friday evening reflections

My last night working on my Bible club - what mixed emotions well up inside of me.
Joy - because this outreach has continued throughout the years
Gratitude - that I have been privileged to be a part of this ministry for seven years
Concern - for the spiritual well-being of these children
Sorrow - for those kids who have strayed
Sadness - because I dearly love these children despite all their quirks and this is my last time with them
Questions ring through my mind. Could I have done more? Did I really show these children an accurate view of God? What will happen to them?
I must leave them in God's hands.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Grace upon Grace

You’re standing upon the sandy beach. The sand is warm and feels good to your bare feet. Seagulls cry out to each other over your head. The breeze is filled with the smells of seaweed baking in the sun and salt water. The sound of waves lapping at your feet adds to the calmness of the afternoon. As you look out over the ocean, you see wave upon wave coming onto the shore. One being replaced by another, and yet the ocean is ever the same. Wave upon wave, upon wave, upon wave . . .
In the first chapter of the Gospel of John we find this verse, “And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace” (John 1:16). Only in Christ – that is to Whom the “His” is referring – can we have fullness, or satisfaction. As God’s children we do have that fullness, for we are made complete in Christ. Our fullness, our completion, our satisfaction, was brought about by God’s grace through the atonement of Christ on the cross, and when we received Him into our hearts, we were made complete. However, the moment we were saved, we were not turned into sinless people. Our flesh still wars within us. And we need God’s grace continually, just as much as we needed His grace to be saved. This is precisely what John is talking about. We need God’s “grace for grace.” This phrase could be better translated as “grace upon grace.” Just as the waves of the ocean come up onto the shore wave upon wave, so God’s grace is daily demonstrated in our lives in a constant succession of grace upon grace. There's no less water than before, rather, each wave displaces the wave that was before it and is displaced by the one that comes after it.
“And so hour by hour, and year by year, and century by century, the process holds; one stream [or ocean], other waters – living, not stagnant, because always in the great identity there is perpetual exchange. Grace takes the place of grace (and love takes the place of love); and ever new, ever old, ever the same, ever fresh and young, for hour by hour, for year by year, through Christ” (If by Amy Carmichael, pg. 86). And so, God gives us grace upon grace, day by day.
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