I was talking to a friend about the gospel this week and unpacking the idea of grace – how God in the gospel has already accomplished everything I need to stand both forgiven and justified (read: not just a blank slate, but a perfect A+ record of righteousness) before Him and so even as I continue to struggle with sin, my righteousness is complete and final and guaranteed because of my faith in Jesus’ work for me. Her exact response to this was “Isn’t that too easy?”
These words were beautiful and sweet to my ears. She was getting it. Yes! It’s infinitely easy. Unlike every other religion that gives you an impossible set of rules to follow to gain Divine favor, Christianity says because you’re jacked up and could never be perfect enough to earn God’s favor, He earned it for you. The heart of the Christian gospel is God views you no longer on your works for Jesus (because this would end badly for all of us – Rom 3:23) but on Jesus’ works for you. While we were all sinners separated from God, HE MADE US ALIVE IN CHRIST JESUS (Eph 2:1-10). We are the passive agents in the process. Before you or I were ever born God entered into human history as the man Jesus Christ and accomplished through his life, death and resurrection everything we need to be saved. This is why on the cross Jesus said “It. Is. Finished.” Because it really is finished. Everything we need for salvation is already finished – we are called only to believe and even this faith to believe is a gift God gives us (Eph 2:8).
Her next question was, so if there’s nothing left to be done – if I’m saved by my God-given faith in what Jesus did for me and there’s really nothing I can do to add to that, why wouldn’t I just keep sinning and do whatever I want? Pretty much she was asking why would I change if I don’t have to?
This gets at the very heart of what God has been teaching me over the past year or so: If we really believed the gospel – if we really saw God for who He is as revealed in the gospel – we would want nothing but Him! The faith that saves is the same faith that sees God for who He really is – and when we see Him for who He really is, we can’t help but fall madly in love with Him!
I’m starting to see that our every problem, our every struggle with sin, our every unfulfilled desire is due to a lack of belief in the gospel. Because when I believe the gospel, I see that God is unmatched in His love, beauty, mercy, justice, power, etc. by any other and as I increasingly believe this gospel, I start to desire nothing but God! And the same gospel that makes me desire God gives me assurance I’m fully accepted by Him – not based on my own works (which are fickle at best) but on His perfect and finished and unchanging work for me.
This implications of this are huge and cannot be overstated. This means as Tullian Tchividjian says in his book Surprised by Grace, “The gospel isn’t simply a set of truths that non-Christians must believe in order to become saved. It’s a reality that Christians must daily embrace in order to experience being saved. The gospel not only saves us from the penalty of sin (justification), but it also saves us from the power of sin (sanctification) day after day…Christians need the gospel because our hearts are always prone to wander; we’re always tempted to run from God. It takes the power of the gospel to direct us back to our first love.” The gospel is just as much for the believer as it is for the non-believer because all of us have our moments of functional unbelief in the gospel that we need to be cured of.
The gospel has been likened to the most beautiful of fairy tales that has come true in real life. It should be too good to be true – it should be too easy, BUT God has made it real for us! As we increasingly believe this gospel, we fall madly in love with God and want nothing but Him. So those who ask “Doesn’t that grace just enable you to keep on sinning?” haven’t yet gotten a taste of the beauty of the gospel and contrary to popular belief don’t need less grace they need MORE grace. They need to be brought deeper into the gospel so they might see God and what He has done and fall madly in love. Because it is God’s grace alone that causes us to fall madly in love with Him.
So paint the gospel story beautifully to others and to your own heart – paint it more beautifully than even the grandest of fairytales. And then rejoice that it has been made true! Rejoice and be glad. Rest. It is finished.
The gospel has become something of an obsession for me over this past year. Tullian Tchividjian beautifully summarizes what God has been teaching me when he says: “I once assumed the gospel was simply what non-Christians must believe in order to be saved, while afterward we advance to deeper theological waters. But I’ve come to realize that the gospel isn’t the first step in a stairway of truths, but more like the hub in a wheel of truth. In other words, once God rescues sinners, his plan isn’t to steer them beyond the gospel, but to move them more deeply into it…the gospel doesn’t just ignite the Christian life but it’s also the fuel that keeps Christians going and growing every day.”
I’ve begun to see that every problem is our lives is a result of not believing the gospel and subsequently found great freedom in learning to believe and apply the gospel more fully. Even hearing the word “gospel” makes me smile these days. This topic could take many blogs to expand on itself, but rather I say all of that merely to explain my excitement when I saw a book titled “Gospel Coach.” I majored in Christian leadership in college and have read tons of leadership books (both Christian and secular sense) and yet I can honestly say this is simply the best book on leadership I’ve ever read. Here is why:
Most leadership books teach people tools to produce results. This can be helpful but it can also create leaders who appear successful on the outside but are dying inside. Think about all of the “successful “Christian leaders who appear to have it all together (read: have big churches and successful programs) but then it is revealed they’ve been having an affair for years. On the outside the results look successful but on the inside the leader is dying struggling and far from the God they serve on Sundays. This is not the picture of a biblical leader.
Rather the leaders in the Scriptures weren’t defined by their perceived skills at running an organization effectively or charismatic personality, but what did define them was they had a heart that loved God deeply. Think Moses who stuttered or David who was small and puny and looked nothing like a king should or Peter and John who were “uneducated, common men” (Acts 4:13). Now leadership skills and tools are certainly helpful and God does seem to work through people with them as well (like the apostle Paul for example) but what’s important to note is biblically a leader isn’t defined by their leadership skills/tools but rather by their heart for God. To me this is where any book on leadership worth its weight must start. The beautiful thing about this book is it first addresses the heart and character of the leader. Gospel Coach spends ample time making sure the leader understands and is changed by the gospel personally and can see the world through a “gospel-centered framework” (pg 90) before they even think about leading others.
To me, this part of the book was really helpful personally to identify idols in my heart - to see in a fresh way ministry is about bringing God glory out of a grateful and fulfilled heart from what He has done for me, not to seek glory for myself because I’m not fully satisfied by what God in the gospel has done for me. It also helped me remember that my ability to achieve and succeed as a leader isn’t because I am awesome or have abilities to accomplish anything but because Jesus is awesome and I am simply pointing people to Him and when they get a glimpse of Him He changes them.
After laying the framework of the gospel in the life of the leader personally, the book teaches how the coach will take the gospel and apply it to all areas of ministry – teaching others they are training to do the same as well. This is where the experience of the author comes into play and much is learned through concepts and ideas followed by practical examples from his experience that make clear what is being said.
Lastly I will say I love the relational tone this whole book is framed in. The idea of biblical leadership they set up is that of a shepherd and the whole book is steeped in this idea that the coach loves and sacrifices himself for those he is leading following the example of our Great Shepherd whom we are all ultimately following. Gospel Coaching as set up in this book is a type of leadership that can’t be done outside of a deep personal and loving relationship with the disciple and I would have it no other way!
There are so many good methods and tools and ideas along the way in this book – all of which I hope to learn to employ in my coaching of others. We all have much to benefit from the experience of Scott Thomas and the diagrams in Gospel Coach are worth the price of the book alone. However the great success of this book is it’s all rooted in the character of the leader, grounded in the gospel creating love for and confidence in God. Only once that is established are tools for leading introduced and all of those tools when used from a gospel-centered heart become powerful in a way previously unknown to the world.
This book focuses not just on the output of the leader and those they are training but also the person themselves and the man/woman of God they are becoming. It’s principles aren’t just for pastors/elders but any believer who takes seriously Jesus’ call to make disciples. It is a much more holistic and relational approach to leadership than I’ve ever seen and this is what makes this book a must read for every Christian leader - from pastors/elders to parents to friends and neighbors and everyone in between.
Have you ever asked God for something good? I mean really good? Dare I even say biblical? And yet He doesn’t seam to give it to you?
For me, it’s been the desire for a wife. For maybe around 2 years now, this is something I’ve longed for and prayed for and in some sense pursued. Can I just say that when everyone you know seems to be married or engaged, words like “It is not good that the man should be alone…therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2) really seem to pop off the page!
I have good days and bad days, but if I’m entirely honest there is a part of me (and I hate it) that feels cheated by God. Like I feel He’s not giving something I’m supposed to have. I feel so much like the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son who shouts at his father “Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends.” (Lk 15:29) He was bitter because his father’s stuff – the things he could give his son - mattered more to him than actually being with and knowing and enjoying his father. This is revealed in the father’s response: “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.” (vs. 31)
As I read those words, I am cut to the heart and realize I feel at times cheated by God and that life isn’t fair because there are things I desire more than Him. This is the definition of idolatry and the root of all sin and it certainly robs me of so much pleasure I could and should be having by enjoying God now.
When I think about this I begin to rejoice that God hasn’t given me the wife I’ve prayed for because I see as Tim Chester says “God is prying our fingers away from it so we can grasp hold of Him and the greater treasure that is already ours in Christ.”
The message of the Bible isn’t come to God and you’ll get everything you could want and things will go exactly as you want. The message of the Bible is YOU GET GOD! And this is so much better than anything else that it’s enough through any circumstance. Or as Tullian Tchividjian would say “Jesus + nothing = everything”
I’m starting to think my every frustration and every problem in life is due to my inability to believe and apply the gospel – that in Christ I am totally accepted by God and He is totally pleased with me and I get to know, enjoy, love and be loved by Him now and forever. And my singleness is a gift to be able to take hold of and enjoy this reality more fully right now – to let go of hope in a lesser pleasure in order to take hold in an increasing measure the far greater pleasure I have in Christ.
I get the living God! I don’t have to look for satisfaction or meaning or happiness in any lesser idols, because I have Him. When I believe and apply this – what else could possibly matter?
As good as it has been for my soul to be away from facebook for a season, I have found myself drawn back. My personal reasons haven’t changed – as I said this time away has been to me in making war against the idols of my heart and finding a growing affection for Christ as I have looked to Him instead for satisfaction – but my convictions about Christian life and ministry are evolving.
I recently read through Acts and I have so many thoughts and am wrestling with so many things there that I am not yet ready to articulate in a blog, but what I did see that I can somewhat articulate is absolutely everything the early church did had gospel-intentionality. Behind all their actions (evenly simply walking down the road) they seemed to have the mindset of how can I share this good news with the people around me? They were that blown away by the beauty of the gospel and so convinced of the power of the gospel to save that all they seemed to think about was how to spread this gospel – because when you see something so beautiful and amazing, what else could matter? They would go out of their way and make themselves very uncomfortable to share the gospel with people because they were convinced it was THAT good!
We launched our high school ministry at Rhythm month ago with the sole purpose of getting students to see nothing on earth will bring them more pleasure than God and be so convinced of that they pursue Him more than anything. Things have been going well and God is definitely on the move. However, I’m finding having a facebook page for our youth group isn’t a particularly effective way to keep in touch with students. In fact they seem much more responsive when a staff member goes out of their way to message them and talk to them and see how they are doing and make sure to invite them back.
I think a part of me thought when I left facebook you don’t have to have a facebook to have relationships with students – and certainly this is true – but I am recognizing that facebook is a unique and important piece in the lives of our students that reveals much about them and presents a unique way to connect with them.
So I guess what I’m saying is I have loved being away from facebook, but the love of Christ compels me to get back on – namely to better keep in touch with/build relationships with people (because this goes far beyond my work with students to all my relationships) in order to see them grow deeper and wider into the gospel.
Paul’s words sum up my motives best here and for those of you are my friends who are reading this, you can pray that my motives for using facebook would stay here and I would by God’s grace keep myself from idols.
“I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” - 1 Corinthians 9:22b-23
I am back on facebook so that I may share the blessings of the gospel with some in ways I otherwise could not.
The last post was fun, so I figured I’d do one for music:
For me, music has to have a depth to it - it can’t just have a cool beat or sweet guitar riff or even good overall tones, it’s gotta say something! At the same times there’s plenty of songs that are amazing lyrically but so boring musically that maybe stimulate my mind but my heart can remain unmoved. My favorite songs are those where lyrics and music combine to move my soul in new ways. There was so much good music this past year to celebrate, but these 3 albums are for me the ones where where both music and story worked together beautifully.
3) M Fillmore // Relentless - EP
The beauty of their music is matched only by their love for Jesus. This is a fun album to crank up and go for a drive and rock out to or to quitely listen to and let the words give hope to your weary soul. If you haven’t already heard them, you need to check these guys out!
2) John Mark McMillan // The Medicine
The album is not your typical worship music by any stretch of the imagination, and that has been so refreshing. Lyrically it’s a journey of what it looks like to worship God in sadness, brokenness, joy, laughter, and everything in between. Musically the sound is a unique blend of raw (read: not overproduced sound) yet enough polish to make it sound great in your stereo. If you went to church at all in 2010, you’ve probably sung the song “How He Loves” and this is the guy who originally wrote that song - but that’s only the tip of the iceberg that is John Mark McMillan.
1) Sanctus Real // Pieces of a Real Heart
Okay, just going to be honest. This band has always drawn me in with their catchy, unashamed pop punk style. This album however took me a while to catch onto after I bought it because musically they matured quite a bit for this release. Thankfully they made the transition into an evolving style very, very well. Their music wasn’t the only thing to mature however, and this is why they topped my list. Each song on this album addresses life and faith not in a neat and clean way but from the perspective of one who has wrestled with faith long enough to know it’s a fight and yet even in the darkest moments points the listener back to hope they’ve found. They do a great job at putting words to feelings I think we’ve all felt and for some reason it’s freeing to hear and sometimes fun sometimes bittersweet to sing along with. If you don’t have it already, buy this album!
Honorable Mention: The Joy Eternal // Finally Alive - Single :: If this were a full album or even an EP, this would easily, EASILY been my favorite of the year. Watch for more from these guys in 2011!
Jesus Culture // My Passion - EP
Future of Forestry // Travel III - EP
Jónsi // Go
This past year I read more Scripture than any other 12 month period of my life – and it was so good! Here’s to hoping for even more in 2011. But before moving on to the journey of this next year, I want to take a moment to reflect on 2010 – specifically the 3 Scriptures God used to impact my heat most profoundly this past year. These verses have and continue to fundamentally reshape how I view the gospel.
3) James 4:5 – “Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us?”
Ever think God is annoyed with your continued sinful thoughts/actions and wants to give up on you? For me I’m prone to thinking myself a burden to God when I struggle with sin and that I have to do something to make Him want me again, but James assures me, while I’m pursuing pleasure/fulfillment in other things God doesn’t go “oh well, let’s go find another one.” He is JEALOUS for me! ME! Are you kidding me? Think about that. God is jealous for the spirit He has causes to dwell in you. He wants to commune with you and be in an intimate, never ending love relationship with you. And from what I read in the Scriptures this year, if God wants you, He WILL have you. And let me assure you, this is good news.
2) Psalm 73:25-26
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
This Psalm brought me to tears multiple times this past year. The Psalmist begins by complaining that evil people who pursue pleasure and fulfillment outside of God are happy and flourishing while he is miserable. At one point he even says “surely in vain have I kept my heart pure” and just after that “all day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments.” Oh how many times this year my heart felt this way! Following Jesus has cost me a lot this past year and there have been times where I’ve been mad and complaining that I’m not getting the things I want. And yet God graciously moves my heart as He did with the Psalmist’s to this realization: No matter how bad my situation God is always right there with me (see verse 23) and this is more than enough. There’s a very beautiful thing that happens when you have nothing but God and you realize that’s enough.
God is graciously moving my heart to say God “you’re better than anything this world has to offer – even the good things – and I want you more than anything. I’m slowly starting to get that when I look to God for pleasure and fulfillment, I’m never disappointed. After tasting of the goodness and faithfulness and fulfillment of God, how could I settle for anything less?
1) Ephesians 1-2 beautifully sums up how I’ve come to understand the nature of how a person comes to faith. Because we are all too sinful, the natural man will never chose God. So it takes an act of God working in a person’s heart to overcome their resistance for a person to come to Him and be saved. We are the passive recipients of our salvation. We were made alive. We were given faith to believe. And this is all done “in love” by God.
“In love He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ” (1:4-5)
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—” (2:4-5)
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing (read: your faith is not of your own doing) it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (2:8-9)
God has used these verses to make me see Him as more amazing and beautiful and my salvation that much more secure – because it’s not based off my feelings and ability to believe (which are fickle moment by moment) but based on Him choosing me (and God’s choosing unlike mine will never change). It also changes how I pray for those whom I desperately want to come to faith in Jesus. Instead of asking God to give me the right words to help them understand the gospel, I’m praying that God would call them to His elect, that He would move in their hearts and make them alive. Again this is freeing because it allows me to passionately preach the gospel to people but at the end of the day rest in God being the one responsible to make any of what I said effective in their hearts. It frees me from thinking I have to say things in just the right way for people to understand, but instead can faithfully preach and trust God to move in hearts.
Maybe one of the best lessons I’ve learned this past year is it’s not the wisdom or intellect of the person reading the Scriptures, but by the grace of God alone that His Spirit will illuminate the eyes of our hearts and minds as we read the Scriptures and cause us to understand and to be nourished and to love Him more through them. May we open the Scriptures in 2011 not out of confidence in our own understanding but knowing our desperate need for the Spirit’s power to cause us to understand, to love, and to be changed - being confident in His gracious promise to give understanding to those who humbly ask.
Happy new year everybody.
"Be killing sin lest it be killing you."
Today we celebrate God’s cosmic D-day against sin, death and all that which fractures the beauty of the way God made life to be.
Heaven has invaded earth. Sin, death, pain, sorrow, etc. are on the retreat - and soon their existence will be done away with entirely (Revelation 21:4).
This is cause of great celebration for those who are in Christ! Because Christmas assures us this life is the worst our existence will ever be. The best is yet to come! But sadly for those who are not in Christ, this is the best their existence will ever be.
Celebrate well today the gift you have received. Laugh, play, and enjoy the beauty of the gospel. AND pray fervently for those in your life for whom Christmas is not yet good news.
I read through the book of Jonah tonight, and it is such a beautiful story! (May I be so bold as to suggest instead of taking the time to read this post, go read the book of Jonah? It’s only 4 chapters and it really can be done in one sitting quite reasonably.)
For those of you still reading, what struck me about the story tonight was, even after God goes through this amazing process of rocking Jonah’s world and bringing Jonah back to Himself, the dude still has a long ways to go. Even after being saved (presumably long before the events of this book took place) and being brought back to his love of God above all things (2:8-9) and being called into ministry (1:1, 3:1), Jonah still has issues. Big ones (see all of chapter 4). And God is still working with him. Graciously. For some reason I loved when God would ask “Do you do well to be angry?” God is still working on areas of Jonah’s heart even as the story ends, and this gives me hope.
Sometimes when I realize things my heart that are just awful and sinful, I wonder about my salvation. If I am really saved, how can I keep thinking like this? If I really saw and experienced God, how can I keep returning to these things to make me happy? And yet this story assures me, though I am saved, though God graciously brought me into to a true love for Him through a storm in my own life 3 years ago and has sense even called me into ministry, that doesn’t mean I’m done. God has much work to do on my heart and the story of Jonah gives me assurance and hope that God is gracious and patient and glad to do the work and doesn’t expect me to be instantly perfect.
Today I stand fully righteous before God - even when I mess up - because of the perfect life of Jesus on my behalf, but the gospel does not stop there. The gospel in a greater sense is about Jesus dying to restore all things broken by sin and that includes the wayward feelings of my heart. I am saved and justified and yet I still struggle with imperfections, and the good news is not just that Jesus paid the penalty for all past, present and future sin (although that is good news to be sure!), but also that He died to set all things right again (including the affections of my heart that would cause me to sin).
As seen in this story, God in every single detail/aspect of my life is going to keep sovereignly forming my heart to love Him more and more - and while this will sometimes be painful - this is the hope I cling to. Because it is soooo good. And it is more than worth it.
Idolatry is a funny thing. I mean if you’re anything like me, when you read over and over again in Scripture how the people of Israel would grow bored with God and create idols of wood, gold, etc. to worship instead, you’ve had the thought that these guys are pretty nuts. I mean how crazy, right? Trade in the only true God who has saved your nation countless times for gold earrings you melted into a cow? I remember when I first learned the 10 commandments in Sunday school. I thought to myself, these sure sound tough, but at least I’ll never have to worry about bowing down before a statue of my dog or anything…1 down 9 to go!
But that’s just the thing. You see when Scripture talks about idolatry, it’s not just talking about a specific list of false gods worshiped in Bible times (although I do Mammon – the god of money – has many shrines and worshipers around the world today). God has been teaching me so much about idolatry lately – mostly through revealing the idolatry of my own heart – so let me try to give a better definition of idolatry from what I’m learning:
Idolatry is looking to anything but God to save/satisfy you.
Exodus 32 is a classic example of this. After God saves His people from the Egyptians He brings them to a mountain to make a covenant with them. But while Moses, their leader, was on the mountain with God, the Israelites began to fear that God and Moses had left them (see also Acts 7:39-41), so they melted their jewelry into a golden calf and worshiped it and declared “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt” (Exodus 32:4). Sounds like a crazy story, but how many of us have thought God isn’t going to save me from _________ so I’ll look to something else.
What are you longing to be saved from right now? Loneliness? ? A dead end job? Depression? Boredom? A sinking marriage? A terrible family situation? Money problems?
In 1 Samuel 8 we see the Israelites ask their prophet to give them a king. This doesn’t sound like such a bad thing, except what was really going on is they weren’t happy with God as their king, because every other nation had a human king to rule over them (read: all the cool kids were doing it). They weren’t satisfied with God as king. They thought having a man to rule them would bring them satisfaction, so they rejected God and demanded to have a man as king. This of course ended very poorly as their first king was terrible and eventually this whole human king thing would lead to the destruction of the nation of Israel.
Maybe a more classic example is Adam and Eve in the garden. God makes a paradise they get to dwell in and enjoy and He gives them one simple rule: Trust my intentions are good for you. Eat of anything but this one tree. And what do they do? They believed the lie that God was holding out on them – that having a piece of forbidden fruit would bring them more satisfaction than God. And so they ate it. And they died. Spiritually and eventually physically. And the world began to die (Entropy anyone?). And everyone else after them was born spiritually dead with a physical expiration date.
Are you sensing a theme here? Idolatry always ends badly!
What are you looking to satisfy you right now? A relationship? Money? A career? Sex? Alcohol? Popularity? A self help book? The approval of others? Your ability to live up to a certain moral code?
These things aren’t inherently bad, and that’s the tricky thing about idolatry. It’s not always doing something that looks morally wrong. It is taking what is often a good gift from God and making it the ultimate thing in your life. Timothy Keller says it this way: “Sin isn’t only doing bad things, it is more fundamentally making good things into ultimate things.”
The truth is I think all of us struggle with idolatry. The great Bible teacher John Calvin said: “The human heart is a factory of idols…Everyone of us is, from his mother’s womb, expert in inventing idols.”
Here’s what I’m learning from my own idols. Idols are those things that when they are going good, you are feeling good, and when they are going poorly, you feel poorly. Idols are those things that we say “God you can have my life, do anything with it, take me anywhere, just do not take ___________ from me.” Or “God I will serve you and do anything you ask as long as you give me ____________.”
And the worst part is idols don’t even really satisfy. Just ask any rich person if there has ever been enough money to make them happy. Our celebrities (the most popular people on the planet) seem to have the most messed up, depressed lives. Israel ultimately was destroyed as a nation because of their hope in idols. Adam and Eve died because of theirs.
BUT there is good news in all of this. The gospel says Jesus came not only to save our souls in an eternal sense from hell/the wrath of God rightfully due to our sins (although this is a BIG part of the gospel), but He also came to save us daily from our wandering hearts that even once saved seem “prone to wonder” back to idols.
“I will remove the names of the Baals from her mounth and they shall be remembered by name no more” – Hosea 3:17
“I will heal their waywardness
and love them freely,
for my anger has turned away from them.” – Hosea 14:4
If you are in Christ, you stand righteous before God (not based on your actions but on Christ’s on your behalf). God’s righteous anger against your sin has been absorbed by Jesus on the cross and He now looks at you with no anger. This is good news indeed- but it goes further! God promises to heal the heart in you that would look to things other than Him for satisfaction. God promises to give His people a new heart that will love Him and long for Him and be satisfied in Him. This my friends is good news!
So if I can leave you with any exhortation, let me say this. Ask God to reveal the idols of your heart. This is a dangerous request, because as I’ve learned if you ask, God WILL do it. It may not be pretty, He may reveal things you are holding onto and depending on that you didn’t even realize were there. But remember the good news. God will turn your heart from idols and back to Him. Ask Him for it. Fight the idols in your life. Because as you do and God becomes the ultimate source of your satisfaction, you begin to come alive in new ways. You realize just how loved you are by the very thing you want most and suddenly your days are no longer dependent on how your idols are going, but there is always joy and hope to be found because your greatest desire loves you more!
I’m starting to understand how Paul can say “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13). When God is where you look for satisfaction, no matter how your day goes, YOU HAVE GOD! You have all you want and need. What is a little suffering unpopularity in light of this?
I’m still learning and God is still revealing and breaking my heart of my own idols. It is often a painful process. BUT.
It. is. sooooo. good!
“Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry” (1 Cor. 10:14) because there is a better way.