devotional

Reason and Rhyme

 

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost. 

~ J.R.R. Tolkien

Legalists of both the liberal and conservative variety treat truth similarly; as though it were a collection of facts that we can act on independently and reliably manipulate in order to get what we want out of life. The best people of both stripes want good things for others as well as themselves–conservative Christian legalists tend to focus on eternal salvation for themselves and others, and liberal Christians legalists tend to focus on working towards a utopia on this earth, or getting the world as close to a utopia as we can reasonably manage for the good of all.

There is, however, a fatal flaw in the way that they both go about their projects. Laws about the physical world, properly applied, lead to amazing scientific achievements, such as airplanes, water purification systems, and skyscrapers. We can never, and should never assume the same kind of mastery over moral truth. This attitude of pride leads us to the tower of Babel, where we assume we can build a staircase to heaven without being actually led by God. This project will always fail and fail miserably no matter how many times we invoke His name.

Reading the gospels we see that Jesus answered questions about what we should and shouldn’t do in really unexpected ways; by making extravagant demands, by going to the heart of motivations, by dodging some questions entirely. Clearly questions about what is right and wrong, what the meaning and purpose of our lives are, are meant to drive us to the person of Jesus in that humble surrender we call faith. It is only with the heart of a child that we can hear Jesus and obey Him, and actually grow in love. Without Him, we will find a way to do what is wrong, to apply good laws in evil ways that will cause pain and suffering to ourselves and others.

Jesus told us in Matthew that the first and greatest commandment is to love God, and the second is to love your neighbor as yourself. How is it that people of both sides say and do terrible things in the name of love of others, and in the name of the love of God? It is this pride, and the attendant fear (it’s all up to me and if others thwart me, then it is all over) that destroys the best intentions of all and turns us on one another in the basest and most destructive hypocrisy.

Let’s pray together and repent of this pride; pray instead for the hearts of children who are deeply rooted in His love. Only in this way will we ever become part of His kingdom. God does desire justice on this earth, God desires to right what is wrong, to free us from the evil of others and the evil in our own hearts through confession, repentance, forgiveness, love. It is not your ability to force other people or yourself to abide by a list of laws, even the “law” of love that will save us. Only in willingness to give up control and live in trust can you hear from Jesus daily, live deeply rooted in Jesus, and be safe from the poisonous scourge of hatred, pride, and fear which threatens to make hypocrites and empty shells of us all. Only as we live in a posture of receiving from Jesus, like children, will Jesus change and save your heart, and change and save the world.

 

 

 

DaraReason and Rhyme
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God’s Field and God’s Building

“After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us.  I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.  It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.  The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work.  For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building.”

1 Corinthians 3:5-9 (NLT)

“…you are God’s field. You are God’s building.”
Wow! That makes us sound important. God is doing something in and through us.
God is using us for His purposes and His task.

A field is something that requires constant work – preparing, planting, watering, weeding, harvesting, and back to preparing again. A field is never “finished.” God is never finished with us. He is working in and through us. We are all at different seasons in our life, and we all need God to work in us in different ways in different seasons.
When I was young, I lived out in the country and I watched the farmers working in the field behind my house. They worked with tractors to prepare the fields and combines to harvest the wheat and the oats. I loved to watch the fields as they went through the different seasons and as the fields were transformed from dirt, to green growth, to golden stocks ready for harvest, and then back to brown dirt again. It doesn’t happen overnight. And the farmer can’t “make it happen.” But if the farmer doesn’t do his part, he won’t get the harvest. I always marvel at the beauty along the way, through each step of the process. It is interesting that at the end of the process, it is the death and dryness of the plant that prepares it for harvest. If the wheat and oat stalks don’t die, they can’t be harvested.
Similarly in our lives, I think it is the struggles that we go through, the dying to our own self and selfish motives and desires, that allow God to bring about a harvest in and through us.
God is never idle. He is working in and through us. We are God’s servants, doing the work that He gives us to do. We cannot do that on our own or through our own strength, but as we come alongside Him and allow Him to work in us, He can work in and through us.

Similarly, a building is something that takes a lot of work to build. If a building is built well, it can last for hundreds of years, or more! It still requires maintenance over the years, but the bulk of it’s work is done in the initial stages of building it.
My grandfather was a carpenter. He built his own house and houses for others. I loved going up to work with him during summer break from school each year. I was able to watch him build, and also to have the opportunity to learn from him and help him build. It was his work, but he included me into it, and I was a co-worker with him.
In life, God calls us alongside of him as servants, but also co-workers. We God’s building, but we are also used by God to build into the lives of others. The things that we do to build into the lives of others can have impact for many generations to come.

At FFICM we are working to help people to get a firm foundation in their relationship with Jesus Christ, so that they can stand the test of time like a good building, and so that they can bring in a bountiful harvest through the lives of others.

Written by: David Moore

Richard GardnerGod’s Field and God’s Building
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