Archive for February, 2011

No Fear of Judgment

“The fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames” (1 Cor. 3:13b-15).

Lately I’ve been very apprehensive about this verse. And yesterday it was weighing on me like a ton of bricks. Maybe you can relate to my feelings when considering your work for the Kingdom, and the fire that will test it on Judgment Day… I know I will not be eternally condemned, but what if I only barely escape through the flames? What if in the end I have invested nothing in the Kingdom? What if I stored up no treasures in heaven because I was too busy trying to live in heaven on earth?

Yesterday, those questions became too painful to ask myself.. yet God in His great compassion and tender mercy comforted me in quiet time today through 1 John, right when I needed it. (He always has perfect timing.)

“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.”
(1 John 4:16b-19).

Because of God’s love, we should be confident on Judgment Day! In this world we are identified in Christ (and His righteousness) and not in ourselves (and our shortcomings). To fear being found imperfect is an imperfection itself, to be healed by deeper knowledge and experience of God’s love.

The saint should have no fear of judgment or punishment, only anticipation of the prize at the end of the race. More than that, our motivation to live for Christ (primarily in living life in Love) is not out of fear, but because He first loved us! It’s good news all around 🙂

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I have been reading the work and biographies of the missionaries Jim & Elisabeth Elliot, and Hannah Hurnard. Sometimes I shrink to consider sitting at a table in heaven with missionaries and martyrs… I will either be humiliated, or too self-forgetful to be.

All I can say is I am infinitely blessed that God relates to me by grace, and so His saints. Because otherwise I would be ashamed for eternity. I am not exaggerating. If I was a pitiful beggar in heaven forever, it would be a hundred fold better than the place I could earn for myself.

Despite all my dreaming, if I leave any kind of legacy, it will be an utterly miraculous one. If I leave one lasting footprint, it will be left by the weight of Christ in me because all I am capable of is writing my name in sand a moment before the waves wash it away.

I tend to depend so much on my limited logic rather than full faith in the God of impossibilities, that whenever I do choose to take His word more seriously than my own, it is a glorious moment where He has convinced me of the fool I am and reminded me yet again that He is, afterall, God.

I can only light-heartedly consider who I am (and who I am not) in light of who He is. Otherwise I’d be lost in eternal despair. I am still stressed and disappointed when comparing who I am to who I hope to be.. but I’m not depressed or defeated, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil. 1:6).

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Half Awake

Upon waking in the morning, I could have been on top of the world the day before, but I hardly expect my fulfillment from yesterday to spill over into my wellbeing today. That would be like expecting yesterday’s dinner to count for breakfast this morning. Even if it were a Thanksgiving feast, I would still be hungry again this morning.

My body awoke and ate this morning, but have I forgotten to wake my spirit? Should I wonder why I can go through the day feeling half alive when truly I am just half awake? I wake with hunger pains. Physically, my stomach hurts and hungers for food. Spiritually, my soul hurts and hungers for the Bread of Life. “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’.” (Matt. 4:4).

Jeremiah wrote, “When Your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight…” (Jer. 15:16). Jesus said, “The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life” (John 6:63). In the morning when we crave breakfast, do we see ourselves as more than our bodies? Do we seek the Word to sustain our souls as earnestly as we search our refrigerators for food?

Spiritual food is the Word, and not only the Bible, but the Son of God. Jesus said, “For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world… I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:33; 51).

Some people don’t remember the last time they felt truly alive, or unconditionally loved, or illogically peaceful, or overwhelmingly joyful. Or maybe they do, but it surely wasn’t yesterday. Yet Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). I believe He was speaking of the inner life, the spiritual life – the wellbeing of which no circumstance should determine.

Not coincidentally, the fruits of His Spirit are life, love, joy, and peace (Gal. 5:22). Do we daily eat as much of these fruits as we need? Have we forgotten the Vine on which they grow? Seeking and experiencing God is better than sex, food, friendship, parenthood, financial security, and even achieving our greatest dreams (though those are ways in which we experience His goodness). They are from Him, but they are not Him. When we cherish those gifts and forget the Giver, they lose their purpose and we lose our fulfillment. It is entirely possible to be all alone in a room yet truly alive, unconditionally loved, illogically peaceful, and overwhelmingly joyful with no explanation but God.

“I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God” (Is. 61:10). “You satisfy me more than the richest feast” (Ps. 63:5).

Jesus says, “The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are (full of the) Spirit and life.” (John 6:63). No matter how much we do for our body it will die. But to hear and believe His Word at the heart level, that will cause our spirit to rise eternally. It is not a one-time event, or even weekly, but we need a daily experience of His goodness. If our spirit does not rise in the morning, we will feel half alive. And because we are naturally blind to the reality of God, we need to day after day “Taste and see (and remember) that the LORD is good” (Ps. 34:8).

It is good to also remember that we delight in Him as a response to the revelation that “The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing” (Zeph. 3:17).

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