The Ultimate Goal

The Ultimate Goal:

‘One thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal, for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.’ Philippians 3:13b-14 (loose translation)

When I was in Discipleship Training some twenty years ago, I was encouraged to know that suffering was for the purpose of building character and building character led to usefulness and crowns in Heaven.

Now I realize that the ultimate goal will not necessarily lead me to any victory, blessing or usefulness on earth, but that the only reason for suffering may be to bring me closer to the character of Jesus. I may not be otherwise blessed at all.

So much for prosperity gospel. So much for victorious living and God’s blessings. Is being like Jesus enough?

This past year, 2013, has been the most difficult year in my 30 years as a believer and follower of Jesus Christ. I have my health, I have a safe and warm home, I have my family; I am blessed in many ways. But what I have ‘lost’ is the belief that I will one day achieve something for the Kingdom which is of lasting benefit and significance. I have, as one friend said recently, experienced the ‘death to the dream’ or as Dr Larry Crabb puts it, I have experienced Shattered Dreams (Waterbrook Press, Colorado Springs, Colorado, (c) 2001).

This past year has been a year of expectations disappointed, of strain with no resultant achievement, of realization that just because I believe and work hard does not mean I will succeed in finding a job or finding an audience for my writing. That’s been a difficult lesson.
I’ve watched others in similar situations, faithful brothers or sisters in Christ, who have experienced similar. Some tell stories of God coming through in the end. Others are still waiting. For myself, I’ve stumbled upon a new reality: Jesus came to save from sin – which is both a one-time finished salvation and also a slow process of self-discovery and sanctification which may have no other end but purity.

I wonder how many believers have faith in ultimate goals being realized: hopes and ambitions that God will train us so that we can be better people in our work and ministry, only to discover eventually that life hasn’t panned out quite how they expected. And if any of those disappointed that their own dreams – what they believe or believed were the ‘desires of their hearts’ – will not be realized, have become bitter or disillusioned. My own sense of self-importance, which dies hard, has thought I will one day minister and be fruitful in producing writing that will speak to millions and change lives. Now I’m thinking that will not be how God uses me and that He may not even use me at all. Realizing this has been hard. But do I still love Him, in spite of thinking my secure middle class existence and hope for notoriety is speedily coming to an end?

Yes, I do. I may not love Him as much as I thought I did, but the seed is still there. Thank you, LORD. And I will persevere, in spite of discovering there may be no reward but the assurance I am saved by His grace. And I will love Him all the more as I see the ugliness of my selfish ambition and know He still loves me.

The ultimate goal is not to reap prosperity, nor even to be involved in the conversion of others to the knowledge of God’s ultimate gift in giving us His son Jesus. The ultimate goal is simply to be transformed to be more the likeness of the Son. And that is sometimes a hard journey.

Dr Larry Crabb’s subtitle to his book Shattered Dreams is not a promise and not a reason to persevere, but it is a hope; Shattered Dreams is God’s Unexpected Pathway to Joy. I wouldn’t urge others to persevere for the sake of it, but it is helpful to know there is a hope at the end of the tunnel. As I grow in Christ, as I journey in my faith, the tunnels seem to get longer, but so far they’ve always ended. I’ve no reason to believe the one I’ve lived in during 2013 will end on 1st January 2014, but I do have every reason to believe it will, one day, ‘burst forth into glorious day’!!

God bless and Happy New Year!

There is always Hope

There is always Hope

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The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD

Is it time?

‘Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon us…’ on anyone who believes and follows Jesus. That means we have the one whom Jesus called ‘The Comforter’ wherever we go.

That means we carry comfort with us, in us – assurance for ourselves and for others that we are loved, we are valued, we have purpose.

Do you know the Spirit of God? As he reigns in you, as you surrender to LORD God, you are made whole. This is part of God’s saving grace.

Are you living in the fullness of His love, grace and sovereignty? Do you know – are you living free – as Christ has set you free? Free from sin, yes, but also from emotional death, spiritual abandonment.

Soaring Seagulls

To soar, we can trust our desires to HIM.

If you are not living in that freedom… there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, and who are called according to His purpose. But perhaps now is the time to SOAR: to See Over All Repression, to walk in the light and confidence that you have in Christ. It is surely your time to embrace who you are, how God made you and what you are to become – to be all He created you to be, so you can do all He created you to do.

I pray we all live in the absolute fullness of His salvation. Now and always! His love has set us free, and whom the Son has set free, “he is free indeed.”

God bless.

WHAT IF… on divorce between Believers

I’m looking at a ‘What if…’ question that may rock the boat a bit. But if we don’t look at a full perspective on an issue, how are we going to find the absolute truth?

I am a Bible-believing Christian. I find that as I navigate through this life questions arise which prompt me to look into my Bible long and deep, to seek the answers that emulate Christ’s purpose and character.

Today my question is: under what circumstances does Jesus allow divorce?

I encourage research but I’m not going to quote scripture here. I think most Bible-believing Christians will know that scripture clearly states that divorce on the grounds of adultery is permissible  No other grounds are sited as acceptable to God.

To find an answer I will not look at the question first, or even the general issue, but at Jesus himself as the author and finisher of our faith…

I have seen the decay of marriages both in the secular and in the Christian home, and it is very sad to see how love can disintegrate. I haven’t always had an easy time in my marriage but we’ve always sought to overcome our differences and have managed to do so. I’ve seen other relationships where people haven’t managed to achieve that.

Jesus says divorce is awful. But would he support an abusive husband or a wife who wants escape? Until recently, I’ve always thought that Jesus would want the marriage to stand unconditionally and that time, prayer, counselling would draw a couple to resolve their differences; however, I’m not so sure anymore. I’ve observed abusive relationships and I’m wondering: what would be God’s heart for the abuser? for the victim/survivor of abuse? I certainly don’t condone divorce but I’m not so sure Jesus intended us to follow the letter of the law in this any more than in any other situation. He came to set us free; he fulfills the law. When we love one another as he loves us, we also fulfill the law.

In an abusive situation I’m not so sure anymore that Jesus would say the couple should stay together. I’m wondering now, perhaps Jesus’ words on divorce only related to men leaving women as that was the only direction feasible in Jesus’ day.

What are your thoughts?

Every walking faithfully, in the light of God’s Word and His revelation to me today….

Sarah

Accepting Our Calling

“Many are called, few are chosen”

There are a few things of which I am certain:

1 Jesus is Christ who died and was resurrected.

2 I am saved by the grace of God.

3 The Holy Spirit resides in me to lead me on to serve the LORD God.

Then there are the personal things:

4 I am a child of God called to give birth and to parent one child.

5 I am a Watchman

6 I have been called to write.

Today I come to the blog to comment on the LORD’s call to me to write.

In 2000 I returned from an experience in Hong Kong, where I now have friends and a place in my heart. The events and blessings I received there will be shared some other time. But during that 3 month residence, the LORD spoke into my spirit and said to me clearly to write. I have been doing so ever since.

This blog is aimed at women like me, who love the LORD and are in their middle years. As with all blogs it is available to all. But I would love others to join me who fit into that ‘mould’ and who would like to share their reflections and discoveries during their walk with the LORD.

Today I invite us all to pray, to seek His face, to discern our calling from Him. There will be seasons of harvest and barren seasons, but when we are diligent to follow His call, our lives will be a blessing and will be blessed with His peace and joy.

I have a book now published, several others started and some will come into the public forum. I’ve blogs, contributions to others’ blogs, all sorts of social network offerings. The LORD did not say to earn a living from writing. He did not say minister to others. He said, “write”; and so I write.

What has the LORD said to you? Have you heard? Have you obeyed? “Trust in your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”

Every blessing to you, creations of the KING.

Who is GOD, What is GOD

YWYH: What Are YOU?

“But He knows the way that I take;

When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.” Job 23:10

This week I have been wrestling with my concept of our LORD. Who is YWYH? The LORD: what is He?

We who have been saved by His grace know his goodness, his love and gentleness. But this week I’ve had on my mind – my heart – what is the awesome power that He holds and what is His fury? This question came to me at the first of the week, and I held it in my mind.

Then in our small group last night, as we were discussing Genesis 15 – Abram and his relationship by faith and his clumsiness with Sarai and Hagar and all that led up to the conception and birth of Ishmael. We came across this verse:

“Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him.” Gen 15:12

Now don’t we usually think of the darkness as coming from the devil, hell, demons? How is it that God and darkness come together to Abram?

And then I recalled my sense of darkness earlier in the week – not a darkness that causes me to run away, but rather, it is a darkness I observe, contemplate and wonder. My heart rises to my throat and I quake. Is this the darkness of the LORD?

The truth is that the ‘Evangelical’ generally expresses “God is love.” Yes, He is love but He is also wrath – righteous wrath; and power – awesome power.

I want to keep God outside the box. Even though I’ve read the Bible several times and followed the LORD for nearly thirty years, I certainly don’t know everything about Him. So I don’t know how darkness and light can come together in Him, just as I don’t know how love and mercy, truth and grace trump evil and vicious cruelty every time.

I don’t know how He is in the darkness. My theology hasn’t made room for that up until now. But now I believe He is revealing something more of His nature to me and I trust that.

And I know the way that I take, and with every step, He knows where I’m going. And when I arrive, He promises I’ll shine. Even now the tarnish is being rubbed off, one layer at a time. Sometimes there are glimpses of sheen. I’m coming LORD – there by Your grace I come – and when I arrive, I shall shine!

Revelations

God’s Revelation to us: Unending