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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Rejoicing Through Grief

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 1 Peter 1:6

Last week I was informed of the sudden and unexpected death of my father's identical twin brother. It was a particular shock because, to me, it had almost felt as though I had a spare dad in the background in case anything happened to my own. It also brought home to me the mortality of my own father as my uncle had seemed to be the healthier of the two. And so I have been experiencing grief.

You Greatly Rejoice
Peter says that despite grief, the believers to whom he was writing were rejoicing. Even more, they were rejoicing greatly. It is hard to see how two such contrasting emotions can exist together. Yet these Christians had found a way, not to suppress their grief, but to balance it with joy.

When Paul commanded the Philippians to, "rejoice in the Lord always," (Phil 4:4) he wasn't asking them to pretend that everything was wonderful when it wasn't. Pretending to be happy when you're feeling broken hearted won't help you, it will just delay the grieving process.So how do we do this? How do we balance grief and joy, accepting both as valid emotions? In 1 Pet 1:3-5 we see what it is that Peter's audience were rejoicing in - their salvation. Peter himself explodes into praise for new birth, for Christ's resurrection, for our coming perfect inheritance and the powerful protection we have from God.

Let me ask, have we lost the wonder of what it means to be saved and all the blessings which accrue from that? When was the last time you felt excited about all God's done for you? When did you last "greatly rejoice," in your salvation?

Prayer College Assignment
Spend some time praising God for as many aspects of salvation as you can think of. If that's a struggle pray with David, "restore to me the joy of your salvation," (Ps 51:12).

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Do You Realise?

On that day you will realise that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. John 14:20.

When we stop to think about it we have to accept that Christianity makes outrageous claims. It shouldn't surprise us that people of other faiths have difficulty understanding ours. Take this verse for example. Our God, Jesus, lives inside us. Jesus, the holy and perfect one has taken up residence in the lives of those who have submitted to Him.

A Great Mystery
Muslims, for example, cannot comprehend how God could "demean" Himself to live in the flesh of the great prophet Jesus, let alone the rest of us who claim to be Christians but who seem to live such unrighteous lives.

The Bible frequently uses the word mystery to describe what the Lord has done for us. It is truly incomprehensible the almighty God, El Shaddai, should choose to dwell in the hearts of His creatures. But that is precisely what He does.

On That Day
As with so many things in the Christian life, we seem to need a revelation before we truly grasp the wonder of "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col 1:27). But it is a revelation that will be transforming. "On that day you will realise," said Jesus. Have you realised the implications of such closeness to, such intimacy with Jesus.

Himself
Priorities change when such realisation comes. Why worry about the gifts when you have the giver, why worry about healing when you have the healer Himself?

A dear friend gave me a little booklet by AB Simpson for holiday reading. It concludes with the following poem, entitled "Himself".

Once it was the blessing,
Now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling,
Now it is His Word.
Once His gifts I wanted,
Now the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing,
Now Himself alone.

Once 'twas painful trying,
Now 'tis perfect trust;
Once a half salvation,
Now the uttermost.
Once 'twas ceaseless holding,
Now He holds me fast;
Once 'twas constant drifting,
Now my anchor's cast.

Once 'twas busy planning,
Now 'tis trustful prayer;
Once 'twas anxious caring,
Now He has the care.
Once 'twas what I wanted,
Now what Jesus says;
Once 'twas constant asking,
Now 'tis ceaseless praise.

Once it was my working,
His it hence shall be;
Once I tried to use Him,
Now He uses me.
Once the power I wanted,
Now the Mighty One;
Once for self I laboured,
Now for Him alone.

Once I hoped in Jesus,
Now I know He's mine;
Once my lamps were dying,
Now they brightly shine.
Once for death I waited,
Now His coming hail;
And my hopes are anchored
Safe within the veil.

AB Simpson (1843-1919)

Prayer College Assignment
Ask the Lord to reveal to you more of the mystery of "Christ in you."