BY JORDAN MAYER
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change."
I was listening to a podcast recently that was discussing idolatry and the many ways we attempt to satisfy our souls. The human heart is sadly efficient at crafting idols. As John Calvin puts it, our hearts are idol factories! We may scoff at the golden calves and the statues of old, but we, too, form our own household gods. While they may not be as obvious, at their core they are the same. They are the things that command the attention of our hearts. Money, sex, and power get much of the spotlight in books, but what about the more subtle gods of leisure, convenience, security, balance, or health?
I think one of the tricky things with idols is the fact that they are often really good things! Time away from work to relax and unwind is a good thing! Free two-day shipping is a good thing! Feeling safe and at peace is a good thing! Keeping healthy boundaries between work and personal life is a good thing! Being healthy is a good thing! The problem is not in the thing itself. The problem is when we make a good thing into the main thing.
When this happens, these once good things become bad things. They get twisted and distorted in our attempt to be satisfied by them. Try as we might, we end up frustrated and disappointed. It turns out that these are all extremely poor substitutes for God. They were never designed to fill the God-sized void in our hearts. Instead, they become the itch that we cannot scratch or, as Solomon puts it, vanity of vanities and a striving after wind. If anyone could find pleasure or meaning outside of God, it would have been Solomon. Although he withheld no desire from his eyes, it still could not satisfy (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11).
But, when we place our satisfaction in God himself, these "things of earth" fall into their proper place. Desires are transformed, time is redeemed, and the things we pursue take on an even deeper meaning and value than they ever did before.
There is a wonderfully insightful quote from C.S. Lewis in which he says, “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."
We mustn't settle for gifts and miss out on the Giver. Rather, we should allow these gifts to draw us to the One who gives them. Psalm 16:11 says, "You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
We rejoice in His gifts, but we are satisfied in His presence.
BY JORDAN MAYER
“From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him.”
One of the things I love about Scripture is the privilege we have as the reader to not only read the accounts themselves, but also get a behind-the-scenes look into God’s plan and purpose in the situation. Whether it be individuals or entire nations, God has worked and continues to work in and through human history to accomplish His purposes.
It seems so obvious to me as I read in minutes what took days, months, and even years to come to pass. I have to remind myself that these individuals were living these events in real time and didn’t have the benefit of skipping ahead to the end. Instead, they simply had to trust and wait upon the Lord.
Although, I am not always good at waiting. I like the feeling of being in control and taking action. I trust God, but maybe I need to just help things along a little bit. I’m sure we all have had similar experiences and results when we attempt to “help” God. We force situations into directions they’re not meant to go and wind up frustrated with the results.
It goes without saying, but God doesn’t need our help. Can we honestly think that the God who spoke the world into existence, who formed us from the dust of the ground, and sustains our very life needs our help to accomplish anything? It’s the clay asking the potter if he needs help forming the bowl; it’s preposterous! If God doesn’t need our help, what does He want from us? He wants us to trust Him.
I find it funny how I can trust God in some areas of my life and less so in others. Perhaps it’s because the big stuff reminds me of how Ill-equipped I am, while the day to day needs seem within my grasp to handle. But if we need God to sustain our every breath, we need Him for every single aspect of our life. And if God has faithfully provided in one area of our lives, then surely He will provide for the others. But again, we must wait until He does.
When I think of waiting, my mind tends to equate it with inaction. But waiting is an action, and it turns out to be the best thing for me in light of who I am waiting for and on. God will act, but I need to have the trust and patience to let Him act…in His timing! In this modern world of instant access and gratification, waiting and patience are short commodities. I want what I want and I want it now! But for a God who exists outside of time itself, He acts at the precise moment He intends to and not a moment sooner.
And much can be done in waiting. Waiting is a time to deepen our faith and trust in God. While we wait for one thing, we still get to experience his faithful provision in other areas of our lives. Likewise, these times are opportunities for God to be working on us and teaching us.
No matter the circumstances we find ourselves in or the winding path our life takes, God is enough. No, God is more than enough. He will act, but He will act for those who wait for Him.
BY JORDAN MAYER
"Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ..."
We live in a world at war with the truth. Or more specifically, at war with a definitive truth. We are encouraged to live our truth and speak our truth. But if everyone has their own truth then there is no truth! And it turns out that none of us are all that good at defining truth for ourselves. And there is a reason for this. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" In order to know what truth really is, we have to look for it outside of ourselves.
In Jesus' high priestly prayer, He prays, "Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth". Where else could truth be found but in a perfect, all knowing, and infinitely good God? But simply understanding where the truth comes from is only the first step. We have to know the truth, and knowing the truth comes primarily through knowing God's Word. Psalm 1 provides us with the pattern: "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, no sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night" (Psalm 1:1-2). There is no substitute for daily, intentional time spent in the Word. There's also no shame in starting small. Building habits can be difficult, spiritual or otherwise. Perhaps it's been a week, a month, or even longer since you've spent personal time in His Word. Whether it be 5 minutes, a half hour, on break, at home, in the morning, at night; it may look a little bit different for each of us. Remember, it's about quality not quantity. I have fallen into the trap far too often of thinking God will be pleased by the number of chapters I read or the number of minutes I spend. But this kind of thinking misses the point. When we spend time with those we love, we don't watch the clock or track our time. I have to remind myself that I am actively pursuing relationship with my Lord and Savior. I want to know Him better and I want to be changed by what I read. I enjoy reading the Bible because I enjoy Him!
The more time we spend in the Word, allowing its truth to soak deep into our hearts and minds, the more we are transformed by its truth (Romans 12:2). I can feel the difference when I haven't spent dedicated time in His Word. When Jesus said, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4), He was highlighting the importance of spiritual sustenance. As we need air to breath or food to eat, we need the truth of God's Word to feed our souls.
But not only do we need the Word in our lives, we need other believers too. The Christian life is not a solo sport, just like the Church is not each individual member but the collective whole. One of the primary purposes of Christian fellowship is to encourage and remind one another of the truth. On our own, we are prone to wander and be deceived by the world and our own sinful flesh. Left to my own devices, I can rationalize and convince myself of almost anything. But, there is such comfort in knowing that God has provided people in my life who will constantly and consistently remind me of the truth. Finding people who will always tell you what you want to hear is relatively easy, they are a dime a dozen. But finding people who speak the truth in love, who are not afraid to call out sin in my life, are a blessing to my soul. "Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy" (Proverbs 27:5-6).
The world is constantly changing and the truth may be difficult to see, but God's Word does not change because He does not change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Fill up on His Word. Fellowship with His people. Rejoice in His truth.
BY JOYCE PELLETIER
"Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
These words tell me so much about the intimacy of God and the grace that He freely gives. I talk to God so much about those things that bother me. Once I unload the anxious thoughts, and share those uncertain things I do not know, dwelling on how it will all come out. I know He’s got a great plan for my life, yet, sometimes I wonder why it takes Him so long to answer my prayers.
There are times when I just need to vent and get the negative thoughts out of my head so I can clear out some space for Him so He can fill me with grace and wonder of the amazing things He’s done again.
I’ll admit, I am impatient. The waiting game is not when I put my best foot forward. However, I need I tell Him so. When I am in the middle of the venting, I can see what I need to confess. I realize that I’m the one who is demanding answers.
As I write these words, I am in the middle of a day that started at 4 am. We are currently fostering a dog, until we can make the decision to keep her or not. We had to be at the Rescue place by 7am, to where she will be taken to Waitsfield for a vet appointment. As we were leaving, they called to tell us to hold off until they can talk to the vet as there was a glitch. So, back in the house we go and finally get the call to go at 7:45. We got home to a busy morning of cleaning the house and sneaking things in that just popped up to be done. There was a barrage of places I had to be, like a Wake at 4, then called the rescue to find out Sasha still had not returned again, so I went back home and waited for the call. Finally, at 8pm we were back home with a traumatized dog under the influence of who knows what the vet gave her so she would not bite them.
You see, this whole day was about teaching me patience. I’ve learned to never pray for patience. You will be tested. The good part was the mountains of laundry was done, the house and car were cleaned after a winter of salt on the carpet. And my blog is written. The lessons of patience, yet again won out as well. In the middle of driving here and there, I shed some venting thoughts and conviction of where I needed to make room for repentance and then peace was restored.
There are times when I see things that are wrong that need to be repaired, yet, He tells me “Not yet my child.” So I ask Him to again be my patience. It’s when I turn it all over in the middle of a chaotic day that resolutions are aired out. It’s a cleansing time. The issues I was frustrated about were trivial, but also a time of cleansing and realization of God is with me wherever I go.
There is a gentle reminder from God in Ecclesiastes 3:3 where it says, “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build up… (I challenge you to read through the rest of the chapter.)
I have found that when a tough day comes up and you can’t find the answers or a stressful situation blocks the road to communication, a simple prayer, “Jesus, stand between us!” This is my favorite prayer. This simple prayer reminds me that the Lord is always listening, and asking Him to be in the middle of these kind of days, as a reminder for ‘ME’ to take heed, Jesus is in control. Take a breather, sit a spell, and watch in wonder what He works out in those difficult and sometimes impossible situations.
I’ve seen this happen time after time. What changes most is my need deep in my soul where God is free to do what He does best. He fixes me, puts me in a place where I can vent about the things that aren’t going quite as well as I thought. You see when venting happens, it clears out the trash so I can have room to receive His Grace and Blessings.