This morning, Andy Stanley spoke on developing trust between yourself and other people, which can impact families (especially marriages) and work relationships.
He talked about the huge gap that exists between expectations and experience and the idea that we have a choice of two ways of filling that gap; we can either:
- assume the worst, or
- believe the best
The message text was based on the very familiar passage in I Cor. 13, especially verse 7:
NLT Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
TNIV It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Andy said that when you’re at a crossroads, even in the most difficult relationships, that the way to go is to bend.
Here are some practical ways to live that out:
- When there is a gap between what I expected and what I experienced I am going to believe the best
- When other people assume the worst about you I will come to your defense
- If what I experience begins to erode my trust, I will come directly to you.
- When I’m convinced I will not be available to come through on a promise, I will inform you ahead of time
- When you confront me about the gaps I’ve created, I will tell you the truth.
Today’s piece is from Lori Ettel, author of the devotional blog, A Display of His Splendor, and appeared under the title, “Superhero.”
“David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine, your servant will go and fight him.” (1Samual 17:32)
Yesterday at soccer practice I had to laugh when I saw this little boy. He is three and is the cutest thing ever. He has blonde curly hair and is such a dude. When I saw him, I told him he’s going to be surfer…that’s what he looks like. And he replied boldly, “No I’m not. I’m going to be Spiderman!!” I love it. He was so doggone cute! That is such a boy statement.
It reminded me of David and Goliath. Here the Philistines thought their guy was bigger and tougher. They thought they had it in the bag. The Israeli army was buying it too. They were so intimidated by Goliath’s size. They were frightened and no one would step forward to fight. They just stood there. Along comes David. He’s not afraid. He’ll fight Goliath.
Now, David was the youngest among his brothers. He was sent simply to bring them food. He wasn’t planning to fight that day. But when he got there and saw what was going on, he couldn’t believe it. He knew his God was bigger than Goliath. He knew that he could do anything with God backing him up. Everyone thought David was just young and stupid. But in reality, he knew the one with the Super powers. He knew that only God could defeat Goliath. He had child-like faith. Everyone around him was older and wiser…hmmm. But David had faith.
I think it’s interesting that as we get older, we become less likely to believe the unbelievable. We become so full of wisdom and knowledge; we don’t think God can do the impossible. We start off as children thinking we can do anything. But as we age, we become more afraid. Aren’t we supposed to be more grounded in the Lord as we grow older? Aren’t we supposed to be less afraid as we grow older? Instead, we fear more. Is it because we are wiser and have seen the truth of life? I think we have started depending on what we see and not depending so much on what is unseen. We have limited the power of God and taken over. We have become so self-sufficient. We think if we cannot do a task, it simply cannot be done. We have stopped relying on God. We have stopped believing in His power. We are too willing to accept defeat.
I love that a little three year old boy reminded me that he is not afraid of anything. He truly believes he can do anything. He can’t wait to grow up and be Spiderman. Something happens to us as we grow older. We lose that ability to believe that God can do anything. The bible is full of magnificent stories of God and His power. But we don’t really believe them, do we? Oh they are nice stories but God doesn’t work like that anymore does He? We don’t believe He can. God is not any less powerful or willing to show His power. I believe we simply don’t expect it. God is so big. He is able. He is a Superhero!
He is able more than able
To accomplish what concerns me today
He is able more than able
To handle anything that comes my way
He is able more than able
To do much more than I could ever dream
He is able more than able
To make me what He wants me to be
In certain circles it has become, if nothing else, fashionable to discuss the question, “What is the Gospel?” to the point where I am beginning to think that non-believers will simply know it when they hear it. I just worry that sometimes we over-analyze something we should simply be living.
That dismissiveness aside,Tullian Tchividjian has been busy on Twitter compiling short statements expressing various aspects of the gospel. Apparently, the gospel can’t be contained in a single statement. Blogger Barry Simmons assembled a couple of lists at his blog The Journeyman’s Files both here and here. I linked to it today at Thinking Out Loud, but thought we’d spell out a few of the statements here for C201 readers…
- The gospel reminds us that we become more mature when we focus less on what we need to do for God and more on all God has already done for us.
- The gospel tells me my identity and security is in Christ–this frees me to give everything I have because in Christ I have everything I need
- The gospel tells us we don’t need to spend our lives earning the approval of others because Jesus has already earned God’s approval for us
- When you understand that your significance and identity is anchored in Christ, you don’t have to win—you’re free to lose
- Christian growth doesn’t happen by working hard to get something you don’t have. It happens by working hard to live in light of what you do have
- The world says that the bigger we become, the freer we will be. But the gospel tells us that the smaller we become, the freer we will be.
- The gospel explains success in terms of giving, not taking; self-sacrifice, not self-indulgence; going to the back, not getting to the front
- The gospel empowers us to live for what’s timeless, not trendy–to follow Jesus even when it means going against what’s fashionable
- Because of Christ’s finished work, sinners can have the approval, acceptance, security, freedom, love, righteousness, & rescue they long for
- The only antidote there has ever been to sin is the gospel—and since we never leave off sinning, we can never leave the gospel.
- Because of Christ’s propitiatory work on my behalf I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, praise or popularity.
- The vertical indicative (what God’s done for me) always precedes horizontal imperative (how I’m to live in light of what God’s done for me)
- When you are united to Christ, no amount of good work can earn God’s favor and no amount of bad work can forfeit God’s favor
- Jesus came not to angrily strip away our freedom but to affectionately strip away our slavery to lesser things so we might become truly free
- The irony of the gospel is that we truly perform better when we focus less on our performance for Jesus and more on Jesus’ performance for us
- The gospel tells us that what God has done for us in Christ is infinitely more important than anything we do for him.
- Isn’t it ironic that while God’s treatment of us depends on Christ’s performance, our treatment of others depends on their performance?
- We need God’s gospel rescue every day and in every way because we are, in the words of John Calvin, “partly unbelievers until we die.”
- Daily sin requires a daily distribution of God’s grace
- The hard work of sanctification is the hard work of constantly reorienting ourselves back to our justification.
- Grace can be defined as unconditional acceptance granted to an undeserving person by an unobligated giver.
- The law tells us what God demands from us; the gospel tells us what God in Christ has done for us because we could not meet his demands.
- Paul never uses the law as a way to motivate obedience; He always uses the gospel.
- When you understand God’s grace, pain leads to freedom because deep suffering leads to deep surrender!
- When we depend on things smaller than Jesus to provide us with the security and meaning we long for, God will love us enough to take them away.
- The gospel is the good news that God rescues sinners. And since both non-Christians & Christians are sinners, we both need the gospel.
- The gospel grants Christians one strength over non-Christians: the strength to admit they’re weak.
- The gospel isn’t just the power of God to save us, it’s the power of God to grow us once we’re saved.
- When we transfer trust from ourselves to Christ, we experience the abundant freedoms that come from not having to measure up.
- The gospel makes wise those who know they’re foolish and makes fools out of those who think they’re wise.
- It never ceases to amaze me that God’s love to those who are in Christ isn’t conditioned on how we behave but on how Christ behaved for us.
- In the gospel, God comes after us because we need him not because he needs us. Only the gospel can free us to revel in our insignificance.
- Mt. Sinai says, “You must do.” Mt. Calvary says, “Because you couldn’t, Jesus did.” Don’t run to the wrong mountain for your hiding place.
Remember these is only about half the list; click on both of the above links to get the full list; and thank-you Barry for compiling this.
From yesterday’s modern worship song, we flash back more than a hundred years for the song “Love Unknown” (the tune name, which I chose as the blog post tile) better known as “Oft When of God We Ask.” And yet, there’s something very contemporary about these soul-searching lyrics, and approach to its theme: Trusting God in trials. It’s almost out-of-sync with other hymns from the same era. (Or perhaps, with the hymns that have survived with which we are now familiar.) The writer is Thomas Toke Lynch (1818-1871). I tried to find a video for this, but as you can imagine, this is a very obscure hymn.
Oft when of God we ask
For fuller, happier life,
He sets us some new task
Involving care and strife ;
Is this the boon for which we sought?
Has prayer new trouble on us brought?
This is indeed the boon,
Though strange to us it seems :
We pierce the rock, and soon
The blessing on us streams ;
For when we are the most athirst,
Then the clear waters on us burst.
We toil as in a field,
Wherein, to us unknown,
A treasure lies concealed,
Which may be all our own:
And shall we of the toil complain
That speedily will bring such gain ?
We dig the wells of life,
And God the water gives ;
We win our way by strife,
Then He within us lives ;
And only war could make us meet
For peace so sacred and so sweet.
I found this February post somewhat randomly. Too many good things in the Christian blogosophere disappear after a few days, and it’s too bad, because there are a number of nuggets of gold in most Christian blogs if you’ve got the time to look for them.
This one is from Sim’s Blog and was written with Lent in mind, a time associated with “giving up” various things…
Give up complaining —— Focus on gratitude.
Give up pessimism —— Become an optimist.
Give up harsh judgments —— Think kindly thoughts.
Give up worry —— Trust divine providence.
Give up discouragement —— Be full of hope.
Give up bitterness —— Turn to forgiveness.
Give up hatred —— Return good for evil.
Give up negativism —— Be positive.
Give up anger —— Be more patient.
Give up pettiness —— Become mature.
Give up gloom —— Enjoy the beauty that is all around you.
Give up jealousy —— Pray for trust.
Give up gossiping —— Control your tongue.
Give up sin —— Turn to virtue.
Give up giving up —— Hang in there!
`Instead of offering sacrifices to me, I want you to be merciful to others.’ I didn’t come to invite good people to be my followers. I came to invite sinners.’ – Matthew 9:13
Whether your tastes run to hymns or modern worship, this song is both. “I Have a Shelter” is a Sovereign Grace Music song, and on this video version the lyrics appear onscreen. If this is new to you, play it several times.
O Jesus, I will hide in you
The one who bears my burdens
With faithful hands that cannot fail
You’ll bring me home to heaven.
This week I want to post some quotes from the book Plan B: What Do You Do When God Doesn’t Show Up In The Way You Thought He Would? by Pete Wilson.
You can read my full review of the book at Thinking Out Loud.
Someone once said, “Adversity introduces a man to himself.” Unfortunately, more often than I like to admit, I have found this to be true. And I cringe when I look back on how I’ve acted during times when it felt as if God was not there and the bottom was dropping out.