Monday, February 18, 2013

Sunday Snippets: Loving the World

This week has been a roller coaster for me.  I know I had promised to be a better blogger this year, but sometimes I can barely keep up with life.  I can barely keep up with the emotions I go through on a weekly basis, let alone document them.  Even though I feel like nothing big is happening in my life.  I mean according to the world's standards I'm pretty unsuccessful currently.  I'm not getting married.  I'm not having a baby.  I didn't get a new job.  I'm not moving somewhere cool and fun.  I'm not training for a marathon.  I'm haven't lost 100 lbs.  I haven't wrote a book or published a song.  Nothing is really new with me according to the world's standards.  I couldn't impress anyone on Facebook or at a cocktail party.  And honestly it was starting to kind of get to me.

I've felt really stuck lately.  I felt like nothing was happening in my life and I felt like I was getting left behind.

This weekend our pastor gave a sermon on "Loving the world but not loving the world".  It sounds very contradictory, but basically it was about guarding yourself for not loving or craving the things of this world over God.  Bad things like partying, sex, drugs, greed.  But more importantly good things like marriage, children, your home, family, friends, etc.

He warned us about lusting for things and defined lust as a desire that has taken on too much weight and controls you and your behavior.  He said "Only by not lusting for the world can we give ourselves up and really love the world."

He referenced a lot of verses in 1 John but here were two of my favorites:

"For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory though our faith." 1 John 5:4

"And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave.  But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever." 1 John 2:17

The sermon was really good and if you want to listen to it you can go here.  (It isn't posted yet, but should be soon.)  But the sermon was really reinforced today when I sat down to do my bible study for my small group.  We have been working our way through Genesis in what has seriously been the best study we have ever done.  It has made me read these familiar stories with new eyes and really made me see how Jesus was always Plan A for God and how He has been using all of history to tell this wonderful story.

We just finished Creation Unraveled last week and are starting Creation Restored this week.  The first study took us through Genesis 1-11 which includes Adam & Eve, Cain & Abel, Noah, and the Tower of Babel.  Today I started the first week of Creation Restored which starts telling the story of Abram.

If you aren't familiar with the story of Abram, basically God makes a covenant with him that all His people (including the Messiah) will come through Abram and he changes his name to Abraham (Father Abraham had many sons, many sons had father Abraham..remember that song?)

But the study first has us look and who Abraham (Abram) and Sarah (Sarai) were when God chose them.  Basically they were on their way to a city that worshiped idols and they could not have children.  They were "barren"- Abram spiritually and Sarai physically.

The study asks "...wonder why God would chose to work through such a couple instead of picking out a man and a woman who better represented the best of what human beings can achieve."  It goes on to say that "...such things don't come from the righteousness of people, or the accomplishment of people, of from being born into the right bloodline." God does not choose us based on the world's standards of worthiness.

It goes on to discuss barrenness   Which I could really relate to right now and when you are in the midst of it leaves you pretty hopeless.  Barrenness isn't just not being able to have children, but feeling like your life is empty and lacking faith and just feeling, well, barren and in the midst of a desert.

So what gives us hope in the midst of "barrenness"?  Faith.  Here's another quote from the study- "Faith isn't an attempt to give us the look of morality.  That's not faith at all.  That isn't Christianity either.  Having faith in God means letting go of everything that our hands are grasping so tightly in our effort to find identity and security- yes, even seemingly good things- and looking toward God to keep us instead."

It goes on to discuss how God asked him to go but didn't tell him where to go.  And even worse, Abraham never got to see with his own eyes the fulfillment of God's promises.  Ten years after God had promised him "descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky", he and Sarah were still childless and old.  "...the gap between the promise and their fulfillment was starting to wear on him." (and us!)  He complained to God that he was childless and old and would have no heir like God had promised.

I loved this passage from the study:
"I can't think of a single person who would have a hard time relating to Abraham here.  We've all felt dissatisfied with some of God's promises.  He promised to never leave or forsake us, for example, but there are definitely times we feel like we've been on our own for a while.  He promised to conform us to the image of His Son, but we can't seem to get free from the power of sin.  He promised to hear us when we cry out to Him, but there are times when the sky feels like brass, bouncing back our prayers."

That is exactly how I have been feeling lately.

Thank God for this message at just the right time.

The study goes on to ponder "can't God give us something like the sign He gave to Abraham? can we know, like Abraham knew, that God will keep His promises?  Here is the answer:

"And He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to them, and said, "This is My body, which is given for you.  Do this in remembrance of Me." In the same way He also took the cup after supper and said, "This cup is the new covenant established by My blood; it is shed for you" (Luke 22:19-20)

That is what I am going to be focusing on this Lent season.  Not the suffering because I have been up to my eyeballs wallowing in self-pity for my "suffering".  And even though it is but a scratch compared to Christ sufferings, my faith cannot withstand focusing on suffering right now.

So I am focusing on the gift.  And the promise.  And knowing that at times like this when my faith is weak and I'm so distracted by the things of this world, that someone has already believed and trusted perfectly for me.  Thank God!  So thankful for Jesus!  So thankful for this study.

And I'm so incredibly thankful for my Bible study girls and other girl friends this week who held me up with prayer and encouragement when I was weak.  If you think you can walk this journey of faith alone, I am telling you, you can't.  You need others to remind you of truth constantly and hold you up and encourage you when the world beats you down.  Find a church and/or small group to live your life with and study God's word with.  It makes all the difference in the world!


PostgradPrep said...

I loved JD's Sermon this week! I think your Bible study on Genesis looks amazing! I will have to check it out! I hope you have a wonderful week in the Word.

Alicia Miller said...

I loved this post!!! :)