One of my favorite verses in scripture is “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things” Philippians 4:8. I admit I would think of this verse with warm feelings, maybe even a bit shallow. I would think of this wonderful paradise a sort of utopia or even comparable to that feeling on Christmas morning. As I have been reading and studying it other ideas began to pop out at me–a very different idea than I have had in the past.
The first virtue that the apostle Paul states was “whatever is true.” This got my wheels turning. Is truth easy to think about? Does it even maybe give us pain at times? When Isaiah saw the truth of God in all His holiness, He began to see the reality of His sinfulness. He said “Woe is me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” Isaiah was clearly in anguish over this revelation. He had been exposed. I don’t know about you, but I have encountered times in my life that I had to face the truth about something and it was painful and even sometimes traumatizing. This sort of puts a damper on the warm fuzzy feeling.
Can we really think genuinely of what is noble and right and pure, lovely and admirable if we don’t first come to know what is true? Truth is what gives reality meaning. If we don’t first define truth, we are left defining all the latter attributes by what standard? Without truth, you will have a false security in everything. I understand that the only way to genuine righteousness, genuine purity, genuine nobility, genuine compassion, genuine love, and genuine forgiveness is when I understand the very truth of my own brokenness. When we cross this threshold from death to self and walk into true life eternal within the person of Jesus, we will find the absolute blessed freedom that we longed for. He does not fail. He will not fail.
In His love,
I come to the Father through the cross of Christ.
I will not be oppressed by my weaknesses and strength.
I will not be knocked down by the power of sin and death.
I boldly stand as the person I was made to be.
I am looking unto Jesus who is alive in me.
In His love,
I know what it feels like to get cut out of communion and communication based on standing firm on what you believe in. I also know the pain it causes because of the love I have for the other person. Grief. Suffering. Hurt. I know the temptation to lash out at the other person for being rejected. I know the temptation to give up on the one who has rejected me.
In Hebrews 4:15 it states, “We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”
Jesus, our King, knows first hand what this feels like and his response looks like this: He LOVES. He is rejected. He LOVES. He is mocked. He LOVES. He is cast out. He LOVES. He is scorned. He LOVES. He was beaten. He LOVES. He bled. He LOVES. He was killed. HE LOVES. HE LOVES. HE LOVES. He rose above all of that literally! He is alive! He is risen! We can rise above it too, through the power of Jesus. We are conquerers! Love conquers all and God is love. He is the beginning and the end. What is the answer? Jesus is the answer! He knows my weakness and sympathizes with me. He says, “Johanna, I know how you feel. Rest in me. Take heart daughter. I have overcome all of this. Come unto me, my burden is light. Trust me.”
2 Corinthians 1:5 -“For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”
It’s a comfort beyond anything I know to have a savior who knows how I feel and now I know a taste of what he felt when I shut him out. He loved me. He didn’t lash out at me. He loved me. He didn’t give up on me. HE LOVES ME! Thank you Jesus!
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:12
Do you ever feel like God is not there? Does his presense sometimes seem far away? I have felt this at times. One time in particular, I was feeling depressed. I continued to pray and read the scriptures, but I was getting these thoughts like “There is no God listening to you.” I knew this was not the case, but the feelings of being alone still were there. “Where are you God?” “Why can’t I feel your presence?” Notice one common word, “feel”, “felt”, “feelings”. I knew I couldn’t put my faith in my feelings.
I stumbled on Romans 11 where the apostle Paul tells of the branches being grafted into the tree. I read “The Message” translation and one verse stood out that said, “You do not uphold the root, the ROOT upholds you.” I thought about how it’s not what I do or how I feel that makes me a Christian instead it’s what Christ has done in me and is continuing to do in me and in all circumstances.
I went out to go walk on the bayou in our neighborhood that we recently moved into. My neighbor kept telling me I should go see it. I kept putting it off, but I finally went out and did it. As I was walking down the pebble paved walkway, I began to look ahead and in the pebbles some of them were glistening beautifully and some even brighter. My eyes gravitated towards the shinning pebbles. It was beautiful! As I kept walking, I crossed under a tree; the pebbles stopped glistening. The thought at that moment occurred to me that it was not the pebbles themselves that were glistening but the bigger LIGHT above shinning on the pebbles reflecting that bigger LIGHT. God was saying, “I am here! I have always been here! I am upholiding you!” God will never leave us or forsake us. Even when we have crossed under a cloud, He is still there. We can’t put faith in a feeling. Feelings are feelings and that is all. Let the truth of Jesus govern above all else. Let Him shine and radiate through your life.
Romans 1:20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.
Oh, how weak we are. We try to pull our own weight struggling with this little nothing of muscle we have. We try and we fail again and again. What great relief it is to hear and acknowledge there is an Almighty power in charge of it all. He has the power to pull all the weight and never grow tired. It’s such a relief to just let myself be weak so that His strength can be shown perfect. Why fight it? We are fighting something we can’t conquer on our own. The world and society see weakness as a very different thing than God sees it. The world sees it as a stumbling block that keeps us from success, reputation or status. The biggest thing that keeps us from communion with God is pride and what feeds pride is our illusion of greatness and power. We are voluntarily blocking the One whose power can move mountains, can heal wounded hearts and who is omnipotent in every way. Nothing is impossible with God!
We need not be obsessed in the idea of equality. I find that this is becoming an idol in our post modern era. Jesus certainly didn’t come to provide equality for all. He humbled himself and became a servant, willingly obedient, motivated out of love. This glorifies God. See Philippians 2:6.
Jesus chose the way of weakness in love to save us. He humbled himself, and took on the sins of man. He was humiliated, mocked, beaten, cursed, and He did it as proof of His unfathomable love for us. Philip Yancey said in his book The Jesus I Never Knew, “Power, no matter how well-intentioned, tends to cause suffering.(When we choose power in and of itself, It is destructive) Love, being vulnerable, absorbs it. In a point of convergence on a hill called Calvary, God renounced the one for the sake of the other.” In the Beatitudes Jesus clearly said the weak are blessed. Why? I would say because the moment we admit our weakness and renounce power is the moment His strength and power can increases opening up the floodgates of blessing and joy.
Love is the only answer to conquer evil. Jesus said, “Love your enemies.” Are we doing that? It will involve renouncing power for the sake of the other. The only way to trump and triumph over evil is to surrender in love, and as Jesus rose from the grave and conquered evil so does the lives of the people we touch through the work of the Spirit. They will rise up from this spiritually dead life and will be transformed into new life through Jesus!
As a Christian we are supposed to help heal the broken hearted in Jesus name. Are we not broken ourselves? How does the broken help the broken? This is where it all starts making sense. No one is perfect. Our hurts, injustices and disadvantages are used to bring Glory to God. Jesus is the link between one broken soul to another broken soul. If we pretend to have it all together we hinder the very power of the cross of Christ to break through and breathe new life!
STEP OUT IN FAITH – Take the news of the cross of Jesus to the ends of the earth even in weakness and always in love!