This is what the Lord says- Israel's King and Redeemer, the Lord almighty:
I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.
~ Isaiah 44:6
I have a lovely friend who comes from another country. Recently we had the opportunity to discuss differences between our native countries and how the Lord Jesus found each of us on our distant continents, embraced us in love and turned our lives around. What she had to say got me thinking about this great country I am grateful to live in, which is perceived by most outside nations to be a "Christian Nation".
When she first came to the USA she was surprised to find the country she believed to be founded as a nation under God's authority and Lordship was not unlike God's own original chosen people, Israel, who were chosen to be a light to all other nations and yet failed, repeatedly in following the God who had chosen, founded and ordained them to be identified in Him. She expressed to me how difficult it was to see this "Christian Nation" with so much head knowledge but no heart for the ever present, invisible, God. As an outsider coming from a country which is comparatively poor with limited freedoms she anticipated coming to a land of opportunities, promise and Christian hope. Coming from a culture which worships many gods she had heard about the country which had one God- The One True, Living God. The hope and truth of this One, Holy God and freedom to worship Him with access to His Word inspired her faith to grow stronger. She shared how the Lord Jesus was able to meet her personally and reveal himself to her and how exciting, real and wonderful it was. This was all prior to her coming to America. Still, as she came to live in a once dreamed of and promised land something began to stir for her beneath the surface. These stirrings came as she began to seek God in this foreign, faraway place and realized that amidst the many church buildings that dotted the countrysides, and despite the spiritual heritage of a rich Christian nation all was not as it would appear. She finds herself challenged not by the reality of crime in our country or the lack of love for God, disregard for truth or even rejection of moral absolutes by the general population. She knows better. She is most challenged by the apathy and complacency of those who supposedly know the same Jesus that she knows, yet seem to be desensitized and even disconnected from His heart. Wow. That is one big, giant Selah, and wake up call to the church. Sometimes it takes an outsider to come and speak to us...to remind us of the Jesus that longs for us to shake off religion and follow him with total dependency and mold-able, available, receptive hearts! No wonder God used prophets. Still does, my friends- the question is, are we listening for His voice? Are we willing to hear and repent? We need to guard ourselves from the idols of today. They are subtle and appear good as we know the enemy of our souls comes as a beautiful angel of light, not the abhorrent being he truly is- Remember, there is no truth in him. We must guard against that which appears to be good and that is idolatry in God's eyes. One of my favorite verses in the Bible says that the man who fears the Lord will avoid all extremes. (Ecclesiastes 7:18, NIV) Look around friend, our culture longs for simplicity but is driven to extremes in almost every pursuit. Who do you think is fueling that? I have found that God is in the balance as I continually walk by faith. He leads me away from idolatry and into the beauty and wonderful knowledge of His grace. Let's examine ourselves before God and stop comparing ourselves to others. Let's remember who we represent and that He himself IS Love.
Lord, I pray I am never guilty of being apathetic or complacent in my faith. Give me ears to hear when you want to direct me in love. Let me not speak unless, I myself am led by love. Lord, may I never be desensitized to your heart. But may my faith burn and glow brighter, hotter and stronger with each passing day. Keep me from the extremes that lead to the unperceived idols of the day. Let me not be driven by or to extremes but drawn by You alone into that which is good. I pray this for each who reads these words, as well. In Jesus name.
Further reflection: 2 Corinthians 5:20-21, 1 Peter 2:9-12, John 15:19, Ephesians 3:6, Mark 12:29, Isaiah 44:6, 49:6, 9:2, Matthew 5:13-16, John 3:19-21, 1 John 1:5-7
But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out it's roots by the stream.
It does not fear when rain comes; it's leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.
~ Jeremiah 17:7-8
Until next time, I continue In His Grace, with thanksgiving,