Questioning God’s Love

god-loveThis week I questioned God’s love. Let me be a little more specific. I questioned God’s love for me. Believing God loves others is easy. Believing God loves me is a bridge that I thought I’d crossed in a previous decade – a literal bridge.

In the late 1990’s I had just taught a lesson about Israel’s scathing accusation that God didn’t love them.  God was perplexed and downright irritated. He had destroyed a nation that refused to give them religious freedom. Then obligated himself to sacrifice his firstborn son to pay for their freedom. What made them think he didn’t love them?

I knew why Israel felt unloved. God promised to fulfill the promises he made to their ancestors if they followed him. Instead of receiving the fulfillment of those promises, they were stuck in a desert with supplies running dangerously low. Matters were complicated when ten of their leaders returned from scouting out the promise land and recommended they return to Egypt. Discouraged and afraid, the Israelites weep all night “God doesn’t love us!”

I know how Israel felt. At the time I taught that lesson twenty years had elapsed, and I thought I was at the border of the Jordan River about to cross over into my Promised Land. Instead of encouraging me, the words and deeds of leaders at my church had thoroughly discouraged me.

My husband and I were on our way home from church. When we reached the top of the Huey Long Bridge, the same scathing accusation made by Israel came out of my mouth, “God doesn’t love me.” That statement suddenly woke me to a frightening realization. I was guilty of the same sin that robbed Israel of the promises of God and kept them in a wilderness until they perished. As we exited the bridge, I repented and purposed never to doubt God’s love again.

Fast forward to the present and I found myself slipping in the same slop. “How does God love me when he didn’t do what he promised me.”  I didn’t ask God for this thing. It wasn’t my idea. He initiated it. I’ve waited longer than Moses.

Waiting doesn’t disturb me. Patience is a foundation of the Christian faith. That my efforts to obey God have resulted in little more than a lifetime of waiting does. The things God said to me prevented me from doing other things with my life. Even more disturbing is the thought I could have done those other things while I waited on him. We are our own worst enemy.

The Sunday after my relapse into Israel’s error, I attended a Pentecostal church service. During the song service, the singing stopped and the congregation grew quiet. A woman standing in front of me spoke a prophesy*, “Don’t measure my love the way the world measures love. My love is pure like a gentle wind that flows in and out of your life, so gentle you often don’t perceive its presence.”

God rebukes whom he loves, and I consider myself rebuked. God loves me. Things did not happen the way I thought they would, but that is not an accurate measure of God’s love. It is an accurate measure that I did not understand the things God said to me. If you are weary of waiting, don’t question God’s love. His love is pure flowing in and out of our lives whether we perceive it or not.

*Pentecostal’s practice the gifts of the Spirit according to 1 Corinthians 12-14. The woman’s prophesy was a message from God to the church.

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Accessorize the Armor of God

Anna Jean accessories the armor of God at Kathy Frady’s Giggle Fest.

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Doing Good Works

my-good-worksThe phrase “good works” arrested my attention while reading Titus in the New King James Version of the Bible. Paul left Titus in Crete to appoint elders and expected him to be a model of good works the elders could imitate. He exhorted Titus to be zealous and ready to perform good works. Twice, he addressed the need to maintain good works.

The emphasis on good works made me wonder what Paul considered a good work? More importantly, what does God consider a good work? Instead of assuming that we know what is “good”, we should allow the Bible to define a “good work.”

A good work in the Biblical sense does not originate in human reasoning. God has already determined the good works he desires us to do (Ephesians 2:10).  He decided the good Jesus would do and recorded those works in the Old Testament before Jesus was born. Had Jesus varied from the prophecies spoken about him, his works, no matter how charitable, would not have been a “good work” ordained by God.

One way to know we are doing a good work is the response of the people. Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). The last time you did a good work who was glorified? Did people walk away in awe of God or in awe of you?

Since only God is truly good, the only “good works” are the ones he leads us to do. Jesus told the Jews that he could do “nothing of himself but what he sees the Father do; for whatever he does the Son also does in like manner” (John 5:19). If Jesus could do “nothing of himself”, how much more are you and I incapable of doing good works without the guidance of God’s Spirit?

Another test of a good work is the ability to perform it. “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).  In all things, at all times we should have all we need to fulfill the good work God has given us to do. If we don’t, we may not be doing God’s work.

It is an insult to God’s ability when we beg for finances or even ask God’s people to fund our good work. We have not because we are not asking God for the things we need. We ask God and receive not because our good work originated in our desire. God is not obligated to pay for something that he has not ordered.

Some Jews asked Jesus, “What shall we do, that we may do the works of God?” (John 6:28) I found Jesus answer surprising. “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent” (John 6:29).  In other words, if they believed in Jesus, they would do the works of God. Master this good work, we will fulfill the good God has already prepared for us to do.

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Journey Fellowship 9th Ward

Highlights of Journey Fellowship 9th Ward, New Orleans, church service.

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Lil Gran Teaches the Way to Abundant Life

Lil Gran teaches the way to abundant life at Kathy Frady’s Giggle Fest.

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Kathy Frady’s Giggle Fest

Lil Gran teaches the way to abundant life at Kathy Frady’s Giggle Fest.

 

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On the Road with Rozlyn: Beth Moreso

The Creative Dramatist, Kathy Frady, spoofs Beth Moore.

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