Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Measure Of Faith

Rom 12:3 (NASB) For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.

Here's a quick thought.

Let me begin with the end of the verse, the foundation for Paul's argument, and work backwards for a second. Each of us has a measure of faith, no more or less, given to us by God. Because of and through this measure, we are to execute good judgment with clarity. This also prevents us from self-exaltation, while not denying God's grace working in and through us as believers, with whatever honor God has bestowed upon us in His church. And, we are reminded in a very gentle way that fundamentally we are who and what we are solely by the grace of God. Even Paul, who in my opinion was the greatest of the apostles, had his apostolic calling and spiritual gifts by the same grace of God: God's gift without human merit. And it is by this same grace that God revealed to Paul the truth he wrote as part of the Holy Scriptures for the benefit of all Christians: first for the Romans, and also for us today.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Spiritual Struggles (A Devotional of sorts)

First, let me state the obvious (if anyone is actually reading this):

I have not posted in a good while.

Yes, I have reasons. They are multiple, and varied. Some of them are even good, if not scrutinized too closely. But the main one, while certainly not being a good reason, is still a very important one.

So this it: expressed in very general terms, what follows is the main reason for not blogging in a long time.

I have had many spiritual struggles over the last 12 months. Some of these went to the core of my faith. I have been guilty of doubting, and I have questioned almost everything that I believed in, and stood for.

Most of it has probably been rooted in my unhappiness and dissatisfaction in life in general. Those few who are left of my family (my parents and grandparents have long been deceased, and I never had that large of a family to begin with) have suffered health problems, or are simply not even present in my life. I have been sometimes disappointed in friends and acquaintances (and I have sometimes disappointed them as well!). Work had lost some of its satisfaction and reward, and had at times, become simply a series of jobs to be done. Even church, once the highlight of my life, at times became simply a spiritual vacuum, an emptiness of soul that no measure of preaching and teaching, in a small but attractive sanctuary holding many warm and friendly fellow churchgoers, could fill.

Perhaps the turning point came at the end of one such service, when a horrifying thought surfaced from my hidden innermost springs of doubt: "What if this is all bogus?"

I would like to say that I immediately discounted that thought and repented of that sinful and condemning doubt. The truth is, I entertained that thought for several seconds. And I cannot explain why, but I believe the Holy Spirit in me would not allow me to fully accept it, but revealed to me the knowledge that I must reject it, because it is not of the truth. A few minutes later, I repented for it before God, silently, but not with a perfect heart. I did not realize it at the time, but my repentance came not from myself but from God, working in me by the Holy Spirit.

I have been discovering in my life since that point that repentance is not merely a confession of wrong, a profession of right, and a decision to pursue what is good. Rather, repentance is more: it is a true turning of the heart and the affections away from what is evil, towards that which is good, is brought about only by God through the Holy Spirit, and should be a part of daily life: a core part of my identity as a Christian.

I can report with joy what I have discovered and continue to affirm: Christ is still the answer! I cannot adequately explain what it means to turn to Christ and submit to the Holy Spirit, in obedience to the Word. But I can tell you that if you are a Christian, you must. And more importantly, you already know how: the Holy Spirit is your teacher, and brings you to Christ, and to the Father, through the Son and the Holy Spirit.

I still have some spiritual struggles. I have had to repent of many sins of doubt and disobedience. But through it all, Jesus Christ has been patient with me. And He is certainly a faithful High Priest. And strangely enough, the Bible seems to contain all the answers I need for worshiping in spirit and truth, and for doing service in obedience and submission to God.

Jesus is all I really need, or ever needed. Now I hope to learn to seek Him first, with devotion. I must learn to first seek His kingdom and His righteousness.

Mat 6:33 (NASB) "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."