Pulling Teeth with QTs

I don’t want to read the Bible. A lot of times I’m not even sure I want God. It sure doesn’t look like it, when you look at the way I spend my time and resources. I had to come to that hard realization this morning. If the Bible is like God’s love letter to me, then why do I have such a hard time opening it? It always feels a bit like pulling teeth, even though I know some of the best moments I enjoy with God are priceless.

So, this morning I just asked God to meet me in my quiet time, as I perfunctorily pulled out my hulking 5 pound leather-bound from its irreverent place on the floor.

Now I don’t normally share stuff from my journal, especially quiet time material, but I figured maybe it’ll encourage someone who struggles with the same thing. Who knows what we’ll learn and how filled our souls would be if we pulled out our Bibles once in awhile?

*****

Sept 24, 2010

John 18:1-11 – Jesus and his disciples entered over the ravine of the Kidron. Judas, knowing he was there, went to gather a group of chief officers and priests to betray him. When they approached Jesus, he asked them, “Whom do you seek?” They said, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He answered, “I told you that I am He; so if you seek Me, let these go their way.” What this shows is Jesus stepping up as a leader and shepherd. He was willing to turn himself in so that the sheep might be protected. That is how much he cares for his chosen ones. Application here? Whenever I doubt Jesus’ love for me, all I need to do is look at the cross and be reminded of all that he sacrificed for me. He gave his life for me–how would he not freely give me all things?

Peter, of course, being the brash/passionate/emotional guy that he is, drew his sword and struck the high priest’s slave and cut off his right ear. Peter was ready to scrap, he was ready to defend and die for Jesus at that moment. Which makes his denial of Christ later on all the more interesting. In one moment, he was ready to sacrifice his life for Christ; in another, he cursed and denied ever knowing the man. What gives? I don’t think there might be any more reason other than to say that Peter was just a man who was driven by emotions, instincts, and circumstances. Or maybe it’s because Jesus was yet to be turned in; he was still their triumphant leader and there was still a cause that was worth fighting for. When Jesus was on the cross, maybe he no longer wanted to identify with him–when the going got tough.

I guess in many ways I’m Peter. I’ll follow Jesus when things are good and situations are favorable, but I’m quick to turn the other way when the going gets tough. I am capable of both dying for and denying Christ–I am Peter. This reminds me of a quote from C.S. Lewis who says, “We learn…that we cannot trust ourselves even in our best moments, and, on the other, that we need not despair even in our worst, for our failures are forgiven.” I’m reminded that I can never separate myself from the cross–on it I am dependent and to it I am bound. I am in desperate need of God’s saving work in my life.

One last thought: “Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?’ “(verse 11). That is all there needs to be said about suffering and the will of God. If God has ordained a period of hardship in my life, shall I refuse Him? God is the Maker of this universe–He is entitled to do as He pleases. Jesus knew that, and therefore gave his life, even on the cross, in perfect obedience. Complete and total surrender/submission–that’s what God wants.

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The Spiritual Perspective

I’m currently in the city of Torrance. In about three hours I’ll be addressing a group of about 40 high school students at a church on the topic of “having a spiritual perspective.”

My message is based on the book of Philippians, chapter 4, verses 1-9. The bulk of what I’ll be saying comes from the idea of keeping our eyes focused on the eternal things, on Jesus Christ and the prize that awaits us in heaven. When we attain this spiritual perspective, we will be able to handle various hardships and trials that might come our way. We will be able to keep calm, be thankful, and remain content because our joy is not based on the circumstances around us but on the good and loving God who doesn’t change.

It is always interesting when I prepare for messages or sermons because God often times teaches me the lesson beforehand. I would learn the reality of my message through challenges during the week, and they would humble and sometimes even humiliate me. But it is a necessary journey because God wants me to be real (honest) with what I’m speaking.

This week was no different. I found myself worrying, a lot. What’s store for my future? Where is God leading me? Where’s my next paycheck coming from? By nature I don’t take or handle stress well. And then I read Phil. 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” It’s like God slapped me, and said, “Duh! Talk to me about your issues, tell me what’s on your mind, and count your blessings!”

I would have great reason to worry if I were living life on my own power, for my own purposes. But God loves me and is looking out for me; I don’t need to freak out. He reminds me that certain trials are necessary in my life because they will sharpen me for more noble use in the future. He uses suffering to prepare me for heaven.

That is what it means to have a spiritual perspective.