Friday, December 20, 2013

The Greatest Danger


“As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” —John 17:18

Christmas is a model for missions. Missions is a mirror of Christmas. As I, so you.  For example, danger. Christ came to his own and his own received him not. So you. They plotted against him. So you. He had no permanent home. So you. They trumped up false charges against him. So you. They whipped and mocked him. So you. He died after three years of ministry. So you.

But there is a worse danger than any of these which Jesus escaped. So you!

In the mid-16th century Francis Xavier (1506–1552), a Catholic missionary, wrote to Father Perez of Malacca (today part of Indonesia) about the perils of his mission to China. He said,

The danger of all dangers would be to lose trust and confidence in the mercy of God... To distrust him would be a far more terrible thing than any physical evil which all the enemies of God put together could inflict on us, for without God’s permission neither the devils nor their human ministers could hinder us in the slightest degree.

The greatest danger a missionary faces is to distrust the mercy of God...   (from Good News of Great Joy Daily Readings for Advent by John Piper - December 18 reading)

Isn't that the greatest danger that any person faces - to distrust the mercy of God?  And, oh how the Enemy works at making it so.  He will stop at nothing!  He is not passive!!  He doesn't care how  he steals, kills and destroys our trust, only that he does!  "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy!"  (John 10:10a)  His ways have not changed since the Garden of Eden.

But You came, Jesus, that we may have life, and have it more abundantly!  (John 10:10b)  Not just life - ABUNDANT LIFE!!

Lord, I believe!  Help my unbelief!  Help me to remember that this light momentary affliction is preparing for me an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.  Help me to not look to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen.  Help me to not lose trust and confidence in Your mercy!  That truly is the greatest danger of them all!  Help!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Advent - Days 6 and 7

Day 6:  Prince of Peace

Can there be a more fitting way to come towards the end of the first week of Advent than to focus on the Prince of Peace!

For in Him, all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of the cross. -Colossians 1:20

Much more on this next week...

Day 7:  Waiting for our Hope

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of The LORD, as the waters cover the sea. -Habakkuk 2:14

What beautiful words!  What a blessed promise to lead us into Week 2 of Advent where we'll focus on peace!  Future peace, but also peace right here, right now - in the midst of turmoil everywhere we turn.

I am reminded of these words, written by Ann Blocker as she was dying of breast cancer.  As would be natural, she had lots of concerns and fears, and she was struggling to give all this over to her Wonderful Counselor, her Mighty God and Everlasting Father, to her Prince of Peace.  It was as if He spoke these words into her soul, quieting the anxiety...

Can you trust me, child?

Not only for ultimate eternity, of which you know next to nothing, and so are not tempted to meddle...

But for the little span of your life between the Now and Then, where you envision decline and separations and failures, impairments, pain, bereavements, disappointments... 

Do you find me qualified to be Lord of your (last) days?

Ahhh!  There is the question!  I can trust that someday the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of The Lord, but can I trust that He has my today covered?  Is my hope not only steadfast for Eternity, but steadfast and strong for Now?  I do not have any life-threatening illness that I know of, but this question becomes ever more real as I march rapidly towards 60, and then 70...  As I march towards the very real possibility of future physical frailty, the very physical unknown...  Thirty-something seems like yesterday!!

Is the One who came and is coming qualified not only to be Lord of Eternity, but Lord of my everyday?  Peace will only come as I answer, "Yes, Lord!"  There is no other answer!

Looking to the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, I can wait with hope; and I can wait with peace...