12 February 2010

"How Can I Ever Thank You Enough?"

I was enjoying our family night together last night, and something came to me. It's something that I have spoken on before, and actually, we covered a very similar point just last week while going through I John 5.

My schedule is packed during the entire week, so Thursday nights are a precious bastions of peace and family time. We take turns each week going through each member of the family choosing an activity and a dinner meal. Last night it was Cutter's turn and so the evening had Tony's pizza and the Wizard of Oz on the schedule. Both the Tony's and the Oz are big favorites of mine and so we settled in for a comfortable traditional pizza and a movie scenario with the fireplace tickling us with its radiant heat.

Discussion during any family movie is always interesting, and this one was no different. We each have favorite parts and we still debate whether or not the flying monkey scene is really that scary. Of course the older you get the less scary they seem, and I'm not sure that's a bad thing. Seems to be an indicator of innocence lost perhaps, but that's a topic for another day.

In any case the movie roll son, and we near the end. We get to the scene shortly after the melting of the wicked witch, and all the characters are gathered in the court of the wizard. All of the sudden the deception of the wizard is exposed by the meddling dog Toto, and the wizard has to confess he has no power. But, as we all know, to make up for his lack or real power the wizard gifts each member of the party with something special. In the case of the scarecrow, he gives him an honorary diploma. He therefore carries with him a Doctorate of 'Thinkology' that apparently makes him an expert in geometry.

As the scene carries on, the scarecrow looks at the wizard and says, "How can I ever thank you enough?" The wizard replies with, "Well you can't." If we have a heart to see and hear God, we might find him anywhere. Even in this scene in the classic Wizard of Oz.

The metaphor I want to use here has to stop at comparing God to the Wizard of Oz. God has real power, and the Wizard did not. However, they both have a benevolent heart, and the Wizard, like our Father in Heaven wants us to do exceedingly well.

The Wizard gave the scarecrow what he needed to succeed. He did not physically give the scarecrow a brain, but he did give him the desire to make use of the tools he had already been given. The Wizard was the inspiration behind the scarecrow's motivation.

In a similar fashion, God works in our lives. He has the power to instantly give us whatever we might want or need, before we even know we need it, or have the desire for it. But, He wants us to seek Him, have communion with Him, and make our requests known to Him. He desires that He is the inspiration behind our motivation and that because our hearts are renewed daily by Him, that we desire to become more Christ like.

For this reason alone we need to be seeking god in all things, all the time. What made me think of the Lord in this case is that I do have a debt I cannot repay. I, in spite of a sinful life as a fallen human being, in spite of outwardly and inwardly rejecting Jesus for years in my life, in spite of treating people poorly and making a mockery of God and His love for me, He willingly died for me, and simply waited patiently for me to come to Him. Jesus sacrificed Himself in such a horrible way just so that if I did come, He could say He loved me and that ALL was forgiven.

If Jesus stood before me right now, and I were to say, "How can I ever thank You enough?" He could rightly say, "Well you can't." How can you ever thank someone for such a showing of Grace? How can you ever thank someone for giving up all they have, just to give you a chance at a priceless gift? How can you ever rightly thank someone from taking you out of the depths of misery and into position to become the son of the King? Well you can't... sort of.

You cannot thank enough for such a gift. I life cannot be paid for with money or thanks. But you sure can try to live what life you have left in such a way that everything you do brings glory and honor to the gift-giver. That's how we say thanks.

Thank you Jesus for doing what you have done. And I thank you for being in all things, and that when we have a heart for you we can find you just about everywhere. I am most thankful that you are here with me, now, right here, and that I can whisper 'thank you' in a small voice back to you any time or any place and know that you hear.

Credit Where Credit is Due

It is amazing sometimes how much credit we give to the devil on some occasions, and how little we give him on others. While we surely do NOT owe this father of lies and bringer of death any honor, we do need to respect his powers.

Let me share with you what I mean. Some people will leave home so late for church that there is really no way they can get there in time anyway, and yet they will blame the devil for their tardiness. They will tell you how they hit 3 out of 4 red lights along the way, and the Starbucks drive-through had 4 cars in line when normally that time of day it usually only has 2, and somehow this is the devils fault. In this case the only thing the devil should get credit for is causing you to lie to yourself.

Then there are people who, being surely tormented by the devil (in whatever that situation might be), who would rather blame themselves for 'not having enough faith', or for their 'past', or because they watched a PG-13 movie last week, or because they watched 'The Who' half-time show during the Superbowl, or just generally beat themselves up with condemnation. In other words, when the enemy is wreaking havoc in one's life, we need to identify that, respect the power behind it, and bring the real power of God into our lives to overcome it.

More clearly, when it IS the devils behind something, blame him for bringing the temptation into your life, and then repent and deal with it through the Spirit. When it is NOT the enemy's temptation behind it, take responsibility for your state of affairs, own your sin, admit that you have given into the flesh, and work to make yourself right before God.

I use this as an introduction to my point. We are humans, fallen humans; and we live in a world surrounded by sin. By being human, it is totally natural for you to look at the things that go wrong in our lives, and then start playing the 'blame game'. There is always enough blame to go around, or so we like to tell ourselves.

I'm to blame: So we play the martyr, and mire ourselves in self-pity rather than taking grasp of God promises and move on cleansed by His blood of forgiveness.

He or she is to blame: So we play the role or relationship spoiler, and rather than bowing ourselves before a God and King that has promised to be faithful to forgive us, we will ruin a relationship and along with it any chance we may have had at being a good witness for Jesus.

The devil made me do it: So the blame game gives credit to someone who takes joy in ruining your life (the devil himself) in spite of the fact that it is not his fault.

Or lastly, we blame God: Sadly this is too often the case, and as we might see, we are blaming God more often than we think.

God told Adam and Eve to trust Him. God told Abraham to trust Him. God told David to trust Him. God has told you and me to trust Him. What is beautiful about this is that God did not just say 'trust Me', and then walk away. He said, "trust Me', and then gave us a promise. The promise is that He would send a deliverer, a savior for you and me so that no matter what happens in this life, we have forgiveness and salvation waiting for us.

The way I look at it, and the way I see it in so many cases of people I have been in contact with (believers and otherwise), two things top the list for the reasons we play the blame game as we looked at above.
  1. Pride
  2. Short Term Memory Loss
Pride is a deal killer for God. He made promises to you for so much, and yet we lack so much because we become impatient, and our pride causes us to act on our own behalf instead of waiting on the Lord and His timing. Abraham made this mistake for sure. God made a promise that he would have descendants that outnumbered the stars in the sky. But late in his life, 90 some years of age, he was still childless. He took matters into his own hand, and his wife's handmaiden into his own bedroom and proceeded to make the biggest mistake since the fruit eating contest in the Garden of Eden. So when we make the same mistake, it is not a first. The sin of pride has taken place many times before, and it will take place again. Pride causes us to choose ourselves, and our will, over God and His will.

On the other hand, our minds and hearts get so busy and full with the things of the world, that the things of God get put on the back burner. We forget that God loves us, and we forget that God has made promises to care for us. The trappings of life and of the world block our clear thinking, and cause us to look for solutions outside of God's will and God's timing. The things of God are His and in His timing, but we want the things we want and in our time. Why? Because we forget God's promises.

What is the effect of forgetting God's promises in our lives? Sin. Ask Abraham. And when we give God 'enough time' to work in our lives, when we have identified that it was sin in our lives and repented, and when we are done blaming Satan and all of our friends for the problems in our lives we are left with only blaming God. When we feel like we are not feeling the fruits of His work in a manner that we expect, we begin to blame God. Check yourself. This has probably happened more than you know. Blaming God is a foolish, foolish mistake if a milk-drinking Christian that desperately needs to be in His Word.

Many people have written about the volumes of God's promises. I do not want to do that here. What I simply want to do is tell you that if you have given your life to Him, FULLY give it to Him, and trust in His promise to bring you home to Him in His time. Trust enough to know that everything in between is in His hands.