Monday, November 9, 2009

I Stand With Arms High and Heart Abandoned

I really do not like my sin. It’s safe to say I hate it. I don’t hate it because it’s what I shouldn’t do; oh no. I hate it because it causes hurt, pain, etc in my heart as my relationship with God is strained. He grieves my sin and longs to restore me continually so I can live in his fullness and freedom. I hate that I so easily forget his goodness and think a particular thing can fulfill me, satisfy my hurting heart, or lead me to distrust God’s word and promises. I have one particular sin pattern that I greatly despise and that can steal my joy. It’s one I don’t fully understand and have struggled with for years, continuing to pray for freedom and strength to beat down the enemy in it. I have covered great ground in struggling well, but sadly it still overtakes me at times. This weekend being one, and I battled greatly.

I went to church last night and had a difficult time singing during worship because I was so angry with my continual battles with this sin. So for most of worship, I sat in my seat and prayed the words from the songs with every ounce of my being. The last song was The Stand, by Hillsong. I again sat and mumbled the words and then when we sang “You stood before my failure, carried the Cross for my shame, my sin weighed upon your shoulders, my soul now to stand” I couldn’t help but be overcome with thoughts and feelings I cannot even explain. I quickly stood and when we reached the chorus, I lifted my hands and literally just broke down. I don’t think that’s ever happened to me to the degree with which it did last night. I was crying somewhat uncontrollably (though I was able to control it to where I don’t think anyone around me noticed; at least I know Katie didn’t) as I stood in the assurance and truth that I my heart was abandoned, in awe of the Lord and his provision and my soul wholly surrendered to him.

Katie and I went to dinner after church and talked through things, both church and my struggles. I am so thankful for my community, and for being able to live with someone who loves the Lord and is even in my community group. Then this morning, I was struck by the beauty of God’s perfect timing. I opened the book we are going through in community (Experiencing God’s Story of Life and Hope…I highly recommend it) and found I was on a lesson on “assurance.” It discussed the imperative need for us to live within the security, knowledge, and truth that God loves us. For some reason, this truth is extremely difficult for me to consistently believe. There were a slew of verses outlined on the page speaking of this truth and rather than simply skimming them to finish the lesson, I spent the entire time reading each carefully and allowing the truth to overtake me. With that, I want to share with you today. I know there are a lot, but I pray you, too, read and re-read God’s words to us. Since God’s love is not simply a feeling, but an action, I know it has the power to change hearts and free this wretched heart from the sins that plague me.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. John 10:27-29

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:5-8

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:16-19

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:19-23

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 1 John 3:1

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 1 John 3:18-20

And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 1 John 5:11-12

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Romans 8:15-16

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39