Published: Monday, 12 November 2018 17:52
Written by Don Goulding
The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The LORD protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me. Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you. Psalms 116:5-7 (NIV)
I picked my way down a dirt path around bare trees in Northern California. The smell of decaying forest bit up to the sinuses. As I zipped my jacket the last inch against the cold, a foul spirit drove in from above and behind.
“You are a dirty sinner. Your idle fantasies and callous heart are anathema to God.”
I pushed my hands deeper into my pockets and hunched over. There was bitter truth in those realizations. My frailty in the face of God’s holiness left my soul in defenseless silence. I staggered to a halt.
There are two sides to this coin of truth. Both must be considered. I am a dirty sinner but I’m also completely forgiven. The message of Psalms 116 is stamped on the reverse side of the coin. The simplehearted who sorrow over their treachery are always forgiven because God’s mercy is more potent than our sin.
To brood over my failure is to deny the full sufficiency of Christ’s redemption. Alternatively, absorbing myself only in God’s forgiveness ignores my sinfulness. The coin of truth must be continually turned and both sides examined—my weakness on one side and God’s substitutionary grace on the other.
With both halves of the truth in my grasp, I straightened and walked on. My sigh of relief sent a cloud against the frosty air and my soul fell into the arms of grace.
Prayer: I am at rest once more for you, Lord, have been good to me.
Published: Monday, 05 November 2018 17:36
Written by Don Goulding
For the creation was subjected to futility - not willingly but because of God who subjected it - in hope that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of decay into the glorious freedom of God’s children. Romans 8:20-21 (NETFull)
The nations will walk by its light and the kings of the earth will bring their grandeur into it [the new Jerusalem]. Its gates will never be closed during the day (and there will be no night there). They will bring the grandeur and the wealth of the nations into it … Revelation 21:24-26 (NETFull)
India is ground-zero in the global war between man and nature. Coconut palms wrestle with pollution while iridescent Kingfishers choke on human rubbish. Hives of auto-rickshaws belch exhaust and putrid rivers are smelled long before they are seen. Even still, the underlying beauty of the land and people shows through the grime of human fingerprints.
India is turquoise beaches and jungle-clad mountains. This is where radiant children and genius technicians live. But the struggle for life is more intense here. In North America and Europe, it’s easy to consider our ordered lives and accept the present earth as a permanent abode. In developing countries I can’t do that. Life too often loses in the struggle against death and so paradise will need a new home.
I long to see India after God re-makes her at the coming of the new heaven and new earth. I envision her mountains and streams in gleaming perfection. I smell the abundance of flowers and feel the spray of waterfalls. Indian Christians, brown and lovely in perfected spiritual bodies, will serve the Almighty Prince with no mark of sin or pain on them.
Next, I see these children of the Most High join with a sea of exotic, completed God-lovers from every culture embracing in the love-light of Jesus.
India will be restored into a flawless virgin bride stunning in her splendor. All the nations will join her as perfected sisters ready to offer their glory as a wedding gift to the ever-deserving Groom of Grooms.
Prayer: Mighty God, present us to Jesus, lands and humans alike, liberated and remade.
Published: Monday, 29 October 2018 17:43
Written by Don Goulding
But I say to you who are listening: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6:27-28 (NETFull)
A scarlet ribbon stretched across the doorway of a church thatched with palm leaves in southern India. I was invited to open the new mud wall building by cutting the ribbon. The thirty some Christians living in this hostile village needed encouragement. The previous month, militant Hindus burned their church to the ground. What could I dare preach to these persecuted souls?
“Satan had his way in your village for countless generations. Now Jesus is moving in and you are caught in the middle of a spiritual war. You must choose a side but the weapons you fight with are not the weapons of the world. You must combat your enemies with love, forgiveness, and prayer. Stick to these three disciplines and you will have victory in this test.”
I knew it was the right message. I also knew it was easier said than done. There were smiling friends and a Neighborhood Watch program waiting in my hometown. These desperate believers had to continue living next to enemies who would stop at nothing to see them eliminated.
Even though people don’t regularly attack me, I do have those inside my sphere who are difficult to love. If you are human and you interact with another person, disagreement is inevitable. The grace I bring to an abrasive relationship is the measure of my Christlikeness. And I can’t let the subtlety of my love-test lull me into thinking my response is meaningless in eternity. It matters.
I’m pretty certain my friends in the burned out village church will stand the test and love their way into the hearts of many in their community. But will I do the same in my world?
Prayer:Jesus, help me deeply love everybody you bring to me.