Love Is Never A Risk

“Jesus risked Himself on me. How can I not risk my life on you? You may not love me back. You may humble me, humiliate me, reject me, shatter my heart, and drive the shards into my soul—but this is not the part that matters. What matters is that in the act of loving we become more like the givenness of Love Himself. What matters most is not if our love makes other people change, but that in loving, we change. What matters is that in the sacrificing to love someone, we become more like Someone. Regardless of anything or anyone else changing, the success of loving is in how we change because we kept on loving.

“Love is always worth the risk because the reward of loving is in the joy of loving itself. Love is a risk that’s never a risk. Loving itself is the greatest outcome because loving makes one more beautiful, more like brokenhearted Beauty Himself. 

“No matter what the outcome looks like, if your love has poured out, your life will be success-full.” —Ann Voskamp, in The Way Of Abundance

Please read my review of The Way Of Abudnance by clicking here, and check out some other quotes from this life-changing book here.

Covenants To God

Christmas Evans tells us in his diary that one Sunday afternoon he was traveling a very lonely road to attend an appointment, and he was convicted of a cold heart. He wrote,

“I tethered my horse and went to a sequestered spot, where I walked to and fro in an agony as I reviewed my life. I waited three hours before God, broken with sorrow, until there broke over me a sweet sense of His forgiving love. I received from God a new baptism of the Holy Ghost.

“As the sun was westering, I went back to the road, found my horse, mounted it and went to my appointment. On the following day I preached with such new power to a vast concourse of people gathered on the hillside, that a revival broke out that day and spread through all Wales.”

Christmas went on to write 13 covenants to God. You can read all 13 of them by clicking here, but here are six of them that especially resonated with me—

V. O Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, take for the sake of Thy cruel death, my time, and strength and the gifts and talents I possess; which, with a full purpose of heart, I consecrate to Thy glory in the building up of Thy Church in the world, for Thou art worthy of the hearts and talents of all men.

VI. I desire Thee, my great High Priest, to confirm, by Thy power from Thy High Court, my usefulness as a preacher, and my piety as a Christian, as two gardens nigh to each other; that sin may not have a place in my heart to becloud my confidence in Thy righteousness, and that I may not be left to any foolish act that may occasion my gifts to wither, and I be rendered useless before my life ends…. 

VIII. … Grant that I may experience the power of Thy Word before I deliver it, as Moses felt the power of his own rod, before he saw it on the land and waters of Egypt. Grant this, for the sake of Thine infinitely precious blood, O Jesus, my hope, and my all in all.

IX. Search me now, and lead me into plain paths of judgment. Let me discover in this life what I am before Thee, that I may not find myself of another character when I am shown in the light of the immortal world, and open my eyes to all the brightness of eternity…. 

X. Grant me strength to depend upon Thee for food and raiment, and to make known my requests…. 

XII. Grant, O blessed Lord, that nothing may grow and be matured in me to occasion Thee to cast me off from the service of the sanctuary, like the sons of Eli; and for the sake of the Thine unbounded merit, let not my days be longer than my usefulness…. (emphasis mine)

If you want to do great things for God—if you want Him to do great things through you—then you must be wholly committed to Him. Perhaps Christmas Evans’ covenant statements will help you draft your own, or adopt a couple of his, to consecrate yourself to God’s service. 

Unexpected Praise

Well, this isn’t what I expected! David says his song in Psalm 9 is supposed to be sung to the tune of “Death Of The Son,” so I’m expecting a prayer that is loaded with minor notes. But instead, David gives us … this! 

The opening verses show us David exploding in praise to God. Check out his vocabulary—

  • I will praise You—this literally means David is pumping his hands in the air
  • I will tell of all Your wonders—David is not doing this just one time but is ticking off a long list of God’s praiseworthy deeds and attributes
  • I will be glad—his face lights up with joy 
  • I will rejoice—this word means a roar of praise (see 1 Chronicles 16:32)
  • I will sing praise—there is a new melody with every praise David lifts to God

Why this loud, exuberant, unexpected praise? Because David has noticed that whatever has “died” on earth is only a temporary loss, but God is forever! 

There is an unusual word pairing at the end of verse 16: Haggaion and Selah. This is the only time these two words appear like this in all of Scripture, and it’s also the only time Haggaion is used without being translated. 

Haggaion appears just four times in the Bible—(a) in Psalm 19:14 where it is translated meditation; (b) in Psalm 92:3 where it is translated solemn sound; (c) in Lamentations 3:62 where it is translated whisper and mutter; and (d) here in Psalm 9 where it is untranslated. 

By combining Haggaion and Selah, David is wanting us to solemnly meditate on an important contrast: God’s way vs. man’s way. In verses 3-16, David uses huge and eternal terms for God like righteous Judge, reigns forever, refuge, stronghold, merciful, and prayer-answerer. 

Side-by-side with these eternal terms for God, David lists the temporary terms for man like stumble, perish, ruined, forgotten, and trapped. In fact, David ends this Psalm by reminding us evil men who do evil things are “mere men.” Other translations fill in the details: 

  • make them realize their frail nature (AMP)
  • show them how silly they look (MSG)
  • merely human (NLT) 
  • puny men (TLB)

Then David ends with a final Selah—one more call for us to allow this message to resonate with us, especially during the times others may call dark, depressing times. The message that should resonate in our hearts and cause us to throw our hands up in joyful celebration of God is…

these earthly things are temporary and God is eternal. He has never forsaken those who seek Him, and He has never forgotten those who call on Him for help. 

When a dark time—a “death of a son”—tries to rock your world, don’t do what puny mortals expect, but throw your hands up in the air, and sing and roar a praise to the Almighty God Who cares for you! 

Join me this coming Sunday as we continue our looks at the Selahs in the Book of Psalms. You can join me in person or on Facebook Live.

Saturday In The Proverbs—Sowing & Reaping (Proverbs 17)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

A wise servant will rule over a son who causes shame… (Proverbs 17:2).

There are inevitable outcomes for our attitudes and (in)actions. Or said another way: We always reap what we sow.

Not dealing with confrontation correctly → → Strife (v. 1)

Wise work ethic → → Leadership rewards (v. 2)

Allowing God to refine you → → A pure heart (v. 3)

Listening to lies and slander → → Punished by God (v. 4)

Mocking the less fortunate → → Punished by God (v. 5)

Living well → → Leaving a legacy for my children (v. 6)

Truthful, uplifting speech → → Being treated like a prince (v. 7)

Lies and loose lips → → Being treated like a fool (v. 7)

Giving gifts to others → → Favor with others (v. 8)

Forgiving and forgetting an offense → → Cementing a friendship (v. 9)

Telling others about an offense → → Losing a friendship (v. 9)

Rebuking a wise man → → Gaining wisdom (v. 10)

Rebuking a fool → → Getting rebuked myself (v. 10)

Rebellion → → Repaid with cruelty (v. 11)

Trade folly with a fool → → Get mauled (v. 12)

Repay good with evil → → Get stuck with evil (v. 13)

Keep picking a fight → → Open a world of hurt (v. 14)

Justify the wicked or condemn the just → → Displace God (vv. 15, 26)

Give wisdom to a fool → → Get burned (v. 16)

Love your friends → → Have help in difficult times (v. 17)

Make a bad deal → → Get stuck with it for a long time (v. 18)

Love sin and promoting yourself → → Watch it all crash down (v. 19)

Look for deceit → → Fall into evil (v. 20)

Don’t discipline your children → → No joy (vv. 21, 25)

Be happy → → Make others happy (v. 22)

Be sad → → Cause rotten feelings in others (v. 22)

Accept a bribe → → Pervert justice (v. 23) and displease God (v. 15)

Keep focused on the here-and-now → → Get wisdom for there-and-then (v. 24)

Use words sparingly → → Bring calm (v. 27)

Stay silent when you have nothing good to say → → Be thought of as wise (v. 28)

If you don’t like what you’re reaping in your life, check what you’re sowing. 

Success From Failure

People are rarely successful the first time they try something. In fact, Thomas Edison once quipped, “I’ve had a lot of success with failure.” 

And you’ve probably heard the tried-and-true cliché—If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. 

Here are five attitude-adjusting thoughts and one key question about failure and success from John Maxwell: 

  1. Failure is an attitude, not just an outcome.
  2. Success comes by going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.
  3. Failure isn’t failure unless you learn nothing from it.
  4. Failure is an opportunity to begin again, but more intelligently.
  5. Failure never leaves us the same: I’m either leaving the failure and giving excuses, or I’m learning from the failure and I’m growing. 

John then asks: “The key question on your bad day is: Are you going to give up or get up?” 

What are you going to do with failure?

If you want to read more, check out John Maxwell’s book Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn, or some other Maxwell quotes here.

Thursdays With Oswald—Jeremiah 12

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Jeremiah 12

[These are notes from Oswald Chambers’ lecture on Jeremiah 12.]

     Few suffer more seriously in character than the men and women who for one reason or another are exempt from frank, honest criticism. …  

     Progressive realization does not mean that God reveals Himself by inches, but that we realize His revelation of Himself by inches as we obey. … 

     God would have been “a wall of fire round about and…the glory in the midst” [Zechariah 2:5] if they had been obedient. The difference between God as a consuming fire and natural fire is just this, that the further you get away from God the more fiercely you feel His burnings, but when you are close to Him, you will find it is a glorious protection. … 

     The truth about God is Jesus Christ—light, life and love. Whatever is dark to us will, by means of our obedience, become as clear as the truth which we have made ours by obedience. The bit we do know is the most glorious, unfathomable delight conceivable, and that is going to be true about everything to do with God and us. The process is continual obedience. 

From Notes On Jeremiah 

God wants to reveal Himself to us, even if He has to be a consuming fire in order to do so! 

God will burn up everything that keeps us from obeying Him—everything that takes our attention off of Him. He will burn up everything worthless so that we can know what is of incalculable worth; namely, Himself. 

If you want to have more of God revealed to you, scrupulously obey the parts that have already been revealed to you. 

Avoiding Worthless Pursuits

“Human society is built on the errors of fools. This sounds brutal, but in the context of the Scriptures it is very kind. I say this because a fool acts without regard to future consequences—as though there were not another world besides this one and he was not intending to die. The strange thing is, he lives this way only in his moral life. Intellectually, he knows he’s not going to be here always, and he makes sure his insurance is in place and writes a will and arranges for his family after he is gone. However, morally he lives as if he were going to be here forever, as if there were no death and no future life. That is what a fool is, and again, a philosophy upon which our whole society is built. …

“Look at the many who are seeking direction for their lives. The trouble is, a great deal of this seeking is simply a desire to have a guide that will help him get what he wants, get all the fun he can out of life and not have to pay the consequences. Many counselors today are doing that very thing. They meet with young people, instructing them in a manner that will enable them to have their own way, miss the Cross, miss the dying to self, miss repentance, and ultimately miss the will of God. But the wisdom of God imparts discernment that will save you from the wrong choice and the false counselor. Divine wisdom can also save us from worthless pursuits—those that are not God’s will for us.” —A.W. Tozer, in The Wisdom Of God

You can read my review of The Wisdom Of God here, and check out some other quotes from this powerful book here.

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