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Forum 2

God Loves Us ~ by Abbe de Tourville John 3:16
Glorifying and worshiping God. Rom 1:21
From Fears to Faith - how? 1 John 4:18
The Question of Suffering Romans 5:3
Sexual Liberty or Walking into a Trap? Rom 1:20

 

God Loves Us

How happy God is in loving us! Like parents who adore their children. It is really just like that and it is grand, and just what we should expect of God… Be bold enough always to believe that God is on your side and wholly yours, whatever you may think of yourself.

As for that which is beyond your strength, be absolutely certain that our Lord loves you, devotedly and individually: loves you just as you are. How often that conviction is lacking even in those souls who are most devoted to God! They make repeated efforts to love Him, they experience the joy of loving, and yet how little they know, how little they realize, that God loves them incomparably more than they will ever know how to love Him. Think only of this and say to yourself ‘I am loved by God more than I can either conceive or understand’. Let this fill all your soul and all your prayer and never leave you. You will soon see that this is the way to find God. It contains the whole of St. John’s teaching: ‘As for us, we have believed in the love which God has for us.’ I have asked God to teach me this and now I understand it. I know that it is the true way, the best way and the way which is so often lacking in souls. Find it without delay.

Accustom yourself to the wonderful thought that God loves you with a tenderness, a generosity, and an intimacy which surpasses all your dreams. Give yourself up with joy to a loving confidence in God and have courage to believe firmly that God’s action towards you is a masterpiece of partiality and love. Rest tranquilly in this abiding conviction.

The thing which may for long prevent the soul from thus accepting our Lord, is that it forgets to think of Him always and above all as compassionate. Yet in everything, that is the first idea we must try to have about Him. We shall be quite differently affected by His great splendour if we just realize that He to whom it belongs and who offers it to us, is compassionate beyond all words. How gladly shall we than rejoice in His Divine splendours!...

We must think of our Lord as loving us more than any one else, upholding us even when we are ready mercilessly to condemn ourselves; think of Him as being our other self, bolder in approval and more ready to rejoice over us that we are ourselves. That is the ideal of fatherhood, of friendship and of love. When we know our Lord thus, we know Him well and every thing is easy. The terrible God, the angry, exacting, narrow God, has completely disappeared. We are attracted to our Lord and profoundly reassured. And so we love with confidence and joy.

Rejoice that you are what you are; for our Lord loves you very dearly. He loves the whole of you, just as you are. In spite therefore of all your troubles, troubles about people and things, remain at peace. Drop all your spiritual anxieties and do not goad yourself to efforts which will only overburden and overstrain you. Such efforts are not only useless but even harmful, for they war against that peace which the Christ-God demands: the peace which, in this world, must always exist in the midst of our imperfections: the imperfections of things, the imperfections of people. Imitate the calm of the sailor standing on the deck of his ship, which is in itself never still: or that of the man who walks quietly through the city, indifferent to the noise and the winding of the streets, picking his way through the people and the traffic.

Be reassured and comforted. Rejoice from the bottom of your heart at this assurance I am giving you, as if it came from our Lord Himself. For it is only in this blessed certitude that you will find that freedom of spirit which is absolutely necessary. I implore you in God’s name, not to think of Him as hard to please, but rather as generous beyond all that you can ask or think. Get rid, once and for all, of the idea that God is displeased or intolerant towards our weakness. The truth is exactly the opposite. Accept that fact and act upon it.

You have not grasped the right idea of God and of His service. You always come back to the thought that God must be dissatisfied, which is not so. Remember that it is our souls, yes! our own souls! which are God’s joy: not on account of what they do for Him, but on account of what He does for them. All that He asks of them is gladly to accept His kindness, His generosity, His tolerance, His fatherly love. Let your adoration of God, therefore, take this form and do not worry any more about what you are or are not. You are the object of His mercy. Be satisfied with that and think only of that.

The essence of the matter is that our Lord loves you dearly. The more keenly therefore, you realise that the weakness is of your own nature, even of your own will, the more you must adore Him. For in spite of everything, we are the weak creatures whom our Lord loves, and loves deeply, with a love worthy of that name, which to Him is no idle word.

You want to compete with His affection before you have understood it; that is your mistake. You are like a child who wants to help his mother before allowing himself to be trained by her. You are like St. Peter; he wanted to wash his Master’s feet, but refused to allow his Master to wash his feet. He did not understand. Our Lord showed him his mistake with the clear and decisive sharpness of a friend: ‘Peter, if I do not do this, and if you will not let me do it, you have no part in me!’ And St. John, who knew all the depth and tenderness of God’s love, was constantly ravished by the thought, ‘He loved us first!’

Come then! show a little deference to our Lord and allow Him to go first. Let Him love you a great deal, a very great deal, long before you have succeeded in loving Him, even a little, as you would wish to love Him. That is all I ask of you, and all that our Lord asks of you.

Say to yourself very often about everything that happens, ‘God loves me! What joy!’ And reply boldly, ‘And I truly love Him too!’ Then go quite simply about all that you have to do and do not philosophise any more. For these two phrases are beyond all thought and do more for us than any thought could do, they are all-sufficing.

Letters of Direction -
Thoughts on the Spiritual Life
From the letters of the Abbe de Tourville
1842-1903
Dacre Press Westminster 1939

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Glorifying and Worshipping God

"Because though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or thank Him, but rather became vain in their reasoning's...and their heart was darkened. (25)  Who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshipped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen." (Romans 1:21, RcV)

Refusing to glorify God, thank God, worship God, and serve God is a major aspect of the source of wickedness. However, if we glorify and thank Him, worship and serve Him, we will be protected from every evil. There are so many divorces and so much immorality throughout the world today because people will not glorify God and worship Him.... Never think that worshipping God is an insignificant matter and that glorifying Him is trivial. They mean a great deal to our human living. We need to thank God. We have many things for which to thank Him. Some people do not thank God until the hour of their death. Although that is very late, it is better than nothing.

We need to realise that glorifying God, thanking God, worshipping God, and serving God are extremely important. Suppose I have a bad temper, a shameful and ugly disposition. If I try to suppress it, I will never succeed. However, if I thank and praise God continually, I will find the best method of escape from my poor disposition.

Whenever you are about to lose your temper, you should say, "I am going to serve God. I don't have time to lose my temper. God, I thank You that You are my God, that You are my Creator. Without You, I would have no being. I owe my very existence to You. I thank You, worship You, and serve You." If you do this, you will be freed from your disposition immediately. How much we need to worship God!

Prayer:
Even  now,  Father God, I thank You for all things. Save me  from   my  vain reasoning's by filling my daily living with glorifying, thanking, worshiping, and serving You. In doing this, You will be my constant  protection and way of escape. Amen

Credit: eManna ~ To subscribe email to: subscribe@emanna.com)
Visit their website at http://www.emanna.com

Elucidation taken from Witness Lee, "Life-study of Romans"
(Anaheim, CA: Living Stream Ministry, 1984), p. 33

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From Fear to Faith

Most fear begins when we are very young. We are small and the world is huge. We fall, the world is hard and we get bruised… things happen to us that we don’t like. The very people we thought would protect and comfort us sometimes push us away and tell us to grow up: 'don’t cry', 'be strong' - or any number of things to avoid being responsible for our pain. The child we are doesn’t know yet about being responsible, so fear becomes a part of us and we spend all of our energy and the rest of our lives trying to beat it.

We try to get physically strong. We buy strong things to protect us, such as security lights, locks, doors, dogs and even weapons.

But the things we fear multiply. Just when we arrive at a place of security, something else comes along that is even harder to cope with, e.g. rejection, ill-health, bereavement etc. We never seem to win the battle - new fears come hard and fast like death, which most people fear the most.

We try to defy fear with bravado, or even denial - but deep down we are prisoners of fear. We teach each other to be careful, to watch out. Despite our vulnerability we try to persuade ourselves that our safest position is to shut out fear. Some pretend and busy themselves to exhaustion, some isolate themselves from known danger, avoid people and places that constitute a threat. Some build a fortress around themselves. This fortress may be a material one or it may be a belief system, a dogma, even people of like mind, it would not do to be alone with fear!

Then there’s God!

Did fear begin when the human race first discovered the knowledge of good and evil? God said that if we ate the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (ie: absorb this awareness) we would surely die (Gen 2:17). But God did not leave us without a solution. His first words to us were " Do not fear", "be not afraid", "Trust me". Then He set about demonstrating why we should and could trust Him. We have the historical record in the oral and written history of the children of Israel. They were told to talk about it, to write it on their walls, to tell their children, to recount the events so we could all know its truth.

Why put you trust in someone so remote and unreachable as God?

Well God knew we would ask that - so He sent Jesus!

Jesus life and death is indisputable: 2,000 years later we still acknowledge his birth with our calendar. The written predictions of His birth and death by people who lived hundreds of years before - were accurate in every detail - and recorded in literature for us to verify. The whole human race records his birth (AD. and BC.) and most recognise his death at Easter… but it's His resurrection that is the sticking point.

If Jesus was raised from the dead, then God can do anything! He can give us eternal life - and He will surely keep all his other promises. What is fear in the face of all this?

This is very simplistic, but it's true. Jesus said: "I am the corner-stone", the foundation, the rock on which you can build - and he really meant it (Matt 21:42).

The crazy thing is that we prefer to trust ourselves, even though our fears tell us that we are helpless. That is the extent of our lostness, our self-deception, or our sin. We don't change unless God by his grace opens our eyes to the truth.

Many don’t want to believe in the resurrection - but it is the pivotal reason for trusting God. Gode gave us inheritance rights through Jesus’ death. It's true that our pride, our self deceiving independence, our lack of taking God at His word - all this was forgiven by Jesus in His death. That's why He alone is our way back into relationship with God - a relationship that deals with all our worst fears by building the antidote into our hearts and minds - faith in God. God is love and "perfect love casts out fear" (1 John 4:18).

However for this to come true for us, we have to believe it…

When we face fears we need to recognise that this is our great chance to take the leap of faith towards God... Like the trapeze artist, we wont make it to the other side unless we let go of the swing we are holding onto - and reach for the other swing in the middle. Jesus is the safety net but we will never know if we don’t let go. God the Father is cheering us on all the time... He has done everything for us except forcing us to let go!

Next time you are faced with fears - be encouraged… and let go of the things you are holding onto by reaching out and putting your hands into the hands of God. He is always there for you. He is bigger than any problem you may have and He is ready to take you safely to the other side.

By: Phillipa Thorn, Perth.
22nd April 1998.

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Sexual liberty ~ or
Walking into a Trap?

In our day sexual libertarianism has become so widespread as to become the norm in vast areas of society. Ungodly use of sex leads to our getting out of touch with the one who loves us the most - and the one to whom we will give account for every aspect of our lives. This unavoidable encounter with God in the next life can be one of either immense joy ~ or one of indescribable anguish! What we do with our present lives makes the difference! (John 3:15-21).

God's plan for us is to live in permanent and wonderful relationship with Himself. In contrast to this, the improper use of human sexual intimacy is a trap which draws us away from intimacy with God himself.

If you are reading this, then the purpose of this article is for you to retain or reclaim your love of God in every aspect of your life... to make certain of your eternal destiny. You can know this for sure because this is the true message of the Bible:

"For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. It is written: "As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God." So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God." (Romans 14:10).

"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad." (2 Cor 5:10).

If we should choose to ignore the wisdom of God as expressed to us in the Bible, then we could never say we weren't advised or warned. Therefore our eternal destiny comes down to our own decision making and response or rejection of God's truth. This article forms one part of that process!

"But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned." (Matt 12:36).

These words are an expression of God's love ~ because their purpose is to point the way from destructive outcomes to peace with God, and therefore assurance of your eternal destiny with Him.

Why then does sexual permissiveness provoke the hostility and opposition of God? Well the wisdom of God as expressed to us in the Bible says:

"...since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools… Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator" (Romans 1:20-25).

We musn't try to be God ourselves - which we would be doing should we attempt to define our own standards and values by a process of independence from or the rejecting of God's higher order. This is in reality the sin of idolatry: putting something else in the place of God in your life.

The antidote to human pride and idolatry is the humbling of ourselves before God - asking him to give us a soft heart which is able to respond positively to his expression in our lives.

Engaging in sexual freedom is the abandoning of the constraints of God for our own independent pleasures, ie: our disregarding of God's moral order. As the Scripture above says, the outcome is a form of entropy: moving from constructiveness - to a destructiveness which hurts us, and hurts God.

On the positive side, let’s look then at the beauty and constructiveness of sex in God’s moral order…

Sex was created by God as one of the most beautiful and strongest forms of human experience. God gave sex for the bonding of relationship between one man and one woman (Matt 15:19) - who give themselves to each other at the highest level, which is marriage. This is the highest commitment of life after relationship with God himself. In this context, a married couple share the deepest level of intimacy, and take great pleasure in each other in the security of a permanent relationship. There is no fear of sex here but a freedom to give and receive without risks. The ultimate outcome of such love sharing is a child. In its proper context, this is the greatly desired fruit of a secure love relationship. In summary: God's creative purposes for sex are for the prospering of human relationship in marriage and for the creation of new life.

This is why God calls sexual immorality sin: it degrades and pollutes his beautiful gift to mankind.

Any violation or misuse of God's ways will result in destructiveness. That's why God hates our involvement in what demeans and damages us. Let's look for a moment at the negative side

The risks and consequences of sexual immorality include the giving of aids and sexually transmitted diseases. Multiple sexual partners leads to the abandonment of relationships, betrayal of intimacy and divorce. Instead of creating life we destroy life in abortion. The sex trade prospers in the midst of a drug culture, placing a monetary value on human intimacy - at every risk and any cost. Because of the risk of aids children are stolen and plunged into death through sexual slavery for just a few short years. Their lives are sacrificed on the alter of sexual lust and money which elevates grubby dollars above the dignity of life. Dear friends, this could only be called the demonisation of sex.

If we step aside from God's purposes to any degree, we are descending from love and grace into abuse and destructiveness. If we start to sin without repentance - turning away from the ways of God - where will it end? We can never know where involvement in sexual immorality will end up!

Recently a man we know lost an excellent job and ended up publicly before the courts as a result of down-loading some child pornography from the web at work. He was hooked from a casual web search, resulting in great destructiveness and suffering for him and his family. No, we do not hold the reigns of sin – apart from God, it will control us. That’s why the Bible calls us to turn to God:

"I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:19-23).

Say yes to God’s plan. Don't ever say: "it's too late". No, with God the good news is that it’s not too late! For this very reason Jesus died for you - to take your sins to the cross on your behalf. Jesus has already done this for you as surely as if you were the only person who ever lived. Because of this fact of history, we can respond to God at both a heart and mind level.

Here is a prayer to use as an illustration of how we may approach God for a new start - right where we are at the moment:

"Dear Father God, you are right to cause me to wake up to my own folly and sin. I confess my abandonment of your ways and my preference to choose independently of yourself. I am guilty of breaking your divine order and thinking that I could just do my own thing. In the process I have hurt you and damaged others. Please forgive me for my sins through your son Jesus Christ. I want to put my faith in Jesus now, I acknowledge the perfection of Your ways, and I now ask that you would make me a keen and responsive student of all that Jesus has to teach me about how to live. Thank you for your forgiveness and graciousness to me. In Jesus name I pray, Amen."

On the following basis we may be completely confident that God hears our prayers and will lead us into a new restored life, where Jesus is central:

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

"Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." (John 3:16-21).

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