If . . . How can a 2-letter word rob us of what God wants to give us? How do ifs stake a claim bigger than God’s claim on us? How do we allow this no-action preposition to wreak havoc on our faith?
If becomes a giant word when something goes terribly wrong in our world or lives. If God is loving . . . If God can heal . . . If I were stronger . . . If I had more faith . . . If! One little word with the power to question the character of God and His ability to be Lord in eternally productive ways.
Jesus faced if’s in a wilderness where he had to choose which voice he would hear: the Tempter’s or His Father’s. We, also, have to confront our if’s. We have to allow God to take us to a wilderness even if it is a quiet car or closed-door room without any music or TV or technology. We have to let our if’s tumble out before us. The if’s that scar our identity. The if’s that take us away from God rather than send us to Him. The if’s that make us turn to substitutes because God didn’t behave the way we expected.
When our if’s are louder than God’s I AM, we have it backwards and we need to confess the ignorance of our expectations. We must confess that we are listening to the wrong voice, even if it’s the loudest one. We have to confess the temptation to believe lies.
There is only one way to combat if’s in our life and it is the sa
me way Jesus did. We return to the Truth of God’s Word. We don’t just quote it. We put it in the loud speaker of our hearts so that no other voice distracts us. And we live it.
It’s wilderness work for sure. Lonely, scary, undoing. But when we stop making gods out of our if’s, we can treat them as the tempters they really are. They are thieves to rob us of everything God would give. We refuse to bow to them in any way.
Entertain if’s in your life and you will rob yourself of resurrection power for there is no if in Jesus’ resurrection. When you know that, you can experience resurrection truth in its powerful tomb-opening ways.
Lent Scripture Readings 2018*
February 28-March 6
Wednesday: Matthew 4:3
The tempter came to [Jesus] and said, “If you are the Son of God . . . “
Where are you tempted to give If’s about God a chance to grow doubt? Rehearse God’s character and identity as revealed by His Word. Which do you want to take away from your wilderness?
Thursday: Jeremiah 30:21b
“Who is he who will devote himself to be close to me?” declares the Lord.
How close to you want to be to the God of your salvation? What is involved in the devotion that would bring you that close or closer?
Friday: Psalm 19:8
The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living. NLT
What do God’s commands bring? Where have your treated them as restrictive boundaries rather than a joyful pursuit? Where do you need insight from them for a pressing problem?
Saturday: Psalm 19:14
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
What is the relationship between your pleasing words to God and your devotion to His Word and ways? If you are out of balance in any way, correct it today.
Third Sunday in Lent: I Corinthians 1:18
The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.
Worship your God today who turned the world’s pursuit of life before death upside down and called for death so that His life can take root. Is His life growing in you?
Monday: Psalm 84:2
My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God?
Examine the cries of your heart, your prayers. What do you pray for first? Does your heart crave to know your living God deeper and better? Do you understand God always says Yes to that prayer?
Tuesday: Psalm 84:5
Blessed are those whose strength is in [God], who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.
Is all your strength coming from God? Have you set your heart on obedience? Are you a pilgrim or a sprinter?
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