Moreover Blessing & Even Though Love

Moreover Blessing

It was something Authrine reminded me about. She was talking about how God responded to Solomon’s request. So I went to read 1 Kings 3 and loved how Solomon put himself at the mercy of God to just get the wisdom required to operate in his position as king. That degree of humility was something I took very seriously. No way I can carry out any of my responsibilities without that degree of humility – that knowledge that without God I am going to mess it up big time, but walking in line with Him, I can be thoroughly faithful in what He calls me to do.

God’s response to the prayer was the really exciting thing. The writer describes how Solomon’s request pleased the Lord. I love that thought. That thought that God smiled at it, as if He nodded his head because that was the kind of engagement he was looking for. Then that word in the NIV version popped up in verse 13 – Moreover. It got me excited to see God delighted to the extent that whereas Solomon asked for one thing, God gave Him so much more. That word moreover – suggesting it was time for God to show again He is a God of more than enough. As a man’s ways were pleasing to Him so He poured out a Moreover Blessing.

What I also noted carefully was how that bonus blessing was based on maintaining that humble desire to stick close to God. Things would go well for Solomon just as long as he remained committed to this relationship through obedience. It was sobering because it reminded me of that tendency to look for something from someone and as soon as the thing came the someone was either dismissed outright or became significantly less important. Yet here God emphasised how it’s all about the focus on the relationship. It’s not about the goodies we get from God – it’s about embracing the Giver as of far greater value than the gift.

The big deal was being in line with the heart of God and delighting Him to the point that we enjoy His Moreover Blessing!

Even Though Love

There’s brotherly love. It’s a great love among family, it is about those ties that boasts of a depth far deeper than casual and convenient acquaintances.

Yet, there is something about the love of God in Jesus Christ that still humbles me tremendously. What kind of love keeps trusting the people you will bring closer to you than anyone else even though they will misunderstand you, leave you in the lurch when it matters most, denies you three times and in one person’s case even betray and sell you out? What kind of love keeps going even though the wife you died for and longed to beautify time after time brings your name into disrepute?

No wonder it’s referred to as an amazing and divine love. That kind of even though love. A love that Paul evidently had in mind when referring the church in Corinth to it. This kind of even though love lifts us above the bitter resentment that lingers after hurt. This kind of even though love pours out liberating forgiving mercy and grace to others even as we are grateful recipients from an amazing Saviour who loves us even though

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Run to Win but not be Disqualified

Athletics? Nah.

I used to run a bit at school, but in my younger years. Then I got to the stage where I didn’t like running so much. I much prefer walking.

As for watching athletics, it was one of the few things my Dad would watch on TV. So I watched races and was duly intrigued by some of the stories in the races and behind the races. I remember 1988 and the furore behind the 100m final.

There was Carl Lewis, the great hope of America, up against Linford Christie, the great hope of Britain and against Ben Johnson, the great hope for Canada. Johnson won the race, claimed the gold and the adulation of his nation. Then subsequent tests showed that Johnson had ingested illegal performance enhancing drugs and in shame and scandal he had to relinquish his gold medal. He had been disqualified.

Almost 30 years later, there is still a strong degree of disgust at using performance enhancing drugs to gain an unfair advantage in the sport. Some competitors insist drug cheats should never be allowed back in the sport again. The degree to which mercy, forgiveness and restoration is lacking in this particular area is telling in the sport. Cheating spoils it for others who work hard, train diligently and apply themselves to run to win within the rules.

And that’s for a medal and a title that is temporary. The gold medal winner in 1988 is not the winner in 2008 or 2028. Time moves on, Lewis last week, becomes Michael Johnson yesterday, becomes Usain Bolt today and becomes another sporting great tomorrow.

Meanwhile there is another race the Apostle Paul referred to – a race to gain a crown that never perishes. Paul takes this race so seriously that he dare not do anything to see himself disqualified and he will get his body under control so he can be in it to win it.

That desire to be so careful in the race reminds me of the sobering words of Jesus that many will claim him as Lord, but be disqualified because He does not know them for being anything other than workers of lawlessness. They can boast all they want of the accomplishments they have racked up ‘in his name’ and still be disqualified for something a whole lot worse than using performance enhancing drugs.

I recognise how easy it is to encourage others to be faithful while I am being faithless. Talking a great talk, whipping up an enthusiasm for godly pursuits, while I am slowly sinking into a prideful selfish abyss of delusional and deceptive decay. The mercy of God has been rich in my life to wake me up to the futility and folly of the hypocrisy. To the point that when I recognise the symptoms beginning to sprout in my mind not only do I desperately pray, but I know that I need the help of my brothers in Christ to hold me up and restore me to right paths. I appreciate the support from within and without. Left to myself, I know that I wouldn’t be around and aware enough to write these words. God in His grace extends opportunity after opportunity to get on with the race and run to win.

That same grace propels me to encourage others in doing whatever it takes to focus on the only race that matters. Get ready for it. Train for it. Go for it. Do it in such a way that after you encourage others, you won’t be disqualified.

I would certainly prefer that race than athletics.

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

A Place for Grace 

It is only when I think of the grace extended to me that I begin to recognise just how crucial grace is for life. 

There are times when people do some things and they are well up for the lambasting. Their behaviour was wrong, their attitude stank out the place, they should have had the book thrown at them twice. Forget being read the riot act, some of these people should have been tuned into Riot Act Reading on a 24 hour loop for a year! Rather than that being their portion, however, grace was extended to them to have the opportunity to carry on with the access to resources to carry on their efforts. 

Sometimes it feels as though it’s not fair, until the spotlight is turned on my life and the episodes where great kindness was shown in my life. That kindness wasn’t shown because I deserved it. That kindness was shown as ongoing expression of how grace operates. It’s times like that where I am grateful that His love is not dependent on my actions. Despite how we often work on  that premise, it is the challenge of holiness to act in the same grace that God shows to us. 

There is still a place for grace. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 32 – Forgiven

There is talk about needing to forgive yourself. I understand that – it can be quite something when the biggest weight of condemnation is the one you place on yourself.

Yet, forgiveness is not primarily something we should be looking to do to ourselves. First and foremost the issue of forgiveness should be seen in the light of what it means in the light of a relationship with a loving heavenly Father. Where you and I can let each other down and where we often let ourselves down, there is a great Creator who invites into a relationship with Him. In this relationship He is faithful and just, kind and compassionate and consistently never lets us down. Yet we persistently let him down, it is a default to look to please ourselves rather than acknowledge Him. What that does to any relationship can be more than damaging.

The Psalmist in this piece can relate to what it is to live in rebellion to this God and the effect that it has on us. Yet when he finally acknowledges and confesses that sin he is the first to see the relief of forgiveness that is found in God. He knows what it is to be blessed in those ways. Truly experiencing how relieving it is to know that all your sins have been dealt with. Truly seeing that the access to a right relationship with God that is hindered by sin can have that hindrance removed through confession and acknowledgement to God.

What needs to be taught to others is just how valuable that experience can be in anyone’s life.The life of anyone who thinks they have done too much to ever be considered, someone who feels that their behaviour and inclination can never be forgiven. For them to come across the expression of grace and truth in God is the greatest release and turnaround possible. To call it liberating is a massive understatement.

No, forgiving yourself has nothing on truly experiencing and embracing the forgiveness of God and that done so that you can have a right relationship with the God who desires to be known by you.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

December Thanks #20: Perseverance

There are some truly exhilarating moments in life. Following Jesus has some points in it that are tear-inducing in its sheer joy and exuberance. It can get really marvellous.

Of course it’s not always like that. Sometimes it can be confusing. Sometimes it can appear humdrum. Sometimes it can be drab and dreary. There are even sometimes when an accumulation of things can lead to despair and truly wondering what is the point in continuing. The simple things can set off that despair. It doesn’t have to take much, but when it happens it can be so hard to remember the good times with Jesus.

From there it does not take much for serving others to be done out of duty or obligation and it being apparent that there is no heart in it. Like many things, though, when serving without the heart in it however beneficial it might be to others it is still lacking. Often I wonder how God views us when we behave like this – doing things out of routine, but our hearts far detached from him. I wonder, but I know how He deals with issues like this. He calls for repentance.

He is very gracious like that, because when He calls us to throw our cares on Him, He means that which brings us to despair. Not ignoring it, or covering it with activity, but opening it up and giving it to Him, painfully if necessary, but give it up. In exchange, by His presence, He guides us towards serving with the right heart. He guides us to keep moving with Him even if that season leads to time away from it all; even if that time leads to removing certain things from the schedule.

His grace is there to help us keep going. We keep going because of His grace. For that I am forever grateful.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

December Thanks #10: Grace

On some occasions, I have mentioned that it must be at times really hard to live with me. This often gets a vigorous nodding of the head from my daughters and an exaggerated look of not knowing what on earth I could possibly be talking about from my wife.

These aside, I have a decent idea of how challenging it must be to live with me, because often I find it difficult to live with me and I am me. This is a major reason why I am so glad for grace.

Grace points me back to my Creator and heavenly Father who delights in me in Christ. He has not avoided the blemishes and failings, He sees what Christ has done and affirms me as His own. I am His son. I am His created to reflect Him by the power of the indwelling Spirit. The same Spirit that rose Jesus from the dead now lives in me and brings me ever more in fellowship with God, loving what He loves and hating what He hates. Passionate for what He looks to do in this world expressing His Kingdom in all things.

This is the grace that does what I never could completely undeserved and lavished extravagantly by the abundantly generous God because it is His good pleasure to do that as a reflection of His love and His holiness. It is overwhelming to consider, but it is something He encourages me to consider because that is the basis on which the relationship flourishes.

It is this grace that I am compelled to share with others so that in the good news of Jesus Christ they too can experience what it is to be loved by an amazing Father and be called from rebellion and darkness into the joy of a loving relationship with the Creator of the universe. For that, I am forever grateful.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

December Thanks #08: Rest 

God looks out for me.

2016 has been a fascinating year for a number of reasons. Yet recently I have been able to briefly stop and be grateful for the fact that God looks out for me.

The tag of laziness has long been one never to be placed on me. Of late, however, I have noticed my propensity to get drawn into activity for the sake of feeling useful. My brain is hyperactive with ideas and I am too eager to put them into action as well as seeking to maintain some sort of connection with my existing responsibilities. If I am not careful I will be on a slippery path that leads to disappointment and despair at not feeling I do enough or not giving quality to what I do.

That is how I see God looking out for me.

There’s a friend I meet fairly regularly and all we find ourselves doing is talking about the difference between being motivated by fear and motivated by love. How certain church circles we recall drive people by fear. How that negated the truth of the grace relationship we have with God in Christ. Our efforts now in the light of the realisation is to flow in the grace by which we are saved.

I recognise that for me that is resting in the fact that there is nothing I can do to earn the love of God. There’s no actions I can take to make Him love me more. Indeed what I can do must come from a place of grace and accompanying gratitude. As long as that is the motivation, I don’t have to worry about behaving out of an onerous sense of duty. I don’t have to carry any weight of being active for the sake of feeling useful. I can grow to appreciate the benefits of the cessation of activity. I can appreciate the benefits of resting in the Christ of my salvation. I can appreciate the benefits of just adoring and admiring the beauty of His holiness through my wife, my children, my wider church family, the community in which I live, the wonder of His creation, the majestic beauty of His Word.

That rest in itself can be reinvigorating and remind me of that need to trust Him for everything and rest in the completed work of the cross.

It is definitely great to rest and for that I am forever grateful.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden