Expect More From God

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“For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance.” Matthew 13:12

This is happy news for every believer in Christ! Here’s why.

For to the one who has, more will be given.

Have you received the glorious gift of salvation? Then, you can expect that more will be given and you will have an abundance of grace. “He who did not spare His own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).

Has God shown mercy to you? Then, you can expect that his mercies will be renewed to you each morning, so great is his faithfulness (Lam. 3:21-23).

Have you been justified by His grace? Then expect to be sanctified, as well. “It is to the Father’s glory that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:8).

Christ will distinguish his own. To the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance.

    Could this be? Could God be so gracious?

    Could the spring once opened to me never run dry?

    Could the fountain of grace that has renewed my soul really be ever-flowing?

Yes, it is true! God is this gracious.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” Romans 8:28-30

The receiving of mercy from God should inflame an eager expectation for more of his mercy and grace.

This is remarkable. You have received mercy from God, and here’s what you can now expect: MORE MERCY!

Let past mercies foster future faith to anticipate more from your gracious God.

Come, and ask for more. He really is that gracious.

Jesus said,

“Ask and you shall receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you Fathers, if your son asked for a fish would give him a snake, or if he asked for an egg would give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask?” (Luke 11:9-10).

Upheld by grace, daily, let us rest in the goodness of God’s everlasting love and exclaim with the psalmist:

“Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all of the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6)

There Is More To Our Story Than Our Sorrow

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Sometimes I wake up sad and I can’t really put my finger on the reason behind my melancholy. Maybe you can relate.

Maybe it’s because I didn’t get enough sleep. Maybe it’s because I can often enter the day feeling behind even before my feet even hit the floor. I reach to turn off the alarm; as my hands stumble to place my glasses on the bridge of my nose, my poor vision is adjusted to 20/20, and the first sighting of the day involves notifications from my iPhone reminding me of tasks left undone, appointments looming, and emails that still demand action and response (the drawback of using an iPhone as my alarm).

The mind, the body, and the soul long for rest. I yearn for a joy and peace so deep that it can’t be touched by my circumstances. But the truth is, on this side of heaven, there is sorrow.

Sometimes, we don’t even know why.

Occasions of Sorrow

I’m learning to embrace the reality that sadness is a normal part of life: even (and perhaps, especially) for the Christian.

The Apostle Paul described himself as “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Cor. 6:10). Those four words, bound together, provide me so much clarity and hope. There’s a paradox in the Christian life: those with the most joy can also carry the greatest sorrow.

How can we be real, and human, if we don’t admit that we’ve been marked in so many ways by the hurt and the pain and the sorrow we’ve experienced and witnessed as pilgrims passing through this fallen world, on the way to our heavenly home? It’s unrealistic to think that we will be unaffected by the sorrows that surround us. Sometimes it serves the soul to just admit the sadness and for the tears to roll, even as the sun is shining.

I once heard an older man say, “I have no regrets.” To be completely honest, I don’t understand that comment. Maybe it’s because I’m wired differently, but I’m only 37 and I already have so many regrets. There’s so much I would change, if I could turn back the hands of time. Yet, in a very real sense, I thank God for every painful experience. I know Him better as a Redeemer as a result.

If you’ve lived long enough, you know the feeling of having your mind hijacked by memories you would rather forget. Pictures of our past can narrate the story of a season full of painful experiences. A song can fill the air with a melody that reminds us of our sinful past. We can drive by a location that retells the story of a conversation that has never been fully resolved. It lingers there, haunting each passing of that address.

A simple comment can tempt the heart to meander back through a maze of mysterious difficulties that may never be fully explained in this life. Friendships fade. Brotherhood can be broken. Distance brings difficulties. Saints suffer, and loved ones leave us lingering here through the lisps of their last breaths.

In this world, sad things happen, and I’m learning that it’s ok to be sorrowful. It’s ok to admit that we don’t fully understand the perplexing providences of the path we’ve journeyed through. It’s even ok to have some sense of sadness that is always residing in the deepest recesses of our souls. The Apostle Paul did.

Sometimes we’ll wake up discouraged and we don’t even know why. It’s not realistic to avoid all sadness. Here’s what’s more realistic:

To be sorrowful, yet always rejoicing (2 Cor. 6:10).

A Foundation of Joy

In the midst of the occasions of sadness, there is a strong, unbreakable foundation of joy for every believer. There is more to our story than our sorrow.

Perhaps that’s what makes the joy of a battle-worn believer so beautiful. It’s not a fake joy. It’s not a facade. It’s for-real.

That’s the kind of joy I want to have – It’s the smile on the face of a dear friend who is trusting God as he undergoes treatments to battle his leukemia. It’s the joy that admits that this life is really hard and we get really sad at times, but we stand on the unshakable Rock of our Redeemer.

For the one in Christ, each sad moment or memory is an invitation to commune with Jesus, the Man of Sorrows. He was well acquainted with grief, and he is able to sympathize with us in our weaknesses. He was tempted in every way, as we are, yet without sin. He knows our sorrows. He knows our pain, and He holds the key to our joy. He can lead us down the path that proclaims “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing”

We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. We rejoice in the life to come, when everything will be made right. We rejoice in The Lord; we rejoice in his grace; we rejoice in his goodness; we rejoice in his forgiveness; we rejoice in our salvation, and we rejoice that our names are written in heaven. That much is secure, regardless of the sorrow.

You may be sad today. If so, take heart.

In the midst of your sorrow, may you rejoice in Your Savior and in his great love.

There is more to our story than our sorrow

The Man of Sorrows is our Savior

and our friend

We can rest secure, by faith,

and take all our troubles to him

When Your Mood Matches The Weather

The buds of the tree frozen in ice

Laura and I woke up early this morning to let our new labradoodle, Tulip, out of her crate and into the cold air to “do her business” in the out-house of our front lawn. A gift for my oldest daughter’s 11th birthday, Tulip has brought a lot of joy to our home.

When I opened the front door this morning, I was somewhat surprised, but not shocked, to be greeted by snow flakes falling in the crisp, cool air. Spring officially began on March 20th, but it still feels like winter in the section of the Northern Hemisphere where I reside.

It’s no wonder that this Spring would tease us by peeking and dashing like a school-age game of hide-and-go-seek. Snow in Spring is fitting following a winter that has been unusually cold.

Sometimes I imagine that it’s all the fascination with the movie Frozen that is delaying the inevitable, and enviable, arrival of warmer weather. And as much as I love the movie, I’m ready to sing, “Let it go!” with a new idea in mind.

Snow, in and of itself, is a beautiful thing, and I’m grateful to live in a place where we typically experience all four seasons. The problem for me (and, as a result, my wife at times) is that often my mood matches the weather. Lately, it has resembled a yo-yo effect of vacillating frequently, and it has not been uncommon to end a day encouraged only to wake up feeling very sad. I wonder if you can relate?

One Thing Never Changes

Over the years, through many changing seasons, I have been greatly served by the writings and sermons of Charles Spurgeon. It seems he had a constitution much like my own, so his writings have served me well. This quote is from Beside Still Waters, and it can be of help to all of us whose moods tend to match this weather we are experiencing:

“I have sometimes envied those good people who are never excited with joy and consequently are seldom or ever depressed. ‘Along the cool, sequestered vale of life they hold the even tenor of their way.’ Happy people! At the same time, when I rise as with eagle’s wings in joyful rapture, I feel right glad to be capable of the blissful excitement. Yet if you soar to the skies, you are apt to drop below sea level. He that can fly, can fall.

If you are so constituted that you rise and fall, if you are a creature who can be excited and then depressed… then you can only be strong by faith… Settle this in your heart. “Whether I am up or down, the Lord Jesus Christ is the same. Whether I sing or sigh, the promise is true and the Promiser is faithful… If you will stand firm in Christ Jesus, even in your weakness you will be made strong” (p. 21).

This morning, as the snow falls and the wind chills in Spring, I am so thankful that the Lord Jesus Christ is the same: yesterday, today, and forever – the same. Our God does not change like shifting shadows or erratic seasons, and His mercies are new every morning, regardless of the weather. We are secure in Him, and that’s a reason for joy in every season!