A silent denial

willwedeny

A thought hit me as I prayed this morning: “have I also denied my Lord?”

In my mind’s eye I saw a dark, cold dungeon. The air was filled with the putrid stench of rotting flesh and rats. In the corner of one cell sat a large figure hunched over, eyes closed and lips moving in prayer. His body bore wounds that told of many beatings, some fresh and some reopened.

He sat there and prayed for his persecutors, his family, his church, and begging God for strength to endure to the end. His persecutors had beaten him time and again telling him that he had but only renounce his faith and he could be set free. They told him he could even continue to worship his God if he only said the words of denial and would no more preach. To merely let him go would mean he would be free to share his faith and many would believe as before. And whenever they killed the “Christ followers” twenty more would spring up in his place because of his martyrdom. But if he relented, if he gave in and denied his faith then no one would believe or respect him after that.

However this man was unwavering in his devotion to God. He would not be silent. He would not be ashamed or afraid of what man would do to him. He would continue to share the Gospel with all those he came in contact with. He would never deny his Lord.

But it got me thinking… I wonder… Have we done that which we would never dream? Have we–have I denied my Lord?

I imagine often of persecution, imprisonment, and even death for the sake of Christ. Something much like someone holding a gun to my head and asking “Will you say you deny Christ and never evangelize again?” I look them in the eye and say with a resolute passion, “no, I could never and will never deny my Lord.” (and then they pull the trigger…? I just hope that if persecution does break out here in America that I will be seen as a threat).

But perhaps our culture has already played the part of the persecutor and has beaten and threatened us until we no more share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We’re scared. We’re ashamed. It’s uncomfortable. I myself succumb to those lies and fears.

We’ve never verbally denied our Lord, but just the same we’ve kept our faith secret and silent, content to just blend into this world. Silently we have called the things of this world our lord and forsaken our First Love. If the world or the culture can get us to be silent and blend in then they’ve won – to them it is better then just killing us off because we will only seem weak and ineffective. And the truth is, that if we Christians are living according to God’s Word then either the culture will change or crosses will be erected.

I guess what I’m trying to communicate here is that our silence is denial. Denial of our Lord, denial of the Great Commission He has given us to fulfill.

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.      Matthew 28:18-20

My heart aches to know that within the past few weeks I’ve been in conversations where it led to planting seeds about the Lord, but I chose not to because I simply wasn’t expecting it. I wasn’t looking for ways that I could plant Gospel seeds, and when the situation arose I found it more convenient to remain silent on the topic. I don’t want to live as one that has denied the Lord. I want to live boldly and to lovingly proclaim the Gospel to others. I will not hide my light under a bushel, but put it on a candlestick.

Come Christian, you are called to be a light to the world – not to imitate the darkness. To shine forth with the radiant Gospel of Jesus Christ. Oh let us not deny Him in spirit! Let us call Jesus Lord and let our walk be self-evident to that fact.

~Grace Elizabeth

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Broken cisterns and Living Water

This morning I decided to start working my way through the book of Jeremiah, and thought I’d share some gems. Honestly, I chose Jeremiah because I thought that it would be a tough read with all of the judgments and prophecies in it. And I want to learn to love and delight in reading all of God’s Word, even if it’s a list of names; not just picking and choosing what I love to read out of it.

So before I began, I prayed. O Lord, show me something out of Your Word, anything. “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law.”  He did not disappoint me.  

I suppose the first thing that made me stop and think was Jeremiah 1:5-9.

“Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.”

How wonderful is it to know that God formed me for a distinct purpose and plan. O Master, let me only follow the path that you have ordained for me…I need Your strength.

“Then said I, Ah Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.”

Often I feel so inadequate or too young to accomplish anything for God’s Kingdom. But see, little things like age or disability don’t stop God. Watch how God turns around and does something beautiful with little Jeremiah.

“But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for though shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord. Then the Lord put forth His hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.”

O my Lord! Would You do the same thing with this little girl, as You did with Jeremiah? Would You touch my mouth, and put Your words in my mouth? Yes, even in this faltering, little mouth. Oh may everything these lips utter bring honor and glory to You…how often they do not.

These were good and encouraging, but just a warm up for Jeremiah 2:13:

For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.”

After reading this verse I paused to reflect—something here seemed all too familiar. Forgive me as I fumble around for the words to describe what the Lord showed me through this. (This will be a very ruff explanation of what it means to me).

You see, God created us with a void inside that only He can fill. He created us for something exciting—a full and exciting relationship with Him. But so often, instead of pursuing a relationship with God, the Fountain of Living Waters, we set up idols–we hew out our cisterns. But the thing is, our cisterns are broken and cracked, and can’t hold any water. So what do we do? Out of desperation to feel full, we do the same pointless things over and over again. We spend countless hours on the computer, joking with friends, reading fiction, and etc. (These things in and of themselves aren’t bad necessarily, it’s when we let them become idols). But the water [fulfillment] only lasts for a short while, and then leaks out just as fast as it came in, leaving us dry, broken, and empty. A broken cistern is anything that you replace the Fountain of Living Waters with, good or bad: Friends, family, relationships, books, computer, school, drugs, addictions, etc…

I have seen this pattern many times in my life. First, I have substituted The Fountain of Living Water for a cheap imitation, a pathetic broken cistern. Then I try to fill the cisterns with something “exciting” (because having the Fountain of Living Waters coursing through your veins is thrilling, so we try to leave something “exciting” in its place). But it only fills me up for a short time because the cistern is broken, and holds no water. So I fell empty. And then I try to fill myself up more and more with the same things, but it only left me emptier still, and more broken than before. The only way to get out of this rapid cycle of emptiness is to replace your pathetic, broken cisterns with God’s Fountain of Living Water. I promise, when you do this you will become alive, full, and yes, your cup will run over.

            To me, this is such a beautiful picture. And I wouldn’t have seen it had I not asked the Lord to open my eyes. He is ever faithful to me; always answering my prayers when I pray according to His will. Hmm… Lord, I praise You and exalt Your name.

I don’t know if any this makes any sense to anyone but me. Often, what is the greatest find and treasure to me, is a simple fact to everyone else. But if perhaps, this does make sense, then join me as I examine myself for the cisterns that I have hewed out in my heart. And let us allow the Fountain of Living Water to flow out of our lives.

All for Christ’s glory,

Grace

Psalm 16:11