In the Midst of His Love :: By John Lysaught

I feel so honored and blessed to be a child of God. The decision I, and you made to accept and follow Christ was hands-down the best decision ever made in our existence. This unbelievable love God has for us is unexplainable to the unbeliever, but we have it and know it in the depths of our souls. The apostle Paul tells us and reminds us in Romans 5:8 that, “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

How great and awesome is this statement of the apostle Paul! – that regardless of our fallen state, He loves us. Even in our rebellious hearts and actions, Christ came and sacrificed Himself for His love of us. To be held in the bosom of the God of the universe, as small as we are in the scheme of eternity, is something we can’t thank Him enough for.

It’s easy to get caught up in life and put this greatness of Him to the side as we deal with the daily grind of family, work, rest, hobbies, etc. Yet, if we can take a moment to stop and ponder on God and Christ, what an awe-humbling moment we can sense. We are loved and cared for more than we can even imagine. Even when we face the trials of life, we can rest assured that God is with us.

In our life-long journey of sanctification, we can rest assured that He will not leave us. Yes, times can get sticky, but it doesn’t mean He is not with us. We are always in the midst of His love. He is there for us and listens to us. He feels our sorrows and is there with our joy. He is there when we call out to Him, and He is there when we don’t know we need to. Our humbleness towards His Greatness will put us to our knees in awesome wonderment of His Glory. And what about that glory? It is beyond our comprehension and understanding. We only have a small glimpse of His awesomeness.

Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” We all accepted the gift of God’s saving grace through Christ. We didn’t have to do anything to earn this. We just needed to say “yes” to His calling. We can’t give something for grace, nor can we labor for it in some fashion. It is free. Admission to this eternal journey is completely without cost on our part. Christ opened the door for us, and all we need to do is step in. We can forget this, though. We do at times think we have to earn some portion of our salvation, but it is free with no strings or “but” attached to it.

In those time of troubles, we are still in the midst of His love. In Hebrews 13:5, we are told He will never leave or forsake us. It may not feel like it in the middle of a storm, but He is there. In a broken marriage, He is there. In strained relationships and with wayward children, He is there. In unemployment, homelessness, hate towards you, depression, loss of a loved one, and every other negative aspect of life we face, He is there in the midst of us. There is not a single thing in this world that we can face where He would excuse Himself from loving you. Nothing.

We can feel that He is not with us, though, and it troubles our hearts. When dealing with a trial of some sort, we pray and pray; but when we don’t receive the answer we seek, we make a false assumption that He doesn’t care. When the pain hurts so deep into our soul and heart from something that has happened, and we don’t get relief, we feel as if He has abandoned us. This is when we stop praying and hang our heads down in defeat and feel we must face our troubles all alone with no help from our God.

When we do find ourselves in a defeatist attitude, we must do as 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 says to do, “Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” When we do this, our hope and trust in Him will be revitalized and steadfast. This verse does not tell us to only pray when things are bad, or to only pray once, but it does say to always pray, nonstop.

I know it is hard to give thanks to Him when we are in some sort of bad situation, but we need to. What thanks is there in the death of a loved one? What about becoming unemployed – what thanks to God can one give? There are many situations that we face where we feel there is no way we can give thanks, but we can. Give thanks for the time spent with a loved one before they passed. Thank God for the strength He has to offer when faced with losing a job. It’s the little thanksgivings that will go a long way and will get our heads straight on how to look at life. We can look at life through the lens of graciousness or bitterness. It’s our choice.

Yes, it is easy to give great thanks to God when things are going great for us and the blessings seem to be overfilling our cups. During these times we really feel like we are in the midst of His love. The true test is when the opposite happens. Do we still feel blessed when the blessings dry up? We should.  There are so many blessings of love that God has dropped on our heads that we take for granted as an entitlement of life.

The greatest and simplest blessing is to be in the midst of His love. Nothing can replace it. Nothing or nobody can take it away. It is ours and is overarching over anything else that happens to us. Get knocked down by the world? We have His love and promises. Have our lives turned upside-down by an event? We still have His love.

Job 1:21 says, “… Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Even in the turmoil that Job faced, he was still in the midst of His love. He even praised Him! How often do we do this – praise God in times of trouble? Yes, we need to. When we are in God’s love, no matter what happens to us, we are still in His love.

We are children of God. Adopted sons and daughters of the Great I AM. This occurred the moment we accepted and were given Grace through Christ. Each day is a challenge in this world, and He never said it would be easy when we accepted salvation. Regardless of what we go through in life and no matter how hard things might get, we can be assured that we are and will always be in the midst of God’s love. Stay strong in these end times, brothers and sisters.

Quid Pro Quo :: By John Lysaught

This for that. We live in a society where we believe we must wheel and deal to get what we need. This translates into some’s relationship with God, and there is an attempt to have a quid pro quo relationship Him. People plead to God that if He does such and such for them, then they will do something for Him in return. This happens when people are in dire straits from some situation or trial they are in. This is not how one builds a relationship with God. This is not how our relationship with God should be based. It needs to be centered on trust.

God is the only God. He is the Creator of every single thing that exists. Who is man to demand a quid pro quo relationship with Him? Who is man to try to control God’s graciousness for gain? Man is in no position to demand anything from God. Some, though, treat God like this. They treat God as a convenience store or a help line when troubles come or something is desired. They try to barter for their needs. Folks say things like they promise to read and study the Bible more if God bails them out of the tribulation that is being faced. Or they will stop doing sin if God grants them some relief or wish of a material good.

This is not how a relationship is built or nurtured. Yes, God wants believers to go to Him for their needs, but there is also an obligation to praise and worship Him always, good or bad, not to make deals with Him to fill shopping baskets full of what is on the shopping list. There cannot be an expectation that God will heed to every beck and calling on Him like some genie in a bottle if we attempt to negotiate terms with Him.

Christians are perpetrators of doing this. I’m not saying we all do this; but from my observations, I do see this a lot, and I’m guilty too. Both believers and unbelievers alike come to Church looking for something. Some looking for resolution to a trial or tribulation they are facing. Some looking to overcome sin; and in the end, a quid pro quo deal with God is attempted. Earnest prayers are sent to Him pleading for some type of transaction with Him in vain attempts to garner an end result to their liking, not necessarily for God’s will.

If we truly want to worship God, it must not be a give and take relationship. Believers must give themselves without clauses to God, not just on Sunday mornings but every day, each day in the good and bad of life. They must believe in the resurrection of salvation offered by the blood of Christ spilled for them on the Cross. Only through this can believers really have a strong bond to God and step away from the quid pro quo seeking that can creep up in life. Is this a hard habit to break? Yes, it is, but it can be overcome with focused prayer and a humble heart.

Even in fleeting thoughts, there is the truth that we try to demand action from God through our pleadings of us doing something for Him in return for Him doing something for us. I believe that it comes down to a fundamental action on our part that we lack – to fully trust God. If we can trust the Lord, the give and take demands and attempts to manipulate God will go away.

Psalm 37:5 tells us to, “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”

Now understand Christian, the outcome we seek may not be the answer we receive or expect, but we must always trust God. God acts in what is best for us, even when we don’t understand. This is shown by Jeremiah 29:11 which says,

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

What is that expected end? That He will take care of us. He does not set us up for failure, nor does He send evil our way to make us miserable. No! God wants to give us peace in our hearts and spirit. When we are in the midst of a tribulation – whether it be relational, financial, or whatever – is when we can fall into the trap of pleading in a manner of quid pro quo. We need to resist this and just put our trust in God.

For me, when I’m in a trial of some type, I ensure that I praise and worship God through prayer and thank Him for what He has blessed me with – shelter, employment, food, and Jesus. I thank Him for the little blessings as well. This gets me into the right mindset of not seeking a this-for-that pleading with Him. It helps me get my head straight before I deliver my supplications to Him for my needs and to trust that, whatever the outcome is, He is in control and it is for His purpose and not mine.

There is freedom in this. There is freedom to trust in God and to not try to manipulate via a quid pro quo act. Trusting in God sets our minds free from angst and worry. Honestly, we worry too much; and this is an indication that we are not trusting in God. Think about it. When you trust in the Lord, your anxiety goes away. When you don’t, it is the opposite. Why worry when we can trust that God is in control?

What we must remember and continuously practice is to renew our mind, and that includes reminding ourselves that God is not going to harm us. Does this mean we are free of trials and tribulations? Nope. Not at all. Does this mean we won’t fall on hard times? Nope again. What this means is that everything that happens to us, even our poor judgments that lead to sin, will be used for the Glory of God. We may not understand or agree with Him, but we must trust in Him because He knows what is good for us and sees the timelines of our lives that we don’t.

Psalm 56:3-4 says, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.”

Regardless of what we face, when we trust in God, there is no need for a quid pro quo or fear that propels us to ask for something in return for something. There is no need for fear to drive us to plead a trade-off of something from God for something from us. When we face a tribulation, no matter how bad or enduring it is, we need not fear the outcome because He is there for us in our corner. God’s hand is always in the midst of our lives.

When we fear, our trust in God wanes. We shouldn’t have an ebb and flow in our trust in God. We tend to trust God when things are hunky-dory, but when we start hitting obstacles, when the blessings don’t seem to be pouring out, is when our trust diminishes. We need to be steady-handed in our trust. We tend to trust in the good parts of life and give Him all the glory, but when things are awry, our trust diminishes or goes away, especially if our trial is not resolved as quickly as we want or how we want.

Satan, of course, wants us to not trust God because it can sever our relationship with Him and wreck our sanctification on the road to Heaven. Satan wants to lure us away from God and will take advantage of our lack of trust. He will amplify the stressors in our lives to diminish our trust in God. Is Satan successful in doing this? Yes, because there are so many believers questioning their trust in God’s power. We need to be cognizant of this fact and be prepared in mind, soul, and spirit to stand against Satan. We can do this with our faith and trust in God.

A quid pro quo relationship with God will fail. No matter how many times it is attempted, we cannot manipulate God for something we need. It just doesn’t make sense and can lead to disappointment in God or a feeling of abandonment. If we can fully and honestly trust in God to care for us, for His purpose (not ours), we can face each and every day with a hope and a peace that can overcome any trial or tribulation in the details of our lives.