Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Lost but Looked For

I am at church camp this week (LaMoine Christian Service Camp near Carthage, Illinois). I wrote the daily personal devotion for the campers (we call them personal encounter times), and since I don't have time to write anything else this week I thought I would share them with you.

Day 1: God’s Desire

“You must worship no other gods, but only the LORD, for he is a God who is passionate about his relationship with you.” ~ Exodus 34:14, NLT

“The Scriptures tell us that God wants to be involved in the lives of his people! That is why he created us—for an intimate relationship with him.” ~ Henry Blackaby, Hearing God’s Voice, p. 5

The first full day of church camp. There are reasons to be excited: you get to see old friends, you get to form new friendships, you get to worship God everyday, and you have the opportunity to hear from God. Before you go any further this week, I want to encourage you to take time and invite God to be part of your week. Pray and ask God to speak to you, to your heart, during this week of church camp.

Have you prayed? If not, please do. I promise that you will get so much more out of this week if you will take the time to ask God to be a part of it.

Today I would like to start by sharing with you a scene from one of my favorite books. The great Christian thinker and writer, C. S. Lewis, wrote a series of children’s stories entitled The Chronicles of Narnia. The first two of these stories have been made into movies; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian. In book number 4, The Silver Chair, two children find themselves transported into the magical land. The first is a boy named Eustace (aka Scrubb), who is the cousin of the original four children who happened into Narnia through the wardrobe. The second is a girl named Jill who was looking for a way to escape the bullies at her school. In an attempt to evade the bullies, Eustace tells Jill about Narnia and the two children perform a ceremony, calling on the great Lion, Aslan, to allow them into Narnia.

The two children are brought into the land, and are then separated. Jill finds herself face to face with the Lion as He explains to her what she is to do.
“Please, what task, Sir?” said Jill.
“The task for which I called you and him here out of your own world.”
This puzzled Jill very much. “It’s mistaking me for someone else,” she thought. She didn’t dare to tell the Lion this, though she felt things would get into a dreadful muddle unless she did.
“Speak your thought, Human Child,” said the Lion.
“I was wondering—I mean—could there be some mistake? Because nobody called me and Scrubb, you know. It was we who asked to come here. Scrubb said we were to call to—to Somebody—it was a name I wouldn’t know—and perhaps the Somebody would let us in. And we did, and then we found the door open.”
“You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you,” said the Lion. (The Silver Chair; pp. 18-19)

What C. S. Lewis is trying to communicate to us, through this conversation, is that the only reason we look for God is because He is calling out to us. The reason you are here at camp is because God is calling out to you. God wants to have a relationship with you! I know for some of you that is hard to believe. Perhaps it is hard to believe because your dad has walked out of your life or he abuses you everyday. Perhaps it is hard to believe because you are the butt of jokes at school or you don’t get any attention at all, good or bad, and so you feel like you are invisible to the world. There are so many different reasons why we find it hard to believe that God loves us.

What I want you to do right now is to take out your journal and at the top of the first blank page write: Reasons Why I Doubt God’s Love

When you have done that I want you to spend time in prayer. Ask God to show you the reasons why you doubt His love for you. As the reasons come to you, write them in the notebook. When you are finished, pray and ask God to show His love to you this week.

Read Romans 8:31-39
After you are finished reading this passage copy verses 37-39 into your notebook under the list of reasons you doubt God’s love to serve as a reminder that none of these things can prevent God from loving us.

Return to Romans 8 and focus on verse 32. The apostle Paul asks a very important question for us to consider.
What is the question Paul asks?

How do you answer that question?

What should Jesus’ life and death tell us about God’s love for us?

Often the reasons we doubt God’s love for us is because we see life from our perspective. We think about all the things we don’t have, the terrible circumstances that have plagued our lives, or when God appeared not to come through in our lives. The Apostle tells us that we need to see things from God’s perspective: Since God did not spare even his own Son… This is the reality that needs to be our backdrop when it comes to understanding God’s love for us. The life, death, and resurrection of Christ is the evidence we need to know that God will do whatever it takes to have a relationship with us. Through Christ Jesus, God is looking for us in order to bring us home.

Read Matthew 18:12-14
Why does the shepherd leave the 99 sheep to look for the 1 that is lost?

Is God content with all people who are already Christians? Why not?

What truth does this parable teach us about God’s love?

God is calling for us. He is looking for us. Why? God is searching for us because He wants to have a relationship with us. We are created to have a relationship with God, not because He was lonely, but because He wanted to share the love and the fellowship which exists in Himself (the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) with others. God wants us to experience the supreme love that He has to give.

Ultimately it is God’s supreme love that we find ourselves searching for our entire lives. The reason you long to be part of a family, to have friends, and to have a “significant” other in your life is because your heart craves the love of God. Your search for love is really your search for God, and your desire to be loved is really God’s calling for you in your heart.

Point to Ponder: God is searching for us because He wants to have a relationship with us.
Passage to Remember: Romans 8: 31-39
Prayer to Pray: Father in Heaven, I want to stop and take a moment to consider You. The universe You’ve created is more than I can imagine. The blessings You have given me are more than I deserve. The beauty that is all around me is more than I can take in. Thank You for being the Creator and the Provider. Help me to remember those realities and not take what I have been given for granted.

Today I ask that You will reveal to me Your love. Help me to discern the lies of the Enemy that lead me to doubt You and Your amazing love. Allow me to hear Your call and give me the courage to respond to it. Open my heart up to what You have for me to learn this week. Thank You for bringing me here...(Finish in your own words)

“It may be hard to accept, but you are the object of God’s love. You were created out of love by him, and though you may not yet realize it, your soul longs to know this love.” ~ Erwin McManus, Soul Cravings


Elizabeth Mahlou said...

Personal encounter times! I love it! I think I will borrow the idea, if you do not mind, for use with my catechism class (high school sophomores).

middy1 said...

Wow! What wonderful timing. This is most excellent. A nurse friend of mine called last night, saying she is not happy at all with her life. She was talking about doubting God and saying she had lost all touch with God. Again, Wow, I will use this. We are suppose to get together on our off day this Friday. Thanks for posting this, is very good. I will be praying for the campers to find a deeper and more meaningful relationship with Christ. Will also pray that God will speak through you to the youth. Take care and God Bless you always.

Paul said...

Elizabeth, I don't mind, feel free to use what you want. Middy thanks for the prayers, camp went very well.

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