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“But I’m almost done with college and God still hasn’t done anything,” protested the young woman across from me in the campus coffee shop where I often held “office hours” as a campus pastor (many years ago). Her voice was louder than she had intended and people at nearby tables cast a glance in our direction. Heedless of what others were thinking, she went on.

“You say that God has a plan for me, but I don’t see it. I want to be with someone so badly and it feels like God doesn’t care,” she said.

“But He does care,” I replied. “Just think of His promise in Romans 8:32, ‘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?”

“Well, I don’t know,” she responded. “I feel like I’ve got to do something.”

We talked a little more, then prayed and parted company with very little resolved, unless it was the resolve that she already had in pursuing a relationship that was not Christ-centered.

My heart hurt for that Christian woman, partly for the pain of her loneliness, but mostly for the pain I was sure that she would suffer in forging her own path outside of God’s plan for her: it seemed to me that her life was about to turn a tragic direction.

Sadly, it did go the way I was afraid it would for her as it has for some other men and women I have known in the last twenty-five years. The paths that they have chosen have been full of heartache and brokenness although, I am glad to say that in some cases, God has brought good out of tragedy.

Still, I pray for those who suffer from the snare of loneliness that besets men and women today (and not just college-age ones) and the strength it has in turning people’s hearts away from God.Dont throw away your confidence2

Trusting God with our relationships seems to be a tricky thing. I imagine that it is in part due to the fact that the world (the devil’s megaphone) likes to tell us that if we are single then something is wrong with us, either in looks or in personality. We are filled with impatience as it seems that everyone around us has “someone special” with whom he or she is living life. Impatience mutates into desperation which, in turn, becomes blinders upon our eyes, and leads us from the path of faith.

But singleness has the potential of being a very special place to experience the love of God. First, it allows us to celebrate the “centrality of Christ”. I simply mean the fact that there is no relationship that is even remotely as critical (and wonderful) as our relationship with God. Remember that the “Greatest Commandment” is to “love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, soul, and mind” (see Matthew 22:38) and it is to a true relationship with God that you have been called.

The fact is that many people are looking to another man or woman to provide what only God can. Unconditional love and acceptance, however, cannot be truly found in any human relationship (no matter what movies or songs tell us), unless they are first grounded in the love of God Who HAS loved us unconditionally and accepts us with all our faults – as Jesus’ dying in our place proves.

But secondly, our singleness will be a place where we exercise the faith to which we have been called. Consider what is at stake. God has a plan especially crafted for a “special you” and your spiritual enemy (the devil) would like for nothing more (and wants nothing less) than for you to be derailed from that plan, partly to steal your joy and peace, but also to try to sabotage your fruitfulness for God.

Solomon’s wisdom was known far and wide, but he gave his heart away to women who did not share his love for God (it just made sense from a worldly perspective). In consequence, his heart turned away from the Lord and he forfeited, wise as he once was, the fullness of God’s blessing in his life and the lives of his children (see 1 Kings 11).

I am not saying that if you are single that God is necessarily going to bring the man or woman of your dreams into your life, but if you will not succumb to the unbelief that impatience and desperation will foster in you, then you are infinitely better positioned for God to bless you and increase your joy and peace.

Besides, if the Lord has in His plan for you that “special someone”, then that “special someone” shares your calling… a common vision and a common mission to know God and make Him known.

“Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised” (Hebrews 10:35-36 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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Primacy of will of GodSome time ago, in a personal time of devotion, I was reflecting on the will of God and where it falls in my plans and priorities. I wrote, “The words ‘not my will, but thine be done’ (from Mark 14:36), echo in the valleys, mountains, and flat lands of my life’s experiences like a haunting voice carried by a restless wind. There is no arm pulling me irresistibly into compliance with Your will, Lord, nor is there a cosmic boot kicking me down the center of the street of your plans and purposes. No whips lash my skin, no rods bruise my back, no hand strikes my face commanding me to yield to Your commands, O King.”

“There is simply a voice that calls to You, a voice that I would have as my own, though it is still not quite mine yet. There is a longing within me to want what You long for, a desire to yearn for what it is that You desire. Old man with his old ways (Romans 6:6 & Colossians 3:9) cries out, ‘The cost is too much! The way is too hard! The pain is too great!’ while the will of Your heart that you would give me whispers, ‘No price is too great for the sake of knowing You.’ Fearfulness whimpers, ‘Not yet,’ while hunger and thirst to see Your face cries out, ‘None too soon!’’”

So just what does “the will of God” mean to those of us who say we seek it or to those who say they know it? Too often it means an agreement between ourselves and the God of the universe Who we treat as a mere “co-pilot’ or “co-regent”. Too often we perceive Him as nothing more than a partner in the managing of our lives which we deem should run smoothly and efficiently, helping us in making life profitable for its business partners and providing a lucrative benefit to us.

Sadly, such alliances with God are nothing more than self-serving contracts, complete with conditions for our cooperation and limits to our responsibility. Yet the words that Jesus breathed on the dark night on which He was betrayed had no taint of the rottenness of self-serving spirituality or fawning religiosity that nauseates the stomach of the Almighty (Revelation 3:16).

Jesus’ meaning in the words, “Thy will,” was nothing less than the whole will of God the Father, the complete and utter consummation of the desires of His heart. It meant (and means) that which the King of Glory intends, however sorrowful the road and whatever toll must be paid. The Lord’s will is not what we necessarily desire for ourselves, dream for our lives, or plan for our futures. His will is will. And as we comply with His will, we must ultimately give way to His divine image at work within us by the consecrating blood of Jesus Christ and transforming work of His Holy Spirit Who lives within the heart of the Believer. We pursue “His will” daily when we obey utterly His commands for holy living and love others as He has loved us. His will. And as we comply with His will, we must ultimately give way to His divine image at work within us by the consecrating blood of Jesus Christ and transforming work of His Holy Spirit Who lives within the heart of the Believer. We pursue “His will” daily when we obey utterly His commands for holy living and love others as He has loved us.

When our own plans come to nothing, we do not grieve but rejoice instead because our God has other roads for us to tread that will reap greater harvests of glory for Himself and bounties of hope for those that He has undertaken to save.

There are but two paths for each of us to consider: our own way or His. Our way leads to short-term benefits, promises comfort, and requires the least work and cheapest price to pay. His way, on the other hand, leads to eternal benefits, promises a reward for our suffering, and ultimately requires all that we have to give.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death…. For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Proverbs 14:12, Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV).

Let our hearts cry out, “May my own will crumble before Your purposes, Father!” Let us agree with Jesus’ declaration, “My food is to do the will of Him Who sent Me,” (John 4:34). The “old man” (the worldly, fleshly self) will tremble within us should we seek to make God’s will our own for it fears both the cost and our own propensity to turn aside after our own plans and old desires. But let us be reminded that such paths lead to nothing but tepid compromises that mean little to our King and yield little of worth for eternity.

So again, let our hearts cry with earnest passion, “Thy will be done, Lord,” and let our hands and feet hurry to render to Him the humble offerings of faithful and trusting obedience as we seek to become what He would have us be and what the world desperately needs to see in us.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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My children, over the years, have enjoyed my wife’s cooking immensely, almost as much as I do in fact. Comparatively, when their mother has on occasion decided to trust me with her kitchen, they could only tolerate mine. I enjoy occasionally trying my hand at various meals, but my experiments have usually involved lots of meat and potatoes (in other words, a bit more grease than is probably ideal). My kids could appreciate only so much of said grease, and even though they might politely sample the fare, they could sometimes do little more than pick at it. Alas, cooking has never been my forte! So when I would cook, you could definitely count on lots of leftovers!

I don’t really mind that they would just “pick” at what I set before them. I also would much rather eat my wife’s cooking than my own. But I think that it’s a real shame that God’s children seem to have a tendency to do the same thing with the banquet of blessings that has been prepared for them. When we do little more than pick at our spiritual food, we miss out on the exquisite feast of spiritual treasures that He has for us. By being just “church attenders”, for instance, we’re just “playing with our food”. As a result, we get little more than a few measly sips of the “spiritual basics” and miss out on the nutrients that build us into healthy spiritual beings. In fact, the Church, in our culture is as a whole rather malnourished and ill-prepared for the vigorous exercises of faith required of it in today’s world.

Too often we come to our church meetings seeking to only nibble at the “desserts” of forgiveness and other positive language we do indeed find in the Bible, but we inadvertently cheapen them because we use them selfishly. As a result, we habitually fail to move on to the meaty but satisfying dishes of genuine discipleship. Sacrifice, perseverance, holiness, and mercy for others are all well and good, we deem, but we’d much rather have another helping of uplifting music and encouraging devotional thoughts.

Now don’t get me wrong! We need the “treats” as well as the “meat and potatoes”. My children, growing up, have known that I believe strongly that desserts make the meal fun and they are convinced that my passion for cookies and cake is off the chart. But I have always wanted something more filling than just desserts in my meals and I certainly want something more filling than a mere dabbling in Christianity can afford me.

By not giving God’s “meals” a chance, we miss out on deeper experiences with God, greater victories in our struggles, and wider opportunities for influencing others towards the kingdom of light!

Of course, the irony is that God is a great cook (if you will pardon the expression)! By not giving His meals a chance, we miss out on deeper experiences with God, greater victories in our struggles, and wider opportunities for influencing others towards the kingdom of light! It’s sad but our propensity to want to try and live only on either the basics of the faith or the “fluff” is that our spiritual lives become powerless and lethargic.

But if we truly do hunger for more, then let us allow Jesus to become our passion! Let us permit His Word to fill up our lives with His love for the Father! Let us drink deeply from the cup of grace and then share from its bottomless depths with those around us who are parched for hope and famished for truth as we prayerfully seek practical ways to touch their lives! Let us flex muscles of courage and wisdom as feeding on His Word “beefs us up”! And let the humility of Jesus grant us a daily grace that whets the appetite of those around us for the life-changing hope that we have in Jesus Christ.

The Church (which is made up of anyone and everyone who genuinely receives Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior) should want more than superficial spirituality. Many who leave the Church think that there isn’t anything more than the rut and routine of attending service or sparse participation. But there is. We’ve just barely scratched the surface. We’ve only begun to sample the meal that God has prepared for us.

Don’t be satisfied with the status quo. Seek out the infinitely satisfying Savior Who died but rose again from the dead so that you could have “life to the full” (see John 10:10). Discover what He longs for you to know, that trusting God with all aspects of your life is wonderfully filling and delightfully nourishing!

“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst’” (John 6:35 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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A Quality of Light

A distinctive effect of the presence of light is that it reveals whatever it shines upon. At the risk of “over-stating the obvious”, the only way to see the true nature of something is for light to shine upon it.  We even have specialized “lights” to help us see further and deeper when there is need to ascertain the truth of specific things.  In medical fields, for example, X-rays, Cat-Scans, and MRIs are all “lights” that help a medical practitioner to see matters of concern in regard to their patients’ physical well-being.

Our spiritual well-being is dependent on the same sort of thing, only we do not use light from the ultra-violet spectrum to see inside us, but rather the light of God’s truth.  In a way that is similar to physical light, God’s Word, the Bible, “illuminates” our condition before God.

If we only compare ourselves to others, we compare that which is in shadow to other things hidden in the shadows of hate, pride, and worldly confusion. Rationalizations, excuses, and justifications cloud our perception until we can see neither ourselves or others with any clarity or discernment.

But when we compare ourselves to God’s declaration of reality given to us via the Bible, we see ourselves as we really are: fallen, depraved, proud, petty, cowardly, and so forth.  Our thoughts, attitudes, actions, words and even our hearts’ desires cannot hide from the discerning eye of God nor can they be portrayed as anything other than what they are:  sinful and selfish.

The “upside” of this is, of course, our spiritual maladies are revealed and we can then partake of the remedy that God gives us in Jesus Christ, Who is Himself the Word of God in human form (John 1:9). The Bible says of God’s Word in Psalm 119:130, “The unfolding of Your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple” (ESV).

So if we choose to remain “simple” (foolish and uninformed) and we run from the light of God because we fear what it might reveal about us, we cannot receive the benefits of His truth working out in us God’s good will towards us.

Not only that, if we run from the truth of His Word, we limit the good effect our lives might have had in the world around us. In fact, we cannot truly love others unless we are in His truth, certainly not in the way that God defines love.  If we squirm away from the pain of God showing us what isn’t right in our hearts and lives, we cannot truly give ourselves over to someone else selflessly.  When we try to “love others”, but do not step into close proximity of God’s truth, we cannot see how our own selfishness is counteracting even our best efforts.

Even our greatest and most magnanimous demonstrations of serving others are riddled with corruptions that puff up our egos and flaunt themselves as love. But really they are the methods we employ to obtain what we instinctively crave for ourselves.  These gains may not take the form of material gain or physical pleasure (although they sometimes do), but instead may be things like the acceptance we crave, the approval for which we hunger, or power over others that makes us feel like we have power over our own destinies.

But 1 John 1:10 says, “Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling” (ESV).

This tells us that loving others goes hand-in-hand with our living in the light of the knowledge of God. Before I can truly love someone else, I must see myself as I really am and the only way to do that is to step into and remain in the light of God’s truth.

Too often, we reach out to others and find our love falling short of the effect we desire. We reach out in loving words or deeds, yet find that it seems to have made no difference.  Could it be that there is a glaring inconsistency within us?  Could it be that there is something flawed in our thinking that hinders what we want to do for someone else?  Could it even be that what we called love is only an effort to control another or have them meet a need in our own lives?

This is not what God desires for us. He longs for us to live so fully in the light of His truth that we can be set free from those things that hinder our walk with Him and limit the fruit of our lives.  He wants us to live full and free in this life as an investment in the one to come.

But we never really know or understand ourselves unless and until we step into the light of God’s truth and allow Him to show us through His Word what is really going on inside our own hearts and minds. Such a journey is not for the “faint-of-heart”, surely, but it is for those who desire to know God or to hunger for more of what only God can do through us if we allow Him to bring us into the light of His love.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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True Love

In our society, the word “love” has become such a distorted thing that it is not even recognizable. What do some call “love?” Possessing others, using them selfishly to satisfy some primal and base instinct, or abusing them because some have the perverse notion that causing pain for someone else is pleasurable.

On the flip side, some believe that true love is their being willing recipients of these things and so they willingly subject themselves to the dehumanizing treatment that others will only too gladly heap upon them just to gain the approval or acceptance of the ones hurting them.

But God’s intent for humanity is not that some can be selfish, twisted pigs and others can be living doormats on which abusers wipe their feet. None of these things are even vaguely what God had in mind when it comes to our loving each other. Nor are these things the ways in which God loves us.

So how is it that we have no notion of what true love is? How can we be so wrong in our attempts to define it? How is it that we pursue those things that dehumanize us and color us as “objects of wrath”? Is it because that in our enmity with God, we reject the simpler and profoundly more beautiful ideas of love that He demonstrates for us? Is it because we allow ourselves to be duped by the satanic lie that God does not know what He’s doing? Is it because we simply don’t know His truth and are therefore “ripe for the picking” by worldviews that are corrupted and perverse?

There is such a thing as “true love”. But it isn’t what Hollywood has made it out to be. It isn’t what most books describe it as when depicting it as an emotional link between two people. It’s something better. It’s something greater.

In fact, the best and purest picture of love that we can find is found in the life and work of Jesus and, ultimately, in His choosing to die on the cross of Calvary in our place for our sin. If you are unsure what love looks like, then look at Jesus. And if you’re unsure what sort of standard to strive towards in regard to how you should love others, then look at Jesus.

True love is governed by the principle put forth in 1 John 3:16 (ESV), “By this we know love, that He (Jesus) laid His life down for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”

Love is placing the value of another’s life above our own. Sometimes when people read or hear this verse, their minds go automatically to “Hollywood” interpretations in which the hero tolerates others, but daily goes about his selfish business; then in a moment of crisis, he magnanimously sacrifices his life for the sake of another. true-love

The problem with this, although portrayed as “romantic” in many movies, is that it does not ring true to reality. He who does not deny self in small things, is morally unequipped and mentally unprepared for denying self in moments when it could be life and death.

Jesus certainly did not approach it that way. Daily He denied Himself in order to fulfill the destiny of others; daily He lowered Himself in order to elevate others to God; and daily He forfeited what was rightfully His so that He could reward those who neither deserved nor desired the life only He could give.

Every step on the way to His death on the cross of Calvary was fraught with a daily death to His own immediate desires and needs. He did not do these things in order to convince us that He loved and loves us; He did them because we needed Him to do those things. But in His doing of those things, we should be more than convinced that we are indeed loved… loved perfectly and loved eternally.

Therefore, in order to truly live out love as Jesus desires us to, we must follow His example. We too must choose to deny self. We too must learn the daily discipline of laying down our lives for the brothers. When we do so, we step into life greater and grander than we could ever imagine… and that life bears us into an eternity in which Jesus Himself resides in glory.

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a ESV).

This is what love is. It reaches out, risking rejection, but pursuing the good of others even when it is at our expense. When we love like this, we love like Jesus. And when we love like Jesus, we are demonstrating our love for Him.

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, Who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8 ESV).

Will you put into practice the kind of love that Jesus showed us? For you to do that, you must first believe in and accept the love with which Jesus has loved you. Have you done that? Have you received His gift of love and forgiveness? Have you allowed it to enter into your heart and life? If not, then it is time be let His love in. When you do, that love will begin a process of changing you and your relationships. In fact, it will change your world.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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