Kept In Golden Vials

Have you ever noticed that there are several verses in God’s Word that mentions “a sweet smelling odor?”  In the Old Testament there are verses referring to offerings to God being a sweet odor to Him.  In the New Testament Apostle Paul informs us that we who know Him are a sweet odor.  Christ is the sweetest of all for the perfect sacrifice of His own life for us.  There’s another verse in Revelation 5:8 that reads, concerning us, “…before the Lamb were harps and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of the saints.”  

Reading that always reminds me of God’s deep love for me and for you.  Has the question ever floated in your mind, “Does God really care about the mundane things in my life?”  I’ve heard people say that there are far more important matters throughout the world for Almighty God to take notice of than individual lives simply going through a hard time.  Not true.  We know that’s not true from the above verse in the book of Revelation.  It clearly states that our prayers are a sweet odor to Him.

Elsewhere in Revelation we read that God keeps our tears in a bottle.  Why would He do that —  keep our tears in a bottle and our prayers in golden vials? Things are only kept in precious places when they are valuable.  Does God care about the mundane situations in our lives? Does He care when we cry?  Does He take all that much notice when we call out to Him for help?  We can definitely conclude that, yes, He does; so much so that He stores them away for safekeeping.

The next time you wonder if your seemingly small difficulties or your deep tragedies are important to God in the light of world tragedies, remind yourself that your every prayer is so precious He keeps it in golden vials.   They are sweet to Him.  He treasures everything that matters to you.

The Love Gauge

Have you ever wished you could measure love?  Often in life we wonder how much we are loved by certain others in our lives.  We even question God’s love for us, making statements like, “If God really loves me, why does He allow difficulties in my life?  Why does He allow things that hurt me so much?”  In our relationship with God we can become consumed with questioning and wondering how much does God really love us?  Our gauge seems to depend on the ease with which we glide through life’s troubles.

There is a flip side to this question of how much we are loved by God; which is, how much do we love Him?  Seldom do we ask ourselves such a question.  We want God to do as we think best for our lives, giving us what we determine we need, when we determine we need it.  It’s not often that we take time to meditate upon the motives of our own hearts, daring to question, how much do we truly love God?

As far as that goes, is there even a gauge to measure one’s own love for God?  After all, we are an imperfect people.  We are in constant need of being molded into maturity as we go through life’s challenges, daily allowing the hands of God to hold us and shape us into His image.  Only as we permit God access into our existence are we then able to walk in His own courage and wisdom as we travel through the moments of our lives.

Still, how do we know that we  really love God?  Is there some meter to measure our own hearts?  This week a dear friend sent a book to me titled, Lord, Could You Hurry A Little?  This  collection of poems is written by Ruth Harms Calkin.   She writes the following in a poem called, The Infallible Test.

“Lord, often I have wondered if my love for you is genuine,  Or do I flippantly mouth it like a small child saying grace at the table?  But today as I read your Word I discovered the one infallible test: ‘The one who loves me is the one who obeys me.’  Lord, never again need I wonder.  You have made it plain enough.”

Yes, God has indeed made it plain enough.  Jesus was instructing His disciples when He said to them in John 14:15, “If you love me, obey my commandments.”  His disciple, John, wrote in I John 5:3, “Loving God means keeping His commandments, and His commandments are not burdensome.”

We must not forget that God’s instruction to us to obey Him is not Him being some control freak.  It’s God displaying His vast love for us.  You see, our ways are imperfect; His ways are without mistake; they are good and loving.  For us to walk in His ways is not to boost the ego of God, but to keep us safe through all our days, to keep us living in peace, behaving in wisdom, shielded from consequences of walking in our own foolish ways.

So the question comes:  How much do we love God?

Trusting In The Dark What God Has Promised In The Light

When I get discouraged I often like to read David’s story. His journey in life was truly one of ups and downs. God had promised that he would one day be king of Israel. However, that promise took a long time in being fulfilled. During the wait, we see David running away (many times) and hiding from King Saul, who desired to kill David. We sense David’s deep sense of despair as he shares his heart in Psalm 13. David writes, “Oh Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?”

I am so thankful for David’s honesty. He’s exhausted emotionally and spiritually. He’s burned out. He feels all used up. David has definitely come to the end of his rope. We can feel the torment of his suffering as he cries out to God, “How long will you forget me?”

Have you ever felt forgotten by God? Have you ever felt like He has not been true to His Word — like He hasn’t kept His promise? We have all faced situations in life; not once but many times, when it seems that life around us has spun out of control. We’re on a runaway roller coaster and we can’t get off. Perhaps we cry out as David did, asking where is God in all of this? Does He really even care?

When we’re going through a difficult time we want it to be over now! Therefore, like David, we may also question God and wonder, “How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul?” Be assured, God has not forgotten you. He knows exactly where you are and what’s happening in your life at all times. You see, while we concentrate on the situation — God is concentrating on you and me. We want Him to change our situation but He wants to change us. God wants to do far more than a quick fix of something uncomfortable in our lives; He wants to design us into a person of strength and courage, of inner peace and joy. Therefore, He waits that we may be refined or as I shared in last week’s blog, He molds us into an extravagant beauty.

Has God made a promise to you? Have you been touched by something in His Word but felt let down because you’re still waiting for that Word to come to fruition? My father used to say, “never doubt in the dark what God has revealed to you in the light.” In other words, choose to trust your heavenly Father in the midst of life’s doom and gloom. How do we make such a choice and stick with it? It greatly helps to praise Him in the most difficult of times, for God is good all the time, and you are always on His mind. David made a choice of trust in the darkness when he wrote at the end of this same Psalm 13, “I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because He has been so good to me.” Trusting God in the midst of our despair grows stronger when we praise Him in the darkest of our days.