What Can Separate?

What can separate you from the love of your god? If you had asked participants of almost any religion in history, you would compile a whole list of offences, from items as serious as murder to things as simple as a missed prayer. Some religions would have to confess that their god never loved them – they were merely tolerated as long as they behaved. Ancient Greeks were constantly trying to appease their fickle god Zeus, attempting to understand what had made him angry this time. One unsatisfactory sacrifice might result in years of famine. Participants of pagan religions live in constant fear that one omission, one sin, will result in losing favor with their gods.

So, I ask you. What can separate you from your God? Thankfully, we can answer with the words of Paul in Romans 8:38 & 39, “For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Paul makes it very plain that nothing on this earth can separate us from our God. To emphasize that, I want to take a look at a few of the specific items he brings up.

Death is the one that separates us from every other thing we know. We are taken from our families, all our earthly possessions, even our own bodies, that seem to make up who we are on this earth. All of that is ripped away from us in death, and cannot be reunited to us. Death seems to be the strongest separator. But when Christ rose from the dead on that Easter morning, He changed death from an end, the ultimate separator, into the beginning of our eternal life. Death’s separating sting is gone, and now serves only to bring us to God.

One fallen angel in particular tries his hardest to separate us from our Father. His plan throughout history has been aimed toward this end, from fruit in a garden thousands of years ago, to the many distractions of the world today. Not even he and his army can separate us from the love of God. He has been defeated and banished from heaven by Christ’s resurrection, and wields only the limited power God allows him to serve God’s purpose.

Our government tries to distance our whole society from God, through passing laws in opposition to His decrees at every opportunity. The time may not be far off when our land turns to physical persecution to rid the land of Christianity and to scare others away from it. This is already happening in countries like China, Egypt, and Iraq. Their attempts to make God’s people feel alone and unloved by Him fall far short however – Christianity has long been seen to grow strong in the lands of persecution.

Nothing that we are going through right now, or that we will go through in the future, or that we can even imagine will be a barrier to our God’s love. We may feel physically far from God – I think every one of us has had those seasons where prayers hit the ceiling and we feel like our faith has never been weaker. That can’t stop God’s love for you. Our circumstances may be such that we don’t think God would put us through them if He really did love us. But just because we don’t feel His love for a time doesn’t mean it isn’t there. God’s love towards us does not depend on our subjective, emotional feeling of it.

Not even our sins, no matter how deliberate and heinous they are, can separate us from God’s love. It’s foolish to think that something we could do would be strong enough to overcome God’s love for us. That isn’t to say we can sin as much as we like because God won’t stop loving us – if God loves you, and has elected you to be part of His church, He will put a spirit of thankfulness in you calling you to live an obedient life. We still can’t live a perfect life. We still have that old man of sin, but the sin that taints every deed cannot stop God from loving us as His elect people.

What a comfort these words are. No sin our old man of sin can commit, no plan the world can strategize, and nothing the devil himself can scheme can separate us from God’s love for us. Christ has overcome every obstacle that could ever come between God and us. The veil in the temple has been torn. We can stand assured of our God’s unfailing love for us in every circumstance. Let us rejoice with Paul that “we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”

Kenzie Kuiper

 

 

Floods

Recently I finished a book called “Washed Away”. It talks about the Flood of 1913 that affected Dayton, Ohio and Fort Wayne, Indiana, among other places.  The massive rainfall associated with this weather system caused significant amounts of  water to fill the streets made a boat the most effective form of transportation in these areas. Those of us in the Grand Rapids area had a significant flood last year as well. In addition, there was major flooding in Colorado last year as well. The first and  most famous flood is the one recorded in the book of Genesis. God was angry with man’s sin. “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). As a result He decided to wipe out everyone in the world with a flood, except for Noah and his family. After building an ark for 120 years, Noah and his family and the animals God sent him entered the ark and spent the next year and ten days there. During this event water came from both above and beneath the earth. The inside of the earth was likely filled with water at this time. Today it is filled with fire.  This flood, though denied by many today, is still considered to be a benchmark for other floods.  During the flooding that happened in Colorado last year, I saw a headline in USA Today that read “Flood of Biblical Proportions”.  After the Genesis flood God promised never to send a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all mankind.  Why then do we still get floods today? God did not promise that rivers would never again overflow,  or that hurricanes or fast-moving thunderstorms would not drop vast amounts of rain on the earth. Rather He promised that He would never send a flood that would kill most of world’s inhabitants and destroy the whole creation. We do well to remember that God has control over the flood waters that come upon the earth, but those aren’t the only floods He controls. We experience floods of emotions as the result of the experiences that we have, and sometimes we almost drown in them. These afflictions might be the death of a friend or family member, cancer, job loss, the breakup with one’s boyfriend or girlfriend, or anything else we view as evil.  We also experience floods of guilt over our sins. During these troubling times God has promised that “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee” (Isaiah 43:2). With God’s help, these floods won’t overwhelm us and drag us down. Let us remember that God is faithful, and He brings us through the experiences of this life into heavenly glory.

Kevin Rau

Psalm 121

As young people and young adults we rely on various people and objects as we go about our activities during the week. We rely on our parents to provide us with what we need for our daily living, food, shelter and clothing, among other things. We rely on cars, bikes or public transportation to get us to and from school, work and recreational activities. We rely on our teachers whether in high school or college to give us solid academic instruction so that we can graduate from these institutions and go about our paths in life. In order to accomplish these things, we have to place a certain amount of trust and confidence in these people and items. When people prove unreliable and objects don’t function correctly, we tend to look elsewhere for our needs. Although this is true from a physical point of view, it is even more so spiritually.  In Psalm 121 the Psalmist speaks about trust and reliance. “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help?” (verse 1). He then answers this question in verse 2: “my help cometh from the Lord which made heaven and earth. He goes on to speak about the ever-present watchfulness of God “He that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep” (verses3b, 4). “The Lord is thy keeper the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand” (verse 5). He goes on in verse 7 to say, “The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.” This means not that God will never send evil things into our lives, but that He will lead us through our trials, whatever they may be. Our parents, teachers, boyfriends and girlfriends love us dearly and would do anything they could to protect us. However, they are human and aren’t always able to be there for us. School and jobs don’t always work out the way we want. Sometimes financial investments and marriages can go sour and cause great pain. Who do we turn to in all of this? Is it our abilities or talents? Is it drugs or alcohol? Our abilities and talents are with us in this life and can be taken away. Drugs and alcohol cause more problems than solutions. Instead we are to rely on God and look up to Him for our help and strength, not only in bad times, but also when life is going well for us. His help will see us throughout our lives. It is constant and everlasting. It is always dependable.  “The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even forever more” (Psalm 121:8). As we begin a new week let us remember that God will guard, protect, and keep us not only now, but always throughout our lives. “For this God is our God and He will be our guide, even unto death”(Psalm 48:14).

Kevin Rau