Tuesday, November 26, 2013

We're All in This Together

I Peter 1:24-5

And this is the word which was preached to you."

I was so weary last night that I went to bed way early. I simply could not bring myself to do the things I needed to do, so I figured I'd just go to bed and the tasks would be easier in the morning. And this morning, God was faithful to refresh me as I read His Word in the book of I Peter.

All flesh is like grass. The thought hit me to look at others, and myself, in a different way. Human beings are fragile.
We may think we are strong but we have no idea what could happen tomorrow. Our lives are but a fragile breath,here one minute and gone the next. What if I looked at people with that reality?

What if I considered others in the Body of Christ the way God does in I Peter 2:9-10:

"But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY."

Every member of the Body is part of this special group of people. I need to see others in this way, and not according to my own thinking about them. Think of the great price that was paid by Christ to redeem them. Hold them in highest regard because they are "members in particular" (I Corinthians 12: 27).

Consider how high the purchase price was for Christ to redeem us:
I Peter 1: 18-20
"knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers,but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you..."

All the gold in the world could not have lifted even one of us out of the pit. Only the perfect Son of God could redeem us by laying His life down for us. That is how much He esteemed us. He saw us having value, even though we couldn't deserve it in a million years.

He was the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world. Anyone who believes in His Person shares in this same heavenly status as of being paid for with an inestimable price. Oh, how much He loved us to do that for us. I should see my brother and sister in Christ as having incalculable value. Actually, every person on this earth because of the great price paid to make salvation possible to any and all who want it.

And yet each human life is so fragile. My words can either tear down or build up that person. We never know when that person's time might be over. What if they left this earth after I had torn them down, said angry and harsh words?

Oh, for the eyes of faith to walk in this reality instead of "You know how they are!" Instead of attributing sins and failures to people to think of them as chosen, holy, a person of God's very possession. To walk with they eyes of faith. And to realize I don't have to love people because they, on their own, did something to merit my love. No, they are either part of the chosen family of God or are candidates to be in that family. God's love for them can fill me instead of paltry and miserable human love.

It is my wish to live in this reality. Thank you Lord, for revealing your great love for us and reminding us of the preciousness of Your holy gift. Truly something to be eternally grateful for in this season of Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Conversation with God

"But we all with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord." II Corinthians 3:18

Beholding as in a mirror...transformed into the same image...why, Lord,do I read no words here of struggling and straining? Is that what You really see? But just look at me! I fail constantly. How can God's Word possibly be true?" Thoughts like these barrage me daily. "You are not making any progress, what's the use?"

Discouragement, wanting to just say forget it, shame.

God is answering through His Word that is not who I am! He says just the opposite:

II Corinthians 5: 17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new."

"That is who you really are!" the Spirit reminds me through His Word.

"Yes, Lord, but..."

"But nothing..."For we walk by faith, not by sight." II Cor. 5: 7

But I have so many weaknesses, Lord...

"Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God." He replies in II Corinthians 3:5

"Everything within me is screaming that I am not who You say I am Lord!"

"And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom we also all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others." Ephesians 2: 1-3

That was who you were, He speaks through His Word. There is a big "but" coming now...

"But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses and sins,made us alive together with Christ... (Eph. 2:4a)

It all comes down to being dead, then, one way or another. Either we are dead in our trespasses and sins, or we are dead to that old person we once were.

Romans 6:5-6: "For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin."

Our transformation into Christ's image doesn't have anything to do with a self-help program. It comes from beholding the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world! (John 1:29) In learning of His total ability, and recognizing our complete and total inability, we can rest in the assurance He is making us into the image of His Son. He doesn't look at us as we look at ourselves.

Isaiah 38:16-17
O Lord, by these things men live;
And in all these things is the life of my spirit;
So You will restore me and make me live

Indeed it was for my own peace
That I had great bitterness;
But You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption,
For You have cast all my sins behind Your back.

Thank you, Lord, I will agree with You, and have peace in my soul. Amen.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

28 Years Ago Today...

"When I was a son with my father, tender, and the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me and said to me,'Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments and live'" Proverbs 4: 3-4

As I write this, I think of where I was 28 years ago. I was about to become a new mom with my firstborn son. Oh, how my life changed forever the moment he was born. I see the scene like yesterday. I was in labor since early morning the day before, and around midnight the doctor got called away on an emergency. I was left to push for three hours and feeling a sharp kick under my rib with each contraction. The use of forceps made for a rough delivery at 3:00 am on the nose on Sunday, November 10.

But how soon my pain was forgotten when the doctor held up our son, who only cried softly. A love like no other gripped my soul. It wasn't always easy being a parent to him and his two siblings, and I made many mistakes along the way. But I rejoice this Sunday, for this is the fourth set of Sundays since he made his entrance, and he has made the heart of his father and I glad. I can say this boy of mine has taken to heart learning God's Word and accepted the Lord as his personal Savior. He told me that only recently did he really understand that he needed to make the faith his own. Now Jesus is real to him like never before!

Proverbs 23: 26 "My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways."

3 John 4: I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth."

He was disciplined along the way, and just like the Hebrew writer said, it was not easy. Hebrews 12: 11 says "For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."

But it has resulted in our son becoming a person who is law abiding, and hard working. He even told me he wished we had been more strict with him. Four years in our nation's military made a man of him and I burst with pride when I watched him immediately stand still and salute on base when the national anthem was played. This wasn't the teen who had left for boot-camp. No, something happened and this plan worked for the good in my son's life. (Rom. 8:28)

Before he left the military, Jon met his future wife. Now,the tables have turned. He and his bride wait for their own son to be born. How fast the years went by. I can say this Proverb has been fulfilled:

Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old he will not depart from it."

Then the life cycle will start all over again, as he faces the challenge and privilege of being a father. He in turn will have to seek the Lord as he discovers that one needs help beyond themselves in raising this new life, this totally dependent baby. There is no higher responsibility. And yes, now I will be the doting grandma. I can't wait!

I pray that my grandson also will be one who is:

Proverbs 13: 1 "A wise son hears his father's instruction...:

Happy 28th birthday Jon! May your posterity be blessed!