Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Finding the Lord in spite of myself

"Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said,
'Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious." Acts 17:22

That could describe me. Very religious, trying in my own efforts to find the Lord and His acceptance. Trying to be good, when I already have Christ's goodness in me. Trying to feel the Lord's presence, when I have the assurance in the Word that He is always with me.(Hebrews 13:5)

Do you ever get sick and tired of yourself, of doing the same dumb thing over and over? I think God must get tired of me, too. But He is not like me (Psalm 50:21).

He is not in a hurry. He sees me sitting with Him in heavenly places, right now, in the midst of my own imperfections. Praise God, it says in Ephesians 2:6 that HE is the one who causes me to sit with Him in those wonderful heavenly places.

Do I see them? Do I feel them? Not yet, but since He said it, it must be a fact.David says in Psalm 23 that He is the one who:
1) makes me lie down in green pastures
2) leads me beside still waters
3) restores my soul
4) and will lead me in His path of righteousness for His name's sake

Be still, the Word says in Psalm 46. "and know that I am God." That is, He is God, and I am not. But I do have the assurance that this God lives within me, and will perfect that which concerns me.

In II Corinthians 13:11 today, the Apostle Paul said goodbye to the Corinthians, saying to them..."Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you." The word for be perfect is katartizo, which means:

"to make fit, to equip, prepare"

In this verse, the word is in the passive voice, which means the subject receives the action of the verb.

It is up to God to work His attributes in me, I cannot produce them. The more I try, the more I fail. But if I patiently wait, He will work in me. Psalm 138:8 says:

"The LORD will perfect that which concerns me;
Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever;
Do not forsake the works of Your hands."

In this case, the Hebrew word for perfect is gamar. It is translated as "God who will complete for me"

I can rest today. He will do in me what He needs to do. I just thank Him and believe Him. I do not see how He will do it, but He will, because He promises to in His Word, which He puts above His own name.

Heb. 2:8-9 "...But now we do not yet see all things put under him.

(That would include how I see things in the present, but with the eyes of faith:)*

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone."

He tasted death for me, so I can be at peace with myself today. Thank you Lord!

(*denotes my comment)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

14 Reasons to Keep My Eyes on Him in 2014

"For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen." Romans 11: 36

All of creation can be summed up in that statement. Everything is about Jesus.

Last night I started reading a book called How to Enjoy the Bible by E.W. Bullinger. In the first chapter, I read that the whole point of the Bible is to show us Christ. Both the Word and the Creation testify of Him. When I align myself with that fact, my life goes smoothly. Everything God wants to say to us is said within His Book and through the testimony of His creation.

When I look at my life and my circumstances, I can easily get discouraged. But if I can keep the focus of my life on getting to know Christ, I will have no regrets.I do not have to answer to anyone but Him anyways.

Bullinger reminded me of something: The Word of God is unfathomable. It is never a waste of time to study it. It is like a treasure that I need to store up in my soul while I have the time and opportunity. It never grows out of fashion. In a time of trouble, where else are you going to find hope? As Peter said to Jesus:

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." (John 6:68)

Think of it: what a privilege to have the Bible and so many helps available to us. In the time of King David, all he had was the Torah and yet he still understood that His sins were covered by God's grace.

Why is it fitting that I should look away from myself and to Christ? In this year of 2014, here are 14 reasons from the top of my head:

1)He is altogether lovely.
Song of Solomon 5: 16
"His mouth is most sweet,
Yes, he is altogether lovely.
This is my beloved,
And this is my friend,
O daughters of Jerusalem!"

2)He has a light yoke.
Matthew 11:30
"For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

3)He knew me in my mother's womb.
Jeremiah 1: 5
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you..."

4)He knit me together.
Psalm 139:13
"For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb."

5)He knows my anxious thoughts.
Psa 139:23
"Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties"

6)He will never leave me nor forsake me.
Hebrews 13: 5
"Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

7)Even if I deny Him, He will not deny me.
II Timothy 2:13
"If we are faithless,
He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself."

8)I traded my sins for His righteousness in the Great Exchange of human history.
II Corinthians 5: 21
"For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."

9)He is coming quickly, and He has His reward with Him.
Rev. 22: 20
"He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

10)One day, every knee will bow to Him, so why not bow now?
Phil. 2: 10-11
"...that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

11) He holds the universe together.
Col. 1: 17
"And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist."

12) His mercy endures forever.
Psalm 118:29
"Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever."

13) He is rich unto all that call upon Him.
Rom 10:12
"For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him."

14)No one who comes to Him will ever be cast out.
John 6:37
"All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."

What are your reasons to keep your eyes on Christ in 2014?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Live Up to or Live Unto

Did you ever have something wonderful happen to you before people and felt you must work hard to keep giving a good impression of yourself? That you had to "tow the line" or you would lose your good standing before men?

I have felt that, but it isn't that way in the family of God. God sees me today, and accepts me just where I am. He doesn't even get tired of me repenting for the same sin over and over. He tells us to forgive our brother 70 times 7. Well, I say that you can't forgive others if you don't forgive yourself first.

Guilt has a way of coming in and accusing us of things we have already confessed in order to break the peace we have as a free gift of God. But I am slowly learning to answer back when I am accused:

"That is NOT who I am!"

Why can I say that? Maybe it looks obvious to the world that I have failed in some sort of sin. But God says: "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away: behold all things are become new." in II Corinthians 5:17. Are these just nice words or are they God's truth?

I choose to believe they are true. I am not who I was in the old person. That person died when Christ died, was buried when He was buried, and rose up to new life when He rose up to new life. I must internalize and believe it, because the Word says it, and it is my refusal to believe it that keeps me stuck in the same old ways of failure.

Romans 6: 1-4 tells us: "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should walk in newness of life?

It almost sounds too good to be true, but if I want to get past the failures then I must choose to see myself the way He does. Yes, I may have sinned, but God does not see me in that sinful state. He cannot, because He tells us He has removed our sins from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12), that they are buried in the deepest sea (Micah 7: 19), that He has put them behind His back (Isaiah 38: 17). What an awesome, gracious God we serve.

If He did see me in my sin, He would not be satisfied with what Jesus did to pay for my sin on that cross. Therefore I need to give myself a clean slate each day, and be thinking only of what is ahead, not what is behind. I cannot do anything about the past, but I can choose what I will do with today.

Sometimes I say to the Lord: "Lord, I am receiving the love you have for me. I am believing the love you have for me."

It helps me to remember that everything He does in my life is done because He loves me. Even when He has to discipline me, I must remember it is done because He loves me. Just like a little child who throws a tantrum needs disciplined, so I also must receive discipline so that I will learn His ways, which lead to peace, rather than my ways, which lead to ruination.

Just think of what God gives to His undeserving children the moment that they place their faith in Christ:

Ephesians 1:3-6 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ: According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: Having pre-destinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved."

From this passage alone He promises us: 1) All spiritual blessings 2) that we were chosen before the foundation of the world 3) that we are holy and without blame before Him in love 4) that we were predestined to be His adopted children and that we are 5) accepted in the Beloved.

We don't have to try to impress God with anything good we have done. He loved us when we could not save ourselves and His love for us is according to who HE IS, not who we are. So I am not living up to some standard today, I am living unto my Lord, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2: 20)