Just a Baby…

Nexus,hand,human,body

(FreeImages.com/Miguel Ugalde)

The background of our story:

Dusty roads; the rhythmic marching of a legion of soldiers; the poor and the infirmed begging for food; the elaborate robes and prayers of the temple priests; the bleating and smells of many animals; the jostle and bustle of the crowds; tables overflowing with dates, fish, and breads in the market-place; the din of merchants and customers haggling over prices; the wail of a child looking for its mother in the press of the crowd…

It was a world where you grew up fast, married young, worked hard, feared the oppressive rule of the Romans and the religious leaders, and feared the numerous diseases that could easily bring death to any family member at any time.

Some chose to “get ahead” by taking advantage of others.  The “some” encompassed government leaders and even religious leaders.  You never really knew who was trustworthy and who wasn’t.  Fear has a way of turning loyalty and integrity away.

There were those who lived in great wealth with a large collection of slaves to do their every bidding.  They lived in virtual palaces with elaborate tapestries, colorful gardens, elegant fountains, exquisite paintings, and magnificent, marble statues surrounding them.

On the other hand, many of the people lived in abject poverty: barefoot, dressed in rags, begging or stealing for food, exposed to deadly diseases, and the looming threat of barbarous punishment if caught trying to survive.

To live under the rule of the Romans was to live with the constant companion of fear and oppression.  (The Romans were known for their cruelty to anyone who was not a Roman citizen.)

It was into this dark and fearful world that we begin our story…

It had been 400 years since a prophetic word had been given by God’s people.  The heavens appeared to be silent.

The people longed and waited for a deliverer.  They imagined someone like David who would easily take on the Roman “giant” and would defeat him without them even needing to lift a sword.

Perhaps, their deliverer would be like Solomon and would bring prosperity and peace to their nation again.

Perhaps, their deliverer would be like Moses and would lead them to some new and promised land where they could live free of oppression.

Their dreams were always of a powerful and strong leader — someone they could rally behind, fight with, who would avenge the oppressed, who would set captives free, who would heal the sick, who would bring peace, who would bring hope.

Our story picks up outside a small town.

The glow of fires dotted the hillsides, while the sound of an occasional sheep bleating, the low hum of shepherds talking, and the lonesome notes of a pipe echoed across the valley.  Here on the hills, for a few blessed hours, there was quiet and an appearance of peace.

Suddenly, the curtain of heaven was pealed back!  Onto the stage of heaven and back-lit by the glimmer of stars and the glow of campfires appeared a shimmering host of celestial beings!

Heaven seemed to be making up for 400 silent years with an entire choir of angels, proclaiming two, coinciding messages: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace and good will to men!”

Heaven chose to appear to simple shepherds, on a hillside, to proclaim the news and details of their deliver’s birth.

The shepherds immediately left the hillsides and traveled into the small town to find the baby, spreading the news to those who cared to hear.

The shepherds found a simple carpenter, a young woman, and a newborn baby lying in a crude manger on a pile of straw.   Unperturbed by the surroundings, the shepherds immediately fell down to worship this baby.

Perhaps, it was this very reason they were chosen to be the first to welcome the Son of God…

…the shepherds immediately fell down to worship…

The world had no idea yet what a momentous occasion this was!  Many wouldn’t have believed, even if told the circumstances, that a baby could be their promised and long-anticipated deliverer.

How could a simple baby — sleeping for hours and completely dependent on its parents for nourishment and care — be the deliverer?  Why would God present His Son in such a humble form as a baby?

Perhaps, it’s because of what babies represent and how we are to respond to them…  Babies require us to stop, to hold them, and to speak gently.  When you hold a baby, your soul learns to pause and to listen.

The very way the Son of God came also speaks volumes of Who He is.  He didn’t come with a show of power and wealth.  He came with humility and in simple surroundings, telling an entire world that God is aware of even the smallest and most vulnerable.  He sees those that others overlook.  

God was sending a simple but powerful message that peace doesn’t come in outward displays.  God was saying that peace and good will come from Him.  He was saying that His glory can be both celestial and majestic but also wrapped in simple purity.  He was also showing that what He treasures most of all is our hearts and that is from where true worship comes.

The name the Baby was given was Immanuel, which means “God with us.”  God was saying that most of all, He wants to dwell with us.  In the last book of the Bible, God once again reaffirms His purpose for us:

Revelation 21:3

And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

As you follow His life, you discover that the way Jesus or Immanuel lived tells its own story.  He was kind where others were cruel.  He was generous where others were greedy.  He was humble where others were haughty.  He was loving where others were lewd.  He was forgiving where others were fuming.  He was scrupulous where others were scheming.

He healed the sick — no matter their station in life.  He raised the dead to life!  He fed the hungry.  He rebuked the arrogancy of the religious leaders.  He played with children.  He helped fishermen.  He recognized and honored women.  He associated with people from all walks of life.  He was never worried about His reputation; He only did what was right every. single. time.

He spoke in parables and said, “He that has ears to hear, let Him hear.”  Jesus was saying that it doesn’t require a degree in religion, science, mathematics, or psychology to understand the most important truths.  He was saying that He loves to bring His greatest truths and greatest insights to those who are willing and humble enough to listen, to be led by Him, and to yield their hearts to Him.

He brought the truest form of peace to those who were willing to receive and see it.  He brought the bread of eternal life to the hungry.  He brought freedom from the greatest oppressors ever: sin, fear, greed, and shame.  He set the captives free because no one can enchain a soul that God has set free!

Ultimately, Jesus’ earthly life ended on a humble and crude note.  He died the death of a common criminal with shame, cruelty, and anguish His final moments.  Once again, the heavens responded by closing the curtain (darkness fell) and the earth itself shook (earthquake).  Jesus’ final words were “It is finished!”  He had finished what He came to do.  His death and resurrection were the means for our entrance into Heaven, eternal life, and fellowship with God.  He removed the sting and hopelessness of death at His death.

Heaven’s curtain is waiting to be lifted to reveal the final act on the stage of life.  It will be an act that will once and for all eliminate evil and will reveal the Son of God in all His glory to us.  At that time, “Every knee will bow…”

This Christmas, let’s take time to reflect, to ponder, and to worship… a simple baby but also a magnificent Savior!

Advertisements

What The Sacrifice Reveals About The Results

Lamb

(FreeImages.com/AnthonyRobson)

Today as I was reading in my quiet time with the Lord thoughts concerning sacrifice and results, some truths stood out to me.  I am hoping some of these thoughts will encourage some of you, as they have me.

In my study, I was reading in I John 2:1-10.

1 John 2:1-2

My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

The question in my study was, “Why do sinners need propitiation?”  My response was the following:

Righteousness requires justice.  To excuse sin is to harbor, compromise, and yield to sin.  We would be destroyed though for justice to fall fully upon us.  Because God is not only Holy and Just but also Mercy and Love, He provided a perfect substitute for us.

As a considered the sacrifice that was offered on our behalf in the Person of Jesus what I saw revealed so much about our salvation! 

Our salvation is completely tied up in the sacrifice.

In other words, the sacrifice is completely relevant to the outcome.

The results of our salvation are a direct correlation to the sacrifice made on our behalf.

Only a perfect being could make a perfect substitute.

It’s the nature of the thing/Person being offered that determines its effectiveness.  To avoid confusion, let me clarify.

In OT times, the people would sacrifice animals.  They were to be without blemish.  It was not that God enjoyed the suffering or sacrifice of these animals, but He was revealing some paramount truths to the Israelites.  He was revealing the horrible effects of sin, the justice that is required for sins, and the holiness of His own nature.

The OT sacrifices though were only temporary.  They couldn’t completely eradicate sin or its effects.  They were imperfect, sacrificial substitutes because they weren’t complete, but they portrayed the need that sinners have for a sinless, eternal sacrifice.

Sometimes, it can be difficult to comprehend the requirement of justice.  Yet, when we see horrible evil, we demand justice.  How much more does a perfect God abhor sin!

Because God is also Love and Mercy, He knew that He had to provide a sacrifice that would be complete, perfect, and eternal so He offered Himself.

I want to ponder that a bit longer…

He offered Himself.

Jesus reveals God Himself in this perfect sacrifice.

John 14:7

The Father Revealed

“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”

The heart of the Father and the nature of God is revealed in the Son.  Jesus reveals that God is the perfect unity of Grace & Truth, Mercy and Justice, and Holiness and Redemption.

What Jesus reveals about our salvation is this:

Jesus was the Only One to fully satisfy the requirements for our sins’ sacrifice because He was sinless, human, divine, had power over death, and is eternal!

What this sacrifice reveals is that our salvation is:

  • Perfect

  • Personal

  • Divine

  • Cancels sin’s power

  • Eternal

2 Corinthians 5:21

21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Acts 4:12

12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Revelation 7:10

10 and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

John 1:29

The Lamb of God

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

Revelation 15:3

They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying:

“Great and marvelous are Your works,
Lord God Almighty!
Just and true are Your ways,
O King of the saints![a]

Random Notes But A Powerful Message!

The home of the the power for the sky

(FreeImages.com/AndreiGhergar)

 Yesterday, the Lord encouraged me with many wonderful truths through His Word, devotionals, a message, and thoughts during a prayer meeting.  I wanted to share them with you.  Enjoy the following:

5/4/16 AM: Believe the Lord was speaking to my heart this morning.  He reminded me of the verse I was given for this year:

2 Corinthians 5:17

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

Read in my devotional how we often want to go back — back to happier times.  God though always leads us forward.  I need to let go of the “if-onlys” and remember, “Today is fresh with no mistakes” (quote from Anne Shirley in Anne Of Green Gables), no misgivings, and no if-only.

5/4/16 early afternoon message:  “We often try to head towards freedom when God wants us to live from freedom.”  He is freedom!

It’s been said, “Freedom is experiencing the Presence of God.”  Amen!

“Grace empowers us to walk out the truth.”

Jesus asked the question, “Who do you say that I am?”  Pivotal question!  This will determine your entire belief system and how you live your life.  Who is Jesus to you?  It’s not what other people say; it’s not what the books say.  What do you believe about Jesus?  Who is He really to you?

Your ministry doesn’t validate who you are in Him.  Get ahold of who you are to Him and in Him.  Your “ministry” is not to find something to prove yourself.  It’s finding Jesus — having such a powerful/intimate relationship with Jesus Christ that it impacts everyone you meet.

We spend so much of our time waking up sin-conscience when we should be awaking Son-conscience.

“People aren’t your problem; you are.”

“You can be wrong about being right.”

“Instead of trying to sell people my fruit, why I don’t let them pick it?”  (sharing our faith)

“Let your roots go into the love of God.”

“Your family isn’t your problem; you are!”  (How many times do we blame others for our own lack of happiness and peace?  Our lack of peace and joy can only be blamed upon ourselves.  No one can take away your peace and joy, unless you allow it.)

Wherever you are shouldn’t be dark because you are there.   (Jesus in you!)

“Having a form of godliness is knowing a lot of God’s Word without the power of the Holy Spirit to apply it.”

“You can’t walk the Beattitudes out in the flesh.”  (Why so many don’t like them.)

False grace slips when there’s no relationship with Jesus — not the intimate knowing and being known.

“A lack of the body of Christ is in praying — not preaching.”

“Don’t bypass God to get a father figure.”

Co-labor with fellow Christians — don’t be co-dependent.

Heaven paid an infinite cost.  Why?  Because He values you!  The one who values the object is willing to pay the high price.  This is what gives the object worth.  Anything can be valuable or valueless.  It’s the buyer who determines the worth of the object.  Jesus determined our worth by paying the infinite price to redeem us!

1 John 1:7

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

“If you envy someone else, it means you don’t know who you are.” (Whose and therefore who you are…)

“Intimacy is that you know that you’re known.”  (truly known — all of you and yet accepted and loved)

“Live a life that is pleasing to the Lord — not because you have to but because you want to.”

“Pursue God at the cost of everything; God is worth it all!”

“If you’re on fire and you get put into the fire, you’ll be alright.  The fire is not the issue.  Trials aren’t the issue.”

“Heaven paid the highest price to revalue you.”

Wherever you go, there should be revival.

“Everyone is a target for the love of God, but not everyone wants to be.  You have to know who you are.”

“You’ll never love your neighbor unless you know who you are.”

5/5/16 AM devotional:

Read this this morning: “I will fight for you; you need only to be still. I know how weary you are, my child. You have been struggling just to keep your head above water, and your strength is running low. Now is the time to stop striving and let Me fight for you. I know this is not easy for you to do. You feel as if you must keep struggling in order to survive, but I am calling you to rest in Me. I am working on your behalf; so be still, and know that I am God. Quieting your body is somewhat challenging for you, but stilling your mind may often seem downright impossible. In your striving to feel secure, you have relied too heavily on your own thinking. This struggle to be in control has elevated your mind to a position of autonomy. So you need the intervention of the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to control your mind more and more — soothing you from the inside out. Take time to rest in the shadow of the Almighty while I fight for you.” (by S. Young)
5/5/16 another devotional:
Reading about Gideon…  He was a man blinded by his perceived limitations.  He relied on the physical rather than the spiritual.  He based his security on what was tangible.  He forgot or ignored the God-equation.  Following quote from Men & Women Of The Bible:
God’s grace and provision are more than enough [to compensate] for what we may lack.
This is true because God is El Shaddai — the all-sufficient God!  He is more than enough!
Gideon’s perspective revealed that he didn’t know his God.  He didn’t know his true self (what God created and died for us to be).
We are sometimes our own worst critic.
from Men & Women Of The Bible:
We are our own worst critic because we don’t know ourselves as God knows us and sees us!
What are we to God:
I am His inheritance!  Jesus brought me to the “throne room of His grace,” redeemed me, forgave me, and clothed me in His righteousness.
5/5/16 AM Bible study with my son:
 God looks at you in the light of His Word — not yours!
from “Men & Women Of The Bible”
So many amazing truths as seen in Ephesians 1:

Ephesians 1

Greeting

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God,

To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Redemption in Christ

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both[a] which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. 11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, 12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.

13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who[b] is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

Prayer for Spiritual Wisdom

15 Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding[c] being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

How secure is our salvation and position in Christ?  As secure and reliable as Christ and the Holy Spirit!  He sealed us by the Holy Spirit.  He brought our salvation about in Christ.  This is our security!

You accept this gift of salvation, and it is yours.

What is the price of one soul — your soul?!!!

Jesus said, “You are of infinite worth because He paid the ultimate, eternal, and infinite cost for you!”

From Where Did Evil Come?

(http://www.freeimages.com/photo/thumbcuffs-1564236)

I am not a philosopher neither do I have all the answers.  There are some questions though that are important enough to find the answers.

I recently had a discussion with a friend that prompted me to ask some deep questions.

Her question was, “From where did evil come?”

God reminded me that He knows all the answers so I asked Him the question.

I believe this is the answer He gave me.

He made the angels, including Lucifer, as highly intelligent beings with special abilities.  See Scripture for definitions.

Matthew 24:31

31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

Psalm 91:11

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;

2 Thessalonians 1:7

and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.

Hebrews 1:7New International Version (NIV)

In speaking of the angels he says,

“He makes his angels spirits,
    and his servants flames of fire.”[a]

Hebrews 1:14

14 Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

2 Peter 2:4

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell,[a] putting them in chains of darkness[b] to be held for judgment;

Jude 6

And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.

The angels appear to have been given a measure of “free will”, in other words the ability to choose to obey or rebel.  In II Pet. 2:4, it says God did not spare the angels because they sinned.  Sin is willful disobedience, meaning there’s a will involved.

Lucifer and the other angels (demons) who followed him were created just like the good angels.  Then the day came when they disobeyed.  Scripture makes it clear that it was Lucifer’s pride that caused him to rebel against God.  It was the sin of pride and rebellion that led to his demise.

Isaiah 14:11 All your pomp has been brought down to the grave,
along with the noise of your harps;
maggots are spread out beneath you
and worms cover you.
12 How you have fallen from heaven,
O morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nations!13 You said in your heart,
“I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne
above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. [c]14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.”

15 But you are brought down to the grave,
to the depths of the pit.

Luke 10: 18He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.

In the beginning when God created Adam & Eve, God called it good.  It is obvious that they were made in a “perfect” or sinless state.  They had the ability to sin as time revealed, but their original created state was sinless in the sense that it was a “perfect slate” or untested state.  They were “innocent.”
It is obvious that Adam and Eve were also given a free will as they had the ability to make choices — both good and bad.  God punished or rewarded them according to their choices.

God placed Adam and Eve in a perfect environment.  The angels were also in a perfect environment.

The question then is, “How did they sin if there was no original sin and if they were in a perfect environment?”  Where’s the source of that sin?

Here’s the profound truth!

The answer to this question really stems from understanding from where good and evil come.  In other words, it’s not our environments that determine who we are or the choices we will make.

The only one who is truly good and perfect and “wills” independently to be that way from His very nature is God.

We only are sanctified through God/in Him — in His Son.

It’s our “new man” which is redeemed/created in Christ Jesus that is truly good and wills to obey God.

In other words, Adam and Eve and the angels prior to the Fall didn’t have Jesus’ nature within.  They were simply humans and angels with an untested nature that was only “clean” because they hadn’t been tested yet.

“Free will” gave opportunity not only to respond to God’s gift of salvation, to be remade into new creations — into the very nature of Jesus — but also gave us the opportunity to rebel.

Love always gives a choice so God gave us a choice.  That’s why Scripture says, “Choose you this day…  Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ… To as many as received Him…  Accept…”  Each of those words describe a choice.

It’s interesting too that our very souls are composed of a mind, will, and emotions.  A will means we have a choice — we “willingly” make choices.

Pride is the ultimate rebellion against God, and Satan did just that.

It’s our pride that leads us so often into sin, into distrusting God and relying on ourselves.

It was pride that caused Lucifer to rebel, and it was pride that caused Eve to desire to have the fruit from the one tree that she was told she could not have.  The implication was that she thought she deserved that fruit.

The most profound truth in this discussion though perhaps is to understand that our environments do not keep us from sinning.

It wasn’t the perfect earth and “clean slates” that would keep Adam and Eve and Lucifer from sinning.  It was only God Himself.  It was only complete reliance on Him that would keep sin at “bay.”

God, Himself, is the only answer/antidote to sin — not an innocent state, not a perfect environment.  Sin, therefore, is anything apart from God — independent from Him.

Some individuals have tried to argue that God created some people to sin, to reject Him.  This though is contrary to Scripture when we see many verses that tell us God is not the Source of evil.  God is righteous and holy, which means there is no sin within Him.   This means evil comes apart from Him.

Sin came with a free will.  A “free will” implies the freedom to make a willful choice.  This means we can choose to submit to God, in response to His initiation and direction.  It also means we can reject His voice of truth.

Sin, itself, is one of the best proofs that there is such a thing as “free will.”

Romans 12:1

A Living Sacrifice

12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

2 Corinthians 6:6

in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love;

James 1:13-14

13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 1but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.

1 Peter 4:2

As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.

2 Peter 3:3

Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.

We all have the capacity within us to respond to God’s call.  He has initiated by “sewing the seed of truth” to us all.  The question is, “How will we respond to Him?”  He planted the seed; what will the “soil” of your soul do with it?

The Lie That A Lack Of Eternal Security Reveals

A lack of eternal security is one of the biggest lies with which Satan tries to defeat us.

If our trust isn’t kept in the finished, complete, eternal work of Christ, then we are also relying on our own abilities to keep us.

Jesus’ death and resurrection on the cross was His work alone, and our salvation is His work alone.  Our only participation is to receive it.  This receptivity or acceptance on our part establishes our trust or belief in His work on the cross.

Our salvation has always been Christ’s work.

A lack of eternal security is saying Christ’s work plus my work is required to preserve me.  It’s saying Christ initially won my salvation, but I have to keep my salvation. How do we think this is possible if it was never possible in the first place?  How do we think this is possible if we still daily battle the flesh within?

God’s Spirit within us is what empowers us to obey the Lord.

Our salvation was never won by ourselves.  We were incapable of producing it, and we are incapable of keeping/securing it.

Jesus sealed our salvation and then imparted His Spirit within us to begin the transformation or sanctification process of our souls and bodies.

Our salvation was never based upon our performance, and it never will be. 

Our sanctification was also never based upon our own abilities but rather upon the power of Christ at work in our lives.

Another way to put it is, our sanctification isn’t based upon our performance but is based upon our yielding to Christ’s working and to the conviction of the Holy Spirit within us.

Trying to keep our salvation is still self-reliance.  It’s legalism and work- or performance-based.  It’s an attempt at self-glorification.  (See a previous blog, in regards to this: https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2015/12/05/the-flesh-test.)

In reality, it’s when we let go of our own attempts (the flesh) and surrender ourselves to God — to trust and obey His authority in our lives — we will be sanctified.

A lack of eternal security reveals there is still an issue with trusting fully in God.  There is a lie about God we are still believing.

Those that lack eternal security may be relying more on their own feelings rather than on the truth in God’s Word.  (See verses following, concerning eternal security.)

Feelings come from the soul.  If our souls are not under the control of the Spirit of God, our thinking, emotions, and desires will be under the influence and deception of Satan. 

This is why we need to allow the truth of God’s Word to transform our minds, emotions, and desires.

It is the Spirit of God that accurately applies the truth of God to our lives.

The following passages contain verses that explain why we can rely on the finished work of Christ.  He is perfect, and everything He does, He does perfectly! 

Rest secure in His perfection, and with trust, yield yourselves to His authority in your life.

Hebrews 10:10

10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Hebrews 10:12

12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God,

Hebrews 10:14

14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

1 Peter 1:18-19

18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

John 10:28-29

28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 2My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.

John 8:36

36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

Hebrews 6:19

19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil,

John 6:37

37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.

John 6:39

39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.

John 6:40

40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Ephesians 1:13-14

13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who[a] is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

Does God Ask Too Much Of Us?

(http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=354752&searchId=4641999a7679fcaef2df0e26d11e3c72&npos=10)

The passage of years told their story in the lines across his brow, “age spots” dappled generously across his body, and skin as fragile as parchment.

He had known the sorrows and joys of a living a full life.

The enthusiasm of his youth had mellowed into the resolute faithfulness of the experienced.

He knew what it meant to watch all his dreams crumble and then at the last to watch them miraculously be fulfilled.

He had experienced the humbling lessons of trying to “intercede” for God and then to see those alternate plans “smack him back in the face.”

The passage of time had taught him that the truthfulness of God’s character is dependable.

The old man had learned that “God doesn’t just speak to be heard but to be obeyed.” (quote taken from Discerning The Voice Of God)

Through both failures and victories, the old man had learned that obedience to God’s voice requires a resolute and total commitment.

Through “trail and error”, the old man had learned that God’s resources and blessings always follow His will. 

In the seasoned years of his life, the old man finally felt ready to relax and to enjoy the benefits of years of toil and sacrifice.

He was ready to enjoy the blessings of spending time with a son that hadn’t come until all hope seemed hopeless.

This son had been promised by God a long time ago, and when the old man was still young, he and his wife had anticipated God’s promised blessing.

As the years had turned into decades, the “blossom” of their dreams and hopes had crumpled along with the vitality and fertility of their youth.

The man and his wife had even tried to devise a contingency plan for God, but had discovered the hard way that God’s blessings follow God’s will — not their own.

In God’s mercy and according to the faithfulness and truthfulness of God’s character, the man and his wife did at last see the full fruition of all their hopes and dreams!

A son was born to the two of them at last!  Miracle of miracles, their son was born in the autumn of their lives!

Where there had been “decay” and “deadness”, God had brought vitality and life.

Now, the old man could enjoy his son turning into a young man, anticipating the “handing over of the reins” of leadership to his son.

Feeling the creak of arthritic knees and the pain of swollen joints, the old man sat for a few minutes, marveling over the extent of the “spread” of his camp.  The tents of his servants spread out across the plain, along with the herds of sheep, cattle, and camels.  Wells, his servants had dug, pumped refreshing water to sustain the life of his household.

The colorful array of exquisite tapestries decorated the outside of their dwellings, while the beautiful designs of intricately-crafted pottery, mosaics, vases, and jewel-like creations decorated the interiors.

The old man felt a deep satisfaction welling up inside him.  It was time to rest and enjoy this “autumn” season of his life.

Into the quiet of his soul came the Voice that he had come to recognize with clarity over the years.  It was the voice of God, compelling Him to once again obey with resolute commitment.

The old man had known what it meant to follow God with unyielding obedience.  He knew what total commitment to God’s will looked like.  He had left the stability of his home lands, the “security” of loved ones and resources, the “protection” of armies, the “provision” of fertile valleys, and the companionship of friends in order to follow God.

His commitment to God was radical in its resoluteness and thoroughness.

In spite of all the “sacrifices” the old man had previously made to follow God, this new command would test everything he believed concerning God.  This latest command would be the ultimate test of the fortitude of his commitment to God.

“Was he all in for God and willing to go all out for God — even when it meant allowing the ‘blessings’ and ‘promises’ of God to ‘die’?”

In all honesty, the old man did have the fleeting thought that ran through his mind initially, questioning God’s “right” to ask so much of him.  The thought was no sooner there than the old man discarded it.  If nothing else, the old man had learned that God is a God of the impossible.

“If God required the ultimate sacrifice, then God would provide the ultimate provision.”

The old man pushed himself up. On legs, shaking not just from the weakness of age but also from the emotions of the moment, he limped his way to the animal corral.  It was time to prepare his donkey and pack provisions for the grueling journey that he would undertake in the morning.

Relaying few details, the old man kissed his wife good bye and set off on the journey, taking several days’ worth of provisions, his donkey, a stack of wood for an offering, two servants to assist, and his most prized possession of all — his promised son.

The arduous journey would take three days of bone-wearying, mind-numbing, and emotionally-draining fatigue.

During those three days, the old man continued to trudge along in his task to fulfill God’s command.

This time, he had no contingency plans.  There was no sacrificial animal that he had brought “just in case”…

Upon reaching the foothills of the mountain that was to be their destination, the old man instructed the two servants to wait for their return.

Then with one hand leading the donkey, loaded with firewood on his back, and the other hand clasping his son’s hand in his own, the old man set out.

With the carefree nature of youth, the son soon was scampering along the path, excitedly pointing out the insects, oddly-shaped rocks, and colorful flowers long their path.

The steep path ascended up the hard face of the mountain, ending at the top.  At the top of the mount, the man and his boy stood.  It was just them and God.

With unwavering dedication to following God’s commands, the old man began to untie the firewood and began to carefully stack the wood upon an outcropping of rocks.  He placed each log carefully so that it would quickly and efficiently burn the sacrifice.

Each action he performed was resolute.  He was committed to seeing God’s commands through to the end.

Then with unwavering devotion and trust, the old man hardly flinched as he turned to his son and began to tie his sons’ arms and legs together, preparing his son to be the sacrifice.

The son had heard the story of his miraculous birth over and over throughout his young years.  He had heard repeatedly how God had promised that He would raise up a powerful nation through the boys’ descendants.  The boy did not fully understand what was going to happen, but he too believed that God could and should be trusted.

With bated breath, the boy watched as his father raised a long knife over his body.

Into the silence of time suspended in an agony of hopes, the compelling voice of God spoke.

With trembling hand, the old man lowered the sharp blade.  While salty tears trailed down weathered cheeks and gnarled hands grabbed the hand of his beloved son, the old man listened as God commended him for his obedience and then revealed His provision.

A ray of sunlight caught the glint of the metal and threw a dazzling beam of light out across the mount where they stood.  As their gazes were drawn to the blinding reflection of sun, the boy and the man saw where the beam of light seemed to point.

There, standing in a tangled mass of weeds and thistles was a ram.  The strong and beautiful animal would become the sacrifice instead.

God had provided!

The old man swept his son up into his arms and quickly cut the restraining ropes, binding the boys’ arms.

Later as the old man and his son watched the last embers of flame burn out, they heard God’s compelling voice once again speak. This time, God’s voice spoke words of praise and blessing, reaffirming the promises that had been made decades ago that God would bless the progeny of this faithful old man and his son.

As the old man and his son descended the mountain, their eyes were drawn not just to the beautiful vista below but also back to the altar.

Something powerful had happened that day in their lives!  It wasn’t just mere excitement over seeing a ram and the huge relief of knowing that God wasn’t going to require the sacrifice of the boy.  It was something greater… It seemed a truth, a message greater than the moment, greater than themselves had been relayed. 

And the old man returned home to his wife, while the youthful son, exuberantly ran off to explore a new adventure.

Though presently distracted by youthful interests, the boy would later recall that powerful moment and would ponder the deeper message of God’s faithfulness and truthfulness to His promises.

Over a thousand years later, a Father would once again be required to make the ultimate sacrifice.

This Son was the Father’s only and beloved Son.  This Son would willingly lay down His life as a sacrifice, but this time, there would be no substitution. 

The full crushing weight of becoming the sacrifice for all sins, for all of mankind, for all of time would be laid upon this Son.

God Himself was the Father, and it was His precious Son who died, carrying the weight of a sin-burdened, sin-guilty, sin-weary world upon Himself.  With the bowing of His head in surrender to death, He “crucified” the record of sin against us. 

His death became the means for the death of our own sin: its guilt, penalty, and crushing hold.

Three days later when this same Son arose from the dead in miraculous risen life, He offered the means by which we too can experience a new life of complete and radical transformation! 

The life He offers to us through His own life is that of abundant grace — the grace that brought the Gospel of salvation to us and the grace that keeps us sheltered within the embrace of lavish love.

Welcoming People Into Your Life — Even When It Is Messy

Rules of Use:

<b>There Are No Rules</b>

These stock photos may be used for any project, commercial or noncommercial. They may be used in content that is blatantly offensive, sacriligious, disgusting, lewd, or downright mean. Or you c...

(http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=8208104&searchId=fc0d07ca355de4e790053ed7db407892&npos=44)

I am going to be honest with you and admit that I am one of those people that thrives on order and organization.  It sounds “pretty” to say that I like keeping a clean and organized home.

The reality is more often that I like my home clean and organized because I like control.

I also am often too concerned about my image, and then my house becomes an idol to my image.

I have had the privilege all summer long to have lots of guests into my house.  When I know company is coming, I run around cleaning my house until it sparkles.  I want it to look as “perfect” as it can look with seven people living in it.

Sometimes in the process of cleaning, I forget that it’s more important about having a welcoming heart than an attractive home.

God always has a way of gently correcting my heart and attitudes and revealing their true condition.  There’s no pretense with Him.

One of my dear friends recently visited me, and I mentioned to her that I have had to come to accept that with five children, my life isn’t going to be the pretty little package, all under wraps, tied up with a pretty bow, like I would prefer.

She said so eloquently, something along the lines of, “Love is messy.”

Love requires us to get messy. 

To truly love others, we have to be willing to get messy ourselves.  We have to be wiling to be transparent and to welcome them into our own messy lives.  We have to be willing to accept people in all of their disheveled, messy state of brokenness.

God has been working on teaching me that life is messy, and grace is sometimes best seen in the messiness of life.

I love the following quotes from the book, Glimpses of Grace, by Gloria Furman:

…controlling my circumstances wouldn’t fill the void in my soul.  You can’t organize your way into communion with God.

I forget that homemaking is not primarily about my personality; it is primarily to adorn the Gospel…

For many of us homemakers, our greatest fear is in being found incompetent, insufficient, and ineffective.  We prefer to look like we’ve got it all together.  We give lip service to the idea that nobody’s perfect, but we would rather die trying to prove that we’re the exception to the rule.

God chooses to use the weak and broken to show himself to be strong and sufficient.

If you struggle with developing close relationships with others, perhaps you struggle with the same problem of making your image an idol.

When we live for our own “glory” or image, we are incapable of allowing people into the vulnerable and messy places of our lives.

I love this quote from Glimpses of Grace in regards to this:

Perhaps our relationships are terminally casual because we’re not willing to disclose what’s at the heart level.

  1. Maybe we’re unsure of how we are really doing.
  2. Maybe, we’re not willing to hear from others.
  3. Maybe, we’re afraid of the truth.
  4. Maybe, we’re insecure because we’ve been burned in the past.
  5. Maybe, we’re just ignorant to the beauty of self-disclosure shared for the sake of the Gospel.
  6. Maybe, we’d rather cling to our own assumptions of others.

What’s the solution to letting go of our false need for control and pride in holding onto false pretenses?

The solution is knowing the truth about who we are in Christ and knowing the truth of Who God is.

The Gospel isn’t just giving us a fresh slate to try to get things right again.  The Gospel means that Jesus not only met God’s justice on the cross and paid the penalty for our sins, but that He also exchanged our “rags” of sinfulness for Jesus’ righteousness.  This is our means of redemption and transformation!

Glimpses of Grace says this as well:

Jesus faced our sin and our enemy and determined to remain on the cross until our debt for every last sin was paid in full.  He nailed the record of condemnation against us to the cross in triumph!

The gospel inspires in us a willingness to cede control to God over the image we are trying to portray through our lives in the home.  Through Jesus, we can be most concerned with imaging God and being conformed to His image.  Because of the gospel, we can run away from any Magic Mirrorgate, rejoicing in who God is instead of devastated by who we are.

When we are unwilling to be honest and authentic with others, we must ask ourselves whether we have the proper view of God and of our position in Him.

Glimpses of Grace said, “Don’t be a victim of identity theft. .. everything God has for you is grace upon grace because of what Jesus has done for you.  …Your image is not really about you but about Him.”

One last quote, because I love the way God welcomes us into His heart and family — even in our disheveled, messy sinful state:

“Part of your image bearing and image conforming is experiencing the joy of making God your treasured possession, as He has made you His.” (From Glimpses of Grace)

Freedom From Shame — When The Hardest Person To Forgive Is Yourself

(http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=987163&searchId=d5aa1729c8c253e5d917a5264855eab8&npos=317)

Shame.

It debilitates.  It chains us to the past, chokes our ability to live fully in the present, and suppresses our hope for the future.  It causes us to hide, to avoid.  It tells us that we are the past — that we are and will always be what we did wrongfully in the past or what was done wrongfully to us.  It tells us that we will never be more than the lie.

If you have ever felt those waves of guilt and remorse sweep over you — those feelings of regret and wishing you could take back those words, attitudes, or actions — then this is for you.

If you have felt like you will always be unloved, a failure, wounded, the person of your past, then this is for you.

“When we experience shame over our sin, our natural tendency is to hide from others.  We shut people out of our lives, we avoid praying or Bible reading, and we cover up the evidence of our sin … We hide because we feel shame … Shame tells us to hide, but joy spills out in praise to God for His salvation.” (Glimpses of Grace)

How can we be free from shame?

What methods are we using to try to free ourselves from our feelings of guilt, shame, condemnation?  Are we using self-justification, shifting blame to others, or wallowing in self-pity?

Here’s a powerful and insightful comment in regards to shame:

We will be free from the controlling effect of shame only when we are repenting of our efforts to cleanse ourselves and rejoicing in the saving blood of Christ instead. (Glimpses of Grace)

We often are not experiencing freedom from the past because we are looking to ourselves to cleanse and free ourselves.  It’s like trying to use a dirty rag to clean another dirty cloth, or it’s like asking a blind person to describe to another blind person what they are seeing.  These may not be the best analogies, but perhaps the point is made…

Jesus alone has the power to free us from our shame because He has the power to forgive sins, and He did that when He died on the cross.  Sin was defeated at the cross.

Here’s the truth in regards to our sins and shameful past and guilt-ridden present:

  • “By God’s grace, He is triumphant even over your hopelessness, cynicism, and doubt.”  (Glimpses of Grace)
  • “God in His grace invites us to be continually repenting of our sins and rejoicing in Christ’s provision of righteousness for us.” (Glimpses of Grace)
  • “God’s commitment to save those who believe in Him is to His glory.” (Glimpses of GraceOur sanctification is based on God’s commitment to His own infallible attributes — not our own inabilities to save ourselves.  Our sanctification has always been God’s work of salvation and grace — not our own.  He will be faithful to complete that which He started.
  • “God will not hold sins against you that He has held onto His Son’s dying body on the cross.” (Glimpses of Grace

John 8:36

36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Jesus’ death on the cross was sufficient to forgive you from your sins and to free you from the penalty of your sins.  His death on the cross was the final payment for our sins.

When we carry the burden of shame, we live as though we are not completely forgiven. 

When we live as though we are not completely forgiven, we live as though we do not believe that Jesus’ death on the cross didn’t just pay for the penalty of our sins but also frees us from the strongholds of sin in our lives today. 

Jesus didn’t just come to save us for eternal life.  He came to give us His new life today.  He came to change our present and our future.

In order to be changed, you must believe the truth — that you are set free, that He did overcome, that the cross was enough, that His Holy Spirit living in you is enough (more than enough).

‘Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past.  Behold, I will do something new.’ (Isa. 43:18-19).  The Lord reminded me that He seeks to deliver me from the guilt of the past and move me toward the promise of the future.  His goal is never to bring guilt and condemnation by continually reminding me of the my past sins but rather to bring healing and obedience by turning my attention to my future with Him. (Discerning The Voice Of God)

God doesn’t point out our sin to condemn us.  God’s purpose in lovingly revealing our sin is to encourage us to acknowledge it and confess it so He can change us.  The Enemy’s voice brings condemnation…  The Holy Spirit brings conviction that always provides a road map out and away from a specific sin.  His aim is to lovingly steer us in the direction of His grace.

He reveals our sins to lead us to repentance, but his revelation is buffered with the hope of His grace, love, and another chance.  He has already undergone the punishment for our sin once and for all on the cross.” (Discerning The Voice Of God)

I love that quote:

His aim is to lovingly steer us in the direction of His grace.

Jesus’ forgiveness has never been based on your abilities or inabilities, your worthiness or unworthiness.  His love and forgiveness is based on the perfection of His love, grace, and complete work of salvation.

The purpose of the voice of condemnation is to push you away from His presence — that which is the very source of your victory.  The purpose of the voice of conviction is to press you into the face of Christ.  (Bob Sorge — quote taken from Discerning The Voice Of God)

Wow!  Let me repeat that last line…

“The purpose of the voice of conviction is to press you into the face of Christ.”  (Bob Sorge — quote taken from Discerning The Voice Of God)

Psalm 103:12

12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

If you have asked Him for forgiveness, you are forgiven!

When God forgives you, He sets you free from that sin.  Believe it!

What God says, is.  

Here’s His final authority on the matter:

Romans 8:31-39

31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.

34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

39 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.

Grace

From the island of Koh Samui

(http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=2406335&searchId=6cad826248cd3f4e93da71e7b49928e3&npos=245)

Grace… Just to type the word grace or say its name is somehow calming and comforting.

What is grace exactly?

For a lot of people, grace means kindness.

For many, a God of grace is preferred over a God of justice.  In fact, there are many churches that preach either grace or justice to the exclusion of the other. 

For some churches, God’s righteousness and justice are so maximized that His love and grace are minimized.

For other churches, God’s love and grace are emphasized to the extent that God’s righteousness and justice are ignored.

While driving today, the truth struck me that grace can only be understood in the context of justice.

What is grace, except in the context of justice?

From Dictionary.com, it says this about the noun form of grace:

noun

1.

elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action:

We watched her skate with effortless grace across the ice.

2.

a pleasing or attractive quality or endowment:

He lacked the manly graces.

3.

favor or goodwill.

4.

a manifestation of favor, especially by a superior:

It was only through the dean’s grace that I wasn’t expelled from school.

5.

mercy; clemency; pardon:

He was saved by an act of grace from the governor.
Synonyms: lenity, leniency, reprieve.
Antonyms: harshness.

6.

favor shown in granting a delay or temporary immunity.

7.

an allowance of time after a debt or bill has become payable granted to the debtor before suit can be brought against him or her or a penalty applied:

The life insurance premium is due today, but we have 31 days’ grace before the policy lapses.
Comparegrace period.

Grace in the context of its verb form means:

From Dictionary.com:
verb (used with object), graced, gracing.

14.

to lend or add grace to; adorn:

Many fine paintings graced the rooms of the house.

15.

to favor or honor:

to grace an occasion with one’s presence.
Synonyms: glorify, elevate, exalt.
Antonyms: disrespect, dishonor.
And this is what Dictionary.com also says about justice:

justice

noun

the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness:

to uphold the justice of a cause.

2.

rightfulness or lawfulness, as of a claim or title; justness of ground or reason:

to complain with justice.

3.

the moral principle determining just conduct.

4.

conformity to this principle, as manifested in conduct; just conduct, dealing, or treatment.

5.

the administering of deserved punishment or reward.

6.

the maintenance or administration of what is just by law, as by judicial or other proceedings:

a court of justice.

7.

judgment of persons or causes by judicial process:

to administer justice in a community.
For people to preach grace without justice is like selling a hair-brush to someone who doesn’t have hair.  It’s worthless in that it doesn’t have any functionality nor serves any purpose to its recipient.

The very definition of grace implies that justice was deserved, but that the opposite was offered. 

Grace implies a kindness and favor from an Outside Source — from Someone who had the right to administer justice and chose instead to offer benevolence.  It also implies that the one being granted the grace was lacking grace in the first place.

What grace tells us about ourselves is that we were lacking grace in our natural state.  In fact, we were deserving of justice. 

When God grants us the noun form of grace, He is saying that He took the place that we justly deserved and the emptiness of lives, devoid of grace.  He is offering to us instead His kindness, forgiveness, immunity, righteousness, and restoring to us a life now full of grace.

Not only are we granted the noun form of grace, but we are granted the verb form of it as well.  The verb form of grace is what compels us and gives us the ability to walk the new life God has granted us through our salvation.

The beautiful truth about grace is that as Men & Women of the Bible says,

“The Christian life is often an awkward dance of two steps forward and three steps back; the key is that God honors our efforts in spite of our errors.  As you pray, put into words your desire to be available to God.  You will discover that His willingness to use you is greater than your desire to be used.

That is grace! 

God wills and desires to use us!  I love the word desire because it speaks of emotion and longing.  It speaks of His love for each of us personally — for you and for me.

John 1:16

16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.

Romans 3:24

24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

Romans 5:2

By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Romans 5:15

15 But not as the offense, so also is the free gift. For if through the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

Romans 5:21

21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

Grace is the Gospel’s saving and transforming message for our lives. 

Grace is what saves us into eternal life, and grace is what gives us the ability to live out our salvation. 

May the grace being offered to you today hold the full richness of what it really means for you and for me.  I, for one, can’t think of anything for which I am more grateful!

Trust Is The Key To Our Relationship With God

 Abdicação

Toma-me, ó noite eterna, nos teus braços
E chama-me teu filho... eu sou um rei
que voluntariamente abandonei
O meu trono de sonhos e cansaços.
...

__
Fernando Pessoa

(http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=2689512&searchId=6cad826248cd3f4e93da71e7b49928e3&npos=313)

If we are struggling in our relationships with others, then we have a pretty good indication that we are also struggling in our relationship with God (recently heard something like this at a wedding).

If we are struggling in our relationship with God, we have a pretty good indication that we have a trust issue.  I believe at the root of most rebellion is a trust issue.  Instead of trusting God and surrendering to Him, we trust in ourselves and pursue “distractions” to fill the needs in our souls.

The distrust starts when we believe a lie that somehow God wasn’t good enough, big enough, strong enough, just enough … that He wasn’t enough. 

Satan tempted Adam & Eve with the lie that God’s provision and God Himself wasn’t enough.  They believed the lie and disobeyed God and ate of the one tree they weren’t to eat.

In Think Differently, Live Differently, it says,

At the root of any fearful thought is the lie that, somehow, God doesn’t love me.

As a spiritually alive being, your focus and confidence should be upon your connection to your Creator.  [Confidence should be in our Creator/God.]

In the book, Freedom From Fear, it says:

As we draw closer to Christ in total obedience to Him, the enemy tries to intimidate us more than ever.  And it is usually at our weakest point.

Trust is pivotal to our relationship with God.  You can’t have a good and “intimate” (intimacy of souls) relationship with someone that you don’t trust, and you can’t have a personal and deep relationship with God if you are lacking trust in Him.  This is why the Bible is replete with verses on trust.  The following passages are a small reflection of what the Bible says regarding trust:

Isaiah 26:3-4

You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.
Trust in the Lord forever,
For in YAH, the Lord, is everlasting strength.[a]

Isaiah 25:8-9

He will swallow up death forever,
And the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces;
The rebuke of His people
He will take away from all the earth;
For the Lord has spoken.

And it will be said in that day:
“Behold, this is our God;
We have waited for Him, and He will save us.
This is the Lord;
We have waited for Him;
We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.”

We can experience what it means to “abide in the Lord” when we are surrendered to Him

We are able to surrender to Him when we are fully trusting in Him.

It is this attitude of surrender that places us in the position of being “receptive” to the Lord: to the working of His Holy Spirit in our lives, to His inspiration as we read His Word, to His “voice” as we spend time communing with Him in prayer.

It’s interesting that “rest” — the perfect and best kind comes from trust.

A worrier, one who lacks trust, is one who also struggles with being at rest.

Hebrews 4:9-10

There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.

Hebrews 3:18-19

18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

Hebrews 3:12-14

12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,

It’s interesting that unbelief equals unrest in the Hebrews 3:18-19 passage.  In Hebrews 3:12-14, we see that a cause of our unbelief is hardness of heart due to deceitfulness of sin.

We become hardened in our hearts/souls due to deception (lies) and our own sin (sinful natures) that deceive us.  Trusting in ourselves shows how fickle our god is.  We, in ourselves, are easily deceived.

The opposite is so wonderfully promising!  If we hold onto the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, we are become “partakers” of Christ!  What is the beginning of our confidence?  It is Jesus — the basis of our salvation and the hope of the Gospel!

Colossians 1:23

23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.

1 Thessalonians 5:8

But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.

It is impossible to have this hope and to have this “restfulness of soul” if you don’t have a foundation of truth.  The blog post, https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2015/05/14/and-the-truth-shall-set-you-free, says, “If we want to know what is absolute truth, then we need to know who God is.”

In the devotional book, Men & Women Of The Bible, it says the following concerning this:

“Today many people treat the teachings of Christ lightly.   To them, faith boils down to little more than personal preference.  But a faith that has no conscience or that is not anchored to the truth is a ship sailing to disaster.  How would you describe the seaworthiness of your ship of faith?  Can it handle the rough seas of temptation, or does it need to return to port for repairs?”

We can trust God because God is truth. 

John 14:6

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

We can trust God because He creates reality.  What He says is.

Isaiah 42:5-9New King James Version (NKJV)

Thus says God the Lord,
Who created the heavens and stretched them out,
Who spread forth the earth and that which comes from it,
Who gives breath to the people on it,
And spirit to those who walk on it:
“I, the Lord, have called You in righteousness,
And will hold Your hand;
I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people,
As a light to the Gentiles,
To open blind eyes,
To bring out prisoners from the prison,
Those who sit in darkness from the prison house.
I am the Lord, that is My name;
And My glory I will not give to another,
Nor My praise to carved images.
Behold, the former things have come to pass,
And new things I declare;
Before they spring forth I tell you of them.”

We can trust God because He is a good God.

Deuteronomy 32:4

He is the Rock, His work is perfect;
For all His ways are justice,
A God of truth and without injustice;
Righteous and upright is He.

We can trust God because He loves us unconditionally.

Jeremiah 31:3

The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying:
“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.

Romans 5:6

[ Christ in Our Place ] For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

We can trust God because He works all things together for good to those who love Him.

Romans 8:28

28 And we know that all things work together for good

As we trust in God because of Who He is, we have the wonderful promise that we will be “partakers of Christ.”  We will experience the joy of His presence in our lives!

Trusting in the Lord speaks of receptivity to the Lord and also of an attitude and heart that actively invites and welcomes His Presence into our lives.

God desires to be present in each and every aspect of our lives.  Do we actively welcome and receive Him… as our Peace, our Joy, our Strength, our Love, our Truth, our Patience, our Righteousness?