Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas, God in the Flesh, God with us, Christ in us

This Christmas morning while reading my Bible and praying I got a fresh sense of God’s presence, a refreshing in my spirit and a reminder of my salvation when I received new life in Christ. I was born again in the spring of 1980. My eyes were suddenly open and I saw Jesus! The brightness of His Glory filled my vision! He was more beautiful and more to be desired than anything I had ever pursued or desired. I wanted Christ in my life, in me and a beautiful thing happened in my heart. I once was dead to my sins and I became alive in Christ! Christ became my greatest treasure. All other things I ever pursued or desired were nothing compared to Christ. God gave me a new heart. I was a new woman with new eyes that saw God’s word as living and active. Christ was alive in me! I had been spiritually blind but now I see.
Christmas is not just about the baby in the manger. It starts in the beginning with God. For Jesus was with God in the beginning. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (John 1:1-5)
"Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."
Isaiah 7:14
Immanuel, God with us in our nature, in our sorrow, in our lifework, in our punishment, in our grave, and now with us, or rather we with Him, in resurrection, ascension, triumph, and Second Advent splendour.(C.H.Spurgeon)

Jesus is not just a historical figure who was born in a manger and lived 33 years and died. No! He is God with us, in our hearts and in our lives for all eternity. He lived a sinless life and took our punishment, dying for our sins. He cleansed me from all my sin. I became a new creature in Christ wearing the robe of righteousness. I am clean and pure because of Christ!
Many people, including my own children , have grown up in a Christian home going to church hearing the wonderful story of God coming in the flesh and dying for our sins. Yet sometimes when you have heard it all your life, the realness and the wonder of it all may be lost. My prayer is that on this Christmas Day you too would have a renewed sense of wonder and not just know about Him, but know Him and experience His presence in your life and be filled with the joy of really knowing Christ as your Savior and your greatest treasure. I pray that you would say as Paul that you count all things as rubbish that you may gain Christ and no longer be self -seeking but God- seeking. Let God open your eyes, take off the blinders and fill you with His love so you can walk in the newness of life.

Eph 4:20-24
20 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
Rom 6:4
4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
If somehow over the years you have lost the wonder of God with us, then seek Him now. As the song goes, Wise Men Still Seek Him. Seek Him today. Let go of all the other things pulling at you and distracting you and look up to Jesus.

Lyrics to Wise Men Still Seek Him :
For years they must have watched the heavens day and night,
How else would they know that a new star was in sight,
Wasn't in the paper, wasn't in the TV guide,
Not really sure how they did but somehow they got wise,

They rode their camels 'cross the deserts burning sand,
They couldn't fly you know there were no planes back then,
Then they met old Herod who was out to steal their joy,
But they brushed old Herod off and found God's baby boy,

Wise men still seek Him, those on earth who realise how much they need Him,
following Jesus where ever He may lead them, wise men still seek Him.

Well today they travel different, but they're wise men just the same,
Still talking about the old days and that blessed night he came,
I hear old Herod's out there still trying to deceive,
But a whole world full of Herod's can't stop those who believe,

Wise men still seek Him, those on earth who realise how much they need Him,
following Jesus where ever He may lead them, wise men still seek Him,
Wise men still seek Him.

This Christmas I am missing my son Micah who died 7 years ago on Dec. 17th. I am missing my other sons, Jesse, Josiah and Gabriel, who couldn’t be home for Christmas this year. But I am so thankful for Christ, who humbled Himself as a baby and came down from heaven  to live and die for us. Because of Christ, though we are apart by either death or distance we are united in Christ and will be united with Christ in heaven for all eternity!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Gentle Thunder

The following excerpts from the book, A Gentle Thunder, by Max Lucado really touched me:

“[This is what Jesus said about death:] “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s house; I would not tell you this if it were not true. I am going there to prepare a place for you. After I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you may be where I am.” (John 14:1-4)

What kind of statement is that? Trust me with your death. When you face the tomb, don’t be troubled—trust me! You get the impression that to God the grave is a no-brainer. He speaks as casually as the mechanic who says to a worried client, “Sure, the engine needs an overhaul, but don’t worry. I can do it.” For us it’s an ordeal. For him it’s no big deal. . . For God, death is no tragedy. In God’s economy, the termination of the body is the beginning of life . . . By calling us home, God is doing what any father would do. He is providing a better place to rest. A place he has “prepared for us.”

Heaven is not mass-produced; it is tailor made. . . The problem with this world is that it doesn’t fit. Oh, it will do for now, but it isn’t tailor made. We were made to live with God, but on earth we live by faith. We were made to live forever, but on this earth we live but for a moment. We were made to live holy lives, but this world is stained by sin. This world wears like a borrowed shirt. Heaven, however, will fit like one tailor-made.

By the way, I’ve often thought it curious how few people Jesus raised from the dead. He healed hundreds and fed thousands, but as far as we know he only raised three: the daughter of Jairus, the boy near Nain, and Lazarus. Why so few? Could it be because he knew he’d be doing them no favors? Could it be because he couldn’t get any volunteers? Could it be that once someone is there, the last place they want to return to is here?

We must trust God. We must trust not only that he does what is best but that he knows what is ahead. Ponder these words of Isaiah 57:1-2: “The good men perish; the godly die before their time and no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to realize that God is taking them away from the evil days ahead. For the godly who die shall rest in peace.”

My, what a thought. God is taking them away from the evil days ahead. Could death be God’s grace? Could the funeral wreath be God’s safety ring? Why does an eight-year-old die of cancer? Why is a young mother taken from her children? As horrible as the grave may be, could it be God’s protection from the future? Trust in God, Jesus urges, and trust in me.” 

One more thought. "God is too good to be unkind. He is too wise to be confused. If I cannot trace His hand, I can always trust His heart." C. H. Spurgeon

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful for Grace

11 Years  ago on 9-11-01 the United States was changed forever because of a terrorist attack.
11 years ago today on Thanksgiving Day 11-22-01 our son Micah fell out of a tree and our family’s lives were changed forever. God poured out His love and grace upon our family as we found out not only did Micah have a broken leg, torn spleen, a small hole in his lung and a crushed vertebrae, but he had leukemia. Micah fought leukemia for four long years but was not able to overcome this sickness in this life. I praise God for the greater victory that was won! Micah trusted Christ as His Lord and Savior and he persevered in the faith, living and dying for the glory of God!  He fought the fight of faith to the end through all the pain and all the suffering. Now he is rejoicing and pain free, suffering no more, safe in the arms of Jesus. The longer I live the more grateful I am for God’s precious gift of Jesus. God knows how it feels to have your son die. I am so thankful He sent His son to die for my sins and for those who put their trust in Him and to nail our sins to the cross to die with Him. I am so thankful that He takes our stony hearts and changes us, giving us new hearts and that Christ lives in us, the hope of glory! God was so merciful to us during those four years and He continues to pour out His grace and love upon us. God is so gracious and good. His love is amazing and never ever fails us. I am missing Micah a lot this Thanksgiving but I am so thankful that the Lord gave us 16 years with him. I am so thankful that not only can I trust in God’s perfect plan to take Micah home at a young age, but I can trust Him fully for all of my children. I am so thankful for all my children and love them so much. My greatest desire is that they walk in the truth and treasure Christ.  I know God is drawing them to Himself. He is merciful, kind, righteous and always good and He will work all things together for good for those who love Him. Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 5, 2012

El Shaddai ("God Almighty")

One of my favorite accounts in the Bible is 2 Chronicles 20. It tells what happened when the people of Moab, the people of Ammon, and others with them besides the Ammonites, came to battle against Jehoshaphat. It reminds me to look to the Lord for help and to trust Him because He is bigger than any problem I have. It puts people in perspective by reminding me that God is big and people are small. Our God is mighty in battle and awesome in power! The Lord fights our battles for us as we look to Him, ask him for help and praise Him!

2 Chron 20:3-5
3 And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4 So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.
5 Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, 6 and said: "O Lord God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You?
2 Chron 20:15-16
Thus says the Lord to you:'Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God's.
2 Chron 20:21-23
21 And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying:

"Praise the Lord,
For His mercy endures forever."  

22 Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated.

The most important reason this is one of my favorite accounts, is because it is true! God’s Word is true. God’s Word is powerful and alive and works in us to heal, instruct, comfort and encourage us. I love the Word of God. If it were just a dusty good ol’ book on the shelf that had no life, I would not love it. But it is alive because of the breath of the Holy Spirit upon it. The Bible is the inspired word of God. The Holy Spirit is in me, and opens my eyes to God’s truth. He teaches and counsels me. Otherwise the Bible would not be alive to me.

Heb 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

            Hannah Whitall Smith says in her book, The God of All Comfort,
“It is of vital importance for us to understand that the Bible is a statement, not of theories, but of actual facts; and that things are not true because they are in the Bible, but they are only in the Bible because they are true…. And although this may seem very dry and bare to start with, it will, if steadfastly persevered in, result in very blessed inward revelations, and will sooner or later lead us out into such a knowledge of God as will transform our lives. This kind of knowing brings us convictions; and to my mind convictions are far superior to any inward revelations, delight as these are. An inward revelation may be upset by the state of ones health, or by many upsetting things, but a conviction is permanent… I am so absolutely certain that coming to know Him as He really is will bring unfailing comfort and peace to every troubled heart…”
I know this to be true in my life. God speaks to me in His Word. He comforts, helps, and encourages me the way only He can. No one can speak to me the way the Lord does. No one can understand my feeling or what I am troubled by. He knows me completely. He made me and loves me. He is all wise, true and good, He is able to help me like no one else can! Don’t go to friends, books, movies, magazines the internet and all kinds of things to get your help and advice. Go to the Word of God and let God Himself speak to you. He will lead, guide and counsel you in a way that will not steer you wrong. People make mistakes. God never makes mistakes. People disappoint us. God will never disappoint us. Trust in His Word.

 I trust in Your Word. ( Ps. 119:42)

            So that gets back to 2 Chronicles 20. I love this story because it is true and it encourages me, helps me and increases my faith and trust in the True, Mighty, Awesome God and Savior Jesus Christ!  

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Wisdom is Calling!!! What is Your Answer?

Know wisdom, perceive understanding.
A wise man will hear and increase learning and a wise man will attain wise counsel.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Prov 1:7)

Wisdom is calling you!
She raises her voice.
She cries out
She speaks her words.
Are you loving simplicity?
Delighting in scorning?
Hating knowledge?
Turning from wisdom’s rebuke?
Refusing counsel?
Disregarding wisdom’s hand?
Distaining her counsel?
Having none of her rebukes?

 Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, And be filled to the full with their own fancies. For the turning away of the simple will slay them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them;  But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, And will be secure, without fear of evil." (Prov 1:31-33)

Wisdom is calling you!
You have a choice.
Will you choose to fear the Lord?
Will you receive wisdom’s words?
Treasure her commands.
Incline your ear to wisdom.
Apply your heart to understanding.
Cry out for discernment.
Seek her as silver.
Search her as for hidden treasure!

Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, And find the knowledge of God. (Prov 2:5)

Wisdom is calling!
The Lord gives wisdom.
Out of His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He stores up sound wisdom.
He is a shield to those who walk upright.
He guards and preserves His saints.
When wisdom enters your heart,
It is pleasant to your soul.
It will preserve you, deliver you, keep you.
What do you find your joy, desires and pleasure in?  Wisdom?

Or do you leave the paths of wisdom and walk in darkness?
Rejoice in doing evil, Delight in perversity?
Whose ways are devious, whose words are from a seductress.
Who forsakes the companion of her youth.
Who forgets the covenant of her God.
Her house leads to the dead.
None who go to her return to the paths of life.

Walk in goodness.
Keep to the paths of righteousness,
Dwell in the land of the upright.
Remain in it.

The wicked will be cut off.
The unfaithful will be uprooted.

My son, do not forget my law,
But let your heart keep my commands;
For length of days and long life
And peace they will add to you.
Let not mercy and truth forsake you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart,
And so find favor and high esteem
In the sight of God and man.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and depart from evil.
It will be health to your flesh,
And strength to your bones.  (Prov 3:1-8)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Working at Home for the Glory of God Part 2

“That at the first, at the beginning of everyone that ever was, there is this braving of the pain and no one tells you that this is the way it will always be now– because love is always worth the pain. Just ask any mother — love is a willingness to suffer.
Love is patient —  and patience is always this willingness to suffer.
Love is patient and patience is this willingness to suffer —  to put aside plans for a person, to lay aside self to serve, to set aside agendas to step up to an altar.
This is the work of a mother — this strange and peculiar joy in letting go of self to make the joy of another large”   Ann Voskamp

Scripture supports women being workers at home. Proverbs 31 is a great example of a hard working woman who manages her home well.

Prov 31:27-28
27 She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:

Titus 2:3-6
 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

1 Tim 5:9-16
9 Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband,   10 and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. 11 But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry 12 and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith. 13 Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. 14 So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander. 15 For some have already strayed after Satan.
I think that if a woman did all these things, she would be quite busy and not lazy at all. About these verses Mathew Henry says,

“Not but there are occasions, and will be, of going abroad; but a gadding temper for merriment and company sake, to the neglect of domestic affairs, or from uneasiness at being in her place, is the opposite evil intended, which is commonly accompanied with, or draws after it, other evils.
1 Tim 5:13-14, “They learn to be idle, wandering from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.” Their business is to guide the house, and they should give no occasion to the enemy to speak reproachfully. Good, generally, in opposition to all vice; and specially, in her place, kind, helpful, and charitable; as Dorcas, full of good works and alms deeds. It may also have, as some think, a more particular sense; one of a meek and yet cheerful spirit and temper, not sullen nor bitter; not taunting not fretting and galling any; not of a troublesome or jarring disposition, uneasy in herself and to those about her; but of a good nature and pleasing conversation, and likewise helpful by her advice and pains: thus building her house, and doing her husband good, and not evil, all her days. Thus in their personal character sober, discreet, chaste, keepers at home, and good: "
I have been married to my best friend for 27 years today and a stay at home mother for almost 26 years now. I have no regrets. It is the hardest and the best job I have ever had. Working at home to train and teach my children and to pour out the love of God upon them has been a great blessing to me even though I am a sinner and sadly fail many times.  It is the hardest job with the greatest responsibility. It has been more fulfilling and brought me more joy and laughter than any career outside the home could ever do and also more tears and hardship. Yet the rewards are far reaching and will endure for all eternity. I am forever grateful to be the mother of all nine of my children. What a wonderful privilege to be at home with them all.  I love them so much and would do it all over again even if I never got praised or thanked, though I have been many times. I don’t deserve the praise my children and my husband give me. They are a blessing and a gift and a reward for sure. God has used my children to teach me so much and to humble me and change me into His image. I have so much to learn. I am thankful that God does not give up on me, my husband and my children. He continues to perfect us and change us into His image.

Phil Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Our lives truly are a vapor. They are like the lilies in the field, here today and gone tomorrow. So don’t waste your life pursuing a career for yourself. Wake up America! Take responsibility for your own children. Moms, the most important career and ministry you can have is to love, care for, teach and train your own children. No one loves them like you do. Don’t give them to the world, especially to wolves, many of whom are dressed as lambs. Marriages and families are broken down and children are left unprotected while mothers pursue careers outside the home. Don’t waste your life living for yourself. Live for the glory of God by treasuring Christ as you serve your husband and children. Glorify God in your home for the joy of those who live there that they too may treasure Christ and live passionately for Him.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Working at Home for the Glory of God Part 1

2 Cor 5:9Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.

What we do in this life is based on what our goal or aim in life is. We make choices in life. Either we choose to please ourselves and live with self on the throne or we choose to please God and live with Christ on the throne. Ultimately, if we choose to live for self, life will be hard and we really won’t be happy. But if we choose to die to self and live for Christ we will be truly happy.  When we walk in the counsel of His word, we are blessed.  A wasted life is one in which we live for ourselves. I have made it my goal and aim to please God. That means dying to self because life isn’t about me. It is about Christ. My goal is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. I agree with Caroline Mahaney who said, “My goal as a mother is that my children would treasure Christ and live passionately for His glory. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
 My ultimate goal is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. By choosing to stay at home with my children I am glorifying God and enjoying Him. I feel it is the best way to train up my children in the fear and admonition of the Lord and to love my husband and my children and to be a good worker at home doing good to my husband. It is my joy and my delight to die to myself and serve my family so that they may know and love Christ. Unfortunately many women have been deceived into thinking that staying at home is drudgery and a waste and that a career outside the home, submitting to another man instead of their own husband is somehow more glamorous!  They also believe the lie that making money outside the home makes you more valuable than doing a hard job for no pay in the home. They even think that someone who does the same type of job for pay outside the home is suddenly more valuable than a mother who serves her husband and children in the home just because she earns money for doing the same thing for some one else’s children while hers are in day care. Mathew Henry so aptly words what many women think,

“Those whose home is their prison, it is to be feared, feel that their chastity is their fetters.”

Satan has blinded the eyes of so many. God has called women to be creative, godly women whose dominion is the home. Scripture supports that. TV, movies, media etc. distorts that. I once believed all those lies and was outraged at the thought of staying home with my children! I was so blind! I am so very grateful to the Lord for picking me up out of the pit, saving me and setting my feet on solid ground and turning my life around to point to Him and instead of myself. Life is too short to live for me. Children grow up way too fast for me to spend their childhood off pursuing my career instead of loving them and teaching and training them. It is the responsibility of the parents to train and teach their children. It is not the daycare’s or the government’s job. Life is not about me. Some people say that women stay home just to be able to be lazy and do nothing while their husband does all the ‘hard’ work! That is a lie! Women who want to stay at home so they can just be lazy are just plain lazy people who will be lazy in anything they do. They need to repent of laziness just like anyone else who is lazy on their job! It is an interesting fact, as Dr. Leonard Sax points out in his book, Boys Adrift, that it is the men in our society who are being lazy and not working and not being responsible. In fact even those who are calling themselves a stay-at-home -Dad, often don’t do laundry or cook or care for the children. Instead many women work hard outside the home and pay a nanny to take care of her children, a housekeeper to clean her house and cook her meals. Then she comes home to find her husband playing video games and not having done any work at home. Those who can’t afford a cook, not only work hard outside the home but come home to all the housework and taking care of the children and cooking the meals etc. Many women are just enabling their husbands to continue to be irresponsible by doing his job for him as well as theirs.  I think many men would step up to the plate if their wives let them, but that is another topic.  Back to motherhood and mom’s who choose to stay home. Motherhood is not for the lazy! It is not for the selfish! Working at home loving my children and my husband, teaching and training my children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, managing the home and serving others, is not drudgery. It is not a prison. It is not laziness. It is far from boring. But it is death. It is a death to self that brings forth beautiful life. It is a freedom to live joyfully serving others and glorifying God. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Father who points to Jesus

The characteristic that sets Mark ‘apart’ from other fathers is that he does not point to himself but continually points his family to Jesus as our  treasure , to glorify God and enjoy Him in all things. On our wedding day, Mark sang a song to me by Paul Clark called, Now and Forevermore. (you can hear this on Lala song player) It is from the scripture, “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord, now and forevermore.” This has been the theme in our home. God has poured out His grace on Mark to be a faithful man for almost 25 years of marriage and 9 children. He has been a faithful leader, provider and protector. He has sacrificed his own aspirations to lay down his life for his family, continually pointing us to Jesus.
            We have gone through many trials, we never imagined 25 years ago, including loss of job, pain and suffering of cancer and the death of our son. Yet, Mark was a solid rock and stood steadfast in the Lord continually pointing us to Jesus and teaching us by his example to love and treasure Jesus and His Word, through the trials.
            During financial pressures of loss of jobs, medical bills, extra expenses due to hospitalization etc., Mark’s unwavering trust in God’s provision built our faith and our hearts were pointed to Jesus as our provider.
            Mark has faithfully led our family spiritually throughout our marriage. He has a deep love for the Word of God that is contagious. He is saturated with God’s Word and it comes out in his counsel and encouragement. Mark’s passion for God’s glory continues to grow and spill out on us. He has faithfully taken God’s Word seriously to train up his children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Every time he leaves the house he points us to Jesus by admonishing each one he talks to, with, “Live for Jesus!” This is not just a light expression with no meaning. There is a deep passion and desire for his family to do all for the glory of God in all they do through out the day that is expressed in those simple words. It is a reminder to look to Jesus and treasure Him throughout the day. Jesus is our joy and our strength.
            There is no greater gift that a father can give to his children than to continually encourage them in the Lord and point them to Jesus in good times and in hard times. Mark’s faith has been tried by the fire. God has shown himself faithful to Mark, pouring out grace, so that he and his house would serve the Lord now and forevermore. I asked the Lord for a faithful husband and God has mercifully blessed me more abundantly than I could ask or think, with Mark.

Ps 78:1-8

Give ear, O my people, to my law;
Incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
2 I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings of old,
3 Which we have heard and known,
And our fathers have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their children,
Telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord,
And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.

5 For He established a testimony in Jacob,
And appointed a law in Israel,
Which He commanded our fathers,
That they should make them known to their children;
6 That the generation to come might know them,
The children who would be born,
That they may arise and declare them to their children,
7 That they may set their hope in God,
And not forget the works of God,
But keep His commandments;
8 And may not be like their fathers,
A stubborn and rebellious generation,
A generation that did not set its heart aright,
And whose spirit was not faithful to God.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Get to work! By the grace of God

God is Sovereign. He is in total control. In His sovereign plan He has ordained that man do the good works He has planned for him to do. Man must trust in God’s Sovereignty as he does the work he is responsible to do. He must come under the authority of God’s Word and under God’s grace. Then he is truly free to do the works God has called him to do. The man who thinks he doesn’t need to depend on God is blinded by pride. He thinks he is strong enough and doing great works on his own without Christ, but he is truly weak. It is when we recognize we are weak and needy people who need to depend on Christ that we are truly strong. In fact as Elisabeth Elliot says, you must be dependent on Christ to truly be His disciple.

Elisabeth Elliot says in her book Discipline: The Glad Surrender, “Jesus, in response to the will of the Father, demonstrated what it means to be fully human when He took upon Himself the form of a man and in so doing voluntarily and gladly chose both dependence and obedience. Humanity for us, as for Christ, means both dependence and obedience. The unwillingness on the part of men and women to acknowledge their helpless dependence is a violation of our “creatureliness.” The unwillingness to be obedient is a violation of our humanity. Both are declarations of independence and, whether physical or moral, are essentially atheistic. In both, the answer to the call is no. … Discipline is the wholehearted yes to the call of God. When I know myself called, summoned, addressed, taken possession of, known, acted upon, I have heard the Master. I put myself gladly, fully, and forever at His disposal, and to whatever He says my answer is yes.”

2 Corinthians 12:9-10
9 And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul, who had so much to boast about, saw the need to recognize his weakness compared to Christ and his need for the power of Christ to rest upon him. We too are weak and must have the power of Christ to rest upon us in order to do any good work. So, cling to Christ, abide in His Word, rest under His grace and do the work He has called you to do as you depend on His strength and power to do it.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Defining Success

How do you define success? In the world’s standards, climbing the ladder to make more money, have more prestige, power and fame; is success. But as a Christian, Christ’s standards are just the opposite. He tells us to die to ourselves, lose your self for Christ, let others be first and you last. To be great in the kingdom of God is to do His commandments.
Matt 5:19-20
19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
            Without the sacrifice of Christ, I would be pursuing my own glorification, but because Of Christ, I have been transformed and now I am pursuing God’s glory.
            C. J. Mahaney puts it well in his book, Humility True Greatness
“Consider your own life for just a moment. Where would you be today if He had not ransomed you, if He hadn’t liberated you? I’ll tell you where. You would be self- sufficient, seeking to cultivate self-confidence for the purpose of self-glorification.”
“But what has happened to you? If you’ve been genuinely converted, you’ve been forgiven and transformed. And though for now there remains in you a temptation and tendency to sin, a fundamental and radical change has occurred so that you have the desire to serve others and to see God glorified. We know the inner call to lay down our lives for one another because He laid down His life for us. What a powerful death! The cross ransoms, the cross liberates, the cross transforms! True greatness is attained only by emulating the Savior’s example-and made possible only by the Savior’s sacrifice.”

            If I follow the world’s standards, then success is all about me, me, me! Continually pointing to me! God’s standard for success is pointing to Jesus. It is no longer about me, but it is all about Christ.
            Look at Paul. He had all the worldly success anyone could ask for in his day. (Phil 3:2-7) but he said that the things that were gain to him, he now counts as loss for Christ. He says that to live is Christ and to die is gain!

Philipians 3:7-9
7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

            What is success? Success is a woman who gives up her life to raise her children, instead of raising herself up to ‘be something’ in the eyes of the world. Success is dying to herself while she supports and serves her husband and children. Success is giving up riches so you can give to the poor ad needy. Success is giving up comforts and an easy lifestyle to preach Christ to those who have never heard. Success is losing one’s life for the sake of the gospel. Success is going through cancer without complaining and continuing to praise the Lord and worship Him and glorify Him until the end of one’s life. Success is when a Father lays down his life for his family, choosing to use his time to spend with his family to teach them to love and treasure Christ, to love His word and to know the power of the resurrection rather than to have more money, more prestige and more power. Success is laying down your life, your time and your money for the sake of the unborn.  Success is living to serve others even when no one knows that you are sacrificing except the One who died and sacrificed for you so you could sacrifice for others.
Success is when your treasure is in Christ and you live your life to glorify God and enjoy Him. A wasted life is one in which you pursue your own ambitions and take whatever you can to make yourself look good. Your treasure is your career, your things, your prestige and your life. Only what is done for Christ will last. As Jim Elliot said, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose."

Proverbs 1:19
19 So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain;
It takes away the life of its owners.

            Where is your treasure? If Jesus is your treasure and you’re  pursuing Him, you will be willing to die and lay down your own ambitions for Christ. Pursue righteousness and holiness without which no one will see God. Proverbs. 4 tells us that wisdom is the principal thing;therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting get understanding.  It says to keep your heart with all diligence. Proverbs. 2 tells us they were on the path of righteousness but left it, never to return nor to regain the paths of life. Jesus defines success in Mark 10.

Mark 10:41-45
 42 But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, "You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.  43 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.  44 And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all.  45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

As C.J.Mahaney says in his book Humility True Greatness,”greatness doesn’t equal success, or talent, or ability, or power, or applause. It equals servanthood. And it equals humility.”

Praise God that we have hope to attain true greatness by the grace of God through the death and resurrection Of Christ.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

We all need Forgiveness

Relationships can’t work without a spirit of forgiveness. This is so true and it is the heart of the gospel. Until we recognize how great a sinner we are and how great a savior Jesus is we will not have a truly humble heart of forgiveness. God told us “do not let the sun go down on your anger” for a reason. We will not have peace unless we deal with unforgiveness. We are commanded to seek and grant forgiveness daily! Jesus has forgiven us our great debt, we should be able to forgive our brother’s small debt. “Should you not also have compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?...So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” Matt. 20:33, 35

Nancy Leigh DeMoss said, “Too many of us live with a chip on our shoulder, as if the world owes us something. “You ought to do this for me. You ought to serve me. You ought to meet my needs.” But the humble heart – the grateful heart- says, “I don’t deserve this, and it’s an amazing act of grace that you should minister to my needs.”

 I thank God for His redeeming grace. He is a God of reconciliation. Man rebels, God forgives, man rebels, God forgives, man rebels and God forgives. Over and over and over again! God redeemed us with the perfect sacrifice of His own son. How could we not forgive when we compare our rebellion and hatred towards God and His forgiveness towards us. Nothing compares. He who knew no sin became sin for us that we could become the righteousness of God.    Marriage is a picture of Christ and His bride. It is a picture of forgiveness.

Concerning marriage, Elisabeth Elliot said in her book, Let Me Be a Woman, “You marry a sinner. There is nobody else to marry. Acceptance of him(or her)-of all of him-includes acceptance of his being a sinner. He is a fallen creature, in need of the same kind of redemption all the rest of us are in need of, and liable to all the temptations which are “common to man.” One of the silliest statements ever to catch the public imagination came out of that silly movie Love Story_ “Love is never having to say you’re sorry.” If it doesn’t make you sorry to hurt somebody you love, what in the world would ever make you sorry? You do need forgiveness. You do need to forgive. And it is a wonderfully healing thing to confess your sin to the one you’ve sinned against and to ask for his forgiveness…. So_you marry a sinner. And you love, accept, and forgive that sinner as you yourself expect to be loved, accepted, and forgiven. You know that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” and this includes your husband (or wife) who comes short, also, of some of the glories you expected to find in him. Come to terms with this once and for all and then walk beside him as “heirs together of the grace of life.”

Luke 6:35,36 says “He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful just as your father also is merciful.” God has called us to be imitators of Christ. The biggest need we have as humans is to be forgiven by God and to forgive one another. I praise God for His amazing grace that He would forgive us and he would lavishly pour out His grace on us that we could forgive others. “ Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Friday, February 10, 2012

Joy and Sorrow

                                                    Joy and Sorrow

From Lord of the Rings, book three. As Gandalf and Pippin gaze out over Gondor, on the eve of the battle.

Are you angry with me, Gandalf?' he said, as their guide went out and closed the door. 'I did the best I could.'
'You did indeed!' said Gandalf laughing suddenly; and he came and stood beside Pippin, putting his arm about the hobbit's shoulders, and gazing out of the windows. Pippin glanced in some wonder at the face now close beside his own, for the sound of that laugh had been gay and merry. Yet in the wizard's face he saw at first only lines of care and sorrow; though as he looked more intently he perceived that under all there was a great joy: a fountain of mirth enough to set a kingdom laughing, were it to gush forth.'

This is life as a Christian. We go through times of sorrow but through it all is a deep abiding joy that comes from Christ in you the hope of glory.  This life is also a battle. But the difference in the Lord of the Rings battle and our life as a Christian is that we know the end. We know who wins. Jesus Christ has already defeated the enemy and won the victory! All we need to do is to believe on Him, to put our faith in Christ and His work on the Cross to defeat sin and death. Then we trust and obey. As the old Hymn says:

Trust and Obey,
For there's no other way,
To be happy in Jesus, than to Trust and Obey!

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18