Saturday, April 19, 2014

If sin lives anywhere, it will crawl everywhere!

Yesterday was Good Friday...and, Lord willing, you had the blessing and opportunity to fellowship with your local church body. To remember, reflect, and rejoice in the great sacrifice Jesus made in giving up His life. It was a privilege for me to sit under my husband's preaching last night. I wish I could do justice to the things God laid on his heart to share by properly writing them down here...but I'll just have to bullet point it for you...I'm still mulling over much of what was said!

-Good Friday is not a's a celebration. When an individual dies, fellowship/relationship with them is broken. There is much heartache involved.  When Jesus died, fellowship was restored and made possible for all who believe. We were given access to God Himself! There is much jubilation that should fill our hearts as we ponder that truth!

- The fellowship and relationship with the Father that was made possible through the death of Christ was seen in the tearing of the curtain that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple. No more blood sacrifices and no more yearly visits by the high priest. Jesus was the final blood sacrifice and our forever High Priest. Through Christ, we may now "boldly approach the throne" of God!

-And talk about the mercy and grace of God on display. The very first person to have access to that throne was not a Jew, but a Gentile. And not just any Gentile, but a Roman centurion. And not just any Roman centurion, but one of the very ones who crucified the Son of God (Mark 15:39)

"Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments and untraceable His ways!"  Romans 11:33

As I ponder those truths and more, my heart wells with adoration and stands in awe of God's amazing plan and the work of Christ. But my heart also aches. The reason there was broken fellowship, the reason God's wrath was upon me, the reason Christ had to die is because of MY SIN.

Do I realize the weight of that? Do I take my sin seriously?

John MacArthur puts it this way in "Saved Without A Doubt", "Don't make allowances for any sins in your life. Take each one seriously as it comes to light, and deal with it biblically....The seasoned Christian knows that if sin lives anywhere, it will crawl everywhere."

As we bask in the reality of our salvation....of being "called out of darkness into His marvelous light"...may we not forget how dark the darkness is, how real our sin is, and the price our precious Savior paid.

 "He erased the certificate of debt, with it's obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the cross" (Colossians 2:14).

Friday, April 18, 2014

Tied Up With A Pretty Bow

I have a precious friend who loves using the above expression when describing situations in life. It's a real blessing when joys, events, problems, trials, or any ol' plan comes together in such a way that it's "tied up with a pretty bow". No loose ends, no snags to work out, no rehashing ideas, no figuring out a new course of action, no headaches, no more struggles....just all tied up and ready to go!

I've kind of adopted the saying myself. I like the mental image that it brings to my mind and I like the decluttering that my head and heart feel when I can "box up" something I have been working on or working through. Especially when it's wrapped up in a pretty bow! :)

But as she knows, I know, and all of you know...more often than not, there is no pretty bow. In fact, often the box is not even sealed, the contents are spilling out everywhere, and it's hard to see through the mess or even know what to do with the mess. Our plans have come undone, the to-do list is growing not shrinking, one of our kids is being defiant, the washer breaks down with a load in it and no money to fix it, the future looks unsure and unsettling, the getaway we planned is spoiled by a bout of the flu....and on and on it goes....right?!

What do I do when all I can see are open boxes and no pretty bows in sight?

The answer is as simple as the mess is messy! REST in the reality that God IS.

One of the names for God as seen in Exodus 3 is "I AM". God is not God of the past only but of the present and the future as well. He is an active God...actively at work in the lives of His children every second of every moment of every day of our lives. In her book "Practical Theology for Women" Wendy Alsup has some great thoughts on this:

"When God heats up our lives working out our pride, selfishness, and general wrong thinking, the resulting purified life is so much sweeter"

She asks several questions that helped me gauge where my own heart is at in the midst of the boxes:

"Do you believe that He is good? Do you believe His promise to work the hard things for good in your life? Do you trust that He is acting consistently with His claims of love for you? Simply put, do you believe Him? And in that dark moment, are you going to let your belief in His goodness or your despair over your struggle lead you? Truly, those who lose their lives in the arms of God's grace are the ones who finally see what true living really is."

Instead of trying to fix everything and manipulate my circumstances....or fall into discouragement and lose hope and peace...I can just REST. Rest in the sovereignty and promises of the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Rest in the knowledge that I could gain the whole world and have all of life wrapped up in bows...but if I don't have Christ, I have nothing. Rest in the assurance and great hope that God will complete the good work He has started in me. Because, one day, my faith will be made sight and I will see how every box of testing, pain, and struggle was used for my good and His glory.

And no matter what today brings or what tomorrow holds, I can rest in the joy of knowing that my entire life is wrapped in the precious "bow" of Christ's righteousness...a righteousness that was secured by His life, death, and resurrection.

There is no need to battle for bows....the victory has already been won!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Battle's On!

As I wrote in my last post, the Lord is helping me to see that to battle FOR joy really means to battle AGAINST sin. It's not about living perfectly, it's about living faithfully...faithfully confessing, repenting, and grabbing hold of the hem of Christ and the victory that has been won by His death and resurrection. It means walking by the Spirit and enjoying the blessings of being "in step" with Him....our Comforter, Counselor, and Keeper!

Again, MacArthur had some great thoughts in the battle against sin. I so appreciated the wisdom of what he said that I had to pass it on!

"Here's a practical way of dealing with sin: Eliminate a major sin in your life and the rest will follow. When the general is killed, the troops scatter. Think of what happened when David killed Goliath. By the means of grace available to you as a believer, slay the sins you find most compelling and familiar - your pet sins - and the others will soon disappear. And when you fall into sin, quickly set out to conquer that sin....and fall back on the forgiving grace of God, and it will strengthen you for battle."

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"Who Will Then Make You Glad?"

I'm reading a book by John MacArthur called, "Saved Without A Doubt". And while I am fully convinced that Jesus Christ has saved me from my sin and from the Father's wrath...I find that my saved life so often does not resemble how Paul put it so eloquently and accurately in 1 Corinthians 2:9: "What no eye has seen, and no ear has heard, and what has never come into a man's heart, is what God has prepared for those who love Him."

Why? Why do I feel so "hum drum" sometimes, so "in the middle of the muddle"? Where is the peace that passes understanding and the deep abiding joy that should fill my heart and overflow to those around me? Where is a patient heart that reflects my Father's patience towards me and why does my love often look little like "denying self" and more like "selfishness"? Where is the grandeur of chapter 2 verse 9 in my own life and heart?

The answer is all wrapped up in verse 10! "Now God has revealed them to us by the Spirit, for the Spirit searches everything, even the deep things of God."

In Christ, I have been given the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit is spectacular! He produces amazing fruit that I can walk in and, therefore, live a life that is pleasing to the Father and that brings Him much glory!  Thomas Brooks says this about Him, "The Spirit is the great revealer of the Father's secrets, He lies in the bosom of the Father, He knows every name that is written in the book of life; He is best acquainted with the inward workings of the heart of God toward poor sinners; He is the great comforter and the only sealer up of souls to the day of redemption. If you grieve by your wilful sinning He that alone can gladden you, who will then make you glad?" MacArthur followed it up by saying that  if "you grieve or quench the Spirit by walking in the flesh, you short-circuit His ministries to you".

Wow! My own heart was quickly convicted that much of my "hum drum" may very well be because I am not "in step" with the Spirit. I have taken my sin too lightly, treated God's grace too carelessly, and, as a result,  have had a "short circuit" in my fellowship and communion with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. How quick I can be to "broad stroke" my sin when asking forgiveness from God instead of taking each sinful thought captive, doing battle against it, and crying out for God's strength and power to overcome as well as His grace and mercy to forgive me when those thoughts  turn to words and deeds!

Could my battle for joy be because, as Thomas Brooks put it, "if you grieve by your wilful sinning He that alone can gladden you, who will then make you glad?"

Much to meditate on...but also, I find my heart rejoicing. Rejoicing in God's Word, rejoicing in  godly men's wisdom, rejoicing in the indescribable gift of the Holy Spirit and the conviction He brings, and rejoicing in the victory over sin that is mine because I am "in Christ"....the One who conquered sin and death! Hallelujah, what a Savior!!!!