Friday, September 23, 2016

The Heart is Won

Apart from love for Christ, my kids will, at best, be nothing more than Pharisees. Outwardly conforming to the rules while their hearts are far from Him.

I so want the Lord to save them, so want their hearts to fall in love with the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Yet, I am reminded how often I focus on their external behavior while leaving their hearts untouched.

I can't save my kids...only the Lord can raise the dead to life, open blind eyes to see His grace, and transform a heart of stone into a heart of flesh....but I do want to be faithful to build a love for Him in their hearts. I want them to see His glory and mercy and beauty and faithfulness and majesty. I want them to see the "good news" for what it is: good, great, mind-blowing...the best news they will ever hear.

I'm reading a super practical, super helpful book by Jack Klumpenhower called "Show Them Jesus" and he says this in chapter 4:

"Our sins are all paid for - not just the few sins we notice but the whole ugly heart that secretly loves them. All forgiven.

The good news takes us daily from despair to astonished laughter. With relief in our eyes we look at the man who's done all this for us. And who do we see? We see the strongest yet gentlest, most regal and yet most humble person imaginable. Most of all, we see the kind of lover we've never known before. Jesus's love for us is pure love. It has nothing to do with us being the least bit lovely. If it did, we'd feel pressure to keep up whatever earned his love. But no, "if we are faithless, he remains faithful" (2 Timothy 2:13). He loves us forever. No payback needed. No conditions. No guilt trips. We are loved, period. 

And where that is believed, the heart is won." 

True obedience from the heart results from an overflow of love, not duty.

How lovely is Jesus to you? How lovely is He to your children?

"How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord of Hosts. I long and yearn for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh cry out for the living God." Psalm 84:1-2

Saturday, September 17, 2016

A Yummy Illustration!

I have been working on my Sunday School lesson for tomorrow and came across this fantastic illustration:
"Ask the children if they have ever helped bake a cake. There are a lot of ingredients that go into making a cake, but if you were to eat salt, vanilla extract, or oil by themselves they would probably not taste yummy. But if you don't put them into a cake, it will not taste the way it should. Obedience is like this. Sometimes we are asked to do things that, by themselves, don't seem to make sense. But we must be obedient and follow all the directions that God and our parents give us. In the end, we will see that is was for our good." *
I don't know about you, but this is not just something for our kids to hear...we need to hear it, too!
God calls us to faithful obedience as we trust His Word and His character...even when we can't see or do not understand the circumstance He has put us in or what He is calling us to do. 
What a blessing that God has given us a plethora of Biblical examples of men and women, a great cloud of witnesses as Hebrews 12:1 tells us, who were called to obey even though it did not make sense to them:
Abraham and Isaac
Joshua and Jericho
Gideon and the 300 men for battle
Ruth with Boaz
Jonah and Nineveh
Elijah and the alter with the prophets of name a few.
Their obedience was not predicated on WHAT the knew but WHO they knew. What hope and encouragement they give to our weary hearts as we seek to faithfully fix our eyes on the Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith. He, too, faced the bitterness of the cross, the beatings, the scorn, and, ultimately, the wrath of His Father God, for the joy and sweetness of redeeming a people for Himself.
Much to think on, much to rejoice in!
Tomorrow, my Sunday School kids will taste salt and flour, by themselves, and the looks on their faces just might be picture-worthy. But they will also taste the results of those, and other ingredients, mixed together to form a yummy cake. My prayer is that they (along with the rest of us) will begin to grasp the beauty of God's sovereignty in all of life's events and begin to see the sweet blessing and fruit that comes out of faithful obedience to the One who is forever and always faithful! 
"We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28
"Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely. And may your spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it." I Thess. 5:23-24
*Generations of Grace