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Love

8 Oct

Love with a passionate love.

But I have this [one charge to make] against you: that you have left (abandoned) the love that you had at first [you have deserted Me, your first love]. Revelations 2:4 Amplified

The Bridegroom seeks the fervent love of the Bride.  It is an easy thing for us to go forward in works for God, while losing the passionate love that we first had for Him.  The remedy is given in the next verse.  Repent. Turn back.  It is recoverable.  Let’s devote ourselves this day to fanning the fire, the passion inside of us.

Turn back! Recover your dear early love. No time to waste.  Rev. 2:5a  The Message

Am I in Denial?

29 Aug

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Gal. 2:20 NIV

Here is a bit more about being delivered from this life of self:

There is but one way of being delivered from this life of self.  We must follow Christ, set out hearts upon Him, listen to His teachings, give ourselves up everyday that he may be all to us, and by the power of Christ the denial of self will be a blessed, unceasing reality.  Never for one hour do I expect the Christian to reach a stage at which he can say, “I have no self to deny;” never for one moment in which he can say, “I do not need to deny self.” ~ Andrew Murray, The Master’s Indwelling

The question I have to ask myself is, “Do I consciously deny myself daily?  Is daily enough?”  The answer is sadly, no.  I’m thinking that I need to come out swinging and deny myself hourly for a while.

What if What We Hope for Doesn’t Happen?

25 Aug

Romans 5:5 Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out [This is written in the perfect passive tense – we don’t have to do anything to make the love flow] in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us.

What if what we hope for doesn’t happen?  If we are focused inward on the circumstance our heart will become sick.  “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick (grieve)” (Prov 13:12).  But as we wait for this hope to be fulfilled, the love of God is “poured out into our hearts”.  So if we focus upward our heart is healed with His love.  Remember in Romans, how the heroes of the faith often did not see their hopes fulfilled until after their deaths!

Baseball Bats as Object Lessons?

24 Jul
Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver bowls, but also those of wood and earthenware, some for special use, some for ordinary.  2 Timothy 2:20 HCSB
We recently visited out friend, Jim Seaver, in Northern Maine who brought us to visit a friend of his–Tom–who is a cabinet maker and baseball bat creator.  Tom is a personable guy who graciously stopped what he was working on to demonstrate bat making for us.  He quickly moved from the technical issues of making custom-made bats to the spiritual issues he encounters during the making.  He spoke of the wood as a great object lesson about us and how faults in the wood can’t be seen by the naked eye–how God works in us to mold us into the image of Christ the same way the machines use the patterns to create the bats.  What amazing love he demonstrates as he molds us into vessels for His use.  We left spiritually built up and carried with us the smell of nice clean wood shavings.

The process of turning the bat

Baseball bat being turned by Tom

Baseball Bat Patterns

Today

15 Jul

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today!

A Prayer in Spring

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;

And give us not to think so far away

As the uncertain harvest; keep us here

All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,

Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;

And make us happy in the happy bees,

The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird

That suddenly above the bees is heard,

The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,

And off a blossom in mid-air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,

The which it is reserved for God above

To sanctify to what far ends He will,

But which it only needs that we fulfill.

~Robert Frost

To deal with worry and fear, we must purpose to live in the present.

Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.  Matthew 6:34

Time for Some Great News

5 Jun

He saved us —not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This [Spirit] He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that having been justified by His grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life.  Titus 3:5-7

We are regenerated.  Regeneration is the production of a new life consecrated to God, a radical change of mind for the better.  This word is often used to denote the restoration of a thing to its pristine state.

We are renewed.  Renewal means renovated, a complete change for the better.

We have been made the sons and daughters of God the Father.  Hallelujah!  Sunday is here.  We are washed, we are justified, we are heirs.

It wasn’t so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, dupes of sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. God’s gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there’s more life to come—an eternity of life! You can count on this.  Titus 3:5-8

A Little More Bad News

3 Jun

I don’t know if it was in a song or a sermon, but I do remember the repetition of “It’s Friday now, but Sunday’s comin’!”  Let’s take one more look at our sinfulness before we start looking at the riches we’ve been given in Christ.

Please do not let this get you down.  Let it instead fill your heart with love for Christ who sacrificed so much for us when we were in the muck and mire.

We evangelical believers generally abstain from the grosser sins of society; in fact, we tend to sit in judgment of those who practice such things.  But beneath the surface of our own lives we tolerate all kinds of ‘refined’ sins . . . . Beyond that, we seldom think about the words of Jesus that the greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” . . . I don’t think any of us can fully plumb the depths of that commandment, but here are some obvious aspects:

  • Your love for God transcends all other desires (Ex. 20:3)
  • Like David, you long to gaze upon His beauty and seek fellowship with Him.  (Psalm 27:4)
  • You rejoice in meditating on His Word, and, like Jesus, you rise early to pray.  (Psalm 119:97, Mark 1:35)
  • You always delight to do His will, regardless of how difficult it may be.  (Psalm 40:8)
  • A regard for His glory governs and motivates everything you do–your eating and drinking, your working and playing, your buying and selling, your reading and speaking–and, dare I mention it, even your driving.  (1 Cor. 10:31)
  • You are never discouraged or frustrated by adverse circumstances because you are confident that God is working all things together for your good. (Romans 8:28)
  • You are content because you know He will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5) ~ Jerry Bridges, The Gospel for Real Life
Ouch!  Once again, this is not a call to beat ourselves up, but a call to realize how much we need Jesus every moment of every day.  It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming!

Year End Thoughts

1 Jun

It’s that crazy time of year in a teacher’s life.  Next week is the last week of school.  We’re hectically trying to tie up all the loose ends of this school year:  assessments, report cards, transitions, and saying good-bye to teachers and students who are leaving us.  At the same time, we’ve jumped focus to next year and are planning how we can do a better job.  To do this we need to reflect on what has worked well and what has not worked so well.

In a teacher’s life this is our New Year’s time.  Out with the old and in with the new.  It’s a time for resolutions and reflections.  When you’ve been teaching for a while you don’t think of last year being 2010, you think of it as 2010-2011.  🙂

It is also that time of year when I reflect on my spiritual life.  And I want to try and do it without beating myself up or feeling guilty for my many failures.  I need to keep an equal focus on my sin and God’s grace.  Yes, I avoid overt sins like adultery and murder, but what about those sneaky sins?  What about difficulties in my prayer life?  What about judging others?  We started talking about the gospel on Saturday–how it is a bad news/good news story.

The best preparation for the study of this doctrine [that is, of the truth of the gospel] is–neither great intellectual ability nor much scholastic learning–but a conscience impressed with a sense of our actual condition as sinners in the sight of God. ~ Jerry Bridges The Gospel for Real Life

I’m not suggesting that we go around beating our ownselves up, but we can’t understand the greatness of the gospel and of what Jesus Christ sacrificed for us if we do not have a healthy view of our sinfulness.

Last night, Mike and I had dinner with a friend who met with us to tell us that she’d lied to us.  She kept circling around to the same place in her conversation, “I know what I’ve done was wrong.”  That’s a good place to be.  It is the place where God’s grace gets heaped upon us.

For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God; Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law’s demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself.] Ephesians 2:8-9 Ampl.

Preach It, Sister!

30 May

I read this morning in Jerry Bridges’ book, The Gospel for Real Life, that “we should preach the gospel to ourselves every day.”

Remember that the gospel is a bad news/good news story.  The bad news is that we are sinful.  The good news is that Jesus paid for our sins and accepts us as we are.  Some of us look at the gospel as a door we have come through and once we are in we don’t need to think about that doorway any more.  But the gospel is so much more than that.  It is by understanding the good news that we are totally forgiven and that God wants to shower us with the riches of His grace:

And He raised us up together with Him and made us sit down together [giving us joint seating with Him] in the heavenly sphere [by virtue of our being] in Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the Anointed One).  He did this that He might clearly demonstrate through the ages to come the immeasurable (limitless, surpassing) riches of His free grace (His unmerited favor) in [His] kindness and goodness of heart toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2: 6,7 Ampl.

This word immeasurable is often translated exceeding and comes from a Greek word, huperballo, that literally means ” to surpass in throwing, to throw over or beyond any thing.”

This kind of reminds me of the President’s Physical Fitness tests that we used to take in elementary school.  One of the events was the softball throw.  Our P.E. teacher would step up to the line and show us how to do it.  We watched in awe as his throw went so high and so far–he made it look easy.  Then, we would line up and throw the softball as far as we could while people ran around in the field marking and measuring how far we could throw.  But Jesus.  Jesus throws far surpassing anyone.

Think of Him winding up and throwing grace that falls on us like confetti. Do we deserve it?  Never.  Does He want us to receive it?  Always!  Preach it to yourself today!

Cinderella Story

28 May

Photo courtesy http://goo.gl/urRLm

When I was a girl, I didn’t enjoy playing a lot of “girlie” things.  I didn’t “get” what to do with dolls or why one would have a pretend tea party.  I liked to read and play outside.  But one thing I loved was Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color every Sunday night.  I loved all the Disney movies, but my favorite was, you guessed it, Cinderella.

We, ladies, are part of the best Cinderella story of all:

 But God–so rich is He in His mercy! Because of and in order to satisfy the great and wonderful and intense love with which He loved us,  Even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses, He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; [He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for] it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation).  And He raised us up together with Him and made us sit down together [giving us joint seating with Him] in the heavenly sphere [by virtue of our being] in Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the Anointed One).  He did this that He might clearly demonstrate through the ages to come the immeasurable (limitless, surpassing) riches of His free grace (His unmerited favor) in [His] kindness and goodness of heart toward us in Christ Jesus.

We have been made perfect (in our position) in Christ.  We have been made beautiful in Christ.  Christ is the lover of our souls.  We have been clothed by Christ.    We can have intimacy with Christ that goes far beyond the intimacy we can have with anyone on this Earth.