Below I have included two verses that have really stood out to me in the past few days; I pray that they bless you too!
“May God make you increasingly worthy of his calling and may he fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:11–12). Amen.
Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. --Hebrews 10:23, NLT
What have your conversations been looking like lately? What are you sharing with people; what are you both taking away?
It may sound impossible to break down the barriers to Christ in your discussion times or momentary chats, but it may be easier than you think. When Christ is your life and what you are already thinking of and seeking to learn about — even as you apply His truth to your life — you will soon realize that it makes no sense to work double time to keep Him our of your thoughts and restricted from your speech while you are talking with someone who may not naturally talk about God with you.
In the flow of communication about a recent lesson learned or a trial endured or a surprising blessing or impossible victory, you will be able to share what kept you from receiving or making these things possible for yourself and how God went and delivered them to you instead.
When you model Christ by wearing the colors of humility and reverence for God, the world will be attracted to God even while it learns that we are not perfect and we are certainly not the reason that all these things work together for good for us.
Lets get out of the way of the communion that God could be having with the person He has put before us, just as we remember that we are not here to sport our own reputation, but to bring both of our attentions to His reputation.
Remember the Lord; store up the incidents when mercy was indescribable and you knew that Christ was your life. Build up your spiritual memory bank and God will not go faint to your eyes in times to come.
Don’t run dry on thoughts of the Lord and His goodness to you when you are in a trial. You need examples in which you can supplant your mind in the midst of your struggles to be able to take captive every thought that is against God, bringing it into submission to Christ.
I believe that the glory of God is in the details of every day life. I believe this is where He captures us and redefines what we know of knowledge and beauty and awe.
We learn that God is not a far off reality that only makes sense to the spiritually inclined. He is a very active participant in our day-to-day lives. He uses even the minutest of opportunities to get us acquainted with who He is and what He likes to do.
Nothing gets wasted on His watch. Coincidences are no longer coincidences to us — they are messages that actually got through to us. Each one is only one quadrillion quadrillionth of the sum of what He has to communicate to us in our lifetimes. This should all get us excited about what is beyond.
Why do we fear the appearance of fear more than the object of fear itself? Why is fear a sin that is so hard for us to admit? And what do we think we are gaining by keeping it under wraps? It is at times like these that I think image and self-promotion trumps sin-expression that we would normally allow as perfectly okay.
Pride seems to bring a limit to many sins. It seems to have this thing about being the king of all sins; of making sure we may be worshiped even while we are engaged in worshiping other things. But, isn’t this what all sin is about: misplaced worship? Rather than put forth the servanthood that is necessary for our position, we pretend that God has limits and we are justified in living without them.
I am learning to appreciate the gifts in my life that come at a cost — the work of His grace, the diminishing of myself. With every gift from Him there is a loss. It only makes the gift all that more valuable in my eyes. Yes, blessing is training ground too!
I thought that if I ate enough food that it would go down into my inward points (as the Bible describes our souls) and satisfy and nourish me, but because they were not made to do that, I didn’t have much success.
Spiritually I was starved, though physically I was overcompensating. Needless to say, I knew nothing about balance. I didn’t know where God belonged and I certainly didn’t know where anything else did. I was lost in my own skin.
But I’m sure this isn’t new news for many of us. We all struggle with sin patterns that disrupt our neat little strategies. What we don’t realize is that we are missing the big strategy that works for every person, even targeting and transforming their problems with sin and dissatisfaction.
The strategy is Christ died to sin and we die with Him. We give up our way of rejecting God and focus on His way of transforming us. It really is not all that much about us attaining to a height of glamour and personal glory through sinlessness, but allowing ourselves to be taken in by the One who saves us because His glory brought sin to an end.
Sin is no longer the issue — it can no longer separate us from our Sinless Maker and Sustainer. We are whole when we are stretched out in the form of He who died in the pattern of our brokenness. His death was necessary, His resurrection is essential to our souls being re-birthed into the Spirit of Him who alone provides all that we crave.
Happiness cannot be contained by this world. It is not to be forced into certain contexts or expected to spring out of little cartridges. Happiness does not belong in these things — at least not in its fullest, soul-satisfying form.
Happiness, instead, is a heaven-thing that flits about down here, appearing in little wisps for brief moments to give a hint of what we must seek heaven to find. The whole design in happiness and our desire for it is to get us disengaged from the all-consuming, life-impacting policies of this world and reengaged with the claims of a heavenly paradise that boasts its claims all around us.
Now you may be saying, “But since when does heaven hold out happiness; I’ve only seen where hell can do that!” Well, first of all, I’m so glad you asked, because that is a most crucial question. One of the biggest things we have to decide in this life is what to believe about the next one. Based on what we believe about heaven and hell’s opposing parties, we will choose the one we want to be apart of.
Second, I would like to contrast the supposed advantages of each. I will begin with hell. Since the Fall when mankind committed its initial act of rebellion against God, Paradise — as it is referred to in John Milton’s classic poetic masterpiece — has been Lost. Not only has our world been corrupted by the literal death-grip of our sin, but hell has laid claim to every one of us under its power.
You see, the tales you have been hearing about the freedom and favorability of hell are lies made palatable to you while you are at odds with God. Heaven is so pleasing to our bodies and imagination — even after these things have been corrupted by evil — that Satan has to do everything in his power to keep us from ever seeing it accurately.
This does not mean that he always denies that heaven exists or that it is wonderful. Sometimes all that he needs to do is keep us content with vague ideas of how to get there. If we don’t know that we are ineligible by our own merits, then there is no danger that we will go — even if we spend our whole lives in an attempt to “make it.”
In this way it is not necessary for Satan to make us perfect miniatures of himself for us to be destined for hell. All that he has to do is prevent us from realizing that our good is not good enough. For we do not stump him by diligently following the course of all our religious strategies, we destroy his hold over us by abandoning them for his sworn enemy. Christ is our Savior because He is Satan’s victorious opposition.
Therefore, if heaven is Christ’s home, how can it be ours unless we forsake Satan’s home (hell)? Heaven is the reward of the Christ-like. It is possible for every person to image-God (as I mentioned in an earlier post), but only we who have received Christ as our righteousness can image-forth that likeness.
I don’t know about you, but if I created heaven to be a place of glory and perfection, I wouldn’t be welcoming in anyone who wasn’t. Especially not if I had already put forth an open invitation to the world on the condition that anyone who would come should believe in the power of my death rather than the power of their own lives.
Why do we expect God to accept us on our own terms when He has already made it possible for us to gain acceptance on His terms? Jesus Christ is the Door to heaven and we will not find ourselves on the other side unless we walk through Him.
Stop for a moment and consider the beauty in responsibility. If we had not been so finely crafted in the image of God, we could not be vested with responsibility. In everything that we do we have something to answer for and something else to reach for. We model God in that we are capable of shaping or destroying things. We can leave behind the imprint of ourselves, the imprint of a God-like individual.
This imaging-forth-God that I’m talking about is not just a super-power of the mature Christian. This is the very seat of responsibility for every man and woman, boy and girl. We have been made like God, that we might act like God. When we choose to act in ways that are contrary to who God is, then we suffer evil consequences.
You may say, “I don’t know how to be like God; He and I are not exactly friends — we didn’t grow up on the same block, you know?” But, the truth is that you do not have to see God or have “grown up with Him” to be responsible for living like Him. He has given you — along with every other person on the planet — the Word of God, which is the infallible revelation of who He is and what He requires of you as one of His own creatures.
If you protest that you do not believe in the Word of God, know that your conscience does. You know you are in error and are not ignorant of what you ought to do. Right and wrong are moral values that have been printed on the tablet of your heart since the day you were conceived; it is what makes you human.
If you will take a look around at the animals around you, you will find that they do not have obligations, to do lists, or depression. There job is not to look out for the feelings and interests of others and to display right character even when it appears to count for little. Every animal brings glory to its Creator because it does what it was designed to do, but it is not responsible for the legacy it leaves or the reward he will receive for his work.
This element of our humanity, which we often think of as a burden, truly serves a great purpose in our lives. It designates who we are — each one a special and unduplicated individual that God dearly loves — and what is our design — we have particular things to attend to in our lives; places to make our mark. It also gives us dignity and qualifies us for honor when we live right before God and dishonor when we flout His existence and glory.