Saturday, July 30, 2011

Hold On, Grace is on it's Way

Wherever God has you today, there is surely something in your life that's bumpy, that's not quite right, or that's downright hard. It may be dealing with past regret, present failure or future fears. Are you despairing in your marriage? heartbroken over a child? grieving the loss of a loved one? crushed by overwhelming financial burden? immobilized by confusion and fear about your future? Read these words of sweet refreshment from Unredeemed by Addison Road.

The cruelest world
The coldest heart
The deepest wound
The endless dark
The lonely ache
The burning tears
The bitter nights
The wasted years

Life breaks and falls apart
But we know these are
Places where grace is soon to be so amazing
It may be unfulfilled
It may be unrestored
But when anything that's shattered is laid before the lord
Just watch and see
It will not be unredeemed

For every choice that led to shame
And all the love that never came
For every vow that someone broke
And every lie that gave up hope
We live in the shadow of the fall
But the cross says these are all
Places where grace is soon to be so amazing
It may be unfulfilled
It may be unrestored
But when anything that's shattered is laid before the lord
Just watch and see
It will not be unredeemed

Hold on, grace is on it's way...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Balance

I've been thinking a lot about balance. All around us in a thousand different ways the world shouts "achieve more balance in your life", "if you obtain such and such, you'll have more balance", "incorporate more exercise, prayer, hobbies or alone time into your day and you'll feel more balanced". I even ran across a website entitled "The Art of Balanced Living".

So I'm curious - what do you think? I would love to hear your comments!

I'll be writing more about "balance" in the coming days...I have some thoughts. But right now, I'm off to get some balance into my day ;)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Who is in Control?

I'm just finishing up a book on my summer reading list entitled "Spiritual Depression" by Martyn Lloyd-Jones. In his chapter on Trials he writes:
"We are walking through this world under the eye of our Heavenly Father."
As I begin this day this precious truth encourages my heart...

I am working through the joys and challenges of marriage...under the eye of my Heavenly Father.

I am struggling to find grace filled words for a conversation with my child...under the eye of my Heavenly Father.

I am challenged and burdened by a relationship with a friend...under the eye of my Heavenly Father.

I am concerned and worried about my aging mom and her well-being...under the eye of my Heavenly Father.

Whatever you are doing today, it is under the eye of your Heavenly Father. He has your back, he cares for you, he is ever watchful over you. Rest secure in that peace that passes all understanding. No matter what you are facing, He knows and He is in control!

"He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
he is a shield to those who walk in integrity,
guarding the paths of justice
and watching over the way of his saints." Proverbs 2:7-8

"With my voice I cry out to the LORD;
with my voice I plead for mercy to the LORD.
I pour out my complaint before him;
I tell my trouble before him.
When my spirit faints within me,
you know my way!" Psalm 142:1-3

"The eyes of the Lord are in every place,
keeping watch on the evil and the good." Proverbs 15:3

"The Lord watches over the sojourners;" Psalm 146:9

"The Lord looks down from heaven;
he sees all the children of man;
from where he sits enthroned he looks out
on all the inhabitants of the earth" Psalm 33:13-14

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Absurdity of Our Sacrifice

Trying to stick with my daily Bible reading plan... (I use the ESV reading plan in the back of my ESV study Bible) I've been reading through Micah - love the Old Testament! These verses struck me:

Micha 6:6-8

"With what shall I come before the LORD,
and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with

burnt offerings,

with calves a year old
?

Will the LORD be pleased with

thousands of rams
, with

ten thousands of rivers of oil?

Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,

the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?"

He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?"


The last verse is a familiar one, but what struck me reading through it this time were the verses about the types of sacrifice. Do you notice the increasing "weightiness" of the sacrifice? Should I bring burnt offerings? young calves? thousands of rams? ten thousands of rivers of oil? my firstborn, the fruit of my body? Can you sense the almost desperate attempt to purchase from God the forgiveness of his sins? He is in essence asking "What will it take to enter your presence. What can I give you God, that will make me good enough to be near you?"

While all this sounds absurd, I am asking myself, "Do I believe sacrificing things or self can pay for my sins and appease God? Do I believe that the things I do make God love me more, or at least be angry with me less?

How does this work itself out today? It's silly to think that I would bring thousands of rams as a sacrifice. But what are the ways I try to "buy" my acceptance with God? For me, I think of all the ways I try to "live up" to the standards set forth in God's word - the older encouraging woman displayed in Titus 2, the commands to be submissive to my husband and respect him; the instruction to training children in Deuteronomy, or the example of the heart of worship by Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus. I bring to God the sacrifice of my attempts to do all these things, perfectly, and all the time. I say attempts because hard as I try, I miss the mark. When I fail I say to myself, I'll do better next time, I'll do more, I'll really knock it out of the park with my obedience next go around - just wait Lord - you'll see...

hahahaha - I'm laughing as I write, because deep down I know it will never be "enough". How good do I have to be?

This is why the sacrifices mentioned in the Micah passage are so ludicrous. It is ever increasing, but never enough.

So, what now you ask?

Jesus.

When I read:

"shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?"

I am reminded that Jesus is the firstborn son. God gave his firstborn for OUR transgressions, the fruit of his body for OUR sin to save OUR souls.

Reading this passage reminded me that all of my attempts to earn God's favor are unnecessary. Jesus has earned God's favor on my behalf. He was the perfect, ultimate sacrifice - it is finished! What freedom! What liberation! Jesus came to set captives free! What you and I could never do, Jesus has done for us! Halleluiah - What a Savior!

Bask in God's grace and these precious truths:

"But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." Hebrews 9:26

"And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God" Hebrews 10:10-12

"For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name." Hebrews 13:15

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Calamity? Amen! God is Doing Something!

I always look forward to Tuesday morning - for thirty minutes we gather as a staff and hear from one of our Pastors during a time of devotion. This morning we had the privilege of hearing from Duane Mellor, our Director of Outreach at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. (He also preached this past Sunday - you can listen to the sermon here).

What an encouragement for weary souls! Duane read from John 9 - the story of Jesus healing a man who was born blind. John 9:1-2 says:
"As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him,"Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
So often when calamity strikes, the question is "who sinned?", "what is your sin?", "have you confessed and repented?". The problem with this thinking is that it shatters God's sovereignty, his grace and his love for us. in addition it says - "it's all up to us". If we sin we get bad things, and if we do good we get good things. How often upon hearing about something "good" in a friends life have you or have I said "God sure is blessing you", or my favorite - "Obedience brings blessings!". Wow, what a great reminder from Duane that Gods' ways are so far above mine. He is altogether different - no mind can comprehend his ways! Our sin does not bring about his anger, and our good works don't muster up more love from him. But, you say "isn't he sad when we sin? isn't it wrong to sin and doesn't the Bible tell us his anger and wrath are fueled by our sin? Yes, but that's not the end of the story. Had not our Savior come our ending would be different. Had he not given himself by his sacrificial death on our behalf we'd be lost - eternally. But, by his death we live. By his victory on the cross we are risen with him. By his great love for sinners we are reconciled to God and have peace with him eternally. If you know God in Christ your sins are forgiven, you are whiter than snow and God loves you - not any more because of the good you do and not any less because of the bad you do - he loves you no matter what because of Jesus!

Thank you to Pastor Duane for reminding me of this precious truth this morning!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Confession - I am Not a Proverbs 31 Woman

There. I've said it. It's no secret now. I know, it's a bit scandalous - publicly admitting that I am not the picture of the Proverbs 31 woman and I am definitely not the godly woman, wife, mom, friend, or mentor that the church expects me to be or thinks I am. Oh, it's not that I don't long to be all those things, it's just that I fail in a thousand different ways every single day. While my list of transgressions is endless, here is one example:

I get together with a friend about once a week to talk about a book we're reading. When deciding on a book, we both made suggestions and I asked her to select one she was most interested in and she chose "Helper by Design" by Elyse Fitzpatrick. [Let me first qualify my comments by saying that of all the "Helper" books out there, I think this is probably one of the most gospel centered books on the subject - not because I have read everything on the subject, but because everything Elyse Fitzpatrick writes is drenched in the gospel.] My initial response to reading this book with my dear friend was "great - another helper/design book that will once more remind me of all the ways I fail at being a godly wife, mother, employee, etc. Reading about the unique ways God has made me as a woman to love, nurture, comfort and encourage others will yet again be a blinking neon billboard shouting out in a never ending repetition "you don't love like that, you don't encourage like that, you're not submissive like that!". Even in the contemplation of studying a book about being a godly woman, I fail! The irony did not escape me.

In all the ways I fall short in thought, word and deed; in all my imperfect attempts in my roles as wife, mom and friend; in the countless times I don't even come close to making the mark as a "christian woman"; I rest completely and utterly on the fail-proof, mark-making, perfect record Jesus maintained on my behalf. It is only as I remember all Christ is for me that I can rest in the mess I've made of me. As I walk through the various places God has called me to, I find that my desperation for the gospel increases. I am not talking about more religion or even a more disciplined spiritual life necessarily. I am talking about a desperate foundational plea that cries Christ is all for me! He alone is my anchor in the vale, my refuge in the storm, my peace, my rest. He accomplished the great exchange for me - taking all my sin and giving me his righteousness.

When satan slings his weak attempts to crush me, I can say "this is an opportunity for me to remember my Savior, my Rescue." I can tell him "You are right in what you say - I am not a Proverbs 31 woman, I don't have it all together and all figured out - but my Savior does! It is his victorious and perfect life that covers me. I am blameless and perfect in my Father's sight."

These are the precious truths that cover me...

"For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." Mark 9:13

"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20-21

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father" Galatians 1:3-4

"Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God." Romans 5:2

"For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace." Romans 6:14

"But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9

"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace," Ephesians 1:7

"To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood" Revelation 1:5


Hallelujah! What a Savior!

The Preaching of the Gospel is Not "You Must Do."

The radical message of the gospel speaks and cuts through religion and moralistic "clean" living. Pastor Tchividjian boldly proclaims that the gospel is desperately needed not just by those outside of the church, but just as much by those inside the church. Read more here.