Archive | December 2009

FORGIVEN, FORGOTTON, FLOURISHING

   Have you ever been rejected by someone you really love?  They hurt you really bad.  You have a scar on your heart that will be forever engraved there.  In fact the whole thing changed you, changed you forever.

   I did that to a person once.  A very close friend.  I rejected her completely.  I know I hurt her deeply.  Several years passed, and our paths met again.  Jesus had changed me and I was less of a self-centered and narcisstic person by then (this has been an ongoing process, Jesus is still working on that in me!).    I apologized to her for my past behavior and she accepted my apology.  She forgave me.  I expected her to be properly polite to me, but never dreamed she would ever want me as a friend again.  But that is what has happened.  She has not only forgiven me, but she seems to want to have a relationship with me.

   I realize that’s what our salvation is all about.  I fear the majority of us don’t have a clue as to what we’ve been saved ‘from’.  We don’t really understand that we are born in sin, we live in sin, we are sin.  We are like the fish that doesn’t ‘know’ it’s in water, it’s just IN water, and that’s all it knows.  All of us are in the same boat – from the worst of sinner to the devoted, church-going, praying person – we are all in the same boat without Jesus.  Only Jesus can remove the punishment that is due to us.  That wrath of God.  We don’t like to hear about it, or think about it.  But it is such a wonderful thing that our God is just and fair.  He is good and perfect in everything He does.  And if I stand before Him and I have not been washed clean by Jesus, then I would not be able to argue with Him when He sentenced me to eternal damnation.  It would be the only thing He could do.  He can’t be anything else but just.

   But He WANTS to be with me, and me with Him.  That just amazes me.  So He provided the way through Jesus.  I’m forgiven.  Abba Father says, “Sue, your sin is forgiven.”   Because of Jesus.  Thank you Jesus.  But God doesn’t stop there.  Just like that friend above, God not only forgives, but He forgets.  He forgets because all He can see now is His Son, Jesus.  Thank you Jesus.  Micah 7 proclaims: 

18 Who is a God like you,
       who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
       of the remnant of his inheritance?
       You do not stay angry forever
       but delight to show mercy.

 19 You will again have compassion on us;
       you will tread our sins underfoot
       and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

   What a reason to rejoice!!!  We are forgiven!   Our sins are forgotton! 

   But God doesn’t stop there.  We are flourishing.  He blesses us.  He guides us, teaches us, loves us, never leaves us.  Oh my!  On and on and on we can go!  And look at this!!!!!! –  “I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me.”  Jeremiah 32:40 This is a promise from our God, dear brothers and sisters.  HE has made this covenant with us.  When we have been converted and regenerated by the Holy Spirit, we have this assurance.  God will NEVER stop doing good to us!  And God will place His fear in our hearts so that we will not turn away from Him!  We will not WANT to turn away from Him, as we fear Him more and more.  ‘fear’ = knowing Him, in awe of Him, understanding His great power and majesty and goodness.

   I’m speechless.  Thank you Jesus.

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THE GREAT COMMISSION

   I’ve heard it preached about alot.  The Great Commission:  “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”  Matthew 28:16  It’s preached to us that these are our marching orders from Jesus.  That THIS is what we’re supposed to be doing with our life.  I don’t disagree with that. 

   But I was wondering?  As I look back, it looks like Jesus is giving that command to His disciples.  I’m wondering if Christians are trying to do the great commission, but they’re not really ‘disciples’ yet.  It would be like someone trying to teach advanced math, but they’ve never been to school themselves.  Or a person practicing medicine who never went to medical school.   Remember, it took those guys Jesus called THREE years of being with Him 24/7 …. and they still really struggled.   Jesus gave us the job description for being a disciple:  He said we must be willing to give up our family, friends, even our own life.  He said we must take up our cross DAILY and follow Him.  DAILY.  Not just on Sunday’s.  I wonder, really, how many of us are REALLY disciples?  We want to be, we profess to be….. but are we, really?  Where do our devotions lie?

   Just something to think about.

NEVER SATISFIED. ALWAYS CONTENT.

  That’s how I’ve been thinking about this walk with God.  It seems like I’m never satisfied:  I want to do things for Him.  I want to know Him more and more.  I’m never satisfied, I can never get enough of Him.  But at the same time I have a contentment in me.  He feeds me with His Word.  The Holy Bible.  What an amazing gift we have in His Living Word!
   I once read where Charles Spurgeon, a great preacher from the 1800’s, referred to the ‘deep things of God’ like soil.  In that soil, he said, we may dig and dig, as deep as we ever would, and still never exhaust the golden nuggets which lies within it.
   The Living Word of God is like that.  We only need to scratch the surface and get a huge harvest.  We will be astonished at the plentitude of spiritual wealth which lies before us!
   After my last blog, where I recounted a childhood experience with a rabbit, I have been considering what IS the cost when the Lord calls you to a ministry.  Because I don’t want to kid myself:  there IS a cost.  Jesus was very clear about that.  Read Matthew 10:38 and Luke 9:23.  Jesus said if I want to be His disciple I must DAILY take up my cross and follow Him.
And in Luke 14:26-35, Jesus tells me clearly to count the cost.  There WILL be a cost. 
   As I was studying SOME of the men and women of God, I was struck by the fact that the great ones had huge burdens they carried.  These are just a few:  Martin Luther – struggled with horrible depression, sometimes he would be bedridden for days.  Charles Spurgeon – suffered with painful gout and debilitating kidney failure . We read in the Bible how the apostle Paul cried out to the Lord three times, to ‘take away’ the thorn that had been placed in his flesh.  We don’t know what that thorn was, exactly, but it must have been bad for Paul, who had already endured persecution, shipwreck, hunger, etc., to cry out about it!
   Oh, my, there’s so many, but none as great as Jesus, what He endured.  His cross.  The cross that bore all of our sins.  The cross that bore the wrath of God that WE deserved. 
   And Jesus is clear about His expectations for His diciples:  we are to take up our cross.  I looked up the meaning of ‘cross’.  Cross- ‘execution device’.  A thing that brings about death.  WOW.  THAT makes me stop and think!
   What is it in my life, in your life, that the Lord is allowing, which as a result, will bring about some sort of death in you or me?  Is it another person, who is intolerable, unloveable, even hateful?  Is THIS my ‘cross’ for today?….. to love that person, to be a blessing to that person, to submit to that person?  Would this action be the ‘execution device’ which would bring about death in me – death of my fleshly nature to be angry, to retaliate, to be cold and uncaring?
   I say again, WOW!  This is HUGE.  This is why like Jesus, we must not only take up our cross but we must embrace it.  Love it.  Be like Jesus, “who for the joy set before Him endured the cross”. (Hebrews 12:1)
   Any the ‘joy set before us’?  The apostle Paul describes it as follows in
2 Corinthians 4:7-11:

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

WOW!  Is THIS how I can look more like Jesus?  Then I will run to my cross!  I will pick it up!  I will embrace it!  And I will thank that Holy Spirit that only through His power am I able to do this.

WAITING FOR THE RABBIT.

   Wow.  It’s been awhile.   A long while.  Since I blogged. 

   But I have to write this down.  It’s too important to not write it down.  Something very important.  A true story.

   I was 10 years old when I decided I wanted a rabbit.  It just came to me suddenly – I wanted a rabbit.  So I went to my Mom and told her.  She said no.  I asked her again.  She said no again.  I asked her again.  She usually gave in by the 3rd or 4th time I asked.  But this time she was adament.  She would not relent.  Her answer was no.  I had never seen her so determined to stick to her guns.  This was serious!  I was bound and determined I would have that rabbit!  So I started on the whining.  That didn’t work.  I got angry and threw a tantrum.  That didn’t work.  Now I really had to kick it in.  I started in on the tears.  THAT didn’t work!!!!  I couldn’t believe it!  I’d NEVER seen my Mom so determined.  I kept at it.  The tears came and came and came and came.  I didn’t give in.  Two hours later, I had made myself physically sick from crying and sobbing and begging.

   Guess what?  She gave in.  She let me get a rabbit.  I had won. 

   Within a week I was tired of the rabbit.  I stopped feeding it, playing with it, and even caring about it.  I don’t know what ever happened to that rabbit. 

   Crazy…… that I would think of that story.  But I did.  Yesterday morning.  When I was spending time with the Lord.  I was, again, asking Him for something.  I want Him to let me spends my days with Him.  I don’t want to have to go to work.  I don’t want to have to deal with housecleaning, and bills and the things of life.  I want to work for Him fulltime.  Some kind of ministry.  I don’t know what.  There doesn’t seem to be much opportunity around here in this small South Dakota town.  But He’s God.  Anything is possible with Him.  He can make it happen.

   So I was whining to God.  I was starting in on the tears.  That’s when He reminded me of the rabbit. 

   I wonder if He’s trying to tell me something.  Do you think if He gave me what I wanted, I would tire of it after while?  Maybe, just like that little girl who didn’t have the maturity to care for a rabbit – maybe  I don’t have the maturity to care for one of His ministries.  Maybe if, as a little girl, I would have been obedient to my Mom, and submitted, and then spent my time studying about rabbits, learning about what it entails, maybe things would have turned out different.  I’m thinking that, she, knowing how much I wanted a rabbit, that as soon as she thought I was ready, she would have given me that rabbit.

   Maybe I need to really understand what it means to be called to the ministry.  Maybe if instead of whining and crying, maybe if I looked at the lives of other men and women that have given their lives to Christ….. maybe if I quietly waited on God, patiently trusting Him, maybe…….

No, not maybe!  Yes!  He would delight in giving me the desire of my heart when He thinks – when He knows – I am ready.  Because that’s one of His promises!