A Better Trade-In

“Selfish ambition should not be part of a Christian’s life,” my pastor said Sunday morning.

Ouch! I’m prepared to pray, serve, read the bible, now I need to watch for this?

I was undone.

“Self-humbling is a privilege,” my pastor said.  photo(29)

That killed me.

“God didn’t pour his Son’s life into you so you can fill your life with amusements, worldliness, and money,” he said.

Where’s the exit?

“Mourn so you can be happy. Being sad over your sins is part of being a Christian. If Jesus submitted himself to the Father, why can’t you?”

Good question. Why can’t I?

It’s because I’m wired to turn inwards like a pretzel. It’s my comfortable place. I’ve been doing it since birth.

It takes the power of God to untwist me, and that hurts. It feels foreign.

And it’s impossible to do apart from the active work of the Holy Spirit in me.

But he is my only hope. I have no one else in heaven or on earth.

Jesus secured that right by giving himself in life and in death for me.  See Galatians 2:20

What’s stopping me from trading my puny ambitions for his all-encompassing vision he has for me?

Faith in the gospel. He died for me so he could live in me.

So what’s more important, my puny desires or embracing his goals for me with gladness?

 

 

 

Help for a Struggling Prayer Life

If you’re like me, you struggle with your prayer life.

I go from faith to unbelief every day.

It’s an all out war that wages in my mind.

God calls me to prayer, I pray, and then I don’t expect anything to happen.

That’s disgusting.  photo(199)

It’s also sin. It disgraces God who tells me he’s the God who hears prayer – Psalm 65:2.

So what do I do about it?

I need to understand God better.

God is not a Buddha statue who dispenses favors for the best tummy rub.

Nor is he a short-order cook writing down my laundry list of wants.

He’s also not a jolly grandpa in a rocking chair waiting to indulge me.

He’s God Almighty, the maker of heaven and earth, who, if I am his child in Christ, is my Heavenly Father, and as such he pledges to be my Covenant God.

What does that mean?

It means that God is ready to hear my prayer, like a father is eager to hear what his son has to say.

He is ready to hear and grant my prayers.

My problem is that I may not perceive his answers.

By giving me a heart to pray and inflaming my desire to pray is an answer to prayer. Psalm 138:3

Also, I do not pray alone. Christ, my mediator, prays over my prayers. He takes the dross out of my prayer and presents it as pure gold to the Father, making my prayer powerful and mighty.

Just like a farmer who sows seed into the ground and then waits for the harvest, my prayers are the seeds I sow in faith and I wait in anticipation for God to send me a harvest of blessing, knowing he has heard and acknowledged each prayer.

If I remind myself of these truths, I have hope my prayer life will improve and the Lord will be pleased with me.

 

 

 

 

United You Stand

Have you had days or maybe weeks of yelling at your kids over the littlest things, or experienced intense jealousy over your best friend’s gorgeous new house or wanted to curse God because you just got laid off from your job again?

I have. More than once. heart cloud

That’s when you ask yourself, “Am I really saved or is this all make believe?”

If you look at your Christian performance, you’re in big trouble. If you’re honest, you’ll have to admit it’s sketchy at best. Hardly the stuff God is looking for in your life.

So where do you look for reassurance that you belong to God when you are experiencing your worst moments?

No further than the gospel.

Let me explain.

Jesus not only paid the price for your redemption with his perfect life of obedience and then his death on the cross for your sins, but he also secured your perseverance and heavenly inheritance.

You were united to Christ (Romans 6) at the moment of your coming to faith, and once united you cannot be un-united.

You will never, ever, be separated from Him no matter what befalls you.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” – Romans 8:35

What about weakness, failure, deliberate sins, sins of neglect, unbelief, ungratefulness, or a cold heart?

Jesus died for all those, too.

Is it possible for any member of Christ’s body to perish?

Unthinkable!

God guarantees that you will persevere in this life. That’s why he has given you his Holy Spirit to be your guide, teacher, and encourager.

Not one of his children will be lost.

And that includes you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Father Is The Best

Do you realize you have a Father in heaven that never dies?

My earthly father died ten years ago, and I was left with a big hole in my heart.

My mother died when I was 15, and that was devastating.

But my Father is heaven is always with me. He never leaves me, disappears, or goes AWOL.

God lives forever and his love for me in Christ is unchangeable.  photo(179)

I can rest in it.

I can trust it.

I can lean on it.

He won’t disappoint me, and I will never be ashamed of him.

And I am his heir in Christ!

He bestows on me everything he owns.

If earthly fathers gave away riches the way God does, they would have nothing left to give.

Not so with my Father. He is always giving to me and yet he is never depleted.

He gives more to me than any father or king can bestow.

Praise his name!

 

 

Another Good Read

Dear Friends,

I invite you to read another blog: http://leapyearluncheon.wordpress.com/

You’ll find stories about what it looks like to witness for Christ as you go about the ordinary things of life. oh cat

As you read, it’s my hope you will be infected with the same virus to do the same.

And if you do try this, keep a journal of the stories. Even the ones that don’t turn out so well.

And then share them with the rest of us!

 

 

 

 

In the Thick of It

If you’re like me, when I get sick I pray. When there’s an accident in the family, I pray. When someone is discouraged, I pray.

But when I sin badly, I don’t pray.

Why do I do that? I think it’s because my conscience tells me God is angry with me and I better not go near him. Just like Adam and Eve did in the garden when they sinned and then ran into the bushes. 

photo (81)

As an aside, if you stop and think about it, that’s pretty funny because God is near to you and me all the time. He sees everything, hears every thought, knows every feeling.

And he doesn’t disengage and retreat! Just like he didn’t flee from Adam and Eve. In fact, the text tells us, he went looking for them. See Genesis 3:8-9.

So why don’t I run to God when I sin badly? Because at that moment I don’t believe the gospel. Instead I believe in the law, and the law tells me I’ve blown it, God is going to punish me, and I better get out of town.

But what does Paul say about the law? It’s meant to drive us to Christ! It takes us by the hand and turns us in the direction of our Savior, who bled and died precisely for those sins I committed. See Romans 7:4.

God hasn’t moved.

Are you ready to come back?

The Sympathy and Tears of our High Priest

I took notes on a sermon I heard recently on that two word description of our Lord’s  in John 11:35 –  “Jesus wept.”

Christ’s goal at Lazarus’ tomb was to glorify God. See verses 38-44.

Jesus in life and death lived for the glory of God. I exist for the glory of God.  photo (53)

My life is custom made in the wisdom of God to conform me to the image of Christ.

God’s no’s in my life are a comfort to me if my goal is the glory of God. 

The dead man obeys the voice of Christ, sometimes better than those who don’t come to Christ.

Why did Jesus weep at Lazarus’ death? He’s not a cold, distant God. He is a compassionate Savior who sympathizes in my grief and sorrow, and in my trials and distresses.

I cannot understand my blessings any more than I understand my trials.  

Jesus burned with anger in his spirit at Lazarus’ death, and he wept. (verse 33) Why? Lazarus reflected a spoiled creation that wasn’t meant to be. The nations were destined for Christ. He was deeply offended. Sin ruined everything. He was angry at sin and Satan.

Death is a disturbing, shocking interruption against the natural process of life. Death always puts an end to life.

Praise God that for the Christian death is a gateway into eternal life where there is no more sin and death.

Be encouraged by the future, read Revelation 21.