Category Archives: Take Him at His Word

The Great Belonging <3

Our little guy starts school in just a few short weeks, and we are trying to cram in all these things we thought we would have tons of time to do.
Last Thursday was my day with them and I was going to cover soccer for the older two.
We showed up on time with water bottles and cleats and enough energy to win two world cups. But after several lightening flashes ushered in a fine summer storm, the young instructors officially canceled that day’s camp.
Rachel had take the two little ones to the local children’s museum, so we skirted across town to join them.
I got them checked in on their family pass and then forked over a nice little sum of cash to cover the 90 minutes I would spend there.
I tried to reason that I would pay that much for a salad at O’Charley’s and how it was a way for this great place for kids to keep functioning…but still.
Ouch.
It was my second trip there in a short time and it felt like a kick to have to pony up yet again.
When I got home that night, I scrolled through photos and videos on my phone and shared our day’s events with Russ.
Imagine the look on my face when he asked me if I had remembered to take my membership card with me, or were they able to look me up in the system.
Yes.
We are members of this Children’s Museum.
If I knew that, I completely forgot.
Turns out Rachel had known as well…and had told the front desk I had a membership…but they took my money and gave me a ticket to enter because…
I told them I needed to pay and so they obliged me in what I believed.
Besides cueing an extreme anxiety attack about the possibility of memory loss in this already slightly scrambled head of mine…I was struck with an idea to share with you.
I am a card-carrying member of a group and I was acting like a paying guest.
I belong….BELONG…to the family of the Children’s Museum because a membership was purchased for me and I have been acting like a visitor on a temporary pass.
And I can not help but think that describes me in my faith walk sometimes.
Less each year, mind you…but still…old mindsets…ruts in my thinking…that somehow I need to pay a little something to gain entry to what was purchased for me on the Cross.
I can sometimes forget that I stand justified before God because the Blood of Jesus Christ gives me full access to the Father, who loves me.
I don’t have to enter the throne room on a guest pass…I am a member of the Body of Christ because of Christ. Because I have received my membership through Him.
I am not just visiting Christianity.
This is where I live and Christ lives in me.
Of course, this analogy falls a bit short…as does all human experience…because next year my dear husband will renew our membership with a nice check to the museum.
But my membership in the Body of Christ, was one and done…on the Cross…forever.
And this knowledge fills me with Joy..and Hope…and a longing to know my Savior more. To give Him access to more areas of my life so that I can live more fully in belonging to Him.
This year I have been trying to focus on the concept expressed in one of my favorite songs that basically says…how about if you just started living like you are the beloved child of God that you say you are?
 
How about if you really started pressing in to Me when you are grieving and how about if you started trusting Me with everything? 
 
How about if you lived like I was really, lovingly, taking care of the things that concern you and the things that concern those you love? 
Or as the song goes…
 
Go ahead and live like you’re loved. It’s ok to act like you’ve been set free…Hawk Nelson
I have trouble with that sometimes…a guilty conscience that weighs me down instead of recognizing the blessing of conviction-that-leads-to-repentance-that-leads-to-forgiveness cycle of sanctification.
Of God-focus instead of me-focus.
I wonder how you all are doing with that.
Are you living like members or guests in the Beloved?
If you have received Christ as your payment, you belong.
I hope and pray we will daily live that truth out <3
 It is truly a joy of fellowship to encourage and help each other to remember that we are loved and that we belong.
Be blessed today as you celebrate the fellowship we have as members of the Body of Christ…
be kind to one another as we…
you and I…
journey onward <3

A quick Monday thought <3

As we swing into a new week I know all kinds of ways that the weekend was maybe wonderful and hard to leave ..

and that the week ahead could be the start of your much-anticipated summer vacation get-away or one that holds so much tension and foreboding you would like to pull the covers back over your head and ride it out in the safety of your own home.

Either way, child of God.

You are loved.

And you are blessed.

Sometimes we only believe we are blessed when we FEEL blessed.

But God’s blessing on us is something we can KNOW.

I am not doing a sermon recap (although it was a very good one…so if you missed it this week FCC people, do take time to listen online)…but…

As we were led through the Transfiguration of Jesus on the mountaintop as recorded in Matthew 17, I recognized a familiar phrase that was voiced out of heaven…

“This is My beloved Son..in whom I am well pleased.”  Matthew 17:5

I knew I had just read that same phrase earlier in the week in the opening chapters of Matthew.

In fact I had written them down in my journal because in Matthew 3, just after Jesus came up out of the waters of baptism…Heaven opened and the Spirit rested on Him and a voice came out of nowhere earthly and said…

sure enough…

“This is My beloved Son…in whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3: 17

And how wonderful does all of that sound?

This ONE…right here…belongs to Me..is My Son…loved deeply by Me…and who brings me great joy and pleasure and I am putting my seal of approval on Him.

Blessed, right?

And yet in both cases, what happens next would most assuredly not FEEL like a blessing in our human terms.

Because the verse after the baptism proclamation tells us that the same Spirit that descended like a sweet dove as music played and the clouds parted and God boomed out His love…

LED…

Directed the feet of this same beloved Son…

directly and purposefully into…

the wilderness…

for the express activity of ….

being tempted by…

THE…

Devil.

And after the Transfiguration experience, Jesus began sharing that the Spirit was leading His feet once again to a place where He would face this same adversary and that it would appear He lost this time.

I have to say that the trials and the chaos of facing temptation and the daily and intentional dying to myself and crucifying my flesh does not smack of a perk of being a beloved child of God.

But if Christ is my example; then I must accept that it is indeed, because I am blessed, that I suffer.

That laying down my life to take up His is, in fact, the blessing.

That temptations will come, perhaps disguised as guilty pleasures but quite often as seasons that are barren and dry and lonely and hard.

Times when I will not walk by what I see…what I feel…but by what I know.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.  John 1:12-13

You are beloved, little child of God…walk as though you are blessed…up and down the mountains…in and out of the valleys…you are loved <3

 

It’s a Kingdom, not a democracy <3

Another great evangelical voice speaks out that he or she has changed positions on an issue.

Enlightened with new understanding, an announcement is made and a shift to a new “truth” is established and all of Christendom responds…

with applause if it affirms what this one has chosen to believe…

or with knee-jerk reactions and flaring statements…

or just dissolving into a new puddle of hopeless tears that the other team is winning.

Remember the old childhood games…

pick up baseball in someone’s backyard where assorted trees made uneven base lines?

Or Kickball on the playground with chalk mark x’s to designate first, second, third and home?

How about Red Rover, Red Rover?

In all of those games, the teams were usually stacked with the strong versus the weak.

Teams chosen by captains who were typically the biggest and oldest who picked their way down the remaining group to the last two pathetic and unathletic runts of the group.

“I guess I’ll take___________”

The last one, not really “chosen”, was left to follow the backs of the team as they ran off to their positions.

And that’s how we in the Church of Jesus Christ can feel when one more hero of the faith decides that they were wrong about what God said….

or that God was wrong…

that truth is a shifting thing and up for grabs depending on who is writing it these days.

But we are not playing a game on some eternal playground.

And we do not serve a democratic (and I don’t mean Democrat vs. Republican…) God.

We serve a KING.

The majority does not rule and when one or ten or a hundred or every last person on the planet decides that they can rewrite Scripture and define truth…

God is still God.

The question of your faith standing is not who is standing with you, but that YOU are standing WITH GOD.

Bolster up your faith, Church.

God has not changed.

He is the same…

yesterday, today, forever.

He will deal justly with all of us (this should make you tremble, dear ones) …

but He will do it with MERCY and with GRACE.

Leave judgment in His hands….

judgment of the world, judgment of the Church and judgment of YOU <3

Trust in Him with all ….ALL… of your whole heart…follow His teachings by spending time READING the Word you proclaim to believe.

Apply it to your own heart and life and allow it to dwell in you, transforming you and changing you according to His will.

Pray for those who are being led astray and are deceived.

Pray for yourself to remain firmly grounded even as the ground around us shakes harder.

Guard your heart and your mind as you look for the Coming of your LORD.

Be blessed today, little child of God….

He is faithful…

and He is able to sustain us in these shifting sands of time <3

 

And in conclusion….

If you hung in there with me from Monday, I am so glad you came back…

here are the last points from the sermon…

(and if you just showed up, you will have to backtrack and read Monday and Tuesday’s posts…spoiler alert…it’s worth it)

We have been revisiting the sermon from First Christian Church on Matthew 16 on the Cross…

the “Crown Jewel” of Christianity.

 

How there are facets to the Cross that help explain it’s paramount significance to what we believe and how we live our lives as followers of Jesus.

So without further ado…we will look at the last of the eight facets (plus the bonus application of these) as presented by Pastor Brian last Sunday.

6. Justification: the act, process or state of being justified (made righteous) by God

We know that all of us, every human being,  have sinned and fall short of the glory of God Romans 3:23

But….

[Jesus} who was delivered up because of our offenses and was  raised for our justification  Romans 4:25

Romans 5:1 Therefore [we] having been justified BY FAITH (our belief in Him and acceptance of His gift of salvation, His death in our place) we now have peace (reconciliation and wholeness with God through our LORD Jesus Christ.

7. Redeemed: purchased back; liberated, free, rescued form the consequences and rule of sin

Luke 1:68 Bless is the LORD God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people.

Romans 3:23-24 …for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus

Titus 2:14 – Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

8. Gift righteousness: the Great Exchange

Jesus traded His Perfect Righteousness for our unrighteousness

2 Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God IN HIM.

We are instantly made righteous ( salvation) AND progressively made righteous (sanctification).

And this brings us to our response to the Cross which is

9. Christ Examplar –  Christ our Example

We follow Him by example, laying down our lives and living His teachings. We take up our Cross, which means we die to ourselves…our natural desires, our preferences, our wants, our rules, our ways…and we let His life be lived by example in our daily lives.

It is good to review this as a believe because it helps exhorts us to remember what He did for us and to refocus on how we want to live in response to that.

I can only think of one thing in conclusion and it happens to be the signature line on all my emails because it is the call to believers and unbelievers that the Cross of Jesus The Christ demands a response…

For the Word of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,

but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.      

1 Corinthians 1:18               <3

May God bless each of you as you let these truths sink deeper into your souls…may they guide our daily decisions as we walk this thing out on planet earth until He comes again to take us Home ….

 

 

Because it’s not good to hurry…part 2 of 3

So yesterday I said I would give you the last half summary of our Sunday sermon, but as I am studying back over my notes…there is just too much info. I try to keep these short so you all will keep coming back (insert smile).

Hope you don’t mind if we stretch this into three days…but it is really good stuff!

If you didn’t read yesterday’s post we are going over my notes from Pastor Brian Talty’s sermon from July 16th (firstdecatur.org/sermons) on Matthew 16 about the many facets of the Crown Jewel of Christianity – the Cross <3

I am adding some of my own reflections and some other material so I am putting my notes in Italic to protect Pastor Brian from anything I would add to his words that he may or may not agree with!!!

Today we pick up with #5….

Propitiation: the act of appeasing an offended party.

As Pastor Brian pointed out, the thing that makes God’s grace, mercy and love so special IS the TRUTH of His judgment, wrath and anger.

His anger is because of His protective love. 

He gave us examples of God’s Active Wrath in the Old Testament (Sodom and Gomorrah/fire and brimstone) and the New Testament (Ananias and Sapphira/lied about tithe and were instantly killed).

Then there is God’s Passive Wrath outlined in Romans 1: 18-32. 

I must tell you that this passage would be the reason you are not getting all four points today.

These verses bring me to my knees as I look around the spiraling mess of our culture. We surely have, in our prosperity in this land that we love, become a people who have worshipped the creation and not the Creator and we are reaping the harvest of death daily as a result.

God’s passive wrath in New Testament is when he hands you over to your evil desires to face the consequences of your choices. And we ALL deserve the wrath of God because of our natural tendency to go our own way.

AND YET through Christ’s propitiation – God’s wrath against our sin is absorbed by Jesus on the Cross. 

1 John 2:2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins and not only our sins but also for the whole world.

1 John 4:10 In this is love – not that we loved God – but that HE loved US and sent His Son to be the propitiation of our sins.

This is the only way because God is Holy, Just and Righteous.

As only God could do, I received a book for my birthday and have begun reading it and the passages I read yesterday speak so clearly into this very subject.

So I am going to stop here with my sermon notes and share from the pages of this book to help solidify the powerful truth of what Jesus did for us as giving Himself to appease the wrath of God against us.

In the book No God but One, author Nabeel Qureshi explores the paradox of the Absolute nature of God and how can He be both fully/completely just and fully/completely merciful?

He points out that a completely, perfect Just Judge would rule guilty on every infraction of the law, from the least to the greatest 100% of the time, just as a completely perfect Merciful Judge would forgive every infraction of the law, from the least to the greatest 100% of the time.

God is our perfect Father and He loves us with both mercy and justice.

In our offenses, He must extend justice (would we not want that as the victim??) and yet mercy (don’t we need that as the perpetrator??)

So how does God “draw the line”?

Listen to the words of this man, who has come to understand the gift of grace and transformation:

“Herein lies the genius and infinitude of the love of God: He does not draw the line. He offers mercy to everyone who has ever sinned while also demanding justice for every sin ever committed. He does this by offering to bear the consequences of our sins himself. The consequences of our sins is death, and God is willing to die on behalf of all of his children.”     page 41

This is what the Cross is.

This is what Jesus Christ, THE Messiah, has done for us.

For you.

For me.

For the sins of a whole world that has rebelled against the Loving God who created us.

I cannot add to such a profound thought.

It brings me to my knees.

May I encourage you today to examine your own heart in light of Romans 1: 18-32 and ask God to show you where you have worshipped creation instead of Him who created you?

Let the precious Blood of Jesus Christ wash away the shame and guilt of those transgressions as we turn our grateful hearts to Him.

“He loves us, and we are forgiven.

When we realize the depravity of our sins and the depths of our rebellion against God, it exceeds the minds capacity to grasp this grace. 

He engulfs us with his infinite love and absolute mercy, though we cannot earn it.

It is into that overwhelming flood of grace that our hearts release their poison.” Nabeel Qureshi, No God but One  page 46