Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Way I Was Made

Our True Identity

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus, and who are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. Ephesians 1:1-4 NASB

I have joined Face Book at the urging of some friends. On the whole I have enjoyed the experience. It has actually helped me to reconnect with friends from my youth who I haven’t seen in many years. Of course I soon discovered that there is a down side that to me seems very juvenile and a huge waste of discretionary time. Call me judgmental, you won’t be the first or the last.

One of the more confounding aspects is how many of my Christian friends take quizzes that help them understand their identity. For those of you not familiar with Face Book I’ll elaborate.

· What flower am I
· What movie villain am I
· What occupation best suits me
· What Vera Bradley Pattern am I
· What is my Indian name
· What Dirty Dancing Character am I (I kid you not, this is hot off the press this morning)

I could go on and on, but you should be able to get the picture even if you aren’t familiar with Face Book. I totally get that they are not taking this seriously, but I think the appeal is based on a real human need.

It is important that we know who we are, whose we are, what our purpose is and where we are going. The Apostle Paul begins all of his epistles telling us who he is and how he got there. Then he begins to tell us who we are. Paul was under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit who knows that we need to know and embrace these things. The first chapter of Ephesians is a treasure trove of revelation for us. Four major revelations, but barely scratching the surface, are:

Chosen by God vs. 4

Holy and blameless


Adopted through Jesus vs.5

Freely bestowed with grace vs.5 (vs. 8 says we are lavished with His grace)

Redeemed through Jesus' blood vs. 7

Trespasses forgiven

We have an inheritance vs. 11

Sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise vs. 13

This is just barely dipping our toes into all that He has done for us.
I would encourage you to read the 1st chapter of Ephesians in its entirety. Make a list of who you are in Christ. Read it back to the Lord and affirm what He says about us and thank Him.
I want to include a quote by John Piper on this subject from a sermon series he preached on 1st Corinthians 1:

A tremendous stability comes into your life when you let the Bible define who you are in relation to God rather than letting the world define who you are in relation to things and groups and your body. To know where you've come from in relation to God, and where you are heading in relation to God, and where you stand now in relation to God, will make you a free agent.

You will not be the lackey of contemporary advertising. You won't be the slave of fads or fashions or trends. When the world attempts to leverage your decision by defining you in terms of a body or car or bank account that you don't have, you will not crumple with insecurity and dissatisfaction and covetousness; but you will stand like an independent free agent knowing who you really are and what your life really means in relation to God.”

Can anyone join me in a strong amen! I want to be a Free agent. Not independent and haughty, God forbid such a thing, but not a slave to society’s evaluations and standards either. Let us with great eagerness search the Scriptures to become the secure in Him and allow Him to give us our definition and value.

MY PRAYER: Lord, thank you for choosing us. Help us to sink our roots deep into who we are in You. Help us to revel in Your love and acceptance.

MY CONFESSION: Lord, thank you for choosing us in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before You. I stand on Your Word! Ephesians 1:4

Thursday, April 15, 2010

My Holy Editor

I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. Psalm 34:1 NASB Who is the man who desires life, and loves length of days that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Psalm 34:12-13 NASB

I am reading 1 Peter this morning and in chapter three Peter quotes verses 12 and 13 out of Psalm 34. The subject is the tongue and it wasn’t lost on me that it follows Peter’s instructions to husbands and wives in how to live with one another.

We have just finished James MacDonald’s study, Lord, Change My Attitude. Our small group leader asked what primary impact the study had on each of us. I shared that God once again was working on me to rein-in my critical comments and reign over my tongue. I believe that I have made huge progress over the years, but to say that I have arrived would not be true. I shared with the group that in particular God was moving strongly over my private conversations with my husband. I am not talking about being critical of my husband. I sense the Lord asking me not to share my “take” or “insights” i.e. judgments on events, people, or situations that are negative in nature and offer no solution and which neither of us can correct. It is amazing how many words have been stopped from coming out of my mouth. I believe I have a new name to praise Him with, My Holy Editor.

My husband and I went to an event together that I found very odd. I could have spent half an hour dissecting all the things that I thought were strange about it. The Lord spared my husband’s and heaven’s ears by helping me to zip it and just tell him what I enjoyed.

I want to have a mouth that is a blessing to God and to others. Does that mean we can’t address real issues with the aim to solve a problem or improve a situation? No, but if our remarks aren’t part of the solution they should be left unsaid…even in the privacy of our closest relationships.

MY PRAYER: Lord, may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight. I want my lips to speak words that bless. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Fill my heart with grace so that I don’t harbor a critical spirit.

MY CONFESSION: Lord, people were struck with wonder at the gracious words that fell from your lips. Luke 4:22 You are my Holy Editor, I will cooperate with you to remove anything that is unworthy from my conversations. I want to be like you.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Unfading Beauty

I have a friend who lived in a assisted living facility. She has a chronic physical problem that makes it necessary. The apartment is beautiful, comfortable, and convenient. It's a delight to the eye to walk in there with all her possession tastefully displayed. That's not the reason I go to see her, just one of benefits. She is sweet and kind and ever ready to share what God is doing in her life and to hear what He is doing in mine.

Many months ago her health took a turn for the worse and her doctor insisted that she had to have long term around the clock care. Now I visit her in a nursing home. She has a bed in a corner of a room. It is however, next to a window so that she can see the grass and the sky. She has a basket on her bed with her Bible and other things she needs. She has a little plastic three drawer file to hold what won't fit in the basket and that's pretty much it. Someone did put some Easter type decals on the windows to brighten the atmosphere. It's rather austere and depressing, but that's not the reason I go there. She is sweet and kind and ever ready to share what God is doing in her life and to hear what He is doing in mine.

All her earthly possessions are stored away in her sister's house. Yet her most glorious possession is still shining through, "the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God." 1 Peter 3:4 She has never uttered a word of complaint in my hearing. She is polite and grateful to the staff. I marvel at the grace received and displayed.

I found something written by Max Lucado that I put in her Easter card. I don't think she realizes why I chose it, but I am going to tell her it reminAlign Centerded me of her.

By Max Lucado
“Surely this was a righteous man.” Luke 23:47, NIV

All the Roman centurion did was see Jesus suffer. He never heard him preach or saw him heal or followed him through the crowds. He never witnessed him still the wind; he only witnessed the way he died. But that was all it took to cause this weather-worn soldier to take a giant step in faith. “Surely this was a righteous man . . .”

Anybody can preach a sermon on a mount surrounded by daisies. But only one with a gut full of faith can live a sermon on a mountain of pain.

My friend is reflecting beautifully the One who went before her and left her an example to follow. We are told by Paul in Philippians 2:14-15 to do all things without grumbling and disputing and in conducting ourselves in that way we will appear as lights in the darkness. She is shining and it convicts and encourages me to remember that I have a treasure inside of me. All else can be stripped away except the unfading beauty of His Spirit within.

MY PRAYER: Lord, thank you for leaving us an example. Thank you that your grace is sufficient and that your presence is more than enough. Thank you for putting people in our path that encourage us by their examples as they follow you. In Jesus wonderful name, amen.

Friday, April 9, 2010


The Lord has really been speaking to my heart from the book of Jonah. Since I also have grandkids and teach the children at our church, I decided to put the story of Jonah in rhyme. I'm not a poet and I know it, but I do have some fun.

The book of Jonah begins with a word
Nineveh is wicked and the Lord has heard.
He’s appointed a prophet to warn them to turn
But Jonah would really prefer they burn.
He hops a ship going in the other direction
He’s leaving God behind …well that’s his perception.
Running is tiring so Jonah sleeps
God hurls a storm and the boat begins to leak.
The sailors work and the sailors pray
But it seems they’ll not survive the day.
The captain finds Jonah asleep in the storm
He tells Jonah, “This is extremely bad form.
Get up, cry out to the God you cherish.
Don’t you care that we’re about to perish?
Someone has displeased the god of the seas
We’re casting lots to know who that would be.
The lot of course on Jonah fell
So his story he was forced to tell,
“I’m running from the God of sea and land
If you’re looking to blame… then I’m your man.”
The sailors tried to save his hide
But ended up throwing him over the side.
God appointed a fish who of course obeyed
That’s the only reason Jonah was saved.
The fish opened his mouth and Jonah went in
Life gets hard when you choose to sin.
Now he’s wide awake in the dark and
To the Lord’s voice he’s willing to hark.
He's so sorry he avoided God’s plan
So the fish vomits Jonah onto dry land.
God’s word comes to Jonah a second time
Go tell Nineveh though it’s in its prime
In forty days they’ll not be around
If they don’t repent I’m bringing them down.
This time you can believe that Jonah obeys
He gives the warning, “You’ve got forty days.”
From the least to the greatest they believe in Him
Because God is gracious He stays His hand.
Jonah pouts and Jonah prays
Why won’t you let me have my way?
I didn’t want to come and this proves my point
Your mercy on the wicked puts my nose out of joint.
Jonah sits on a hill to wait and see
Maybe the Lord will bring catastrophe.
He tries to get comfortable under a plant
It soothes his soul and it stops his rant.
God sends a worm to eat its leaves
This makes Jonah bitterly grieve.
“Jonah,” God says in a tender way,
“The death of a plant causes such dismay?
How much more a city great and tall
Filled with people, the old and small?”
We may judge and think Jonah’s not too smart
He had God’s message, but not God’s heart.
There the story ends but it gives me a thrill
To think what would happen on another hill.
One greater than Jonah would come and plea
But He would never just wait and see.
He would love and He would cherish
He died for our sin so we won’t perish.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

He is Risen!

Luke 24:32 And they said to one another, "Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?"
Over two thousand years later the risen Lord is still coming along side His children and explaining the Scriptures to us. My heart rejoices and burns with love when He gives me insights into His ways and His word. I have been fed and encouraged by so many men and women who have shared with me through studies, sermons, and tapes what the risen Lord has taught them.
I pray that this day our risen Savior will meet you daily in His word and prayer so that your hearts will be encouraged and strengthened by Him.
He is risen!
Rejoicing in all that He is,