Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Don’t Be Content

A recent post on another “Christian” blog has had me thinking for a few days.  The author was making the point that Jesus found her where she was – a single mom, trying to finish college, hoping her skinny jeans would still fit, and trying not to have hurt feelings when all of her friends are dating and she isn’t.

I don’t want to disagree with the fact that Jesus came to her where she was.  That’s what He does – He meets us where we are, in all of our sin and rags, and He offers us an exchange.  His riches and life for our sin and shame.  The beauty of the Gospel is that the ground is level at the foot of the cross.  It doesn’t matter if you’re 5 or 60.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve been raised in a Christian home, or if you’ve been an alcoholic.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve lived a clean life, or messed up over and over again – Jesus offers the same free gift of salvation by grace through faith to each one of us.

However, we must not be content to stay in that spot where Jesus found us.  He never intended to leave us there.  He saved us to give us something better.  To move us on.  To make us like Him.

Psalm 40:2  He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.

He comes to us in our pit of sin & despair, our lack of faith, and stubborn rebellion. But He moves us out of the dirt and puts our feet on the solid Rock.

Ephesians 2:1-5  And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;  2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:  3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. {desires: Gr. wills}  4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,  5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

Jesus finds us in our trespasses and sins, but by His love He offers us mercy and grace.  He makes us alive and saves us, so that He can complete His work in our life (vs.10).

I don’t want to be content with the level of spirituality I have now.  I don’t want to just be happy that Jesus came and met me where I am.  I don’t want to “waste” His grace by not allowing it to complete the work of transforming into the likeness of Christ.  I want to keep on the ascending plane. 

Jesus doesn’t want to leave me or you in the same wrong choices and pathway that may have led to a life of single parenting in the first place.  Jesus doesn’t want us to stay in our skinny jeans. He wants to make us into modest ladies who are adorned by their inner spirit and not the clothes that they choose. He doesn’t want me to long for something that He has chosen to give to someone else.  He wants me to find His will for my life and “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).

Keep on the Ascending Plane jpg

Thursday, January 17, 2013

What I Am

In my devotional book I read this excerpt from Having A Mary Spirit by Joanna Weaver:

If Satan can’t make me fall away from God’s grace, he will do everything he can to keep me from fully embracing God’s grace. Satan wants me—and he wants you!—to be so constantly preoccupied with what we’re not that we never get around to realizing all that God is.  Our enemy wants to keep us so consumed with our inadequacies that we never get around to appropriating the love and transforming power God has made available to us through His Son. {emphasis mine}

I had one of those days yesterday.  When I seemed to be able to only see the problems, the negatives.  Satan had me so focused on what was wrong that I failed to remember my escape, my Advocate, and the grace He has promised.

So what it is that we are in Christ?  Here is a short list:

  • Justified – not condemned.  God doesn’t look at me and see the sinner anymore.  He looks at me and sees His Son Jesus Christ.
    Romans 8:1  There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
  • Armed – not defenseless.  I can put on the armor of Christ and defend myself—and defeat the enemy. 
    Ephesians 6:11  Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
  • Seated with Christ. Victorious.
    Ephesians 2:6  And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
    Romans 8:37  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
  • Able to Enter the Throne Room.  I don’t have to give in to Satan’s temptations or doubts.  I can march into the throne room of heaven and gain the ear of God, finding grace to help in my moment of need.
    Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. 
  • Adopted – a son/child of God Himself.  A part of the family of God…with all of the rights and benefits that go with it.
    Romans 8:15  For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
    John 1:12   But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
  • Loved.  Accepted. Without condition. Forever.
    1 John 4:19  We love him, because he first loved us.
    Jeremiah 31:3  The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.
    Romans 8:38 - 9:1  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,  39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Thoughts for the New Year

It must be midnight because the fireworks are exploding outside my window.  Our church had a half night of prayer and fasting to bring in the New Year.  I don’t usually get to attend these prayer meetings because of the kids.  Ben usually goes for all or most of the time.  Tonight I enjoyed sitting in my clean living room with a cup of tea, my Bible, my Kindle, my planner, and a new book.  I made a few goals – not for the whole year, but for the next few months until our twins arrive.  I thought back on 2012.  I read.  I prayed.

I have so much to be thankful for.  Here are a few things that came across my mind as I thanked God for 2012:

  • Ben is employed
  • We have a new apartment, on the first floor
  • Our church is rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy, and God has greatly provided.
  • A friend, displaced by the hurricane, moved into a new apartment today.
  • A friend is now expecting
  • The story of a little baby who was not expected to live has encouraged me many days and reminded me how often I take the health of my family for granted
  • Twins expected to make their appearance in about 4 months.  They are healthy and I have had an easy pregnancy, all things considered.
  • My parents, who faithfully drove many miles to take us to church and youth group.  I’m sure I often took it for granted, but now that I am a parent I am realizing how much effort goes into training a child in the things of the Lord.
  • My grandparents, from whom I count my godly heritage.  They are aging and struggling with different issues, but all three of them continue to have a testimony for the Lord.
  • God’s Word {and many Christian blogs which have pointed me to God’s Word} which has encouraged me.
  • Two godly “older” ladies who pray for me specifically and often ask how things are going.  Their testimony and advice has been priceless.

As I look forward to 2013, I know that many changes are in store.  We are adding two little people to our family…at one time.  I cannot imagine what life will be like in the next year.  Exhausting mostly.  Lots of joys, too.  Ben may be seeking an employment change so he can further his ministry training.  This will be a big transition.  We are praying about a ministry location and God’s timing for deputation.  There are lots of decisions that go along with that.

There are areas in which I failed during 2012, and I want to start fresh in 2013.  I want to be more faithful in my daily reading of God’s Word.  I often feel like a new mom, struggling to find my routine and “fit in” my devotions when the kids are always wanting my attention.  I was on a good track for a while, until I became pregnant and struggled again to get up early in the mornings.

51aZ1MxgF1L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_My mom gave me a book for Christmas called At the Feet of Jesus.  It is collection of excerpts from the books of Joanna Weaver arranged into daily devotional readings.  I have already been blessed and challenged by it.  They are short, and easy to incorporate into a daily devotion time.  At the end of the book, Joanna has a unique Bible reading schedule.  I really like the layout and I am planning to use this for my daily reading in 2013. 

One of the best features that I see are the frequent “catch-up” days – scattered throughout the month and on several days at the end of each month.  I’m sure this will be life-saving to me as a mommy of little kids and uncertain daily events.  I also like that she alternates between the Old Testament and the New Testament, and separates like books such as the Gospels and the epistles.  This provides variety and allows for a fresh view when you return to that “genre” of the Bible.

You can customize, download, and print this schedule from Joanna’s website at www.becominghis.com.  This is a great resource for the new year, especially if you are wanting to improve in your Bible reading.

I am also incorporating an ebook entitled Plenty into my daily devotions.  It is encouraging, especially to moms, who always have plenty to do, but need to be reminded that there is plenty of grace to go along with mothering.  Kari Patterson also has a blog called Sacred Mundane which has encouraged me in the past {though I cannot endorse all of her content}.