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romans8pic1Welcome to February! A new month given to us by the Lord for spending more time memorizing Romans 8 :) For those who are attempting to memorize Romans 9 this year, how did January go with one verse per week plus review? Did you face challenges or was it fairly simple? Since I started memorizing back in November as part of a Romans 8 bible study, I had already memorized the first five verses but got stuck around verses 6 and 7. Those took more time to get down and I used a couple different techniques to aid with memorization. So, here are the verses for February:

Jan. 31 – Feb. 5: memorize Romans 8:5; review Romans 8:1-4

Feb. 7 – 13: no new memory verse; review Romans 8:1-5

Feb. 14 – 20: memorize Romans 8:6; review Romans 8:1-5

Feb. 21 – 27: memorize Romans 8:7; review Romans 8:1-6

Feb. 28 – Mar. 5: memorize Romans 8:8; review Romans 8:1-7

romans8pic4The January blog post included a number of resources for memory work but one other tool I used this time around follows a puzzle theme. You write down (or type and print out) the words of the verses you’re committing to memory. Then you cut out each individual word and work to put them back in order as you say the verse out loud. Just a few pics below of how it worked out – with a small helper on hand :)! This is also a great activity for kids to do as they memorize verses with you as it reinforces reading, spelling, sorting and order. I also found that recording myself recite the verses I know on my phone’s voice memos app helped me to see where I often got stuck. It most frequently happens with the transition words (for, but, because, and) so I’m trying different techniques to recall those words a bit more seamlessly. Would love to hear your ideas!

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Other resources that may be helpful this month:

*John Piper’s short online studies of Romans 8 – here are links to the ones that go through Romans 8:8 for February–>

The Greatest Chapter

No Condemnation

Free in Christ

The Spirit Set You Free

God Sent His Own Son

Love Fulfills the Law

What the Law Could Not Do

Set Your Mind on the Spirit

The Mind Against God is Dead

 

*Sermon series on Romans 8 by Pastor Alistair Begg:

Life in the Spirit (free to download and listen to online)

 

*The Bible Project’s animated/descriptive videos of the book of Romans:

Romans 1-4

Romans 5-16

Blessings to you all as you memorize Romans 8 this month! :)

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EdsonbyTree

Ten years ago, this sweet boy made me a mom. It seems impossible to think that a decade has flown by and within the next decade our firstborn will most likely be flying the coop. Totally not prepared for that. At all. I’m so thankful for my son and for these 10 years of his life. He is a smart, caring and hardworking little boy who’s growing into a godly young man. You’ll most often find him playing with his Star Wars guys, drawing pictures of various fireworks or devouring mystery books. Over the years, he’s been fascinated with construction vehicles, constellations and college football. Whatever he’s interested in will become a topic of study until he’s nearly mastered the subject. Ask him anything about football right now and he’s got an answer. :)

3kids1As I reflect on his life and these last 10 years of motherhood with him and his two sisters, I wanted to record what God has been showing me through my own failures as a mom. It’s hard knowing what’s always best for your kids in different stages and you always do what you think is right. Half the time you feel like you don’t know what to do. And that’s most often the case. But what I’m learning is that this parenting thing isn’t my thing – it’s God’s thing. He called me to this noble profession of motherhood and He equips me daily for this work. And He’s right there with me peeling me off the floor when I fall flat on my face. While I’m still learning daily as a mom and have nowhere near arrived (and I won’t until I enter the blessed Celestial City), this list of 10 reminders has been guiding me lately as I surrender my weaknesses to the Lord and rest in His strength to love and lead my three children for God’s glory.

  1. Read the Bible to your children and teach them God’s word every day, throughout the day, in any way. Even 10 minutes a day of reading something to your kids from the bible gets them thinking about the Lord and His ways. As you go about your day, mention how God is working (“Isn’t it great how God helped you share with your sister?”) and talk about how you can pray about all things (“Since you’re afraid, let’s ask God to help you remember He is with you.”) Memorize scripture with your children, especially the psalms, so they can always have God’s word with them on their hearts (my 6-year-old daughter has been known to quote Psalm 23 as she walks down our dark hall at night.) It takes some work to always think about God and His word and remind your kids to do the same, but it’s possible, fruitful and life-changing.
  2. Forgive often. And ask for forgiveness even more. The gospel of Jesus Christ is about forgiveness – the letting of sin, guilt and hurtful actions against God and against others. You can’t parent God’s way without forgiveness. It makes the gospel real to your kids and shows them your need for the Savior.
  3. Pray. A lot. And pray out loud. A lot. Sometimes, when the house is noisy and the day is chaotic, stopping in the midst of a meltdown to pray out loud will get everyone’s attention. Especially your own. The Lord hears, the Lord is near and your kids need to know it.
  4. Hug, tickle, play and cuddle. Tickle time with my kiddos leads to lots of laughter. And laughter is really good medicine. Hug them when they least expect it, play games they like and sit on the couch with them. Make time for this. Remind them every day that you love them no matter what and always will and that God loves them even more than you could. And while you’re hugging and cuddling, do the same with your spouse. In front of your kids. They need to see this.
  5. Ask for their opinions and ideas. Kids often have great thoughts about different subjects so ask them and listen. You may not always do as they say but you get to spend time hearing their hearts and discovering their thoughts. My son actually had a great idea for keeping a bucket of markers away from his baby sister. And I had no energy to think of a solution. So he came up with one. And it’s working :)
  6. Make them their favorite foods – and get them to help you. Culinary skills are not just for women and not just for teens. Younger kids can help with a lot in the kitchen from cutting veggies to mixing cookie dough to kneading bread so test out their skills and embrace the mess. At least for a couple days of the week. While you’re it, teach them how to clean up, make their beds, do their own laundry…
  7. Go on dates with your children. Individually. Take them to their favorite places, introduce them to new foods and spend time being with them. Doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive – just fun and memorable. And serve the Lord together with your children – buying canned goods for a food pantry, visiting the elderly, making cards for neighbors. They grow fast and these years of childhood are fleeting. Make time for them doing what matters most with them.
  8. Expect that they will fail and let your home be a place of grace for their failure. Grace means goodwill, kindness, charity. So much learning comes through failure and your home should be where they learn from their mistakes among those who love them the most. Discipline based on love is necessary and God-honoring. But also remembering that your children are made of dust just as you are will help keep your heart tender toward them in the midst of their mistakes.
  9. But also expect them to succeed. At their own pace in their own time. There’s no need to compare them with others because God has gifted them in ways that He will grow and shape in them. Encourage them to work hard, to do their best and to follow God’s ways. Teach them God’s ways so they know what to aim for while they know that perfection is only found in Jesus. Faith in Christ is what makes your child complete and whole and is not based upon their work. Their good works bring honor to God but don’t keep them in good standing with God. Christ took care of that on the cross for all who believe in Him.
  10. Rely on Christ, abide in Christ and call upon Christ. Every. Single.Day. Parenting books don’t have all the answers, your friends don’t have all the answers, blogs don’t have all the answers. But Jesus does so ask Him. Go to Him and to His word and bring your children with you. He created your children and gave them to you. God knows them. Parents are most often the first ones to introduce children to Jesus. Bring them to God’s word and to His ways and let Him transform your child. Salvation and sanctification are of the Lord – He saves. You don’t. You can’t change their hearts but Christ can. And He will in His time. Keep your bible open and your heart ready to receive all that God will show you through your children. They will change you. For the better.

In no way is this a checklist for perfect parenting – there is none – and it’s not exhaustive. Just some ideas of what’s been helping me focus on what matters most as I walk through the sufferings and joys of motherhood. There are many of both. And Jesus is walking with me through them all. So, happy 10th birthday to our firstborn and only son. You are loved immeasurably by so many. Looking forward to many more decades of mothering (in different ways and stages) as you grow and as the Lord allows. :) Deo volente!

meande

Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it. Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors. For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep. Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; They will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate.
Psalm 127

romansMemorizing Romans 8 begins today! For those following the plan featured here, this month’s verses to work on memorizing are as follows:

Jan. 3-9: memorize Romans 8:1

Jan. 10-16: memorize Romans 8:2; review Romans 8:1

Jan. 17-23: memorize Romans 8:3; review Romans 8:1-2

Jan. 24-30: memorize Romans 8:4; review Romans 8:1-3

Jan. 31-Feb. 6: memorize Romans 8:5; review Romans 8:1-4

Romans8

Ideas for memorizing through the week include: reading the verse several times throughout the day; writing down the verse several times; recording yourself using your phone or an app on your device; practicing with someone else; writing down missing words from the verse you’re memorizing to see if you can recall them; singing the verse to a tune; or using a special app like Scripture Typer. I also wrote about how my children and I have memorized Scripture and you can check out those ideas here. It would also be a good idea to read all of Romans 8 once a week.

Spend time throughout the day recalling to mind your memory verse. Driving in the car, washing dishes, folding laundry, taking a shower…all times when we have to be busy with our hands but our minds can focus on scripture. Post your memory verse on notecards around the house, in the car, at your desk. Let God’s word be in front of you as much as possible.

A women’s group based in Georgia initiated the Romans 8 memory plan and I adjusted their 2015 schedule to fit the 2016 calendar. On their Website you can find some visual bible verses for Romans 8 if those help you recall God’s word. Here’s the link to their site with that artwork. Here are also Romans 8 verse cards based on the ESV that you can print in black and white. All documents produced by Apostles Women ministry.

In addition, for anyone interested in going further in their study of Romans 8 while you memorize, John Piper recorded a series of studies on Romans 8 that can all be found here. Pastor Piper calls Romans 8 the “greatest chapter of the bible” and you can also read his sermon here as to why he makes that great claim. Desiring God also has listed in its archives messages related to Romans 8 that you could listen to as you memorize. Pam Forster of Doorposts also has written a 30-day study of Romans 8 that you can access from her blog here.

One last idea and plan: as you memorize Romans 8 you may want to read more of the context around the chapter. If so, here’s a simple 14-day plan for reading through the book of Romans. You could repeat this plan every two weeks and read through Romans about 24 times in the year. This is a type of immersion reading plan that helps you know better a book of the bible so you can solidify in your heart, mind and soul the many truths and promises of the book of Romans. Here’s the schedule:

Day 1 – Romans 1

Day 2 – Romans 3

Day 3 – Romans 3

Day 4 – Romans 4

Day 5 – Romans 5

Day 6 – Romans 6

Day 7 – Romans 7

Day 8 – Romans 8

Day 9 – Romans 9 & 10

Day 10 – Romans 11

Day 11 – Romans 12 & 13

Day 12 – Romans 14

Day 13 – Romans 15

Day 14 – Romans 16

Finally, it’s always a good idea to learn more about the writers of these God-breathed books of the bible and their purpose for writing so here’s an in-depth overview of Paul and his letter to the Romans to give you some background. Most study bibles will include this type of introduction to each book of the bible as well.

I’ll post at the start of each month with that month’s memory verses and any other resources found along the way. Feel free to share anything you have as well. Welcome to Romans 8 and enjoy your journey :)

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RejoiceMy focus for 2016 is the phrase ‘rejoice in His righteousness’ taken from one of my favorite bible verses – Isaiah 61:10. The verb rejoice from this verse means to exult, to display joy, to be glad, bright and cheerful. The reason for this gladness and joy? The Lord – God is the source of all gladness and joy for HE is the one who clothes His people with garments of salvation and HE is the one who wraps His people in a robe of righteousness. It’s His salvation and in His righteousness. Get to know Him and His salvation today by reading the bible. The first of the year is a great time to start. You can choose a reading plan or read the gospel of Mark with one chapter each day.

“Jesus is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:11-12

Read here how you can know more about Jesus and His free gift of eternal life and salvation offered to all who believe!

 

stainedwindow‘Tis the season for Christmas plays, performances and piano recitals. Our family enjoyed several this year, including our church’s own production of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem as well as a cute reproduction of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever performed by many kids in our local homeschool group. I also had the chance to view via video a beautiful piano recital by my friend’s son who played In Christ Alone. It was moving and ministered to me in a way I least expected. When he first started playing, I recognized the song but couldn’t immediately recall which one it was. I knew I had heard it before but my mind just went blank. And then the light bulb went off and I was immediately singing along. Here’s a similar instrumental rendition (although I like my friend’s son’s performance more :) ):

As I sat listening to my friend’s son play, the Lord ministered to me in a most unusual way. Being able to play this song on the piano from memory takes practice. A lot of practice. Her son didn’t start his piano training playing one of the most popular hymns and worship songs of the last several years. No, he most likely began like all other piano students. With learning the keys, with playing a few notes, with practicing short songs. There was an investment made so that after much time of practice and performance, her son could play a beautiful song of worship for an audience. And this is what God wanted me to know:

Like the piano student invests in practice and preparation to bring forth beautiful music, the Lord invests in the lives of His people to bring forth beauty for our good and for His glory.

To invest in something or someone is to commit money or time or capital in order to earn a specific return. Invest also means to make use of something, like time, for future benefits or advantages and to involve or engage, especially emotionally, in a person’s life, a hobby or career (source: Merriam-Webster.) The Medieval form of invest also meant to clothe, adorn and array in the symbols of office or honor. Doesn’t that sound exactly like what God does for us as He adorns us with gladness instead of mourning and a garland of beauty instead of ashes? I love Isaiah 61:10–>

I will rejoice greatly in the Lord,
My soul will exult in my God;
For He has clothed me with garments of salvation,
He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

After listening to his piano recital, I asked myself: in what and in whom am I investing? As a homeschooling mom to three, I find myself working tirelessly with my kids on most days in teaching and training. And I see that as an investment for sure. But am I always present with them? Do I go through the motions? Do I see my work with them as part of my to-do list so I can get to my other tasks that at times may seem more fulfilling or important? Am I investing well in my marriage and my home, showing my appreciation for the gifts God has given?

Do I invest more time in online endeavors than in in-home efforts? What am I relying upon to bring beauty to my life and the life of my family? After watching that piano recital, I saw that true beauty comes from a devoted investment in the lives of my husband and children as well as others around me as time allows.

The beginning of a new year is as good a time as any to consider how I’m walking and how I’m investing. God considered me and millions of others worth the sacrifice of His Son Jesus so that my sin could be forgiven and I could be brought near to Him through Jesus’ blood. He gave it all for me. Paul knew this well and shared his own love for the people he discipled in the church at Thessalonica as he shared in 1 Thessalonians 2:5-8–>

For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness— nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority. But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.

Paul genuinely loved the people he shared God’s truth with as he taught them, led them and lived life with them. He invested in them. I’m sure there were distractions of his time, temptations that threatened to take his eyes off of his ministry at hand. For me, there are those distractions constantly. It’s always easier to hop on Facebook than clean the bathrooms. It’s more fun to scroll through Twitter than to fold that load of laundry waiting for me. It seems more satisfying to make time to blog than to make time to mediate sibling disputes.

KidsbyTreeThis coming year, I’ll have a 10 year old, a 6 year old and a soon-to-be 2 year old. The one thing I see looming large is potty training, which I have not done in several years. :) School lessons for my double-digit son are getting longer and harder (many days of multiplication facts anyone?) and my daughter is in need of lots of mama time. (Planning to read through this book with her as I attempt to lead her into biblical womanhood.) It’s a needy season!

In the past, I’ve done social media fasts and breaks and learned that I often become more productive during those times. Yet, I also know that social media is the easiest way to stay connected to family and friends  across various states. My goal is to slow down online socially by using a Facebook Groups app to connect with the specific groups I’m in rather than logging on and scrolling through all of Facebook. I also plan to access Twitter once a week (I know, I’ll be so out of the loop :) ). Just some initial ideas I’ll be testing out to see if I can invest more time in other ways (like trying to read through my book list) rather than being online as much. Maybe like a Twitter Tuesday and Facebook Friday kind of schedule :) While I’m trying to scale down online, the irony is that my life in this season of young kids rarely slows down. But that’s expected in this spring season of planting. I’m reminded there will be a fall harvest later on showing proof of the investment.

As for blogging, lately I haven’t been very inconsistent so as thoughts and time allow, blog posts will get posted. One topic I hope to post about sometime in the new year is my endeavor to memorize all of Romans 8. All 39 verses of it. Here’s the plan for 2016 that I’m following with a group for anyone who wants to join in – this plan is based on another group’s memory schedule used for 2015 that was outlined in this blog post.

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There are tons of resources online for helping you memorize larger portions of Scripture and I worked on two blog posts last year about the purpose and plan of memorizing God’s word. For anyone interested in bible memorization, I’m including a small giveaway that can help you take Jesus’ words with you :) so be sure to read below! I also want to add to my reading list this book in which the author says:

The purpose of Scripture memory is not the memorization that is important but the constant reflection on God. Mundane chores like dishes and laundry become joyful when you include Scripture memory. – Janet Pope

FamonSlide

What are some of your plans and goals for the New Year? How will you grow more in your faith and get to know Jesus more this year. How will you invest in what matters most? In all you think, say and do, do all for the glory of God :) Happy New Year from our family!

cardsGiveaway details! Leave a comment below about one plan or goal you have for the new year and one person will be randomly chosen to receive a pack of ring-bound removable blank cards perfect for copying down bible verses to carry with you. The pack contains 75 cards and fits easily in a purse, tote or backpack. Winner will be chosen December 31 by midnight.

Giveaway Update as of Jan. 1, 2016: The giveaway has ended and commenter Tiffany Young is the winner! All commenters please check your email for an update. Thanks for participating!

 

 

 

 

 

 

blog pic2My kids and I were quite the delivery men just a few weeks ago as part of a fun outing with our homeschool group. We participated locally in the national event, Light ‘Em Up. With our cars and arms loaded with Christmas goodies, we delivered loaves of banana bread, dozens of cookies and lots of candy canes to firefighters, police men and military recruiters thanking them for their service. We had such a good time as the kids brought some holiday cheer to local community workers.This is the concept of what it means to deliver – to bring and hand over (a letter, parcel, or ordered goods) to the proper recipient or address (source: online dictionary). And this is one of the purposes of Christ’s entrance into the world, but in a more significant way.

Jesus came to dwell, destroy and deliver. Believers in Christ have been saved from the penalty of sin by Christ dwelling with us; believers are being saved from the power of sin by Christ destroying the devil’s works; and believers will be saved from the presence of sin when Christ delivers us eternally into the arms of His Father.

What does it mean that Jesus came to deliver and that He delivers us? From where and from what or who does He deliver us? And to where does He bring us? Listen to what Paul wrote in Galatians 1:4-5:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

To deliver in Greek means to pluck out, draw out, choose out for one’s self, to rescue and save. Paul wrote something similar in 1 Thessalonians 1:10 when he said that believers are waiting for Jesus to return from heaven to deliver us from the wrath to come. What is the present evil age and the wrath to come that the bible speaks of? The present evil age is living in a world that is led by unbelief and under the power of the evil one (1 John 5:9). There is a spiritual battle raging that we are not visibly aware of yet there is a heavenly fight between good and evil (Ephesians 6:10-12). And this current age (and the previous and future age until Christ returns) is in the grasp of evil.

Jesus wants to deliver, rescue and save us from evil, from the evil one and from this evil generation. He came to save us from wickedness and sin and our enemies (Luke 1:71-72). But those of us who believe in Him are still here. We’re still living in this present evil age and still battle with sin. So how does this deliverance work? Listen to John 3:17 as Jesus told Jewish teacher, Nicodemus, how people must be born again and explained why He came into the world:

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.

To be saved is the Greek verb, sozo, and means to be kept safe and sound, to be rescued from danger or destruction, to be delivered from the penalties of God’s judgment (source: Blue Letter Bible.) Jesus was sent by God so the world (ALL who have been created in this world) could be saved through Him – saved, rescued and delivered from God’s judgment. Believers who are still in the world have been delivered from judgment for sin and are receiving God’s goodness, kindness and love instead of judgment and punishment, a sign of the future bliss to come when we are taken away from all sin for all time. 

What is God’s judgment? That the sin we are born with and have inherited from Adam leads to death and separation from God (Romans 6:23) – a separation that happens physically, spiritually and eternally. That those who are not saved in Christ and do not believe in Him by faith for the forgiveness of sin will spend eternity in hell (Matthew 25:46; 2 Thessalonians 1:9). We are no longer in God’s kindness and favor because of sin – we are His enemies (Ephesians 2). But that changes only through faith in Jesus, our Deliverer.

PAST

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Jesus came to dwell with us so we could receive His righteousness to be made right with God and be saved from the penalty of sin. And Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil so that we could be free and no longer slaves of sin but saved from the power of the sin and evil through forgiveness (Luke 1:77-79). All of this goes hand-in-hand with Jesus’ mission on earth that began in the manger. He has always desired to deliver us from evil and from the evil one (as quoted in Matthew 6:13 in the Lord’s prayer) so that we could be spiritually safe, sound, healed and whole right now as we wait for His second advent.

She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. Matthew 1:21

By dying on the cross and rising from the dead, Jesus delivered us who believe by faith from God’s wrath and judgment of eternal death and separation because HE took our place on the cross. This is the substitutionary atonement and was the final fulfillment of all the animal sacrifices that took place at the tabernacle and temple in Old Testament times. Listen to Hebrews 9:11-12:

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

When Christ died on the cross, the veil of the temple was torn in two, signifying that ALL could not enter into the Holy of Holies through Him. All could come near to God through Jesus. The Day of Atonement, the sacred Jewish holiday, required the Jewish high priest to enter in with a sacrifice of blood for the forgiveness of sins of the Jewish people. For according to God’s law, all things are cleansed with blood and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22).

Jesus, the great and better High Priest, acquired God’s forgiveness of sin for ALL of us by His own blood shed on the cross. Through Jesus’ sacrifice, when we believe by faith that He is the only way to be made right with and forgiven by God, we are delivered FROM being God’s enemies deserving punishment because of our sin and delivered TO being beloved children of God receiving an internal inheritance (1 Peter 1; 1 John 3:1). It’s nothing we can DO, no good work, that changes us. It is Jesus’ work as our Deliverer. Listen to Colossians 1:13:

For He (God) rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

God promised to send a Deliverer, a Redeemer, a Rescuer and that He would come from Zion (Isaiah 59:20; Luke 1:71; Romans 11:26) and this is Jesus. And it all began in a manger. With a helpless baby who was sent to save the world, to seek and save the lost who like sheep were straying from their Good Shepherd and who needed to be delivered safe and sound back into the fold. And He came for you.

PRESENT

christmasblog3Yet, Jesus’ work of deliverance didn’t end at the cross or at the empty tomb. As He lives in His believers through the Holy Spirit, He is continually delivering us from sin and shame. Jesus delivered us to Himself and we are hidden in Him (safe in Him) but are still attacked by Satan, who is prowling around looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). As believers read God’s word, remember His truth and memorize His promises, we are being delivered from wrong thinking, from harmful lies and from the evil one himself. From sin.

When you are tempted to withhold forgiveness from someone who is genuinely asking but grant them grace in not holding their sin against them, you are being delivered from pride. (Forgive those who ask you – Matthew 6:14)

When you choose to love someone who isn’t deserving of that love by the world’s standards, you are being delivered from selfishness. (Love one another for love is from God – 1 John 4:7)

When you choose to dwell upon God’s truth in His word that He is control and knows all things in the midst of your uncertainty, you are being delivered from fear and anxiety. (Do not fear for God is with you – Isaiah 41:10)

And don’t we always need delivering, on a daily basis? Aren’t we always tempted to fall back into old ways of thinking or into old patterns of living as we are bombarded by sin and the world around us calling us to seek ourselves, our comfort and our success first? By grace (the undeserved lovingkindess and goodness of God) we have been saved (Ephesians 2:8-9) and we still need that grace daily.

But Jesus is the Great Deliverer! He is our Rescuer! And He will daily, and hourly if needed, deliver you from sinful and harmful ways into sound and holy ways – His ways. We are constantly in need of our Good Shepherd and He is ready and willing to help us. Listen to Hebrews 4:14-16:

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

FUTURE

I’m sure you knew this was coming after three blogposts focused on the past, present and future work of Christ? So, here is what Jesus’ followers have to look forward to – a great deliverance that will take us FROM this broken hurting world TO our blessed heavenly home where there is no sin. On earth, we still live with the presence of sin – it is always around us and in us. But a time is coming when God will deliver us from the presence of sin forever! A great reason to rejoice!

Just as God delivered the Israelites out of bondage and slavery in Egypt and away from their enemies into their Promised Land (Exodus 6:6), God WILL deliver us, His people, out of this earthly home and out of our earthly tents and away from our enemies to our heavenly home and heavenly bodies for all time to live with Him forever. Where there is no sin!

In 2 Corinthians 1:8-11, Paul spoke of God’s deliverance in his own life as he was attacked as he preached the gospel and the plan the Lord had to deliver him again:

For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers…

Again Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:18: The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Paul knew His God and the power, strength and glory of God and trusted Him to keep His promise to bring him safely to the Celestial City where there is no sin! God will do the same for those of us who believe in Christ by faith. Listen to these great and glorious promises of our future deliverance:

Matthew 13:41-43–>The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. ‘Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.’

John 14:1-3–>Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

Philippians 3:20-21–>For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.

Revelation 21:22-27–>I saw no temple in it (the New Jerusalem), for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

blog pic4If you don’t believe you are a sinner, you won’t seek to be saved and delivered from sin. You will not seek Jesus for that salvation and deliverance. We cannot come to Jesus unless God the Father who sent Jesus draws us to Him (John 6:44) and He is drawing us to Jesus through His word. The Lord has promised to forgive those who humbly come to Him seeking forgiveness. He will not turn one penitent person away for Jesus has already made provision for you to be with Him and is ready to send your sin away as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12) and to hurl your sin in the depths of the sea to never recall it again (Micah 7:18-19). And He will deliver us from the presence of sin in His time. No more battle with envy, pride, lust, anger, selfishness. No.more.sin. This has been His plan all along.

Go to Jesus, seek Him, believe Him. This Christmas season and every season He is calling for you. Your past. Your present. Your future. Jesus has it ALL covered. For all time.

I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised and I am saved from my enemies.

Blog series part one, part two, part three

christmasblog4When we think of Christmas, one rarely would use the word destroy to describe the reason for the season or for the advent of Christ. Yet, it is one of the many missions of Jesus’ entrance into this world as He came from heaven to earth as a baby. From part 1 of this three-part blog series, we read about Jesus coming to dwell with sinful humanity. Jesus came into the world to save sinners (2 Timothy 1:15) and He did so, is doing and will do so (past, present and future) as He dwells, destroys and delivers. Believers in Christ have been saved from the penalty of sin by Christ dwelling with us; believers are being saved from the power of sin by Christ destroying the devil’s works; and believers will be saved from the presence of sin when Christ delivers us eternally into the arms of His Father.

The last blogpost detailed Jesus’ purpose in dwelling with us – that He tabernacled (dwelt) among us to show us His Father and to show us the way to forgiveness and eternal life in Him. Mankind’s greatest need is to be reconciled to God and made right with God because our sin separates us from God and Jesus is the only source of that reconciliation. And the source of our sin began in the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve chose to willingly disobey God by listening to the serpent’s deception and follow their own way, what they thought was best. Their decision to sin against the Lord led to a curse being placed over all creation and created beings.

Cursed was the serpent, said God. On his belly he would always crawl.

Cursed was the woman, said God. In childbirth she would always have pain.

Cursed was the man, said God. In toil and sweat he would always work for his food.

Cursed was the ground, said God. Thorns and thistles would always grow from the earth.

Cursed is every man, woman, creature. Cursed is the earth. Pain, toil, struggle. All a result of sin.

Since then, every person born has been born with sin, an indwelling desire to forsake God and His righteous ways (Galatians 3:10). The prophet Isaiah described our sin as separating us from God (Isaiah 59:2) – for how can a holy, sinless God be in the presence of impure, sinful people (Isaiah 6:1-6)? In Him, there is no darkness at all – no wickedness. Nothing God does is wrong and nothing He does is evil.

You are good and do good, the psalmist said of the Lord in Psalm 119.

Can we be near God and return to the Garden-of-Eden relationship He intended for us? Only if we do something about our sin and wickedness that prevents us from being with Him for all time – for the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23)! What can we do? Nothing. But Jesus can and did.

Jesus came to DESTROY.

In 1 John 3, John is writing to believers in Christ to warn them about people who practice righteousness versus those who practice sin. Those who make sin a habit of their life with no desire to change. John is clear that those who continue in sin (living against God’s ways and forsaking Him as the ultimate authority in their life) without seeking repentance and forgiveness are living the devil’s way. Listen to 1 John 3:7-8:

Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.

PAST

Jesus, the Son of God, appeared (or became manifest, visible, known) for this purpose – to destroy the works of the devil. Destroy here in Greek means to loosen as in break up, dissolve, to deprive of authority, to demolish, to overthrow and do away with. What are the works of the devil? All works of unrighteousness, lawlessness and sin.

Sin alienates us from God and hurts our relationships with others. Sin is what keeps us as enemies of God until Christ makes us alive in Him and brings us to God. Sin, a work of the devil, steals, kills and destroys (John 10:10). And Jesus came for the specific purpose of destroying all that destroys us.

Whereas salvation has its source in Jesus, sin has its source in the devil.

How did Jesus destroy the works of the devil? By dying on the cross and resurrecting from the dead. Hebrews 2:14 says:

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.

crossColossians 2:15 says something similar that God disarmed (stripped of power) the rulers and authorities of this world, making a public display of them through Jesus’ death and resurrection…that He triumphed over them through Jesus. The cross was Satan’s destruction. Jesus broke the devil’s power over us. It may have seemed like Jesus’ death was a victory for Satan and his demons. The Savior is dead. The king of the Jews destroyed. The Messiah done away with. Death won! But the crucifixion and resurrection were fulfilling the promise God made back in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15) as He cursed the serpent because of sin:

And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel.

Jesus, the seed of Mary, was appointed to bruise the head of the serpent and He did so by resurrecting from the dead. He came to take away the sin of the world (1 John 3:5) and to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).

PRESENT

Not only did Jesus victoriously complete His mission by destroying the works of the devil through His death, but He STILL destroys the works of the devil today in believers’ lives. As Jesus dwells in the hearts of believers by faith and the power of the Holy Spirit, the works of the devil are being destroyed in our lives as we choose to love one another and forgive one another and put others before ourselves and generously give of our time, treasures and talents. Romans 6:12-14 describes this daily destruction of sin:

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

blog picBy faith in Christ, we are no longer powerless to follow the futile path of submitting to sin or committing the works of the devil. By destroying the works of the devil, Jesus is now saving us from the power of sin and slavery to sin. Christians have power from God to live to righteousness and die to sin (1 Peter 2:24) all because of Jesus. His advent into this world as a powerless baby pointed toward the prescribed purpose of providing believers with a powerful gift of the Holy Spirit. Even while Christians don’t perfectly obey God, Jesus purchased forgiveness for us to confidently come to Him to be cleansed for our wrongs against God and others (1 John 1:9).

Because Jesus is destroying the works of the devil presently, we can have no fear of death, a work of Satan’s and a result of the curse. Death or even the fear of death doesn’t hold us in its grip, for the believer in Christ is confident that the end of his earthly life will lead to a glorious resurrection and eternal life forever with the Lord. Because Jesus led the way with HIS resurrection:

For since by a man came death (Adam due to sin), by a man also came the resurrection of the death (Jesus and His death). For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 1 Corinthians 15:21-22

FUTURE

Yet, an even greater destruction is on its way. Jesus will ultimately destroy Satan for all time. For right now, Satan is still fulfilling his mission of accusing and attacking, deceiving and deluding the children of God. Yet, he is doing so in a controlled way as a defeated enemy. Satan is under the authority of God and can only do what he is permitted to do. Satan still blinds the eyes of the unbelieving; he still kills, steals and destroys; and he still attempts to condemn believers by causing them to doubt and be discouraged. But one day soon, Satan’s place will be no more as Paul wrote in Romans 16:20:

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.

And listen to this comforting promise from Revelation 20:1-5, 10:

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time…And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

And when Satan is destroyed, one more enemy still must be demolished. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:24-26:

Then comes the end, when Christ delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

As believers look toward heaven and the hope of resurrected bodies, we live each day knowing that through the cross Jesus has already destroyed the works of the devil and through the Spirit He’s still destroying the works of the devil today as we put on what is right and put off what is wrong (Colossians 3:5-17). At a time to come, a time that is already completed in God’s eternal vision, Jesus will destroy the devil himself and death itself. This is the glory all believers in Christ can look forward to with hope and joy – a time of no death and no destruction as we live eternally in heaven. Thanks to a holy baby in a humble manger.

“Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:54-56

Because of this victory in Christ and because of this hope of resurrection, Christians can be “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” knowing that in the Lord our labor is not in vain. We will see Him (Revelation 22:4).

He will swallow up death for ALL time and the Lord God will wipe tears away from ALL faces, and He will remove the reproach (shame) of His people from ALL the earth; for the Lord has spoken. Isaiah 25:8

Your past. Your present. Your future. Jesus has it ALL covered. For all time.

Check out part three of this blog series! Merry Christmas!

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What I cherish about Christianity is its all-encompassing, timeless provision for the reconciliation of sinful people to their God through Jesus Christ. Past, present and future. Have you pondered that lately? The gospel of Jesus Christ – the good news the angels shared with the shepherds that THE Savior had finally been born to those waiting expectantly – is for all people and for all time to fully cover your past, present and future. The source of salvation and the reason for rejoicing came as a baby to dwell, destroy and deliver. God in the flesh lying helpless in a manger was powerfully poised to rescue His people.  From what? Why? And how? Jesus came into the world to save sinners (2 Timothy 1:15) and He did so, is doing and will do so (past, present and future) as as He dwells, destroys and delivers.

Believers in Christ have been saved from the penalty of sin by Christ dwelling with us; believers are being saved from the power of sin by Christ destroying the devil’s works; and believers will be saved from the presence of sin when Christ delivers us eternally into the arms of His Father.

Jesus came to DWELL.

Don’t you like that word, dwell? It has a sort of peaceful tone to it, as if you can imagine someone staying quietly still. I envision sitting in a comfy chair, listening to some calm music, sipping on tea. A far cry from what actually happens in my home with three loud kiddos. We don’t use this word dwell much in our current culture. This word is used in the first chapter of John and introduces us to a purpose of Christ’s first advent. Listen to John 1:1-2, 14–>

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God…And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Dwelt in v. 14 means to fix one’s tabernacle, to abide or live in a tabernacle, to reside, encamp, tent (source: Blue Letter Bible); and used as a verb would literally mean “tabernacled.” It stems from a noun that means a tabernacle, a more of a temporary shelter, and reminds Christians of the tabernacle built by the Israelites as recorded in Exodus 25-30. The word dwell is actually used to describe what God wants to do through the tabernacle as Exodus 25:8 reads:

Let them construct a sanctuary for Me that I may dwell (settle down, abide, reside, inhabit, tabernacle) among them.{said the Lord}

PAST

God has always desired to dwell among His people so they could know Him – in the Old Testament God did so through the tabernacle and temple; in the New Testament He did so through Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

John 1:14 could read: The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. Jesus, the Word of God (John 1:1; Revelation 19:3) temporarily lived among His people. If you ponder this verse further, you begin to ask: well, if this was temporary, then where did He come from and where was He going? He explained in John 16:28–>

I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father.

Jesus, God incarnate, came from His Father and would be leaving to go back to His Father. His temporary home would be the earth He created. His permanent home is in heaven by His Father’s side. Why did He temporarily tabernacle with us? To show us the Father (John 14:8-10), to show us grace and truth (John 1:14) and to show us the way to freedom, forgiveness and eternal life (John 14:6; John 17:3). To be the mediator between us and God so that we could permanently tabernacle with our Father. Colossians 2:9:

For in Christ all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form…

christmasblog1From heaven to earth, from the manger to the cross, from the grave to heaven. Jesus is God in the flesh, Immanuel, God with us, the sinless one sent for the sinning ones. The holy Son of God left His throne and laid aside all His godly rights to lie in a manger as a baby and to dwell with sinners as a man. When Jesus came to dwell, He came to die, and by doing so, He saved us from the penalty of sin that we deserve. Jesus who knew no sin became sin for us so that we could become the righteousness of God! We can now say with the psalmist and with Paul, “How blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against Him!” (Psalm 32:1; Romans 4:7-8). Therefore there is now no condemnation (no guilty verdict, no sentence of damnation) for those who are in Christ Jesus!

PRESENT

After His resurrection, Jesus returned to His Father to dwell with Him forever (Acts 1:9-10). But He is not fully gone as He also NOW spiritually dwells with those who believe in Him by faith through His Holy Spirit (John 14:17, 23; 1 John 4:15). Jesus promised His disciples and He promises us that He will be with us and He will never leave us (Hebrews 13). How, if He is physically in heaven with God?

Christ dwells in your heart through faith…{Ephesians 3:17} by the power of the Holy Spirit {1 John 3:24} This is being in Christ Jesus. You are in Him and He is in you.

Jesus, who is all goodness and holiness and righteousness, can only dwell in the hearts of those who have been made righteous by faith in Him (Romans 4:22-25; Ephesians 3:17). Born-again believers in Christ become His tabernacle, His temple, as He lives in us and daily leads us (1 Corinthians 3:16). Jesus is the valuable treasure living in these jars of clay. Where Christ dwells, His kingdom dwells and in you who have been made new He continues to transform and conform you to His pattern. Jesus is changing you daily as He dwells.

FUTURE

But that’s not the end of His dwelling…for Christians have the perfect promise of physically dwelling with Christ and in His physical presence in our heavenly kingdom once our life on earth is complete or when He comes to earth a second time to gather together His believers. Listen to Revelation 21:1-4–>

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

winter1Jesus willingly dwelt with His people as He lived and taught in Israel, He is now dwelling with His people in their renewed, faith-filled hearts and He will dwell with His people for all time in His glorious palace being prepared for us. The Son of God chose to live among people He knew would reject Him, hate Him and crucify Him. But He still came.

Does Jesus dwell in your heart by faith? If so, be thankful for this gift. If not, take time this Christmas season to seek Christ in His word and to receive forgiveness from the One, described in the well-known Christmas hymn as the incarnate deity who was pleased as Man with men to dwell, Jesus, our Immanuel. He came for you.

Your past. Your present. Your future. Jesus has it ALL covered. For all time.

Check out part two and part three of this blog series. Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, I’ve had a bit of a staring problem. Obviously, I have not been staring at this blog here as it’s gotten quite dusty. Making time to blog isn’t something I’ve been doing, even though drafts of roughly-crafted blog posts run about in my head taunting me to get online. Staring at a screen hasn’t been my theme because lately I’ve been staring at these instead:

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To stare: to look fixedly at someone or something for a long time often with your eyes wide open. A synonym for stare is to gaze: to fix the eyes in a steady, intent look often with eagerness or studious attention. To gaze upon is to behold. With a reminder lately that life is fleeting and time is flying, I’ve been looking a bit more fixedly at my growing-like-weeds children as I attempt to cement in my memory their laughs, smiles, smells and sounds.

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But before you begin to think that my days are all roses, be sure there are thorns. I also find myself staring at this:

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Looking fixedly upon the thorns, the messes, the chaos is what I often find myself doing. Putting out one fire just as another begins. The sufferings of motherhood are many – sleepless nights, unresponsive children, squabbling siblings, continuous cleaning, limited budgets, guilty consciences, unfinished tasks. An always-endless pouring out with a never-fully filling up.

Yet, as I’ve made time to stare at the word of God, I’ve asked myself: what if the hardships are designed specifically for the heart? To cleanse the heart, to unhinge the heart, to soften the heart, to free the heart, to draw the heart to the One whose heart is fixed upon conforming, transforming and loving unlovable people? What if in the midst of the mundane, we do as commanded and stare at, fix our eyes upon and behold the majestic One who chose to willingly dwell with sinful humanity for the purpose of returning wayward children to their Eternal Father?

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By fixing our eyes upon Jesus, we see His love, grace, truth, justice, mercy, compassion and forgiveness that are given to those who believe and trust Him as the only way to a right relationship with God. We see a way that we are not and if we love God, we see a way that we want to be. We desire Kingdom Character – the traits of God’s heavenly kingdom to abide in us. By God’s Spirit, this life is possible on earth. Not perfectly but faithfully. For the believer in Christ who walks by faith in the Son of God, a part of the kingdom of heaven has come to earth in each Christian whose heart has been made new.

When we stare upon Christ, we see promises fulfilled for a future, we see hope for hurting hearts, we see peace for painful circumstances, we see sin that has been hurled into the depths of the sea, we see new glorious life in a resurrected glorious body, we see forgiven people restored, renewed and redeemed. We see a great warrior who will return for His soldiers. We see perfection. We see joy. We see righteousness. We see goodness. We see God. And we see God our Father using anything or anyone that He allows in our life for the purpose of conforming us to the image of His Son as we longingly wait for a heavenly city that has been promised to those who believe.

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We don’t always see the reasons or the results we want in the midst of our trials and sometimes knowing that the Lord sees us and is with us in our pain is His greatest blessing. Immanuel – God with us – is for all times of the year and for all circumstances. He wants all things to draw our eyes toward Him so our trust and sufficiency will be fully in Him. So, I’ll keep staring at Jesus and His promises in His word. And I’ll keep staring at what God is allowing in my life and what He has given me in this season, even the unwanted thorns that adorn the roses. For the thorns are my earthly reminders of a wedding feast to come that will be adorned with One greater than any rose and more desirable than any jewel. On that day, I will stare at the perfection of beauty in the midst of glory and see Jesus’ face forever (Revelation 22:4).

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God knows me {Knowing God}

sunsetWhat does it mean to know God and to be known by Him? That’s what I’m discovering as I read for the first time J.I. Packer’s classic Knowing God. I joined in with Tim Challies’ reading group that’s going through two chapters of the book each week. Read here some of what Packer describes as the way the Sovereign Shepherd knows His sheep…

There is unspeakable comfort – the sort of comfort that energizes, be it said, not enervates – in knowing that God is constantly taking knowledge of me in love and watching over me for my good. There is tremendous relief in knowing that His love to me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me, so that no discovery now can disillusion Him about me, in the way I am so often disillusioned about myself, and quench His determination to bless me. There is, certainly, great cause for humility in the thought that He sees all the twisted things about me that my fellow humans do not see (and am I glad!), and that He sees more corruption in me than that which I see in myself (which, in all conscience, is enough). There is, however, equally, great incentive to worship and love God in the thought that, for some unfathomable reason, He wants me as His friend, and desires to be my friend, and has given His Son to die for me in order to realize this purpose. (pg. 42)

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