Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The root of sanctification


We unfortunately slip often into the same error of the Pharisees: action over attitude, visible over invisible, deeds over devotion. sacrifice over obedience, checklists over surrender, judgment over grace.

We want salvation or sanctification to get boiled down into a written list of items I can accomplish on my own. A balance that we can dump the day's accomplishments on and pat ourselves on the back for actually having a good day. We don't want to have to admit that we can't do it. That it has nothing to do with what we can do.

The book of Matthew is written just for us. God doesn't want our actions, our sacrifices, our law-abiding obsession. He wants our hearts. He gave the law to point us to our need for a savior and lay bare our sinful natures.

Despite the fact that the Pharisees had taken God's law and greatly expanded it to a monstrous list of do's and don'ts, they actually made it easier, made it appear more achievable. Look at the rich young ruler who said (seriously), that he had kept all of the law since his youth! He completely missed the point of the law.

When the law was supposed to show them their incapacity to save themselves, they tried to make it the catalyst for salvation.

The law pointed out our illness and instead they saw it as the prescription.

The law came to convict and they used it to build up.

The law pointed to something future, something essential, but they tried to make it an end in itself.

Jesus is our salvation, our prescription, our foundation and builder, our future, our hope. Our everything.

I don't need a list of behaviors to change.

I don't need seven habits or
another purpose to drive me or
positive thinking or
to draw a circle or
chicken soup or
to make my bed or
say a new prayer or
to start a new habit or
even to wash my face.

I need Jesus.

I can't explain the fresh wind that blows through me with that last sentence. He. is. all. I. need.

When I flounder in a dry spell, I start groping around for a new gimmick.

When I feel a sin weighing me down, I look for a new habit to help overcome it.

When my spiritual life plateaus, I try to shake things up with more worship songs and Psalms.

Sometimes those things can help, but really, I need to hunger and thirst for Him, and then I'll be satisfied. I need to seek first His kingdom and all these things will be added to me. I need to walk in the spirit.

Mental, spiritual saturation in my Savior Jesus Christ fixes everything. Not every situation, but everything that matters -- my relationship with Him. And, out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. From it flow the well-springs of life.

When my heart is in tune with Him, the melody flows naturally without even needing a list to live by.  It loves, forgives, rejoices, encourages, finds peace, hopes, waits, sings, and soars.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Sowing

 

Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly,
and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

7
Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart,
not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
8And God is able to make all grace abound to you,
so that always having all sufficiency in everything,
you may have an abundance for every good deed; 

2 Corinthians 9:6-8

Meditating.
Mulling over again and again.
On the road, folding laundry, wiping counters, sweeping floors. 

 The meaning sinks in deeper.

 

Where am I sowing?

relationship

bank account

spiritual growth

family memories

What am I sowing?

love

earthly goods

faith

wisdom

prayer

grace

forgiveness

What can I really expect if I don't put in the work? 

I had always thought of "cheerful giver" as related to money, but that isn't really the full context of this verse. Giving money is sometimes the easy part. 

It is easy and a joy to write a check for a:

student going on a mission trip

ministry to pregnant teens

long established missionary

evangelistic efforts into an under-resourced area

new vision to grow God's kingdom.

 

But, do I cheerfully . . .

stay up late when a teenage child needs help wrestling through a life lesson

get up early to spend extended time in prayer

clear out cluttered closets and storage areas to send useful items to families in need

forgive the daily grievances that come with living in community

accept criticism and accountability as needed for growth

push out of my introverted shell to bless and be blessed

trim back on our budget to maximize giving

have the hard conversations to promote growth in our kids.

 

The next two verses offer some great encouragement and hope:

Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food
will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest
of your righteousness;
11 you will be enriched in everything for all liberality,
which through us is producing thanksgiving to God.

Use me, God. Help me find joy in giving even in ways that seem hard for me now. Thank you that I'm not who I was yesterday and I'm not yet who I will be tomorrow. ~Amen 


 

 

 

Monday, November 5, 2018

Just one voice

Photo from Pixabay by geralt

One vote

One voice

One opinion

One circle of influence

Just one.

Does it really matter?

How much weight does my view carry?

It can be easy to head down the path of insignificance when looking at the part we play in politics and other larger community groups that we are a part of.

Yet, biblically, how should I approach this?

There are solid reasons that I press on, vote, pray, and speak my view as appropriate.

In high school I attended a school that placed a high value on personal responsibility. The thinking that, "You are responsible for your own actions," and, "With greater opportunity comes greater responsibility," appeared frequently in class and curriculum. We will be held accountable for all that God has entrusted to us.

Galatians 6:5 - For every man shall bear his own burden.

As with all truths, it is one thing to say you believe them, and quite another to live them out.

If I and I alone bear the weight of responsibility for my actions, I must vote. I must speak out. I must write.

Even if my vote becomes just one of the 9% for the losing candidate. Even if my voice joins the cacophony of denied complaints. Even if my blog reaches only .0000001% of Americans (yes, I calculated that). I cannot remain silent, sit still, or skip voting.

Just one, but it is my responsibility to make the most of it.






Tuesday, October 30, 2018

What God wants

close -up, h2o, hands 

"As I crave Him, more and more I find Him to be the deepest satisfaction of my soul"


- Precept Bible study on the Sermon on the Mount

How much do I crave righteousness? 

In honestly answering this question I realized that I am consistently inconsistent in this area. 

I crave
reach
find satisfaction
settle into routine
plateau
fizzle
spark
(repeat)

While my spiritual growth should continue stair stepping higher or maybe even climbing a gradual incline I find myself doing loop-de-loops that eventually lead slightly higher than previously.

Yet, the greatest thing that I can take pride in is the Lord. I squander so much time elsewhere, forgetting his steadfast love, justice, and righteousness. Forgetting that He delights in me.
Simply me.

Recently I went through a powerful exercise looking at mighty men of faith looking for what set them apart and searching out their greatest achievement. I expected to turn to lists of accomplishments - military, political, spiritual, ministerial. But, no. 

In the life of David  (Psalm 27, 63, 143) -- He pursued God, sacrificed joyfully, sang with a melody to God, God lifts his head, he craves/thirsts/seeks God, reaching to God, soul longing for God, recalls God's blessings.

Isaiah (Isaiah 6, 55) -- Saw God's glory, felt the tremble of His voice, recognized his sinfulness, seeks God, calls others to join him, recognizes God's thoughts as far above his own.

Moses (Exodus 33) -- (I love this!) He pitched a tent outside the camp, God met and spoke with him, God would block the doorway as they met together - protective of their time together- speaking as friends, just watching this caused others to worship God, wouldn't move without God's presence, God's presence with His people sets them apart - they could not continue without it.

Paul (Philippians 3) -- any personal gain is loss compared to knowing Christ, only seeking Him matters, no self-righteousness, only faith in Christ matters, pressed on to own it, never thinking we've arrived. 

Which brings me back to the mirror. What can set me apart?

What is God asking of me?

Those quiet times, set aside just for Him.
All that I can do -- ministry, momming, wife, daughter, teacher, steward -- none of it really matters. 

God flat out loves me and treasures those times of connectedness above all else. 

The times I could burst because I crave to be alone with Him, the times my pen can't keep up with my gratitude and expressions of love for Him. 

He loves when I 
pursue Him, 
crave Him,
 recognize my weakness without Him,
 get so lost in His presence I can almost see His glory 
and feel the tremble of His voice speaking to me, 
when I fully surrender to his agenda and rip up mine, 
When I'm jealous of my time with Him. 

That's what He asks. That's what He values. That's what He died for.


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Chasing God's Glory

Chasing after God's glory this week.
From a You Version study on glory:

The glory of God is the weight of the majestic goodness of who God is and the resulting name, or reputation, that he gains from revealing himself as Creator, Sustainer, Judge, and Redeemer, perfect in justice and mercy, loving kindness and truth. 

The first step to full fellowship with God, having clear ears to hear His voice, is seeing His Glory. Overcome by His Holiness so I can truly agree with him about my sin and have it purged from my life and habits.

Isaiah chapter 6:

Isaiah’s Vision

In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said,
“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts,
The [a]whole earth is full of His glory.”
And the [b]foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the [c]temple was filling with smoke. Then I said,
“Woe is me, for I am ruined!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I live among a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”
Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is [d]forgiven.”

Isaiah’s Commission

Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Working through these steps - Search out and glimpse God's glory (verses 1-4), fully recognize my sin (verse 5), confess and receive God's promised forgiveness (verse 6, 7, but more in I John 1), hear God's direction (verse 8), and respond with action (verse 9).


Thursday, October 11, 2018

Hunger and Thirst

Sometimes songs from ages ago pop up fresh in my brain, and the age-tested proofs refresh my soul all over again.
In studying through the Sermon on the Mount, God has pressed me to worship Him afresh.

He always satisfies.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Loved the recent reminder that God is enough - not enough as in the bare minimum required. Enough as in saturated, complete, whole, nothing lacking. 

Taking some extra time to focus on two priorities - glimpsing God, and recognizing my own sin as a result. 

In the cleansing and filling exercise, she pointed out a beautiful sequence of truth from Isaiah 6:
  • I saw the Lord, high and exalted (see God's glory)
  • “Woe to me!” I cried. (repent, sinfulness exposed)
  • “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” (cleansed)
  • Then I heard the voice of the Lord (able to truly hear Him)

In order to have clear ears for the hearing of God's leading we need pure hearts. 

Pure hearts require repentance

Repentance comes when we agree with God about our sin

Agreeing with God about sin can only come when we see the awesome purity and holiness that exists as the God of the universe. Just making a list of sins will only get us so far. 

To truly come to a point of grieving our sin we must first be forced prostrate by the glory of God and the overwhelming humility and mourning over the sin we tolerate in our own lives.

It is one thing to recognize the sin and quite another to hate it. More often I rationalize it, excuse it, minimize it, or ignore it. It stays in my life, and not because I don't see it. 

So, I head back to the basics. Hungering for Him. Seeking to see His glory. 

Worship songs, savoring the Psalms, meditating on His glory. Always more to learn.     

 

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Cleansing

Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way. -- Psalm 139: 23,24

Spending some extended time alone letting God examine me with complete vulnerability and transparency. It's hard and painful to be honest with ourselves and with Him. Seeking His kingdom and laying down my own.

Step one in this process is examining my priorities.

We all know they should go God - others - me. Or, God - Husband - kids -  - - me. However, as I honestly look at my daily choices, it's been more like me, me, God, more me, husband, still more me, me, kids, and maybe a little more me. So out of whack. Part of this I can truthfully chalk up to a season of transition and establishing a new schedule (protecting quiet time, getting back into working out, etc.), but whose agenda am I seeking to fulfill each day?

Where am I choosing to spend my energy?

How do I determine what time I get up each day?

How do I choose my activities between the kids' bedtime and mine?

When I find myself with a couple minutes, do I talk with or hug a child, text my husband that I love him, pray, or pick up my phone and kill time on social media? I don't want to answer that.

Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.

Everything else falls into place if that is kept in place. See God's glory, mourn over my sin.

This is going to be seriously more hard and painful than I thought. And I'm only on step one. Ready. Digging into the next step -- examining His temple.

(This time of cleansing is from Precept upon Precept and is part of a study on the Sermon on the Mount. However, I saw a pamphlet on their website that looks like the same material. If you're ready to let God really examine where you are with Him to be more fully used by Him, check it out  cleansing and filling booklet)