“Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God
whose ways you may not understand at the time.”
- Oswald Chamber
“No one is good but God”
“Let not your heart be troubled;
Trust in God. Trust also in Me.”
“I and the Father are One.”
-Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the Living God
Heavenly Father, I thank You that even when I do not understand what You are doing, or how You are working Your plan in this world, I do know YOU. I do know You have revealed who You are in Your word and through The Word. I can read all that You have revealed through the Law and the Prophets, for the Jewish people have kept it intact, throughout the ages, so that the world may know. I can read about Your Son, The Word of God sent to save a sinful world. I can understand the path of salvation, for I know He is The Way, The Truth, and The Life. I praise Your Name for making the way clear, for speaking the truth through Your servants, and for making eternal life available to all who believe, in the Name of Jesus…
At this time, when all the world seems to be falling into more and more chaos, with each passing day the devastation caused by hatred and greed is further revealed; help us, O Lord, to rest in Your plan. Remind us of Your goodness and mercy and wisdom. Let us remember Your lovingkindness and Your faithfulness toward us who believe. Help us see that we serve a good God who holds all of the world in His loving hands.
Please, Father, lift the veil of unbelief. I know You do not wish for any to perish, but for all to come to You. You have chosen to save the world from our sins. Bring us to our knees before You, trusting in Jesus’ sacrifice and in His bodily resurrection, through Your awesome and mighty power. Find us to be loving servants, and empower us through Your Holy Spirit so that we may overcome in these difficult days…
Keep us faithful, Lord. Bring us before You restored, confirmed, strengthened, and established in Him on that glorious day.
I ask all these things in Your Son’s precious Name, Jesus the Christ,
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for
and the conviction of things not seen.
We are hoping for and convinced of things we can’t see…that is faith.
Jesus said to Thomas when he doubted, “Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe.”
Our faith is in the promise of new life, eternal life, Jesus life.
Our faith is placed in His work, His words, His sacrifice.
We do not put our faith in one another.
That is not where we are to place our trust.
Our faith is in Christ, alone.
We will hurt one another, again and again and again…and again. I like the way Max Lucado puts it:
If hurts were hairs, we’d all look like grizzlies. Even the smooth-skinned beauties of the magazine covers, the composed pastors in the pulpit, the sweet little old lady who lives next door. All of them. All of us. Furry, hairy beasts we’d become. If hurts were hairs, we’d be lost behind the thick of them.
That’s not an excuse to hurt people, but it is the reality of living in this sinful world among sinful people.
If we look to one another as the determining factor in Christ being real, we will miss the beauty of Him.
None of us. No, not one, is without sin.
We all struggle in the flesh.
That is our battle, until this mortal puts on immortality.
That doesn’t mean we aren’t changing.
We grow. We stumble. We get up. We learn.
We grow some more and we stumble again and we get up … and we learn … … …
It’s in the learning that we change from glory to glory, if we don’t give up.
Each test, each trial, each tribulation is a chance for growth.
We’re either getting softer, or harder.
He chose to give us hearts of flesh instead of stone.
It’s in the cooperating with Him that we grow.
We’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without His unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever. ~2Corinthians 4:16 (MSG)
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen.
Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.
Jesus, you know what’s inside of my heart,
When I am coming apart at the seams.
But that’s when my true colors come shining through,
I know that You are the One for me.
A song by Dan Marks, “All That I Need”
Oh, how I wish I had always known this in my innermost being!
I do get glimpses of it, knowing He has been, and will always be, the One who never leaves.
He is the One who will always love.
He accepts me. All of me.
Even the ugliest parts…He has them covered.
He forgives fully and without exception.
I am free with Him.
In Him, I can be me.
(He created me…He likes me!)
My struggle, and possibly yours, is my flesh wanting more.
Why do I keep running to the world?
Why, when deep inside of me I KNOW, He is all I need, do I still look for more…?
When the dark clouds come and bring down the rain,
I know that You will sustain me, Lord.
I surely haven’t always lived that truth.
I have had moments, even years, of living it:
I did get through the miscarriage with His sustaining power.
I did feel His strong hand supporting me through the trials of raising three children.
I was empowered through His strength when illness and homeschooling converged.
I guess that’s why I’m so befuddled with the whys of my most recent years…
…the last five, to be exact.
Why, when I knew Him in victory, did I not hold on to Him in tragedy?
Loneliness, revictimization, fatigue … these are all explanations of what happened within my self … Years of fighting with demons, stuffing the pain, and questioning my illness led to a yearning for relief, a way out of the despair.
That’s when I let go and I let my flesh reign.
I still grieve about it. And, I imagine I always will. He forgets all our sins, but He didn’t give us that ability. When we forget, much of the time it’s an act of denial because we do not want to see the truth of our actions.
Honestly, I don’t want to forget.
I’m okay with the grief.
I’m even okay with the recognition that I did not make a mistake.
I sinned against my husband, my children, and my family.
I sinned against a holy God who gave me the best gifts in life.
I spit in the face of His blessings.
The knowledge of that choice brings me to my knees again and again and again…
Not in self-loathing, or thinking I must continue to ask for forgiveness;
I know He has forgiven me.
I fall on my knees in overwhelming thanksgiving to a great God who loves unconditionally!
So, you see,
I don’t want to forget.
I don’t want to deny what I am capable of doing.
I want to remember the lesson for the remainder of my time on this earth.
And when I get to heaven, then He will wipe away all my tears…
Oh God, help me to remember what I’ve learned.
Your love is all that I need,
All that I need, all that I need.
Your love is all that I need…
All that I need is You.
We must learn to live in the tension between the real and the ideal.
It is in the tension that the beauty of salvation is seen.
~a paraphrase from Andy Stanley
When he said that yesterday, I felt more grace flood my soul than I have felt in a very long while. For someone to recognize the tension between the real and ideal, and then allow for a “less than perfect” reality … Well, I haven’t heard that kind of grace spoken much recently.
Another gracious word from a discussion over the weekend:
Satan calls you by your sin.
God calls you by your name.
And that’s when I remembered, this is warfare.
The names I’ve been called reveal the disappointment others feel toward me.
And the names I’ve called myself reveal my own disgust.
It feels like a flesh and blood battle when flesh and blood people are speaking the words. But, I must remember that we do not war against flesh and blood. Satan can speak through people, without them even realizing they are being used. Remember Peter? One moment he’s declaring Jesus is the Christ and the next, Jesus tells him to “get behind me, Satan!”
It wasn’t that Peter turned into Jesus’ enemy, it’s that he didn’t understand the Father’s plan for Jesus’ life. And in his misunderstanding he spoke.
We do this all the time when we assume we know what God is doing in someone’s life. We imagine we can see where they need to be headed, and yet, only God knows the plans He has for each of us. He is the One working out our salvation for His good will. He is the One empowering us to do the “good works” He has planned for us to accomplish from the foundation of the earth. He is the One who sees all the intricate details of each of our lives and is directing our paths as He sees fit.
Remember, Beloved, when others speak untruths concerning you, when you are “labelled” as they see fit, know that is not My name for you. I call you Beloved. I call you Redeemed. I call you My Child. Stand firm in the armor I’ve given you.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,
but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness,
against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil,
so that after the battle you will still be standing firm.
Stand your ground, putting on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness
For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News,
so that you will be fully prepared.
In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan.
Put on salvation as your helmet,
and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere.
He became sin for us…so that we might become the righteousness of God.
“The gospel tells us that the Creator has become our Redeemer. It announces that the Son of God has become man “for us men and for our salvation” and has died on the cross to save us from eternal judgment. The basic description of the saving death of Christ in the Bible is as a propitiation, that is, as that which quenched God’s wrath against us by obliterating our sins from his sight. God’s wrath is his righteousness reacting against unrighteousness; it shows itself in retributive justice. But Jesus Christ has shielded us from the nightmare prospect of retributive justice by becoming our representative substitute, in obedience to his Father’s will, and receiving the wages of our sin in our place.
By this means justice has been done, for the sins of all that will ever be pardoned were judged and punished in the person of God the Son, and it is on this basis that pardon is now offered to us offenders. Redeeming love and retributive justice joined hands, so to speak, at Calvary, for there God showed himself to be “just, and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus.”
Do you understand this? If you do, you are now seeing to the very heart of the Christian gospel…” ~J.I. Packer, Knowing God
The Prophecy concerning Jesus as found in Isaiah 52-53:
“Look, my servant will succeed!
He will be elevated, lifted high, and greatly exalted
(just as many were horrified by the sight of you)
he was so disfigured he no longer looked like a man;
His form was so marred he no longer looked human
so now he will startle many nations.
Kings will be shocked by his exaltation,
for they will witness something unannounced to them,
and they will understand something they had not heard about.
Who would have believed what we just heard?
When was the Lord’s power revealed through him?
He sprouted up like a twig before God,
like a root out of parched soil;
he had no stately form or majesty that might catch our attention,
no special appearance that we should want to follow him.
He was despised and rejected by people,
one who experienced pain and was acquainted with illness;
people hid their faces from him;
he was despised, and we considered him insignificant.
But he lifted up our illnesses,
he carried our pain;
even though we thought he was being punished,
attacked by God, and afflicted for something he had done.
He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds,
crushed because of our sins;
he endured punishment that made us well;
because of his wounds we have been healed.
All of us had wandered off like sheep;
each of us had strayed off on his own path,
but the Lord caused the sin of all of us to attack him.
He was treated harshly and afflicted,
but he did not even open his mouth.
Like a lamb led to the slaughtering block,
like a sheep silent before her shearers,
he did not even open his mouth.
He was led away after an unjust trial
but who even cared?
Indeed, he was cut off from the land of the living;
because of the rebellion of his own people he was wounded.
They intended to bury him with criminals,
but he ended up in a rich man’s tomb,
because he had committed no violent deeds,
nor had he spoken deceitfully.
Though the Lord desired to crush him and make him ill,
once restitution is made,
he will see descendants and enjoy long life,
and the Lord’s purpose will be accomplished through him.
Having suffered, he will reflect on his work,
he will be satisfied when he understands what he has done.
“My servant will acquit many,
for he carried their sins.
So I will assign him a portion with the multitudes,
he will divide the spoils of victory with the powerful,
because he willingly submitted to death
and was numbered with the rebels,
when he lifted up the sin of many
and intervened on behalf of the rebels.”
…just as many were horrified by the sight of you…
He was so disfigured He no longer looked like a man;
His form was so marred He no longer looked human
so now He will startle many nations.
The revelation of His Story might be right around the corner –
The Suffering Servant will come to earth as The Exalted King!
Will you be found in Christ, alone?
My sin — oh the bliss of this glorious thought –
My sin — not in part but the whole –
Was nailed to the cross and I bear it no more!
Praise the Lord!
Praise the LORD,
Oh, my soul!!!