Set Apart by Grace
The Christian life is unlike any other way of living. Once we accept our need for the Savior, Christ Jesus, and for the redemption He offers, the Spirit of the Living God comes to dwell in each of us. This is not a minor event. This is completely life altering! Though we may look the same on the outside, our interior world begins to shift dramatically as we are lead no longer by our own desires but by His. All of this is reflected in our attitude throughout the remainder of our days. We have a new sense that our choices, our words, our decisions, our companions, our thoughts, the use of our time … all of it is more important than we ever realized. In a sense, our whole perspective on time changes, and we realize that every action has eternal consequences.
This is to say that all of life begins to look different to us from the foundation up. No longer is there a need to entertain the question, “What is the meaning of life?” or “Why am I here?”. It has all been answered, if not in detail, certainly we know that there is more purpose and meaning to our lives than we can begin to imagine. This puts everything we ever thought about ourselves and what we have, what we do, who we are, in a new light. This cannot happen without a tremendous shake up of our lives. We cannot help but look back on the “stuff of life” and re-evaluate our entire value system. Our lives have moved from this date and time into eternity. Though we are still in the world, we are no longer of it. We have become residents of eternity and citizens of the Kingdom of God.
We are a people set apart. Set apart by His grace, for His purposes. All around us we may witness those who act in order to preserve their power, influence, position, and other forms of worldliness. We must not be swayed by their actions or their influence, whether we meet such individuals inside or outside the walls of the church. Our highest calling is to remain true to the leading of the Spirit of God within us. This is our compass. This is our guide. This is the Voice which will not be ignored, no matter what conflicting messages we hear from the voices around us. We are His people, called by His name, set apart by His grace, for His eternal purposes. May we daily live in submission to His Lordship in our lives. Amen.
The Illogical Love of Christ
Let’s face it. From the world’s perspective, there is nothing logical about the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. The God of the universe left the heavenly realm and took on flesh to save a people who had long ago set their faces and hearts from Him. He became nothing, gave up everything, so that those very same people who were poor and lost could become rich and found. No logic in these things! Why would He do it? It doesn’t make any sense! The answer to the question is a four letter word: Love. Love is not very logical at all when you think about it!
Those who do not love fail to understand those who do. Those who love the things and the ways of this world before the things of God cannot begin to understand the concept of sacrificial living for Christ. They can afford to be logical about all things and to rely on this logic as a compass for their lives. There is nothing else for them, really. They are self endowed paupers dressed in what they think are riches. The problem is that this temporary world we live in with all its illusions is fading fast. A day will soon come when each of us will stand on the other side of eternity. On that day, we will all be stripped bare of rank, title, wealth, prestige, education, logic and whatever other things we have made a god of in this life in place of the Real One. On that day, the nature of our true soul and our utter and complete nakedness will be all too apparent to the only eyes that really matter.
God in love uses times of conflict and difficulties in life to “dress” us better for the life to come. The more He strips us of the things of this world, the more we find the need to “clothe” ourselves in Christ. To the world we may seem afflicted, poor, abandoned (think of Job here!), but as we grow dim in the eyes of the world, we grow ever more lovely in His eyes. God sees each of us as His bride growing ever more radiantly beautiful as we await with great anticipation the day of our rejoining with Him. So much of the Christian world misses the entire point. This life means nothing at all. In every action, every thought, God is moving past this time to the end of the ages and into the beginning of the next. Those who are wise, those who hear His voice, strive not for a legacy to leave here on earth, but rather focus on building one for eternity instead. Amen!
The Christian Life and Tree Rings
I remember being taught about the rings inside of trees as a child in elementary school. I learned that you can tell a lot about the life of a tree by studying the pattern of the rings. A tree can contain both thick and thin rings. The patterns in which they are arranged may vary. We can discern various things that occurred in time by observing these things. This year a very dry season. That year, unusually cold or wet. What becomes evident is that conditions unknown and unmade by the tree caused various rates of growth. In the end, however, all that’s evident when we examine the towering tree is its strength and beauty. The internal arrangement of the rings is not seen or understood by the outside observer.
So it is with the ways of God. Days, weeks, months. Worship, studies, conversations, prayers, all in irregular spurts and lulls. Times of peace, times of conflict. Times when we are focused and attentive to our growth. Other times when we seem to be in a dry season. But God, the master gardner, holds the source of water, weather and nutrients in His hands. What matters is not that the tree of our lives grows in any predictable way, but rather that in the end, we become a towering tree of strength in Him. May each believer in Christ grow into the towering tree of faith and strength that He desires each of us to be. Amen!
When the Bottom Drops Out.
Psalm 130 is essentially a cry for help when the bottom has dropped out from beneath us. How often we may feel this way! When we do it may be tempting to think that the thing the “bottom” was resting on has shifted or moved. As Christians that thing is our faith in a Holy God. Has He moved? Has He changed? Has He left us? Of course not! Perhaps the real issue is that of a false bottom.
Too often we rest in a false sense of security in “things”. Our families. Our homes. Our careers. Our bank accounts or retirement plans. All of this ” life stuff” does not really provide a stable foundation. They perhaps bring some relative stability. They can make us feel safe and comfortable for awhile. But life is full of storms and tempests. It is easy for any one of these things to fall away. When it does, we are left feeling like the bottom has just dropped out from beneath us. In our desperation to find equilibrium, we may frantically try to recover the shattered pieces of our lives and entrust them once again to the wrong thing.
The wise psalmist knows where to turn. He cries out to God. He acknowledges his sin. He begins to wait upon the Lord. Herein lies the tricky part. The waiting part. For when we are in distress we want immediate action. We despise living in uncertainty. We long for the stability of what has been lost. The temptation is to pick up the pieces and start plowing forward under our own steam. True redemption occurs when we wait for a solution in God’s time. ” Waiting and watching till morning. Waiting and watching till morning”. This is so very difficult to do. And yet, so necessary. Amen.