Last week I saw a movie about the Revolutionary War–a gory and powerful reminder of the cost of our freedom as citizens of what we still believe to be the greatest country on earth. This was underlined by the statement heard in church yesterday, “Freedom isn’t free.” I’m afraid that sometimes I consider freedom to be my entitlement, the default mode. But no—someone always needs to pay the cost. So today I, along with my fellow Americans, honor those who have paid the ultimate price so we can enjoy the freedoms we regrettably take for granted. Are we living to our full capacity and caring for this inheritance of ours?
But on a deeper level, I want to honor the One who gave His life to provide freedom from sin and its consequences and to make me a citizen of the eternal Heavenly Kingdom. How often do I thank Him for it? Am I living to my full capacity?
…Because the sinless Savior died, my sinful soul is counted free;
For God the Just is satisfied to look on Him and pardon me…
(from a song by Charitie L. Bancroft & Vikki Cook)
After a one-sitting read-through of Galatians, I saw the contents of this book from a new perspective in which the work of the Trinity in my life is highlighted, and each one is contrasted with the human factor.
Who chose and called Paul / me? 1:1-2:10
Answer: GOD, not humans
How am I made right with God? 2:11-5:15
Answer: FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST, not works
How can I live to please God? 5:16-6:10
Answer: By the HOLY SPIRIT, not my sinful nature
The writers of the New Testament (especially Luke) seem to have a special place in their heart for women. I love to look at these women and think how I might follow their example in seeking and serving the Lord:
Mary and Elizabeth—responded positively when chosen for special roles in God’s salvation.
Anna—widowed, led a life of active devotion to God, saw & proclaimed the Messiah.
Mary & Martha—pursued special friendship with Jesus like few probably had. Mary gave lavished her treasure unreservedly on Jesus.
Woman with bleeding—believed, touched, was healed & blessed.
Widow who gave two coins—did beyond the expected, gave everything!
Sinful woman—came where she was unwelcome in order to see Jesus, repent and be forgiven.
Priscilla—exercised leadership gifts along with her husband and Paul, hospitality, consistent life and teaching.
This morning we were thrilled to watch the US Navy Blue Angels “practice.” What a glorious sight! The precisely timed and thrilling maneuvers were breathtaking. But maybe the most amazing thing is how closely to each other these four (sometimes six) pilots fly at those incredible speeds. We were told that the lead pilot is the only one who watches where he’s going. The others do whatever it takes to stay in the right position relative to the leader. They can’t take their eyes off him for a second. He communicates to them what he is doing; they just follow and take orders. The application is obvious….
…let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Hebrews 12:2b NLT
Ezra …arrived at Jerusalem on August 4, for the gracious hand of his God was on him. This was because Ezra had determined to study and obey the Law of the LORD and to teach those decrees and regulations to the people of Israel. (Ezra 7:8-10 NLT)
This verse stood out to me recently. Ezra’s devotion to the Lord and his success are outstanding, and the secret is in these three things he focused on: to study, obey, and teach God’s Word.
I want to do that, too.
— I love to study it, but giving this priority is sometimes difficult when other things crowd my schedule.
–I want to obey it. Holy Spirit, please show me how it applies to me and prompt me to carry through when those moments come.
–I love to teach. I pray that not only my words, but my life will be a compelling example of a life like Ezra’s.
I’ve just eaten my first Mounds bar in a year or two—my favorite . It reminds me of one of my favorite pet peeves. Hm…maybe I should say, the peeve that peeves me the most. That is the pairing of the words “sinful” and “decadent” with the words “delicious” or “chocolate.” As a lover of chocolate and of God (not in that order!), I resent this because it sends several unacceptable messages:
1. That anything fun or delicious is sin.
2. That sin is fun.
3. That God doesn’t want us to have fun or enjoy good things.
4. That a life of godliness is going to be boring and joyless.
Imagine heaven with a diet of gruel and canned spinach. No, our meals there are going to be fantastic, beyond the most fabulous gourmet creations. So I eat my Mounds bar (and any other chocolate I am offered—in moderation, of course) with great thanks to God who put this wonderful stuff on this earth for us to enjoy.
…every creation of God is good and no food is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving. 1 Timothy 4:3 (NET)
Have you ever read “Streiker’s Bride” by Robin Hardy? Ever since I read it several years ago, it’s been one of my favorite. In fact, I’ve read it about four times, and I’m a person who NEVER re-reads a novel.
It’s an allegory of the greatest love affair—Jesus wooing and winning His beloved. But in the book his name is Fletcher Streiker, a billionnaire in a real American setting. I don’t want to share too much and spoil the story for you.
The reason I love it is that there is so much in this story about how the Lord Jesus loves me passionately, provides everything I need, allows trials to help me learn, loves to hear me share my heart with Him in prayer, cares for and protects me via His servants (heavenly or earthly), and is coming back for me someday to whisk me off to His home in that Other World.
No, I’m not being paid for this advertisement. (It’s available for sale on the Internet.)
But in the reviews we just looked at, it gets 10 five-star reviews and one four-star—none below that. Nuff said .
This week we took two of our granddaughters (aged 6 and 9) to paint pottery–our first experience with this kind of thing. The girls labored lovingly over their creations, doing their very best. But when they were done, the paint was dull and brush-strokes were obvious. And the green lines that had been made to guide the painting stood out like a sore thumb.
But when we went today to pick up the finished items, we were could hardly believe the difference that the glazing and firing (by professionals!) had made–how smooth, shiny and beautiful they looked!
My first thought was of my work for the Lord. As much as I try to do my best, it’s always flawed. I’m not “the best” in my skills and abilities. My attitudes and motives are not always what they should be. Or I’m just clumsy and embarrassing in my attempts to do what I thought God wanted me to do.
I like to think that God takes my feeble attempts, glazes them with His grace, and fires them in His furnace—burning off the unsightly fumbles, smoothing out the wrinkles, and finally bringing out a beautiful masterpiece—HIS work! That will be The Day!