Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Archive for April, 2013

The Last Laugh

When my sister and I got Monopoly for Christmas one year, we played it every day of vacation.  Each game took hours!  At first it’s fun, but as the balance of wealth begins to lean to one side, it’s just a painful matter of time until the inevitable happens—if you’re losing.  (And if you’re winning, it becomes rather boring.) Monopoly Deal, on the other hand (a new card game that we’re getting our granddaughter Emmeline for her birthday—don’t tell!), is a refreshing change that allows the balance to be upset very quickly and unexpectedly, giving hope to the underdog.  And it takes only 15-20 minutes to play!

That’s what I thought of when I read Psalm 2 this morning. 

Why do the nations gather together?
Why do their people devise useless plots?
Kings take their stands.
Rulers make plans together
against the LORD and against his Messiah by saying,
“Let’s break apart their chains
and shake off their ropes.”

The one enthroned in heaven laughs.
The Lord makes fun of them.
Then he speaks to them in his anger.
In his burning anger he terrifies them by saying,
“I have installed my own king on Zion, my holy mountain.”  
      (Psalm 2:1-6, God’s Word translation)

Powerful and ungodly nations and rulers may seem to have the upper hand now, but God is not worried.  The balance of power will change dramatically and He will have the last laugh, punishing those who defy Him and installing the Lord Jesus as the eternal King over all.  This is my comfort and my hope as I live as an alien on this earth, a subject of the Kingdom of God.

Maranatha!  Come Lord Jesus!

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What to Pray for

The Lord’s Prayer has taken on new meaning for me.  It is a concise and beautiful picture of what my true concerns should be as a subject of God’s kingdom.  God takes priority.

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done on earth as it is in heaven
.

God, may You be honored!  People today are ignoring You, denying You, shaking their fists in Your face.  But one day every single person will have to kneel and acknowledge that You are the only true and sovereign Creator and King of the universe.  (Philippians 2:10-11)  I can hardly wait until You restore this earth to what it was meant to be and directly rule it graciously, justly, and powerfully!

Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.

Then my personal concerns—
   provision of my basic needs for life (i.e. food),
   forgiveness of my sins,
   harmony and unity with others,
   protection from Satan and his power.

Nothing here about convenience, choices, safety, health, wealth, prestige, and all the other things we consider so important.  Lord, please keep my eyes on what’s truly important and remind me that this earth is only my temporary home. 

Maranatha!  Come Lord Jesus!

If only I’d done more…

“If only I had not kept the car, we could have gotten out more,” Schindler is quoted as saying at the end of the movie bearing his name.  This line haunts me.  After all the heroic and sacrificial things that this man did to save Jews from the Holocaust, he wished he’d given up more of the things he took for granted in his privileged life.  In the end, those things didn’t count.

What will I feel and say when I stand before my Lord on that final day?  Will I regret wasted time, self-preoccupation, attention squandered on things that have no eternal value?  I am challenged to daily re-evaluate my priorities and invest my life in the things that really matter, even if it means sacrifice.  I’m also deeply moved by this song:

By and by when I look on His face,
Beautiful face, thorn shadowed face;
By and by when I look on His face,
I’ll wish I had given Him more.
More, so much more,
More of my life than I e’er gave before
By and by when I look on His face,
I’ll wish I had given Him more.

In the light of that heavenly place,
Light from His face, beautiful face;
In the light of that heavenly place,
I’ll wish I had given Him more.
More, so much more,
Treasures unbounded for Him I adore,
By and by when I look on His face,
I’ll wish I had given Him more.

–by Grace Reese Adkins

Against All Odds

A favorite childhood memory is the Kids’ Bible Club my parents held every Wednesday for the dozen or so elementary kids in the rural community where we attended a one-room, K-8 school.  Mom taught us songs and Bible stories using flannelgraph, and we had a lively Scripture memorization program where I tried to keep ahead of my best friend, receiving a small prize for each group of verses successfully recited.

Our theme song was an adaptation for children (by Dad) of the hymn “Am I a Soldier of the Cross?” This song speaks of the expectations we might have as citizens of God’s kingdom while still in these alien lands.  Like a soldier in war, we can’t expect “flowery beds of ease” but must be prepared to “bear the toil, endure the pain” before we reach our final glorious victory. 

I need to keep reminding myself of this when facing my (trivial!) inconveniences or when thinking about what I might have to suffer for Christ’s sake someday.  I am challenged and chided by the example of Allied soldiers in a World War II documentary I’ve been watching.  These men faced incredible obstacles and impossible odds in their struggle to preserve freedom for me and many others, and they unselfishly gave their lives for that noble cause.  And by God’s grace, freedom prevailed.  How much more for the struggle I face today against both seen and unseen powers.  If God is with us, who can stand against us?  Am I committed enough to endure whatever it takes?

Am I a soldier of the cross,
   A follower of the Lamb?
And shall I fear to own His cause
   Or blush to speak His name?

Must I be carried to the skies
   On flowery beds of ease?
While others fought to win the prize,
   And sailed through bloody seas?

Are there no foes for me to face?
   Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
   To help me on to God?

Sure I must fight, if I would reign
   Increase my courage, Lord!
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
   Supported by Thy word.

Thy saints, in all this glorious war,
   Shall conquer, though they die;
They view the triumph from afar,
   And seize it with their eye.

When that illustrious day shall rise,
   And all Thy armies shine
In robes of victory through the skies,
   The glory shall be Thine.  (by Isaac Watts)

My Awesome Jesus!

I love the paradoxes that describe Jesus.  He defies being put into a box.  Those who know Him revel in the fact that he’s both…

My Shepherd and yet my sacrificial Lamb (John 10:11 & John 1:29)

My God and yet my Brother (John 20:28 & Luke 8:21)

My Creator and yet my Companion (John 1:3 & Matthew 28:20)

Eternal yet killed (and of course raised to life)  (John 1:1; 19:30 & chapter 20)

Master and yet Servant (Jude 1:4 & Mark 10:45)

And much, much more!

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
    for through him God created everything
        in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
    and the things we can’t see—
        such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
Everything was created through him and for him.
    He existed before anything else,
        and he holds all creation together.
Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body.
He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead.
So he is first in everything.
For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ,
    and through him God reconciled everything to himself.
        He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
            by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.  (Colossians 1:15-20)

Maranatha!  Come, Lord Jesus!

What’s to Believe?

Recently, a favorite motif for home décor is one word:  “BELIEVE”

believe

It sounds so noble, but does it mean anything?  “Believe” is a transitive verb, requiring an object.  In other words, one has to believe something.  That might be the truth or a lie, a fact or fancy, a dream or reality.  What we believe makes all the difference. 

Some may believe in themselves, in fate, in the goodness of mankind (!), etc.  As for me, my belief / trust is in the absolutely reliable God–the powerful, wise, and loving Creator of the universe and of me.  Is the object of your trust truly trustworthy?

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

     On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
     All other ground is sinking sand;
     All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

 

Are We Being Persecuted?

Persecution of Christians has taken many forms over the centuries and is found in various forms around the world in our time.  Where are we on this chart?  Generally, the progression will be from left to right.  Where is the breaking point for each of us?  If we withstand the milder forms, we are more likely to stand a more severe form—all by God’s grace.  If we cave under the milder forms, it will be very difficult to retain our integrity later on.  Think of Daniel taking his stand first against eating non-kosher food, which strengthened his resolve to resist pressure to worship idols later on. 

 

Chart

Chart from the blog of Rebecca Hamilton  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/publiccatholic/2013/03/degrees-of-christian-persecution-where-does-america-fit/

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