Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Archive for August, 2014

Living in an Insane World

If you want to get depressed, just read the headlines.  Horrible diseases, old and new enemies invading and terrorizing, environmental catastrophes, incredible violence inflicted by individuals on one another—and more! 

How can we who know the Lord live sanely in this insane world?  I found a four-fold plan in 1 Peter 4:7-10 that can keep our hearts at peace and our lives profitably occupied:

“The end of everything is near.  Therefore…”

1.  Practice self-control. (v. 7)

A healthy balance in all things; wise use of time and resources; curbing sinful & selfish impulses; being controlled by the Holy Spirit

2.  Keep my mind clear so I can pray. (v. 7)

Prayer is priority.  Shut out distracting “noise.”  Ask God to help me think about what is true, pure, and worthy.  Remember that prayer taps God’s power to accomplish His amazing purposes.

3.  Love other believers warmly. (v. 8-9)

Delight in serving them unselfishly.  Remember they are my brothers and sisters, much loved by our mutual Father. 

4.  Use the abilities God has given me to serve others and glorify God. (v. 10)

What are my gifts?  Speaking?  Showing kindness?  Helping?  Mentoring? Writing?  Music?  What about yours?

Focusing on these priorities will keep me too busy to worry and wring my hands.  For us who belong to the Lord, this life is a journey to heaven.  The destination brings hope and meaning to the trials along the way.

Here’s a beautiful song that I have come to love recently:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEy018wXZI4

“Jesus Draw Me Ever Nearer”

Jesus draw me ever nearer
As I labour through the storm.
You have called me to this passage,
and I’ll follow, though I’m worn.

May this journey bring a blessing,
May I rise on wings of faith;
And at the end of my heart’s testing,
With Your likeness let me wake.

Jesus guide me through the tempest;
Keep my spirit staid and sure.
When the midnight meets the morning,
Let me love You even more.

Let the treasures of the trial                                 
Form within me as I go –
And at the end of this long passage,
Let me leave them at Your throne.

Music by Keith Getty; Words by Margaret Becker
Copyright © 2002 Thankyou Music

A Sinister Whisper

It’s an old story
          but it is being replayed every day in millions of hearts

God:  You are free to eat from any tree in the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.
          I want you to live a life in conformity with My character and My holiness. 

Serpent to Eve:  Did God REALLY say….???
          The Bible isn’t meant to be taken literally.  You can just decide which parts   are true for you.

Eve:  God said that if we eat from this tree, we will surely die.

Serpent:  You will NOT surely die.
          God’s commands are irrelevant for today.  Anyway, you only live once!

Serpent:  If you eat this fruit, you’ll be just as wise as God!
          Nothing is off limits for us enlightened ones.  You “rule-keepers” are still in     the dark ages.

Eve:  The fruit looks beautiful and delicious.
          Indulge!  You deserve it!  If it feels good, do it!

The trap springs!  Gone is the life of simple joy and obedience, love and harmony. 

How many are lured by these lies today? 

 

 

Funny, smart & beautiful

I’ve seen these three words strung together to describe the most desirable traits in a woman.  But what about kindness & compassion, wisdom, faithfulness, godliness, loyalty, purity, and integrity?  Not every woman can be “funny, smart and beautiful,” but any woman (or man, for that matter) can, by God’s grace, develop the  character traits listed above which are the criteria of true attractiveness. 

“The Proverbs 31 woman” is is an amazing woman who by no means fits the stereotype of a meek and mild nobody living in the shadow of her husband.

She takes initiative and is industrious in her work and the administration of her household. 

She has a head for business–in buying land, planting a crop, and selling her products. 

She takes pride in making all kinds of beautiful things for herself and her family. 

She plans ahead and provides for the future. 

She shares with the needy. 

Her words are wise and gracious. 

She is a great asset to her husband. 

She is praised and honored by those who know her best—her husband and children. 

(By the way, it doesn’t say anything about her appearance.) 

And what is the foundation of this kind of character?  Maybe the clue is in the summary:  “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”  (Proverbs 31:30)

Maybe the task isn’t so daunting after all.  By God’s grace, this is the woman I want to be! 

Sacrifice

“Sacrifice” is a word often used nowadays to speak of giving up something for a greater cause.  Examples would be military heroes who gave up their lives or health for the sake of their country, or people who give up some financial or lifestyle advantage for the sake of what they see as higher priority.

“Sacrifice” in the Bible always refers to gifts given to God, or to false gods, in worship.  In Old Testament times, people would bring an animal to God to be slaughtered and often burned entirely.  Grain offerings would accompany these gifts.  But these were external acts that could be done regardless of one’s attitude toward God.  Often, via the His prophets, God insisted that he doesn’t want people’s sacrifices of cattle, sheep, grain, etc. so much as he desires their obedience…

Since Jesus has come and has become the ultimate and final sacrifice to put us right with God (Hebrews 9:26), we might think that sacrifice is a thing of the past.  And so it is, if we’re speaking of the kind of sacrifices described above.  However, the following “sacrifices” are listed in the New Testament as appropriate and necessary gifts to God from His people:

Our bodies 
       …present your bodies as a sacrifice – alive, holy, and pleasing to God – which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1 NET)  Contrary to public opinion, my body is not my own!  (See also 1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Our faithful service to God 
      But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. (Philippians 2:17 NLT)

Our support of those who are spreading God’s message
     …the gifts you sent…are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. (Philippians 4:18 NIV)

Praise to God 
     …let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. (Hebrews 13:15 NLT)

Doing good and sharing with others 
     And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God. (Hebrews 13:16 NLT)

Without Christ…

Today I want to share with you some choice thoughts from the Puritan writer John Owens, as quoted by Tim Challies on his blog. Note the startling implications following each positive statement.

A list of seven things that Christ is:

  1. He is the Way; men without him are Cains, wanderers, vagabonds:—
  2. He is the Truth; men without him are liars, like the devil, who was so of old:—
  3. He is the Life; without him men are dead, dead in trespasses and sins :—
  4. He is the Light; without him men are in darkness, and go they know not whither:—
  5. He is the Vine; those that are not grafted in him are withered branches, prepared for the fire:—
  6. He is the Rock; men not built on him are carried away with a flood:—
  7. He is Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the author and the ender, the founder and the finisher of our salvation.

It reminds me of an old song from the ‘70s:

Men are trying to find the answers to the questions that never cease
They find in life there’s something missing; they are looking for release
And the way to peace.
    He is the way; without Him there’s no going
    He is the truth; without Him there’s no knowing
    He is the life now and eternally
    He satisfies the searching heart and fills men with His love so rich and free!

Unconventional weapons

Who ever heard of defeating a whole army with a stone shot from a sling?  Well, if you’ve heard Bible stories, you’ve probably heard of that one, hurled by young David at the giant Goliath, resulting in a rout of the whole Philistine army.

Here are some other unconventional weapons God used in the hands of his people in the Old Testament:

–An oxgoad in the hands of Shamgar that killed 600 Philistines who had been oppressing Israel.  (Judges 3:31)

–A tent peg driven by Jael, a woman, into the temple of an enemy general as he slept.  (Judges 4:21)

Ram’s horns, clay jars and torches in the hands of Gideon and his 300 men.  The cacophany in the middle of the night threw the huge Midianite army into panic so that many killed one another and the others fled.  (Judges 7:16ff)

–A donkey’s jawbone in the hands of Samson that killed 1000 Philistines. (Judges 15:15)

Songs of praise to God from the mouths of the choir marching in front of Jehoshaphat’s army.  When they reached the enemy, they found that God had already responded to their song by causing them to slaughter one another.             (2 Chronicles 20:21)

God doesn’t require the latest modern weapons to win the victory.  In each of these cases, it was not the strength of the weapons themselves but the faith of God’s people in His infinite power.  Yes, that power is still available today.  It’s a wonderful thing to wield the weapon of prayer and watch God do amazing things in response.

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