Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

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True Perspective

I really identify with Asaph.  He’s the guy who was fuming over the teflon-coated “fat cats” who never seemed to get what they deserved for all their pride, cruelty, wickedness, and total disregard for God. He even got to wondering if his own pure life was all in vain—UNTIL he came face to face with God and got it all in proper perspective. 

So what about me?  Like Asaph…

…I look around me.  Life seems so unfair!  I become cynical.
…I look within me.  I am bitter, foolish, ignorant.
…I look up—at God. 
            He holds me, guides me, leads me to a glorious destiny.              
            He is all I want, all I need. 
            He is the strength of my heart no matter what happens. 
            He is mine forever. 

And I am secure!

(Taken from Psalm 73.)

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Two Beloved Children

A movie called “Someone Else’s Child” jumped out at me one evening when I needed some mindless relaxation.  Inspired by actual events, it turned out to be the gripping story of Corey, who gave birth and then realized eight years later that Christopher, whom she had raised and loved very much, was not her son!  Eventually she finds her own son, named Nelson by a couple who adopted him but turned out to be abusive.

Corey ends up formally adopting Christopher to ensure that he stays with her.  But she also refuses to give up her rights to her natural son.  The two boys are told the truth about the situation and have a chance to get acquainted; they get along famously.  Amazingly, Christopher is not jealous of his mother’s love for Nelson.  He is totally secure in the love of his mother and grandparents, and a close tie develops between the two “brothers.”  The movie ends on an optimistic note and one hopes that eventually both boys will be securely united with Corey, living as one happy family. 

Well, I love analogies, and it dawned on me that this is a beautiful picture of God and His two children.  The Jews are His children by birthright but have been separated from Him for a very long time.  He longs for them, but meanwhile we Gentile believers in Christ have been adopted into His family, living in his home, enjoying His love and blessings.  But God is still seeking to regain His other child, the Jews, and eventually He will.  Should we Gentiles be jealous?  Should we deny their right to the Father’s love, their place in the family, and their share of the inheritance?  No!  Rather, we are enriched when they come to find their true home, their true family in their Father’s house.  God’s love for us Gentiles is not in the least diminished because of his love for his “birth children,” the Jews.  His loving heart expands to receive all who come to Him.

One day we will live all together as God’s happy family.  And oh, what a great reunion that will be! 

Making Himself at Home

If we tell our guests to make themselves at home, what does that mean?  Does it mean we expect them to raid the fridge?  To rearrange the furniture as it suits them?  To invite their own friends in? 

Well, maybe not.  But then what does it mean for Christ to make himself at home in our hearts (Ephesians 3:17)?  If we truly turn over the keys to him, here are some things that might happen:

–If something needs fixing, he’ll do it.
–He can help himself to whatever I have.
–He sets his own schedule of when he wants to do what.
–He can bring his friends in to visit anytime.
–He can play my piano/music—His new tunes and beautiful lyrics.
–He can get rid of the mess & clutter.
–He will do some much-needed rearranging (priorities)
–He will redecorate, changing out some of the pictures on the wall, etc.
–He will discourage unsavory visitors / intruders (e.g. bad attitudes)
–He will delight me with his presence, his love, his wisdom, his stories.
–He will invite me to join in his activities.

Am I ready for this?  Are you?  What’s the alternative?

Persistent Pests

ant_PNG19360

Oh no, not again!?!  Red ants all over the kitchen counter again this morning.  Yes,I know—I’d left a pan soaking in the sink. And yesterday Ron waged another battle with the bukbok (wood borers) that infest the kitchen cupboard as well as the piano and a few other things.  We inject more kerosene into the bukbok holes, scribble poison chalk on the ant trails, fill gaps with sealant and glue and occasionally (if all else fails) a quick squirt of insecticide which I react to.  But before long they’re back again—doing more damage, making a nuisance of themselves.

I have joked that they’re like the Enemy of our souls, never giving up, always plaguing us, finding new ways to get at us, destroying and damaging.  But it’s not really a joke. Even if I may think I have them licked, my pride, worry, laziness and critical spirit keep popping out in new ways.  Oh, woe is me!  When will ever be done battling these? 

Someday I may live in a different place without red ants and bukbok, but there may be other pests and problems to plague me.  I do know Jesus promised that in heaven there will be no destructive moths, rust or thieves!  And there I will no longer battle the sinful nature in me that distrusts, disobeys and distresses.

I praise You, Father, that Your power is greater.  Please seal those holes with Your presence, Your grace, Your greatness and holiness.  Keep me vigilant; don’t let my guard slip and give the Enemy a foothold.

What Happened to Solomon?

Did you know that God gave a list of laws for kings?  Even more amazing is that one of the most famous kings of Israel broke every one of them!  (Deuteronomy 17:14-20)

DO NOT ACQUIRE MANY
War horses, especially from Egypt.  These were the armaments of that day, important for national security.
RATHER, strength and security are to be found in God alone.

Wives, source of pleasure and delight.
RATHER, the heart’s delight is to be found in God alone who gives His good gifts.

Wealth.
RATHER, God Himself is to be our treasure.  We look to Him for provision and honor.

DO
–Make a personal copy of the Scripture and read it every day!  In here we find all those things
Security:  You are my refuge and my shield; your word is my source of hope. (Psalm 119:114)
Pleasure:  How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey.  (Psalm 119:103)
Treasure:  Your teachings are worth more to me than thousands of pieces of gold and silver. (Psalm 119:72)

So what happened to Solomon when he amassed warhorses from Egypt, collected 1000 wives & concubines from many foreign nations, and accumulated stupendous wealth?  You can read his sobering story in 1 Kings 10-11.

And after all these thousands of year, what person or nation hasn’t sought security, pleasure, and wealth?  But why be taken in by the fakes which go sour, don’t last, and just disappoint?  The real thing is found in only one place:  God.

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold,
I’d rather be His than have riches untold
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or land,
Yes, I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand.

Chorus:
Than to be the king of a vast domain
And be held in sin’s dread sway
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

I’d rather have Jesus than worldly applause,
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame,
I’d rather be true to His holy name.

He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom,
He’s sweeter than honey from out the comb.
He’s all my hungering spirit needs
I’d rather have Jesus and let him lead.
(by George Beverly Shea)

Listen to the song here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u62uYEssk7o

The Perfect Gift

gift box

I love finding the perfect gift for a loved one—something they’ll love and that tells them I care about them very much.  For my granddaughter it was a book about cats.  For my brother-in-law it was a package of caramel nut coffee. 

God gives gifts, too. He gives us life, breath, food and our basic needs every day.  But I’m thinking of the special abilities He gives His children to share with one another for each other’s benefit—commonly known as “spiritual gifts.”  Paul discusses these in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14, but right in between those chapters is the real jewel, described as “the way of life that is best of all” (12:31), “the greatest of these” (13:13) and “your highest goal” (14:1).  This is LOVE! 

Love is contrasted with the spiritual gifts which are variously given to different ones of God’s children; love is to be practiced by all of us.  This famous “love chapter” divides nicely into three parts:

1.  The priority of love. It’s indispensable!  As a child, I saw an advertisement for “the indispensable dress.”  I had to ask my mom what that meant, thinking that maybe it meant “indisposable”.  She said it means that you can’t do without it!  Well, I’ve done okay without that dress, but God says that whatever other good things we may do are totally worthless without love.  That’s sobering.

2.  The properties of love are presented in beautiful poetry in the middle part of this chapter. And just so I can test and see if I’m really a loving person, here’s the checklist: 

–Am I patient & kind with people who get on my nerves?
–Am I envious of what I don’t have or boastful about what I have or can do?
–Am I arrogant, rude, or self-seeking—or do I give priority to others’ needs and  feelings?
–Am I irritable or do I hold grudges—or am I a channel of God’s grace?
–Do I delight in what is good and true, or am I focused on lies, evil and injustice?
–Do I bear, believe, hope and endure all things—not naïve but trusting God while sharing my life and love with others?

3.  The permanence of love.  All other spiritual gifts will end “when the perfect comes” and we’re home in heaven. We won’t need preachers, prophets, healing, etc. We will be complete and whole.  Our love for one another and for the Lord will then be perfect as we bask in the ecstasy of His immeasurable love for us. 

More Than the Eye Can See

eyes

Sleight-of-hand and trick photography have shaken our faith in the reliability of what we “see.” On the other hand, there’s so much we accept without seeing—from the tiniest workings of the human cell to the movements of the farthest stars which scientists only postulate. And there’s another world that intersects with ours which can be seen only by eyes that are supernaturally opened.  Here are some examples:

Balaam saw only a stubborn donkey who refused to budge down an apparently clear pathway. But when “the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes,” he saw the angel that had been visible to his donkey all along. (Numbers 22:21-34)

Hagar sat weeping in the desert waiting for herself and her son to die, when “God opened her eyes,” showed her well full of water, and promised to make a great nation of her son. (Genesis 21:19)

Elisha’s servant saw only the frightful enemy army surrounding the city. Then when “the Lord opened his eyes,” he saw the hillside was filled with horses and chariots of fire—God’s mighty army of protection! (2 Kings 6:14-17)

Two men were captivated by the words of a “stranger” who joined them on the way to Emmaus. Then “their eyes were opened” and they recognized it was Jesus!  (Luke 24:31)

After Saul (a.k.a.) Paul had been blinded on the road to Damascus, he regained his sight and was commissioned by Jesus to the Gentiles “to open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light…and receive forgiveness for their sins.” (Acts 26:18)

And how about us?  Paul prays for the believers: “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know
–the hope to which he has called you,
–the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
–and his incomparably great power for us who believe. (Ephesians 1:18-19)

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1)

Just as surely as the inner workings of the cell are real, the things that God tells are true, and we can rely on them.  There is “a whole ‘nother world” out there beyond what we can see.  Let’s take off our blinders.

Open our eyes, Lord, we want to see Jesus
To reach out and touch Him and say that we love him.
Open our ears, Lord, and help us to listen
Open our eyes, Lord, we want to see Jesus!

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