Our Entire Blessedness

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Do you ever foolishly stoop to drink from another fountain than Christ?

I do.

I feel Him calling me to turn away from my fleshly responses to life and back toward Graceland.  Trusting in Him fully in each moment.  JESUS is my entire blessedness.  Why do I wallow in the world and flesh?  I have Him…abundance…in each moment. 

But I must choose that.

How many other fountains are there?  Let me count the ways…

The fountain of control.

The fountain of anger.

The fountain of worry.

The fountain of fear.

The fountain of distrust.

The list of the fountains that my flesh offers in place of the fountain of Christ are endless.

Yet if we are bound to Christ, found in Him, our entire blessedness is in Him.

Thank you, readers, for sharing your thoughts with me.  Sometimes, like today, I add more to my posts because of your insights.

Lyli shared this verse with me…

“The Fear-of-God is a spring of living water
    so you won’t go off drinking from poisoned wells.” – Proverbs 14:27 MSG

and another version for more insight…

“The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life,
    that one may turn away from the snares of death.” – Proverbs 14:27 ESV

and Beth shared this song with me: All My Fountains by Chris Tomlin

and I awoke this morning sensing the need to add this:

The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
    the work of human hands.
They have mouths, but do not speak;
    they have eyes, but do not see;
they have ears, but do not hear,
    nor is there any breath in their mouths.
Those who make them become like them,
    so do all who trust in them.” -Psalm 135:15-18

The Lord is calling me…and all of those who love Him to turn toward Him.  May we live as ones who trust in the Lord, turning away from the works of the flesh.  Let’s begin to begin again.  We can do it each of our days and at any moment within them.

As my ESV Gospel Transformation Bible says:

“Union with Christ is not a single specific blessing we receive in our salvation.  Rather, it is the best phrase to describe all the blessings of salvation.  We have unconditional election in Christ, adoption in Christ, fulfillment of God’s plan in Christ, redemption and forgiveness in Christ, until the final uniting of all things in Christ.”

Looking forward with you, my friends, toward the final uniting of all things in Christ.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” -Ephesians 1:3-10, ESV

Linking up this week with the following inspiring and encouraging blogs.  I highly recommend visiting any and all of them!

purposefulfaith.com     Photobucket Holly Barrett    linkup  SDG Gathering A Field of Wildflowers sunday-stillness-button  Spiritual Sundays     Grab button for Faith Along the Way Renewed Daily - Recommendation Saturday Missional WomenFF Z Font Fellowship Fridays #45  The Watered Soul  “countingmyblessings"       Grab button for Being Confident of This  Dance With Jesus1114updatedbutton  mom blogs party  Imparting Gracesaving4six     beloved_brews_faithbarista_badge _     7 Days Time      WHHWButton200X200I Choose Joy!    Photobucket

The Kind of Death I Long For

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Not too far from my house there is a patch of woods that runs along a bluff overlooking the Missouri River.  It’s in a place that is quite special to me.  To get there you have to enter a cemetery.  I grew up not far from this cemetery, so going there is like revisiting my childhood.  My siblings and I used to ride our bikes through it as kids.  Once in a while, intrigued by the antiquity of them,  we would stop to look at the graves.

Once inside the cemetery, the entry point to the patch of woods we like to explore is right behind the statue of Jesus held by his mother. I think of her mother fears as I too join her in letting my children go.  We head toward the very edge of the bluff overlooking the train tracks and Missouri river.  Sometimes I fear their safety in moments like this,  but we head on toward beauty and adventure.

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My kids walk past old trees that stood even when I was their age.  Trees that have stood the test of time, peeking through and over each other, watching all those buried and weeping.  Rooted well I guess.

That is how I want to be.  Rooted well.

Still able to stand as I watch death come and go.  Able to stand in Christ and for Christ in the good times as well as the bad.  Able to say no to the world, yes to Christ.  Willing to look like a crazy Jesus freak, when I want to look so normal and acceptable.  I want to be rooted in His love, solidly living out trust in His love and acceptance of me.

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”  -Colossians 2:6-7

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” -Ephesians 3:14-19

We come upon a cluster of trees still rooted but beaten and bending over the bluff toward the river.  Roots still clinging to the ground for life and trunks still bending toward the living water but oh so weathered and beaten. That’s how I want to be.

There are, of course, other trees that didn’t stay rooted.  We climb those and sit on them.  Amazed at how they can still exist in this world after so many years of being uprooted.  We throw rocks over the bluff, visit our secret garden and come out at a friend’s house.  We marvel at nature with him and then head back toward our car…through the cememtery.

A woman we know is visiting her deceased husband’s grave.  We talk about the hardness of death.  She trembles.  We fumble for words.  We try to struggle with this death talk right smack in the middle of the most beautiful day on earth.  I was somewhat relieved when we left and headed toward the car, released from helping someone carry the burden of death.  But I couldn’t get in the car.  I felt a gentle but firm nudge…a feeling that I just couldn’t get back in the car without going back to pray for that woman.  Why didn’t we do it before?  And was I crazy to feel this urge?

Ugh.

My deepest desire was to do it.  But my flesh…it didn’t want to.  I’d look so funny running back to her down that long driveway through the cemetery.  What would she be thinking as she sees me on that long jaunt back toward her, all the while probably wanting privacy as she grieves. I stood for several minutes contemplating.  My family looking at me strangely, begging me to get in.  But no…I couldn’t.  I couldn’t get in until I did this thing that was most unexpected.  It felt as if my getting back in the car would be the tone I was setting for the rest of my walk with Christ.  Really?

This little thing…sensing a heavy burden to pray.  That may just be my own thought….or maybe not.  This…this is really going to make or break my walk?

I don’t believe if I would’ve walked away the Lord would’ve been angry with me or abandoned me.  But I do believe there comes a time when we need to follow what we feel God is calling us to. For the sake of the Lord and all He’s done for us.  For our own sakes too.  To live a life congruent with what we say we believe.  To put Him above our worldly concerns.  And the thought of getting in the car just didn’t seem possible.  As much as I couldn’t imagine really walking back there to pray for that woman, I couldn’t imagine not doing it.

That there, my friends, is the pattern I normally see when I think the Lord wants me to do something.  As much as I can’t imagine doing what I believe He wants, I can’t imagine not doing it.  It is when the flesh and the spirit collide and I feel the spiritual world and the physical world at odds.  That is usually when I know.

So I said, “I’ll be right back…I have to go back and do something.”

Without taking time to explain, I left my family and walked back…briskly.  As awkward as it was, I told her that I felt a burden that, perhaps, the Lord wanted me to come back to pray.  She was thankful and accepted the invitation toward awkwardness with a smile and tears.

I must admit, I move in my heart away from death.  I want nothing to do with it.  As a Christian, I’m not afraid of what will happen after death.  But I don’t want to leave my family.  I want to keep living out my days here.  But this…this rare experience reminded me of the death I do want.

“But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” – Paul, Galations 6:13

My ESV study bible says this:

“Paul is saying that the entire world system in all its glory, but in opposition to God, is dead or destroyed in its power to attract him; it has no influence or power over Paul, no appeal to him.  Paul is similarly dead to the desires and attractions of the world, for he serves Christ as his new master.”

May this world hold no sway over me.  When it doesn’t have sway over me, Holy Spirit stuff happens.  This is the kind of death I long for.  Death to the world and any caring about what others think that would hinder me from following Christ or from anything He calls me to as I follow Him.

As His Spirit holds more and more sway over us, may we, then, hold more sway in the world. 

Linking up this week with the following inspiring and encouraging blogs.  I highly recommend visiting any and all of them!

purposefulfaith.com     Photobucket Holly Barrett    linkup  SDG Gathering A Field of Wildflowers sunday-stillness-button  Spiritual Sundays     Grab button for Faith Along the Way Renewed Daily - Recommendation Saturday Missional WomenFF Z Font Fellowship Fridays #45  The Watered Soul  “countingmyblessings"       Grab button for Being Confident of This  Dance With Jesus1114updatedbutton  mom blogs party  Imparting Gracesaving4six     beloved_brews_faithbarista_badge _     7 Days Time      WHHWButton200X200I Choose Joy!    Photobucket

If You Have a Dream

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Do you have a dream?  I hope you do.  God has made you and molded you in your life circumstances for certain gifts, longings, desires and passions. Often times, these stir in our hearts and minds for years and months before we take real steps toward living them out.

I’ve had a longing to write and create pictures since I was a little girl.  I remember at about age four or five I would trace the pictures from Lois Lenski’s Strawberry Girl and pretend to write in those blank spaces around the pictures.  As I grew, I made more of my own pictures and writings.  In college, I was encouraged in my writing, but I ignored it in order to be more practical.  I’m just now, in my forties, nourishing the writer and artist in me.

The world will tell you that you can do anything…but I’m here to tell you  that isn’t always true.  I know after my first two paragraphs that may sound really discouraging, but I promise, the goal is to ultimately encourage.

You see, sometimes you can put all of your money, energy or hopes into a goal or passion and it may, from the world’s viewpoint, look like a miserable failure.  Sometimes things really don’t turn out the way you thought.  I believe we’ve all had that happen to our dreams.  Sometimes families don’t turn out the way you envisioned when walked down the isle or when you brought that baby home.  Sometimes careers are dashed by things that seem out of your control.    Death or illness comes knocking and your dream to live alongside another or live well is taken away.  Sometimes, it’s just the smaller dreams that get dashed. Your simple to-do list is deemed inappropriate by 7 am by a sick child.

Yeah, the world tells us we can do anything.  But the truth is, sometimes we just can’t.  But I’m here to say, that if your hope is in Christ, we’re OK even when that happens.

Over the past week, my husband transformed a corner in our bedroom from being a place that I piled the kids’ outgrown clothes to being my writing nook.  The first morning I sat down in this space I nearly cried.  For about a decade now I’ve been using a little bookshelf, the end of the couch and an end table as my personal space.  All of that time, this space was waiting.  I had a new view of my world.  I could see people walking in the neighborhood and all of the many squirrels bustling through a system of trees from my yard to the surrounding yards.  I could watch how the birds were working and the writer in me felt fed by my space for the first time in what seems like a lifetime ago.

I have a dream to use my writing and creativity to help produce some income for my family.  My husband is working several part time jobs while he establishes a ministry.  Watching him work so hard, makes me want to help out as much as possible.  My main job is homeschooling, but I believe I can put some part time hours in doing something I love.

My business idea may  not work.  The hubby may have to keep working four jobs.  We may even lose more money. So why are my husband and I pursuing what we believe to be our callings?

It’s not because we trust in ourselves…that we can do anything and be successful.  It is because we are putting our hope in God until He shows us it is time to do something else.

There have been times and there will be times when I don’t feel blessed.  When counting material blessings is hard and doesn’t seem to impact me much.  Times when it is hard not to look only at my immediate circumstances. A grateful heart only takes you so far if you’re only thankful for material blessings.  As Christians, we must look at our true lasting blessings.

Whether or not our dreams come true, we are blessed.

Why is He whose help is the God of Jacob, the Lord, so blessed?

  1. He is the maker of heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them.  He is powerful and creative and all knowing if He created me and my surroundings.  He must know how to help me!  He is beyond capable!
  2. He remains faithful forever. How can I trust in anyone’s help who is not faithful?
  3. He is merciful and compassionate showing mercy on and helping those who are in need (the widow, fatherless, oppressed, hungry, prisoners, blind, bowed down, righteous, alien).
  4. He reigns forever. I am on the victor’s side!

Whether or not I receive material blessings and all of my dreams come true. I have the above.  The faithful, powerful, merciful, compassionate, reigning, maker of heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them.

Whether or not my dreams come true in this life, God is good.  I believe He is able.  I trust that He will bless what I believe to be God-given desires. But even if He doesn’t allow them to be fruitful (according to my definition of fruitful)…He is good!

I think of the those good old boys, Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego…

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.  If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.  But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” -Daniel 3:16-18

Their situation was way different, but I often think of them when I put myself “out there” in life…

As we, with wisdom, throw ourselves into the furnace of pursuing what we feel God is calling us to, we can say with Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego, “He is able, but even if He doesn’t bless in the way we are hoping, we will still serve, worship and trust Him.  He is still good.”

He takes care of the birds in the trees that I watch out my window. And He takes care of you and me.

I have a bird’s eye view of my neighborhood up here in my nook.  We need a bird’s eye view of our life.  And wow…as I wrote that a huge beautiful pileated woodpecker flew across my view and into my pecan tree!  I felt the Lord was really showing me something and then….boom!  My son walked in the room playing a loud Lego video that he wanted to share with me.  I showed him the woodpecker and thought about what I was writing while I watched the video.  Yes. The Lord’s work and listening to him can be interrupted by seemingly unimportant things.  What will we do in those times?

Now I see across the alley, on the next street over,  a mother walking down the street with her son.

Will we continue to love?   Will we pull away in anger?

A bird’s eye view, a heavenly view of life, will enable us to hover high over our circumstances. Perhaps it would allow for us to accept that there are higher purposes going on.  God’s plan.  His definition of fruitful may not be the world’s definition, or even ours.

Are you taking a God-view of your circumstances today?

Whatever it is…could you offer up a praise to Him who is able, active and powerful?

Could you trust that He is good, whether or not He allows for your hopes and plans to come to fruition?

“Let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise-the fruit of lips that confess His name.” -Hebrews 13:5

And if your losses are too unbearable to praise God through…then cry out to Him.  He is merciful and compassionate.

He takes care of the birds in the trees that I watch out my window. And He takes care of you and me too.

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“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” -1 Peter 5:7

Linking up with the ladies at the following inspiring blogs this week:

purposefulfaith.com     Photobucket Holly Barrett    linkup  SDG Gathering A Field of Wildflowers sunday-stillness-button     Grab button for Faith Along the Way Renewed Daily - Recommendation Saturday Missional WomenFF Z Font Fellowship Fridays #45  The Watered Soul  “countingmyblessings"     Dance With Jesus  Grab button for Being Confident of This  1114updatedbutton  mom blogs party  Imparting Gracesaving4six     beloved_brews_faithbarista_badge _     7 Days Time      WHHWButton200X200I Choose Joy!    Photobucket

 

The Beauty of Abiding in Christ

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I live in wine country.  Grape vines surround this town and some, older than my grandmother, line backyard walkways and fences.  I’m familiar with their lush greenery and abundant fruit in the late summer and also their barrenness in the late winter.

Do you see beauty in these pictures of the barren grape vine?

I do too.  Maybe because I can relate to the barren grape vine due to barren seasons in my own life.

I don’t see vines failing to produce.  For if they were failing to produce, the vinedresser would take them away.

John 15:1 – “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away…”

These vines were pruned in the fall and are waiting for the lush foliage and sweet juicy fruit to spring forth again.

Are you in a season of producing much fruit, a season of pruning, or in a season of lying dormant?

No matter where you are, be encouraged that you are a branch in the Jesus vine.  He is yours and you are His.  You are in Him and He is in you.

John 15:4 – “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.”

John 15:9-11 – As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”

And as the Father has loved Jesus, so Jesus has loved you.

Read that again…

As the Father has loved Jesus, so Jesus has loved you.

If you are in Christ, Jesus loves you  as the Father loves Him.  If you are producing real spiritual fruit, Jesus is actively at work in you.  It is a sign that He lives in you.  It is a sign that you are abiding in Him and He in you.  It means you’re not doing this on your own, all by yourself.  The God of the universe is doing something in you and with you because He loves you.

If you feel that you are in a pruning stage, then you can be encouraged too.  Though this is a difficult stage, it means that you bear fruit and He is doing something in order that you bear more.  He wants more of His fruit to be produced in your life.

John 15:2 – “… every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”

Maybe you have birthed fruit but you have recently been pruned.  You may be in a winter season, resting and waiting for the coming spring.  Then you can rejoice too.  For He may be purposefully allowing you to rest and is soon to produce a glorious abundance in your life that will nourish the body of Christ and others He has placed in your life.

Perhaps we only feel that we are in one of these seasons but really we’re experiencing them all to some degree in different areas of our lives.

No matter where you feel that you are right now, I pray that you would be able to see that each season is beautiful in that they show us that the Lord is purposeful and active in our lives.  He is tending to you and is passionate about your growth.  More so than the most passionate gardener you may know.  I pray that Jesus’ abiding joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full!

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Linking up with the ladies at the following inspiring blogs this week:

purposefulfaith.com     Photobucket   A Field of Wildflowers sunday-stillness-button     Grab button for Faith Along the Way Renewed Daily - Recommendation Saturday Missional WomenFF Z Font Fellowship Fridays #45  The Watered Soul  “countingmyblessings"     Dance With Jesus  1114updatedbutton  mom blogs party   Imparting Gracesaving4six       7 Days Time      WHHWButton200X200I Choose Joy!    Photobucket

 

 

The Beauty of Your Freedom in Christ

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I woke up this Saturday morning to a fresh blanket of snow.  By mid-afternoon much of it had melted.  With warmer weather moving in, I decided to take a walk with my camera.

Just a short walk down a hill and I always come to this.  A rock wall and an overlook of the Missouri River.  A clear view of the Missouri River is hardly possible even past the rock wall.  There are railroad tracks, trains sometimes and the hillside is covered with gigantic trees with gnarly limbs sprawling across the view.  During the summer, all that can be seen is green from the massive amount of leaves growing on the limbs.  In the winter, I get a partial view.

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I’ve always been intrigued by the twisted branches of the trees at the overlook but today my heart longed for more.  So after I left the wall, I went a few houses down to a neighbor’s house.  For years she has extended an open invitation to enjoy her view.  Today was the first time I took her up on it without kids.  She caught me sneaking into the backyard but noticed my camera and allowed me space to concentrate on my art.

The walkway to her private overlook…

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She has an old gate on the edge of the bluff.  It seems to beckon to me each time I go there.  It calls for me to take pictures of it.  So today I did.

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The gate seems to be a symbol to me.  A picture of what we sometimes might THINK is the obstructed view of God’s glory, truth and loving relationship with us.  A view that is tainted with sin and confusion.

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Some days it feels like no matter how far I go out of my way…no matter how much I pray in the morning before the day starts… there still seems to be the obstruction of sin and my confused thinking.  The brain and the flesh seems to get in the way of what the true me really longs for.

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But is sin and my flesh really in the way?  So often I think I’m trapped in my sin or in my bad thinking patterns.  So I live like I’m a slave to it.  When in reality I only need to walk around it.

I am free to do that.  Yet I often live like I am held captive to it.  There are no trees or walls or fences keeping me from my Father in Heaven.  There aren’t even any keeping me from turning away from my sin or from changing my thoughts.

The truth is…

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Jesus has taken away all obstacles.  Any that seem to be there…are but Satan’s lies.  If we are

in Christ, the Father loves us as He loves Jesus.  If we are in Christ, all of our iniquities have been laid on him.

If we are in Christ, we are no longer slaves to sin, but slaves to righteousness.   We are free to live according to what we most truly are and desire based on our new identity.

Here is a wonderful illustration of our freedom in Christ from a professor at Covenant Seminary, Dr. Phil Douglass.

Before D-day on June 6, 1944 all of France was under the dominion of the Nazis. In effect they were slaves.  Then, by the end of August, 1944 France was liberated by the Allies and the Nazi forces were driven out.  However, there were still Nazi commandoes roaming about the French countryside shooting at the free citizens and thereby causing confusion and making some of the French people think they were still under the dominion of the Nazis when in fact they were not.  The French did have to defend themselves against these attacks but they did so as free people and not as those under slavery as before.  The application is that we were enslaved to the “powers” before being in Christ but when we were placed into Christ we became free, although we still have to defend ourselves against the attacks of the world, the flesh and the devil. On May 8, 1945, the War was over and the Nazi commandoes rampaged no longer.  This is tantamount to the way it will be in heaven when we are set free from the attacks of the world, the flesh and the devil.

2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

I am so looking forward to THE day.  The day that Christ returns.  Until then, I am striving to remember that I am truly free even though I encounter attacks.  These attacks don’t define who I most truly am in Christ. And nothing can separate me from the love of God.

Romans 8:38-39 -“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Do you struggle with living out or really believing that you have freedom in Christ?  Perhaps this is the Christian life.  Perhaps there is beauty in this struggle. Beauty in that you are not giving yourself over totally to sin and that you are aware and struggling with it and longing for more.  Recognize the goodness in your new spiritual desires and keep stepping around the struggles toward the beautiful abundant free life in Christ.

Linking up with the following inspiring blogs this week:

purposefulfaith.com     Photobucket   A Field of Wildflowers sunday-stillness-button     Grab button for Faith Along the Way Renewed Daily - Recommendation Saturday Missional WomenFF Z Font Fellowship Fridays #45  The Watered Soul  “countingmyblessings"     Dance With Jesus  1114updatedbutton   Imparting Gracesaving4six       7 Days Time   whimsical-wednesdays_edited-1   WHHWButton200X200I Choose Joy!    Photobucket

 

The Wonder of Christ in You

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Today was the day we had been waiting for all winter.

We spent twenty minutes locating hats, snow pants, the lost boot and the missing glove.  We made the trek to our backyard sledding hill (the alley behind our house). I listened intently to each crunching footstep. Last winter, snow was a regular occurrence.  Somehow, this winter, we have missed much of the snow that the rest of the nation has received.

Today was different.  Today we reveled in the snow. We lifted the shades higher and broke out the camera and sleds for a day of celebration and joy in snow.  Something we loathe some years, we celebrated today.

Our delight in the snow got me thinking of something else that is,not loathed, but for sure ignored many days.

Christ in us, the hope of glory.

If we are in Christ, we are not only forgiven, but he has also placed his very life in us.

And not only is he in us, but he is changing us.

To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. -Colossians 1:27

The Holy Spirit places in God’s people THE risen life of Jesus to the extent that his life is their life.

His life is your life.

When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” -Colossians 3:4

If you are in Christ, the life of Jesus is changing you.

We were once, only flesh.  Now we are Spirit.

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” -John 3:6

His very risen life is in us as our life.  We are now participants of the divine nature.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” -2 Peter 1:3-4

We have all that we need that pertains to life and godliness. As partakers in the divine nature, we are no longer slaves to sin.  We are now able to glorify God in our lives. We are enabled to live in accordance with our transformed hearts.

This is better than a snow day!

So why isn’t this always my daily delight?

Are you taking joy in these truths? Are other life circumstances and activities getting in the way of you finding time to meditate on these truths and to apply them to your life?

I’m considering these wonders and questions today as I wonder at at the beauty of icicles and sparkles in the snow.

Linking up with these inspiring ladies this week:

purposefulfaith.com     Photobucket   A Field of Wildflowers sunday-stillness-button     Grab button for Faith Along the Way Renewed Daily - Recommendation Saturday Missional WomenFF Z Font Fellowship Fridays #45  The Watered Soul  “countingmyblessings"     Dance With Jesus  1114updatedbutton   Imparting Gracesaving4six       7 Days Time   whimsical-wednesdays_edited-1   WHHWButton200X200I Choose Joy!    Photobucket

 

 

Loving the Living Stones

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Sometimes that sweet steeple can have some ugly underneath it.  I think it’s safe to say it out loud.  I don’t know too many who haven’t been disappointed by something ugly that has happened in church.

There will be disappointments within the walls or under the steeples of our churches, but we are witnesses to a watching world in how we respond to those disappointments.

When I say church, I mean the place where we meet on Sundays, not the world-wide church, the body of Christ made up of every believer.

I’ve experienced the two extremes of church life.

Total loss, heartache, hate and, dare I say, evil.

and…

Total fullness, hearts healing, love and righteousness.

I have never before these last two years seen Satan so at work and, at the same time, Jesus so at work.

The church institution experience can be one in which we experience our greatest heartache and our greatest joy and healing.

I’m so thankful to the Lord for surrounding my family with people who love the Lord and long to love each other.  As one who has experienced such extremes, I have a renewed sense of the importance of our individual heart attitudes and actions as we build church communities.  These things determine so much in the grand scheme of what God is doing.  They determine what the outside world sees as they look at believers and they impact fellow believers’ walks with the Lord, their faith and their experience of joy and peace as they live life with other believers.

John 13:35- “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

If we all of the sudden had the power to see inside each other’s hearts and minds, would we be able to call each other followers of Christ based on the love we have for others in the church?

My church is working through the book of 1 Peter.  This has me thinking a lot about the church.  The world-wide church and the smaller church community under the steeple or inside the walls.  Our senior pastor recently said some things that have me thinking about our love for one another.

“We have been loved to become the best lovers. This is both a purpose and product of our salvation.”

Am I loving well?

1 Peter 1:22-23 – “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;”

Loving each other earnestly.  That can be hard.  We’re different.  Last week I wrote about our truest identity as living stones.

1 Peter 2:4-5 – “As you come to Him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”              

Stones are surrounded by each other as they are being built up into a house.

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And we stones aren’t unfeeling if we are truly living stones among each other.  While we experience the beauty of a world-wide spiritual house being built, giving and receiving the wonderful blessings of being in community, we’re also feeling our rough edges, scraping each other and striving to accept each other’s differences.  The life of a Christian often plays out among other believers in a church where we experience true togetherness with each other and also have other stones in our midst that may not be living.  Those who have not yet truly submitted their lives to Christ.  Not only do we have the natural challenges of loving other Christians well, but we also do this in the midst of others who may not be submitting fully to this call to love the Lord and each other.

Our attempt to love each other must be, as the word says, earnest.  Unfortunately, our approach to church and the relationships there are sometimes not earnest.  We want it to be easy and if it isn’t, things can get ugly or we can just give up.  That may mean leaving the church or it may mean going but not really being fully present.

More wisdom from the sermon on 1 Peter…

“This call to love earnestly uses the same word for earnestly as the one used to describe Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane the night his sweat dropped like blood.”

Am I loving my brothers and sisters in earnest? I wonder what it would look like if I loved earnestly to the same degree Jesus prayed the night he was betrayed…knowing what was to happen to him.

And more…

“Loving = earnest warmth directed by the Word of God.”

I want my care for the church to be directed by the Word of God…not my emotions, feelings, personal preferences and motivations.

It is on my heart to ask myself and my fellow Christians to consider our own earnest attempts in our individual church communities to love well.

Am I currently one to promote healing and love at church? Or am I a part of any level of divisiveness.

Do I support the leaders in my church when they make unpopular but biblical decisions?

Am I currently one who is moving away from certain brothers and sisters or earnestly loving them?

Am I currently one who is  gossiping and slandering or one who is entrusting my situation and others’ situations to the Lord?  How have I gone along with gossip or slandering by listening?

Do I currently truly appreciate each person and the way God has uniquely made them?

Am I currently assuming the best of my brothers and sisters?

Do I currently long in my heart for Christ’s power and control over my church or…do I long to have a piece of that?

A prayer for us from Jesus himself:

John 17:20-23- “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

Ending in grace…this last line in bold.  If you are in Christ, do you grasp fully that the Father loves you to the same degree He loves Jesus?  I pray that this empowers us to love Him with all of our heart mind, soul and strength and others as ourselves.

Linking up with these inspiring ladies this week:

purposefulfaith.com   Photobucket   A Field of Wildflowers sunday-stillness-button     Grab button for Faith Along the Way Renewed Daily - Recommendation Saturday Missional WomenFF Z Font Fellowship Fridays #45  The Watered Soul  “countingmyblessings"  1114updatedbutton   Imparting Gracesaving4six      7 Days Time   whimsical-wednesdays_edited-1   WHHWButton200X200I Choose Joy!    Photobucket