Posts tagged ‘scripture’

June 10, 2013

What are we missing out on?

Lately I’ve noticed something in myself.  Some sin in my life.  It was something I swore that God had dealt with right out of the gate when I surrendered my life to Jesus.  But that old sin is poking and prodding and I’ve allowed it to creep up in some rather unexpected ways.  God has begun to convict me of it and to reveal how it has permeated so many areas of my life.  Through this process, I’ve come to more clearly see one of the reasons God deals with those sins in love– it has been robbing me of my joy in Him.

Have you ever come across a portion of scripture and been so filled with joy and gratitude that you just love Jesus all the more?  I love those moments.  His love, His worth, His power– they just become so clear that the only way to respond is with praise and adoration!

There are passages that I believe should be stirring that up in me.  The very word of God should be capturing my affections and drawing me nearer to Christ.  These passages should secure me in my identity in Jesus and remind me of the overwhelming, all-encompassing, mysterious love of God.  And yet… they don’t.  Instead I find myself nitpicking.  I’m trying to figure out what it “means”, when what it means is plain.  It just makes me uncomfortable.

You’d like an example, you say?  Let’s take a look at Ephesians 1:3-12:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.  In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on 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 on us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.

There is so much there to rejoice in.  So what’s the problem, you ask?

The problem is that when I read this passage I see certain “buzz words”: chose (v.4) and predestined (vv.5,11).  While these certainly won’t be a problem for everyone, they have been for me.  Why?  Because immediately my mind thinks: Calvinism and/or Reformed Theology.  Having been heavily influenced by Arminians (see: free will) for much of my early Christian life, I have a tendency to respond poorly to these words instead of rejoicing in them as I ought.  But why? (Hint: here’s where my sin comes in)… I’m fearful of what others think of me.  I’m fearful of being caught up in the “us and them”.  I’m fearful to be labeled as something or someone without even fully knowing or understanding all that lies behind that label.

Labels can be dangerous.  Not just in the church, of course, but I would say especially in the church.  I’ve become so fearful (in my sinful desires to be accepted by my peers) of labels that I’ve disregarded beautiful truths in the Bible!  These aren’t extraneous words that someone added later, and they certainly aren’t heresy.  I may not fully grasp all of the implications behind those words but here is what I know:

I am chosen.  I am predestined.  I am adopted.  BY GOD!

Isn’t that incredible?  That is really good news.  And the craziest part?  Paul says in Ephesians 2:8 that I have been saved by grace through faith– not that of myself, but a gift from God.

When I fear the label and the potential alienation that comes with it, I miss out on joy.  I miss out on the gift.  I elevate the opinion of man and minimize the opinion and truth of God.

No matter where we stand on the spectrum from Calvinism to Arminianism and everywhere in between, we should never shrink back at the incredible truths in the word of God.  May scripture lead us to know God more fully and rejoice in who He is and all that He has done.

Christian, you are chosen, predestined, adopted.  And it is a gift of God, not of yourself.  Rejoice!

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January 16, 2013

Words of life for an anxious heart like mine.

Feeling incredibly thankful this morning that I can take God at His word.  He is not a man that He should lie! (Numbers 23:19) The words and promises of this world will all pass away.  Some will be kept, yes, but many will be broken.  The only sure, steadfast words belong to God.  His word doesn’t change and will never pass away (Matthew 24:35).  When He says something, I can trust that it is true – regardless of how I may feel at the time.

Take Him at His word, anxious heart of mine.  Believe that what He has promised will come to pass.  Believe that you are accepted, having been adopted into the family of God in Jesus.  You are not illegitimate, but legitimate.  You are dearly loved.  You are cared for, right down to the very hairs on your head, of which God knows the number (Matthew 10:30, Luke 12:7).  Believe that all of your sins and shortcomings were absorbed by your Savior at Calvary, and that when you stand before the judgment seat of God, you are declared, “Not guilty!”  Believe that in Jesus you have an intercessor who will not allow you to stand condemned (Hebrews 7:25).  Believe that Jesus knows and sympathizes with your weaknesses and temptations (Hebrews 4:15).  Believe that through His grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, you are able to obey Him.  Believe that obedience is good and right because He already loves you.  Believe that you were never a mistake or an “uh oh”, but that God knowingly and purposefully knit you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13).  Believe that even if every earthly family member and friend were to leave you, Jesus would still be enough.  Believe that your identity is not wrapped up in your ability to be everyone’s best friend, but is found solely in Christ Jesus.  Believe that trouble will come, but more than that, believe that Jesus is with you when it does, and even more, believe that He has overcome the world–take heart! (John 16:33)  Believe that though you were dead in your sins, Jesus rescued you and made you alive together with Him (Colossians 2:13, Ephesians 2:1-5).  Believe that you are chosen, called out of darkness and into the light, to proclaim God’s excellencies (1 Peter 2:9).  Believe that Jesus has gone to prepare a place for you, so that where He is, you may be also (John 14:2-3).  Believe that your treasure is being stored up in heaven and not here on earth (Matthew 6:20).  Believe that generosity is much more freeing than greed.  Believe that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).  Believe that these present sufferings are not worthy to be compared to the glory that is to be revealed in us (Romans 8:18).  Don’t be ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of salvation to all who believe (Romans 1:16).  Believe that when you see Him, you will be as He is (1 John 3:2-3).  Believe that it is good to wait upon the Lord, and that His plans and timing are exceedingly and abundantly beyond all that you could even ask or imagine (Psalm 27:14, Ephesians 3:20).  Believe that He is concerned for the poor, the widow, and the orphan, and that He has called you to be His hands and feet (Isaiah 1:17).  Believe that discernment is good, and that upholding God’s truth is noble.  Believe that love covers a multitude of sins, and that without love, your gifts are rendered useless (1 Peter 4:8, 1 Corinthians 13).  Believe in Jesus.  Love Him.  Serve Him.  Preach Him.  Believe in His life, death, resurrection, ascension, and eventual return.  When you sin, repent quickly, and know that His blood is sufficient, His grace abounds.  Die to yourself that you might live for Him.  Believe that when you lose your life, you will find it (Matthew 16:25).  Believe that you can bring your anxious heart, with all its prayers and petitions, before a God who hears, and that in return, He will impart to you His perfect peace (Philippians 4:6-7).

Now rest, anxious heart.  Cease striving, and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10).