Sunday, February 19, 2017

Salvation 101 (Part 2) - Why Do I Need to Be Saved?

Why do I need to be saved? Why does anyone need to be saved? Because that's where life really begins. The life God intended, where we can grow into the fullness of Him, knowing the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, begins with salvation.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith--that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 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)

Wow! Yes, those are heavy verses. But, it's also a wonderful passage filled with Great News of God's plan that goes beyond the Good News of the gospel. I can grow up to be a man because I was born of the flesh. In the same way, I can grow up as a Christian because I was born of the Spirit.

That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 
(John 3:6)

And this growing up as a Christian is not a behavior modification program. Nor is it a program where people mock or condemn others. Rather, we're talking about transformation by the renewing of our minds. We're talking about being renewed day by day even though our outer bodies will fade away with time. We're talking about being filled with God's Spirit. There is eternal life in the Spirit. There is only temporary life in the flesh.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. 
(Romans 12:2)

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 
(1 Corinthians 2:12)

Believe it or not, salvation is not the goal, although it is a necessary step. I know full well salvation being the goal is what's commonly taught in long-established denominations. Most churches make Christianity all about salvation, and most Christians are not 100% certain if they are saved. 

I believe that teaching is a sad, grave error. God really desires two things: 1) that all people be saved, but also 2) that all people come to the knowledge of truth. To get to step 2, one has to get past step 1. Why should we stay stuck on step 1?

[God,] who desires all people [1] to be saved and [2] to come to the knowledge of the truth. 
(1 Timothy 2:4)

Unfortunately, not everyone wants even the first step, to be saved. Many don't believe in God or His word, the Bible, where He explains what salvation is. Many others resist the Holy Spirit by insisting on their own works of law or by performing acts of righteousness. But those activities don't justify either. It is only by grace through faith.

For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. 
(Romans 3:20)

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 
(Titus 3:4-7)

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 
(Ephesians 2:8-9)

For the ones who are saved, most Christians then either make everything about salvation (such as maintaining it), becoming better a better Christian via human virtue (such as integrity and morality), or strive for tangible blessings (such as the so-called 'prosperity gospel').

One way or another, people imagine for themselves what they must do next. Very few actually look deeper into God's word and wonder, "Okay, I'm saved. I was called by God. But why? What's His reason for calling me? What exactly, according to Him, am I being called to?"

This question about why I need to be saved used to plague me for years. The popular reasons I heard over and over for why I needed to be saved didn't seem right. It boiled down to this:

  • God is real angry and everyone deserves to burn in hell. 
  • Luckily, He saves a few people because He is full of grace and mercy.
  • So, we'd better do our best to appease Him. We might get lucky.

Huh?! Do you really think if He's that angry anything I do is going to help? Hardly! More importantly, the more I looked for these reasons in Scripture the fuzzier they became. Rather, grace-filled verses gained clarity. It wasn't about keeping the law and trying your hardest not to sin. I saw phrases like "God so loved the world" and "unsearchable riches of Christ" and knew, because His Spirit told me and I listened, not because I followed religion, that there was more, much more, even after salvation.

Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses' face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? 
(2 Corinthians 3:7-8)

Yes, there's a sad ending for those who resist His Holy Spirit. But, considering He wants such amazing and unimaginable things for me, why would I resist? Why would anyone? He wants us, all of us, and did everything possible, more than what is humanly possible, to enable that to happen. He offers all of Himself, freely, even His Spirit, by His Son. We have a choice; to seek, or not to seek.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 
(John 3:17-18)

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

A Most Delicious Meal

Dear Father,

Why do I always bite off more than I can chew? What if the things I needed to do and wanted to do were laid out like a menu at a fancy restaurant? I could pick any appetizer, entree, and dessert. But, I could only eat so much in a single sitting. Plus, everything would come at a cost. Could I really afford the crab stuffed mushrooms, tender filet, succulent lobster tail, and molten chocolate lava cake with raspberries? Do I really need it?

[Dear Reader: In the same way, I can only fit so much into my day. I might as well choose the best things, as best I can, which are not necessarily the things I want most. And the cost of the things I want might not be monetary either, but regret. Ever walk away from the table with a solid outtie belly button groaning, "I ate too much! Again!" Sometimes, I walk away from my day like that! I only need to remember where my food really comes from.]

What course would You be, Father? Of all the fancy menu items, would You be the nutritious mixed salad? The juicy and filling strip steak? Or what course would You be? The satisfying entree? Delightful dessert?

No, I think You'd be the bread and water. You'd be the only things that were free. The menu is merely a distraction from what I really need, even in a fancy restaurant. Besides, bread and water come out first just as I need to put You first in my life.

Yes, that is fitting. For Christ is the bread that comes from heaven, and He gives living water that the one who drinks it would thirst no more.

You'd also be the most expensive item at the table, deserving Your own menu: the wine list. Your Spirit, however, is not just the fruit of the vine, it is the blood of Christ. I'd see all the prices on this menu and know Yours has the highest cost, which no mere human born of Adam could pay.

I'd order it anyway, believing it was well worth the impossible price, only to discover after ordering it the price was already paid, in full. It would be given to me freely, gracefully, so rich and fragrant.

I'd end the meal of bread and water with a sip of this wine, the blood of Christ. It would be to me as a deposit of Your Spirit inside of me, guaranteeing my position as Your heir, a co-heir with Christ. From then on, that sip would seal this meal as the best ever, served with love, garnished with grace.

(Jan 28, 2017, #13)

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Salvation 101 (Part 1) - Saved? Saved From What?

Saved? Saved from what?

I hesitate to answer these questions directly. 

Many people think they already know what I'm going to say. If I state the answer concisely using words they know, it will sound to them like I merely chose from a list of things they've heard many times before and say, "I knew it." Their ears will shut and they will not listen to what I mean. Instead, they will point at me while walking away and declare, "See? I told you so. Your answer is just like the rest. Tell me something I don't know."

Actually, I don't blame them. 

I thought I've heard it all before at one point, too. I started reacting the same way. The bad news was getting old and losing it's power to convict me. Yet, I hope they will listen to what I have to say. This time I'm convicted and the doctrine does have power, meaningful power. At the same time, I don't want to shout at their backs as they walk away. 

I desire to speak to you, dear reader. So, if you are still with me now, still facing these words I've written, stay with me, please. This is where love, understanding and compassion come in; so sorely needed in this conversation, yet sorely amiss. Such a simple question, and yet what deceptive rumors are afloat.

What we are saved from has no power, no meaning, under God's grace.

When Paul told the Ephesians they were "saved by grace through faith," he was simply declaring how salvation was and is for everybody in every age. Abraham was saved by grace through faith. David was saved by grace through faith. Paul was saved by grace through faith.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 
(Ephesians 2:8-9)

If you are a Christian, you are saved by grace through faith. Once saved, no one can snatch you out of the Father's hand, and no one is greater than the Father. Nothing will separate the Christian from the love of Christ, neither life nor death, nor anything in all creation. What you are saved from has no power over you. None.

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, 
and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 
My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, 
and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 
(John 10:28-29)

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 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. 
(Romans 8:38-39)

Through Christ, God took care of all the problems that would separate us from Him, as well as the limits of our nature and condition, in the offer of salvation. If we put our trust in Him for our soul salvation, He will save. We are saved. What we are saved from is the result of a sentence handed down through Adam: condemnation. (For more about what makes someone lost, see "How did I get lost in the first place?") By His grace, through faith, we are justified. We are imputed with His righteousness.

The only reason what we are saved from remains is because many reject Him.

What we are saved from is God's wrath. There, I said it. That's what I hesitated saying. And it's probably already being taken out of context. However, the misconception I want to address head on is that many people think God's wrath is still because of personal sins. It's not. It doesn't even make sense that personal sin would be an issue. That would mean the work Christ is somehow incomplete, unfinished, and insufficient. It's not.

He is the propitiation for our sins, 
and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 
(1 John 2:2)

Personal sin is not an issue in salvation. Christ took care of that, 100%. Of course, that doesn't mean everyone is reconciled to the Father. Many reject Christ. But, personal sins are not counted against anyone. In other words, personal sin doesn't get in the way of your being saved.

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against themand entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
(2 Corinthians 5:18-19)

If anything, believing your personal sin will somehow hinder your salvation may cause you to doubt the completeness of God's solution. Somehow you need to perform the rest. But, as Christ declared on the cross, "It is finished." He did the work. All of it.

God's wrath -vs- Propitiation

Propitiation is a big word that simply means 'fully satisfied'.  This word communicates that God was fully satisfied by Christ's sacrifice for all personal sins, for all time. No other sacrifice would ever be needed again. In addition, there is no other name by which we must be saved.

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." 
(Acts 4:12)

Yet, although God was fully satisfied by Christ taking on all personal sin, the wrath of God remains unchanged for those who reject Christ. Why? They remain condemned because they reject God. 

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
(John 3:18)

This doctrine is key to understanding why other simple verses, like John 3:16, can mean what they clearly say. Whoever believes means whoever. Because of the work Christ did, God is now fully and explicitly satisfied that the personal sins of the whole world are not the issue in salvation. Now the issue is simply, do believe in Christ?

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." 
(John 3:16)

The lost are condemned already, having been born condemned by inheriting Original Sin, from the trespass of one man, Adam. We all started at the same place, under the same condemnation. But, those who reject Christ stay condemned not because they continue to commit personal sin, or live a certain lifestyle (see "Can a person's lifestyle condemn them?"), but because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 
(John 3:17-18)

What we are saved from is easily avoidable, it's the simple gospel: Believe in Christ and you will be saved. What we're saved into is where grace gets really amazing. Stay tuned!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

How Did I Get Lost in the First Place?

Me: "Why do I need salvation?"

God: "Because you are lost."

Me: "How did that happen?"

God: "You were born."

Me: "Why?"

God: "Why were you born?"

Me: "No. Why am I lost just because I was born?"

God: "All people born of Adam are lost. The trespass of one man brought condemnation for all. That was My judgment following his one trespass."

Me: "But, it wasn't my fault. Was it?"

God: "No. Neither Adam's sin nor My judgment are your fault."

Me: "I don't understand. Why condemn me for something I didn't do?"

God: "What My righteousness demands, My justice executes. My righteousness demands perfection. I know what is in man."

Me: "Surely, I am lost for good! What hope do have I of ever obtaining the righteousness You demand?"

God: "My righteousness also demands a perfect sacrifice for sin. My Son, Jesus Christ, has perfectly executed My plan for salvation. My righteousness is yours through Christ just for the asking. My Son has purchased righteousness for you in full, and for anyone who would believe in Him. He is the propitiation, the utter satisfaction of payment, for your sins and for the sins of the whole world. His righteousness is pure, and I will credit His righteousness to your behalf, not even counting your sins against you."

Me: "It's free? I don't have to do the impossible and try to earn it?"

God: " Yes, it's free. No, you don't have to do the miraculous. That's been done for you. For it is by My grace you are saved, not your works. In fact, if you even try to earn your righteous wages, you will nullify My gift that is by grace. It's one or the other. Your choice, believe or resist My terms."

Me: "Who would be crazy enough not to accept such an offer?!"

God: "You'd be surprised how many people reject My Son. The salvation I offer is so complete, so wonderful, and so simple. Yet, many would not dare relinquish trust in themselves to do good. Somehow, they think, 'I must do the things God has commanded so that I may please Him.' Yet, I am most pleased when a humble person allows My Spirit to work in them. They resist the Holy Spirit when they insist on doing things their own way. For this, they will remain condemned. It's their choice. It's their arrogance."

Me: "Now my heart knows why I was lost, and knows why I am found. For how else could You have made an offer based on grace alone? How could I've let myself be saved by You otherwise? See it is a perfect plan, perfectly executed. The righteousness I seek, therefore, is Yours, in Christ, not my own. I believe You, Father. I believe in Christ, Your Son. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

God: "I'm delighted you see now. Indeed, my child, you are saved by My grace because you believed in My Son as your Lord and Savior. Now, may the eyes of your heart be enlightened so you may grow in grace and in knowledge of the truth. Be sanctified in the truth; My word is truth. Come now, and discover the unsearchable riches that are yours in Christ, even the fullness of Him who is the head of the church, which is His body. Amen!"

And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 
(Romans 5:16)

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." 
(Ephesians 2:8-9)

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 
(2 Corinthians 5:18-19)

Sunday, January 22, 2017

This Marvelous Journey into God's Hand and Heart

Dear Father (Jan 21, 2017),

Yes! Absolutely I love You. You know I love You. But, what I need to emphasize in my writing is why. I learned to love You by learning the truth from Your word by Your Spirit.

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. (John 17:17 ESV)

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. (John 16:13 ESV)

I may have been saved and born again many years ago. But, I didn't understand from Scripture just how thorough and consistent is Your message of Your amazing grace. I didn't fully appreciate just how rock solid is the assurance of my salvation from Your word.

But, now that I do, the blessings of that knowledge are my responsibility. They are also a tremendous privilege. You know I've spent years and hours studying these things and other doctrines. It took a long time to undo the assumptions I previously held tightly.

But, I sought You and You rewarded me. I have been blessed with a wonderful pastor/teacher, used by the Spirit to guide me into all truth, even the deep things of God. Now it's time to share what I've learned. This is the real essence of my blog title, Revelations For Life.

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10b)

[It's as if God is telling me...] Do not be afraid to teach, go deep, and stay off the surface. Seek to exhaust doctrinal topics, such as salvation by grace. Ask the questions I had and answer them directly. Let my yes be yes and my no be no. Illuminate the coherency of God's perspective of humanity's problem and its condition with God's solution, desire, and eternal plan.

[Back to addressing my Father...] Let everyone who asks know the reason for the hope that is in me. May I answer with all gentleness and patience, compassion, clarity, enthusiasm, and boldness. If I have gained any insight from Your word of truth, Father, grant me the courage to declare it boldly and make it plain to everyone.

You know I love You, Father. Now I desire to let the world know why. May they also know the abundance of joy and peace that comes from knowing You, not as the world gives, but as You give.

All my love,
(w/ minor edits)

Dear Reader,

I had tons of question about being Christian both before and after I was saved. The phrase I just uttered, "I was saved," was loaded with questions.

  • Saved? Saved from what?
  • Why do I need to be saved?
  • How can I be saved?
  • What does it mean to be saved?
  • What does it mean to "work out your salvation?"
  • Is salvation the same or different from being born again?
  • Who can be saved?
  • What of my sins before I'm saved?
  • What of my sins after I'm saved?
  • Does salvation have any prerequisites?
  • Was salvation always available?
  • How does salvation differ in the OT versus the NT?
  • Is salvation permanent or temporary?
  • Can my salvation be lost? If so, how? If not, why not?
  • When can I consider it done?
  • How can I be sure I'm saved?
  • What is not salvation?
  • What does 'salvation by grace' mean?
  • Is there anything keeping me, or anyone else for that matter, from being saved?
  • Were only certain people chosen to be saved?
  • What about infants and those with cognitive challenges who can't comprehend the gospel?
  • Who will not be saved? Yikes! Why not?
  • Is there an unpardonable sin? What is it? Have I committed it?

Those questions are just a small sample of the ones I studied in His word. This is only the doctrine of salvation. I tried to address one common assumption in my post, "Can a person's lifestyle condemn them?" But, there are many other doctrines. In all of them I wanted to understand these things from His perspective. I didn't want to grab something just because it sounded good and holy. I was hungry and thirsty for the Bread from Heaven and the Living Water only He could provide, no matter how good the filet mignon and Maine lobster tail sounded on an empty stomach. I had a soul to feed.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. 
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 
(2 Timothy 2:15 ESV)

I learned to delight in Him as He provided answers, and that made me want to learn more. Surely, he gave gifts of apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor/teachers. But, I would still question what others taught to see if it was true. The title alone was not enough.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who [diligently (KJV)] seek him. 
(Hebrews 11:6 ESV)

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 
(Ephesians 4:11-14 ESV)

I frequently checked myself by examining my motives and asking, "Why do I believe what I believe?" Was I simply following what sounded good from someone who seemed like an authority on the matter? After all, they studied it for years, went to seminaries, had Masters and Doctorate degrees. (And yet, there's no shortage of authorities who disagree.) Or maybe they were among the poor and serving the suffering with profound compassion. Maybe they were popular on TV or the Internet and in books and appealed to the masses. Could they all be wrong?

Or did I confirm what was being said by reading and studying the Scriptures myself, and seeing if His Spirit was testifying with my spirit that these things were so? You may be familiar with some of my other posts about "Why Scripture?" and "Scripture Q&A." (If not, please check those out.) Those lessons were a large part of my starting point. Let this moment be another point at which I do my best to teach what I know for anyone who is asking or seeking.

Please! By all means, do not settle for popular opinion or the status quo. Neither is a school of thought correct merely because it is narrow path. Verify everything in God's word.

Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so
(Acts 17:11 ESV)

The truth is not popular. You might think it would be. But not God's truth. Not only do people want to inject their own positive human goodness into it, which is not necessarily God's perspective. But, the enemy of God also wants to distort this information and is very good at it. That's partly why we have so many denominations, yet little unity. (See the reference from Ephesians 4 above.)

Tradition also, no matter how solid or how long, is not an indication of truthfulness. It might feel good because it's familiar, or look divine because it's been going on forever. But, God's word breaks through traditions to give a much deeper meaning to being Christian.

Be humble and open to what God has to say in His word, and do not go beyond what is written. Everything He wants us to know has already been written in the Scriptures. There's no need to go outside the Bible for additional information, as if He left out some critical piece or clue to a puzzle. Rather, some outside information may be useful in helping us understand Scriptures, this blog included. But any outside information should be tested by the word of God, including this blog.

Lastly, as you assimilate the word of God and His thoughts and heart into your own mind and heart, you will be able to discern what is His will, and recognize what is not. This is not to puff us up in any. Rather, we should the same attitude as that of Christ Himself: humility.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 
(Philippians 2:5-8 ESV)

All that being said, I will continue on to my next set of lessons, a series which I will call "Salvation 101." Please join me on this marvelous journey into God's hand and heart.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand
(John 10:27-29 ESV)

In Christ,

PS - I use a Bible program called e-Sword available from from which to read, study, and quote Scripture. While I sometimes need to understand the Greek and Hebrew words of the original texts (dictionaries also available in e-Sword), the English Standard Version (ESV) is one I found to be a decent translation to understand the thought God is expressing. ESV copyright says I can quote from it, just so long as I note its origin when giving the verse. Note also, I may have underlined part of a verse for emphasis, but generally I intend to emphasize the whole passage.

We need to remember it's about understanding God's thoughts on His terms. Is the correct translation in John 14:23, for example, obey or keep? What's the difference? We cannot automatically assume we know. What if the thought, upheld by the definition of the Greek word being translated, means "to guard" or "to protect." The thought is then different than simply doing what you're told to do. We should seek to understand the context, the thought being expressed, and perhaps visit a Greek dictionary to make critical distinctions. Remember, He is trying to tell us something that we have not thought to ask. We are carnal; He is spiritual. It's information we couldn't even imagine.

I also refer to the KJV, NKJV, NIV, and NASB on occasion. I feel the ESV and NIV in comparison, along with some Greek dictionaries, best accomplish this, understanding His thoughts, trying to be as literal as is readable. I tend to avoid translations that have taken the liberty of injecting their own thoughts into the text, such as MSG, NLT, TLB, and CEV. I feel they often dilute or miss the significance of what is being communicated. I am very careful about the dictionaries, concordances, and commentaries I use. Again, the emphasis is on understanding God's thoughts. I do not entertain books celebrated by certain denominations as being equivalent or more important than the Bible, nor do I consider and church denominations to be on equal footing or greater than the authority of God.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Creepy Distractions

Dear Father,

Please forgive me for letting distractions creep into our precious quiet time. At the same time, You have blessed me so much with the opportunities to lead a Bible Study at H.L.'s office and witness to others. Thanks be to You!

March 12, 2014 (Letter #11)

Dear Reader,
(Back to 2014, as I return to sharing letters from past to present.)

Yes, distractions creep and they are creepy; both are true. A creepy distraction to me is one I didn't see coming, such as an unexpected bill, car trouble, or suddenly being extra busy at work.

Sound like life? Yes, exactly. Life is full of creepy distractions. We get used to them being around. We expect them and sometimes even look for them. And before you know it, we're not spending any time on doing the things we'd love to be doing.

Perhaps, it takes a lot of effort, leaving us feel like we have to go out of our way to do them. Perhaps, they're not appreciated as much by someone close to us. Perhaps, we're tired because it takes effort to refocus on those things and life has us feeling drained.

Distractions are able to creep in because it's tough to stay focused when there are fires to put out, real or imagined, and expectations to meet. What we'd love to do whispers in a noisy world. Rather, the screams and cuteness in the world catch our attention. Yet, the clock keeps ticking.

At these times, I try to remember Someone worth listening to is whispering something I'd really love to hear. It's precious. It's the things that are most important but not urgent (in the world's eyes) that matter most.

I need to make them urgent for me. I must remember to give time and attention to those things I love, and to simply let the distractions lose their creepiness, whether adorable or scary.

Take care, listen,

... a voice from the cloud said, 
"This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him." 
(Matthew 17:5b)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Stop, Drop, and Pray!

(I skipped ahead from my earlier 'Letters to God' in recent posts to one I wrote this morning.)

Dear Father,

I shall set my mind on things above. For I have died to the elemental spirits of the world and my life is now hidden with Christ in You. Therefore, I shall be transformed. I shall test and know Your will. I shall love. I shall be thankful. I shall grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth. I shall be filled with the Spirit, and I shall study to show (or present) myself approved (or pleasing) to You rightly discerning (or dividing) the word of truth.

I shall stop, drop, and pray! I shall stop being conformed to the patterns of this world and the desires of my flesh. I shall drop to my knees with all humility, physically. I shall pray to You, my Father, with a sincere and authentic heart that delights in You, in the name of Jesus, and You will gladly give me whatever I ask, as You have promised.

All the treasures of wisdom and understanding are hidden in Christ, as are all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of Your mystery. Therefore, let my heart be encouraged, being knit together in love with Christ and with all the saints who share in His inheritance. 

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 1:24-25)

Much love,
Jan. 15, 2017, Letter #10

Dear Reader,

It is my hope and prayer you would recognize the Scripture references in my letter: Colossians, Ephesians, 2 Timothy, etc. I pray you would seek these things out for yourself, for they are truth given to us by God. 

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

Oh, that you would know how deep and how wide is the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, and you would see these gems in His word, and know them for yourself, and hold them close to your heart. 

I am inspired by writing these letters, by studying and focusing on the word of God -usually a term or phrase or verse, sometimes a paragraph- and by having fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ. 

I would love to converse with you. What inspires you? How do you communicate with God? What fills your heart to overflowing? Please leave a comment below if you're so inspired. Or click on my name to get my email address in my blogger profile. Just click on 'Email' to create one. 

Whether you contact me or not, may God bless you richly in Christ.

Much love,