Like a weaned child with its mother

Like a weaned child with its mother.png

“Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul,
Like a weaned child with his mother;
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.”

(Psalm 131:2, NKJV)

I read Psalm 131:2 and drew the following from it: There is only a need to calm and quiet my soul when my soul is agitated, storm tossed, uneasy, anxious, railing, raging, swollen with distress, or experiencing a similar emotional state.

I turned my mind to list the things or circumstances which can trigger and sustain these emotional states in me. But before I could name them I realized that, regardless of the diverse nature of the things or situations, they all have this in common – the way out is to turn my attention from the thing or situation, to my Father. The only way to truly calm and quiet my soul is to turn my attention from the thing or situation, and focus on my Father. And doing so sometimes requires me to wean myself from self-reliance or dependence on others.

And I think of Jesus’ words, recorded in Matthew 18:3, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless you repent [that is, change your inner self—your old way of thinking, live changed lives] and become like children [trusting, humble, and forgiving], you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (AMP).

Then I read these words from Charles Spurgeon (as cited on the blog, Mortification of Spin):

David… was like one who was able to give up his natural food, which seemed to him absolutely necessary, and which he greatly enjoyed. The weaned babe has given up what it loved. By nature we hang on the breasts of this world, and only sovereign grace can wean us therefrom, but when we give up self-righteousness, self-confidence, the love of the world, the desire of self-aggrandizement, when we give up trusting in man, trusting in ceremonies, trusting in anything but God, then has our soul become like a weaned child. It has given up what nature feeds upon, that it may feed upon the bread of heaven (8).

I read Charles Spurgeon’s words and prayed, “Abba, help me to become the weaned child described here.” 

His Resurrection: Historical and Personal

His Resurrection.png

Two weeks have passed since I joined with millions around the world to celebrate Easter. I realized, sometime ago, that I have not celebrated the Resurrection of Christ Jesus in as similar a manner as I celebrate His birth. But the truth is, it is the Resurrection of Christ Jesus that gives Christmas its true meaning. Isaiah 9:6 declares,

For unto us a Child is born,

Unto us a Son is given;

And the government will be upon His shoulder.

And His name will be called

Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Christ Jesus, the Child who was born and the Son who was given, came to redeem us and our redemption required His brutal death and His glorious Resurrection. We are told in 1 Corinthians 15:14-20 (AMP) that, without His Resurrection,  our faith is “vain [imaginary, unfounded, devoid of value and benefit—not based on truth]” and “worthless and powerless [mere delusion ].” Furthermore, “ If we who are [abiding] in Christ have hoped only in this life [and this is all there is], then we are of all people most miserable and to be pitied.  But now [as things really are] Christ has in fact been raised from the dead, [and He became] the first fruits [that is, the first to be resurrected with an incorruptible, immortal body, foreshadowing the resurrection] of those who have fallen asleep [in death]. “

I desire that the truth of Christ’s Resurrection permeate my daily living. That I meet every challenge and celebrate every victory with this truth, “But now [as things really are] Christ has in fact been raised from the dead …” Upon reflecting on what the Resurrection of Christ Jesus means to me personally, four things come to mind:

1.     I am redeemed completely and am a dearly beloved child of God.

2.     I am forgiven and His Blood cleanses me from all sin.

3.     I do not have to fear death.

4.     I have a High Priest.

I find myself dwelling on the fact that I have a High Priest and on all the benefits of this truth, as highlighted in Hebrews 4:14-16 (AMP):

14 Inasmuch then as we [believers] have a great High Priest who has [already ascended and] passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession [of faith and cling tenaciously to our absolute trust in Him as Savior]. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize and understand our weaknesses and temptations, but One who has been tempted [knowing exactly how it feels to be human] in every respect as we are, yet without [committing any] sin. 16 Therefore let us [with privilege] approach the throne of grace [that is, the throne of God’s gracious favor] with confidence and without fear, so that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find [His amazing] grace to help in time of need [an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment].

The Resurrection of Christ Jesus, a historical fact with personal meaning. What does His Resurrection mean to you? Please share your thoughts in the Comments. Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

Five Minute Friday: More

more

Joining Kate Motaung and other members of the Five Minute Friday Community, for our weekly writing adventure. To learn more about Five Minute Friday, click here. This week’s prompt is, “More.”

Dare I believe it?
That You want me to imagine more?
Ask for more?
Dream more and bigger dreams?
To believe that You have more in store for me, for us?
The more recorded in Ephesians 3:20?
The “superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams}.”
That kind of more?

Dare I believe it?
Dare I ask for more
when I,
too often,
am not thankful enough
for all that You have already bestowed so freely?
Dare I believe?

The answer is, “Yes.”
You can do more and want me to believe for more.
Because Your purpose is bigger than I can conceive.
And can only be accomplished when I access more of You.
Because the starting point,
the middle point,
the end point,
of all that is good and worthwhile,
and eternal,
is You.
And what I will always need is not things. 
Not even what You can do through me.
But more of You.
 

“… and Peter”

_... and Peter ..._

A drowning person’s life flashes before his or her eyes.
Or so I have been told.
And if there is truth in this statement,
I wonder if Peter’s life with Jesus flashed before his eyes
as he drowned in an ocean of shame, horror, pain, and disbelief
after doing what he had sworn he never would,
that is, abandon Jesus, the One he had left all to follow.

I wonder if he saw the moment when Jesus called to him and his brother Andrew
as they were casting a net into the Sea of Galilee, and said,
“Come follow me and I will send you to fish for people”?
And when He touched the hand of Peter’s mother-in-law as she was lying in bed with a fever, and the fever left her?

I wonder if remembered vividly the moment his feet touched the water after he asked, “Lord, if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water,” and Jesus responded, “Come”?
And when he responded to Jesus’ question, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” with the revelation given to him by the Father, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus changed his name from Simon to Peter.

I wonder if he saw the thousands being fed with a little boy’s lunch, and Lazarus coming out of the tomb after he had been dead four days, and Jesus’ transfiguration on the mount?

I do not know but the One Who knew Peter would deny Him, not once but thrice in a short space of time, and loved him still, He made sure that Peter knew that there was forgiveness, and redemption, and restoration for Peter.

First, He sent the message of His resurrection through the angel, “But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”
“… tell his disciples and Peter.”
“ … and Peter.”

Later, He would pose a question to him three times, “Do you love Me?”
And by the end of the conversation had commissioned him and, as He had done in their first encounter by the Sea of Galilee, called him to follow Him.

Like Peter, I have been guilty of denying Him,
Sometimes with my words.
At other times with my silence, behavior and choices.
Like Perer, I have been guilty of denying Him.
Perhaps you are too.
Thanks be to God, we can all be certain that,
no matter what we have done,
the same forgiveness,
redemption,
and restoration that Peter was given,
is also available to us.

Five Minute Friday: Empty

empty

Joining Kate Motaung and other members of the Five Minute Friday community for our weekly writing adventure. To learn more about Five Minute Friday, click here. This week’s prompt is, “Empty.”

“He emptied Himself.”
He who is the Word.
He who was in the beginning.
He who has always been God.
He emptied Himself.

He, by whom, all things were created in heaven and on earth.
Visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities.
He emptied Himself.

He, in whom is all the fullness of the Godhead .
He who holds all things together.
He emptied Himself.

He emptied Himself and became flesh.
He emptied Himself.
And allowed Himself to know hunger and be tempted.

He emptied Himself and became the man of sorrows,
intimately acquainted with grief.
To be rejected and despised.
As John notes, He came unto His own but His own did not receive Him.

He emptied Himself and because He did,
we who “were once estranged
and alienated
and hostile-minded toward Him,”
are now reconciled to God through His physical death.
We now “may have and enjoy life,
and have it in abundance,
to the full,
till it overflows.” 
All because He emptied Himself.

Every Step

every step

From the moment of His birth, every step Jesus took brought Him closer to Golgotha and the Cross,  where He would willingly pay the incomprehensible cost to redeem you, me, the world. Every step. The trip to Jerusalem at age 12, where, after searching for Him for three days, Mary and Joseph “found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions,” astonishing all who heard Him (Luke 2:41-47, NKJV). To the Jordan River to be baptized by John (Matthew 3:13-17). Into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan after fasting for 40 days and forty nights (Matthew 4:1-11).

Every step. By the Sea of Galilee on numerous occasions such as when He called the first disciples (Matthew 4:18-22). Up on a mountain where He taught his disciples many things, including what we know as “The Beatitudes” (Matthew 5:1-12). In Capernaum, where He spoke the word that healed the centurion’s servant and drove the fever from the body of Peter’s mother-in-law with a touch (Matthew 8:5-15).

Every step. To the country of the Gergesenes, where He set two demon-possessed men free (Matthew 8:28-34). To the house of Jairus where He raised his daughter from the dead (Luke 8:41-56).

Every step. Through Samaria and to the Samaritan woman who came to draw water and met the Messiah, the Living Water (John 4). To the tomb of Lazarus where He demonstrated that He is the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:1-44). Every step.

And every step you and I take moves us closer to the purpose for which God created us, or away from it. Every step. Every choice, every decision matters. May we heed more than ever the instruction in Hebrews 12:1-2 (AMP):

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work].”

And with the assurance that He directs our steps (Proverbs 16:9) may we pray like David, the psalmist and king,

“Establish my footsteps in [the way of] Your word;
Do not let any human weakness have power over me [causing me to be separated from You]” (Psalm 119:133, AMP).

P.S.

I want to invite you to join me and thousands of others across the nation and in other countries to use your feet to make a difference, by participating in World Vision’s Global 6K for clean water, on May 6, 2017. Please watch the video below and click here for additional information. Thank you.

His Exclusive Claim

HIS exclusive claim.png

As I mentioned in a recent post, I saw the movie, “The Shack,” two Sundays ago. I continue to reflect on this fictional story and have talked with several persons about it. As sometimes happens, a fresh insight came as I was telling one of my sisters about the movie and my experience of seeing it. What I noted was that the main character, “Mack,” encountered Jesus first and His words were an invitation.

I thought of John 14:6, which constitutes a part of Jesus’ response to Thomas’s question, “Lord, we do not know where You are going; so how can we know the way?” (John 14:5, AMP). “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the [only] Way [to God] and the [real] Truth and the [real] Life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.'” (John 14:6, AMP).

This exclusive claim of Jesus has been the source of offense for many. In the article,  “Is Jesus the Only Way?” the author, Paul Rutherford, identifies Jesus’ exclusive claim that He is the only Way to God as “the most offensive aspect of Christianity today.” He identifies the following objections to Jesus’ exclusive claim: “Tolerance;” “Absolutes Don’t Exist;” and, “Pluralism.” Rutherford also provides the Scriptural basis for believing that Jesus is the only Way to God.  (I encourage you to invest the time necessary to read the article.  I recognize the need in myself to further develop the discipline of diving deeper into the tenets of my faith, to know why I believe what I believe. Perhaps you see this as a need we have in common). 

I think of Jesus’ exclusive claim and how being offended by His claim can result in one overlooking the amazing and incomprehensible fact that God loves us enough to provide any way back to Him, more so this Way. This Way, which required the Word to become flesh  and suffer beyond human imagining to redeem us.

Also, I recall His loving invitations and will close this post with two of them and His promise to those who come to Him. I pray that if you have not accepted His invitations, you will this Lenten season. And if you have, pause to give Him thanks.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls.  For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, AMP)

 Now on the last and most important day of the feast, Jesus stood and called out [in a loud voice], “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink! He who believes in Me [who adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Me], as the Scripture has said, ‘From his innermost being will flow continually rivers of living water. (John 7:37-39, AMP)

“All that My Father gives Me will come to Me; and the one who comes to Me I will most certainly not cast out [I will never, never reject anyone who follows Me].(John 6:3, AMP)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tempted? Our High Priest Knows

Tempted_Our High Priest Knows.png

After Jesus was baptized, He came up immediately out of the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he (John) saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him (Jesus), and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased and delighted!”

Then Jesus was led by the [Holy] Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  After He had gone without food for forty days and forty nights, He became hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, …” But Jesus replied, “It is written and forever remains written …”  (Matthew 3:16-4:11, AMP)

As described in the Scripture passage above, after Jesus was baptized by John, had the Spirit descend as a dove and light on Him, and received God’s audible approval, He was led by the Spirit. He was led, not to a mountain top, into the temple, or before the spiritual or political rulers of the era. He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He was tempted during a time when His physical strength was likely depleted after 40 days and nights of fasting. He was tempted and met every temptation with the written Word.

He was tempted and, although only three temptations are mentioned in Matthew 4:1-11, Hebrews 4:15 makes it clear that Jesus was tempted “in every respect as we are.” We have a High Priest, this verse tells us, who is able to sympathize and understand our weaknesses and temptations. He sympathizes and understands our weaknesses and temptations because, as the Amplified Bible translation of Hebrews 4:15 states, our High Priest is “One who has been tempted [knowing exactly how it feels to be human] in every respect as we are, yet without [committing any] sin.”

In addition, Jesus, “… although He existed in the form and unchanging essence of God [as One with Him, possessing the fullness of all the divine attributes—the entire nature of deity], did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped or asserted [as if He did not already possess it, or was afraid of losing it]; but emptied Himself [without renouncing or diminishing His deity, but only temporarily giving up the outward expression of divine equality and His rightful dignity] by assuming the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men [He became completely human but was without sin, being fully God and fully man]” (Philippians 2:5-7, AMP). He did all this for you. He did all this for me. He did all this for us. And assures us of this truth,

“No temptation [regardless of its source] has overtaken or enticed you that is not common to human experience [nor is any temptation unusual or beyond human resistance]; but God is faithful [to His word—He is compassionate and trustworthy], and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability [to resist], but along with the temptation He [has in the past and is now and] will [always] provide the way out as well, so that you will be able to endure it [without yielding, and will overcome temptation with joy]” (1 Corinthians 10:13, AMP).

It is easy to recognize the desire to do something we know is wrong, as a temptation; however, a temptation, is also a strong desire or urge, the Merriam-Webster dictionary informs us, to do something that is unwise. Whatever form a temptation takes, we can be sure that our compassionate Father, who has declared us to be “more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37), has provided a way out. Also, He works in us, giving us both the desire and the power to do what pleases Him (Philippians 2:13, NLT). Thank You, Lord.

God’s Knowability

gods-knowability

The Shack, the movie based on William Paul Young’s bestselling book of the same name, opened in US theaters on Friday, March 3, 2017. I saw it on Sunday. In one of the earliest conversations in the movie, Papa calls the main character by his full name, “Mackenzie Allen Phillipps,” and in response to his question, “Do I know You?” responds, “Not very well.”

As I watched the movie, I came face to face with the fact that I do not know God as well as I should and as well as He has made it possible for me to know Him. As well as He wants to be known. How incredible is this. God wants to be known.

We can never know Him fully but we can know what He has revealed of Himself, beginning with the Word made flesh. Here is a link to an article I found helpful about the knowability of God. I hope you find it helpful also. Blessings.

A life fully lived

fully-lived

“Sarah lived a hundred and twenty-seven years; this was the length of the life of Sarah.” (Genesis 23:1, AMP)

I read Genesis 23:1 and wondered not about the length of Sarah’s life, but the fullness, the depth, and the breath of her life. I wondered, “Did Sarah live every day fully? Or, like me, like you, were there days when she was just surviving? Going through the motions? Wearied by the mundane?”

She was 90 years old when she give birth to Isaac. We know that she was very beautiful but had endured the heartbreak of infertility for decades, and had lost hope of having a child of her own. Remember how she laughed when she heard the Lord say that she would have a child?

For those of us who have lived with an unfulfilled dream, a yet unfulfilled promise, we can identify with her laughter at that moment. We can identify with Sarah’s laughter because, as much as we want it to be true, few, if any of us, are exempt from being assailed by doubt at some point in our journey of faith. And yet, this same Sarah who laughed within herself is one of only two women named in the Hall of Faith.

Read what is said of Sarah: first, in Genesis 21:1(NIV);

Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised.”

then in Hebrews 11:11 (AMP),

 “By faith even Sarah herself received the ability to conceive [a child], even [when she was long] past the normal age for it, because she considered Him who had given her the promise to be reliable and true [to His word].”

Read also what  the Bible records Sarah said of her self:

Sarah said, ‘God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.’ And she added, ‘Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.’” (Genesis 21:6-7, NIV)

So what is my answer to the first question I posed earlier, “Did Sarah live every day fully?” My answer is, “No.” Why? Because she had days, even seasons, like you and I, when she made poor choices. And doubted God. And ill treated people in her life. But I dare say that she lived a full life. Because I believe it is the sum total of our days which matters. Any life characterized by a journey from doubt to faith.  Any life for which the defining statement is, “By faith even Sarah herself received the ability to conceive [a child], even [when she was long] past the normal age for it, because she considered Him who had given her the promise to be reliable and true [to His word]”, such a life is a life fully lived. A life with depth and breath. A life that each of us are enabled by God to live.

 “The thief comes only in order to steal, kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, life in its fullest measure.” (John 10:10, CJB)