For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. – Romans 1:19-20
Everything, everything, everything screams “Jesus!” I’m no biblical scholar and I’ve never been to seminary, but I love the Bible and have studied it for years on my own (that is what every Christian does, right?). Even to a lay person like me, it is blatantly obvious. From the first days of creation to the one boat in a worldwide flood to the blood sacrifice at Jewish Passover to the kings and prophets – the Bible is all about Jesus Christ the Messiah. It is no wonder Jesus is called the Word (see John 1:1, 14, Luke 24:27 and Rev. 19:13), he is the Bible with skin on.
If you think the display of who Christ is and what he has done is limited to Scripture you are very mistaken. Today I want to shift your attention to what God is declaring in the world all around you. He is NOT done talking about his son. Jesus is too wonderful to be held to one large volume of print. Jesus is too great to be limited to preaching on Sundays and small groups on Wednesdays. Jesus is too powerful to be regulated, governed or managed. And praise God that he is!
Not only has God determined that his Son should be declared in all of the good ways listed above but also that his qualities should be clearly seen through what he has made (see Romans 1:20 above!). The entire Universe screams “Jesus!” just like everything else. How? Let’s look at two very simple ways.
…BUT first, two important points for us to keep in mind. 1 - No creation is divine, no creation is a part of God. Creation is a way that God displays his attributes, but creation does not contain God. That is called “pantheism” and is heresy. 2 – The way that God reveals himself to us in a personal way will always be his Word, the Bible. Hearing or reading the gospel is what brings us to a saving faith in Jesus, not pretty clouds or majestic mountains. These things cause us to praise God but not know him. Guard your hearts, Ladies. Now let’s continue…
Spring is here and we love it. It is the topic of conversation and it changes how we spend our days. We long to be outside…experiencing what? Experiencing this re-birth of our earth! What was dead is coming to life again. We see trees budding, flowers stretching and brown landscapes turning bright green. Creation is acting differently - the birds are chirping, the fish are biting, and the kids are running. There is a resurrection happening all around us, are you noticing?
God allows a time of increased darkness, cold, and barrenness then follows it with a warming that thaws the earth and awakens what has been “asleep”. This stirs something in us because it is supposed to. It is another display of what Jesus did in dying for us under the wrath of his Father while paying the penalty of our sins. He was dead in the grave for a time, yet death could not keep him. He rose again to life and now radiates a beauty and perfection that we can enjoy (if we are believers). We bask in the goodness of our Savior, like we do the beauty of good spring weather.
This regeneration period for the earth begins when the earth’s position shifts in relation to the sun. Our day/night cycles are also regulated by our position to the sun. Why the sun? Because of the S-O-N. Just as each season is a reminder of the resurrection of our Savior so is each and every sunrise. Moving from darkness to light is one of the primary analogies used in the Bible (see the book of John). Jesus himself said, “I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12). Why would God not make this evident to us every day we breathe? Psalm 19:2 says, “Day to day pours out speech,” and that this voice “goes through all the earth,” (v. 4). It is worldwide reminder of Jesus, day after day.
Spring and sunrises –comparisons to the resurrection of Jesus - could it be that simple? Yes! As Romans 1:19 says, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.” God has kept it simple, we don’t have to wonder or look far. Just take notice and give praise.
If you think this is silliness, you may fall under Romans 1:18 which speaks of those “who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” Be careful that you are not denying the obvious truth right in front of your face with every sunrise and new season that comes. For the wrath of God is revealed to those who take that position (v. 18). For the rest of us we gladly see it and rejoice in it. We are among those who “live by faith” (Romans 1:17) and “are not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).
You have set up a banner for those who fear you, that they may flee to it from the bow. – Psalm 60:4
As I have studied American wars with my boys this year, I have come to realize how important flags are in a battle. For example, the battlefields of the Civil War were chaotic places filled with smoke, noise and confusion. A flag from a soldier’s regiment or state provided a valuable visual landmark. It served as a rallying point and helped the soldiers keep close to each other. A flag provided a reminder of what they were fighting for and gave the soldiers incentive to press on.
These days it seems that there are many different flags being raised that people rally under. Social causes top the list. Recently the media was filled with women lifting up signs and banners that they proudly marched down the streets of our nation. They gave themselves to these causes and have conformed their lives around them.
Today, my question for you is: what flag are you living under? Each of us has a banner that we raise and dedicate ourselves to. Call it your reason for living or the passion for your existence. What is yours? Most likely you are not wielding a physical sign above your head, but you have something that you are spending yourself on.
Is it the “all-sacred” home and family? Success? Physical fitness or beauty? Comfort? Maybe it’s a “worthy” cause that trips your trigger: the environment, animals, sanctity of life, social tolerance or medical research. For many it is a combination of these elements of life. We fashion our own banner of maybe family, acceptance, being green and healthy living. When we think we have it right we lift it up in social media, in what we give money to, in what we talk about and how we pick our friends.
What does your banner look like, ladies? Pause and consider that question. Here’s another - what are we doing designing our own banners to define our life? Have we forgotten… there are only two options available! There are only two possible flags to live under: the flag of Jesus Christ or the flag of the world. We need to stop trying to make our own.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:30a, “Whoever is not with me is against me.” We are either gathered with Jesus or gathered against Jesus. The banner above your head either reads, “With Jesus” or “Against Jesus”. Check it closely! There are no flags for “Undecided”, “Socially Conscious”, “Nice People”, “Pro-Choice”, or “Baptists”.
The women who took to the streets in protest a few weeks ago evidenced this fact. They were protesting for women’s rights and equality but many of the signs they raised displayed their hatred for Jesus Christ. How strange that those blaming Jesus for their problems are the ones who prove him right over and over again.
Psalm 60:4 above tells us that God himself has set up a banner for those who fear him. It is singular, there is only one banner, the banner of Christ.
The soldiers in the American wars would die for their flag. Are you so bold in your dedication? Are you willing to hang the flag of, “With Jesus” on your life? To display it in everything you do and say? Are you devoted to agreeing with all that is in his Word? If not, you are most likely on the other side under the flag of the world. You okay with having “Against Jesus” above your head? Think about that.
Ladies, if you have been waving any flag other than the flag of Christ in your life it is time to take it down and burn it. Are we pro-life, pro-family and anti-violence? You bet, but it is because we are pro-Jesus first and foremost. There is no reason to battle for right and wrong outside of the One who defines right and wrong. We support causes that are biblical but we conform our lives around Jesus Christ and not the cause.
We need to be with Christ and everything he says in his Word. If we carry any banner in our life to show the world what we live and die for, let it be a white one washed clean with the blood of our Savior and let it simply say, “With Jesus”.
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. – 1 Corinthians 2:2
Who can understand the mind of a woman? No one aside from God. I think we can all agree on that one, we even confuse ourselves much of the time. The female mind is like a jungle: full of fantastic beauty, yet containing pathways of perilous danger. Today I want to encourage you to block off one particular pathway and to train your thoughts to walk in gospel light.
One of the most dangerous roads we tend to wander down in our minds is the pathway of comparisons. We assume certain things are true about others when they are not. Before we even enter a room of people we have a dozen thoughts zooming into our consciousness. Thoughts of inadequacies and self-doubt, feelings of not measuring up in appearance, intelligence or experience. We assume we are lacking in some serious ways that others are not.
Even in our own homes we are not shielded from the taunts of deception. We assume other women are better mothers, housekeepers and cooks (I mean, just look at their Facebook page). We assume they are loaded with friends and social events when we are often lonely and longing for just one good girlfriend to hang out with. We assume they have it all together while we are struggling to stay sane.
Stop the assumptions, ladies! I’m here to tell you today that you are just not as special as you think you are! One thing I have come to learn about women is that we are most certainly more alike than we are different. We tread very similar pathways and experience what is common to womanhood. Just like Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.” These deceptive assumptions that we allow (yes, allow) to cross our minds are from our enemy and his aim is our distraction (wow, are we easily distracted). He has been using the same simple play book for decades on us. Why not change up his strategy? Because it works! We fall prey over and over again.
No more. Board up that perilous pathway of thought and walk away from it. Send your thoughts where your all-knowing Father tells you to. He makes it clear in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers [and sisters], whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Thoughts consumed by what is praise-worthy (the epitome of all of these attributes is Jesus) do not have time to wander off into darkness. They are trained away from darkness and toward light.
I think Paul said it best when he said, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2. When he went to the people of Corinth, he was not consumed with thoughts of his potential inadequacies (what he looked like, what the people would think of him, how he would compare). In some ways he would have been inferior to them and other ways superior, but here is the point…it didn’t matter. Paul didn’t care about any of that. He decided to know only Jesus and what he did on the cross. That was his only concern - to display the gospel. His mind was trained away from petty, earthly concerns and trained onto gospel purposes.
That should be our concern too. Not how we measure up (which is WAY off target to reality anyway) but how we can display the gospel to others. We need to think on Jesus and display him in our actions. Ladies, the next time you feel the coming bombardment of deceptive thoughts (whether in private or public) remember that you no longer take that path, it is off limits. Do not entertain dangerous assumptions leading to pointless comparisons (truly idolatry of others). Refuse to be distracted from your purpose for breathing!
Train your mind to walk in the light of the Word and turn your thoughts onto your true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and praise-worthy Savior. Decide to know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
Favorite Christmas memory? Staying up late Christmas Eve nights with my little brother. He would camp out on my bedroom floor and we would talk for hours letting our imaginations fly about Santa, what gifts we might find under the tree and how excited we were to give our gifts to others. We could hardly contain our elation over what was to come; it felt impossible to go to sleep. We looked so forward to the morning that the waiting seemed almost truly painful, yet completely thrilling at the same time. It was wonderful, gut-wrenching anticipation.
I am not going to discuss the merits (or more likely demerits) of Santa here today and I understand that many will feel that children excited about gifts is a display of materialistic greed (bah-humbug!). In my opinion, gifts (tangible and intangible ones) are awesome. I love to give them and, being a person who loves surprises, I enjoy receiving them too. We have an exceedingly giving God. He lavishes grace onto the undeserving and we need to reflect that giving nature as well, especially to those who cannot return the favor (Luke 14:12-14).
I encourage you to build on the anticipation of this season and direct it God-ward. Allow children to be excited about gifts, encourage them to wonder at what they might receive (always teaching thanksgiving); let them experience what anticipation feels like. Help them to be cheerful givers too (2 Cor. 9:7). Discuss the emotions they are feeling and what it has to do with their relationship with Christ. What does it have to do with a relationship with Christ? Let me tell you.
The Bible throbs with anticipation. People of the Old Testament lived in anticipation of a Savior, someone to relieve the impossible burden of the law and to fulfill the prophesies which foretold a Redeemer. John the Baptist came to prepare the way and build anticipation for the coming Christ. Jesus came and fulfilled the anticipation, yet continued to point us toward more. He talked of his Heavenly Kingdom, stating that he is going to prepare a place for us and added, “I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” John 14:3. Wow! Jesus gives himself as a payment for our sins, is resurrected to life and now has a place ready for us in Heaven, where we get to be with him forever to enjoy his glory and perfect presence. Hello? Can you feel the anticipation building?
There’s more. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.” Unless we get there first, Jesus is coming to get us! And in style (serious style and serious power, read Revelations 19:11-16!).
We who are Christians have SO MUCH to look forward to. It is too much to contain and too joyous to express - plus the Bible tells us it is going to happen soon. This is wonderful, gut-wrenching anticipation! While I am zealous for the righteousness of the Lord, desiring justice to be finally executed upon those who reject him (“Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer;” Ps. 10:15) my deepest longing is to enjoy the fullness of my Savior face to face forever and as soon as possible (“One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” Ps 15:27:4). If you don’t have feelings like this, you need to evaluate your heart; you may not know Jesus like you claim.
Ladies, train yourself in living a life of anticipation, allow this season be a reminder of all you have to look forward to and teach your friends and family the same. Display it for them; be excited to celebrate Christ and the insane gifts that he offers of redemption and forever life with him. Use the anticipation of gift giving and receiving as a springboard for gospel conversations. Focus your energy and fullest joy on times of praise and adoration of the greatest gift Giver of all, our Lord God.
Just like Christmas Eve with my little brother, may your nights be so filled with thoughts of our incredible Savior that it keeps you up late at night filled with anticipation of all that is to come. Come, Lord Jesus!
Christmas is here, and I love it. I love the whole sensory overload of the season. I love the lights and music, eating tree-shaped cookies and even the late night wrapping sessions while watching absurdly corny movies. The best part is celebrating with friends and family. But what is it we are really celebrating again? Oh, that’s right…Jesus. That accounts for the whole “Christ”mas thing.
What the heck does it look like to celebrate Jesus? Let’s be honest, we struggle with this. Is it simply saying grace before meals? “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays”? Is it singing religious music, putting up a nativity, going to church on Christmas Eve? Even if we do all of these things (which are good) it still feels seriously inadequate. We have a God that “was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5. A few verses of “Joy to the World” in church is not going to cut it.
We need to get one thing straight right away, God does not need our attention or our good works. He is not a pansy-god who thrives on human interaction or human charity. He is fully God on his own, lacking nothing. Conversely, we humans desperately need God. We lack everything, including the ability to save ourselves from hell. The son of God, Jesus, paid the death penalty for our sins and reconciled us to God. Therefore if we know Christ and believe in what he did for us, we can celebrate him at Christmas (and always). Exclusive? Absolutely. If you are excluded as an unbeliever, you have no reason to rejoice. Enjoy the corny movies and the cookies, that is as good as your lot gets.
For the rest of us, we need to celebrate Jesus. Let’s get to the “how”. I’ll make it easy to understand: open the Bible and read it, then do what it says. There you go, “How to Love God 101”. God has kindly written down for us: who he is, what he has done, how much he loves us, what will happen if we reject him, future events and, in light of all of this, how we should live right now. How is reading the Bible better than singing or prayer? God reveals himself through his word, if you don’t know his word, you do not know him. If you don’t know him, you cannot pray or sing to him with a heart that honors him. He is far away from you (Proverbs 15:29), no amount of “O, Come Let Us Adore Him” will get you closer to him. Listen to Christ when he says, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” Luke 11:28.
When we pick up the Bible to read God’s word, this is an act of desire on our part. We are desiring to know him more, to understand and see him. In essence, we are reaching out our arms to our Father asking him for wisdom, mercy, and love. Saying, “Please, God, give me more of you!” God doesn’t need us, but he loves us and knows the best thing for us is to become more like Jesus. When we model Christ, we honor God and exult him as holy. When we hold out our arms to God, he reaches out to us as well. No, strike that, his arms were open before ours, he is already stretching grace-filled arms out to us. We need to respond by grabbing his hands and joyfully being gathered to his heart as we enjoy his presence and listen attentively as he speaks to us.
That is celebrating Jesus, reading his Words and doing what it says. We often do just the opposite in December, we set our Bibles aside and rush around greedily shopping, planning and cooking. We may sing louder, give more and be at more parties, but then the emptiness comes. We feel drained, broken and tired. It is no wonder people try to “fix” themselves as soon as the New Year arrives. They have been grasping and consuming lifeless dust. Keep this simple verse running through your mind this season and forever, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” James 4:8a. It has served me well over the years as a constant reminder of God’s faithfulness. It is truly life’s mission.
So begin now, read God’s word like never before. Get up earlier, stay up later, attend Bible studies and services. Be taught and study on your own. Be filled with what is truly good. Start the New Year overflowing with hope and joy; not because you will change but because you have already beenchanged by the power of God’s written voice. This alone will cause you to pray in sincerity, sing heartfelt praises, to give generously and to joyously fellowship like never before. This will cause you to do Christmas differently. You will truly be celebrating Jesus.
Slam me down and spin me around. Keep me centered. We have been singing a song in church lately that has the line, “Center my life on your name.” Being the pottery nut that I am, the same image pops into my mind every time.
When you are sitting at a potter’s wheel the first thing you have to do is take your lump of clay and center it on the wheel. You do that by shaping it into a ball and then slamming it down on the very center of the wheel. If you miss you must pick it back up, shape it and slam it back down. You have to do this until you get it right. No shortcuts.
Only after you have your portion of clay in the middle of your wheel can you then begin the spinning and go on with the process of molding it and creating something beautiful.
What happens if you don’t get the clay centered and try to move forward with an off-centered lump? Nothing good and nothing beautiful. You will fight it, trying to get the clay centered and to a place where it will be workable. It will eventually be so off-kilter that it will turn into an ugly mess and possibly fly off the wheel all together (I know this from experience).
Our lives in the same way need to be centered on Christ. It is a perfectly simple visual. If we stay centered (if we are in God’s Word, fellowshipping with other believers, praying, praising), we are shapeable, malleable, and able to be formed into a vessel of good purpose. We will be drawn vertically upward stretching ourselves toward Godly beauty under the perfect hands of the Potter.
I did not invent this sweet analogy, God did. “But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8.
With God as our potter what can we do as the clay? Be still and know that he is God. We are to remain on the wheel, centered and in his capable hands. Always moving and active yet only in the way that he guides us. Not trying to move in our own direction so that the gracious Potter must pick us up and slam us back down again (for our own good). Not trying to harden ourselves and be resistant under his loving hand. Don’t be ignorant or stubborn clay.
“You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, ‘He did not make me’; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, ‘He has no understanding’?” Isaiah 29:16
Sound ridiculous to think of clay talking back to the potter? Yep, sure does! But we do it all the time. We question God’s plan for us, we doubt his intentions, we complain about our form and our seemingly unexciting purpose. We tell him, “Hands off! I can do it myself.” We need to stop sassing back and instead trust him and let him have his way. He is perfect remember, we are not.
Be malleable so he can do his work, growing you up, shaping you to hold more and more of him. “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7
When centrifugal force starts to pull against us, when we feel the pain and frustration that comes when we flail and come undone in life. Our prayer should be for God to please pick us up and slam us back into the place where we can once again flourish under his care. Difficult? Yes. Painful? Possibly. But oh so worth it. So much better than finding yourself thrown off and left to dry out, all because you did not trust the Potter.
Ladies, let this be your prayer today: “God, do whatever is necessary to center my life upon you that I may be made into something beautiful and can be filled with the treasures of your goodness all for your glory.”
Ladies, when was the last time you felt radiant? Been awhile? Yeah, me too. I was recently staring into my closet wondering if it’s a bad sign that many of my clothing purchases in the last year have come from Sam’s Club… wait, don’t answer that, I know the answer. As women our lives are so full of demands, chores, and people to take care of that we rarely spend time thinking about being radiant. Usually “good enough” or “not too bad” will do.
Today, I want to change your attitude in that area and mine too. First, what does it mean to be radiant? Radiant means to send out light, to glow or shine. In regards to a person it is as if that person is emanating light, joy or gladness. These are just my simplified definitions. If you are radiant, you are certainly having an effect on those around you and it is obvious something awesome is going on inside of you.
The verse that got me thinking on this idea of radiance is found in Jeremiah 31:12, “and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord”. Why will they be radiant? Because of the “goodness of the Lord”! No mention of stylish clothes, make-up or a good tan. Duh, radiance couldn’t be caused by any of those things, they are outside of you. Radiance is something that emanates from the inside out.
That verse is part of a chapter in which God is speaking through his prophet Jeremiah telling of the restoration of the Israelites to their land and to himself. Here are a few more awesome snippets from chapter 31: “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (v. 3), he will gather them and keep them “as a shepherd keeps his flock.” (v. 10), “I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.” (v. 13), “my heart yearns for him, I will certainly have mercy on him” (v. 20), and “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (v. 33).
With a God loving you like that, how could you keep from being radiant with joy? This God is certainly overflowing with goodness. In fact, he is goodness.
Do you belong to and serve the God that wrote the Bible? How about the book of Jeremiah? Chapter 31? Yes, yes and yes for me. I pray it is true for you too. Then what are we waiting for?? Our radiance does not come from anything we can put on these bodies (whether from Sam’s or Saks) but what resides within us – which is the goodness of God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
If my radiance is dependent on the goodness of God, I should blind people when I walk by. So how does this happen? The answer is also so perfectly in Jeremiah chapter 31, verse 14, “my people will be satisfied with my goodness”. God’s people find their full and perfect satisfaction in God alone. If you are one of God’s people, find your full satisfaction in his goodness. Soak yourself in God’s Word, be with him in prayer. We should be so filled with the abundance of God’s love, grace and mercy that it consumes our being from the inside out and overflows onto a needy and dark world. What a glorious picture. It is a gospel picture.
Jesus radiated love for me when he poured out his blood on the cross. In this act he paid my ransom price and now I am eternally secure and all the words spoken in Jeremiah chapter 31 are meant for me. How could I be dissatisfied??
In a world filled with women trying so hard to accessorize themselves into beauty or to live a “good life” hoping that will translate into being a “good person”, we should shine like the sun. While they are hoping all their work on the outside will seep into their soul, we stand confident that Jesus has done the work already and our soul is beautiful. Therefore we do not fear, we are satisfied.
If the Holy Spirit lives inside you, he should be shining through you. Ladies, find your full satisfaction in the goodness of God and be radiant.
My husband is not my ideal man. Now before you get upset with me, hear me out. He is certainly the right man for me; God picked him out and ordained that we be together. Knowing this, there is no one I would rather be married to. Who am I to disagree with God? Though, sadly, I did exactly that for many years. That is until God got my eyesight fixed and focused me on himself instead.
Phil has blessed me immensely and we are better together than we are apart. Together we display the gospel more fully and beautifully than we could separately. However, Phil cannot do many things for me. He cannot love me perfectly, he cannot keep me from anxiety, he cannot change my heart and he cannot keep me from harm or physical illness. Above all this, he cannot save me. Phil has never forgiven my sins by dying on a cross for me nor would it be sufficient if he did.
Too often we wives look to our husbands for what is impossible for them to give. It’s like asking for water out of a hose hooked up to an oil well. We want them to satisfy our deepest longings for relationship, trust, and perfect - full of grace - unconditional love. They can give small doses of these through the power of the Holy Spirit (if they are a Christian man), but only God can fully provide all of these qualities in a pure and eternal way. He displayed this in the sacrifice of his only son. Put simply, our deepest needs, longings and desires can only find fulfillment in Jesus Christ.
We love our husbands but should not look to them to provide only what God can give us. We are joyful not because our husband finally gives us a compliment, but because of being part of God’s chosen family. We are peaceful not because our husband provides well for us financially, but because God tells us we are eternally secure in him and no one can ever snatch us out of his hand.
I cannot under-emphasize the importance of understanding and living this out in your marriage. If I trust Phil for what only God can provide, I will be disappointed over and over again. I will be a miserable person married to a miserable man reminded of his constant failings. If I instead look to God alone to identify with and find my worth as his child, I find treasure. I am a woman at peace, secure and joyful, happily married to a man who I love dearly and thank God for. With both of us being sinners, it makes no sense that we could perfectly satisfy each other, we can only look to holy perfection for that.
So Ladies, find perfect love in the one who loves you perfectly. Be secure in Christ and who you are in him, then love your husband well. I leave you with something I read recently in the Bible that felt just like a love letter being written to me from the love of my life, Jesus Christ. Notice in these verses he loves us by telling us of his greatness and ability to care for us perfectly. He makes no room for another savior, he alone saves. Reflect on these words today; read them as if they are meant for you because, if you are his… they are.
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
peoples in exchange for your life.
I, I am the Lord,
and besides me there is no savior.
- Isaiah 43:1-4, 11
I love football. I really love Hawkeye football. Especially when the Hawks are winning. The University of Iowa is my alma mater, so I feel as if I have special claim to them as my team. I love being part of a winning team.
You feel that way too? Good. Let’s keep this short and sweet. Don’t be a loser, choose Christ.
Christ wins. He wins everything. He is the Son of God, heir to all:
But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. - Hebrews 1:2
The LORD says to my lord: "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet. – Psalm 110:1
And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed. – Daniel 7:13-14
Yes, he is that good. The perfect Victor.
Jesus won when he completed his mission on the cross (although it looked like defeat until the perfectly timed resurrection comeback). The forever reigning Champion has been declared and it is Jesus Christ. Yet, God decides when time is up for this game. When he blows the whistle (okay it’s a trumpet) he then sends his Son to gather his team for a victory celebration:
And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. – Mark 13:26-27
And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” – Revelations 19:9
What you do on this field called Earth matters for eternity. This Rose Bowl will pass and another will come next year and the year after, God willing. You only get one soul to surrender to the one you want to play for. Choose the winning team.
Duh, right? Sounds obvious, choose to win, don’t choose to lose. Most still choose to lose, remember – “the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many” – Matthew 7:13. Don’t blow by this. I pray you think long and hard on whom you are playing for as you look toward 2016.
If Christ has already made you part of his victorious team, good, but don’t relax. Start playing like you mean it. This really isn’t just a game after all (you do know this right?) Decide to work harder than ever in the New Year. The work of God always starts in the Word of God. Read it.
If you feel you are on the losing side, then cry out to God for mercy. Ask him to choose you to be his. Being won by God always starts with the Word of God. Read it.
Be there like I plan to be when the victory is proclaimed and the celebration begins:
Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.” – Revelations 19:6
Sweet baby Jesus. I’ve heard it, you’ve heard it. Yes, I’m sure Jesus was a sweet and cute little baby. Aren’t all babies? Well, I’m not really the best person to ask, mine were horrible (no not ugly, they cried a lot), but that’s a story for another time. I have often wondered what kind of baby Jesus was. Did he cry much? Did he sleep all night? Did he spit out his first taste of matzoh (yes, that was a google search)? Did Mary feel the pressure of raising the Savior of the world? These may seem silly, but we mommas do wonder them at times.
However Jesus acted as a baby, we need to remember one very important fact - that sweet little baby Jesus grew up. Too often people are so very comfortable with Christmas because they can handle Jesus in the baby stage. Who doesn’t love a baby? Throw in an awesome (miraculous) birth story to go along with it and wow! Now you are talking about something to celebrate! Baby Jesus? You bet I love him, he is SO precious.
Adult Jesus, Teacher Jesus, Crucified Jesus, Risen Jesus, Savior Jesus, King Jesus, Sovereign Jesus? Now things get a little less cute and cuddly for most.
This may be why Easter is less celebrated than Christmas. Baby Jesus does not appear to demand the authority and call for dedication as fully as adult Jesus does. A baby stays in a nice, small package that we can easily ignore and pack away with our decorations at the end of the season. For most people Jesus will be the eternal “baby in a manger”.
Ladies, never fall prey to that kind of thinking. The very same book that wrote about Jesus coming to earth as a baby, has much more to say about what he did while on this earth as an adult. You can’t take one without the other.
The grown-up Jesus of the Bible demanded attention and gave tough teachings. He declared himself God, “I and the Father are one” John 10:30. He demanded repentance, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:15. He demanded sacrifice and full devotion, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” John 16:24.
Jesus offered salvation yet also judgment, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the only Son of God.” John 3:18. Jesus was clear why he was on earth, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace but a sword.” Matthew 10:34.
Some of these words are why many seem to prefer a baby who is unable to speak; unable to confront them with their sin and wickedness. They would rather stay ignorant of their desperate need for him; ignoring the hope that that baby brings. Instead talking of Santa and the gifts he miraculously lavishes on those who “believe” this time of year.
Force your eyes to look beyond the birth of Christ and at the purpose of his life. The birth of Jesus was amazing but not because he was born in such highly unusual circumstances. It was amazing because he was God in baby flesh. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” John 1:14. “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,” Colossians 2:9. Our all-powerful Savior exchanged his glory for a time to live with foul humanity, being born in a stinky, crowded hole in a wall. Not quite the welcome we would desire for a King, but what beauty it holds for those he came for.
For those of us who know Jesus, we rejoice at Christmas. We revel in celebrating the birth of Jesus because he grew up and fulfilled his mission from his Father to redeem us from our sins. Dying in our place under the wrath of God, rising again, ascending to Heaven where he is seated at the right hand of his Father right now. This is glorious news!
We hear his voice through the Bible and delight in the words he gives. “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10. The newborn baby points us toward the new life available only through him.
That sweet baby Jesus means everything to us because in him dwelled the fullness of our Messiah. That baby was a promise fulfilled and a promise to come. When you see a manger scene with baby Jesus remember - that baby grew up. He is the one whose lips uttered, “It is finished” (John 19:30) as his work was completed.
Sweet baby Jesus not only grew up, he always was and always will be. Praise God that he came as a baby, praise God that he is a baby no longer!