Category Archives: child of God

PEACE

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A friend of mine was doing her Bible Study preparation last week. She was asked to name a person she saw as filled with peace and to ask that person how she had effectively applied the peace of God to her life.  This friend named me and posed this thought provoking question to me.  What follows is my answer.

Peace is a gift and a fruit of the Spirit.  I can’t create or produce it.  How do I receive and unwrap this sweet satisfying fruit?

Jesus said in John 15 that He is the Vine and we are the branches.  He said that if we abide in Him and He in us, we will bear much fruit.

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating or drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 14:17

Years ago I read Praying The Lord’s Prayer For Spiritual Breakthrough by Elmer L. Towns.  I was deeply impressed by his words:  Before you become a Christian you sit on the throne of your life.  Like a king, you ruled your life and pleased yourself.  The issue of Salvation is, Who will sit on the throne of your life?  Will you sit on your heart’s throne, or will you let Christ be enthroned there?  When you become a believer, you let Christ take control of your life. You say with Paul, “For me to live is Christ…” (Phil 1:21)  … Then we must daily pray, “Thy will be done.”  When we make that prayer daily, it is a conscious decision to  let Christ direct our lives.  That means that the Christian life is one big YES at the beginning, followed by a smaller yes every day.

Mr. Towns’ counsel led to my morning habit of putting Jesus on the throne of my life, as my King.  This morning dedication has been followed by the confession that I cannot keep jesus on the throne for even a few minutes in the power of my flesh.  That confession has been followed by a plea to The Holy Spirit to fill me, empower me, and show me what it will look like when Jesus rules and reigns in me.

My husband and I are currently reading THINK, ACT, BE LIKE JESUS by Randy Frazee.   My morning prayer is reinforced by Mr. Frazee who says, “We stay off the throne of our lives, where God belongs, and live on the altar where we belong.”

This habitual morning prayer is my strategy to attempt to abide in Jesus and to live in His Kingdom. The days that I have known real peace have been the days that I didn’t cast Jesus off the throne and put me back on it. That hasn’t been easy because I am a control freak and like to believe the lie that I won’t feel anxious, if I can control everything.  Sweet peace isn’t secured by my control but by my surrender to The King. 

“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.”  (Isaiah 26:3)

Over the years, as I have hidden more and more of God’s promises in my heart, my trust has grown.  As my trust has grown, so has my peace grown.  

In the New Testament Epistles (Galatians 5:16-26; Ephesians 4:20-32; and Colossians 3:1-17), there is a recurring theme.  We are called to put off the old self and put on the new.  We are called to put to death the flesh and to clothe ourselves with the virtues of Christ.

Two of the things that we are told to put off or put to death are anger and jealousy.  Those two sins have tripped me up more times than I care to recall or can count.  I think my peace has been in proportion to how successfully, with the Holy spirit”s power, I have said NO to anger and jealousy and YES to my King’s commands.  Peace has followed my obedience.

For me the way to peace has been to live everyday with Jesus on the throne, to trust the promises of God, and to be diligent in saying NO my old, sinful nature and saying YES to my King.

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My Father

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My Father said:  “I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after them.  I will make an everlasting covenant with them; I will never stop doing good to them and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me.  I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul.”  Jeremiah 32:39-41

This Father, my Father,  wants to be your father.   He wants to give you a heart to love and reverence Him.  He wants to make an everlasting covenant with you.  He wants to inspire you with such awe over the beauty and goodness of His character that you would never turn back from His Presence.  He wants to do you good;  in fact, doing you good makes Him happy!  He wants to plant you in His everlasting Kingdom.

He is pursuing you.  He is calling you home.  He is your destiny.   Your creator is your redeemer.

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Morning Reflection

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Morning comes and darkness flees when the sun rises above the horizon.  Light breaks into my darkness when the Son of God speaks my name.

One morning while it was still dark, long ago in Israel, a woman by the name of Mary Magdalene, who had been cured of seven demons, stood by a tomb crying. She was distressed because the body of her crucified teacher was no longer in the  grave where he had been buried.  She felt confused and frightened. Someone, she thought might be a gardner (remember it was still dark), asked her why she was crying. Between sobs, Mary replied, “They have taken my Lord away, and I do not know where they have put him.” After another brief exchange of words, He said, “Mary”, and she cried out, “Teacher”.  *

Mary knew her Lord’s voice.  She recognized it.  His voice had to power to send demons fleeing.  His voice had the power to heal and transform.  As He spoke her name, she knew HER LORD LIVED AGAIN!  In that moment everything had changed.  Nothing was impossible.  All the promises of God had become YES!

Of all the resurrection accounts of the Lord Jesus, the story of Mary Magdalene is my favorite.  I identify with her because my name is Mary and because I have been cured of demons, the figurative kind and, I believe, the literal kind.

The Lord speaks our names.  Sometimes He calls us to follow Him for first time.  Sometimes His tone is one of gentle comfort.  At other times it is a word of loving rebuke.  He speaks and light breaks into our darkness.  Confusion is replaced with amazing clarity.  Anger is washed away. Peace defeats fear.  Hope dawns like the morning.

May you hear Him call your name this Easter Morning.  May the Son in all His Glory dawn upon you, and may you reflect that Glory in our dark world.

*See the 20th chapter of The Gospel of John

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The Question Is

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Is he a good dog or a bad dog?   Is that the right question?

In his book, The Normal Christian Life,  Watchman Nee shared an experience he had while visiting a man he named as Mr. Wong (which was not his real name).  After learning Mr. Wong’s dog’s name was Fido, Mr. Nee asked if he could call the dog Fido Wong.  Mr. Wong emphatically replied no.  Mr. Nee teased him, asking, “Are your daughters not called Miss Wong?”  Mr. Wong laughed, and then Mr. Nee said: “Do you not see what I am getting at?  Your daughters were born into your family and they bear your name because you have communicated your life to them.  Your dog may be an intelligent dog, a well behaved dog, and altogether a most remarkable dog; but the question is not, is he a good dog or a bad dog  –  It is merely, is he a dog?  He does not need to be bad to be disqualified from being a member of your family; he only needs to be a dog.”  Mr. Nee then used this illustration regarding Fido to explain the New Testament doctrine of regeneration and mankind’s need for a rebirth.

Humans wonder if there is a heaven.  If there is a heaven, they wonder, am I good enough to go there. Asking the right question matters.  The question is not whether we are good enough but whether we have God’s life within us.

I John 5: 11-13  “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.  He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

John 1:12  “Yet to all who received Him,  to those who believed in His name,  He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”

The question is:  Have you been born of God?

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His gift, My gift

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Last month I asked the Lord Jesus what gift I could give Him for His Birthday.  As I listened for His reply, I had the recurrent thought that He wanted me to honor Him by following the Apostle Paul’s example.  “But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 3: 13-14

This month I am intent on delivering this gift to Him, morning by morning, hour by hour.  I am, by nature, prone to second guessing myself, prone to ruminating over my sins, my mistakes, and my failures.  This rumination leaves me stuck in yesterday.  In my flesh I am unable to forget what lies behind and strain ahead.  To give my Lord His gift, I need to exercise His gift to me.  I need to grab hold of His life within me, His power, His grace.  As I do that, I am able to leave the past behind – to leave it at the foot of the cross of Christ, covered with His atoning blood.  I am able to live new, each new day, straining ahead and upward.

“Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  Lamentations 3:22-23

Lord, I praise You for your compassions which never fail and that are new every morning!  I thank You for giving me newness of  life each new day.

 

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Opening My Gift

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As I recall Christmas past, the memories evoke the wonder I felt as a child early on Christmas morning, racing from my bedroom, down the stairs and into our living room to find the Christmas tree surrounded by wrapped gifts that had not been there the night before.

I circled the gifts with awe, searching for those with my name on them.  Then I hurried to wake my mother to come and open gifts with me and my little sister.  It never entered my mind to leave my gifts unopened for even a short time.  In a a sense, the gifts, although pretty to look at, were of no value until I opened and used them.  That’s when joy flowed out of the awe and wonder of the morning, as I held my new dolly and lovingly touched the clothes Mom had sewn for her.

Christmas is the celebration each year of God’s Best Gift to us, His Son, the Lamb of God who came to take away our sins and give us salvation.  The gift cannot bless us, until we receive, open and use it.

In my last post, I spoke of the exchanged life.  That exchanged life is the Gift of Christmas.  I ponder how to open that gift and  unfurl the new Life, the life of Jesus Christ within me?

Paul said, “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”  Philippians 2:12-13

Salvation is God’s life within me, giving me the will and the power to act according to His good purpose.  I open that gift, unfurl that power by working out my salvation with fear and trembling.

According to Webster’s Dictionary, fear is to be in awe.  Awe is an emotion of mixed reverence, dread, and wonder.  To revere is to regard with awe,  great respect or devotion.  Wonder is awe, astonishment, surprise, or admiration. To tremble is to shake involuntarily or to vibrate or oscillate, like a leaf trembling in the wind.

To revere this life of Christ in me, to be in awe of His presence, to respect and to be devoted to him, I think, must mean to yield to him, to let him have his way each day, moment by moment.  I think it means to wake up each morning and say, “I’m getting out of the way, moving over, and trusting you to go to work today, Lord Jesus”, and then with wonder to watch his power unleashed in me and through me.

How good is God; he gives us the work of letting him do the work.  What a wonderful Father he is.

Father God as I open your gift of salvation and put it to work each morning in the year ahead, let me be a leaf, clinging to Jesus, trembling in the wind of his power blowing within me to will and to do his good purposes.

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An Exchanged Life

One of my dear friends, who has long been in Christian ministry, told me that she and her husband have changed the way they present the gospel.  Their daughter had believed in Jesus as a child and had long called him Savior, but she has dated her salvation to the day when, as an adult, she surrendered the Lordship of her life to Jesus.

What is salvation?  Is it not forgiveness and the way into an everlasting relationship with the Lord of Heaven, the Savior God, through the redemptive work of his son, the Lord Jesus Christ?  What is it we need forgiveness for?  Is it not the breaking of the first commandment – you shall have no other Gods before me?  Do we not break that law every time, as rebellious children, we say to God, I am the boss of me?  Is that attitude not evidence self is God?

I am currently reading Watchman Nee’s book, The Normal Christian Life.  In it he writes, “How good it is to have the consciousness that we belong to the Lord and are not our own! There is nothing more precious in the world. It is that which brings the awareness of his continual presence, and the reason is obvious. I must first have the sense of God’s possession of me before I can have the sense of his presence with me. When once his ownership is established, then I dare do nothing in my own interests, for I am his exclusive property…The trouble with many Christians today is that they have an insufficient idea of what God is asking of them…Do you not know that God is asking of you your very life? …Not until we take the place of a servant can he take his place as Lord.”

Jesus said that God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son so that whosoever believed in him might have everlasting life.  (John 3;16)

Are we too familiar with the word believe?  Do we use it glibly?    If God is God, then I am not my own Lord. I can say I believe Jesus Christ is God, but I deny my own espoused belief every time I choose my way, instead of his.  I think the result of genuine belief is death, my own life nailed to the cross with Jesus, as I yield all rights to the One who gave his life for my salvation.

When Jesus said we must be born again to see the kingdom of God (John 3:3), didn’t he mean this glorious exchange – my death for his resurrected life in me – my life for his?

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The Root Of Repentance

I have long pondered how one who says he believes in Jesus can also say he does not know how to forgive.   For the Lord Jesus taught that his Father in Heaven would not forgive men their sins unless those men forgave other men their sins toward them.

Recently I read the fictional trilogy, Flight From Stonewycke, by Michael Phillips and Judith Pella.  In the story an old man named Elijah spoke to a younger man, ” …all people, Dermott, must humbly come to the point of being able to forgive others the wrongs they have done them, forgive themselves for their own sin, and even forgive God for what we perceive as the cruel hand of fate working against us….Elijah paused and looked intently at the his young friend.  It is this forgiveness which lies at the root of repentance and opens the way for the life He would give us.”

What grabbed me most was the well articulated thought that forgiveness is the root of the repentance that leads to the gift of LIFE EVERLASTING.

Of what must we repent?  Certainly,  our rights, including our right to demand justice, our right to revenge, our right to withhold mercy and forgiveness.  Giving these rights up is easier when we realize our desperate need for God’s forgiveness, when we realize, that no matter how good we are, we still fall short of God’s Glory, his standard of holiness.

Repentance leads to death, our lives are nailed to the cross with Jesus Christ.  We give up own lives with all our rights, in order that He might rise again in us with his new life.  My life for his.  Your life for his.

In his book, The Normal Christian Life, Watchman Nee says, “We think of the Christian life as a ‘changed life’ but it is not that.  What God offers us is an ‘exchanged life’, a ‘substituted life’, and Christ is our Substitute within.”

Christ forgives.   If Christ lives in me,  then I forgive.   For the life I live is no longer my own but his.  Praise God.

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Something Old Made New

I have always liked old things.  I treasure their history.   So I especially love old family things – my mother’s platform rocker, the cake plate that belonged to my mother-in-law, my dresser from childhood.  These things  have a story to tell and preserve pieces of the history of my family and my husband’s family.

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A year ago my son and his family were moving some old things out of the furnace room as they packed and prepared to move.  One of the things they pulled out was an old desk that had belonged to my mother-in-law.  My husband can’t remember a time the desk was not setting in the living room of the home he grew up in.  He estimated that the desk is 65-70 years old.  Our granddaughter examined the old desk and decided she wanted to keep it.  Since it was in bad shape, she and I hatched a plan to give it new a life for her new room in their new home.   We decided on some chalk paint and a coat of clear wax to protect the wood.  Miah picked out her colors  and new hardware for the drawers.  We worked together.  Both of us were pleased with the results.  I was thrilled that Great Grandmother’s desk has been preserved to serve a new generation in our family.

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Perhaps one of the reasons, I find refurbishing an old piece of furniture so satisfying is because it becomes a metaphor for the work Jesus Christ does in creation and in the lives of his followers.  He tells us in Revelation 21 that HE MAKES ALL THINGS NEW.   In her DVD study,  Here and Now… There and Then,  A Lecture Series on Revelation, Beth Moore quotes Dr. M.E. Boring, “God does not make all new things but all things new.”

I am so glad Jesus has made me new and preserved me to enjoy a wondrous, glorious future with him in Heaven.  I love him.

Happy Birthday, Miah!  I am glad God made you, and that Jesus made you new when you put your trust in him.  I love you.

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Autumn Expectation

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Mellow September is my favorite month of the year.  I look forward to warm days of brilliant color and cool nights, snuggled under a warm blanket with the windows open to fresh air.

This autumn I look forward to trips to see two of my sons and their families.  I can hardly wait to see them, to hug them, to hear their voices, and to see them smile.

As a follower of Jesus, autumn also finds me anticipating and looking forward to another visit – to a visit with the One who knows me best and loves me most, the One I love above all others – to a visit that never ends with my glorious Savior.

The apostle Paul teaches us in I Corinthians 15:51-52 and I Thessalonians 4:16-18 that a day is coming when Jesus will descend from Heaven and lift His followers up into the clouds to be with Him forever.  This coming event is called The Rapture.

In their book, The Feasts of the Lord, Kevin Howard and Marvin Rosenthal, write, “The Feast of Trumpets is next on Israel’s prophetic calendar.  Israel’s four springtime holidays (Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, and the Feast of Weeks) were fulfilled in connection with the Messiah’s first coming.  Israel’s three autumn holidays (Feast of Trumpets, Yom Kippur, and Tabernacles) will be fulfilled at His second coming.” (Page 112)  On page 29, one of the authors writes, “While I will not be dogmatic on this issue, I strongly believe that at the Feast of Trumpets, the church will be raptured and the Lord’s wrath will commence on earth.”

The Feast of Trumpets, also known as Rosh Hashanah, takes place on the first day of the the seventh month in the Hebrew calendar.   This falls sometime between mid September and mid October in our calendar.

Each autumn I wonder wistfully: Will this be the year? – Will my Lord take me up into the clouds to be with Him this Feast of Trumpets?

Recently, I have been listening again to the music of Chris Rice, in his old CD, Run the Earth, Watch the Sky.  My heart identifies with his lyrics in the song Smile: “Cause I just want to be with you;  I want this waiting to be over… And it helps to know the day is getting closer…til I don’t have to imagine, and I finally get to see you smile!”

I keep running the earth, watching the sky, especially the autumn sky, and praying with the Saints of all the ages, “Come, Lord Jesus.  Come Quickly!”

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