Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘God’s Salvation’ Category

SunsRays

The exhibition of God’s glory

and the deepest joy of human souls

are one thing.

–Jonathan Edwards

(1703-1758, preacher, theologian, author)

 

Wooh—that’s a mouthful! I have to break that down into smaller bites.

God’s glory includes his splendor and majesty, infinite power and wisdom, creative genius and perfect engineering, absolute holiness and righteousness, and much more. God’s glory is, in part, the sum of his glorious attributes.

The exhibition of God’s glory is all around us in creation, and visible to all people (Isaiah 6:3, Psalm 97:6).

36e8e624124bc4606ae3499824a2dded

But more profound:  God’s glory is made known to us in our hearts—to those who have asked Jesus to save us from the ultimate consequence of our sin, and to become Master of our destinies (2 Corinthians 4:6).

2-corinthians-4-6

How incredible that we can experience God’s glory here and now, although in a limited way. And how wonderful that the deepest joy of humans souls is a result of knowing him now—not just when we get to heaven.

Someday, though, we will witness the full revelation of his splendor, and that of his Son, Jesus. It’s beyond our wildest imaginings (1 Corinthians 2:9).

1-Corinthians-2-9

Scripture does include a few glimpses, however. We see his:

  • Golden splendor and awesome majesty (Job 37:22)
  • Garment of light, wrapped around himself (Psalm 104:2a)
  • Clouds surrounding the throne (Daniel 7:13)
  • Belt of gold and gleaming, flaming eyes (Daniel 10:5-6)
  • Long robe with a golden sash across his chest, white hair, and blazing eyes (Revelation 1:13-16)

Charles Spurgeon eloquently expressed the glory of Jesus in a sermon, over 150 years ago. He proclaimed Christ…

 “…Radiant with splendor,

effulgent with light,

clothed with rainbows,

girded with clouds,

wrapped in lightning,

crowned with stars,

the sun beneath his feet.”

 

Doesn’t that give you holy goosebumps?

Yet there is more.

When he appears, we shall be like him (2 Thessalonians 2:14; 1 John 3:2).

1029-2TH003005ENGKJV08000480ISP05531394000

Can you imagine? We will share in the radiant splendor of our Savior. As if that wasn’t enough, we’ll finally be transformed into the holy and perfect beings we have always wanted to be.

And as we share in the glory of Jesus, we will enjoy incredible blessings that God has prepared. The following scriptures offer us tantalizing samples—to whet our appetites for what is to come:

  • There will be no need for sunlight; God will be our everlasting light. There will also be no more sorrow (Isaiah 60:19-20).
  • We will see Jesus face to face and finally have full understanding of all things (1 Corinthians 13:12-13).
  • We will bear the likeness of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:49).
  • We will reign with Jesus forever (Revelation 3:21; 22:5).
  • There will be no night and no impurity (Revelation 21:23-27).

Now, there are those who worry that heaven will involve a lot of cloud-sitting and harp-playing. Well, yes, there are clouds and harps.  (I, for one, am very glad for the harps–it’s my favorite instrument. And, I have to admit, there are some days when a bit of cloud-sitting and harp-playing sounds rather appealing!)

However, I agree with theologian, Albert Barnes. “To reign with Jesus” means we will share in Christ’s dominion of the universe, administering the affairs of all the worlds.” That sounds exciting and fulfilling (but mind-boggling) to me!

Such glimpses of our glorious future really are too much for my mind to absorb. But, oh how thankful I am that God has tucked them into his Word, to fill our hearts with expectation and hope.

Also worth contemplating is the eternal expanse of time we’ll enjoy God’s majesty and splendor. According to John Piper, heaven’s joys will actually increase as we discover more and more of God’s glory. “The end of increased pleasure in God will never come” (God’s Passion for His Glory, p. 37).

Then “the exhibition of God’s glory and the deepest joy of human souls” will indeed be one perfect, sublime, eternal thing.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Lord God of heaven and earth, my heart shouts praise in honor of your glory! I praise you for being a holy God, completely separate from all else in the universe. No one is your equal in power, wisdom, creativity, splendor, or love. No one else is perfect in all he does. Thank you for your Word, where we can glimpse your glory and your plans–for our glorious and joyous future with you.

(Photo & art credits:  www.beforethebeginning.net; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.honestytalk.wordpress.com; http://www.verseaday.com.)

 

Read Full Post »

 Zwald-62

 

One of the “Letters to the Editor” in the most recent issue of Country Magazine caught my attention. The writer, James, related an event from his boyhood days on a farm in the 1940s.

Seems he had injured his hand quite severely one day while tightening a chain. But work on a farm doesn’t wait, especially during hay-baling season when the hay is ripe for harvesting. So in spite of his injury, James had to wear rough work gloves as he operated the wire baler. Every day for a week when he removed the gloves, the scab on his hand would come off and the wound would bleed profusely again.

On Sunday afternoon he plopped down on the living carpet to take a nap. His dog, Shadow, came to lie down beside him. But instead of settling in for a snooze himself, Shadow began to lick James’ wound. It actually felt good, James explains, so he let the dog continue.

The next morning James was astonished to see that his wound was completely healed. “It was as if the injury had never happened.”

Not until much later did James find out that a dog’s saliva contains healing properties. That’s why, when injured, they will lick their own wounds over and over.

I found James’ story particularly interesting because of a question that had been niggling in my mind this Easter season: Why did Jesus bear the scars of the crucifixion—in his hands, feet, and side–after the resurrection? It was certainly within God’s power to return Christ’s physical body to perfect wholeness, “as if the injuries had never happened.”

Come to find out, I’m not the first one to consider this question. As far back as the seventh century, Saint Bede of England (672-735, A.D.) wrote about the possibilities. Many others throughout the ages of the church have contemplated the reasons, including the following:

  1. The scars were proof to the disciples that he was the same person after resurrection as before. Had Jesus been completely restored, his followers may have assumed that their first inclination was correct: that what they saw was an apparition of Christ. After all, he appeared to them out of nowhere—an impossibility for a physical body.

But they not only saw him, Jesus invited them to touch him, so there could be no doubt (Luke 24:36-42).

  1. The scars were part of the proof of the prophecy that Jesus spoke of himself, that he would suffer, be killed, and rise again on the third day (Matthew 16:21). “This is what I told you,” Jesus reminded them (Luke 24:44).
  1. The scars provided evidence of Jesus’ physical body. Early in church history there were those who taught that Jesus didn’t really suffer on the cross. He was not truly human, therefore he only appeared to suffer.

They could not fathom the sinless Son of God submitting himself to such humiliation and horrific pain.   But dismissing the agony of Christ on the cross as well as the scars is incomprehensible.

Those three answers do quiet our curiosity, but what relevance might Jesus’ scars provide for us today?

  1. The scars prove that Jesus knows what it means to suffer. Crucifixion is the most cruel of death penalties, the worst that man can deliver. No one can say, “Jesus doesn’t know what I’m going through.” No, he is well-acquainted with grief. He knows what it’s like to bear scars of suffering.
  1. The scars prove God’s love and compassion. As the Son of God, he didn’t have to suffer on our behalf. Surely he could have devised a less abhorrent way. Instead, he identified himself with humanity by becoming human himself. He took our physical, emotional, and spiritual pain upon himself.   And he will wear the scars of suffering for eternity (Revelation 5:6).
  1. The scars remind us of what is to come. On Good Friday, Jesus body was beaten, bruised, and pierced. On Easter Sunday, those wounds became scars. A miraculous healing of gruesome wounds had occurred in a matter of hours.

One day a miraculous healing of our gruesome wounds will take place. Pain, suffering, loss, illness, and physical challenges will cease. Every negative aspect of life will melt away.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Oh, Lord Jesus, thank you, THANK YOU for carrying our pains, our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.  Thank you for taking the punishment we deserve and making us whole.  You are the one and only source of eternal salvation.  And only through your eternal bruises are we healed.  Out of overwhelming gratitude, we give ourselves to you.  We want to follow your example and please you.  Make us into what gives you pleasure.  

All glory to you, Jesus, forever and always!”  

 (Isaiah 53:4-6; Hebrews 5:9, 13:21, MSG)

Photo credits:  www.motherearthnews.com

Read Full Post »

Jesus-Praying-Last-Supper-570x377

 

Whether I heard it or read it, I don’t remember. But the words caught me by surprise, and I jotted them down:

“What was uppermost in Jesus’ mind as Good Friday approached?

“Joy.”

Do you find that surprising, too?

Yet at least three times on the eve of his crucifixion Jesus spoke about joy (John 15:11; 16:22, 24; 17:13)–a most unusual topic and completely unnatural.  Who thinks about joy when they know that catastrophe is about to strike?

Jesus, that’s who.

Within the next twenty-four hours he would face excruciating pain, total abandonment by his Father, and the most horrific death ever devised.

But his concern was for his disciples, not himself.  Jesus wanted them to remember the important principles of love, obedience, and joy–an empowering joy that no one could take away from them.

Perhaps you remember the scene. Jesus and his disciples had just finished their last Passover supper together. After the meal, he taught his final lesson.

The first mention of joy came near the end of his teaching about the vine and the branches:

“I have told you this

so that my joy may be in you

and that your joy may be complete”

(John 15:11).

The word, “this,” refers to the ways Jesus had just mentioned that will contribute to joy:

1.  Live close to him and produce much good in and through your life (vs.4-8).

2.  Live in obedience to Jesus and experience the warmth, peace, and care of His love (vs. 9-10).

 Note that Jesus wanted his joy to be in the hearts of his disciples. What characterized his joy, compared to that of others?

  1. Strong awareness of the Father’s love for him, and his own love for the Father (vs. 9-10).
  1. Absolute surrender and self-sacrifice of himself to his Father, and the joy of doing what his father had sent him to do. Even during his great travail in the Garden of Gethsemane, his one desire was to do his Father’s will (Luke 22:42).

Jesus’ joy coexisted with the profound sorrow of his impending suffering, because he was already well-acquainted with the satisfaction and fulfillment of obedience.

  1. The understanding that joy deferred to the future is anticipatory joy in the present. “For the joy set before him he endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2).

And finally, Jesus told his disciples that he desired complete joy for them. What does complete joy look like? It is:

  • Not so much an emotion as it is a conviction (Keith Krell, “Moment by Moment,” http://www.bible.org).
  • Inner contentment, resulting from continually cultivating an intimate relationship with Jesus.
  • Constant, not dependent on circumstances.
  • Enduring, day after day. Indestructible.
  • Perfect—the perfect, joy-filled fulfillment of the destiny for which God created you, even when a portion of that destiny is suffering.

I’m thinking of the martyrs–Stephen, Polycarp, Ignatius of Antioch, William Tyndale, John Wycliffe and countless others who demonstrated complete joy even as they died in anguish.

Polycarp, disciple of the Apostle John and Bishop of Smyrna for many years, refused to revile Jesus. For that he was burned at the stake.

But before the flames rose up, Polycarp prayed:

“O Lord God Almighty, Father of thy blessed and beloved Son, Jesus Christ, through whom we have been given knowledge of thyself…I bless thee for granting me this day and hour, that I may be numbered amongst the martyrs, to share the cup of thine Anointed and to rise again unto life everlasting…”

Such devotion, courage, and supernatural strength are impossible to fathom apart from the enablement of the Holy Spirit.

Can you hear the grace in Polycarp’s voice as he blessed God for the privilege of dying a martyr?

That is complete joy, only experienced by those who trust in Jesus implicitly.

Complete joy that Jesus purchased for us at Calvary.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

We marvel, Heavenly Father, in the extreme paradox that is the cross. Out of the evil unleashed upon your Son comes your holy, righteous goodness–upon us. Out of the horror of the crucifixion that Jesus endured comes inexpressible and glorious joy, to those who put their faith in him–not a temporary feeling of elation, but deep, abiding, abundant joy. 

All praise to you, our loving, gracious God!       

(Acts 3:13-16, 1 Peter 1:8, John 6:47, John 10:10)

 

(Photo credit:  www.rejesus.co.uk.)

 

 

Read Full Post »

The spacious, free life is from God,

It’s also protected and safe.

God-strengthened, we’re delivered from evil—

When we run to him, he saves us.

(Psalm 37:39-40, The Message)

Freedom-Quote

 

There are folks who think that Christians surrender their freedom when they choose to follow Jesus. They think we give up our freedom to do as we please and take part in everything life has to offer.

Those folks miss an important fact: Self-centeredness does not satisfy in the long-term.

Even secular research has proven that truth. Several years ago, the Journal of Research in Personality published a study conducted by psychologists. They recorded their therapy sessions and found that individuals who used more of the first-person singular pronouns (I, me, my) were more likely to suffer from depression.

The truth of the matter is, real freedom is not freedom to, but freedom from. God offers us a number of glorious freedoms. For example:

  • Freedom from guilt. God forgives my sins and remembers them no more (Isaiah 43:25).  How loving, merciful and gracious He is!
  • Freedom from fear. He is my stronghold in time of trouble (Psalm 37:39.) How often have I called out, “Oh, Jesus,” with my heart pounding in my chest—at the moment a car crash was imminent, a child approached with blood oozing from his head, or the phone rang just before curfew, and our teenager wasn’t home yet.

bible11

But fears can be quieted as we affirm who is in control. God is Lord of every circumstance. He is also the Source of solace, perspective, strength and wisdom–whatever I need, for every situation.

  • Freedom from worry. God has promised to supply my needs (Philippians 4:19). 

When worries begin to whirl in my head, I try to put into practice what Kay Arthur teaches: “Focus on God. Rehearse his character, his promises, his works. Remember his names, his attributes and how they suit your situation” (His Imprint, My Expression, p. 117). Extolling God’s greatness causes my problems to shrink.

Notice I said try. I’ve not always accepted God’s offer of freedom from worry. Sometimes dark clouds of concern fill my thoughts and blot out his goodness—his character, promises, and works. Sometimes it takes awhile for me to remember: My God is all-sufficient. He will see me through.

 As I grow older, the gap is shortening between worry-onset and God-focused thinking. Practice hasn’t made perfect yet, but at least it’s producing improvement.

  • Freedom from foolish decisions. He provides wisdom when I ask (James 1:5).

“I need not despair because the living God is my partner. I do not have sufficient wisdom to meet these difficulties, but He is able to direct me. I can pour out my heart to God and ask Him to guide and direct me and to supply me with wisdom. Then I have to believe that He will do so. I can go with good courage to my business and expect help from Him in the next difficulty that may come before me” – George Mueller

816184962d6bdc67aaa7f052c00369bf

  • Freedom from discouragement, because God is omnipotent. With him all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). He specializes in redeeming disappointment. And while we wait, our loving Father provides strength.

The shroud of discouragement can also be lifted through gratitude, praise, and worship. Focusing on who our God is and what he has already provided can relieve the ache for what has not come to pass—yet.

 This post is getting long, so I’ll just list another five briefly:

  • Freedom from despair. He is my God of hope, joy, and peace as I trust in him, so I can overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13.)
  • Freedom from loneliness, because He is always with me (Psalm 23:4).
  • Freedom from prolonged sadness.  Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5).
  • Freedom from feeling helpless. In God’s hands are strength and power (1 Chronicles 29:12).
  • Freedom from feeling useless, as we live each moment for the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1:11-12).

0a44f1bd0f54a3d2e22c78ec65923491

Jesus said, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). What he offers is the spacious, free life–to those who follow him, to those who become the children of God.

 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

 

My heart is overwhelmed, Father, as I skim down this list of miseries for which you provide relief. No doubt there are even more freedoms that could be included. I pray that when these negative emotions threaten to overtake my spirit, you would tap me on the shoulder and remind me: the more I turn my thoughts and feelings over to you, the more spacious my soul will become to enjoy the freedom of your peace. Praise you, gracious God, for such glorious provision.

(Photo credits:  www.moreofimministries.org; http://www.wallpaper4god.com; http://www.treasuring-christ.org; http://www.887thebridge.com.)

 

 

Read Full Post »

Olive-grove

In one of his many psalms, David compared himself to an olive tree:

“I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever” (Psalm 52:8).

If you’re like me you’re wondering: Why does David identify himself as this particular tree? Is there something special about olive trees?

As a matter of fact, yes.

It may be that, as David composed this psalm, he was contemplating several qualities characteristic of these distinctive trees:

Long Life

Olives are among the longest-living trees, continuing to grow for hundreds of years.   In fact, one specimen in Algarve, Portugal is 2000 years old, according to carbon dating.

Perhaps their longevity is due to adaptability. They can grow in various conditions—on terraced hillsides or in valleys, in rocky soil or rich, fertile loam. But even in hot climates with little rainfall the olive can grow quite contentedly.

Not only is it adaptable, the olive tree is tenacious. If it is cut down, shoots from the roots will develop, and the tree will miraculously regenerate itself.

Far-Reaching Root Systems

Because they grow for centuries, and spread their branches wide, the root system of an olive tree can be quite massive, expanding twenty feet in every direction around the trunk.

Fruitfulness

Even dwarf olive trees will produce 20-40 pounds of fruit each year.  The largest variety can produce a ton of olives annually!  The oil pressed from the fruit is also useful for cooking, for fuel in oil lamps, and even for skin care products.

No doubt you already see parallels to a life rooted and established in God:

  • The olive tree is almost eternal; David knew that one day he would “dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6).
  • The massive root system brings to mind the qualities of stability and perseverance, and the habit of abiding (John 15).  An anonymous psalmist expanded the word picture for us when he wrote: “And he shall be like a tree firmly planted [and tended] by the streams of water, ready to bring forth its fruit in its season; its leaf also shall not fade or wither; and everything he does shall prosper [and come to maturity]” (Psalm 1:3, AMP). In other words, a person seeking after God is so well-rooted in Him, nothing can destroy his spirit.
  • The fruitfulness of the olive tree reminds us of the fruitfulness of the Spirit-led life (Galatians 5:22-23).  As a person grows deep in her knowledge of God and in relationship with God, she becomes more loving, joyful, peaceful, and so on.  Not all at once, however.  It is a growing process, after all.

And so, an expansion of David’s metaphor in Psalm 52 might read:

I am like an olive tree,

Content to bloom where the Gardener plants me,

Flourishing and thriving even,

In the gracious presence of my God–

Immortal through faith,

Grounded in Him,

Growing toward maturity

As I trust

In His unfailing love,

His protection and provision,

His guidance, and grace–

Forever and ever.

We praise you, Heavenly Father, for what you have done (Psalm 52:9a)!

 

(Photo credit:  www.home-hunts.net.)

Read Full Post »

The holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day fills our senses with:

  • Sights of Christmas trees, candles, Santas, and angels.
  • Sounds of carols, from the light-hearted “Frosty the Snowman” to the heart-stirring “O Holy Night.”
  • Textures from prickly pine to plush velvet.
  • Aromas of cinnamon, spice, and gingerbread.
  • Tastes of iced sugar cookies and egg nog.

But the seasonal pleasures are over for another year.  And the uncertainties of our times—political, economical, as well as personal—that we set aside for a few weeks, are coming to the forefront again.  If we’re not careful, troublesome thoughts can raise our blood pressure and take away restful sleep!

What to do?  Take comfort in God’s Word.  “Great peace have they who love your law,” said the psalmist,” and nothing can make them stumble” (Psalm 119:165).  I suppose that would include uncertainties, don’t you?

Two verses have ministered to me lately, Romans 8:30-31:

“Those he [God] predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified, those he justified, he also glorified.  What then, shall we say in response to this?  If God is for us, who can be against us?”

Of course, those key words in the first sentence beg to be examined more closely.

Predestination has been the subject of entire books and sometimes causes controversy.  I like the way the Living Application Bible explains the concept, in a footnote to Ephesians 1:5.  “Predestined” means marked out beforehand.

God knew each of us and loved us before we were even born.  He provided the way of salvation so we could be in relationship with him.  That does not negate our responsibility to believe in Jesus, in order to bring to pass God’s predetermined plan.

Called means we have been divinely summoned or invited.   Some Christians are divinely summoned for specific tasks.  Peter (John 21:15-17) and Paul (Acts 9:15) are perfect examples.

Most of us are called to love, obey, and serve God right where he’s placed us—in our homes, churches, business, schools, and neighborhoods.

Whatever our task, he cheers us on to work heartily because we’re doing it for him—to please him and bring him honor (Colossians 3:23-24).

And with his call comes hope, peace, joy, and blessing!

Justification is God’s way of making us right with him.  Out of his gracious love for us, he declares us “not guilty” for our sins. We deserve harsh punishment, but he treats us as righteous if we put our trust in Jesus.  Then the perfect sinlessness of God’s Son is credited to us  (Romans 3:22-25).

Imagine standing before a mighty king who’s dressed in elegant robes.  And there you are, wearing ragged, smelly clothes, staring at the floor, and wishing to be anywhere else but in this imposing throne room.

Suddenly the king’s words break through your embarrassment.  He’s calling for one of his son’s perfect robes to be brought for you.  He doesn’t just want to trade your rags for a  beautiful, pristine robe—he’s eager to do it!  And then, even more amazing, he welcomes you to his banquet table.

That’s justification—being treated as if we weren’t soiled by sin.  Being treated like  a royal son or daughter of the king, though it’s the last thing we deserve.

Full glorification  will occur when we arrive in heaven.  It refers to that moment when you and I will become like Christ (1 John 3:2.)  It is so certain, Paul uses past tense.  Our glorification is taken care of; it’s just a matter of when.

But the process has already begun.  Our glory—that is, anything that brings honor and praise to God—is developing day by day as we allow the Holy Spirit to have influence of our thoughts and choices.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Now consider the magnitude of these four processes which God lovingly, even anxiously, works within us.  I like the way Ken Taylor expresses verse twenty-nine in The Living Bible:

 “Having chosen us, he called us to come to him; and when we came he declared us ‘not guilty,’ filled us with Christ’s goodness, gave us right standing with himself, and promised us his glory.”

 And last, in light of whatever you may be facing in 2014, please take comfort in these joyous words:

“What can we ever say to such wonderful things as these?  If God is on our side, who can ever be against us?” (Romans 8:30, The Living Bible).

 

 

Read Full Post »

Like most expectant parents, Steve and I considered dozens of names before each of our three children were born.

First of all, the name had to have a pleasing ring with our unusual last name, Ruegg (pronounced “rug”).  We passed by Douglas.  Doug Ruegg rings too loudly.

We wanted a name that would not attract teasing or silly nicknames.  We passed by Dustin.  Dusty Ruegg would be too tempting.

And we wanted a name that meant something worthwhile, so we passed by Darnell.  “A-Type-of-Grass” Ruegg would not be very inspiring.

No doubt many of you who are parents experienced the same struggle to find appropriate names for your children.

Mary and Joseph, however, had no such struggle with their firstborn.  The angel who visited Joseph in a dream to tell him about Mary’s child, also informed him of the name.  “You are to give him the name Jesus,” he said (Matthew 1:21a).

And when an angel brought good news of great joy to the shepherds, he said, “A Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11).

These two scriptures give us the three names we probably use most often when referring to God’s Son:  Jesus, Christ, and Lord.

And each name carries significant meaning.

Jesus, or Yeshua in Hebrew, means “Yahweh (the Lord) is Salvation.”  Could a more perfect name be chosen for the One who would “save his people from their sins?” (Matthew 1:21b).  Yeshua becomes “Joshua” when translated into English.  And in Greek (the language in which the New Testament was written), Yeshua becomes Iesous, or Jesus in English.

Jesus, our Savior.  The only perfect God-Man able to save us from the consequences of our sins.  He is our supreme Christmas gift, given by God, because he loves us.  Deeply.

Christ is English for Christos (Greek), which means “anointed.”  In Hebrew the word would be moshiach, or “Messiah.”

Anointing was a God-ordained custom, to dedicate someone for a special task.  You might remember the prophet, Samuel, anointed David to be king over Israel (1 Samuel 16).  That is, Samuel took oil (probably olive oil) and poured it over David’s head, signifying divine equipping for his royal position.

Again, what could more appropriate than our Savior to be symbolically anointed by God? Jesus was divinely equipped for the special task of saving his people from their sins.

Lord is also a name bestowed on God’s Son.  It is the name that is above every name.  And the glorious day is coming when every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:9-11).  Imagine that.  Millions of voices proclaiming his majesty!

Lord is a familiar term, come down to us from feudal times in England, when kings and nobles were addressed as “lord.”  It denoted power and influence.

The history of the word, though, reveals a fascinating connection to Jesus.

Lord is derived from a compound of two very early Old English words:  hlaf (pronounced with a long “a”)  and weardHlaf means “bread,” and weard means “ward” or “guardian.”  Lord literally means “guardian of the bread.”  In feudal times, such a position would be highly important to the household.  And so lord came to mean “a man of authority and rank” (Webster’s New College Dictionary).

 Such background gives new meaning to Jesus’ words, “The bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world…I am the bread of life” (John 6:33, 35a).  In other words, he is the Sustainer of life.  Whoever comes to him can experience deep satisfaction of spirit (v. 35).

Jesus stands as the guardian of our abundant life now and eternal life in heaven yet to come.  He is also the guardian over of our minds and hearts, supplying peace, joy, comfort, and more.

Paul celebrated the magnificence of the Lord Jesus Christ at the close of Romans 8:

“I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (vs. 38-39).

And now, what do these names signify to me?  Am I deeply grateful to my Lord Jesus Christ?  Are my thoughts, attitudes, and actions pure and holy gifts I can give back him– my Savior, anointed Deliverer, and Guardian of my life?

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Lord Jesus, your very names proclaim astounding truths:  you are the Savior of the world!  In fact, you are the only Deliverer who can proclaim us “not guilty” before Almighty God.  And you are our Guardian, caring for our every need, when we depend upon you.  I praise and thank you for your love and grace, demonstrated supremely when you died in our stead.  Oh how I want my life to be a delightful Christmas present for you!

(photo & art credits:  www.babble.com, http://www.thefamily.com, http://www.ortzion.org, http://www.everydaywithmy savior.blogspot.com.)

 

Read Full Post »

Christmas is a season of lights.

Candles glow and twinkling lights glimmer from houses, buildings, and trees.

People love all the flickering and shimmering!  Some spend weeks decorating their yards and rooftops in spectacles of light.  If you asked them why, they might be hard-pressed to express more than, “They’re beautiful, that’s all.”

 

 

But perhaps it’s more than just aesthetics.  Perhaps it’s a heart-response.

Light is symbolic for:

  • Beauty.  Light grabs our attention, whether it’s  soft and luminous, or sparkling and dazzling. It can also be refracted into a glorious spectrum of colors.
  • Safety.  Where there is light, we can see our surroundings.
  • Comfort.  A nightlight offers just that for many a child who is afraid of the dark.
  • Hope.  Light gleams triumphantly over the darkness, at the end of a tunnel.
  • Guidance.  Light illuminates the way.

Might it be that people are drawn to the lights of Christmas because the human spirit is drawn to the Light?

Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world (John 8:12).  He is Light because God the Father is Light (1 John 1:5).

And the Light of God the Father and God the Son is not merely symbolic.

God the Son is safety, because he offers eternal life.  “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:28-29).

God the Father is comfort, because he is loving and compassionate.  “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4a).

God the Son is hope, because of his resurrectionHe was raised from the dead, and we will be also.  “In his great mercy [God] has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3b-4).

God the Father is beauty, because of all his glorious attributes.  “I’m asking God for one thing…To live with him in his house my whole life long.  I’ll contemplate his beauty; I’ll study at his feet” (Psalm 27:4, The Message).

God the Father is guidance.  “He will guide you always” (Isaiah 58:11a).

Christmas lights cast a soft glow; spotlights illuminate large areas.  But Jesus said, “I am the Light of the World.”   To every person in every corner, he offers his Light.

Let’s make time to linger in his dazzling Light this season!

“Blessed are those…who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord” (Psalm 89:15)!

(photo and art credits:  www.onebestwall.com, http://www.moyerlawncare.com, http://www.8thfire.net, http://www.naturewatcher.wordpress.com)

Read Full Post »

Crucifixion IV

Crucifixion IV (Photo credit: Remara Photography)

Seems like a cruel oxymoron, doesn’t it—to put the words glory and cross together. Glory carries positive connotations of splendor, radiance, and goodness. The cross is a symbol of horrific pain and suffering.

But the cross is also “an exhibition of the nature of God” (Oswald Chambers). You see, God’s glory is the fullness of who God is, his nature, and includes all his attributes and characters traits. Many of those attributes were at work when God provided the way of salvation for us. The glory of the cross includes:

1. Love

God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Such love is incomprehensible. How could he possibly desire to be in relationship with us? How could he delight in us, frail and self-centered as we are? It makes no sense.

Yet, he sent his Son, Jesus, to take the punishment we deserved and to offer us eternal life. When we invite Jesus into our lives, God takes us from the gutter of depravity and elevates us to the status of beloved children. We are adopted into the family of God (Ephesians 1:5). Incredible!

2. Grace

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

What is grace? All the facets of God’s love—his forgiveness, benevolence, presence, peace, provision, and more—made available to us, who don’t deserve it. Grace prompted God to provide a way for us to experience his love—through the sacrifice of his only Son.

Did you notice? God is the one who provided the way to him; we do not have to figure it out for ourselves, and then hope for the best. By God’s grace, he has made salvation (rescue from death) a sure thing. We can know our place in heaven is secure!

God’s grace, put on display at Calvary, sets Christianity apart from any other belief system in the world.

3. Power

I pray that…you may know…his incomparably great power for us who believe…, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead” (Ephesians 1:18-21).

No one can raise someone from the dead except God. When Jesus was resurrected, he demonstrated his power over death, and proved the validity of eternal life, not only for himself, but for all those who believe in him.

But Jesus’ resurrection was not the end of his mission. Read the next couple of verses (22-23) to discover that, after Jesus rose from the dead and ascended back to heaven, God seated His Son at his right hand (the seat of honor). Now Jesus’ power and authority is above all other rule and authority in the universe.

And someday, Jesus will share that power with us. Those of us who have accepted Jesus into our lives will reign with him in heaven (2 Timothy 2:12). My heart is filled with wonder and awe at such a privilege.

4. Faithfulness

God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord is faithful” (1 Corinthians 1:7).

Faithful to forgive. Faithful to see us through the journey of this life. Faithful to win the battle over evil in the end. Faithful to keep his promise of eternal life, because of the sacrifice of his Son on the cross.

Our faithful God made salvation so simple for us, but it cost him so much.

5. Justice

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus…He did this to demonstrate his justice” (Romans 3:23-26).

We all deserve punishment, and our guilty consciences confirm that truth. But God made it possible for us to be forgiven and ushered into relationship with him. He declared us “not guilty” because Jesus paid the penalty..

I love the way Eugene Peterson explains it in his paraphrase, The Message: “Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ” (Romans 3:23-24).

A pure, precious gift; paid for at Calvary. The glory of the cross.

For you. For me.

Read Full Post »

 “My heart rejoices in your salvation,” David proclaimed (Psalm 13:5).

When I hear that word, “salvation,” my first thought is salvation from the consequences of my sins. Jesus paid the debt I owed, considers me “not guilty,” and has graciously given me eternal life. That in itself is an overwhelming gift–more wonderful, more generous than any gift I could hope for.

Yet there is more.

God offers me salvation from a number of ills, such as:

Guilt. He not only forgives my sins, he doesn’t even remember them anymore (Isaiah 43:25).

Fear, because he is my stronghold in the time of trouble (Psalm 37:39).

Worry, having promised to supply my every need (Philippians 4:19).

Foolish decisions, by providing his wisdom when I ask for it (James 1:5).

Discouragement, as I put my hope and trust in him, because all things are possible with him (Matthew 19:26).

Loneliness, because he is always with me (Matthew 28:20).

Sadness because in his presence is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11).

Feeling useless, when I live each moment for the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1:11-12).

Feeling helpless, because in his hands are strength and power (1 Chronicles 29:12). He helps and delivers (Psalm 37:40a).

No doubt a thorough study of scripture would uncover even more ways that God’s saving work is accomplished in my life and yours.

And why is he spending so much time and effort on our behalf, to save us from these malignancies of our souls? You know the answer: He loves us and has our best interests at heart.

That love is not just for the whole lot of us, as one big group. It’s for each one of us individually. We know this, but don’t always live in the confidence of this truth.

So look into his eyes and see the tenderness he feels for you–personally.

Listen to his saving, encouraging word for you and hear the passion in his voice.

Draw near and feel his loving arms pull you close to his heart (Isaiah 40:11).

“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts

Living Our Days

Gaining a heart of wisdom

SMALL TOWN STRANIERA

Where Faith, Italy and Slow Life Come Together

Strength Renewed

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

Colleen Scheid

Writing, Acting, Living the Grace of God

Walking Well With God

Impressions Becoming Expressions

Mitch Teemley

The Power of Story

Heidi Viars

Taking a closer look

Unshakable Hope

"All of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain." (Hebrews 12:27)

(in)courage

Impressions Becoming Expressions