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Posts Tagged ‘John 10:10’

A little over two years ago when Steve and I retired, God provided for us a perfect little ranch house built into the side of a hill. A strip of woods and a ravine separate our block from the one behind us, and large windows in the kitchen/family room offer a tranquil view of treetops.

 

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One of the projects we completed before moving in was the addition of a deck off the back of the house. The vista we enjoy from window and deck give us the sensation of living in a tree house, and we revel in the beauty and quiet.

Just about everyone loves tree houses. Even television now offers programs featuring their construction.

Why do they cause such delight?

Perhaps because tree houses provide:

  • A quiet, peaceful refuge, removed from the stressful responsibilities of our lives.  There’s something about being up among the trees that repairs our equilibrium. We breathe easier, the peace of the surroundings soaks into our spirits and tension is released.

 

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  • A respite from the ordinary. Most of us are surrounded by concrete and dry wall much of the time. To experience a vista of trees and sky is sweet relief.
  • A new perspective and fuel for the imagination. Away from daily routines and distractions, we can see our lives from a more objective viewpoint. In addition, our thoughts dance more freely, creativity flows more readily, and discoveries unfurl more frequently. No wonder many tree houses for adults are built as artist/writer retreats.

 

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All of these reasons make sense, but I have one more theory about why we love these structures: Tree houses provide a physical, tangible replica of the presence of God.

Jesus made the way for us to experience his company, like the ladder or staircase to a refuge in the trees (1).

God is always with us, whether we’re aware or not. The key is to draw near to him through prayerful conversation and mindful observation of his glory—in a sunset, a bird song, or the scent of wisteria on the breeze. Then his peace can pervade our thoughts, and God becomes our refuge (2).

 

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With him there’s no such thing as ordinary living. He offers a God-enhanced, abundant life of joy in blessing, comfort in sorrow, sufficiency in trouble, and more (3).

New perspectives open up to us as we sit in quiet contemplation with our Heavenly Father, perspectives such as: contentment is a matter of choice not circumstances; my identity, security and purpose are not the result of events or effort; they are the result of who I am—a beloved child of God; God-thoughts change the atmosphere of my spirit (4).

 

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Tree houses offer much; God offers much more. Best of all, he’s not limited to a small structure perched among the trees.

The high life with God is always available.

 

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Thank you, God of the universe, for the incredible privilege of an intimate relationship with you. Anytime, anywhere, I can turn to you and breathe in your peace, admire the view of your glorious attributes, and experience rejuvenation of my spirit. I praise you, O Most High, for the restful shelter you provide. You are my refuge and fortress in whom I trust (Psalm 91:1-2).

 

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What benefits of the high life with God do you especially appreciate? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

 

Notes:

  1. John 14:6; Ephesians 2:18
  2. Psalm 23:4; James 4:8; Isaiah 26:3; Proverbs 18:10
  3. John 10:10; John 16:24; Psalm 147:3; 2 Corinthians 12:9
  4. Philippians  4:11-13; Ephesians 4:24; Psalm 16:8

 

Art & photo credits:  Nancy Ruegg; http://www.flickr.com (2); http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.dailyverses.net; http://www.fellowshipsite.org.

 

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She was more animal than human – grabbing food and stuffing her mouth, communicating with grunts, and reacting wildly to anything that did not suit her.

A teacher was hired to train the totally undisciplined six-year old, and make her into a mannerly, well-behaved child. To complicate matters, the child could neither hear nor see, the result of a high fever when she was a toddler. You’ve no doubt guessed her identity–Helen Keller, and the teacher’s–Anne Sullivan.

 

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You’ll remember that little Helen was not only wild but willful, too. She balked ferociously at the changes Miss Sullivan tried to initiate, attacking with fists and feet, tearing at clothing, and biting. No one would have blamed Anne if she had given up.

But the young teacher was even more determined than Helen. She would reach beyond the barriers of deafness and blindness. So the two of them moved into a nearby cottage where Anne offered constant support and instruction. With patience and tremendous perseverance, she tended to Helen.

You know the outcome. Helen was transformed into a cultured intellectual, who graduated from Radcliffe College in 1904 at age 24, and went on to become an author, an advocate for the handicapped, and even a lecturer. In addition, Helen and Anne became lifelong friends and constant companions.

 

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Their inspiring story illustrates several ways in which our lifelong Friend and constant Companion, Jesus, transforms our lives:

1. Just as Helen discovered life was a much more positive experience when she submitted to the mores of civilization, we too experience a more positive life when we accept God’s ways and purposes rather than insist on our own (John 10:10).

2. Anne took up residence with Helen, ready and willing to transform the girl into a glorious new version of herself. Jesus has taken up residence in our spirits (John 15:5). He, too, is ready and willing to transform us–“into his likeness with ever-increasing glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

 

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3. Helen balked at change, unwilling to give up her way of life—unsatisfactory as it was. Little did she know what Anne had to offer. I, too, am slow to learn that “when God empties our lives of a treasured love, it is to fill them more completely with the greater treasure of himself” – Herbert Lockyer (1).

4. The relationship between student and teacher developed into a deep friendship as Helen grew up. She said of her beloved teacher, the day Anne Sullivan arrived at her home was “the most important day I remember in all my life.” Those of us who know Jesus as Friend would say the same of the day he came to live within our spirits (2 Corinthians 5:17).

5. As a result of Anne Sullivan’s instruction, support, and perseverance, Helen exchanged:

  • Constant uncertainty for confidence
  • Helplessness for achievement
  • Ignorance for knowledge

Jesus does the same and more. Because he dwells within us, we can exchange:

  • Our uncertainty for his wisdom—James 1:5
  • Our frailties for his strength—2 Corinthians 12:9-10
  • Our puny efforts for his ability to accomplish the impossible—Luke 18:27
  • ALL our inadequacies for ALL the fullness of God—Ephesians 3:19 (2)

 

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I praise you, Lord Jesus, that the moment I invited you into my life, you began your transforming work—teaching, guiding, supporting, and encouraging. You have granted me newness of life! I am not a condemned sinner; I am a saint! I am no longer bound to the sinful nature; I am a brand new creature in you! I am not a reject; I am a beloved child of the King of the universe! Thank you, oh God, for these glorious realities.  “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain!”  But I am greatly relieved and overjoyed that it’s all true.

(Romans 6:6; 6:4, 8:1; Ephesians 2:18-20; Romans 8:8-9; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 3:26; Psalm 139:6)

 

Notes:

(1) Seasons of the Lord, Harper & Row, 1990, p. 15.

(2) Henry Blackaby, http://www.preceptaustin.org, Experiencing God Day by Day, “An Exchanged Life.”

 

Photos and art credits:  www.wikipedia.org; http://www.pinterest.com (3).

 

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Companies spend much time and money analyzing factors that grab our attention to their advertisements. They’ve discovered that certain colors, shapes, and layouts create impact upon buyers.

In fact, researchers have even determined the most powerful, persuasive words. They recommend  advertisers use these top ten:

  • You – you matter; you deserve the product
  • Free – after all, everyone likes a deal
  • Because – people need reasons why they should buy
  • Instantly – we care about immediate results
  • New – everyone appreciates an improved product
  • Save – people like a bargain
  • Proven – we appreciate research that backs up an advertiser’s claim
  • Love – taps into what’s important to us, like family, safety, and security
  • Discover – hints of a promise that we’ll be satisfied
  • Guarantee – removes the feeling of risk

As I read through this list it occurred to me all these words are part of the glorious message of Christmas:

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On that quiet night in sleepy Bethlehem, God sent his only Son into the world to be our Savior. Why? Because he loves us. Whoever believes on him will be saved from death and will receive the free gift of eternal life (John 3:16). That includes you!

 Oh, but there’s more. When we fuse ourselves to Jesus, we become brand new people (2 Corinthians 5:17).   Our outlook on life is revitalized; our values and motivations change. We instantly experience the peace of God and his joy (John 14:27 and 10:10). Each day is an opportunity to discover more of what it means to live a God-enhanced life.

And how do we know those statements are true? God’s Word is our guarantee that these blessings become ours through Jesus. The truth presented within its pages has been proven. 

  • Over 150 years of archaeological studies back up the accuracy of numerous facts in scripture. Not one discovery has uncovered an inaccuracy.
  • Dozens of Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah were fulfilled by Jesus. The mathematical laws of chance refute the possibility of coincidence.
  • Scientific and medical information in the Bible has been verified centuries later.*
  • Thousands of ancient manuscript fragments and letters (which include Bible quotes) corroborate the scriptures – many more than any other ancient text.
  • The influence of the Bible has been evident in the lives of individuals and upon the culture and history of the Western world. No other book has produced such impact.

There you have it. Ten words that researchers have found to be powerful and persuasive for selling products, or ten words that persuasively express the significance of Christmas and why it makes sense to embrace it.

The apostle John summarized the central truth of Christmas with these ten words:

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(“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” John 1:14)

That is glorious, incredible news worth celebrating.

But Christmas isn’t just a happy one-day celebration, it’s meant to be a joyous, whole new way of living with Jesus — all year, every year.

Better yet?  A day is coming when the joy of Christmas will be purified, intensified and extended for all eternity–on the day when he comes again!

 

*For one small example, see “Pathfinder of the Seas” about Matthew Maury and his discoveries.

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.wordstream.com; http://www.beyondwaiting.com; http://www.outreach.com.)

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freedoms

“Jesus hasn’t brought us into the family of God just to make our dreams come true.

Our dreams are always too small.

We are here to fulfill God’s dream:

That we will bring Him glory through a remarkably abundant life.

That’s how we find our greatest personal fulfillment, now and for eternity.”

–Bruce Wilkinson

(Secrets of the Vine, Multnomah, 2001)

 

No wonder some folks have been dissatisfied. They thought the abundant life Jesus spoke of in John 10:10 meant an abundance of enjoyment – free from problems and pain, and a life of plenty – free from want.

God just wasn’t big enough, not big-hearted enough, to make it happen – or so they thought.

Turns out their dreams of personal satisfaction or success are not too big for God to fulfill. They’re too small. He has grander plans for each one of us.

In fact, God has one over-arching vision statement that applies to all his children. Paul explained it like this:

“We who had already fixed our hope on the Messiah might live for his praise and glory” (Ephesians 1:12, ISV).

God wants us to live for the praise and glory of himself. That’s God’s bottom line.

Now someone is going to say, “That sounds rather self-serving to me!”

Truth is, when God created us, he put a craving for himself within us. To know him and be known by him, to experience him is a God-given pleasure that nothing else can satisfy. That’s the gateway to the abundant life–the God-enhanced life.

“OK,” someone else may say. “But spending all day praising God and giving him credit for everything isn’t my idea of abundant living. Where’s the satisfaction, the adventure, the fun in that?”

I’d ask, “Have you tried it?”

Gratitude would be a good place to begin. Gratitude for what God has already done satiates the soul. We start to realize how much we already have.

Gratitude becomes an adventure. How many things can I identify today for which I’m grateful?

Gratitude becomes fun because it fills the heart with joy, which naturally leads to praising him and giving him the credit for everything positive.

His blessings do provide an abundant life:

  • Eternity in heaven (John 14:2-3)
  • Access to God at any time, through prayer (Hebrews 14:6)
  • His loving care through life’s ups and downs (1 Peter 5:7)
  • Wisdom to determine right action from wrong (James 1:5)
  • Joy that is independent of circumstances and defies logic (Psalm 16:11)
  • Freedom from worry and fear (John 14:27)

Of course, that’s only the beginning of a long list.  Each one is a wondrous and precious gift. Our Heavenly Father most certainly deserves continual praise for all he has done.

In addition to gratitude, each of us–no matter who we are, where we live, or what we do–can display the excellencies of our God – his loving kindness, grace, mercy, wisdom and more – to those around us.  Each of us can be obedient to his Word, helpful and generous to others.

And all the while we are giving God the glory–the credit–for who we are becoming and for what we’re able to do. We’re expressing gratitude for all his benefits and praise for all his attributes, which he pours into our lives.

This is how we fulfill God’s dream and, as a natural, God-engineered consequence, we also find great personal fulfillment.

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Heavenly Father, I do not want my attention side-tracked by small dreams. I want to fulfill your grand dream for me: that I might bring you glory through an abundant life of enthusiastic worship and service. You are majestic, holy, all-powerful, completely trustworthy, good and loving to your people. You are more than worthy of every word of praise and every kind deed accomplished in your name—period. But you grant us deep, satisfying, personal fulfillment as we bring you glory. We stand in awe of your magnificence and grace!

 

(Photo credit: http://www.fromhispresence.com.)

 

 

 

 

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