Why Would God Wait for You?

I seriously miss my family. My husband is in the Army, so for our twelve-plus years of marriage we’ve lived at least 500 miles away from them. After we visited them last time, I printed off dozens of pictures and covered every square inch of my refrigerator. Now, whenever I open the freezer, my heart catches a little. I long to cuddle with my nieces, play games with my nephews, sip coffee with my dad and walk the dogs with my mom. Even though I’m so blessed to have a family who loves me, missing them hurts sometimes.

There are many Bible verses that instruct us to wait on the Lord, but did you know that God waits for you?

Isaiah 30:18a says, “Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.”

The word for waits is “chakah”, and can also be translated “to tarry or long for”. If you have not yet trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, He is not far from you (Acts 17:27), and He is anxiously waiting to be merciful and gracious to you.

(first published on http://www.swagga4christ.com)

 

Advertisements

Deflating the Misery Index

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy … “ Romans 15:13

Statistics show that you are miserable—albeit less miserable than you were last year.

Did you know that there’s such a thing as the Misery Index? In the 1970s, Arthur Okun, created a simple formula to measure the happiness of the average American. The equation is the unemployment rate plus the inflation rate, and as of February of 2015, the number is the lowest it’s been since the mid-1950s.

But, Americans still express a dismal outlook about the next six months. A recent article on NPR suggests that the formula is just too simple for today’s economy. They factor wage growth and consumer debt into the equation and surmise that the economy is still the culprit for our misery.

But what if there’s more to it? St. Augustine said, “”You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” And God’s own Word tells us, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13).

Even those who deny the deity of Christ or shun His saving sacrifice, understand the need for hope, joy and peace. It is the lack of those things that inflates our misery index—not simply empty pockets. As Christians, we possess the antibody to the world’s misery. In the grip of Christ, misery is indeed foreign to us; the love of Christ has dispelled it.

As we brave the world today, let’s flavor our witness with joy. The world is ripe for it.

 

A Low Life

“Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before.”

“.faith through grace by saved are you For”

It’s such a familiar phrase, you probably read that backwards without the slightest difficulty. So why is it that no matter how many times we say it, and how much we believe it that we invariably act otherwise? Why is that we can’t get over the need to prove ourselves to God—or prove our love for God to others? Ephesians 2:10 can be a troublesome verse for those of us trying to get a grip on grace: “For we are…created in Christ Jesus for good works,”.
The phrase “for good works” is agathos ergon, which literally means: that by which any one is occupied or any product whatever, any thing accomplished by hand, art, industry, or mind [that is] of good constitution—useful, honorable, excellent, joyful, happy business or employment. The next phrase “that we should walk in them” means: to make due use of opportunities.
Maybe our impression of the work God intends is a bit off base. Maybe Jesus is glorified in the lowly—when fishermen fish, when artists draw, when farmers plant, when children play or when mothers cook. Maybe the good that we were created to do, the opportunities we must take advantage of, are right in front of us—in mopping, sweeping, eating, laughing, even dying well. God’s desires of us are neither grand or contrived but to do the lowly and mundane for His glory, even to live a quiet life.

 

It Is Telos!

It Is Telos!

Why do you think Jesus died?

Let me give you a hint—I’m not looking for the Sunday school answer.

To discover the truth, you have to go way back before the Gospels. You have to go back about 700 years before Jesus was even born.

Isaiah 53:3-5 says,
“He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he 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.” (ESV)

Did you catch it?

Of course Jesus died for our sins. Of course, it is through His substitutional payment that we are forgiven by God and enjoy full freedom now, and eternal life forever. That’s what we learned in Sunday school and it’s absolutely true. But did anyone ever point out that Jesus bore your grief and sorrow? Did you notice that his punishment entitles you to peace and healing?

The word for sorrow here is ma’kob in the Hebrew. It means both physical and mental pain. And the word for healed is rapha’, which means many things. It can refer to the restoration of nations, a restoration of favor, the healing of national hurts and personal distress.

I don’t mean to minimize the truth that Jesus’ death on the cross paid for our iniquities and transgressions. (Those are big words for rebellion, perversity, depravity, iniquity and guilt.) Every single person on earth needs to be rescued from those things; no one is innocent of them, and each one must be paid for.

However, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was complete in so many more ways than we recognize in our annual skim through the last few chapters of the Gospels. There’s a recurring word in the final chapters of John that points to the all-inclusive, all-encompassing, all-surpassing, finished work of Jesus. It is the word telos. Telos means: the end of an act, that by which a thing is finished, the aim or purpose.

The first Scripture that I’m referring to is John 13:1. The Bible says that Jesus “loved [His own] to the end”, or telos.

Next, in John 19:28, as Jesus hung on the cross, moments before He spoke His last words, the Bible gives us a peek into His mind. “After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished…”.

Finally, Christ’s last words, “It is finished,” in John 19:30.

I think the word telos in each of these verses bears more weight than we ascribe. Throughout His ministry, Jesus said that He came to give us many things—far beyond our Sunday school answer of eternal life and heaven. Jesus said that He came to heal the sick, to bind up the broken hearted, to bring us abundant life and complete joy. (Matthew 9:12, Luke 4:18, John 10:10, John 15:11)

Where would we be without this Savior? Of course we would be alienated from God, dead in our sins, condemned for eternity. When we believe on Jesus Christ, according to John 3:16, we are saved. Then that it gets better than we ever imagined! We receive all good things from the bounty of our generous Heavenly Father’s riches.

“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32, NIV)

Yes, thank Him for salvation! But may we fall to our knees with wonder and gratitude for all that He has given us—far beyond eternal life. Jesus came for our sorrows and sickness. He came to bring healing, joy and life.

There is nothing that we need or desire that remains undone. Believer—It is Telos!

Who Is Your Calling?

Last week, I told you to Abandon Your Calling. We often think of calling as a set of skills or a defined direction our life is supposed to take. Ironic though that in pursuit of the “calling” we often forget to listen to the One who is calling…

James is the just the guy to pick an argument. He’s the New Testament author who seems to take issue with our free grace. He’s the one that seems to poke the smoldering flames of lingering guilt over failures, expectations and performance.

From the very first chapter of the book by his name, he tells us that without works, faith is dead. So we better get busy proving our faith. Right? But, the second half of James chapter one has always stumped me. What does any of this have to do with a guy looking in the mirror?

Check out verses 23-25:

“Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”

I took a few minutes to look up the words in the original Greek. Let me share my personal paraphrase:

For is anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, is like a man who is attentive to his course of life and knows his circumstances and understands his inward thoughts and feelings. Then, he follows after his “calling” oblivious to the quality or purpose of his life.

Let’s give James a break, not worry for a minute that he’s calling us back to works, and find out what is this course of life, this calling, that we are in danger of discarding to oblivion.

Isaiah 43:7 says, “‘Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them.’”

We were created for God’s glory. We are in danger of living oblivious to this, the ultimate course of our lives.

Second Peter 1:3 says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

We are in danger of living oblivious to the calling of His glory and goodness.

Bear with me.

What if we are not made for specific careers, individual ministries or one unique calling? What if we are wasting our time praying, “Oh God, what do you want me to do with my life?”

The work we are called to is obedience to God’s commands. Jesus couldn’t have made these commands more clear in John 13:34, “A new command I give you, love one another as I have loved you,”.

Obedience is not performance. If we look hard into the Word of God and truly know who we are and what we are to do—to love others as Christ loved us—but turn around and merely perform, our grace is worthless, our knowledge vain.

In Matthew 7, Jesus said that the man who hears and does not do the Word of God is like one who built his house on sand. Though he might work hard and build the finest house, worthy of admiration, when the storms of life come all of his work will collapse—useless.

Our work is the obedience of love. This comes out of our very nature which matures in Christ when we look intently into His word. This word informs not performance but our personhood, not good work but the obedience of love. It doesn’t inform our own special calling, but informs the world of the God who saves us.

 

How God Gets In You

Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
John 2:19,21-22

When I was growing up, summer meant neighborhood barbecues and spontaneous games of softball. My sisters and I spent a lot of time with our best friends from across the street. We shared secrets, sleepovers and homemade ice cream. Our friendships always deepened in the summer because we spent so much time together.

Did you know that God wants to live close to you and spend time with you so that, just like a good neighbor, you get to know Him really well?

Mishkan, is the Hebrew word for tabernacle, the tent-like structure God told them to make for Him to dwell in before they built the temple. About the tabernacle, God said, “And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God.” (Exodus 29:45)

Shakhen, the Hebrew word for neighbor is from the same root as mishkan. When God told the Israelites to make the tabernacle, He meant it to be the place that He would live among them; in a way, be their neighbor.

Even better? Because Jesus saved us from our sins through his death and resurrection, we don’t need a tabernacle to live close to God. John 14:23 says, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.”

If you believe in Jesus, God lives inside of you. He wants to spend time with you. He wants you to know Him.

This was first published in the digital magazine: Tween Girls and God.