Monthly Archives: January 2018

Assurance –

Philippians 2:12 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, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

That phrase “continue to work our your salvation with fear and trembling” always catches me when I read it because of that other phrase “as you have always obeyed.”  Long before we even had a conscious awareness of our salvation we were learning there were times we could be disobedient and get away with it. Paul is challenging us to consider situational ethics and our faith. God has swept away old boundaries and brought new freedom to our lives. We have our doctrines, we have our statements of belief, we have God’s truth…but we still have our options.

I try not to be a “canned” Christian but it’s so easy to spout the truth you know as if you’ve really figured out how to live it. That’s the challenge of situational ethics. This last year our Pastor quoted someone-or-other with this [paraphrased] statement: “We judge others by their behavior and ourselves by our intent.”  Our freedom in Christ has faced us with options and our situational ethics. That’s why we need to “continue to work out [our accomplished] salvation with fear and trembling.” You don’t think God misses those times when you still get away with misusing your freedom do you? Not a chance! That’s the “fear and trembling” part but we have these words of assurance from Paul.  In the midst of working through matching up our situational ethics with our freedom we don’t have to rely on our doctrines or our statements of belief or our own will. This is God’s truth…”it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”  You can’t do it alone.

Assurance –

1 Corinthians 3:16 Do you not know that you are a temple [sanctuary] of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? NASB

The word [sanctuary] was the footnote next to the word “temple” in the verse but that word is my inspiration.  I did a painting last summer for our church and titled it Sanctuary. It’s quite large – about 52” wide by maybe 36” tall. It’s a painting for both decoration and function. It protects the large TV screen in the fellowship room…more importantly it’s a message painting.
Sanctuary can be hard to find in the big picture of life.  Do you see the cross? The cross is the path. Look for sancTuary where the living water, the cross, the open door and the sun all come together and reveal the secret. Expand the image and look more closely and you’ll see the “secret” of sancTuary, ΙΧΘΥΣ, Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.  See it?

Sanctuary is a beautiful promise God has provided for the big picture of your life. But wait there’s more!   1 Corinthians 3:16 goes beyond the promise of safety to an incredible blessing of assurance if you’ve found the “secret” of sancTuary.  “Do you not know that you are a temple [sanctuary] of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”   Your life IS the sanctuary [temple] God has chosen to live in!  Live big!

Assurance –

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

I wrote the words below nearly 40 years ago. I had a deep emotional understanding that Galatians 2:20 had really happened in my life. Christ’s life in me was complete and my life in him was a promise. I could live with that! There’s a purpose along with the promise of that one verse – growth!  Life happens and wounds happen but flesh is healed by “faith in the Son of God.”

We were saved by recognizing the beauty of the scars the Son of God bore in our name. Now we have the privilege of sharing this assurance of growth – the beauty of our own healed scars.

Reprise: To Life! https://readandponder.com/?s=To+Life%21
Posted on June 29, 2015 but written in the “olden days” of the 1980’s.

“Imagine the position of a body on a cross. Feel your feet pinned with your ankles together so that your legs are useless. Sense your arms pinned outstretched as far from your body as possible, unable to provide any defense or protection, leaving you completely at the mercy of your surroundings.

As I hung there, pinned not by nails but by my own feelings of inadequacy and insecurity, excuses and tears dripped from my wounds, not blood. At last, when the pain was too great I could barely speak “Be with me, God, I’m so alone,” and it was finished.

There were friends, then, who cared for me in my brokenness who prayed and stayed with me until slowly the pulse of new life grew stronger and steadier and I was free of the shame of my scars – able to say, My wounds are healed, but the scars remain as a sign of the resurrecting love of God Amighty.” Shirle Bedient

Assurance –

1 Corinthians 2
• 3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
• 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
• 15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16 for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

If you’ve been a believer in Christ more than 5 minutes you’ve heard about sharing your faith with others. God has become part of your life. He’s no longer out there in some vague cosmos, he’s changed your mind! That’s an exciting and real process that barely has words to describe it. This is where you get to raise your hand in agreement with Paul, “I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling.”

It’s scary stuff to speak [or write] about our faith because our spirit knows the reality of our thoughts and our merely human judgment finds it so easy to put information ahead of transformation. Paul’s words are both challenge and assurance to us.

Our words don’t have to be “wise or persuasive” but they do have to reveal God’s power to combine human wisdom with the work of his Spirit. That’s what makes them testimony and gives us the assurance that the “mind of Christ” is being created within us.

Assurance – Swallowed up by Life

2 Corinthians 5
• 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
• 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

What’s next? That’s always the mental “blip” for me after having come to the end of a long string of blog posts with a clear theme like Christmas and the ending of a year. New Year’s day I re-read the last post of 2017. Then I opened https://www.biblegateway.com to the Verse of the Day: 2 Corinthians 5:17, the very beginning of my list of assurances that God’s will is up and running in the life of his children. It felt like my question was answered. Why not begin a brand new year with a brand new look at those assurances one by one?

It was interesting that the scripture makes a distinction between “mortal” and “life” and the two dwelling places involved. It feels like I have one foot in each of the two kingdoms, one good and one bad, but God has created them both! The heavenly one, “life,” often seems distant and the mortal one on earth seems so wounded.

That reminded me how important this part of the Lord’s prayer is: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” It reminded me to look at myself and others in this earthly kingdom through the lens of that so often spoken prayer and be assured God’s will is NOT a secret. “…If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”… “so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.”