Tag Archives: Ponder

New Year – Unforced Rhythms of Grace

New Year’s Eve
Matthew 11:28-30
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” [The Message]

This contemporary paraphrasing of the words of Jesus from The Message was the first version I read. Then I read the same verses in the NIV and the NASB. I feel the need to compare versions partly out of curiosity, looking for a kind of unity of thought between them and often because they make me think in new ways about familiar verses. Any of the three versions are a really good beginning place for a brand new year but two sentences from The Message really spoke to me. “Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”

The familiar desire of most Christians is to know God’s will.  That phrase “unforced rhythms of grace” made me think of that in a new way.  God’s will is a big part of daily life, more than you might imagine.  Our effort to live within that will can be part of the struggle these verses are addressing. Tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Weary and burdened? Exhausted?

We are fooled into believing the will of God is something to be learned. We study the Bible for helpful hints from the the prophets, the Old & New Testament heroes and historical records. We listen to sermons and we pray for “thy” will to be done. It’s no wonder Matthew had to address weariness and our need for rest. Trust me, no matter how brilliant your brain is, no amount of mental gymnastics can accomplish what God already has already done in you.

Here is a radical idea that I’d like you to ponder: If you have placed your life in Christ, you are “living” the will of God.  Here is the assurance of your repentance and acceptance of the sacrifice of Christ as your complete restoration to God.
• “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:” 2 Corinthians 5:17
• “We have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:16
• “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;” – Galatians 2:20
• “You are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in…” – 1 Corinthians 3:16
• “It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” – Philippians 2:13
• ”All things that I [Jesus] have heard from My Father I have made known to you” – John 15:15
• Nothing…”will be able to separate [you] from the love of God” – Romans 8:38

These Scriptures ARE the will of God and they’re built right into you.   There is not a moment, a thought, an action or choice – right or wrong, at the most elemental cellular level of your being that the will of God is not at work within you.  You won’t always make the right decision or the right choice but you can depend on this truth; your life in Christ has placed you in the will of God.  Now take Jesus at his word. “Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.  Learn to live “freely and lightly” in “the unforced rhythms of grace.”  Rest.

“A miracle has happened. You are new. You are a new creation in Christ. And on that glorious, confident basis, rooted in Christ and his saving work for us, now we have some work to do. And we do it with joy and with confidence [of] children of God. We are not trying to be children of God or get into God’s favor, we are in his favor rock solid through faith in Christ.” [read more from John Piper at https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/how-to-know-the-will-of-god

Really a Dove

The Book of John – Chapter 1 NCV
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him. John said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the One I was talking about when I said, ‘A man will come after me, but he is greater than I am, because he was living before me.’ 31 Even I did not know who he was, although I came baptizing with water so that the people of Israel would know who he is.”
32-33 Then John said, “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven in the form of a dove and rest on him. Until then I did not know who the Christ was. But the God who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘You will see the Spirit come down and rest on a man; he is the One who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen this happen, and I tell you the truth: This man is the Son of God.”

Really a Dove
Why didn’t John know the reality of who Jesus was? I would have though family history would have cleared all that up. John’s relationship with Jesus was probably just like any other family. Relationships are all about perceived and shared experiences that have occurred over time. They can become the comfortable, and sometimes restrictive, place we expect others to fit in called the pigeon hole.

I don’t know if that was the case with John and Jesus but have we created a pigeon hole for Jesus? Did you know a pigeon is Really a Dove? …Then John said, “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven in the form of a dove and rest on him. Until then I did not know who the Christ was.  Something to ponder.

Be-ing vs Choosing – The Third Beatitude

Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Ponderings:
An interesting word play occurred to me this morning. Are these Be-Attitudes? All Jesus’ blessings are about “Be-ing vs Choosing.”  Word play is not an indication of lack of seriousness especially when it comes to the Word of God. Quite the contrary, it’s an involved mind challenge to consider a meaning that may be deeper than the mere letters that form this known word – meek.

• Meek – adjective: quiet, gentle, and easily imposed on; submissive.
• Synonyms: submissive, yielding, obedient, compliant, tame, biddable, tractable, acquiescent, humble, deferential, timid, unprotesting, unresisting…

The inheritance of land has always been a symbol of security…and power. Way back at the beginning God saw land as a promise and a blessing for his people as he moved them into position to fulfill his plans to make them his heirs on earth.

That’s proved to be tough to work out because “choosing” has become the focus rather than be-ing. That change in focus has resulted in the competition, wars, greed and deceit that plague our world. Jesus says be-ing meek is the answer to the mystery of inheriting this blessing. That’s a mind challenge!