We ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord. —Colossians 1: 9–10 NRSV
Today has become one of many meaningful lessons for me since I created this site. I decided I should tackle The Revelation. I’d spent 4 or more hours to come up with what I thought would be my first post until I read the last few sentences of what I’d written:
…from my point of view the end times began the day Adam and Eve ate that fruit. End times are all I’ve ever known. I’ve spent more than half my life learning to live with, and from, Jesus. Personally it matters more to me that I know the end of the story than the details. Jesus wins…and I’ll be there with him.’
Then I had my own revelation and had to confess and pray ‘I can’t do this.’ It was humbling to admit that A. I didn’t have the theological expertise to understand all that symbolism and B. I didn’t really care about the details. I feel twinges of guilt about both “A” and “B” but truth is a reality of God’s will and that reality is a process not a program you can decide on. And…I do know the end of the story!
In the meantime I rediscovered the reality of this prayer from Colossians and by changing the pronouns to personal ones it could become my prayer. I also found this quote in Reading the Signs of Daily Life by Henry Nouwen; “theology is all about—looking at reality with the eyes of God.” I really did need a spiritual eye check-up to see God’s reality. I’m am not a theological scholar but I am learning to see the reality of God’s will at least some of the time. PTL for seeing reality.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
I’ll bet most of us have thought about our own salvation in terms of surrendering our circumstances and behavior to God. There may be as many stories of personal conversion as there are saved people. That testimony almost always states the effects, the blessings, of “our” surrender to him.
This quote from My Utmost for His Highest reminded me of the “cause” of my surrender: “The fact that He [Jesus] saves from sin and makes us holy is actually part of the effect of His wonderful and total surrender to us.”
It’s a blessing to live with the effects of our surrender but there would be no blessing without the reality of John 3:16. It was God’s “total surrender” of his own son Jesus on our behalf that caused our surrender to effect his blessings in our life. We surrender to God because he first surrendered to us!
Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
We try many things in our attempt to “delight in the Lord” only to discover we still can’t find that bottom line because we’ve made it more about what we do than the desires of our heart. Our problem is we think we’re strong enough to figure out what the desires of our heart are instead of admitting we haven’t a clue. We take God at his word that our hearts are his domain without remembering he sees the reality of those desires. It’s a scary fact we have to face that God may allow us the desires he sees there.
C.S. Lewis in The Weight of Glory said this: “If we consider the unblushing promises of reward … promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us…”
The Westminster Shorter Catechism gives us a simple bottom line. Q. 1. What is the chief end of man? A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
This is about the Simplicity of Grace. Grace is not an exemption for our flaws. Grace is God’s bottom line. It’s purpose is to change us through combining the desires of our heart and our actions with what he knows to be true about us. Grace is the place your heart finally learns the “desire” to “take delight in the Lord.” Grace is the Simplicity of what it means to “glorify God” and sincerely “enjoy him forever.”
NIV Philippians 3:7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.
Thankfully most of us would never have to say we’ve “lost all things” to gain Christ. It’s likely we weren’t as successful as Paul was at keeping the rules in our old life, either, but we were certainly trying. Many of us would say we just “went along to get along” confused about the relationship of success and righteousness. That same confusion that left us unsure what to put our faith in was there back in Paul’s day too. Was righteousness only about right behavior and obeying the right rules?
Paul came to consider his list of successes as “garbage” but it was that old confusion that became our “garbage.” Christ became the contrast that showed us this reality; trying to figure out what we could make of ourselves was “garbage” compared to what God had in mind for us; “the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”
NASB Romans 8:Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
The whole chapter of Romans 8 and especially these verses are part of the treasure of my life of faith. They are the reality of a very special dream I had. I don’t know how much credence you give to dreams but this one changed my life as a relatively new believer more than half a lifetime ago.
Jesus had come to take me to see something with him. I felt secure. I was with him and he held my hand as we looked together at a grotesque museum-like head and shoulders statue on a pedestal sitting alone in the room. It wasn’t until we were leaving and I turned to look again at that ugly thing…one last time…that I saw it was me.
I awakened from the dream with an actual physical feeling of love for Jesus. He loved me enough to hold my hand until I understood that ugly statue was no longer me. That dream became My Love Song for him. There are more lyrics and I hope I still have them written down…somewhere…but this verse and chorus are the response of a full heart I will always remember.
My Love Song
You came to me in a dream and showed me what I could be
You taught me that I could love myself because of your love for me
And now I’m ready to share what I’ve learned
Of how filling your love can be
Through the miracle of love set to music
Flowing from you through me.
This is my love song for you Lord.
I sing it for the joy of loving you.
The words and the music you have placed in my heart
Are the gift that I give now to you.
You are the beat and the rhythm.
You are the lyric and tune.
You are the music singing in my heart
You are the song.
Romans 8:1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life [a]in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the Law could not do, [b]weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of [c]sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. NASB
Everything that led up to that day of condemnation so long ago has led you to this day we’ve come to call Good Friday. We get a lot of practice learning about the crucifixion of Christ being the bridge of forgiveness between us and God and between himself and us. There’s a third reality to that sacrifice that’s much harder to wrap our heads around. It was a sacrifice to set us “free from the law of sin and of death… free to believe “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
That’s what what this solemn day is about. The sinless Savior did what no law, priest, pastor or counselor could do. He condemned the sin that our human flesh could so easily use against us and replaced it with his promise that we could be free to walk according to his Spirit. This day the promise of forgiveness became our reality.
Matt 3:8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.
If you’ve had any experience with dieting you actually understand the challenges, and the need, for repentance better than most. Faith is like a diet; it requires consistent and persistent stepping on the scale and weighing in.
Repentance without Jesus may be possible, but like most diets it’s often only a temporary change that hopes for a permanent effect. The challenging part of any diet, even a diet of faith, is there are times we need to tweak our behavior. It’s an ongoing kind of repentance.
It’s very likely you’ve experienced the reality of repentance that’s permanent…your salvation. Jesus, in his grace, dealt with what we could clearly see had to go in that repentance but even then he knew there were things we kept hidden from ourselves that must be fixed.
These days leading up to Easter are not some “churchy” ritual to observe; they’re meant to be very personal. This is the time to weigh in. As hard as it is, we’ve got to step on the scale God has provided through his Spirit, examine our present reality, accept what is revealed…and…respond. That’s how we “produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”