Monday, December 15, 2014

JESUS RULES!


Jesus rules!

Yes, in the language of slang, you can interpret that as meaning – He is really awesome.  Which is true, for sure.  But I'm talking about something else here.

His Authority.

Can you think of some people who have that aura of authority around them? Whose words ring with weight and wisdom?  Whose presence seems somehow larger-than-life?

These are some people on my list who have/had that certain quality about them:

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Billy Graham

C.S. Lewis

Ronald Reagan

John Wayne

Mother Teresa

The Apostle Paul


But at the absolute top of my list is Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. And He demonstrated His authority while on this earth in three ways:

1)  He showed authority over the natural world

2)  He showed authority over the physical body

3)  He showed authority over the spiritual realm


Let's expand on those ideas.

First of all, Jesus demonstrated His authority over the natural world. He turned water into wine, He calmed storms, He multiplied physical elements to produce food, He went on some pretty successful fishing trips.

In all of these encounters, Jesus exhibited His God-ness.  He spoke, and the natural world obeyed Him.

Have you ever pondered that deeply?

Jesus controlled atoms and molecules, space and time itself.  Since all things were created through Him and for Him, He spoke as the ultimate power over creation.  His words manipulated the very stuff of matter.  On His word, the natural world bowed to its Master.


Secondly, Jesus demonstrated His authority over the physical body.  He healed the lame, opened the eyes of the blind, cured leprosy, and even raised the dead!

Jesus did what no doctor can do.

He instantly made disability and disease and death disappear.  Poof!  Just like that.

And yet, isn't it rather amazing that He didn't use that power and authority to save His own life?  He could have, you know.  With a word.  Poof!  Just like that.

But He intentionally set aside His authority and gave up His life willingly for a greater purpose than His own safety and healing.

He instead chose to heal the world, and ultimately offer the eternal healing of a resurrected body just like His own.


Finally, Jesus demonstrated His authority over the spiritual realm.  At His word, demons were instantly cast out.  At His word, the devil was spurned. At His word, angels could be summoned to do His every command.

He had the ability to rule the world, and all the heavens, with the power of His will and the direction of His voice.

Jesus had direct access to the Father, instant communion and communication with the Almighty.  He knew the Holy Spirit intimately.


In this Advent season, I'm thinking about this Jesus.

The Jesus who possessed such power and authority.  The Jesus who had command over the natural world, the physical body, and the spiritual realm.

The Jesus who could have come to this world as a mighty conqueror, wielding His power in any way He wanted to, exercising His authority to rule over everything.

And yet, the Jesus who chose instead to come into our world as a baby.

No wonder the world was puzzled, and mystified, and angered by who He was.  He was NOT who they had expected.

The nation of Israel, and perhaps indeed all of humanity, had been looking for a messiah.

What they got was The Messiah.

They wanted a powerful savior, yes.  But they wanted a man.  A man who would exercise power and authority in the political world.  They wanted a man who would restore the nation of Israel.

They wanted a man who would give them back their OWN power and authority.


Are we really any different?

I confess, sometimes I want to "force" Jesus to use His power and authority to make life *work*.

Like in the natural world.

Wouldn't it be nice if He instantly produced money to pay the bills?  Or how about if He created some extra food on the table?  And wouldn't it be great if He stopped some storms or sent some rain?

Douse the wildfires, Lord.  Dam up the floods.  Quiet the earthquakes.

Make the world obey You.


Sometimes I want to "force" Jesus to use His power and authority to make life *work*.

Like in the physical body.

Wouldn't it be nice if He instantly healed sickness and disease?  Or how about if He fixed disabilities and deformities?  And wouldn't it be great if He made germs and viruses and bacterial ailments disappear?

Cure cancer, Lord.  Do away with mental illness.  Abolish death.

Make the body obey You.


Sometimes I want to "force" Jesus to use His power and authority to make life *work*.

Like in the spiritual realm.

Wouldn't it be nice if He kept us from facing temptation?  Or how about if He did away with sinful thoughts and feelings?  And wouldn't it be great if He gave us perfect faith?

Send some angels, Lord.  Get rid of evil influences.  Make the enemy disappear.

Make the spirits obey You.


It sounds wonderful, doesn't it?

And yet, I have to stop and think about this.  If I really had those things, if I really could make Jesus do what it takes to make life *work*, would I really do the right things?

For indeed, if I could manipulate His power and authority, wouldn't I end up re-making Him into my own image?

And in the end, would it really turn out that I had Jesus at all? 

I think that I would find that I had made a messiah, but had totally missed out on The Messiah.


And, after all, that's who arrived in the manger.

THE Messiah (with a capital "M" – amen!)

The One with ultimate power and authority.  

And yet, the One who laid it all aside to arrive as a helpless baby, a human with weakness and frailty.  The One who willingly relinquished His God-ness and deigned to come into our world.

He, who controlled the natural world, entered atoms and molecules.

He, who controlled the physical body, inhabited one Himself.

He, who controlled the spiritual realm, left angels to walk on earth.


Yes, Jesus had ultimate and sovereign control.

And yet, as mentioned before, He set aside that position of authority for something else.

Someone else.

Me.

And you.

I am stunned by the immensity of this.


You know, truthfully I don't really want to control Him.  I just want to know Him.  More and more, forever and ever.

JESUS RULES!!






He gave up His divine privileges.
He took the humble position of a servant.
He became like other human beings.
And was born in the likeness of men.





(THE NATURAL WORLD)

"And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger.  And they went and woke him, saying, 'Master, Master, we are perishing!'  And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm...And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, 'Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?'" (Luke 8:23-25, ESV)


(THE PHYSICAL BODY)

"John's two disciples found Jesus and said to him, 'John the Baptist sent us to ask, 'Are you the Messiah we've been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?'  At that very time, Jesus cured many people of their diseases, illnesses, and evil spirits, and he restored sight to many who were blind.  Then he told John's disciples, 'Go back to John and tell him what you have seen and heard – the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.  And tell him, 'God blesses those who do not turn away because of me.'" 
(Luke 7:20-23, NLT)


(THE SPIRITUAL REALM)

"When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons...When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, 'What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?  I beg you, do not torment me.'  For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man...Jesus then asked him, 'What is your name?'  And he said, 'Legion,' for many demons had entered him...Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these.  So he gave them permission.  Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned." (From Luke 8:27-33, ESV)


(THE MESSIAH)

"At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon.  He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel...That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there.  He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying, 'Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised.  I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people.  He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!'" (From Luke 2, NLT)

"'But what about you?' [Jesus] asked. 'Who do you say I am?' Peter answered, 'You are the Messiah.'" (Mark 8:29, NIV)

"...these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." (John 20:31, NIV)


(HIS AUTHORITY)

"And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.'" (Matthew 28:18, ESV)

"Jesus answered [Pilate], 'You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.'" (John 19:11, ESV)

"'Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?'" (Matthew 26:53, NIV)

"And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit." (Matthew 27:50, ESV)


(HIS RULE AND REIGN FOREVER)

"Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.  Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.  When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.  Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:6-11, NLT)

"Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.  For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.  The last enemy to be destroyed is death.  For he 'has put everything under his feet...When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.'" 
(1 Corinthians 15:24-28, NIV)

"... I saw someone like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven.  He approached the Ancient One and was led into his presence.  He was given authority, honor, and sovereignty over all the nations of the world, so that people of every race and nation and language would obey him.  His rule is eternal – it will never end.  His kingdom will never be destroyed."
(Daniel 7:13-14, NLT)

"Jesus said, 'It is finished.'" (John 19:30, NIV)

"'Look, I am coming soon...I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.'"(Revelation 22:12-13, NLT)



In this Advent season, will you take another look at the manger and see the humbleness of a Savior who laid aside His God-ness to become one of us?

How can you worship Him anew?



Linked with:

SHARING HIS BEAUTY, PLAYDATES WITH GOD, UNFORCED RHYTHMS, MONDAY'S MUSINGS, INSPIRE ME MONDAY, MONDAYS AT SOUL SURVIVAL, MAKE A DIFFERENCE MONDAYS, GOOD MORNING MONDAYS, SOLI DEO GLORIA, TITUS 2 TUESDAYS, TELL ME A TRUE STORY, UNITE, TESTIMONY TUESDAY, TITUS 2SDAY, WINSOME WEDNESDAY, WHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAYS, CAPTURE YOUR JOURNEY, TEACHING WHAT IS GOOD, SO MUCH AT HOME, A LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAYS, THREE WORD WEDNESDAY, TELL HIS STORYCOFFEE FOR YOUR HEART, THRIVING THURSDAY, EVERYDAY JESUS, SHINETHOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAY, HEARTS FOR HOME, GRACE AT HOME, COFFEE & CONVERSATION, THOUGHTFUL THURSDAYS, LITTLE THINGS THURSDAYS, FELLOWSHIP FRIDAYS, FAITH FILLED FRIDAY, MAKE MY SATURDAY SWEETFRIENDSHIP FRIDAY, FELLOWSHIP FRIDAY, COUNTING MY BLESSINGS, A GROUP LOOK, SPIRITUAL SUNDAYSMISSIONAL WEEKEND, STILL SATURDAY, SATURDAY SOIREE



BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, December 8, 2014

THE FINGERPRINT OF GOD


We are all unique.

You know that, right?  

And I'm sure that most of you know that every single person has a unique and different fingerprint.  No two are the same.  But, did you know that although identical twins share the same DNA profile, they do not have the same fingerprints?  Yes, though they are similar, they are still different, unique to each.

I find this fascinating.

What I also find fascinating, and this is something that I just recently learned, is that no two dogs have the same nose print!  Yup, a dog's nose print is just as unique as a fingerprint, and no two dogs have the same pattern of ridges and lines.  Even puppies of the same litter are not the same when it comes to noses.

Interesting, huh?!

So, I've been pondering.

Since Jesus was born a human, then He must have had fingerprints.  And His fingerprints were unique to Him.  So, in all reality, He literally had the fingerprints of God!!

I wonder what His DNA profile was like.

We each have a unique DNA makeup, composed of chromosomes inherited from our mother and our father.  Since Jesus' father was God, I wonder if His profile looked different from a normal human being.

I know these questions have no real practical use, nor do they have any impact on faith, but I still find it intriguing to think about.

Everything that Jesus touched had the fingerprint of God on it.

He was literally made up of the very *stuff* of God.

No wonder He was so different, so unique, so perfectly tailored to become the Savior of the World!

And in every real sense of the word, because we are the image-bearers of the Creator, because we possess the Holy Spirit living within us, we are also stamped with the fingerprint of God upon our lives.

Thrilling, isn't it?!


I'm recalling the very beautiful work of Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel.  There is one section that shows God reaching out to touch the figure of Adam.  It's called "The Creation of Adam."  Though I am not a huge fan of Renaissance art, there's no denying that this famous image is spectacular.

But you know the reason I like it the most?

It's because the painting captures a moment, just as the fingertip of God is about to touch Adam.  

I ponder the posture of Adam's handit looks rather weak and powerless.  Contrasted to that is God's finger as it reaches out for the hand of man with great intention.

I get the feeling of *spiritual electricity* surrounding this moment.

I get the feeling that in the very next second, something of tremendous meaning and purpose and power and glory is going to be released as Creator makes contact with creature.

BOOM!

Man becomes alive, touched by the finger of God.  Irrevocably stamped with the fingerprint image of the Almighty.


It's the same with us.  You know why?

Because a little over 2,000 years ago, the hand of God reached out once again.

It reached all the way down from Heaven, and touched this earth with His Presence.

When I think about the birth of Christ, I am reminded of this painting.

Can you place yourself there in the manger?  Mary has strained and strived for a long time to birth her child.  She knows this child is different, but I wonder if she fully comprehends the impact of the whole story.

Tired, sweaty, in pain, she works so hard to have this baby, this boy, this child whom God has promised.

Think of the moment just before Jesus appears.

Something of tremendous meaning and purpose and power and glory was about to happen.  

The Almighty is on the brink of entering His creation, full of great intention.  The angels stand on tiptoes to see an extraordinary mystery.  And the heavens are hushed in awed silence.

And then…

The Child, the Son of God, makes His appearance.

The fingertip of God makes contact with humanity, with a lost and broken world, and with every single soul that will ever be born.  

God's fingertip reaches down for the rest of eternity to His creationin love, and grace, and mercy, and hope, and redemption.

I kinda get chills thinking about it.


So, here I am.  Here you are.  All these years later.

Pondering the mysteries of the nativity.  Contemplating the miracle of the manger.

Reaching our weak and powerless hands to the Almighty.  Stretching our fingers of faith to Him.  Seeking the contact of the Great One.  Waiting for the incredible encounter with His power and glory.

BOOM!

Heaven reaches down, and we are touched.


So, as we spend this Advent season remembering and preparing, let's never forget this.

We are stamped with the fingerprint of God.

We are connected to Him in the very *stuff* of which we are made.  We are united to His Spirit.  New creatures.  Each uniquely printed with our own individuality, but part and parcel of the Creator Himself. 

It's a wonder, and I find it fascinating.


Take a moment right now, look at your fingerprints.  (Or look at your dog's nose!!)

Think of Jesus, and His uniqueness.

Think of Jesus, and His humanity.

Think of Jesus, and His glory as God.

Think of His love, and grace, and mercy, and hope, and redemption.

Think of Jesus, and know…

You belong to Him.  

His fingerprint is on your heart.  


BOOM!





So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them.

And the LORD said,
"I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love.
With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself."



*****(Lots of Scripture - but read and let The Story unfold!)*****



"Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness...So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.  And God blessed them." (Genesis 1:26-28, ESV)

"When God created human beings, he made them to be like himself." 
(Genesis 5:1, NLT)

"When Adam sinned, sin entered the world...But there is a great difference between Adam's sin and God's gracious gift.  For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many.  But even greater is God's wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ...For Adam's sin led to condemnation...But even greater is God's wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:12, 15, 16-17)

"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." (John 3:16, NIV)

"Now search all of history, from the time God created people on the earth until now, and search from one end of the heavens to the other.  Has anything as great as this ever been seen or heard before?" (Deuteronomy 4:32, NLT)

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6, NIV)

"'Don't be afraid, Mary,' the angel told her, 'for you have found favor with God!  You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.  And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!'" (Luke 1:30-33, NLT)

"Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.  He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can't see...Everything was created through him and for him.  He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together." (Colossians 1:15-17, NLT)

"No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known." 
(John 1:18, NIV)

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14, NIV)

"Jesus shouted to the crowds, 'If you trust me, you are trusting not only me, but also God who sent me.  For when you see me, you are seeing the one who sent me.'" (John 12:44-45, NLT)

"He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.  After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high..." 
(Hebrews 1:3, ESV)

"Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures." (James 1:18, ESV)

"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature...[and] put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator." (Colossians 3:5, 10, NIV)

"For we are God's masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." (Ephesians 2:10, NLT)

"We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us." (2 Corinthians 5:20, NIV)

"He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less." (John 3:30, NLT)



What does it mean to you to bear the fingerprint of God?



Linked with:

SHARING HIS BEAUTY, PLAYDATES WITH GOD, UNFORCED RHYTHMS, MONDAYS AT SOUL SURVIVAL, MONDAY'S MUSINGS, MAKE A DIFFERENCE MONDAYSTELL ME A TRUE STORYGOOD MORNING MONDAYS,SOLI DEO GLORIA, UNITE, TITUS 2 TUESDAYS, TESTIMONY TUESDAY, WHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAYS, CAPTURE YOUR JOURNEY, TEACHING WHAT IS GOOD, A LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAYS, COFFEE & CONVERSATION, SO MUCH AT HOME, WINSOME WEDNESDAY, WORD FILLED WEDNESDAY, THREE WORD WEDNESDAY, TELL HIS STORYCOFFEE FOR YOUR HEART, WISE WOMAN, THRIVING THURSDAY, THOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAY, SHINEEVERYDAY JESUS, HEARTS FOR HOME, GRACE AT HOME, LITTLE THINGS THURSDAYSTHOUGHTFUL THURSDAYS, FRIENDSHIP FRIDAY, LIGHT FRIDAY HIT LIST, FELLOWSHIP FRIDAYS, A GROUP LOOK, MISSIONAL WEEKEND, SPIRITUAL SUNDAYSFAITH FILLED FRIDAY, COUNTING MY BLESSINGSFELLOWSHIP FRIDAYMAKE MY SATURDAY SWEET, WEEKEND BREW, SATURDAY SOIREE, RECOMMENDATION SATURDAY, SUNDAY STILLNESS, GIVE ME GRACE



BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, December 1, 2014

I SPY WITH MY LITTLE EYE


Did you ever play that game?

I loved it.

I played it as a kid, and I played it as a mom.

It passed the time on long car trips.  It provided a distraction to stop fighting. It was a wonderful mental exercise.  It fostered creative thinking and problem-solving.

OK, let's admit it, it was just plain fun.

In some ways, I still play.

You see, I have this propensity to *see* faces.  (Not in a creepy "Sixth Sense movie" kind of way, mind you).

A lot of people see stuff in clouds.

I do that, too, but I see faces in trees and rocks and floor tiles and wallpaper and buildings and cars.

Don't laugh.

Because more often than not, if I point out my "discovery" to someone else, they see it, too.

I clearly remember one time when I was staying with my youngest son at his apartment.  He has these sticky tiles on his bathroom floor.  After using the facilities one day, I came out and said this:

"Hey, have you ever noticed that you can see Marty in your bathroom floor?"

(Marty is his beagle)

At first he looked at me like maybe I had been breathing sewer gas or something.  But he indulges me, so he finally said:

"Show me."

I did, he saw it, and agreed.  Yup, there was a little "beagle" prancing across the bathroom floor.

I see faces in car grilles – (you know, the headlights are the eyes, the bumper is the mouth).  Buildings have faces – (windows and doors make perfect facial features).  I've occasionally been spooked out by some eerie faces in wallpaper.

But I also see faces in nature.

For instance, on our property we have this big log that used to be part of a tree that fell down years ago.  I think it looks just like a sperm whale.  I've nicknamed it, "Moby Stick."  (I also have a propensity to name inanimate objects, by the way!)  There's a boulder that looks just like another kind of whale.  Its name?  "Rocky Beluga."

I'm not totally crazy.  "The Hub" saw it, too, when I pointed it out.  (Or maybe he's just kind enough to indulge his loony wife!)

So, today as I was getting into my car I actually said good-bye to Moby Stick. But then, I got thinking.  Am I nuts?  (Don't answer that, you guys...)  Yes, probably, but there is something inside of me that loves to "I Spy" stuff.

As I drove off, I started thinking about what makes us do this?  It's probably something in science having to do with the facial recognition processes in our brains, or perhaps psychology could offer an explanation for our tendency to anthropomorphize things.


But, there's a spiritual lesson here, too.

And over the next several minutes, God began to unfold it.


Two points:

One, the reason I see faces in things is because I'm looking for them.  They don't magically appear.  I'm always looking because I'm always half-expecting to find them.

And, in the same way, if we're looking for God, we'll see Him.

Sometimes I've been asked, how did you find a spiritual lesson in that?

And my best answer is – because I was looking for it, and God showed it to me.

You see, the open heart and the seeking eye will always find God.  

It's what He promises:

"You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13, ESV)

Please understand, I am not bragging here.  I'm not saying that I see this stuff because I'm all "lah-di-dah" pious.  And don't get me wrong, there are plenty of times when I feel like God is hidden and silent and distant.

But, I try to make a practice of looking, and searching, and seeking for the Lord in the small things, in everything.  And lo and behold, more times than I can count, He lets me *see* Him.


The other point is this:

If I can see faces in things, and I can find God in things, are people seeing HIM in me?

Do they look at me and see HIS face?

I see faces in things because faces are recognizable by their features.  By the way they resemble the real thing.

Am I that way?

Are my spiritual "features" recognizable as belonging to someone who follows the Lord?  Do I resemble the real thing – Him?

We are called to this, you know.

"So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord.  And the Lord – who is the Spirit – makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image."  (2 Corinthians 3:18, NLT)

"…be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth." (Ephesians 4:23-24, NASB)


I want to be a reflection of Him.

An accurate and true reflection.

Wouldn't it be awesome if people looked at us and said, "Oh, I see the face of the Lord in him/her!"

So, I'm pondering this.  Praying for this.

And learning that the only way to look like Jesus is to walk with Him.  Read about Him.  Talk to Him.

Follow Him ever so closely.


"I spy with my little eye, someone who looks like Jesus."

Oh, how I want that to be said of me!





May I always reflect
the image
of my Lord and Savior.


(This is a wood carving we have in our home...
...do you see the face?!) 



"'Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.  Keep on seeking, and you will find.  Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you." 
(Matthew 7:7, NLT)

"But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul." (Deuteronomy 4:29, NIV)

"Now set your heart and your soul to seek the LORD your God..." 
(1 Chronicles 22:19, NASB)

"...acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought.  If you seek him, he will be found by you..." (1 Chronicles 28:9, NIV)

"'I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD.  They will be my people, and I will be their God...'" (Jeremiah 24:7, NIV)

"Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us." (2 Corinthians 5:20, ESV)

"And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again." 
(2 Corinthians 5:15, NIV)

"I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me." (Galatians 2:20, ESV)

"He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less." 
(John 3:30, NLT)



Do people see the face of Jesus in you?



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BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, November 24, 2014

ARE YOU THANKFUL IN ALL THINGS?


So, here we are – Thanksgiving Week.  (Already??)

I don't know about you, but it seems this year has gone by awfully fast.

And as I approach the coming new year, I thought this might be a good time to reflect on the concept of thankfulness.

It's defined this way:  Aware and appreciative of a benefit; grateful.

That's easy enough when something wonderful happens.  But what about when it doesn't?  What does it mean to be thankful when things go wrong?

I'm specifically thinking of this verse:

"Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NLT)


I really have a hard time with this verse.  To be totally honest, thankfulness doesn't come naturally to me.  Oh sure, I'm always quick to say thank you when someone does something nice for me.  I'm pretty consistent saying grace before meals.  And yes, I am grateful for my blessings.

But, am I grateful for my trials?

Um, not so much.

That's why this verse gives me trouble.

It's that one pesky word…ALL.

Be thankful in ALL circumstances?

I can think of many circumstances that try our patience, wound our hearts, challenge our understanding, and crush our spirits.

The death of a loved one.

A broken relationship.

Losing a job.

A prodigal child.

Poor health.

Financial worries.


I do not feel thankful for these things – do you?

So why are we told to be thankful in all things?  And if we are called to it, is it impossible to achieve?

I have this one thought as to why it might be important:

We are most attractive as Christians when we look different from the world.

And we never look more different from the world than when we have trials and we don't fall apart.

Yes, this is part of why we are called to be thankful – so that we might be set apart, separated from the worldin it, but not of it.


God wants us to look different.  He wants us to reflect the Truth of what we believe.  

These things:

The world is full of sin.
Sin brings disease, dysfunction, despair, defeat, and death.
Jesus came, died, rose again, and conquered these things.
Because of that, there is something better ahead.
Therefore, we have hope.


This is what the Lord wants us to live out in our lives.  This is what He wants us to show to the world.

There is an answer to the suffering – Jesus – and because of Him, we can live above our circumstances.

And yes, for that I am very grateful.


Now, the second part of that verse is interesting to me:

"…for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."

I actually read that two ways.  Two interpretations that I think are both accurate in their intent, and in their meaning.


First of all, we are to give thanks for it is God's will for us to be thankful. And we can only be thankful when we place ourselves in proper position with our God.

Adopting a humbleness of spirit, recognizing our subordinate position as creatures beneath Him, our Creator.  Intentionally submitting ourselves to His omnipotence and omniscience.  Surrendering our will to His perfect purposes.

It is God's will for us to trust Him with our lives.  To believe that He is perfectly good, even when life is not.  To rely on His strength and power.  To follow Him and not our feelings.

So, in ALL circumstances, He desires that we be thankful.

He wants us to look different from the world, to yield ourselves to His sovereignty, and to trust Him even when, perhaps especially when, we don't understand life.


Now, the second way that I read that part of the verse is this way:

We are to be thankful in all things because those very things themselves are the will of God.

Nothing happens outside of God's control.  Nothing surprises Him nor catches Him off guard.  Nothing arrives without His sanction on it.

It is ALL, even the bad stuff, His perfect will for us.

This is a tough concept to accept.  How can a loving God willfully allow terrible things to happen?

It is the one obstacle to faith that seems to cause the most trouble – both for those who don't believe and for those of us who do.

Painful circumstances = A good God?

That math doesn't add up.

But here’s the promise that makes us able to not only accept this, but to embrace it:

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28, NLT)

Did you catch it?  There's another ALL in there.

ALL things are working for a good purpose, a purpose pre-ordained by the goodness of God.

Therefore, we can be thankful.

Maybe not thankful for the circumstances, but thankful in them.

For, no matter what happens in our lives, no matter how dire the circumstances, or how deep the suffering, these things are not happening because of some indefinite and quixotic force of fate.  We are not victims of an arbitrary destiny.

We are, instead and in truth, creatures destined for glory.


So, on this Thanksgiving as I reflect on this year of JOY, I am thinking about how I have learned what it means to be thankful and joyful in ALL circumstances.

It means that I change my perspective.

I take my focus off of feelings, and I fix my eyes on faith.

Let's combine those verses, and let's celebrate the Truth of what God is truly saying to us:

Be thankful in all circumstances, because you know that in all things I am working for your good.  It is My will for you who belong to Christ Jesus to be thankful people.  For you have been called according to My purpose.  Therefore, believe that every circumstance that comes into your life is part of My plan for you because I love you.  Trust Me.

OK, Lord, it's a deal.


So, I wish each and every one of you a wonderful Thanksgiving.  May you remember to count your blessings.  And may you remember that even the difficult circumstances in your life are a blessing, for they are allowed by Him.

For a reason.

For your good.

For a time.

Because He loves you.

Trust Him, not your feelings.  Focus on hope, not on defeat.  Love Him with all your heart, even when you're feeling disheartened.

For He is faithful.

Praise His name, we are forgiven.  We have been freed from the futility and fatality of this life.

Circumstances do not define us, they just refine us.

And we are destined for glory.

I'm thankful for that – aren't you?!


Happy Thanksgiving, dear friends!






He will dwell on the heights,
His refuge will be the impregnable rock;
His bread will be given him,
His water will be sure.



"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.  If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you...if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name." (1 Peter 4:12-14, 16, NIV)

"In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls." (1 Peter 1:6-9, NIV)

"Always be joyful.  Never stop praying.  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." 
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NLT)

"Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think." (Romans 12:2, NLT)

"Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice!" 
(Philippians 4:4, NLT)

"[For] we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." 
(Romans 8:28, NASB)

"...my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, 'My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the LORD.'  Remember my affliction and my wanderings...My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me.  But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every  morning; great is your faithfulness.  'The LORD is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in him.'"
(Lamentations 3:17-24, ESV)

"What then shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?...Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?" (Romans 8:31-32, 35, ESV)

"Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us." (Romans 8:37, AMP)

"For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39, AMP)

"This is the day the LORD has made.  We will rejoice and be glad in it...You are my God, and I will praise you!  You are my God, and I will exalt you!  Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good!  His faithful love endures forever." 
(Psalm 118:24, 28-29, NLT)



How do you find a way to be thankful even in the midst of difficult circumstances?



Linked with:

SHARING HIS BEAUTY, ALL THINGS BRIGHT & BEAUTIFULPLAYDATES WITH GOD, UNFORCED RHYTHMS, MONDAY'S MUSINGS, MONDAYS AT SOUL SURVIVAL, SALT & LIGHT, GOOD MORNING MONDAYS, INSPIRE ME MONDAY, TITUS 2 TUESDAYS, TELL ME A TRUE STORY, UNITE, TESTIMONY TUESDAY, WHIMSICAL WEDNESDAYS, WINSOME WEDNESDAY, A LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAYS, WHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAYS, TELL HIS STORY, CAPTURE YOUR JOURNEY, TEACHING WHAT IS GOOD, WISE WOMAN, COFFEE & CONVERSATION, WEDNESDAY'S PRAYER GIRLS, THREE WORD WEDNESDAY, WORD FILLED WEDNESDAY, COFFEE FOR YOUR HEART, SO MUCH AT HOME, THRIVING THURSDAY, LITTLE THINGS THURSDAYS, EVERYDAY JESUS, THOUGHTFUL THURSDAYS, FRIENDSHIP FRIDAY, MISSIONAL WEEKEND, FELLOWSHIP FRIDAYS, MAKE MY SATURDAY SWEET, SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS, HEART FILLED FRIDAYS, COUNTING MY BLESSINGS, STILL SATURDAY, WEEKEND BREW, SATURDAY SOIREE, GIVE ME GRACE, SUNDAY STILLNESS



BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"