In accordance with his sovereign will, the circumstances of my life are set along a route with the goal of his glory in view. But they are mere wisps and shadows of this world. If I am claimed by Christ’s blood, they are not my life. Jesus in me is life, eternal life. The circumstances are really inconsequential.
And I, almost-57-year-old me with all my baggage and experiences and stumbles and failures and memories and gifts and skills and wisdom-gained-through-affliction-and-hurt and compassion-grown-through-seeing-others-through-my-own-mistakes and faith-growing-like-a-mustard-seed, am the one he has prepared for the journey, this particular journey, because this is the one that will reflect Jesus. None other is suited to me. No one else’s is matched to how he has tilled the soil of my heart or how he nurtures the seed of faith in my soul or how he plans to shine through in love and truth.
Although we reside in the Lord’s garden, the inclination of our still-fleshly lives is to choose our own path for growth. We strive for reproduction of ourselves—more of me! more of me! But God has a way to strengthen and beautify us, drawing forth applause and glory—more of Him! more of Him! And as happens in the cycle of growth, that often involves deadheading and affliction.
The world cannot dislodge our footing in Christ. He is steadfast and so are his promises, more than anything we could find from this present vapid and groundless age. He has said he will complete the work he has begun in us.
We do what we are now, as a new creation, able to do. The bear is made to hibernate in the winter. The sheepdog is made to herd sheep. The bird is made to fly and the fish is made to swim. We are made to glorify God. And his merciful conversion of our hearts away from sin and in love toward him makes it possible.
Sins keep people, those people we see and talk to every day, separated from God, in direct line of His wrath, and at risk of damnation forever if they don’t repent. Some of them, in God’s mercy and providence, may be your brethren not yet revealed. And when they are reborn and come to Christ, they will need discipleship and, very likely, encouragement and help in their struggles against the most addictive of these sins. They won’t need jokes that trivialize their sin. Sin is not funny business. Theirs nor yours nor anyone’s.
Don’t let conduct or conversation steal away opportunities to proclaim freedom to those enslaved to sin and life to the despairing. (originally published at Servants of Grace)
I woke up this morning and checked my investment portfolio. It’s something I do as often as I can to … More
We all love to re-watch our favorite movie scenes, including the suspenseful ones, and we experience all the nervousness and anxiety all over again as if it’s the first time. It’s almost irrational because we are behaving as if we are in the dark about something we actually know quite a bit about. In part, that’s because it doesn’t have anything to do with what we don’t know, but how we are perceiving in the moment what we generally know. It’s also because we know all too well that death is ultimately inescapable, no matter how many times the hero thwarts it in repeat showings.
When God acts in history, he does so to highlight his glory and to govern and preserve his people. He manifests his purposes through the voluntary and involuntary actions of the spiritual body and its members. We generally are not aware of it, though. We just thread the needle. We just drive the car. We just breathe.
When we raise up Christ and introduce him to our children, talking about him and pointing out where he touches every part of their lives, we demonstrate our hope that their desire will be to see themselves as “friends of Jesus.” By coming to identify themselves in the context of who Jesus is, what he’s done for them, how he helps them make decisions, how he comforts them in times of trouble, they move out of the center willingly and beam with delight when he gets the glory—“That’s my friend, Jesus!” And if it doesn’t seem to be happening willingly, remember how stubborn your heart was before it was redeemed, and don’t give up. Pray to this end out loud and in front of them to show them that you rely on Jesus’s centrality in your life.