The passage of the ship through the harbor isn’t guaranteed to be turbulence-free, but it is guaranteed to be safe for all who hold on to hope. (This post originally appeared on September 1, 2020, at Servants of Grace, as part of the website’s Hebrews series.)
In this time of confusion, sorrow, and unrest, when many of us may have forgotten what it’s like to sing with the brethren in worship, there is one thing that binds believers together. We are all learning the same words of the song we will sing together on Mount Zion. Our study doesn’t include traditional methods of voice instruction—no scales or enunciation practice. When we serve one another in Christ through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, we leave behind the distinctions that divide. We lay aside our prejudices and idols; we build harmonies and practice heavenly graces that rise up to God’s ears as ethereal melodies. (This post originally appeared at Servants of Grace.)
If you search through the whole creation, could you find any like Him? Are riches, honors, pleasures, or other relationships comparable to Jesus, whom you ought to love supremely? Should not the highest good be the best object of your love? Can you love lesser things, and not the greatest good? Is not all the goodness in the creature but as a drop compared to the sea, as a candle compared to the sun, as a speck of sand compared to a mountain—when compared to the goodness that is in Jesus?
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.
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.
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)
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.
If I disregard the protection my blood pressure medication affords me or neglect the exercise of regular dosages or leave it in places where it would get lost or stolen, I am making my heart an easy target for stroke or attack because of weakened and malfunctioning systems. When we disregard the value of the graces the Lord has provided, or fail to put on the spiritual armor available to every believer, or neglect the benefits in growth and maturity accessible through the body of Christ, the church, then we make ourselves easy targets for the side-of-the-road attacks from the fiends of temptation, affliction, and sin.
We are free from being typecast as the damsel in distress. That’s not your story anymore and it’s not mine. Jesus our Hero has paid the bride price, and it was very great—much too great for the prize to be a defeated, discouraged, withering and wilted damsel still acting as if she’s shackled to her old master Sin. His love is for a bride who loves the gracious and pure bonds of righteousness that unite her to Him.