Today I belong to Jesus—body and soul. Today I have an inheritance that reflects my spiritual DNA, and although I face daily temptations and suffer momentary affliction, I am also today sustained by this tomorrow-identity, from now until beyond the grave. Sin—the flesh, the world, the enemy—works to make me forget truth. When it succeeds, comfort flees, and I seek pseudo-comforts, and when they disappoint, I react accordingly in anger or dismay, eventually bearing out the consequences of idolatry. However, there is timelessness in God’s grace and forgiveness. My tomorrow-identity depends upon His integrity, not my feelings.[viii] His passage through the veil with me cannot be reversed or undone. His resurrection adheres me to Him, and He cannot become un-resurrected.
My words for you this day, while I think of so many of you putting your foot forward for your next step on that tightrope, are prayers for joy in the soaring moments and the gut-wrenching struggles; for confidence in what’s true about your sure foundation in Christ regardless of insecurities that swarm around decisions about math books or DVDs or ability to keep your children healthy and growing in wisdom; for strength for the long days and rest for the sleepless nights; for union with Christ, wherein we find our only rest and from whom flows our only strength.
In short, I pray for perseverance.
With him, we are crucified to this world. He didn’t die to make the world like paradise. He died to separate us for paradise, that better Eden.
(This post first appeared at Servants of Grace as part of the Hebrews devotional 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.)
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.
How is someone who can’t even wrangle the chaos in her own home supposed to be able to handle the unknown? Microscopic droplets in the air? We’re talking about kids who lick railings and handle everything they can reach from a shopping cart. Losing control is no longer the fear, but never regaining it. Safety becomes a stranger. Confidence that if we just know enough about this virus we can fight it slips away with every news update. Here we are, just a few weeks in and who knows how many weeks to go, and I can surely say I’ve failed this test already.
Persevere, moms, “as the snail to the ark.” (Charles Spurgeon) The ark is ahead. That great deliverance beyond the flood is ours, sealed by the trustworthiness of the Holy Spirit, and we inch forward according to the pace God sets for us. I’m praying for you.
Rehearsing for heaven happens when we obey God’s commands and it manifests like fellowship, exhortation, edification, comfort, mercy care, discipline, encouragement, and accountability. Surely the world will know who the choir members are—not by robes or vestments or matching outfits, but by our love for one another.
Basically, centuries of lip-serviced, watered-down exposure to the Bible does not mean that the people of those generations were spiritually alive, biblically engaged, or even necessarily biblically literate. In fact, there is even grounds for applying the theory of the frog and the boiling water. Years and years of syncretism and neglect heating up in a presumably “Bible friendly” environment has resulted in much of modern evangelicalism being caught in a scalding hot pot of decisionism, false teaching and apostasy.