God so loved

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I wonder why He came. I wonder why He left the glories of Heaven for this sin-darkened world.

But I don’t wonder long. I know why He came.

He came because He loves me (you, us).
He came because He wants to dwell with me. Forever.

Mankind has been taken hostage by sin.
Sin demands death. There can be no other way.
The death—rightly mine.

God so loved.
He made a plan for my redemption. A man must die, and only one Man could pay the price sin required.
And so, Christ came to die.

The implications are amazing.
If He had sinned just once we’d still be captives to sin.

But God so loved that He gave His only Son.
He didn’t sell Him to the world, He gave His Son.
And Christ became a willing sacrifice.

He paid the ransom for me.
Ransom’s goal is reunion.

And because He paid an infinite price….
Because He gave His life.
I know He wants a reunion with me.
And He’s paid all.

Because of this, I can live with Him. Forever.

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Treasure Life

I’d forgotten just how important it is to treasure life. That is, until this weekend.
No, I didn’t almost die. To my knowledge I didn’t even come close.

But someone else is. (A lot of someone else’s.) But specifically my aunt is dying.*

I saw her this weekend. And I watched those nearest her deal with the knowledge that she won’t be here much longer.

The family? Some are resigned, some hoping for the best. And the others?
They struggle.

I can’t imagine what it must be like for Grandma and Grandpa to know their much-loved middle child is dying.
But I watch, and it’s tearing them apart.

I can’t imagine what it’s like for my other aunts and uncles to lose a sister, to watch her die a slow death, and to know that if her heart stops they’re not calling 911.
But I watch, and they support each other while grieving the loss of a dream.

And my dad? The one who flew hundreds of miles to see his sister one more time before she’s gone….
I watch—he’s grieving too.

I watch them all.
I hear them wonder how they’ll get through this. Me, the lone person under the age of 49 that is present.

I hardly know this aunt. I hardly know this family.
Brokenness does this to a family. Living across the country from the rest of the family does this too.

But she is family. And I’m learning that those family ties are strong and this heart hurts. For those who are left, who have to deal with loosing their child, their sister.

I wish they knew Jesus more.
I wish they found Him to be a true and faithful Friend.
I wish they knew His comfort.

The fragility of life is amazing.
The gift of family is precious.
The peace and trust that comes from knowing God is priceless.

Friends, treasure life.

It’s fragile. Here one moment, gone the next.
And it’s always a gift from God.

Life isn’t given just so it can be merely lived. It’s given to be given away.

So, treasure life. And give it away.

* She has at least four different types of cancer in various parts of her body and at least 24 tumors in her brain. The doctor has given her only a few short weeks to live, which are almost up.

All Because of Love

Each time I come back to the cross I am amazed once again….

Why would an almighty God who could have simply created everything all over again choose to pay the ultimate price to rescue sinful humanity?

Why would He choose to give His only Son for those who have rejected Him?

Why would He choose to suffer the ultimate betrayal….from a friend, no less?

Why would He be willing to suffer humiliation, disgrace, rejection…for those who would never appreciate the cost?

Why would He choose to give up the riches of heaven, the presence of His Father….to be the poorest of the poor, ostracized and rejected.

For God so loved….

Such love is beyond my comprehension.

Such love brings me to wonder, time and time again.

Greater love hath no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends.

I’m learning that everything can find its way back to the cross.

I’m contemplating the cross more and more.

It should have been me. My sins are deserving of death.

Yet….

Because of Calvary I am forgiven….

Because Christ paid the price for my sins, death, I can live forever.

God was willing to give His only Son to die for me on a cross in the most humiliating, painful death possible…..

All because of love.

choices…character

For as long as I can remember I’ve heard and known this quote:

“The greatest want of the world is the want of men–men who will not be bought or sold,

men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as

true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.”

Education, page 57

But I’d never looked it up and read it in its context. But I did today…and this is what I found out.

This quote is located in an area where she is talking about the lives of great men…most notably Joseph and Daniel…and how they by their wisdom, justice, purity, benevolence, and self-sacrifice proved themselves true to the principles of their early training, true to Him whose representatives they were. Faithfully and steadfastly they yielded themselves to God and with their whole hearts sought to accomplish His purpose.

God wants to accomplish the same in our lives today. The story of Joseph and Daniel is an illustration of what He will do for those who yield themselves to Him and with the whole heart seek to accomplish His purpose. Our gifts are not our own, but are but lent treasures that belong to God and it should be our resolve to put them to the highest use. We each have a work to do for the honor of God and the uplifting of humanity.

But the following paragraph is what really impressed me:
But such a character is not the result of accident; it is not due to special favors or endowments of Providence.

A noble character is the result of self-discipline, of the subjection of the lower to the higher nature–the surrender of self for the service of love to God and man. 

Such a character…a character that cannot be bought or sold, a character that will stand for the right though the heaven’s fall, a character that is as true to duty as the compass is to pointing north, a character that does not fear to call sin by its right name…is not the result of accident but of self-discipline…of self-denial…of surrender…of service.

Our choices determine our character.

Grace

What is grace?

The World English Dictionary defines it as:

elegance and beauty of movement, form, expression, or proportion; a pleasing or charming quality; goodwill or favour; the granting of a favour of the manifestation of goodwill, especially by a superior; sense of propriety and consideration for others

And if you look further, they give a definition applicable to Christianity:

the free and unmerited favour of God shown towards man; the divine assistance and power given to man in spiritual rebirth and sanctification; the condition of being favoured or sanctified by God; an unmerited gift, favour, etc., granted by God.

The definition I’ve always known for grace  is that of unmerited favor. Favor which we are totally undeserving of, that we have done nothing to gain. Which is totally true. Grace is unmerited favor…but this morning when I looked up the meaning of grace in Romans 6:15 this morning I found a totally new meaning.

Strong’s Concordance defines grace as:

the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life.

My understanding of grace is changing. My understanding of death to sin is changing…for this is what

Romans 6:15 says to me, today.

What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the condemnation of the law,

but under the divine influence of God upon our hearts?

God forbid.

God is to be reflected in our lives.

Man, who has defaced the image of God in his soul by a corrupt life, cannot, by mere human effort, effect a radical change in himself. He must accept the provisions of the gospel; he must be reconciled to God through obedience to His law and faith in Jesus Christ. His life from thenceforth must be governed by a new principle. . . . He must face the mirror, God’s law, discern the defects in his moral character, and put away his sins, washing his robe of character in the blood of the Lamb. . . .

It is not the work of the gospel to weaken the claims of God’s holy law, but to bring men up where they can keep its precepts.  {AG 144}

 But the influence of a gospel hope will not lead the sinner to look upon the salvation of Christ as a matter of free grace, while he continues to live in transgression of the law of God. When the light of truth dawns upon his mind and he fully understands the requirements of God and realizes the extent of his transgressions, he will reform his ways, become loyal to God through the strength obtained from his Saviour, and lead a new and purer life.  {4T 295.1}

Dying to live

I’ve been contemplating death this weekend.

We all must die.

The consequence of sin is death; the forfeiting of our right to life for all eternity.

Yet, why do we sin?

God cannot and will not tolerate sin in any form, and He has made full and adequate provisions for cleansing and keeping from its impurity. Christ’s death meets the demands of a broken law. His blood cleanses from the defilement and impurity of sin. His power heals the wounds and diseases and deformities sin has caused.

We don’t have to sin, anymore.

Yet, we still do. Why?

It is because so many know little of the actual experience of dying in Christ His death, that they find it so difficult to live in Him His life. Christ’s power is our only hope of overcoming sin. His power is freely offered. However, undoubtedly the great difficulty with the majority of believers is that they are trying to live Christ’s life without first having died Christ’s death. They seem to have the notion that Christ died so that we need not die, and so through faith in Christ they hope to live without dying.

It is very plain from Paul’s words in Galations 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me”, that livings Christ’s life  of victory over sin continuously is dependent upon dying with Him daily. Making this death with Christ actual is the only way into a victorious life with Christ which is actual.

 

Yet, we fight death.

It hurts. Choosing to die to self hurts. And we try to avoid as much pain as we can.

But won’t dying eternally hurt even worse?

If Christ would live and reign in me,

I must die;

With Him I crucified must be;

I must die;

Lord, drive the nails, nor heed the groans,

My flesh may writhe and make its moans,

But in this way and this alone,

I must die.

When I am dead, then, Lord, to Thee

I shall live;

My time, my strength, my all to Thee

I shall give.

O may the Son now make me free!

Here, Lord, I give my all to Thee;

For time and for eternity

I will live.

~Unknown