Just Trust Me

But Jesus ignored their comments and said…”Don’t be afraid.  Just trust me.” —in the presence of the God in whom [Abraham] believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 

All who trust in him will praise him, while liars will be silenced—Then everyone will stand in awe, proclaiming the mighty acts of God, realizing all the amazing things he does. *

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Jairus had every reason to fear the worst.  Jesus’ delay in coming to his daughter’s deathbed had seemingly cost him his daughter’s life.  While Jesus had stopped to seek out a hurting woman in the crowd and give her his blessing, Jairus’ own daughter had died.  Messengers urged him not to trouble ‘the Teacher’ further. It was no use.  But Jesus reassured him otherwise: ‘just trust me’, and then shutting out the ridiculing crowd He proceeded to wake up Jairus’ daughter and return her to her overwhelmed parents!

Fear and doubt come naturally, and there are plenty of onlookers ready to confirm our worst fears and commend our reliance on somebody other than Jesus.  Trusting  God doesn’t always look practical or even sensible!  But let’s compare the outcomes.  Jeremiah paints a graphic word picture in Jeremiah 17.

The one who resists reliance on the LORD in favor of trusting human wisdom is rendered as impotent as a stunted desert shrub with no prospects beyond barren wilderness and desolate salt flats!  BUT, the one who turns a deaf ear to the clamor of the crowds and listens for the voice of the Spirit inviting trust and rest is like a tree growing on the river bank whose roots never lack for water, whose leaves never wilt and whose fruit is delicious!

Which will I be?  A withered desert shrub or a well-watered green sapling?!

May God, who sees our hearts, transform our doubts into God-confidence, and our fears into praise, as we follow Jesus’ cue and watch to see what He will do.

-LS

*Mk.5:36 NLT; Rom. 4:17 ESV; Ps.63:11 NLT; Ps.64:9 NLT; Jer.17:5-10

 

 

 

What will you give me?

Abram said…”I have lifted my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth, that I would not take a thread or a sandal strap;  or anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich’.  

Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.

O Lord God, what will you give me?

Your very own son shall be your heir…number the stars…so shall your offspring be.

And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.’

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God  

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ—He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  

I have given them your word … I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one … I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” 

So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future–all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s—And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen. 

Gen.14:22-23; 15:1-2, 4-6 ESV; Lk.15:31 NIV; Eph. 2:6-8 NIV; Eph. 1:3 NIV; Rom 8:32 NASB; Jn. 14:27 NIV;  Jn. 17:14, 22, 26 NIV; I Cor.3:21-23 ESV; Phil.4:19-20 NASB

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Abraham got more than a son. He became the progenitor of the race through whom THE SON would come, and in believing God’s promise of blessing He got RIGHTEOUSNESS!  That same righteousness is ours as believers in the Son of God who gave His life to buy ours back.  He has come and will come again. In the meantime He resides in the hearts of those whose hearts have been touched by God’s grace to believe.  What will God give me?  He has given me Himself.  Is there something more that I need?

–LS

Lord, wean my heart from lesser things. Ps.131:2,3

 Give me Jesus by Fernando Ortega

Created to Cling

“As a belt clings to a person’s waist, so I created Judah and Israel to cling to me,” says the LORD.  They were to be my people, my pride, my glory–an honour to my name, but they would not listen to me.”

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 

…but you shall cling to the LORD your God just as you have done to this day. 

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 

And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of [all] who through faith…were made strong out of weakness…

I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live. … The LORD preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you. … What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD…

Jer.13:11 NLT; Mt.11:28 NLT; II Cor. 12:9 ESV; Joshua 23:8 ESV; I Cor.1:26-29 ESV; Heb 11:32-34 ESV;  Ps.116:1-2,6-7, 12-13 ESV

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So poignantly God calls us to himself, in our weakness, in our incompleteness, in our sin and shame. He calls us to cling to Him and find Him to be the Hero of our story, the strong one, the dependable one, the One who completes us. Our strengths are our biggest hazards, lest we lean on our own understanding and dismiss His as irrelevant.

Our weaknesses, though humbling, embarrassing, even disabling, are intended to drive us to Jesus where by faith we stand willing and able to do all that He asks of us.  Not everything we might want, not everything we see others doing, but everything He has designed for us to be for His glory’s sake. How does this change my goals and desires for change in this new year?

What if weakness is an asset, not a shame?

What if being a strong independent woman isn’t God’s goal for me?

What if my greatest struggles are His greatest opportunity to cultivate relationship with me?

Salvation is not a deal where God says– OK, I’ve rescued you from disaster and put you on your feet, now try again and see how you do.  Salvation is from start to finish by faith, by dependence on Jesus for the life God calls us to live.  It is an entrance into a new life altogether–a life in Christ, our strength and song, our everything for every need.

All Kudos to Him for all we are and have and will be in this new year.  Let’s never stop calling on Him.  Let’s never think we’ve grown beyond the need!

–LS

Come to Jesus–a beautiful call to come, all our lives long, to the One who is our starting and ending place in this life’s journey (Chris Rice)

Your Name–nothing has the power to save us but this One! (Paul Baloche)

As morning dawns and evenings fades,
You inspire songs of praise
That rise from earth to touch Your heart and glorify Your NameJesus, in Your Name we pray
Come and fill our hearts today
Lord, give us strength to live for You and glorify Your Name

Your Name is a strong and mighty tower
Your Name is a shelter like no other
Your Name, let the nations sing it louder
‘Cause nothing has the power to save
But Your Name

 

Do you hear what I hear? Maybe not?

“Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy, ‘Do you hear what I hear?
A song, a song, high above the trees with a voice as big as the sea…’

What exactly do people hear when the gospel is presented to them for the first time?  I guess it all depends on whether God has begun to open the eyes that satan has blinded and soften the hears that naturally harden toward Him with age.

This is a season of opportunity for the gospel but a hectic and often crushing one that blurs the Good News of God’s gift to mankind in the baby Jesus.  I sat at a banquet earlier this week attended by the motley crew of us who work at our local Thrift store.  Some of us are familiar with the Gospel, having found it to be Good News in our own lives.  Others are still holding it at arm’s length, or perhaps have never really heard it?   A speaker got up and talked about teamwork and community and worked his way round to sharing the essence of the Gospel.  And I wondered, what do people hear when the Gospel is spoken so clearly?  Does it even make sense?  That God is good and man is not and God sent Jesus to rescue us from a certain doom and make a way for us to enjoy peace with God… It’s bad news before it’s good news.  But it’s all so contrary to the way the world perceives and portrays God, if they acknowledge Him at all.  “Acts of God” include tornadoes and earthquakes, death and violent winds,  but Love?! Grace?!  Forgiveness?!  Somehow these go unsung.

In my reading this week, perhaps because I’ve been busy wrapping surprises, I keep seeing God’s gifts and His outrageous goodness.  Have a look with me:

And what a difference between our sin and God’s generous gift of forgiveness…Jesus Christ brought forgiveness to many through God’s bountiful gift. 

For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but we have the free gift of being accepted by God, even though we are guilty of many sins. 

…all who receive God’s wonderful, gracious gift of righteousness will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.  —Rom.:15-17NLT

 

… because of the surpassing grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! —II Cor.9:14-15 NASB

If the Good News we preach is veiled from anyone, it is a sign that they are perishing.  Satan, the god of this evil world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe, so they are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News that is shining upon them.  They don’t understand the message we preach about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.  —II Cor.4:3,4

Then I read this morning Paul’s continued prayer for the believers in Colosse.  Marveling at the love that already characterized their lives he prayed that they might have spiritual wisdom to live always in God-honoring ways.  And in that process they would come to know God better and better.  He also prayed that they would have endurance, fueled by the very power of God so that they might be

“filled with joy, always thanking the Father, who has enabled you to share the inheritance that belongs to God’s holy people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the one who rules in the kingdom of darkness, and he has brought us ino the Kingdom of his dear Son” 

God has purchased our freedom and forgiven all our sins (Col.1:14) through this Jesus whose birth we celebrate at Christmastime.  Paul spends the whole rest of  Colossians chapter  one extolling His virtues.  To know and love Him is life’s highest privilege and joy.

Do you hear what I hear?

May the joy of this Good News be a contagion to those we are near this Christmas-time!  Glory be to God in the Highest!

–LS

 

The Hero of our Stories

‘Tis the season to feel rushed and stressed and skip the things that matter most in favor of the things that ‘must get done’.  It’s December with its host of wonderful extras that need to be slipped into our schedules.  I haven’t made my ToDo list yet though a bright white sheet of paper sits at my side, clipped to a clipboard and ready for service.

I’m focusing on the bits before all that, taking tiny slow stitches to bind a baby quilt that will be mailed with no thought of Christmas,  just because a new granddaughter has been born…And while I stitched this bright winter’s morning I let someone else do my Bible reading for me.  [Have you tried ESV.org ?  It’s just a click away, on smart phone or computer. Simple to use and a nice change of pace.]

The concept that keeps coming back to me as I listen, whether in Psalms or the prophets, Job or Genesis or the books of the Law, is that God is everything.  He’s the Creator, the Provider, the Judge, the Saviour.  He’s the one who chooses, ordains, and equips.  He’s not interested  in our sacrifices and self-sufficiency as much as our dependency and gratitude.  He is the hero of our stories.  From the beginning He has fashioned us for Himself.  He created the man and the woman and made for them a garden from which to find food and meaningful work.  And He walked with them there. Everything was perfect as long as they depended on Him for everything and walked with Him day by day.  Trouble came when they thought themselves too clever for all that.  Maybe they were missing something?!  When they leaned on their own understanding everything came tumbling down.

Enter the Son of God, born as a Man, born to serve man’s greatest need.  God, serving man, again.  How strange.  But He has done it, He continues to do it for His own glory.  He asks that we take note of His good provision and offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving.  And when trouble looms that we call on Him to rescue us.  That’s all.  He’s the hero. We’re the rescued.  Then all we have and are and do will reflect back to His great glory.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” – Luk 2:14 ESV

Thoughts gathered from:  Genesis 2, Matthew 20, Psalm 50, Job 16, and the ordination of Aaron and sons in Leviticus 8. Some snippets follow…

Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ … even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mt. 20:15, 28 ESV

Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you; your burnt offerings are continually before me. … Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving…and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me…. The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” Ps.50:8, 14-15, 23 ESV

Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and he who testifies for me is on high. My friends scorn me; my eye pours out tears to God,  that he would argue the case of a man with God, as a son of man does with his neighbor. Job 16:19-21 ESV

As has been done today, the LORD has commanded to be done to make atonement for you. … And Aaron and his sons did all the things that the LORD commanded by Moses. Lev 8:34, 36 ESV

Whatever God has called you to today, do it gladly depending on Him and thanking Him for being everything you could possibly need to bring Him glory!

–LS

And don’t forget to check out www.esv.org ( :