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 ( :

Chosen for Joy

Before we knew we were lost, we were sought.  Oblivious to our rebellion we were known and longed for.  Our Saviour’s coming was in the works before we were born…God’s great grace is phenomenal.  His love is beyond our comprehension and yet, by His Spirit He unveils Himself to us.

I am reading in Jeremiah this morning God’s pleading words to His children, His bride:

“Have I been like a desert to Israel?  Have I been to them a land of darkness?  Why then do my people say, ‘At last we are free from God! We won’t have anything to do with him any more!'” 

In exchanging their glorious God for worthless idols,  and forsaking the Fountain of Life for hand-dug worthless cisterns they had  chosen for themselves a desperate bondage worse than the first.

But God…

…being rich in mercy reveals Christ, a baby come into the world to seek and save the lost, the clueless, the blind…sent to serve as a ransom, to buy back the rebel who will turn like a child and believe, marvelling at the Son who has been given for his redemption.

There was no other hope.

“Who can create purity in one born impure? No one!” (Job)

“No amount of soap or lye can make you clean.  You are stained with guilt that cannot be washed away.  I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken!”

But God made a way. We glimpse it this advent season in the baby lying in a manger in the dark of night unknown as yet to all but a few…but the match has been struck, the light shines…and the Good News will spread. The undeserving will find themselves chosen for joy.  The lost will be found.  The far from God will be brought near through His Son.

“Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come fearlessly into God’s presence, assured of His glad welcome.”

This is a glad welcome I want to live in, a love I want to know more deeply than I now dare to believe.  This is my prayer for you and me both this advent season:

“May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvellous love.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is…then you will be filled with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”

–LS

Thoughts based on: Luke 19:10; Mk.10:45; Jeremiah 2, Job 14:4, Matthew 18:3; Eph. 3:12,17-19NLT

 

Kept for Jesus

To those who are called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ

…for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. —I am coming to you, Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one… now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves…I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one—who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.—So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.—As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.  If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love.  

And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”—For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 

But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. —But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. 

Jude 1:1; Jn.16:27; Jn.17:11,13,15; I Pet.1:5; Jn.17:26; I Jn. 4:16; Jn.15:9,10; Gal 4:6; Rom.8:15; Jude 1:20,21;  II Pet. 3:13-14 ESV; Jude 1:24,25 (ESV)

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Sunday’s message was based on the book of Jude—an intense one-page letter of reminder and warning sandwiched at beginning and end with reassurances of God’s keeping power.  It reads like an ultra-condensed guide to Scriptural and Apocraphal examples of rebellion.  Cain is here, and Balaam.  Korah and the desert-wandering Israelites.  But this is no dry history lesson. It’s embellished with stirring metaphors: hidden reefs at your love feasts, shepherds feeding themselves, fruitless trees in late autumn, wild waves of the sea casting up the foam of their own shame. And Jude’s words are laden with potent name-calling: “These are grumblers, malcontents…loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.” Whew!  Jude is intent on getting his reader’s attention. 

What is his appeal?  Contend for the faith you hold. Don’t let it be subverted by teachers who model sensuality and have rejected Jesus as their Master.  It’s not ok to follow your instincts, to run with your natural inclinations, to set yourself up as the authority on the good life.  The antidote?  Build yourselves up in your most holy faith.  Pray in the Spirit’s power, and keep yourselves in the love of God. 

This love that has bought our redemption at the cost of His own Son has also laid out the pathway to JOY—a life-time of walking by the Spirit in the path of His commands. Jesus modeled this for us and now empowers us to do it.  And lest we succumb to the short-cuts to ‘joy’ that our flesh regularly suggests, Jude closes with a stirring doxology.  For our greatest joy will be standing blameless in God’s glorious presence at last! This was Jesus’ request for us, the Spirit is the guarantor and the Father is honored to grant it.  We are indeed ‘kept for Jesus’.  I love that!

Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ…

*Jn.17:24, Rom. 5:2, Tit. 2:11-13 (ESV)

He Will Hold Me Fast–Keith and Kristyn Getty: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=936BapRFHaQ

Good and Perfect in every way–the gifts that keep on giving

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you—Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, … The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change—For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer 

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God—while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift! 

Ps.139:17-18; Ps.103:2,8; Ja.1:17; I Tim. 4:4-5; II Cor. 9:10-11; II Cor. 9:14-15 (ESV)

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God’s gifts are gifts that keep on giving.  Given, received, passed on, rebounding in gratitude to God who by His nature is a Giver… Our family is celebrating a new addition this week–wee Tiffany–joining her cousin, Jaxon, also gifted to our family this year, for God’s great glory and our delight( : 

May they grow up to gratefully acknowledge their Creator and so to bring Him great glory in their generation! 

Happy Thanks-giving to all who have known God’s good and perfect gifts this year.

–LS

 

 

The One worth following

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. —As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance changed so that his face shone like the sun…a bright cloud came over them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my beloved Son, and I am fully pleased with him.  Listen to him.— ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.’

We have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession…Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”—Take my yoke and learn from me—Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

Make me know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation.

Jn.1:4 ESV;  Mt.17:2,5 NLT; Heb.4:7 ESV; Heb.4:14,16 ESV;   Jn.6:68,69 ESV; Ps.25:4,5 ESV; Mt.11:29 ESV; Mt.16:24 ESV