Where are you?

Then the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”—For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.—What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? … And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’—All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, “Here I am, here I am,” to a nation that was not called by my name.  I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices—And while he was still a long distance away, his father saw him coming.  Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him…We must celebrate with a feast!

For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness—I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance—Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance—And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

Gen 3:9 NLT; Lk.19:10 ESV; Lk.15:4,6 ESV; Is. 53:6 ESV; Is. 65:1-2 ESV; Lk.15:20,23NLT; Ps.95:7-8 ESV; Lk.5:32 ESV; Lk.15:7 ESV; Rom.8:30 NLT

Where was Adam? He was wearing a fig leaf and hiding in the woods from the terrifying prospect of meeting God face to face after having disobeyed His one prohibition.  Everything had been so delightful, so innocent and free up until that point.  And now…what a mess! Shame, guilt, and terror had displaced the bliss of sharing life with the Creator. His presence had morphed from delight to terror. But God came calling, giving Adam opportunity to own his sin, to acknowledge his rebellion, to come clean and face the consequences.  This was no game of hide and seek.  Adam may have lost sight of God, but God hadn’t lost sight of him.

God could have left him in hiding helplessly entangled with the powers of darkness.  He could have let him wander back to the tree of life to eat and live forever lost, damned, shut out from God’s presence for eternity. But God came seeking,  “Adam, where are you?”  Desiring to know and be known, desiring to share Life with His prized creation, desiring to redeem, God came calling.

Where am I?  Where do I run when I have sinned and the guilt and shame of it are more than a fig leaf can cover?  Where am I? When sin has won the day and Satan lurks gloating? When guilt and shame and raw rebellion urge me to run and hide,  to seek relief where it can never satisfy, to make excuses or to hunker down in self-pity…

Where am I?

Thanks be to God for coming to seek and to save, I am in Christ.

I have been adopted by this good Father who knows and loves anyway, who sees all but declares me “holy and blameless and above reproach before him”.

Where am I?  I am right here in His Beloved Son.

Arise, my soul, arise,
shake off your guilty fears:
the bleeding Sacrifice
in my behalf appears:
before the throne my Surety stands,
before the throne my Surety stands,
my name is written on his hands.
My God is reconciled;
his pard’ning voice I hear;
he owns me for his child,
I can no longer fear;
with confidence I now draw nigh,
with confidence I now draw nigh,
and “Father, Abba, Father!” cry.
–Charles Wesley (1742)

–LS

Here I Live to Worship…

When Christ came into the world, he said to God,“You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings. But you have given me a body to offer.”—He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach–if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard…

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true and proper worship.—I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.—And do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them—For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.—Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.

Heb.10:5 NLT; Col. 1:22-23 NASB; Rom.12:1 NIV; Gal.2:20 NIV; Rom.6:13 NASB; Rom. 12:6 ESV; Eph.2:10 NASB; Col 2:6-7 NASB

Just as I am though tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt.
Fightings and fears within, without, O Lamb of God, I come.  I come.

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind; sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need, in Thee I find, O Lamb of God, I come.  I come.

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive, wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come.  I come.*

Me, myself, and I seems a paltry offering for the King of Kings.  And yet because of Jesus I can give my life to do His bidding gladly, boldly and humbly all at once.  Because Jesus died freely in a fully human body, by faith I in turn can offer this body with all its life energy and quirks and strengths to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and know that He is pleased.

I don’t have to be a Handel offering an oratorio, or a brilliant scientist, or an eloquent apologist in order to bring God acceptable worship.  I just need to live out what He’s instilled in me–this human vessel designed to bring Him pleasure. The very act of submitting my life to His Lordship brings Him great glory; for this I was created.  Any glory that shines from our beings and doings is glory He put there to reflect His own.  

And so, as one made alive from the dead and freshly aware of the incredible privilege it is to be brought near Almighty God, here I live to worship.

Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yous.  Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all.  Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.  And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name!**

–LS

*Charlotte Elliott (1789-1871)
**I Chronicles 29:11-13

Who rules my heart?

For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. … Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! 

Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. 

To whom do I turn in distress?  This tells me something about who’s the king of my life. There are options…

He makes an idol and bows down and praises it!…He falls down in front of it, worshiping and praying to it.  “Rescue me!”  he says.  “You are my god!”… Yet he cannot bring himself to ask, “Is this thing, this idol that I’m holding in my hand, a lie?”  

My idols are not carved from wood. They’re harder to recognize.  Where do my fears drive me?  What lies do I live by?

And the LORD…delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and you lived in safety.  And when you saw that Nahash the king of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ when the LORD your God was your king. 

And the LORD said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them”.

But only One brings the counsel, the deliverance, and the PEACE that I most need.

If the peace that passes understanding is not ruling in my life today I had better  consider who is holding the reins of my heart.  Am I hanging on tight for a semblance of control?  Am I trusting in my own ability to figure things out, to get on top of things, to  ‘grow up’ and ‘get over’ pre-occupation with myself?  Where am I turning for answers, for relief, for escape!? May it be only Jesus.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given…and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

Jesus is the only rightful Lord of the human heart, by right of Creation and Redemption.  All knees will bow to Him in the end. But in the meantime He leaves with us the choice of allegiance and its consequences. Self, sin and Satan jockey to be that potentate.  They are tyrants promising life but bringing doom.  Only as we yield to Jesus’ rule, dying to self’s demands and yielding to His Spirit’s governance moment by moment will we find rest for our souls and peace of mind in a world at war with God.  

Our Lord Jesus Christ…the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords…

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 

Ps. 95:3, 6; Ps. 5:2; Is. 44:15,17,20; I Sam. 12:11-12; I Sam. 8:7; Is. 9:6; Phil. 4:6-7; Col 3:15; I Tim. 6:15 KJV; [ESV unless otherwise noted]

–LS

Good beginnings and Epic endings!

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth—Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?…The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable—In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God—For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him…And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.

And he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised…. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly…The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance—And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new”…  And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.”

Who has done such mighty deeds, directing the affairs of the human race as each new generation marches by?  It is I, the LORD, the First and the Last.  I alone am he—But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hand—And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Gen 1:1 ESV; Is. 40:21, 28 ESV; Jn.1:1,2 ESV; Col. 1:18 ESV; II Cor. 5:15,17 ESV; II Pet.3:7,9 ESV; Rev 21:5-6 ESV; Is.41:4 NLT; Ps. 31:14-15 ESV; Phil.1:6 ESV

What are the implications of God being both beginning and ending of all that we are and all that we know?  Clearly our lives are His rightful domain.  Subjects of this King are in good hands for He is immeasurably mighty, incomprehensibly wise, and unimaginably good. The most blissful of fairy tale endings can’t compare to life in His coming Kingdom.  In the meantime, we can trust Him for the rest of the story when the page turn isn’t what we expected and when all our wishes are not granted, not yet anyway. 

While the world slides into rebellion and confusion (the two inevitably go together) we can know that God’s decrees are sure. Cultures and the individuals that shape them may flaunt or embrace God’s design, but they cannot escape its reality. There will be an accounting.  God will preside.  May our stories reflect the glory of life as He intended it to be in such a way that others will be drawn to bow to our Good King and find in Him a new beginning and an epic ending!
–LS

Light from first to last

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light—And you shall command the children of Israel that they bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to cause the lamp to burn continually.  In the tabernacle of meeting, outside the veil which is before the Testimony, Aaron and his sons shall tend it from evening until morning before the LORD—“As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”—In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ—“You are the light of the world–like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.”—But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day—for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.

And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb—They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.  And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever—For it is you who light my lamp; the LORD my God lightens my darkness.

Gen 1:3 ESV; Ex. 27:20-21 NKJV; Jn. 9:5 ESV; Jn. 1:4-5 ESV; II Cor. 4:6 ESV; Mt.5:14 NLT; Prov. 4:18 ESV; Eph. 5:8 ESV; Rev 21:23 ESV; Rev 22:4-5 ESV; Ps. 18:28 ESV

From first to last God brings light into a dark world.  We are creatures made to live in the light.  It is no wonder we love the lengthening days of spring, the glory of a sunrise, the glow of candlelight, and the play of light on water.  Darkness, no matter how pervasive, frightening or confusing cannot last.  It must give way before the Light of the World. 

Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most blessèd, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, Thy great name we praise.
–Walter Smith, 1876

–LS