Living as a Child of the King

I’m reading a great book entitled, Because He Loves Me.” by Elyse Fitzpatrick. In chapter five she speaks about our inheritance as a child of God and poses the question, do we live as a child of the King or are we still living as a stepchild? This got me to thinking about Ephesians chapter one where Paul tells us in verse 3 that we have received, “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” Paul goes on to tell us that, before the foundation of the world, He chose us in Him that we would be holy and blameless (v4). And that He predestined us to adoption as sons (and daughters) according to His will and grace (v5-6). He then proceeds to list out the blessings we have in Christ.

1. Redemption through His blood (v7)

2. Forgiveness of our trespasses according to His grace (v7)

3. Knowing  the mystery of His will (v9)

4. Obtaining an inheritance according to His purpose (v11)

5. Sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise (v14)

6. God’s own possession (v14)

Awesome right and He has done all of this for His praise and for His glory (v12). So then because of all of this, because we are now joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17), He wants us to live as His children, children of the King.

What would you say if I told you about a homeless man who walked the streets daily, going through the trash to find food, sleeping under park benches, dirty and unclean. You’d think how sad. But then what if I told you this man had recieved an inheritance of millions of dollars and this money was just sitting in the bank waiting for Him to use it. You’d think this man was crazy right? Sure, we all would. It would be insane to live as a homeless man when He didn’t have to. It would be crazy to scalvage for food when he could afford filet mignon. Ludicrus for him to sleep under park benches when he could have a huge home and servants.

Yet, isn’t this what so many of us as Christians do? According to Ephesians one, we have redemption, forgiveness, the Holy Spirit and we are God’s special possession. Yet, many of us live as if this isn’t true. In Romans 8 Paul explains this. He tells us in verse one, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Did you hear that, we are no longer under condemnation, we have been set free, we have been forgiven. There’s nothing the enemy wants more than to make you hold onto your past, to remind you of your mistakes and seek to rub your nose in it. Yet, you are forgiven. The Lord has forgiven you, you must forgive yourself!

Paul tells us in verse 12 that, “we are under obligation not to the flesh.” Yet how often do we live according to our flesh. This should not be. Paul says back in verse 9, “You are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the Spirit is alive because of righteousness (v10).”  We have not received a “spirit of slavery, leading to fear again, but a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, Abba! Father (v15)!” 

Oh if we could only grasp that the price has all been paid. It is finished just as Jesus said on the cross. We can’t earn our salvation it comes by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) And we can’t earn our holiness, we are given Christ righteousness. He has completed everything we need on the cross. Therefore, we don’t have to live under condemnation and we don’t have to live according to our flesh. Christ is alive, living in us. Let us not walk around living as stepchildren of God, acting as if we do not have an inheritance. Let us live as children of the King of Kings who are indeed joint heirs with Christ and have received every spiritual blessing needed to live for Him.

When it’s hard to hang on

Have you ever been discouraged and just ready to give up? I think if we are honest we have all been in such a place. Yesterday, this was exactly where I was. I woke up discouraged, praying in tears and just crying out for the Lord‘s help. Waiting on God has got to be one of the hardest things possible. Feelings of hopelessness and purposelessness do nothing for one’s self-esteem. So I spent the morning crying out to the Lord. On Mondays’ I attend a Ladies’ Bible study. So by 10 am I had gathered myself and prepared to go though I was anything but excited. See in this Bible study we are going through Beth Moore‘s study on James and yesterday the topic of conversation was none other than, “Consider it joy my brethren when you face trials of many kinds…. (Ja. 1:1). Not exactly the encouragement I was looking for. There are some verses in the Bible that are just hard, this is one of them. I wanted to wallow in my self-pity, not consider it joy.

Yet, the Lord who is rich in mercy knew exactly what I needed to hear. As the study began and she read the verse, I resisted an eye roll and really began to listen. She spoke of how in the Scriptures suffering or anguish are often seen together. If you look at John 16;20-22 you find a perfect example. It says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament but the  world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy. Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come, but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world. Therefore, you too have grief now, but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.”

Beth Moore went on to say that in the Scriptures you find anguish and joy coexisting as in James 1:2, you find anguish and joy trade places as in Is. 61:1-3 and then as in John 16, you find anguish turning into joy. Most often this last one is the case. As I sat there I thought of the time when we were forced out of the church we were pastoring and the pain that caused us, pain I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. It was a time of great anguish, but eventually the Lord turned it into joy by sending us to Korea for two years, a time I wouldn’t trade for anything.

She went on to say and to encourage those of us who are in the midst of anguish and heartache to just hold on, not to give up, not to quit. For if we quit or give up, we will miss out on what God has. Yet, if we just hold on, keep trusting, keep believing He will turn our anguish into joy. We will look back one day upon this season and understand what God was doing. But for now, hold on. That we may not have realized it, but we are in labor now, but joy is coming.

Wow, exactly what I needed to hear. So within that time, I went from eye rolling to blinking back tears. My day didn’t exactly get any easier but I kept thinking upon what she said and prayed for the grace and strength to just hold on. And the Lord blessed my socks off by hearing and answering prayers. He took me through a difficult day and then brought me joy.

I don’t know what you are going through. What anguish you are suffering. Yet, God does know. He does see, He does care. Cry out to Him, pour out your heart before Him. And just hold on, if only by your toe nails, hold on. He can and will turn your anguish into joy.

Because He loves Me………….

Have you ever tried to be holy? Have you ever wondered how God could tell us to do something we are not capable of doing? Everytime I come upon verses like Leviticus 19:2 which says, “Be holy because I the Lord your God am holy.” I think how is this possible. It’s impossible right? The word Holy means perfect, set apart, pure, basically without sin. So, how can we as sinful people be holy as the Lord is holy? Is this possible? Surely God wouldn’t tell us to do something we can’t do would He?

Exactly, it is impossible for us and it is something we can not do. We have been told to be holy as the Lord is holy. On our own this is impossible. But JESUS!! But Jesus has made a way not only for us to be forgiven of our sins, but also a way for us to be holy. Jesus blood cleanses us and declares us righteous. So that when God looks upon us He no longer see’s our sinfulness, He see’s the perfect, righteousness of Christ and He declares us Holy.

Awesome! Just as in our selves we can never do enough to earn forgiveness of our sins, we can never be good enough, perfect enough to be Holy. But Jesus! But Jesus cleanses us from our sins and makes us white as snow. But Jesus makes us righteous and holy in the sight of God.

“Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the Lord your God. Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the Lord, WHO MAKES YOU HOLY (Lev. 20:7-8).”

You see it is God who makes us Holy, He does it in us through Jesus. We can never keep all the laws and He knew this, which is why He sent Jesus. God is holy and He can not look upon sin. He knew we could never earn our salvation or forgiveness, which is why He sent Jesus. Jesus blood cleanses us and declares us Holy. Aren’t you thankful for the blood of Jesus!!

However, and I believe this is where most of us mess up, we are called to be Holy. This holiness comes through Jesus. Right now, if you have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ and repented of your sins, asking Him to be your Lord and Savior. Then you right now are holy in the sight of God. Yet, someone who has been changed by God, forgiven of sins and made righteous will desire to live for Him. Your life should and will look different from the lady down the street who doesn’t know the Lord. You will want to do the right things, you will talk differently, you will act differently. You will be different and though you and I will both fail each day and sin against God, our desire will be to be holy as He is holy. Our desire will be to live for Him.

As Christians we will fail, we will mess up and when we do we need to confess our sins and be made right with God. Yet, dear sister in the Lord’s eyes, you are forgiven, you are righteous, you are holy. Jesus did it, the price has been paid. As a child of God, the old has passed away and you are a new creation.

So for those of us who are trying to do all the right things and failing…. take comfort in God’s eyes we are holy.

Outside of the comfortable, outside of the camp…

“Therefore, Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For we do no have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.” Hebrews 13:12-14

I have been reading through Leviticus in my quiet time. This book is made up of list after list of laws and regulations that the Israelite people were to follow. As you read through this book, you will find references made again and again to those outside the camp. In chapter 13:46 we find that the leper or one with an infectious skin disease was considered unclean. Such a person was to live alone, outside of the camp. In chapter 16:27, we see that after an animal sacrifice was made, the bull and goat whose blood was brought into the Most Holy Place to make atonement, must be taken outside the camp and their hides and flesh were to be burned up. The camp was a safe place. This is where the Israelites lived, this is where the Tabernacle was set up, this is where the High Priest met with God and made atonement for sins.

To apply this to us, as Christians. Our camp is our safe place. Our camp is the church. I will be the first to admit how much easier it is to worship the Lord, live for Him and share about Jesus  in such a comfortable place. How often do we as Christians stick with our Christian friends. How many of us actually have lost friends? The truth is we often tend to isolate ourselves, wanting to stay in the camp. Yet, as I read the verse above, I am convinced this is not what pleases God. He tells us here that we are to go outside the camp.

So, what does outside the camp mean? If you think back to Old Testament times, you will find that danger awaited the Israelites outside the camp, risk of uncleanness awaited them, the enemies of the Israelites were outside the camp. Therefore leaving the camp was risky indeed. Today, the world is outside the camp. A world full of sinful, needy people. John Piper describes it this way. “Strangeness. Uncertainties. Drug dealers are outside the camp. Pimps and prostitutes are outside the camp. Unpredictable gangs are outside the camp. Your unbelieving colleague or neighbor or classmate is outside the camp. Some parts of the wilderness outside the camp are muddy and steamy, and some parts of the wilderness outside the camp are tall office buildings with oak-paneled offices and floor-to-ceiling windows. And outside the camp are all the unreached people of the world.”

Going to any of the above involves risk, risk of reputation, risk of rejection, risk of failure. “It may mean choosing places to live, places to work, places to minister, places to travel, people to help, ministries to do that are not safe from abuse and reproach(Piper)”.

This goes against a lot of our mainstream Christianity today. Many are fine with being Christian but many don’t want to deny self in such a way and would much rather stay inside the camp where it is safe and comfortable.  Yet, I believe this goes against what Jesus has called us to. He tells us to go outside the camp. If we are going to be obedient, this means we will go to the poor and the outcast.  Going outside the camp means getting outside your comfort zone and befriending those who are different from you, taking interest in the people you pass every day. Remember Jesus ate and associated with the unclean, the tax collectors and prostitutes. Why? “On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners (Mark 2:17). He expects the same from us. For others going outside the camp means leaving houses and lands and going to the mission field. Did you know that the most unreached people groups today live among the most hostile nations? Taking the Gospel to them involves much danger and risk, yet we are told to go.

I challenge you and myself. Let’s get rid of the comfortable and go outside the camp. This will mean something different for each of us. Yet, I believe as you seek the Lord and ask Him to show you what this means for you, He will let you know. For some it may mean going to the poor in your community, for others it may mean crossing the tracks into a dangerous area of town to share Jesus and for others it may mean taking the Gospel across oceans and lands. Yet, the Lord is pleased either way. He just calls us to go outside the camp. We must never forget that this is not our home. We are just passing through. Jesus did not call us to just accept Him as Savior. He died to save us and be our Lord. As Lord He calls us to go, not to be comfortable, and to take the Gospel to those outside the camp.

Only Believe

Do not be afraid any longer; only believe….” Luke 8:50

This verse has been going through my mind regularly ever since I read it the other day. Any moment I began to fret or grow anxious, the Lord brings this verse to mind. Again and again it has been put before me and encouraged me.

Now, I am not one for naming and claiming verses and certainly don’t want to take anything out of context. So, lets look together at the Scriptures this verse comes from. The story begins back in verse 40. Here we meet a man named Jarius who was an official of the synagogue. Now generally such people didn’t want anything to do with Jesus, most didn’t like Jesus because they were jealous. Yet, here we find Jarius falling at the feet of Jesus. The Scriptures say in verse 41 that he implored Jesus,  which means he begged Jesus urgently. This was a desperate man who desperately wanted Jesus to come to his house because his one and only daughter was sick and dying. Apparently based upon verse 22, Jesus agreed and they began walking together toward the home of Jarius.

However, along the way there is another one who is desperate for the help of Jesus. A woman whose name we don’t know, yet a woman I believe who had great faith. A woman who had heard the stories of all the miracles of Jesus and who too was desperate to be near Him. This woman had been bleeding or hemorrhaging for 12 years. Can you imagine how weak she must have been. How difficult it had to have been for her to press herself through the crowds, yet she was willing to do whatever it took to get to Jesus. As Jesus was walking to Jarius home, the woman came up behind him and touched just the hem or the fringe of Jesus garment. Now if you can picture this, you see a desperate woman willing to go to exceedingly great lengths to get to Jesus. For it says she touched the hem of his garment. Most believe she touched the hem or fringe that hung at the bottom of Jesus clothes. So if you can imagine, she must have not only pressed through the crowds, but as she got closer, she began to crawl toward the feet of Jesus. Once there the faith of this woman is shown as she reaches out and touches not Jesus, but his garment. She not only believed Jesus could heal her, she believed if she could just touch him, she would be healed. Which is exactly what happens. For when Jesus feels the power leave him, He knows one has touched Him and calls out to the crowds. The disciples think He is crazy, but the woman knowing she has been caught comes forward and Jesus says, “Daughter your faith has made you well, go in peace. (v48).” Truly amazing, yet the story isn’t over.

As Jesus is still speaking, someone from Jarius home comes and tells Jarius to no longer bother Jesus for his daughter is dead. I’m sure Jarius just breaks down in tears, but Jesus turns to him and speaks these words. “Do not be afraid any longer, only believe, and she will be made well (v 50).” Now, if I had been Jarius and had just been told my daughter was dead, I think I would be feeling pretty hopeless. What can be done now, He must have thought, yet Jesus says, don’t be afraid, only believe. So they continue on to Jarius house. When they get there Jesus allows only James, Peter and John to enter with Him along with the girls mom and dad and he tells them something I’m sure sounded crazy. He says stop crying, she is not dead, she is only sleeping and then he took her by the hand and says arise. The Bible says at once her spirit returned and she got up.

Both of these are amazing stories, stories where we see Jesus do great miracles, and experience amazing power. Yet, both occurred by the power of God because of the faith of both the woman and Jarius. They occurred to bring glory and honor to Jesus and to exalt Him. Both were desperate for Jesus and in hopeless situations. Both were impossible. The woman had been to countless doctors and no one could heal here. Jarius daughter is dead. Impossible situations, yet the woman is healed and the girl raised to life, because they believe.

Now, I am by no means saying that just because we believe, whatever we believe will happen. Yet, I am saying that the Lord blesses and does the miraculous through the faith of His own. The Bible makes it clear that “without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).” The Lord is pleased with our faith and does not want us to doubt Him or be afraid. All throughout the Gospels you find Jesus healing and doing the miraculous for those who believe. He blesses the faith of countless people.

So, despite what is going on in your life,  despite how impossible life may seem, how hopeless it feels, I implore you “Do not be afraid, only believe.” God is faithful, He cares for you and nothing is impossible for Him. No situation is too bleak or without hope. He’s at work, only believe and know that He too will bless your faith.

Delighting in God’s Word

booksDid you know the number one best seller of all time is the Bible? It is written in countless languages, is illegal in many countries and numerous are willing to die for this book. For it is so much more than a book, it is the living Word of God. So, why then do so many of us take it for granted? Shouldn’t we be passionate about God’s Word? Shouldn’t we love it and desire it above all else?

As I came to the end of my reading of Psalm 119, I found one who truly delighted in God’s Word, who desired it above all else. Take a look at this writer‘s desire and passion for the Word of God.

“My eyes anticipate the night watches, that I may meditate on Your Word (vs 148).”

Do you, do I anticipate reading the Words of God? Or do we take it for granted and only open it on Sunday for church? The writer here couldn’t wait to read the Word of God and anticipated hearing the Lord speak to him through His Word.

“My heart stands in awe of your words (vs 161).”

Do we stand in awe of God’s Word? We should, it is not again just a book, it is living and active, sharper than a double edge sword. There is power in God’s Word. The Word of God is what changes lives, convicts the lost and gives us the strength we need to face whatever comes our way. We should indeed stand in awe of it.

“I rejoice at Your Word as one who finds great spoil (vs 162).”

The writer here paints a wonderful picture. He sees the Word of God as a great treasure that when he finds, he rejoices over as if what he has found in priceless. And it is. We should rejoice over the Word of God. It is a treasure indeed and worth rejoicing over and sharing with others.

“Seven times a day I praise you, because of your righteous ordinances (vs. 164).”

Seven times a day the writer here says that He praises the Lord for His Word. How often do we thank God for His word? This was convicting, seven times a day. Wow, we should be ever thankful for the Word of God.

“Your law is my delight (vs. 174).”

What do we delight in? Do we delight in good books, movies, other people? I’m not saying any of the above are bad, but I would feel safe to say, that we should delight most not in such things or people, but we should delight in the Word of God.

Recently in another post I shared with you of  the pastors in China who tore apart the Word of God, dividing it into individual books because they didn’t have a Bible of their own. To them, this book was their delights, they were risking their lives to take with them this portion of Scripture, but to them it was worth the risk. I read one time also of another man who swam from North Korea to China just to obtain a Bible. This is not a small swim, he could have drowned or been shot dead had he been caught by his people, but it was worth it. The Word of God was that important to him. In Yemen, I heard tell once of a group of believers who would write in the smallest handwriting ever on the smallest piece of paper they could find God’s Word, then they would meet together secretly so they could memorize this portion of Scripture. Afterwards they would burn it or destroy it, for if caught with it, they would be killed or tortured. Yet, it was worth it, it was that important.

Are you catching a glimpse of the importance of God’s Word.

I pray the Lord would give me and you a passion and desire for His Word like these we have read of.

The Bible is not just another book, it is the living Word of God, it is something we should stand in awe of, rejoice in, give thanks for, anticipate reading and delight in.

If only

Two of the deadliest words for a believer to think upon are If only. For these words will lead even the sanest of Christians to doubt the Lord and His sovereignty. I recently began reading the book of Exodus in my daily quiet time. Today I came upon the passage when the Israelites come to their own If only moment. It says, “The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Dessert of Sin (appropriately named don’t you think) which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the month after they had come out of Egypt. In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, If Only, we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt. There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” (A bit dramatic, but don’t we all have such moments?)

Now if you have read the book of Exodus, you know that the Lord has just done amazing things in the sight of His people. They have plundered the Egyptians and marched out of Egypt boldly. They have walked across the Red Sea on dry ground and watched the Egyptians be swallowed up by the same sea. The Bible says that when they saw these things, they feared God and put their trust in Him. Yet here, we find them not long after grumbling and complaining because they are hungry and thirsty. They say if only we would have stayed in Egypt, if only we had stayed there we would have all the food we could want. Seemingly, they have forgotten the oppression that they were under.( Isn’t that just like us, how quick we are to forget and only remember the good.) They have forgotten how they had to make bricks with their own hands and even find their own straw to do it with. Yet, these same people who were once crying out for the Lord’s deliverance are the same ones who now say, If Only!!!! If only we would have stayed in Egypt, we would have been better off.

Before we are too hard on the Israelites though, how often do we find ourselves doing the same thing. When times are good we can boldly trust in the Lord. Yet, when problems arise we are quick to doubt and be afraid. We are quick to think on all the if only’s.

Today we missed our flight! We had tickets to return to Korea and our flight was set to leave at 8:55 am. By now, we would be somewhere over the Pacific headed for Japan. Yet, we did not feel when we left Korea that we were suppose to return. When we bought the round trip tickets, there was a large possibility that we would return, but things changed and we felt the Lord wanted us to go elsewhere. So, we left and came back to the States, believing that the Lord had a plan and a purpose for us leaving Korea and that He would show us what to do. However, 5 months later we don’t know much more than we knew then. So as you can imagine this morning when I woke up and thought about those tickets and the flight we were about to miss, I had many If Only moments. To myself I thought if only we would have stayed in Korea, or if only we were going back today as planned. If only that, then we wouldn’t be here still waiting on the Lord. Then we’d have a job and ministry to return to. We’d have a place to live and the kids would have their friends, if only, if only, if only.

Yet, if I let myself dwell here, I am headed for the pits of despair. I will crumble under these oppressive thoughts and want to quit on God. It’s easy to complain about our situation, it’s easy to doubt and be afraid, it’s easy to blame and second guess. And this is exactly what the enemy wants us to do. When he leads us to doubt God and His sovereignty, when he gets us to question the Lord, he’s got us right where he wants us and on top of it all, it’s sin.

So, thought my flesh wants to doubt and second guess. I will trust in the Lord. Though I don’t know what God is doing or why He had us to leave, I will trust in the Lord. Though He hasn’t shown us whats next, I will trust in the Lord. He is God, I am not. He does have a plan and it is far better than anything I could dream up. He is sovereign and in control, He does not make mistakes. I will trust in Him.

I don’t know what you are going through, but whatever it is, don’t beat yourself up thinking on the if only’s. God is sovereign and He is still on His throne. All the if only’s in the world will not change that. If your like me, you may only be holding on by a thread, only by the grace of God. You may not understand why, but I challenge you as I challenge myself, just hold on. He’s never early and never late, He’s always on time. His grace is sufficient and He will see you through. Praise be to Him.