Living In The Light…

“I want to be in the Light as You are in the Light…”  Can you name that tune?  YES!  It’s “In The Light” from dc Talk’s CLASSIC 1995 album, Jesus Freak!  It is one of my favorite dc Talk songs, second to the title track from that album.  “…what will people think when they hear that I’m a Jesus freak, what will people do when they find that it’s true!?!”  Okay, yeah.  I could go chasing a major rabbit trail there!  (But it’s throwback Thursday, so I could technically get away with it…right?)  What’s the point of mentioning this?  In Proverbs 4, the path of those who pursue wisdom is likened to the shining light.  And I couldn’t help but sing… “Oh, Lord be my Light and be my salvation, cause all I want is to be in the Light!”

That said, day six is Proverbs 4:10-27…

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“10 Hear, my son, and accept my sayings and the years of your life will be many.  11 I have directed you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in upright paths.  12 When you walk, your steps will not be impeded; and if you run, you will not stumble.  13 Take hold of instruction; do not let go.  Guard her, for she is your life.  14 Do not enter the path of the wicked and do not proceed in the way of evil men.  15 Avoid it, do not pass by it; turn away from it and pass on.  16 For they cannot sleep unless they do evil; and they are robbed of sleep unless they make someone stumble.  17 For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.  18 But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day.  19 The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.  20 My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings.  21 Do not let them depart from your sight; keep them in the midst of your heart.  22 For they are life to those who find them and health to all their body.  23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.  24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth and put devious speech far from you.  25 Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.  26 Watch the path of your feet
And all your ways will be established.  27 Do not turn to the right nor to the left; turn your foot from evil.”

PROVERBS 4:10-27, NASB

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Hear, my son, and accept my sayings and the years of your life will be many.  The path of those who intentionally pursue godly wisdom does not just lead to maturity in life on this earth but the incomprehensible (because it’s better than life) ultimate reality of eternal life in heaven with God never to be separated from Him.   “But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23, NKJV).  Did you catch the “fruit to holiness” statement?  Our eternal destiny– where we’re going– ought to be reflected in our daily journeys as a testimony to it.  If I am planning to go to Swaziland again, I wouldn’t hitchhike out to the Midwestern United States.  I would get a plane ticket and head eastward across the Atlantic to South Africa!

I have directed you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in upright paths.  When you walk, your steps will not be impeded; and if you run, you will not stumble.  In other versions “upright paths” is sometimes translated “straight paths.”  Hmm, where have we heard that before?  A couple of verses earlier, we learned that this “straight path” is one of trust…and not of self-confidence but of the truest trust, confidence in the LORD (See Proverbs 3:5-6).  It is not that we won’t be impeded when we walk nor stumble when we run because it’s an easy journey or because of our ability to keep ourselves from such.  No!  It is because our God is our capable Guide!  He lights our footsteps even though a world of darkness fights to encompass us.  He is the true Light in whom is life (John 1:1-9)!

Take hold of instruction; do not let go…The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.  The wicked don’t act wickedly on accident.  They engage in wickedness deliberately…they thrive from doing wicked things (v.17).  And they aren’t happy to do it all by themselves.  “They are robbed of slumber till they make someone fall” (v.16b).  Ever heard the saying, “misery loves company”?  Well, it is somewhat true because misery just doesn’t love any kind of company…misery loves miserable company!  There are even those who aren’t happy about themselves unless they’re putting someone else down.  Know someone like that?  Perhaps guilt won’t let them find rest, so they convince themselves with excuses that they’re not really all that bad because someone else is worse.  Sin is still sin.  It doesn’t matter if it’s “more” sin or “less” sin, the payment remains the same for sin… it’s death.

My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings.  Do not let them depart from your sight; keep them in the midst of your heart.  For they are life to those who find them and health to all their body.  A continuous reminder of the pertinent plea to pursue the Kingdom of Jesus Christ and His righteousness.  Lord knows it’s not always easy, however, it is more than worth it!    

Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.  Put away from you a deceitful mouth and put devious speech far from you.  Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.  Putting away perversity from our mouths, keeping corrupt talk from our lips, letting our eyes stay fixed upon Christ, etc. are all indications of our hearts!  Our hearts and the lives we live (our attitudes, actions, etc.) as a result MUST be set on and pleasing to Jesus Christ.  We cannot do this without the Spirit of God working within us.

Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established.  Do not turn to the right nor to the left; turn your foot from evil.  This is a motto for blameless living.  Stay the course, fight the good fight and keep on fighting, trust in the Lord and keep on trusting.  Don’t depart from it.  The paraphrase of Psalm 119:1-16 in the Message gives us a good prayer to pray as we’ve been called out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9)…

You’re blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God.  You’re blessed when you follow His directions, doing your best to find Him.  That’s right—you don’t go off on your own; you walk straight along the road He set.  You, God, prescribed the right way to live; now You expect us to live it.  Oh, that my steps might be steady, keeping to the course You set; then I’d never have any regrets in comparing my life with Your counsel.  I thank You for speaking straight from Your heart; I learn the pattern of Your righteous ways.  I’m going to do what You tell me to do; don’t ever walk off and leave me.  How can a young person live a clean life?  By carefully reading the map of Your Word.  I’m single-minded in pursuit of You; don’t let me miss the road signs You’ve posted.  I’ve banked Your promises in the vault of my heart so I won’t sin myself bankrupt.  Be blessed, God; train me in Your ways of wise living.  I’ll transfer to my lips all the counsel that comes from Your mouth; I delight far more in what You tell me about living than in gathering a pile of riches.  I ponder every morsel of wisdom from You, I attentively watch how You’ve done it.  I relish everything You’ve told me of life, I won’t forget a word of it.

Victoria

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All I’ve Ever Needed

I was reading in Revelation.  As I came to the final chapters, I did a double-take.  Within the span of eight verses virtually the same statement is made twice.

“But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.  The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it.  The Lamb is its light.  And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.  Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there).  And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it.  But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causesan abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.  In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each treeyielding its fruit every month.   The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.   And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.  They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.  There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light.  And they shall reign forever and ever” (Revelation 21:23-22:5).

This was John’s description of the New Jerusalem as the Lord Jesus Christ revealed it to him.  How profoundly it must have astounded John!  I mean for him to mention it more than once sounds like it’s pretty important to me.  I see such an emphatic reiteration as sort of being like when your mama is trying to get your attention so she uses both your forename AND middle name.  You know?

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The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it.  The Lamb is its light… There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light.

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There is no need, NO NEED, of anything other than Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God!  Are our lives a reflection of this truth?  Is there no need of anything other than Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God in our lives?  If we are not sure we could answer that question how we would like to, what might be keeping us from doing so?  Why is that or are those things keeping us from being able to say that there no need of anything other than Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God in our lives?  How could we ensure to live more and more as there is no need of anything other than Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God in our lives?

I would encourage you to spend time with the Lord Jesus Christ in prayer and in the Word, seeking Him.  Praise Him for graciously and mercifully revealing Himself.  Tell Him your heart, that you are or want to be desperate to live more and more as there is no need of anything other than Him in your life.  And thank Him.

Blessings,

Victoria

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three days silent

How long could you go without hearing from a loved one?  If you’re anything like me, it’s probably not for long.  Even the thought of such a separation makes my heart sink.  I was taken aback by a lyric in Lacey Sturm’s latest song, “Mercy Tree”, which I’d like to share with you:  “Three days silent in the ground, this body born for heaven’s crown”.  The song is about Calvary– the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.  This lyric pertains to the time in between Christ giving up His spirit when He breathed His last upon the cross (Matthew 27:50, Mark 15:37, Luke 23:46, John 19:30) and Christ rising again when He left the grave empty, securing life (Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20).

three days silent

Oh, how the hearts of those who loved Jesus Christ must have sunk in the        d e s p e r a t i o n   o f   e n d u r i n g   t h a t   s i l e n c e.  I had never deeply pondered what that must have been like before…until now.  It must have been THE longest three days ever!  What a mix of emotions His loved ones must have experienced!  Sadness.  Anguish.  Heartache.   Anticipation.  Yearning.  Fear.  Doubt.

After the Sabbath past, the women among Jesus’ disciples had prepared spices to bring to the grave, intending to anoint the lifeless body of Christ.  However, Christ was not lifeless but rather the absolute opposite!  They approached the grave and “[t]he angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified.  “He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.  “Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you” (Matthew 28:5–7, NASB95).  Just as He said.  You see, Jesus knew that those three days of silence were coming before they came:  “Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day” (Matthew 16:21, NASB95).  He promised that the silence would not last!  And that is good news indeed!

Astonishment!  Hope!  Joy!  Relief!  Delight!  Peace!  Comfort!  Isn’t that what you’d experience in reuniting with a loved one after being apart?  Well, reuniting with Jesus Christ is all that magnified an infinite number of times!  How do I know?  I’m glad you asked…

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“On a hill called Calvary, stands an endless mercy tree, every broken weary soul , find your rest and be made whole” (Mercy Tree, Lacey Sturm).

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Christ was crucified and resurrected for you and me!  Oh, what a truly bright and glorious day!  Christ conquered death and secured life for those who believe in Him!  This is the reason He came, born of a virgin as it is written, that you and I would never have to be apart from Him!  It was His good pleasure to reconcile us to Himself and give us eternal hope through His sacrifice, the shedding of His blood, on our behalf (Colossians 1:19-23)!  Praise Him for the mercy tree!

Reconciled To Christ, Never To Be Apart From Him!

Victoria

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That our souls may live…

“Give ear and come to Me; hear Me, that your soul may live” (Isaiah 55:3, NIV84).

How do we receive the Word of God?  Longing?  Hungering? Thirsting? Seeking? In amazement?  In expectancy?  In acceptance? In gratitude?

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.  In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.  The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:1-5, NASB95).

The ONLY way that our souls may live is in the Light of Life– Jesus Christ.  Apart from Him our souls are in darkness– irremovably stained with sin, blinded from the truth, owned by death, helpless and hopeless.  BUT because of Jesus Christ, “full of grace and truth”, our ears may hear and our eyes may be opened and our souls may live!

Our Hope came…

Showing His kindness to…

Though He did not have to…

But knowing we needed Him to…

That our souls may live.

Do not ignore the Light, my friends!  He is Life!  Open your ears and hear, open your eyes and see that the great Grace and Truth of Jesus Christ is too precious to not long for, to not hunger for, to not thirst for, to not seek, to not be amazed of, to not be in expectancy of, to not be in acceptance of, to not be in gratitude of!

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“And it’s all because of YOU, JESUS, it’s all because of YOU, JESUS, it’s all because of YOUR LOVE, that my soul will live” (“Scandal of Grace”, United).

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My Soul Lives,

Victoria

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Lacey Sturm’s Ransom Note

Thank God for Jesus Christ, through whom God demonstrates His own love toward us (Romans 5:8, NASB95)!  While we– all of us— were yet sinners– unrighteous, unholy, letting the pride of our hearts keep us from trusting God and knowing His Salvation, having hatred toward Him– He sought to love us!  “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures.  We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.  But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared,  He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.  He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:3-7, NIV84).  May we know the reality of God’s love for us today, knowing that it is His pleasure to ransom us…it is His pleasure to be the Ransom for us!  He doesn’t want us to be held back by the hatred and pride of our hearts– He doesn’t want us to continue on and die in our sins!  May we truly understand the beauty and greatness of Christ’s lovingkindness, grace, and mercy and live as heirs who have been ransomed by Him and who have the hope of eternal life!

Victoria

The Valley of Decision

I love (“sports love” that is) Football!   Now you have to understand that I am talking about US Football here.   The National Football League (NFL) has done a great job of captivating our attention and gaining market share not just during the 16 week football season, but now even into the Spring with all of the attention on the NFL Draft.   It is fascinating to see how something like the NFL draft which used to happen almost behind the scenes has become a passion for football fans beginning literally the day after the Super bowl.    This attention on the NFL draft has also had a side effect of bringing even more attention to college football players as everyone is determining who the right players are for “their team”.

As I was watching the NFL draft last week I couldn’t help but notice all of the decisions being made.  Each team had to decide:

  • Which player they should draft…
  • Who is the “best available athlete”…
  • Should they even draft a player or trade their spot to another team for a different selection spot…
  • They had to decide when in their allotted time where they going to announce their decision as well…

Not only did the teams need to make decisions, but the fans each had to make decisions about what they thought of the selections…would they “cheer” or “boo” the decisions made by their team.    The networks had to decide how they were going to present the draft, which players they were going to highlight, which commentators were going to be on location in New York City, how much they were going to sell advertising time for.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions….it’s always about decisions!

Thinking about this reminded me of Joel 3:14 in the Old Testament which states “…Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!   For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision…”.    Joel is not referring to a career related decision, or “best available athlete” decision, he is talking about an ETERNAL decision.

The Bible is filled with examples of decisions that people had to make:

  • Adam and Eve had to decide if they would obey GOD or eat the fruit from the forbidden tree.   (Genesis 3)
  • Cain had to decide how he would treat his brother Abel.  (Genesis 4)
  • The people of Noah’s day had to decide if they would listen to the call for repentance or take their chances swimming outside of the ark.    (Genesis 7)
  •  Joshua told the Israelites to decide “…whom [they would] serve…”   (Joshua 24:15)
  • David had to decide if he would attack the Giant or cower in fear.   (1 Samuel 17)
  • Esther had to decide if she would take a stand for what’s right or let her people die.   (Esther 5)
  • Blind Bartimaeus had to decide if he would cry out to Jesus or sit back quietly.  (Mark 10:48)
  • The Ethiopian had to decide if he would take help from Phillip or if he would let his pride get in the way.    (Acts 8:26-40)
  • King Agrippa had to decide if he would believe the testimony of Paul or if he would stay in his traditions.   Unfortunately, King Agrippa was only “almost persuaded”.   (Acts 26:28)

Earlier in chapter 3, Joel talks about this “valley of decision” occurring in the “the valley of Jehoshaphat” where the Bible tells us the nations will be judged.   The word Jehoshaphat in this context literally means “The Lord will Judge”.    This judgment will be based on the ETERNAL decision that each of us make.

Scripture is very clear.   We are reminded by Paul that ALL have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.  (Romans 3:23)    The Bible also tells us that there is only one way to get to Heaven…and that way is through Jesus Christ.   (John 14:6)  One of the most well known Bible verses is John 3:16 which tells us  “…For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him…”.   Every one of us must make the decision that will determine our eternal destination.   Either we will decide to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior or we will decide to reject HIM.    The decision is actually pretty simple, if we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior we will be forgiven of our sins and we will be a new creation (2 Cor 5:17) with a future heavenly destination of Heaven.   If we decide to reject Jesus Christ as our Savior we will remain unrepentant sinners with a future eternal destination of Hell.

You may be thinking, “but how do I decide to accept Jesus as my Savior? “, “Can He really forgive me?”  The bible makes us a promise found in John 1:12 where we are told “…But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name…”     This means that if you believe and accept that JESUS is the Son of GOD who died on the cross for your sins and rose from the grave you have the right to become children of God.

Maybe you are thinking, “how can Jesus love me….you don’t know what I’ve done?”    Know that JESUS does love you and is waiting with open arms for you to make your decision.  In fact in Matthew 11:28, Jesus says “…Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened…”    Notice he doesn’t put any conditions on it, HE loves you and is waiting for you to decide to come to HIM!

Finalizing this critical decision is a straightforward process:

  • Admit that you are a sinner who is in need of JESUS CHRIST to be your Savior.  Everyone one of us are sinners (Romans 3:23).  That means that even if we just do one little thing wrong (yes, even a “white lie”) during our lifetime, we are not perfect and are not worthy of spending eternity in the presence of GOD.  There is only one way to GOD – we need a Savior…and HIS name is JESUS  (John 14:6).
  • Repent (turn from) your sins.   To repent means to turn away from something or to literally change our attitude about it.   It is not just feeling really bad about getting caught, but it is about making a conscious decision to turn from our sins – with the help of God – and change our attitude about our sins.   Matthew 4:17 tells us to “…repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near..”
  • Believe that JESUS CHRIST died for you on the cross and rose from the grave.    This “believing” is the next critical piece of the process.   Hebrews 11:6 tells us “…without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him…”.   JESUS never sinned, but HE died on the cross taking all of our sins on HIM and HE took the judgment that we deserved.   He literally paid the price that our sins required.    He made the decision to do this because of his great love for us and because of His sacrifice we can be forgiven!

Just talk directly to GOD, know that HE is listening and say something from your heart like:

“Jesus, I know that I am a sinner in need of Yo,u the Savior and I ask for Your forgiveness.   I believe that You died for my sins and rose from the dead.   I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart.   I trust You and have decided to follow You as my Savior and Lord.   In Your Name I pray….”

Once you surrender your life to Christ, you can be assured that you have made the best decision anyone could ever make!

Are you in the valley of decision today?   What decision have you made about your eternal destination?    Choose wisely!

God Bless!

Stephen

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NOTICE: The advertisements on this site  or referred to sites are neither published by nor subject to With True Hope and as such the content expressed does not necessarily reflect the beliefs of With True Hope.  Thank you.

Licensed to Sin?

“God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were.  But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.  So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:20-21, NLT96).

Then doesn’t that mean that we are licensed to sin?

That’s exactly the rhetorical question posed in response to the text in Romans 5.  Paul rhetorically asks in Romans 6:1, “Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of His wonderful grace?”  And the answer immediately follows…”Of course not!”  This unmistakably clarifies that the statements in Romans 5:20-21 should not be taken to mean that unmerited grace encourages or provides an excuse to sin.

Grace is not to be perceived as a “license to sin”.  In actuality, it should not encourage us to sin but quite the opposite. 

Because of God’s grace through life in Jesus Christ, enslavement to sin and death is removed from us.  Paul continues to explain that “sin is no longer [our] master, for [we] no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, [we] live under the freedom of God’s grace” (Romans 6:14, NLT96).

So doesn’t that mean that we can sin because we don’t have to worry about laws?

And that’s exactly the rhetorical question posed in response to Romans 6:14.  “Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning?” (Romans 6:15, NLT96)  The definitive answer yet again…”Of course not!”  For Christians, to be under grace does not mean the freedom from all restrictions.  Rather, to be under grace means that Christians divinely receive the ability to meet the standards of the law.

Christians are no longer condemned by failure to meet the law because being brought to a righteous standing under grace in Christ Jesus produces true obedience of their hearts to then abide by the law.

Suppose I have food poisoning and after seeing a doctor about treatment, I begin taking prescribed medicines and the like to get rid of the toxins and bacteria.  When the harmful toxins and bacteria have been killed and I no longer have food poisoning, I do not seek to deliberately eat undercooked pork or expose myself to toxins and bacteria that will put the toxins and bacteria right back into my system and give me food poisoning again just because I know that there is medication to treat itThat would be completely ridiculous!

I believe that is the same point Paul is making in Romans— the objection of justification by faith through grace because it seems to provide an excuse for sin is completely ridiculous.  The abundance of grace should not be perceived as an encouragement to sin all the more— it is NOT a “license to sin”.  Grace through justification by faith allows us to experience what it is like to be freed from the poisonous toxins of sin.  I believe that this very realization makes it clear to us that we should not have to go back to experiencing our previous state of sickness (or as Paul illustrated it, as slavery)In that regard, experiencing grace through justification by faith may be seen as a preventative of sorts because we know what it is like to be healthy.

Wouldn’t you rather choose to be healthy than sick?

Victoria

GIVER of Life

Your basic biological definition of life would be something along the lines of: matter which exhibits certain qualities of life.  Such a definition would usually have connotations of life being a “phenomenon” with “questionable explanation”.  Have you ever questioned life?  It’s likely that you have, as it seems that nearly every person has or does question life.  And concerning this, here’s a question I’ve considered…

What if our seemingly innate necessity for such questioning of life is not by happenstance but is rather intelligently and meaningfully on purpose for a purpose?

Consider the kinds of questions we have a tendency to ask about life- What is it?  How is it?  Why is it?  And from where or whom has it come?  It seems that explanations of the what, how, and why questions wholly depend upon the explanation of the where or whom question.  So from where or whom has life come?

–   “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness’…God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them…the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being” (Genesis 1:1, 26-27; 2:7, NASB).

–   “See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me; It is I who…give life” (Deuteronomy 32:29).

–   “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom He is pleased to give it…For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself” (John 5:21, NIV84).

Where or Whom: Life comes from God, His very being.

What: Life is a gift.

How: By the sovereignty and grace of God.

Why: Because God is pleased to give life.

Our necessity for such questioning of life is intelligently and meaningfully on purpose for a purpose.  It gets us to think about and attend to the Giver of Life.  The question then becomes, “Will we acknowledge God as the Giver of Life?

Victoria

The Cross: Celebrate and Cheer

With Thanksgiving over, I think it’s safe to say that the Christmas Season has “officially” begun!  Decorations are up, the scent of hot cocoa and cookies are in the atmosphere, and some of us are even excited to strut around in those beloved knit seasonal sweaters (you know who you are)!  In the midst of all the yuletide cheer it can be all too easy to lose sight of the Real Reason for celebration and cheer.

I’d like to share with you a bit of a devotional written by a young man, which recently reminded me of why I can and should celebrate and cheer this and every other season of the year…

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THE CROSS

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.'” (Matthew 16:24)

The cross is a symbol of redemption, hope, and victory over sin and death.  “The cross of Christ is the most revolutionary thing ever to appear among men” (Tozer).  The cross was used to kill, but Christ uses it to give life.

A.W. Tozer said, “[The cross] was permitted to remain what it had been originally, a cross.  Its power departed when it changed from a thing of death to a thing of beauty.  When men made of it a symbol, hung in around their necks as an ornament…then it became at best a weak emblem”.

We have hung our crosses around our necks, placed the crucifix atop our beds, we have cried when we watched The Passion of the Christ, and we have become sad when we read the account of the crucifixion during Easter time.  But we have lost the true meaning of the cross.  The cross cannot save us, it’s the man, Jesus, who died on the cross who has the True and Only Power to save us!  Jesus died on the cross for our sins, to save all mankind!

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To think that Christ came to be born of a virgin, living to give His life upon the cross so we might live, is utterly mindboggling.  The power of sin and death over us IS broken!  We don’t have to be slaves to sin- neither its “power”, “pollution”, nor “guilt” are able to keep a hold on us (A.W. Pink)!

Why can (and should) we celebrate and cheer this and every other season of the year…?  Because Christ Jesus, who died on the cross and who has the True Power, has offered Salvation from sin and death to us as a free gift!  WOO HOO!

So as we take up our crosses in obedience to Christ throughout this Christmas and every other season of the year, let us be reminded of why we can follow Christ and do so with celebration and cheer!

-Victoria

what if…

It is not uncommon to hear the proposal, “What if you knew that you only had one last day to live, what would you do differently?”  Many would probably answer something along the lines of, “I’d contact so and so, and tell them such and such”.  Right?  But what if this was phrased from the other side of the coin to propose, “What if you knew that other individuals only had one last day to live, what would you do differently?”

There was a man whose daughter was deathly ill.  In recognizing the seriousness of the situation and the desperate need of revitalized-life for his daughter, the man came to Capernaum.  “Seeing Jesus, he fell at His feet and pleaded earnestly with Him, ‘My little daughter is dying. Please come and put Your hands on her so that she will be healed and live'” (Mark 5:22-23, NIV84).

The Bible often describes those without Christ as being dead in their sin.  “‘I [Jesus] Am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life’…’unless you believe that I Am He, you will die in your sins‘” (John 8:12, 24, NASB).  Put another way, unless we are in Christ we have no life in us (John 6:53).

Do we recognize the seriousness of the situation of those who are not in Christ?  Of those who are deathly ill in most desperate need of life─ life that only The Life, Jesus Christ Himself can give them?  Would we, alike the father of the dying girl, go to Jesus to earnestly pray that He go and touch them so that they might live?  Would we too be wholeheartedly willing, in genuine concern and true love, to bring Jesus to the dying soul?

So in closing, I’d like to re-propose the re-phrased proposal…

“What if you knew that Annie or Jeff or Jed or Fran or Emily or  _______ only had one last day to live, what would you do differently?”

Victoria