Monday, July 23, 2012


"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." 1Peter 1:3-5

It is said that in interpreting scripture, the three most important rules are "context, context, context", but at times I am compelled to lift certain verses from the page, to ponder them on their own, away from the verses before and after. I want to set them apart, like when I find some exceptionally lovely beads when I want to make some jewellry. They stand out from the others in the display, and I hold them up, examining and admiring them for their unique qualities. In that way, many verses are "stand alone" in their beauty and richness of truth.

Sometimes when we read scripture, verses that we have seen time and again can stop us in our tracks and let us go no further. In reading the above passage this morning, I was amazed, perhaps for the first time, by the list of incredible, encouraging truths it contains:

  • We are to bless God. He is blessed already, in that He is Who He is. Yet we are to bless Him for that, praising and thanking Him for what He has done for us.

  • He is merciful. Because of His mercy, His great mercy, He has acted on our behalf to make possible the following:

  • We are born again. I don't think we see this term used many times in scripture. I can think of one other time, in the Gospel of John (3:5), when Jesus said we must be born again to see or enter the kingdom of God. The gist of it is, that we were once spiritually dead, but God in mercy brought us to life. In the spiritual sense, we are born dead. And it is a state that we cannot bring ourselves out of, any more than a cadaver can raise itself to life. Dead means dead, with no life or power existing to change that status. God brought us to life spiritually.

  • We have a living hope. When we were still spiritually dead, we may have put our hope in various things for ultimate contentment and safety in this life, and the hereafter. Those hopes were dead; pointless and founded on lies, since they did not include hope in Jesus Christ as our Savior. But since we are now included in Christ, and are joint heirs with Him, we can be confident that our hope is secured by His perfect life, death, and resurrection. He is our hope, and He is a risen, living Saviour.

  • We have an inheritance waiting for us in heaven. It is perfect, secure, for sure, and forever. It will not diminish, fade, or disappear. That inheritance is our completed salvation, glorification and sanctification. It is reserved for us, and will be revealed in the last time, or the end of time as we know it.

  • We are protected or kept by God! He didn't just save us, then leave us to carry on in our own strength. Grace is not just for our initial salvation; it is something that is poured out into our lives every moment that we live and breathe. God is able to keep us from falling, and to present us, blameless before Himself (Jude v 24).
God's word is so rich. These verses are not truly stand alone, in that they describe truths that are reinforced and reiterated throughout scripture. But as I consider all that is said in this one sentence, I am struck anew by God's mercy and provision for lost sinners. He gives us new birth, brings us into His family with Christ as our Brother, provides grace to keep us till the end, then welcomes us into eternity where we will enjoy sinless, blessed communion with Him forever.

If you are in Christ today, I hope these verses speak peace and joy to your soul as they do to mine.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

From Mourning to Dancing

I read this scripture today. Whenever I come to it when reading through the Psalms, I get a little jolt of joy. As a new Believer, it was one of the verses that resonated perfectly with my heart. Today I wanted to write a post about that, and I was doubly blessed to come across this picture when I was searching for one to add to it. Here it is, my Bible's version, with the next verse:

"You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness,
That my soul may sing praise to you and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever."
(Psalm 30: 11-12, NASB)

In those days following my acceptance of Christ, I walked around in a kind of a cloud. I couldn't stop smiling. The Bible became the most amazing page turner; it kept me on the edge of my seat, and I could hardly wait to get back to it. I wrote this scripture on an index card, and posted it above my desk at work. It seemed I went through each day just thanking God over and over for what He had done for me. When I first read these words, it was as though David had written them on my behalf, those centuries before. They precisely expressed my sentiments toward my newly found Savior and God.

Maybe you can relate to my experience. My sackcloth was made of guilt, fear, remorse, hopelessness and confusion. I was in a pit of despair one day, and the next, when I walked out the door, my whole world had transformed. It was a complete 180 turn, and I was staggered by the enormity of what had taken place. And I still am. Each time I am reminded, by these verses or others like them, or by situations or conversations that take place, of God's amazing grace. In my life, and in the life of each one that He chooses to bring up out of the pit.

"I will extol You, O LORD, for You have lifted me up,
And have not let my enemies rejoice over me,
O LORD my God,
I cried to You for help, and You healed me.
O LORD, you have brought up my soul from Sheol;
You have kept me alive, that I would not go down to the pit.
(Psalm 30:1-3)

 I didn't know much about the Bible back then, but I KNEW I had been rescued.  HE RESCUES US! And it doesn't stop there. He keeps saving us, each day. He keeps on forgiving. Thank God for that...

"If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?"
(Psalm 130:3)

So, when I have a day when I am a bit down, like today, I am so thankful to have my ungrateful heart get stirred to thankfulness. It is enough, it is more than enough, that He saved me. And that He keeps saving me. And that He will ultimately and forever save me. It is more than enough that He loves me, and always will. 

This post is for Him. It is for you Lord. I WILL give thanks to You forever. And I thank you now. I bless your Name, and lift up my heart to you, my Savior. To You belongs all praise, honour and glory. Forever.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Deep Calls to Deep

Do you ever come to a place in your journey with God where He seems to "clear the table" of your heart, and sweep away all that you thought made for solid ground? Like those lofty ideals, good intentions, noble purposes, and precious convictions that had up till that point kept you afloat, and (supposedly) on a clear path, one that you knew He was leading you on? Suddenly that little boat you were sailing in turns out to be made of paper; it starts to disintegrate, and you realize it is no longer sea-worthy, and will never take you where you need to go. Well, it seems I am at that place now.

My boat. What has it been made of, and what has kept it afloat? In the beginning, it was constructed of fear of a God I did not know, and fear of a religion that kept me in a prison of rule-keeping. That boat sailed on choppy water indeed.  It was a raft, in fact, and I had to keep fending off the sharks of guilt and fear that continually threatened to overcome me. I was stuck there, floating on the ocean, trying to steady myself, knowing that at any minute that raft of my own righteousness could fall apart, and I would drown.

Then one day, it did fall apart. But God threw me a life preserver, and gave me the faith I needed to grab hold of it. I met Jesus. My boat then became more of a rubber dinghy, filled with the air of intoxication; and I bobbed along quite happily for a while. I was in love, and I knew I would never be the same again.

Shortly thereafter, I traded (reluctantly) my dinghy of starry eyed bliss for a rowboat. This required a lot of effort on my part. Effort to be "spiritual", and a "good Christian". Seemingly, there were still rules to follow, so once again I became entangled in the do's and dont's (thought I left them when I was rescued from my raft experience!) of the Christian life. That leg of the journey evolved into a flotilla, where I sailed alongside  many others. It was good to have company, but there was a sense of insecurity as well. I couldn't help but keep comparing my journey with those of my fellow companions. Did my boat measure up to theirs? Was my experience as "spiritual" as theirs? Was I keeping up to the best of them? Well, my arms eventually grew weary with the effort of all that rowing, and I traded my rowboat for a tugboat.

What, you might wonder, did my little tugboat pull? It was a heavy load indeed. Great, huge containers of SOUND DOCTRINE was what made up my cargo. It was slow going, but very satisfying for quite a while. I learned a lot. And was quite happy with my little tugboat; proud of the ever increasing weight of knowledge that I was accumulating. Till I began to notice that I was slowing down. All that I was dragging behind me eventually caused me to come to a complete standstill. Stuck. Too overloaded to move any further. And I realized that I had only traded in one set of rules for another. Rules about being "right", following the right teachers, reading the right books, believing the correct interpretation of scripture. I was full of information, but seemed farther away from where I wanted to go.

I didn't stay there. A sailboat came along, and I happily jumped aboard. This boat's name was "Biblical Church". I found confirmation for all the things that God had been filling my heart with, and I was free to be me in Christ. Quite an exhilarating ride. I met many others along the way, and had a renewed sense of purpose, and intimacy with Jesus. Determined to stay this course, God allowed me to travel in a small contingent of like minded sailors for a time. A blessing indeed.

Now that leg of the journey is over. And I find myself alone in the ocean once again. My destination isn't clear, in the way that it has been in the past. Maybe I have been trying to plot my own course, thinking that I knew what it should be. Maybe my "destinations" were not destinations at all, only points along the way. Maybe this time I won't have any boat at all. I will be like Peter, and simply walk toward Jesus on top of the water. Because, in the end, He is the destination. And the boat. And the wind. And the sails. And the arms that pull the oars. I know He is calling me, as He calls each one of His own. And, somehow, that is enough. Even if the ocean is dark, and there is no one else here with me. Even if all I do is "tread water' for a while. Maybe I just need to soak for a time, and let Him wash off all those wrong motives. Erase all the maps I have drawn up for myself when I charted my own course.

Maybe you are at one of those "stepping off" places. Stepping off, and stepping back. It's ok. Let yourself be in that place. Stop listening to every voice but His. He is there, waiting for you. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. We all need that rest, that respite. The world, even the religious world, can drown out His voice, but He will keep calling you till you come away to listen to Him.

Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls;
All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me.
 The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime;
And His song will be with me in the night,
A prayer to the God of my life.
Ps. 42:7,8

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Nowhere Else to Go

"From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with him no more. 
Then Jesus said to the twelve, 'Do you also want to go away?'
 But Simon Peter answered him 'Lord, to whom shall we go? 
You have the words of eternal life. 
Also we have come to believe and know that
 You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'"
(John 6:66-69)

How many things pull you every day? How many grab your attention, and stir up discontentment in you? How many times does the magnet of worldly thinking tug on the filings of fleshly desires within your heart? Unless you live under a rock, it happens very often. Because we live in a world that has it's head screwed on backwards. There is not a lot out there that feeds our God-born spirit, but plenty of things to distract us and come against the truth of what God has said. 

I was in a Shopper's Drug Mart recently, and heading for the blood pressure monitoring station, I passed through one of the "beauty product" aisles. I was amazed at the number of boxes of hair color that were displayed. How many shades of blonde, brunette and red can there be? Now don't get me wrong; I color my hair regularly. My daughter (a hairdresser) does it for me; the same old medium brown every time. I wish I could just "go gray" and be done with it, but I haven't got there yet. Still, have you ever wondered if the never ending ways to "improve" every single food and health and beauty product will ever cease? Just how many kinds of toothpaste and shampoo do we need? Each new version practically promises a life changing result, and we continue to buy them, despite the fact that, in the end, most of them don't perform much better than the previous version. We are so susceptible to advertising.

But that is only a tiny example of the countless ways we can be distracted and led to pour time, energy and money into endeavors that are, at the least, foolish and wasteful, and at worst, damaging to our mind, body and spirit. Even good things can go to far, if they overshadow other equally or even more vital aspects of our lives. For me, it is a daily struggle to keep a right perspective. 

Despite the commonly held belief that there are many paths that lead to God, there is only one. That path, that door, is Jesus Christ. Conversely, the many paths that people take are the ones that lead away from God. 

Some of Jesus' disciples walked away, took other paths. They found His words too difficult. but others  knew the real thing. They knew the pearl of great price, and they weren't about to wander away from Him. For them, knowing Jesus was the ultimate prize, the only thing worth living for. Indeed, where else could they have gone?

Is this your heart? Do you say, like the Psalmist, 

Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
 My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Psalm 73:24-26

God grant us the grace to keep Him first, in all things, above all things. 

There Are No Good Guys

Do you ever find yourself rooting for the good guy in a movie or program, even though he is really a "bad" guy? You know the ones. They sleep around, get drunk, tell lies, and curse to beat the band, yet they are, in the storyline, the hero. It happens a lot, I have noticed. They may be every bit a thief, or even a murder, as the villain, yet they somehow are redeemed by sheer virtue, sometimes, of outsmarting the other guy, and saving the family farm. I have found myself inwardly cheering them on, while at the same time, reminding myself that they are no better, in essence, than the story's bad guy.

It's what we do in real life, too. We compare. We justify. We manage to walk around with eight by ten lumber jutting out of our eye, because we held up a magnifying glass to our neighbor's eye and found a speck of sawdust. But the truth is, there is none good, no, not even one. But oh, the effort we exert, the loopholes we search out, in order to prove ourselves right, worthy and acceptable! Until that day, that glorious day, when it all comes crashing down, and God pulls back the curtain to our heart, and we see the ugly truth....we are sinners beyond hope and help, apart from His grace.

I read this verse this morning. It is good news! If you haven't appropriated this truth, you need to do so! Praise God for His marvelous gift!

"Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses." (Acts 13:38-39)