January 31, 2014

Mothering Memories and my debt to grace

It’s happening, at last!

The long overdue photo album is getting worked on!  I had intended it as a gift when my firstborn graduated from high school…then thought maybe I would get it done by the time he got married…or at least by the time his firstborn came along? 

Well,  eleven years have passed since that first goal vanished from sight.  And now there are four little likenesses of my son under his roof.  It is time for this album to make its way into their hands, for them to see their daddy when he was their ages…

At 3 months...Micah 1


At 18 months…

Micah 2


At 3 years…

Micah 3


And at 4 1/2 years…

Micah 4

He was once a child and he has grown to be a man with children of his own.  I am reliving this week many mothering memories. Both precious and a little painful.

I was once a young imperfect mom intent on raising perfect children while largely in denial of my own imperfections.  I cringe now at the values I once clung to. 

Being perfect seemed more valuable than experiencing forgiveness. 

Being ‘good’ seemed a rational goal.  But now I wonder, is it so much  about being ‘good’, or about  knowing you are not so very good, but you are cherished just as you are?

Too often I sacrificed relationship in the pursuit of performance.

I aimed at perfection instead of recognizing we are and ever will be imperfect and indebted to Grace. 

It is a wise mom who realizes the parameters of her calling.  Some objectives are beyond our control—for instance, the objective of producing  godly children.  That is our desire but is it our calling? If your brow is furrowing at this moment consider reading this article by an empty nester mom I have not met named Gina Smith. 

“I Was Never Called to Raise “Godly Children!”

Her point is that godliness is not a goal we can accomplish by any amount of good parenting, character training, discipline or a dozen other routes. We are dependent on God’s grace to intervene and change hearts.  We might make them behave; we might enforce rules but we can’t create godly children.  Only God can do that.

As I brood over pictures and journal entries written years ago on the front lines of a busy household, I wonder, was I  wanting to rear Pharisees or Publicans?  The Pharisee could stand and thank God he was not a common sinner; he was ‘good’.  I bet his kids knew how to sit still in church too!   But it was the Publican whom God heard.  He knew himself to be an unworthy sinner and cried, “God, be merciful to me a sinner”. He was the one who went back home forgiven. (Luke 18:9ff)

Did I  want my kids to comprehend grace or be good enough not to need it?

Unintentionally we may produce ‘good’ kids with proud hearts instead of pointing them to God’s goodness so they can be forever humbled and forgiven people.

Do we strive to build character at the expense of laying the foundational understanding that our goodness is filthy rags apart from the Spirit’s transformation of our hearts and motives?

I am now an old imperfect mom--a converted Pharisee,  recognizing more and more my actual indebtedness to God’s grace. I am grateful for a long-suffering God who doesn’t strike the Pharisee dead for his presumption.  And as I stick down pictures of this lad with the perpetual grin and endless energy, I’m grateful for the strong Redeemer we both have found.  The Lord of Hosts is His name. (Jer.50:34)  He is not bound by our mistakes.  He is not limited by our weakness.  And His Redemption rolls on down through the years exchanging our messes for His grace.  Yes, this is what I want this photo album to celebrate.  God has been good to us, for He is good. 

And with these loosely outlined thoughts I must conclude for now.  For you see, this album is not quite finished and tomorrow we leave to bear it to little eyes who will wonder that their hero could once have been as young as they… So for today, this album is my calling as a Grandmom!

I welcome your feedback always. 


“Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts….And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’” (Zech.4:6,7)

Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain…
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Ps.127:1-3 ESV

“We have had earthly fathers who disciplined us…for a short time as it seemed best to them*, but [the Father of spirits] disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.”   Heb.12:9,10

*There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. Prov. 14:12 ESV


P.S. If you come from my era you may appreciate this upbeat reminder that “Nobody’s perfect except for the Lord” , as only Keith Green can say it!

January 24, 2014

Why should I wait for the Lord any longer?!

The King was exasperated, and desperate.  Wearing sackcloth was so irritating and what good had it done?  The unending siege was driving people to insanity.  Mothers were haggling over their own babies’ flesh! The King had had enough.  He would have the prophet’s head, oh yes he would.  After all, this trouble was undoubtedly from the Lord.  Why not kill his prophet! And with that resolution he sent his messenger to relay it to Elisha. 

“Why should I wait for the LORD any longer?!” he hollered through Elisha’s closed and bolted door.

The King was not far behind leaning on his trusty captain for support. They held out no hope of the Lord’s being able to save them from starvation. Even ‘if the LORD himself should make windows in heaven, could this thing be?’ (II Kings 7:2) was how the captain put it.

But there was a reason to wait and not to open the doors to the enemy hordes.  Tomorrow things would be different. Tomorrow there would be an all-you-can-eat buffet. Tomorrow there would be plenty.  If they could just wait for tomorrow…

Faith is like that.  You can’t see the reward. You can’t taste it or touch it.  The alternatives even start to look good, desirable, harmless. “Did God really say…”  And we may begin to doubt that His instructions are our best bet. It may be true that without faith it’s impossible to please God.  And it may even be true that faith can move mountains.  But when the mountain is in your backyard blocking the sun and when it just doesn’t seem to be moving…it’s easy to doubt that waiting on God is worth the while.

The lepers were the first to discover God’s intervention.  They had so little to lose.  They lived outside the city gate in no-man’s-land anyway, outcasts. So they had ventured over to the Syrian camp to see if they might be shown mercy and given a little something to fend off starvation.  And lo and behold, the camp was abandoned.  The tents were there, full of provisions. The horses and donkeys too.  But the besieging army, the Syrians, had fled for their lives out of fear in an unseen army they had heard coming.  It was the Lord’s doing, His unseen way of saving His people just in time.  It had been worth the wait.  The siege was over. There was plenty for all, for the taking.

Only the captain who had voiced his doubts did not live to share in the feasting.  He was trampled in the gate by the hungry surging mob.

Are you waiting for your faith to be sight—feeling like you’re starving in a besieged city and about to cave in to the enemy?  Have you waited ‘forever’ for your prayers to bring results? your ship to come in?  your God to show Himself strong on your behalf?

I’m reminding myself this week that God’s timing is impeccable.  Never in a hurry, never late,  He molds His own with their eternal well-being in view and He has literally all the time in the world! 

While we think in terms of a tasty morsel, He has an eternity of dining with Him in view.  While we wait for answers, he waits for us to listen to what’s on His heart. Peter put it this way.  “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.”
II Pet.3:9 

My requests can be so short-sighted, so happiness-oriented.  I want to be happy.  I want our kids to be happy.  In short, it would be nice if everyone could be care-free, sickness free, accident free, and… well, HAPPY!  But God knows there is no true happy without HOLY.  And the route to holiness is not all happy, nor is it instantaneous! “He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.” (Heb.12:10)

It’s a good thing He does not give us everything we ask for. He has so much more in mind. 

We may think the Lord slow to act, slow to answer, slow to race to our rescue and deliver us from all our enemies…but could it be that He is not slow, but patient with our slowness?  Could it be He waits for us to be ready for rescue—acknowledging our dependence, watching and waiting.

I don’t know about you, but there are ‘unanswered’ prayers in my life that keep me coming back to God to plead ‘What is going on?!… What do I need to do?!’  and at last, to learn to listen more than I talk.  And then I begin to see sin in me that has gone unacknowledged.  I see I am to blame for consequences I am now trying to escape or undo… And I am brought to repentance, to a fresh understanding of God’s mercy, and to a fuller grasp of His grace, and yes, His patience with me and with the ones I pray for. 

It is the kindness and patience of God that leads us all to repentance.(Rom.2:4) He wastes no time or circumstance.  His patience is our salvation.  We do well to wait for the Lord, always.  “Then you will know that I am the LORD, those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.” (Is.49:23)

And in the waiting, He gives us His word to fortify our souls!   Read the stories.  Ponder the promises. Take note of the commands.  Savor the grace.  It’s all written down for our benefit! 

“Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.” I Cor.10:11 ESV

He’s worth the wait!


P.S.  I am trying out a new way of reading the Bible this year—reading a chapter from all the different genres each day.  And I am continually struck with God’s grace and man’s need of it. I love the way one passage comments on another when read in this way.  If you have yet to make a plan to dig in to the Word of God this year, and would like to try something new and different, check out this system at the JUST READ IT! tab above,
or click here!

If you would prefer to read chronologically, here is a simple plan. The man proposing it, Keith Ferrin, came to speak in our town last week.  His purpose is to spur believers on to LOVE the Word of God.  All sorts of practical encouragement can be found on his website (including other plans; there is no one-size-fits-all plan!).  I highly commend it to you.  His chronological Bible reading plan can be found here.


“So you, by the help of your God, return, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God." Hosea 12:6

“…Continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. II Tim.3:14-17 ESV

The LORD utters his voice before his army, for his camp is exceedingly great; he who executes his word is powerful. …Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him… Joel 2:11-14 ESV

Jonah:  "O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Jonah 4:2 ESV

January 17, 2014

Epic or Holocaust? —just depends…

The prospects were bleak. The odds overwhelming. Most everyone else had retreated trembling to await their fate. They had no weapons for defense. Their leader had a sword but no idea what to do with it… They were stuck, helpless, like sheep without a shepherd while wolves ravage the flock.

The story is a very old one. Its setting is the stuff of an Epic, or a Holocaust, just depends whether a hero rises to the occasion.

Could it be a faint reflection too of the state of the Church in our own times? The world, the flesh and the Devil pose a daunting threat. The troops are 'caving' and vast numbers have misplaced their one Divine-issue offensive weapon—"the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."

But there's hope, there always is when you're on the winning side, right? And there is a hero ready to step out and see what can be done. He's only one man, but he has a sword and he has armor (and a friend to help him carry it!) No, this is not the tale of David and Goliath. But perhaps the lesson is the same. Big enemy, but bigger God.

It just takes someone willing to believe it, and to step up courageously in His name, sword in hand, to see what God will do.

That someone was Jonathan. While his fellow countrymen scurried to hide themselves in caves and holes and rocks and tombs and cisterns(!)
I Sam.13:6 Jonathan looked at his armor-bearer and said, "Come on, let's go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised… It may be that the LORD will work for us, for nothing can hinder the LORD from saving by many or by few." I Samuel 14:6 He was ready and willing to step out 'as is' with just a young lad and a sword at his side, and see how God might choose to intervene.

It would be just chapters later that the young David, would challenge the mindset of the culture surrounding him with similar words: "For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?" I Sam.17:26 No wonder he and Jonathan became bosom buddies! Each lived seeing beyond the visible enemy to the Invisible God--Lord of Heaven's Armies. And each in his turn dared to step out and see what God would do.

And God was pleased to act. Jonathan's sword took down twenty men in short order. Panic ensued. As did an earthquake! Now it was the enemy's turn to tremble in their boots. Mass confusion ensued and soon the enemy was destroying itself and fleeing in droves. "So the LORD saved Israel that day." I Sam.14:23 But it all started with a man saying, "Come on, let's go over and have a look...and see what the Lord will do."

Where does this kind of God-confidence come from? I'm pretty sure of one thing—it's not caught from hanging out in a cave commiserating with woe-be-gone companions about how bad things are. They are, no doubt about that. The enemy is strong. But we are God's people! And we've been given His Word. In it we are given all that we need for life and godliness in any age, (II Pet.1:3,4) because in it is the knowledge of God and of His commitments to His people via great and precious promises which are for all time.

Sin is rampant, in and out of the church, and no less destructive than the fiercest Philistine raiding party! But God's power to transform us is greater. He invites us to escape 'the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire' II Pet.1:4, again, by taking Him at His Word.

How then do we keep our confidence in the LORD of Heaven's armies, so that we are ready and willing to step out in faith and see what He will do on our respective battlefields?

I can't help noticing that sword Jonathan held. It was one of only two swords available to the Israelite army. (His father, King Saul, held the other one) Their oppressors had seen to it that they had no weapons with which to defend themselves. This is not the case for the North American church. We have Bibles aplenty! My hunch is that the reason we lack Jonathan's courage to emerge from our holes and see what God will do, is that we are more familiar with the culture that surrounds us than we are with God's Word.

Could it be that our culture has shaped our mindsets about sin, our selves and our God, more than God's Word has?

I love the Word. But it's been a long while since I read the whole of it. And with the New Year I've been considering what changes to make in the way I read it. I've slipped into a rather 'devotional' approach to reading (more on that another time?) geared toward finding nuggets for me rather than just reading for what God wants to reveal about HIMSELF! So I'm taking on a new system of reading that I'm really excited about.

I've read the Bible through before but never this way. And already, in just a week's time I'm encouraged by seeing the Big Picture of a Big and Holy God who is intent on Redeeming small and sinful man, no matter what. The theme is there over and over again, no matter what book or chapter you read, but it's never so plain as when you read across various genres and books in one sitting. And that is my new plan.

I've outlined it in detail on a stand-alone 'page' at the top of my homepage. Just look for the tab that says, ‘JUST READ IT!’.  And I'd love it if you'd join me this year for the grand tour of God's Words to man across the centuries. So may we be ready to step out and see what our great God will do despite overwhelming odds. He is able!


"The LORD of Heaven's Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress." Ps. 46:7

"And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,…" Eph.6:17,18

"To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ." II Thess.1:11-12 ESV

January 10, 2014

Weather or Not…

Flying blind

My mind has been pre-occupied this week with weather and flight schedules as I’ve watched long-distance as my little birdie made her way back to school from wintery Nebraska to Texas… Not one but two flights were cancelled…and the rescheduled ones had lengthy delays over dragging hours, and an overnight in a hotel en route.

Not just once but on two successive mornings I was catapulted from my bed by the unnerving jangle of my phone ringing, to face the latest hitch in the scheduled flights…

It is apparent at times like these that life is most certainly not under our control.  We may make plans but we do not control outcomes.  Such a simple thing as a snowstorm, or sub-zero temperatures can ground thousands of people and delay countless others in their tracks. 

The wind is only just rising here tonight.  We won’t have snow but I hear the rain lashing against the kitchen window.  I am cozy beside the flickering warmth of the wood stove--thankful not to be going out.  In our part of the country, fog grounds planes and high wind disrupts ferry schedules, leaving us marooned.  We live at the mercy of the weather, you might say, but ultimately of the Weather-maker.

But I think blizzards and wild weather are very valuable reminders.  They show how very small we are in the whole scheme of the universe, and that we are most certainly NOT in control.  Ironically, in an effort to assert our power we concoct theories such as ‘global warming’ and task ourselves with its prevention.  It is laughable.  We are not in control.  And as much as I personally dislike that feeling at times…it is a good thing to be reminded of. Because really, do I want to be in control? really? I may think so but… In all honesty, I’d far rather be a passenger in a plane on a stormy day (so long as I trust the pilot) than be tasked with flying it!  With control comes responsibility.  I haven’t the power or the wisdom for such greatness.

And really,  being out of control is a terrifying reality only if you picture your destiny being subject to arbitrary cosmic forces not concerned with your welfare.  But what if instead your destiny is hand-picked by an all-loving, all-knowing, all powerful God who is both Creator and Sustainer of the Universe and everything in it?  And what if He has invited you to be His own kin?  Where is the place of fear in facing the storm?  At best bad weather is inconvenient and spoils our well-laid plans.  At worst it’s life-threatening.  But either way we’re in Good strong Hands that can take care of us far better than we can ourselves.

I’ve been chewing this week on a quote attributed to John Piper:

”In every situation and circumstance of your life, God is always doing a thousand different things that you cannot see and you do not know.”* 

It is to me a reminder to trust where I cannot see God’s Hand at work, to believe when being out of control makes me fearful, and always to give thanks for there is good reason, even if I can’t see it yet!

So when the storms of life blow our plans off course and buffet these ‘tents’ we call home…and when things get so desperate we don’t know what to do…what’s left?  We can be stressed or we can rest.  I dipped into a book by Louie Giglio this morning in which he elaborates on the importance of realizing both who God is and who I am not.**  The minute we begin to think ourselves essential to God’s plan being carried out in the earth we are on shaky ground.  He is God. He will be exalted in all the earth.  His plans are undeterred with or without us.  He may invite us to be involved in what He is doing, but this is His choice.  He is at work all around us in a myriad of ways, working in all things for His fame, using whom He will how He will.  (paraphrased from Giglio, p 105)

This is, incidentally, why it is foolish to compare ourselves with others in the Body who seem to be doing more, or less, than we. So? Given the access we have to fellow-Christians via the Internet, this is an easy trap to fall into.  I know.  I’ve been there today; it’s demoralizing.  Have you been there?  You read somebody’s testimonial perhaps or their New Year’s resolutions and feel so pitiful in comparison.  While you may be resolving just to get in the habit of reading the Bible every day, you find the fellow who not only has read it through in a year, but twice in a year, and then in a month!  Or instead of settling for three chapters a day you find a Bible Reading plan that boasts the goal of reading 3650 chapters in a year instead. That’s ten chapters a day!

And just when you thought maybe you’d make a simple New Year’s resolution…you read somebody’s 50-year-life-plan they composed when they were 19 and have been trying to live out ever since.  And suddenly you feel terribly behind, and kind of t-i-r-e-d… This is what comes of comparisons.  Stories shared for inspiration and encouragement can so quickly go awry when we give way to a competitive mindset. 

But here too, and getting back to thinking about our calling to know who God is and who we aren’t………REST is pivotal.  Being still from our frenetic efforts to keep the world spinning, greatly honors God.  In our restfulness we declare we are not in control but we trust the One who is. 

There is no point getting on a plane in stormy weather only to sit with every muscle anxiously tensed.  It will not increase our likelihood of arriving safe and sound but will only guarantee we arrive exhausted, while the relaxed traveler arrives rested. And where is God’s glory in this approach?

To change the metaphor, “when we tirelessly toil, as though that’s what it takes to keep our ship afloat, we steal God’s glory, elevating ourselves as sole providers and sustainers of all we have and are.” (Giglio, 123) 

“Furious rest” is how Giglio describes the sort of active trust God desires us to experience in His care. “[It] is not about doing nothing.  It’s about doing everything we do with the quiet confidence that our lives, families, businesses, ministries, relationships, and dreams are in His hands.” (Giglio, 124)

This is the kind of trust I want to learn to a greater degree in this New Year, weather or not!  How about you?


P.S. And I’m working on a Bible reading plan too.  Maybe those plans weren’t such a bad idea after all…  ( :

We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you. II Cor. 10:12,13 NIV

Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. Rom. 14:4 ESV

For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not. Is. 30:15 KJV


*This Piper quote was cited in an excellent article by Nancy Leigh DeMoss called Perspective and Hope for your Battle.  It can be accessed at the TrueWoman.com website.

** Giglio, Louie, I am not but I know I AM, Multnomah Publ.,2005

January 3, 2014

This Grace in which WE STAND!

I love the lull between Christmas and New Year’s Day, and well, the whole ‘school vacation’ time that extends into January, easing us back into life as usual.  It’s one of my favorite times of year.  No students or teachers on vacation this year at our house but our sense of a schedule has ceased just the same.  Nothing must be done. Leftovers make for easy meals.  Christmas music—instrumental guitar and harp, peaceful stuff-- carries us into January.    There’s time to relax, to putter, to read…to stay up late watching and debriefing from movies… and to sleep in and have leisurely conversation over late breakfasts… Wonderful time of year.

Sort of a jolt to steal away for my quiet time one morning and flipping open randomly at Zephaniah to read:
"I will utterly sweep away everything from the face of the earth," declares the LORD. "I will sweep away man and beast; I will sweep away the birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, and the rubble with the wicked. I will cut off mankind from the face of the earth," declares the LORD.
Kind of a harsh contrast to peace on earth good will to men…No warm fuzzy feeling here.  But always there’s context…

This is a description of the Day of the Lord, that yet future judgment on the earth and its inhabitants, where man meets Maker and finds no excuse for not having made peace with God earlier.  The real Apocalypse, that popular culture only speculates about, is truly coming.  And it will be worse than we could imagine—a time of God’s wrath poured out on all who have rejected His jealous love and have spurned the Son given for their redemption.

Don’t worry (or stop reading), I’m not going to drag us through all the graphic details.  They are many and bleak, but something else caught my attention as I was looking for the WHY of this judgment to be spelled out…Before the pagan nations are addressed, God’s own people are called out—‘those who have turned back from following the Lord, who do not seek the LORD or inquire of Him’.(1:5,5)

And why would they do that?  Why turn away from the True God to bow to the powerless gods of the surrounding nations?  Apparently God’s own people had become complacent at heart—they had lost faith in their God as One actively involved in their lives.  Zephaniah describes them this way: “those who say in their hearts, ‘The LORD will not do good, nor will he do ill.’”(1:12) A God who doesn’t care, who doesn’t move, who makes no difference, neither rewarding good or punishing evil.  This was how they perceived God in their hearts. 

Have you been there?  Have you ever wondered why God doesn’t act when horrific crimes are committed, when His name is brazenly blasphemed, when evil seems to prevail in whatever context. I have. 

And who hasn’t begged God to intervene and alleviate pain or mitigate misery (or do some good thing that surely He would wish to do!) without seeing any results? It can seem sometimes as though God is unmindful of His world and even His own.

But not so!  Zephaniah’s strong message reminds us we have a God who takes action, who fulfills His Word, who will mete out judgment, and reward. Yes, the mercy that is often overlooked when reading these sorts of harsh passages, is that God sent his prophet to warn His people so they could be spared.  He had no obligation to warn them ahead of time, no obligation but His own nature.  God is love.

What appears to be God’s slowness in responding to evil is actually His mercy.  He is patient, not wishing to destroy His enemies but to give them opportunity to find peace on His terms and to become His friends.  What we may interpret as evidence of a God who doesn’t care, is in actuality the very evidence that God cares deeply--‘not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.’ (II Pet.3:9)

Scoffers will scoff, denying all evidence of a God who brings life into existence from nothing, who sends catastrophic judgment on the world, and who withholds his wrath in order that they might be spared!  But God is not phased. Love is patient.

And in the meantime, with the spectre of apocalyptic judgment hanging over our world, what is our position as believers? How do we guard our hearts from falling into a dull complacency toward God that makes us prone to look elsewhere for hope?

First it’s important to recognize who we are as believers. We are not appointed to suffer God’s wrath.(I Th.5:9) We stand in God’s good graces, by faith in His Good Son. This is pure gift.  As children of light we need not be caught unawares.  Alert and armed, but unalarmed, we are to stand with faith and love as our breastplate. (I Th.5:8)  Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand…  Rom.5:1,2

Ours is a position of confident hope.  We live in the hope of salvation. It is not yet complete—our adoption as sons, the redemption of these bodies, is yet to be.  This hope is our helmet (I Th.5:8).  Think on it—Christ died for us so that we might live with Him, whether we live till His return or die waiting. (I Th.5:10)

Our hope in salvation’s future tense protects our minds from fixating on the here and the now and being drawn away to fear for our wellbeing.

This fear will drive us to other gods for our rescue.  Consider good King Asa’s poor finish (See: II Chron.16).  After a reign characterized by great reforms, his heart turned from wholly following God because he feared his enemies and doubted God’s ability to rescue him.  Instead of relying on God he turned to the aid of a foreign king. It was his downfall. And here in the story is that awesome verse. Picture it:

 “For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” (II Chron.16:9).  THIS is the picture of our God that we must cling to when we cannot see His hand at work.  THIS is our God.

Meanwhile the things we suffer work for us a glory that far outweighs their pain. They work in us endurance and in turn, character, which produces hope-- a hope that is as sure as God’s love for us! (Rom.5:3-5)  If he is for us who can be against us?  Though we will not ever have to face His wrath, the wrath of man is quite another story.  Tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, danger or sword may be our lot yet.  But we are assured conquerors because we are loved by God.(Rom.8)

And that is precisely what Zephaniah is working toward in his startling prophecy of impending judgment.  (Don’t stop reading with chapters one and two!) The one whose judgment has been taken away in Christ, the child of God, need not fear their enemies. 

“Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion!  Rejoice and exult with all your heart…The LORD has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies.

The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil. On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: "Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”  Zeph. 3:14-17 ESV

While this is ultimately a specific promise relating to Israel in times yet future, there is here too a reminder of the God who is with us, and mighty to save.  He rejoices over His own and will do us good all our days. It is his nature.  Jeremiah concurs:

Yet their Redeemer is strong; the LORD Almighty is his name. He will vigorously defend their cause so that he may bring rest to their land, but unrest to those who live in Babylon.  Jer. 50:34 NIV

So, I guess what I’m wanting to say (and to remind myself of) as we all stand on the brink of another year, is that God is still on the throne-- delighting to hear our prayers, steadily bringing His Kingdom purposes into effect, undeterred by evil.  And we can trust Him to lead the way.  Indeed, we MUST trust Him.  What other hope have we? 

Don't give up on expecting Him to intervene in the lives of those you care about, the situations that seem hopeless and beyond remedy. He is honored when His people seek Him, when our hearts count on Him to be the Hero, when we scan the skies in eagerness to welcome His appearing…

And I’m eager to share with you an original Rap song by one of my favorite people in the whole wide world (my son).  He composed it years ago when he was just embarking on manhood. I came across it this week and have had many a ‘listen’, my heart encouraged to rejoice in this great grace of God in which we stand!  I hope it will do the same for you. 

I stand!

Use this link if needed: http://youtu.be/XJYtcTqFnys


Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  Rom. 5:2 ESV

Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation… II Peter 3:14-15 ESV

You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
II Peter 3:17-18 ESV

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. II Thess. 2:16-17 ESV