Immature Plans:Trusting the plan of Salvation

John 2:4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.”

Matthew 8:And behold, they cried out saying, “What to us and to you Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?”

John 1223 And Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.…

Our plans to save ourselves are always immature. We look for Jesus to turn water into wine, so we can save the party, but God pours out his own blood to save the world. We look for Jesus to overthrow and punish our enemies. Jesus looks at breaking the chains of sin and offering salvation to those who murder us!

God hears our cries, but he will not answer until the appointed time. This can be confusing, and infuriating! We believe in God, but we don’t believe in his plan or his perfect timing. We look for idols and quick fixes to fill in the gap of our waiting. Matthew Henry’s commentary explains it this way, “Delays of mercy are not denials of prayer. Those that expect Christ’s favors, must observe his orders with ready obedience.”

Can I obey God when he let my son die? Can I keep turning the page of his plan, according to his will and not mine? I see the spectacular results of Jesus’ obedience! Oh Lord, I cry out to you. Open my mind to the possibilities of your perfect plan. Make my path straight. Thank you that you didn’t stop with water to wine! May my narrow plan open wide to the joy of your salvation. Amen

We are . . .

Herald DisbatchPsalm 13:3Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death, 4And my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken. 5But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.…

Sometimes it is not about winning, it is about building his team, showing up for the game and giving all to our heavenly coach, witnessing to the next generation in the stands and giving them the chance for victory.

I just finished watching We Are Marshall, a movie about Marshall University in Huntington, WV and the tragic plane crash that shattered many lives on November 14, 1970. Seventy-five people lost their lives on that flight. The decision to re-build the football team was not one reached easily.

The new head coach Jack Lengyel, played by Matthew Mconaughey. was an outsider who was moved with compassion for the grieving family, school and city. However, he also knew they needed hope.

McConaughey uses the phrase, “The funerals end today,” but Lengyel said he had to make that known not only to the players but to the schools the team played. Each time the team traveled, the school would have a memorial for Marshall, but Lengyel said the team couldn’t continue and grow under those conditions. (Herald Dispatch)

To grow we have to realize that God still has plans for us. My husband, kids, and you daily remind me that the funeral ends today. Daniel saw the movie in our DVD collection and asked if he could watch it. I hesitated, knowing the intensity of the movie. He asked questions all week about the football team, about the school. He was clearly thinking deeply about the loss. “How many people are on a football team?” . . . “What are boosters?” “How do you start over?” “They must have felt like we do about losing Jonathan.”

We are knocked to the ground, barely able to breath, and the enemy is in our face telling us to stay down.

You are . . . nothing

You are . . . a failure

You are . . . a loser

Sometimes we need an outsider to see our pain, come onto the field of battle and draw up a new play book. God did this by sending his own son. He tell us:

you are . . . beautiful

you are . . . resilient

You are . . . loving

You are. . . worth the struggle

You are . . . a part of my plan

Since Jonathan’s death there are more personal losses and world tragedies the weigh heavy on my heart. Like David I remind myself of who I know God is:

You are . . . good to me

You are . . .Savior

You are . . . Mighty

You are . . . Personal

You are . . . All Knowing

You are. . . Trustworthy

“In this world you will have troubles, but take heart, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

We chant with our lives we are . . . And allow the next generation to answer. They know who they are and whose they are because we didn’t give up!

The Frangrence of Triumph

2 Corinthians 2:14But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 15For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing;…

As I grieve I want to wear the perfume of triumph! It comes from knowing who God is, trusting what he is doing and believing he will reveal his truth through us. Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary explains that those who won battles were doused in sweet fragrances. My fragrance should be Christ because he is the source of my victories. I have had many! To claim victory we have to remember His faithfulness.

  • He chose me
  • Plucked me out from despair
  • Equipped me with scripture to fight the devil’s schemes
  • Made me a prayer warrior
  • Caused me to delight in others
  • Gave me a desire to share his love
  • Crushed the enemy’s attempts to destroy me through abuse and fear!!!
  • Defeated the grave long before I had to place my son in it

 

Too often I wear the scent of death. My circumstances are complicated and constant, but God is faithful to give abundant life. I see his hand so clearly, yet I turn my eyes to what isn’t and begin to act like God is not enough for me.

Today I allow you, Father, to wash away my sorrow. Lord, infuse me with the scent of understanding your ways. Discipline my brokenness. May my life become a beautiful fragrance of glory in the midst of a world filled with the dank scent of despair.

Turning the Page on Arrogance

Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. 9For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

If I were God, chocolate and coke would never add to my weight, my husband would be my fairytale prince, my children would obey without question, and I would never allow another child to be lost to suicide. Just in writing the above sentence I notice that your desires are not reflected. Every last bit of what I just wrote are my own wants. But isn’t this an accurate depiction of our thoughts? We often measure God by the shallowness of our own thinking. One only needs to look at Jesus to see that God shatters the way that individuals, society, our government and our world thinks.

Man’s Thinking =All roads lead to heaven vs. God’s Thinking= Narrow is the path that leads to righteousness (right living) and wide is the path that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14)

Man’s Thinking = Self Preservation vs. God’s thinking= If you want to gain your life you have to lose it (Luke 7:33)

Man’s Thinking = We build our governments vs. God’s thinking = Daniel 2:21 . . .He removes kings and establishes kings; . . .

I am arrogant in my man centered thinking. I judge God by what I would do in his place. I question the goodness of his plan. Arrogance means: an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions. (Merriam-Webster).  A close relation to arrogance is arrogate: to take or claim (something, such as a right or a privilege) in a way that is not fair or legal. Both literally mean “away from asking”.  And at the heart of arrogance is a lack of submission to God’s will.  I struggle to ask God his thoughts on healing the heartache and brokenness so many experience.

Have you ever been blindfolded and had to trust others to lead you? Fine in familiar territory, but would you trust others to lead you safely across a busy street? That is what trusting God is often feels like for me. Except my blindfold is sin. God is asking me to trust his goodness, his will, his upside down plan that results in a perfect plan for the salvation of many.

I WANT TO SEE WHERE I’M GOING! Our trust stops where we lose control of the path to the final outcome. I am totally out of control of the path to turning the page on the suicide epidemic. That is hard. To trust that God cares more for what is happening to us, our friends and family who suffer depression, mental illness, and despair than I do, takes an acceptance of his upside down plan. I want to be God in turning ending this nightmare, yet his way is often through slavery, deserts, pits, and loss.

But oh my goodness do I want the results!!! Joseph, is one of the Old Testament men who is a founding rock of my faith. He was almost murdered, sold into slavery, falsely accused, thrown into prison and forgotten by man, but God showed him favor. God lead him (blindfolded by his own version of the dream) into second in command to pharaoh! In this position he saves many nations from famine and rescues his own family from certain death. Not the path Joseph saw coming, but he trusted God to lead him through anything. Can you and I trust God to lead us to an outcome that will always save many?

It is Finished

John 19:30Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

“It is finished!” has been on my mind and lips since Friday. I hear it when I rise in the morning, I hear it when I stop abiding and start striving, and I hear it when I lay my head on the pillow. Jesus came to save us, and he stated that the salvation was complete. All you and I have to do is to believe.

There is not a single thing that you and I can do to add to that salvation. We cannot make another sacrifice, we cannot work harder, or be perfect in following the commandments in order to gain our salvation. He finished that work. How differently would we love, work, minister, and simply be present in our day to day lives if we embrace what Jesus completed on the cross?

“It is finished.” “Believe.” are repeated throughout Jesus’ ministry. (Luke 22:37, John 4:34, John 17:4, John 19:28, John 3:16, John 14:11 and many more) Those two phrases sum up God’s purpose in sending his one and only son. If you are anything like me, you may have a pattern of living, that even as a believer, does not reflect that we have embraced the cross. So we have a lot of ups and downs in our faith walk, as a result.

I was challenged to meditate on Jesus’ words from the cross, and the more that I hear them in my ears, my soul eagerly leans into, relaxes tense spiritual muscles, and is content with taking Jesus at his word. At the heart of believing Jesus is resting (abiding) in him. (John 15) Striving to save ourselves is a waste of time and limits the power of the Holy Spirit in us. My prayer is that we accept Jesus’ finished work and believe.

Just The Right Words: Learning to Tame the Tongue

Turn the Page: James 3:7All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

9With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.

Have you ever had guests come to the door and greeted them with the most pleasant of words when moments earlier you were screaming at your kids? Or gossiping with a neighbor about someone that you don’t like and when the person shows up you are suddenly so happy to see them?

I confess to you that I have had these moments. I don’t like this sinful part of me! Scripture calls the tongue a rudder, directing the rest of our body. And Paul declares that I can’t tame it! “It is a restless evil filled with deadly poison.” (vs. 8) So what hope is there for us if we cannot tame our tongues?

Paul states: 17But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

Just like the disciples went from using their tongue unwisely to using them for good, we can become wise with our tongues. The disciples spent three years hanging out with the God of the universe who chose to limit himself to be with us! What flowed out of the heart of Jesus was what Paul is describing in verse 17 and 18. “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. (Luke 6:45) Controlling the tongue does not mean that you have to stop talking; it simply means that your tongue is directed by your Christ developing character. Wisdom is gained by focusing on what is pure, loving peace, being considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. So at this moment I take inventory of what is in my heart and I spend time with Jesus allowing him to fill me up with his love, grace, and mercy. Only Christ can tame our tongues by filling our hearts with his love for humanity.