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Do You Have Any Idea How Lucky You Are?

windows-photo-gallery-wallpaper.jpgYou have been chosen.

By the God of the universe…He chose you before the foundation of the world.  And not just “you”, the “struggling, trying hard, want to do good you.”  Or the “oops, I stumbled again” you.  This also includes the “boy have I really blown it, no one is as bad as me” you.  THAT you.  I’m trying to tell you about the HOLY AND BLAMELESS you.  THAT is who He selected, HE CHOSE YOU before the world was ever formed.

Maybe that’s old news.  Maybe it doesn’t knock your socks off.  But it does me.

Every so often I just get hit with that realization anew. And it’s mind-boggling. What PEACE that brings…why is there any stress in this life when we are assured of our place in eternity?

If you aren’t aware, it’s all in His plan.  But oh wait, that’s right. He only accepts perfection. Blameless people.  That lets you out?  Not really.

He cannot abide sin.  Not even a little white lie.  (Most of mine are actually ugly, crunchy black things).  So He devised the plan to send His own Son to pay the penalty—which is death—for my sins and yours.  The plan goes like this:  Jesus, God’s son, came in a miraculous way, lived a perfect, sinless life.  Then He was put to death in a tortuous way. And in His death He assumed all of your sins.  All of my sins.  All the sins of the world’s people.

He carried those sins to the grave; conquered death and left them there.  Then he got up; he came back from the dead and went back to heaven, get this: to prepare a place for you.  And when you accept this, when you truly believe this and accept Him as the One who has saved you, you join the ranks of the holy and blameless. Isn’t that amazing?

If you’d like to know more, please leave me a comment.  But it’s all in the Bible.  Start with John 3:16 if you like, and go on from there.  In fact, he comprised the whole thing into that one verse: “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes on Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”  See, I had to use 7 paragraphs, he used one sentence.

And if you don’t have a Bible but you’re using the Internet, there’s www.biblehub.com or  www.biblegateway.com.  You can find it all there.

So.  Now.  Put your socks back on.  And have a blessed day.

Mama’s Reinforcer

My 3 brothers and I were rambunctious, curious, headstrong kids who were constantly experimenting, trying out new things, building contraptions, getting into scrapes.  Especially when we concocted pretend battles that earned us scrapes and more than one hilarious–if unexpected–outcome. (Tale for another time)

Yet when Mama said jump, we did.  Didn’t ask why.  Or argue.   We just understood that she was Mama, she was in charge, she knew best, and she had a little maple switch to back up her words if we disagreed.

She didn’t use it much.  She didn’t have to.  She knew that our history with her and our aversion to pain had taught us to trust her at her word.  The few times our egos got in the way and that little guy with the horns on my left shoulder prompted me to flip that big toe over the line a bit too far…I had the Truth of what I already knew reinforced.

Don’t get me wrong, I would never dare to complain about this.  It wasn’t excessive; it wasn’t cruel or meant to harm.  It was love in action; love showing us that we had firm boundaries in place for our safety and protection.  We knew that from her perspective, in her many years of wisdom earned the hard way, that she absolutely knew what was the right thing for us to do.  Our doubts were set to rest with a bit of stinging on the legs, a few tender tears, and a much chastened ego.

When I read again John 2: 4 today, (about the wedding in Cana) I had to think about mothers and their children.  As a mother of grown sons today, When I see a need to be filled, I quietly direct my sons in the same way that Mary did.  “Jack, we need more tea,” or “Seth, that box is too heavy for her.”  I know without hesitation that they will acquiesce, and help in whatever way my statement implied.  I know that’s taking huge license with the Saviour and His relationship to his mother, but that’s my personal frame of reference here.

Yet Jesus’ statement in verse 4 was, (as stated in the Hebrew Names Version),

4 Yeshua said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with you and me? My hour has not yet come.”

Jesus wasn’t being disrespectful or refusing to obey; He was simply asking her to consider His own perspective of His mission of salvation versus her more immediate temporal concern.

That is a huge lesson for me right now.  Recovering from an unexpected divorce, I have my own laundry list of immediate wants and needs that I’ve taken to Him, confident that He cares.  But He’s reminding me that His perspective is different from mine.  His purposes in the trials I face today are eternal, not temporal.

That’s quite a lesson for me.  I wanted to pass it along, for what it’s worth.  And to share with you one more bit of serendipity…the verse to encourage me that came to mind from this study was from I Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (NIV).

Now, I have a children’s memory verse pad—it’s a post-it note pad with a different verse printed on every page in large print—I guess it’s used in VBS or children’s classes.  The top one was about children obeying their parents.  I used to stick them on the mirror and around the house, as reminders.

Haven’t used it in a while.  In a pinch, I turned it over and scribbled I Peter 5:7 down on the back of the last well-worn sheet that still had a bit of sticky on it. I folded the sticky edge down and stuck it with the verse I wrote showing on my bookshelf beside my desk.  It was a few moments later when I stood up to leave the desk, that I glanced at the notepad to see what the new memory verse would be.  Here it is: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

 

Memory verse pad

“Nothing Can Stop Us Now”

[Once again, this draft was penned in June a year and a half ago.  It’s ancient history now :0), but I’m pleased in a shy way to see how upbeat I was able to be.]

 

The last time I wrote (January 1) I exclaimed, “What’s Next, Father?”  and basically stood amazed, waiting for whatever He brought my way.

I wanted to let the few of you who still read this little chat know what has transpired since then.

Times grew worse; desperate, in fact.  I wish I could list for you all the particulars, but for now let’s just say that I can’t imagine anything worse happening to us.  (What a frightful thing to say, now I see this and wonder if I “jinxed” our journey).

Then on one of the earliest sunny days in 2014 to date, someone that neither my husband nor I had ever contacted called him and asked him to come to work for them.  Right here in Oklahoma.  No 12 hours of travel; no outlay of expense for hotel, or anything.  Just wanted him to come to work immediately.

And a couple of days following that–ending 3 years of unemployment–I was called for an interview that I had joked about a few days earlier.  I’d grown so used to pouring my all into an interview to no avail, that I just relaxed and enjoyed this one. No pressure–if I wasn’t going to get the job, there was no reason to fret and be nervous. So I relaxed, and laughed a lot, and had a great time in this interview. In fact, when I left the boss’s office, I was so pleased just to have a warm and confident interview that I was encouraged just to have accomplished that simple act.

You can’t imagine the awe and delight in my heart when I was asked to accept the position a couple of days later.  It was more than I could fathom that all of this would transpire at the same time.  BOTH of us hired within a few days’ time.

To shorten a long and rather boring tale, we’re now in a new home; smaller, but beautiful.  We have a new beginning; new jobs, new dreams, and thankfully, a new purpose.

Last time it was “What’s Next, Father?” And this time I can truly say it’s all about Him.  To quote my husband’s wedding vows to me, “Nothing Can Stop Us Now.”

 

Unfathomable Grace

I’ve been studying, preparing for a quarter’s teaching  on the subject of the Last Days…the days leading up to and following the Rapture of the saints.  We’ll be viewing the series of DVD’s titled “”What in the World is Going On?” created by Dr. David Jeremiah.  And I ended tonight’s personal study preparation by answering the questions in the Study Guide that comes with each lesson.

They’re very simple, four questions only, took me maybe five minutes to complete.  But the impact of these simple questions following the thorough, reasoned teaching of Dr. Jeremiah has made a jaw-dropping impact on my heart.

We all  sin.  Those who are saved understand that they are forgiven; that God’s grace through Jesus’ blood covers it all.  And that’s a given; a fact.  But still, if you’re tender-hearted, or have a tender conscience, at times you tend to wonder how God REALLY feels, if He will truly not stand with his clip board and a foot tapping…and even as I write this, I find I’m embarrassed to admit that, as it proves that I doubt God’s promise and His word that He says He will.  (Maybe I’m calling to mind my own tough-to-forgive nature, you think?)

The questions I answered were the following, if I can paraphrase them for you to lend a bit of the weight  of the message that I discovered in this first lesson:  Who did God choose for his covenant, Abraham or the Jews?  (IF you read Genesis 12:1-3, it’s crystal clear that he chose the man).  One man.  Abram, who lived in a city called Ur of the Chaldees.  God promised he would make Abram a great nation–the man, not the race of people.  He said he would make Abram’s name GREAT.  That –get this–I never saw this before:  THE FATE OF ALL OTHER NATIONS WOULD DEPEND ON HOW THEY TREAT ABRAM (Genesis 12:3)…can  you imagine?

All the nations that mistreated the Israelites, from the Canaanites, Hittites, and all the other tribes who no longer exist, to all the ones you’ve just heard about on the six o’clock news…all have been destroyed.  It’s history; not just a prophecy that the eternal God made, but FACT.  NEWS.  HISTORY.

He promised to Abram as many descendants as the stars in the skies and the sands of the oceans…and he promised that simply…that’s just too tiny a word to get across the import–BECAUSE HE LOVED THEM, BECAUSE HE’S FAITHFUL AND KEEPS HIS PROMISES, he promised that they will be his people, his treasured possession forevermore.  He enumerates how they were faithless, stiff-necked, and rebellious against him over and over and over.  But on the simple basis of his faithful nature; his amazing love; and his covenant with one man a long time ago, he will never ever break his promise.  In Jeremiah 31:35-37 He states it plainly:  The only way his covenant will ever be broken is if the heavens can finally be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched.  Sure.  Right.  I’ll get right on that.

As if you ever needed a rock solid concrete statement of just how unshakable, unfathomable and amazing that God’s love and Grace truly is…there it is.

Wow.

Famous Last Words?

When you die, and you’re hovering nearby in the space between the roses surrounding your casket and the ceiling of the church, (assuming you’re into that kind of thing–humor me) will you be happy to see who attends your service? Will you like the music they select as a tribute to your life?  Will you blanch at the silly stories friends relate that show your zest for life and your unselfish tendency to poke fun at yourself?

We attended a class once as a young married when the teacher passed out paper tombstones and had each of us complete what we would like for our own tombstones to say once we had  passed on.  There were the requisite silly ones like “Told you I was sick” and “Here lies Eleanor. She lies…no more.”  But then there were a few who took the assignment seriously and recorded what they really hoped to see.  The lesson was a Bible study with the thoughtful intent to have each of us consider how we were to live so that our descendants would be able to say positive things about our outcome.

I thought at length back then about what I would like to see as the outcome of my life.  Now that I’m in my sixties, I think that my goal, my wish at that early date still stands today.  I had written on my paper tombstone, “She prayed. And her children know the Lord.”

I think that’s enough.

What’s next, Father?

Jenni on the highwayMidnight’s approaching.  I wish for something special.

Something unique to mark this year’s end.

Such a huge promise awaits just on the other side of the clock.

So exciting, that the approach has to be marked in a special way.

Special?  How about those stars shining down on me from thousands of years ago?

How about the soft, cold winds blowing across my face, that blew across the sands of the Orient  not long ago?

How could you ask for a more brilliant marker, a fancier benchmark than the glistening moon shining down on the face of the one that you love?

Ok.   That’s good enough for me.  Tonight has been recorded in a significant way.

Now, I’m ready for tomorrow and whatever He has in store.

Thank you, Lord.

Time Alone

Peaceful

Peaceful (Photo credit: gem66)

We tend to complain about the pace of things; with technology and schedules and activities, it seems we have no time to think; to evaluate who and where we are.   With priorities conflicting, family, work, leisure, the  mechanics of daily living, things can get pretty confusing.

Yet one thing I’d like to stress today, if my words have any value at all:  If you are experiencing confusion, it is NOT from God.  That’s a popular distraction of Satan‘s, to have you believe that God is sending it your way.  But remember–He’s a God of balance and order, not of confusion or chaos.

And He is a God of Peace.  Seek His peace; shut off Satan’s big mouth, (yes, you can do it) banish Satan and he must flee.      Get alone.  Follow Jesus’ example.  Go somewhere quiet and alone.  Jesus will meet you there.  Time after time  we see Him in the Scriptures slipping off to get alone and pray.   He knew the value of it.  (see Mark 1:35; Mark 6:45,46; Mark 14:32-34; Luke 4:42; Luke 5:16; Luke 6:12)

And He highly recommends it:  Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33)     But don’t do it for “all these things”.  Do it for peace.  There is nothing–I mean nothing like it. 

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 4:7)