Oh REJOICE, you who belong to Him, His chosen ones, whom He loved before He laid the foundations of the world, before He spoke and light appeared.
Rejoice in The Creator!
Rejoice in The Light!
Rejoice in The Truth!
Rejoice that The Fullness of Light and Truth agreed to die for you, from eternity past!
Rejoice in the One Who came bursting forth from the darkness, because He is the Everlasting Light and Life!
Rejoice that you are His, forever, and the sufferings of now, in this present creation, which is groaning to be set free from its slavery to corruption, are not worthy to be compared with the majesty, with the glory, with the wonder, and with the splendor, that is to be revealed to us.
Rejoice that His love is a never-forsaking love, a never-separating love, and a returning and receiving us to Himself, love!
"There is something dark and deceitful that still lurks in the heart of every one of God's children who has not yet been fully glorified: sin. It is only ever the sin inside of me that draws and hooks me to the sin outside of me. Every day there is a war fought for control of your heart. But your jealous Savior, with the zeal of gorgeous redemptive love, will not share your heart. He will not rest until your heart is ruled by him and him alone."
I'm sitting at my desk, looking out the window, and it is snowing. It is swirling around, first falling in one direction and then moments later, in just the opposite direction. Then, sometimes it falls like when you shake-up a snow globe, all different directions at once. For me, snow is one of the most beautiful things that Jesus created.
The scene I am also seeing contains the appearance of deadness. There is a cottonwood tree next to our pond. It looks dead, because the leaves fell off last October. The snowflakes are catching and clinging to the bare, dead-looking branches.
The Bible says we are dead in our trespasses and sins. (Eph. 2:1) Jesus came, died on the cross, bore the wrath of the Father for the sins of His chosen, so that our sins, dark like the color scarlet, could be as white as snow. (Isaiah 1:18) In other words, our sins are completely covered, forgiven. Our slate is wiped clean. We are pure, clothed in the righteousness of Jesus. Before repenting of our sin and turning to Christ and believing in Him, we don't appear dead, we are dead, spiritually. We are separated from God and life with God. After repenting of our sins and turning to Christ, we are placed in Him and His righteousness makes us acceptable before God. We are no longer dead in our sins. We are alive, spiritually alive - and the voice of Jesus resonates within our hearts. Looking at the cottonwood tree reminds me that I was once spiritually dead, but Jesus made me alive, wiping out the certificate of debt I owed Him because of my sin, and now I am pure and clean, my sins are white as snow.
I began this post yesterday. Today, we woke up to seven, fresh inches of beautiful, white snow. My bedroom window is next to a light. I woke up several times in the middle of the night to see snowflakes, it seemed like millions of them, sparkling and swirling like diamonds, the light reflecting off of them - so beautiful.
I was out and about taking pictures of our snow today. We didn't have the wind that was forecast, but we sure did get a beautiful covering of reminders of Jesus love for us. The above image is our cottonwood. To view a complete album, click here. Enjoy!
"He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
and he who rules his spirit,
than he who captures a city."
We had a guest speaker at church yesterday - a missionary from Austria. His message was on anger. It was a great message.
He defined unrighteous, sinful anger, as what arises when we don't get what we want. Unrighteous anger is motivated by an idolatrous desire. It's all about us. We are the Lord of our lives when we display unrighteous anger. Cain is an example of one who displayed unrighteous anger. The result was murdering his brother.
Righteous anger in us, on the other hand, arises when God doesn't get what He wants. It's about Him. It's an emotion that is motivated by a sincere love for God, and Christ is the Lord of our lives, not us. If Jesus is made fun of, it should make us angry.
We are instructed to be angry, yet don't sin. (Ephesians 4:26) Paul is talking about righteous anger, when God doesn't get what He wants, when He is maligned. He should get what He wants, because He is God. He made us. He owns us. He is holy. God never does anything wrong, desires anything wrong, or demands anything wrong. We are not to let the sun go down on our righteous anger because righteous anger can go bad, quickly, and turn into unrighteous anger. We are sinful, therefore we need to shut it down, fast. Don't go to bed smoldering.
The effects of righteous anger is that those who are in error can be set on a path to correction. Righteous anger should motivate us to do good things, to encourage and exhort those who are in error. We should be angry that babies are killed in the womb. This is righteous anger, but we shouldn't go out and bomb abortion clinics. Instead, volunteer to work as a counselor or give to organizations such as Care Net.
Here is a list of the results of unrighteous anger:
Gossip (as revenge)
Separation, lack of unity
Solomon gives us biblical wisdom on what to do when others get sinfully angry:
"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Proverbs 15:1
Do not return angry words for angry words. It's like throwing gasoline on a fire. Return anger with gentleness. It will pour water on the fire of angry words.
"He who conceals a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends." Proverbs 17:9
Do not expose the sin by gossip.
"Like one who takes a dog by the ears is he who passes by and meddles with strife not belonging to him." Proverbs 26:17
Be careful about getting involved if you are not asked for help. You'll probably get bit.
"The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so abandon the quarrel before it breaks out." Proverbs 17:14
Walk away or it will become a gusher of anger.
What else can we do? Represent Christ to the person who is displaying unrighteous anger. Find out what this person needs. If we are the one who has displayed unrighteous anger, we need to confess our sin and ask for forgiveness.
Psalm 37:8 - "Cease from anger and forsake wrath; do not fret; it leads only to evildoing."
Proverbs 15:18 - "A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but the slow to anger calms a dispute."
Proverbs 19:11 - "A man's discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression."
Proverbs 19:19 - "A man of great anger will bear the penalty, for if you rescue him, you will only have to do it again."
Let the natural consequences of a very angry man teach him not to be angry.
Psalm 119:11 - "Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against you."
Take preemptive measures by memorizing scripture. Draw from it when you feel the unrighteous anger welling up. Scripture is the gentle, cool water that douses the fire of sinful anger. It will also protect righteous anger from turning sinful.
I'm cleaning up my desk area and came across these words that I'd scribbled down on a blank 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper. I can't remember the source or what prompted me to write them down, but thought I'd pass them on to you:
As Christ is formed in us, we will experience greater and greater grief over sin - our sin and the sins of others. This enables us to identify with the grief and sorrow Jesus has over our sin. It makes His sacrifice for us, and it makes Him, more precious to us.
Totally different topic (yet somewhat related) - I was reading in John 13 this morning. This is the chapter of the account of Jesus washing the disciples' feet, before He went to the cross. He was leaving an example to us of how His possession (that's us) is to be occupied while we watch for His return - doing as He did when He was here on earth - serving others, humbly, sacrificially.
(We are His possession. We are His! How comforting, how reassuring.)
This is a picture of who I spend my time with on Wednesday nights - It was Tacky Tourist night, a couple of months back, at Awana. Looking forward to getting back at it...we've had the last three weeks off.
I hope you are excited about the new year, and new opportunities perhaps to get involved in the body of Christ, serving Him - loving Him, as a response to His great gift of salvation for us, as a response to His sacrifice, so we could belong to Him!
for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while,
you have been distressed by various trials,
so that theproof of your faith,
being more precious than gold which is perishable,
even though tested by fire,
may be found to result in praise and glory and honor
at the revelation of Jesus Christ..."
1 Peter 1:5-7
Last year was quite a year. I read last week an article written by a Fox News journalist which said that he wouldn't get one story finished but that he was called off to cover another event. In the many years he'd been reporting, he'd never had a year like it. The ongoing upheaval in the Middle East with the fall of several dictators. The earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The capture and death of Osama bin Laden. The devastating and very deadly tornados here in the United States. The Occupy protestors. The list goes on. It really was quite a year last year, and my guess is this year won't be any different.
For most of us, what is listed above probably didn't have a huge impact on our lives. I do remember watching in disbelief as the tsunami engulfed everything in it's path, crushing houses and tossing cars and airplanes around like they were toys. But it didn't really touch my life here, in Washington. I still have my home. I still have my car. (There is a story with our mini-van, it involves a deer, but that is for another time.) There was concern for a little while about the damage done to some of the nuclear reactors and what affects it might have, but it proved to be a non-issue here in the states. As far as what is going on in the Middle East, I have to admit, it has been exciting to watch because it is around that region of the world from where we will see Antichrist arise, the world ruler who will demand worship of all nations by instituting his mark and requiring it for buying and selling. (Revelation 13:15-17) But the upheaval there hasn't really affected me here, yet. There were some things however that happened in my life this year, that did.
All of us can probably recall at least one trial we've gone through this past year, or maybe several. You might even be in one at the moment. In the passage above, Peter wants us to know several principles about trouble.
1 - Trouble doesn't last - it is for a little while. Paul considered the sufferings we undergo in our lifetime are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us - Romans 8:18.
2 - Trouble is necessary. (see 5, below)
3 - Trouble brings distress. Trials cause heartache and emotional agony. They can also bring physical pain.
4 - Trouble comes in different forms - various trials. Sometimes trials are caused by the sins of others. Trials come with unexpected news. Some trials are over very quickly while some call for endurance for months, or maybe even years at a time. Trials vary in the intensity of the distress. Some peak and then fall, and then peak again. We undergo all different kinds of trials.
5 - Trouble serves a purpose - the proof of your faith...though tested by fire... Trials test the reality of our faith. Trials forge faith of steel. The distress drives the true child of God to the Word and to prayer. Our dependence on God becomes greater. Our view of God is enlarged. Our obedience comes quicker. When we come through a trial still trusting the Lord, we are assured our faith is genuine and the image of Jesus shines brighter in us.
6 - The final outcome of all our trials, the testing of our faith, is so that Jesus may be praised - your faith...even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ...
We know from Hebrews 12:2 that Jesus is the author and perfecter of faith. We know from Ephesians 2:8 that our faith is a gift from Him. At the time of salvation, God grants us faith. Peter tells us we are protected by the power of God, through the faith He gives us. God energizes faith and continues to preserve it. The greatest trial that the church is going to face is when Antichrist is revealed and demands worship of the world. Genuine believers will choose death before giving their worship to him. At the end of the age, when Jesus returns and is revealed, praise will resound for Him, for His keeping us. Salvation is all His work, including our gift of faith. He loses none of His sheep that the Father has given Him. He lovingly and fiercely guards and protects each and every single one, through the fire. Gold is valuable, but perishable. Gold is subject to decay. Genuine faith is not perishable. Genuine faith is not subject to decay making genuine faith much more valuable than gold. Genuine faith never fails completely under the severest of distresses because the power of Jesus is behind it. Jesus - our Precious Savior, the Eternal, Omnipotent God of the universe - of infinite, measureless value and having infinite, measureless power.
I have loved ones in my life who are being distressed with trials. Jesus is more pronounced in their lives, shining bright, because of them. Praise be to Him.