He could not save himself

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So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.” (Matthew 27:41-44)

“‘He saved others, but he can’t save himself!’ Their words, spoken as an insult, were the literal truth. He could not save himself and others simultaneously. He chose to sacrifice himself in order to save the world.” (John Stott, The Cross of Christ)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this John Stott quote. Have you ever stopped to think that the crowd’s barbs — “He saved others; he can’t save himself” — were true? That, in choosing to sacrifice himself on the cross, your sin upon his shoulders, Jesus purposefully fulfilled the mocking crowd’s words? He, the true King of Israel, trusting God as none other, breathed his dying breath for one reason: He chose to sacrifice himself in order to save those the Father had given him. For:

He could not save himself if he wanted to save you.

He chose instead, with his dying breath, to buy life. Life for you. Life for me. Life for those whose sin must be paid for: Yours. Mine.

Behold the man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders;
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished;
His dying breath has brought me life –
I know that it is finished.

As we enter into this week before Easter, more than all the fleeting or worrying or enticing thoughts that daily battle for my mind’s time, I want to think about this astounding truth: it was my sin that held him there.

But not only that.

It was his unimaginable love that held him there. He chose to sacrifice himself. Oh, the mercy!  So immense and so free! And, oh this astounding thought: it found out me!

Amazing love! How can it be that thou, my God, should choose to die for me?

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Another piece to read this Easter week: the true agony of the cross

Hymn: How Deep the Father’s Love for Us, by Stuart Townend

Painting: Let Him Be Crucified, by James Tissot (1836-1902)

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God is light.

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God is light.

He is spiritual perfection,

moral excellence,

utter transcendence.

And because He is, there is light.

Light for you to see by. Both in your physical and in your spiritual realm. Because He is, there is also light for you: light from His Word. Light to guide you into purity and holiness, into the life-giving relationship you’re meant to know.

Light as nearness. As warmth. As illumination. For the child of God, light which leads you to an all-revealing, yet-without-fear relationship. The relationship you’ve been re-born to know.

So on days when you feel you’re floundering in darkness — unsure, unsafe, alone — call to Him! When you stumble, scared, along a darkened path, sure that no human could understand, or would care, or be able to help in your loneliness, call to your Father! He promises: you are never alone.

He cares. He knows. He helps.

He, Jesus, came so that you could be transferred out of the domain of darkness and be transferred, at His cost, into His kingdom. If He did that, will He not also do much more for you, beloved child of His?

“The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
    on them has light shone.

“… God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” 

“… Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life…I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.'”

He has come to us, He in whom there is no darkness. Because of His work for His people, His face shines upon you. Oh believe in Him, call to Him, trust Him!

And remember this: On days when your fear threatens to smother your trust, tell Him so.

  1. He already knows that about you.
  2. You’re in a no-fear-of-recrimination relationship.
  3. He wants you to freely pour out your heart, your need to Him!  He, who is light, loves you generously. Generously enough to give wisdom (light) specifically to you:

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”

(Isaiah 9:2, I John 1:5, John 8:12, John 12:46, James 1:5-6)

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We were there, plotting and scheming

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Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

“‘Were you there when they crucified my Lord?’ the old spiritual asks. And we must answer, ‘Yes, we were there.’ Not as spectators only, but as participants, guilty participants, plotting, scheming, betraying, bargaining and handing him over to be crucified. We may try to wash our hands of responsibility like Pilate. But our attempt will be as futile as his. For there is blood on our hands.

Before we can see the cross as something done for us (leading us to faith and worship), we have to see it as something done by us (leading us to repentance).”

John Stott, The Cross of Christ (emphasis mine)

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Hymn: Were You There, first published in William Barton’s Old Plantation Hymns, 1899

Painting: Pilate Washes His Hands, James Tissot

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Who delivered up Jesus to die?

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Who delivered up Jesus to die?

Not Judas, for money; not Pilate, for fear; not the Jews, for envy; 

but the Father, for love!

Octavius Winslow (1808-1878)

“…when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” (John 13:1)

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.

Painting: Bird’s-Eye View of the Forum; Jesus Hears His Death Sentence by James Tissot (1836-1902)  Hymn: from How Deep the Father’s Love for Us by Stuart Townend

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Why do I feel so unsettled?

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“We pilgrims walk the tightrope between earth and heaven, feeling trapped in time, yet with eternity beating in our hearts. Our unsatisfied sense of exile is not to be solved or fixed while here on earth. Our pain and longings make sure we will never be content, and that’s good; it is to our benefit that we do not grow comfortable in a world destined for decay.” (Joni Eareckson Tada) 

When life’s details unsettle me; when a day’s circumstances won’t line up neatly and nicely; when I can’t seem to trap, and cocoon, and keep under my careful control that longed-for sense of care-free-ness I so desire: It’s then that I must remember Joni’s words.

When I find myself longing for the causes of unsettled feelings to disappear and for carefree moments to multiply, I have to remember that a day’s circumstances aren’t meant to be fully fixed here on earth. Our pain and longings have purpose:

We aren’t meant to be content and comfortable and carefree in a world destined for decay.

For the Christian pilgrim, headed toward the new heavens and the new earth, the unsatisfied sense of unsettledness, of un-care-free-ness is a purposeful reminder. We’re pointed to the life to come. Unsettled days don’t have to be feared. They’re gifts. They’re given to awaken within us the thought that we must pry our hands from the cocoon of carefree comfort we’re trying to spin.

They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Hebrews 11:13-16

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This is not all there is – right now counts forever

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Right now counts forever. What we choose today counts into eternity. For this is not all there is. The seen world we live in is part of an unseen, invisible world. An invisible world as real as these words before you.

Don’t fall for the lie that it is not so.

Don’t make life choices based on this seen life. Live for eternity! Choose, in minor and major ways, to please your Father. Choose wholeheartedly — on days when you find it easy and on days when it’s hard — to spend your life as if there is life beyond. As if there is a Transcendent Ruler to whom you’ll give an account:

“[Many] believe that nothing exists beyond that which we can see…secularism says there is nothing beyond this life…and even if God is not denied explicitly, the secularized culture operates as if He does not exist. There is nothing transcendent to which the secular is accountable.

The Christian worldview emphatically holds that all of reality centers around the existence of a personal, holy, and transcendent Creator. Only fools deny the Lord’s existence (Ps. 14), for He holds eternity in His hands…

Right Now Counts Forever…What we do today counts for tomorrow because the Father has ordained to work through our present decisions…In Christ we are assured of eternal life; yet, even the smallest choices we make impact the degree of our heavenly reward. Is God’s will the basis by which you make even the most “minor” decisions?” (from Tabletalk Devotions with R.C. Sproul)

Don’t just live for the horizontal. When you make decisions, even small ones, choose in ways that say, “With my one life, I want to fully proclaim the existence of the invisible and the vertical.”

By the very ways you decide to spend your energy, your breath, your days, proclaim the Lord’s existence. There is life beyond this life: Choose as if right now counts forever, as if today counts into eternity!

Related posts: This is all there isWill you be ready for the wedding?

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You have the words of eternal life

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So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him,

“Lord, to whom shall we go?

You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

(John 6: 67-69)

O Lord Jesus, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life.

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they were part of God’s plan

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I know it seems odd to see wise men as Easter approaches. We usually only think of them at Christmas. But how delightful to remember, at all times of the year, this amazing truth: God planned, before the world was created, that the wise men would travel from far away, mile after mile, to see the Lord Jesus and bring Him their gifts of worship. They saw his star. They came to praise the newborn king. And their actions fulfilled what God had declared to His people from the very beginning: the Father’s plan at Jesus’ birth was His one-and-only same plan as His plan at Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Same plan. Forever before and forever after.

In a never-able-to-be-thwarted way, God’s plan for history, for me, for you marches on. Hear how Sinclair Ferguson says it:

“It had all been a part of God’s plan. He wanted people from far away to know about Jesus. He still does.”

Hear how the wise men, after planning and traveling a great distance to find Jesus at his birth, say it: “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”  (Matthew 2:2)

Hear how Jesus, to the disciples, after his resurrection, says it: “…you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

One and the same: The Lord Jesus’ birth, death, resurrection, and the Lord’s commission to his followers. God in charge: planning that people all over the earth would know about Jesus, bow before Him, and know the wonder of  worshiping Him.

“…that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”(Philippians 2:10-11) 

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Sinclair Ferguson quote from The Plan: How God Got the World Ready for Jesus 

The Journey of the Magi by James Tissot, 1894

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joy in the presence of angels

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“Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!

So Jesus told them this story…”suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”” (Luke 15:1-2, 8-10)

Nestled between the parable of the man calling together friends and neighbors to rejoice at the rescue of his lost sheep, and the parable of the father running with joy to welcome home his once lost son, Jesus’ words about this woman’s rejoicing at her found coin teach us again about the Father’s heart. Because the religious leaders were irritated with Jesus’ free offer of himself to obvious sinners, and they were grumbling about his association with those who didn’t “deserve” God’s goodness, Jesus tells them three parables. And:

“We have in this series of three interrelated parables a profound picture of God’s heart and the invitation of the gospel. The consistent theme throughout these parables is rejoicing over the finding of what was lost (one sheep, one coin, one son). These are images of God’s joy in the restoration of a sinner through repentance.” (ESV Gospel Transformation Bible comments)

  • More joy in heaven (Jesus’ words at the parable of the lost sheep found).
  • Joy before the angels of God (Jesus’ words at the parable of the lost coin found).
  • Celebration and gladness (Jesus’ words at the parable of the lost son found).

Joy before the angels of God. Celebration and gladness. Joy in heaven! Do you hear it? Do you hear Jesus’ explanation to us of invisible-world realities, of the experience in heaven, when a sinner comes to know Him as Lord?

When you, as that sinner, come to know Him. You, that one sinner! You, rejoiced over! Angelic joy because God brought you to repentance. Think on that reality.

And think on the Father’s heart. Little lost sheep, tiny lost coin, rebellious and straying child, God’s goodness in bringing you to himself, with His incredible grace shed upon you, causes amazement and rejoicing in heaven! The Father’s patience and compassion, his welcoming rescue, his relentless pursuit of you, causes joy in the presence of the angels and is celebrated before the throne! His amazing grace toward you, little you, causes angels to marvel.

How much more so should we.

O Father, fill our hearts with incredulous wonder. Stir within us amazement and joy that you would pursue undeserving us. That we would have the honor of being little found coins.

The Lost Drachma by James Tissot (1836-1902)

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the gardener who cares prunes his vines

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Spring snuck up on us this year. Winter never seemed to arrive, and now, plants and trees and vines that need pruning are suddenly sprouting with early growth. Most years at pruning time, I get lost in thoughts about the whole process. Thoughts like:

  1. I know pruning’s required for training growth and for protecting health and for improving fruit quality, but pruning makes me nervous. I’m always sure I’ll inflict irreparable damage.
  2. And deeper thoughts, like: Why, metaphorically (since the Lord sets everything up for a reason), is pruning required? Why, as in: What does God mean to show us about the mystery of the unseen spiritual world through the physical-world’s yearly pruning process?
  3. And since God set up the pruning process like He did, I want to understand Jesus’ words and intended correlation from John 15:

I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” (John 15:1-8)

What did Jesus mean? This:

  • The Father is the gardener.
  • Jesus is the true grapevine. He’s the perfect embodiment of the true witness, the true Israel (Psalm 80, Isaiah 5).
  • Branches attached to a grapevine are supposed to produce fruit. If a branch doesn’t produce fruit, the Father/gardener cuts the branch off.
  • If a branch does produce fruit, the Father prunes the branch. The gardener knows that pruned branches produce the best and most fruit:

“Before we are in [Christ], we are dry and useless wood.” (John Calvin) Then, when we know Him, “through hardship, discipline, and suffering, we are pruned so that our fruit will be ever greater and ever sweeter. The Father prunes us if we abide in Christ.” (R.C. Sproul) 

Repeated pruning = richer and finer fruit. Note to self: Don’t fear the Lord’s pruning.

  • So, a pruned branch must stay attached to the grapevine, to his words and His message, in order to continue in fruitfulness. Much fruit is produced when the vine feeds the branch which stays attached.
  • But, cut off from vital union with Christ, a severed branch cannot produce fruit. “If we abide in Christ and bear fruit we can know that we are truly His. Some are cut off because they are not His — they try to attach themselves to Christ without abiding in Him through faith…those who bear no fruit are just dead wood and were never truly a part of the vine to begin with.” (R.C. Sproul)
  • Those who are cut off wither and are gathered into a pile to be burned.
  • But. If you remain in Jesus, attached to him, desiring His direction through the Holy Spirit, asking for the Father’s glory, according to His will, your prayers are answered.

Much fruit = true disciple = great glory to the Father. Note to self: Don’t fear the Lord’s pruning.

So as I prune to promote health and flourishing in my earthly plants, and start to see the correlation between earthly growth and invisible, spiritual realities, I’m left with these thoughts:

  1. Our Father’s so kind. He set up visual illustrations for us. Plants. Pruning. Fruit. Dry wood. Visuals to remind us of eternal truth. Truth we want to meditate on, obey, trust.
  2. I do want to be a fruitful follower of Jesus, with His life flowing through and out from me to others. The cutting during the pruning process of suffering, hardship and discipline hurts (Rom. 5:1-5), but I want to bear rich fruit. For Him. No matter what.
  3. Finally this, especially this: As I prune in my little earthly garden, I sometimes still have trouble believing that the disciplining of the plant will produce rich fruit in the months to come. I still find myself skeptical: “What if the invisible process begun by painful pruning doesn’t work this time?”

But it always does.

Winter’s this:

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becomes summer’s this:

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Every single year. Every single time.

Note to self: Do not fear the Lord’s pruning.

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There’s a kind that’s vast, unmeasured, boundless, free

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When you long for deep love, love with no boundaries, love free and never-changing, your heart is actually yearning for the love of Jesus. He watches over your every need. He’s always there; His love is love of rest, of blessing, of fullness. Every earthly love — even the most devoted and meaning-filled — only hints at His:

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches o’er His loved ones, died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth, watcheth o’er them from the throne!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, love of every love the best!
’Tis an ocean full of blessing, ’tis a haven giving rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, ’tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to Thee!

When your heart yearns, cry out to the Lord. The deep, deep love of Jesus satisfies as none other can. You were created to know this unfaltering, unfailing, steadfast love. Love vast. Unmeasured. Boundless. Free! Love of every love the best!

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Hymn: Oh the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus, S. Trevor Francis, 1834-1925

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old age is not to be dreaded

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For the Christian, old age is not the end, not to be dreaded, not to be feared. Old age, rather, is to be embraced and moved into with purpose:

“How should we view the onset of old age? The common assumption is that it is mainly a process of loss, whereby strength is drained from both mind and body and the capacity to look forward and move forward in life’s various departments is reduced to nothing. … But here the Bible breaks in, highlighting the further thought that spiritual ripeness is worth far more than material wealth in any form, and that spiritual ripeness should continue to increase as one gets older.” (J.I. Packer, at age 90)

Whether you’re 29 or 79, as you approach your next decade, have the lies of the culture around you confused you? Because much of what you see in your world would tell you that you must do whatever you can to stay looking and feeling young, do you fear older age? Do you fear being reduced to nothing? Or fear losing your health and mind? Or your place and importance? Or the love of those who no longer need you?

Don’t listen to the lie that growing older means the end of all that’s worthwhile! God, who created you, who knows your fears, and who cannot lie, proclaims differently.

And because God proclaims differently, you can believe and also proclaim differently. You can proclaim that each moment is precious, and that each day of your 20s, 40s, 60s and 80s is kept by Him (Is. 46:4). The world doesn’t have it right. Your fading beauty and diminishing health are purposeful, meant to point your thoughts toward your coming eternal life; toward God, the Imperishable One.

No matter your age, plan to proclaim until your last breath. Proclaim to the next generations all God’s wondrous deeds! Your witness of His faithfulness to you is of immeasurable importance! With roots dug deep into God’s word, declare that He is upright, the rock, the holy One:

“O God, from my youth you have taught me,
and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
So even to old age and gray hairs,
O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation,
your power to all those to come.”

“They still bear fruit in old age;
they are ever full of sap and green,
to declare that the Lord is upright;
he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.”

(Psalm 71: 17-18, 92: 14-15)

You’ve been given truth a hope-less world needs desperately. You’re able to proclaim that they should set their hope in God. He’s revealed to you that there is no other hope! So do not dread old age. For you who know Him, older age is, rather, to be moved into with divinely-decreed purpose:

We will not hide them from their children,
but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might…that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God…

(Psalm 78: 4,6-7)

Not dreaded. Rather, purpose-filled. Unique. A time of continuing spiritual increase. Until your last breath is breathed on this earth, until that moment when you waken in the Lord’s presence, proclaim. Proclaim that they should set their hope in God!

Related posts: this is all there is and fading beauty’s purpose.

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If my family ate bush rats

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Picture yourself under the vast sky of an African savanna’s night. The radiance of a sunset’s orange glow has faded and now deep darkness has settled in. In your tent, your family has fallen asleep. But as you drift off beneath your own blankets, sounds of scurrying feet waken you. You listen. You realize the sounds are the movements of massive cane rats. Your ears strain to discern how close they are.

Then, all scurrying movements stop. The rats, beneath nearby brush, go still. They’ve heard the howls of wild dogs across the dark plains.

Rats outside. Piercing sounds of wild dogs approaching. You huddle beneath your blankets. Your heart catches.

Why?

Why does your heart catch at the rat’s rustling sounds? Why at the howls of the wild dog pack?

Fear or excitement?

  • Does your heart catch because you fear the  22-pound cane rats, and the wild dog pack? Do you go still because you believe  your dark surrounding’s unsafe possibilities are to be feared?
  • Or, does your heart catch with excitement? Your children again went to bed hungry and so you huddle under your blanket straining to hear the night sounds of rats and wild dogs whose capture could add protein to tomorrow’s scant meal. You lay listening with growing excitement because you believe wild dogs and huge rats are a gift ready to be speared by your tribe’s nighttime hunters.

Our hearts catch based on what we believe to be true.

Our response to a situation does not flow from the situation’s particular set of circumstances. Our response actually flows out of our belief about and interpretation of those circumstances.

If my family eats cane rats and wild dogs, I hear their nighttime movement with rejoicing. If my belief = bush rats nearby are good, because the huntsmen are there for me, then I interpret their nearness differently than if I my belief = bush rats are scary because I’m on my own in a vast, unknown circumstance.

In the same way, when I begin to see all that happens in my life as over-arched and under-girded by God’s unstoppable, providential goodness toward me, I begin to interpret each new circumstance, seemingly adverse or not, through a grid of His unchangeable power and care for me.

Perspectives …

As I pray to trust my heavenly Father’s never-ending, never-changing good for me, my perspective begins to change. What I would have interpreted as, “Fearsomeness approaching! Run!” can become, “Yes, scariness approaches, but I have a faithful Father who only allows good into my life. I’ll pray and stay with Him in this unexpected circumstance. I’ll ask Him to grow my faith in Him as I turn to Him in my desperate need.”

As He shows me more and more of His steadfast love and faithfulness toward me, carrying me through situation after unexpected, always-good-for-me-no-matter-what situation, my response to “run!” circumstances can transform. Supernaturally, by His kind work in me, I begin to trust, deep within, that, yes, the scary bush rats are there, but the One greater than the rats is, also.

The Huntsman never leaves me. He fights for me. I’m not alone. And this life-steadying truth catches my heart: He always wins.

“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty…
He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
The LORD says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer;

I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.”

(Psalm 91: 1, 4-6, 14-15)

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to show the infinite measure of His worth

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“God made us alive and secured us in Christ so that he could make us the beneficiaries of everlasting kindness from infinite riches of grace. This is not because we are worthy. Quite the contrary, it is to show the infinite measure of his worth.” (John Piper, Future Grace)

Made alive. A beneficiary of His everlasting kindness. All because of His infinite worth. His unimaginable kindness. Him. All from Him and through Him and for Him. Praise His holy name!

“…bless his holy name forever and ever!”

Psalm 145:21

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enjoyment and happiness (that lasts forever)

Ocean 3

“The enjoyment of God is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows; but God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams. But God is the ocean.” (Johnathan Edwards, The Christian Pilgrim)

“Think of this…You desire to love and to be loved…But, do what you will, [love] can never give you perfect happiness here below; for when you have, at last, succeeded in possessing the object after which you so ardently sighed, you discover in it imperfections which you had not suspected before; and these lessen your happiness. But suppose, even, that you are of the few who are as happy as they expected to be — how long will your blessedness last? … Look up to heaven, and there see the blessed in the presence of God. They are as happy today in their love as they were hundreds of years ago; and when millions of ages have rolled by, they shall still possess the object of their love, which is the eternal God.” (Father J. Boudreau, The Happiness of Heaven)

O Father, thank you for the shadows, the scattered beams, the streams; for the loves you so kindly give us here on earth. Thank you! We praise you for earthly happiness! Lord, as we praise, though, we know we need you to do for us what we can’t do for ourselves: Give us the ability to recognize when we’re setting our hearts on the shadows, the beams, the streams, and forgetting that you, and you alone are the satisfier of our souls. Stop us short, Father, when we view the good here as the end in itself; when we cling to the stream and don’t yearn for the ocean. We need you to draw our hearts and minds to you, the substance, the giver of the good, the eternal God!

(Boudreau and Edwards quotes taken from Eternal Perspectives by Randy Alcorn)

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