A Fresh Look at My Role in Christianity

Week 4, Part 4 in the Series: “Christianity From a Fresh Perspective”

 

Jesus,Please give me the ability to see you through childlike eyes, full of wonder. Help me to recognize your lavish kindness toward me; and bend my knee to you who are the only source o

What if I daily treated Jesus as the most important person in the world? What if I believed my relationship with him through prayer, Bible reading, and worship was the most important thing I could do all day? What would happen if I took what precious little time I have in a day and gave some of it to him as a gift? What if I stopped trying to gain more knowledge, or buy his favor, and just enjoyed him?

How would my life change if as I read his Word, I asked Jesus to show me:

  • Who He, the Father, and the Spirit really are – not just who I think they are.
  • His power for my life – what that looks like today, not just 2000 years ago.
  • His promises and gifts – and how he intends they are to impact my life and the lives of those I love.
  • How he longs to convict, lead, and comfort me in my current circumstances.

How would my life and the lives around me change if when I prayed I first asked how he would have me pray for my needs, my circumstances, and the needs of those around me?

What if I asked him to show me how he blesses my life – to open my eyes to the daily gifts I don’t see. And what if I then took time to thank him, and recount those gifts to him often?

What would happen if I had the boldness to make these requests:

  • This situation______________________is way beyond me. Please show me your power.
  • I feel hopeless, please show me your love and goodness.
  • I can’t change, please change me!
  • I’m not even sure you exist – if you are real, show me!

What if I then trusted God to come through? What if I then chose to yield to Him and let go of my control?

I know what would happen – my life would change. Because I would be asking the only One able to change my life to do so, and then let him do it.

What if then I asked for the boldness to tell someone else what I’ve seen and heard? How would that change my world?

I know the answer to that as well – by the power and love of Jesus Christ through us, the world would slowly change, one person at a time.

I know, because I have seen and and heard and can testify – that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and he has not only the power, but the desire to change lives and set captives free. He’s doing so for me and for many around me daily. (I John 1:3 NLT)

This song beautifully portraits our role in Christianity –

Ashes Remain, “All Of Me”

With great longing for the Giver of the gospel,

Robin <3

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Fresh Look At A Relationship With Jesus

WEEK THREE OF FIVE IN “CHRISTIANITY FROM A FRESH PERSPECTIVE”

Jesus,Please give me the ability to see you through childlike eyes, full of wonder. Help me to recognize your lavish kindness toward me; and bend my knee to you who are the only source o

Jesus is light and life, lavishing gifts on those who seek him, opening blind eyes and setting captives free! (John 1, Luke 4) Yet only only 4 years ago I heard for the first time

“When you choose to follow Jesus, He’ll change your life. Expect it.”

With all my years in church, why had I never heard such bold statements?

I spoke with a fellow believer not long ago, telling her what I’m seeing and hearing as men and women’s lives are being changed by the power of the gospel at the church I now attend. She stated, “Wow, I’m so glad people are turning their lives around.” I was stunned as I realized she and I had totally missed the point.

Before these life-giving words, I expected when someone met Jesus, He would give them a new heart. What that meant was, they would now want to please God, and so would make every effort to do so. It never occurred to me the gospel taught otherwise, and meant so much more.

The focus of my Christian walk used to answer the following questions:

  • What am I to do to follow Jesus?
  • What am I to give in devotion to Jesus?
  • What am I to believe? (Studying the Bible for how I’m to live.)
  • How do I please God, for all Christ has done for me?

These questions aren’t wrong, and are necessary to ask. But notice all the “I’s“? When the focus of my Christian walk is on “me” and what I bring to Christ, rather than on Jesus, I lose sight of the wonder, awe, and power of the gospel to change lives.

With that single statement four years ago, my focus slowly began to change as I realized

The gospel isn’t about what I can give Jesus. It’s about who Jesus is and all He’s given me!

  • Here is a glimpse of all Jesus gives those who truly seek him:
  • His life, no matter the cost. (Romans 5:6-9 NIV)
  • His love, no matter who I am. (Ephesians 2:8-10 NIV)
  • His power to transform my life, no matter my past. (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)
  • His forgiveness, no matter how I fail. (1 John 1:9)
  • His Spirit, filling me with power to change, no matter how unable I am to change on my own. (Romans 8:11 NLT)
  • His Word to nourish, guide, and correct, no matter how dark life is around me. (Deuteronomy 8:3, Psalm 119:105, Hebrews 4:12)
  • His promises to sustain me and rescue me from the world’s destruction, no matter how I’ve messed things up. (2 Peter 1:4)
  • His adoption, granting me a new family, no matter my biological roots. (Romans 8:15)
  • His hope for a new future, no matter what my current circumstances. (Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 8:28)
  • His forever home where there will be no more tears, no matter what life is like now. (Luke 23:32-43)

It’s really all about Jesus.

What is my part? Allow him this work. Embrace Him. Yield to Him. Trust him, no matter how hard life may be at times. Rest in who he is, knowing he is as powerful and loving as he claimed.

With gratitude for the power of the gospel,

Robin <3

[Don’t] Assume the Worst!

I tend to be an optimist, until difficulty, discouragement, or grief strike.

When struggles strike hard, it’s too easy for me to assume wrongly, as I did a couple of weeks ago with the “odd” scene before me on the beach. Grief, disappointment, or discouragement bombard, and I view God, as I did the knee bent teen resting on her mamma, with distrust. God must not care.  This has gone on so long, it’s obvious he isn’t going to deal “rightly” with this situation.  He doesn’t care how hard this is for me.  He must be too busy.

Even if these aren’t my conscious thoughts, they’re certainly how I react.

Yet, the Bible says otherwise.

God cares deeply. So much so, he enacted desperate measures, at great cost to himself, on our behalf.  His willingness to leave perfection and suffer for us effects us even now, in this current struggle.

The servant [Jesus] grew up before God—a scrawny seedling,
    a scrubby plant in a parched field.
There was nothing attractive about him,
    nothing to cause us to take a second look.
He was looked down on and passed over,
    a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.
One look at him and people turned away.
    We looked down on him, thought he was scum.
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—
    our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.
We thought he brought it on himself,
    that God was punishing him for his own failures.
But it was our sins that did that to him,
    that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
    Through his bruises we get healed.
We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost.
    We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way.
And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong,
    on him, on him. Isaiah 53:5-6 (MSG)

For those who choose to follow Jesus, his Spirit is already at work within our struggle, for our good – this very moment.  We don’t need to wait until tomorrow to trust he’s working.

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

Romans 8:26-28 (MSG)

He is acquainted with every difficulty we face, because he willingly chose to share in our experiences (without sinning), so he could compassionately rescue and care for us in this present difficulty.

14-15 Since the children are made of flesh and blood, it’s logical that the Savior took on flesh and blood in order to rescue them by his death. By embracing death, taking it into himself, he destroyed the Devil’s hold on death and freed all who cower through life, scared to death of death.

16-18 It’s obvious, of course, that he didn’t go to all this trouble for angels. It was for people like us, children of Abraham. That’s why he had to enter into every detail of human life. Then, when he came before God as high priest to get rid of the people’s sins, he would have already experienced it all himself—all the pain, all the testing—and would be able to help where help was needed.  Hebrews 2:14-18 (MSG)

God is never too busy to hear our urgent requests, when we cry out to him for help rather than turning to our own strength and abilities.

Lord, hear my prayer!
    Listen to my plea!
Don’t turn away from me
    in my time of distress.
Bend down to listen,
    and answer me quickly when I call to you.
For my days disappear like smoke,
    and my bones burn like red-hot coals.
My heart is sick, withered like grass,
    and I have lost my appetite.
Because of my groaning,
    I am reduced to skin and bones.
I am like an owl in the desert,
    like a little owl in a far-off wilderness.
I lie awake,
    lonely as a solitary bird on the roof….

17 He will listen to the prayers of the destitute.
    He will not reject their pleas.

18 Let this be recorded for future generations,
    so that a people not yet born will praise the Lord.
19 Tell them the Lord looked down
    from his heavenly sanctuary.
He looked down to earth from heaven
20     to hear the groans of the prisoners,
    to release those condemned to die. Psalm 102:1-7,17-20 (NLT)

Lord, all too often when experiencing difficulty, disappointment, or grief I wrongly assume you’re Not for me. Not big enough. Not with me. Resulting in seeing neither you nor the situation clearly. Forgive me. Help me more clearly see…  Your intentions.  Your powerfully extravagant love.  Your heart toward me.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Later this week (truly) I will continue with this new series looking at how we can find strength and courage “In the Struggle”.  I intended to run this with last week’s post, and was unable to, due to time constraints.  I’m sorry. Forgive me, please.  Thank you. 🙂

With love and prayers,

Robin <3

p.s. If you currently struggle, I would very gladly pray.  Share, confidentially, below.

 

Reading the Manufacturer’s Instructions

“God’s viewpoint is sometimes different from ours – so different that we could not even guess at it unless He had given us a Book which tells us such things….In the Bible I learn that God values us not for our strength or our brains but simply because He has made us.”
Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place*

This past summer, I decided to go cheap with a new gas grill, and bought one at a local discount store.  I knew I’d have to put it together myself, so I set out to do so one afternoon.  I pulled everything out of the box, and looked at the instruction manual as I painstakingly put it together piece…..by……piece.

Reading the instructions, early on, I noted a little box with an arrow going to it, but didn’t understand, so moved on.  The little box was so tiny, and therefore I assumed so “insignificant”. Unfortunately, that little box was crucial, and so when I got to a certain point, I realized I had put the legs on backward and needed to pull most of what I’d done apart. That little box was meant to alert me how to differentiate between the front and the back of the legs.

As I put the grill pieces together, I never wondered if they were formed accidentally through a mass explosion at the factory. Likewise, I never looked at the pieces and assumed they would put themselves together!  Nor would I ever think that the pieces would write their own instructions.  I assumed there was a manufacturer.  I acknowledged there was a plan – an instruction manual.

How could we, who are so beautifully and intricately fashioned, ever consider we were formed by an accidental explosion, and are able to write “our own instruction manual”? 

for through him [Jesus] God created everything
    in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
    and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
    Everything was created through him and for him. Colossians 1:16 (NLT)

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1 (NIV)

 So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27 (NIV)

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. Genesis 1:31 (NIV) (Italics mine for emphasis)

Dear one, when was the last time you looked in the mirror and saw yourself as intentionally made, and made well?  You may frustratingly state, “But I don’t feel that way; and if you saw my life right now, you’d not say “It is good”!

Stay with me, please, over this series.

Tomorrow, we will look further at How and Why we were made, according to God’s instruction manual.  As always, I invite your feedback and comments.  I love “table talk”!

With love and prayers,

Robin <3

*Corrie ten Boome was an amazing woman who lived during the time of the Nazi attempt to annihilate the Jews before, during, and after WWII.  A portion of her story is found in “Strength to Forgive

p.s. You may also wish to read:  “The Gift of The Word

 

 

The Gift of The Word

ADVENT – DAY 8

A few years ago, to celebrate the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church a Bible Study leader on our local military base arranged for a military personnel to barge into our study, unannounced, and demand all of our Bibles be confiscated.  For me, the most frightening part was the thought of losing my Bible, and so I quietly hid it under the table while many in the room handed theirs over.  In that moment, unaware that we were a part of a charade, I would rather have risked myself than lose my precious book.  Later everyone’s Bibles were returned, but all in the room became palpably aware, for some in the world that very day, the outcome wouldn’t be so simple and painless.

During WWII, a Dutch watchmaker and his daughters risked their lives to save Jewish people.  They were eventually caught and sentenced to a concentration camp for their “crimes”.  Corrie ten Boom, one of the  watchmaker’s daughters, was the only one in her immediate family to survive the concentration camp.  She tells their story in “The Hiding Place”, an amazing book of heroism and faith.  She and her sister had decided long before they were caught, that should something happen, Corrie would carry her Bible in a small bag hung around her neck.  Even through the forced strip searches these two sisters endured while in the camps, the small bag around Corrie’s neck went undetected.  It was truly a miracle.  But, had she been caught carrying such contraband, it would have cost her life, and tortuously so.

I have heard stories of prison guards ripping up Bibles in Communist countries for the purpose of using the pages as toilet paper.  God orchestrating a prisoner in need of their precious words to find them while cleaning out the fowl stench.  Treating those stinking pages as pure gold, they would clean them up, sharing them secretly with other prisoners. Each risking their lives to read even a small portion of this precious book – with the same zeal a starving person would cherish even the moldiest of food to satiate ravenous hunger.

Why?  What is so important about this one book, that there would be such a response? Many a philosopher, religious zealot, and many a prophet have written books that have so captured the hearts and minds of millions they have willingly gone to their deaths, but there is no book like this one.  The Apostle Peter said it well in John 6:66-68.  Jesus had just finished teaching a crowd, his words greatly offending many of those who had up until that point followed him.

66 At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. 67 Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?”

68 Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. 69 We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.” (italics mine)

This book gives life to those drowning in shame and guilt, and hope to those who have lost all hope of change.  It gives light to those in darkness, and breath to those whose pain has taken their breath away.  How? This book offers the very life of its author to any who would embrace its words.

If you’ve found this book boring or hard to understand, I offer you a challenge.  I’ve linked the book of John where the above passage came from.  It is in story format, and in a modern language, and so is easy to read.

Read one chapter daily (it will only take a few short moments).  Begin by asking Jesus, the author, to show you who he is in the words you read.  Do this every day until the book is finished. After you have finished, I would love for you to email me, letting me know what you discovered.  I guarantee it will change you one way or another, because Jesus does that.

Lord, right now I pray for anyone who has read these words and is willing to take this challenge.  Open your word to them, and show them the truth of who you are. Thank you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

With love and prayers,

Robin <3

p.s. You may also be interested in reading:  “Reading the Manufacturers Instructions