Praise Be

Praise Be

Psalm 56:8 says this – “Record my misery; list my tears on your scroll — are they not in your record?”

Other translations call it a book, or a bottle. It’s a startingly powerful reminder of God’s love for us. He sees the tears that flow from our suffering, our sorrow, our shame. He sees what we hide from others. And you know what? He records it, but for what purpose? Because He sees, and He cares. We are not forgotten.

John 3:16 is the most famous verse in the Bible. Even people who don’t believe it, know it – “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” How many of us know the verse after that though?

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:17 is integral in the way that it connects to John 3:16. Verse 16 tells us that Christ died so that we shall “have eternal life.” Verse 17 tells us why, because it begins with “For.” There’s always a reason why God does what He does. Christ died to give us eternity, because He came to save, not condemn.

Verse 16 and 17 tell us what Christ came to do, and what He came not to do. He came to save you. He did not come to condemn you. Have you ever been in heated argument with someone and they bring up all your past mistakes? They do that to remind you of the fact that they think your previous actions are much worse than theirs. They may not be relevant to the discussion at hand, but they use it as ammunition from a place of insecurity to condemn you and make you feel worse than they feel. They seem to remember all your sins and errors with alarming clarity, but struggle to recall the positive aspects of your character and the times of sacrifice and selfless love. Thankfully God does not treat us like that. He looks at us through the blood and righteousness of Christ’s sacrifice. He views us with the hopeful gaze of a Father. He sees who we are becoming and doesn’t condemn us for who we used to be.

Psalm 103:11-12 declares, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

I once heard a preacher say that the reason God chose to use the phrase, “as far as the east is from the west,” to describe the distance between our sins and how far God has removed them from us is because east and west can not be measured. There is a North Pole, and a South Pole, but there is no distinct location for east and west.

Don’t grab a compass and go looking for your past transgressions. They are forgiven. They are forgotten. They are erased, and they’re not coming back. You won’t find God’s voice if you go looking for your sins. You’ll find it when you let go of all the condemnation and fear and injustice and you accept the fact that God accepts you. You are His son. His daughter. His vessel. His beloved. 2 Corinthians 5:17 declares that you are a new creation. “The old has gone, the new has come!” I love the fact that Paul uses an exclamation mark, to emphasise the point with joyful victory. Your old self is gone! You’re made new! Don’t reflect on your old self. God doesn’t. Don’t remind yourself of how bad you used to be, twenty years ago, or twenty seconds ago, unless it’s to praise God for how much His loving forgiveness has transformed you. Don’t do the devil’s work for him. Forget the past. That’s not you anymore.

1 John 3:8 says that the reason Christ came was “to destroy the devil’s work.” Satan’s work is condemnation. Christ destroys the voice that reminds you of your wickedness and sins. Christ’s voice speaks forgiveness, and He left us a perfect example to follow. We must not condemn ourselves, but forgive ourselves as well as others. We must speak to ourselves, and others, the complete freedom and acceptance that God speaks over us.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

1 John 1:9

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

Psalm 103:8-12

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Be At Rest

Be At Rest 1

Be At Rest 2

Rest isn’t something we hear of often, but it’s important. Christian life is all about balance, as is illustrated wonderfully in the story of sisters Martha and Mary and how they approached Jesus. Busyness doesn’t equate to holiness, even if we’re busy doing seemingly holy things. We are not machines created solely for work. We are beings created for the purpose of having a relationship with our God and Father. The work we do stems from that connection, whether that be stacking chairs at church, raising a family, or whatever it is that our calling and gifting stir us to do. God doesn’t want us just to work. He also wants us to rest. How great is that?!

It’s important that we discover what God’s definition of rest is though. It doesn’t mean ignoring our responsibilities and watching TV. Even in rest we can be productive. In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus invites us to come to him to find rest for our souls. That’s such a warm and generous invitation. His rest is more than just an afternoon nap or a cup of hot chocolate by the fireplace (although those are great too!). God rested after creating…creation, Jesus slept, and Psalm 127:2 says, “God grants sleep to those he loves.” These are all great encouragements. The kind of rest that we can embrace in Him is more than just rest of the mind and body, however. It is the rest of the soul. It’s the kind of peaceful comfort that we only find when we sit at His feet and enjoy all that He is, and all that He offers us, where the cares and distractions fall away, so all we are left with is, is us and Him – together. It’s the kind of rest that Philippians 4:6-7 describes; the kind of calm awareness that comes when we give Him our anxiety, and receive His peace, the peace that makes no sense according to our circumstances, but makes complete sense once you know who God is, and that He is in the midst of your circumstances, yet also sees beyond them.

Hebrews 4 speaks of two different kinds of rest – the rest on the Sabbath, and also the heavenly kind, in which we will truly be free from all of our striving and work on earth, with all of its internal and external opposition. It’s interesting that the New Testament describes those believers who have passed away as being asleep, for outside of Him, there is no true rest, and in eternity, we will forever live in that everlasting, peaceful rest.

Rest in Him, so we may be strengthened for our work. When He works with, through and for us, we will know rest, both now, and one day, in eternity.

“He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” “

Psalm 46:10

“And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.”

This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus. Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labour, for their deeds will follow them.” “

Revelation 14:11-13

God Confidence

LIVE

In Psalm 18:29-32 King David declared, “With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall. As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.”

In Psalm 62 he describes God as his rock, fortress and salvation.

David had  a wonderful assurance before his Father, and was described as a man after God’s own heart. It may seem brash or brazen to be bold before Him, but God welcomes it, and Christs’s sacrifice allows it. By our own righteousness, we have no chance of coming in to His presence, but by His Son, the way for us has been gloriously and victoriously made forever open. To live with confidence in God, and not in ourselves, is a wonderful way to discover true freedom. Anxiety and fear disappear, and certainty in His promise and character grow. When the storms come, we can be like Christ, asleep on the boat, knowing that God is with us, and that His love and power never changes. (Mark 4:35-41).

We may be surprised at how often we make decisions based on temporary things that don’t lead us to a greater sense of fulfillment, or a deeper intimacy with Him. How different would your life be if you lived in God confidence, rather than with confidence in the things that don’t last, such as your finances, looks, health or even friendships? Your choices would be made in full faith, trusting Him above all else, and you’d be released to be molded by Him. Your perspective and priorities would be kingdom,  rather than earthly, minded.

“In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”

Ephesians 3:12

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Hebrews 4:16

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”

1 John 5:14

“Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the Lord will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared.”

Proverbs 3:25-26

 

 

 

Do Not Fear

Do Not Fear

I’ve been getting in to Pinterest lately, thanks to the suggestion of an arty colleague. I’ve always been a fan of great art and the artists who create it. This week I’ve been looking at different fonts, character design, quotes, etc and during some downtime at work today I thought I’d do some doodling. I grabbed some words and fonts from different artworks in a quick attempt to play with form and fill and empty page.

“Do not fear,” is from one of my favourite verses, below, as are “wait” and “prayer,” all very important parts of the life that follows Christ. Of course there are many more, but I couldn’t fit serve, obey, forgive…all on one page. 🙂

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17