Sunday, June 26, 2016

I Am My Beloved's And My Beloved Is Mine...

Ephesians 1:3-6
“3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ
with every spiritual blessing
in the heavenly places,

4 even as he chose us
in him before the foundation of the world,
that we should be
holy and blameless before him.

In love

5 he predestined us for adoption
as sons through Jesus Christ,
according to the purpose of his will,

6 to the praise of his glorious grace,
with which he has blessed us in the beloved.”

As I look at this set of verses I feel as though I am looking more at a psalm than a new testament epistle, and I smile. I smile because of that little word beloved. I smile because He has chosen, not I have chosen, but He. I smile because it is according to the purpose of His will. I smile because I'm not perfect, because I am so incredibly broken, and yet He loves me. I smile because by God making His own Son a curse He has made available every spiritual blessing.

As I look at that word I wonder whom it is that is being referred to as beloved? Is he saying the church or Christ? Or both?

At first glance I would think Paul was referring to the church as the beloved. Now I must say quite the opposite Paul refers to Jesus as The Beloved.
I think Christ because the word “in” that is used in these last few verses often is referring to Christ. “Blessed us in Christ... Chose us in Him” “Blessed us in the beloved.”

The Beloved of the church and the Beloved of the Father. That word has such depth to it for me. I keep thinking of the song of Solomon, where that word is used so often. I think about the deep love between a married couple. I have not experienced such love as that, yet the longer I walk with God the more He opens my heart to knowing His love for me. The more He has grown my capacity to love my sisters in Christ, and the lost.
It is convicting in a way, Paul calling Christ the Beloved. I have known Jesus as my beloved, but how often do I sit before Him and be with Him? How often do I simply cherish Him? I know He cherishes me as beloved, and calls me beloved, waits on me and listens to my struggles. Patiently deals with my sin, and leads me into true life with Him. Yet so often I simply come to Him with a list of things that have been on my mind, with my anxieties and my troubles, like speaking through a phone never allowing myself to listen to His voice, like never looking into His face. I do not mean to say that bringing my troubles to Him is wrong, by all means we should go to God with our struggles. 1St peter 5:7 says “casting all your cares on him for he cares for you.” What I mean to say is this, God will hear those prayers, but prayer is not about us getting what we want, and sometimes I think I treat it that way. However Prayer is about spending time with God. God does not need me, but I feel a great sense of sadness in treating someone I claim to love that way. I feel sad because of the Great love with which He has loved me. I feel I am missing the best part of my time if I ask God to help the circumstance, but do not allow time for Him to show me His heart. And that I am doing an injustice to Him when I know He truly wants to spend time with me. Yes He wants to hear my anxieties but not only that, He wants all of my heart. Paul was a man who cherished Christ as the Beloved. Am I?

Cherish Jesus.


I will make a time this week to spend alone with God and worship Him.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

I Am...

Exodus 5:22-6:7
“22 Then Moses turned to the LORD and said, 'O LORD, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me?

23 For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all.'

1 But the LORD said to Moses, 'Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand he will send them out, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of this land.'

2 God Spoke to Moses and said to him, 'I am the LORD,

3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them.

4 I also Established my covenant with them to give them the land of Caanan, the land in which they lived as sojourners.

5 Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant.

6 Say therefore to the people of Israel, 'I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of Judgment.

7 I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.”

Let me give some background to this story, Moses and Aaron had just requested Pharaoh that the Hebrews would be given leave to go three days journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to God.
And to that Pharaoh responded in anger calling them lazy, saying that the work must be to easy for them if they had extra time to think about worshiping God in the wilderness. So he made their labor harder by giving them no straw to make brick. That left them with mud, and they were still expected to finish they sam amount of bricks each day.
After that the taskmasters beat the Hebrew foremen because they were not making their quota. the foremen evidently did not know what had transpired between Pharaoh, Moses, and Aaron, because after being beaten they asked the taskmaster why such unfair expectations had been placed on them, and why they were being beaten for it. After being told why the people began a pattern that would cover much of Moses' life. The people came complaining to Moses and blamed him for the evil done to them, because (in their words) Moses had “made us stink in sight of Pharaoh and his servants.”

Here is where we come upon Moses and our text. How does Moses deal with a tough and painful situations. He turned to God. I wonder how often it is that I do that, at least how often I do it right away. Because to be honest in Moses' situation I would have tried to defend myself to those people, I would have probably blown up, or gone off to be alone and pout. However that is not what Moses did. Moses didn't wait, he was not concerned with what those around him thought but with what God had to say.

Next Moses was honest. Is it good to blame God for doing evil that someone else has done? I think not, but I also think that God knows we are human, and I think there is a sort of respect in bringing our anger to people or God even if it in of itself is a wrong attitude. I think it's good because it is giving God the chance to deal with it. I think it is also a way of trying to continue the relationship instead of cutting it off.
It was a mistake to place the blame of another man's evil on God though, and it is so easy for me as a human with a finite mind to draw the conclusion that God is unjust and unfair, when in reality I am simply unable to see the whole picture as God sees it.

“Why did you ever send me? For since I came...” Maybe now the anger is being turned inward by Moses. When something goes wrong in ministry first my heart wants to blame someone else or maybe even God for what happened, then the anger is turned inward and I feel it is all my fault. When in reality I have done just as God has asked me, but because of painful circumstances I feel I have made a mess of everything and cry out “why did you ever send me?” Yet God told Moses back in Ex 4:21 That He would harden Pharaoh's heart so that he would not let the people of Israel go. If Moses had remembered that maybe he would have been less discouraged. God told me He would bring me out of the desert into the promise land, He told me I would have to continue to be broken over and over again, and maybe that is what I had forgotten, that to get to the promise after passing the Jordan I have to fight battles to claim the land God gave me. The good news is as God says it is time to enter the promise land I can know He will give me the victory in those battles.

“You have not delivered your people at all,”

Moses was looking at the immediate and often I do that too. God you said you would do x y and z, but I cannot see any proof of it. However looking at the immediate robs us of a hopeful heart. For no one hopes for what he already has or what he can see.

God had a greater plan, He could have delivered the people right away but He didn't and the reason was because what would follow Pharaoh's hard heart were the very miracles to prove that it was no accident that Israel was freed from Egypt. It was to build their faith, and the children's faith, and their children's children's faith. I think of the death of Lazarus, and how his sister while he was alive but sick was looking for the immediate relief of healing. Yet Jesus purposely waited until it was what most would think too late. However by it many people came to believe in Him.

Many times we want immediate deliverance from pain yet in waiting God will do something even more amazing to grow our faith though it takes longer.

As Moses pours out his heart before God, does God stay silent?
No and in verse one of chapter six we see some words that so often turn a scary tale into a fairy tale.
“But the LORD.” We were dead dead in sin, but God. I had no hope, but God. I thought that I would never go to the IGNITE, but God. I thought I would never be able to confront anyone, but God.

As soon as God steps into our lives everything changes.
He tells Moses again, that Israel will be free, and the very Pharaoh that has treated them so wrongly will practically throw them out.
Then God does something truly amazing He tells Moses how Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob knew Him as God almighty, but by my name Jehovah was I not known to them. This is an important passage, there are debates as to whether this means that this would be the first time God had been called by this name or not but that is not important. The meaning is clear, deep, and it is refreshing like a cold mountain lake. The name Jehovah is one of action, He is saying I am, I am revealing myself to you. I am what you need, and you will know the meaning of my name by experience. In verse 4 He says I AM a fulfiller of my promises, I AM the one who hears your cries, I am the one who remembers. In verse 6 I am the one who delivers and redeems you. In verse 7 I am your God. But something else wonderful happens in verse 7 as He reveals His identity, He gives Israel their own identity. He calls them His own.

And to think through Moses turning to God in time of trouble even though His heart was all wrong we can see such beauty. It makes me think Pressure reveals what's inside. In Moses it revealed a dependance on God, and weakness. In God it revealed Strength, and goodness.

Turn to God first.


Tomorrow morning in my devotions I will lift up the burdens on my heart to God.

A Little Bit.

Ephesians 1:4
“Even as He chose us
in Him
before the foundation of the world,
that we should be
holy and blameless
before Him.
In love”

He chose us in Him. Tonight at chapel we talked about psalm 139. This may seem irrelevant and hopefully it's not but I feel there is a connection. I don't know about how you may feel, but one thing I know, if I were picking players for a team, I would overlook myself. I may try hard but often I don't work well with others, I rub people the wrong way, and don't take initiative when I need to.
Tonight as we talked about pslam 139, our speaker made this point about God's creation. Our God is an extravagant God. Not in that He is frilly, or posh, or proud, but in that He is a maker beautiful things and spares no expense. Everything God put His hand to He made incredibly beautiful.

Again I say He chose us. I don't really know why, but I do know it's not because of anything I can offer Him.
I think perhaps it's because despite all the brokenness in me Jesus can see the masterpiece underneath. Not that I am something special, but that He wants to make me something special. He loves us as His children, and as a creator His creation. God is far beyond me, and His thoughts are not my thoughts. However I can't help but think that if we are God's masterpiece He has put some of His own self into His art.

I remember when I first started drawing a bit, I made a drawing as a possible decoration for our church's new youth building. The youth pastor said something about how they had a guy who could make it more appealing to the youth. I was a little upset by that. Not a lot, but a bit. Was it because of pride? Maybe, but I still remember the specific reason it bothered me. I had made that drawing from my heart, to communicate a specific message, and in so doing I had put a little of myself into it. To change that piece would corrupt the message of my heart.

It says in Genesis 1:26 that God said “let us make man in our image.” Perhaps this is a bit of why sin is so marring and disgusting. God made us to reflect Himself, not with the same attributes of being almighty, or all knowing, or even all present, but with His characteristics. Loving, kind, just, patient etc.
Sin is like taking a sharpy and scribbling over the Mona Lisa.
God made this beautiful expression of Himself, and our sin destroyed it. The good news is my artist is not dead.
If something happens to a painting of mine, I can do one of two things. Try to restore the painting to what it was originally, or else I might cover it in white canvas primer and make a new masterpiece out of it. Both are wonderful ways of showing what God does with us, when we first come to Him He pours His blood out on us and makes us white as snow, then He begins painting a new masterpiece out of our lives.
Sometimes we wander from God and certain areas of our heart become damaged, we stop being loving, we become irritable. As we walk through this world we develop water spots, maybe smoke stains and soot cover what were once rich colorful portraits of grace. This may have happened because we did not put on our armor for protection each day as we are commanded in Ephesians 6. Perhaps it is because we chose to dwell in a house that caught on fire. In other words spending large amounts of time with non believers and getting caught up in their lifestyle.
When this happens we can be thankful that our God is a restorer.
He cleans away our blemishes once again, cleans up the canvas and fills in where the colors have become dull and lifeless. He makes us holy and blameless, and He has chosen us to stand before Him in this way. All this He planned before any of us took a breath, before He had formed the very earth's foundations by the breath of His mouth. He planned for us to be created beautiful, would watch us fall, and then in the greatest act of love die in our place, to present us holy and blameless. Wow.

“In love” is actually the beginning of a new sentence though it does flow well with the previous verse it is speaking to how God predestined us. He predestined us to be children of God, by what Jesus did. However the best part is at the end where it says “according to the good pleasure of His will.” Not the good pleasure of my will, or my friends will. How grateful I am that God initiated this relationship, because I know that He really wants to be in my life. How sad it is that I can take that so lightly, or struggle to believe it on some days. I have been struggling to wake up early in the morning as I aught to for my quiet time lately. That gives me a bad start, and it makes it hard for me to believe I can stand before Him holy and blameless. I already find so many reasons for fault and blame on my part every day. Yet because of what Jesus has done, I can come before Him as a child of His, without blame, clean and set apart for His work.

Take quiet time more seriously.


If I have trouble waking up early some days this week I will try to find a little time to be apart from everyone and spend time with God.