A Benediction Full of Promise

 

Benediction 2

A Benediction Full of Promise | 40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 31

Today’s Reading:  1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you [and] may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.  1 Thessalonians 5:28 and 2 Thessalonians 3:16

I woke up this morning repeating a benediction full of promise. I Thessalonians 5:28 and 2 Thessalonians 3:16 are the last words of each letter Paul wrote to the Thessalonians. The last words are a benediction to remind them of what they have in Christ.

Sometimes when reading a novel, my impatience to know the ending gets the best of me, so I read the ending first to know where the story will take me. Upon reading the end of these two letters first, I discovered a benediction full of promise. Knowing the ending, made we want to discover the beginning and all of the other details written between.

I have to admit that I’ve taken this benediction for granted the first thing in the morning. Every morning it’s the same routine. I shuffle down the hall towards the kitchen for a cup of eye-opening brew and then maybe I’ll be deliberate to recall that I have a brand new day of experiencing God’s grace and peace. Unlike discovering the end of a story first, I seldom consider the end of a day first. I think more about the beginning of the day and all of the details in the middle without much thought of the way it should end.

The beginning, as well as the end of this day is to know that the grace of the Lord will be with me and His peace that I long for will fill and satisfy in every way.  May I become wiser to plan ahead for the end of my day, remembering it is a benediction full of promise.

Benediction

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge

Given Freely to be Deeply Owned

Deeply Owned

Given Freely to be Deeply Owned | 40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 28

Today’s Reading:  Galatians 1 – end

May what our Master Jesus Christ gives freely be deeply and personally yours, my friends. Oh, yes! Galatians 6:18 (The Message)

I am discouraged today. I feel empty.

And so I run away. Purposefully running to the gospel of grace, owning its truth. I’m talking to myself. I’m telling myself that what Jesus Christ has given freely is reaching deep and deeper still in my soul. His gift of joy overwhelms discouragement.

Why are people usually unhappy? David Martyn Lloyd-Jones said it’s because people are listening to themselves instead of talking to themselves. I can choose to listen to whatever my thoughts are telling me–I can listen to the negative banter and feel horrible.

Or I can talk back. I can remind myself of what is true, and who I am, and who God is and what he has done.

This gift is unwrapped, there is amazing joy and is deeply owned.

Deeply Owned 2

I read a sweet devotional book today: Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd-Jones

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge
Sandra Heska King - Still Saturday

Ask the Big Question

Ask the Big Question 1

Ask the Big Question

40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 22
Reflections on Acts 24 – end

Then I heard a voice in Hebrew: “Saul, Saul, why are you out to get me? Why do you insist on going against the grain?” I said, “Who are you, Master?” The voice answered, “I am Jesus, the One you’re hunting down like an animal. But now, up on your feet—I have a job for you. I’ve handpicked you to be a servant and witness to what’s happened today, and to what I am going to show you”  Acts 26: 12 – 16 The Message

I think the biggest question I’ve ever asked God to answer is, “Who are you?” I often think I know who he is, but truthfully, I don’t know what I don’t know.

I forget to ask God, “Who are you?” when life is moving steadily by at a happy rhythm with no interruptions. It’s those “life interruptions”…those “stepping off a cliff interruptions” that shake up my thinking to ask God the big question, “Who are you?” I would like to say that I’m a brave person, able to face any challenge, but I’m actually afraid to face the unknown. The interruptions in life bring me to my knees. [1] I read once that you’ll never treat the darkness as something strange until your eyes are opened to the light. I’m asking to see more of his light. I’m asking God for his help to stop fighting against his will.

I am asking God to answer the big question…I’m asking for a life-change of deeper faith, a faith that is not just something I do with my brain (head knowledge) but the way that I live my life. Throughout life, our faith must grow. We start with a small faith, but as we live the Christian life our faith becomes stronger, enabling us to trust God more and more. [1]

Ask the big question of God and he will reveal who he is through his son, Jesus…and then you will get up and go and press on through his strength and grace.

In Christ there is grace to sustain for every need, grace to empower every deed. There is the grace to forgive all of our sins and the grace to impute to us his perfect righteousness. There is the grace to absorb the wrath of God we were due and the grace to conquer the sin and death we could not escape. There is grace to live and grace to die. There is grace to crawl and grace to fly. There is grace below and grace up high.

In Christ, there is grace to get through the stinkin’ day. And whether we do so by the skin of our teeth or bounding and leaping with joy upon joy, our souls are united to him day by day and age to age. Because his fullness does not afford a meager grace, a probationary grace, a tentative grace. For from his fullness we have all received grace upon grace. [2]

As the Big Question 2

[1] To Count it All Joy is a Real Life-Change, Donna Harris, More Grace  | [2] All of Christ for All of Life, Jared C. Wilson, The Gospel Coalition Blog

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge
Sandra Heska King - Still Saturday

I Want to See!

II want to see

I Want to See!

40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 12

Reflections on Luke 13 – 19

“What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord, I want to see,” he replied. Luke 18:51  (NIV)

There was a time when I couldn’t see clearly at all. I packed for an extended trip out-of-town without an extra set of contact lenses or packing my standard go-to pair of eye glasses. Unaware that I had forgotten to pack either, I tossed the contact lenses, that I had already worn for a month, down the drain. Upon realizing my circumstance, It wasn’t long before a substantial panic attack ensued. I was stranded in a haze of blurred color and fuzzy shapes until someone came to rescue me.

I don’t take for granted that I can see the bright color of flowers and the sharp bending of branches in a magnificent tree or the sparkling twinkling eyes of my granddaughter when she laughs with me. Yes, I am thankful for my sight…but many days and much too often, I remain blind. Images of people in need are blurred. The needs of the homeless and children on the street are hazy.

I wrote about experiencing a radical mercy, yet I avoid noticing…I avoid looking, to see the way of grace and mercy.

So, I pray, “Lord, I want to see.”  I want to see beyond the skin of the hurting person seeking help. I want to see that child, with needs that are woven in a special tapestry, so different from others. I want to see clearly how to make a difference…I want to see how to leave an imprint for the glory of God.

“I want to see!” I need God to rescue  me. I need to pray this everyday. The gift is when God restores my sight, I will see His grace and I will show and live His grace and mercy to others.

 It should be the thing that greets your mind and fills your heart as you wake each morning. It should be your final thought as you settle in for a night of sleep. It should define how you face your day, and it should shape your self-reflections. It should be the thing that directs how you respond to others. It should be at the forefront of your thoughts in times of trouble or disappointment. It should alter how you think about finances, possessions, decisions, relationships, and everything else. It should be a central theme of your existence. It’s so huge, so gorgeous, and so glorious that once it gets hold of you, you’ll never be the same again. I am talking about God’s grace ~Paul David Tripp

I want to see 2

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge

A Radical Experience of Mercy

A New Mercy

A Radical Experience of Mercy

40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 11

Reflections on Luke 9 – 12

When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them.”  Luke 9:51 – 55 (ESV)

Why didn’t the fire come down on the Samaritans?  Because of His radical mercy, they (you and me) are not consumed.

His face is set towards Jerusalem where he will take the fire upon himself…he will be immersed in the judgement of God. He got what we deserved.

He came to take it. He came to bear it. Luke 9:22 says, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected…and on the third day be raised to life.” They rejected him, shouldn’t they be rejected?

A radical mercy means that he’s rejected for us. The Son of Man came to be rejected and to be killed. He is the living mercy. And because of his mercy..we have a new priority in life and a new identity through Christ.

The judgment we unquestionably deserved, He completely exhausted on the cross. [1]

You have to be melted and amazed and astounded that he took the fire, the punishment, for you and that’s the key to everything else. You cannot have a new identity without a radical experience of mercy. Without a radical experience of grace. Without a radical experience of love. [2]

The gift for us is living this radical mercy toward others when we are rejected.

A new mercy 2 [1] Scotty Smith quote | [2] Tim Keller quote

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge

The Call to Go Deeper

Put out into the deep

The Call to Go Deeper

40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 10
Reflections on Luke 5 – 8

[Jesus] said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” Luke 5:4

I know you have been working hard and your nets are empty
Put out into the deep
I understand you want to give up
Put out into the deep and let down your nets
Yes, I see you are tired but please trust me
Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch

Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” Luke 5:5

Obedience requires faith
Faith results in action
Action reaps rewards

And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking…and the boats began to sink. Luke 5:6 7

Trust Him
Believe Him
Go Deeper

And when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” Luke 5:8

Be amazed at His glory
Be broken in humbleness
Be contrite in spirit

Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid, from now on you will be catching men.”  And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him. Luke 5:10 – 11

He calls you
Come follow me
Go Deeper

“Follow me because I’m the King you’ve been looking for. Follow me because I have authority over everything, yet I have humbled myself for you. I want you to keep trusting me; to stick with me, not turn back not give up, turn to me in disappointments … I’m going to take you places that will make you say, ‘Why in the world are you taking me there?’ Even then I want you to trust me.” ~Tim Keller, King’s Cross

Put out into the deep 1

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge
Sandra Heska King - Still Saturday

Being Neighborly

Being Neighborly

Being Neighborly

40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 4
Reflections on Matthew 19 – 24

“[Jesus] said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” Matthew 22: 37 – 39

Love of God and love of neighbor are connected. I often forget that connection, especially if my neighbor’s dog barks at the moon all night long and then I must dodge the dog’s “land-mines” walking through my front yard to get the morning paper. There are no lovely feelings or happy thoughts about being neighborly.

Love of God and love of neighbor are connected when nothing but a wall of sheetrock and a thin layer of insulation separates you from the sounds of crying and screaming children over the beat of “thud-thud-thud…thud thud” from a subwoofer. I admit, I would deliberately avoid being neighborly towards them.

In both scenarios, my heart, soul and mind was bent, twisted and misaligned with anger and resentment towards my neighbors. I was also becoming a miserable neighbor for them to live next to. It continued to grow worse until my attitude began to change towards them.

My attitude began to change when I began to focus on God’s love for all of us. And I began to understand that in no way could I be neighborly without loving God first.

And when I gave God first place in my heart, soul and mind, his love enabled me to love my neighbor. Friendships developed and good things began to happen. I stopped to chat a few times every week with the lady who owned the dog and eventually I noticed my yard wasn’t a mine-field any more and the dog was brought inside at night. We became better friends, taking long walks together, with her dog on a leash…talking and doing life together.

We invited the family next door to come over for supper and to bring their kids too. We shared life with them to the point that we became best of friends. And I’m not sure what happened to that subwoofer because I never heard the thuds again. We had our first child while living next door to this family. I will never forget how they were the beautiful example of being neighborly to us.

To love your neighbor as yourself is a gift…this is the meaning of being neighborly.

Being Neighborly 2

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge