Sunday, March 24, 2013

Why Me?

I've been really blessed recently by one of my new favorite passages in Scripture, Ephesians 1:4. 
"Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (consecrated and set apart for Him) and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love."

Before He spoke this earth into existence, God had a plan.  An intricate and stunning plan to breathe life into His sons and daughters, and increase His family of three to a family of millions.  His children would rule and reign with Him in victory, living a life of joy and peace here on earth and in the eternity to come.  Being God, who by very definition is love, His efforts in creating us were not merely some overflow of creativity by a massive creative being, though I'm sure His creations do spill out of Him like so much water.

                          He's a Father.  The perfect Father. 

A father knows His children well, and since our heavenly Father is also God, He knows us intimately.  As evidenced by the beautiful natural world around us, He is detailed and precise, patient and painstaking.  Our human bodies are phenomenally made, and our will to live and be loved are no accident.  If you ask an artist of any kind, they may tell you about the joy they feel when they are creating a painting, a meal, a song, or a poem…creating something that didn't previously exist.            

God, as a creator and artist Himself, is no different.
I can imagine Him sitting on His throne, or perhaps at a huge desk, thinking about each one of us, and what we would be like.  Much like an artist or engineer, He decided on hair color, body type, language, and IQ.  He made some of us to be introverted, while others are extroverted.  Our personalities, which vary and make us distinct, came from Him.  He knew some of us would face the world in a more serious tone, while others would help keep everyone from taking themselves too seriously. 

When He came to you, what joy He must have felt!  He delighted in creating and designing you, and I think He was elated when the time came to send your spirit down into your mother's womb to be born. 

It gets even better…Revelation 13:8 references Jesus as "The Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world".  Jesus' death and resurrection, though they physically occurred 2,000 years ago, were eternal actions, and had already been done before the world was formed.  Which means that you, a priceless child of God, were redeemed, made holy, and sanctified before the foundation of the world.  Before you came to know Christ and what He'd done, you were already adopted in.  There was never a time when he thought you were a horrible dirty sinner.  He always seen you as His child.  You just didn't know who you were, and what Christ had done for you…until you believed. 

You are a precious, valuable child of God, created with purpose and passion, to live in such a time as this.  John 3:16 tells us that God so loved the world that He sent us Jesus...but God doesn't just love us as a whole.  He loves us passionately as individuals.  So, you and I can rejoice in knowing that He has lovingly created us to be expressions of Himself.


Ephesians 2:10  "For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live]."  Amen!

Friday, March 15, 2013

I'm Done

I've been a Christian my whole life.  My childhood years were full of activities very common in our culture today - Sunday school, youth group, and summer camps.  During my teens I transitioned into being a youth leader, worship leader, camp counselor, and nursery school teacher.  I attended a well-known Christian university in college and became a public school teacher…but I left my chosen profession of teaching (and my comfy, decent-paying job) after 4 years to attend a Bible college.  My life became more "ministry" centered, and I worked as a personal assistant to a minister and his wife, and eventually as a worship director in churches.

Through all those experiences, I loved Jesus, and was so grateful for what He'd done for me.  In keeping with what I'd been taught over the years, I did whatever it took to get closer to Him.  Being very self-reflective, I was a pro at identifying all my supposed imperfections and failures.  I kept tallies in my head of the "good" things I did, and the not so good things…feeling God was pleased with me, and very close, when I made the "right" choices, and that He was ashamed and upset with me when I messed up.  He was always gracious to me, but any peace I felt would soon be disturbed by thoughts that I could have done better. 

So I lived in a cycle of striving to do good, missing the mark, feeling very condemned, and striving to do better.  I read anything that could help me in the pursuit of doing more to please Him, or appease Him;  many people suggested praying and fasting more, so, this is what I did.  But even doing all these things, I still battled condemnation.  I'd pray for an hour, feeling good about myself, and refreshed from His presence…but afterwards, in the back of my mind, I'd be thinking, I should have prayed for two hours.  Or, after sharing the Gospel on the streets and seeing people accept Christ, I'd still feel guilty that I didn't pray with more people. 

Nothing I did was ever good enough.  Cause really, you can never pray enough, fast enough, or win enough souls to appease that little voice that says, "You're NOT good enough."  It turned me into a tired, anxious mess, burdened under a load of guilt and condemnation.  

But over this past year, everything changed.  
I moved in with my brother and sister last June, and while it was a convenient move, my heavenly Father had a special reason for us living together.  My brother began ministering to me about the true Gospel, and why it's called the good news.   My life radically changed because of a change in thinking.  I realized that the Gospel isn't all about me, and what I can achieve through my best efforts.  It's all about Him and what He's done.  When Jesus  died and said, "It is finished," He meant it.  He accomplished everything necessary so I could come into my inheritance, which is Himself..we are one. 

He crucified the sinful, old nature and gave me Himself, and His identity.  I now have Christ's nature and in Him, I am perfect.  I don't spend time any more trying to crucify the old nature, cause it's dead…and you can't kill something that's already dead.  His righteousness is now my righteousness.  The Father is pleased with His Son, and is pleased with Me.  My life is hidden in Christ with God.  So, all my strivings in the past to be closer to God, were in vain, because I'm already in Him…you can't get any closer to someone than being in them.  I rule and reign with Him, seated at the right hand of the Father.  It's funny to me, cause I've read these truths in the Bible so many times, but I never understood them.  I thought I had to fight, weep, and pray endlessly to get what I already had, what Christ had already attained for me.  

So I am done striving for what I already have.  The peace and joy I feel are so great I sometimes can't contain myself…and I am so thankful to the Lord for revealing the Truth to me.  He's started a new chapter in my life, and for this I am very grateful.