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May it be said of me, then, that…

In hope Jane believed against hope (against overwhelming odds, against her sin, against her circumstances) that she should become a wholehearted, steadfast, resolute, pure and holy daughter of the living God of hope and be delivered day by day from the entanglements and stumblings of sin for all her days here on earth, just as she had been told, “It is for freedom you have been set free!”

She did not weaken in faith when she considered herself and the weakness of her own body, speech, appearance, and personality which were all just as good as dead anyways (since she was quiet and tearful and hunched over and introverted and slow to argue and quick to be opinionated and stubborn and impatient and prideful). Or when she considered the circumstances of her life (her husband’s schedule, her child’s school, her only child, her “stuff”, her husband’s “stuff”, her rental home, her lack of funds, her not very clean house, her books stacked on floors, her pots and dishes stacked on floors, her very normal and not very dramatic yet very traumatizing in her own mind life).

No unbelief made her waver concerning the promise of God (though it was there at times!), but (instead) she grew strong in her faith (she did not allow unbelief to take over) as she gave glory to God (this is what kept her eyes off of unbelief and doubt and caused her faith to increase with great strength), fully convinced (more and more and more) that God was able to do what he had promised.

That is why her faith will be ‘counted to her as righteousness.’ Because she believes in him who raised from the dead Jesus her Lord, who was delivered up for her trespasses and raised for her justification!

Therefore! Since she has been justified by faith, she has peace with God through her Lord Jesus Christ. Through him she has also obtained access by faith in this grace in which she stands, and she rejoices in hope of the glory of God.

Not only that, but she rejoices in her sufferings (those trials and circumstances and all those silly things listed), because she knows that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.

And hope does not put her to shame, no! Because God’s love has been poured into her heart through the Holy Spirit who has been given to her. For while she was still so, so, so weak (failing every day, unable to keep up with the Jones’, unable to always be nice, unable to be very compassionate, unable to give generously, unable to keep judging and blaming attitudes at bay), Christ died for her. God showed his love for her, that while she was still a sinner (reckless, unloving, wanting to remain unloving, wanting to be right), Christ died for her!

May it be said of me, then, that I am one who rejoices.

May it be said of me…and may it be said of you.

(taken from Romans 4:18 – 5:11)

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You can find this originally posted at First Free Church, part of a short series on memorizing God’s Word.

Why will you continue to rebel? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. Isaiah 1:5

“Great is the Lord, and bmmmbsflk mumble jumble…” I heard my daughter say, as we were working on her memory verse for Awana.

“Sweetie, I can’t hear you. You need to speak up and speak clearly.” My insides were churning with rising anger while I attempted to keep the tone of my voice patient and kind. I had stated this verse to her dozens of times. I knew she knew it; I could hear her mumbling it, for goodness sake! And yet the quiet, rebellious heart I have seen in her since she was in the womb was rising up in her each time I asked her to say it herself. Mumbles. Whispers. Silence. Stares. And finally, tears.

“I don’t want to do this!” she cried out. I remembered how often I have felt the same. The work, the practicing, the repeating…it is so annoying. So not fun. I remembered the countless times I have seen in myself this same stubbornness to do things my way, the rebelliousness to not practice as I’ve been told, and the pride I have held that I could breeze through life without exerting effort.

Memorization is hard work. And for some of us who have this natural instinct that wants to go against the grain and not do what we’re told or not put much effort into the process of preparation…this “task” of memorizing can cause that rebel heart to sprout up within us. In the smallest of tasks we are challenged to do, the rebel heart can be stirred awake, make our heads sick with excuses, and our spirits faint with the inability to do the appointed work.

So, our question for today is, as many First Free women around us commit to pursue the hard work of putting scripture to memory, will we surrender the rebellion that we harbor? Will we search our hearts and bravely ask the Lord to reveal how we can die to self in this task? Will we put effort and practice into learning his Word? For, this isn’t about us, is it? It’s about his eternal Word that stands forever in the heavens, his exaltation in our hearts, and his abundant glory to be spread over all the earth. Yes, even in this smallest of tasks, that is what it is about.

Many of us may not struggle as intensely with this willful rebellion; for myself, I see others being so much more teachable than I am nearly every day! I stand in awe of their ease to surrender their opinions and the way they think things should be, and I always desperately wish I was more like them. For I know in the very depths of my heart that I cannot be like them; all my efforts to surrender and submit to my teachers and leaders has failed to help me. Rebellion still stirs and wakens when I hear the call to do something that I haven’t thought of doing myself.

But glory be to the Most High God! There is hope for us stubborn, rebellious ones yet. For we know that we are weak in this, that we cannot be strong, and that we need to hold tightly to the example of willful surrender that Christ has demonstrated to us. For Christ himself prayed that his cup of suffering would be taken away, yet the Father told him to continue his path of obedience, his path of preparation, his path of burial, his path of dying. Thanks be to Jesus Christ, who did not harbor a rebel heart as we so often do, but was without sin and – get this –actually listened to his Father’s voice!

And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:39

Even in the effort we must make to memorize his Word, the time we must commit, the space in our brains we must surrender, the books or the shows or the crafts we must lay aside for a time, Christ can and will do a work of great proportion in us. Do you know why? Because, beloved ones, we who are so rebellious and fail to listen to the Lord in the smallest of things, have been lavished with not only forgiveness, but with Christ’s life of great surrender. May we ask for the willingness to lay down our rebel hearts and allow God to prompt us by his faithful Spirit to do the work involved. And in so doing, as we lay down these rebel hearts towards this very small task, we will see his work of transformation, the supernatural ability to take up our cross, the power to follow him, and the miraculous willingness to die to self. I’m quite convinced that when we lay down our rebel hearts, he will, in fact, change our “I don’t want to do this!” to, “Lord, I want to know more of you!” Surely, surely he will do it!

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 We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,

the holiness of your temple!

David tells me in Psalm 65 that as the Father is satisfied, so he makes me satisfied. It is a progression; as I recognize the satisfaction the Father has because of the action of the Son – the atonement God has provided – I experience the satisfaction that his goodness and holiness is. And the full satisfaction of soul I experience causes me to understand joy, to understand and notice his work in creation, and to respond with glad adoration.

Praise is due to God, David says, because…

  • God hears prayer; he is the one to come to, no other (v. 2). He hears me and as I pray and come to him, I remember that…
  • He has provided atonement for me, for all my sins, through his Son. And when sin overwhelms me, when sin seems to be winning and having its way with me, he reminds me to look upon Christ – as he does himself on my behalf (v. 3). We look together, him and I, remembering together, standing together, looking down together, side by side, upon the the picture of the Son upon the cross. And in this moment…
  • He brings me near to him. He brings me into his courts, his holy dwelling place! He brings me near to hear his answer and…
  • He causes me to be satisfied with his goodness, his good dwelling place, his holiness, his temple, and his house. Yes, he makes me quite satisfied, indeed (v.4) with these things. And as he begins to satisfy me with himself…
  • He not only hears my prayer, but as his Son provides my atonement, as he brings me into his courts, he also answers. He answers in righteousness! He answers with hope! He answers with redemption! He answers with might! With strength! With power and with sovereignty (v.7)! And as he answers me in this way…
  • He causes me to be in awe of him and of what he has done. He makes me to see even the joy that belongs to the sunrise and the sunset (v.8). He causes me to see the joy that belongs to the earth because of his faithful provision (v. 9-13). He makes me stand in awe of JOY! He leaves me satisfied and filled with his joy, as I look upon it filling the earth around me.

Satisfied. Such a blessed, rested place to be. So grateful to have been chosen, drawn near, and made to dwell in his courts. That is the place where happiness and delight of soul is found, and where wandering of heart ceases.

In awe of joy! Knowing joy! Remembering along with God his great acts! Being satisfied together with my God! Oh, what a thing to be mine! In glad adoration of it all, I let this Amen sound from me again.

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I’m sure I’m not the only one – I’m sure we all have “those days.” Those days, consumed with insecurity and doubt, when we wonder what in the world we are doing with our life and ask ourselves, “What is my ‘calling’ anyways? Am I called…to anything? What am I to be doing with myself, with my days, with my life, with my future? Is what I’m doing right now really valuable? Important? Does it even matter?”

On those days, I am grateful I am God’s child. I am grateful he has patiently and carefully taught me to rely upon his Word. And because of these lessons learned, I know I am to find the answers to my doubts in his good and reliable Word.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3)

Perfect peace. Charles Spurgeon had something to tell me about this perfect peace:

When your thoughts recline at their ease in God’s revealed will, that is staying upon God. (sermon #1818)

Reclining my ease, my “wild beast” of an imagination (as Spurgeon put it in this sermon), my “straying, vagabond thoughts” and my “grasping desires”, in God’s revealed will.

Yes, his revealed will is important; it is what will calm our emotions and tame those wild, beastly, vagabond thoughts. His revealed will gives me a sigh of relief in my soul. And when I chance to forget about it and am reminded to remember it, I do believe that sigh of relief makes its way up from my soul and through my very throat to be uttered aloud.

Have you had days like this? Days when you just weren’t sure what kind of work you were doing? Days when you can almost hear aloud the whisperings of the enemy in your ear telling you that the service you do for your Father is not really that big of a deal after all? Days when something a little more specific from the Lord seems better than generalized notions?

Do you remember, sweet sister in our Lord, what he has revealed to you? What he has called you to? Remind yourself, dearest, that God has given you his will for your life…

You are called to fellowship with Christ (1 Cor 1:9).

You are called to peace (1 Cor 7:15).

You are called to freedom of soul (Gal 5:13).

You are called to occupy yourself with Christ, to imitate him & to follow in his footsteps (1 Pet 2:21).

You are called to preach Christ with your life (Gal 1:15-16).

You are called to be a part of God’s kingdom and glory (1 Thes 2:12).

You are called to a holy calling (2 Tim 1:9).

You are called to walk worthy of these callings over you (Eph 4:1-4).

Your “calling”…your “work”…Is it about you, beloved? Or is this about him and his glory? Is this about your exaltation, or maybe even your deflation, dear one? Or is it his name that is lifted high?

Don’t be disheartened, beloved. Your Father has called you. And your calling isn’t significant and important depending on whether you think it is in the moment of doubt or not; your calling is significant because your Father has declared it be so in his glorious Word. Your seemingly beastly imaginations do not influence his perception of your value or of the importance and priority he may place upon the tasks he has placed before you. Rest easy, stay your mind upon his Word, let the Lord rule your heart; do not fret about your daily tasks and your long term roles. You know what your calling is, what your place is, what you are to do: you are to preach Christ.

O ye troubled ones, rejoice! Though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations, yet lift up your heads, for your redemption draw nigh. Within a short time you shall put on the garments of your excellency and beauty, and the weeds of your mourning shall be laid aside. Wherefore play the man: better still, play the Christian; and let all men know where God is, and where the Lord rules the heart, there is, there must be, a deep and profound peace. – Charles Spurgeon, sermon #1818

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Prone to laziness when it comes to growing in faith? Read 2 Peter and you just might get a good swift kick in the booty:

For whoever lacks (growing in the listed godly qualities), is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins (2 Pet 1:9).

Lesson for today:

having forgotten: lambano lethe

This is no ordinary forgetfulness; this is proactive forgetfulness. It literally means to look upon any one’s power (in this case God’s), to consider it, and then neglect it. Peter’s not talking about those who just plain don’t want to know about God…he’s talking about those who’ve already tasted and “known the way of righteousness (2 Pet 2:21).”  Lambano lethe means “to take up and carry” forgetfulness, “to not refuse” to forget, “to choose” to forget.

For those called to share in the divine (2 Pet 1:3-4), that means forgetting & neglecting the divine power of our salvation. It means to add to our repertoire of knowledge as we go to church and conveniently forget to allow that knowledge to be effective and fruitful in our hearts. So…maybe it’s not so much that we’re always prone to laziness, but perhaps, if we’re honest, we’re really more prone to forgetting.

For me it means to forget to make my one interest in life to become more like Christ by seeking after any activity that will keep me from living out this very purpose: to put off the pouring out of my soul in prayer with my Abba Father until another day, read God’s Word but delay engaging it, waste hours of my time discussing the health benefits of raw milk and the horrors of high fructose corn syrup, spend volumes of brain power pondering how I can make my house look “just a little nicer”, look at scorn upon another woman’s perfectly clean home, well-made bed and perfectly decorated everything, add to my reading list of “knowledge-worthy” books, neglect dealing with the those nagging things in the depths of my soul that I’ve noticed for years, relish in praise, attempt to be more comfortable in this life, and simply just “fit in” a little more in this world.

What does it mean for you?

Bottom line? I’d say I’m to be exerting all my interests and all my efforts into looking more like the native of heaven that I really am, rather than putting it off and forgetting about it.

…make every effort to supplement your faith…be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure…(2 Pet 1:5, 10)

Because why? Because growing in godliness enables me to stand firm in this life, Peter tells me…in the midst of personal trials and suffering, while false prophets rise up around me, as I see others enslaved by sin, while I watch the wrongful & unjust suffering in others’ lives, as people engage in active sinfulness, and while I see some of my fellow Kingdom-natives enjoy the ‘freedoms’ of the flesh & start backsliding. And if I really, truly want to stand firm, for all of my days, with my whole heart, with my eyes on Him and Him alone, despite all these things that will go on around me…which I so wholeheartedly, down in my deepest gut do…I’ll submit to the calling that God has placed over me: the call to His own glory and excellence. It is the call to escape the corruption in the world and grow more and more to be what He has told me I am: a sharer of the divine nature. I’ll allow Him to transform me. But not only will I allow it, I’ll seek after it with all earnestness and diligence and striving. I’ll seek after godliness, and in so doing, I won’t fall away.

For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ…for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. (2 Pet 1:8, 10)

Prone to laziness when it comes to growing in faith? Prone to forgetting to actually grow? Read 2 Peter and yes, you just might get a good swift kick in the booty. But you’ll also get the sweet assurance and hope that there is a good and beautiful purpose for that little kick; a fruit-bearing, incredibly effective, steadfast and firm standing purpose. We’re made of different stuff; we’re made of the divine. Let’s be brave and bold to remember that, and to grow. Mercifully, astoundingly, we have His incredibly precious and very great promises and His divine power to help us.

 

 

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