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Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category

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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I was driving on the highway, in the rain, in the dark, on the way to small group. My daughter was in the back seat singing and making up her own lyrics to her own melodies about the rain falling steadily against our windows. In the middle of her song, I heard these lines:

The Lord protects us;

The Lord gives us rain coats

to protect us from the rain!

Obviously he loves us!

My daughter seemed to be living out a portion of Ephesians 5 in that moment, in my presence: “be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And I think, that in that moment, something was clicking for her that I forget so, so often.

For my daughter, it started with her rain coat. Her gratitude for it caused her to reflect on how God delights to provide for her. His provision for her in the storm caused her to ponder anew how he protects her. His protection of her reminded her of his great, vast, unimaginable love towards her. And this love that she was reflecting on – which all started with her small, little need – inspired her to make melodies in her heart, singing, making music, addressing me with a spiritual song. In the midst of the awareness of this glorious, comforting, awe-inspiring truth, praise erupted from her heart, was poured out like honey upon her lips, and was heard by the one near her.

How vast and beyond our imagination our God is! For the magnificence of his grace and plan of salvation for the fullness of time is all the more amazing to us when we see how very small we are in the midst of it, and yet he cares for us, very specifically, very individually, all the while.

You could say I was edified by my little sister in Christ that day. Oh, my dear sweet one! My heart echoes your song, and I sing with you that obviously, obviously God loves us!

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In the 1st chapter of James there are at least 6 different words used to describe the one who does not allow their faith to be proven genuine by testing. James says in the beginning of the chapter that instead of allowing steadfastness to do its thing, this person DOUBTS. The meanings behind the Greek words used describe this person as: Straying. Wandering. Roaming about. Cheated. Deceived (by self). Deluded. Beguiled. Wavering. Uncertain. DIVIDED IN INTEREST. Unstable. Inconstant. Restless. SEPARATED. Withdrawn. Opposed (to truth). Hesitant. DESERTER.

I’ll tell you this much; I don’t want those words to describe me. They send a shiver down my spiritual spine. I don’t want to glory in my doubt. I don’t want to find pride and satisfaction in questioning my God. I don’t want to be a deserter of Christ because of doubt.

I want to hand any doubts over to the Master and Maker of Truth, and let Him do His thing with them. I want the wisdom He promises me, and I desperately, desperately want the crown of life He has ready waiting for me at the finish line. And for goodness sake, I want peace of soul as I go about my days here on earth! Not a restless spirit that wanders from one emotion to another! From one fad to another, or from one scholarly opinion to another. Good riddance to the world’s way of thinking, I say! A good casting-off of fear and doubt and worry is what I usually need.

No handing my doubt over (whatever it may be about), no letting go of it, no handing the burden I carry because of it off on to Christ’s shoulders, equals wandering, uncertainty, and a restless spirit. And, for me, a restless spirit usually lands me in a brand new pit of pride and whirlwinds of other sins.

The testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And LET STEADFASTNESS HAVE ITS FULL EFFECT, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:3-5)

The word for “testing” above in Greek is “dokimion.” I came across this word (and some of it’s derivitives) a few months ago. “Dokimion” is a test that proves one to be genuine; it is the proving itself. In fact, it is the proving of faith. It is the proving of genuine faith. And, even more specifically here, it’s the tested proving and the approval of God Himself.

I don’t think I can say it enough, or stress it enough, or shout it from my soul enough; I want to be proved genuine by my God. I want my faith to be proven genuine before my Master! I want my trials of faith to lead me every day of my life to the cross of Christ where I can lay all my sin and all my fears and all my doubts down. Down down down. Down and off my back, and off my shoulders, and out of that spot in my brain where doubts and worries like to take seed like a weed and grow. I want the peace of Christ that surpasses all my understanding to literally and truly reign in my soul.

It is a labor though. There is testing involved. Trials of many kinds involved. Fleshly desires may tempt me. And doubts may come. Doubts of all kinds. And what I do with my doubts will determine whether or not a great divide will be formed between me and the Savior whose embrace I long for. It will determine the outcome of my dokimion, the outcome of my testing of genuine faith.

But there is hope; the hope of transformation. And the labor of transformation – in the midst of various kinds of trials – is not in vain. The labor of being conformed into the image of God – allowing steadfastness to do its thing in us – is not in vain. The difficult task of stripping away the desires of our flesh – the desire to carry our own load, to deal with doubt our own way, to question our authority, to commend ourselves, to criticize God’s ways, to be hostile to God’s ways of thinking – is not in vain. We Christ-followers have been chosen for transformation. We have been chosen for real, genuine, steadfast, tested and approved faith. It is a good work, these trials of faith, and it is a worthy work. Our transformation – our surrendering of doubts before Him and staying put in His keeping – is part of walking in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. It is a transformation that is making us day by day, moment by moment, struggle by struggle, doubt by doubt, into the image of our Beloved. Our transformation? It is to the praise of God’s glory. Yes, even our “dokimion”, our test of faith proving us genuine right now… even it is to the praise of His glory.

Sovereign Lord, might we allow steadfastness to have its full effect? Might we push through trials and testings of faith to see the light of your wisdom? To find confidence in you? Lord, so often, we confess, we take pride in finding answers, in asking questions, in complaining, in carrying our loads, in thinking for ourselves, in challenging and criticizing Your work…we take pride in our flesh, Lord. O Father! You must transform us! Left to ourselves we stray into deep pits of sin; we are prone to wander, Lord! Holy Spirit, move in our souls with great power, making us complete and perfect in Christ, making us stable, firm and steadfast! May there be no self-glorying in Your presence, O Lord. Make us and transform us to the praise of Your glory.

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