Friday, June 1, 2018

Regularly Singing His Praises

I'm 16 years old and reading the word of God, and suddenly it hits me, "I am a Christian!" I quickly write it in my journal in big bold letters, "I AM A CHRISTIAN!" I proceed to take up the entire page, "Christ has saved me! I am going to heaven, I am a Christian!" I begin to rejoice. Oh what an amazing thought that I was saved by Christ! 

As I look back at that moment I often think that was the moment I was saved. How could the thought of knowing Christ not have brought me to that rejoicing before then? Then again, how could the thought of knowing Christ not bring me to rejoicing every day since? 

I remembered this memory today as I had my devotions. I've been reading a Psalm a day, and then 1 Chronicles. Today, by God's providence, it just so happened that after I read Psalm 98, I read 1 Chronicles. 
Psalm 98 is about rejoicing over the Lord's Salvation, specifically His steadfast love and faithfulness to Israel, which was clearly witness by all the earth. Therefore, because all the earth had witnessed it, all the earth must break out in a joyful noise. Consider the joy here in God's salvation, and the Psalmist hadn't even yet experienced the marvelous work of Christ on the cross! I was hit by this thinking, "Should I not then rejoice all the more?" 
I then turned to where my second bookmark was, in 1 Chronicles 16, and read about the Song of Thanksgiving that David, Asaph, his brothers, and all of Israel sang before the Lord, concerning His faithfulness to fulfill his promise of bringing them to Canaan. The Psalm itself has multiple parallels to Psalm 98, with singing to the Lord, and how all the earth can see His marvelous works, but I was further struck by the use of the word "regularly." 

"Asaph was to sound the cymbals, and Benaiah and Jahaziel the priests were to blow trumpets regularly before the ark of the covenant of God.""So David left Asaph and his brothers there before the ark of the covenant of the Lord to minister regularly before the ark as each day required""offer burnt offerings to the Lord on the altar of burnt offering regularly"

I began to consider a few things. 
Consider all that worship that was done regularly before the Lord! Consider Psalm 98:1 that says, "Oh sing to the Lord a new song." Consider the new song of praise that I sang when I first was pierced by the Love of Christ through salvation! Consider how I have not done that regularly since! 

How I am now burdened that I do not regularly minister before God's presence, He who now dwells within me! And so I cry out, asking God to create in me a heart that needs to worship Him each day, that is required to, not by the law as Asaph was bound by, but by a deep love of Christ that cannot keep silent! Oh that I may daily go back to the day when I was pierced by God's kindness at the cross, and sing a song of thankfulness. 

Friday, February 2, 2018

The Encouragement of Eternal Life

Introduction: We were given an assignment to give a word of encouragement on a particular truth of scripture; to encourage a brother or sister in Christ on the truths of that topic, and how setting our eyes on Jesus bring joy. It was such a wonderful assignment for me, for as I wrote, I was being encouraged by the truths of scripture. I hope this too may bring you encouragement!

Encouraging others with the Truth of Eternal Life (Romans 6:23)
Assignment: Why does this subject matter, matter?
Romans 6:23
'For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.'

Today, if you're struggling with a lack of joy; if discouragement racks your soul;if you're burdened from the hardships you're experiencing; if you're anxious for the things that lie ahead, I urge you  brethren to remember with me the truth in the hope of eternal life (Titus 1).
Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.' (Psalm 73)
Is the weight of sin, weighing you down? Why, oh soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed?
Remember the hope we have in God, join me in the praise of Him, our Savior and
our God (Psalm 42:5). The hope of eternal life means that death will be destroyed forever.
Our Savior will wipe away the tears from every face and remove His people’s
disgrace (Isaiah 25). How I yearn for the day when I am free from that disgrace, that sin - the
day of eternal life. Rejoice with me now brother, that we will be changed from the corruptible
and clothed with incorruptibility (1 Cor. 15)!  Death will be swallowed up in victory through
the blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ - Thanks be to God who has given us victory over death
in Jesus Christ our Lord. OH! At that time there shall be sin shall be no more, “there shall be
no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it.”

Today we groan inwardly, waiting for that adoption, but remember with me brother, the
sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be
revealed in us (Rom. 8). While now we see dimly, we will then see face to face, and while now
we know in part; we shall then know fully, even as we have been fully known by the maker of
all things (1 Corinthian 15). Oh to dwell on the truth that at that time we shall see His face!

Grudem writes in his Systematic Theology, “But more important than all the physical beauty of the
heavenly city, more important than the fellowship we will enjoy eternally with all God’s people from
all nations and all periods of history, more important than our freedom from pain and sorrow and
physical suffering, and more important than reigning over God’s kingdom - more important by far
than any of those these will be the fact that we will be in the presences of God and enjoying
unhindered fellowship with him (Revelation 21:3-4).”

Oh what love was poured out through Christ in his free gift towards us for eternal life!

Lyrics From the last verse of “Never Cease to Praise”  
When that day arrives, and the race is won, When our griefs give way to deliverance.
We will fully know as we’re fully known, All our groans will end as new songs begin.
And a multitude from every tribe and tongue,   
Wearing robes of white, will stand before Your throne,  
And our hearts will be so consumed by You That we never cease to praise!

Friday, January 19, 2018

Musings from Team Building

Some Thoughts from Two weeks of learning about
Successful Team Building

How quickly I either judge others (based on my standards/my image) or become jealous of others for the gifts/traits/talents they have and I don't. What pride! What selfishness! Are not these people also made in the image of God? Are they not also equipped for God’s glory? Is the Spirit not also working in them? Are we not members of one another? Oh Lord! I recognize that I do not protect the weaknesses of others, rather I become bitter towards them, and oh, how I give Satan a foothold! I do not work with others in the sense that I am unwilling to confront others, or share my weaknesses, choosing to do things on my own. Oh Lord! How this neglects the support of the body you’ve given me, forgive me Father! What a pedestal I put myself upon, and not give room for my brothers and sisters to thrive, to grow, to use the gifts God gave them. All this Lord is a testimony of me fighting against your work, your plans, your kingdom. How I hate that I grieve the Holy Spirit in this way!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Jesus is Worth It

Jesus is worth it.

That is the slogan of the mission organization that first captured my heart. The question rang out, "Do I live as though Jesus is worth it? Do I actually believe that?"

I've recently been reading the book, "The Faith of Leap" by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch. The subtitle reads, "Embracing a Theology of Risk, Adventure and Courage," and it has certainly got me thinking.  What if the goal of the church was to promote this lifestyle of "risk" despite the fact that it means leaving comfort behind?

While reading the book I just so happened to be reading through the Gospel of Luke. Consider Luke 9. First we see the 12 Apostles sent out with nothing but what they wore and the message of the Kingdom of God. Then, in verse 23 we read, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." Finally, at the end of Luke 9 we see the real cost of following Jesus, living with the reality that this world is not our own. After finishing up Luke 9, I needed to sit for a moment and marvel at the way the Lord reveals his heart - it is not just in Luke 9 that we see this call to risk, adventure and courage, it is replete throughout all of scripture. What then does that mean for us?

Perhaps it means the risk of going onto the mission field cross-culturally, but cross-cultural missions is not for all Christians, but RISK is, so what then? It seems as though we cannot be content with lives of complacency but rather be willing to live life willing to proclaim the gospel despite the risks.

John 16:33, "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." 
One other thing has rang out this week that I feel must be mentioned. I now recognize that while I should hold fast to the promises of the Lord, and the coming kingdom, and the knowledge that Christ has indeed overcome the world, there is still pain and suffering. Jesus is worth all, but there is a difference, which I am now only beginning to see, between risk and recklessness. We are called to be wise, always going before the Lord in prayer. Count the Cost. I type these things for my own reminder as I study more on the theology of Risk and the cost of discipleship.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

On Death... and The proclamation of New Life

I recently saw Furious 7 with my sister. Another blog post described it as a" bad movie with a tear-jerk ending," and that about sums it up. Paul Walker is memorialized in a beautiful ending sequence where the two main characters "go there separate ways," and you're left feeling this false sense of happiness that he is traveling another, better road.
As the credits started to roll I turned to Rebecca and said, "you know what's sad... I don't think he was a Christian." That's all. We just paused thinking about that.

Last night I got lost in the world of YouTube Into The Woods musical clips (I'm a sucker for anything musical related), and up pops a segment from Glee, which makes me start thinking about Cory Monteith. I haven't watched Glee since the second season, but with Walker on my mind I start watching scenes from Cory's memorial episode, the Quarterback. Talk about waterworks. Adding emotional characters who release their emotion through song, it created a beautiful tribute to Cory. But here's the thing, he wasn't a believer either.

Two real life people in the world have lost their lives. While the world starts to feel better with peaceful tributes, and while the franchises they worked for still make money, these two men are spending the rest of eternity in hell. That's the part that makes me cry. Was there anyone in their lives that ever shared the gospel with them?

Is there anyone in my life that I haven't shared the gospel with? Because what if they die too, and while I sit at their funeral tribute, I cry not because they're gone, but because of where they are.

Romans 2 is explicit when it speaks about "storing up [God's] wrath against yourself..." because He will "give to each person according to what he has done," and what has each person done? Sin, for there is "no one righteous, not even one." (Rom3)

So like Paul and Cory, I myself have stored up God's own wrath, and know the weight of that sin. But praise be to God that we need not experience that wrath!

God, in his Infinite love has given us His precious Son, who took on my sin, and experienced God's wrath for me on the cross. Rom4:25, he was delivered over to death for [my] sins, and raised to life for [my] justification. And if you trust in Him, you too can experience that real peace of the hope of eternity with Him.

So Furious7 And Glee together had my thinking about the gospel, but also the great need to be proclaiming it.
Jesus is specific in the great commission in Matt.28:18-20, "Go therefore..." (hmm that would make a good mission blog title) "... And make disciples of all nations." But why we ask? Romans 10 has that answer, because if we don't want any more people, like Cory & Paul, to die without hearing, how will they hear without someone preaching it to them?

So therefore Go! What's holding you back? The utter perfection of the greatest Story? The joy that comes from knowing & speaking it? The love that Christ has lavished on you? Those are the catalysts!  Go!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Singing Praises

I remember pressing the snooze for 5 more minutes. Some time later I do that lazy stretch, catching the crick in my back and wonder at how it's amazing that my 5 minutes haven't ended yet. I check my phone to count the remaining seconds and quickly realize, its way past my 5 minutes. 

Mad rush. 

I quickly scramble out of bed, throw on the outfit I had only half planed out, brush my teeth with great speed, grab my bible, journal and is there anything else? The sweet potato casserole for Dgroup! Okay, I'm ready. I think. 
Open the door, step outside. Oh. My dad's car blocks my exit. No problem, I'll just move it... never mind, he took his keys.

So, thats a quick saga of how I came to miss church today. Instead I had my own little service. Not as I would intend, being in the fellowship of believers, but still it was encouraging. 

First I listen to the message I missed from Pastor Ed a couple weeks ago, "Awl or Nothing at All". Definitely a good example of Gospel Centered Preaching, and a motivator to sing praises to God, and thus the true purpose behind this post.

After all that, I get to praise God by listening to, and singing along with, some of my most recent favorite praise songs, songs I'd love to share with you now:

The title really says it all, there is no need to fear the wrath of God because it was already paid for at the Cross of my Lord Jesus Christ, whom I love. The Chorus, "How Sweet the Sound of Saving Grace... Christ Died for Me," what wonder it is that Christ, the Son of God, laid down His life for me! Think of your great depravity, and Christ's great love to save you as you sing this and praise His Holy Name! 

I need a strong and perfect plea, for truly I am a wretched sinner, in need of a great Savior. Continually I feel tempted to despair, unworthy of the great Love that my God has shown me, but in His kindness He reminds me that my guilt is gone, I am free indeed. My life is Hid with Christ, I am His forever. Amen! 

I posted this song to Facebook about a week ago, and honestly just love some of these lyrics. At this moment the verse that speaks of singing despite the fact that temptations threaten me, for truly I know where my home is, with my Lord in heaven.   

It'll be there in heaven where I will not worry about a tired body, shady wake-up alarms, or blocked in cars, but rather will continually Sing the Praises of My God, My King, My Savior with the voices of all the Saints, in the ultimate fellowship of believers. Oooh the thought gets me giddy inside. 
"Come Lord Jesus!" 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

My Mission Field Now

I don't remember how old I was when I first wanted to be a missionary; I don't remember where I was either, but I do remember telling my father. As expected, he wasnt thrilled to hear his teenage, "baby-girl" tell him that risking her life was a worthwhile enddevor, but somehow it sparked a fire. That fire, now that my "grown-up" life has kick-started, has thawed his heart to the idea of a life completely sacrificed for the Lord.

Now, as i consider the lessons from CROSS CON and this Cru Preview Weekend I'm returning from, I'm excited for the plans God has laid out for me - plans for His Glory and My good. As I sat after the last session today I was even able to reflect on what my 3 year, mission plan may look like - off serving by 2017! How exciting that is; to serve the Lord for the express purpose of furthering His kingdom, especially with the blessing of my parents.

It's easy to look at the past and reflect on where I'll be in the future, but I've been realizing that I'm neglecting the current situation that God has put me in.

Each and every Christian is called to work for God's glory, through each and every enddevor, of each and everyday. How can I display a missional mindset in the life situation of where I am now? And closely related, but slightly more pressing for me, is how can I have and display a heart of evangelism for the Lost?

I was just reading once more from James 3:13-17, and overwhelmed with conviction. My plans for today or tomorrow, or three years from now, can be gone for life is short and temporary, and so I must ask, how am I working for the Kingdom in this moment? Well I know I ought to be proclaiming the Truth to all I encounter, but I'm not, and in this I sin. Thus, as I reflect on God's guidance this weekend, through the messages, the people and prayer, that which is most striking is my immediate need to be an evangalist. Not the street speaker, judgement dealer, or apologetics greeter type, but the disciple maker type, that I may be a model of Christ my Lord.

This is my mission field right now, and I'm asking for support through prayer as I pursue it daily, for I'm a wreched sinner in my neglect of this, and nose-dive failure when I try it on my own. Thus, please keep me in prayer in the pursuit of giving my all to Christ through evangalism, as I prepare to do the same oversees, and anywhere else the Lord may lead.