Sunday, July 22, 2012

Humble Yourself Like a Little Child

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."  ~~Matthew 18:1-4

I never understood what it meant to humble yourself like a child until I had my own children.  And even then, I didn't get the lesson until baby #5.

If I've learned anything about Christianity, it's that God wants us to be humble.  He calls Himself humble (Matthew 11:29), and calls us to be the same.  Paul teaches in his epistles we must be like Christ.  John the Apostle says we must walk as He walked.  Anyone who reads the Gospels can tell you Yeshua was a humble man.

He had no permanent home.  Likely, He only had one set of clothing.  He ate at the home of whomever invited Him over.  He didn't have two coins to rub together.  Rarely did He sleep on a bed.  And He said not a word to His accusers.

But He compares our humility to that of a child.  We must become like little children.  What, exactly, does that mean?

Children can make friends with anyone.  Spend five minutes with them and you're their best friend.  They might even declare how much they love you.  They don't care how loud they are, and they don't care who hears them.  They're not ashamed of who they are and they're not ashamed of who their father is.  They trust openly, and forgive easily.  They're in awe of the world around them.  Everything is new and fresh, and a dandelion is as amazing as a rose.  Their God is too awesome for words.  He can do anything.  Nothing is too hard for their God.  The faith of a child is complete, praying to the Lord without a single thought their request won't come true.  Anything is possible.  The sky is the limit.  

In short - they are not proud.  They are not jaded.  They are full of love, friendship, and wonder.  And they believe with all their heart God hears them.  That He is all-powerful.  And yet... they wouldn't hesitate to run and give Him a hug.

Yeshua wants us to love like that.  He wants us to believe like that.  He wants us to have faith like that.  He wants us to be in awe like that.

He wants to chip away at our cynicism, break off our doubt, and crumble our disillusionment.  He wants us to love Him so much, that our love for Him tints our entire world through child-like glasses.  Every time we gaze at the night sky, every time we watch an eagle soar, every time we hold a rock, He wants us to be filled with wonder and excitement and absolute LOVE for Him.

When a child has stability and loving parents, their little world is perfect.  If they have a problem, they run to Mommy or Daddy.  If they have a boo-boo, it will be kissed, if they have a bad dream, they will be cuddled.  If they are scared of thunder, they'll run into their parents' arms.

God wants the same with us, HIS children.  He wants to provide for you, protect you, and love you.  And He wants you to have life more abundantly (John 10:10).  I believe humbling ourselves like little children IS the abundant life.  When we look around and see God's fingerprint on everything, when we can trust Him so utterly that we cling to Him when the going gets tough, that we find joy in even the most mundane of places, that's when we live an abundant life through our love for God.  

That's when we're His children.  That's when He's our Abba. (Romans 8:15)


Saturday, July 14, 2012

He Is Everything - The Alpha and Omega

The more I learn about Yeshua, the more I realize it's all ABOUT Yeshua.  Everything.  The Bible from cover to cover.  Salvation from start to finish.  Creation from one end to the other.

So many people want to know the meaning of life.  Why are we here?  What does it all mean?  The answer is clear.  Yeshua.  The meaning of life is to know and commune with our God.  We are here to praise and worship Him in fellowship.  It means He loves us so very much that He was willing to take the penalty of sin upon Himself in order to save us.

This world is a stepping stone into the next.  We live here for a season, a breath, a blink, a heartbeat.  But we live there for an eternity.  God gave us this life as an opportunity to choose Him.  Love is not love without a choice in the matter.  Therefore, God had to provide a way to choose Him.  If we were created in an eternal world, we wouldn't have a choice in the matter of knowing and loving Him.  We'd see His Glory with our own eyes.  We'd know His love without a shadow of a doubt.  It would not be a free choice to love Him.

Our purpose on earth is to choose to love Him and tell others about Him.  Choosing to love someone is a much stronger bond than loving someone because you "have to".  When you choose to love, it is from the heart, a willing decision to be with them.  When you're forced to love someone, that love can turn to resentment.  We may begin to despise their presence.  God doesn't want this.  He wants warm, willing hearts to turn to Him by their own choice.

Once you choose to love Him you begin to see His design for death and rebirth in everything.  It is a common theme throughout creation.  Winter changes to spring.  Bears hibernate for months and then waken.  Caterpillars cocoon themselves until they're ready to take wing as butterflies.  Seeds must die to germinate into a new plant.  Trees shed their old leaves to grow new ones from their naked, spindly branches.  And every night, we go to sleep - to awaken the next morning.

Even stars explode into a supernova only to have the gases coalesce into new stars.

Resurrection is everywhere in creation.  And it's all about Yeshua.

He has resurrected Himself from the dead, and has promised to resurrect those who believe in HIm as well.  One day, we will stand on the streets of Heaven in glorious glorified bodies.  We will be like Him, and we will see Him as He is (1 John 3:2).  It's the Grand Design.  The reason why we're here.  To become like Him, in mind AND body.

He gives us the choice to freely love Him, or to reject Him.  If we choose Him, our love is genuine because it is not forced.  We want to love Him.  When we want to love Him, we want to share Him, so others can know and love Him as well.  And we hold tight to His promises, that He is one day coming again, bringing His reward with Him (Revelation 22:12).

There isn't anything in this life that isn't about Yeshua.  His signature is all over creation.  His plan for rebirth is right before our eyes, shucking the finite for unimaginable, infinite glory.  Changing from undesirable to desirable.  From death to life.

There is no life apart from Yeshua (1 John 5:12).  To be literal, there is no heartbeat, no breath, no brain waves, no thoughts, and no will without Him.  To be figurative, there's no joy, no love, no hope, no faith, no fun without Him.

However, when we cross over into the eternal without choosing Him, the figurative becomes the literal in Hell, as your physical body has already died.  If you do not have life in Yeshua, you will exist in a place without Him -- no joy, no love, no hope, no faith, no fun, no friends, no God.  To be without life in the physical world is to die bodily.  To be without life in the eternal world is to die spiritually.  Dying spiritually does not mean you cease to exist, but rather, you live eternally without Him.

Since we are made in His image, we are eternal beings.  We exist for as long as God exists, and He will exist...forever.

The entire point of our earthly existence is to choose God and have life in Him.  Along the way, He gives us grace, joy, love, peace, and blessings.  But this life is just a stepping stone.  A spring board.  The starting line to the vast gulf of our eternity.  And it all hinges on your one, single choice to love God...or not.

That is why it's ALL about Yeshua.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Every Breath, Every Hearbeat, Every Blessing

That they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’ ~~Acts 17:27-28a

I love the Scripture above.  It paints a picture of men "feeling" their way to God, trying to find Him in the dark, with our blind eyes, when in reality, He's right there in front of us all along.  And even more than that, He is the very reason we live, the reason we move, and the very reason we have our being.

There is nothing I have that hasn't been given to me by Yeshua.  He created my body in my mother's womb.  He created my soul.  He gave me a family.  He found me as a child and saved me.  And every single blessing, whether it be my 12-speed mountain bike of yore, or my wonderful children, they have all come from Him. 

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights. ~~James 1:17

Everything in my existence comes from Yeshua.  My next breath.  My next heartbeat.  My life.  My salvation.  My eternity.  Yeshua is so intimately involved with me, that He even holds my very atoms together by His will alone.

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. ~~Colossians 1:17

Every joy in my life comes by His common grace, the grace He gives everyone alive.  Even non-believers.  We all can enjoy a cool glass of water on a hot day.  Or a warm, inviting fire when it snows.  We can enjoy a nice cup of coffee or a sweet slice of pie.  All of these are the common grace of our God.

Even my trials are given to me, not to beat me down, but to conform me into the image of Christ.  I do not look at a trial in the same light any more.  Most folk blame God or lament about their problems.  Where was God when A, B, and C happened?

There are many reasons to test our faith.  But most tests teach us about ourselves and our commitment to God.  All marriages have their rocky times.  It's how you work out those problems that's key.  Do you give up when things get hard?  Or do you buckle down and figure things out?  A commitment to God isn't much different.  "Where would we go?" as Saint Peter once said.  "You have the words of eternal life!" (John 6:68)

Along with a test of faith, however, our trials make us more Christ-like.  This is why Paul and Peter and John regularly said in their Epistles to rejoice in ALL circumstances.  Not only is your salvation secure in Christ, but your trials are making you like Him!

But what does that mean?  It means you aren't haughty.  You're not full of pride.  You have a certain humility about you.  You're not puffed up.  You have a heart for those in your same situation.  You do all you can to help others in need like you once were.  You learn patience.  You become kind-hearted.  

I've often wondered why God allowed me to get sick a few months back with cellulitis in my leg.  Because I was wearing bandages soaked in calamine when my leg began to swell (and no one knew I'd have a reaction to calamine), I now have a huge purple scar on the back of my right calf.  I actually have a band that goes all the way around my lower leg, but the majority of this scar is on my calf.  

I know I touched the lives of many nurses and doctors during this ordeal.  But what did this benefit ME?  What was the plan for ME?  It's embarrassing to wear shorts, although I still do.  I figure I've got this for the rest of my life, I better get used to it.  But when I think about how God uses ordeals like this to conform me into the image of Christ. I feel humbled.  Perhaps that was why God allowed it, to keep me humble.  To remind me that beauty is more than perfect skin.  That He accepts me just the way I am.  

And that's lovely to me.  In all honesty, I don't care about this scar.  I've never been one for earthly vanity.  Maybe people think it's a large birthmark.  My sister said I should cover it with a large tattoo.  :P  But in this, God has a plan.

Yeshua holds it all together.  Yeshua grants me His grace.  Yeshua holds the entire universe in His hands.  He knows what He's doing.

And perhaps trust and surrender to the King of kings is part of the test as well.  That GOD is Sovereign.  No matter what happens, He's got it all in His hands.

It's amazing when you really think about it.  I'm breathing because He allows it.  My heart beats because He's ordained it.  I exist because He willed it.

And in that, we find our worth in the Lord -- that He is so minutely involved in our lives (down to our atoms), that He loves us so very much (that He died for us), and that He conforms us into His image (Romans 8:29).

There is NOTHING apart from Yeshua.  He has given us ALL that we have, even our next blink.  I may not always know what He's doing, but I do know He's in charge, and that He's gentle and humble at heart (Matthew 11:29).  

He will NEVER allow me to fall.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Clutching to the Hem of His Garment

I am desperate to stay close to Yeshua.  With all of my strength (which is, admittedly, not much), I cling to Him as hard as I can.  Like the man in this photo, I want to lay my head on His chest, breathe Him in, and stay there, forever in His arms.

Being a Christian is so hard in this world.  There is so much sin, so much ugliness.  If I don't keep myself disciplined to look toward Christ, I will look away from Him.  It disgusts me that the world woos me from my Blessed Creator, but it does.  And not always with the obvious things.

Normal, everyday things pull me away from God.  Chores.  Errands.  More and more I am noticing when I turn away from the presence of God.  Perhaps that's a good thing.  Perhaps I'm finally coming to love and adore and recognize His presence.  Maybe God is showing me that the siren song of the world is hollow indeed.

Every day has now become a longing for my True Home.  My Home where I'm not constantly being pulled away from Yeshua.  Imagine the picture above, but with clawing hands trying to yank me out of His embrace, tearing at me to do this, do that, and forget Him.  Sometimes I do forget Him.  In the drudgery of "real life", I often forget about God.  Going to the store, doing chores, running errands... and I can't stand it. 

I don't know for sure, but I think our lives in Heaven will be lived 100% in the presence of God.  We will not be tempted to turn away by the lure of sin, we won't be pulled from Yeshua's arms by something that is mundane.  Everything we will do will be lived out to perfection in Him.  We will share in His Divine Nature (2 Peter 1:4), and He will grant us to sit on His Throne (Revelation 3:21).  I cannot imagine the communion we will have with our God in those days.

All I know is I don't have that communion yet.

Right now, I have the indwelling Holy Spirit, which Scripture describes as the "earnest of our inheritance" (Ephesians 1:14), or in other words, a "good faith deposit" on what we will become upon our glorification.  And I revel in knowing the Living God lives within me, making my heart His very Temple.

But even now, when I know I can freely come into His presence as a king and priest of the Most High (1 Peter 2:9, Revelation 5:10), my entire existence isn't converging with His.  There are areas of my life He is not present in, and that is what I cannot stand.  How can I abide in Him if sometimes...I forget Him?

I do not like coming out of my prayer closet.

In Heaven, I believe we will have His presence surrounding us tangibly.  We will forever be in our prayer closets.  We will never have those times where we "leave" the presence of God to go run an errand.  Technically, we don't leave the presence of God now, since He lives inside of us.  But due to my own sin nature and my sinful flesh, I cannot always "tap in" to God's presence.  Sometimes, it seems far from me.  Elusive.  As if I must go hunting to find Him.  As if I can see Him through a window, but I'm never able to touch and feel Him.

But then, ah then, it will be as if two lovers in a long-distance relationship never have to leave each other any more.

I had a long distance relationship with my husband when we were fiancees.  It was very hard to be apart from him.  But the day I married him, I rejoiced, knowing I'd NEVER have to leave him again.  It was an amazing feeling.  All the heartache and suffering from being apart was OVER.  And we were free to start a new life--together.  I want that with Yeshua.  I want His presence to be tangible in my life.  I want to LIVE Him, BREATHE Him in, and NEVER leave His arms for the rest of my existence.

I suppose you could say I hunger and thirst for His righteousness.  This world has made me weary.  I'm tired of the every day monotony.  I'm tired of worldly problems.  I'm tired of sin and the ugliness within my own heart.  I want to be clothed with Christ, I want to put on His purity and don His holiness as my own.  I want to start That Life and leave this one behind in the dust, with my hand firmly in His.

But until God calls me into Glory, all I can do is cling to Him.  Fervently.  With all I've got.  Because He is all I that have.   If I turn away, just for a moment, I risk falling down a slippery slope and losing my intimacy with the only One who's loved me with a perfect Love.  I cannot let that happen.  So I strive to stay beside Him, because the world is forcibly tug-tug-tugging at me to forsake my First Love.  My True Love.  My Only Love.

As the Apostle Peter once said, "Lord, to whom would we go?  You have the words of eternal life." (John 6:68)

The Kingdom is within us.  Such profound words.  God Himself dwells inside our hearts.  Even so, I long for the day when I can take off this filthy tent and put on that glorious tabernacle. (2 Corinthians 5:1-9)

......Come quickly, Lord Yeshua......