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Living Up to Who We Are

4 Oct

I smile when I read many of the “Keep Calm” items around the Internet that have sprung out of the original 1939 British KeepCalmAndMakeAKeepCalmPosterGovernment motivational poster, “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

I’ve seen “Keep Calm and Call Batman” … “Keep Calm and Buy Shoes” … “Keep Calm and Eat Chocolate” … “Keep Calm and Make Bacon Pancakes” … “Keep Calm and Adopt a Great Dane.” You get the idea.

But I laughed out loud when I read that the British reportedly have a REPUTATION for keeping calm even when there is no crisis! Having visited with many in the UK, I know this is true.

I’ve been thinking about that word, “reputation.”

Preacher and evangelist Dwight L. Moody said, “If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of me.”He had the right focus!

But then I thought about all the times I meant to do right and didn’t. Automaker Henry Ford said, “You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.”

Isn’t that the truth?

Our reputation is built (or torn down) choice by choice. With every decision, our character is taking shape … and then, our reputation.

God has already given Christians a framework for godly character. Not only that, He has invested in our lives through His Son, Jesus. Everything that we need to become holy is tied up in our salvation, forgiveness, righteousness and eternal life in Christ. God calls us to live up to who we are in Jesus:

“Only let us hold true to what we have attained” (Philippians 3:16, ESV). The Living Bible says it this way: “… fully obey the truth you have.”

The truth is, we are: redeemed and forgiven (Colossians 1:13-14), alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:5), washed and sanctified (1 Corinthians 6:11), justified and made righteous (Romans 5:1), reconciled to God (Colossians 1:22), a child of light (1 Thessalonians 5:4-5) and so much more!

We are to make the choices every day to live in the truth of who we are – to make the choices to grow more like Christ.

Dr. Dirk Van Proyen, teaching my Sunday school class recently, spoke of the Judgement (Bema) Seat (2 Corinthians 5:10) where Christians will give account of their works for Christ after salvation (1 Corinthians 3:11-15) – not to earn salvation with works (Ephesians 2:8-9). He noted the criteria for that judgment of works:  the faithful fulfilling of our stewardship responsibilities, coupled with the motives and intent of our hearts as we ministered.

Anything that is not found to be of value will be burned up (poof!); but what remains will result in praise from God — the “well done” we so desire.

Our reputations will be very clear on Judgment Day, whether they were genuinely for God, or full of puffed-up pride.

I came home from church with many sober thoughts. If Jesus is coming soon and bringing His reward with Him (and the scriptures tell us that is so, Revelation 22:12), then I’d better be thinking more seriously about that day. I want to “press on” to live in resurrection power (Philippians 3:11-12)

I wrote three file cards and put them in places around my home to remind me of some decisions I made that day.

GodsGloryWayPower

If I want to live to the “praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:15) and ultimately receive praise from Him for faithful service, I need to remember the three things I wrote down. I want to do all for God’s glory, in God’s way (with holiness, integrity and faithfulness) and by God’s power (not through the “flesh,” Romans 7:18, but by the Holy Spirit, John 14:16-17; Romans 8:11; Acts 1:8a).

Are those your goals too? Can that focus help you live up to who you are in Christ?

– Dawn

 

 

 

 

Missing God’s Signs

5 Oct

StoveNoteA busy, often distracted mother sometimes accidentally left pots and pans on the stove with the burners on. Concerned about the possibility of a fire, she resorted to posting this reminder on the kitchen door: “STOVE?”

One day her daughter, just back from college, noticed the sign.

Beneath her mom’s note, the daughter taped her reply: “No, it’s a DOOR! (Trust me. I went to college.)” *

Some signs in life are obvious. Others can confuse or misrepresent.

But there are some signs we might miss entirely.

God gives us signs every day that declare His love, His goodness, His grace, His mercy, His wisdom, His faithfulness and so much more. The enemy, Satan, wants us to DontMissGodsSignsmiss those signs. The devil wants us to miss all the signs of the glory of God in our lives.

If we have doubts about our Father in Heaven, it’s often because we’ve read some of the enemy’s misleading signs about God. We look at our current circumstances and “read into them” something that simply isn’t true.

For example, if our finances suddenly take a downward turn, the enemy would like us to believe this is a sign of God’s unfaithfulness. And we may give a nod to this lie because we tend to be proud and selfish, and we don’t like inconvenience or difficulty.

But if we took a moment to REFLECT on all that God has done in our past to show His daily faithfulness (Lamentations 3:21-23) and love (Ephesians 3:18-19), we might RECOGNIZE God’s presence in our lives. And when we recognize His presence – and all that comes with that (God’s power, provision, peace, etc.) – we can REJECT the enemy’s lies.

Just because we can’t see God’s purpose in allowing inconvenience, difficulty (and even suffering) in our lives, this doesn’t mean God stopped loving and caring for us – any more than a parent stops loving a child when it’s time for that child to get some tough medical care or experience situations the parent knows will bring growth and maturity. Our loving God may be allowing a tough time simply to strengthen us (James 1:2-4).

We need to look outside our current circumstances to the signs of what our loving, all-wise Father God has done for us throughout our past … how He brought us through tough times, how He answered prayer, how He met a need, how He displayed His power and glory. God wants to help us, but we need to learn His ways (Proverbs 3:5-7).

We need to turn to the scriptures, which can dispel our doubts and encourage our faith.

The truth is:

Armed with this truth, we can praise God and give Him glory for His faithfulness (Psalm 71:8; 103:1-2). We can look to scriptures about what He will accomplish in and through us in the future (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Be encouraged! If God gave Jesus to deliver us, we know we can depend on Him in all of life’s circumstances (Romans 8:32).

A good example of this is the life of John, the beloved disciple (Matthew 11:1-6). We know Jesus loved him, but can you imagine how John might have felt sitting in a jail cell. Satan surely brought him signs that said, “You’re all alone” or “God has forgotten you.” Just as Jesus encouraged John to look beyond that Jail cell by faith, He encourages us to look past the darkness in our lives to His light.

Jesus ends with these encouraging words – “… ‘Blessed [Happy] are those who don’t doubt me'” (Matthew 11:6, The Living Bible).

Are you struggling with doubt in a tough circumstance? Cast away any thoughts that rise up against God as He truly is (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Reflect on how God has been faithful to you in the PAST, and His promises for the FUTURE; and use these signs of His love and care to encourage you in the PRESENT.

* Humor adapted from Cybersalt Digest Issue #3730, 8/23/11

PHOTO of Sign: Image courtesy of scottchan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

— Dawn

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