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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

 

 

 

 

Don’t Assume God’s Not Working

22 Jul

Kathi, holding a tiny baby, walked into a drug store and asked the clerk if she could use the store’s baby scale.

“Sorry, Ma’am,” the clerk said. “Our baby scale is broken. But we can figure the baby’s weight if we weigh mother and baby together on the adult scale.

“Then we can weigh the mother alone, and subtract the second number from the first.”

“Oh, that won’t work,” Kathi said.

The clerk, puzzled, said, “Why not?”

“Because I’m not the mother,” Kathi said. “I’m the aunt.” *

I laugh as I read that, because I’ve often assumed something wouldn’t work, but I had a skewed perspective … or a limited one.

Have you ever assumed that God’s not working in a situation, only to find out some time later that He was working behind the scenes, planning for something spectacular or even “impossible”?

Once, when I felt led away from one job to another, I couldn’t figure out why God didn’t give me the “release” to change jobs right away. A little frustrated, I determined to work hard and “finish well” for as long as God kept me in that job.

Then, months later, God opened an incredible opportunity for ministry and gave me the “go ahead;” but when I went into my boss’s office to tell him I was moving on, I was shocked that he seemed relieved!

A week or so later, I discovered why. I was one of his employees slated for layoff!

God had a greater plan that I could not see, and His timing was perfect.

M. Blaine Smith wrote about his experiences with God’s unseen activity in an article titled “Help from Behind the Scenes” (12-15-97). “If I could glimpse the unseen circumstances that are affecting my destiny,” Smith said, “I would often be encouraged by what I found.”

But then he said, “If I truly knew everything going on behind the scenes that’s affecting my life, I would be unsettled by plenty of it, for I wouldn’t automatically know how to put it all in right perspective.”

How does he resolve his feelings about this? “Yet I have an extraordinary basis for knowing ~ simply as a matter of faith ~ that Christ is working behind the scenes to bring about his best for my life,” he said. “Without knowing any of the details of what He is doing, I have profound reason to be hopeful.”

Over and over again in the Bible, we see that God worked behind the scenes for our good and His glory.

God gave Gideon a glimpse behind the scenes of how He was going to defeat the enemy Midianites (Judges 7:9-15). God opened the eyes of Elisha’s servant to see the powerful angelic army “behind the scenes,” ready to fight against the enemy (2 Kings 6:15-18) ~ one of my favorite Old Testament stories.

Smith notes that, at Jesus’ birth, “few realized that God was acting in a way which would forever alter the course of human history and the destiny of innumerable lives.”

But I’m thinking about the “behind the scenes” story of Jesus’ death! I am awed by this scripture: “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:7-8).

Apparently, Satan and his evil cohorts had no idea of the scope of the incredible behind the scenes plan of God in Jesus’ death and resurrection!

Friend, our loving, sovereign God is always working behind the scenes. There’s no need to worry … no need to fear … no need to manipulate circumstances.

We can rest, knowing everything is under control. Let that truth give you hope today!

Comment opportunity:  Has God ever pulled back the curtain to let you see behind the scenes to what He is doing in your life? Or have you been surprised by God’s activity on your behalf? I’d love to hear your stories!

* adapted from Cybersalt Digest, Issue #3674

Run to the Fortress!

4 May

A daddy was listening to his four-year-old say his bedtime prayer.

“Dear Harold,” the boy began.Praying Little Boy

“Wait a minute,” said the dad. “How come you called God ‘Harold’?”

The little boy looked up and said, “That’s what they call Him in church. You know, ‘Our Father, who art in Heaven, Harold be Thy name.”

When the father stopped laughing, the boy resumed his prayer.

He lost it again when the boy said, “And forgive us our trash baskets as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets.”

Another little boy once prayed, “Dear God, please take care of yourself, because if anything happens to you, we’re gonna be in a big mess!” *

We smile at these children’s prayers, but that last one had a nugget of truth. Without God, we ARE in a big mess. And our nation desperately needs to understand that.

May 5, 2011, is the 60th annual observance of the National Day of Prayer. The theme chosen for the special day of prayer is “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.”

I (Dawn) remember when my two young sons used to build forts among the low trees on our back hill. They “defended” their territory from these fortresses, and I often smiled at their youthful valor.  But it also pictured for me how God defends us, and we are safe with Him.

Psalm 91:2 says, “I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”  I think that this is a verse we all should memorize for these tough days. 

Whether economic upheaval, family breakdown, or even the threat of war, we have a safe place in God ~ we can trust Him regardless of our circumstances.

That doesn’t mean that we’ll have it easy. Life inside a fortress can get pretty spartan. But we know that ultimately, our lives are safe with God if we have put our trust in Him. The opposite is also true. Those who do not know the God of the Bible have no sturdy fortress. They trust in things and people that can fail (Psalm 118:8).

Psalm 18:1-2 says God is our rock, fortress, and deliverer. What does this mean? Our Mighty God is our our security, our shield, our safety, our stronghold, our strength, and our Savior!

The writer of the song in Psalm 46, declared, “God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” We have no reason to fear, for the Lord Almighty is with us. Yes, the God of Jacob is our fortress. When we are most tempted to fear, our Father in heaven says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Do you know Him? Do you trust Him? You can personalize this Psalm… “The Lord of hosts is with ME! The God of Jacob is MY fortress.”

Our focus in times of trouble must not be on the scary Continue reading

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