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Redouble Your Efforts

15 Oct

Somewhat skeptical of his son’s new found determination to become Charles Atlas, the father nevertheless spiritualexercise_lolwithgod_weights_jeltovski_morguefilefollowed the teenager over to the weight-lifting department, admiring a set of weights.

“Please, Dad,” pleaded the boy, “I promise I’ll use ’em every day.”

“I don’t know, Michael. It’s really a commitment on your part,” the father pointed out.

“Please, Dad?” the boy continued.

“They’re not cheap either,” the father came back.

“I’ll use ’em Dad, I promise. You’ll see.”

Finally won over, the father paid for the equipment and headed for the door.

From the corner of the store he heard his son yelp, “What! You mean I have to carry them to the car?” *

LOL.

That kid sounds just like me! In fact, some time ago, I broke up with my gym. We were just not working out. **

I don’t naturally “take” to exercise, but I know it’s good for me, so I persevere to find time for short spurts.

I take short walks, or exercise in a jacuzzi, or spend time (only 15 minutes) on a recumbent bike, or vacuum my house. For me, that’s manageable and it works.

The truth is, I don’t naturally “take” to spiritual exercise either. But there’s no question it’s good for me.

There was a time I was content to sit back as a Christian and not “work out” the salvation (Philippians 2:12) the Lord was “working in.”

I reasoned,

“It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

I was good at accepting the first part—allowing God to do His sanctifying work in me—but the second part was tough! I really didn’t have the desire for spiritual disciplines, and frankly, I didn’t think too much about doing things for God’s “good pleasure.”

In Philippians 2:12, Paul told the Philippian Church, “Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but even more in my absence, continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”

What was Paul saying?

We’re to keep on doing what we did at the beginning, when we first trusted Christ. We’re to fear God (reverence Him) and know the Lord is evaluating our behavior.

There are some who say we’re not to work at all at becoming more Christ-like, but that’s not what scripture teaches. It might be natural for us to sin, but on the other hand, a child of God is called to respond to grace.

Remember what it was like when you first met the Lord? Remember the fire in your heart to show the Lord how much you loved Him because of His great sacrifice for you?

  • You couldn’t pray enough.
  • You couldn’t read the Bible enough.
  • Your heart poured out praise and worship.
  • You couldn’t wait to obey God.

Until you got busy with other things… distracted by lesser affections. And then, the prayer, Bible study, worshipful gratitude and responsive obedience just seemed like too much work!

But Paul was saying, “redouble your efforts!”

“Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God,” it says in The Message. “That energy is God’s energy, and energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.”

God rescues us, and then He works in us and gives us the energy to work at what will please Him!

Verses 14-16 give us a glimpse of what can happen if we follow God and work for Him. We will shine out like beacon lights in a dark and corrupt world! (v. 15) We will model the life-changing power of the Word of Life.

In verse 16, Paul essentially told the believers, “You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing.”

Wow!

If I “redouble my efforts” to practice the spiritual disciplines, it’s going to be obvious to the world, and it’s going to bless others who have poured their time and energy into helping me grow too!

Our salvation is not of works, but that doesn’t mean we get lazy in pursuing the Lord once we know Him. As my Grandpa Parks used to day, “Don’t sit around like a bump on a pickle.”

Some might need the admonition, “Take time to rest,” but others need a “Get busy!”

In fact, Redouble Your Efforts!

* from Cybersalt Digest, Issue #3980, 10-30-13

** OK, I borrowed that from Cybersalt Digest, Issue #3981, 10-31-13

~ Dawn

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I Wonder …

12 Apr

I’ve always been a curious person — curious meaning “a desire to learn or know,” not curious meaning “strange” (although some might argue with that). My mind is always “wondering” about something.

Here are some things I wonder about:BabyOil_Really

  • If corn oil comes from corn … where does baby oil come from?
  • How do they get deer to cross at those yellow Deer crossing signs?
  • Why do kamikaze pilots bother to wear helmets?
  • Is it true that cannibals don’t eat clowns because they taste funny?
  • If you were going to shoot a mime, would you use a silencer?
  • And this one really gets me …..What do they use to ship Styrofoam? *

In recent months, I’ve wondered over things far more serious.

  • I wonder how God could love me.
  • I wonder that  Jesus chose to “empty” Himself and become a servant (Philippians 2:7-8).
  • I wonder that the Savior, ruler of all creation, chose to live within His creation to save us.
  • I wonder what the angels thought when they saw the Lord of Hosts on a cross (1 Peter 1:12).
  • I wonder that the Church is still alive and well—especially in third-world countries (Matthew 16:18).
  • I wonder that the Holy Spirit doesn’t get so sick of indwelling me (John 15:26), He doesn’t “pack up” and leave.
  • I wonder that all Creation points back to a Creator (Psalm 19:1Colossians 1:16) … and I wonder how man could miss that.
  • I wonder what our praises will sound like before the throne (Revelation 15:3-4).

God created us with the capacity to wonder over Him and His wonderful acts … wonder that leads to worship.

I love King David’s prayer-song, written for Asaph and his brothers to offer regularly before the Ark of the Covenant. And as my heart swells with wonder — love, reverence, awe, healthy fear, and worship before Him – I offer these words to you.

Linger over these words … allow your heart to swell with wonder too:

“…give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done … tell of all his WONDERful acts. Glory in his holy name … Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the WONDERS he has done, his miracles … great is the Lord and most worthy of praise… all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place … Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness … Praise be to the Lord …. “ [excerpts from 1 Chronicles 16:8-36, emphasis mine]

As David finished his prayer-song, “all the people said, ‘Amen’ and ‘Praise the Lord.'”

Indeed. Amen! Praise the Lord!

What causes you to wonder and praise over our awesome, WONDERful God today?

– Dawn

* Humor,  some attributed to comedian Steven Wright

Graphics, original sources not clear

In the Eye of the Beholder

26 Jun

Irving was just coming out of anesthesia after a series of tests in the hospital, and his wife, Sarah was sitting at his bedside.

His eyes fluttered open and he murmured, “You’re beautiful!”

Flattered, Sarah continued her vigil while Irving drifted back to sleep. Later, he woke up and said, “You’re cute.”

“What happened to ‘beautiful’?” Sarah asked.

“I guess the drugs must be wearing off, ” he replied. * LOL!

“Beauty,” it’s said, “is in the eye of the beholder.”

Sometimes we don’t recognize true beauty, especially our own. Our vision of ourselves is subjective and limited. We measure ourselves against model-like standards of “perfection.” We define beauty in such narrow terms. Who is to say a rose is more beautiful than a daisy? How can we compare a perfect day at the beach with a perfect day in the mountains? God’s creations are varied and unique, and to appreciate each one is to appreciate the Creator Himself.

One of the most beautiful women I ever met was partially blind and “ordinary-looking,” yet she glowed with an inner strength I desired as a young girl. I couldn’t get enough of sitting by her side, capturing her winsomeness and joy and learning from her vast store of wisdom.

The older I get, the more I understand that, though we are all “wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:12-14), no human is completely  beautiful this side of heaven. We all sin, and we are in varying stages of decay (slowly falling apart) until the day we die. In other words, we are all marred images until God transforms us (2 Corinthians 3:18). I think we’ll be surprised, maybe even shocked, by our beauty in Christ in heaven.

All true, lasting beauty comes from God. “Beauty is fleeting,” the scriptures say, “but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30).  Beauty includes character, gifts, purpose, faith and so much more than mere appearance.

The Christian knows there is more. When the Father sees the believer, He sees His Son (Colossians 3:3-4; Romans 8:1; 1 Peter 1:3; Ephesians 2:13) –  and Jesus is beautiful. In Christ, Father God declares us chosen and special (1 Peter 2:9), loved (1 John 3:1), blessed (Ephesians 1:3), free (John 8:36) and more!

The Christian’s desire is to reflect Christ both now and in eternity, and this desire will be answered “in the eye of the beholder.”

We will behold Christ and we will be changed!

The Word of God says, “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). In that day, we we will be perfect and beautiful – just as the Creator intended.

Do you know your beauty in Christ? (If not, here is a perfect “mirror” for you to behold yourself.)

* From Cyberslalt.org, “Surgical Beauty.”

– Dawn

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