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Archive for the ‘June 2012’ Category

Our only exception

Who has the power to make you, or to break you?

Don’t put your confidence in powerful people;
there is no help for you there.
When they breathe their last, they return to the earth,
and all their plans die with them.

Psalm 146:3-4

At the end of the day, we are all broken vessels made of clay. Even those people who we see as the strongest are too weak to support the weight of their own soul. Both the slave and the king have come into this world naked and empty handed, and will leave it the same.

Everyone has needs too deep to meet. Everyone is too broken to fix. Jesus is our only exception. He bears the weight of the world on his shoulders, and he can bear the weight of your soul. The Lord lifts up those who are weighed down. (v. 8)

You can’t be broken down more than he can build you up. You can’t be hurt deeper than he can heal you. You can’t be failed greater than he can help you.

Joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper,
whose hope is in the Lord their God.
He made heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them.
He keeps every promise forever.

Psalm 146:4-5

Men will not always be who they ought, or do what is good, or follow through with love. But God keeps every promise through it all.

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Penned in red

In living, there is dying. In dying, there is living. Your body can be alive while you are dying inside, or you could be more alive in your last hour than you’ve ever been.

Life and death are daily experiences. There are those things we believe define the quality of our lives that we are forced to live without. There are those adversities within and without which we can’t seem to pray away. We are left feeling as though in life we taste the bitterness of death.

we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
(2 Cor. 4:11)

Our flesh tastes death as poison, but our spirits take it in like medicine. We cry out for mercy while God’s Spirit in us cries for glory. Our lives know no greater opportunity than death to prove the power of the resurrection. As our faith expresses itself in obedience, the miracle of Jesus overcoming death becomes part of our own experience. In our flesh, the life of Jesus is manifest. The Gospel goes from sacred words on a page to blessed scars on our heart, in fact, we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Rom. 8:17)

Our story is penned in red, written in the blood of God. On the cross he took our nails. As we are beaten by trials he bleeds through us. Yet with him we overcome. Our death is his to bear, and his life is ours to share. Though we die, we live eternal life. Though we fall, we rise. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly… The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. (1 Cor. 15:49, 43)

When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”

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Jars of clay

It’s doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until he has hurt him deeply.
A. W. Tozer

You may have fallen into a pit on accident, or maybe you’ve been thrown in by those closest to you like Joseph. Now you have nowhere to look but up to the heavens where your help comes from.

The stars were lining up for you before the night went black. It hurts to consider all you could have done differently now that you’re looking back. God knows it kills you to consider your life, once so full of promise, as lost.

You saw a vision so clear that it became your reality. You felt a purpose so deep that it became your identity. But now all you see and feel are the walls standing in between. Is this what was really meant to be?

You cry Joseph’s tears, trapped in a well. You know David’s pain in the cave of Adullum. You share in Christ’s suffering in Gethsemane. But don’t forget in darkness the things you learned in light. Israel was first Jacob, Paul was first Saul, and Peter was first Simon. The Bible is not composed of stories of great men, but of men whose weaknesses proved the greatness of God.

If you have been proven powerless, hopeless, helpless on your own, you have all the more reason for hope. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (2 Cor. 4:7)

The dreams that God has planted as seeds in our souls are growing in the midst of adversity. When he works out what he is working in us, even we will call it miraculous. As it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Cor. 2:9)

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A home for us

Most of us know how to work better than we know how to rest. By work I mean more than keeping a job. I mean striving, fighting, and dying to live the good life.

We break our backs trying to build a home for ourselves. We work through evenings and weekends and vacations because maybe the moment we relax the waves will crash and our house will collapse like a castle of sand.

We spend so much time trying to fix the circumstances around us that we neglect the conflict within. Maybe we will actually get it right on the outside. Maybe we will build our house high and wide and paint it white. Maybe we will plant a little garden and even grow our own fruits and veggies. And maybe we will still go to bed hungry.

Must we wait until our house is perfectly built before we realize our soul is broken? Must we kill ourselves to fill our fridge before we recognize our emptiness?

We can find fertile land to build on. We can choose fine materials to build with. We can pick certain people to build near. But unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. (Ps. 127:1)

What place are we building our hopes on? What skills are we building with? What people do we need to have near? It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones. (v. 2)

Our work was finished on the cross. Our home is built in Jesus. He prepares our place on earth and in heaven. Now we do not work for salvation, but we labor by the love that has been freely given. Now we do not strive for life, but we live by abiding in Christ. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matt. 11:28-29)

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Dear beloved cynic,

You took the wind from my sails and the air from my chest. You looked at me with no grace to see. You despised my dignity and caused me to fear defeat. But my God fought for me. You see a failure where he sees a future. You see a problem where he sees a person. As for me, my worth is beyond your words. Yet I pray for the cynic in your own mirror.

I wish you could hear the one who knit you together singing over you. His work in you is wonderful. His glory in you is beautiful. When you look at your reflection, I wish you saw the image of God and not all that you’re not. You may stand against yourself, but the Lord your God stands with you. You may feel despised, but you are his delight. With his love he can quiet the lies. You are living a glorious life.

When all you see is a mess, remember the person beyond the problem. Remember you are called his beloved. You are not who you’ve been. You are not what you’ve done, or failed to do. You are hidden in Jesus, accepted, approved. You are loved, be loved, beloved.

You’ve been broken. You’ve felt hopeless. Your world is so full of darkness. The pain goes deep, but grace goes deeper. If only you could believe in your good purpose like God does. If only you’d know the joy beyond the cross. Have you forgotten that he who is in you is greater than the one in this world? He is overcoming the world. What Satan intends to wreck, God means for your best. His light is shining out of your darkness and death is not your end.

Your greatest failure will only ever be your inability to ruin God’s life in you. Darkness cannot overcome light, and you cannot kill what he’s made alive. You will see heaven, and glory will outweigh your pain. All will be well with your soul again.

You will see God’s face, and you will fall into his embrace. You cannot change his feelings for you. But I hope he will change your feelings for yourself, and for everyone else. I hope you learn to be the friend that he has always been, to yourself and to everyone else. May you learn to love, and to be loved, dear Beloved.

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