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Archive for the ‘March 2011’ Category

Beautiful Heart

I love Paul’s heart for the church. Do we ever speak so tenderly, passionately, and with such vulnerability to our Christian brothers and sisters?

‘For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.’ (2 Cor. 2:4)

I believe his heart is so beautiful because it mirrors Christ’s heart for us. Any distress, anguish, or tears Christ experienced was in order to communicate the dept of His love for us.

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The Crown He Found

I remember it like this. I spent hours and hours preparing a gift – a beautiful bouquet of flowers. I represented myself with each color and kind. I pondered and prayed how to offer it just right. I waited until they would bloom just in time. Finally it became a sufficient expression of me. In giving it, I knew I’d be offering myself. I wrapped it up in a package and dressed my best. I anticipated the response to my offer so much that I was trembling by the time I reached the door.

I was greeted with a smile and welcomed inside. The long-awaited moment arrived for me to offer my bouquet, and my heart began to race. I was trying to hide the expectation on my face. I came undone as the package was unwrapped. My heart was unlocked at the open box. But the look on their faces said something was wrong. We looked inside and I was shocked. Ashes and thorns were all we saw.

I left a mess. My gift rejected, and me along with it. Box still in hand but I might as well have tossed it to the wind. Yet I didn’t. I clung to it because although it was ash, it was all I had. All I was. It just wasn’t enough.

I had come beautifully wrapped, yet left in rags. “And all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Is. 64:6) took on meaning in a moment. My knees dug into the earth until I was reminded of another verse. “That beauty should be given unto them instead of ashes” (Is. 61:3) and it became my battle cry as surely as I was fighting for life.

I lifted my eyes, raised my box of ashes and thorns, and poured it out upon the feet of the Anointed One. For a moment as I offered my box I had wished He was blind. Something in me died as He reached inside. What else could He possibly find? And tell me, how does majesty befriend a mess? How does a wreck fellowship with holiness?

Grace is the only way we relate. So I poured out all I had as if I were proudly casting my crown. Grace gave me faith to believe, and that’s all He did see! Yes, it was a crown He found – more beautiful than I had dreamed! And then He dressed me in new robes for free! I had come ashamed, but now I stood amazed – no ashes or rags or thorns remained! Oh, how quickly my prayers of despair turned to songs of praise!

I looked up to ask Him where He found such a crown (surely it wasn’t mine!) but my words fell to the ground, for He heard my thoughts and took me back to the time when thorns were pressed into His brow. Surely they had been mine. And my rags – He was wearing them as He died. How sad yet sweet the look on His face. How terrible yet wonderful that great exchange. How could I ever be the same?

In a flash we were back. If ever I could question whether I had a mere vision, the scars on His hands and feet would answer me. Though this crown I have come to cherish, I will not cling to a thing aside from my King. Apart from the treasure He is, I have no good gift. Truly, all I am belongs to Him. So I take my crown and lay it down before His throne, thrilled to give my most beautiful possession and to know it will not come to ruin. Oh, that beauty I can offer Him instead of ash – what hope I have to give my gift at last!

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Compassion & Comfort

Despite how restless our souls can feel, God is the Father of compassion and comfort (2 Cor. 1:3). Verse 4 says He comforts us in our troubles – not in some, not in most, but He comforts us in all of our troubles. There is none too small.

Even if our trouble is something God could judge us for, He has not come to us to condemn us, but to save us through Christ (John 3:17). He comes to bring us grace – undeserved favor. And peace, even stillness in the storm.

Whatever our trouble, He offers comfort. ‘For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows’ (v. 5).

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1. What were You thinking when You created me?

2. How much do You love me?

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Anyone

This morning I woke up with the thought of how inadequate I am, and naturally I am tempted to consider all the ways I can make up for it. But instead, (by the grace of God) I suddenly realized that what I needed most was the Spirit of God. I need His love. I need His peace. I need His comfort. To just believe in my heart that He has prepared a way for me, flawed as I am. My body awoke hungry for food, and so my soul awoke thirsty for Jesus.

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink” (John 7:37). Anyone, even me. Even you. Enemies were among the crowd He spoke to – those who were seeking to kill Him. Yet His only condition in coming to Him was need.

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