October 17, 2011

Jesus Loves Me This I Know. . . .

“Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'” Matthew 7:21-23 (NKJV)

As I prepared for church yesterday, I began listening to the tale-end of Charles Stanley. His end sure made me wish I’d heard the beginning! Afterwards, another church service program began, one I wasn’t familiar with at all.

During the opening of this program, a lady sweetly sang “Jesus Loves Me.” She sang the first and most recognized verse followed by several other verses unknown to me. The song covered one from childhood to those golden years as a person spending a life time trusting Jesus who loves us so!

I love the fact that Jesus loves me. It truly is amazing because I am not always that loveable. Okay, I know that is hard for many of you to believe, but true nonetheless. However that song reassured me of His love yesterday especially since my weekend had not gone as planned and only minutes earlier my daughter and two grand-girls left my home for their new home in North Carolina. My precious hubby drove with them. Unfortunately, I was not able to make this trip. Face it, my heart wasn’t feeling the love when they left – I felt a little lost. Until I was reminded that Jesus loved me still.

In the last few weeks, my body, mind and soul have been torn up and worn out. That’s not to say I haven’t had moments of true peace and joy, because I have had those too! It’s just been a real emotional roller coaster ride and this girl doesn’t like roller coasters to begin with!

Throughout all of this, I have received great comfort in knowing that not only does God love me but He also knows my heart. If anyone in this universe can “feel my pain” it is my heavenly Father. The Scripture is quite clear on the point that He knows it all before we even speak it and nothing escapes His notice.

Can I share some Barbara Theology with you for a moment? I truly believe it’s Bible theology as well, although it was a church sign that put it in perspective for me. It basically stated God knows me! My life holds no meaning without the assurance of God’s unfailing love for me. It’s a perfect love. It is a redeeming love. “For God so loved the world…” You just can’t say enough about God’s love, it beckons our hearts and our souls to draw near to Him.

But then there is His knowledge.

Of course, He knows everything because He created everything. Again, nothing goes on without His direct knowledge and consent. When I am not living the way I should, this is a very sobering thought! Another boggling thought is since He knows me so well, how on earth could He ever consider me as a candidate for Heaven? The answer lies just past His love. It is His knowledge.

His love combined with His grace and His Son’s sacrifice throws the gates of heaven wide open for all who would wish to come in. But the cross over only comes when there is knowledge involved. Not a head knowledge where you can read something and pass a test. But the knowledge that comes from a personal relationship. It might begin by reading the Bible – but it has to end with a personal acknowledgement and acceptance of what, or should I say who, the Bible reveals.

It takes me from knowing stuff about God to knowing God Himself in a personal way. When I have personal knowledge of God, I am no longer guessing what makes Him happy or delighted; I know what makes God happy and delighted. Furthermore, it opens the door for Him to know me in the intimate personal way that He longs too! Jesus said in Revelation 3:20, “'Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”

This is one of those things that seems hard to understand but really isn’t. Simplicity is often confusing in a world where most everything has “fine print.” It is certain that God knows who we are at all times. But sin separates. It separates us from being in His direct presence. Jesus came to live, die and rise again to make sure we can walk into His presence – perfectly. The relationship is no longer one-sided, with only Him desiring to come to us. But we freely come to Him as well. The bond is now fully reciprocal. It is a true two-way street.

Alas, there are still folks who think just knowing about Jesus and God is enough. Some that still think that being good is the final answer. Those who try to live the “good” life without coming to God through His Son will no doubt one day hear: “Depart from Me, I knew you not!” Whew, not me! What about you?

That brings me back to the church sign that began this whole train of thought. While it is true that I rejoice in the fact that Jesus loves me this I know, I equally and perhaps more so rejoice in the fact, especially when you consider my eternal life was once at stake,

“Jesus Knows Me, This I love!”


October 10, 2011

Row, Row, Row Your Boat?

“He [Jonah] said to them, "Pick me up and throw me into the sea. Then the sea will become calm for you, for I know that on account of me this great storm has come upon you." However, the men rowed desperately to return to land but they could not, for the sea was becoming even stormier against them.” Jonah 1:12-13 (NASB)

I was talking with my friend and boss, Cheryle Touchton this morning. We generally talk every Monday morning. It’s our staff meeting, but because we are also friends and sisters in Christ, we share personally as well.

Today, I testified about what I heard at a Stonecroft Conference this weekend and she relayed what her minister preached on during her church service on Sunday. We had a wonderful time discussing God’s word. We also found some interesting application.

I told her I was going to steal her thunder and write about this and she gave me her permission.

The pastor where she worshipped spoke on Jonah, chapter one in particular. He talked about knowing if you are in step with God and asked his congregation three questions:

• Are you moving in the wrong direction? (Remember Jonah ran from God at first)

• Who are you hurting? (Our actions do affect others, whether we like it or not!)

• Do you feel compassion for those you hurt? (A litmus test for conviction!)

Then he zeroed in on the sailors that were sailing in the same boat as Jonah. Jonah was called to Nineveh but was heading toward Tarshish. His was going in the wrong direction.

The storm that came upon the boat because of his disobedience affected all passengers and crew. Jonah’s actions put the sailors and others in danger.

However all was not lost as Jonah developed compassion for those he was hurting. He recognized his sin and knew what the solution was: he needed to go overboard. It was the only way to save the others.

Only one problem. The sailors. They kept rowing.

Apparently, these guys weren’t pirates so throwing someone overboard put them ill at ease. So they aimed to row to shore. The storm raged on. They just couldn’t be guilty of taking a man’s life, but the storm still raged. They desperately rowed toward shore. All to no avail. Finally when there was no choice, these rain-soaked, weather-beaten sailors chunked Jonah over with a sorrowful heave-ho! “And the sea stopped it’s raging.”(vs 15)

As Cheryle spoke, it sounded so similar to a message I heard this weekend about friends unintentionally being the devil to you. How? With all good intentions, showing compassion and love, sometimes our friends want to rescue us! Is that really so bad? Maybe not. Maybe so.

Our friends generally want to help us as we’d want to help them. They want to row, row, row the boat until it safely docks in the harbor and all feet are on dry solid land. They are the good sailors in our lives. Unfortunately good sailors sometimes enable us to stay in the boat and keep us unable from seeking God’s help on our own. There comes a time when a good sailor will toss you out of the boat and into a storm so the waters can rage no more, for them and you!

Now don’t ask me for a formula for when to toss and when to not! I am still learning! I do know that sometimes God definitely places people in our lives to help anchor us in the middle of a storm. No tossing there!

Other times we get so dependent on others, the best thing they can for us spiritually, is toss us over the side. Sink or swim. Letting God do the rest.

I guess it takes prayer to know the difference. It’s an important difference. For heaven’s sake, we don’t want to toss someone out of the boat and under a bus at the same time! Prayer – that’s the key.

Just this week, I’ve had to learn to toss a few things out of the boat – in essence turn them over to God. I could do no more and in all honesty, how could I do any less!

I hope this has meant something to you today. I will be pondering it for some time.
While you are about this day, what direction are you heading in? Are you hurting the ones you love? Is there anyone or anything you need to toss overboard? You are the one who needs to be tossed?

Just remember Jonah and the sailors while you row, row, row!