Jesus

May I enter him as my refuge,
build on him as my foundation,
walk in him as my way,
follow him as my guide,
conform to him as my example,
receive his instructions as my prophet,
rely on his intercession as my high priest,
obey him as my king.

Valley of Vision, 78

   

What should I do today?

A challenging thought from The Valley of Vision:

Let me not be at my own disposal,
But rejoice that I am under the care of one who is too wise to err,
Too kind to injure,
Too tender to crush.
May I scandalize none by my temper and conduct,
But recommend and endear Christ to all around,
Bestow good on every one as circumstances permit,
And decline no opportunity of usefulness.

Valley of vision, 43

Paul said it in this way,

”For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:8-10).

Pride and the gospel

If what you are believing increases your self-image, it isn’t the gospel.

>According to Scripture, God deliberately designed the gospel in such a way so as to strip me of pride and leave me without any grounds for boasting in myself whatsoever (Eph 2; 1 Cor 1). This is actually a wonderful mercy from God, for pride is at the root of all my sin. Pride produced the first sin in the Garden (Gen 3), and pride always precedes every sinful stumbling in my life (Prov 16:18). Therefore, if I am to experience deliverance from sin, I must be delivered from the pride that produces it. Thankfully, the gospel is engineered to accomplish this deliverance.

Milton Vincent, Gospel Primer, 27

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Verse links to @biblegateway

Fearfully Safe

A friend shared this with me from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening:

“The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power.”

— Nahum 1:3

…Dear reader, what is your state this evening? Can you by humble faith look to Jesus, and say, “My substitute, thou art my rock, my trust”? Then, beloved, be not afraid of God’s power; for by faith you have fled to Christ for refuge, the power of God need no more terrify you, than the shield and sword of the warrior need terrify those whom he loves. Rather rejoice that he who is “great in power” is your Father and Friend. 

  

The place of weeping

Here is a quotation from John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress” which I found thought provoking:

Hon. But what should be the reason that such a good man should be all his days so much in the dark?

Great-heart. There are two sorts of reasons for it. One is, the wise God will have it so, some must pipe and some must weep. Now Mr. Fearing was one that played upon this Base; he and his fellows sound the sackbut, whose notes are more doleful than the notes of other Musick are; though indeed some say the Base is the Ground of Musick. And for my part I care not at all for that profession that begins not in heaviness of mind. The first string that the Musician usually touches is the Base, when he intends to put all in tune. God also plays upon this string first, when he sets the soul in tune for himself. Only here was the imperfection of Mr. Fearing, he could play upon no other Musick but this, till towards his latter end. I make bold to talk thus metaphorically, for the ripening of the Wits of young Readers; and because in the Book of the Revelations, the saved are compared to a company of Musicians that play upon their Trumpets and Harps, and sing their Songs before the Throne.

When the Great Musician chooses to bring music to the dead soul, he begins first by playing the mournful notes. When those around me are hurting and struggling, perhaps that is God beginning a great symphony in their lives.

 

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My Weakness

As we have been getting ready to move, we have had the unique opportunity to receive cards, emails, and words that express the gratitude that people have for us. This could easily become an area in which pride could rear its ugly head were it not for a recurring theme in many of the encouraging words. One of the things that I have heard repeatedly is that people are thankful for my weaknesses.
For the times that I have sinned or made mistakes.
For my transparency in life and for being real.
Who would have thought that what God would use most in the minds and hearts of those around me are my weaknesses?

At times, I have desired to be good at something. Really good. There are people who are musically talented. There are people who are amazing with words and can write beautifully. There are people who are talented in everything they do. And then there are people like me. It seems like I have to work extremely hard to be semi-good at anything! And yet, God has not seen fit to use any amazing talents or brilliant things that I have done to encourage those around me.

God has used the times that I was near the point of giving up, throwing in the towel, and deciding that ______ (you fill in the blank: life, ministry, serving, good stewardship, loving others, working on relationships) just wasn’t worth the trouble that they were causing in my life.

And I have been open with many people. God has used the times when I had a bad attitude in youth group (could my heart possibly be so ugly when I didn’t get what I wanted at the white elephant gift exchange?) or when I was impatient on a mission trip (aren’t we supposed to be on extra good behavior on missions trips?).

God has consistently brought me to conviction and repentance in the relationships in my life, and this has seemed to encourage others.

When God kept me and was faithful to me when I didn’t want to be faithful to Him anymore, God not only changed my heart, but He used my weakness to change those around me.

When I desperately wanted life to be different or to have a baby or to have ease and not hardship and I thought my life would have been better had I just died when I had my stroke, God graciously stopped me from continuing down that path. He used my wrong attitudes and thoughts to show me I can do nothing good without Jesus and He used that to teach others the same lesson.

So, for those who have shared that they have been so very thankful for being able to see the intense experience of sanctification in my life, I am grateful.

By God using my weaknesses rather than strengths (what strength do I have without Him anyway?), people have been able to be pointed to the perfection of Jesus Christ and not to me.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

 

Connecting

The past few days were great. We spent Monday-Wednesday down in the Cities with the Templetons and Fulks. Jon, Lorena, and family flew in from Pennsylvania and spent three days with us, talking, planning, laughing, and herding toddlers.

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It was exciting to talk about moving over to Spain in the next few months. We brainstormed about home location, volunteer opportunities, and even things like furnishing our apartment. We also just talked about life. We shared what we were learning, where we were struggling, what excites us, and what scares us.

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I don’t think I can overstate the importance of friends with whom you can open your heart. I thank God that people like the Templetons and Fulks are teaching me how to do that through their example.