Oh to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be
Let Your goodness like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it
Seal it for Your courts above
Dear siblings in Christ and near siblings in Christ,
May we run in the way of God’s favor on our lives. May our eyes be lifted up above where we deserve to gaze. May our joys be elevated above our deservings, and may the hope of Heaven, Jesus Christ Himself be our ultimate obsession and source of all satisfaction. This morning my meditation has been simple, to be weaved into tighter fellowship with the God of Heaven through daily fellowship with Jesus Christ. How do we know this Jesus but by participating in a lifestyle like His while He walked this earth. Of course we aren’t going to be performing miracles quite as visibly as He did or speaking orations as frequently quoted as His were/are… We are not Jesus but rather His followers. Yet, may our resolve to know Him and make Him known be singular and pure, awakened by God working on our inner being, and more bold than we ever thought possible from our fragile core. God’s Holy Spirit enlivens our hesitant hearts and fills our spirits with eternal courage to run harder than we knew possible and press in more firmly and consistently to the presence of the King than is even near to natural for any member of humanity, so prone to wander and press away from adherence to the Lord of glory.
In the last few weeks I have been aware of various divisions among believers in various fellowships, yet I have also seen God’s uniting power among fellowships, as well as new works of God and multiplication of fellowships, whether done with strategy and wisdom, care and discernment, or done from what seems to be division and dispute among believers. God is not nervous about how we behave, and He doesn’t pick favorites among us. God works through His imperfect church to spread the Gospel Message about Jesus’ life, death, and rising to the Father’s side in Heaven. This message of God becoming human and dying that we might have life, this message is received by the sinner’s being and the spirit is made alive and aimed at magnifying this Jesus for the rest of the days on this earth.
There is a reckless element to being a Christian that we forget to lean into and trust God with concerning the behaviors of fellow believers. I am a firm proponent of peaceful and charitable interaction between believers and from believers out into the world; we see this pattern in Scripture from God’s people, and we see it throughout church history. God’s people are like so many weak and useless looking sheep, ready for a killing by the enemy of our souls, Satan, or for slander and abuse of various kinds, or literal killing due to confessing our faith such as the recent shooting in Colorado. However, in another respect, there is a kind of humility that allows the adventurous part of a person to come alive with complete trust in God. If we only see humility as submission to what we could call a “multitude of counselors” and yet do not follow God’s singular and corporate call on our lives to “go and make disciples” of Jesus Christ, we are misunderstanding humility. Christian humility does not just result in a quiet congregant in a large central local church. This humility should eventually awaken a boldness to follow Jesus’ way among us. This means we become tastes of Jesus to those we encounter! We become disciple-makers, spending our days in continual introductions to Jesus, daily making Jesus beautiful to those we encounter through the course of our days.
For me for example, my wife and I live in a little apartment complex now to save money but also to enjoy the ministry opportunities of apartment living. We’ve connected with our property manager who is a believer as well as several other people of peace. There is a real opportunity here to serve and encourage our neighbors to know Jesus and enjoy the God of the Word, the Trinity, this Redeeming God, forever. I have already found many opportunities to serve our neighbors in little ways, seeking to win relationship and friendship, trust and grace for sharing my wife’s and my WHY. Why do we do these acts of kindness and friendship when they hold little promise of equal reciprocity? Why fix a gate or encourage a discouraged neighbor or lift the spirit of the journeyman hired for repairs for the apartment complex? Why begin plans for a neighborhood weekly prayer hour for anyone who professes Christ to meet by the pool and pray over our neighbors’ prayer concerns and pray for repentance and faith in Jesus? Why do all of this and hope these things for this particular neighborhood? Isn’t faith a private thing between God and each individual? That’s what careful social engineering would like us to believe is the use of being “spiritual” because this puts faith into a compartment, as though it’s just a nice category for thought and/or emotion, something to be boxed up and used as part of this complete and balanced lifestyle for successful living.
Oh Christian, we have the joy of Heaven in our hearts, the very Spirit of God burning on our souls, awakening God’s passion for the lost to be found, the sinner to become a saint by the blood of Jesus Christ Himself. This grace is all-consuming and causes us to FLY TO GRACE IN VIEWING THE CROSS.
As we look together upon the cross of Jesus, the visual reminder of what Jesus has done, we see the cross wherever anything crosses another thing. We see a telephone pole and it awakens gratitude, and we are reminded to lift our eyes to God again in faith and say, “Not my will but Yours, Father!” We plead with our own souls to, “Arise, my soul! Arise!” We proclaim the death of Jesus as the only reason we have life. We share with others when they ask in passing how we are doing, “Better than I deserve.” We are ready to bring those we encounter into our homes or take them to coffee to meet, know, and enjoy them, calm and unwavering in our beings, knowing that it is God Who works through us to accomplish His good purposes in this world.
As we follow these paths of GRACE (God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense) and where these paths take us in our “normal” course of doing life. God shows us how completely un-normal we get to be as believers. We are a peculiar people, living an apparently normal looking life in the day to day but having an extremely joyous hope of Heaven praying for us in every moment! The Spirit and the Son call out before the Father God’s throne that Jesus’ blood is sufficient to cover us and God’s Spirit will bring us through to the glory of the Trinity, where sin will be no more!
Until we enter glory, until we see Jesus face-to-face, may our every breath be inspired with passion to know Christ and make Him known. May we be enthused instead of discouraged, when we see ourselves spread out instead of bound up together inside of expensive walls. May we explode into this dying world, weary and restless as we may feel, comforted that Jesus is making Himself known to us and through us! Is divided as we may look at times, children of the living God, may we see God using the messy aspects of our local fellowship among believers to make Himself known as the God we all worship together. We make a mess of our own ability to get along, but God shows the world that He didn’t come to save a perfect people. He keeps making Himself known through a band of siblings in Christ who are ever learning of just how undeserving we all are and how worthy this Redeemer is of our full attention and devotion.
Tons of love for you, dear ones. Call or email me any thoughts any time.
In the joy of Christ,
P.S. Thank you, Thomas Atkins, for this photo!