The Love of a Savior

Photo credit unknown.

Photo credit unknown.

One of the tenets of Christianity setting apart from other world religions, is the love of a savior. Christianity alone has at its center a God who loves his creation enough to call them children and to die in their place in order to satisfy his wrath upon sin.

Jesus himself draws the stark contrast of this revolutionary approach to life when he comments that few people would die for a good man. What isnt said there, but what is certainly hinted at is that we are not good men. We are sinners. We live in a fallen world and we are bent towards sin. Knowing this, and loving us anyway, our God sacrifices himself to pay the penalty for our sins.

This act is so revolutionary, so extraordinary, so out of the box we as a humanity can scarcely grasp the full weight of what he did or why he did it. Paul writes in Romans, that Christ died for us while we were still sinners. While we were still in opposition to him. He loved us enough to move towards us. To take the first step to have a relationship with us. Which is a second tenet separating Christianity from other world religions, God desires to know us personally. He doesn’t sit on a throne far above in the heavens looking down at us, waiting for us to screw up so he can capriciously punish us. Rather, he engages in our lives with us, walking alongside us each day. In fact, his desire is to dwell within us. To live in and through us. Paul also write in one of his letters to the church at Corinth, that as Christ followers we are temples to the Holy Spirit (God’s spirit he sent to dwell within us). In this particular passage, Paul was correcting the Corinthians on their sexual immorality, however the idea that our bodies are temples of the spirit of the almighty God should have broad applications in our lives. Our lives should be lived in such a way that God is glorified by our actions.

As we prepare for today and this weekend, ask ourselves this question: Is God glorified in the way I am living, in my habits and daily routine, in my work, in my attitude and in the way I treat others? If not, now seems like the right time to reorganize our priorities.

Savior, Rescuer and Protector

IMG_5728Yet another time where God coming to rescue me stands out amongst the verses of this psalm.
And why does he rescue me? Why does he save me? Because of his lovingkindness. Because of him. Because of who he is.
Not because of me.
I have nothing to do with it. He doesn’t save me because I deserve it. He doesn’t save me because I earned it.
He saves me because that’s who he is. He is savior. He is rescuer. He is redeemer.
The totality of the grand story of God entering human history as a baby who grew up as a man and ultimately died a criminal’s death on the cross, in my place for my sins I might add, can be fully understood by realizing God is love. He is the embodiment of love.
Everything he does is motivated by his love. Even his wrath. Even his judgment.
God rescues us because he loves us. He loves us more than we are able to fathom. Which, is pretty impressive because as a parent I love my kids a whole crap ton… but it doesn’t compare to how much God loves us.
Maybe it is just the message I need to hear in this season of my life or maybe it is pure coincidence. Either way, as I am reading the Psalms God’s prolific role as savior, rescuer and protector constantly pops up. I take great comfort from this, knowing the season of life my family is embarking is one where we will need to be reminded God is our savior, rescuer and protector.
Thank you LORD.
O LORD, rescue my soul; Save me because of Your lovingkindness.

Reflections on Psalm 3

book of psalms
Psalm 3
1 O Lord, how my adversaries have increased!
Many are rising up against me.
2 Many are saying of my soul,
“There is no deliverance for him in God.” Selah.
3 But You, O Lord, are a shield about me,
My glory, and the One who lifts my head.
4 I was crying to the Lord with my voice,
And He answered me from His holy mountain. Selah.
5 I lay down and slept;
I awoke, for the Lord sustains me.
6 I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people
Who have set themselves against me round about.
7 Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God!
For You have smitten all my enemies on the cheek;
You have shattered the teeth of the wicked.
8 Salvation belongs to the Lord;
Your blessing be upon Your people! Selah.

Salvation is here.

As I read this Psalm, I can’t help but to notice there is much conversation about God saving his people despite the numerous enemies rising up around them against us. God is the dread champion, the supreme warrior, the one who will always be victorious in battle. He can’t be overcome. As the enemies rise up, they challenge God saying, he isn’t able to provide deliverance. They challenge him saying he isn’t able to follow through with what he promised. He is not sufficient.

The opposite is in fact the truth. God is a shield. He is a protector. He is the one who is able to stand between us and our enemies and ensure we come out victorious along with him. Not only does he protect us, but it is in him we find our glory. In him we find our sustenance. God is our glory. It is in him we find glory, purpose, meaning.

We find glory and we find protection. But look at how complete this protection is: I lay down and slept. In the midst of the battle raging around us, our protection is so complete we can sleep. I pride myself on being able to sleep just about anywhere at anytime. But this is incredible even for me. In the midst of raging battle God’s protection is so complete, so strong I can rest. Not just take a break, but take a full on REST. Get refreshed. And after this refreshing sleep, God provides all I need to be sustained. He prides me with all I need.

As I read this and think it through, I wonder what enemies am I letting terrify me as they rise up to do battle with me. Do I truly trust God to protect me or am I just giving him lip service? I strongly feel as though I trust God to protect me, but I also strongly believe I don’t always manage my life daily in a way which illustrates this trust in him. I fear the enemies as they rise up. I fear their weapons they bring it battle against me. I prepare to fight a battle by myself against an overwhelming enemy instead of preparing to lay down and sleep.

God, I ask you for comfort and trust in you. God, grant me the confidence in you. Allow me to live each day in such a way that my behaviors reflect the trust I have in you in word and thought. God, you are shield about me.

salvation

Noah and the Hurting God… Vintage Post

I was reading Genesis earlier this week and I was struck by the passage that speaks of God being grieved in his heart for having made man and was sad/disappointed enough that he was going to destroy the whole world. Plants and animals too, not just the people. I wondered, what changed in his mind that he was ready to destroy everything but then a short time (cf 2 Peter 3:8) later he himself died for our transgressions. I know Ephesians 1:10 says that at the fullness of time Christ appeared on the scene… but why was that fullness not when he was so moved to destroy everything? Was it because he had not yet developed a relationship with his creation the dying for our sins would matter to us? Was it because he hadn’t imparted the Law and therefore we had no recollection of our transgressions for it to matter that he dyed for our sins? Was it to demonstrate the futility of life apart from him? Was it to show us that when we are left to ourselves we will self-destruct and destroy even the beauty of the world? Was it show that being a good, moral person who does what is right still isn’t enough without Christ at the center of our lives? I don’t know. What I do know I that God was saddened enough by how his creation turned out that he wanted nothing to do with it. I know that God couldn’t bring himself to destroy all of it (Noah & his family & the animals were saved). I know that God made a covenant (that is a deal) to never do that again. And he STILL died for our sins. Whatever God’s reasoning, timing and planning were without we would not have the opportunity to know him. We also wouldn’t have a God who disappointment in the most of intimate ways. God was sad. He was disappointed. Many of us have been there. Many of us know what God must have been feeling. What better God is there than one who can say, “I feel your pain!”?

Toxicity

I just couldn’t help myself with these two great pics of coffee.  But the toxic one is really the heart of the matter here.

Why is it, the things that are most toxic to us are the things that we desire the most?  I feel this way with many things, coffee being one of them.

It gives me heartburn/acid reflux but I just can’t help myself sometimes… strike that most of the time.  It just tastes so good.  I used to keep the coffee industry in business by myself.  Not any longer.

I think of the fruit on the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  The very thing that we couldn’t have, was the only thing (seems like) that Adam and Eve wanted.  It was toxic.  God even warned them: ‘Don’t eat from it; don’t even touch it or you’ll die.’

It doesn’t get any more toxic than that… this even came with a warning label of its toxicity.

Look any other list of sins in the Scriptures and they are all toxic to not only ourselves as individuals, but to the community with which we associate (whether that’s a faith community or not).  Think about.  Doesn’t it seem at times though, that we are drawn to the behaviors which destroy our community and ourselves?  Why is that?  What is it about something that is toxic to us that we can’t ever seem to get enough of it?

Is it some sort of design within that compels us to constantly move that way?  I suspect we live in a fallen world in which what we value most has been distorted and maybe even destroyed to the level where we don’t even or can’t even recognize on a subconscious level we are drawn to that which destroys.  Does that make any sense?  What I’m trying to say is, as a being in a fallen world where sin is now the predisposition we are more likely to move towards sin.  If this is the case then it makes sense that we would be drawn to what destroys us… we almost can’t help it.  We are stuck in a cycle of destruction with no way out…

Or are we? Yes & no.  We are stuck and there is no way out… except through the blood of Christ.  He is the only one to save us from ourselves.  Christ came to seek and save the lost.  That would be us.

How can we overcome that which is Toxic to us?  Only by asking Christ to assist us in that struggle.

Daily rely on him in prayer.

Daily trust in him for strength.

Daily seek him to guide us.

Daily let his experience (as one who struggle through this life too) get us through to the end.