Saturday, October 27, 2012

A mission

A mission. That's what I've been grasping after lately. What is my life mission? I love feeling like I know where I'm going. I'm sure most everyone can relate to this. This desire to have a purpose, an attainable goal to go after where I can let go of selfish desires.

And in all of this searching and praying for what God wants me to do and talking to my parents about it, one thing is becoming very evident: this very act of wanting to die to myself and live for others (less of me more of Him) can turn into thinking more about myself.
And joy flies out the window.

And then I ran across this quote when I logged onto facebook on Monday:

"We are settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves."
~David Platt

Could it be that I could become so focused on trying to get my life right, that I'm not focusing on the One thing in life that matters most: my Savior? Could it be that I am catering my mission to myself? Opportunities to minister are going on right here. There is only one problem, they're not the ones I was hoping for.

I am learning this painful surrender. Laying my dreams at the feet of the One who knows the desires of my heart, better than I even do. Clinging to the One who holds my future. Alas, He knew the end of my life from the beginning of time. He is sovereign. 

Instead of grasping after a my mission, I'm learning to take full grasp of my Savoir, knowing that He is truly faithful through each and every circumstance. Herein lies a worthy, lifelong mission: to glorify Christ in everything. 

"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."
~1 Corinthians 10:31

Someday I may end up living the life that I had dreams of, but that is completely up to my Father. Right now I am living my mission, here, where He placed me. Each moment at home is a building block on the foundation for the future that only He knows. And I can rest in Him.

"I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God."  
-Acts 20:24

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Already Accepted

As some of you may remember, several days ago when I posted about the Desiring God conference weekend, I mentioned that I would post more things that I learned from the conference...

... and I haven't forgotten! This afternoon I was able to re-listen to one of my favorite sermons from the conference and type out notes from it. And oh,  was it ever a blessing for me to do that! I need these reminders of the gospel ~ always. I'm so thankful for the freeing truth of the gospel and Christ's atoning work on the cross.

I'm not including all of the notes I took, but will share enough notes to give a taste of the highlights. If you would like to listen to the whole talk, which I would highly encourage you to do, you may click on the link below!

Work and Rest given by R. W. Glenn

We should start each day, knowing we wake up accepted.

We tend to be resume builders. We believe that we need to build the right resume so we can be accepted. But we already have a perfect resume.

2 Corinthians 5:21 says:
 "For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God."

He became sin for us, and Christ's righteousness is imputed from Him to us. Our sins are withdrawn from our account and Christ was punished for them. We are completely forgiven!
But what few people consider, is that even though our sins were accredited to His account, His perfect record of achievement (resume) is credited to us. His resume is yours, as His child! He paid off all your creditors. And we have no debt whatsoever.

Not only is our debt paid, but He takes the perfect life of Himself and places it into your account. Your account is full of all the righteousness you'll ever need in acceptance with God. You have the prefect resume!

You can't be more accepted by God, than you are at this very moment. No matter what you're in the middle of right now - no matter what sin you're caught in - because it's not about what you do but about what Christ has done.

Yet we still tend to live as though our acceptance with God relies on us.

The reason why people work so hard to be accepted by the culture is that deep down they believe they need to build a resume to be accepted by the Creator.
Failure to be accepted devastates you. The reason why you're willing to work yourself to death is to be accepted by people. Even laziness can reflect this same desire for acceptance.

Either way you are motivated by acceptance.

The reason this acceptance has become a "need" is that you're not resting in your acceptance with God. Because when you are convinced that you are accepted by God on the basis of Jesus' perfect resume, you don't need others peoples' acceptance. You don't need them, you love them. You're not enslaved by their opinions of you. You don't crave their acceptance. You don't feel the pressure to keep building your own resume. And that pressure, once relieved, actually enables you to relax.

My reason for my frantic schedule was because I was frantic in my relationship with God,  not resting in the finished work of Christ for me.

If I'm resting in Jesus' resume I would not need to be seen as exceptional.

If I'm resting in Jesus' resume, I don't have anything to prove.

If you want to see your obsessive busy-ness transformed into diligent work and relaxing leisure to the glory of God: Go to work on your resting! Hebrews 4:11 says:

"Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience."
~Hebrews 4:11

"We are not told to strive to work, we are told to strive to do something even more difficult. We are to strive to enter into rest. It's so easy to turn this life into a system of achievement instead of resting in Christ's achievement."

Here is the hard work: strive with all your might to keep the gospel front and center in your life. Remember that you already have a perfect resume. Make every effort to remember all that Christ is for you in the gospel. When you do that, you can relax! Because you won't constantly be trying to earn the acceptance of God and other people by your achievements. Your work in your home and church doesn't add to your resume. You can't add to a perfect resume. The only list of accomplishments your Heavenly Father sees for you is the list amassed by Christ. And He has said: It is Finished!

Here is the original sermon: {Work and Rest}.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Friend of Sinners

I heard this song for the first time yesterday. I love singing and hearing songs that remind me of the gospel...which is something I daily need!
May it be a blessing to you and point you to our loving Heavenly Father!  

Redeemer! Whither should I flee,
Or how escape the wrath to come?
The weary sinner flies to thee
For shelter from impending doom;
Smile on me, gracious Lord,
And show thyself the Friend sinners now.

Beneath the shadow of Thy cross
The heavy laden soul finds rest;
I would esteem the world but dross,
So I might be of Christ possessed.
I'd seek my every joy in thee,
Be thou both life and light to me.

Close to the highly shameful tree,
Jesus, my humbled soul would cleave;
Despised and crucified with thee,
With thee resolved to die and live;
This prayer and this ambition mine,
Living and dying to be thine.

There fastened to the rugged wood
By holy love's resistless chain,
And life deriving from thy blood,
Never to wander wide again,
There may I bow my suppliant knee,
And own no other Lord but thee.
~Augustus Toplady

You can click here to listen to a short clip of the song: {Friend of Sinners}

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Lord's faithful hand!

My heart is overflowing with praise to the Lord. He is so faithful and loving, and answers our prayers in ways that are above and beyond our thoughts! 

This past weekend my family and I had the delight of attending Desiring God's National conference with some dear friends. The conference was called Act the Miracle: God's Work and Ours in the Mystery of Sanctification. I hope to share some of what I learned from the conference as the weeks go on, but first, I would like to share a small portion of how God's hand worked through this past weekend. 

In May I began praying, planning, and hoping to go to this conference. All of the plans were "up in the air." But the whole time of waiting and being patient before the Lord was good for me. 

As we planned towards going to the conference, we all prayed that the time spent together at the conference would be encouraging to everyone involved (my family, our friends and the older couple we were going to stay with).

Through our Heavenly Father's gracious hand, He worked out all of the little details right up to the conference. What a faith builder that was for me! Learning to carry my anxieties to my Father. Knowing that the Lord is faithful and even though obstacles and anxieties may came up, the Lord works. Oh, we can joyfully rest all of our hope in Christ! As it says in Philippians 4:6-7:

 " not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

The hospitality of this couple we stayed with was heartwarming to all of us! We all realized that the Lord was placing us with this older couple to encourage them, especially when we discovered that they were struggling. Many of us were unaware that we were encouraging them, until later on.  

Our friends left very early Monday morning to go back to their home. Later on that morning, once my family and this couple were up and awake, we gathered in the kitchen. I learned more about Mrs. J.'s life.  She said that this whole weekend showed her she has a Heavenly Father who loves her.  She told me that when she heard one of the reasons my dad made more effort to go to this conference was because I have had a desire over the past few years to sit under John Piper's teaching in person. It showed her for one of the first times in her life what it looks like to have a father who cares. 

So tears came to me that morning. I felt so humbled that God would use desires in my heart to attend a conference and pray towards it - even though it all seemed so ridiculously impossible in the process - to enable someone to see the love of our Heavenly Father through my earthly father, and also the loving brother/sister relationship in my friends to touch her heart. 

Mrs. J. said while she whipped up pancakes for breakfast that morning, "This weekend has shown me that my Heavenly Father loves me."

I'm amazed how God can take people who are so far from perfect and use them to show Christ to others! Isn't the Lord so good? :) Each one of us was encouraged and challenged. I am calmed in knowing that as we each seek His face, He who has called us and adopted us as sons and daughters and who justified us at the cross, will complete in us this radiant holiness {sanctify us}, as we act out this miracle!

"Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen."
~Ephesians 3:20-21