Knowing All My Ways

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.   Romans 8:28

Personally witnessing another and their journey through life is perhaps the most rewarding and fulfilling blessings we have with each other.  Sitting across the booth from a friend, I listen as she asks a question.  “If He knows what will happen to us, how can we have free will?”  I sat there for a minute.  Clearly a question I’ve also wondered for so many years, but never really tackled.  I knew this was one of those that the best of theologians have attempted to explain and failed at defining it clearly.  Since phoning a friend was not an option, I rested in the peace of knowing who God is and went from there.

While I will not do it justice, this made perfect sense to me!  And since me thinking about it with my friend outloud, it has captured my thoughts all day.  Definitely not a bad thing to think about for sure!  🙂

One of the most commonly used adjectives to describe God is omniscient — meaning, all-knowing.  We often think of this as the way God knows everything about us and so true this is!  But, I believe his knowing of me stretches to the far edges of the universe.  How so you may ask?

Well, we say all the time that God has a plan for me (and you) and wants the best for us, to see us prosper in it and be blessed by it.  But we also know that not so very good things happen to good people all the time.  How so?  Why so?  These are questions we tend to ask when bad things happen.

I believe God has a plan that is VERY GOOD!  But that is not the only path we could take.  I believe God knows every possible combination of options, paths, choices, decisions we have to make AND the outcome of every combination for every option, path, choice and decision.  That’s alot of stuff to know about me!  That’s right, it is — He’s ALL-KNOWING!!

So, how do I know if I’ve made the RIGHT choice, taken the best path, decided to act according to His will?  David speaks about this in Psalm 91.

If you make the Most High your dwelling–even the Lord, who is my refuge–then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.  For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.   Psalm 91:9-12

Do I dwell in the presence of the Most High?  Am I seeking Him as my refuge?  It is in this place where I find the RIGHT choice, the best path, the decision in His will.   And if that path is rocky, rough and potentially fatal?  No sweat, a host of angels have been appointed to watch guard over me — specifically for me!  And even so death may come, Paul reminds us to consider it pure joy!

“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”    Matthew 10:39

Letter From Christ

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim any thing for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.   II Corinthians 3:5

Throughout the last ten months the only handwritten letters I’ve received in the mail have been penned from the hand of my own mother.  Her encouragement, her every day happenings in her garden and around the house, her concerned tone and undeniable firmness, all of which is sealed by her hand.  What a treasure to have!  There’s truly nothing greater than getting a hand-written letter from someone.  It spells love, it communicates the rawness of care and the loyalty of belonging.  It’s value is unmeasurable!

We see this level of value and importance in the working world as well.  Whether it’s in finding a job or applying for school, letters play a vital role.  They endorse!  With a letter people become validated, affirmed and creditable.  And having it written, perhaps even formally prepared, it’s sealed by the author and too, is valuable.

But what if?  What if Christ wrote a letter for me?  What if He sat down and penned a letter about me — what He thought, what He sees in me, what His day was like, what dangers may lie ahead for me, what concerns He has for me, what He really thinks about me?  Oh, Lord Jesus, to have and to hold such a letter would send me to my knees, shaking like a leaf.  It would bring such confidence and assurance knowing those things.  I would read it over and over again.

Word has it He actually has such a letter!  He has made this letter — and it’s ME!  I am a letter from Christ Himself!  And with this letter comes full assurance of who I am, full confidence in who I am, full wisdom in knowing who I am, able to rest in the truth that the Spirit of the One who lives in me gives me all strength and power to face the raging storms and pelting hail that can so easily destroy.   That in my weakness He is the strength that sustains me when I wait in the ravines of life.

Thank you Lord Jesus for writing my life!  Thank you for your daily Word that tells me what you think of me, what your days are like, what concerns you have and how much you love me!  The fact that you have taken the time to sit down, give immense thought in scripting my story and in crimson red, pen a letter — me — is beyond the greatest of any love man can describe!

Are we beginning to commend ourselves again?  Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you?  You yourselves are our letter, written on everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.  II Corinthians 3:1-3

Gospel Reminder

I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”    Romans 1:15-17

The gospel is a message often reserved to be told to the one who does not know about such great news.  It’s been reduced to small pamphlets and branded into the shape of a cross.  And once we get it and capture the essence of our salvation through the life and death and resurrection and ascension of Christ, we unzip one of a dozen pockets in our backpack for safe keeping and set out on our journey of life with the gospel in tow — just in case.

I don’t know about you, but I need the Gospel full-strength, every day!  Forget that secret pocket!  I need to wear it like under armor!  The grace and faith of the gospel is at the core of who I am!  May I never tuck it away, set it down or adorn it for only a moment of apparent need.

I read this prayer recently that has stirred me, challenged me and awakened God within me!  This prayer is one I completely resonate with in my heart.  I continue to read it often and this is why I’m placing it in this post.  Remember, this is me speaking the gospel back to me!

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Dear Lord Jesus, even as Paul was eager to preach the gospel to believers in Rome, so I’m eager to preach it to my own heart today. There was a time when I thought the gospel was only for nonbelievers—simply the doorway and launching pad for beginning a relationship with you. I now realize the gospel is just as much for believers as it is for nonbelievers.

Indeed, there’s nothing more than the gospel, there’s just more of the gospel—inexhaustible riches to be mined and treasured; a bottomless ocean of sovereign grace and daily mercies; irrepressible power for transformation and liberation.

So what does my heart need to hear and believe, this and every day? The “it is finished” of your life and death, resurrection and ascension! Lord Jesus, that you’ve already accomplished everything necessary to completely redeem us—nothing is left to chance or left to be done. You came into the world as God’s promised Messiah. You lived a life of perfect obedience on our behalf—as our substitute, fulfilling all the demands of God’s law for us. You died upon the cross for us—taking the judgment we deserve, completely exhausting God’s righteous anger against our sin. Hallelujah, many times over!

Through faith in you and this good news, all of my sins have been forgiven and I’ve been given the gift of your perfect righteousness. God has already declared me righteous in his sight. He cannot love me more than he does today, and he’ll never love me less. In fact, because of your work for me, Lord Jesus, God now loves me just as much as he loves you, for he’s hidden my life in yours.

Oh, the peace this brings. He’s adopted me as his child, placed his Spirit in my heart and will send you to complete this grace work one Day—a redemption so glorious, so spectacular that it includes the gathering of your pan-national Bride and the renewing of the entire cosmos. Astonishing!

And now, the Holy Spirit constantly reminds me I’m God’s beloved child, because I’m so prone to forget. He’s also present in my life to make me like you, Lord Jesus, for I can no more change my heart than I can materialize a herd of camels by snapping my fingers. Salvation is of the Lord, from beginning to the glorious end. Keep pressing this gospel into my heart—and protect me from all false gospels. So very Amen I pray, in your priceless and peerless name.

by Scotty Smith, Founding Pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, TN

Relevant Reality

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  Matthew 16:16

I am struck this morning of the relevance of my Creator to the present state of my reality.  The Christ I know has been, throughout my life somewhat like that narrator from the old Twilight Zone series that somehow, and for some reason, always appeared to the viewer within a scene of the twisted story.  It’s not far off to think that I’m not alone in the presupposition that Christ is welcomed and waiting around the corner for my next crisis.  Or that He’d show up, present and waiting for the next funeral to embrace the grieving.  Nor would He turn His ear from being desperately approached and wait at a bout with severe illness.  Why wouldn’t I think that Christ wouldn’t be there for me?  He has always promised to be there and He has never missed an appointment.  But is that what He’s been boiled down to?  Have I really considered Him no more than a glorified bell-hop at the concierge counter of my life?

Christ is clearly more than that — more so, He is nothing of that!  The truth of the relevance of Christ to the present state of my reality is no different than it has always been.  My choice to justify His relevance to me has customized within my heart and mind a false reality of His existence in me.  It really isn’t a question of relevance at all — Christ is my life!  He lives in me!

He walks and talks with me wherever I go.  Never alone and never silent to the heartbeat of Christ within me!  He is the one who gives me understanding into the worlds of those unloving, unlovely ugly people that wander in and out of my life every day.  He is the one who takes the heart — broken and battered — and restores it to full strength!  He is the Christ who restores crumbling dreams.  He is the Christ who rekindles hope.  Christ is my Comforter!  He is the Christ who catches every tear I shed in the palms of His hands.  He is the Christ who laughs with me when I’m funny, when I’m silly and when life itself cracks a joke.  Christ is He who watches me breathe as I sleep and keeps me.  He is Christ who died for me — my Savior!

Dare I neglect the relevance of Christ — my Creator, my Comforter, my Redeemer, my Restorer, my Provider, my Peace, my Fortress, my Deliverer, my Savior — who is my life and my all?  There is great relevance to Him in my current and future reality — because He is my everything!

Lord Jesus, may I live every second in fellowship with you!  Relating with others with your voice, your mind, your heart!  May my words and my heart be in harmony with your life in me.

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  John 20:29

Figure Eight

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.  For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.  So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.  II Corinthians 4:8-12

I remember, when I was a young boy,  doing some pretty crazy things with my dad.  Things like fearlessly fishing while alligators surface and sink endlessly around our little boat.  I remember him letting me steer the van while sitting on the engine cover between the seats.  I remember him cutting half-gallon boxes of ice cream in half, setting it in a bowl, sticking a spoon in it and letting us eat it at our own pace because that was dinner!  But topping the charts for me were the many trips we made to the Tampa Downs — a night under the stars, the dirt track, mobile bleachers, the smell of funnel-cakes and billions of flying insects distracted by the flood lights that attempted to help the drivers avoid collision.  It was warm, it was muggy, it was loud, it smelled of danger . . . it was awesome!

There were two important events on these race nights.  The demolition derby and the figure eight.  The demolition derby involved many cars — nothing shiny, and most could barely run.  They were lucky to have doors and it was considered high class to have a windshield.  Numbers were skillfully placed on their sides with their favorite can of spray paint because by the end, it would be hard pressed to tell them apart otherwise.  The bigger the dent, the louder the applause!  It was the craziest thing I could possibly think of attending.  What kid . . . what boy, in their right mind would turn down the chance to see people wreck into each other — on purpose!!!  The derby was the release of vehicular testosterone until the last car still running won the night.  It was the fight for the death, a modern gladiator event with swords on wheels.  My favorite, however, was not the derby.  It was the figure eight!  Twenty or so cars, all without a method to stop, circle and loop the dirt track in the shape of an eight until one car remains.  Their demise you might ask?  The center of the eight at the intersection.  It’s a place of random introductions and incidental accidents — the risk was at an all-time high.  The crowds went wild and I was no exception!  Most never saw it coming, hit broadside — while others fought to navigate around the multi-car pileup in the way of moving on.  It was intense!

Never did I think that those race nights would come back to me so clearly.  The last few days, however, my heart has been reflecting on how much my life feels like a figure eight.  Any one of those cars on that dirt track could represent an aspect of my life.  And like you perhaps, I have never had more than two or three cars on it at a time — only one if I were lucky!  Lately, however, I’ve found myself at a full line-up at the races!  Which cars will collide?  How many will wreck?  Look at the size of those dents!!  Seemingly helpless to the outcome, I sit and watch as all of my cars in the race meet, one-by-one, at the intersection — dented, disfigured, demolished.

Watching the world I’ve come to understand and know so well pile-up in a heap of twisted metal and ruin can only be described as nothing short of disorienting.  But this is the view from within God’s chrysalis.  Hanging upside down, suspended from the Tree of Life offers a view unlike any other.  During this period of transformation, I’ve been experiencing the collision of what I once knew and all things new.  But there’s nothing pleasant about this demolition — it’s painful!  But in that quiet place of retreat, in the holiness of God’s darkness where He dwells, there is peace in the midst of the pangs of renewal.  There is comfort in knowing my God sustains me!

Lord Jesus, the race is loud, the screeching, twisted metal and crushing glass startles my heart.  The demolition is unsettling at best.  May I be anxious for nothing — but instead, consider it pure joy when I encounter the pangs of all things new!

For when we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn — conflicts on the outside, fears within.  But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us . . .      II Corinthians 7:5-6

Holy On A Rainy Day

Feelings are a tricky thing.  Navigating what is connected to the truth of your emotions and discerning those things connected to false beliefs is a practice that involves intercession from the Spirit that lives within me.  Engaging a dialogue with my Helper is critical in living through He who rests in His temple.  No, I’m not speaking of the church down the road or the synagogue around the corner — I’m speaking of the temple of my body:

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  I Corinthians 6:19

Following this understanding then comes the realization that if He rests, resides — takes up residence — in me, then He goes where I go, does what I do, enjoys the things I enjoy, hurts in the pain I feel and rejoices in life with me.

But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.  I Corinthians 6:17

We are one!  And if we are one — follow me here — then I am holy — even on a rainy day!  This is a tough one for me and I don’t believe I’m alone in this difficulty.  Believing such truth, when the world and maybe even people within your own circles are communicating a different message makes it all the more difficult to believe.  But, the truth of the truth is that it doesn’t come, all the while, in your feelings.  Bad, rainy days happen, but Truth withstands even the worst of them.

Having a hard time believing through the fog?  I understand that one better than anyone!  Here’s what I read to remind me of who I am — my identity — despite my weather:

John 1:12   I am a child of God (Romans 8:16).

John 15:1,5   I am a part of the true vine, a channel (branch) of His Life.

John 15:15   I am Christ’s friend.

John 15:16   I am chosen and appointed by Christ to bear His fruit.

Acts 1:8   I am a personal witness of Christ for Christ.

Romans 3:24    I have been justified and redeemed.

Romans 5:1   I have been justified (completely forgiven and made righteous) and am at peace with God.

Romans 6:1-6    I died with Christ and died to the power of sin’s rule in my life.

Romans 6:7   I have been freed from sin’s power over me.

Romans 6:18   I am a slave of righteousness.

Romans 6:22   I am enslaved to God.

Romans 8:1   I am forever free from condemnation.

Romans 8:14,15   I am a son of God (God is literally my “Papa”) (Galatians 3:26; 4:6).

Romans 8:17    I am an heir of God and fellow heir with Christ.

Romans 11:16    I am holy.

Romans 15:7    Christ has accepted me.

1 Corinthians 1:2   I have been sanctified.

1 Corinthians 1:30   I have been placed in Christ by God’s doing; Christ is now my wisdom from God, my righteousness, my sanctification, and my redemption.

1 Corinthians 2:12    I have received the Spirit of God into my life that I might know the things freely given to me by God.

1 Corinthians 2:16   I have been given the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19   I am a temple (home) of God; His Spirit (His life) dwells in me.

1 Corinthians 6:17   I am joined to the Lord and am one spirit with Him.

1 Corinthians 6:19,20    I have been bought with a price; I am not my own; I belong to God.

1 Corinthians 12:27   I am a member of Christ’s body (Ephesians 5:30).

2 Corinthians 1:21   I have been established in Christ and anointed by God.

2 Corinthians 2:14   He always leads me in His triumph in Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:14,15   Since I have died, I no longer live for myself, but for Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17   I am a new creation.

2 Corinthians 5:18,19   I am reconciled to God and am a minister of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:21   I am the righteousness of God in Christ.

Galatians 2:4   I have liberty in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 2:20   I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I am now living is Christ’s life.

Galatians 3:26,28   I am a child of God and one in Christ.

Galatians 4:6,7   I am a child of God and an heir through God.

Ephesians 1:1    I am a saint (1 Corinthians 1:2; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:2).

Ephesians 1:3   I am blessed with every spiritual blessing.

Ephesians 1:4   I was chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blame before Him.

Ephesians 1:7,8   I have been redeemed and forgiven, and am a recipient of His lavish grace.

Ephesians 2:5   I have been made alive together with Christ.

Ephesians 2:6    I have been raised up and seated with Christ in heaven.

Ephesians 2:10   I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ to do His work that He planned beforehand that I should do.

Ephesians 2:13   I have been brought near to God.

Ephesians 2:18   I have direct access to God through the Spirit.

Ephesians 2:19    I am a fellow citizen with the saints and a member of God’s household.

Ephesians 3:6   I am a fellow heir, a fellow member of the body, and a fellow partaker of the promise in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 3:12   I may approach God with boldness and confidence.

Ephesians 4:24   I am righteous and holy.

Philippians 3:20   I am a citizen of heaven.

Philippians 4:7   His peace guards my heart and my mind.

Philippians 4:19   God will supply all my needs.

Colossians 1:13   I have been delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of Christ.

Colossians 1:14   I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins. The debt against me has been canceled (Colossians 2:13,14).

Colossians 1:27    Christ Himself is in me.

Colossians 2:7   I have been firmly rooted in Christ and am now being built up and established in Him.

Colossians 2:10    I have been made complete in Christ.

Colossians 2:12,13   I have been buried, raised, and made alive with Christ, and totally forgiven.

Colossians 3:1   I have been raised with Christ.

Colossians 3:3   I have died, and my life is now hidden with Christ in God.

Colossians 3:4   Christ is now my life.

Colossians 3:12   I am chosen of God, holy and dearly loved (1 Thessalonians 1:4).

1 Thessalonians 5:5   I am a child of light and not of darkness.

2 Timothy 1:7   I have been given a spirit of power, love, and discipline.

2 Timothy 1:9   I have been saved and called (set apart) according to God’s purpose and grace (Titus 3:5).

Hebrews 2:11   Because I am sanctified and am one with Christ, He is not ashamed to call me His.

Hebrews 3:1I am a holy partaker of a heavenly calling.

Hebrews 3:14   I am a partaker of Christ.

Hebrews 4:16   I may come boldly before the throne of God to receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

1 Peter 2:5   I am one of God’s living stones and am being built up as a spiritual house.

1 Peter 2:9,10   I am a part of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of God’s own possession.

1 Peter 2:11   I am an alien and stranger to this world that I temporarily live in.

1 Peter 5:8   I am an enemy of the devil. He is my adversary.

2 Peter 1:4   I have been given God’s precious and magnificent promises by which I am a partaker of the divine nature.

1 John 3:1   God has bestowed a great love on me and called me His child.

1 John 4:15   God is in me and I am in God.

Lord Jesus, may I live the Truth of your Word in my life.  I want to dance with You in all ways, in every moment — I want to dance in the rain, because I am holy!  Let’s do this — together!

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