Wednesday, November 28, 2012

God is everything you need

I was meditating on and praying about who God is to me a couple days ago.  Personalizing and meditating upon who God is to us is one of the most important things we can do.  What we think about God is the most important thing in life.  What he is for us and who he wants to be for us personally.  God loves us, he enjoys us, he is deeply personal, as well as being mighty on our behalf.  If we have a distant, impersonal view of God, our picture of God needs to be re-drawn.  How you see God determines how you view yourself and how you view others.  The more you have a wrong view of God, the more religious and legalistic you will become.  The Pharisees are people who lost sight of what God is really like, so they couldn't receive Jesus when he came, even though he did great signs and wonders.

We must answer the same question that Jesus asked Peter, "Who do you say that I am".  Our having the right picture of him is critical.  In fact, so critical, that it was upon this revelation that Jesus said he would build his church.  The picture of God that we have is our bedrock, he builds the church on the image of himself that we have in our heart.  With the right image of God, hell cannot prevail against us.

Here is a list of things that God is to me that I received while meditating on this the other day.

God, You are my peace, my righteousness, my provider, my love, my strength, my life, my shelter, my strength, my best friend, my savior, my maker, my redeemer, my healer, my light, my truth, my shepherd, my bread, my water, my sustainer, my king, my comforter, my guide, my greatest encourager, my example, my teacher, my father, my standard, my holiness, my breath of life, my center, my hero, my champion, my caregiver, my rock, my fortress, my refuge, my strong tower, my defender, my fear-vanquisher, my storm calmer, my liberator, the patient gardener of my soul, my foundation, my master-builder, my priest, my perfect sacrifice, my older brother, my fire, my desire, my exceedingly great reward, my rewarder, my master, my grace for every situation, my everything, my gate to life and the Kingdom, my heaven, my hope, my reason for living, my welcoming arms of love, lifter of my head, my judge, discerner and revealer of the secrets of my heart, my Head, author and finisher of my faith, my completer, my wholeness, binder of my brokenness, object of my worship, my forgiver, you hide me from my enemies, you are the lover of my enemies, my seed sower, my gift giver, and my miracle worker.

God loves you so much and desires to reveal himself to you in all these ways. He wants to be everything you need, for every situation.  I am finding that if I allow God to be these things to me at different times, my picture of him enlarges and I become more aware of his love and his presence.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


This week, our family has been pondering the things we are thankful for.  My wife acted upon a great idea she had last week.  She painted a large, leafless tree on a  mirror in our house. Then, everyone in our family was given leaves to write down the things we are thankful for.  We then taped all the leaves onto the "Thankful Tree".   The tree ended up with about a hundred leaves on it.  Most of the things people write are about God, the blessings we have, and the people in our lives.  The tree has been a reminder of all the things we have to be thankful for and the tremendous amount of blessings we have in our family.

Ondrea and I have been increasingly understanding what a key role thankfulness has in our lives.  It enables us overcome negativity, doubt, and bad attitudes.  I guess that is why Paul tells us to give thanks in all things in Eph. 4:20. "always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."

As I was praying a couple days ago, I decided to read Hebrews 10.  I began to get insight into some  things we as Christians can ponder and be truly thankful for. As a result, I felt led to incorporate a time of communion during our family's upcoming thanksgiving day celebration.

Hebrews 10
The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
#1:  Christ has paid for our sin completely!
We don't have to offer animal sacrifices for our sins any more! Jesus has done away with the need for any further sacrifice for sin.  This may seem very elementary, but if you ponder it - think about how amazing and revolutionary this must have been for the Jewish People of the 1st century!  If you have ever owned Goats, Sheep, or Cows - you will also see the significance of Jesus Sacrifice!  I am thankful that I don't need to offer any of our goats at the temple to pay for my sins this year.  Our family has 3 goats, Gracie, Jimmy, and Promise.  They have become like Pets to us - how sad it would be(especially for our children) if we had to slaughter one of them in order to be forgiven for our sins!!  And then, on top of that, it wouldn't even fully erase the guilt, it would only serve to cover our sin until the next time of sacrifice.  Animal sacrifices didn't really pay the price for sin, they just pointed to the one who actually could take away the sins - Jesus!  The animal sacrifices were a costly reminder of the consequences and terribleness of sin. 
v. 17-18
Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”
And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.

#2:  Since God doesn't remember our sins any more, neither should we!
We have been cleansed from sin - we are no longer sinners, we are saints!  The sacrifice of Jesus has taken all our sins as far away as the east is from the west.  ALL OUR SINS - PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE! 
How amazing that we don't need to be reminded of our sin any longer.  In fact, this passage(along with v. 2,3) seems to be alluding to the truth that because of what Jesus did, we don't need to be pondering, replaying, or beating ourselves up about our sinfulness any more!  If the point of the sacrificial system was to remind people of their sins - the point of Jesus' sacrifice was to cleanse us of guilt so we can move on from and forget about our sins!  Of course, we will remember our sins in our minds at times, but the guilt and condemnation attached to them can be be erased!!
As our family celebrates communion this week - we see it as a celebration of Jesus' sacrifice in taking away our sins and guilt. It is not a time to grimly reflect on our sinfulness and awfulness - it is a time to reflect on God's goodness and be thankful for all Christ has done! We remember that the blood he shed was costly, we remember that his broken body paid the price for our freedom.  However, we do not reflect on our guilt and awfulness, trying to dredge up feelings of guilt and remorse.  We are not guilty any more!  We are cleansed, purified, righteous, holy, new creations.

v 19-22
19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

#3:  We are now children of God!
We can boldly and confidently be in God's presence because of the precious blood of Jesus!  Hallelujah!  We have access to God's presence at all times, in fact, God lives in us!  We are the temple of the Holy Spirit.  We can draw near to God in faith, believing that we are pure and right with God.  There is no place for guilt or shame because we have been cleansed and purified once and for all.  It is finished!  This is the most exciting aspect of salvation to me - being his child.  We are "brothers and sisters", we are members of the family of God!  I have a relationship with God, he is my friend!

 I am so thankful that my life is becoming "Christ-centric", instead of "Sin-centric".  There is such freedom in a confident relationship with God - believing that he sees me as pure, Holy, and "in" Christ.  There is no need to grovel or make up for my mistakes.  He loves me and accepts me as I am because I am in Christ, who is righteous and perfect.  Therefore I am righteous and perfect.  I am confident that my name is written in heaven, and I have an incredible inheritance that will last for all eternity.  Now that is something to be thankful about!!

Luke 10:20
However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Hebrews 12:23
to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,