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The Cross – – Herein is Love

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:5,6

From Horatius Bonar, The Cross of the Lord Jesus:

Thus we see in the cross an epitome of the Bible. The whole revelation of God is there. From the cross we “Where sin abounded, grace has superabounded.”  All the love of God is there. The sinner’s condemnation and the sinner’s pardon are there. God’s invitation issues forth from it to the chief of sinners. “Come”; “Look unto me and be ye saved.”

God’s eternal purpose is here unfolded: “the good pleasure of His will.” The fountain opened for sin is there. The rest for the weary is there. The relief for the conscience is here. The refuge for the guilty is there. The balm of Gilead is there. Peace to the troubled is there. There God meets with man, and man meets with God; heaven and earth embrace each other.

HEREIN IS LOVE. It is love that takes in the worst; love that took in the dying thief; love that knows no bounds; love that looks for no qualifications in him who comes, but that he needs it; love which is yearning over the lost, and stretching out its hands to the most rebellious and unholy; love which offers not merely pardon, but the perfection of the Son of God to the sinner, with all which that perfection can claim.

And for more on this love, read C.S Lewis’ gripping poem at Beth Stone Studio (Love’s as warm as tears).

Short List

It’s Titus 2sday!

Lists.  We love them! We make lists for shopping (even if we leave them at home), lists of chores, resolution lists, etc.  They help us by providing structure and direction, especially on those busier-than-normal kind of days.

But lists can’t be too long, or we get discouraged.  It’s been said that that’s why God gave us only 10 commandments (and even those are tough!)

Perhaps, like me, you’ve read books with lists on how to a better wife, to love your husband, to be kind, and all the things you think you should be great at by now.  But, after all the reading, the lists seem too long.  Maybe you remember one thing, but even struggle with that!   You don’t need another book, seminar, or list.  So, today, I humbly offering my short list:

~~~

How to Love your Husband

1.  Forgive as you’ve been forgiven.

~~~ 

That’s it!  This isn’t meant to nullify all the books and sermons that address the convoluted layers of such a deep and intricate relationship as marriage. But if we don’t start here, if we don’t seek God’s grace for ourselves, and then, by His grace, turn that forgiveness towards our husbands, then all the lists in the world won’t get us anywhere.

Review the story Jesus told his disciples, and ask Him to speak to your own heart:

Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.  “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’  But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.  When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.  “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

 

Dear Father, Thank you for forgiving me! You rescued me when I didn’t even know I needed rescuing.  Through the Cross, you drew me with chords of love, forgiveness, mercy and grace.  So how dare I hold back my love, forgiveness, mercy and grace from anyone else, especially my husband? Help me, Lord, to be forgiving.  Help me to be an instrument of grace in my home, to accept your forgiveness for my own sins, then forgive others, starting with my husband.  I can’t do it alone, but your Word says that You are at work in me, both to will and to do of Your good pleasure.  I need you to make me willing and able to forgive.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Please join us every Tuesday as we learn together how to grow, love and serve the Lord by loving and serving our families.

 

Story of a Song

“For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods!” Psalm 97:9

I EXALT THEE!

Every song has a story, even thousands of stories.  The obvious story is what’s being said through the lyrics.  Then there’s what the writer felt but, perhaps, never verbalized through the words of the song.  And then, there’s a story for each and every listener of the song–the pain or joy they equate with it, or where they first heard it, what they were doing, who they were with, etc. 

We have a story for “I Exalt Thee” which, as Spurgeon says, ‘shows that the goodness of God has been the same to us as the saints of old.”

Flashback:  1977.  Okinawa, Japan.  I was pregnant with our first daughter (Joy).  In the decades before  Amazon.com, UPS, FedEx and other express-mailing days, it was so exciting to get packages overseas.  Every month we ordered a record album through an old-school Columbia House membership.  When Pete Sanchez’s album arrived, it didn’t take long to realize what a treasure we had received!!  All the songs were so worshipful!  John loved them so much that he made a cassette copy for us to use at a home Bible Study that we attended.   Sitting in the small living room of our friends’ military apartment, our feeble voices joined with Sanchez’s to exalt the Lord above all other gods!

Flash a bit forward:  1989-1994.  A time when we were far away from the Lord.  During that time, we’d occasionally find ourselves in church with family, or *accidentally* listening to Christian radio, and “I Exalt Thee” would be sung or played.  I would weep, realizing how far away we were from that humble worship time in Okinawa–how far our hearts were from exalting our Lord above all gods.  How far we had fallen. 

Present:  The video above—singing” I Exalt Thee” with His church and precious believers in Ottawa.   After sixteen long years of God’s wounding and healing, tearing down and building up, rescuing, restoring, and reconciliation, we sang as if we were back in Okinawa.  That could only be the Lord’s doing.

And that is our story of “I Exalt Thee.”  That God is faithful.  He sees beginning to end.  In 1977, when we poured our hearts to Him in worship, He knew there’d be days ahead when we would fall away for a time, just as He knew Peter would deny Him three times.  And what did Jesus say?

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

Jesus didn’t let go.  Jesus didn’t quit on us when we quit on Him.  That’s our story–His faithfulness!

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 1:6

 

PS.  You can read more about our church service on Saturday nites at  SaulGood  and Andy’s blog, HERE.

Focus on Christ

“Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 ESV

A word to myself…anyone else?

“The first device that Satan has to keep souls in a sad, doubting, and questioning condition, and so making their life a hell, is by causing them to be still poring and musing upon sin, to mind their sins more than their Savior; yes, so to mind their sins as to forget, yes, to neglect their Savior, that, as the Psalmist speaks, ‘The Lord is not in all their thoughts’ (Psalm 10:4). Their eyes are so fixed upon their disease, that they cannot see the remedy, though it be near; and they do so muse upon their debts, that they have neither mind nor heart to think of their Surety. A Christian should wear Christ in his bosom as a flower of delight, for he is a whole paradise of delight. He who minds not Christ more than his sin, can never be thankful and fruitful as he should.”

From Puritan Thomas Brooks’ book Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices

HT:  Tony Reinke

He Loves Us!

Do you wake up awed by the fact that God loves you? 

Or, like many more of us, do you wonder if God loves you at all?  Perhaps you feel empty and wonder if any can love you?  Or, maybe, you don’t love yourself. 

Today there is Hope.  You can know and believe that God loves you!! He loves you no matter how you feel–messed up, self-centered, at the top of your game, or the bottom.  God is there.  His love is right there.  A love that died for you.  A love that conquered death!   For you! 

God loves you so much that He gave the priceless gift of His only child, Jesus, to die for you, to rescue your life on this earth, and give you hope for all your todays, tomorrows, and for eternity!

There’s no love like God’s.  His love is unconditional, powerful, awesome, gritty, deep, and most of all, unchanging! He wants you to know, today, that He loves You.  If you need a little reminder…listen to this song.  May the Lord sink the anchor of His love deep into your heart so you can know…really know…He loves you!! 

How He Loves Us

by John Mark McMillan

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realise just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us so,
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us all

Yeah, He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves.

We are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
So Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way…

He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves.

He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us.
Whoa! how He loves us.
Whoa! how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves.

 

There are two versions of this song in the Blue Music Box to the right:

John Mark McMillan, How He Loves: A Story.

David Crowder Band,  from Passion Awakening.

You may be further inspired by hearing the story behind John Mark’s song here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NXWE6AC8ao

Come as You Are

Last week, as I found myself stuck in traffic and my schedule completely shaken, a song came on the radio that brought me both to tears and worship.  The song grabbed me in the first five words, “He’s not mad at you.”  

Maybe you need to hear this today, too.  If so, click on this link to see and hear them play a beautiful acoustic version:  “Come As You Are” Acoustic | Pocket Full of Rocks, or listen to the song in my Blue Music Box to the right.

 

Come As You Are

He’s not mad at you
He’s not disappointed
His grace is greater still,
than all of your wrong choices
He is full of mercy and he is ever kind
Hear his invitation, His arms are open wide

You can come as you are,
with all your broken pieces
And all your shameful scars
The pain you hold in your heart,
bring it all to Jesus
You can come as you are

Louder than the voice that whispers your unworthy
Hear the sound of love,
that tells a different story
Shattering your darkness and pushing through the lies
How tenderly he calls you,
His arms are open wide

You can come as you are,
with all your broken pieces
And all your shameful scars
The pain you hold in your heart,
bring it all to Jesus
You can come as you are

You can come as you are

You can come as you are with all your broken pieces
And all your shameful scars
The pain you hold in your heart,
bring it all to Jesus
You can come as you are!

Written and sung by Pocket Full of Rocks, from their third CD, “More Than Noise.”    

Scandalous Grace

“…where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”   Romans 5:20,21

 

I just read an article at Stuff Christians Like on grace that speaks of the limitless, boundless grace God makes available to all of us.  The author, Jon Acuff, sought to answer the question, “Do you feel like some people take grace too far?”  Here’s an excerpt:

We establish a limit to grace and God’s love. We start to draw boundary lines on grace and it’s not the first time we’ve seen this kind of thing happen.

There was a guy in the Bible who was the worst. He was such a failure. He lied once and got an entire village murdered as a result. A priest and his family were killed because of his lies. He committed adultery. He cheated. He trusted in his own strength instead of the Lord’s. And when he did, when he failed, thousands and thousands of people died as a result. His family suffered from incest and murder and his hands were so covered with wrongfully shed blood that eventually God wouldn’t let him do something really important.

…So how is he referred to in the Bible?   Here is what God says about him:

         “I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart.”

…How can God say these things?

Because grace is scandalous.

I think God knew the risk that we’d misunderstand grace and try to take advantage of it. I think he knew we’d try to find the limits of it with our sinfulness. Which is why he made it limitless, which is why he made grace infinite and never ending.

Please check out the entire article HERE.  I think you’ll be blessed..and humbly thankful for the Lord’s infinite, scandalous Grace!