The Gift of Acceptance from the Unbiased Baby Jesus

The only One who can set the standard for acceptance in all of life set it, fulfilled it and offered us.png
Inspirational Thought of the Day:
We could never meet someone’s definition well enough to be perfectly accepted by them, but we don’t have to.
Scripture of the Day:

1 My brothers and sistersdo not show prejudice if you possess faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. But if you show prejudice, you are committing sin and are convicted by the lawas violators.  

John 7:41

Others were saying, “This is the Christ.” Still others were saying, “Surely the Christ is not going to come from Galilee, is He?
Deep in our heart of hearts we long for acceptance, to know we are cherished. The familiar feeling of rejection stings as we clamor to meet the constantly shifting standards in our relevant world. Or not. Those two words bring peace to my soul as I know I could never meet anyone’s standards well enough to be perfectly accepted by them, but I don’t have to.
The only One who could set the standard for acceptance in all of life 
set it, fulfilled it and offered us acceptance that never ends.

With the current climate astir with racial accusations, the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ entrance to this world filled my mind.  Christ confused those Who thought He would come to just a certain race in just a certain way.  Jesus is not a snob. No, He came as a poor infant Jew to Galilee and Nazareth and confounded the supposed wisdom of this world.  He gave value and spoke with women, even letting them discover His resurrection first.  He demonstrated compassion to those of a different race and treated all as equals.

So many prejudices exist and have since the world began.  Gender, age, financial status, education, color of skin, culture, anything that can define one as unique can also be fodder for bias.  Not so with God.  He loves how each one of us is different, and it is beautiful in His eyes.  Christ came to abolish our sickening racism, prejudice, and preferences to show us what it means to truly love unconditionally.  His unbiased acceptance is absolutely amazing when we consider He had every right to look down on us.

Ethnic purity is not a new term.  The Samaritans were persecuted for not being a pure race, yet Jesus viewed them no differently than any other race or people.  It is, in fact, laughable and ridiculous that we should view any race as superior to another when we all consider that we came from Adam.

Why are we still so ignorant?  We should be able to learn from the atrocities that history has to offer, but instead we reinvent the insipid racism in a new fashion and repeat the same sins as our predecessors.  Perhaps it is insecurity – each person, each family, each race wants to be the best?  In reality, we are all chief of sinners, in need of a desperate Savior. Or it could be jealousy.  God did choose the Jewish people as His own, but then He shared this salvation with all.

If we are honest, we will admit we have all had moments of prejudice in some fashion; pride in which we thought we were better than another.  There is still hope.  We can turn the tide where we live.  Jesus came to set us free from discrimination, too.  May we look to the infant Savior this Christmas and how He grew in wisdom, always demonstrating loving kindness to all.  The irony is that Christ was sometimes the hardest on the Pharisees – may we not think too highly of ourselves, our denomination, our color, our culture, or anything else that is a part of who we are – and may we simply accept others as we were accepted.

LORD, thank You for accepting all Who would call on Your Name for Salvation.  Help us, God, to stop labeling and judging one another and to love as You did.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 7: God’s Law

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The One Who made the laws of God is the only One Who can keep them.

Scriptures of the Day:

Romans 3:20

“For no one is declared righteous before him by the works of the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.”

Romans 5:20

“Now the law came in so that the transgression may increase, but where sin increased, grace multiplied all the more.”

Psalm 19:7

“The law of the LORD is perfect and preserves one’s life. The rules set down by the LORD are reliable and impart wisdom to the inexperienced.”

I am a rule follower by nature and cannot comprehend why someone would willingly choose to go against rules that are in place. That said, um, I have been known to speed on occasion and break diets faster than they were begun.

Despite all of our best intentions, we all break the law, most importantly the perfect laws of God. We are flesh and in desperate need of grace. God’s law is, in fact, grace. For in the moment that we became aware of His laws, we became aware of our ability to keep even one of them. How is this grace? Why make laws that we cannot fully keep?

Every single precept and command He has given are given for our good. Sin destroys us, but abiding by God’s laws preserves us. He could have left us in our sin, ignorant of our transgressions, but He loved us too much for that. We were made for SomeOne more than just living for our flesh and this world.

The One Who made the laws of God is the only One Who can keep them. This loving God showed us His Holy standard then bore all of our consequences for breaking His righteous decrees. What a gracious God Who would not leave us without a standard, but would help us meet that standard, too.

Oh, God! Thank You for Your perfect law and for fulfilling it on our behalf! Thank You for a righteous standard for us to live by.

 

Truthful Tuesday: One Faith For All

his-love-is-too-great-to-permit-a-sinful-lifestyle-that-enslaves-his-children

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

His love is too great to permit a sinful lifestyle that enslaves His children.

Scriptures of the Day:

Ephesians 4:5-6

“There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.”

1 Corinthians 8:6

“But we know that there is only one God, the Father, who created everything, and we live for him. And there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom God made everything and through whom we have been given life.”

Acts 4:12

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

John 14:6

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'”

Matthew 7:13

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

Tears fill my eyes as I see Scripture after Scripture telling of only one way to be saved and contemplate the goodness of God that He would make a way, yet so many refuse to accept God’s goodness.

In our pride, we would like to have our way. We think we know best. We think we are deserving of salvation because we are on the throne of our souls.

The standard shifts to accommodate all, yet then no standard remains at all.

It seems fair that we should be able to create our own religion and beliefs, our own list of dos and don’ts. The humanistic philosophy that everyone should be included and everything should be tolerated and allowed seems to make sense. One size fits all. But we, the Created, are not in a position of telling the Creator how things should be done.

In our desire to justify our sin and make ourselves acceptable before a Holy God, we crave a standard that is relativistic and pluralistic. In this thinking, we believe all can be saved. But what is this salvation? Salvation from our sins, not a salvation that allows sins. A great salvation that would cover over our sins but also transform our hearts and minds to be like His.

God is not unloving to have a standard. He would be unloving not to. To have a clear understanding of our need of a Holy God is kind. Further, it is not exclusive to say there is one way, it would be cruel to lie and say all paths lead to God. They simply don’t. God’s word says it over and over again.

There is one Faith, and this is not an ecumenical statement, not a pluralistic view, but a call to the reality that we have One God and One Faith. So simple, yet so many stumble over this reality.

In His incredible mercy, God extended salvation to the entire world, but many miss it. For fear of judgment from the one true faith, people flock to their brand of religion that fits their personality and what they want, when all they would have to do to be accepted is believe and admit that they are unholy, in need of salvation from our Holy God, and ask God for forgiveness.

The one Who laid down His life to bear our iniquity – every single sin – that we could stand in His presence and know our Father – His love is too great to permit a sinful lifestyle that enslaves His children. He paid too high a price to set us free. Too big a sacrifice to allow us to believe in a religion that is a lie, which requires us to try and earn our own salvation. He already bought us with His own blood.

“Jesus paid it all. All to Him we owe. Sin had left a crimson stain, but He washed us white as snow.”

Oh God, may everyone who reads this posting today know that they can be saved and accept Your salvation. Open the eyes of all who read to know that they are loved and cherished and don’t have to live in sin any longer. Remove the liberal view which tries to condone our lifestyle and justify self. We are sinful, wretched, lost without You. Thank you, oh God, for your free gift of salvation which cost the life of Your beloved Son, our Savior!

Truthful Tuesday: Plumb in Luck

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Reblogging this post from almost two years ago. How grateful I am that although we fall so very short of the glory of God, He redeems us from eternal death. When we compare ourselves to the perfect, righteous God as our plumb line, we see that we can never measure up; but in Christ we are considered righteous.

2 Corinthians 10:12, 18
“For we would not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who recommend themselves. But when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding. :18 “For it is not the person who commends himself who is approved, but the person the LORD commends.”

Comparing ourselves to others, both those considered greater and lesser than ourselves, is at once folly and wisdom. If the purpose is to think better of ourselves by demeaning another, the end result is false pride. If the purpose is to be more like Christ and looking to be like what we value as excellent or praiseworthy, the result can be something beautiful.

Defining the standard in a relativistic age is the challenge. The plumb line, the only standard, is the Perfect One, Christ. When we compare ourselves to God alone, we see that we will always fall far short. What is the purpose of it, then? In humility we recognize our dependency on God and our need to keep growing in Christ. With the standard set before us at the highest level, it keeps us on the right path. Accepting a lower standard so it will be easier or more comfortable will bear fruit similar to what you are ascribing to. We dare not accept man’s own opinion of himself or accept a standard that God condemns.

In examination of myself, it is only God and His Word Who can illuminate my sinfulness. I cannot examine myself – I lack the objectiveness to do so. Another person also cannot correctly examine me – they might do so out of bias from what another person told them, by their own perception, or by actions they witnessed in me which might or might not be consistent with my character. But that does not mean that another person should not speak into our lives – we need one another. It just means that we should not solely take one man’s opinion, but should run that counsel through the filter of God’s word and additional counsel.

In the end, we have an accuser, actually several of them. Our enemy, the devil, our own flesh, and others who just plain don’t like us. But accusations do not have to destroy us or define us. We can choose to rise above them and place our focus off of ourselves. We can choose to not accuse others, too, but to pray for them. Now that would be a beautiful way to bring God glory and get the enemy running! God help us to do so.

Lord, You alone are the Perfect One. You alone are worthy of praise. Anything good in us is because of You, not us. Help us to seek Your opinion of us before all else. Help us to cease comparing to others and instead to saturate our minds in your truth and build one another up.

A Season of Thankfulness: Day Three – A Righteous Standard

Day Three Thankfulness God's unchanging standard

Leviticus 19:2-3

“Speak to the whole congregation of the Israelites and tell them, ‘You must be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.  3 Each of you must respect his mother and his father, and you must keep my Sabbaths. I am the LORD your God. 4 Do not turn to idols, and you must not make for yourselves gods of cast metal. I am the LORD your God. 11 “‘You must not steal, you must not tell lies, and you must not deal falsely with your fellow citizen.  12 You must not swear falsely in my name, so that you do not profane the name of your God. I am the LORD. 13 You must not oppress your neighbor or commit robbery against him. You must not withhold the wages of the hired laborer overnight until morning. 14 You must not curse a deaf person or put a stumbling block in front of a blind person. You must fear your God; I am the LORD.  15 “‘You must not deal unjustly in judgment: you must neither show partiality to the poor nor honor the rich. You must judge your fellow citizen fairly. 16 You must not go about as a slanderer among your people. You must not stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is at stake. I am the LORD. 17 You must not hate your brother in your heart. You must surely reprove your fellow citizen so that you do not incur sin on account of him. 18 You must not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the children of your people, but you must love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.

Leviticus 22:9

“They must keep my charge so that they do not incur sin on account of it and therefore die because they profane it. I am the LORD who sanctifies them.”

He created us, made us in His image.  He established His righteous laws and communicated His requirements to His people.  Then He paid the price and sanctified us.  Words cannot adequately convey how amazing our God is.

Some think rules spoil the fun.  They are somehow unfair and unnecessary, legalistic and burdensome; wrecking our happiness due to the judgment felt when we break God’s righteous laws.

Leviticus – that book of the Bible that many dread to read.  Gruesome with detail about sin and its consequences, we do not like to look at the devastation of sin or the standards of God because we are unable to keep His laws in our own strength.

But it is the revelation of His standards that ultimately sets us free.  God’s laws revealed our need for a Savior.  The conviction felt when we looked into God’s perfect law causes us to either run to God out of our desperate need or to rebel in our pride, thinking we are above the law.

As humans, we tend to think a loving God would let us do whatever we want.  But He loves us too much for that. He is GOOD and perfect in what He allows for His children.  That goodness commanded us to abstain from sin because He knew it would destroy us.  That righteousness would command us to rest and give us a salvation that we could never earn.

Sure, we could don our own covering like Adam and Eve tried to do, or cover ourselves with excuses that leave us feeling empty deep inside.  We could try to earn our own righteousness by good works, but ultimately, we would fail.  Rationalizing in a relativistic world does not cover our sin and making sinful actions lawful in our society will never wipe away our transgressions.

Our inability to provide for our own sin leaves us destitute before a Holy God with standards that do not grade on the curve.  But His grace overcomes our flaws and failings and His firm promises are our redemption before a Holy God when we admit our need of Him.

Thank God for His mercy and wisdom and complete Holiness that would have a standard in a world with constantly shifting standards.  Because of His faithfulness, we are secure in Christ.  Secure in a relationship with a Holy God Who does not change.  Ever.

Lord, thank You for providing us with boundaries that set us free in You.  Please open our eyes to understand more of Your perfect law and to rejoice and delight in You and Your perfect statutes.

Worshipful Wednesday: The Sweet Surprise of God’s Boundaries

Photo Credits www.bard.edu

Photo Credits
http://www.bard.edu

Psalm 119: 1-16

1 How blessed are those whose actions are blameless, who obey the law of the Lord.  2 How blessed are those who observe his rules, and seek him with all their heart, 3 who, moreover, do no wrong, but follow in his footsteps. 4 You demand that your precepts be carefully kept. 5 If only I were predisposed to keep your statutes! 6 Then I would not be ashamed, if I were focused on all your commands.  7 I will give you sincere thanks, when I learn your just regulations. 8 I will keep your statutes.  Do not completely abandon me!  9 How can a young person maintain a pure life?  By guarding it according to your instructions! 10 With all my heart I seek you.  Do not allow me to stray from your commands!  11 In my heart I store up your words, so I might not sin against you. 12 You deserve praise, O Lord!  Teach me your statutes! 13 With my lips I proclaim all the regulations you have revealed. 14 I rejoice in the lifestyle prescribed by your rules as if they were riches of all kinds. 15 I will meditate on your precepts and focus on your behavior. 16 I find delight in your statutes; I do not forget your instructions.

One person looks at rules and boundaries as an outdated suggestion.  Another sees them as something to aspire to, but impossible.  Yet another recognizes the wisdom in restraining oneself and the ironic pleasure self-denial brings.  It is possible to walk with God with the boundaries He has set – He would not command it if it were not so.  The decision to set boundaries in our lives does not just happen, however – it is purposefully planned and carefully carried out.

I was saved at the age of nineteen when the LORD placed on my heart to stop dating.  Peers thought I was crazy and labeled me everything from “miss purity” to a “lesbian” to being worldly.  Wow – I could not be all three things at the same time – what was I?  I was a new believer who recognized the present world system of dating was not godly.  I waited on the LORD and trusted Him for a mate.  I learned what it meant to place boundaries in my life and made mistakes but gratefully waited until my wedding to consummate that covenant.

Since then, I have experienced betrayal and now wear the scarlet letter “D” – something I never thought I would wear.  Yet walking through those dark waters has taught me more than my former skepticism of those who have also tasted of the scorn that divorce brings.  Despite following the path God set, I could not control the other person’s decisions or actions.  Forgiveness came but so did consequences.  Since that time, I have gone through the process of courting again and remarrying.  Boundaries that I had when I was younger were once again in place, only this time it was more difficult.  It was easy to maintain those boundaries while married, but when single again I had to learn all over again what that should look like.  Finding anyone who had waited until their wedding was seemingly impossible and excuses are readily available for failure – we are only human, after all.  Rationalization is an easy find, too.  It is a natural behavior to deem a standard too difficult and try to make an easier solution – that is our flesh.  But God’s Word gives a prescription and method that is altogether beautiful and truly freedom.

Excuses, rationalization and an ungodly culture make it difficult to obey boundaries set by God, but there is a treasure in this passage which shows us the path to victory – guarding purity with God’s instructions.  Time and culture changing do not affect God’s standard.  Instead of resenting the limitations, the Psalmist actually delights in the “lifestyle prescribed by Your rules as if they were riches…”.  Wow – what a perspective.  Satan loves to deceive us and trick us into thinking we are missing out – well, we do miss out on sin and its vicious consequences when we elect to live our lives God’s way.  The Psalmist cherishes the boundaries and keeps them with several means: he meditates, focuses on, delights in and does not forget God’s instructions.  I have to admit the forgetting part is more difficult as I have gotten older, but makes me appreciate why the Israelites had to repeatedly remind themselves to obey – our natural disposition is to disobey.

Now I have teens and young adults in my home going through the process of establishing boundaries and walking in purity.  It is a delight to walk beside them and counsel them and they benefit from my obedience and mistakes, too.  Despite the natural degradation that occurs from generation to generation, I have heard an admirable goal of a parent is to have the next generation be even more righteous than the one that went before it.  May it be so.

Maybe you have not ever had boundaries and it is scary to contemplate beginning a disciplined life.  Maybe you have failed and don’t want to have boundaries for fear of failure again.  Even though the Psalmist himself (a man after God’s own hear) knew what it was to fail, too, he recognized his folly and chose to redirect his life toward God’s boundaries.  He did not seek popular opinion or look to his own thoughts to form his standards.  He put forth God’s standard of holiness, knowing he himself could not maintain or attain to it, save the grace of God.  But he did not stop there – he set boundaries in his life and adhered to them tenaciously.  He began anew.  So can we.

Lord, help us to walk in the liberty that boundaries bring.  May we walk in integrity and not make provision for the flesh, nor excuse our sin.  You made us and know the best way.  May Your Name be praised forever and ever.

The Plumb Line

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2 Corinthians 10:12, 18
“For we would not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who recommend themselves. But when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding. :18 “For it is not the person who commends himself who is approved, but the person the LORD commends.”

Comparing ourselves to others, both those considered greater and lesser than ourselves, is at once folly and wisdom. If the purpose is to think better of ourselves by demeaning another, the end result is false pride. If the purpose is to be more like Christ and looking to be like what we value as excellent or praiseworthy, the result can be something beautiful.

Defining the standard in a relativistic age is the challenge. The plumb line, the only standard, is the Perfect One, Christ. When we compare ourselves to God alone, we see that we will always fall far short. What is the purpose of it, then? In humility we recognize our dependency on God and our need to keep growing in Christ. With the standard set before us at the highest level, it keeps us on the right path. Accepting a lower standard so it will be easier or more comfortable will bear fruit similar to what you are ascribing to. We dare not accept man’s own opinion of himself or accept a standard that God condemns.

In examination of myself, it is only God and His Word Who can illuminate my sinfulness. I cannot examine myself – I lack the objectiveness to do so. Another person also cannot correctly examine me – they might do so out of bias from what another person told them, by their own perception, or by actions they witnessed in me which might or might not be consistent with my character. But that does not mean that another person should not speak into our lives – we need one another. It just means that we should not solely take one man’s opinion, but should run that counsel through the filter of God’s word and additional counsel.

In the end, we have an accuser, actually several of them. Our enemy, the devil, our own flesh, and others who just plain don’t like us. But accusations do not have to destroy us or define us. We can choose to rise above them and place our focus off of ourselves. We can choose to not accuse others, too, but to pray for them. Now that would be a beautiful way to bring God glory and get the enemy running! God help us to do so.

Lord, You alone are the Perfect One. You alone are worthy of praise. Anything good in us is because of You, not us. Help us to seek Your opinion of us before all else. Help us to cease comparing to others and instead to saturate our minds in your truth and build one another up.