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Posts Tagged ‘works’

You awake on a Monday morning, in the midst of the winter season …

got guilt?

You are a mom or a dad …

got guilt?

You are a son or daughter …

a student …

an employee …

a follower of Christ …

got guilt?

Ever feel that you will never measure up?

be good enough?

be smart enough?

be successful enough?

be strong enough?

be

enough?

 

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STOP!

Stop striving!

Stop pushing!

Stop doing,

and working,

and just …

stop!

The best thing we can ever DO, is to realize that the DOING has been done.

“God demonstrates his own love for us, in this:
while we were still sinners,
Christ died for us.”

Romans 5:8

He didn’t wait for us to do something. He didn’t wait for us to be better, to be stronger, to be smarter. He did what needed to be done ahead of time, before we even had a chance to take our first breath.

He did it all,
all for us.

He came to do what we could never do for ourselves, be our redeemer, our savior … the eraser of our guilt …

He is the reason we no longer live under condemnation (strong and damning disapproval), the reason we no longer need to live with … guilt.

“It is by grace you have been save,
through faith-

and this is not from yourselves,
it is the gift of God-

not by works,
so that no one can boast.”
Ephesians 2:8-9

We cannot ever DO anything, to improve our situation. Our doing is eternally eclipsed by what has already been done FOR us.

This is love …

without works,

without guilt.

Jesus loves us, not as we should be, but as we are …

flawed, weak, sin-filled,

even guilt-ridden.

He loves us unconditionally, but he never pushes himself at us, never guilt-trips us, never demands more that what he has already paid the immeasurable price for …

How he loves us!

“I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
when I think about the way …
Oh how he loves us all”

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It is the season of Saint Nick and he is everywhere.images-3

So, Santa is everywhere at this season of the year, and he is not new, and not North American. The story of Saint Nick goes back to the fourth century. In various times and his name has been Sinterklaas, Father Christmas, Père Noël and Saint Nicholas.

I admit that, as a Christian parent, it is not always an easy thing to try to empathize the birth of Christ, while at the same time all the world around me shouts of Santa Claus. It is a very difficult thing to try to teach of the greater value of the eternal gifts that Jesus brings while Santa Clause brings Barbie and Lego. Hubby and I have agonized over how to deal with Santa Claus in the life of our family.

When speaking with a teacher friend recently, she shared what she had been dealing with in her kindergarten classroom; two children who did not believe in Santa Claus, and whose mission it was to cast all those who did into a fiery pit. I have to say, her experience confirmed for me that the middle ground perspective on ‘the Claus’ that hubby and I chose to take was a wise one!

For us we chose to neither encourage nor discourage the belief in Santa Claus, just like we neither encouraged nor discouraged the belief in the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, Narnia, Secret Garden, or Fairy Tales. Those magical things, places and people take us to delightful, wonder-filled fictitious escapes into our imaginations that help us to grow and develop with with ability to dream.

But, Saint Nicholas was not a fictitious character, he was a very real person.

Saint Nicholas was a Greek Christian bishop in modern day Turkey in the 4th century. He was known for giving extensively to the poor, to children. His most famous gift is believed to be to a family with three daughters. The family was terribly poor and had no financial way to provide dowries for their three daughters of marrying age. Such a situation could result in these three young ladies being forced into slavery, prostitution. The story goes that Nicholas reached his hand into a window of the house, leaving enough money for the three to have dowries to marry. The story further goes that the money fell into stockings that were hanging by the window to dry … yet another rational for the tradition of Christmas stockings.

Although Nicholas was never officially canonized (the process that the Roman Catholic Church utilizes to recognize it’s saints), the day of the Feast day of St. Nicholas (December 6) continues. Much more can be read about Saint Nicholas.

To believe in him is delightful childhood, to know of the God-loving man behind the beard is essential for the imagination to take root, and blossom into putting that faith into our own works of love for others.

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“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?
Can faith save him?
If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them,
“Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,”
but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?
Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.”
Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!
But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?
Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?
Do you see that faith was working together with his works,
and by works faith was made perfect?

And the Scripture was fulfilled which says,
“Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
And he was called the friend of God.
You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works
when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”
James 2:14-26

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156148312051762778_tvv1QTVo_bJanuary is (finally) at it’s end. A dark month, both physically and emotionally.

There has been one thing that I have been reminded during of this month of ebony … we aren’t there yet.

There being the life that waits for us once our life here on Earth has come to an end. There being that place where the streets are paved with gold (Rev. 21:21), where there will be no more death, or mourning, or crying in pain … no more tears (Rev. 21:4), where there will be no more night (Rev. 21:25), where we will dwell with God (Rev. 21:3).

There being the existence that we were originally created for, back in the garden.

I am no detester of this Earth, or this life we live. This IS my Father’s World …

and He created all that is good in it. But the world He created changed in it’s totality when sin came into His perfect, flawless, self-sustaining creation, and the effects of that sin are all that weighs us down in this life … sickness, floods, starvation, money, lies, hurts, death.

In the absence of the perfection that God intended for us to live, is the longing for … more. That more can only be found there.

“There’s a day that’s drawing near
When this darkness breaks to light
And the shadows disappear
And my faith shall be my eyes”
Chris Tomlin “I Will Rise”

As we trod this earth as believers in the Triune God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) we wish that we had such great faith that it is our eyes. We wish that we could see those around us with the faith of full belief, but we cannot. It is only in the presence of our Creator that our faith specs are able to see fully.

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Walking on my favorite trail with my beast, I came to this realization.

A few weeks back I took the photo above and to the left. It was a chilly, bright, clear day. If you look really closely you can see the snow covered mountain in the far background. It was a beautiful view!

Then, this past weekend I took the photo above and to the right. It was a cool, damp, cloudy, rainy day. The walk was equally beneficial, but not so beautiful. There is no mountain in sight, as it was hidden from my view by those rain-filled clouds.

You now know, because I shared my pictures, that behind those gray clouds are beautiful mountains. If I had just told you about them, you might have trusted my telling, and, with faith, believed that the mountains I shared with you are truly there, and beautiful. But, because you are able to see them for yourself (albeit with a magnifying glass), your faith has been made sight!

“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

1 Corinthians 13:12

And that is what awaits us. Faith that has been made sight!

“For instance, we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not handmade—and we’ll never have to relocate our “tents” again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less. That’s why we live with such good cheer. You won’t see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don’t get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going. Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we’ll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming. But neither exile nor homecoming is the main thing (OR, in the NIV: “for we live by faith, not by sight”). Cheerfully pleasing God is the main thing, and that’s what we aim to do, regardless of our conditions.” 2 Corinthians 5:1-9 (MSG)

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