Monthly Archives: January 2013

God’s Treasure Chest

Treasure chest

Photo by Chuck Stephens

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Luke 12:34

I have a wooden jewelry chest, with lovely floral inlays, that doubles as a music box. Contained within my chest are my most treasured jewelry pieces. I store them there for protection and so that I can find them easily when I decide to wear one.

Since I have never been much of an accessory diva, I do not have much jewelry and certainly no expensive pieces. Pricey jewels have never enticed me; I’d much rather have heirlooms which have sentimental value, like those given to me by my husband or passed down through our family. When I wear their jewelry, I treasure the thought or memory of the one from whom it came.

Like special jewelry, treasures of any sort are the things we deeply love. As is described in this verse above, God reminds us to set our affections on things that matter. In a way, He wants us to apply a sort of heart test to the things we love and do. If those things have an eternal perspective and are done with a ‘paying it forward to heaven’ approach, we will pass the test by demonstrating that our affections are properly aligned with His. Our hearts desire will be to treasure Him above all else.

To further expound, I will share a story about something that happened years ago when I was a neonatal R.N. While working one evening, I was called by the postpartum unit to come and pick up a baby so that his mother could try to get one last good night of sleep before going home the next day.

After wrapping the infant snugly with blankets and tucking him securely into the wheeled bassinet for the trek back to the nursery, the mom suddenly pointed to her newborn son and asked, “Do you know what you have there?” I wasn’t quite sure how to reply, but there was no need since she quickly answered the question for me. In a passionate voice, while still pointing to the child, she said, “There’s my heart. You take good care of him because he is my heart.”

Her words touched me deeply and profoundly changed my perspective about my role as a baby nurse. When I left the room, it occurred to me that although my goal was to take excellent care of her infant, I was mainly focused on overseeing his well-being. I would do my best to see that nothing happened to her child. From her perspective, though, if anything happened to him, it would also happen directly to her heart. She saw no difference between the two. I thought my job was just to care for a newborn that night, but to this loving mother I was really caring for her treasure – her heart.

God loves us that much. He looks at us and says, “There’s My heart.‘ We are His treasure. I am reminded of but a few passages from Scripture which allude to this idea:

“You were bought at a price…”  1 Corinthians 7:23
“When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!”
Matt. 13:46

“I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine…” Song of Songs 6:3
“Keep me as the apple of Your eye…” Psalm 17:8

Although I am not certain of this, it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that God has a treasure chest; a place where He stores up memories of each of us. There are hints of this in the Bible. In Exodus, God showed a decided fondness for keepsakes when He had Moses construct the Ark of the Covenant, then had him store artifacts from those supernatural events. It was God’s designated place for His glory, but He also wanted it used to save objects for remembrance.

In another passage, God again showed His affection for saving memories but that He does so specific to us:

“Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name.” Malachi 3:16

It would be just like the Lord to have a special place for keeping treasured memories of His children. As a carpenter, Jesus would probably elaborately craft each one. A gorgeous treasure box, engraved with our names! My hunch about this is only speculative; however, no crafted keepsake could compare to where we know with certainty God has decided our memories belong:

“See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands…” Isaiah 49:16

How perfect a place! To remember us, God need look no further than to His hands – hands that took nails in order to lovingly redeem us. When I need to find my earthly treasure box, I find it in my room; to find God’s treasure chest, I need to look no further than to those same nail-scarred hands. With our names written into His palms, we forever become a part of Him – His treasure. And ‘where His treasure is, there His heart will be also!’

From His Heart for blog

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No Thanks

Poetry Corner CombinedI answered when You called,
Dropped all to follow through.
I gave my very best,
My utmost just for You.

I jumped out of the boat,
Plunged into stormy seas.
I went because You asked,
And hoped that You’d be pleased.

I thought that good would come,
Not failure and mistakes.
I gave my offering,
You seemed to say, ‘No thanks.’

I still offer my life,
To whom else can I flee?
I may not know Your ways,
But Your grace is all I need.

I wish that all I do,
You’d bless with latter rain.
I choose You, even so,
Since Your love always remains.

I may but hear ‘No thanks’,
While on this earth I run.
I’ll press on anyway,
And hope
You really meant ‘Well done.’

Things Jesus Never Had

Mustang GT

As far as I can tell, based on my understanding of Scripture and of historical evidence, there are things which Jesus had and things He did not. As God, He could have ‘called down angels’ to provide for any of His needs but He chose instead to live among us, as one of us. In spite of hardships, though, there is no mention in the Bible that Jesus ever complained or felt sorry for Himself.

Below, I have listed some of these ‘things’ as a reminder to myself for whenever I start having pity-parties, begin wishing for what I do not have or stray into questioning why things have not worked out the way I wanted. No matter how bad I may think I have it, I am truly blessed! God doesn’t mind us having things. He just wants us to love Him more than those things! As you read through the list, may your prayer be as mine:

‘Father, forgive me for my ingratitude of the blessings You bestow daily and the privilege of being born in an era of technological conveniences and comforts. Teach me to be more like You and to love people more than things!’

THINGS JESUS NEVER HAD:

*Bottled water to drink whenever He became thirsty
*Indoor running water to use when His feet became dusty

*A Sleep Number bed on which to lay His head
*Fluorescent lamps to illuminate the scrolls that He read

*An iPhone to stay connected with family and friends
*Facebook to ‘Inbox’ His next of kin

*A Mustang GT in which to drive around town
*’Microwavable meals for the disciples to pass around

*A Stetson hat to be stylish and give Him shade from the heat
*High-speed internet so He could broadcast what He’d teach

THINGS JESUS HAD:

*Dirty, unpaved roads on which to walk
*Highly outspoken critics who rarely heeded what He taught

*Crowds of followers, all needing help
*Little time to be by Himself

*Power to save and see sick people healed
*Enemies who plotted diligently to have Him killed

*Genuine friends who stood by Him to the end
*Betrayal by one supposed to be closest to Him

*The certainty of facing death on a cross
*Love for all mankind no matter the cost

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him…” Isaiah 53:3

Note: these lists are in no way meant to be exhaustive; rather, just a way to keep me grounded in gratitude!
**Photo by Chuck Stephens

Count on Me

Snippets of RainYou’ve got to count on Me.

Don’t count on money.
Don’t count on popularity.
Don’t count on chance.
Don’t count on circumstance.

You’ve must count on Me.

Don’t count on wisdom.
Don’t count on intellect.
Don’t count on ideas.
Don’t count on ingenuity.

You’ve can only count on Me.

Don’t count on family.
Don’t count on friends.
Don’t count on strength.
Don’t even count on you.

I am the only One on whom you can depend.
So, count on Me.
Only Me

Count everything else as loss.

“… I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord…”
Philippians 3:8

A Divine Sentence

Proverbs Post“A divine sentence is in the lips of the king; his mouth transgresseth not in judgment.”
Proverbs 16:10

Much discussion is currently going on in the public arena about judges in America ‘legislating’ rather than ‘ruling’ from the bench. Until recently, the accepted expectation of judges was for them to decide on cases according to established laws, then afterwards to pronounce a sentence for the accused. That standard seems to be changing as more in the judiciary are revising the role of judge to include the writing of laws.

Webster defines a judge as, “a public official authorized to decide questions brought before a court.” The decision is generally made after a careful weighing of the evidence presented. Rulings should also be founded upon the framework of a solid understanding of existing laws. Any judgment which deviates outside the confines of established law into the realm of arbitrary new law, undermines the very definition of judge.

While the role of judge should be confined to deciding law, that of a king is vastly different. Monarchies can vary, but historically kings are synonymous with sovereignty and thus possess, “supreme political power.” (Webster) Judges pass sentences. Kings can issue decrees. At their discretion, kings can function as both judge and law-giver.

The passage above refers primarily to any king acting within his sovereign powers to judge. By his own mouth, sentences are issued and this role is not delegated. You get the sense, by the emphasis of the ruling being a ‘divine sentence,’ that whatever a king decides is what will be. End of discussion!

Monarchs can rule however they want. In the verse above, God makes it clear how He prefers they rule: “…his mouth transgresseth not in judgment.” Another version says it this way: “…he must never judge unfairly.” (NLT) Throughout history, kings have come and gone but the ones who have grabbed God’s attention are those who are wise; a wisdom that is made evident by how they rule. Passing fair judgments cannot be done by relying solely on intellect. Kings who make their mark in history are ones who use their God-given power to rule in a way that is guided by principle, even if they are not fully aware of Who is the guiding force behind their decisions.

Ultimately, there is no earthly judge or king who rules with absolute perfection. The only flawless judgment comes when a ‘Divine sentence’ is decreed. God is the perfect law-giver and the only fair judge because He judges in righteousness. Once His Word is spoken and has gone forth from His lips, it will always be proven fair and true. His Word cannot be appealed or revoked. As the only Wise King, His rulings are always above reproach.

We do have an enemy who would like for us to for us to question this ‘Divine sentence’ and the trustworthiness of our King. The devil has his own set of decrees he would love to issue over us. Unfortunately for him, the Judge of all created beings has already issued a sentence concerning Satan. His ‘day’ is coming. God has promised us that we will one day get to watch this ‘accuser of the brethren’ cast away forever. The mouth of the King has spoken it, so it will be! Hallelujah for that day!

What both intrigues and encourages me about this ‘divine sentence from the lips of a king’ is the hint of something that goes beyond a mere reminder that God is a fair and perfect judge. When God speaks, and His Word has gone forth, it is both powerful and final. Another passage of Scripture reveals this same idea:

“So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
Isaiah 55:11 (NKJV)

After a decree leaves God’s lips, He will not change His mind. Earthly decrees can be overturned because human kings and kingdoms are temporal; thereby, subject to change. God’s Word will never change. The encouraging thing for us is that this certainty of what He has determined applies not only to His commands but also His promises. Specific promises, which are spoken directly into our hearts and confirmed through His Word, are given to us by the King of Kings! The guarantee of their fulfillment came the moment He issued their decree!

It is like God is saying to us:

‘Everything which I have purposed for you has already gone forth out of My mouth. It will all be fulfilled. It cannot be altered or overturned because a Divine sentence is in the lips of a King!’

Moments in the Storm, Part II

Tsunami new
At the conclusion of Part I, I pointed out that during our inevitable ‘moments in the storm’ others may misinterpret delays in our deliverance as a lack of faith. They don’t understand that a Sovereign God may instead be asking us to wait. We too may question why when we have believed, really believed, for a breakthrough that nothing changes. What we forget is that the exact moment we connect our faith with His will, the matter is concluded. It is a done deal! All that is left for us to do is to continue to trust as we wait for the fulfillment. His ways are not ours, nor is He confined by time. What He has promised will be fulfilled when He is ready and through ways He sees as best.

It is puzzling why, since God can perform instant deliverance, He doesn’t every time. The reason is that He receives great glory by teaching us how to overcome. In John 16:33, after He warns of the certainty of trials, Jesus goes on to encourage us, “…but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” We want the miraculous breakthrough, but what the world needs to see is Christ helping us overcome. Miracles, when they happen, are often scrutinized; whereas, overcoming faith is tangible and is a witness to those out there struggling, too. It is the kind of faith that puts Christ within reach. This kind of faith response during the storm enables us to stand back up after being knocked down, tunnel through when there doesn’t seem to be a way and even find joy in spite of it all! It may not be as flashy as ‘signs and wonders’ but nonetheless resounds with glory to the King!

Since they are coming, then, how do we best handle these ‘grievously distressing’ trials? When they hit, it is tempting to cave in to the overwhelming sense of darkness and doom. It feels almost easier to just give up and with outstretched arms allow the circumstances to wash over us like a tsunami coming ashore, destroying everything in its path.

During these stormy moments, everything really may be falling apart. In fact, it may not seem like a moment at all; rather, like an ongoing nightmare from which you cannot awaken. No matter what, though, try to remember that God is a fortress and a Rock of refuge. He shines in storms. He walks steadiest on the fiercest of waves. He bestows His peace in the roughest of seas. Rather than give up, hold on. Grasp hold of what He has promised and know that He is right by your side. Gradually, the intensity of the storm will diminish and light will return!

We all encounter rivers which seem ‘uncrossable’ and mountains we don’t think can be tunneled through. Yet, as the song reminds us, God really does ‘specialize in things thought impossible’ and really ‘can do things others cannot do.’ We wish that the storms would never come, but for those of us in Christ there is hope. There is coming a day when Jesus will calm all storms and we will not even remember the ones gone before. For now, we can take comfort in knowing that because He did, we will overcome and make it through all of our ‘moments in the storm.’ Praise be to God!

(Below, I posted a video by Meredith Andrews that is not the old hymn spoken about above but fits nicely with my post – enjoy!)