My recent post on “The Gospel Blog by FEBC”
Kids say and do the darndest things! They just seem to have a perspective on life that is outside the planetary alignment from adults. Unlike most starchy grown-ups, young children say precisely what they think and do exactly what they want; this often rattles the boundaries of adults. Videos of their unanticipated cute remarks and adorable mannerisms go viral on YouTube as fast as the Road Runner in the desert. The reason for this is that most grown-ups still long to be as honest and carefree as children are again. Part of us wishes we could be the one saying those cute things.
In general, children are much better at enjoying life than adults. Their laughter is contagious and their smiles can soften even the hardest of hearts. They certainly melt mine. I have to admit that when it comes to kids, I am a total ‘softie.’ It is as if I have the word ‘SUCKER’ written on my forehead which is invisible to adults and only children can read. Though I stink at saying no to them, I derive much joy being around kids and love watching how they enjoy life.
Jesus also loved being with children. The song reminds us, ‘Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world.’ So do photos of Him sitting with children on His lap. I do not even have to post one of those pictures here, since most of us already have a mental picture anyway. In the familiar passage in Matthew 19, the disciples wanted young ones to leave Jesus alone; their thinking was that He did not need to be bothered. Instead, He welcomed them to come near with open arms. The song and photos remind us, and though the message may be overused, it is nonetheless true that Jesus does love all the little children.
Jesus very willingly gave children top billing by allowing them near Him and high scores for their trusting attitudes. They were welcome to sit on His lap and to hear what He had to say. Once His followers finally realized that they were not a bother but that Jesus wanted children to come near, they dropped the discussion. The kids would stay!
Children were all welcome and able to be around Jesus not only because of His love, but also due to the purity of His message and the trustworthiness of His character. He never minced His words, but spoke openly with both young and old around because the messages were always upright and intended for all.
When I created my WordPress account to begin blogging, I had to configure the settings to reflect the appropriateness of my writing content for particular audiences:
|Maximum Rating G — Suitable for all audiences
PG — Possibly offensive, usually for audiences 13 and above
R — Intended for adult audiences above 17
X — Even more mature than above
As the sole author and administrator of my site, I was the one who decided what type of rating to use. An honor system is inherent to this self-scoring, because what might be deemed appropriate by one will not necessarily be for another. For instance, some may think profanity is perfectly fine for ‘PG’ followers whereas plenty others would shun foul language for the same. The list certainly goes on in terms of subjectivity for content appropriateness using a rating scale such as the one above.
Both by what He spoke and did, Jesus demonstrated that His life and messages were flawlessly honorable and highly suitable for any audiences. If using the rating criteria above, He would score as ‘G’ rated but this level does not seem to fit precisely. Another category which more accurately aligns with the suitability of Christ’s messages and content is ‘E’ for everyone. He never had to filter what He said, to screen for any inappropriate activities, or to block little children from being around Him. Everyone was His appropriate audience; all are His desired followers.
Though they are at times very silly, Jesus never excluded little children from coming to Him. He loves all the little ones and all the cute little things they say and do. Thankfully, He loves us starchy grown-ups, too, and everyone else in-between. If Christ had a blog, He would likely mark His ratings panel as ‘E’ for EVERYONE. Then, He would further define this intended audience by using an arrow that points directly to John 3:16.
“For God so loved the WORLD (EVERYONE) that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
I recently sent my husband to our local co-op to buy some pre-emerge for use in my flowerbeds. Our growing zone seems more conducive to growing weeds than flowers! When he got home, I told him he bought the wrong thing and had instead purchased a product for use on our lawn. He felt bad because he was only trying to help me out. I had to accept some of the blame, though, since I had just asked for pre-emerge but forgot to emphasize that the type I needed was for beds.
To make sure I got what I needed, I went to the co-op myself. While there, the store clerk informed me that pre-emerge does typically refer to a lawn chemical (ok, so my husband was right!). She said that the way it works is by preventing weeds and crabgrass from ever forming since it is a ‘seed-preventer.’ With no seeds present, they can never sprout and grow; hence, lawns or gardens are free of those annoying weeds!
In a way, our hearts could use pre-emerge to stop sin from sprouting. Since the Fall, our hearts inherited a propensity toward sinning. Just as I was so quick to blame my husband, it is also easy to implicate Adam and Eve. I could walk up to them and say, “Thanks a bunch for messing up and dumping your consequences onto us!” Inevitably, if they had not sinned, one of us would have. Each of us needs something to prevent sin from ever occurring.
Regardless of who started it, we now live with sin and its resulting fallout. From birth we are “…shapen in iniquity;” (Psalm: 51:5) A former pastor of ours once said, “You don’t have to teach children how to misbehave, they just automatically do.” Even as Christians, we struggle with sin. Whether we want to or not, we must all daily confront our sin nature. Paul speaks to this in Romans 7:19,
“I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.”
Is there then a pre-emerge against sinning since, even as believers, we still have times where we do? The answer for those apart from Christ will always be ‘no’; however, for true believers, the answer is both ‘no’ and ‘yes’.
Here is why. Sin started when Satan rebelled against God. That sin spread to man through the choices made by Adam and Eve when tempted by the devil to question God. The result is that now all of us, even believers, are under sin’s curse. Sin by Satan was the cause and what emerged was a curse, a death sentence.
If the story stopped here, the answer as to whether there would ever be an antidote to sin would always be ‘no.’ Jesus Christ offers the only hope of a ‘yes.’ By His sinless life, and willing sacrifice on our behalf through death on a cross, He provided the only way to break sin’s curse. Jesus used a beautiful analogy to explain His death, burial and resurrection:
“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” John 12:24
The seed had to die in order for new life to sprout forth from the ground. After three days in the grave, a victorious Christ emerged, fully alive. Sin had lost and death’s curse was forever, “… swallowed up in victory.” ( 1 Corinthians 15:54)
As a result, surrendering to Christ should be that pre-emerge from sin we seek, right? Especially, since we are dwelt by His Spirit. It is true that through the power of Christ in us, we have the capacity to avoid sin, a power that makes us distinct from unbelievers, and should be the visible evidence that we belong to Him. The stark reality, though, is that as humans we still have a sin nature. It keeps emerging in our lives.
For now, sin still sprouts its ugly head. In heaven, though, we will have glorified bodies, free of sin’s curse. God’s original plan was to have unbroken fellowship with us. In our eternal home, God restores it. There, like lilies display majestic splendor, our sinless, resurrected bodies will reveal the magnificence of God’s glory in us.
Very likely, I will continue to struggle with weeds in my garden and sin in my life. On occasion, I may have to send my husband for some pre-emerge to contain the weeds. For my sin problem, I cannot totally thwart sin’s grip while on earth. The only lasting pre-emerge against sin is found through the resurrection power of Christ, which will one day rid us completely from its curse. What will emerge then is God’s intended glory instead!
Do you long for that day as much as I do?
Photo by Chuck Stephens
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
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!”
“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!’
My life feels like a flicker,
But what I really want to be
Is a bright, shining star
Shining bright for all to see.
Feeling tired and getting weaker,
And rather insignificant.
To do more for You, I long;
To gain more strength is what I want.
But what I consider flicker,
Your eyes see so much differently.
It’s exactly what You want,
And have waited for patiently.
For when my self-life grows dim,
You can finally shine Your light.
Morning Star, all will then see
Your brilliant flame through my life.
Sometimes I don’t realize the blessings of having good friends until I get to spend time with one who has been apart for a season. After a separation from a true friend, those moments of being back together and of catching up are just so sweet. What is amazing, too, is that no matter how long it has been, when finally back together with a bosom-buddy, the conversation flows as if you simply take back up where you last left off.
Recently, I had the opportunity to do just that: to take back up where I had left off with a most wonderful sister in Christ. She is someone I can trust and with whom I can expose my frailties, knowing she won’t back away. She will listen. She will care. She will understand. Amazingly, she says I do the same for her!
The joy and privilege of sharing in sincere, soul-cleansing, hearty-counsel with a good friend contains a sweetness all its own, which is the heart of God’s message in the passage above. It is during those precious times with a friend that there really is almost a sweet aroma that emanates forth. Another translation puts it this way:
“The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.”
The sweetness and joy that leaks out from those moments is tangible and unmistakable. Through both laughter and tears, joy leaks out and fills the surroundings like the sweet-smelling odor of costly perfume. It is a fragrance no money could ever buy.
In the Proverb above, there is also a hint of the woman who broke open her alabaster jar, spilling out costly perfume to wash the feet of Jesus. She had found One who knew all of her deepest secrets and faults, yet loved her still. She had experienced the sweet aroma of being loved and forgiven by a “…friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Prov. 18:24) She had decided that there was no value to be placed on what she had gained by being accepted by Him. An alabaster, filled with the costliest of perfumes, meant nothing in comparison to the costly fragrance found in the presence of a True Friend.
Originally written 1/27/10
Don’t let go of your confidence
You are my child!
I am pleased with you!
You are welcome near Me!
I have not forgotten you!
Everything I have promised you will come true!
Even now, I am working to bring it all to pass.
Just never let the enemy destroy your confidence!
“Cast not away therefore your confidence, which has great recompense of reward. For you have need of patience, that, after you have done the will of
God, you might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and He that shall
come will come, and will not tarry.”
Jesus is not a religion but a relationship with God
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