Welcomed Into God’s Presence

“Jesus hasn’t left us with an unapproachable God. ‘There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). When Jesus’ flesh was torn on the Cross, the curtain was torn in two. It was as if the hands of heaven had been gripping the veil, waiting for this moment. One instant it was whole; the next it was ripped in two from top to bottom. No delay. No hesitation. We are welcome to enter into God’s presence—any day, any time. God has removed the barrier that separates us from Him. The barrier of sin? Down. No more curtain. But we have a tendency to put the barrier back up with the curtain of our heart. Sometimes, no, oftentimes, we allow our mistakes and guilty conscience to keep us from God. Don’t allow a veil of guilt to keep you from your Father. Trust the Cross. The curtain is down, the door is open, and you are welcome in God’s presence.” —Max Lucado, On Calvary’s Hill (emphasis mine)

11 Quotes From “If”

As I said in my book review of Amy Carmichael’s book If, this is definitely not a book for everyone. Amy herself said, “It is clear, I think, that such a booklet as this is not meant for everyone, but only for those who are called to be undershepherds.” So the quotes I’m sharing today are just a few of her “If…” statements that especially resonated with me in my role as an under-shepherd pastor.

“If I enjoy a joke at the expense of another; if I can in any way slight another in conversation, or even in thought, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

“If I can write an unkind letter, speak an unkind word, think an unkind thought without grief and shame, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

“If I can rebuke without a pang, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

“If my attitude be one of fear, not faith, about one who has disappointed me; if I say, ‘Just what I expected,’ if a fall occurs, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

“If I cast up a confessed, repented, and forsaken sin against another, and allow my remembrance of that sin to color my thinking and feed my suspicions, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

“If I put my own happiness before the well-being of the work entrusted to me; if, though I have this ministry and have received much mercy, I faint, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

“If I am soft to myself and slide comfortably into the vice of self-pity and self-sympathy; if I do not by the grace of God practice fortitude, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

“If I do not give a friend ‘the benefit of the doubt,’ but put the worst construction instead of the best on what is said or done, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

“If I say, ‘Yes, I forgive, but I cannot forget,’ as though the God who twice a day washes all the sands on the shores of all the world, could not wash such memories from my mind, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

“If the praise of man elates me and his blame depresses me; if I cannot rest under misunderstanding without defending myself; if I love to be loved more than to love, to be served more than to serve, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

“Let us listen to simple words; our Lord speaks simply: ‘Trust Me, My child,’ He says. ‘Trust Me with a humbler heart and a fuller abandoned to My will than ever thou didst before. Trust Me to pour My love through thee, as minute succeeds minute. And if thou shouldst be conscious of anything hindering that flow, do not hurt My love by going away from Me in discouragement, for nothing can hurt so much as that. Draw all the closer to Me.’”

The Christian’s Secret Weapon

Over the past couple of weeks, people have been rattled by both real and imagined catastrophic events. We experienced a fabulous astronomical sight in a full solar eclipse, wept for our fellow citizens in Texas and Florida as hurricanes battered their businesses and homes, and then dealt with doomsayers who predicted the end of the world and the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Peter spent a lot of time right next to Jesus, soaking up His teaching and observing how Jesus lived. One thing Peter never saw in Jesus was panic.

So it’s not unexpected that Peter would write to followers of Jesus: Don’t fear what the world fears (1 Peter 3:14). Instead, Peter counsels his friends to keep their focus on Jesus.

Don’t run around in fear, but instead in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Some other translations say things like…

    • …revere Christ as Lord
    • …acknowledge Him as Lord
    • …worship Christ as Lord of your life
    • …keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ (see 1 Peter 3:15)

In other words: let Jesus Christ be your focal point.

When you live this way—focused on the eternal Jesus and not the temporary shakings on earth—Earthlings are bound to notice that there is something different about you. So Peter tells us to always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you the reason for the hope that you have.

Hope—not wishful thinking, but a rock-solid, joyful, confident expectation!

This hope is the Christian’s secret weapon!

This hope is unshakable during difficult times. This hope is unshakable on death’s doorstep. This hope is unshakable when the end of the world is predicted.

The Christian who has a personal experience of the hope that Jesus brings is never at the mercy of the happenings in the world nor the arguments from non-Christians.

But Peter cautions us to never use this hope as a club. He tells us to make sure we never use hope as a means of feeling superior to others. Instead we are to speak to others about our hope gently, respectfully, and with a clear conscience.

So here’s my question to you, fellow Christian: Can those around you see your hope? When they’re fearful and running for cover, do they see you right alongside them, or do they see you standing firm in hope as you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. Your hope is a powerful persuader for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ!

The World’s Last Night (book review)

I am a huge C.S. Lewis fan! His perspective on the spiritual world is unequaled in any other author I have read. In The World’s Last Night, Lewis shares seven essays ranging from how our prayers really impact things, to life on other planets, to the end of our world as we know it.

The title of this book (and the title of the concluding chapter) are taken from a question by John Donne: “What if this present were the world’s last night?” So all of Lewis’ essays are written from that perspective. If this is the world’s last night, why should we keep praying? If demons knew this was the world’s last night, why would they keep on tempting? If atheists knew this was the world’s last night, would they keep arguing the same way?

As with all of his writings, C.S. Lewis has a unique knack of giving his readers a perspective that is totally original. His skills in philosophy, literature, and understanding the human heart are unparalleled! If you are ready to have your horizons expanded, these essays will not disappoint!

(And for any fans of The Screwtape Letters, Screwtape himself makes a special appearance as he gives a toast in hell that is sure to evoke both smiles and chagrins.)

Poetry Saturday—Thine Forever

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered 
Was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression,
But Thine the deadly pain … 

Oh, make me Thine forever;
And should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never
Outlive my love to Thee! —Bernard of Clairvaux

Inside & Outside

When God was about to deliver the Israelites out of Egypt, the last event that displayed His power is now remembered as the Passover. It was the night that anyone who followed God’s command to sacrifice a perfect lamb and apply the lamb’s blood to the doorposts of their house was spared His judgment. In other words, His judgment passed over that house.

How did an Israelite family know that God’s judgment had passed over them? Quite simply, their firstborn child was still alive the next morning.

Jesus described Himself as not only the sacrificial Lamb and the saving Blood, but He also said, “I am the Door.” When we place our faith in what Jesus did for us on the Cross, His blood is applied to our heart, we enter in His door and we are safe from God’s judgment.

But how do we know that God’s judgment has passed over us? Are there any visible signs?

Actually, God gives us two assurances that we have been saved from His judgment:

  1. The inner witness of the Holy Spirit
  2. The outward evidence of our new life in Jesus

The Apostle Paul talked about his inner turmoil when he tried to live a life he could control (note the prevalence of me, I, and my, and the absence of any mention of Jesus in Romans 7:14-24). His bottom line conclusion—O what a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?

But then he discovers the power of Christ: Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord, and as a result of this he discovers…

  • there is no more condemnation
  • there is no more death
  • there is no more hostility
  • there is no more fear
  • there is now life
  • there is now freedom
  • there is now assurance of God’s love

How? By the Holy Spirit’s inner witness in his heart (see Romans 8).

With this inner witness, a new lifestyle (the outward evidence) begins to show, as Paul begins to live a brand new life. This brand new life on the inside shows on the outside. Paul says it’s a life full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

So here’s the new cycle for a Christian that an assurance of salvation from God’s judgment, and gives an encouragement to live a life that glorifies Jesus our Savior:

The inner witness of the Holy Spirit assures me of God’s love ➞ I want to live a life that pleases Him ➞ the Holy Spirit internally approves or corrects my outward lifestyle ➞ I continue to live outwardly in a way that is showing more fruitfulness …. and on and on and on it goes. 

All for the glory of God!

If you are a Christian, do you have that inner assurance? If you do, are you acting on it outwardly so that people can see the difference Jesus has made in your life?

Thursdays With Oswald—No Fear Of Death

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

No Fear Of Death

     Death means extinction of life as we understand it; our dead are gone and have left an aching void behind them. They do not talk to us, we do not feel their touch, and when the bereaved heart cries out, nothing comes back but the hollow echo of its own cry. The heart is raw, no pious chatter, no scientific cant can touch it. It is the physical calamity of death plus the thing behind which no man can grasp, that makes death so terrible. …

     Every attempt to comfort a bereaved soul apart from the revelation of Jesus Christ brings a vain speculation. We know nothing about the mystery of death apart from what Jesus Christ tells us; but blessed be the Name of God, what He tells us makes us more than conquerors, so that we can shout the victory through the darkest valley of the shadow that ever a human being can go through. … 

     Jesus Christ can deliver from the dread of death—“that through death He might bring to naught him that had the power of death, that is the devil” [Hebrews 2:14]. Death has no terror for the man who is rightly related to God through Jesus Christ. … 

     It is not within the power of human tongue or archangel’s tongue to state what an awful fact death is, and what a still more awful fact life is. But thank God, there is the greatest deliverance conceivable from all that life may bring and from all that death may bring. Jesus Christ has destroyed the dominion of death, and He can make us fit to face every problem of life, more than conqueror all along the line.

From The Fighting Chance 

Through His death on the Cross and bodily resurrection from the grave, Jesus Christ has defeated Death for all who place their faith in this victory He won for us (see 1 Corinthians 15:55-57).

The Apostle Paul tells us that Christians grieve when a loved one dies, but we don’t grieve as those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). When one who knows Jesus as their Savior dies, we have a rock-solid, unshakable hope that they are fully alive with Christ in Heaven, and that we who also know Jesus as Lord and Savior will one day be reunited with them.

So for the Christian, death brings absolutely no fear! 

%d bloggers like this: