Monday, February 27, 2012

Christ and the Church

Jesus calls those who have responded to the call of salvation on their lives- the Bride of Christ. I’ve been asking the Lord to reveal to me a deeper picture of His love; and it is through this picture of Christ and how he loves His bride so supremely that I’ve been able to see His sacrificial and self-giving love for us.
Jesus called His bride by name. He initiated a relationship with her and woos her to Himself. He redeems her from a destructive and reckless life and gives her new life. He gives her truth. He forgives her completely. He cleanses and washes her with His life-giving words. He introduces her to His Almighty Father. He dies for her that she may experience freedom from bondage and be one day risen with Him. He goes to prepare a place for her while all the while still wooing her and preparing her for Him. He sends His comforter to her. He speaks to her telling her who He sees her as: you’re flawless, you’re perfect, you are made righteous, you are pure, you are all together lovely, you are without blame or spot. He sings over her and calls her to walk in deeper intimacy trusting Him. He prays over her and intercedes on behalf of her. He speaks to her of His plan for her life. He gives her promises to sustain her during dry times, and gives her instruction to guide her. He leaves her with guidelines, and teaches her how to live. He loves others through her and allows her hands to be like His hands. He gives her a purpose and a hope. And one day He will present her to Himself. I imagine He looks forward to that day eagerly... and until that day, He leaves her with a letter he wrote to her..

Thursday, February 23, 2012

God's grace displayed through Noah

Noah is just a sweet name.. I have to say. A man whose name meant "rest or comfort." I'm sure you have all heard the story of Noah from Sunday school as a kid or seen picture books displaying him on a boat with animals sticking out the side.
I sat in Genesis class tonight as we went through chapters 5-8. There was this one major point that stood out to me... God's grace through His sovereignty. Let me explain because that's kind of.. huge! So think on this: Noah is a man that found favor in God's eyes; a man that God called "righteous" (6:8-9). That's a crazy thing to think about- he was still considered righteous/set apart for God during a time of corruption and a violent people.
You may know what happens from here. God communicates His plan to Noah; a plan to build a boat to bring safety to Noah and his family from the judgement God was going to bring to a perverse people. Noah had the responsibility of obedience, not planning, for God had told him His plan. So Noah built the ark, taking some 100 years to finish it, and no doubt being mocked by the people he knew as he spoke of the little details he had of what God had told him to do. God revealed through Noah a character that was displayed through 100+ years of work ethic. He was devoted to what He knew was to come... he knew there was a day of destruction coming, and he was preparing the way God had told him for his family. Friend, I tell you that we today have this same knowledge of a destruction that is coming. What are you being mocked for in your devotion? Are you devoted to the things that will bring safety to those whom God loves? (John 3:16) This encouraged me to continue in a way that makes a stand for God's promise; that speaks of a message of hope beyond this world. His obedience required a long term commitment until the appointed time of God's plan.
When the day came for God to bring the rain, God also shut the door. I had to stop and think on this. We talked about this in class too: what was going through the mind of Noah? Could he not shut the door to the people he knew his whole life, and so God did it for him? Or was it that God shut the door because it was His plan that Noah was being obedient to. "God opens doors that no man can open, and closes doors that no man can shut." It would have been a hard door for Noah to have to shut. Think of God's grace in this... Noah didn't do anything to deserve such salvation. Yes, God considered him righteous in His heart toward the Lord, but Noah didn't earn salvation. Noah stands as a man that brings protection to his family (a picture of the leader of the household and a picture of Jesus Christ). So this is the punch line of what was going on in my head after class. Fast forward with me to when they step off the boat. Noah's family sins! And God knowing this still chose them to receive His grace from judgement! God called Noah righteous, and Noah's covering over his family brought them to salvation.... it gets better! Noah also sinned! (I guess you wouldn't say better) But in Noah sinning you see a huge point... God's grace for Noah's life didn't neglect His sovereignty. God knew! Just like He knows in our life that we are going to sin and fall short, but He doesn't base His salvation for us on the merit of our righteousness. He bases it on His grace! This is why grace is so good! God chose us while we were yet still sinners (for all have sinned and fall short), but thank God that He doesn't base salvation on what we have done or could possible do for Him, but on what He has done for us through Jesus. His grace is so good because it involves sovereignty of our lives!!