Positioned to Receive.

I learned a lesson the other day; I’m amazed how God allows me to live through things to get a point across. As a father sometimes I get a glimpse of the relationship my Heavenly Father desires with me.

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him? ” —Luke 11:13 CSB

As a father I love my children and of course want the best for them. I want to help them succeed by discovering and developing the talents and abilities that God has given them. Unfortunately my teenage son hasn’t matured to point of realizing I’m not the enemy. I think my daughter is almost there; perhaps she believes it in her head but not fully in her heart.

My son has an incredible talent for art. His natural ability to create is amazing. About the time my son became school age I had an artist friend give him some art lessons. My friend was amazed how my son could naturally conceptualize and capture how things relate spacially. He said it is a difficult thing and gave an example of how hard it is to draw a human that convincingly stands on the ground. Such things weren’t even challenges to my son.

Perhaps with great talent comes great responsibility. My son is 19 and although gifted, he has yet to develop his talent. By contrast, my daughter, not as gifted of an artist, has produced some amazing art work through a lot of hard work.

In the midst of these lock downs of Covid 19, since he’s home from college, I’ve encouraged my son to develop his art skills. I routinely ask him if de drew something today, if he says, “No” I simply reply, “You’ve still got time.”

I found an art desk on OfferUp that would fit in my son’s room nicely. I purchased it and brought it to my work so he could tighten and replace some screws and relocate the drawers to the left side since he’s a lefty. When I asked him to come to my work, because I needed some help, he refused even though I told him it would only take about 30 minutes. I told him I really needed help and asked about the next day. He begrudgingly agreed. I told him I’d come home for lunch and pick him up. When lunch time came he wasn’t home.

I was disappointed and pondered how to handle this situation; I prayed. I really wanted my son to have this desk. I imagined how he would enjoy it. I wanted to support his pursuit of the gift God has given him. There was a distinct lack of thankfulness and gratefulness in my son that made me want to scrap the whole idea. I wasn’t going to give up however, I decided I would ask 5 times before selling it and then inform him of the missed blessing. That was really a hard decision to make and I hoped that we wouldn’t end up there but sometimes life lessons are a more valuable gift.

As all this was playing out I couldn’t help but draw a parallel with God’s gift of salvation. While pondering why my son was so resistant to receiving my gift I realized my relationship with Father God really isn’t that different. How may times has He invited me into His presence to bless me and I’ve refused? Why do I refuse; why did my son refuse my invitation? Perhaps my son refused my invitation because he doesn’t believe that I have his best interest at heart or he believed I was lying.

Do I believe God? Do I believe that God is good? Do I believe that He has my best interest at heart? Do I believe that God desires to bless me?

My natural response is, “Of course I do!” Is that truth? Deep down, no it’s not; there is a disconnect —my response doesn’t reflect my actions. The problem with such a lie is that it holds me in bondage and prevents me from receiving the blessings that God has for me.

I forfeit God’s blessings by ignoring His requests, just like my son, if he refuses my requests, he will forfeit the blessing that awaits him and was purchased specifically for him.

Lord, expose the lies that prevent me from seeing you as you truly are. Give me the grace to reject the lies that I’m holding onto and replace them with truth so I can experience the fullness of your love. Amen.

Two by Two

Two of every creature that has the breath of life in it came to Noah and entered the ark. Gen 7:15 CSB

Consider: The whole world knew Noah was building the ark. No doubt he was the brunt of many jokes over the 100 year construction. Everyone’s heart was so hardened that they didn’t even take notice when a most unusual event unfolded before their eyes. What an incredible testimony of truth when pair after pair of animals showed up and boarded the ark. I can only imagine the lions waiting patiently to board behind what would normally be their prey. A strange sight no less, but there was no fear of God in any of the onlookers to goad their conscience to repentance.

What a sorry state to find yourself in when your heart is so hard that repentance can’t break through.

Lord, thank you for not giving up on me. My flesh is stubborn and rebellious. Thank you for providing the way, the gift of repentance and the grace to respond! Amen.

Know Christ

I hear it said that I need to know who I am in Christ. That sounds like wise counsel however, my concern is that the primary emphasis becomes self. The accounts of when Jesus was tempted expose an enemy who exchanges truth for very subtle lies. Is this not a subtle lie of the enemy to take my eyes off of Christ?

The scriptures repeatedly quote Christ telling me to die to self. How do I die to self and search for my new identity? Doesn’t a focus on Christ and Christ alone put everything into perspective?

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Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. 1

And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. 2

Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. 3

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. 4

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. 5

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Do you know who I am in Christ?

If knowing who I am in Christ is important wouldn’t it be important for other people to know too? Imagine asking someone the question, “Do you know who I am in Christ?” If they don’t know, why would I ask if not to reveal my credentials? If I’m the one who doesn’t know is it not due to my lack of knowledge and understanding of who Christ is and what he has accomplished?

I know who I am in Christ.

Imagine telling someone, “I know who I am in Christ.” Where is the emphasis, why would I make such a statement if not to exalt myself?

Unless I’m a con-artist or liar working for an unscrupulous master, would it matter who I am?

If I worked for an individual and they sent me to purchase something, let’s say an expensive car, would I need to know who I am to succeed? Wouldn’t I need to know who they were? If I knew they were exorbitantly wealthy would that help? What if I had trouble cashing my last pay check, and I wasn’t sure my next check was going to be good, and I overheard they were filling for bankruptcy? What if I knew they already paid for it and all I had to do was pickup the keys and drive it back to the estate?  Doesn’t the authority of the messenger or servant come from the master.  Unless I’m a con-artist or liar working for an unscrupulous master, would it matter who I am?

My identity is hidden in Christ –I need to know Him!

Yes, my identity is in Christ however, I can’t find that identity by seeking it; it is a by product of relationship with God and knowing who He is. When someone tells me I need to know who I am in Christ, am I not being misdirected –pointed back toward self?  My identity is hidden in Christ –I need to know Him! 6

Finally, in what area of my life would I not benefit or my circumstances not be better from knowing more of who God is?

When David faced Goliath did his identity matter; was he trusting in it or God?

Did David’s skill kill Goliath or was God the victor? Wasn’t it God’s battle; didn’t David say that Goliath was defying the armies of the living God? David didn’t even claim the victory over a lion or bear that he fought. 7

How about Jonah, didn’t God prevail in-spite of Jonah’s identity?

Does an apple tree need to know it’s an apple tree before it can produce apples? 8  9

My Prayer:  God, please help me to rest in the work of your hands.10
God, everything good is from you, everything good within me is the work of your hands! 11  Please prevent me from getting caught up in the enemy’s lies.  How can a man take pride in himself without even the smallest claim of ownership?  Thank you for drawing me to your son Jesus. 12 Help me to grow in the knowledge of you and the work Jesus finished on the cross; please unfold the mysteries of the gospel to me.  Amen