Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I decided earlier in the summer that I wanted to read some novels this summer just for pleasure.  Not to learn anything or to study anything....just for sheer pleasure and enjoyment.  My good friend loaned me some of her Francine Rivers books and I have devoured them! 

The first Francine Rivers book I ever read was years ago....Redeeming Love.  If you have never read it, I can't recommend it enough!! I have never met anyone who read this book who did not make this comment,
"I could not put it down!"  However, after reading it and wanting more, I was given another Rivers book.  Sadly, I could not get into it.  But, with the encouragement of my friend, I decided to delve into these newer Rivers books and give them a try.  I am SO glad I did.

These books are all Christian books, with a Christian theme and scripture peppered throughout.  Although I was NOT studying, I was tremendously blessed and impacted by all three that I have read.  The last one, The Scarlet Thread, demonstrated the awesome truth that God is sovereign and His plan ....His kingdom plan....runs through all of history and right through each of our lives.  Jeremiah 29:11, my daughter's favorite verse, says "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for good and not evil, plans to prosper you and to give you a hope and a future". 

I don't know about you, but some days it's just hard to SEE God's plan in the things that happen in our lives and the lives of those we love and care about.  But, we KNOW that His word is true.  We KNOW that He is totally good even in the midst of everything bad. 

This week in looking for a scripture to share with a friend, I ran across the following passage.  It is just a reminder of WHO our God is, how mighty, how awesome and how completely IN CONTROL and SOVEREIGN He is.  Maybe you need reminding as much as I did. 

He protects His flock like a shepherd;

He gathers the lambs in His arms

and carries [them] in the fold of His [garment].

He gently leads those that are nursing.

12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand

or marked off the heavens with the span [of his hand]?

Who has gathered the dust of the earth in a measure

or weighed the mountains in a balance

and the hills in scales?

13 Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD,

or who gave Him His counsel?

14 Who did He consult with?

Who gave Him understanding

and taught Him the paths of justice?

Who taught Him knowledge

and showed Him the way of understanding?

15 Look, the nations are like a drop in a bucket;

they are considered as a speck of dust on the scales;

He lifts up the islands like fine dust.

16 Lebanon is not enough for fuel,

or its animals enough for a burnt offering.

17 All the nations are as nothing before Him;

they are considered by Him

as nothingness and emptiness.

18 Who will you compare God with?

What likeness will you compare Him to?

19 To an idol?—[something that] a smelter casts,

and a metalworker plates with gold

and makes silver welds [for it]?

20 To one who shapes a pedestal,

choosing wood that does not rot?

He looks for a skilled craftsman

to set up an idol that will not fall over.

21 Do you not know?

Have you not heard?

Has it not been declared to you

from the beginning?

Have you not considered

the foundations of the earth?

22 God is enthroned above the circle of the earth;

its inhabitants are like grasshoppers.

He stretches out the heavens like thin cloth

and spreads them out like a tent to live in.

23 He reduces princes to nothing

and makes the judges of the earth to be irrational.

24 They are barely planted, barely sown,

their stem hardly takes root in the ground

when He blows on them and they wither,

and a whirlwind carries them away like stubble.

25 "Who will you compare Me to,

or who is My equal?" asks the Holy One.

26 Look up and see:

who created  these?

He brings out the starry host by number;

He calls all of them by name.

Because of His great power and strength,

not one of them is missing.

27 Jacob, why do you say,

and Israel, why do you assert:

"My way is hidden from the LORD,

and my claim is ignored by my God"?

28 Do you not know?

Have you not heard?

Yahweh is the everlasting God,

the Creator of the whole earth.

He never grows faint or weary;

there is no limit to His understanding.

29 He gives strength to the weary

and strengthens the powerless.

30 Youths may faint and grow weary,

and young men stumble and fall,

31 but those who trust in the LORD

will renew their strength;

they will soar on wings like eagles;

they will run and not grow weary;

they will walk and not faint.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Have you ever struggled with being accepted?  Ever felt like you were not quite good enough in someone else's eyes? 

I have.  I have struggled with that most of my life.

Growing up I always felt like I was on the outside looking in around my peers.  I had a terrible inferiority complex.  At home, I lived in the shadow of a "perfect" cousin who always did everything right.  She was so talented, so smart, so pretty.  In high school, I remember our home ec teacher remarking to me just a few weeks into the semester (having had the perfect cousin prior to me) "Well YOU certainly aren't ________, are you?" 

As a Christian, I have felt like I have failed way more than succeeded.  BUT....the good news is that in God's eyes, if we have put our faith and trust in Christ, we are ACCEPTED IN THE BELOVED!!!  Ephesians 1: 5,6. 

We are not accepted based upon our performance.  That is hard for us to grasp sometimes because we live in such a performance-based society.  Our acceptance is based on the finished work of Christ.  We are accepted "in Him".  We are not accepted by what we have done, but rather what He has already done in our behalf on the cross.

When we can really get that through our heads, it will change the way we live.  No matter what I DO I will never be good enough.  I will never measure up to Christ's standards.  But I don't have to because my acceptance is not based on my measuring up. 

My desire to measure up, to be obedient, to follow Jesus is not to "perform".  It is to bring glory to Him...to put HIM on display!!  There is NO good thing in me....except Him!  But, if I live according to His Word, it puts HIM on display and draws others to Him.  It is not about me, it's all about Him!! 

William R. Newell in his classic "Romans, Verse by Verse" put it this way:

"[Man] has been accepted in Christ, who is his standing!  He is not on probation.  As to his life past, it does not exist before God; he died at the cross and Christ is his life.  To believe and to consent to be loved while unworthy is the great secret.  To 'hope to be better' (hence acceptable) is to fail to see yourself in Christ only.  To be disappointed with yourself is to have believed in YOURSELF [not Christ's finished work].  To be proud is to be blind!  For we have no standing before God IN OURSELVES." 

"Until the Christian is absolutely and scripturally sure of his standing, he is not going to do much standing."  Miles Stanford, Green Letters.

Today if you have spent your life trying to measure up to someone else's standards or your own, if you have felt "less than" more often than not, if you have found yourself performing to gain God's approval, STOP!!
Today embrace the glorious fact that you are ALREADY  ACCEPTED IN THE BELOVED!!!  Go forth, therefore, and live in the light of the glorious fact that it is CHRIST + NOTHING. Stop "performing" to measure up, but rather be obedient in your walk and put HIM on display!!