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faith

the good news of the gospel

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The gospel is called the ‘good news’ because it addresses the most serious problem that you and I have as human beings, and that problem is simply this: God is holy and He is just, and I’m not. And at the end of my life, I’m going to stand before a just and holy God, and I’ll be judged. And I’ll be judged either on the basis of my own righteousness–or lack of it–or the righteousness of another.

The good news of the gospel is that Jesus lived a life of perfect righteousness, of perfect obedience to God, not for His own well being but for His people. He has done for me what I couldn’t possibly do for myself.

But not only has He lived that life of perfect obedience, He offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice to satisfy the justice and the righteousness of God.

The great misconception in our day is this: that God isn’t concerned to protect His own integrity. He’s a kind of wishy-washy deity, who just waves a wand of forgiveness over everybody. No. For God to forgive you is a very costly matter. It cost the sacrifice of His own Son. So valuable was that sacrifice that God pronounced it valuable by raising Him from the dead–so that Christ died for us, He was raised for our justification. So the gospel is something objective.

It is the message of who Jesus is and what He did. And it also has a subjective dimension. How are the benefits of Jesus subjectively appropriated to us? How do I get it? The Bible makes it clear that we are justified not by our works, not by our efforts, not by our deeds, but by faith–and by faith alone.

The only way you can receive the benefit of Christ’s life and death is by putting your trust in Him–and in Him alone.

You do that, you’re declared just by God, you’re adopted into His family, you’re forgiven of all of your sins, and you have begun your pilgrimage for eternity.

—R.C. Sproul

a high view of God is our stability in any situation

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It’s a week where multiple out of control things have crossed our path – a scary diagnosis, an uncontrollable wildfire, difficulty among relationships.

Out of control being the key phrase. I can’t change hearts. I can’t send rain. I can’t heal someone’s body.

In trials, tempting emotions are fear, worry, disappointment, or hopelessness, but an even greater call than those is the call to look at God.

To gaze at God is another way of saying: remember God! (Which is another way of saying “look away from you and your resources and look to your Father.”) We must go beyond acknowledging His existence and step higher into His nature.

God is vastly different than we are. He doesn’t need sleep or nourishment. He isn’t surprised by circumstances. He doesn’t need to learn new facts. He is present in yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He is sovereign over every rain drop, sickness, activity, problem, and occasion. Not only is His power limitless, unrivaled by anything on earth, He is purely good and perfectly kind, never changing.

Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. Psalm 145:3

Our view of the Trinity must be higher and greater than our view of what is around us or inside of us.

To widen, deepen, and lengthen this vision of God, we need Scripture. If we don’t learn who He is from His Word, we unintentionally live considering God like we consider ourselves.

I write this from personal experience. My view of God was small, human-like, resulting in a distorted view of His nature, producing anxiety and pride, instead of blood-bought identity and new life. But He’s gracious in not leaving us in our natural patterns of thinking, but continually renewing us to holier ones.

In her book None Like Him, Jen Wilkin says this:

Image-bearing means becoming fully human, not becoming divine. It means reflecting as a limited being the perfections of a limitless God. Our limits teach us the fear of the Lord. They are reminders that keep us from falsely believing that we can be like God. When I reach the limit of my strength, I worship the One whose strength never flags. When I reach the limit of my reason, I worship the One whose reason is beyond searching out.

Find comfort in this: God is an expert on you. He knows every detail, past and future, of every circumstance, joyous or sorrowful, in your life. We remember Psalm 139:1-6, “O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.”

He is an expert on every heart. We cannot change people, no matter how passionately we desire peace, restoration, or maturity for them. This is God’s domain. We pray His great grace in another’s life, and encourage them toward His Word however we can.

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What’s better than consuming? Cultivating.

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I heard someone say recently you can only be doing one of three things in any given moment: cultivating, creating, or consuming.

Applying it to my own season of life, I’m convicted by habits lacking in cultivation and indulgent with consumption. I’m speaking mostly spiritual, but aren’t we one whole person, heart, soul, mind, and body? In light of this truth, it’s not difficult to realize how spiritual flourishing (or languishing) impacts every part of life.

Abide in Jesus. A thread of beauty and conviction weaving through my life and being by Holy Spirit for the past couple of years. A way of living I deeply desire to walk in. A banner of hope and peace and purpose that only Jesus provides. A fountain of enlightenment, comfort, and joy.

Maybe abiding is also cultivating.

Jumping off from where I began, every choice we make is either to cultivate, create or consume. All three contain life and purpose when rightly oriented around God and the good of others. Examples: We consume sustaining food. We create inspiring content. We cultivate gentleness in our speech.

What about when these choices become distorted with self-serving, self-elevating, self-indulgent desires?

It’s here I am thankful for the bright, chiseling work of Holy Spirit and Truth.

I’m not into the Enneagram, I’ve been an otter all my life, and the only letter I remember is ‘F for feeler.’ What I do know is that it’s sometimes challenging to believe I’m loved by God because I’m found in Christ not when I’m ‘doing’ and keeping my act together for Him.

It’s difficult for me to slow my need to have the answers so that I feel like I’m doing okay, and rest in His Godness. My survival mode is to balance all the places, to fix things when they appear broken or lacking, out of anxiety that there surely is more I could be or do. Which sounds pretty exhausting, right? Because it is. And an impossibly unpleasant way to live. Enter the temptation to escape (we’ll get to that soon).

God has set me wonderfully free in many areas, new circumstances come, we make the next turn around life’s bend, and it’s insanely tempting to step back into the old way of operating. Right?

The practice of abiding is a practice of rest. Abiding is not passive, it is active, a continuous interaction with the Lord. Abiding is bearing fruit naturally, not forcibly or fearfully. Abiding is letting God be God.

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