I am secure

I am Secure: Unshakable Walls

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” ~ 1 Peter 1:3-5, NKJV

Sometimes salvation seems like such a lofty, far off term. I have a perennial problem with being short-sighted. I see the challenges in front of me and they are all that occupy my thoughts. I end up consumed by worry or doubt or by making plans for whatever I think needs done, and I become dizzied by all this needless concern.

But I have a living hope. I have been lavished with abundant mercy. If the God who poured Himself out for me has also drenched me with hope and blessing and love, why do I get lost in the concerns and stresses of this life?

Remember, my thin heart, that He has not only loved you, not only given you hope and mercy, but he keeps you. You have an inheritance that will not spoil, will not be taken, cannot be lost, because He keeps you secure.

Like a city surrounded by an unshakeable wall whose gates are guarded by unfailing watchers, I am kept by the hand of God. Nothing could be more secure.

I am secure

I am Secure in the Storm

“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on a rock. The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded the house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of Mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded the house, and it collapsed, and its collapse was great!” Matt. 7:24-27 HCS

My husband and I took our baby and fled the civil war in the West African country we loved. All the doctors left the bush country, too, and looters stripped the pharmacies. Then, an epidemic hit our village. The illness, undiagnosed and incurable without modern medicine, killed dozens of children, including the 4-year-old daughter of my best friend, Clarice.

“See?” another African woman told her. “Your Christian faith didn’t save your daughter. The ancestors are punishing you for not worshipping them anymore.”
Clarice straightened her back. “God’s word says the rain falls on the righteous and the unrighteous. Many children of non-Christians died, too. I will not desert my God.”

In her deluge, Clarice was secure.

How can I say that? Her daughter died. Her country was at war. The answer: Clarice was secure in Jesus—not in anything on this earth. She was a woman who truly knew who she was in Christ.

There is a myth in Christianity, I think, that says something like, “If I follow God, he’ll give me a safe, happy, secure life.” But in Matthew 7, Christ made it clear that trials will storm down on us whether we follow Him or not. Jobs will be lost. Relationships will end. Tornados will tear up towns. And civil wars will take 4-year-olds away from their mothers.

Jesus did not promise secure circumstances. He promised a secure foundation – Himself. If we build our lives on Jesus, constructing them with obedience to his commands, when the trials come – and they will – we will stand, secure in the storm. But, if we build our lives on anything else, those same troubles will crush us. I so need to remember this right now, during a difficult season in my own life.

“Blessed is a man who endures trials, because when he passes the test he will receive the crown of life that He has promised to those who love Him” James 1:12 HCS

I sure hope I get to attend the awards ceremony in heaven when Clarice’s receives hers.

I am secure

I am Secure: A Joint Post

 

“My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me.  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of my hand” ~John 10:27-28 HCS

From Susan

My husband, Steve, carrying two porcupines but no warthog, walked back to the village outpost, which was nothing more than a couple of mud huts and a watering hole.  He and his West African hunting buddies sank into bamboo chairs in the shade under a rice-sack lean-to.  They’d have to wait until evening to try again.  The conversation died down, and a few of the men drifted off to sleep.

Steve was awake, though, when two flocks of sheep arrived at the watering hole from two different directions, each led by a Fulani man carrying a shepherd’s stick across his shoulders.  Sheep from both flocks melded together in one bleating, thirsty mass.  The shepherds spread out their mats under a mango tree and brewed tea over a little fire while the animals drank and milled around.

About an hour later, one of the shepherds stood to leave.  He didn’t even glance at the sheep.  He just took out a tin can and beat a rhythm on it as he walked away.Fulani Shepherd

Half the sheep scrambled, pushed and even climbed over others in a frantic effort to follow him.  The shepherd chose a path next to Steve’s lean-to, and the sheep, many running to catch up, did too.

The other half of the sheep? They just hung out at the watering hole, unfazed.  Their shepherd still sat beneath the tree.

From Jen

As Christians, we may mingle and blend with another flock, but the sheep who belong to the Savior follow His voice. In Him we have safety. In Him we have everything we need.

Sheep need the care of the shepherd. Left to their own, they overgraze their food source, and have a tendency to get themselves in difficult, life-threatening situations. They simply need the overseeing protection of one who is wiser and who can meet the needs they are unable to meet on their own.

No wonder God often uses the image of a shepherd and his sheep. Left to our own, we take the good in front of us and misuse it to our destruction, we let ‘blessings’ over come us until we cannot stand under the weight of it all, and we love to see how far we can stretch the boundaries until we find ourselves in difficult, sometimes life-threatening situations.

We need His care. His protection.

Security comes from the shepherd. He tends His flock with wisdom and love. He leads us to green pastures and guides us to calm waters. He meets every one of our needs.

And all I need to do? Simply follow His voice.

I am loved

I Am Loved By God; I Must Love Others

“This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us.  We should also lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has this world’s goods and sees his brother in need but shuts off him compassion from him–how can God’s love reside in him? Little children, me must not love in word or speech, but in deed and truth.”  1 John 3:16

God loved me in deed.  He didn’t just sit and heaven and spout pretty words at me.  Nor did he just hang out on his throne and feel tender toward me.  He did something.  He stepped out of the splendor of heaven, strapped on some first-century sandals, and chose a torturous death to become the sacrifice for my sin – just so I’d have a way to him, a way to receive his love.

And he asks me to love those around me the same way.

It’s pretty easy to think about acting out my love to my children or my husband.  I cook, clean, comfort, help with homework, drive to endless basketball practices.  I love them in deed.  Why?  Because I have oceans of loving feelings for them.  I enjoy them.  They love me back.

Ditto for my fun, giving friends.  Easy to feel love.  Easy to act on it.

But what of the people I don’t feel warm and fuzzy about?  Take, for example, women who are struggling in poverty’s clutches or chained by addictions.  They’ve got emotional issues springing from abuses I can’t even imagine.  They’re overly needy.  Clingy.  I am to love them in deed.  I am to do something about it.  Take them to lunch.  Give them a ride. Listen to their hearts.  Love them, when I receive nothing from them in return. Love them when it doesn’t feel fun.

Or … my enemies?  I’m supposed to love them the same way.  I may not be able to muster a single happy feeling toward them, but I am to act out love.  Patience.  Kindness.  Not holding a grudge.  These things are not feelings.  They are deeds.

God passionately loves me, and believing that gives me wholeness.  It gives me peace.  But my emotional well-being isn’t God’s only goal in loving me.  He commands me to take my full cup and pass it on to the people around me, lovely or not.

I am loved

I Am Loved: Loved With Joy

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, he will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” Zephaniah 3:17 NKJV

I wondered what that meant–“He will be quiet in His love”. Does it mean that because He loves me He will cease rebuking? No, I don’t think that’s right. The proverbs tell us that The Lord rebukes the son that He loves. I needed to do some digging.

I’m so glad I did.

It’s interesting to note that the Hebrew word used here was commonly used to denote the love between a man and a woman. Love like what we think of in human terms. Love that is deeply felt and pursued by choice.

Have you ever been told that you’re difficult to love? Ouch. I mean, really, ouch. That sting doesn’t quit.

Maybe sometimes we read of God’s agape– his unique, divine love–and we think in the secret, wounded places of our hearts “I like that, but He loves me because He must. . . Because He is love.” Something in that robs a bit of the sheen from that truth.

Listen, oh my tender heart, to what Matthew Henry writes of this verse:

“I know not where there is the like expression of Christ’s love to his church. . . The great God not only loves his saints, but he loves to love them, is pleased that he has pitched upon these objects of his love.”

This is the kind of love a bridegroom lavishes upon his bride as he stares into her eyes with wonder and joy and LOVE.

And my God looks at me like that? My heart just melted. He loves me with a joyful love!

I am loved

I Am Loved: Pursued by Love

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found [it], he lays [it] on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together [his] friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!” Luke 15:4-6 NKJV

These verses did not come up when I ran a topical search on Gods love for me. But as I prayed this morning, this is where the Spirit lead. Reading over the familiar passage, I could hear the wonderful, slight brogue of Alistair Begg as he animated these verses in a sermon I listened to over a year ago.

“You see, I love that wee lamb, and I’m going after her . . .”

Love in action. That’s what this passage is. Though I am but a small lamb in a large flock, insignificant on the surface, ordinary and easily passed over, Jesus says, “I love you, and I’ll seek you out when you lose your way. I’ll find you, and when I do, I will lift your trembling frame to my shoulders, because I know that your tired and afraid, and I will carry you back to safety. And I will rejoice, for I have found my lost lamb.”

Wow. That kind of love goes beyond a proclamation . . . A love that pursues is true love indeed. And I am the object of His pursuit.

I am loved

I Am Loved: Gently Drawn

“The Lord appeared to him from afar saying, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.” Jeremiah 31:3 NKJV

Everlasting love — the universal desire for all men and women. To be loved beyond time and space and reason. Who can forget the steadfast proclamation in the movie The Last of the Mohicans? . . . “No matter what occurs. I will find you…”

Or in the Princess-Bride, Wesley’s explanation to Buttercup as to why she should have believed he would always come for her . . . “Death cannot stop true love.”

Oh, to be loved like that . . .

I am. And because He loves me, He draws me to Him, ever again, with His lovingkindness.

My computer doesn’t like that word. It wants to make it two, or to at least add a hyphen in it. But it’s one word in our Bible, because its taken from a very unique Hebrew word.

Hesed:  Loyal, steadfast, faithful love. God’s love lavished on unfaithful people.

I love this word. He draws me with steadfast, faithful, unconditional love. Makes me sing that wonderful praise chorus…

“How can I keep from singing Your praise? ….I am loved by the King, and it makes my heart want to sing.”

Jesus, this morning I sing. Because you love me with this hesed love.