Acts of Self-sacrifice

September 28, 2014

Friends,
In the suburb next to the one we live in there has been a beautiful occurrence that has gone national. It can be read and viewed here:

http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Grand-Prairie-Homecoming-Queen-Shares-Her-Crown-275390651.html

Being that homecoming is actually a very big deal in Texas, this act of kindness shown by two girls toward another is no small thing. But giving up the crown for their friend who had experienced a cruel prank has reaped more reward and honor than had they kept their crown. What an inspiration to all of us to remember those who hurt, those who are bullied, and those who are less fortunate. And what an encouragement to remember to be kind, generous, humble, unselfish, and self-sacrificing!

Last year I wrote about my niece, Kiana, who was her school’s 11th grade homecoming princess and whose boyfriend accompanied her in his football uniform. This year this same young man is the captain of their football team, but, ever since last year, Kiana, with his agreement, has planned, if she gets nominated again, to have a particular other classmate to be her escort. This classmate happens to be mentally handicapped. Kiana has assisted with him and the other handicapped students for several years, getting them involved and participating, and this year, while being a cheerleader, the president of the student council, and the vice president of the student body, she has organized for them to be a part of several things including the cheerleaders. Talk about someone who has worked to make potential outcasts feel included and honored!

There are many self-sacrificing people in the world. True, there are many who are not, but there are many who are. And all too often their acts of kindness and selflessness go unnoticed. Maybe this is why it is so wonderful when someone’s does get attention. Even national attention.

May many take such heart-warming stories to heart and strive to think of ways to show kindness to everyone they can, especially to those who may be hurting somehow. I’ve seen that sometimes even the smallest act of kindness can go a very long way. It can melt a heart, it can create a friendship, and it can save a soul.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

That Eternal-Life-Food

September 21, 2014

Friends,
Jesus has given us this command: “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life which the Son of Man will give you.” (John 6:27) Yet what is it that most people in the world are working hard to attain? What is it which drives them to go hither and thither, being busy, busy, busy? It is the desire for the world’s food. It is the world’s nourishment they seek. It is the world’s crumbs –those rotting, hollow, and counterfeit joys and support systems– that they are striving so hard to possess and eat.

But Jesus has instructed us to reject such a pursuit. Instead, He has told us, we are to work for that Food which does not evaporate or perish but which lasts and gives true and eternal life.

What is this Eternal-Life-Food? Jesus has informed us in the same chapter that this Food is Him –His body and His blood. He has told us to nourish ourselves on Him. He has let us know that because the Father has placed His seal of approval on the Son of Man (also in v. 27), He (Jesus) is qualified and able to give us this lasting Food. Because He came down from Heaven and gave His life for the world (v. 33) His flesh eaten produces eternal life. (v. 50,51)

Jesus’ flesh and blood which He has spoken about that we are to eat and drink (v. 53-58) is actually His Spirit which comes by way of His words. (v. 63) Therefore if we do not nourish ourselves with the Word of God, Christ is not in us and we are not abiding in Eternal Life. (v. 53) Yes, our physical bodies need physical food, for that is how God created us. But our spirits must be nourished with spiritual food (Mt. 4:4), and the only True Food, the only Food that produces eternal life, is Jesus who is the Word of God. (John 1:1,14)

Let’s caution ourselves, though, about one thing: It is not enough to just eat (read) the Word of God. We must digest it (meditate on it) and let it work in our spirits so that it produces that Life which it is supposed to produce in us. We must let it strengthen us and let it be our source of godly action, our source of power to do the Lord’s will. We know that without the Spirit we can do nothing; thus we need Him. But the Spirit is filled up in us when we read the Word and put it into practice.

Let’s stop striving for food that does not profit our eternal souls, but instead strive –daily– for the Eternal-Life-Food which Jesus gives us through His Spirit in His Word.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

The Door To Life

September 17, 2014

Friends,
Someone I grew up with and who seemed to be trying hard to follow the Lord most of her life, but who has recently turned to a New Age-type path, mentioned at her blog Jesus’ words about being the Door. But then she asked, “The Door to what?” I was surprised that she could ask such a question without seeming to know the answer, for Jesus’ teaching in John 10 is not hard to understand.

In John 10:1-16, Jesus tells us that He is the Door (v. 7,9) and that everyone who enters the sheep pen without going through Him exists there illegitimately. (v. 1,5,8) This could be anyone who tries to pretend they belong to Christ, though Jesus’ emphasis is on those who try to usurp the (true) Shepherd’s authority in order to get the sheep to follow them. (same verses & 10-13) Such impostors are like those who, even in our day, use Christ’s words (and the rest of the Scriptures) to teach doctrines that are false. Distorting the Word of God and promising the Way of the Truth and the Life, they actually are in league with him who is bent on destroying lives. (v. 10a) By bringing in falsehoods to confuse the flock, the ensuing division separates and scatters the sheep so that the weaker ones can much more easily be devoured by the Lie. (v. 10,12 // 1 Peter 5:8) Such deceivers really care nothing for others (John 10:13) but only for their own egos and desires. (Jude 1:15-19)

So, if Jesus is the Door, what is the answer to, “The Door to what?” In John 10:9,10 we have it in a nutshell: By going through the Door (Jesus), we receive safety, provision, and Abundant Life. The latter actually encompasses the other two (the safety and provision) and all of it is for eternity –if we do not rebel and turn away from lovingly and willingly following the Shepherd’s instructions / leadership / teaching. (v. 4,14,27-30 & 8:31-36 & 15:1-10)

So again, “The Door to what?” No one who knows and believes God’s Word would ask such a question. The whole Gospel tells us that Jesus is the Door to Eternal Life and that this Life begins the moment we abandon ourselves –repenting of our pride, our self-preservation, our desire for power, and all our participation in the evil realm– and cast ourselves into Christ. (Gal. 2:20 & 5:24 & 6:14) Once we do this, we have entered the realm of Rest (Heb. 4:1-11), the realm of Peace that passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7), the realm of Love (John 15:10), and the realm of Safety. (10:9,27-30) This is the realm which, no matter what is happening around us or to our bodies, the real inner-self has already been tenderly tucked away in the blessed care of the Lord Jesus, our Creator and Shepherd and Savior.

Jesus is the Door to Life –the eternal existence that is blessed, not cursed, and is increasingly more wonderful into eternity than we can currently imagine.

Who would not choose to cast themselves through This Door?

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
In Isa. 22:11 we read, “…but you did not look to the One who made it, or have regard for the One who planned it long ago.”

We do not replace those to whom these words were directed, but being that God’s Word is living and that He uses it to speak to each one of us individually, let us direct these words toward ourselves as well. Do we look to the Creator and have regard for Him who orchestrates events? Do we stand in awe of Him and thank Him for His miracles, His deliverances, His judgements, and His mercies? Or do we shrug our shoulders and take it all for granted –considering the promotion to have come about by our own worthiness, the escape to have happened by our own wisdom, the prominence to have blossomed through our own ingenuity, and the strength to have come through our own hard work?

Can any good thing happen without the Lord’s might and help and plan? Can even evil happen without His prior knowledge of it, His allowance of it, and His insertion of it into His purposes? What we do, whatever happens to us, and all events of history come about because God either causes it or allows it –and always for His glory and the ultimate good of the righteous. Can we then take credit for amazing feats or for blessed positions? Moreover, should we feel hopeless while enduring pain and troubles, forgetting that God is sovereign over the affairs of all mankind?

In verses 8-11 we read, “You looked… you saw… you stored up… you counted… and tore down… you built… but you did not look to the One who made it, or have regard for the One who planned it long ago.” Why do people credit themselves or others when it has been the Lord’s doing?

So the Lord called you on that day to weep, to wail, to repent. (v. 12) But instead the people continued to party, and ignored the call of God. (v. 13)

What is the Lord’s response to such shameful indifference? “‘Till your dying day this sin will not be atoned for,’ says the Lord, the LORD Almighty.” (v. 14)

What is the sin? Is it not the refusal to repent of one’s disregard for the Lord’s hand in one’s life, in what is going on with us, with others, and in the world? Is it not the refusal to look to the One in whose control everything lies? Is it not the refusal to call out to Him and acknowledge, in full faith, that He is completely sovereign?

Let’s turn our eyes and hearts to the Lord and His Word and renounce the wickedness of disregarding His involvement in the earth.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

The Rewards Of Patience

September 4, 2014

Friends,
What I received from reading Ps. 40 this morning:

Waiting with patience brings reward. The reward is that we will see that the Lord has heard our cry and turned to us (Ps. 40:1), that He has lifted us out of the slimy pit (v. 2), that He has planted our feet upon a firm rock (same verse), and that He has given us a new hymn of praise to Him. (v. 3) On top of all this reward, we can know that our deliverance caused others to recognize the Lord’s might and faithfulness so that they too have come to fear and trust in the Lord (v. 3) and are thus able to receive blessing as well. (v. 4)

Praise be to the Lord! Yes, I will exalt the Lord in the hearing of the people (v. 9,10), proclaiming that the Lord is always righteous and always faithful (same verses), that He is Love and that He is Truth. (same verses) In fact, because we can count on the Lord’s wonderful character, we can be assured that He will always protect (v. 11) those who abide, through their submission and faith, in His mercy. (same verse) We can know that we who seek the Lord will always have His joy within us so that we can rejoice and be glad in Him at all times, no matter the wind and the waves. (v. 16) Yes, those who experience, love, and see the salvation and deliverance of the Lord can continually exclaim, “The LORD be magnified!” (v. 16)

We praise in faith and love and trust, but it is patience which actually manifests more reasons we praise.

Many, O Lord, are the wonders You have done, the plans You have brought about for us, and the good things You have done for us! (v. 5) –Too many to recount! (same verse)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel