The Morning Watch

For my first post on prayer, I want to make a simple entreaty: Let us drop the term “Quiet Time.

Doesn’t “quiet time” sound very … soft? A bit too dispensable?

Think this through with me: what images and connotations does “quiet time” conjure up in your mind? Slippers? Coffee? A plush cushy chair?

No wonder we drop it when other things feel more pressing. Morning “quiet time” sounds and feels like a luxury… when we have time. The language we use matters; our choice of words informs our attitudes and actions.

Can you imagine Jesus or the Apostle Paul having “quiet time”? It’s a bit ludicrous, right? Really to the point of being offensive.

My suggestion is that we replace “quiet time” with “The Morning Watch.”

The Morning Watch” brings in the idea of spiritual warfare. This is TRUE prayer. And this is a necessity. We DO have an Enemy. And he is prowling, watching and looking for whom he can devour. We ARE in a war… or we’ve been taken captive.

Are you living in defeat? Anxiety? Addiction? Escaping and numbing? How is your marriage? Are you experiencing “abundant life” and “freedom” that Jesus came to bring?

Perhaps you’ve gone AWOL.

“Prayer is a wartime walkie – talkie for spiritual and missional warfare; Not a domestic intercom to increase the comfort of the saints. And one of the reasons prayer malfunctions in the hands of so many Christian soldiers, is that they have gone AWOL.” ~ John Piper

Are you dressed for war?

Do you have a sword? How sharp? How skilled?

“If you can’t run with horsemen, how can you run with horses?” ( paraphrase Jeremiah 12:5)

“You CAN get better.” ~ Dan Allender

Let’s do it together. As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. ~ Proverbs 27:17

 

Storytelling: “Restless in Chicago”

I’d like to welcome *you* into my home. Will you join me?

I’m hosting a brunch with women gathered around my breakfast table. The theme is “Rest” and I’m going to tell a story.

Storytelling: “Restless in Chicago”

It was a beautiful summer night on our little street, over-looking the Chicago River. Our building was a quiet refuge in the city. There was a cozy neighborhood feel of safety in being tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Michigan Avenue- just around the corner.

Despite that safety, my heart didn’t feel safe and the journey to refuge was an all-out war.

I have no idea how the turmoil within my heart began on this particular night. I must have felt an offense from my husband; somehow I felt that he wasn’t loving me. This “unloved” experience always came with a sensation of being 11 years old inside. Adult Catherine *was safe and loved* but it was 11 year old Catherine that felt neither and it was her little heart that needed comfort.

It must have been this “11 year old Catherine” inside my adult mind that got angry in response to feeling unloved, ignored, and unwanted. (In fact, it was an inner “little Catherine” that used to ask my husband, Ryan, almost every single day, “Do you love me? …Why? …How do I know? …It wasn’t until I realized years later that these questions were never for him, that my inner little girl was finally quieted and the questions ceased. But that’s another story.)

On this late night, the wounded 11 year old girl inside of me was stomping through the house, and my mind was filled with exhaustion, adrenaline and resolve to leave. As I was lacing up my shoes, my husband, Ryan, sat down on the bed next to me, and said, “You can go if you need to, but let me get you a hotel. And I’ll make you a deal: for every hour that you stay, I’ll upgrade your hotel. And if you stay until midnight, and you still decide to leave, I’ll get you the “W” Hotel.”

A gleeful smile and delighted laughter broke through my anger and tears.

It was a brilliant display of love, humor, and giving of freedom that was enough to melt my heart.

He put his arm around me and I began to sob- full-body sobs, reaching deep down into young Catherine’s heart. He guided me to lay down, and then rubbed my back. He listened to how hurt I had felt, and he apologized. I apologized too.

Ryan prayed over me as he rubbed my back and I fell into a deep and deeply *restful* sleep.

God’s Gift to us is Rest

I once heard Dan Allender say that we each have a war with rest, and this is our war with faith. Now I understand this truth in my experience.

Through the praying, writing, and sharing of this story God began to open my heart to see that my “war with rest” is correlated to “little Catherine’s” struggle in the past. God showed me a young part of my heart that He wanted to heal.

I found several “rest correlations” in my story: 1) Rest and relationship; 2) Rest and being seen and heard; 3) Rest and receiving; 4) Rest and our physical bodies; 5) Rest and repentance and 6) Rest and unconditional love.

I came to a tenacious conviction that “true rest comes *only* through communion: communion with God and with others in a context of unconditional love.”

My story illustrates that this true communion comes through a battle.

I hope you can see that this is your story too. For each person, rest comes through a fight. If you do not find true rest in your life perhaps it’s because you’ve never engaged the war.

Rest, through communion with Himself, is God’s desire and gift to us.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. ~ Matthew 11:28

Past and Present Converge in War

The battle surfaces and rages because there is an Enemy who does not want us to come to Jesus for rest. Our own nature also resists the coming that involves repentance and receiving.

Isaiah 30:15

For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel,

“In repentance and rest you shall be saved;

in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”

But you were unwilling…”

Are you familiar with the part of your heart that resists rest- that is “unwilling” to come to Jesus? What is your *war* with rest? What does it actually look like in real time and what does it feel like in your body? How can you begin to actually fight this war *for rest*?

We live in a sin-torn world where Evil reigns, if only for its allotted time. Evil wars against life, against communion, and against love… and therefore, against rest; and against us coming to Jesus, where ultimate rest is found. How does Evil wage this war and what are the weapons? Evil always weaves lies in such a crafty manner such that the lies seem to be truth to the very core of our being.

“You will only find rest in solitude.”  Evil whispered this lie in my ear from an early age.

Young 11 year old Catherine desired to be seen and heard, yet she lived in silence, and no rest came. The only “rest” she knew was time alone, with her bedroom door locked shut. However, the “rest” itself was a lie; an illusion. It may have been an escape from the reality outside the bedroom door, and at the time she had no experience of true rest, so how did she even know what rest was? The illusion of rest came through self-destruction. It was behind this locked door that she began to slice her skin open with a knife. Was it through the red, salty blood that “rest” came?

The Battle Won

We can either continue on our own path, which is really no rest at all but only an escape that leads to hurt and destruction or we can follow God’s way to true and lasting rest.

In my teen years, I began to settle in rest when God opened my eyes to the fact that Jesus had died on the cross for me. I had known and believed this since I was a little girl, but as a teenager it became personal to my own struggle.

It was healing balm for my raw heart to know that God saw the worst in me and saw all the things I hated about myself but still loved me: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

His blood paid for all my sin, therefore, I didn’t have to make myself bleed anymore. I found rest in God’s unconditional love for me through Jesus.

My heart found rest and joy in communion with Jesus. Spending time with Him in prayer and Scripture was my delight, and my heart was full.  This was abundant life that I had not known through the false rest of escape.

A Paradox: The Battle is Won yet Keep Fighting

The book of Hebrews sets forth a paradox: we work to rest.

“Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience {unbelief}.” ~ Hebrews 4:11

Jesus was the final sacrifice and offering for sin; therefore, we can accept his gift,  and cease from our own labor of earning merit before God. Through the sacrifice of Jesus in our place, we are reconciled and accepted before God.

Jesus has done all the work on our behalf; now it is our lot to rest in the acceptance Jesus has purchased for us by his own blood, and yet we need to fight to experience in our daily lives the rest he has secured for us eternally.

The fight is to keep coming to Jesus continually and to keep trusting that we are indeed forgiven, loved and accepted by God. The fight is to believe this in every moment of every day.  In my story above, the lie that I was unloved and a second lie offering isolation as a solution both threatened to steal my experience of rest.

In this life we never arrive at perfection, or wholeness or fullness of healing. God always has more for us: more healing, more freedom, more rest. In order to continue into “more” we must say “yes” and follow Jesus as he invites us into exploring our stories, and therefore our hearts and minds.

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. ~ Psalm 139:23-24

Each story contains insight as to how Evil has woven lies that we’ve unwittingly or wittingly agreed with. New insight invites us to repent of ways we’ve attempted to find life, healing, or solace apart from God.

In the aftermath of my story work, repentance involved renouncing and turning from the lies that promised safety through escape in solitude, instead of in Jesus. In repentance I turn more fully to Jesus as THE source of life.

Evil still comes to me and whispers the lie of “rest in solitude.”

The settings and circumstances may be very different. Instead of a late night drama, it can be a joyful family afternoon.

I might be out rollerblading with my family in our drive way and suddenly a guttural need to flee will arise. I will find an excuse to go inside and be alone. I was never aware of this pattern until I did this story work. Now can I recognize and name the excuse; previously, the reason to leave felt like a true need.

Now I can hear the invitation of Jesus through Ryan’s gentle voice urging me to stay; telling 11 year old Catherine, “it’s safe, you’re loved and welcome here. You belong with us.”

I am waging war against Evil.

I keep my roller blades on and skate a little longer.

I am staying in communion.

 

drain. the. swamp.

1. Part One

Pussy. Tits. F***.

These are the words of Trump that have caused a national uproar and a torrent of emotion across the country. People were outraged. Shocked. High-profile men and women withdrew their support from Trump.

Social media went wild. People wrote comments such as, “I could never look my daughter in the eye and tell her that I voted for Trump.” … and  “Whoever votes for such a man is humiliating and debasing themselves.”  People are saying that what he did was a sex crime, and by their words convicting him as a criminal.

Clearly what Trump said 11 years ago was wrong, sinful, and encompassed by the work of Darkness.

However, as far as I know, Trump has not been accused, tried or convicted of any crime. Do we really want to revert to the witch hunt tactics of the 1600s?  This was also in the tape: “And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”  He is not describing an act of rape… seduction and adultery yes, but rape or forced assault- no.

  1. Part Two

My purpose is not to elevate one political party. I want to address the self-righteousness that is rampant. My concern is your heart and my heart.

The question I’d like to ask is: what man out there has not ever talked or thought about a woman in a crude way? How many men out there have not even *once* been a consumer of pornography, which supports sex trafficking, sexual abuse, and a “rape culture”?

The point is, as the Bible says, “There is no one righteous, no not one” (Romans 3). I’d like to challenge people to get off their self-righteous high horse and not act like Trump’s sin is worse than ours. (or Hillary’s sin… for some reason Trump’s seems to be more spoken of).

{Jesus} said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone. ~ John 8:7

The self-righteous talk that I am reading and hearing is a severe offense to the Gospel of Jesus.

We ALL need to be saved by the free gift of grace offered by Jesus.

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst.” ~ 1 Timothy 1:15

Here’s a story about the political self-righteous rhetoric:

“Two men went up to the temple to pray,… The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: *** ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like [Trump] ***

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, *** ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’*** ~ Luke 18

Are *you* more like the Pharisee or like the tax collector in your words and thoughts?

Be *outraged* at Trump’s sin… and Hillary’s. But are you more outraged at your own sin? Who has the log?? and who has the speck?

You’re either humble or prideful. Your heart is either repentant or self-righteous.

And here is the end of the matter: God gives *grace* to the humble, repentant sinner, but opposes the proud.

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” ~Luke 18

  1. Part 3

How DO we address the wrongdoings of both political candidates?

Paul uses the two words: *GENTLENESS* and *HUMILITY*

Galations 6:1- Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.

In Matthew 7, Jesus defines true humility with the analogy of the log and speck:

And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?  How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?  Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. ~ Matthew 7:3-5

First, you must have the integrity and honesty to take **ownership** of the log in your own eye.

What you see in Trump, or Hillary will fall into the 2 core issues of the human heart: Lust and anger.

Jesus said that those who struggle with lust are adulterers and those who struggle with anger are murderers. (non-sexual lust is idolatry or adultery before God).

Perhaps Trump is the adulterer and Hillary is the murderer.

BUT SO AM I.  Like Trump I am an adulterer and like Hillary I am a murderer. Anything less than this, is *self-righteousness*.

Got it?  (Just to make sure, try saying out loud to your significant other- “Honey, just so you know, I AM an adulterer and a murderer. Seriously.” )

The point is that you never address someone whom you see to be MORE of a murderer or an adulterer than yourself. This is true humility.

As Dr. Dan Allender said in his podcast, “This leavens the playing field. We can say, “In this struggle I have *been there*, I AM there, and I will BE there in some form until the coming of Christ and full redemption in Him.”

4. Conclusion.

DRAIN. THE. SWAMP.

Drain your OWN swamp first!!

“..the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” ~ Mark 1:15

To him {Jesus} all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” ~ Acts 10:43

For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live. ~ Ezekiel 18:30

if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. ~ 2 CHR 7:14

War and Peace: Christmas 2015

Thoughts for Christmas 2015

This season I’ve been looking at and thinking about passages in Scripture that describe Jesus’s mission in coming to dwell with men.

This is the passage from Isaiah that Jesus himself quotes as his own mission statement:

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the **captives** and release from darkness for the **prisoners**, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion– to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.

This Christmas season I want to explore the tension between the Age we’re IN at present, versus the HOPE of the Age that is promised to come. Here is my premise: We live in the Age of captivity, of prisoners, of darkness… In that sense there is grief, and sorrow… But Jesus came for healing and for freedom- He offers that TO US, and calls us to work *with him* for healing and freedom in the lives of others… The context of Jesus coming is a declaration of WAR on EVIL; the very nature of releasing prisoners and captives suggests that there would be resistance from an Enemy. And we are called to enter warfare with Jesus against Evil.

This is the time we “walk through the valley of the shadow of death”… and as we walk “we fear no Evil”… but we do live in Satan’s realm and reign (Revelation 12, 1 John 5:19: the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.) THIS life is the battle ground. We still live in the period of sin and death… there IS weeping… and there IS a true, deep and grievous wound… We need healing… we need freedom from captivity. And we need to Fight… for our own heart and for others… to be wholly bound to God alone.

Jesus himself said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”(Matthew 10:34)

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. ~ Eph. 6:17

This passage doesn’t even make sense if you’re not at war. Who carries a sword unless they’re at war, and without intent to *kill*?

I believe that God’s people have bought into a lie- that we’re already in the Age of full Joy and victory (part of the lie is that if you don’t *feel* this, then *your* faith is deficient)… we’ve been tricked into exchanging our swords for plowshares before the time.

THIS is the time we are in: Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, “I am a warrior.” ~ Joel 3:10 (note: in contrast Isaiah 2:4 is the age to come)

So you might be wondering: okay, where does the Joy and Peace of Christmas fit in to all this?

There IS joy and peace… but it is not based on this world, it is based on the hope and the promise of Christ’s second coming, when the defeat over Evil will be final and when God’s Kingdom will have full reign. We do see smaller (but not insignificant) victories of God in our own hearts and others, that foreshadow that ultimate victory. The joy and the peace is in the beginning of the Battle… that we DO have One who has come to fight on our behalf- to set us free and empower us… Our confidence is in Him, therefore we hold true joy even with the sorrow of this broken world.

And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. ~ Isaiah 35:10 and 51:11

Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow **will turn into joy**. ~ John 16:20

We are called to hold complexity- joy and sorrow; to be childlike in faith, yet a warrior ready to kill.

Jesus isn’t afraid of this complexity. He creates tension, conflict, and complexity and *invites you to wrestle with Him in it all.*

THIS wrestling is true faith.

Be faithful and take up your sword this Christmas.

Oh yeah, and just make sure you’re on the right side of the battle:
Psalm 7:12- If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow; he has prepared for him his deadly weapons, making his arrows fiery shafts.

This is the beautiful thing, that even as this is the age of Battle against Evil, it is also the Age of Salvation, when the call of God is “Come!!” and He has his arms of mercy open to ALL who come to him repentance and faith (faith that Jesus took the punishment you deserve when He died on the cross, and offers the free gift of canceling the debt YOU owe of your own blood and death, that instead Jesus paid it FOR you) :

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.

Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare…

Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.” ~ Isaiah 55

Merry Christmas :oD

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. ~ Romans 16:20.

May *you* have your foot on the neck of Evil in the year to come.
Love, Catherine

Ps. If you’re interested in digging more into the topic of warfare, I’d suggest “Waking the Dead” by John Eldridge, and the podcasts from his website: ransomed heart ministries. Also, Dan Allender’s book “Bold Love”; If you’re interested in reading about the basics of faith in Jesus, I’d recommend Timothy Keller’s book “The Prodigal God” and Charles Spurgeon’s “All of Grace.”

Christianity is a *Legal Standing*

Here is my proposition: True Biblical Christianity is primarily a “Legal Standing” in God’s court of law. This is in contrast to every other religion, and many so called forms of “Christianity” which are codes of morality and goodness.

Imagine that you are summoned to court to stand trial, after you’ve been arrested for a crime. Let’s say robbing a bank. And as you’re sitting there the prosecution pulls out a video tape of your crime. There is no disputing the truth- you’re clearly guilty. So the judge sentences you to either life in prison or pay a 10 billion dollar fine. You realize that there is now way you can pay this debt- EVER. No matter how hard you work your entire life.
You hang your head in defeat and despair once you realize that there is no way out of the life sentence.
Then you look up, and see the judge himself walking around from behind the justice desk. And he says, “I will pay the debt myself, therefore, this man can go free and the justice of the law will be upheld.”
*This* is the true Gospel (meaning “good news”)- We ALL stand guilty before God’s court of law {we are all liars, adulterers (at least in heart), murderers (hating someone or being angry is murder of the heart), blasphemers (if you’ve used God’s name as a curse word either verbally, or taking his reputation through the mud)} And God’s Law demands death for sin. But God, in human form- Jesus- came around from the judgement seat and said, “I will take their place. God’s righteous law will be upheld, and justice met, because I will take their place and pay their debt, so they can go FREE.”
Thus, when a person has “faith” in Jesus, they are accepting His gift of paying their debt.

This is the *primary* point of following Jesus- In a legal sense our standing before God is changed from “Guilty” to “Forgiven/ Acquitted”. But that’s only half of the legal change…. It’s actually MORE than that… It’s a legal *exchange*. Jesus took our place legally (our sin was laid to his account, although he did not personally become sinful.) And we also took his place legally (HIS perfect adherence to the law was credited to our account- so in God’s court of law we are legally seen as perfect law-abiders, although in reality we have transgressed.)

God’s perfect Law demands perfect obedience/righteousness… and when broken/ transgressed, demands death. Jesus fulfilled BOTH demands of the Law *on our behalf*. 1) Because Jesus was God in the flesh, he lived a perfect, holy, and righteous life… This perfection is credited to us. 2) The law demands our death- Jesus’ death is credited to us. And our debt paid.

This is the *freedom* that is offered: **EVERYTHING God demands from us, He *gives* to us, through Jesus**

So all is Gift. All is Grace. And all is Free and freedom. We are *accepted* before God.

There is no earning, no working, no striving… just receiving the GIFT and resting in that for salvation.

Here are some passages for reference: (Best thing to do is to read all of Romans and Galatians with an eye toward the legal language)
First our legal standing as guilty:
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. ~ Matthew 5:21-22

I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” ~ Matthew 12:36-37

Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. ~ Romans 3:19

Legal Exchange & Legal Standing as Justified/ Acquitted:

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it– the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. ~ Romans 3:21-28 {propitiation is a legal word, meaning to take another’s debt on yourself}

For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.
For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.
And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness…That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace… But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
~ Romans 4:2-5,16, 24-25

yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. ~ Galations 2:16

For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us–for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”– so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. ~ Galations 3:10-14
Legal Standing as Righteous (not our own personal righteousness, but that of Jesus credited TO us)
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:21

For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith–
~ Philippians 4:9

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. ~ Galations 4:4 (NOTE: “adoption” is a legal transaction, as well as family)

a child shall lead them

this morning as I was getting ready for the day, Jeremiah thoughtfully said, “Jesus took away our sins… and sins are disobeying… How does that make God feel when we disobey?”  I replied, “It makes God feel sad, but He forgives us.”   To which Jeremiah’s face brightened and exclaimed, “AND He loves us!”

Yes. “Spirituality” is that simple:  1) We are sinners; 2) Jesus took away our sins (when He died on the cross, He took our sins upon Himself, stood in our place and bore the full penalty FOR us, *instead* of us; 3) Now God forgives us AND loves us.

The Bible says to not err from the simplicity of Christ.

This is why it says that to receive the Kingdom of God, we must receive it like a child.

Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it. ~ Mark 10:15

Children are naturally needy, and they happily accept help and provision. They accept the care of their earthly father, (and mother), and simply enjoy being taken care of.  *We* must allow ourselves to be needy before God- as sinners who *cannot save ourselves*, and simply, happily except the help He offers in Jesus… who offers to stand in our place and take the penalty of death.

If salvation and going to Heaven is that simple, that easy, that FREE (We’re sinners, and God did ALL the work Himself to free us), then why does the Bible say that “few” find the way, and that “in that day there will be *many* who say to me, Lord, Lord” and I will say I never knew you”? (Matthew 7)

It’s because people err at the first point. The Gift of God is free. But people don’t think they need the gift. So, in their pride they turn their backs on God’s free gift of grace. People don’t accept the truth that they are sinners, deserving hell, and needing a Savior.

Instead, people believe they can save themselves. People believe that they are “good” enough for God to accept… and as for their faults, they think that God is loving and forgiving and so He will overlook their minor flaws in light of how *good* they truly are.

That’s simply an evil lie. God IS loving and forgiving, but He is also equally *Just* and *Holy*. God will not overlook sin, because He is a *just and perfect Judge*. In God’s court of law, a guilty verdict must have it’s due penalty.  It is *through* Jesus that God is loving and forgiving. Our sin was so evil in His Holy sight that He put to death His very Son in our place.

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. ~ John 3:36

Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. ~ 1 John 5:12

Your sin *will* be paid for: either by *you* in eternal death in hell, or by Jesus on the cross, if you accept His free gift.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… ~ Romans 3:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.~ Romans 6:23

The Gift is given to the one *who does not work* to earn God’s favor… If you approach God based on *your own perceived goodness* He will give you your due. That is a fearful thought.

For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” ~ Romans 4:2-8