True Legitimacy Comes From The One Who Made You

This week brings another guest post from Sylvia Gunter. The first time I read this, I began reading quickly, taking some things for granted, but I found myself slowing down, even stopping, because the truths hit their mark forcing me to receive. Noises from culture are constantly questioning our legitimacy, attempting to define us in ways we were never intended to be defined.

Understanding our true legitimacy invites us to stand out like Cardinals on a gray winter day.

For anyone who has a penchant to get hung up on gender designations, please remember, just as we are all part of the Bride of Christ, we are also all beloved sonsMay Abba touch and heal those places in each of us that cry out for belonging.
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Receive God’s Word in John 17:23 NLT. “I in them and you in me… Then the world will know…and will understand that you love them as much as you love me.”
At His baptism and transfiguration, God affirmed His love and pleasure in His Son. He said to Jesus, “You are the Son I love. I am well pleased with You” (Mat. 3:17; 17:5). Because you are in Him, the Father loves you with the same love (John 17:23,26). You are God’s beloved; that is the most intimate truth about you. It has to be true, because Jesus said it. Be blessed to live from the blessing of belovedness, not trying to attain it.
You are precious to your Father. He celebrates your existence. You were infinitely loved before you were wounded. That’s the truth of your life. There is no burden on you to prove you are worthy of being loved, of being heard, of being respected, honored, and given dignity. Your life is an unceasing “yes” to the truth that you are beloved because of God’s great love. In Him you are accepted and valued.

It is your spirit connection with your Father that matters. People do not give you legitimacy. True legitimacy comes from the One who chose you with everlasting love. Your Father says, “I called you by name from the very beginning. You belong to me. I know you as my own, and you know Me as your own true Father. I carved you in the palms of My Son. I hide you in My embrace. You have My infinite tenderness.”

Say “Yes” to your belovedness, your significance, your worth, and your belonging. His “Yes” is engraved on your heart. Rise up to discover how to fulfill your deepest essence of who you are, beloved in God your Father and kept in His Son.

Be blessed in the name of the Beloved Son.

Matthew 3:17 NKJV
Taken From Safe In The Father’s Heart: Finding The Love You Have Always Wanted, page 111. © 2014, Sylvia Gunter.
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An archive of past devotionals is available on the website.

Our Hearts Are Restless

By Deacon Adam Salter Gosnell

The answer to a restless heart. St Augustine holing a burning heart,

Today I offer an article from my churches weekly letter. The adult class is reading Confessions. I resonate with this more than I care to admit. [I have added all italics, bold and underlining.]

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I’m so pleased that we, as a community, are reading Augustine together. He’s the single most influential thinker in Christian history. He’s been influential in my life as well. I have a passage from his Confessions that I’ve typed up, printed out, and taped in the front of my bible.

“Great are you, O Lord, and greatly to be praised; great is your power and infinite is your wisdom. Man desires to praise you, for he is part of your creation; he wears morality around him, carries the evidence of his sin, and the proof that you resist the proud. Still he desires to praise you, this small part of your creation. You have prompted him that he should delight to praise you, for you have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

I look at it often, recite it even. It’s a passage of beauty, but more than that it reminds me of who I am and how I want to live in the world.

“Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

As I’ve reflected on the passage, I feel like Augustine is offering a prophetic indictment. So often, when I’ve had a long day, I want to disengage. I play games on my phone or binge on Netflix.

But when I read Augustine’s quote I wonder if I can truly call that disengagement “rest.” “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you” seems to call me to something more, something deeper, something more quiet.

In the last several years, I’ve taken up silent prayer. I turn off my phone, I sit on my couch, and I am silent before God. I contribute nothing, I offer him nothing but my time and attention. I only “am” in his presence. It makes me wildly uncomfortable. But, interestingly, it doesn’t make me uncomfortable because I’m particularly concerned about maximizing my productivity. I actually feel, in myself, a recoil against the silence. I notice how much damage my high-sensory input-lifestyle has done to my soul. It’s crippled me, even, from the capacity to rest deeply.

I see you grasping for rest, Augustine seems to say, but rest only exists here, in reality, because the God from whom it comes himself only exists in reality. Read this way, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you” is a call to arms, a call to recognize my own restlessness, to step away from distraction, and to meet God in silence.

I challenge us, today, to indulge the idea. Let’s sit in silent prayer for two minutes, and see if you don’t also feel like you are stretching an atrophied muscle. Then, I suspect, we will be all the more ready to hear what Augustine has to teach us.

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May our hearts burn because He first loved us! Join me in Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians:

3:14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

 

*Image from: image St augustine

Wide Eyed-Wonder

I am freshly in wide-eyed wonder over a particular paradox of our multifaceted God. The complete transcendence, the “otherness,” of our Creator who, in complete humility, became a human in Jesus of Nazareth. Going even further, those who have a personal relationship with Jesus also have the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of the living God is inside of us to guide and comfort. This is one of the most wonder inspiring aspects of the Christian faith.

I understand why this does not compute for many people. It did not make sense to me either when I first heard it.

The following is from King David’s prayer before his son Solomon began to build the temple. Try reading it slowly to let his descriptions sink in a bit. Meditate on the hugeness of the one David describes.

11 Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. 12 Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. 13 And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name. (1 Chronicles 29)

What impressed you most? Did you see anything new?

Next, meditate on Isaiah’s prophecy that was fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth.

53:2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Does this sound anything like David’s description?

When I compare these two passages, at least on the surface, I don’t see anything in common, yet they are both speaking of the same Creator God…. That is what makes my eyes go wide with wonder.

In an attempt to close the loop for today, meditate on this passage for a bit.

Jesus said in John 1415 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. 18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. …23… “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”

How personal can the God of David become?

Again, this is mind bogglingly wonderful!  For instance I don’t think I’d ever noticed before the end of John 14:23:  “…make our home with him.” Father, Son & Holy Spirit all reside with those who love them. This is even one more example of wonderful things to contemplate.

Abba, Thank you that all these seemingly divergent truths hold together in You. You are truly multifaceted! You created everything and are worthy of all praise. Everything we have comes from you. Thank you for entering our world then giving us your comforter. May we have eyes to see and ears to hear how these realities make a difference to us.

2018 Is Beginning Big, So Trust For Big In your Life Too

As I write, the super storm that swept up the east coast this week is still dumping over a foot of snow outside, in only about 12 hours. Also, the Dow Jones industrial pushed through the 25,000 mark today, closing over five thousand points higher than a year ago! 2018 is beginning big so trust for big in your life too.

Depending on your perspective, both of these big events today could be good or bad. For those who snow only means shoveling then, your out of luck. But if it means winter sports, then you’re a winner. Some are afraid the rapid rise in the stock market will soon lead to a major crash. If you are one of those then you are probably nervous. If you have money in the market that is doing well and you see indicators that bolster your belief in continued economic growth, then you are likely smiling.

Either way we look at these, focusing our trust the One who made and sustains us is the best focus. We do not know what the future holds, but we can know that one who holds the future.

“Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.” Psalm 37:5

I have yet to see God shovel my snow, though on rare occasions, some strategic drafts of wind have made my job easier. When I devote myself, and my choices to Creator,  I see things fall into place almost miraculously at times.

I’m not going to commit my way to the stock market, but to the maker of Heaven and earth. Can I invest? Yes, I can, but in the end I’ll apply myself to what Abba has called me to be. That is  increasingly Christ-like. I’ll also apply myself to what He has called me to do. For me some of it includes writing, praying, encouraging others and helping them in their journey into Christ likeness…definitely not in that order=}.

My long time favorite promise for facing big challenges is Thessalonians 5:24. “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” Both these verses end the same, it’s the beginning of this one I especially like. When I am sure Abba is asking me to take something on, then I know I will have all the resources, physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially to see it to completion. Because He promised do it.

It is Abba’s idea after all, so I figure it is his responsibility to make it happen. As long as I am committed to His purposes we will see it through. If I give up, Abba will find another to make it happen. I find it almost easier to trust for big things. Little things can become routine.

What big thing do you want to trust God for? Pause for a bit and pray. Ask then listen. Listen for what I now call a “Holy hunch.” Is there a dream you’ve sat on a long time? Is there a new one? Does it seem impossible, or just too much? If it came to mind in prayer, have a conversation with Abba about it. If the idea came from Him….

This is a great year to trust Abba for big….