Into His Own Presence

Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault— Colossians 1:22

I know it may seem like ages ago, but just a couple weeks ago we spent a few days looking at what it means to be reconciled to God. We learned among other things that it means to be set apart, dedicated for a purpose, and restored. Today we will look at why God reconciled us to Himself.

The way I see it, the reason why God reconciled us to Himself is simple. He missed us. He missed communing with us. He missed walking with us. He missed talking with us. He missed rejoicing at His marvelous work.

God wanted to get back to the garden days just as much as we do. He created us to be with Him. However, once we became tainted with sin, our sinful bodies could no longer stand the glory of his presence and His pure and holy nature could not be in the presence of our sin.

God hates sin. He hates it because it takes us away from Him. He hates it because it destroys the ones He lovingly and thoughtfully created. He does NOT however, hate the sinner. He longs to restore those ensnared in sin. He longs to once again see us as He created us to be, not as we currently are.

I believe we often overlook two very important facts from the story of Adam and Eve. We often boil it down to “Adam and Eve sinned so God kicked them out of the garden.” It can leave us with a “you better watch out or God is going to get you” mentality.

However, when you read the story you see two things that reveal how much God still loved Adam and Eve despite their sin. First, we see in Genesis 3:21 And the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife. Immediately after God told them what their sin had done He brought them covering, the first sacrifice recorded in the Bible, for their sin. He did not want them to remain naked, afraid, and full of shame.

As for escorting them out of the garden, this too was an act of love. It says in Genesis 3:22 “Look- man has become like us, knowing both good and evil. What if they reach out, take fruit from the tree of life, and eat it? Then they will live forever”. 

God banished them from the garden because He did not want them to live forever in their broken condition. They had already proven their inability to follow one simple rule “do not eat from this one tree”. Wouldn’t it be such a different story if the tree they ate from was the tree of life, rather than the tree of good and evil? God never told them they couldn’t eat from the tree of life. It says He placed two trees in the garden, but He only told them not to eat one of them.

Oh but if they would have eaten from the tree of life the story would end right there. There would be no need for us. More importantly, there would be no need for a Savior! Though this earthly life stinks sometimes, I am happy to be part of God’s marvelous and often mysterious plan!

There is one more thing I want you to remember from the story of Adam and Eve, Though they were sent out of the garden, they were not sent away from God. We know this because later on in Genesis 4 we read the story of Cain and Abel. We see that they brought gifts to God. We also read that God spoke to Cain. He even warned him about the sin that was trying to ensnare him. Oh if only Cain had listened. If only we would listen!

Thank God for his marvelous and mysterious plan to redeem and reconcile us! Once we receive Jesus as our Savior, God no longer sees our sin. There is no record of it either (so please do not believe the horrible teaching that when you get to heaven you see a highlight reel of all of your sins and mistakes!). Your sin is forgiven and forgotten. You now have the ability to commune with God in His presence. When He looks at you He sees you as pure and blameless, as He created you to be, not as you currently are. If that doesn’t make you love Him, I don’t know what will!

If you find yourself ensnared in sin, or hiding in the bushes full of shame from your past sin, please understand that God has not kicked you out of the garden. He has not banished you from His presence. The blood of Jesus has reconciled you completely to God. You can go before Him day or night with confidence that when He looks at you He sees you as pure and blameless. He sees you right now, today, as the Girl He created you to be, not as the Girl you currently are.

As for the gap between who He created you to be, and who you currently are, Jesus is the one that promises to fill that gap so you may run your race and live out the plans and purpose God has for you and your life. Hallelujah! Thank you Jesus!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your fierce and faithful love towards me. Thank you for reconciling me to yourself through the blood of Jesus. Thank you for seeing me as pure, blameless, and without fault. Help me to see myself as you see me. Help me let go of my past sins and failures so I can be free to be me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Grace, and Time In His Presence,

Jen

 

 

 

 

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Jesus, Your Eternal BFF

This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. -Colossians 1:21

Last night at youth group we invited students to come up to the alter after service if they needed prayer. I had three girls come to me and ask me to pray for them regarding their friendships.

Each of them were dealing with friendship hurts. They are at the age where they are best friends one day and enemies the next. Middle and high school is a tough place filled with gossip, betrayal, back stabbing and hurtful words.

Seeing the hurt and confusion in their eyes broke my heart and brought me back to those years. I don’t think any of us escape experiencing the horrible feeling of losing a friend. It especially hurts when it is for reasons unknown to us. We wonder what we did wrong. We wonder what is wrong with us. We wonder if things will ever be the same again.

The worst is the panic feeling that we have knowing we have shared EVERYTHING with our best friend. They know our secrets, our failures, our dreams, and our crushes. We know that these things will most likely be revealed to others and used against us. We walk down the hall wondering who knows which of our secrets. We assume every snicker is directed towards us. We wish we could hide in our locker or under a desk until the next victim of the week is revealed.

The more girls experience friendship hurts, the harder it is for them to develop true friendships. They carry around hurt upon hurt. They bring these hurts into future relationships. Many never truly recover from them.

I know many women that seem as though they are thirteen year old girls stuck in forty year old bodies. They carry their past friendship hurts with them. The workplace is filled with the same high school behavior such as gossip, cliques, cool kids, bullies, double standards, and back stabbing. Lord help us!

We are told in Romans 5:10 Our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son. Yes, Jesus is our friend. He is our confidant. He is the keeper of secrets. He is the One we can go to no matter what mood we are in. He loves us when we are happy, sad, silly, angry, hurt, or confused. He is the best listener and problem solver. He will never leave you or forsake you. He will also NEVER betray you!

Not only does He want to be your best friend today and forever, He also wants to heal your past hurts. If there are any hurts you are carrying around from your youth, or even as an adult, He would love nothing more than to heal your heart and set you free. You can trust Him with everything. He will never ever use your failures or feelings against you. He will never reveal them to others. He will never reject you.

If you feel hurt for any reason today, I encourage you to take your hurts to Jesus, your eternal best friend. Pour your heart out to him. He already knows your hurts. He wants to heal them. He is waiting for you to come to Him so you may experience His perfect love and redeeming grace. He will restore your ability to love, trust, share, and do life with others without fear!

Dear Heavenly Father, I come to you in the name of Jesus. Thank you for restoring my friendship with you through your Son. Thank you for being my hiding pace in times of trouble. Thank you for being my refuge and strength. Thank you for promising to never leave me or forsake me. Thank you for caring about the details of my life. Thank you for healing all of my hurts as I pour them out to you. In Jesus; name, Amen.

Love, Grace, and Eternal Friendship For Us All,

Jen

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Restored to Innocence

 And by the blood of his cross, everything in heaven and earth is brought back to himself—back to its original intent, restored to innocence again!-Colossians 1:20 The Passion Translation

Yes, this is the same verse again. However, it is in a different translation :). If you recall, the previous translation read; and through Christ God reconciled everything to himself.

We looked at the word reconcile and learned it means to be set apart, dedicated for a purpose, and restored. We spent the last two days looking at what it means to be set apart and dedicated for a purpose. Today we are going to wrap up this verse by looking at what it means to be restored.

Restore: to bring back to an original condition, to put back to a former place, position, or rank

Brought back to an original condition. What original condition? Put back to a former place, position or rank. What was our former place, position, and rank? In order to understand all we have been restored to, we need to look at what our original condition, place, position and rank were.

The verse does not point us back to ourselves. Our original condition was not something we want to be restored back to. According to Psalm 51:5, we are born sinners. Yes, we may be born innocent in the sense that we haven’t outwardly sinned, but we are born with the same sinful nature that was brought into the world the day Adam and Eve fell for the serpents lies.

What is it then that we are restored to? What happens when we accept the Good News that Jesus bore and paid for all of our sins and infirmities on the cross so we would not have to? What happens when we realize all of our sins (past, present, and future) are truly forgiven? What happens when we realize we can now go boldly before the throne of grace and pour out our requests to the King of King and Lord of Lords? What happens when we truly understand that when God looks at us today He sees us as pure and blameless?

I will tell you what I believe happens. I believe we are restored to the original condition, place, position, and rank that Adam and Eve were in before they sinned. The condition, place, position, and rank are things I get very excited over.

In Genesis 1:28 God blesses Adam and Eve and tells them to fill the earth and govern it. They are to reign over all of the animals and fish and birds. We read in Genesis 3:8 that God was walking in the garden looking for Adam and Eve. We also learn that Adam was so close to God that he knew the sound of God walking and could clearly hear his voice.

These verses show us a very close and intimate relationship between Adam and God. They walked and talked together. God gave Adam authority over all that was on the earth. God provided everything Adam could ever need and Adam didn’t have to struggle to provide for his family.

We all know what happened. Adam and Eve broke the only rule God gave them and lost their innocence. They lost their authority. They lost their place in the garden.

According to today’s verse everything that Adam lost was restored in Jesus. Once again we have the ability to be with God in his presence, to talk to him and hear from him in his still small voice. Our sins have been forgiven and we have been declared innocent. We find rest in Jesus and no longer have to struggle and toil for provision.

I like to sit and imagine what the garden must have been like. I imagine the colors and smells were amazing. I picture walking by a lion and scratching behind his ear like he’s Cat. I picture it being about 75 and sunny all the time. I think how crazy it must’ve been to walk alongside the Creator of the Universe. The hardest thing to imagine is ever being okay walking around naked…

Maybe we don’t have the colors, smells, and ability to play with lions at this time, but we do have the best part of the garden. We have the ability to have a close, intimate relationship with God. As the old hymn goes, he walks with me and he talks with me. That privilege and blessing came through the blood of Jesus, and through him we have been restored. Don’t let the enemy try to deceive you out of that truth- his MO hasn’t changed since he first slithered up to Eve.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me. Thank you for being the God of restoration. Thank you for bringing us back to our place and position through the blood of Jesus. Thank you for bringing us back to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Grace, and Complete Restoration For Us All,

Jen

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Dedicated To A Life Of Purpose

and through him (Christ) God reconciled everything to himself. -Colossians 1:20

Yes, we are still on this short verse. If you recall from yesterday we looked at the definition of the word reconcile. We discovered that reconcile means: to set apart, to dedicate for a purpose, and to restore. We spent our time focusing on what it means to be set apart. Today we will look at what it means to be dedicated for a purpose.

For those of you who know me, you know the word purpose can put me into a bit of a tizzy. When I start asking myself what my purpose is, and whether or not I am fulfilling it, I can easily end up in a pit of frustration and even despair. I need to self talk my way out of the pit as I remind myself what God has to say about the plans and purposes He has for our lives.

It says in 2 Timothy 1:9 for He delivered us and saved us and called us with a holy calling [a calling that leads to a consecrated life—a life set apart—a life of purpose] not because of our works [or because of any personal merit—we could do nothing to earn this], but because of His own purpose and grace 

This verse reminds us that God is the one who has set us apart through Christ, and there is nothing we can do to earn or deserve our set apart status. It also tells us that a life set apart is in itself purposeful. Lastly, we see that He has done this amazing work in us to fulfill His own purpose in our lives.

To me that is not only Good News, it is great news! I am assured that since He has his own purpose for my life, He will in fact see to it that it is fulfilled. We haven’t been set apart by grace and then left to struggle and figure out on our own, how to live our set apart, purposeful lives. No! We have been set apart by His grace, and our purposes will be fulfilled by His grace.

Proverbs 19:21 tells us Many plans are in a man’s mind, But it is the Lord’s purpose for him that will stand (be carried out).

It is good to dream big and make future plans as long as we understand that in the end, God’s plans for us are the ones that will be carried out. There is no need to worry or waste time wondering if we are living out our purpose (preaching to myself here). Our job is to believe that God has good plans for us (because He tells us he does in Jeremiah 29:11) and trust that He will see those plans fulfilled in our lives.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for setting me apart for your purpose. Thank you for your Word that promises you will see that my purpose is fulfilled. Thank you for your unfailing love and faithfulness. Thank you for the gift of faith. Thank you for your grace in every area of my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Grace, and A Life of Purpose,

Jen

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Your Set Apart Status

and through him (Christ) God reconciled everything to himself. -Colossians 1:20

Last week when we looked at the verse above we focused on the word everything. I wanted to make sure you were firmly grounded in the truth that YOU are included in the word everything. Every single thing on earth has been reconciled to God through Jesus’ death on the cross. This includes you!

Now that we know we are all included, lets take a look at what it is we are actually included in.

Reconcile: to re-consecrate: (to once again make or declare sacred; set apart, or dedicated for a purpose to the service of a deity)

to restore: (to bring back to an original condition, to put back to a former place, position, or rank)

In reading the definition for the word reconcile we discover that we have been set-apart, dedicated for a purpose, and brought back to our original condition.

God has set apart many things for Himself. In a quick study of scripture, you will see, among other things, He has:

  • Set apart the Jews as his own special possession
  • Set apart the Levites as his royal priesthood
  • Set apart cities of refuge
  • Set apart the temple for worship and offering sacrifices
  • Set apart the Sabbath and feast days
  • Set apart Jesus for us
  • Set apart US!

In Acts 26:18 Paul (still Saul at the time) has a life changing encounter with Jesus. Jesus tells him “I am sending you to the Gentiles to open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in me.”

To be set apart means to be sanctified, or made holy. It has taken me years to comprehend (and perhaps I am still learning) that we are made holy simply by believing Jesus has made us holy. I often find myself striving and struggling to “be good”. I understand that the blood of Jesus washed my sins white as snow, but somehow after that initial cleansing it is up to me to stay white as snow.

Anyone who has found themselves trapped in this lie knows it is impossible to keep yourself white as snow. We are imperfect people living in a corrupted world. We will fall short. Daily. Trying to keep yourself holy will either lead you to a sense of failure and defeat, or even worse, a sense of self-righteousness.

We all know brothers and sisters in the Lord that have fallen into either of these traps. I myself have fallen into both. For a few years it seemed as though I vacillated between either not feeling good enough to feeling superior. Either trap is a dangerous place to live. It will make you judgmental towards yourself and others. It will rob you of peace and joy. It will take your eyes off of Jesus and place them on to yourself.

As you go about your day today I encourage you to keep your eyes on and your faith in Jesus. Trust that He has set you apart and made you holy. We do not become more like Jesus through striving in our own self efforts. We become more like Him when we spend time with Him through prayer, praise, and studying his Word. As Saul experienced, you cannot encounter the Lord and remain the same.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me. Thank you for sending your Son to sanctify me. Thank you for setting me apart and making me holy. Help me to understand that it is not up to me to be perfect, but to rest in your perfect love for me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Grace, Love, and a Revelation of our Set Apart Status,

Jen

 

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Do You Really Believe?

and through him (Christ) God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.  -Colossians 1:20

Do you ever feel as though God is angry, frustrated, or disappointed in you? Do you ever feel as though you are at odds with God? Do you ever imagine God sitting on His throne looking down and shaking His head back and forth as He turns to the angels and says “Can you believe that Girl? She did it again! When is she ever going to get it right?”

Your initial response may be “No! I know that God is not mad at me.” but do you really believe that? Do you really believe that there is nothing you can do, no mistake you can make, no sin you can commit, that will separate you from God’s love? Do you really believe that not only does God love you, but He truly likes you (there is a difference- and for those who are married or have kids you know what I am talking about!). He loves and likes you every second of every day, on your best days and your worst days.

How do you know if you truly believe this amazing grace-filled Good News? Take a look at your thoughts and actions. If you are walking with your head down, under the weight of guilt and condemnation, you do not really believe God is not angry you. If you are afraid to pray big and bold prayers because of all the mistakes you have made, you do not really believe God is not disappointed in you. If you have been avoiding God because you do not feel worthy, or worse yet, you feel too dirty to go to Him, you do not really believe that He has one hundred and fifty percent forgiven you.

Not only has He forgiven you, but according to today’s verse, He has reconciled and made peace with youHow do I know this? Simple. Read today’s verse again. It says God reconciled everything and made peace with everything.

Do you know what the definition of everything is? According to dictionary.com everything means: every single thing.

We are going to dig deeper into these scriptures over the next few days. Before we can do that you need to understand that what we are going to discuss includes you! You have in no way been disqualified! Let the Truth that God is not angry, frustrated, or disappointed in you settle into your heart. He has made complete peace with you.

If you don’t believe me, feel free to read ahead to Colossians 1:21-22.:)

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me fiercely. Thank you for your Word that brings life and blessing to my life. Help me to believe that you are not angry, frustrated, or disappointed in me. Help me to see myself as you see me. Give me wisdom and revelation as I study your Word to learn who I am in Christ. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Grace, and Understand For Us All,

Jen

 

 

 

 

 

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Rivers of Difficulty

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.” -Isaiah 43:2

We are still studying the book of Colossians, but I am sitting on the next Colossians post for some reason. Not sure if it is a timing thing, or if I simply cannot put into words what I want to say. I started diving into a verse and it took me so far down a side trail that I am not sure what I am to do with it yet.

No worries though as this morning I found sudden inspiration. Yes, I was inspired by something- don’t laugh at me- Cat. Yes, the darn Cat. I think God finds it quite funny when He sends me inspiration through Cat because I am a DOG person! A big dog person! Not a little meowing fur ball person. Yet I have no less than five Cat inspired messages in my journal at this moment. And a fresh one occurred just now. Stop laughing sister Sheryl…

I was sitting at my writing desk. I had my legs up on the desk while I was praying because my lower back is sore. Cat saw my lap as an invitation and jumped right up into it. She quickly assumed her “I am not leaving until you love me and pet me real good” position. I barely started petting her and her purr box (that’s what we call it) revved into overdrive. She was in heaven. She was sprawled over my lap hugging my leg with her little paws and had her happy and content face on. And yes- I do hate the fact that I know what her happy and content face looks like; along with all her other faces for that matter.

There we were perfectly content. I was praying and she was purring. She was as peaceful, content, and happy as could be. I needed to move my chair a little so I picked Cat up while I adjusted so she wouldn’t fall. Cat being Cat, she didn’t like that. Her purr box immediately turned off, she scrambled frantically out of my arms, jumped off my lap and ran out of the room.

She went from completely happy, content, and peaceful, to frantic, fearful and skittish. I laughed at her and said “Trust issues much?” (Yes- I am now confessing that I talk to Cat)

As soon as I said that to Cat, I was reminded of my self on Monday. Monday morning I had the most amazing Bible and prayer time with the Lord. I saw things in his Word I haven’t seen before. I have pages and pages of notes and questions and ideas I need to look into more as a result of this study time. I was so excited and encouraged as I headed out for my day. I felt like Cat. My purr box was in overdrive. I had perfect peace and a sense that it was going to be a great day.

Then I got to work. The very first e-mail I read put me on high alert. My purr box turned off. I felt frantic, panicked, and skittish as I tried to solve the issue I had just been made aware of. I may have recovered if that was the only situation that came my way Monday, but it wasn’t. It felt like one thing after another. I wanted out. I wanted to mic drop my job so bad and run back to my study room at home where life was peaceful and full of good promises.

I had to self talk myself through the entire day. I was not able to recover my sense of peace and comfort. In my mind that could not happen at work. It could only be recovered once I got home.

Somewhere along the line I had forgotten what it says in Isaiah 43:2 “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.”

God is with us wherever we go. He is with us in every situation. When I lifted Cat up to protect her from falling, she simply felt me squeezing her and taking her out of her place of rest. My intent was to put her right back in that place of peace after I made my adjustment. However, she was uncomfortable for that brief moment and squirmed away. She still hasn’t returned.

I was no different. When the squeeze was on at work, I forgot the One that lifts me up when the rivers of difficulty flow. He was with me all day but I was scrambling on my own trying to stay afloat. Oh how I still have so much more to learn when it comes to resting in God’s promises.

If you find yourself feeling skittish about the river you are in, I encourage you to go straight to the Lord for protection. He will keep you safe. He will either keep you afloat while the rivers rush by, or He will lift you out of them completely. Don’t be afraid of the squeeze. It is not meant to harm you. It is meant to protect you!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your fierce love. Thank you for protecting me from the rivers of difficulty I am in. Help me to maintain my peace even as the river rushes past me. Help me to rest in your arms while you carry me through. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Grace, and a River of Peace For Us All,

Jen

 

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A Visible Image of God

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. -Colossians 1:15a

In the Old Testament no one was allowed to truly see God. Their human body could not handle His glory. If they were to actually see God, His glory would kill them. Even his greatest prophets couldn’t handle his glory. When Moses asked to see God, God replies, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. . . . But . . . you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live” (Exodus 33:19–20).

Do you ever wonder what God looks like? Do you have a picture of Him in your head? I don’t where this image comes from, but for me He has a great head of white hair (like really great hair) and a face that shows age and wisdom but not in a wrinkled kind of way.  His eyes are eyes of fire and lightening yet they are not scary. He appears magnificently large and authoritative, yet again I am not afraid. He wears a white robe that is the whitest white I have ever seen, and it drapes down over His throne.

What about Jesus? What does He look like? In my mind His appearance is way different than God the Father’s. He has nice, shoulder length, slightly wavy, brown hair. His skin is smooth, somewhat olive in tone. He has the kindest eyes I have ever imagined. His eyes are filled with compassion and forgiveness. One look at Him will forever change you.

I think many people have an image of God the Father, as the big, stern, demanding, authoritative one, and Jesus is the nice one. Kind of like good cop, bad cop. But Jesus says in John 14:9, Anyone who has seen me, has seen the Father!

We may not have the ability to see the face of God the Father, but we can see the heart of God by looking at Jesus. It says in Colossians 1:15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.

When we look at Jesus in the gospels, what do we see? We see a man full of compassion and grace. We see wisdom. We see humility. We see patience. We see love.

When looking at the life of Jesus, we see love, as explained in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7  Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

We see Jesus fulfill every description of love during his time on earth. Since Jesus is the visible image of God, we see that God is also love. When the enemy tries to tell me God is disappointed in me, or God can’t believe I made that same mistake again, I find comfort in replacing the word love in the above verses with the name of God. It also makes a great prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to come and be the visible image of you. thank you for who you are. Thank you for loving me. You are patient and kind with me. You are not boastful or proud or rude towards me. You do not demand your own way, you give me free will. You are not irritable, and you keep no record of  wrongs, I am truly forgiven. You do not rejoice over injustice but rejoice whenever the truth wins out. You never give up on me, lose faith in me, you are always hopeful towards me, and you have endured through every circumstance for me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Grace, and An Image of God For Us All,

Jen

 

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Enjoy All That Is Yours Today!

He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. -Colossians 1:12b

Yesterday we looked at the first part of Colossians 1:12, which included part of Paul’s prayer for the church in Colosse. He prayed that they would be filled with joy, always thanking the Father.

I suggested that this fullness of joy often comes when we stop and take time to thank God for all He has done for us and through us. Taking our eyes off of all that is wrong and putting them not only on all that is right, but on the One that made them right, minimizes the impact of the things that rob us of our joy.

The remainder of verse twelve reveals to us another reason we should be living in the fullness of joy. It says He has enabled us to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light.

In the past, I have read that verse and thought “that’s nice”, and moved on. I have never really stopped to meditate on what it is telling us. Last month when I began reading Colossians, the word inheritance jumped out at me. “What exactly is the inheritance that belongs to me?” I wrote in my journal.

I knew the inheritance was more than the ability to go to heaven some day. Though I do not comprehend it all, I do understand that being a child of God is so much more than a ticket to heaven. I know that we have the privilege of going boldly before the throne of Grace to commune with the Lord at anytime (Hebrews 4:16) . I know we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us to guide us in all Truth (John 16:13). I know we have forgiveness of sin (Romans 5:15).

These are all wonderful Truths, that I am truly grateful for, but they really don’t sound like an “inheritance”.

Inheritance- something that is or may be inheritedproperty passing at the owner’s death to the heir or those entitled to succeed; legacy.

I sat on this verse for a week or two meditating on how to comprehend and put into words, exactly what our inheritance is. During my study time the Lord brought me to the story of the prodigal son.

Most people are familiar with the story of the prodigal son. It is one of those stories that even the world has heard of- kind of like David and Goliath. As I was reading it (Luke 15:11-32), I was thinking in the back of my mind “I know this story by heart. I have heard this story told a million ways over the years. I even consider myself a prodigal.” I continued to read though, knowing that if I was brought there, there was clearly a one million and one detail for me to comprehend.

At the end of the story we see the older brother having a meltdown. He is angry over the fact that his father is throwing a party for his baby brother who selfishly ran off to spend his inheritance while the older brother stayed home working his butt off (Jen Gilbert translation).

He complains to his father about it. His father responds by saying in Luke 15:31 “Look, dear son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours”.

The relationship between the father and two sons in the story of the prodigal is the story of God’s heart towards us. The father’s response to the younger son shows us there is nothing we can do to separate us from the love of God. The father’s response to the older son shows us that all that belongs to our Father is freely given to us now. We do not need to wait until we get to heaven to inherit all of the good things our Father has for us.

It gives Him great pleasure to bless us, especially when we use our blessings to be a blessing to others. There are many Christians that live their life like the older brother. They work and work FOR God, but never understand His love and generosity towards them. They think they have to earn it. When they see others freely receive good things, they get angry and jealous, believing it is not fair. If not dealt with this anger can cause them to drift away from the Lord. I have seen it happen in many. I have been there myself.

Let’s not be the older brother. Let’s join the party! Let’s celebrate all that our Father is doing in all our Sisters lives, knowing that there is plenty for each and every one of us. I don’t know about you, but that right there makes me happy- joyful even. Funny how that works 🙂

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your fierce and reckless love towards me. Thank you that when I am a long ways off from you, you look for me, waiting for me to come home to you. Thank you for the good gifts you have for me. Help me to freely receive every good gift that comes from you. Use me to be a light and a blessing to others. In Jesus’ name, Amen

Love, Grace, and an Inheritance For Us All,

Jen

 

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Tiggerish Faith

May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father    Colossians 1:12

When my kids were little they used to love watching Winnie the Pooh while I was driving. Actually they loved watching just about any DVD while I was driving. However, as the driver, there were certain DVD’s that I could tolerate listening to more than others. Even remembering those days for a moment has me singing the map song from Dora the Explorer….ugh!

Winnie the Pooh was easy on the ears. There were no annoying songs, voices or catch phrases (Elmo likes to help) to get stuck in my head. My favorite character was Eeyore. Now those of you that know me well might take me for a Tigger kind of Girl. I do tend to bounce around full of energy, looking for fun, in my seemingly happy go lucky sort of way. Just like Tigger, nothing stops me in my tracks faster than someone that needs a little cheering up.

Yes, I like Tigger; but Eeyore is the one that makes me smile the most. His glass is so empty that I am not sure he even has a glass anymore. Though most of the words that come out of his mouth are depressing and filled with self-pity, there is just something likable about him.

“If it is a good morning, which I doubt” is a familiar phrase of his. I think it’s cute when he says it. Funny thing is, I know a lot of real life Eeyores, and they are not so cute.

You know who I am talking about right? They are the people at work who have a permanent scowl. They are the people who when you walk by, smile, and say “good morning”, they stare straight ahead and don’t say anything (who does that?!) They are the people who you share good news with and their response makes you wish you would’ve kept your mouth shut.

Now don’t misunderstand me. I am not suggesting that we need to act all Tiggerish all the time. We all have bad days and seasons of true sadness. I am not talking about the person that is struggling with real life. I am talking about the ones that could win the lottery and their response would be “My luck, I will die tomorrow”.

Though we all have Eeyore days, as Christians we really should be more on the Tiggerish side when it comes to our faith. We should be so full with the joy of our salvation that we can’t help but bounce around sharing the Good News with others don’t you think?

It’s not that easy though is it? Life often seems to get in the way of the joy. That is probably why it is one of the things Paul prays for the church about. He prays that the believers may be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. If it came naturally, I am guessing he wouldn’t have felt the need to pray for them about it.

What if you switched the verse around to read always thanking the Father fills you with joy. I am not suggesting Paul got it wrong. I am suggesting that one way to be filled with joy is to stop and think of all of the things God has done for us. When I still myself long enough to meditate on all of the blessings in my life, big and small, I cannot help but feel joy for what a good good Father our God truly is.

When we fail to recognize the many things we have to be thankful for, it is easy to fall into Eeyore Christian mode. Our outlook becomes “at least I get to go to heaven someday” (you need to say it in Eeyore’s voice to get the full effect).

If you are feeling like you have lost your bounce, put on a little worship music (may I suggest Bethel Worship) and take a moment to thank God for all He has done and continues to do in your life. I guarantee you will start feeling a little better. If something is weighing you done please fill out prayer request. I would consider it an honor and privilege to pray for you.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me on my best days and my worst days. Thank you for all you have done for me. Fill me with joy to the overflow so I may be a light and a blessing to others. Help me let go of the pain and hurts that weigh me down. Restore my joy so I may share the Good News of your love with others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, Grace, and a Tiggerish Day To You All,

Jen

 

 

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