Jesus Doeth All Things Well

This past week, I struggled with the sin of worry. Disability forces me to be dependent on government programs (never a good thing) and one of those programs didn’t seem to be operating properly. Thankfully everything got sorted out Friday, but until then I battled to trust God’s sovereignty.

In the midst of the struggle, I came across a lesser known Fanny Crosby hymn that the Lord used to both convict me of my sinful anxiety and assure me of the Father’s care for me. I share it here as a reminder to myself, but also as an encouragement to you. Whatever befalls us, we need to trust that Jesus really does all things well.

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Worthiness: Ours Or His?

Rich In Mercy

The logic goes that Jesus died for us because He saw something in us worth saving.  That perspective certainly sounds reasonable, and I’d venture to say that every one of us would love to believe it. Doesn’t it thrill you to think that the Lord saw something special and valuable in you? That you were worth saving?

Once again,  however, this interpretation of Christ’s death subtly shifts attention from Christ’s mercy and grace to us. It neglects the wretched condition of our souls by insinuating that we actually deserved God’s notice.  In fact, it pretty much implies that He had an obligation to save us. Could we even say that He is lucky to have such magnificent people in His kingdom?

As much as the idea that we possess something of intrinsic value appeals to us, nothing in the Bible supports it. On the contrary, God’s Word repeatedly emphasizes our unworthiness as a backdrop to His wondrous grace.Let me take you back to Ephesians 2:1-10 for a moment.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. ~~Ephesians 2:1-10 (ESV)

Verses 1-3 paint a particularly nasty picture of us, don’t  they? By  nature, it says, we were children of wrath. What value could a child of wrath, dead in sin and ruled by fleshly passions, possibly have? Why would a holy God have any compelling reason for shedding His innocent blood for any of us?

Verses 4-7 answer that question. The Lord lavished His salvation on us in order to display the riches of His grace and kindness. Our salvation points, not to any imaginary worth on our part, but to His generosity in saving such undeserving sinners.

The purpose of our salvation, then, is to showcase the Lord’s character. What a wonderful God He is to extend that degree of compassion on worthless sinners who merit nothing but His wrath. Although nothing about us commends us to Him, Jesus willingly went to the cross to accept the Father’s wrath — wrath that we deserved! His atoning sacrifice highlights His graciousness and compassion, revealing what a loving God He is!

He is the worthy one, not any of us. Worship (which means the ascribing of worth) goes totally to Him. How utterly magnificent that He would choose to love vile creatures like us! The more we understand that we had no value in and of ourselves, the more we want to worship Him for His inexplicable mercy and grace.

Verse 10 completes the beautiful picture of God’s grace in saving us, declaring that He regenerates us into His workmanship. Though we have no worth of our own, Christ gives us His worth, graciously using us as His agents of good works. At this mercy, we can only praise Him.

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At The Cross

What makes you valuable? Is it your skilled understanding of the Bible? Perhaps the number of followers you have on social media? How about your connections with well-known Christian personalities?

The hymn I’ve chosen to present today humbles me. As much as I feel tempted to boast in all the things listed in the paragraph above, I must realize that only Christ gives me worth. Nothing I do either enhances or diminishes my worth precisely because I derive my worth exclusively from Him. And He assigned that worth to me at the cross.

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Creation Inspires This Our Hymn Of Grateful Praise

When I lived in Marin County, California, I loved the wheelchair accessible trail at the summit of Mount Tamalpias. My friend Valerie took me up there for one last wheelchair hike in July of 2002, just before I moved to the Greater Boston Area to marry John.

I still remember thrilling as we looked down at a hawk in flight, as well as admiring the summer flowers and grasses that cascaded down the mountainside below us. As we savored the beauty, Valerie mused, “I don’t see how anyone can deny that God created all of this.” I had to agree. Mount Tamalpias always left me awed by God’s variety in His creation. I guess that’s why I loved it so.

Those wonderful memories of Mount Tam flood back as I listen to the simple hymn that I’m posting today. God’s creation indeed causes me to praise the Lord for making such a splendid universe. Even more, it inspires me to adore Him.

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Forgetful Evangelicals And The Entitlement Mentality

Glory Of The CrossI believe evangelicals of the 21st Century have by and large lost the sense that God has saved us for His honor and glory. As we’ve incorporated Charismatic teaching and psychological principles into our weakened version of Christianity, we’ve accepted the mistaken idea that God exists to heal our bodies, expand our bank accounts, make our marriages satisfying and remove all temptation from us. We conveniently forget why He calls us to Him in the first place.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. ~~1 Peter 2:9 (ESV)

Anyone can distort the Bible into false promises of health, prosperity and your best life now, insisting that God wants us to be happy. But, even though the Lord is a good Father Who gives good gifts to His children, He doesn’t give those gifts to encourage self-indulgence. Just as He often blesses us, He also often disciplines us for the express purpose of leading us into holiness.

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. ~~Hebrews 12:7-11 (ESV)

We don’t generally gravitate to passages like this. From the Baby Boomers on, we increasingly view life as something designed to accommodate our desires and surround us with pleasure.

We’ve all seen angry rants on Facebook by people who deem their circumstances unfair and think their lives should be easier. Sadly, some of these rants come from professing Christians. Perhaps they’ve even come from you! And we allow ourselves to think that God tolerates our rants because our adverse circumstances offend Him as much as they offend us.

We forget, influenced by the entitlement mentality that saturates our culture, that God may actually decree our trials in order to address sin issues in us that hinder our growth towards holiness. Quite simply, we forget that God created us to glorify Him rather than to consume His blessings as if He owes us anything.

Listen, I write this post to myself as much as to anyone else. None of us particularly enjoys the Lord’s discipline, nor do we often hunger to be holy. We need constant reminding that God saved us, not for our personal fulfillment, but so that He could have a people who reflect His holiness.

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Alleluia — The Only Reasonable Thing To Say!

I doubt anyone is surprised that I’ve selected the most popular Easter hymn to feature this week. I’m quite sure other bloggers who post Sunday hymns will also post this one. I’m equally quite sure that you sang it in church this morning.

But please don’t let the familiarity of this hymn dull you to its glorious message. God means for us to see Christ’s resurrection as a joyous promise that, at His return, He will raise our bodies to live eternally with Him. For this reason, Alleluia can be our only response, and we can’t possibly say it enough!

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They Killed The Man Who Would Not Suffer Loss

Today’s song probably doesn’t technically qualify as a hymn, but I love its portrayal of Christ’s relationship with the stubborn Pharisees. For all their study of Scripture, these men were trapped in blindness, unable to recognize the very Messiah they claimed to await.

Often, people challenge Christians who study the Bible, asking if we’d be as clueless if Jesus appeared to us. I thought about that question as I listened to this song, remembering that those who pose this question typically want a humble answer of “Perhaps not.” The objective is to elevate an experiential knowledge over the Word of God.

In part, they make a valid point. None of us can recognize the Lord unless The Holy Spirit illumines God’s Word as we read and study it. Indeed, Nicodemus came to saving faith in Jesus because the Spirit opened his eyes to see that Jesus fulfilled the Law and the Prophets. His study didn’t blind him to the truth. Rather, he needed the Holy Spirit to help him comprehend his studies.

So yes, I would recognize Jesus if He appeared to me because His Holy Spirit would reveal Him as I consulted Scripture.

The other Pharisees in the First Century could not recognize their Messiah precisely because the Holy Spirit hadn’t opened their ability to understand Scripture. If they actually had understood Who He was, God’s sovereign plan of atonement wouldn’t have happened. They could not understand in order that they could not alter God’s plan of redemption.

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