My two young daughters discovered glow sticks a few years ago. Bendable gleaming rods you can wear as bracelets became the craze in our home and an addition to our nighttime routine. My daughters would go to bed with a glow stick around their wrists but would wake up to find the light long gone. In many ways, Lysa TerKeurst’s What Happens When Women Walk in Faith reminds me of those glow sticks.
After being slandered, mocked, spat upon, and beaten, Jesus is led to a Roman cross. There, the soldiers strip Him of His clothes and divide His garments among themselves, casting lots for His tunic. The baby of Luke 2 is the Man hanging naked in John 19:23-24. All this, for the sake of our atonement.
This year I’m partnering with 24 other women to create a gospel centered Advent Devotional designed specifically for moms and it's available at no cost to you! The devotional is designed to come straight to your email inbox. Each morning between December 1st and Christmas Day, you'll receive a short devotion on how the coming of Christ fulfills a specific longing common to motherhood along with questions for application/reflection. You don't have to remember anything, pay for anything, or print anything. Just visit this LINK to sign up!
Journeywomen is a podcast hosted by Hunter Beless. Each week, Hunter and a guest explore how believers can "gracefully navigate the seasons and challenges we face on our journeys to glorify God." It's an honor to appear on Episode 61 of her show. I enjoyed chatting with Hunter on the topic of sanctification and hope that you are encouraged by it.
As we reflect on the narrative, we do well to consider the “little sins” we flirt with, justify and excuse that can begin a “sinkhole” in our faith. Ephesians 5:3 states: “But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.” While always imperfect on this side of eternity, Christians are to guard against the smallest hint of sin. We do so with the help of the Spirit, knowing that--even when we trip--our security rests in the man who, like Naboth, was falsely charged and killed, yet rose again for our justification (Romans 4:25). He is able to keep you from falling and will present you faultless (Jude 1:24).
God told Israel there would be blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience ( Deuteronomy 28). God’s Word proves true! So how should believers today understand this correlation between behavior and blessings/curses? Do faithful believers encounter hardships? Absolutely (2 Corinthians 11:24-29). Does God discipline and reprove His children? He does indeed (Hebrews 12:5-6). Yet in all that, know for certain that the active obedience of Christ secures for the believer the unfailing and never-ending blessings of the Father.
The God who clothed a despairing Adam and Eve doesn’t change (Genesis 3:21)! That same God justified a filthy high priest named Joshua and He continues to exchange insufficient coverings for a garment of His own making (Zechariah 3:4-5). Those who trust in Him alone for salvation receive a robe made white by the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14). “Naked, I come to Thee for dress; helpless, I look to Thee for grace." I’m so thankful that Jesus, the Rock of Ages, is my all-sufficient covering!
The theme of Proverbs 3:1-12 reminds us that God indeed blesses the obedience of His covenant people. At this point, those driven by performance may resolve to obey by the strength of their will. Others, more aware of their shortcomings, may be tempted to despair. So let's remember Jesus, the only Son who perfectly obeys the Father’s instructions. He is the Son who receives the “favor and good success in the sight of God and man” promised in Proverbs 3:4 (Luke 2:52). Jesus is our hope!
The One for whom all things were created; the One who is the image of the invisible God and the firstborn of all creation; the One in whom all things hold together and is preeminent above all (Colossians 1:16); that Person condescended to be born as a poor carpenter! He made Himself nothing and suffered that He might make His enemies members of His own family. Jesus’ “hospitality” is out of this world!
In Revelation 4 and 5, we see the throne of a transcendent God. And between the throne is the Lamb, once slain (crucified) and now standing (resurrected). He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah and the Root of David; the heavens and the universe serenade Him for He alone is worthy to open the scroll--a symbol of God’s purposes for history--revealing and accomplishing all of God’s decrees. Sisters, the world is not spinning aimlessly. God is fulfilling His purposes...and He’s doing so through a worthy Lamb.
This week, I was reminded of prayers yet to be answered. For sometime now, we have made request of God for gifts we believe to be good and God honoring. We have prayed for years with no seeming or immediate “yes.” But God is God...and for that reason, we trust His “yes,” His “no” and His “wait” as good.
If you are in Christ today and, like me, are tempted by unexpected and difficult circumstances, please receive this good news: Jesus Christ is "the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For everything was created by him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and by him all things hold together" (Colossians 1:15-17). Sister, remember that your Redeemer is the God of the whole earth, the Lord of Armies, what is too difficult for Him?
If my husband and I reduce the Gospel to mere obedience, we tempt our natural “law-keeper” with the false gospel of moralism. She could easily “act” like a church-going Christian without true repentance of sin and trust in Christ’s active obedience on her behalf (2 Corinthians 5:21). Our prayer for her is salvation, not just "good behavior." A saving faith in Christ is far more than being “a good person” who treats others well and believes there’s a God.
On the other hand, if we excuse (and even praise) the bold autonomy of our youngest as “budding leadership,” we dangle the false gospel of self-fulfillment in her eyes and encourage a “best life now” mentality. We love her determination and cleverness...but we want more for her than that. Our prayer is for godly wisdom and boldness that comes from the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7).
As I read the story of Christ’s birth, I wonder: what “looks” did Mary endure when “found” to be with child in Matthew 1:18? Did her cheeks burn under the gaze of Nazareth? Did she suffer shame at the eyes of a doubting Joseph (Matthew 1:19)?
It’s amazing to consider that “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law” and under the ignominy of a curious pregnancy (Galatians 4:4).
I'm thankful to the Reformed African American Network for their re-post of my 2014 article, Parental Failures and the Gospel. The beginning paragraphs follow and the full post can be found here. Always grateful for your read!
I could begin this post with countless descriptions of my parental failures. Moments when anger got the best of me; times when a little patience would have made all the difference; or just plain insecurities in making the right decisions for my children at every moment and at every stage of their development.
You might agree that feelings of inadequacy are common to parents; whether relatively new like me or seasoned with experience, we feel the weight of the responsibility and the immensity of the task. But in some ways, feelings of inadequacy can be a blessing!
For some time, David appears perfectly indifferent to these shocking events (2 Samuel 12:1-23). What were Bathsheba's thoughts? How did she experience the stages of grief and change? Were there feelings of guilt and shame? Did she pray similar words as those prayed later by David in Psalm 51:1-2? “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love...Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!” A washing of the soul that no one but the LORD could see.
This is a woman whose wisdom is from above, her words are not conceited but are “pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17). And the LORD remembers Abigail. Her foolish husband, Nabal is struck dead by the LORD ten days after this incident and David is free to request the hand of this beautiful and discerning woman (1 Samuel 25:38-42).
If common experience makes for good friendship, Naomi and Job would have gotten along well. Speaking of the loss of his own health, property and children, Job states: “For the arrows of the Almighty are in me; my spirit drinks their poison; the terrors of God are arrayed against me” (Job 6:4). Naomi and Job knew pain well. And they knew God well, for they attribute their suffering to Him. In short, the two never deny God the honor of His sovereignty amid their pain.
In other words, atonement of sin is settled for those whose trust is in Christ alone. So then God doesn’t love you less when you sin today and more when you obey tomorrow. Instead He loves you because you are His—an adopted son/daughter, made clean through His Son and sealed and preserved by His Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Ephesians 1:13-14).
But what of your persistent sins? Here, we find that Christ still washes the feet of His disciples. What do I mean? “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean” (John 13:10). Those justified in Christ are Simul Justus et Peccator—at the same time just (or righteous) and sinner. We are positioned in Christ and are seen by God through His imputed righteousness yet inherently we sin. We are clean saints with dirty feet. But just as our justification is achieved by God alone, so is our sanctification enabled by Him alone.
I love my children easily and naturally and of course there is nothing wrong with that. But I also have a heart that is desperately idolatrous and prone to leave the God I love. Whenever I place my full satisfaction in something created, whenever I wholly delight my mind in something made, whenever I wrap my value and identity in someone or something apart from Christ, I have molded an idol. And sadly, these self-made gods are easily made; evidence of the residual effects of sin that dwell even in the justified heart (Romans 7:14-25).