LIFE in my life, through a tomb

Romans 8:34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

Remember the Cross! Look to the Cross! These are helpful phrases we often use when someone is dealing with something difficult, or just in our daily lives. Many people remind themselves of the cross, as a sign of forgiveness, redemption, and salvation. Paul tells us here that we have more than the cross- perhaps our phrase should look like this:
Look to the cross! Look to the tomb! Look to the heavens!
So many promises of God, so much power at work in our lives, by the Spirit.
Look to the cross:
We are forgiven. When dealing with sin, we are reminded that God freely offers forgiveness. He answers repentant hearts every time with mercy. When I yell angry words at my spouse, when I’m impatient with the customer service rep, when I neglect my kids or my parents in favor of surfing the web…I am forgiven. I look to my baptism where I died with Christ, my sin drown. Jesus paid the price.
Look to the tomb:
So often in life, the things we deal with are not direct results of our sin. Someone is diagnosed with cancer, mental illness becomes daily reality in a family, terrorism grips schoolchildren in fear. Paul uses the Greek mallon de, for what we see in the ESV as “more than that.” This Greek phrase “is a comparative adverb so it refers to what is better as compared to what is merely “good.” This involves prioritizing or ranking to elevate the better over the good, i.e. the higher priority (the more important) over the less-important.” (http://biblehub.com/greek/3123.htm)
Paul proclaims that Christ did in fact die on the cross, but let us not forget. He ROSE! The tomb is empty and that means LIFE for us. God offers us life, and life to the full, even in the midst of all of it. We rise from the waters to life!
Look to the heavens:
Christ Jesus is at the right hand of God. The Spirit intercedes for us, Christ intercedes for us. So much interceding on our behalf. We look to the skies and have confidence in a Lord that died, was raised to new life, and ascended in to the heavens. He sits on a throne at the right hand of God. He reigns and is in control, come what may.
Look to the cross, friends. Look to the tomb. Look to the heavens.





Dealing with assumptions and accusations

Romans 8:33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
There can be a lot of accusations in the church. Or sometimes it feels like there is a fair amount of unjust assumptions. Someone doesn’t like the way someone made some announcement and someone doesn’t like the way a certain families’ children sit in church. As church work families we often get the insiders view of these assumptions and accusations. We are putting out tiny fires everywhere, trying to help people live Philippians 4:5, “Let your reasonableness be evident to all.” Sometimes, at the worst of times, we are the center of unjust assumptions. We might feel like we’re defending ourselves right and left, whether it’s over big things or small. It seems unfair, unjust.
God encourages us – Live for me. Do what I sent you for. I hold your honor, man does not.
Paul gets it. He has been in that place. Accusations flying. It must have been so frustrating trying to defend himself, to the Christians, to the Hellenists, to the Jewish converts, to the Roman government, to everyone. He spent a good deal of time sharing his testimony, outlining God’s call for his life, as a true apostle and as a redeemed sinner/saint. Paul knew what it meant that God justified not only His sin through Christ’s death and resurrection, but He also justified His Life through Christ’s death and resurrection. Honor, purpose, place, calling, comes from our baptismal identity. God justifies us through the waters and proclaims us worthy of our calling as we die and rise with Him.
People can bring up any charge against us, but perhaps we can see it as Paul saw it- one more chance to share what God has done in our lives, to show what He has redeemed and justified, made holy. We pray with you now that Christ would give you outward joy in the ministry, but in the moments when assumptions abound, Christ still prevails.

Lord, we thank you for the infinite joys you give us in our ministry and families. Please work in the people we share your Word with, to speak and hear Truth, and grant that we would also be speakers and hearers of Truth. May your Love and Grace reign in our homes and our churches. In Jesus Name, Amen.





Who God is v. What God’s Doing

Romans 8:32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

We are not prosperity gospel peoplethis idea that God will reign down blessings if we are only obedient and follow His will. Most of us land somewhere in the middle of knowing that God brings good from all circumstances, God is working to provide for us, and consequences come from sin, but life isn’t cut and dried like the prosperity gospel would have us believe. It’s a confusing business understanding how sin and consequences work in life, and also watching evildoers seemingly prevail at times. What does God mean when he says he will graciously give us all things? What if the thing I need is literally a miracle, and I don’t get it? People look around and end up with questions like “why are there poor people? Why are children hungry and hurting?” We are supposed to hold the answer to these questions as Christians, as church workers and families in the church, but what if we look around and feel just as confused, just as frustrated in the state of the world? (We’re speaking of an external pressure to know, to hold the answers, to always “get it.” Not that we actually believe we hold the answers!)

The answer, as always, lies at the foot of the cross. “He who did not spare his own Son…” The verse isn’t about what we will receive. We can spin our wheels all day and we can come up with some very Biblical answers, but the verse is about who God is. A God, a Father, who did not even spare His own son, for the sake of His children. That is our God. The verse is about relationship with the One who is everything, and relationship with the Son, who is one with the Father. It’s a family circle of Grace and Mercy and Trust.

We may have our own questions about what and when God will provide for whatever need we have on our heart, but God’s answer will always be this- I sent my son. Come to me through Him. He is all you need. The rest is always second.

You see, all of it, what we need beyond Christ is relevant to God. We can share it with Him and praise Him for His very real work in our life. But at the very best, all of what we need or want or desire is second. God’s son really is enough and this is a message we share with a hurting world. This is a message we can share with our hurting spouse or our children struggling. It’s a message God shares with us on the difficult days. Jesus died for your sin. He walks out of the grave with open arms. Everything is redeemable and can be made new in Him. “All things”…everything…given to us new and spotless in Christ.