Chasing “a little bit better”, Freedom in Restoration

Oh goodness. The title for this last week of study just gets right to the heart of it, doesn’t it?

Chasing “a little bit better”…

How often do I reach for a little bit better when God offers me life abundant?

Why do I do it? Why do I eat the crumbs that fall from the table, taking in a little measly morsel of grace when I go to church, and another measly morsel when I converse with a friend, another measly morsel when I finally, finally apologize after lashing out at my husband?

I refuse isolation in this. I know it’s not just me. So many of us are yoked to chasing just a tiny bit better – feeling better, talking better, acting better-

when God wants restoration for us, instead of better.

Galatians 6:1 ties Galatians 5 and 6 together. Read Galatians 5:22-6:2 as one continuous passage:

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

The fruit of the Spirit may as well be Christ living in me to reach out to you and vice versa.

Can you imagine? God does not tell us to reach out to all the put-together people, all the people who live well and walk well in the faith. He tells us, through Paul here, to reach our hand in and offer help to the hurting, to call out sin where it lives, in you and in me, to be honest, when it’s hard and it hurts, but to bear it together.

Sharing our sin, our disgrace openly, within true community and actual care, is I believe the most powerful weapon we have to combat Satan in our current cultural context.

Our culture says, “Shame on you.”

Christ says, “I restore.”

Our culture says, “You can do better.”

Christ says, “I did it all.”

Our culture says, “Don’t let them see your darkness.”

Christ says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light.”

We bring that light to each other. We carry the Word out and into a world so deeply in need, chasing just a tiny bit better and losing.

The oft left unquoted Word from John 17:15 says,

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 

It’s a prayer from Christ Himself over each one of us. We’re quick to quote the next verse:

They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.

A little bit better feels a lot like God letting us keep our junk to ourselves, keeping us from humiliation, keeping us from the embarrassing stain of our own sin, but He has a bolder, bigger plan:

Reveal it, so I can heal it.

(Ok, I didn’t intend for that to rhyme. 😉 )

Christ prayed for us to remain in the world because He knows that a little bit better doesn’t heal – it only patches. Revealing our pain and struggle, revealing where we have fallen short and mess it all up – that not only leads to our restoration, but it also begins the process of restoration for another.

Can we do it? Can we share some secret shame, so that another can find some bright and glorious restoration?

We can’t cast our pearls before swine. We can’t be transparent where there is no relationship, we don’t bare the burden of sin, the weight of sin with people who would take it and trash it underfoot, but in relationship it’s worth the risk.

Paul states in Galatians 6:1 “watch yourselves…” We don’t want to be tempted and thrown into someone else’s drama of sin, but he doesn’t tell us not to risk it. Christ’s solution to this in John 17 is the Word. If we are going to help another through their shame of sin, we bring the Word in genuine care and concern and we wrap it in our own humility of sin and the restoration we have received from Christ Jesus.

It’s so much better than a little bit better…

It’s life together.

It’s Redemption before our eyes.

It’s Him at work in you and me, and between you and me.

It’s remarkable grace.

Can we be done chasing a little bit better…together? I’ll share with you and you share with me. We’ll bear the weight of sin together, confess together, proclaim forgiveness over one another and experience the fresh and utterly weightless mercy of our Savior…together.

#lifetogether – Connect and send someone this week’s free downloadable Dear 52 card or order the whole set here

Discussion questions:

When have you gotten burnt in a “relationship” that wasn’t as solid as you thought?

How does Christ’s restoration differ from making things a little bit better?

What in your life right now would you like a little bit better, that we could pray with you for restoration instead?

The War Inside

Each of us experience turmoil.

We have to make personal choices and decisions, there’s conflict in a family or with our neighbor, co-worker stuff, church stuff, and friendship stuff. On top of that we are all impacted by global strife in ways we realize and ways we may not.

In this week’s video study we focus in on James 4:1-5 and talk about the nitty gritty of wars raging in and how we push those wars to the outside because they are so uncomfortable. Christ declares us righteous and holy in Him through all of it!

Find the archived link here on the I Love My Shepherd YouTube channel:

I look forward to hearing from you in the comments section here or on YouTube.

21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:21-25a


Questions from this week’s study:
Where do you see the war inside of you come out?
What hope does knowing you live as both sinner and saint offer?
What useful questions can you ask yourself or others in this struggle?
What kinds of things do you want and covet?
What things do you see people quarreling about? Is it about Jesus or just stuff?

 

Notes:

simul justus et peccator – whatdoesthismean.org

simul justus et peccator – ligonier.org

Love Your Life Not Theirs by Rachel Cruze

The Rescue of Ransom

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Day 2 – The rescue of ransom

Two years ago we came out of one of the most difficult times in our lives. We had a season like no other of fighting the good fight, standing strong, and letting God hold us up when we had nothing left.

One day, during the struggle, we were driving from somewhere to something. What it was, I can’t even remember, and it hardly matters. What I remember was my husband blaring the radio to some song.

My nerves were on edge and I asked him to turn it down.

“So, it’s kind of loud.”

His response: “Yep.”

“No, I mean, it’s really loud.” I lean up to turn it down. Insert death glare from my husband here. I leaned back. Now, he’s singing along.

I lose it. “Dave, seriously, can’t we turn it down. This is ridiculous. You’re not even listening to me. It’s TOO LOUD!”

My husband, who asks for so very little, you have to understand. He rarely has an opinion about anything less than what is eternally significant. He looked at me and his eyes turned a little sad. “Can’t you hear it? Listen.”And so I did. I listened.

You hold my head up.
You remind me who I am.
You hold my head up.
I’m alive in You again.
I’m made new.
(Made New, Lincoln Brewster)*

What I didn’t understand, that became crystal clear in a moment, was that my husband needed to know that God called him loved and that God called him ransomed, that God called him new. I had spent so much of my time concerned with my own needs, particularly in our struggle and suffering. I was raging against God, yelling at Him in the dark of night, and offering my tears as a living sacrifice of prayer. My husband, however, was clinging to what He knew, what He had read in the Word, what He had been instructed in since he was a tow-headed toddler on chubby legs.

This song in that moment reminded him of the Biblical truths stored deep in His heart – he was God’s. He was held by God. He was made new in God. Maybe most importantly during that time for him was this message, though…God lifts our heads, God lifts our shame.

We hear this Truth in Isaiah 35:8-10 –

And a highway shall be there,
    and it shall be called the Way of Holiness;
the unclean shall not pass over it.
    It shall belong to those who walk on the way;
    even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.[a]
No lion shall be there,
    nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
    but the redeemed shall walk there.
10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return
    and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
    they shall obtain gladness and joy,
    and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

We walk a road, even in trouble and difficulty, that is not shaming. We walk a road paved by the Savior of the world, who has gone before us. We will not be attacked by ravenous beasts, although sometimes it feels like it. This is the road for the redeemed. The devil, he tries, but he may not have us. Jesus keeps us on the path, walking sure and strong, heads held high. Though we may feel like tucking our tails, hiding away beneath a rock, Christ is the one holding our faces high. His intercession for us reminds us Whose we are. We belong to the Most High God. We are Holy, because He is Holy. We have been ransomed – brought out – of whatever has tried to overcome us.

Everlasting joy is on our heads, not guilt, not struggle, not shame.

Psalm 47:5-7 –

God has gone up with a shout,
the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises!
Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm!

Look also a couple chapters later at Psalm 49:7-8, as well as 49:15.

Truly no man can ransom another,
or give to God the price of his life,
for the ransom of their life is costly
and can never suffice…
But God will ransom my soul from the
power of Sheol
(death/hell),
for he will receive me.

He is King. Only He can save. Only He is enough. No person, no man, no ruler, no idea can rescue us, can bring us out and lift our heads as He can.

Only He determines our value and He calls us worth ransoming.

Thank you, Lord! Hold your heads up, girls! You have been brought out. You have been ransomed.

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Exploration:

What other Scriptures come to mind when you think of God paving the way, or God’s work on a road/path?

What are some examples of things that trap people in shame and keep them from seeing their value in Christ Jesus?

 

*Made New by Lincoln Brewster Official Lyric Video

*Photo overlay made with the instaquote app. Photos tagged by ilovemyshepherd.com are always sharable!