Thursday, May 15, 2014

SEASON OF HOPE

     In parts of Ontario snow fell again this week, but in this corner the grass is green and tiny leaves are opening. We're wakening to robins chirping and cardinals whistling. It's a season of positive change, time to come out of winter in nature and in spirit. In both spheres much of what comes alive in spring lies dormant in winter.

     Two verses in the first chapter of Deuteronomy jumped out at me recently. "You have dwelt long enough at this mountain." (vs.6b) "The Lord your God has set the land before you; go up and possess it...; do not fear or be discouraged." (vs.21 NKJV)

     Mountains stand before all of us. Problems and difficult circumstances rise up. For a time we live with them. I'm glad Father God chose a mountain, something that is too great for human effort to overcome, formidable and unmoving. Yet, even with the very real obstacle confronting His child, He urges each one to focus on the land, the promise of what is rightfully ours.

     When we only consider our abilities, the trouble looks too big. When we tap into the resources of almighty God we remember that, "Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill brought low." (Luke 3:5 NKJV)  We overcome the rock-solid thing that withstands us by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. (Revelation 12:11) The solution was provided by the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus and it manifests as we claim and declare what He accomplished.

     Winter is past. It's time to move beyond the thing that withstands our progress. "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for." (Hebrews 11:1 NKJV) Father God wants us to enjoy the life the Lord Jesus died for us to have. In His strength we can take possession of what is just over that mountain.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A PRINCE OR A PAUPER?

     In Mark Twain's novel, The Prince and the Pauper, young Prince Edward chooses to switch identities with his look-alike, Tom Canty, a poor boy with a cruel father. Edward's decision casts him into a time of extreme hardship even though he was entitled to every royal privilege.

     In 2 Corinthians 8:9 the Apostle Paul says, "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich." (NKJV)

     Unlike the impulse of Twain's Edward, the Lord Jesus, knowing it would cost His life, willingly left heaven to fulfill His Father's plan to restore mankind to God's royal family. People did not recognize or acknowledge the Messiah's rightful position any more than the citizens of 16th century London did the fictional prince.

     In Philippians 2:7 Paul tells us that Jesus "made Himself of no reputation" and verse 8 states, "He humbled Himself and became obedient to... the death of the cross." (NKJV) In Hebrews 4:15 we learn that through His life experiences He fully understands every challenge we face.

     Incredible love compelled Him to both give up and endure more than we can imagine. Why? To free us from the tyranny of one whose cruelty far exceeds that of Tom Canty's father and to make us co-heirs with Him. (Romans 8:17)

     John 1:10 and 12 sum this up perfectly. "He was in the world... and the world did not know Him." (John 1:10 NKJV) "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name." (John 1:12 NKJV)

     In Twain's novel Edward's knowledge of the Great Seal proved his right to the royal line. The believer in Christ is "sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise who is the guarantee of our inheritance." (Ephesians 1:13,14 NKJV) Our Prince has secured our right to "all things that pertain to life and godliness." (2 Peter 1:3 NKJV) As members of His family we have no need to beg for anything. We are protected from ever being paupers.