Friday, April 24, 2015

Be Bold!

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace. Hebrew 4:16a (NKJV)

He just sat there, staring at me! After all, I was invading his territory. 

You see, I went for a walk in a small park near my home. (I’d call it exercise but strolling along at a snail’s pace doesn't quite qualify.) As I wandered along, I saw a squirrel sitting about three feet off the path, carefully examining a pecan. He stood up straight, stared at me intently, and tightly clutched his treasure. I expected him to bolt up a nearby tree as I approached but he just stood there, turning his little head to watch me.

When I was about a foot away, he scampered up the tree and out onto a limb. He flattened himself against the limb, peered down at me, and chattered his displeasure. I walked backwards for a ways and stared back at him. Finally he grew tired of our little game and turned his back to me. 

I laughed. “What a bold little thing,” I thought to myself.

When it comes to my relationship with God, am I a “bold little thing”? Well, actually, I am. My friends will tell you that I’m not the least bit shy about “chattering” at God. I peer up at Him and tell Him my frustrations.

We are just like that little squirrel.
  • We stand up to God and voice our displeasure at situations in our lives.
  • We stare at Him and demand He answer our prayers the way we want.
  • We clutch our treasures – our TV shows or the possessions that give us acceptance with our friends.

And I have an idea that God sits on His throne and smiles us, His children.

He listens to our frustrations and demands with grace.
He looks at the things we cherish and draws near to show us that His love is more precious than any worldly treasure.

We can come boldly before God because Jesus is our Savior and our High Priest.

Praise God for His sacrificial love.
Bask in His grace.

Come boldly before Him!

How precious is the freedom you have in your relationship with your Father?

Photo credit: AcrylicArtist

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Who's Got Your Back?

Therefore put on the full armor of God...the belt of truth buckled around your waist, the breastplate of righteousness in place, your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace...the shield of faith...the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit. Ephesians 6:13-17

This guy has his armor on at all times. He's never vulnerable or defenseless. When trouble comes, he just draws in his head and limbs and hunkers down.

It's not that way for us. We have to choose to put on the armor of God every day. 

I’m pretty lax with my protection. Most days, I go about my business totally unprepared for an attack. But God’s Word tells us that our enemy is always on the alert for a chance to strike. 

When we put it on, His armor covers us from head to toe:
  • The helmet of salvation protects our minds from Satan’s lies and confusion.
  • The breastplate of righteousness guards our hearts – our emotions – from fear and anxiety.
  • The belt of truth strengthens our resolve.
  • The shield of faith, in one hand, intercepts Satan’s darts.
  • The sword of the Spirit, in the other hand, is our only weapon: God’s Word.
  • The gospel of peace gives our feet a firm place to stand.                                                            
But there’s something about this armor I hadn't noticed until it was pointed out by my good friend, Mary Scro. In one of her blog posts, she said that God’s armor doesn't cover our backs.

The breastplate covers our chests but our backs are left vulnerable.
We hold the shield of faith in front but our backs are unguarded.
We grip the sword of the Spirit but we can’t hold it behind us and be very effective.

Satan can creep up and catch us completely defenseless.

Did God deliberately leave us open and exposed?
Who stands behind us to protect us?

As the family of believers, we have each other’s backs.

Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night and pray for a friend? You are protecting your friend’s back.

Does someone’s name ever cross your mind, seemingly out of nowhere, and you feel prompted to pray for them? You are standing guard behind that person. 

As a engineer at Johnson Space Center, I worked for three years with the Columbia crew. On the morning of February 2nd, 2003, Columbia disintegrated as it returned from orbit. I was working in the Science Center that morning. The rest of the day was a nightmare. Somehow, I managed to stay calm and work through all that needed to be done to secure the data and reports. Several weeks later an acquaintance from church came up to me and told me that, at 3 a.m. on that horrible day, she woke up with a strong desire to pray for me. She prayed for over an hour. She and I both know that God called on her to guard my back. Her prayers protected me from being overcome by sorrow and gave me the strength to do my work.

That's the way it is with family. 

We've got one another's backs.

When has God used another believer to stand guard behind you? How did that bless you? 

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Veil is Torn!

Have you ever seen the majesty of Bridal Veil Falls at Yosemite National Park? Stunning! Breathtaking!

And there’s the sweetness of a lacy bridal veil, waiting to be lifted by a new husband.

Bridal veils are beautiful.

We've celebrated the forgiveness of Good Friday and the joy of Resurrection Sunday. 

But, as I read the Scripture, there’s an event that’s often passed over: the tearing of the bridal veil.

At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 
The earth shook and the rocks split. Matthew 27:51

Why do I call the curtain a bridal veil?

In the Old Testament, God often referred to Himself as Israel’s Husband.

For your Maker is your husband-- the LORD Almighty is his name-- the Holy One of Israel 
is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. Isaiah 54:5

But a veil separated Israel from her husband. In the temple, the Holy of Holies, where God dwelt, was set apart by a curtain.

This was no sheer bridal veil as we think of today. Exodus 26 describes it as a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen. Heavy, thick cloth. Even though Israel was Almighty God’s cherished wife and He was her husband, she could never approach Him. A thick veil separated them. Never to be opened. Never to be lifted. 

And then Jesus died on the cross, the perfect sacrifice for our sins. The bridal veil tore from top to bottom.

Can you imagine the shock of the priests who were in the temple performing sacrifices in preparation for Passover? The tearing sound of the heavy cloth must have been deafening. Imagine their shock as they watched unseen hands rip it apart from top to bottom. The Holy of Holies, once forbidden, now hung open for all to enter.

The church – all believers – you and me – we are the bride of Christ and we are free to enter in. We are welcome before God’s throne.

Because the veil was torn.

No separation. No fear. No isolation.

God is open and available to us every moment of every day. He is around us and within us.

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of 
Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body. Hebrews 10:19-20.

I get up in the mornings and I sit, with a hot cup of tea, and I come into the presence of God. I feel His love. I talk to Him and He talks to me. Throughout the day, I ask for guidance, I send up brief requests for help, I talk to Him while I’m driving.

This is the miracle of a torn curtain. This is a gift from Christ’s blood.

We are forgiven. We are cleansed. We are welcome. 

How does knowing you can approach God, forgiven and free, bless you?

Photo credits: Bridal Veil FallsBride