Category Archives: Jesus

How Jesus Really Sees Us

I’m taking a break from the prompts today to explore this topic because, sometimes, I don’t think we, as believers, truly understand this. I know I don’t.

What do you do when you get up in the morning? Do you take a shower? Wash your hair? Ladies, do you put on make-up? Guys, do you shave? Do you make sure your clothes and hair look the best they can look before you walk out the door? If you do that, you are presenting your best face to the world. Who am I kidding? We all do that. We want the people in our world to see us in the best possible light.

It’s not in how we physically appear either. When we are around other people, we want the best parts of our character to be present so they will love us. We want to do good deeds, have good attitudes, and be seen praising God even if we don’t want to. In other words, we put our best front forward.

As all of us know though, our best front doesn’t stay good all of the time. We get mad. We’re sad about something. We’re difficult to get along with. We’re unreasonable. We’re demanding. It’s all a part of sin nature. And that doesn’t even count the deepest things we hide at the bottom of our souls. Things that don’t come out at all, ever, even on the pain of death. That’s what sin nature is.

Jesus knows everything though. What, you didn’t think He knew? 🙂 Yes, He knows everything, and He still loves you. He died on a cross for you.

Sometimes, though, I need words and imagery to come from another place. And, in this instance, how Jesus really sees me comes from the words of a song. One of my favorite songs, as a matter of fact. If you’ve ever been married or you have participated in a wedding, you’ll understand this. Everyone looks their best on their wedding day. It’s a moment of significance that, hopefully, will last for a lifetime. But, our sin nature still exists underneath all the finery. Jesus knows all the things we’ve done wrong and will do wrong. We should look like dirt to Him, but we don’t. That’s why I love the song “Wedding Day” by Casting Crowns. Even though the words fit a bride more than they do a groom, I believe all of us can take something away from this song. Jesus loves each and every one of us, and we appear perfect to Him though we are not because our sins are covered by the cross. I’m going to quote the verses of this song so you can see what I mean. May we all understand how Jesus really sees us today!

“Wedding Day” by Casting Crowns

There’s a stirring in the throne room
And all creation holds it’s breath
Waiting now to see the bride groom
Wondering how the bride will dress
And she wears white
And she knows that she’s undeserving
She bears the shame of history
With this worn and weary maiden
Is not the bride that he sees
And she wears white, head to toe
But only he could make it so

When someone dries your tears
When someone wins your heart
And says you’re beautiful
When you don’t know you are
And all you’ve longed to see
Is written on his face
When love has come and finally set you free
On that wedding day
On that wedding day

She has danced in golden castles
And she has crawled through beggar’s dust
But today she stands before him
And she wears his righteousness
And she will be who he adores
And this is what he made her for

When someone dries your tears
When someone wins your heart
And says your beautiful
When you don’t know you are
And all you’ve longed to see
Is written on his face
When love has come and finally set you free
On that wedding day
On that wedding day

When the hand that bears the only scars
And heaven touch her face
And the last tears she’ll ever cry
Are finally wiped away
And the clouds roll back as he takes her hand
And walks her through the gates
Forever we will reign

When someone dries your tears
When someone wins your heart
And says your beautiful
When you don’t know you are
And all you’ve longed to see
Is written on his face
When love has come and finally set you free
On that wedding day
On that wedding day”

I am so glad my Lord and Savior sees me with the cover of the cross. May God bless you all today!
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Following Jesus

For the last several weeks, my church has been going through the Gospels–reading one chapter each day and listening to a sermon on Sunday that covers material from the previous week’s chapters. Doing this has been good for me. I’m using a Bible with study notes, and I’ve read these notes for each of the chapters. God is using the notes to help me come to a clearer understanding of His Word.

This understanding has made me uncomfortable which is the point, I think. All of us who are Christians have our own understanding of Jesus. We try to make Him like us so He will be easier to understand. We think He needs to be the same race, sex, socioeconomic status, and physical and emotional health as us for us to follow Him. We also think we need to add rules to what He wants us to do as we follow Him. None of this is true, and we only need to look in Scripture to find this out.

Luke 10:27, “He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and Love your neighbor as yourself.'” That’s it. Spelled out with such beauty and simplicity. It can be uncomfortable, this journey of leaning into His love and grace and sharing it with other people. But it is so worth it. It is so very worth it.

I have listened to two songs recently that illustrate the beauty and simplicity of what Jesus has done for us. The Cause of Christ by Kari Jobe is one of them. The chorus of this song is especially meaningful. “For this cause I live. For this cause I’d die. I surrender all. For the cause of Christ. All I once held dear, I will leave behind. For my joy is this. Oh the cause of Christ.” I also liked this part of the song because it reminded me that Jesus is Jesus. I can’t add anything to Him nor can I take anything away. “Jesus my Jesus. For Your glory, for Your Name. Jesus my Jesus. I will only sing your praise.”

The other song reminded me of what Jesus did for me on the cross. I can’t add to or take anything away from that either. From Man of Sorrows by Hillsong: “Now my debt is paid. It is paid in full. By the precious blood. That my Jesus spilled. Now the curse of sin has no hold on me. Whom the Son sets free. Oh is free indeed.”

It is freeing to know that God doesn’t want us adding anything to what Jesus did for us. Jesus is Jesus, who died on the cross for all of our sins and who was resurrected from the dead giving us a path to God we didn’t have before. It’s simple to follow Jesus. Make the choice to believe and then love him and love your neighbor with all your heart. God handles the rest!

Praying for God’s grace and love for you all today!

The Honesty of Children

I had the choice of two titles for this post today. I chose this one because the other title had more than one meaning, and I didn’t want it to distract from what I was trying to say.

Now, where was I? Oh yes, children. The other day I kept the daughter of a friend of mine. She’s little (4), and I planned things to do I thought she would like. Since my sons are 20 and almost 18, it had been a long time since I had a young child in my home. My younger son and I went to get her in the morning and stopped at a local store before we went home. The first thing I noticed was that she could change her mind at lightning speed. She would tell me she wanted to do something, and then, seconds later, she would tell me she wanted to do the exact opposite. It was dizzying to keep up with.

After we arrived back home, I took her to see the lake at our apartment complex and then to the playground. It was fun to see things through the eyes of a child and to see her joy. I think we adults lose that sometimes.

Another thing we lose is our ability to be honest. Think about it. If a child doesn’t want to go to bed or eat his green beans, he will tell you in a heartbeat, right? And then, he will throw a tantrum if he doesn’t get his way. Now, some things are necessary even if a child doesn’t like them, and it’s our job as adults to show them what is important. But, that’s not my point. Children are honest about their likes, dislikes, fears, and joys. Their feelings can be seen on their faces. They haven’t learned to conceal them yet like adults have.

These thoughts continued to roll through my head as I watched her play a video game with my son, eat her lunch, and help me make chocolate cupcakes. She didn’t have to wonder if she was loved. She had a joy in living that I struggle to find sometimes. I remember, in particular, what she said when I gave her one of the cupcakes to eat. She wanted to watch my son play his game while she ate so I gave it to her in a little bowl and reminded her to eat it over the bowl so she wouldn’t spill crumbs. She looked up at me and said, “Mrs. Alisa, this is so much fun! Thank you!” Every part of her face and body radiated her joy. I told her I had enjoyed spending the day with her, and she proceeded to eat her cupcake.

Later on, I thought about what a good day we had. My family has a treasured relationship with this little girl and her family. Love is there and in a big way. It is not at all like my relationships with other adults. Not like when I look at my relationships and see the lack of them wondering what I’ve done. Not like when I stiffen up and find it hard to talk to people. Not like when I depend on regular gatherings to keep in contact with people and then they stop. It’s hard to know the answers to my questions because, as adults, we are trained to not be honest in our relationships. We are trained to be afraid of anything that is different from us. We are trained to not have joy.

I wonder sometimes if God looks down at us and wonders why we are not coming to Him as little children do. Why we can’t be honest about our joy and our tears. Why we hide behind a shiny veneer of ‘Everything’s great. Everything is just fine.’ instead of allowing people to see our broken hearts and our broken spirits. My guess is that He sadly shakes His head.

I don’t want to be like that. I don’t want to be the one who life has beaten down to the very nub. I want to be more like my little friend who shows her joy and her sadness, who shows her likes and her dislikes. I want to come to Jesus like a little child.

God’s blessings on you all today!

The Gift

There’s a lake near where we live. It’s one of my favorite places to go and write. I can look at the waters flow from my perch on the stone bench. It is peaceful in a way that not a lot is right now. The area is green and lush with trees and bushes. I see different kinds of birds on the water and marvel at God’s creation. Essentially, it’s a gift God has given me when life gets to be too much.

But, before yesterday, I hadn’t been out there for a few weeks. Between the high humidity and the rain we’ve been having, it just hasn’t been pleasant to be outside. It was different yesterday. When I was at church, I heard a whisper. ‘You need to go out to the lake this afternoon.’ So, once I got home, I went out there. The first thing I noticed was that the breeze was much cooler. The humidity was the lowest it’s been in a few weeks (and that says something since I live in the southern United States, and it’s summertime). The next thing I noticed was the flow of the water. It was peaceful.

God brought me out there for a reason, and it got me to thinking. How often do we reject His gift to us–the gift of Jesus? How often do we reject His gift of grace? How often do we not extend His gift of grace to others? Sometimes, I have a hard time with grace, and I’m the one whose blog is named Thriving in Grace. 🙂 I’m glad that God lets us ask the hard questions though. If He didn’t, I’m not sure where my faith would be as I’ve had to ask a lot of tough questions.

The gift is always there though. Just like the gift of my place by the lake. I can not go to the lake for a few weeks just like I can try to do things by myself and not ask for God’s help. That doesn’t mean the gift disappears. It just means our focus is not where it’s supposed to be. I want to acknowledge and live out God’s gift in my life. I don’t want to be the person who puts down the gift and leaves it alone.

So, I guess what I need is the ability to focus on the gift and not focus on the minutiae of my life. It is too bad that Satan uses that very thing to distract us. But, God’s gift is too important to lay aside so my prayer, even though I will never be perfect at it, is for all of us to take possession of His gift and leave our burdens at His feet.

God’s blessings on all of you today.

Leaving Everything Behind for Jesus

I’m in a wondering mood today, the second day of May. You might think I made a mistake in that first sentence and wrote ‘wondering’ instead of ‘wandering’, but no, I meant wondering. When I have questions in my brain, it helps me to write my thoughts out so this blog post is the beneficiary of my ‘wondering thoughts’ today.

In the course of time that I have blogged, I have become acquainted with writers from all over the world who blog about a variety of subjects. Recently, I have been reading a blog written by a gentleman from Nigeria, and I have realized that those of us who are western Christians have no idea, have no idea what the title of this post really means. He has written a series of posts reflecting on Christ which have brought my thoughts into sharp focus and brought questions to my mind which I’m not sure anyone can answer. I’m going to take a stab at it though I might end up with more questions than I do answers.

What does it truly mean to leave everything behind for Jesus? The disciples did that. They left behind businesses and families for a man they had just met. It’s hard to know why someone would leap from the known to the unknown, but that’s what these men did. So much courage–courage I’m not sure I would have today, but I want to have it. I want to know what it truly means to leave everything behind for Jesus.

Does it mean we quit our jobs and travel around the country or the world telling others about Jesus? Do we take jobs to provide ourselves with food and shelter while we are traveling? Do we shed the trappings of this world to center our minds and hearts on Jesus?

What about our families? Do we need to be willing to leave them behind and let Jesus be first and prominent in our lives? This is the one that confuses me sometimes. We’re told we need to provide for our families, but we’re also told we need to provide for the people who work in our churches.

I know people who won’t walk into Christian churches (mainly mega-churches) because they see the ministers of those churches as being excessively wealthy while they themselves are not. I know part of that is our sin nature and wanting to keep everything for ourselves. I also know what’s in my heart and soul is very dark compared to Jesus. But, how does all this look when I see people who work in the church or who are elders in the church with more wealth than I ever hope to have? Should I not worry about what I see or hear and keep what I give between me and God? What happens when churches keep asking for more and more money?

Other people say the only people they are supposed to provide for are their families, and they won’t step into a church because they say the people aren’t doing what God wants them to do. We did that for a while like I have said before in this blog. We had been so badly hurt by the church, we couldn’t see what God was doing in the church. There are also others who only worship with their families because they say the institutional church is what’s wrong with Christianity. I feel both of those are wrong now because of what I’ve learned about community. I have met many people who earnestly desire to live in community with their fellow believers. They’re not perfect at it just like I’m not perfect, but they do their best, and, for the most part, they succeed.

I set this post aside for a few hours and have come back to it with a new realization. I know why I am asking these questions, and it all comes back to fear. I fear that people in the church will abandon me or set me aside after they have asked for all the money I have to give. I am afraid, pure and simple. I know what has happened to me in previous churches, and I fear the same thing will happen to me in the one I go to now. I’m afraid I will be completely abandoned by the Christian community I am in now, and all the wonderful things I have learned about the community of God will be put by the way side because of a simple thing called money.

Pain, hurt, tears. Jesus experienced all the same things I’m feeling, and I think that goes to the crux of what it means to leave everything behind for Him. He was alone on the cross when He died for our sins, and He knows when we hurt and when we sin. But, He loves us anyway even though He knows we won’t be perfect until we come to Him. So, that’s what I need to do. I need to love the people around me, even though they might reject me or cause me pain, because they’re not perfect. and I’m not perfect either. I can do no less than what Jesus does for me. And when that is my foremost desire, when all I want is to be and love like Jesus, my Lord and Savior, then the things of this world will pale in comparison, and this place will be a place I am just passing through on the way to my eternal home.

God’s blessings on all of you today!