Two Things We Can Boast in: Weakness and the Cross

It’s been quite a week since last Thursday. I have had several sleepless nights, I have had a mental war. I have worried. I have fretted. My digestive system has suffered. Why you ask? Fear!

I am going to crack open my heart and soul with you. I struggle with worrying too much about what other people think. I also simply take myself too seriously much of the time. I struggle with anxiety. I worry I am going to appear a failure.

My story this last week began when me and my students performed at a retirement home last Thursday. I got up to perform and well I basically fell flat on my face. I lost where I was in the music, got distracted by my thoughts and was overwhelmed with anxiety. You would have thought in my mind that the world came to an end. I did not externalize my feelings. I acted as if nothing happened, but the inner war was tremendous and for a week straight I worried and fretted over that. I assumed people’s thoughts. I was not thinking rational, and I even told myself that, but I was still tortured by it.

In my Psalm study I have been reading through Psalm 64, the first couple of times I read it, it didn’t resonate with me in any particular way, and then I felt compelled to read it again last night, and it jumped off the page and into my heart! The Psalmist in the beginning says, “deliver me from my fear” He didn’t say deliver me from the situation. This is what I was pleading with God, deliver me from this dread! The Psalmist sounded just like me tortured in his mind. He continues on to say “hide me from the secret plots of the wicked.” Now for him it was external enemy, but for me, I resonated with wanting to be hidden. I wanted to go hide. I felt humiliated. Then the Psalmist says, “they hold fast to their evil purpose” I just thought about how our enemy, satan, can use this as an opportunity to try to overcome us, discourage us, condemn us, ensnare us. This is a perfect opportunity for him to get a foothold on us. In verse 7, the Psalmist says, BUT GOD! I just stopped here, because really we needn’t go any further. Everything that preceded this is not the final analysis. GOD is the one who has the final say. God is my deliverer. It says in verse 10, “let the righteous one rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in Him. Let all the upright in heart exult.”

I was humbled by this situation. God allowed my to fall. God knows my struggle with perfection and people pleasing, and the only way for me to overcome it is through the fire. How can I expect to be refined and to grow to be more like Him if I don’t go through some discomfort. It really has been a thorn in my flesh. I have to learn that it isn’t about me and there is noting like going through something like this, to humble me.

“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts the Lord is safe.” Proverbs 29:25

Being a Christian does not mean perfection, or no struggles, and I think of the verse “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” The word fear here is not anxiety but a reverence and respect for God’s authority, and trembling is admitting our weakness, and submitting to our dependence solely on God. This is an ongoing sanctification process to bring us into more of HIs likeness. To do this, God has to test and try our hearts. We have to be humbled, and this is not comfortable, but it must be done.

I have hanging in my hallway as a huge reminder from 2 Corinthians 12:9……..

“My grace is sufficient for you, for MY POWER is made perfect in weakness.”

We have nothing to boast in except our weakness and the cross. It is a truth that I am still learning every day. The layers of of my own self focus are being pulled back. God is gracious with me and he is gentle. I am being refined. I don’t want to remain the same. I want to be more like Him, but I have to be willing to go in the fire, be uncomfortable. I have to deny myself and take up my cross. I have to also remember this is a daily process. Every morning his mercies are new, and I have to come to the feet of Jesus to be renewed every day. Like the old hymn says…….

“Fill my cup Lord, I lift it up Lord. Come and quench this thirsting  of my soul. Bread of heaven, feed me till I want no more. Here’s my cup, fill it up and make me whole.”

A final thought — You might have heard that joke/story about the kid who was in church listening to the sermon. The minister prayed, “Dear Lord without you we are but dust.” When the child heard this she leaned over  to mom and said, “Mommy, what is butt dust?”  haha!

I  was sent this joke by my childhood piano teacher and friend before she passed away this past February. We laughed so much about that.  She texted about a month before she died, and the text read simply, “We are SO butt dust!” 😛

Don’t take myself so seriously. Depend on him. Boast in my weakness. Boast in the Cross. I have to beware that just when I think I am something, I will find out pretty soon that I am nothing.

He’s still working on me! He began a good work in me, and he is for sure going to see it though to completion!

God gets the glory!

Blessings,

Johanna

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Aliens Are Real.

Alienated. Communication cut off. No longer close. Communion broken. I still love and this is why it hurts. I’m in anguish, but I can’t control another. Separated. Cast aside. I still love and this is why it hurts.

I am not the only one. There was another that walked among us. He, like me, felt estranged. He walked in a world that alienated him, cut him off. He was pushed aside and yet he loved. His sorrow was for me. Yes, I too am guilty. I once cast him out. I once alienated him. I once went my separate way, but he loved me all the same. His love hurt to the point of death. He took my place. I should have been the one. He hurt for me because he loves me. He suffered for me because he loves me. I know I am not alone. I’m estranged but not from my Lord. He loves me. He rose from the dead and conquered it all.

The glory that will be revealed is not worth comparing to our present suffering, but instead rejoice that we don’t walk alone. We share in his suffering but not in vain, all for the insurmountable glory of Christ Jesus! The world hated Him and the world will hate us because of Him. This would be a bleak picture IF this world was our home. We are estranged, cut off, hated, separated, cast aside. We are aliens in a foreign land. Our citizenship lies beyond this world, this is why the soul continues to have that longing for home. We just can’t fit in here. We weren’t created to fit in here. As Christians, we are aliens. The more that we become like Christ the less we understand the language of the world and the less we feel comfortable or integrated. The more we become like Christ the more segregated we become from this world. It doesn’t mean we go hide under a rock and throw out our televisions, it simply means that our understanding and allegiance is not on the things of this world. I am not just living for the things of this world anymore, but I live for Him. We are aliens, yes but we are here not to isolate ourselves from the world but to shine His light so that others can finally see too, the light of our Lord Jesus to which they also were created for. These same people who are living day by day trying to fit into this world but can’t find ultimate fulfillment.

We may be aliens here on earth but our home is not far off. In the blink of an eye, we will be home with our Lord.

Philippians 3:20
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,..”

Romans 8:18

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” – C.S. Lewis

“The Hour has Come!”

In John 17 we read Jesus’ prayer  in the upper room with his disciples just before being arrested, tried, tortured and crucified.

“The hour has come.” 

What was he talking about? At this moment can you imagine the power behind these words?
A major shift was about to take place.
Everything was about to change from this point onward.
The ultimate sacrifice was about to be made for our sins that would finally atone so that God would now be able to look at us and have a direct line of communication. We from this point forward have been made clean through Jesus. We are asked to believe and accept.
For hundreds of years man was trying to do better to meet God’s standard to appease God, but………….
The hour has come, the trying is over. It will never do. The hour has come. Jesus is our redeemer. The hour has come. Jesus is our savior. The hour has come. Jesus paid it all. The hour has come. I can have communion with the living God. The hour has come. I am cleansed. The hour has come. Jesus is glorified. The hour has come. God the Father is glorified. The hour has come. It is finished. The hour has come. Believe and accept the free gift.

John 17:6-8
REVELATION – Jesus came and revealed himself as the son of the living God.

MESSAGE – Jesus delivered the message from the Father. Jesus is the only way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me(Jesus)

THE GIFT – Out of love, He gave of himself finally as the ultimate sacrifice for our sin cleansing us so that we may have eternal life. What is eternal life? It’s not living forever on a cloud or some abstract idea beyond this life. It is sharing in joy and communion and glory with God forever! How awesome!!

What was Jesus’ purpose? To glorify the Father. To point all to God the Father.
What is our purpose? To glorify Jesus which in turn glorify’s God the Father. When we receive the message Jesus sent, this glorifies God. When we come to him and accept his free gift of eternal life, this glorifies God. When we believe, this glorifies God. Jesus’ motivation and purpose in this prayer was none other than to glorify God. He was about to be crucified, and his eyes were set on God the Father being exalted and lifted up. What is your motivation for believing? Is it because you want to escape punishment? Is it because you want to be blessed? Is it because it seems like a good moral thing to do? Did you inherit your belief from your family? It doesn’t start with you and it doesn’t end with you. It starts with God and ends with God. He is the alpha and the omega the beginning and the end. Jesus prayed, “thy will be done.”

Prayer for protection, holiness and unity among believers. John 17:10-26
We as disciples are to bring glory to Jesus! This is a testimony to the world. Jesus clearly saw these three things very important. This was his chief concern for his disciples.
Protection – Jesus warned that we would have trouble in this world. We would be persecuted and hated by the world. We would have the world, the flesh, and the devil to contend with. He is sending us into the world, the world with all the trouble and persecution, yes, but he has shielded us with his protection, we will most certainly have to endure troubles, but no one can separate us from the love of God. Jesus specifically prays for protection as we should too, for ourselves and for each other.

Holiness – Jesus prayed that the disciples would be made holy, by truth and his word which is truth. Who said he was truth? Jesus said I am “the truth”. We can only be made holy by Jesus. He gave himself up as a holy sacrifice for us to be holy. He prayed for God the Father to teach them his word. We have a need to know what Jesus said. We have a need to read the scriptures. Jesus prayed this specifically. Holiness is a lifetime goal. We should pray and seek holiness and the holiness of our fellow believers. We are being perfected each day through our journey through this life.

Unity – Jesus prayed for his disciples to be in perfect unity as the Father and Son are. We are supposed to be examples to the world of God’s glory, of Jesus’ love. If we are not one with each other, what message is this to the world? The apostle Paul dealt with this very thing in all of the churches. Jesus is not a denomination. He is the way the truth and the life. He is not a doctrine. He is a living person who died to bring you and me into shared glory with God the Father. Lets join together in unity as believers to show the world that God is love and that He is glorified. Let’s not get caught up in our differences. Lets get caught up in Jesus who binds us all together in truth and love.

Jesus prayed for you and me. John 17:20. He prayed for all that would put their trust in Him and believe. THE HOUR HAS COME! Glorify God! Thy will be done! Amen!