Union for Christ

Re-new. Re-form. Re-experience the Spirit.

Bread and Water

by Union for Christ

“ The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you..” – 1 Kings 19:7

I have a severe problem- I like to take control of my life. I like to be in charge of every detail. Every decision that is made, every problem that I face, I like to have control of the situation. There have been plenty of examples in my life where I have taken God out of the situation and tried to handle my problems alone without first seeking Him. I have this skewed belief in my mind that I know what’s best for me and how to solve the problems that burst in. Most of the time, it is because I take things into my own hands that more problems arise. It seems as though in the story of Elijah running away from Jezebel he has the same problem. When confronted with a death and life situation, he flips out and decides that he needs to run; he doesn’t know where he’s going, how far he is running, or even how he is going to survive when he runs. He gets scared and thinks that the best way for him to avoid this situation is for him to leave.
He ends up making things worse. Though he was escaping to not lose his life, don’t you think it is a little ironic that he ran into a desert to keep it? No food, no water, no shelter, he is all alone. He is desperate and scared, cursing his life and wanting it to end so he doesn’t have to deal with the consequences of his actions. As he lays His head to rest an angel of the Lord comes to him, touches him and says, “Get up and eat.” Baked bread and water appear, allowing him to be replenished and restored. He falls back asleep. The angel of the Lord comes back to him, touches him once again, but says something a bit different, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.”

The journey is too much for you.

The journey that I put myself in is too much for me. Because of my stupidity in not going to God first about my situation, I have turned it into an unbearable journey, one that I can’t handle. I have led myself into a desert where I have no means to be replenished or restored. I have led myself into a desert and complicated the situation even further. . .

But then I’m reminded of God’s never ending grace found in Corinthians 10:13 when the Bible tells me, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” God knew that one day I was going to be stupid and not seek Him first. God knew Elijah was going to run in fear and not seek Him and allow Him to solve his problem. God knew that He was going to need to cushion Elijah’s self- imposed desert experience. So although Elijah failed to acknowledge God, God remained faithful to His promise. 1 Kings 19:6 tells me that God provided a way out for Elijah, just like He promised He would. He gave Elijah Bread and Water. Bread and Water. . .
I would like to suggest to you that Jesus was Elijah’s way out. Jesus, the Bread of Life. Jesus, the Living Water. It was only through Jesus that Elijah, or I, could ever get through the desert and not have it be too much for us to bear. We are given Jesus to get through our struggles and our trials, to ultimately conquer them. So today, know that God is providing bread and water through your desert experience. He has provided a way out so that you can be strengthened and replenished by Him to keep going through your journey and ultimately have victory over it. Be blessed today.

-RM

lost

by annaromuald

Driving down the highway, five lanes of white hash lines stretched out in front of me.  Stereo blasting my favorite Mat Kearney song, feet killing me from the sleek black heels I’d been wearing all day.  My brain felt fried from the all-day conference I’d just finished with perfect timing.  Brakes!  I hit rush hour traffic. I was on the northeast side of Minneapolis and had calculated a 45 minute commute without traffic…but sitting in this dead-stop parking lot I slid my heels off and got comfortable for a long wait.

There I was in the middle of downtown traffic, surrounded by hundreds of people and the only thing that separated us was metal and plastic.  I don’t know what compelled me, but I wondered about the lady in her car next to me.  Her prim and pampered style sitting in her shiny Lexus told me she belonged downtown. On my other side, I watched a thirty-something rub tired eyes and remove his tie as if accustomed to routine traffic delay.  Without any exits for the next several miles, we all knew we were in for a long wait.  Fifteen minutes past and we barely moved.  Thirty.  Forty-five and we’d traveled approximately five miles.  Since I moved to Minneapolis from Lincoln, NE I’ve grown accustomed to bad traffic but I’d never been in a dead-stop like this.  I usually don’t mind the traffic-as odd as that sounds.  If you know me at all, you know that my car is my place – My space to listen to whatever I want to listen to, to have my God-conversations (both the yelling and the whispering kind), my place to relax and unwind, especially on this day where I felt overwhelmed by all that I’d just heard at the David Kinnaman seminar addressing the problem of young adults leaving the church with his book You Lost Me.

I had all kinds of time, stuck on the road with nowhere to go: Why had I stayed?  What did I find that keeps me coming back for more?  I sat in my car passing the time mulling over these questions.  It had to be more than staying just for my friends, especially since so many of my friends have given up and walked away, or have been on the verge of leaving themselves.  It had to be more than just the free food; I mean, let’s be real, potlucks are a toss up – sometimes they are fantastic, other times not so.  I must have stayed with the church for some other reason than music and flashy lights and entertainment; sometimes church is the least invigorating, exciting, or thrilling place.  I wondered, even though church wasn’t always perfect and to be honest, sometimes the last place I wanted to be, maybe I’d found something there.  Maybe I’d met someone who changed me forever and I kept coming back because sometimes I met Him again and again in imperfect people, unpredictable encounters, and less-than-perfect programs, sermons, and situations.  Maybe I’d felt a little lost or hopeless before, and for some reason, church felt like home no matter how much a stranger I felt when I entered through the doors.  Maybe I’d been lost, but God found me, and continued to find me.

An hour after I’d first got caught in this horrible traffic, we’d finally traveled a few more miles and began to cross a bridge over the Minnesota river.  Up ahead I saw the reason we’d been stuck in this absurd parking lot – flashing red and blue lights – lots of them.  As we crept closer I counted one, two, nine, fifteen, twenty-one cop cars, fire trucks, and state authorities and it immediately hit me what was going on.  There was a jumper.  It’s not too often we hear of suicide attempts off the bridges in the Minneapolis area, but I know it happens.  Traffic in the opposite direction was completely locked down – the highway was closed.  And the hundreds of cars going in the same direction as I had the same question on their mind as traffic crawled along due to our curiosity: Who was on the bridge and what in his life had made him so desperate to think to jump and end his life?  Being in the lane closest to that side of the bridge, I saw the image of a man clinging to the rails of the bridge from the outside with perfect clarity.  It’s been several days, and I still haven’t been able to get the image out of my mind.

As the traffic on the highway finally broke, so did a steady stream of tears.  I didn’t know this man, just like those hundred of people I watched as we sat on the highway together.  I didn’t know his story, didn’t know if we had anything at all in common except the fact that we are human.  But the desperation in his eyes, I recognized that.  Desperate for a way out, desperate to be found, desperate for hope.  I was overwhelmed to pray on his behalf for some kind, any kind, of divine intervention.

I read a news article today that told more of the details surrounding the situation on that day.  That man, he’s a sex offender who was on parole and is now in jail awaiting a mountain of new charges.  Reading the news took me by complete surprise.  What did I expect?  A more innocent story?  Did he deserve to die?  Why did he want to kill himself?  Did he feel he deserved it?  I had prayed for this man and his family without knowing his story; I had been moved to compassion for his hopelessness, and now what?  Would I still feel the same way now that I knew his history?

Thank God His grace is not dependent on whether or not we deserve it.

Thank God He pursues us, no matte how hopelessly lost as we feel.

If I were to pass you on the road in my car, or walk past you on the sidewalk, or sit next to you in class, or see you come into church and sit in the farthest pew in the back would I see desperation in your eyes?  Would I see you struggling to hang on?  Struggling to feel worth anything?  Struggling to feel like you have somewhere or someone to belong to?  If I had the chance to tell you that it doesn’t matter what you’ve done, God forgives you and gives you an absolutely clean slate, would you believe me?  If I told you that He still loves you and there’s nothing you could do to make Him love you any less, or any more for that matter, would you believe me?  If I told you that you don’t have to feel lost anymore, would you give God a chance to find you and carry you through every struggle?

My favorite Mat Kearney song “Ships in the Night” says:

And if it all goes crashing into the sea
Its just you and me
Trying to find the light
Like ships in the night…
I’m gonna find my way
Back to your side.

If you’re desperately hopeless and feel so lost no one can find you, will you let God find you?  Will you let Him be a guiding light and lead you right back to the place you belong, to His arms of unconditional love, forgiveness, and peace?

Love Will Not Find a Way, He Knows the Way

by mikeyarchibeque

Carrier pigeons are amazing creatures. Places such as Egypt and Europe used them over 3,000 years ago from. They carried messages in WWI and WWII; one pigeon was awarded because of its constant vigilance in reaching its destination despite being injured several times. More recently, contests are held where the bird have been clocked at 110 mph over short distances and others where they travel thousands of miles in a single journey.

What makes pigeons want to deliver the very important messages from one place to another? What special training do the bids go through to know how to travel from one location to another? When the pigeons are born, they are placed in coops with other birds. They form connections with another bird and make the coop their home. When they are old enough, one is separated from their loved one and is moved to a different location. When a message needs to be sent it is attached to the birds leg and the bird is released. No matter the distance nor location, it knows where its lover is; it knows the way home. The pigeon will stop at nothing to get home to the bird of its dreams.

In the same way the pigeon is ever persistent in its pursuit of its lover, the Holy Spirit seeks us with the same fervor. He stretches out through galaxies, trillions of miles, to find us. He is looking for us right now. He knows where we are, He just needs to be offered a place to land (in our hearts). No matter what obstacles get in his way, distance, pain, or even ourselves, He will keep flying towards us and keep pursuing us. The Holy Spirit will not give up on us even when it seems like He is not there. Open the doors and let the Spirit roost in your heart, He brings the message of peace, hope, and joy, and He will never leave you again.

against all fear

by annaromuald

There are moments in life when everything comes to a halt.  Screeching.  So unprepared for what you’re up against, you can’t move.  Can’t breathe.  The pressure on your chest so great you feel slowly, quietly suffocated without the possibility for relief.

You never anticipated it could be like this – never thought it would hurt like this.  Never thought you could feel so lost, so isolated, so misguided, so hopeless.

You don’t just wonder
if you’re going to make it.

You wonder
if you even possess
the courage to get there.

This—this is the start of your greatest fear.  The fear that comes from the deepest part of who you are.  The fear that you aren’t enough – that you will never be enough.

The fear that whatever you’re up against is greater than you – crushing you and your dreams underneath its weight.  The fear that the strength you had finally mustered up to be able to face this great thing has been unrightly stolen from your grasp.  The fear that everything you said to try to convince yourself that this is the right thing was just a made up lie.  The fear that everything you’ve endured before now and all the hard lessons-learned, aren’t fueling even the smallest success but seem to be drowning you in disappointment and heartache.  The fear that you are somehow to blame for this disaster, this wreck, this place that you suddenly find yourself stuck in without escape.

Clawing just for survival, to stay above the rising water gripping tightly and threatening to pull you under, you plead for some way out, some kind of deliverance.  Anything.

It’s the last thing you want to hear, but the truth is there’s a reason you’re here now.  There’s a reason you’re in this place.  A reason you feel this way.  You don’t have the answer right now, and in fact, you may not for quite some time.

This place you find yourself in right this very moment, a place of silent desperation, is quietly murmuring an even greater truth though – this isn’t your fear at all.

Romans 8:31 - If God is for us, who can be against us? Designed by Matt Scribner (@scribner).

The greater, more profound fear bubbling up from the parts of yourself that you’ve closed off and protected from imminent damage, this fear whispers reassuringly that you already possess everything you need.  This fear reminds you that all this isn’t even about you.  That Christ Himself is Jesus.All.  All you need, all you are.

It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for.  Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.  (The Message, 405).

You’re fear is that because Christ lives inside of you – His infinite power, His mighty strength, His constant endurance, His ambitious pursuit – that He has equipped you for a calling far greater than what you could have ever imagined.  And because of that calling you know you will be put up against challenges and trails and difficulties that will test everything you are and everything you have.  You will come up against things that will push you to the greatest limit – far more than what you can handle on your own – and you’ll be driven to recognize the power of Christ
working in you,
through you,
for you.

And recognizing the awesome, indescribable power of God is what is truly frightening.  Humbling.  Because then you have no excuse to do the seemingly impossible. To stand, to conquer, to pioneer, to achieve, to victory-live.

You may be stripped of everything, left empty and broken, recklessly abandoned and searching for deliverance.  Then, “Embrace this God-life.  Really embrace it, and nothing will be too much for you.  This mountain, for instance: Just say, ‘Go jump in the lake’—no shuffling or shilly-shallying—and it’s as good as done.  Embrace this God-life, and you’ll get God’s everything.”  (The Message, 102).

Shake off your fears, your insecurities, recognize who Christ is, and who He’s making you to be.  Allow Him to re-new you.  Re-form you. And by doing so, you’ll no doubt re-experience the presence of His Spirit as you live out this victory-life.

Until Next Time

by Union for Christ

“I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back, no turning back.”

I had the amazing opportunity this summer to volunteer for Union doing something called “U-Crew”, a team of students (two this past summer) who travel with Buell Fogg around the Mid- America Union preaching and leading worship at the union’s campmeetings and youth camps. Words cannot describe the blessings that God poured out around and within the team this past summer. Words also cannot describe the incredible blessing I gained watching the youth here within the union because of the fire that they have for Christ. These youth are ready. They are ready for so much more than the world has given them. They are ready for a deeper and more intimate relationship with Jesus. They are ready to spread the Gospel everywhere they go.  This summer was filled with life changing stories about how God worked through me, Tori Eldenburg, and Buell Fogg. And those stories are definitely to come. . .

But today’s post is more so about the main struggle of the summer. The struggle that lasted the duration of the seven weeks. The struggle that satan brought into my families life to bring us down. . .

This past summer, my grandfather died at the age of 96.

Due to a numerous amount of circumstances, my family, but more importantly, my father was unable to travel down to Mexico where my grandfather resided to see him for one last time. There is nothing I could type down on this post that could come close to the emotions that pop into my chest trying to capture the emotions my dad had during this entire situation. I cannot put my head around not being able to be with my dad during the last few years, months, days, and hours of his life. I cannot imagine not being able to hold him tight in my arms showing him the never ending love I have for him. I cannot imagine not being there at his beside to say goodbye for one last time. This is what my dad was dealing with for a few years now, but specifically, this past summer as my grandpa was fading.

See, the biggest problem with this whole thing was that my dad knew that my grandfather hadn’t accepted Jesus completely. My dad knew that my grandfather had been on the fence about God and Christianity for the last 96 years of his life. My dad knew this could possibly be the very last opportunity he would EVER see my grandpa again. The hope that we carry as Christians was not applying in this situation. My dad was distraught. He was completely broken down begging God to intervene somehow, someway. If my grandpa wasn’t going to accept Jesus, all my dad wanted was to have the opportunity to go say his goodbye’s, to see his father one last time.

Traveling all summer, I wasn’t able to be there for my dad. I wasnt able to comfort him in his time of need. I felt like an awful son. I felt extremely selfish. This past summer I argued with God plenty of times trying to come to an agreement with Him. I thought that after 96 years my grandfather wasn’t going to turn around. So i prayed endlessly trying to convince God to give my dad that final opportunity to see him. I wanted my dad to have that undeniable right. I wanted my plan to be the right plan. But what I came to realize was that my plan was only a temporary solution to an eternal problem. . .God’s plan was so much greater than what my family and I could have imagined. God’s plan for the entire situation was far more advanced and perfected then the one we wanted to have happen. Our plan limited God and the power he possesses to change lives through His love and kindness.

Unbeknownst to my family and I, my grandpa was receiving Bible studies on his death bed from my dad’s sister. For two months my grandpa had been asking my aunt to give him bible studies because he wanted to accept Jesus. He came to the realization that the last 96 years were missing something, and he finally knew what it was; better yet, who HE was. 2 weeks before his death, my grandpa finally accepted Jesus completely. He decided to finally follow him. My grandpa decided to finally get baptized into the church, but more importantly, into  Jesus. 

It is now clear to me why my grandpa lived for 96 years. It is also clear to me why God allowed our family not to be able to see him before his passing. God’s plan for my grandpa was far bigger than country boarders or distances. God’s plan included Salvation after 96 years. God knocked on his door every day for 96 years, waiting and longing for his son to finally let him in. God knew that His own love could change the heart of a man that for so long neglected him. God knew that my family would definitely be seeing him again. God knew that the moment my grandpa accepted Him into his life, He needed to secure it, He wanted to secure my grandfather’s salvation. He chose Jesus and its for certain that there is no turning back for him.

So grandpa, although i did not get a chance to say goodbye, one thing i know for certain; I WILL be saying hello again very soon. Until next time grandpa.

RM

Waiting for God in a World of Instant Gratification

by tashlc

Clock

Not to sound like a spoiled brat, but most times I get what I want when I want it. I mean if I need to know something it’s right at my fingertips with the internet. If I need something, I just go out and buy it, provided it’s not that expensive. Even then, though, I can start saving and it won’t be that long. I mean think about life today, compared to life a hundred years ago; travel is quicker, getting food is quicker, acquiring information is quicker, and even communication is quicker. We live in a world where we have immediate gratification of our wants and needs. There are those BIG goals though that seem to take forever to accomplish. However, even in those we are taught to make small goals leading to the larger ones so that we can see progress, see that something is happening. Oh, and waiting for packages, a thing of the past because we can now track our orders and know exactly where our packages are. So when do we ever have to truly blindly wait for something?

Now translate this culture into into your spiritual life. For me the two cultures clash. I think about the Bible and all of the stories and I wonder why isn’t God so evident today, why isn’t he answering my prayers with an audible voice, why doesn’t he talk to me right away? Do you ever think that it would be easier to live in Bible times where God spoke from heaven, or showed you a burning bush, or  when Jesus walked this earth? I do. Then I think again. It’s so easy to think that they had it easier back then, and when just reading the stories it seems like everything worked out just the was it was supposed to. We can see the end from the beginning.

But, how do you think they felt living their own stories? I mean God wasn’t exactly instant with them either. The Israelites wandered around for forty years before entering the land of Canaan. Elijah had to pray seven times before the altar was burned with fire from heaven. Job lost everything and went through one of the most trying times a person can go though, not knowing what would happen in the end. David was ordained as king and then had to endure the hatred of Saul and until Saul died before he actually assumed the throne. Namaan had to bathe in the river seven times before being made whole. The woman with the issue of blood, had been suffering of the disease for years; and the blind man that Jesus healed, blind from his birth. The friends and family of Lazarus had to wait three days for Jesus to arrive and they still didn’t know that he was going to raise him from the dead. Do you think these people saw an immediate God? Or do you think they had the same mental turmoil that we do when we’re waiting for answers to our prayers?

After thinking about these things I finally realized that God wasn’t more there then. They had to wait just like I’m having to wait. It just seems like it was easier for them because I can read their whole story and know that it works out for their best interest. In knowing that though, I can believe and know that just like I know their story, God knows my story. He knows the end from the beginning; how my story ends. I have to trust that, be patient, and not get caught up in wanting it my way right now! So as I struggle wanting to know what comes next, and suffer this mental anguish of not knowing what my future holds and if God is hearing my prayers I have to remember what I read in Psalms. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me God! How great is the sum of them! (verse 17) Easier said then done, but it’s time for a little faith!

Not So Defeated

by annaromuald

Image

Honestly, I’ve been feeling a little defeated lately.  I keep looking at all the energy I’ve been putting into things, all the plans that I’ve been making, all the dreams I’ve been envisioning and it just doesn’t seem like it’s enough.  Maybe you don’t necessarily feel that way now, but perhaps you suspect that by the middle of the semester you’ll be right where I am.  But I’m not just talking about your workload or classes.  Maybe you dread going home because your parents never seem to think that everything you do is good enough.  Maybe it’s every time you look into his or her eyes and realize that what you have really isn’t making either one of your better people, happier people, but is just causing you to feel more empty and insufficient.  Maybe it’s every morning you look in the mirror and shy away from truly gazing into those sad eyes knowing what kind of mistakes, failures, and sins hide underneath all the lies and false realities so that you can masquerade as if nothing is wrong.

Every single day I fight to feel confident.  Every day I struggle to find a balance between guarding my heart from pain and giving my heart away so that I can truly experience life and love.  Every day I risk laying down who I am in order to become a part of something greater than myself.  And every day I have to remind myself that life doesn’t start when I get my career up and running, or when I find the man I want to spend my life with, or when I accomplish something grand—life starts now—and nothing is going to change in the world until I figure out how to change the reflection of the person I see in the mirror.

I recently watched “We are Marshall” and was struck by what a coach said to his assistant trying to encourage him not to give up: “It’s not about winning or loosing, it’s not even about how well we play the game.  It just matters that we play.”

Later on that day, he brings his team out to the cemetery where they buried former teammates, coaches, and fans tragically killed in a plane crash that devastated their town. This new team, solely consisting of rookie freshmen, recruited softball, basketball, and soccer players, and flat out ill-equipped, inexperienced players, had already faced such a huge defeat as they mourned the loss of friends and family and were now trying to pull a team together in an effort to honor their memory.  And as they prepared for their first home game since the awful crash, the coach has this solemn message for his team:

“Today I want to talk about our opponent.  They’re bigger, faster, stronger, more experienced and on paper, they’re just better.  And they know it too.  But I want to tell you something that they don’t know.  They don’t know your heart.  I do.  I’ve seen it.  You have shown it to me.  You have shown it to this coaching staff, your teammates.  You have shown yourselves just exactly who you are in your heart.”

“When you take that field today, you’ve got to lay that heart on the line, men.  From the souls of your feet, with every ounce of blood you’ve got in your body, lay it on the line until the final whistle blows.  If you do that, we cannot lose. We may be behind on the scoreboard at the end of the game but if you play like that we cannot be defeated.”

“How you play today, from this moment on is how you will be remembered.  This is your opportunity to rise from these ashes and grab glory.”

I remember sitting in a corner classroom on the second floor of the Dick Building as I listened to Dr. Case tell me this: “Every day your opponent sets his alarm clock, wakes up, and plots a way to kill you.”  Every day our opponent is bigger, faster, stronger, and more cunning and manipulative than we care to recognize.  But let me tell you something the devil doesn’t know—he doesn’t know your heart—he doesn’t know it the way Christ knows it.  Even as much as you try to conceal it from Him, God sees just how broken you are.  How defeated you feel.  In case you didn’t know, our God never slumbers or sleeps and every morning He is alive and well and at work in our lives even when we can’t see Him or want to recognize what He’s doing on our behalf.  All He asks us to do is to lay our hearts down on the line and with every ounce of who we are, to lay it all down until the final whistle blows.  To live our lives as though we are confident in the power of God to be enough, to be great, to work miracles, and to give us victory.  To give us victory in every area of our lives – over our faith-struggles, over our pain, over our uncertainties, over our emptiness, unhappiness, failures, insufficiency, and the multitude of things that just seem impossible.

There’s no other way to live than to lay everything out on the line. Sure, there can be a lot of risk involved.  But if you focus on that, you’ll risk never really living.  How you live today is how you’ll be remembered from this moment on.  This is your opportunity to rise from the ashes and grab hold of the glorious victory Christ offers you, right now.  Right this moment.

-AR

Union really 4 Christ

by emiliangrigore

It has been a while since I have posted anything on a blog but here I go.

I love attending to Union College activities, like ASB events, Basketball games, or any other club activities that there is but there is something that I have been struggling with and do not really know what to do about it.
One of the things that I am struggling with when I go to this events is with the Music that there is. I don’t know if as an SDA Institution we can or we should put worldly music that talks about things that are not really following Christ character; or would we even see Jesus singing or dancing to this kind of music. I can’t really understand why we have to take what the world does and adopt it into our lifestyle. I think The Bible makes it really clear that we should be different from the world and not adopt the sin from this world but to fight it and not let it come into our lives.
I feel like we are going backwards in our spiritual walk as a school instead of advancing as the Israelites did when they went to the promise land and instead of fighting off as God told them they just started accepting the Idols into their lives and little by little drifted off the path of the Lord.
I know this sounds rough, but the Israelites were the chosen people of God and they drifted off by letting Idols get in their lives instead of doing what God asked them to do; I feel like we are doing the same thing by the music we play and the activities we do as a SDA School.

I hope I haven’t offended anyone, and if anyone has something to say you guys can answer it on here or approach me on campus. I am willing to study more about it, specially if anyone believes I am wrong I really want to understand why.

This has been the burden that I have had on my heart since the beginning of last year.

Emilian Grigore

God bless you!

My Labor Day Reflection

by joycrews

“Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.

- United States Department of Labor

_____________________________________________________________________________

Dear friends,

Our secular nation offers us one day a year to rest from our labor, in honor of the creators of our American freedom.  Yet, we so quickly forget to rest on the day appointed by God to honor our divine Creator and Freedom-Fighter (our only source of true strength and freedom)!

NOTE: I have inserted [brackets] to clarify certain verses.  PLEASE do not take my word for it, but study these things for yourself with much prayer and meekness of heart.

_____________________________________________________________________________

God is our Freedom-Fighter

1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage [sin]. (Galatians 5:1 NKJV)

13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (Galatians 5:13 NKJV)

Salvation is a free gift from God (we cannot earn it by our actions), but we should never use it as an opportunity to return to sin.  By doing so, we reject Christ’s promises to free us from our sinful nature: With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26) and whatever things you ask for in prayer, believing, you will receive” (Matthew 21:22).  Jesus calls His repentant children to, sin no more” (John 5:14, John 8:11).  Why would He ask such a thing, if it were not possible to change our sinful nature by His power?

4 Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness [ref. the Law of God]. 5 And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. 6 Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. (1 John 3:4-6)

The Bible is clear: while we still continue sinning, we are slaves to [the law of] sin.  Unless the law of God is written in our hearts, we cannot overcome sin.

16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them [children of God] after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them.” (Hebrews 10:16 NKJV)

34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free [from sin], you shall be free indeed. (John 8:34-36 NKJV)

We are either …

  1. Slaves of the law of liberty and free from the law of sin OR
  2. Slaves to the law of sin and free from the law of liberty.

There is no middle ground:

16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth (Revelation 3:16)

If we do not respond to Christ’s love and the writing of His law on our hearts (Hebrews 10:16, Jeremiah 31:33, 2 Corinthians 3:3, Psalms 40:8), we inevitably struggle under the law of sin & death—thinking we can live a sanctified life without a Spirit-filled relationship.  A profession of faith without love in action is worthless (1 Corinthians 13). God is eager to write His law on our hearts and adopt us as His children. This adoption is only possible through Christ—who also kept the law [of God] out of love (Galatians 4:4-7).

2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death3 For what the law [of sin & death] could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law [of liberty] might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. (Romans 8:2-5)

44 So shall I keep Your law [of liberty] continually, Forever and ever. 45 And I will walk at liberty, For I seek Your precepts. (Psalm 119:44-45 NKJV)

25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:25 NKJV)

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God as Creator

The New Testament tells us that God made the universe through His Son (Hebrews 1:2, 1 Corinthians 8:6), and that all things were created by Jesus and for Jesus (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16).  God’s attributes are clearly seen from the beginning of the world (Romans 1:20).

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God’s “Labor Day”

Today we relax on America’s Labor Day in honor of the human “creators of freedom.” It is no coincidence that we tend to serve the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever (Romans 1:25).

9 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. (Hebrews 4:9-10 NKJV)

17 It is a sign between Me [God] and the children of Israel* forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed. (Exodus 31:17 NKJV)

*Christians are included in the children of Israel by adoption (see Ephesians 2:11-13, 2:19, 3:6).

4 For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works.” (Hebrews 4:4 NKJV)

We tend to be forgetful hearers of the perfect law of liberty (James 1:25)…

18b He [God] gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God. (Exodus 31:18b)

And God wrote His “Labor Day” law with His own finger—to give us 52 days of rest each year!  He wrote it on tablets of stone and is now waiting for us open our hearts to His law of liberty. 

8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work… 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. (Exodus 20:8-11)

The Bible plainly states that God blessed and sanctified the 7th day (Genesis 2:3) because it is a sign of God’s power to sanctify us (Exodus 31:13)!

3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. (Genesis 2:3 NKJV)

13 “Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you. (Exodus 31:13 NKJV) 

What does “sanctify”mean?

17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. (John 17:17 NKJV)

12 Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. (Hebrews 13:12 NKJV)

Merriam-Webster Dictionary: SANCTIFY

1: to set apart to a sacred purpose or to religious use : consecrate

2: to free from sin : purify

God sets us apart for His sacred purpose: to be set free from sin.  That is God’s #1 purpose: for us to live without sin.  He wants to [sanctify] set us free from sin COMPLETELY.  God is faithful and He WILL do what He says.  God set up the Sabbath as a sign (constant, weekly reminder) that He will keep his promise to sanctify us & set us free from sin.

23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:23-34 NKJV)

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Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way.  The Lord be with you all.

Before the Throne

by vimahato

Revelation 4 [From August 2nd, 2012]

Today there was a storm.

I saw the clouds coming long before the first drop fell. Funny though, the harder I tried to run from it, the faster it overcame me. The first drip felt like a flood; my first sin of the day. And as if to mock my attempts to keep track of them, a torrential downpour of falling short soon fell. It’s days like this when I hate the rain.

I had spent most of the day in town running errands. As I made my way back up the mountain, I drove slowly. I felt like a dog crawling home with its tail between its legs. I lowered my shameful gaze to the asphalt just to avoid eye contact with Him.

But at the top of the last hill the land leveled out and I found myself face to face with The Storm.

 It was like a scene from the throne room of heaven. My view was clear and open except for this mass of billowing clouds of color—ivories, corals, ambers, fuchsias–all surrounded by a sapphire sky. The sun, not yet set, stood to its right; the moon hung higher on its left. The ever-flashing bolts of lightning complimented the balance and provided an ambiance of power and beauty. It seemed to be constantly stirring itself into an ocean of movement. And yet it held perfectly still—not advancing, not retreating. As if it was waiting for me to move closer.

This was but a glimpse of glory. One day—soon, I pray—I will see a throne in the midst of The Storm. On it will sit the King of Glory and of Grace who died to take away my sins from today, yesterday, and every day yet to come. The Storm surrounding Him will rage fiercer than any storm within me. And though it may overwhelm and destroy the part of me unworthy of His presence, it comes with the peace of forgiveness. Its rain runs red, but washes white. And it’s waiting for me to move closer.

Why wallow in what I’ve done when I can focus on what He’s done? Jesus was given that throne for a reason. I cannot let my self-pity and shame render His sacrifice obsolete. Satan can throw me into a tempest of guilt and hopelessness but the One called Love calmed the sea.

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