Candy blogs: One night this week we went to campmeeting. We enjoyed beautiful worship and heard a message from Dr. Jim Diehl, a loved and respected figure in our denomination. His message was about peace; I loved his perspective. He based his talk on the words Jesus spoke on several occasions after His ressurection … peace to you … and then shared stories from his own life when the peace of God was especially poignant and how it led to his seeking God’s peace above all other things offered to us.
Since then I’ve been thinking about peace and when I’ve been the most aware of it in my life. In Dr. Diehl’s story he took us to the time of his salvation, the time of his sanctification and the time of his greatest sorrow. When I was in high school my dad “made” us memorize Scripture.
One of the first verses I memorized was Isaiah 26:3:
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
I memorized it in the King James version and I like it best. This is the verse that comes to mind whenever my peace is threatened. As a 16 year old, I grabbed hold of this verse. I had found peace and this verse told me how to keep it.
In Beth Moore’s teaching on peace, she says that peace rules. It is a conscious bowing of my will to God’s will and purposes for my life and to let God rule no matter the circumstances. I can bow to His rule if I trust God completely, knowing He always works for my benefit. So this verse is saying I will be at peace if I am actively seeking God’s will for me and, when it is revealed, to trust in it apart from life’s circumstances.
Peace … at Salvation
(you’ll get a kick out of this if you click on this link) Candy childhood testimony
I got “saved” many times as a child. LOL! But when my preacher grandpa once asked me at age 8 if I would go to the alter so the other children wouldn’t be afraid to go, I told him I didn’t need to. I was already saved. I had peace that my sins had been washed away and I was going to heaven. The peace and assurance of my salvation has never left me. I don’t doubt or question it.
Peace … at Sanctification
Don’t let that word sanctification scare or offend you. It’s just an old fashioned word that, in very simple terms, means I made a decision to live my life full on for Jesus Christ. I was saved but I allowed my carnal nature to control my speech, conduct, love, faith and purity.
Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe. I Timothy 4:12
When I was 16 I remember lying in bed one summer night at my grandparents’ home. I was thinking about my relationship with Jesus and why it always seemed to be so “hard”. Suddenly all the sins I could remember came flooding into my mind. It was ugly to me. I wanted to live my life with spiritual power and confidence and be guided by the Holy Spirit. I decided that night that I would stop fighting God and His ways. And when I did that, a new and deeper peace settled over me.
My pastor’s wife later helped me realize that this was my sanctification experience. People call it different things. I don’t really care what you call it. I didn’t get “more” of God; I got all of Him when I was saved. But I did give him control of my life. Before this experience I took one step forward spiritually and two steps back. Since then I continue in forward motion spiritually. I don’t live perfectly. I have known discouragement and suffering. I have made poor choices. I’ve been immature. But my peace remains. My motives and intentions are pure.
Peace … in life’s deepest Sorrows
Some of my deepest sorrows have been the loss of dear loved ones, some have been the grieving of lost friendships, some have been watching those I love suffer. Some of my deepest sorrows involve other people and it isn’t my place to share their stories. But I have known deep personal suffering in our marriage and in our family. In these times when I have no say, no control, no answers, my heart and mind still know that my God will keep me in perfect peace if my mind is stayed on Him, because I trust in Him. He is only good. He is trustworthy. He is always at work for my benefit. And I can trust Him completely with those I love. God has a separate plan for them. My peace remains, apart from circumstances.
There is nothing this life can throw at you that can drive away the peace that passes understanding. If you will bow to God’s rule. Peace rules.
“Peace doesn’t come with the answer. It comes with the authority.” Beth Moore
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. Colossians 3:15
Thank you, Dr. Diehl, for making me think again about the beautiful gift of God’s peace.
Peace to you. ~Jesus Christ
Candy blogs: Ah, but you can’t talk about God’s holiness without talking about God’s mercy. Let’s define some new words.
Beth Moore says one definition of patience is the quality of a person who is ABLE to avenge himself yet refrains from doing so. Much like exercising patience with children, we don’t rush in with extreme punishment for a toddler who spills their milk or a teenager who makes their first poor choice. These things often make us angry, and we COULD avenge ourselves because we are the authority but we REFRAIN from doing so. This kind of patience is motivated by …
-compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power
-compassion, pity, or benevolence
-something that gives evidence of divine favor; blessing
Forbearance: (not a word we use much these days)
-the act of forbearing; a refraining from something
-patient endurance; self-control
-an abstaining from the enforcement of a right
That sounds like God, doesn’t it? Patient, merciful, forbearing
He could avenge Himself …
He could strike us down because of the sin in our life but instead he shows us tender mercy.
I Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
I Peter 3:15
Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation!
I am SAVED because mercy prompted God’s patience! I am even ALIVE each day because God is refraining, holding back the judgment I deserve, patiently allowing more time for more to repent and be reconciled to Him.
When I think about God constantly withholding punishment and judgment, exercising profound patience on my behalf, I realize that to be allowed into the presence of such a God … whose ways are so high above mine, is more humbling than I can fathom. I skip into the gym on Sunday mornings, anxious for worship as I know it. Anxious to sing and see friends and encourage others. And this is as it should be.
But if I was truly aware of the holiness of God Almighty,
Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine … in the presence of such a God.
(‘I Can Only Imagine’, written by Bart Millard of Mercy Me)
Here’s the kicker: God hasn’t changed. He’s still the same God in both testaments. His nature, His character still require justice. The New Covenant doesn’t change the fact that punishment for sin is death. It doesn’t change the fact that any accommodation with evil invites God’s wrath. It just means that Jesus took the punishment instead of me. THAT is where holiness meets mercy.
Here are some beautiful word pictures of where holiness meets mercy.
It was said of Aslan, King of Narnia – “He’ll often drop in. Only you mustn’t press him. He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion,” Mr. Thomnas says. “No,” replies Lucy, “but he is good.”
Mercy Came Running
Written by: Dave Clark; Dan Dean; Don Koch
Once there was a holy place
Evidence of God’s embrace
And I can almost see mercy’s face
Pressed against the veil
Looking down with longing eyes
Mercy must have realized
That once His blood was sacrificed
Freedom would prevail
And as the sky grew dark
And the earth began to shake
With justice no longer in the way
Mercy came running
Like a prisoner set free
Past all my failures to the point of my need
When the sin that I carried
Was all I could see
And when I could not reach mercy
Mercy came running to me
“Morning by morning he dispenses his justice, and every new day he does not fail …” Zeph. 3:5b
“Yet this I call to mind and, therefore, I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lam. 3:21-23
Let this be so in me:
Holy and merciful God, thank you that I can come boldly into your very presence because you see me through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Give me a new awareness of the beauty of your holiness and the tenderness of your mercy.
Candy blogs: I recently spoke on the subject of one of God’s almost forgotten character traits … that of His HOLINESS. I preface this by saying that God’s holiness is only one of many of his character traits. I happen to be calling out this one in particular to take a look at today.
I experienced, what some might label, a more “severe” religious upbringing. I wasn’t allowed to wear pants to church or have my ears pierced or go swimming on Sundays or play games with a regular deck of cards or go to school dances. We didn’t say gosh or gol or darn or dang. And when the PG rating for movies first came out when I was in high school, I wasn’t allowed to go to them. I was taught that these things were part of living a “holy” life. I had my little run-ins with these “rules” growing up but my perception of God was never stern or harsh or unfeeling. Somehow I was able to understand the co-existence of God’s holiness and God’s grace and mercy. They aren’t mutually exclusive.
Even though I moved away from those types of severe behaviors when I grew up, I believe that, in the pursuit of being palatable to the culture, the Church today has lost much of the reverence that God’s holiness requires.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that the Church didn’t need to make some changes to stay relevant. I don’t believe we should stay stuck in one place. There are many ways to live out the Christian life and many ways to “do” church and many ways to reach out to pre-Christians. But somewhere along the way, I believe the holiness of God became a bit like this scene from the Wizard of Oz … (click on the link to view)
Notice how their initial reverence and respect and awe, and even fear, turned to casual conversation and even confrontation and demands when they discovered that the wizard was common and approachable. In their eyes, when “that veil was torn”, the wizard had lost his awe and mystery.
Let’s clarify the meaning of these words … holiness and reverence and respect and awe.
-specially recognized as or declared sacred by religious use or authority; consecrated
-HOLY refers to the divine, that which has its sanctity directly from God or is connected with Him
a feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe
esteem for, or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person
-an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, produced by that which is grand, sublime or extremely powerful
-power to inspire fear or reverence
-to influence or restrain by awe
Wow, we really don’t think in these terms anymore, do we? There aren’t a lot of people or things we feel this way about anymore. Everything is so accessible now. We use these words so flippantly, so non-chalantly today … Holy (holy cow!) … awe/awesome (you’re so awesome, dude). The way we use these words in our culture have nothing to do with their true meaning. They’ve lost their impact.
In the Old Testament pleasing God was very black and white. God’s presence was represented in the Ark of the Covenant. If you were in the presence of the Ark, you were in the presence of God. Thus, the Ark was holy because God dwelled there. God gave very clear instructions how to treat the Ark, and thus how to respond to Himself.
• When the Philistines captured the Ark in battle, so many horrible things happened to them, they couldn’t get rid of it fast enough. (I Sam. 4-5) God rained down judgment on them because they were treating the holy Ark with such disrespect. And since the Ark represented God, they were disrespecting God himself.
• Uzzah just touched the Ark and God struck him down (II Sam. 6) He didn’t wait to consider that Uzzah’s intentions were good. God had said that the Ark wasn’t to be touched, and when it was, punishment and justice were immediate. The comments in my study Bible say that this event is a reminder to those of us who claim to serve God that we must acknowledge His rule with absolute seriousness. I had to sit with this awhile.
In our culture we tend to have a very blasé view of sin. We tend to justify our sins and dismiss them as “mistakes”. But the holiness in God still hates sin and requires justice. God will forgive the sinner, but He will, He MUST, still judge the sin.
Ah, but you can’t talk about God’s holiness without talking about God’s mercy. Stay tuned for part II! Mercy came running …
I’ve missed you all! I’ve been busy writing new talks. Pray for me.
Candy blogs: Have you seen the new Facebook “like”?
** Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car. **
Do you know that 170,000 people have clicked that like button? I have to admit that I am a little put off by it. It would seem that there are many Christians feeling guilty for not going to church … or something. Of course that Facebook statement is true. We HAVE gone overboard at times with the do’s and don’ts of godliness. But sometimes we can get relationship mixed up with rules.
We can interpret Scripture with a pointing finger, thinking it is more noble or spiritual to be crushed and subdued by God’s Word. Or we can let the cleansing Word wash over us, inspiring and convicting us to be more like his Son instead of guilting us into being less like the world. The movement toward godliness and holiness, and the natural subsequent thought, attitude and lifestyle changes are simply an outward expression of an inward willingness and desire to do things God’s way. Discipline and pointing fingers can only carry us so far, and, as Beth Moore says, our hearts lead us to relationship.
First and foremost … II Timothy 3:14-17
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
That being said, here are some Scriptures that have been interpreted as rules and relationship.
The Rules say, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25
Relationship says, “… let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience …” Hebrews 10:22a
“Come near to God and he will come near to you.” James 4:8a
The Rules say, “You shall not commit adultery.” Exodus 20:14
Relationship says: “Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.” Malachi 2:15
“My lover is mine and I am his …” Song of Solomon 2:16a
“You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride; you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes …” Song of Solomon 3:9
Standing in the Garage
We need the Body of Christ and the Body needs us. Our spiritual gifts are given to encourage the Body, and we need the gifts of others. We need help with blind spots. Our voices and hearts mingle with the Body in worship together. It is in the Body that we celebrate victories and are exhorted and encouraged in trials. We hear the Word of God on a consistent basis; over time, we see growth and change. We can do more for our communities and the world together than we can alone. Our combined spiritual gifts are powerful! We serve, we give, we fellowship, we love and are loved.
We should be standing in the garage out of longing, not obligation. And not hoping to turn into a Christian by osmosis, but eagerly participating in an active, healthy Body of Christ. If you feel guilty or obligated about going to church, check yourself. Is it the wrong Body for you? Can you still hear the Lord’s voice leading you? Are you afraid God will ask something of you?
A Meaningless Piece of Paper?
My husband and I have loved each other for 34 years. We have worked hard at knowing each other, meeting each other’s needs, and learning to love each other. It’s been a long, hard road. But I don’t look at marriage like a trap or a box … or a rule. I don’t look at other men and wish I didn’t have to stay faithful to my husband. I don’t complain about only having one sexual partner. I don’t see our aging and think of trading him in for a younger model. Our marriage certificate is not meaningless to me. I LONG for my husband. I WANT to spend time with him. We CHOOSE each other every day because we have spent a lot of time together building and maintaining a relationship. The result is more longing.
His voice is so familiar to me, his touch so loving, his quirky ways so dear, his admiring glance so melting, his hard work shows so much caring … why would I ever want anyone else or reduce our relationship to a rule?
Letting our hearts lead us to relationship with our Heavenly Father is a far cry from being dragged kicking and screaming by obligation. God sees you. He knows you. He wants sweet communion, a sacred romance, not endless days in court. Beth Moore says He wants to thrill and satisfy your soul, delight you and fill your cup to overflowing. Let your heart lead.
For those reading from somewhere else:
Thanks and hello to all my new blog followers! I love it when you stop by and leave comments!