Fruit From the Vine: I love Fridays

“Therefore [in light of salvation], preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:13

I love Fridays.  Not because my life gets easier or my work load gets reduced. I have 2 small children, nothing gets easier, no matter what day it is. I don’t love Fridays and weekends because I get to sleep in, because I don’t. I love Fridays because I love the weekend. I love Fridays because my I love my husband. On the weekends, he is home (for most of it) and the family is together, re-united and united. We do things together. Even if it’s brushing our teeth, or preparing dinner, we’re together.

In preparation for the weekend, on Friday’s I extra clean the house. I try to keep the house tidy anyway, but on Fridays I clean in an expectant way. The floors get mopped, desks get organized and clutter is removed. In addition, a special family dinner is made that everyone can look forward to, and I spend the day anticipating the activities and togetherness that our night and weekend together will bring. My husband is coming home to stay and that makes all the difference in my attitude, service to him, and preparation for his return.

How much more, in exponential proportions, can this attitude, this anticipation, this expectancy be for Jesus. He is returning. He is not returning for His bride in wrath or in condemnation, but with GRACE! To set our hope fully on this, is to do the first part of the verse- prepare for action. As much as I love to work, sweat and labor for my husbands’ ceasing from his weekday work and as much as I anticipate his return, it is just a foretaste of the return of our Hope.

So may I work, sweat, prepare, and serve God because His return is imminent and I long to spend eternity with him, the same way only much greater than the way I long for the weekends.  May you as well! Do some serious spring cleaning right now in your life, Christian. Set your hope on grace at His return by clearing the clutter of messed-up priorities, mopping the floors of your heart, washing the windows so that you can see clearly, and making something special (with your life) for the Savior.  Don’t let sin get a foothold, take out the trash of bitterness, envy and pride, and work hard for your remaining days. Don’t be slothful or lazy, don’t be selfish, don’t be worldly. Don’t just go to Church and be a stagnant Christian. Don’t bury your treasure, don’t hide your talent. Don’t set your hope in possessions or relationships, in an easy life or in everything working out so that you can live the dream. And please don’t set your hope on being “happy”. No, no no, please no. Set your hope FULLY on GRACE!

If you aren’t excited, get excited. Meditate on the Word, spend time praying, serve the Church and your neighbors, disciple others, share the gospel, invest in spiritual things and reap spiritual rewards. Adore Christ as your highest Treasure, anticipating with great joy that “the weekend” is coming soon!

Fruit From the Vine: Chacah, Batach, Yachal

I think we might (it’s also quite possible I am just speaking for myself here) get a little confused when it comes to trusting the Lord. When I ask my child to trust me that I’m not going to let him fall, it’s because I really am not going to let him fall. So we naturally think that when we trust the Lord, it provides supernatural protection against all major and most minor harm.

So when you’re faced with no job or cancer or no money coming in or no financial plan for the future or retirement and you say, “I’m just trusting the Lord,” it seems really spiritual. Except really what you’re saying is, “God is going to make a job fall in my lap” or “God is not going to let me die from cancer” or “He meets all of our needs, we don’t need to worry. Our cell phone and TV and car payments will still be paid even without the numbers working out on paper.” This sometimes does happen. God sometimes does the miraculous in our lives, and for that I am thankful. But our picture of trust is tainted, still.

What about the Christian, who really is trusting the Lord with all their heart and not leaning on their own understanding, that is dying of a disease or that can’t pay the bills and is going into foreclosure or whose desires of their hearts aren’t being met? Not enough faith? God not being faithful?

The word trust has a few different meanings in Scripture. One word in the Hebrew that means trust is chacah and it means “to take refuge”. Another one is batach which means “to have confidence in, to set ones hope in.” Another is yachal, meaning “to wait, hope, expect.” (Note: The word list is not exhaustive…there are many more in Hebrew and Greek.)

With any one of these words, the definition is NOT: “trust because He will make everything work out okay. That’s God’s job.”

Trust does not mean that Jesus will work it all out just because you commit the situation to Him. It doesn’t mean safety, peace, comfort, prosperity, health, or even life. It certainly doesn’t mean that all of your American dreams or wishes are met. Yes, he has plans for you. But have you considered the possibility that those plans could be bankruptcy or disease or being murdered?

I don’t think I have considered this much in the past. God is indeed faithful to Himself and His promises but a good, prosperous, safe life with every desire being met is not one of his promises. When I say, “I trust you Lord,” what I mean is “I take refuge in You. I have confidence in You, that Your plan is better than mine. I put my hope in you and I wait for You. I expect you to be Faithful, because that is Who You are.”

Anything that I desire cannot be compared to Him and His glory. All things, material and otherwise, are to be in service to Him and point to Him. He does not serve US and the things in our lives. We gladly use and give thanks for the gifts He gives, holding on to them very loosely, knowing that we are not owed any of them. They are ALL evidence of grace. Our right response is to love Him, serve Him, obey Him, trust Him.

I cling to him during times of uncertainty or worry because He has Sovereign hands. And I trust Him, not because it will all work out for what I think is good, but that it will be what He deems good for me. Maybe that’s life, maybe that’s death. Maybe that’s poverty or illness or persecution or famine. Whatever it is, I place my trust in Him, because He is trust-worthy.

Fruit from the Vine: Know Him

I have been reading Ephesians, the whole book, every day for my Life Transformation Group.

One thing that has hit me is the calling and the privilege of knowing Him. In Chapter 1, Paul prays for the saints, not the unbelievers, that they may know more of Him:

“that…God…may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe…”

It should not be our aim or our intention to be anything else except knowers of Him. We are not just believers in a system (Christianity), we are believers in Christ. And not just believers in Him, but knowers of Him, relationally, intimately. Paul desired and prayed that God would reveal more of Himself to the Christians in Ephesus, that they may know the hope and dwell on the riches they have been given, to think on his power. I am so thankful that I don’t just belong to a “Christian club” but I KNOW a Savior. It is my desire and prayer to know Him more and “be filled with all the fullness of God.”