Thursday, February 17, 2011

What Does it Mean to be Beautiful?

As women there is great, unspoken pressure to be “beautiful.” Beauty as the world defines it is an endless, exhausting pursuit. Its focus on external appearance rather than the heart, moreover, renders it superficial and hollow.

Behind every woman’s pursuit of beauty I believe there is a desire to be loved and cherished. The world tells us to fulfill this need in earthly relationship and romance, but our heart’s deepest longing for love can only be met by Jesus Christ.

The world’s logic is this: Become beautiful so that you may be worthy of love. God’s logic stands in complete opposition: You are loved in your imperfection and messiness. You are deemed worthy of love not because you have earned it, but because of sheer grace. It is in this love that we become truly beautiful.

Jesus Christ is beauty in its fullest expression. Beauty cannot be conjured or created. Rather, beauty is a heart completely and fully surrendered to Jesus Christ. Beauty increasingly manifests itself in our lives as we decrease and allow Christ’s Spirit to consume us.

As women I think it is healthy and glorifying to take care of our bodies and attend to our appearance, but this should never be what defines our beauty. Our beauty should be defined by Jesus Christ. If you are like me you probably have built your perception of beauty on the world’s lies rather than God’s truth. Thus, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we need to renew our minds with Scripture:

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
-Proverbs 31:30

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelery or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
-1 Peter 3:3-4

Sister, you are loved in your darkest. You are loved unconditionally by the perfect and holy God of the universe. Rest in His great love and allow His beauty to permeate your life.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Blessings to Come

Watching the godless prosper—while I meanwhile struggle in this life—challenges my faith.

My hope is in Christ. He is my treasure. I no longer live for myself, but for Him, and as I pursue Christ and submit my will to His, I do not always encounter prosperity and blessing. If anything, my life is marked by great suffering and pain.

When my eyes drift from Christ hope increasingly gives way to hopelessness. My non-believing friends encounter increased blessing in this life, while I encounter increased heartbreak.

Today the Lord brought me to Malachi 3:14-4:2. It deeply blessed my heart:

“You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What do we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the LORD Almighty? 15 But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly evildoers prosper, and even when they put God to the test, they get away with it.’”

16 Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name.

17 “On the day when I act,” says the LORD Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him. 18 And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.

41“Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the LORD Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them. 2 But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves.

To follow Christ is to suffer. It is to deny yourself, carry your cross and follow Him. Our suffering, however, is not in vain. Hebrews 11:6 promises He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Our treasure is not in this world, and our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. Let us hope in the glory to be revealed. Let us cling to God’s promises, and let us fix our eyes on Christ. Let us continue to count the things of this life as rubbish compared to His surpassing greatness.

Praying we may rejoice inasmuch as we participate in the sufferings of Christ, that we may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed,

Sunday, February 13, 2011

To Follow Christ We Need Christ

In John 15:5 Jesus tells us we can do nothing apart from Him.

Do we believe we can do nothing apart from Christ? Do we believe we can bear no fruit on our own? Do we believe our sanctification rests solely and completely on God’s work not ours?

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”

-Galatians 2:20

Christ dwells in the heart of every believer. Why then do our lives so often fail to reflect this reality?

Christ’s sinless person cannot be recreated by sinners, for Christ’s person cannot—and need not—be recreated. The resurrected Christ lives, and His person is only reflected in our lives when we allow Him to live through us.

When we submit our lives to Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to live through us we experience the fruit of Christ’s life. We experience victory and triumph over sin, because Christ was victorious and triumphant over all sin. We experience love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, because these are the attributes of Christ Himself.

Let us hold fast to this truth: Christ lives in us and He lives victoriously in us. We can do nothing apart from Him, but we can do all things through Him who strengthens us.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Heart of God is a Heart After the Nations

I am naturally a faithless and disobedient person. My heart is wayward and twisted, and my sinful heart did not—and could not—choose God. I was enslaved to myself, and I was the worst of captives—a captive unaware.

Despite my rebellion and betrayal God never stopped pursuing me. He looked upon my captivity and His heart was grieved. He longed to set me free. He longed to give me true life. In His great mercy He unblinded my heart to the glory of His Son, and He gave me faith to accept such a precious gift.

Once His enemy, He now accepts me as His daughter. He has made me an heir to His Kingdom. He has clothed me in garments of righteousness. He has broken my chains and He is healing my heart.

I deserve none of this. I deserve nothing but God’s justice. I deserve death. I deserve to be cut off from God forever.

God’s grace humbles me. In the deepest revelations of God’s love come the deepest pains of anguish. Millions upon millions are unreached by this Gospel. They cannot call on the name of the Lord and be saved because they have never heard His name. They are blocked off from the truth, and without Christ’s righteousness to cover their sin and shame they will perish for an eternity. As my heart fills heavily with the love of God I can do nothing but weep.

We have but one life. The riches and treasures of this life will all fade away. The souls of men and women are alone eternal. May we humbly come before the God who loves us and ask Him to reveal His purposes for our lives. May we faithfully submit to His perfect will. May we deny ourselves in this life and carry our crosses that others may share in our great hope.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Great Reward

As Christians we want life to be easy—and not only want but expect. We pursue faith hoping to obtain the goodness of this world and the goodness of Heaven at the same time. We indulge in the pursuits of this life, hoping all the while to enjoy the life to come.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” -1 Peter 2:9-10

We are a chosen people, a holy nation, God’s special possession that we might declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His wonderful light.

When we conform to the world around us we fail to show a dying world the ultimate worth of Jesus Christ. Jesus no longer is our treasure. He is no longer our great reward.

We can joyfully forsake the things of this life, because this world is not our home. What appears to be loss is actually gain. This life is but a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. All is rubbish compared to His surpassing greatness.

These are truths I need to continually remind myself of. It is so easy to stop hoping in Heaven and trade Jesus for the things of this fleeting life.