Remember the “He loves me, He loves me not” game with a daisy that you’d do? Pulling a petal off one by one to see if it ended with “He loves’ me or “He loves me not.” It struck me today that it’s something we can also play with our lives. Maybe it’s the “Good mum, bad mum” version. The one when you’re a good mum because you got the kids off to school on time and without forgetting or losing anything (including your temper!) and then bad mum because it was a “lunch order” day. Good for doing the laundry, bad for not serving them enough vegetables at dinner.
Or perhaps for you, it’s the “Good Christian, bad Christian” version. You know, the one when you’re good because you started the day with your quiet time, or prayed with someone that day, or you’re star of the day because you shared your faith. But then you hit yourself with the “bad Christian” label because your mind wandered during your Pastor’s sermon, you know your attitude in life definitely leaves you lacking, or you can’t remember when you last prayed.
Playing this game is as futile as the daisy one. It doesn’t achieve anything but put you on a rollercoaster of emotions as to whether you are winning or succeeding at life – parenting , being a Christian etc. It keeps us tied to guilt. And really at the end of the day, it’s a guilt game. Sure you can have days when you feel like you’re nailing it, but you will also have days when the condemnation and guilt railroad you into depression and failure.
It runs contrary to God’s will for our lives, which is to see us reside in grace. A grace that forgives the failure, gives strength for the good and hope for the future. Grace which picks us up and let’s us keep going. Grace that doesn’t base love on performance. Grace which doesn’t give us a label, but says instead that you are loved, cherished and precious to God no matter how your day has gone. God is not a “He loves me, He loves me not” God. He loves you. Full stop!
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. ” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Today, I received a phone call from a bank telling me that I was preapproved for a loan (and quite a substantial loan at that!). I didn’t have to apply or jump through hoops to secure it – it was all preapproved and the money was ready to be given to me. Fortunately for my husband’s sake I did decline the offer (but yes, my mind did spend a couple of minutes thinking of what a shopping spree I could have!). After I hung up the phone, the word “Preapproved” echoed in my mind.
Over the course of my life I have applied for credit cards and mortgages, applied just to open a bank account to put money in! All of these take forms (and forms and forms!) and checks and balances, proof of income and address, signatures and signatures not to mention time! Yet here I was being offered a loan without all that red tape.
Preapproved! I’ve decided it’s pretty awesome! Then I realised that my whole life has been preapproved! And preapproved by God! Jesus went to the Cross and took upon Himself my sin and shame and then died for me, so that in God’s eyes I would be preapproved! In God’s eyes there would be no black marks against my name to cause Him to turn away from me. I had all the credentials I needed for salvation before I was even born. Just as I am, I am accepted and loved by God.
And as with the loan I was offered today, it took just a simple yes from me to Jesus to make use of my preapproval and walk into the fullness and blessings of the life that He had prepared for me. But unlike the loan that would eventually have to be paid back, by grace I don’t owe God anything, (even though I owe Him everything!). There’s no fine print or hidden clauses when it comes to salvation, for it is by grace that we are saved.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
“Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes.” (Ephesians 1:4)
We can all have bad days, hard days, days that could be considered a waste of makeup! Days when we think it’s just us against the world. Fortunately for us most of the time that’s just a figure of speech!
I take heart from Elisha though. Here he was just one man, with a servant surrounded by an army that had been terrorising Israel. And who were they after? Elisha, himself! I’m with the servant here – I’d be terrified! I’d be thinking it was game over. And yet Elisha says something I think is extraordinary.
“Don’t worry about it – there are more on our side than on their side.” (2 Kings 6:16 MSG)
And then He prays.
At that moment I’d be praying something clever like that God would smite the army or transport me somewhere safe…fast.
But Elisha prays for his servant, “O God, open his eyes and let him see.” (2 Kings 6:16 MSG)
Elisha prays that his servant would see that God’s solution was already in place.
I love how the Message Bible puts it “The eyes of the young man were opened and he saw. A wonder! The whole mountainside full of horses and chariots of fire surrounding Elisha!”
To see what Elisha could already see, to see what the servant could then see. Wow – that would definitely give me assurance and confidence. It would encourage me. And affirm that God has a different perspective than we do. That He sees what we cannot. Our natural, physical eyes are so limited. Even the eyes of our mind are limited to what we perceive and interpret. But the eyes of our heart – well when they are opened we see the armies of God!
It reminds me of my favourite quote from the Little Prince “Here is my secret. It is very simple. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; What is essential is invisible to the eye.“
To me, this is what Elisha prayed. It is what Paul prayed
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.” (Ephesians 1:18)
I remember the worship song “Open the eyes of my heart Lord”.
“Open the eyes of my heart Lord,
Open the Eyes of my heart
I want to see you.”
This is my prayer today – that my eyes be opened to see God. To see what He already has put in place in my life.
“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” —Ephesians 4:1
We are called to live a worthy life. A life that is worthy of the Lord, worthy of the call and worthy of the Gospel. But what exactly does that entail? And is it achievable?
Living the worthy life is living a life that brings honour to Jesus. It is about giving Him all the glory. It is Him that is worthy, not us. To “walk worthy of the Lord” means to walk in a way that is of value and esteeming to Him. It is what the Lord deserves from us, not what we deserve from Him. It means living in a way that befits the glorious nature of God, the Gospel and the call of God on each of our lives.
In Colossians Paul expounds a little more as to what a worthy walk means. To walk worthy of the Lord, is to please Him.
“That you might live in a manner worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way” (Colossians 1:10)
Continuing on this trail then, we are now faced with the question of how can we please the Lord? Once again, the answer lies in Scripture. In Hebrews 11:6 it says, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him.” So the call to walk “worthy of the Lord” begins as a call to walk by faith. Faith takes the focus off ourselves, our abilities and own strength and places it on Jesus. Faith agrees with the premise that it is God who is of infinite worth and honour and it is to Him that we must look for our help and our satisfaction. In other words, it is to Him that we put all our trust, hope and confidence.
As Christians our lives should honour and please God, just as Jesus’ life on earth did. When Jesus walked the earth amongst us God declared one two notable occasions that He was pleased with His Son – at His Baptism and at the Transfiguration. Jesus lived as fully man, with the same limitations that we have and His life was pleasing to God. He lived in submission to the will of the Father. That is, He put God’s Kingdom and priorities above His own needs.
Colossians 1:10 goes on to add “bearing fruit” as being one of the ways to walk worthy. When the fruits of the Holy Spirit are evident in our lives we reveal God to others and give Him glory. We are called to live a transformed life – one that sets us apart. The demonstration of the love, joy, peace etc when circumstances would suggest otherwise is a transformed life. As it says in Micah we are called to “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God.’ (Micah 6:8). What we do and how we respond to life’s situations should reflect our faith and reveal Christ in us.
Living a life of honour means taking a different perspective on life. It means looking at the circumstances in our lives for the bigger picture – what could God be using what is going on in our lives? Is it for our personal growth and development (Spiritual and character)? Or perhaps to enable others to feel and experience God and His love through us.
Furthermore, to bring honour to God we need to accept who He created us to be, and be true to the call He has placed on our lives. For each of us He has a plan, a destiny and a purpose, unique to us. As Elisabeth Elliot once wrote “I have accepted God’s idea of me, and my whole life is an offering back to Him of all that I am and all that He wants me to be.”
Now that is a worthy life!