Today’s Thoughts

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I read a pretty good allegory the other day. If you aren’t sure what one is, here is the definition: “a story in which the characters and events are symbols that stand for ideas about human life or for a political or historical situation.” (Merriam Webster) I happen to love them. I have even written a few. Today as my little one was sleeping, I had a mountain of dishes to do (yes left over from the day before) and while suds-ing and rinsing those stuck on pots and pans I couldn’t help thinking of how God has cleansed me of all unrighteousness. I wasn’t a “just ate a bowl of soup and washed right away dish” no, I was a baked on caked on lasagna dish that was sitting on the counter for years” kind of a dish. In fact, I didn’t think I was cleanable.

Thankfully God has a pre-wash cycle. His Holy Spirit! He woos us and courts us with His great love. Only love can soften a heart.

That made me think of all the fairy tales I have read over the years. I still enjoy them, (In fact I just read a retelling of Pinocchio that was very good- “Strings” by David Estes.) Aren’t fairy tales realy just allegories after all? The ugly duckling who finds out he is really a swan, the sleeping beauty who needs true loves kiss, how about the cinder wench who is mistreated only to marry the handsome prince? They are all allegories that show us that this life isn’t all there is. I love the opening song of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”, “There must be more than this provincial life!” Are you that ugly duckling, you just don’t fit? That’s because you are really a beautiful swan. Are you longing for…MORE.

Well, stop singing, “Some day my prince will come,” because He already has. True love’s kiss has already been smacked you right on the lips!

If that doesn’t make you happy, then go back and read some fairy tales again.

 

Access Granted

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Ephesians 2:4-7 (AMP), “But God, being [so very] rich in mercy, because of His great and wonderful love with which He loved us, even when we were [spiritually] dead and separated from Him because of our sins, He made us [spiritually] alive together with Christ (for by His grace—His undeserved favor and mercy—you have been saved from God’s judgment). And He raised us up together with Him [when we believed], and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, [because we are] in Christ Jesus, [and He did this] so that in the ages to come He might [clearly] show the immeasurable and unsurpassed riches of His grace in [His] kindness toward us in Christ Jesus [by providing for our redemption]. For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that no one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for his salvation]. For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].”

How many of us as children wanted to belong to a “club”? We put signs on our bedroom doors, or the latter of our tree houses that read something like, “for girls only,” or “club members only.” Maybe we even had a secret handshake or a password to get in.

Heaven has a password… no really. It is the same password that gets us victory over any circumstance and sets the enemy running. I am sure you guessed it by now. Our password is “JESUS”.

Now, not just anyone who uses that name is part of the club. Even He said that some would knock on the door saying, “Lord, Lord, let us in,” yet not be able to pass through. He said that just knowing His name isn’t enough; we have to know Him in a close relationship. (Luke 27, Matthew 25)

The good news is that this club isn’t for just a special group. It’s open to everyone and anyone that chooses to get to know their Creator, anyone who is willing to open their heart to His love. We don’t earn entry, there is no exam, no great quest, no change of behavior, no dress code, or any conditions whatsoever. Well, maybe one… admitting our need for Him. As soon as we realize we have messed things up all on our own, or just come to the realization that there is Someone who really, truly loves us, and we give up, then we belong to the club.

Ephesians 2 tells us that salvation, accepting Jesus’ work on our behalf, is a free gift! That we were actually created to be like Him, to do good works that God has prearranged for us to do. It tells us that we are seated in Heaven, right now! Not just getting to go there someday, no, at the time I am seated at my computer writing this, I am also seated in Heaven with Him. When I am working, driving, sleeping, and yes, even when I have a bad day and am nagging my husband, I am still seated there with Him. I have access to the Father through Christ’s shed blood. I am living from Heaven because I live there. Access to all the Father has for me has been granted. All I have to do is believe it and accept it.

Religion can’t do that for me, laws, rules, sacrifices, and bribes can’t do it.

Only a relationship with the Father can.

Ephesians 1:3-7 (KJB), “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.”

His good pleasure? It was to pour out His blood to redeem us so that we can abide in Him forever. Jesus is in me, I am in Him and we are both seated in Heavenly places. No enemy can take me away from my home, no sin can keep me from my position. If I mess up, I fess up and plead the blood over my life. God sees His Son in me and forgives it all. We don’t have to be perfect, just honest and real before Him.

He loves us that much. I am adopted into His family. He calls me “beloved.”

What Do We Do With Rejection

Rejection…we’ve all experienced it at one time or another. Sometimes it was intentional, other times we may have only perceived rejection when that wasn’t the intent. But it all feels the same. As a writer, I have had some of my work rejected, criticized and sneered at. I have to admit it hurt much more than the ‘in crowd’s’ rejection in my school days. Even in the fleeting moments when I was part of that crowd, there always seemed to be something lacking in me that others would point out (my curly hair when straight was in, my love for books, my bushy eyebrows, etc). What do we do with that rejection? I used to tuck it away, sometimes daydreaming about ‘being someone’ great and showing them all how wrong they were about me. Sometimes it would creep back out in the dark hours of night and haunt me, it’s amazing how even at thirty or forty, some cruel words or actions from your childhood can keep you up at night.
Now I give any rejection I feel to God. My strategy wasn’t working, obviously. He knows rejection…”He was rejected by men”; I even rejected Him for a season. One of my favorite scriptures is Ephesians 1:6 “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the beloved.” His work made us acceptable and accepted. If God accepts us, does it really matter what anyone else thinks? I have noticed that the more I know Him, and accept His love, the more confident I become, and the more confident I become the less rejection I feel. Oh, sure, it is probably still there at times, but I don’t feel it. It doesn’t affect me. I’ve also come to realize that everyone isn’t going to like me, or my art, or writing, etc. (I know, big surprise!), just like I don’t enjoy every book, piece of art, pair of shoes, etc. For those that are just being mean, well…first of all I tend to think ‘they’ll reap what they sow’, and more frequently I pray for them. The rest are probably had no intention of making anyone feel rejected.
As a writer and crafts-person/artist, I have to be especially careful when someone is trying to give constructive criticism. My stories and creations are like my children and sometimes I feel like that mother bear protecting her cubs. But if I ignore all healthy criticism, I will be the only one enjoying my work. We also have to be careful about how we feel about God’s ‘corrective criticism’ I hesitate to even use that word in association with God. He truly never criticizes. But don’t be fooled, He does correct and chastise. Aren’t we His work of art? He wants others to enjoy us as well.