March 16, 2012

Valuing that which can never be lost

Wakened by a frightful dream, I came to the Word of God this morning hoping for something that comforted me about the terrible losses experienced in my dream. Instead, God gave me words of assurance about what I have that which can never be lost.
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:4–9)
As I read this, He turned my thoughts from temporary struggles and bad dreams to what I have in the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Grace. Some define grace by the acronym: God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense. Others say it is the undeserved blessings of God. I’ve also heard grace defined as a revelation of Jesus Christ that changes lives. It was given by God, freely and lavishly, in Christ Jesus, and since it is from Him and has never depended on my worth or works, there is nothing I can do that will make grace depart from me. 

Enriched. Because of Jesus, I have wealth beyond money. He makes me rich from His Word, giving me worthy words to say and wonderful knowledge which sustains me and that I can pass on to others. In my dream, I was speaking and ignored. I woke up thinking it would be better to be heard and challenged or even laughed at then to be treated as if I didn’t exist. In reality, when my words come from the Holy Spirit who lives in me and are rejected, then it is not me being ignored, but God. Any pain that I feel is not about me, but for the one who will not listen. They do so at their own eternal peril.

Confirmed. In this verse, Paul is thankful that what he said to the believers at Corinth was believed and their faith was proven genuine by the gifts God gave them and their anticipation of Christ’s return. When I think of all that Jesus has done for me to prove that I belong to Him, then any fears or sense of loss is replaces by deep joy. Life is sometimes a bad dream. I’ve had trials that made me want to “wake up, it’s only a dream.” Yet in the worst of them, Jesus walks with me and gives me Himself, confirming that my faith is genuine because it is in the right person. No one could do what He does. I’m not always pampered, but I am loved with an everlasting love.

Gifted. All that I have is from the Lord. I used to take full credit for a few things, but after salvation realized that the glory is His because all abilities are from Him. Without Jesus, I can do nothing. Yet the best part is that what He gives me, He will not take from me. As the Bible says, the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. (Romans 11:29) 

Hope. When our children were small, we visited theme parks with long lines at each ride. Why did they stand patiently in line when their normal attitude was impatience? It was because they could see the structure before them, the spinning wheels and the fast-moving cars. Filled with anticipation at what was coming, in hope they never whined about the wait. Someday I will see Jesus. Until then, He gives me glimpses of what is coming and hope to sustain me. My future is far greater than a short spin on a machine. I will spend eternity with the most incredible Person in the universe.

Guiltless. This is not the same as being innocent. No matter what others do to me in dreams or reality, I am just as guilty as they are of being thoughtless, sinful, mean and selfish. We are sinners all, but in Christ, there is forgiveness and cleansing. He gives the sense of it, the sense of having a burden lifted. This happens because God took my sin and put it on Christ. He bore it to Calvary, paid its penalty, and wrote “It is finished” on the invoice. In the mind of God, my sins are gone, erased, covered with the blood of Christ. Because of Jesus, He sees me as guiltless. In eternity, that will be more than a legal description; it will be a total reality — no more sin. This freedom began when He saved me and will continue until it is finished, a promise and a hope that also cannot be taken from me. 

Fellowship. Two fellows in a ship? Sort of, but much richer and deeper. Jesus lives in me, gives me all of Himself. He wants me to do the same, but even as I fail, He never does. We are one, united by the grace of God for now and forever. Nothing can change that and nothing can come even close to imitate that. 

Called. One day, more than forty years ago, God crooked His finger at me and said, “You are mine.” That was it. No arguing. No sense of wanting anything else. He called and I became His. He initiated it and says, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” 

Sealed. This word is not in the above verses but it is the reason why the gifts of God are forever mine. He makes it so. I belong to Him and will never wake up from this dream. It is an eternal reality.

Oh Lord, the bad dream fades as You fill me with far greater thoughts and assurances. I know that the horrors of loss that I dreamed about could actually happen. But I also know that I am in Your care. You have my back. You give everything that I need and have proven Your faithfulness. I can rely on You because You are the Eternal One. Your gifts cannot be taken away.

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