Beauty

Beauty

“Beauty will save the world.”  ~ Fyodor Dostoevsky

Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God will shine forth.  (Ps 50:2)

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation,
Who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
  (Isa 52:7)

What is Zion and why is it important to Christians? 

Jerusalem and Zion are one and the same city.  Zion was the place of God’s special presence among His people, and the place where they turned for help and deliverance.  Jerusalem has been the holiest city in Judaism and the ancestral and spiritual homeland of the Jewish people since the 10th century BCE (before Common Era).  During classical antiquity, Jerusalem was considered the center of the world, where God resided.

What does all of this have to do with our topic of beauty?  Because God promises to shine forth out of Zion, which is called the perfection of beauty

Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous! For praise from the upright is beautiful.  (Ps 33:1)

The Word of God reminds us that praise is beautiful—not only in the sight of God but in the sight of men, as well.  If I happen to find a television program that is broadcasting a praise and worship service, I find it so beautiful to see that I’m moved to tears.

. . . rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.  (1 Pet 3:4, emphasis added)

In this verse from first Peter, the Word of God tells us that a gentle and quiet spirit is indestructibly beautiful!  It is also very treasured by our God.  So, we see that God considers salvation to be a beautiful thing, along with our praises to Him.

It is this inner quality of beauty that God commends and which the entire world unerringly recognizes!  We will achieve this level of beauty as we obey God and seek to follow Him.  He is the only One who transforms lives because He is the glory and the lifter of our heads!  (Ps 3:3)  Because His Spirit lives within each one of us, His beauty will shine forth through us.

This is why Isaiah 52:7 (at top of this article) calls the feet of those who spread the Gospel “beautiful feet”!  We all may confidently pursue this beauty that shines forth from our inner man.

 

Don’t Compare Yourself: Just BE Yourself

Don’t Compare Yourself:  Just BE Yourself

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt

For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.  (2 Cor 10:12)

The Bible has some pretty clear teachings that indicate that we should never compare ourselves to others, nor to be so foolish as to praise ourselves, either.  Comparison is a trick that the devil uses to steal our joy and to make us envious of others. 

Here are some helpful hints about the kinds of things that God wants us to do in order to live as God created us to:

  • Focus upon loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. (Mk 12:30)
  • Lead a quiet life and mind our own business. (1 Thes 4:11-12)
  • Be proud of our own accomplishments, and assume responsibility for our own actions. (Gal 6:4-5)
  • Be transformed by renewing our mind. (Rom 12:2)
  • Humbly think of others as being better than ourselves. (Php 2:3)
  • Commit our way to the Lord and trust Him. (Ps 37:5)
  • Be content. (1 Tim 6:6-8)
  • Give thanks for everything. (1 Thes 5:18)
  • Imitate Christ. (1 Cor 11:1)

Remember, don’t compare yourself to anyone.  Just go ahead and be the best version of yourself ever!

Clothed With Power?

Clothed With Power?

God is the only One who can bestow special power upon people.  His purpose for doing so is to enable witnesses to broadcast the gospel [good news] of Jesus Christ to the world.

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.  (Eph 3:14-21, emphasis added)

Note that our witness, according to verse 17 above, is to be rooted and authenticated in LOVE!  This will result from our own experience of the love of Christ for us. (v. 19)  Love is the bond of perfection, and it must be our sole motivation for all ministry.  (Col 3:14)

I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.  (Lk 24:49 NIV)

In Luke 24, Jesus was instructing His followers to wait for the arrival of the indwelling Holy Spirit.  The disciples wouldn’t have received the grace that they needed to be effective witnesses for Christ until then.

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.  (Acts 1:8)

The indwelling Holy Spirit enables us to obey the instructions that Jesus gives us in Matthew 10:8 – Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.

Fulfill your mission, brothers and sisters!  Share the power that God has placed within you now . . . today!

Living in the Moment

Living in the Moment

Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old.  (Isa 43:18)

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  (Mt 6:34, NIV)

And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.  (Rom 13:11, emphasis added)

Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.  (2 Cor 6:2b)

This is all about living in the NOW of our lives.  Our past is behind us, but remembered.  Our future is unknown but hoped for.  Only today—this moment in time—is of ultimate importance and necessity!  Why?

The present matters deeply.  We must live right now, in this moment, in the kingdom of God.  Recognize that the kingdom of God and His power are within you!  (Lk 17:21; Acts 1:8; 2:4)

We should nurture an attitude of heart that is always seeking and searching for God’s will and God’s best for ourselves and for others.  We need to put away distractions and selfishness, and focus on what God’s plan for us is. 

What ministry has God called you to?  What lives does He want you to touch?  What life experience has developed compassion in you for others, and how can you share that compassion?  How can you help others, and improve their lives?

Not only does God’s presence surround us, but people in need surround each of us as well!  Jesus wants us to reach out to the needy and the hurting, and to minister His love and mercy to them through each of us.   Jesus wants us to:   Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.  (Mt 10:8)  These are His instructions that He gives to each one of us. 

In Jesus, come ALIVE and live in the moment for the Kingdom and for God’s glory!

It Stood Fast

It Stood Fast

For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.  (Ps 33:9, emphasis added)

What does “it stood fast” tell us?  Here’s the same verse in the The Bible in Basic English (BBE) version:

For he gave the word, and it was done; by his order it was fixed for ever.  (Ps 33:9 BBE)

This verse is communicating the understanding and knowledge that, at God’s Word, things are permanently created!  They are established and secured.

That’s the power inherent in God’s Word.  Once we fully understand that God’s Word is creative, superior, powerful, and invincible—we have anchored this knowledge in truth and supplied our faith with rapid growth food.

As we feast upon God’s Word and meditate upon its message, we become assured not only of God’s love but also of His power to establish and to secure the very thing that it is sent to achieve.  His Word stands forever.  Hallelujah!

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.  (Isa 40:8)

Hope in God’s Grace

Hope in God’s Grace

Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  (1 Peter 1:13 NKJV)

Gird up the loins means to gather your long robes with a belt to prepare for action (for a battle); but this verse is talking about the mind being prepared for action.  We’re to be sober which means temperate, restrained, serious, thoughtful, calm, and unruffled. 

We can be calm and tranquil because the revelation of Jesus has already occurred!  His work is finished!  Praise our God!

We’re instructed to rest our hope (confident expectation) upon the grace given to us at the revelation of Jesus, our Savior.  We’re so highly blessed to be among those who have received this sacred revelation!

We may rest confidently upon His grace.  We may rest, knowing that our salvation was paid for fully by Jesus.  There is no work or striving that we need to do, but just to live our lives for Him by the grace that He has already provided.

. . . through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  (Rom 5:2)

. . . that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.  (Tit 3:7)

My Defense is of God

My Defense is of God

In the Bible, the Lord is shown again and again to be our defense in times of trouble or difficulties.  Defense means protection, security, cover, or shield.  It can also mean justification or vindication.  Assuredly, Jesus Christ is our justification!

My defense is of God, Who saves the upright in heart.  (Ps 7:10)

I will wait for You, O You his Strength; for God is my defense.  (Ps 59:9)

He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved.  (Ps 62:2)

But the Lord has been my defense, and my God the rock of my refuge.  (Ps 94:22)

The Lord is our protection; and this is something that we all need to recognize and to trust in, since we live in an increasingly hostile world—one that is growing even more antagonistic to the message of the gospel.  Let us remember to confess, along with the Psalmist, “My defense is of God.”

It is essential for us to remain in a strong and vital relationship with the Lord.  The Word of God feeds us and increases our faith.  It reminds us who we are and of the One we serve.    Don’t allow yourself to become complacent, or to wander away from daily Bible reading and contemplation. 

Continue to worship with other like-minded believers on a regular basis because we’re encouraged to have fellowship with our brethren. (Heb 10:25)  As we fellowship with other believers, they will support us and encourage us, spurring us on to good works!  Glory to God!