Dressed as the Bride

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” Ephesians 5:25-27 (NKJV)

rach_chris_wedding_resizedIs there anything more radiant and beautiful than a bride on her wedding day? There is just something special about her, a glow from knowing she has been chosen and is loved by the one she also loves.
As believers, we are the Bride of Christ. The Apostle Paul compared the relationship between a husband and wife to that of Christ and the Church. Reading Ephesians 5:27, “…that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle…” I asked God what does that look like? Knowing the church is made up of people, warts and all, how can it be without spot or wrinkle?
“Go back to the beginning,” God whispered. So I did. The book of Genesis tells us God created Mankind, Male and Female, in His image, to be His representatives on the earth. Then He gave them authority over everything created thing on the earth. They were created in God’s similitude, they were intelligent and they had no sense of shame. There is no sin in God, so they had no sin nature, they knew nothing about sin. (Read Gen. 1:26-28, Gen. 5:1-2, Gen. 2:20-25.)
As I pondered these verses, I kept wondering how did the man and woman not see one another’s nakedness? I could understand having no shame, because there was no sin or guilt attached to them. But how did they not see the nakedness?
Every creature was created with a natural covering, except mankind. Dogs and cats have fur, fish have scales, horses have hides and birds have feathers. But what covered Adam and Eve?
God’s glory! They were covered, or clothed by God’s glory! They had been created in His image, to be His representatives on the earth, God had covered them with His glory. The man and woman walked and talked with God in the Garden, without fear or shame. Then suddenly everything changed.
The serpent entered the Garden and offered Eve something she already had, telling her if she ate of the fruit from the tree in the center of the Garden, she would be like God. When she saw it looked good, she took it and gave it to her husband. With that one act of disobedience, sin entered the Garden, and mankind’s sin nature was born. Suddenly they were truly naked because they lost their covering of God’s glory. They tried to cover themselves with fig leaves, but it was not enough, blood had to be spilt to cover their sin. (See Gen 3:4-8, 21.)
I pressed God for more. I needed another witness regarding His glory on man. He took me to the book of Exodus and the story of Moses.
Moses was God’s servant, an humble man the Bible calls him, yet it says “God spoke to him face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. (Ex. 33:11)
God called Moses to meet Him on the Mountain and God gave Moses the Ten Commandments and the Law. Moses asked God to see His glory, and God said He would show him His goodness. God put Moses in the cleft of a rock, covered his face as He walked by, and allowed Moses to see His backside. (Read Ex. 33:18-23.)
After forty day and nights, when Moses came down the mountain, his face beamed with light. The NKJV says Moses face “shown” and the Hebrew word used is “qaran” (Strong’s H7160) and means “to send out rays”. Moses’ face was sending out rays of light, or rays of God’s glory from seeing and speaking with God on the mountain for forty days and nights. It was so brilliant, the people were afraid and Moses had to cover his face when he would speak to the people. (Read Exodus 34:5-8, 30-35.)
The second witness God gave me is Jesus. The 17th chapter of Matthew gives us the account of Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. It says Jesus’ face shown like the sun, and His clothes were white as the light. When Jesus came to the earth, He did not come as the Son of God, but as the Son of Man. But that day on the mountain, for just a moment the Deity of Jesus was unveiled and the glory of God revealed. (Read Matthew 17:1-7)
What does that mean for us? When Adam and Eve sinned, mankind lost their covering of God’s glory. They brought sin and death, neither of which are compatible with God’s glory. There was only one way to restore what Adam lost. A Man would have to pay the price. But not just any man would do, it had to be the sinless Son of God, come in the flesh.
2 Corinthians 5:21 says “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” When Jesus came, He lived as a man, but He did what Adam could not. He lived a perfect sinless life, “He knew no sin”. But God placed on Him every sin of every person born, every evil deed, every wicked thought, every perversion, so that the penalty for sin was paid in full. Now no matter what our past, present or future looks like, our sin is not just covered, but done away with; we are made “the righteousness of God” the moment we receive Christ and are born again! Praise God! Once again we are covered with God’s glory, only now instead of it being on the outside, as it was with Adam and Eve, and with Moses, now it dwells on the inside!
The Bride of Christ is a beautiful, radiant bride, covered from the inside out with the glory of God!

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
My soul shall be joyful in my God;
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
Isaiah 61:10

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee
New King James Version (NKJV)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Good Choices Bad Choices

 “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore [you] choose life, that both you and your descendants may live” Deuteronomy 30:19

            My 7-year old grandson recently got into trouble at home and was grounded from participating in shooting off fireworks for the fourth of July, something he’d been looking forward to doing. But his parents wisely told him it was because of the choice he’d made to do something he knew was wrong. My daughter and son-in-law never tell the kids that they are bad when they misbehave, but tell them that the choice they made was a bad choice. “We love you, son, but you made a bad choice and here are the consequences.”

             I was reading John 13 this morning in my quiet time, and God showed me something I’d not totally understood before.

 “When Jesus had said these things, He was troubled in spirit, and testified and said, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.’ Then the disciples looked at one another, perplexed about whom He spoke. Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask who it was of whom He spoke. Then, leaning back on Jesus’ breast, he said to Him, ‘Lord, who is it?’ Jesus answered, ‘It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it.’ And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, ‘What you do, do quickly.’ But no one at the table knew for what reason He said this to him. For some thought, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus had said to him, ‘Buy those things we need for the feast,’ or that he should give something to the poor. Having received the piece of bread, he then went out immediately. And it was night.” John 13:21-30  

             The Old Testament prophesied that one close to the Messiah would betray Him.  “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” (Psalm 41:9) When Jesus chose Judas Iscariot to be one of the twelve, He knew it would be Judas who betrayed Him. Jesus saw what was already in his heart.

             This morning as I was reading, I felt the Lord say to me “Notice that it was after Jesus offered Judas the dipped bread and he took it, that Satan entered into him. Up until that moment, Judas had the choice to do it or not.” That really struck me. Until the moment Judas took the bread from Jesus’ hand while He was saying “The one I give this piece of bread is the one who will betray me”, Judas had a choice. He could have said, “No, Lord, not I” but he didn’t. He chose to accept the bread and in doing that he yielded to Satan.

             In Matthew’ account of that night, Jesus warns Judas of the consequences of his actions. “He answered and said, ‘He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me. The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.’” (Matthew 26: 23-24)

             We all have freewill. Even Judas Iscariot had a choice. He made the wrong one, as it was prophesied he would do. God has set before us choice – life through His Son Jesus Christ, or eternal death.

             Jesus said “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

 I chose life!

 

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Dee

 

A Strong Foundation of Faith

“For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness’ …Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.” Romans 4:3, 16 (NKJV)

Abraham, called the Father of Faith, shows us how to build a foundation of faith. It starts with hearing God. God spoke to Abram (Abraham as he was called later), Abram heard and obeyed.
“Now the Lord had said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.” (Genesis 12:1-4)

God told Abraham to leave the place where he was and go to a place that He would show him. Years before God had lead Abram’s father, Terah, to leave Ur the land of the Chaldees (in modern day Iraq) to go to Canaan, but he only made it as far as Haran (Turkey) and settled there and there he died. God spoke to Abram and he heard and he obeyed.

The first thing we have to do if we’re to have a strong foundation of faith is to hear God and then obey. How do we hear God? By taking in His written word, by reading and meditating on what is given to us through the Scriptures. Once we have it in our hearts, then we have to be obedient to it. It’s not enough just to read it or hear it preached; we have to apply it by being obedient, doing what we hear God telling us to do.

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise.” (Hebrews 11:8, 9)

If we desire to live a life for God, we have to learn to be obedient to Him and be fully surrendered to His will. It requires faith to be fully surrendered to God. When we doubt, or lack faith in God and His Word, it hard to give up our plans and desires to surrender to His. It requires spending time in the Scriptures to come to the place where we can genuinely say “Not my will, but Yours be done.”
But when we know the Word, we can also know that God’s plans for our lives are far better than anything we can imagine. He tells us in Jeremiah 29:11-13 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

Seek Him with you whole heart, through His written word, and you will find Him. Dwell on that Word and your faith in it will grow. Then you will have a strong foundation of faith that can stand against any circumstance that life on this planet gives.
Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

“Come With Me”

“Come to me, all of you who are tired and are carrying heavy loads. I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NIRV)

I was recently asked by a friend to write a short Bible study lesson on love. That was her only directive – just write a short study on love. Wow, that a huge subject. As I prayed about what to write, God kept bringing me back to the directive He had given me years ago when I first started writing. “Tell my daughters how much I love them.”

You may wonder, doesn’t everyone know God loves everybody? Probably, in their head if they ever been in or near a church. Most people can quote some version or form of John 3:16 “For God so loved the world”, but in their hearts they may wonder if or how He loves them personally, individually. Even Christians who have a real relationship with God can have periods of doubt, they may wonder about God’s love for them.

This week in our ladies Bible study at church, a lady shared that she was coming out of a period of darkness, she’d been through some struggles with her faith. As I listened to her, I thought about how I’d been through my own periods of darkness and struggle. I knew right then that that was the reason God had led me to write about God’s love for us.

In 1981 Del Shannon recorded a song originally written and recorded in 1959 by Phil Phillips called “Sea of Love”.

Come with me my love
To the sea
The sea of love
I want to tell you
How much I love you

When I hear that song or read those words, I think of Jesus and what He said in Matthew 11. “Come to me, all you who are tired…” Yes, there was a time when I was very tired, and not just physically but emotionally and spiritually.

In 2001, about a year after my mother had graduated to heaven, I went through a deep depression. I was angry at God for taking my mother and not preparing me for her leaving. I felt that some of the people in my life had not given me the comfort and support I thought I needed. I was fighting with my sister over care for our dad. Some individuals at church, instead of reaching out to me, judged me because I wasn’t acting right in their opinion. So I dropped out of church for a period and stopped reading my Bible. From there I continued to spiral downward. My husband and I began having problems in our marriage. Sins I’d not struggled with for decades began tempting me. I don’t know what would have happened had God not loved me enough to pull me back. But He did and He did it in through a secular magazine of all things! But since I’d stopped reading my Bible, listening to Christian music, or going to church I hadn’t left Him a lot of options. I opened a Woman’s Day magazine I’d bought that day on a whim and saw these words:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 The Message


As I read those words, it seemed as if Jesus were sitting right there beside me, speaking directly to me. “Are you tired and worn out?” He asked. Yes, I was very tired and worn out from my hurts, doubts and fears. “Are you burned out on religion?” Yes, I was totally burned out and let down by church members. “Come to Me, not the church, not other people. Just come to Me.” Jesus gently and loving wooed me. There was no condemnation in His words, just love. Tenderly and lovingly God reached out to me when I was at the lowest point in my life.

I’ve learned about the “unforced rhythms of grace”, I’ve recovered my life. I’m leaning how “to live freely and lightly”. I run to Jesus every day to hear Him tell me how much He loves me. Good circumstances or bad, I rest in His love.

Jesus calls you to come with Him, come to the sea of His great love and let Him tell you how much He loves you. Wherever you are in your life, He calls “Come to Me. Come learn about my grace. Come with Me and learn how to live. Come receive My love. Come with Me, I want to tell you how much I love you.”

Jesus loves you, my friend!

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee

New International Reader’s Version (NIRV)
Copyright © 1996, 1998 by Biblica

The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Good Friday – The End and the Beginning

“After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” … So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. John 19:28, 30

Today is Good Friday, a Holy Day for Christians because it is the day we remember the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the day a perfect sacrifice was made once and for all for our sins and the price was paid for our healing. Sometimes we seem to take this too lightly and fail to consider what it cost Jesus.

King David wrote Psalm 22, a prophetic psalm describing Jesus death on the cross. “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” was Jesus’ cry from the cross. Why would God the Father turn his back on His beloved Son? The answer is in Isaiah 53:6, “And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” God had to turn His back – He cannot look at sin and the sin of all mankind was placed on Jesus. The Apostle Paul wrote “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21.

God the Father and Jesus, God the Son, had been One, in perfect unity and harmony, from eternity past until that moment when Jesus took on Himself the sins of the world. My sin, your sin, the sins of our parents and our children were all put on Jesus. The Man who never committed a single sin was made to be sin so that a woman who never did anything righteous could be made the righteousness of God. Praise God!

There was more to come. After being beaten into a bloody mess, being nailed in the most humiliating way possible to a cross and dying of suffocation, there was more to come. Jesus descended into hell where He finished the price and defeated Satan on his home field.

That was the end. The end of sin having dominion over the man God created to have fellowship with. Ah, but with the end came a glorious beginning! After 3 days and 3 nights, Jesus came up from the heart of the earth. “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Matthew 12:40.

That is the beginning – Christ is risen from the dead so that we may have eternal life! Praise God! The grave where they laid His body, is empty. He is risen from the dead! We have the testimony of eyewitnesses, people who saw and spoke with Jesus after the resurrection. As a woman, it blesses me to know that one of the first people Jesus appeared to was a woman.

“Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe.
“Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.” Mark 16:9-11, 14

Jesus was crucified for our sins, paid our debt in full, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. His work completed, He’s given all who believe eternal life in Him, forgiveness of all sin, healing for our bodies, and peace for our minds. Now it is our job to share the good news to the world.

THE LORD IS RISEN! YES HE IS RISEN INDEED!

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee

New King James Version (NKJV)
The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Through Jesus Christ I Have…

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“For while the Law was given through Moses, grace (unearned, undeserved favor and spiritual blessing) and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:17

A number of years ago I was challenged to read the New Testament looking for all the prepositional phrases referring to Jesus. I don’t know how many there are, I lost count but I know it’s in the hundreds. But the purpose of the assignment was not to count them, but to grow in my understanding of everything Jesus has done for us. I began reading and every time I came to a phrase referring to Jesus, I would circle the phrase and meditate on what the Scripture was saying to me. The result was I came away with a deeper understanding of who I am in Jesus Christ.

I encourage anyone wanting to grow spiritually to try the same process. Starting reading the New Testament actively looking for “in Jesus Christ”, “in Whom”, “by Jesus Christ”, “through Jesus Christ”, “through Whom”, “from Whom” and so on. As you find one, stop and meditate on what the verse is saying. Ask yourself how that applies to you and your life, what exactly has God done? Sometimes you need to consider the verse before and after it to fully understand the context of the verse.

To help you get started, here is a small list of verses. But these are but a small sample of what is waiting for you in your Bible.

John 1:17 – we have grace and truth through Jesus Christ
Romans 8:1 – we are free from condemnation
1 Corinthians 5:18 – we are reconciled to God through Christ Jesus
Philippians 1:11 – we are filled with the fruits of righteousness by Jesus Christ
Colossians 2:3 – wisdom and knowledge are in Christ Jesus
Romans 5:11 – we have eternal life through Jesus Christ

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee

Amplified Bible (AMP)
Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation

Life or Death, Your Choice

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    “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:16, 17

 

Studying the book of Genesis, I notice something interesting. When God placed man in Eden, two special trees were in the center of the garden. One was the tree of life and the other was the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God told them they could eat freely of every tree in the garden, including the tree of life.  All the trees were pleasant for food but one was forbidden. Only the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was forbidden to them, with the caution that if they did eat the fruit from it, they would surely die. God was offering them life, if they obeyed, or death if they disobeyed.
    Then isn’t it interesting that the serpent tempted them with the one leading to death. The tree of life was equally appealing to the eye, but the serpent could only offer death.  There is no life in him. Jesus said the thief (referring to Satan, called the serpent in Genesis) “…does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” (John 10:10)
    Only God can offer life and He has offered it to us from the beginning. Deuteronomy 30:19, 20 says “I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live and may love the Lord your God, obey His voice, and cling to Him. For He is your life and the length of your days, that you may dwell in the land…”
 God calls us to choose life. He has provided a way for us to have life. Jesus said then, and is saying to us now, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  (John 14:6)
The choice is ours. Life of death. I believe I’ll choose life. Thank You Jesus for giving me life, a fulfilled life on here on earth and when it’s done, eternal life with You in heaven.

Peace and blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Dee

All scripture quoted is from The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.