Sunday, December 27, 2009

Worthless RUBBISH

My treasures on earth -- my travel experiences, the many photo albums which remind me of the variety of places visited and people befriended; my health and fitness, the exercises and diet with which i disciplined my body; my artwork, the paintings and b&w photos; head knowledge collected through poring over spiritual self-help books and attending retreats and seminars...

i once thought all these things were so very important, but now i consider them worthless because of what CHRIST has done. (Philippians 3:7, NLT)

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing CHRIST JESUS my Lord. i have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that i may have CHRIST (3:8)

and become one with Him. i no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey GOD's law, but i trust CHRIST to save me. For GOD's way of making us right with Himself depends on faith. (3:9)

As a result, i can really know CHRIST and experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead. i can learn what it means to suffer with Him, sharing in His death, (3:10)

so that, somehow, i can experience the resurrection from the dead! (3:11)

i don't mean to say that i have already achieved these things or that i have already reached perfection! But i keep working toward that day when i will finally be all that CHRIST JESUS saved me for and wants me to be. (3:12)

No, dear brothers and sisters, i am still not all i should be, but i am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, (3:13)

i strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which GOD, through CHRIST JESUS, is calling us up to heaven. (3:14)

Not that i was ever in need, for i have learned how to get along happily whether i have much or little. (4:11)

i know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. i have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. (4:12)

For i can do everything with the help of CHRIST who gives me the strength i need. (4:13) He is the ROCK of my salvation.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Owned by GOD

"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it." (Malachi 3:10)

In the beginning GOD created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

The LORD merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born. (Psalm 33:6)

Let everyone in the world fear the LORD, and let everyone stand in awe of Him. For when He spoke, the world began! It appeared at His command. (Psalm 33:8-9)

So GOD created man in His own image, in the image of GOD He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:27)

It makes sense that since i'm the created, i am the Creator's very own -- to do with me however He wants. Since i owe everything to my Creator -- every breath i take, the skills and talents He gifted with this body, the opportunities and environments He orchestrated for my physical well being and development, the family and friends and people He put in this Life 101 to impact me so that i may learn what He wants me to learn -- it's perfectly clear to me that He owns me... all of me.

i'm grateful that the GOD of the Heavens owns me. And because of GOD's abundant grace, i was given the priceless privilege of the gift of salvation through CHRIST JESUS. i owe my freedom and new life to my Beloved Redeemer. i have peace and joy which no worldly chaos can overwhelm. i enjoy the contentment and confidence that GOD, Creator of the heavens and earth, is at peace with me for i've trusted in His Son for my redemption. i have been given a new identity as child of GOD, an eternal home in Heaven and everlasting love In CHRIST... all these ultimate gifts which can't be given a price tag.

So what else can i do but surrender everything to JESUS? He gave me abundant life, He saved me from destruction, He made me a new creature, and He enables me to do all He has called me to do -- through the supernatural almighty power of the abiding Holy SPIRIT of GOD -- my Helper, my Counselor, my Constant Companion.

GOD already gives me everything i need to sustain and nourish me during this earthly pilgrimage, and yet He offers a promise i just can't refuse! He asks me to test Him even -- to trust Him by giving Him the first fruits of my labor -- and He "will throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that i will not have room enough for it."

i didn't claim this promise when i first got saved in 2003, even though i diligently gave GOD the first fruits of every dollar i earned or received. i wasn't yet a cheerful giver -- i tithed out of obligation, not from a joyful heart. These days, though i don't have a 9-to-5 job, i continue to tithe -- this time with a cheerful heart. What a wonderful difference to give out of my deepening love for CHRIST and overwhelming indebtedness and reverence that i feel for Him for all that He has done and given.

And GOD blesses me indeed! In CHRIST, i am continually blessed with His abundant grace -- greater faith and trust, peace, joy, contentment, health, cleansing forgiveness, emotional healing, loving family and good friends, genuine church family, acceptance, growth in the knowledge of His Word, simpler lifestyle, material needs met -- and the most important blessing of all: deeper intimate fellowship with Him.

It's true -- i canNOT outgive GOD!

(The t-shirt art above was meaningless until SPIRIT worked it out -- the design was just my usual meandering kind of "paint-it-as-it-comes" style of painting. Not until i was given the Bible verse about GOD's abundance did it make sense to me.)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The LOST and The FOUND

JESUS spoke in parables about the Lost and the Found:

Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, "Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep." I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, "Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin." In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.
(Luke 15:4-10)

It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. (Mark 2:17)

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. (Matthew 13:44)

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. (Matthew 13:45-46)

It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found. (Luke 15:32)

How many of us have fallen like the prodigal son? How many of us had to come from a broken place before we woke up to our Father's love? And how many of us finally got a glimpse of how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love really is (Ephesians 3:18) when He welcomed us back with the open arms of forgiveness?

The most wonderful and humbling realization for a child of GOD is that our Good Shepherd will search high and low, far and wide, to bring straying sheep back to His sheepfold. And that whomever the Father has given to Him, not one will be lost. Those whom you have given me I have kept. (John 17:12) JESUS is Faithful and True...He is the Good Shepherd. In CHRIST, we have everything we need.