Let the Son Shine In

Sitting in the office of our Women’s Minister, I remember hearing these words: You may never get to see the reason why some things happen.”

For many years, I was tormented by questions like these:

  • What could I have done to prevent this?
  • What can I control to prevent this from ever happening again?
  • Am I really able to put aside my past, or should I keep it close to me forever in hopes I might get a do-over?
  • Will I ever be able to be truly vulnerable?
  • Am I put on a shelf forever because I couldn’t cope with life as spotlessly as some?

Recently I attended a life-changing training program for those dealing with trauma, ordinary and extraordinary.  I realized for the first time that I am a huge control freak, and I don’t trust human nature, or even God, enough to rest—ever! Maybe, for a few minutes when I am in my beautiful bubble of praise, music, contemplation, study, silence, exercise, or nature, I might relax.  But again, that is a bubble that I can control and from which I can exclude the outside world.

To me, having faith in God meant that I obeyed all of His Word with as little error as possible, honestly believing that God’s ability to hold my life together rested almost entirely on my ability to understand and apply Scripture.  If someone decided not to prefer me any longer—it was my fault; if someone hurt me—it was my fault; if I couldn’t handle something—it was my lack of faith.  Intrinsically, I truly believed I was broken and breaking everything I touched.  Instead of King Midas whose touch turned everything to gold, I seemed to turn everything to suffering and death by my touch.

Then, like a lightning bolt of realization, God got through to me.  In the midst of the common suffering of humanity, I realized that I was not alone and that control and perfection were not the solution; love and compassion were I saw how healing was possible in an environment of love and support.  I saw how fears melted away when no one was asking me to be further along than I was.  I saw my need for control dissipate as I began to see that God really could take someone’s suffering and make it a bittersweet offering that nourished another human back to life and hope in God.  I realized how Christ could render the darkness light.

Instead of questioning how a loving and powerful God could allow things so unjust, so unholy, and so damaging to happen, I began to feel again—to laugh, to cry, to feel human again.  Beneath my feet there was no longer sand and chasms but the firm foundation of faith—faith that God’s stability has nothing to do with me and everything to do with Him.

He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Matthew 8:26

Faith that there are things I don’t have to understand and things I am not meant to control.  Faith that with God, all things are possible – including full and total healing.

And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

Faith is believing that we don’t escape life’s catastrophes by being better at applying God’s Word but by believing that God knit us together and has a plan for each one of us that includes the dark days He knew would come. Faith is spiritual rest in the good, bad, and everything in between. Faith is I am saved by grace, both in this life and in the life to come.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.  Ephesians 2:8-9

About the Writer:
Lyndsay loves movement of most every variety. Some of her favorite moments are going on long walks, runs, or bike rides in some new uncharted territory or exploring some intellectual or emotional space waiting to be uncovered. By day she works at First Baptist Dallas, and in her spare time you will find her enjoying family, teaching mindful movement classes, or serving in some community that has as many questions about God and life as she does. She is passionate about God’s Word applied masterfully by the Holy Spirit’s leading and believes the kindness and compassion of Christ changes hearts and unbinds minds – the most significant movement of any kind.  

Ways to Live a Stress Free Life . . . by Faith

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

Stress, great worry caused by a difficult situation, is so very common in our world today!  Thankfully, God knew ahead of time we would have mental stress and worries; and gave us ways to combat stress and anxiety through His Word.

Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.  I Peter 5:7

For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Matthew 6:25

And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? Matthew 6:27

 

If we take apart just the first verse above, we can come to the following conclusions from Paul’s letter to the Philippians:

  1. Don’t worry or be anxious about anything. Worry is not productive; it will not change anything, and, in fact, it will make the issue you are worrying about seem larger than it really is.  Train your mind to think instead on things above. (Phil. 4:8)
  2. Pray, pray, pray about everything. (I Thess. 5:17)  Dr. Jeffress of First Dallas recommends you make a “Worry List” – a list of everything we are worrying about.  When you are finished, change the title to “Prayer List.”  In this way you are mentally and physically transferring our worries into prayers.
  3. Be thankful for everything, have an attitude of gratitude. (Col. 3:16)
  4. Ask God, because he cares for us. (I Peter 5:7)  Even though He already knows, he still wants us to ask Him for assistance.
  5. Walk by faith. (II Corinthians 5:7)  Know that God is in total control.

We are not born worrying; it is a habit that is developed over time.  Therefore, we can choose not to worry, but, instead, train our minds to follow the steps above.

How many times do the things about which we worry never occur? Nine times out of ten, the things I am anxious about the most never actually happen, but I am fearfully thinking they will. If we live in His Word, walk by faith, and allow Christ to reign and rule in our minds, we can overcome the anxieties of this world.  Let our minds be disciplined through His Word throughout this upcoming year!

About the Writer:
Beverly is a retired educator, parent, grandmother, and wife with a desire to see others learn about Christ and become disciples of His Word through service in various ministries at First Dallas.

Catch and Release

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared.  “Go now and leave your life of sin.”  John 8:11b

I have often read this passage of scripture and considered all the unanswered questions such as “Where was the man with whom the woman was caught?” or “What did Jesus write on the ground? Was it something that condemned the woman’s accusers?” But upon further investigation, I have realized that the very reason I look for these answers is to do what her accusers wanted to do—condemn. In holding this narrow focus, you and I miss the real reason for this passage. While the Scribes and Pharisees wanted to condemn, Jesus wanted to “catch and release.”  His great love removed all condemnation not only for this woman, but for every one of us.

I cannot even imagine the experience for this woman on that day. She had to have been consumed with fear and dread in that public condemnation; guilty, publicly accused on a very large stage during a very large religious festival; mortified, and rightfully feared that her life might end on that day. To have been brought before Jesus as He was teaching in the synagogue this way was beyond humiliating, and her expectation of His judgment on her actions was based on her knowledge of Jewish religious practices, which was death by stoning.

But Jesus! Jesus knew her accusers couldn’t care less about the sin or the fate of the adulterous woman. He knew they sought condemnation for Him. As they tried to trap Jesus between Jewish and Roman law, in verse 7 he used the sin of adultery in their own hearts and minds to fulfill the Old Testament law of stoning found in Deuteronomy 17:7 and 22:23-24. What a lesson they were taught in judging sin!

‘He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’  John 8:7

Jesus’ love is such an awesome gift. When Jesus steps in, the condemnation is on Him. His love for us brings mercy and grace and another chance to make our lives count for Him. What a sweet release!

Jesus’ love is such an awesome gift.  Under the law one must be caught before condemnation comes.  But when Jesus steps in, the condemnation is on Him, and His love for us brings mercy and grace, and another chance to make our lives count for Him.   What a sweet release!

      It is no accident that Chapter 8 ends in the same way it began, with a threat of stoning, and this time Jesus was still the target.  The accusers were the same as before and their hearts and minds were still after the condemnation of the Son of God.  They had not received Jesus’ lesson on catch and release in John 8:11, “Neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.” From now on when we read John 8:1-11 let’s be grateful for Jesus’ great sacrificial love and His gift of “catch and release.”

Take a moment today to consider the times in your life when the Lord has caught you in a sin, but mercifully released you without condemnation.  Thank Him for his gift of grace and commit to Him that you will make your second chance count for Him.

About the Writer:
Pam Brewer is Director of Women’s Ministry of First Baptist Dallas, a wife, a mom, a grandmother, and grateful to be included in this great team of Yada Yada bloggers.

An “Impossible” Assignment

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that he is a rewarder of those who seek Him.  Hebrews 11:6

 

Who would not want to please God?  I think everyone should want to please God, considering that He is the sovereign Creator of the universe, the One Who alone is the dispenser of eternal rewards and punishments.  But there are many who have no desire to please God at all.  Why would they care about God if they don’t even believe there is a God?  The above-quoted verse from Hebrews is correct in saying that no one can come to God unless he at least believes that God exists!

1. Faith requires you to believe in a Person Whom you cannot see!

It is a “no-brainer” to believe in your father or mother. After all, each of these has been a direct part of your life. Even those whom you have never met, like Ronald Reagan or Tom Cruise or Amelia Earhart are people whose existence you accept because you have seen pictures of them. Others, like Julius Caesar or Ivan the Terrible, you believe have actually lived on the earth because history has documented their existence. But belief in God poses a challenge for some people.  After all, God is an invisible Spirit! They feel they have to have “proof” in order to believe.

But God does not expect us to have totally “blind” faith. Romans 1:20 tells us that God’s invisible attributes, eternal power, and divine nature can be clearly seen and understood through His creation!!! Anyone who can see and examine the works of God’s hands and still refuse to acknowledge His existence has a very limited mind and, according to this verse, is without excuse!

But God also chose to reveal Himself in a Book—the Holy Bible, which was inspired by the Holy Spirit of God and written down by devout men in order that all of us would have the opportunity to believe in Him! This fact is confirmed by 2 Tim. 3:15-17 and 2 Peter 1:20-21, to name a few passages. Therefore, it is evident that God is not hiding from humans, but desiring to have fellowship with them!

      Finally, God revealed Himself in the flesh-and-blood body of His beloved Son, Jesus.

He is the image of the invisible God, the Firstborn of all creation. Colossians 1:15

2.  You must have faith in Jesus Christ to enter into a relationship with God.

     Jesus Christ claimed He is the one and only way for any of us ever to be able to come to the Father, according to John 14:6. The Apostle John also testified of this in his first letter to the Christians of Asia Minor.  1 John 5:11-13 states that eternal life is available only to those who “have the Son of God.”  Jesus Himself told Nicodemus that “whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life,” according to John 3:16.

I have often heard godly preachers and teachers point out the truth that just “believing Jesus” is not enough, but that a person must “believe in Jesus.”  You might think, “Wha-a-a-a-at?” Over the years, when I taught children in Sunday School, I explained it this way:  If you were waiting for your mom to pick you up after school in her car, would you get in a car driven by a stranger who might say, “Get in.  Your mother asked me to take you home.”  I hope you would say, “absolutely not!”  Hasn’t your mother always told you never to get in a car with a stranger?  So why would you even consider doing it?  The fact is that you do not know this person and have no reason to trust him or her.  In the same way, Jesus has told you that He is the only One Whom you can trust to forgive your sins, give you eternal life, and one day take you to heaven! Though you might “believe” the stranger driving the car as a real person who exists, you would not believe what he said.  But, when you “believe in Jesus” as scripture tells you to do, that means that you are putting your trust in Him, believing not only that He exists but that He is Who He said that He is—the holy Son of the living God, the One Who died for your sins and rose again to life!  He is trustworthy and true.  According to the dictionary, faith is “complete   trust or confidence in someone or something.” 

 3. It isn’t about you! It is all about Jesus!

    So then, when you believe in Jesus for your eternal salvation, that means that you are not trusting in anyone or anything else as your Savior. You are trusting not even in your faith to save you, but in the One Who is the object of your faith. People often have faith in different things—good works, education, talent, or accomplishments—but faith in those things is not effectual in obtaining forgiveness of sin and eternal life.

Forgiveness and life come through faith only in Jesus! The great news is that God the Father wants you to come to Him, and He sent His one and only Son in order to provide the way for you to do that. The very end of God’s Book includes these words:

‘I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David the bright morning star.’ The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.  Revelation 22:16-17

About the Writer:
Diana is a former high school teacher, Sunday School teacher, and Women’s Bible Studies teacher. For many years a stay-at-home wife and mother, she is now also a grandmother to three young Oklahomans, who call her “Gigi”.