Christine

Daughters of Promise

Not Semi-precious Stones, But Jewels!

November 14, 2018


“They will be mine,” says the LORD Almighty, “in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him.” Malachi 3:17

“It will be a glorious day”, God says. From the ends of the earth, He will gather His children. It will be a global family. Those who have embraced Jesus in the harsh landscape of third world countries, who have meager resources to feed their families and who understandably struggle with a sense of value, will be revealed as jewels. Those, rich and poor, who live in an environment that consistently de-values them, will be declared treasures. Those who are feeble, who struggle to believe by faith that they are the beloved of Abba, will know on that day that they are precious.

While talking with a prominent woman in the mid-west recently about her ailing marriage, I heard her make the comment, “I just want to know that I’m precious to somebody!” That is surely our greatest need; someone to look out for us, think of us as precious, and one who would be willing to give His life to save and protect us. All these things Jesus has already done. We will fully bask in His favor on one glorious future day.

I wrote a song at the birth of Daughters of Promise. The chorus sums it up well.

I am a jewel
Light in my Father’s eyes
Prepared to shine more brightly than the stars
I am a gem
That glistens in His smile
I am a jewel
The apple of His eye.

There are those who make me feel anything but precious. While I am saddened by that, I still realize that I am Your treasured daughter. I choose to live above my feelings and, by faith, walk as Your beloved. Amen

God Is Listening In

November 13, 2018


Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name. Malachi 3:16

There was a remnant of Jewish believers who stayed true to the God of their ancestors. Though most around them only paid lip service, and though the priests of the day defiled their faith with their evil practices, these few believers stayed true. They did not walk in isolation, however. They met together for fellowship; finding strength in community. God looked on as they did. Their time together was important to Him, so significant that He captured their ‘talk’ in writing.

I think of the number of hours I’m privileged to spend with others talking about God. A group of us can meet for four hours to discuss spiritual issues, to encourage one another, and no one wants to go home.

Here’s what I’m wondering today. If God joined us each time we met with other believers, and He appeared in flesh and blood, would our talk change? Would He reveal that our conversations about Him have grown careless? I wonder if I am often too quick to speak on His behalf – declaring that He must be happy about this, or grieved about that. I wonder how many times I reflect Him accurately. Perhaps God shakes His head in protest when I claim to know how He feels about a certain issue.

I am reminded again this morning that God visits us when we meet to discuss Him. Though I have technically known this to be true (“Wherever two or three are gathered in My name, there am I in the midst of them.”), this truth has taken on new dimensions. When fellowship is poignant, God not only listens, but He is moved to capture it in His journal.

How well I know You and speak on Your behalf is directly related to how seriously I read and meditate on Your Word. Continue to reveal Yourself to me so that I reflect Your heart accurately. Amen

Leaving And Coming Back

November 12, 2018


Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty. Yet you say, “How shall we return?” Malachi 3:7

The Israelites had no idea that they had lost their way. They feigned innocence. They were adamant that they hadn’t turned away from God. After all, they’d been going to the temple to all the services. How then, could they return? J. Vernon McGee says, “Ritualism was substituted for reality. Pageantry was substituted for power. The aesthetic was substituted for the spiritual, and form for feeling. They knew the vocabulary, but the power of God was gone. They were satisfied with a tasteless morality. They followed the rules and felt that everything was all right.” The truth is, they were far from God and they didn’t even know it.

The disintegration of a relationship happens slowly. I become so accustomed to having the other person around that laziness creeps in. I no longer put my best foot forward. Someone I love gets a grunt for a greeting. Years go by on automatic pilot and without careful assessment; I can believe everything is okay. It isn’t until one person wakes up and says, “I don’t feel close to you anymore”, that the spell is broken.

If it can happen in marriage and friendships, it can happen to my relationship with God. If I were quiet before God so that I could hear Him speak, would He say, “You don’t feel close to me anymore, do you?” I remember when His message was even more penetrating. It was 1994. “Christine, you’ve never felt close to me, have you?” I listened. I understood that my life had been all about rituals and pageantry. Because of that, I was profoundly lonely.

I set out to change my life and dare to believe that God was to be experienced, not just studied. I took a vacation from ‘all forms of doing’ in the church so that I could begin to find God on a real level. I had become such a performer that I couldn’t separate who I was from what I did. I sought God’s heart and asked Him to help me understand my own. Life has never been the same. My being vibrates with wonder at the sound of His voice. I wonder how I lasted so long without the joy of knowing Him. If there is anything overwhelming me today, I remember to hush my spirit, then look up.

I want to be fully alive to You in more ways than I am today. Amen

There’s No Guesswork

November 9, 2018


“I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.
Malachi 3:6

God does not change. What He loves today, He has always loved. What He feels passionate about this morning has been His passion since the beginning of time. What He hates at this very moment, He has always hated.

He loved David’s tender heart. He, likewise, loves mine when my heart is tender. He hated the sins of Israel when they turned a blind eye to the oppressed; the widows and the orphans. He hates it today when I pass them by without giving them a second thought.

God is clear about who He is. He does not subject me, His child, to guesswork where He is concerned. Scripture presents an unambiguous picture of His character and His personality. That makes me feel secure. I never have to wonder how He feels about me. I don’t have to hide, fearing that I have done something to upset Him.

I grew up in an atmosphere of stoicism. My parents were not generous with their thoughts, their love, or their praise. My sister and I seldom knew if we made them happy. On the flip side, we sometimes felt their displeasure, yet they would not tell us what we had done to cause them to withdraw. We had to keep guessing. I remember this dynamic well, even back to age four. I rarely walked into a room confidently. I peeked around the corner first, trying to assess whether those in the room appeared happy to see me. If they did, I entered with a measure of confidence. If their faces showed nothing, I crept in quietly and played without disturbing them.

God is still healing me of my fear and reserve. It has been a divine work of grace only because God, my perfect Father, is giving me a new experience. I’m learning what it’s like to be a daughter under His care. Because He is unchangeable, my heart can be at peace. I can trust in His love. And, when I wound Him and offer a sincere apology, I anticipate a full restoration. God is open and engaging. Because He is, I can be.

Every time I read about You in the stories of the Bible, my heart has more confidence because my picture of You enlarges. Thank You for not being fickle. Your face will never change on me. Amen

It Depends On Who He Is To You

November 8, 2018


But who can endure the day of his coming? He will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap.  Malachi 3:2

‘Refiner’s fire and launderer’s soap’ is a line right out of Handel’s Messiah. It’s not exactly poetic to put to music and yet, how magnificently George Frederick Handel did it. With Christmas coming, you’ll probably hear these words again if you listen to the entire Messiah.

Refining fires will be experienced by everyone. Now, it’s the saints who are being purified through suffering. When others behold the lives we live, they see Jesus. Without the fire, the image is never developed. But one day, the unsaved will also face the fire of His holiness. While, presently, we are drawn to the One who is holy, they will stand in dread of Him on judgement day. Same God ~ two opposing reactions because of the relationship or the lack thereof.

If you are God’s child, the thought of standing in the vicinity of the glory of God is thrilling. If you want nothing to do with God, you are either nonchalant as you think about it or simply terrified. It depends on who He is to you, Savior or enemy.

If you are God’s child, you are thrilled by what happened on the mount of transfiguration. The thought of Jesus taking on His full glory, dressed in dazzling white, makes you long to have seen it for yourself. If you don’t care about Jesus, the mere idea is bizarre and repelling. It depends on who He is to you, Lord of glory or good teacher.

If you are God’s child, you long to be holy. You long for God’s glory to purify the earth and wash away all remnants of the Fall. If you don’t care about Jesus, you are content in Babylon and see no need for change. It depends on who He is to you, Righteous Restorer of paradise, or a characterization of a religious myth.

Malachi’s pen must have trembled in his hands as he pictured the words the Spirit birthed.

Make sure my reaction is related to His, Lord. Amen

What It Takes To See God

November 7, 2018


“See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly, the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD Almighty. Malachi 3:1

God announces that He is going to give the Jewish people what they want ~ a visitation from the messenger of the Covenant, who is Jesus.  But before He can come, a period of preparation is necessary.  We know that John the Baptist will one day be born and will tell the people to repent. Jesus, the messenger of the covenant, will then be able to come to fulfill the words of Leviticus 26.  “I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people. I am the Lord your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright.”

But here’s the thing.  This has not yet happened!  This event was not fulfilled in the first coming of Jesus, nor will it be in even the second, but in that future time when He will come and reign, live among His people, and they will acknowledge Him as their Lord.

Beyond timelines, the important point is this: Before Jesus can come and dwell with them, with us, or with me personally, there must be a preparation.  The message of the scriptures is consistent and unwavering.  Repent – and Jesus will come to dwell.  Repent – and you can have a Savior. Repent and He will call you His own. Repent and He will break the bands of your yoke. Repent. Repent. Repent.

This is either a forgotten word or a mis-used one. How cunning of our enemy to see to both ends.  Satan knows that repentance is critical to heaven’s agenda.  It is the key to powerful prayer.  It is the key to our blessing.  It is the key to a visitation of the Spirit of God. And what a stunning face it wears.  A repentant saint is one who is sober, humble, unassuming, thoughtful, yielded to One greater than himself- and though that child of God is unaware – his countenance bears the first glimmer of radiant glory.

When I am childish and proud, repentance is never attractive.  Plant my steps in humility.  Amen

It’s Not Fair!

November 6, 2018


You have wearied the LORD with your words.”How have we wearied him?” you ask.  By saying,”All who do evil are good in the  eyes of the LORD, and he is pleased with them.” Malachi 2:17

The Jews of Malachi’s day were distraught. They believed they deserved God’s blessing.  They were waiting for the prophecies of Haggai and Zechariah, made one hundred years earlier, to come to pass.  Instead, they struggled.

Simultaneously, they watched the evil around them prosper. They threw up their hands and said, “Why do good? The ones who do evil are the ones who get rewarded anyway.”  With this kind of thinking, God accuses them of altering morality.  They wanted the benefits of God’s blessing without taking on any responsibility of addressing inner holiness.  Instead, they set out to fulfill ritual and ceremonial duties, hoping to achieve the favor of God on a bargain basis.

It’s easy to become obsessed with unfairness.  Take a trip along the coastline of Florida’s playground and you’ll be confronted with affluence. Some spend their lives tinkering with their yachts, cruising out to border islands, and enjoying the best golf courses.  For any who have to save for years to take a family vacation, this can grate.

Because all I’ve known is life on earth, I can begin to believe that this is what it’s all about. I start trying to assess how the rich have gotten so far ahead of me.  What have they done to achieve such a lifestyle? Maybe I should follow their example.  Now, I am in a dilemma with four choices in front of me.

1.) I’ll cast my obedience to Christ to the wind and embrace pathetic priorities.

2.) I’ll nurse my anger with God. “I’m living for you, Lord…and I so little blessing?” 3.) I’ll conclude that I must earn God’s favor by ‘doing the right things.’ My Christianity will turn pious.

4.) I’ll understand that the wicked prosper but for a speck of time compared to the expanse of eternity in front of them.

Jesus wasn’t rewarded while on earth for living a righteous life.  Just the opposite.  He was hated for His holiness.  His very choices exposed the morality of the day.  Ah, but where is He now? Enthroned in glory.  May I not sell my inheritance for a piece of silver.

Life seemed unending when I was younger. I’m learning that it passes with great speed.  Father, I follow Jesus.  I re-cement my resolve. Amen