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Yielding the Outcome to the Lord’s Authority

 “While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, ‘Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.’
   Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ And immediately the leprosy left him.” –Luke 5:12-13

Jesus canThese two verses reveal so much about having the right attitude toward God when we pray for our own wants and needs. The leper wanted to be healed. He knew Jesus had to power to heal him. But he didn’t demand this healing. He left the outcome in Jesus’ hands: “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” In this case, Jesus was willing. He chose to heal the man.

But what if He hadn’t? The leper realized that this was Jesus’ right. He chose to trust Jesus with the outcome either way. The Bible doesn’t tell us how the man would have reacted if Jesus had said, “I’m not willing. No healing today.” But I’d like to believe the man had heard enough about Jesus to know that He Is God and He Is good and He always chooses what’s best for His children—even when they don’t understand why. And I’d really like to try to always pray with that same faith. Though it’s hard to understand when God says, “No,” it honors Him with the trust and respect He deserves.

When we present our requests to God, let’s remember the leper’s prayer:

“Lord, if You are willing, You can!” . . . and if You aren’t willing, we choose to trust You with that. You are God. You are able. You always choose what’s best for the glory of Your Kingdom, for the good of everyone. Help us to know this regardless of any prayer’s outcome. We love You, Lord. Amen.

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Book Review: “Against the Flow”

Against the FlowIf you’ve ever really wanted to dig deeply into the book of Daniel, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism is the perfect book for you. It’s intense. It takes time to absorb. But it is worth the work. Author John Lennox will lead you through every chapter Daniel, carefully explaining the culture, the events of the time, research and opinions of other experts, and the book’s application for Christians today.

Lennox’s explanation for the arrangement of the book was especially helpful. His insights into the work God was doing in Nebuchadnezzar’s life, especially as compared to His choice of treatment of other gentile rulers in Bible times, revealed much about God’s gracious character, plan for all humankind, and attention to individual lives. Lennox’s analysis of Daniel’s visions and prophecies is useful and hopeful. His comparison of Daniel’s response to the culture he’d been taken into to what our response can be to some of the issues in our own society makes this book especially relevant.

This is the second book by John Lennox that I have read, and I was greatly impressed by both. This author has a gift for seeing and presenting truth clearly. He knows the Bible and the God Who gave it to us. We live in a world full of confusing ideas. Lennox helps his readers sort them out and, firmly, but respectfully—as Daniel did—stand on truth.

I thank the Litfuse Publicity Group for sending me a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this honest review.

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The Imaginary Israelite and His Secret Sacrifice

“Any Israelite who sacrifices an ox, a lamb or a goat in the camp or outside of it instead of bringing it to the entrance of the tent of meeting to present it as an offering to the Lord in front of the tabernacle of the Lord—that person shall be considered guilty of bloodshed; they have shed blood and must be cut off from their people.” –Leviticus 17:3-4

Pink FlowerBecause being cut off from one’s people is a pretty harsh sentence, I took some time to think about this crime of sacrificing something somewhere other than where God says one can. Not that I’m planning to offer any sacrifices anytime soon. Thanks to Jesus, our Savior, there’s no need for that. But I still wanted to understand this crime and its punishment.

The crime has to do with location and lack of obedience. Imagine that one of the Israelites has sinned, feels guilty about it, and wants to make things right. God has given clear instructions to him on how to do that: bring a sacrifice to the entrance of the tent of meeting to present as an offering to the Lord in front of His tabernacle. This Israelite is more than willing to offer a sacrifice, but he doesn’t want to offer it in front of the tabernacle.

Why?

The answer is probably shame with a healthy dose of pride. This person wants to be rid of sin but doesn’t want to deal with the shame of having sinned. He doesn’t want to admit in public that he’s a sinner. He wants to offer the sacrifice in secret. Just like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden after the Fall, he is hiding, even from God.

Unfortunately, it’s not the sacrifice itself that brings forgiveness and cleansing from sin. It’s the going before God. It’s the humble confession and the asking God on His terms which restore relationship and allow us to receive grace.

When our imaginary Israelite offers his sacrifice his way, he isn’t taking his sin to God. Rather, he is trusting in his own actions to save himself from sin. He is offering his sacrifice to a false god he’s created in his mind, one who will let him keep his secrets while privately paying for them. But with the secret stays the shame, and the real God says the shame has to go. That happens only with a public admission of guilt.

And because this person refuses to follow God’s instructions, insisting on doing things his own way, he is declaring himself not one of God’s people. Therefore, God won’t accept his sacrifice. This Israelite, by his own choice, must go on his way.

What’s this mean for us today? As I’ve said, Jesus already offered His own life as the only sacrifice needed for our sin. His was a very public sacrifice, removing all our sin and shame. Therefore, to be part of His Kingdom, we become living sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2) for Him.

  1. We admit that we are sinners; we have sinned. (This does not mean that we always tell everybody everywhere every gruesome detail of anything wrong we’ve ever done. We share those details with discretion, as the Holy Spirit leads, if we need to talk about it in order to heal, if we need someone to hold us accountable so we won’t fall into that sin again, if our story can help someone else to overcome.)
  2. We ask God for forgiveness and for help to always live His way.
  3. We accept Christ as our Savior.
  4. We make a public confession of our faith. (In other words, we tell people what Jesus has done for us and that we’re living in His Kingdom now and for eternity.)
  5. We live for Him every moment of every day.

The Israelites had to offer sacrifices every time they sinned. But Jesus is the only sacrifice that we will ever need. We go to Him daily, however, for the strength and wisdom to live the way He wants us to live, sacrificing any part of our lives that displeases Him, not because that’s what saves us but because we love Him, we’re grateful to Him, and we want our lives to honor His name!

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Finding Forgiveness in Leviticus

I’ve been reading Leviticus this week. Not an easy book to read, but full of meaning once we come to understand that its theme is holiness. Our holy God had just pulled His newly chosen people out of Egypt, setting them apart for Himself, and now He was beginning the process of making them holy, too.

Finding ForgivenessThe word holy, as I understand it, has three meanings: set apart for a particular purpose, pure, and unique. When reading the story of God’s people, by the time we get to Leviticus, God has already set them apart for the purpose of revealing Him to the world. He plans for them to be unique, so the rest of the world will take notice and want to get to know Him, too. He also provides for their purity, though this won’t be complete until the death and resurrection of Christ. Leviticus is God’s Word to His people about the unique lives they are to live and the means He’s provided for their purity, a way for them to receive forgiveness for their sins.

Thus Leviticus opens with seven morbid chapters on how to offer sacrifices followed by an account of the ordination of Israel’s first priests, Moses’ brother—Aaron, and Aaron’s sons.

In the Bible I’m currently reading, Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, share insights scattered through the text. Regarding these chapters in Leviticus, they say, “The sacrificial system prepared people for understanding the meaning of the death of Jesus (see 1 Peter 3:18) and showed that people have a great need to be forgiven.”

This caught my attention. People have a great need to be forgiven. This is absolutely true. It’s built right into us—which may be why so many of the ancient cultures had sacrificial systems of one kind or another. People knew—they just knew!— that they were doing things that were wrong. And they were desperate to clear their consciences in the name of appeasing their gods. Even today in our modern world, people who don’t know Christ (and even some who do but don’t understand what He’s done for them) find ways to offer sacrifices of a sort to make things right when they do wrong. A guilty conscience is a heavy burden. People want to get rid of it!

Without hope of forgiveness, people respond to guilty consciences in one of two ways: depression (not clinical; that’s something else entirely) or denial. The first response is one of hopelessness: “I’ve done this bad thing. I’ve ruined my life. There is no hope for me.” Taken to an extreme, this kind of depression can lead to withdrawal, cutting, or suicide—all three, in this case, a misguided attempt to punish the self, in a sense to offer a sacrifice.

The second is one of rebellion and defensiveness: “I haven’t done anything wrong. How dare you judge me? I’ll show you. I’m going to keep on living my life my way, and I’ll be perfectly happy.” Methinks, perhaps, some of these people doth protest too much. If they are so happy, why do they spew so much anger? Why does what other people think matter so much to them? Why must the rest of the world affirm their decisions?

I’m not sharing these thoughts in order to define what is sin or what is not. My point, rather, is that deep down inside of us, regardless of how we act or what we say, we know the truth. If we are doing something sinful, God’s Spirit is working inside of us to help us face the truth—not so God can punish us or demand a sacrifice (The sacrifice has already been made! See 1 Peter 3:18.); but so we can confess, so we can receive forgiveness, so He can make us pure. 1 John 1:9 proclaims this most clearly: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Our job is to be open to the truth, to pray with the Psalmist, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” –Psalm 139:23-24. Choosing depression or denial leaves us carrying a load of guilt whether we acknowledge its presence or not. Choosing forgiveness through Christ sets us free to be the people God designed us to be, to find the purpose we were made for, to enjoy life abundantly.

If you haven’t already, I pray you will choose forgiveness. Talk to God (just like you’d talk to a friend). Agree with Him that you have sinned. Tell Him you’re sorry and that, with His help, you won’t do it again (no matter what you’ve done, no matter how many times you’ve failed and had to confess this sin again). Receive His forgiveness and walk with His Spirit in righteousness, peace, and joy. (See Romans 14:17.) You are forgiven. You are free!

Father, thank You for this lesson from Leviticus. Thank You for setting us apart, for giving us purpose, and for making forgiveness available through Your Son’s sacrifice. Help us to live for You; Your way is best—always! Amen.

This post is linked to Grace & Truth: A Weekly Christian Link-Up. Visit that site to find devotional posts by other Christian writers.

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God Gives and Enables, So We Can Practice Faith

“Bear in mind that the Lord has given you the Sabbath, that is why on the sixth day, he gives you bread for two days. Everyone is to stay where they are on the seventh day; no one is to go out. So the people rested on the seventh day.” –Exodus 16:29-30

When I read Exodus 16 this morning, my attention was drawn to some truths about our God. In case you’re not familiar with the passage, though, I’ll quickly summarize:

God Provided for His GiftGod has just set the Israelites free from Egypt and led them safely across the Red Sea and into the desert. They are hungry. And they are complaining about it. Rather melodramatically, in fact. They wish they were back in Egypt. They wish they were dead. And I kind of wonder if Moses doesn’t wish they were back in Egypt or dead, too. Just what has God gotten him into?

God doesn’t waste any time diffusing the situation. He tells the people that He will provide. He will be sending manna in the morning and quail at night, and when the people receive it, they will know He is their God.

God gives specific instructions about the manna, though. The people are only to gather what they need for one day, trusting God to provide for the next. Some of the people gather more and try to hoard it, though. That ends in a stinky mess. On the sixth day, however, God tells the people to gather enough for two days, so they can rest on the Sabbath. Those who obey discover that the manna doesn’t go bad overnight when stored for the Sabbath. (And those who don’t obey go hungry on the seventh day.)

So here are the truths that caught my attention this morning:

1. When God gives His people commands, He also gives them the means to keep them. He told His people to rest on the seventh day. He knew they would be hungry, though, so He kept the manna from going bad. He made it possible for them to rest by meeting this basic need.

2. When God gives His people good gifts, He also gives them all they need to enjoy them. Imagine giving dinner in a nice restaurant and tickets to a musical as an anniversary gift for a couple with young children. To be sure they could enjoy the gift, you would also offer to watch their children that night and, if necessary, pay for parking in the theatre lot. The gift would be no good if the couple couldn’t leave their children or afford extra expenses that went along with it.

Likewise, Sabbath rest was a gift from God to His people. He wanted them to enjoy it, so He provided all they needed, so that they could. In covering all the details, God gave the Israelites no excuse to disobey Him. He showed that He is not unreasonable. He is aware of all that His children need. He is able to provide. The Israelites learned to trust Him (at least for a time). They rested on the Sabbath day.

Father, thank You for Your provision, Your generous gifts, and Your attention to all of the details surrounding these. You’ve given us every reason to trust You with our lives. Help us to follow You in faith. We love You, Lord. Amen.

  • How has God revealed Himself to you as the God Who provides what you need?
  • What is God asking You to trust Him with right now?
  • What can you do about it to exercise Your faith?

 

Congratulations to Marina B., winner of the Parachute Prayer book giveaway! Thank you to everyone who participated.

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Approaching God’s Word with Awe

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”Hebrews 4:12

Because the Bible is God’s Word, it is unlike any other book. The writer of Hebrews tells us it’s alive and active! It’s on the mission God created it for: “teaching, correcting, rebuking, and training in righteousness,” equipping God’s people for every good work. (See 2 Timothy 3:16-17.)

For this reason, we’re wise to approach it with awe. Reading the Bible is a privilege; it is a meeting with God! Here are a few ideas for you to consider to make the most of each meeting:

1. Schedule a regular time to meet with God through His Word every day. I like to read first thing every morning as I enjoy my first cup (or two) of coffee. Others like to read just before going to bed. Some listen to Bible CD’s or MP3’s on the way to work or receive daily Bible readings in their e-mail inbox or through a Bible app on their phone or tablet. Creatively choose a time and place that works for you; God will be there waiting each day. And, if you can only find a few moments each day to spare, give these to God. He will make use of them. Like the little boy with the loaves and the fish, offer what you can.

2. Prepare for your meeting with prayer. Before you even open your Bible (or turn on your reading device), ask the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s message for you for that day. Because God’s Word is living and active, God’s Spirit is able to deliver a custom message straight to you. No. The words don’t ever change, but God will use your life experiences and prayer concerns to open your heart to new layers of Truth. This is why it’s so important to keep reading the Bible, every day throughout your life. You can cross other books off your To-Be-Read list after you read them through, but when you finish reading the Bible, flip it over and start reading again.

Bible Verse Parachute3. Pay attention when you stumble across Bible verses in other places. Many of the books I read, even fictional stories, quote Bible verses within their pages. Christians who use social networking sites like Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+ love to share Bible verses they find. And sometimes you’ll find Scripture used in home or business décor. If you have the time, don’t skim over these. Recognize them as God’s Word and read what He has to say.

Father, help us to remember, please, that Your Word is more than just another book to read. Help us to approach it with respect and anticipation, knowing it’s our link to You. Call us to read it daily and as we obey, reveal Your message that we’ll come to know ever more and more of You. Adjust our thoughts and attitudes. Make us better able to serve in Your Kingdom. Please make us more like You. We thank You for this priceless gift. In Jesus’ name, amen.


Note: Don’t forget to enter the drawing to win two copies of my new book, Parachute Prayer! The entry post is here.

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Jacob’s Confident Prayer

White Flowers“I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two camps.”Genesis 32:10

Jacob was nervous on the night before he encountered his brother Esau for the first time in twenty years. He had reason to be. The last time he’d seen Esau, Jacob had just stolen his blessing. Esau was angry enough to kill, so Jacob ran away from home in order to stay alive.

But Jacob learned some things in twenty years away. As he prepared to renew his acquaintance with his brother, he prayed.

As I read his prayer this morning, I noted Jacob’s approach. First, he tells God that he is returning to his people, including Esau, because God told him to and because God promised to take care of him. In other words, “Lord, You led me to this place. I’m trusting You to keep Your promise.” (See Genesis 32:9.) When we’re acting in obedience, remembering that God is control of the outcome is a good thing to do. God never forgets this, but our verbal affirmation of His role in the operation is significant. It shows our submission to His will, and our decision to trust.

Next, Jacob remembers where he came from and compares it to where he now is, giving God all the credit for the changes in his life. This was the part of the prayer that most caught my attention. Instead of starting out by presenting his urgent request for safety, Jacob praises God for what He’s already done. What’s more, he notes that God chose to bless Jacob not because of anything Jacob had done to make himself worthy of God’s favor, but just because God wanted to.

I wonder if that part of the prayer was more for Jacob’s good than for God. Jacob stated the facts beautifully, and God surely deserved to hear those words from Jacob’s mouth, but Jacob needed to acknowledge those facts, to own up to his shortcomings and to express gratitude for God’s grace. That done, Jacob could present his urgent request for safety with confidence. (See Genesis 32:11.) God had already done so much for Jacob just because He wanted to. Jacob could move forward in trust that God would continue the work He had begun.

  • What are you concerned about today?
  • What has God already done for you?
  • Where have you come from and where are you now?
  • What are you most grateful for?
  • What work in you has God begun?
  • Where is He leading now?
  • How can you show God that you trust Him with your life?

Father, help us to recall where we’ve been, to trace the path You’ve brought us on so far, and to recognize where we are. We are thankful for all You have done. As You lead us into the future, we have the confidence in You we need to trust. Thank You, Lord. Amen.

Cover RevealAnnouncement: I’m giving away two copies of my new book, Parachute Prayer: The Practice of Praying Continually, one for the winner and one extra for the winner’s friend. To enter this giveaway, click here. To learn more about the book, click here.

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There’s No Making Friends with a Snake

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”Genesis 3:15

Sneaky ReptileWhen I read Genesis 3 last week, I had kind of a random thought about the story of the snake tempting Eve. The snake talked Eve into tasting the forbidden fruit. Eve shared it with Adam. Then, once caught, Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the snake. Everybody turned on everybody. The world’s first sin not only separated man from God, it destroyed the peace that had existed between people and animals up to that point. A peace that we’ll enjoy again someday thanks to Jesus Christ:

“The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest”Isaiah 11:8.

(You can read all of Isaiah 11 to learn more of what this prophet said will come because of Christ.)

Scholars have different opinions about that crafty reptile in Genesis 3. Some say he was Satan in disguise. Some think maybe animals could talk before the Fall and that Satan recruited the snake to help him out. Others think Satan possessed the snake. I don’t know which is true, but Eve didn’t seem surprised to find herself having a conversation with a snake. If my dog ever talks to me, I won’t remain so calm.

The way I see it, though, in Genesis 3:15, God says He’s going to put enmity between the snake and the woman, between its offspring and hers. Satan was already her enemy, already cursed. So I’m thinking God was actually referring to the snake. If so, perhaps the serpent is supposed to be an on-going, physical reminder to us of spiritual dangers we cannot see. Perhaps, somehow, snakes are meant to remind us that Satan is lurking where we least expect to find him. We need to be vigilant to avoid temptation.

Satan LurksAs I’m writing this, I realize there are groups of reptile-loving people who work really hard to convince the general population, children in particular, that snakes don’t need to be feared so long as we respect them. I have pictures of all three of my boys in classroom or VBS (Vacation Bible School) settings where someone from the local zoo came to visit and speak, then had each child present pose for a picture with a snake around his neck. Two out of three of my kids were really reluctant to participate. And my middle son’s picture is priceless. His mouth is frozen in a forced smile with gritted teeth; his eyes say, “I’m smiling because you [zoo photographer] said I have to. Get this thing off my shoulders before I die!”

There was definitely some enmity there in spite of the reassuring zoo personnel.

To be clear: I don’t think there is anything inherently evil about snakes. And I have no problem with programs that teach children more about them. These can be fun, and, in a way, whether the snake professionals see it this way or not, these programs look toward that future day of peace with hope. They teach people that there are ways to safely handle some kinds of snakes, creatures our God created, but they always urge caution (I hope) and stress that some of these reptiles are extremely dangerous. Given the opportunity, they will bite. There’s no way to really make friends with a snake.

What a perfect analogy!

Satan wants us to believe he’s safe, so we’ll let down our guard and give in to temptation. But given the opportunity, he’ll always bite. Let’s not try to make peace with temptation. It’s better to heed God’s warning, keep our distance, and stay safe.

Father, make us aware of Satan’s schemes. Help us to recognize temptation for the danger that it is. Give us the courage and determination to step away. We don’t want to make friends with anything that will harm our relationship with You. Amen.

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Insights from Genesis 2

Insight JournalI got to flip The Book yesterday! That means I finished reading Revelation and got to start again in Genesis. I love the book of Genesis. Personally, I think it’s one of the most dramatic books in the whole Bible, full of amazing stories combined with great truths about our loving, Creator God, Who makes His intention to have a relationship with us, in spite of us, clear.

This time through, I’m reading the NIV Life Journey Bible with insights from Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. The NIV is the NIV regardless of whose thoughts we’re reading alongside the Bible words, but I enjoy reading those thoughts from authors I respect. If you haven’t heard of them, Cloud and Townsend are renowned Christian psychologists, authors, and radio personalities. Boundaries is their most popular work; it’s a book I recommend.

But that’s enough about them. Back to Genesis! When I read through the Bible, I keep a journal of new or revisited insights, verses I feel called to pray about or for others, and questions I want to think about more. Some of these find their way onto this blog, but many don’t. I want to share so many ideas with you but become overwhelmed at the idea of transforming them all into clearly-articulated blog posts.

Maybe I don’t have to take them so seriously, though! Maybe I don’t have to spell every thought out so completely. Maybe it’s enough to take what I’ve been thinking about and give you something to think about! Then maybe, you can tell me what you think of it, so together we can learn. I’m willing to give it a try.

Here goes:

This morning, I read Genesis 2. (I also read Genesis 1, but nothing jumped out at me this time through. That’s okay. God directs our thoughts as we read, leading us to think about what we most need to as we read.) As I read Genesis 2, an outline of sorts began to form about God’s work in our lives. Here is what I saw:

1. “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dustof the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”Genesis 2:7

God gives us life. He breathes it right into us!

2. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden . . .”Genesis 2:15a

God places us where He wants us to be. He’d created this whole, big earth but chose to place Adam in Eden. We could probably even go so far as to say, God designed Eden especially for Adam (and Eve, but she isn’t in the picture just yet).

3. “. . . to work it and take care of it.”Genesis 2:15b

God gives us meaningful work to do. Note: This was before the Fall. Work gives people purpose; it allows us to participate in God’s Kingdom. Having to work wasn’t the curse that resulted from the Fall. The curse was that work became a drudgery, goals harder to reach, toil more painful after the Fall.

4. “And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.’”Genesis 2:16-17

God tells us what He expects of us. He told Adam directly. He tells us through the Bible, His Word.

5. “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’”Genesis 2:18

God gives us everything we need. In fact, He anticipates our needs and provides at just the right time. Verse 18 of this chapter is just one example. The whole chapter describes all that God provided for His new children in the brand new world.

Father, we thank You for thinking everything out so carefully on our behalf. Please forgive us for going our own way, failing You and Your creation. Please help us to live according to Your plan, for the good of Your Kingdom and the glory of Your name. Amen.

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Anchored, Tethered, Rooted, Built Up

Finding Home“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”Colossians 2:6-7

One thing I long for as I move from home to home to home is stability, an anchor of sorts. I’m thinking of a science fiction show I once watched. Can’t quite remember which one, but I do remember that the main character was jumping around in time and needed some kind of tether to keep her attached to her own time. If the tether came undone, she’d never find her way back to her own time. I think I kind of feel like that sometimes. I need for something to remain the same, or I’ll never know when I am “home.”

But there’s a reason why someone once said, “You can’t go home again.” Home as you’ve pictured it changes. Friends you go home to visit move away. Favorite stores close. Nieces and nephews grow up. Grandma changes the way she cooks . . . or relocates . . . to Heaven . . . which inevitably brings changes to all the traditions you once knew. This is how life works, and it happens whether you move a lot or not. But when you’ve been away for a while and come “home” to find all changed, it can feel a little unsettling.

Colossians 2.6-7If we anchor ourselves to these kinds of things, each visit home will be more confusing than the last. We’ll enjoy some of these changes and be disappointed by others, but either way we may still grow to feel increasingly out of place. Attaching ourselves to that which is ever-changing, that is, anything in our physical world, will eventually leave us feeling lost.

Colossians 2:6-7 tells us what we can anchor or tether our moving selves to. Paul uses two different words, though: rooted and built up. Both enhance the idea. If we’re rooted, we’re attached to the ground. As plants gain strength, nutrition, and stability from the ground, we gain the same if the soil we’re rooted in is healthy. Likewise, if we’re built up on a proper foundation, we are standing on something concrete that will support us, keep us level, and enhance our strength when the world around us starts to shake. Of course, Paul was telling his readers to be rooted and built up in Christ. Jesus is our anchor, tether, soil, and foundation wherever we go.

Notice some of the other words Paul uses, though. First he says, “Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue . . .” Continue is another stable word. Some people think being saved is all that matters, but if we’re to enjoy the benefits of saving faith, we must continue to live our lives in Christ.

Paul tells us how with a few more stabilizing words: “strengthened in the faith as you were taught.” Again, we cling to what’s already established: our faith in Christ. Someone introduced us to Him. Then we learned some more about Him. The relationship grew. The relationship must keep growing wherever we go. We may move to another location, but we must continue to talk with God, read His Word, and let Him teach us about Himself and His Kingdom wherever we are. We continue, we’re rooted, we’re built up, and we’re strengthened just as we were taught.

When we live our lives in Christ, we’ll always be anchored, tethered, rooted, and built up. Jesus is the stability we need.

Father, as the world changes all around me, all the time, I am overflowing with thankfulness for the tether You provide. Help me cling to You . . . forever. Amen.

If you found this helpful in your moving journey, I’ve written a whole book of devotionals to encourage you: Home Is Where God Sends You: Lessons in Contentment from Nearby and Faraway. Available at Amazon.com.