Friday, March 29, 2013

What Are You Worth?

Greek words are so beautiful. Such allure and boldness in their twists and curves. I am falling in love with a language I cannot read.
The attraction simply is this: these are the words that bring me even closer to what my Lord said so very long ago. A step closer to the breath of God’s voice. His life whispering in my ear. I am so grateful He gave me this hunger and love for words, especially His.

I was making my way through Ephesians chapter one and I saw that the Greek/English literal translation slightly varied from the RSV right here:
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace which he lavished upon us. v.7-8

What RSV and many other Bibles have translated as riches, my Greek said wealth.

Riches and wealth are the same aren’t they? For whatever reason riches sounds more holy but the word: Ploutos actually means wealth, an abundance of stuff. Having a bunch of money and not having to worry about a thing.

What a carnal word for us.
We do not often link wealth and riches (possessions, houses, cars, clothes, money, money money )with the gifts God has for us.

(Well, ok I know some people do. What a shame.)

But the more I thought about it the more I was awed by God and how He loves.
The verse says we have redemption according to His riches. What exactly is redemption?
It means
being released from captivity
by someone paying the ransom
according to His riches.
So you understand: the kidnapped child of a corporate exec will be worth more ransom than a teacher’s kid simply because of the riches of the Father.

What do you suppose God’s riches are? Can He pay for whatever He wants? Could he buy you a nice steak dinner without blinking? What about a vacation to the Islands in the middle of winter? Could He pay off your mortgage and your car? Can He stroke a check and write off the hospital bills for your momma’s cancer treatment? Could He build a new school for the orphans? Can He buy medicine for a young HIV positive boy? Can He build a shelter for abused girls?

Yes, and yes, again and again. He can and does perform these monetary miracles everyday.
But the beautiful thing is it is because His riches are not stocks and investments or real estate or oil fields. His riches are His grace.

His Grace

Which He lavishes on us.

You are far more important than anything that can be purchased. A soul is of infinitely greater value than even a hospital for orphans. Your Father could purchase the land and build the building and staff it with doctors and medicine but of far greater worth to him is paying the ransom for your soul. Because if all the schools and orphanages and hospitals are built but a single soul is lost it is all meaningless.

Think about it, there is a soul, a sweet creation of God who at this very moment is sitting in a cell of sin, hands shackled, legs bound, eyes searching for an end to the torment, searching for a Redeemer.

Someone to pay the ransom and release them from their pain.

And even though the price is beyond what you or I could ever even imagine, God from His magnificent, never depleted, storehouse of grace is counting out the price and laying out the riches of His grace one by one like a stack of gold coins like piles of crisp $1000 dollar bills. His abundant riches. His unmerited Grace.

His grace that overshadowed a young woman and breathed life into her, and the child who grew to be Messiah. The Savior who walked and talked and lived to be like you. To know you and your pain. To know your hope and joy. To know your despair and heartache. Jesus, the most valuable thing God purchased from the riches of His grace, Jesus, who in turn paid your ransom with His very body on a cross.

Why could Jesus submit to the cross and feel the precious gift of life drip from Him?
Because He counted the cost and He knew His Father could pay.

He can pay for the most abundant blessed joyful peaceful life anyone can ever have. He has the wealth, the riches, for it all.

And you are worth it.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Walking. Just Walking.

 It is a mystery indeed.
I know that God is holy and I know that I am not but how…how do I live in this chasm between Him and me?

Sometimes I think we make Jesus’ story into a movie or a novel with interesting characters and great plot twists. And it plays well as such. He is compelling and the story is fascinating, surprising, heartwarming, heart wrenching. We can leave the theater saying
THAT was a good story
digest our popcorn and go back to futility.

But how do we live this Christian life? How do we move on past the acceptance of His sacrifice and live each day as new, changed, fruit of His labor?

God has explained through the astounding brain and surrendered heart of Paul that it is a give and take, an exchange, a process by which we ease from this world of strife to His Kingdom of light.

Us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:4 

Walking. Just walking.
He challenges us to walk in pace with the Spirit. To learn step by step how to walk each day in this new forgiveness and grace. He knows that a person who is not conditioned or in shape cannot run and the marathon of life is beyond comprehension at the onset. But walking, little by little, building strength, we can do it. You can do it.

You have no good choice really. God says: To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:6

Why would we turn away this offer of life and peace? If you are truly in love with your Father God then you must already know that living in step with your flesh, your crazy impulsive feelings and reactionary words never ever brings peace or sustains life. It always results in death: endings, separation, conflict, and sorrow. His Word says the mind of the flesh is enmity against God.

a feeling of hostility or ill will, as between enemies; antagonism… deep-rooted hatred.

Why would we ever allow this to happen? How can we let this God who is love from the beginning of time become our enemy? How can we not bow in obeisance and joyfully follow where the Holy Spirit leads?

Tilt your head to catch his Voice whispering to you. Know the things that have become weapons of war against God your Abba Father.  Tear down the fleshy fattened grotesque ideas and words and habits that have become the foxhole you have suffered in. Surrender to His gentle guidance. He will teach you how to walk into this Kingdom with your head held high.

It makes me laugh with pleasure when I think of enormity of the benefits of walking in His leading, in His Spirit .They are simply:

Life and Peace.
And Family…

you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!”  it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God,  and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. Romans 8:15-17

And because of this adoption: an inheritance.
A promise of a forever love.

Isn’t that what your heart longs for:
 the sweet gift of the growth of life,
the heart soothing voice of peace
and the comfort of family belonging?
I know mine does. Start walking then.

The New Greek-English Interlinear New Testament
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.