WordoftheWeek: Ordained

“Your eyes saw my unformed body;

all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

Psalm 139:16 NIV

Before you write a note, decorate, put the recipe together, or otherwise complete an activity, your mind is at work shaping. Fashioning. Forming. Determining your next steps and how to fit things together.

Even if briefly, thought always comes first. Even thoughtless words or hastily finished projects require a small bit of forethought. That’s the way creating works, regardless of what we are creating.

When God made us, we also started as a thought. Before we were made physically, He knew us. But God is never hasty, hurried, or careless. Our Lord is purposeful.

God has shaped each of our lives carefully. The word “ordained” in the Psalm 139:16 is also translated “formed” and “fashioned.” To have our days ordained is to have them planned out for us with intention. Shaped for a purpose.

Take in that verse, with the word expanded, again:

“All the days you formed for a purpose for me were written in your book before one came to be.”

We know that the Lord is beyond time. We know that He has plans for us. We even know that He knows what lies ahead.

All of that is comforting; but, add this: those plans and that future are intentional.

Our days are not just foreseen by God,

but fashioned by His foresight.

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The Lord works all things together for the good of those who love them- and this process began before any of these “things” for “those” people came to be. He is never surprised, and never unprepared. Though our lives all look so different, and, as Kristine points out in her earlier post, those differences are a part of the uniqueness of His well-thought out and perfectly executed plan.

When life sneaks up on you or catches you off guard and you wonder how He can make it all work out- remember, He already has a way. He is the Way. And that- even that- is purposeful and purposed by the Lord.

Let’s count these lovingly, precisely hand-crafted days as blessings.

This post is being shared on:
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17. BEHOLD: The Surprise

Shh, it’s a surprise. That’s what we say when we pick out unexpected gifts and tell others about them before Christmas day.

On Christmas morning, we want our loved ones to open their gifts and light up with delight over the surprises inside. We make goodies for friends and randomly bring cookies to work, just to give a little bit of surprise joy to those around us.

The idea of gifts being surprises was God’s idea first. Imagine Mary’s surprise, to be chosen as his mother as a virgin. And Joseph’s -when an angel showed up with the best but most unexpected news. The Shepherds in the fields surely lit up in shock and awe when the skies came alive with praise.  Then, to find the newborn king lying in a manger of all places?!

Still, the surprises continued.

Many of the expectations people had regarding their coming Messiah were thrown off. They thought we would come and reign on earth immediately, not (when? Oh we still don’t know the time!) Instead of conquering with swords and great, terrifying power He won us over from death by…dying. Surprise!

When we look at all the unexpected gifts God has given and gives, we react like the Shepherds and Mary and Joseph and the Disciples with more fear than delight.

“Do not be afraid”

Luke 1:30

Matthew 1:20

Luke 2:10

There’s a reason that this phrase is so often repeated in Scripture. We, as control-seeking, nervous, limited human beings, are not big fans of surprises…until we see them work out in our favor.

Upon being surprised, we scream. We’re often terribly confused. And, if the surprise does not turn out to be wonderful and beneficial, it often becomes a story told only as a “what-not-to-do.” (Don’t we all know of “oops” surprise stories?)

Surprises from the Lord are treated in much the same way. Our first reactions when the Lord does something unexpected are often fear and confusion. We ask “well, what about this?” or “what if?” before we say, “Lord, your every gift is perfect! Thank you!” Fortunately, his grace is sufficient. His kindness does not fail.

“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

1 John 4:16

We can look back through history, and the Bible, and our lives, are recognize that His surprises are delightful. No mystery of the Lord’s is shrouded in darkness and risk. When we see His surprises fully revealed, we are in awe of the gift-giver.

Behold, our reason to trust even in the unexpected.

Behold, the one whose endless grace and love continue to surprise us.

Behold, the Lord whose surprises are always perfect.

This post is being shared on: #DanceWithJesus and #LifeGivingLinkup.

13. BEHOLD: The Author and Editor

Oh, the stories that come with Christmas! Tales of wild festivities, hilarious memories, and sentimental moments. At Christmas we also face stories we’d rather not; disappointing and painful memories are often whispering in the background.

One story we also hear tells of Christ’s coming to earth to save us. This is the greatest story, and it’s true. Even better –the author is still at work.

“You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.”

Acts 3:15

Not just the author of your life story, or mine, our God is the one who created life. He is the one who overcomes it’s limits that we may live with Him forever. With just a word He gives this life, and with another, He takes it away. He came up with life, and He brought into being, and He sustains life as we know it.

With just a word, He also changes life as we don’t know it, too.

We all like to think that we plot out our paths. We try to select the themes for our Christmases, our homes, and our lives. “It’s my story” we say, and we only get to write it once. What we overlook is this fact: as the author, He gets to edit.

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.”

Proverbs 16:9

The greatest story, and the whole story, are written by the Hand of God.

Praise Him that for all the plot twists we wish weren’t there and all the corrections we try to make, His edits keep the story complete and perfect.

Behold, the Author whose edits to our contributions only make it better.

Behold, the Story with no plot holes, no errors, and no constraints.

Behold, the One who assures us that the story isn’t over and it won’t be.

This post is being shared on: #LifeGivingLinkup 

12. BEHOLD: His Sacrifice

Little babies are one of the most precious blessings to behold in this world. We look on them with awe and wonder –their little hands and feet. Their tiny personalities. The miracle of new life in so small and fragile a package.

When Christ became a baby, new life was not born. He had long existed –longer than any man. More powerful, more perfect, than we can fathom, He gave all of that up to be one of us, and one of us at our most vulnerable –newborn.

For that to happen, there were miracles, and there were many sacrifices.

Mary’s conception was miraculous –and required the sacrifice of her reputation at very least. For Joseph to take Mary as his wife and raise Jesus as a son was a sacrifice to his pride and likely very costly in a number of ways. God, meanwhile, was sacrificing His only son. We know that later, Jesus also sacrificed Himself for us.

“But when this priest (Jesus) had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins,

he sat down at the right hand of God”

Hebrews 10:12

Our modern celebration of Christmas comes with sacrifice too. We give up money to support the needy, contribute to celebrations, and get gifts for loved ones. Our time is certainly sacrificed to a number of things. For some of us, our talents are offered up, too. But to what end?

That newborn savior brought with Him a new birth into eternal life, for you and for me.

In our sacrifices, we have a model to follow after. His example is one of humility. He gave up that which was rightfully His –His place and person in heaven- to become like the least of us.

His sacrifice was made not to the altar of man and man’s demands, but to the Lord who so loved us. Can we say the same of our sacrifices this Christmas? Are they made out of love for the Lord?

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise

–the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.”

Hebrews 13:15

Behold, His great name, always worthy of our praise.

Behold, the ultimate sacrifice that now allows us be living sacrifices.

Behold, new life by the newborn’s sacrifice.

11. BEHOLD: The Brave

Isn’t it silly which things require bravery? Saying “no” to a friend’s Christmas invitation seems scary because they might be offended. Choosing that particular gift can be frightening because it may not be what they wanted and it will hurt to see it rejected. Telling a co-worker about the Christmas Eve service carries risks.

These things aren’t even really threatening. Yet, we act in fear. Saying yes to everything, apologizing for gifts before we give them, and avoiding the most essential topic in the world.

Thank God Jesus was brave. More than brave- thank God Jesus was fearless.

His fearlessness made Him man, born a dependent baby to sinful people. His courage led through a life of persecution. Finally, His bravery brought Him to die on a cross and be separated from God Himself. And then…to rise again. It’s because of that that we truly live!

“And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”
1 Cor 15:14
“Because I live, you also will live.”
John 14:19

And in all that, Jesus never shook. He never wavered. There was never a compromise to take a step back when threats arose –the very kind of threats we rarely hear but always fear: abandonment, rejection, and betrayal.

Why?

Jesus had no cause for fear. He was (and is!) so aligned with God and so fully accepting of God’s perfect sovereignty in all things that He has no cause for fear. For us to live that same way is brave.

Christ was beholding the truth. So fixed on it was He that nothing could stir up doubt or fear in Him. He was so complete and fulfilled in God that there was no room for fear.

We can follow that example. We can be bold like Christ is bold by beholding Him too.

“The LORD is my light and my salvation–so why should I be afraid? The LORD is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?”Psalm 27:1

Behold, the one whose path is straight leaving us no cause to stray.

Behold, the one whose way is perfect, leaving us no need to be afraid of anything.

Behold, the one whose loving-kindness replaces all our fears with the bravery of Christ.

8. BEHOLD: The Healer

Along with the Christmas season comes the cold season. And the flu season. And the season for strep throat, pneumonia, exhaustion, etc. Those are just the physical illnesses that plague the holidays.

With Christmas, for many, comes disappointment. The heartache of loneliness and loss seems exacerbated by the twinkling lights and appearance that all is somehow well and right with the beautifully adorned (or masked) world around us.

“Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”

-Luke 5:31

Let this be salve for your soul: the healer has come. The great physician was born in Bethlehem a couple of thousand years ago, and He is still at work today.

His healing comes as He did: vulnerably. Through faith. Mingled with the unexpected. Humbly. And with such compassion…

“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.”

Psalm 103:13-14

Who better to trust with our pain, heartache, and illnesses than the very one who made us? We know that His care and provision are perfect. His way is better than ours, and His plan more complete than we can imagine –even when it doesn’t look that way.

Few thought, looking at the baby in a manger, the reviled wanderer, or the man on the cross, that it was through that relentless compassion and formidable humility that the healing of all mankind would come.

But it did.

More than just treating our ailments and our weariness, Christ’s healing relieves us of the burden of sin. He re-forms the disease of the human heart.

“Heal me, LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.”

Jeremiah 17:14

Behold, the one who became a baby to give us the cure!

Behold, the one who heals us of the most deadly disease.

Behold, the healer whose method is the most gentle, compassionate, and perfect.

This Post is being Shared on: #WomenWithIntention and #TellHiStory

You Didn’t Need to Make It Right

Photo from: genius.com

“And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” –James 1:4

Gosh. You read all that Scripture has to say about being perfect, being loving, and acting like Christ. The Words are great. The aspirations are high. But you and I always fall short. We’re always lacking in something. That’s how it feels.

We mess up. We fail.

Whether in our relationships, our attitudes, our work, our hearts, or anything else, it seems we’re always having to “make it right” even when really we haven’t done anything wrong.

Do you know this feeling?

It’s the sense that maybe you ought to apologize, even though they probably didn’t notice. Or maybe that you’ve missed out because of a poopy attitude and now you’ve got to overcompensate. You try to “make it right” just because it’s clear that something that you did or said didn’t have the outcome you expected.

…Didn’t have the outcome you expected. That’s it, isn’t it? That’s a primary cause of our culture of over-apologizing and relativizing until reality is revised to suit the desires of whoever we’re dealing with.

The resulting version of “making it right” tends to have nothing to do with right or wrong after all.

So often when we attempt to make things right, we’re attempting to make things more comfortable or easier. We’re attempting to feel better. We’re not so concerned with the “right” aspect.

That’s a problem.

Instead of trying to get it right by going to the one who makes all things right, we live Romans 10:3,

Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.”

Believers know the righteous of God deep in their hearts, but we don’t always know it in our lives. We often think that things that are awkward or uncomfortable are wrong. We try to “fix” that which God broke for a purpose. Though there are times when we need to apologize and compromise, there are also many times when that works against the Lord’s will. But it doesn’t feel that way. We often feel that our feelings are the enemies we need to defeat instead of sin.

We know He saved us from sin –but He has also saved us from the need to be comfortable and feel better. Further, He has saved us from having to figure out “good” and “right” for ourselves.

God is the one who determines what “right” ultimately means. Our attempts at “making it right” are often better stated as our attempt to “make right our own.” We don’t have to. We have Jesus. We have the Bible. We have the Holy Spirit.

Yes. We fail. We mess up. We aren’t perfect. Even our best intentions can result in difficultly, mistakes, and pain. But the thing about His righteousness is that it stands in our stead. Jesus is our righteousness, making us faultless in the sight of the one who matters most.

Before we try to correct what we think is wrong in ourselves, our relationships, and more, we must ask if it’s wrong in the sight of God. If it’s not…then we need to let Christ’s righteousness be enough to make discomfort, pain, and mistakes fruitful.

Hands off “making it right” when it isn’t wrong. Instead, let’s try making it His. He can take care of the righteous part.

This post is being shared on: #LifeGivingLinkup #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, and #TellHiStory.