"And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession - to the praise of His glory."
Ephesians 1:13-14 NIV
Isn't it amazing how Jesus reassures us in our most uncertain moments? He started this with the disciples.
All of the dialogue He was having with the disciples about leaving them (John 14) made them worry a bit. Most of them had hung out with Him throughout His entire ministry. They were friends. They enjoyed being with Him. Although they knew He was the Messiah, they did not like the thought of Him leaving.
Jesus, compassionate as He is, reassured them by letting them know He was going away to prepare a place for them where they could be with Him always. He was not leaving for good, but would come back to get them. He shared that He had given them everything they needed to carry the Gospel throughout the world.
But that wasn't enough.
Upon sensing their angst, He says, "If you love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever." Jesus loves us so much that He wanted to ask His Father if He would give us some comfort... some reassurance so that we would know that He really is going to return to get us.
Paul, in Ephesians 1, gives us a little more clarity on that request. Once we heard and accepted the message of our Risen Savior and the good news of our salvation, there were perks! One of the joys of being a child of the King is knowing that we are marked. Designated. Chosen. The Holy Spirit, which is a promise fulfilled, lives in us, guaranteeing that we belong to God and will one day be able to live with Him in eternity.
Oxford Dictionary defines deposit as "a first installment on the purchase of something or as a pledge for a contract."
This will all work out just fine.
I know what I am doing, and so does my Father.
I will give you a gift to reassure you.
You will feel His presence and know that I am near.
The Holy Spirit is an installment until the covenant comes to its fullness. He guarantees that Jesus loves us, that we have been sealed and there is nothing that will ever change that. He guarantees that we will get what's been promised, our inheritance. He guarantees that we are not orphans, but that we have been adopted, and soon Dad's coming to get us. He is a guarantee that we are God's possession.
Even so, Come Lord Jesus.
"For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
Ephesians 2:10 NIV
Ever wondered if where you are right now, in life, is really where you are supposed to be?
Ever wondered if you got the calling on your life mixed up with that of someone else's... and that your calling maybe...let's seeeee.... easier, less stressful, more fruitful?
I have. I've looked at my life and wondered if I am at the right place, at the right time, doing the right things. We pray and ask God for peace, confirmation, and a definite show that we are doing this thing right. We ask for a peace that surpasses all understanding, yet all that time we want a peace and "just a little" understanding so that we know we are not crazy.
And then it happens.
You are at the right place at the right time. Because you have labored at the feet of the Savior, when someone needs encouragement, God's words spring up in your heart (and mouth) that you never knew were there.
You are led, (in the middle of a pandemic) to go over (masked, of course) and hug someone... really tight... who needed it at just that moment.
You are purchasing groceries and out of the blue someone comes over to you that you blessed years ago, and they remember you. And you see the fruits of the seed sown.
Here's the thing. Where we are supposed to be in this time and season is never about US. It's about HIM. It's about allowing ourselves to be the hands and feet of Jesus. He loved those who were less, or at least that's what they thought. Where we are supposed to be is anywhere we can be used by the Father. When we see Him as both Savior and Lord, we will understand that His Lordship means that we avail ourselves to be used by Him. It may not be comfortable, or easy, or even fruitful at first. But when purpose calls, no matter how you feel or what it looks like, answer.
Hang in there. You are right where God wants you to be.
"I've concluded that whatever God does, that's the way it's going to be, always. No addition, no subtraction. God's done it and that's it. That's so we'll quit asking questions and simply worship in holy fear. Whatever was, is. Whatever will be, is. That's how it always is with God."
Ecclesiastes 3: 14-15 The Message Bible
I've gained a new understanding about rest.
It is not laying my head on a pillow and closing my eyes, hoping to get a bit of shut eye.
It's not propping my feet up on an ottoman hoping to get some peace and quiet for a moment.
Neither is it taking a deep breath at the end of a great task.
No, just recently I realized that Ecclesiastes tells us exactly what "rest" is. It is understanding that whatever God does, is done. That's the way it is going to be. It is the "whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say" part of being - WELL.
God is sovereign. He is holy. He is righteous and just. He is love and He is good. And He desires nothing but good for us. In just these two verses of Ecclesiastes, I understand that when I learn to rest in the goodness of God; the sovereignty and righteousness of God, I never have to ask questions. I can be free to worship Him in holy reverence because I know Who HE is, and that whatever He has done, is done. Whatever God is doing, is done. And whatever He will do... you got it... IS DONE. And it will be well and good.
That's how it will always be with God.
When we grasp this concept of resting in God, sleep will come easier, the propped feet will come more frequently, and the deep sighs will be a result of trusting a loving Father.
"Blessed is the man who trust in the Lord, and whose hope is in the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green. And will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit."
Jeremiah 17: 7-8 NKJV
It is the eighth day of January and I think I've heard just about everything for New Year Resolutions. I dare not quote them all, but I can promise you, we have heard them all before.
Don't get me wrong. I am the biggest advocate for leaving the past behind, goal setting, and re-dos. I have made vision boards, taken vision notes, wrote vision poems. I promise you I have done it all. And when I can remain focused and consistent, I usually get pretty good results.
However, for 2022, I decided to have only one New Year Resolution. After COVID blew my vision board for 2019 and 2020 into "smithereens", I thought for 2022 it was best to start out with more realistic resolutions. While I would love to be in the gym 6 days per week, that really is not realistic for my schedule.... so let's keep it simple.
I have only one New Year Resolution. You read it in the scripture above; to trust and hope in the Lord. In 2022, my goal is to rely on Adonai like never before, and to hope in Him like a kid hopes on Christmas day. I desire to trust Him with every aspect and every decision in my life, to find a peaceful rest in Him that comes from a certainty that His heart is only good towards me.
If I do this... If I can keep this one resolution.... If I can remain hopeful in this one promise of God, then I shall be like a strong tree, planted by this source of water. I will have deep roots that spread out far and wide. And when the heat comes, I will not wither and wilt. If there is a lack of water, I will not begin to question and fear. Because I trust in Him, I will never cease to produce.
Father, Help me to trust you and to rest my hopes in you because you only want good for me. In times of trouble help me to remain grounded, never fainting, never withering, never worrying, always fruitful, ever focused and consistent, because I can rest assured that my roots grow deep in you.
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."
Matthew 5:13-16 NIV
Who are you?
Why are you here?
What is your purpose?
As we began the year 2022, these are the questions many of you are asking yourself... your pastor, perhaps your counselor. Or maybe these are questions that you have in your mind, but would never let them part from your lips.
God is so amazing. He sometimes answers our questions in one passage.
You Are The Salt of the Earth. Not "you were". Not "you will be". Not "there's a good chance you will turn out to be"... but YOU ARE. Who better to call us into who we are than the One who created us Himself.
We are here to bring the world flavor. We bring joy. Happiness. Encouragement. We bless those who need it. We are the ones who change the atmosphere in the room with the Jesus that lives in us. We are light because in Him there is no darkness. And we are never to hide who we are, but ensure we bring light to "everyone in the house." We shine so that others can first, see what God is doing in us and through us, and second, give glory to our Father in heaven.
The Message Bible puts it this way:
“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.
Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven."
If we become discouraged and "lose our saltiness", how else will people get a taste of what God is like? If we fail to allow our God-colors to show, placing all of our God-given radiance under a basket, how can people know that there is light in the darkest of circumstances?
So...Who are you? Salt and Light.
Why are you here? Because the world needs to see Jesus.
What is your purpose? To be salt carriers and light bearers.