Posts Tagged “Revelation”

Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2013Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2013

You’re almost there! This month’s schedule represents the last month of a two-year reading plan. If you’ve been with us for the whole time, you’ve read through the entire New Testament twice and the Old Testament once. If you read the additional readings each month, you completed the Old Testament twice. Congratulations!

We’ll start a new reading plan next month and I’m already looking forward to it. As I’ve read through this plan, I’ve identified things I’d like to change about next year’s plans. But that’s for another blog. If you have any ideas, please let me know. Comment on the blog, send me an email or past a message on our Facebook page.

In the meantime, don’t short-change this month’s readings. Read them with the Christmas season as a backdrop. Savor the final words of our Lord as you read through Revelation. Watch for all the prophecies about Jesus as you read through Isaiah. Enjoy and praise as you read the Psalms. Dwell in the love of God as you read 1, 2 and 3 John. I’m so looking forward to reading this month. Hope you are, too!

The following buttons will open PDFs of the November/December bookmark or all bookmarks. After the file has opened, you can print it or save it to your hard drive from your browser’s file menu.

Click here for the Sept/Oct 2013 recommended reading bookmark. Click here to download all bookmarks for 2013.

The December Reading Schedule also appears at the end of this blog.

Enjoy your reading! We’d love to hear what God speaks to your heart. Email me, leave a message on our Apprehending Grace Facebook page, or post a comment at the end of any blog.

Blessings, Friends!
Sandy

The recommended reading schedule for December is below.

2013-12Dec RecRdg

Here’s how the Resting at the River’s Edge reading schedules are organized:

  • The first two columns of the schedule allow you to read through the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice over a two-year period. You will typically read about three chapters a day if you follow this reading plan.
  • The “Additional Readings” column put you on a plan to read through the entire Bible in one year. You will read between four and five chapters a day if you follow this plan.

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Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2013Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2013

November is the official start of the holiday season in our house – Thanksgiving is just around the corner and Christmas follows quickly behind it. I love reading the book of Luke in November because it tells the Christmas story so well. It’s the book that will be our New Testament focus this month. Near the end of the month we’ll begin to read the book of Revelation – God’s final words to us.

Our readings take us through the Old and New Testaments over a two year period. We’re winding up our two years this month and next, so here at Apprehending Grace we’re already thinking about our 2014 plan. If you have any thoughts about how you’d like us to organize the readings, let us know. Comment on the blog, send me an email or past a message on our Facebook page.

The following buttons will open PDFs of the November/December bookmark or all bookmarks. After the file has opened, you can print it or save it to your hard drive from your browser’s file menu.

Click here for the Sept/Oct 2013 recommended reading bookmark. Click here to download all bookmarks for 2013.

The November Reading Schedule also appears at the end of this blog.

Enjoy your reading! We’d love to hear what God speaks to your heart. Email me, leave a message on our Apprehending Grace Facebook page, or post a comment at the end of any blog.

Blessings, Friends!
Sandy

The recommended reading schedule for November is below.

2013-11Nov RecRdg

Here’s how the Resting at the River’s Edge reading schedules are organized:

  • The first two columns of the schedule allow you to read through the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice over a two-year period. You will typically read about three chapters a day if you follow this reading plan.
  • The “Additional Readings” column put you on a plan to read through the entire Bible in one year. You will read between four and five chapters a day if you follow this plan.

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“Then war broke out in heaven, Michael and his angels going forth to battle with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no room found for them in heaven any longer.”
Revelation 12:7-8 (AMP)

This blog post, titled The War Over Reality, by Francis Frangipane caught my attention this morning. It has been adapted from his book The Three Battlegrounds, available at Arrow Publishing’s online Bookstore.

While its message feels especially appropriate during this Christmas season, I know it is a life message appropriate for the whole year. Jumping off the phrase “there was no room for them in heaven” (Revelation 12:8, AMP), Frangipane writes about spiritual warfare in a unique way.

“This war in Heaven is difficult for us to comprehend. How do angels and demons, beings who do not die from wounds, wage war? With what do they do battle? And how do they conquer one another? Without exceeding the bounds of our knowledge, we can safely say this: All spiritual warfare is waged over one essential question: Who will control reality on earth, Heaven or hell?”

Christmas is pregnant with possibilities – the possibility for family dissension at annual gatherings; the possibility for personal meltdowns caused by unmet expectations or grief; the possibility of illness brought on by over-stressing our bodies, minds and spirits as we attempt to do all things and be all things to all people.

Who will control your reality? Will it be the influences of the world or the influence of God?

“We should also recognize that the ancient Greeks, in whose language the New Testament was written, had no word for ‘reality.’ To them ‘truth’ and ‘reality’ were the same essence. If we seek to experience the true work of the Holy Spirit, we should understand that the Spirit has been sent to establish the reality of God’s kingdom in the lives of Jesus’ followers. Thus, as we become one with the Spirit of Truth, and as we fully embrace the Word of Truth, we are brought into the reality of God Himself!”

Let me again encourage you to spend time with God during this busy season. Allow the Holy Spirit to bring God’s reality into your world.

And as you attend to things in your every-day, Christmas-season life – those activities and events that are routine and those that happen only during this season – take His truth – that is, reality as only Believers can know it – with you.

“We do not fall in sin as much as we are seduced by it; every sin is cloaked in some measure of deception. But as these lies are uncovered and destroyed, as our thought-processes are freed from illusions, we will discover the blamelessness, perfection, and truth of Christ in us, the hope of glory (see Colossians 1:27).”

Take Christ with you this Christmas season.

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Resting at the River’s Edge provides an opportunity to participate in reading through the Bible in a systematic way. Here’s more details about the plan and our schedules.

It’s the month we celebrate our Savior’s birth! Let’s not grow slack in our reading. I have often been doubly blessed during my December reading. It’s almost as if His Spirit ignites the Word in a special way. Stick with it friends. You may not complete the Bible reading for the year, but don’t let that be your excuse for not continuing to read. Better to have read 75% of this year’s readings than 74%. If you’re at 75%, aim for 85% before the end of the month! I know things get busy. Don’t let the urgent muscle out the truly important.

Track your reading along with us using the table below, the half-page PDF you can download here or the November/December Bookmark you can download here.

To God be the glory as you read this month! Share your blessings with us as you read this month. E-mail me, leave a message on the Apprehending Grace Facebook page, or post a comment at the end of any blog.

Word of God, speak to us again this month!
Sandy

Download all 2012 bookmarks here Download only the November/December 2012 bookmark here

Download a half-page PDF of the December Reading Plan here

Here’s the December reading plan:

RARE December 2012 Reading Plan JPG

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I laid in bed for more than half an hour before getting up this morning. I was frustrated with someone. Frustrated at what they were doing. Frustrated at what they were not doing. They just weren’t doing what they were supposed to be doing!

Oh, my, that sounds so arrogant when I actually put it on paper! It didn’t sound so arrogant in my mind earlier this morning. It sounded right! But of course it wasn’t right – it was arrogant. And even if what I think should be done is correct, I am wrong in my response to the situation.

That’s not to say I wasn’t praying in the midst of my frustration fretting…but each sentence prayer led to more frustrated fretting. I’m guessing you’ve been in my situation before. Ten minutes of frustrated fretting, a sentence prayer – maybe even two sentences – and I’m back to fretting.

I’ve been dealing with this issue for awhile and I’ve been trusting God…but this morning frustration was getting the best of me.

Finally I got out of bed and sat with my cup of tea and piece of toast and began to read my Bible. Our Resting at the River’s Edge reading schedule has us in Revelations and I was enjoying it so much a read a head a few chapters. (I love it when that happens.) I came to these verses:

13 And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang:

“Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever.”

14 And the four living beings said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped the Lamb.
Revelation 5:13-14 (NLT)

Oh, Lord! Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to You! “And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped the Lamb.”

I spent more than half an hour fretting in frustration this morning when I could have been worshiping the Lamb! What a waste of precious time!

I serve a God who is infinitely worthy of my worship. All blessing and honor and glory and power belong to Him. He is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end. He existed before anything else existed. He created all things. He holds them together. He will exist when all that I know (except Him) has passed away. He is the eternal, all loving, all knowing, all powerful God. And still He is my friend. I spend time fretting in frustration. And He is my friend. I make wrong choices. And He is my friend. Whether I have a great day or a horrible one…He is still my friend. My Friend who loves and saves and empowers. My Savior who gives peace and joy and healing. My God who is worthy of all my worship. My God who is worth more than I can ever pay.

In our early marriage, I found a card to give to my husband (or maybe he gave it to me – I’m not really sure anymore). “I love you…” was written on the front; on the inside it read “More than I could ever say, more than you could ever know.” Isn’t that the absolute perfect card? It said (and says) everything about our love. We’ve been married more than thirty years (thank You, thank You, thank You, Lord!) and we still quote the card to one another.

The card’s message is even more appropriate between my God and me. He loves me more than He could ever say, more than I could ever know. Is anything impossible for God? Does He love more than He could ever say? Well, I won’t contradict Scripture…but… He can say it and He has, but we won’t fully comprehend that love until we are in eternity with Him. So perhaps the message changes for Him “I love you…More than I can say to you while you are in this physical body; more than you will know until you are in eternity with Me.” But that’s a bit awkward. (You think?) I’m OK with the shorthand version, knowing that my God loves me more…

And I love Him more than I could ever say (in this life) and more than He’ll ever know – but He does know! He knows how much I love Him more than I know and can express! OK, the sappy card doesn’t apply in this situation either. But again, I’m OK with the sentiment – He loves me and I love Him more than can be adequately expressed, more than can be accurately perceived. More…

Worshiping the One who is worthy, loving the One who is worthy – it’s way better than fretting.

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Resting at the River’s Edge provides an opportunity to participate in reading through the Bible in a systematic way. Here’s more details about the plan and our schedules.

The holiday season will quickly be upon us, friends. Let me encourage you to make a new commitment to continuing your time reading through the Bible. Track your reading along with us using the table below, the half-page PDF you can download here or the November/December Bookmark you can download here.

Share with us what God is speaking you as you read this month! E-mail me, leave a message on the Apprehending Grace Facebook page, or post a comment at the end of any blog.

Word of God, speak to us again this month!
Sandy

Download all 2012 bookmarks here Download only the November/December 2012 bookmark here

Download a half-page PDF of the November Reading Plan here

Here’s the November reading plan:

RARE November 2012 Reading Plan JPG

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Ask God for His Strategy - Then Implement ItFaith is the confidence, assurance and substance of things hoped for – things we confidently expect to happen. It is the conviction and evidence of things not yet seen.
Hebrews 11:1 (expanded translation using NLT, NASB, NKJV, NRSV and Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary)

This series is about moving from discouragement to faith. We’ve discussed three faith building actions that each of us can take to move our journey forward:

Let’s move on to the exciting, two-part fourth action.

Faith Building Action 4 – Ask God for His Strategy – Then Implement It!
Discouragement can come from many sources. Logically, then, Rebuilding our faith might take the shape of any of a number of different strategies. Here are some examples:

Rest – If your discouragement came from overdoing, you need rest. If you’re a fan of the Bourne Trilogy by Robert Ludlum you’ll recognize the quote “Rest is a weapon.” It is a true statement.

Becoming overtired or overworked, opens a door that the enemy loves to run through. Often, havoc comes into our life and in our condition of being overtired, we can’t stand against it and we become discouraged. So if you’ve just finished a season of extraordinary effort for the Kingdom (whether from obeying God or simply taken more than He required upon yourself), a period of rest may be the best strategy to return to full faith strength.

Change – Sometimes discouragement comes simply because we’ve become bored with our routine. God can use such a time to nudge us into starting something new. Faith, by definition, means moving before we see God’s whole plan laid out before us. God’s strategy to rebuild your strength may be to point you in a new direction, giving you opportunities to trust Him. Experiencing the result of that trust builds your faith to trust Him more.

Persevere – There are faith lessons to be learned when we are required to simply persevere – which basically means to gut it out! Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines persevere as “to persist in a state, enterprise, or undertaking in spite of counterinfluences, opposition, or discouragement.” Perseverance is defined as “continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition.” Despite failures, opposition and difficulties, sometimes we’re called simply to persevere.

Paul speaks of persevering in many different ways, but most notably as finishing well.

6As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. 7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. 8And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return.
2 Timothy 4:6-8a (NLT)

Persevere, friends – a crown of righteousness awaits you!

Seek healing in some other way – God’s plan for healing often takes us on a path to deal with past hurts and woundedness and He often uses others to help in our healing. His strategy for you might be to see a Christian counselor or sit under the teaching of a specific minister for a period of time or attend a specific conference. He might have you get involved in a small group outside your church. Or he may take you on a more personal journey to wholeness by having you write a book, create an art series or pursue one or more spiritual discipline more intentionally.

Our God is a creative God and He knows you better than you know yourself. Seek God for His strategy during this time. Once you have a hint at the first step in His strategy, implement it! Don’t wait around until you have the whole plan. Many, many people get stuck in this stage of their healing. All that accomplishes is the prolonging of their discouragement. You won’t fully see God move in your life until you begin to move as He directs.

Let me add that if you have fallen from discouragement into depression, you may not hear God speak. Your emotions are so overshadowing your ability to hear God that you may need to rely on someone else to hear God for you! I am not saying that God is not able to speak to you. I am saying that no matter how loudly God speaks you may not hear Him. If you stubbornly wait until you hear Him, you may hinder your own healing. So when a trusted advisor or friend suggests something that makes no sense to you but is witnessed to by another trusted advisor or friend – do it! (By the way, stubbornly waiting until you hear God is the equivalent of requiring that God speak to you in the way you want Him to. That’s called placing your own wisdom/desires above God’s. That’s called pride. That’s called sin and it’s putting yourself in opposition to God. Don’t go there!)

To stagnate in the place of discouragement as you wait to hear new things from God puts you perilously close to becoming lukewarm. God is not pleased with those who are lukewarm (Revelation 3:16). So don’t get stuck – step out in faith!

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Remember Who You Are In Christ

Faith is the confidence, assurance and substance of things hoped for – things we confidently expect to happen. It is the conviction and evidence of things not yet seen.
Hebrews 11:1 (expanded translation using NLT, NASB, NKJV, NRSV and Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary)

Faith is confidence…but sometimes our confidence lags a bit. My husband occasionally says that he’s shocked at how insecure I am. I usually project an air of confidence, but there are some common (that is, every day) situations that send my insecurity meter off the charts. The key to being confident (that is, faith-filled) is the object of our confidence – the object of our faith. My confidence lags when my focus changes from God to myself. How will I look to others? How will I be perceived? What if I say or do the wrong thing? What if I forget something important?

Our first faith building action refocused our attention off ourselves and onto God through praise. When we look at the One who created the universe, knowing that He is on our side, our confidence soars. Our second faith building action brings the focus back to ourselves, but in a way that allows us to see ourselves through God’s eyes.

Faith Building Action 2 – Remind Yourself of Who You Are in Christ
Here are a just few of the ways that God sees you. Meditate on these elements of your identity in Christ to build your faith.

Forgiven – Being forgiven means there is no longer any condemnation or shame associated with your past (or present or future) life. It means all penalties or payments required to make up for your wrong actions have already been paid. Welcome to freedom! Your life sentence of being a slave to sin has been commuted.

1So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.
Romans 8:1-2 (NLT)

No condemnation, friends – and freedom from the power of sin.

Child of God – Of course that forgiveness also makes you a child of God – someone who is born not only of flesh and blood but of the spirit. Someone who has the promise of spending eternity with Him. Someone dearly loved by the Father.

3Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God…5I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. 6Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.”
John 3:3, 5-6 (NLT)

1How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.
1 John 3:1-3 (NIV)

That hope gives us confidence in today and tomorrow. What love the Father has lavished upon us!

Child of Abba-Father – There are many ways to view being a child of God. One picture that often escapes us is the intimate picture of a child reaching up his or her arms to be lifted up by their Papa. That is the image portrayed in this verse:

14For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”
Romans 8:14-15 (NASB)

We’re not given a spirit of fear – rather, when we are tempted to fear we are reminded that we have been adopted as a child of God and we can cry out for His help – “Abba! Father!” My parents were divorced when I was in my teens and I felt disconnected from my father. It was only after I grew older that I began to understand that if I needed anything and called out “Daddy!” he would do his best to move heaven and earth if necessary to come to my aid. And he was an earthly father – quite imperfect when compared with my heavenly Father. My heavenly Father actually has the power to move heaven and earth to come to my aid. My heavenly Father invites me to cry out “Daddy!” Matthew Henry writes that this verse “denotes an affectionate endearing importunity” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible.) He’s my father with whom I can be affectionate, who finds me endearing, and who encourages me to seek Him and His help.

Joint heir with Christ – When God made us His children – or perhaps I should say when God set in motion the plan for Christ to pay the penalty for our sins and when Christ agreed to leave the glories of heaven for the pain and suffering of earth and when we accepted Christ’s gift as payment for our sins – we also became joint-heirs with Christ. In the breath that Christ said “forgive them,” He said “I’ll share all that is mine with them.”

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3:16 (NLT)

16The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ…
Romans 8:16-17a (NASB)

All that the Father has belongs to the Son. We have become fellow heirs, joint heirs, co-heirs with Christ.

Beloved Bride of Christ – We are not only a friend of God and co-heir with Christ, but Paul told the Corinthians that he had “promised [them] as a pure bride to one husband – Christ” 2 Corinthians 11:2 (NLT). Revelation 19 describes the wedding:

7Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself. 8She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.” For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people. 9And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he added, “These are true words that come from God.”
Revelation 19:7-9 (NLT)

We will be the bride who has made herself ready. We are the bride who is making herself ready. We have been invited to the wedding feast not as a guest but as the beloved bride. Christ is our husband and He longs for the day when we will become His bride.

There is a passage that puts all these relationships together:

4But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. 5God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. 6And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” 7Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.
Galatians 4:4-7 (NLT)

We have gone from slave to son. We have gone from deserving death to being an heir. Our confidence – our faith – grows as we understand who we are in Christ. This powerful video with Jason Gray’s song Remind Me Who I Am illustrates the point.

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This has not been an exhaustive list of who we are in Christ. There’s much more! Scripture also says that we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), a chosen people (1 Peter 2:9), created in God to do good works (Ephesians 2:10). And more, and more.

Move beyond discouragement to faith – meditate on who you are in Christ.

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Revolution of the HeartWhen my husband and I started dating, I had a horrible self image. Yet (somehow – thank You, God!) Phil thought I was the most beautiful person in the world. He would tell me that I was beautiful and I would be embarrassed (because I certainly didn’t think it was true) and I figured it was just a line. He’s just a guy and it’s just a line he’s hoping will get him something.

But he kept saying it – every day…for years…and years…Even after we were married, he’d tell me how beautiful I was…until one day it dawned on me – this isn’t a line! Phil really thinks I’m beautiful!

And my self image began to change. And I began to become more confident because while I still didn’t think I was beautiful, there was someone who did. Someone important! Someone of value.

So I began to care not nearly as much what you think or what someone else thinks, because the most important person in the world thinks I’m beautiful. And you know what? Maybe, just maybe…it’s hard to admit it, but maybe it’s true…just maybe, I am beautiful!

And a revolution began in my heart and in my mind.

In my insecurities, I am that tall, gangly, dare I say ugly, teenager who didn’t know how to put on makeup or do anything with her hair, and I certainly didn’t know how to accessorize! I am the shy girl who has just moved to town and has no friends and doesn’t know how to make friends. I am the person who is afraid to talk to you because you might turn away from me and I’ll be humiliated. I’m the person who hates to make phone calls because I’ll be humiliated and won’t know what to say when you don’t remember who I am.

Let’s take feeling humiliated off the table! Let’s make it a non-issue! Let’s just decide “so what?” If I’m humiliated, I’m humiliated. God gives grace to the humble. Christ was humiliated. He understands. And He loves us. His opinion is the only one that matters.

Let the revolution begin in your heart! Meditate on these Scriptures – read them every day – over and over again! Listen for the voice of God saying them. Listen for the choir of angels providing background vocals as God sings them over you.

You are precious to me!

Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you, I give people in return for you, nations in exchange for your life.
Isaiah 43:4 (NRSV)

Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight.
1 Peter 2:4 (NRSV)

You are my treasured possession!

For you are a people holy to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on earth to be his people, his treasured possession.
Deuteronomy 7:6 (NRSV)

You have been set apart as holy to the LORD your God, and he has chosen you from all the nations of the earth to be his own special treasure.
Deuteronomy 14:2 (NLT)

I created you when you were in your mother’s womb – carefully designed and made (hand-crafted), perfectly suited to the roles I’ve called you.

But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
Isaiah 43:1 (NRSV)

For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Psalm 139:13 (NRSV)

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

You are beautiful, My lovely bride!

7Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself. 8She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.” For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people.
Revelation 19:7-8 (NLT)

You are My delight!

No, the LORD’s delight is in those who fear him, those who put their hope in his unfailing love.
Psalm 147:11 (NLT)

You are the apple of My eye!

9the LORD’s own portion was his people, Jacob his allotted share. 10He sustained him in a desert land, in a howling wilderness waste; he shielded him, cared for him, guarded him as the apple of his eye.
Deuteronomy 32:9-10 (NRSV)

You are My beloved child!

15For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
Romans 8:15-16 (NRSV)

You are My friend!

13No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.
John 15:13-15 (NRSV)

I chose you! I chose you!

You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.
John 15:16 (NRSV)

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19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:19-21 (NIV)

Earthly trousseaus include things like linens and dishes and home accessories – treasures a young woman wants to take into her marriage. Yes, it’s an old fashioned idea and I don’t know anyone who does it anymore – at least not anyone in America – but it symbolizes the young bride’s hope for a beautiful life with her future prince.

Christ tells us not to worry about storing up earthly treasures, but to build up our trousseaus for our marriage to the King of Kings. What treasures would honor our future husband? What treasures should we be storing up in heaven? I read this passage a few months ago and these questions tickled in the back of my mind.

Before I share my thoughts on the question, let me approach it differently. There is a startling verse in Matthew 18:

And [Jesus] said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 
Matthew 18:3 (NIV)

We are to become like children to enter the kingdom of heaven. This is so counter-culture to us and we often skip over this verse. Becoming childlike will be the topic of some future blog. For today, I just want us to understand that God values childlikeness. When we receive Christ, we become His children:

12Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—13children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
1 John 1:12-13 (NIV)

Let me ask you, then, what treasures do parents store? They store the precious attempts by their children to do things that are beyond their ability. The indistinguishable picture gets hung on the refrigerator. The nearly dead flowers that have been clutched too tightly in chubby little hands are placed in a vase in the middle of the table. God is no different from earthly parents. Well, yes, actually, He is quite different. But you get my point – He treasures our attempts to be like Him, even when those attempts fall short. Here are some of the things that build fill up our trousseau in heaven:

  • Every act of mercy
  • Every self-sacrificial act
  • Every act of humility – giving credit to others when you could have put the spotlight on yourself, showing deference to others
  • Every stand against satan, even those in which we get beat up a bit
  • Every act of forgiveness
  • Every act of kindness
  • Every step taken by faith, especially when there was no sight

I have come to believe that these things are greater treasures in God’s eyes than the writing of a tremendous book, leading a great organization or preaching the perfect sermon – all of which receive great acclaim within the Christian community. I’m not saying writing these things aren’t treasured by God – they are, and they will carry forward into eternity. I am saying that God honors what is done in secret and what is done at great personal expense without expecting glory in return.

Lord, help us to embrace the secret, sacrificial acts that bring glory only to You.

There is one other thing that I know builds up our heavenly trousseau. Read these verses from the book of Revelation:

8And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

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3Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne. 4The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel’s hand.
Rev 5:8, 8:3-4 (NIV)

Our prayers are so valued by God that they are stored up as incense in golden bowls in heaven. Our prayers for others, for revival, for the lost are sacrificial acts of mercy and humility. They take stands against satan and represent faith that overcomes lack of sight.

This week…pray for opportunities to build up your heavenly trousseau – and then walk through those open doors.

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