A LITTLE GREEK NEVER HURT ANYONE

Posted by Tori on Dec 19, 2012 in a good word., theology

The main reason why I’m here online is to encourage you to grow in your faith through deeper study of His Word. easoms.com was born out of my love for writing and my love for God’s Word. My educational background is entirely devoted to these two loves. I have a deep desire for women to live passionately for their Savior and grow closer to Him through the study of His Word. If that’s not what I’m doing with the words and influence He’s given me, then I believe I’m wasting my time and my gifts.

Another passion of mine is that we would reengage our minds as a part of Bible study, just as highly as we engage our hearts.

The Lord always blesses the study of His Word. Always. So, with this in mind, I humbly ask you to indulge me while I go, quite possibly, where no other blogger has gone before.

I plan to introduce a new study series in 2013, focused on the book of Hebrews. You’ll be hearing more about that after the first of the year. And, I promise it will not be anywhere nearly as “academic” as this post. But, today I am sharing a word study on propitiation: perhaps one of the best, most exciting words you’ll find in Scripture. So, grab a cup of coffee and dig in with me. It will be well worth our time. Promise.

No matter if you’re new to Bible study, or have been studying Scripture for the majority of your lifetime, you may or may not have ever read or conducted a word study. Word studies are not just for making your head hurt, or making you feel smarter. They really are beneficial to a deeper understanding of the meaning and application associated with a particular passage. I think you’ll find this to be true when we’re finished. And, relax. I’ve done all the work for you. All you have to do is reap the rewards!

HILASTERION

The word we are looking at today is propitiation from Romans 3:25 (NASB). To give you a bit of context, here are the surrounding verses (Romans 3:21-26).

(21)But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, (22)even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; (23)for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (24)being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; (25)whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; (26)for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

This particular Greek word (hilasterion) is used only twice in Scripture – here in Romans 3:25 and, once again, in Hebrews 9:5 referencing the mercy seat (the place where the high priest would sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice on the Day of Atonement).

The word “propitiation” is probably never used in our society apart from a Christian context.  It is difficult to think of this word being used within the context of casual conversation, especially among unbelievers.  “Propitiation” seems to have lost any usage in our culture apart from a Biblical or theological context. It refers to the appeasement of divine wrath, and a correct understanding/interpretation of this has enormous implications for our theology.

Hilasterion comes from a larger word family found all throughout the New Testament. In studying other words in the same family, it is striking to understand that words that originally denoted our human action in relation to God are now used instead for God’s divine action in relation to us and on our behalf.

The Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament, also referred to as LXX) uses hilasterion approximately 20 times for the Hebrew word kapporet, which refers to the covering for the Ark of the Covenant. Every year on the Day of Atonement, the high priest would sprinkle the blood of the sin offering on and before the kapporet (hilasterion). Closely related to kapporet is the Hebrew verb kaphar, which is associated with kopher (referring to the mercy seat, and used in connection with the burnt offering).

Who cares? Well…you might…hang on…

Romans 3:25 says, “…whom [referring to Jesus Christ] God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith.  This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed…”

Through faith” is to be understood in connection with hilasterion.  Christ is the object of faith; he is our hilasterion.  “In his blood” refers to hilasterion, not to faith.  The revelation of the righteousness demonstrated in Jesus as hilasterion is linked with the passing over of former sins, in which the kapporet plays a significant role.  Romans 3:25 seems to be making the point that Jesus is a higher kapporet.  If this view is taken, then Paul is using the kapporet as a symbol for Christ’s atoning work.  However, if he has the actual kapporet in mind, it is reoriened to Jesus as the one in whom true and full atonement has been made.  Relating hilasterion to the Day of Atonement in Leviticus 16 suggests that Christ is the new covenant equivalent, or fulfillment of the Old Testament kapporet.

It is important, though, as we study hilasterion to remain mindful of the larger context preceding Romans 3:25 (Romans 1:18-3:20), which begins with a discussion of God’s wrath revealed against godlessness.  In 3:25, Paul explains that Christ has become our propitiatory sacrifice to satisfy the wrath of God. Christ, as the hilasterion, reveals God’s character to us, and represents us to God through His vicarious work on the cross, whereby He bore the divine judgement and secured redemption for those who would believe.

3 TAKE-AWAYS

So…3 important lessons:

  1. It is important to understand that propitiation is the “means by which justice is satisfied, God’s wrath is averted, and mercy can be shown on the basis of an acceptable sacrifice” (Believer’s Bible Commentary). Those who have their faith in Christ find mercy through His shed blood. The blood is not the object of faith; Christ is the object of faith! He Himself is the propitiation.
  2. Hilasterion refers to the aversion of God’s wrath. This is seen when the passage is taken in context (Romans 1:18).  In his commentary on the book of Romans, John Stott compares the pagan and the Christian response to the need, author, and nature of propitiation (The Message of Romans). The need for propitiation according to the pagan is the placation of ill-tempered gods, whereas the Christian need is the satisfaction of God’s holy wrath toward evil.  The author of propitiation for the pagan is the human; the Christian author of propitiation is God Himself through Christ.  The nature of propitiation according to the pagan is the bribing of the gods through various sacrifices, whereas the nature of propitiation for the Christian is the atoning death of Christ on the cross.  It is necessary that we keep in mind that God is not placated or propitiated like the pagan deities claim to be.
  3. Through this study, we see the reconciliation that occurs through Christ as our hilasterion. We are dependent on Christ to be our reconciliation.  God set Him forth for this purpose.  He initiates the action of reconciliation, not as the offending party, but as the offended party.

A WORD ON TRANSLATIONS

Now that you have a deeper understanding of the Greek word hilasterion, look at these popular translations of Romans 3:25, with the translation of hilasterion bolded:

“whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;” (NASB)

“God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—” (NIV)

“Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;” (KJV)

“For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past,” (NLT)

“God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear. God decided on this course of action in full view of the public—to set the world in the clear with himself through the sacrifice of Jesus, finally taking care of the sins he had so patiently endured. This is not only clear, but it’s now—this is current history! God sets things right. He also makes it possible for us to live in his rightness.” (The Message).

In these translations, “propitiation” is only used twice to translate hilasterion.  The most common translation is “sacrifice of atonement,” or “sacrifice for sin.”  Such translations seem to cheat the reader of the element of satisfaction of God’s wrath toward sin.  In order to grasp this meaning of hilasterion, one would have to study significantly beyond the English translation.

APPLICATION: WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR ME?

So…props to you if you’re still reading. I think I love you.

Leon Morris writes, “It is the combination of the deep love for the sinner and the reaction against sin which brings about the situation in which the Bible refers to propitiation” (The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross).  God is not to be placated like the pagan deities.  He is holy, and His wrath towards sin is just as righteous as His goodness.  I pray that studying this word has deepened your love for Christ and His atoning work on the cross.  Although we sinned and initially severed fellowship with God, He acted on our behalf to reconcile the broken relationship through Christ as our hilasterion.  The propitiation originates with God, not to appease Himself, but to justify Himself in His uniform kindness to men deserving His wrath. John Stott beautifully summarizes the idea behind propitiation, “God himself gave himself to save us from himself.”

Propitiation communicates the atonement associated with the work of Christ on the cross, as well as the appeasement or satisfaction of the wrath of God toward sin.  Christ, in His sacrifice, became the object of God’s wrath to restore the broken fellowship that sin severed.  A proper understanding of hilasterion is essential to an accurate understanding of Paul’s argument in Romans 3.  Hilasterion communicates what Christ has done on behalf of the sinner, as well as exalts the holy, righteous character of God.  He is just in all He does, and has shown His mercy to sinners through providing Christ as our hilasterion.

Am I the only one who enjoyed the connection between Christ as the hilasterion and the mercy seat?  God has always provided a means of atonement for His people, under both the old covenant and the new.  He initiates the action of reconciliation, not as the offending party, but as the offended party.  God has made a way for us to be free from the bondage of our sin, yet He did so, not by laying aside the aspect of His character that must deal with sin, but by satisfying the demands of His character and justice in Christ. His mercy is consistent with His righteousness, as is His justice.  He is worthy of the highest praise!

This makes my adoration of the newborn King at Christmas that much sweeter. Knowing full well this is why He came. So, maybe you’ll remember this little word on Christmas morn and all that it means for you. Praise Him, our Emmanuel, our perfect Hilasterion.

(Please note: I am happy to provide this work as a resource to you in your personal Bible study, but should you choose to reference it in any other setting, I ask that you give reference to this post.)

 

-
 

WEIGH YOUR WORDS

Posted by Tori on Dec 18, 2012 in a good word., thankful heart.

I have gone back and forth about whether or not I should post about the recent tragedy in Newtown, CT. Bloggers have handled this event in very different ways – some choosing to remain prayerful & silent, others sharing their own process of grief, others choosing to engage in a discussion on the problem of evil & God’s sovereignty, while still others have used their space to criticize and correct the words of their fellow writers. To be honest, I didn’t want to do any of that. There is a time and a place for academic dialogue on the problem of evil. It is a discussion with great value. But, the grief-stricken families of Newtown don’t really need a philosopher right now. (A theologian, perhaps…but I don’t think I’m her.) I have found that in the wake of extreme tragedy any words of comfort we utter out of a hurried response will likely come with later regret. There are so many words that could be said, but I believe, for now, they are better left unspoken.

So, I write today because I don’t want to pass over the events of last Friday without acknowledgement. My words are feeble and inadequate. My heart is broken and I am praying fervently for those precious families. We are reminded so harshly of the reality of our current existence. There is present evil. But, there is also an ever-present Savior. And we need Him. We celebrate His Incarnation at Christmas. He has come, has suffered, defeated sin and death, and He lives! But, we eagerly await the day He returns. That day is coming. And He will set all things right. For now, we are to be His hands and feet. Loving Him with all our heart, soul, mind, & strength, and loving our neighbor as ourselves. Come, Lord Jesus.

-
 

PERFECT DOESN’T MEAN PRETTY

Posted by Tori on Dec 13, 2012 in a good word., theology, video.

It’s funny how music influences you so deeply. And it’s funny how you sometimes feel more alive in a certain place, or doing a certain thing. But that’s just the beauty, mastery, and intricacy of our incomprehensible Creator. Listening to this song tonight, with everyone else in the house asleep in their beds, stirred up so much of this in me.

I’ve been thinking a lot this Advent season about Mary. Her words in Luke 1:46-55 play over and over in my head. This is what she said while she was staying with Elizabeth before she had given birth to Jesus. I’ve been thinking about what those months of anticipation and preparation must have been like for her. Scripture tells us that she stayed with Elizabeth for an entire trimester before returning home (3 months, Luke 1:56).

Finally, she is reaching the end of her pregnancy as she and Joseph travel to Bethlehem for the census. I have been thinking about what it may have really looked like for Mary and her betrothed that night. Not like the picture that is often painted for us this time of year.

Somehow, over the course of time, we have sanitized the picture of His birth. The traditional hymns of the season sing of a baby who doesn’t cry, and marry peace with silence. Is the reality of that night any less holy in the humanity of the moment? Do we have to make the scene seem calm and perfect because of the sacredness of the Incarnation? Absolutely not! In fact, that is the beauty of the whole thing! The Maker of heaven and earth becomes a baby to redeem His creation back to Himself. The perfect, holy God has entered our messy, untidy world — just as it is. The humanness of the moment here is sacred. Not something to be edited out of the story.

We are made in His image. The anticipation of pregnancy, the waiting, the wondering, the pain of labor, the sacrifice that comes with love, the expectation and joy of the moment while giving birth mingled with the exhaustion and the feelings of “this is too much for me!” All of this and more, I think most mothers can relate to. We’ve experienced it. And there aren’t words to describe it. But, God is very much alive and on display in those moments. He made them. And they can bring him honor in ways that other moments are inadequate to do. Isn’t it beautiful how sometimes the messiest moments can also be the most sacred? The ones where He meets us and speaks straight to our hearts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can imagine how exhausting and difficult the journey was for her. Mamas, think about traveling on the back of an animal 40 weeks pregnant! That alone was probably enough to induce her labor. The place was crowded with people. There was nowhere for them to stay. Finally they find shelter in a barn. Her labor growing ever more intense. Far from a glamorous scenario, it was absolutely comfortless. Dirty, smelly, harsh, cold, and the constant temptation to be very scared. She was with the man she would marry, yet they had not been intimate. And they were about to become VERY intimate! Sweating, screaming…finally, the Savior of the world has arrived. First cries, wrapped snug, and laid in a feeding trough – as clean as they could get it. There was nowhere else for Him to go. They made their home in the barn. Mary recovering; a new family formed. Perhaps surprised by the visiting shepherds who came as fast as they could, explaining what had been revealed to them in their fields.

And the Scripture says that Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.

Oh, how full her heart must have been. A million emotions, a million questions, yet no record of a complaint. Instead, we get the impression of a thankful heart, knowing that she is in the middle of something way bigger than she could fathom.

I could learn a few things from her.

The glory of those hours is overwhelming. Oh, how perfectly he came, even though the night wasn’t pretty. It gives such incredible perspective to me. In the celebration of Christmas it is easy to become more engrossed in the celebrating than the celebrated. Oh, may it never be! Comfort, security, beautiful homes, and time with family are such wonderful gifts. But, He is what is needed. He is our salvation.

This makes me think of my own heart right now. I have a million emotions, and a million questions. But I am asking His Spirit to find me faithful. He has called me out and marked me with the message of His glory and I will proclaim it loud and clear wherever He leads. Maybe not where I would expect. Maybe not somewhere pretty, or clean, or nice smelling. But one where He has come.

He has come!

Praise you, O Lord! You have come and you have made your dwelling among us.

And you are coming.

Come, Lord, Jesus! Come and do not tarry. Find us faithful. Our lives are yours. I don’t need the answers to my million questions. I know you are here and that what you are doing is way bigger than what I can see. Your plan is perfect. My soul finds rest in you. My heart is full. These lessons pondered and treasured in my heart.

This is a revised version of a post published on December 7, 2011.

2
 

REASONS TO SING

Posted by Tori on Dec 5, 2012 in a good word., coffee, thankful heart.

Man. Over the past couple of days I have had (what seems like) a million deep ponderings swirling around in my mind and heart. It’s hard to pin them all down. And maybe I don’t need to. At the end of the day, though, one thought remains vibrant and clear: I am so grateful.

For life,
for new beginnings,
for thunderstorms,
for sunrise,
for the crisp winter breeze,
for people,
for silence,
for laughter,
for sips of coffee,
for each breath.

For Him — all by Himself — He never leaves; never changes; always loves… always is exceedingly, abundantly more.

And His Word.

Psalm 103:1-5
1 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
3 Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
4 Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
5 Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

 

Job 26:7-14
7 “He stretches out the north over empty space
And hangs the earth on nothing.
8 “He wraps up the waters in His clouds,
And the cloud does not burst under them.
9 “He obscures the face of the full moon
And spreads His cloud over it.
10 “He has inscribed a circle on the surface of the waters
At the boundary of light and darkness.
11 “The pillars of heaven tremble
And are amazed at His rebuke.
12 “He quieted the sea with His power,
And by His understanding He shattered Rahab.
13 “By His breath the heavens are cleared;
His hand has pierced the fleeing serpent.
14 “Behold, these are the fringes of His ways;
And how faint a word we hear of Him!
But His mighty thunder, who can understand?”

 

Luke 1:46–55
46 “My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

I am overwhelmed that this great God would condescend to save one such as me.

I love that His Word speaks for itself, tearing down every man-made wall, penetrating the heart and soul, transcending all generations and all cultures, standing forever.

Ask Him to speak fresh today. Loud and clear.  For when He does, you won’t be the same. And neither will your world.

-
 

SUNDAY SNUGGLES

Posted by Tori on Dec 3, 2012 in a good word., family., thankful heart.

I am so thankful for these days. This time when my children are small. I know all to well how fleeting these moments are. I want to drink them in. I don’t want to miss one single thing the Lord has for us in this season. Our Sunday, the first day of Advent for us, did not look as I anticipated. (I love when He does that. His plans are so much better anyway.) We woke up to a sick little Chelsea this morning. She was just still and snuggly. We spent the morning snuggled down in the living room together. I am so thankful that we can participate with our church live online for mornings like this one too.

As the day went on, Chelsea slowly regained her strength and began to act more like her normal, smiley self. While the girls napped, we put up and began to decorate our Christmas tree. Ayden had the absolute best time. He really is soaking in all of these Christmas preparations. It is magical to watch his joy, wonder, and anticipation. I pray that what sticks in his mind and heart is the excitement, joy, and wonder of Christ coming as a baby to redeem God’s people back to Himself — way more than the lights, the tree, the presents.

After baths, we piled up pillows on the floor next to the Christmas tree and began our Jesus Storybook Bible Advent readings. Sweet times for my soul. After everyone was tucked into their beds, I had a quiet moment to myself to ponder all these things. I am grateful that He is making me ever aware of my incredible need for a Savior. Oh, how I need Him.

“Is not my word like fire, says the Lord!” (Jeremiah 23:29)

Gather ‘round that fire this Advent season. It is warm. It is sparkling with colors of grace. It is healing for a thousand hurts. It is light for dark nights. (from Good News of Great Joy, John Piper)

-
 

PREPARE THE WAY

Posted by Tori on Nov 29, 2012 in a good word., family., video.

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14, NASB)

We, as believers, are about to embark on a season of Advent preparing to celebrate the birth of our Savior. Our English word “Advent” comes from the Latin adventus, meaning “coming” or “arrival.” Advent is not a biblical mandate, but rather, a tradition of the Church’s history as an intentional preparation for the celebration of Christmas. Families, individuals, and churches all observe Advent in different ways. Traditionally, Advent is observed beginning the fourth Sunday before Christmas through Christmas Eve. This year the dates are December 2-24. I thought that I would share how we are approaching Advent this season as a family with very young children (2 year old & twin 21 month old girls). I hope these ideas and resources will help you as you plan your own Advent, keeping Jesus at the absolute center of it all.

An incredible resource I plan to use as a sort of devotional with my husband is John Piper’s FREE eBook, Good News of Great Joy. It has devotional and Scripture readings for each day beginning on December 2.

Also, I am excited to celebrate Advent with the She Reads Truth community this season. Beginning December 2, you can follow along on the She Reads Truth website or with your YouVersion Bible app on you smart device. The plan will follow the progress of redemption throughout both Testaments.

For the kids, we have created a homemade Advent calendar with special activities scheduled for each day. Here are some of the activities we have planned. We may not get to all of them, and we may make impromptu changes along the way. I did not plan something for us to do every day of Advent. For the beginning of the month, we will shoot for every other day, but towards the last half of the month we will try to do one each day. Overall, we wanted to think of things that would be fun, easy, and special for our kids (remember that they are all under 3!), also keeping in mind our travelling schedule since we will be with family the last few days.

  • Pray for the Christmas season to be all about Jesus.
  • Get a special treat.
  • Color a Christmas picture to share.
  • Drive around and look at Christmas lights.
  • Sing Christmas carols (more like teach a few Christmas carols) in the living room.
  • Watch a classic Christmas movie while eating popcorn. (This will likely be A Charlie Brown Christmas – my fav!)
  • Special dinner date with the family. (We actually planned this one around extended family coming to town.)
  • Decorate Christmas cookies.
  • Bring Christmas cookies to the neighbors.
  • Make hot chocolate and stir with candy canes.
  • Retell the Christmas story with the nativity set.
  • Listen to a new Christmas album. (Planned for our travel day.)
  • Breakfast for dinner.
  • Read the Christmas story from the kids’ Bible.
  • Pray, thanking God for the greatest gift ever.
  • Make and decorate a “Happy Birthday” Jesus cake. (This one is a family tradition on my husband’s side of the family, and it’s something my mother-in-law does for the kids every year.)

We are also planning to use these Scriptures (one for each day) everyday with our children as we begin to teach them the wonderful story of redemption through Jesus. (These actually go from December 2-25.) I’m just leaving references, rather than quoting each verse for you so you can choose the translation to use with you family.

Okay, I have saved the best for last. This next one is my FAVORITE for the kids. If we don’t get to do anything else, this will be enough. My children have the Jesus Storybook Bible. (It is INCREDIBLE. Jesus is on every page, right from Creation. If you are a parent, you need this. If not, this is the perfect gift for any of the little ones in your life!!) There is a FREE printable reading plan for Advent using the Jesus Storybook Bible. We read this everyday with them anyway, so for Advent, we will read these selections during our normal Bible time.

I hope that you’ll take advantage of some of these resources as you are preparing your own heart for the celebration of Christmas and leading your family in Advent as well. Remember, that Jesus is the center. It’s fun and important to build family memories during the holidays, but passing along your faith and the story of redemption through Jesus is what leaves the eternal mark.

-
 

THE OLD IS GONE

Posted by Tori on Nov 26, 2012 in a good word., beauty, coffee, family.

I think we ALL knew it was time for a design change around here about four years ago. (Ok,  I’m exaggerating a little…but not much.) If you don’t know or can’t remember what the old site looked like, count yourself blessed. It was just a standard fill-in-the-blanks WordPress theme with a whole lot ‘o mess.

Several months ago, my (IT nerd) husband encouraged me that I could redesign my own site. Now, any of you familiar with what is involved in WordPress theme design knows that this was a laughable dream. But, he bought me a stack of books on HTML, CSS, PHP, and Photoshop and I got to reading. And this is what I came up with. (I say “I,” but you should know that William helped me a lot.) It is not perfect, and I will change it again someday, but it does do a much better job of communicating my personality and complementing my vision and voice for this slice of internet. I hope you enjoy it, and find it easier to read and navigate.

The Lord brought the words of Psalm 40:5 to me as I was beginning to form a vision for this site. This verse has been so true in each season of life I have lived. It says: “Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.” That’s what I want to attempt here – declare the wonders He has done. What’s He done in my life; through His word; in His people. It will not even scratch the surface of what He’s planned for us, nor the depth of His character. But for as long as He gives me words, that’s what I want to do with them. Hence, the tagline you’ll be seeing around here: recounting the wonders.

Please make yourself at home. You are most welcome here. Pour a cup of coffee and stay a while.

5
 

that’s what it’s all about.

Posted by Tori on Nov 19, 2012 in a good word., ayden., family.

We had gone out for an evening errand and a treat – just me and my Ayden. I had one of my favorite Christmas albums playing in the car. (Ok, I’ll tell you…it’s Point of Grace, Christmas Story. Don’t judge. It’s been a favorite since the year I got it.) The song was Santa Claus is Coming to Town. It’s super fun and up-beat, so he asked to listen to it again. Then, he wanted to hear it a third time.

The song had just begun and he says, “I don’t want to listen to Santa. I want to listen to Jesus.”

“Ok,” I said. So, I switched the CD back to the beginning – When Love Came Down.

“This one about Jesus?

“Yes, it’s about how love came down when Jesus was born.”

Then we spent the rest of the ride home answering his questions: Why was Jesus born? Why was I born? We answered those same two questions about four times because he kept asking them.

I tried to keep my answers simple and full of truth, praying for the right words. Those are the moments we live for as moms. It’s why God entrusts these little ones to us in the first place. That’s what being a mom is all about. It’s not about all the little things we tend to put first everyday. Lord, forgive me.

Helen Lee in The Missional Mom writes:

“So our goal as mothers is not to invest in family life as an end unto itself. That would be like my son pouring effort into his solitary part and isolating himself from the rest of the orchestra. Instead, we invest in our children to help them see the big picture, the greater purpose to which God is calling our sons and daughters. We strive to train our children with the purpose of preparing them to accept their own calling to be God’s missionaries in whatever way He intends. That is missional motherhood. It’s about helping your children recognize and play their God-composed songs and to understand how they are participating in the larger symphony He is conducting today.”

So, be intentional and ever-mindful as we approach this season of advent. Maybe you’re a parent or maybe not. We all have influence. We all know people who need Jesus. Let’s keep what really matters first.

-
 

thanksgiving: not just to be celebrated once a year.

Posted by Tori on Nov 17, 2012 in a good word., thankful heart.

In 1912, J.R. Miller wrote this about giving thanks:

“Christian thanksgiving is the life of Christ in the heart, transforming the disposition and the whole character. Thanksgiving must be wrought into the life as a habit—before it can become a fixed and permanent quality.

We must persist in being thankful. Thanksgiving has attained its rightful place in us, only when it is part of all our days and dominates all our experiences.

Every day of our years should be a thanksgiving day.

He who has learned the Thanksgiving lesson well has found the secret of a beautiful life.”

Easier said than done, right? It is all the work of His Spirit in us, not something we have to muster on our own. In the flesh, none of us would choose it.

I just finished up a Bible study series on the book of Job with some incredible women. (You can actually listen to all of the sessions here. You will be blessed, I promise.) I have studied the book of Job in depth before, but the Lord taught me so much more this time around. I love that about His Word. It is alive – always fresh, powerful, and relevant. Job’s account is hard. It teaches deep truth & nuances about the character of our God that we would not understand to the extent we do apart from suffering, and it also teaches us that the mysteries of God are an important aspect of our theology.

Job had more adversity than any of us will probably ever experience in our lifetime. Yet, after receiving all the reports of the devastation of all he owned and the death of his 10 precious children – in the same day – his response was this: “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. He said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.’ Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God” (Job 1:20-22, NASB, emphasis mine).

It was after Job suffered all of that terrible loss that his body was plagued with sores from the top of his head to the soles of his feet. His wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9, NASB) But Job told her, “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” The verse ends, “In all this Job did not sin with his lips” (Job 2:10, NASB).

The Lord promises that whatever suffering, difficulties, or hardships we face, to satisfy our soul with Himself. We have His Word on it. So even in the midst of tragedy, we can have thankful hearts. Perhaps not thankful for the tragedy, but for who our God is in it. Thanksgiving is a bold exercise of our faith when we face storms.

So, whether you are in a season of blessing or a season of struggle this time of year, I encourage you to be bold and thorough in your thanks to Him. Not just on November 22, but each and every day He gifts you with breath. He is so, so worthy. And our time here is so, so short.

-
 

we serve a king & a kingdom.

Posted by Tori on Nov 5, 2012 in a good word., video.

I usually choose to remain silent during election season, and times when political issues are extremely popular. I haven’t always been that way, but I think I have learned the wisdom in keeping my mouth shut if I don’t have anything beneficial to add to the dialogue. Ephesians 4:29 says: “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” (NASB, emphasis my own) So, that is my sole intention here: to edify according to the need of the moment so that it will give grace to those to hear.

I was greatly blessed by a blog post I read here yesterday. The entire article is excellent, definitely worth the read, but this portion is what resonated most with me:

My husband and I had dinner with my parents the other night, and we got to talking about how God enters our messy stories and does big things with small people. The genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1 is quite the cast of characters, full of scandal and rebellion and deception and intrigue as bad or worse than any we’ve seen in modern day America. Then my dad pointed out something about the story of Ruth.

Have you ever noticed where in Israel’s history the story of Ruth and Boaz takes place? It’s in the middle of the book of Judges, when Israel is making a bloody mess and clamoring for a king to fix it all. (Sound familiar? It does to me!) The big picture is dismal, tragic, and chaotic. But in a tiny town named Bethlehem, one righteous man and one foreigner who chooses to follow Jehovah come together, and they are the great great grandparents of King David, who is in Jesus’ lineage. I love this story. This is what God specializes in – working big things out of small people doing the right thing in a small place, out of the limelight and ignored by everyone of consequence. Stories like this give me hope in the face of the ugliness, the increasing bitterness, and the chaos in our country.

How true is that?! The big picture is that, as followers of the Way, His kingdom is what we are living for. Rulers and leaders come and go. Some good, some bad. All ordained and permitted by His good, sovereign hand. All of them. The ones we just don’t like. The cruel, wicked, murderous ones. The godly ones.

So, what is our response?

  • We live before our God & our neighbor with integrity, love, & grace. We follow Christ & He does the work to advance His kingdom. One that cannot be shaken or overcome. One that is eternal and perfect.
  • In case I have to say it: Yes, vote. Yes, take full advantage of the freedoms & blessings we enjoy in this country. But remember what’s really important. Remember that we are not the center of this planet & that America is not called to be His ambassador. I am. And you are.
  • Remember what His Word has to say about governments & authorities. Romans 13.
  • Remember Ephesians 4:29 & Philippians 2:12-18. The godly response is never to complain. That’s not okay.
  • Remember to intercede for your leaders. Even before you know who they are today. I don’t know if any of you follow Beth Moore’s blog, but on Monday, she asked her readers to pray Scripture over our next President before we know who he is. If you’re not sure where to start, she suggests thinking about how you would want people to pray if your husband were elected President on Tuesday.

 

And that’s about all I have to say. I’m trusting Him & PRAISING that He works BIG things out of small people who are committed to follow Him.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

-

Copyright © 2017 easoms.com All rights reserved.