In It, Not Of It

Being a Christian who lives in the world but isn’t conformed to it isn’t the easiest job I’ve ever had.  I’m sad to say that I have conformed to the world and what it says is right.  Thankfully, I turned to God again and let Him and His Word renew my mind.

Satan is crafty, isn’t he?  He knows how to make sin look good.  Fun.  Exciting.  He knows how to twist things aroundHe knows our weaknesses.  He has been allowed some power in the world.  Don’t believe me?  Look around.  Read the newspaper.  Watch the evening news.  Walk through the mall.

But the world can’t have me anymore.  I have made Jesus the Lord of my life.  I have given control to Him.  I see the world through Christ-centered lenses now.

I know that I am not home here, and I won’t be conformed to it or by it anymore.  Not with Jesus in my heart and His Word in my hand.

{ This post was written as part of Five Minute Friday’s Weekly Blog Link Up }

The Cliche Question

Why do bad things happen to good people?

A friend who desperately wanted to have a second child finally got pregnant after about three years.  When she and her husband went to the 18 week ultrasound, eager to learn the sex of the baby, there was no heartbeat.  She had to go to the hospital later that week to deliver a little boy who they’d never take home.  They named him Benjamin, held him a few minutes, and that was that.

I didn’t know how to talk to her about it.  We took them dinner a week or so later, and they asked us to stay and eat with them.  It was awkward, to say the least.

What do you say to someone who’s just had to give up their heart’s desire?

She told me, “I’ve been praying for God to use me.  I can’t get mad at Him when He does what I’ve been praying for him to do.”

That’s when I realized why this was happening to her.  It happened so she and her family could bring glory to God through their response.

We search and search for answers when bad things happen.  Why did this happen?  Why me?  Why us?  Did I do something wrong?  Is God mad at me?

But the answer is simple: all things – even the tough, the crappy, the hard, the ugly, the terrible – are an opportunity for us to glorify God.

{ This post was written a part of Five Minute Friday’s Weekly Blog Link Up – https://fiveminutefriday.com/linkup/ }

 

You Are Kept For Christ

Follower of Christ, did you know that you are “kept for Christ”?

In the greeting of his letter to early Christians, Jude, one of Jesus’ brothers, wrote:

“Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ” Jude 1:1

The original word used for “kept” in this verse is “téréo”, and it means to attend to carefully, take care of, to guard, to keep, to observe, to reserve.

God’s Promise

We are kept for Him, guarded for Him, reserved for Him.  Even better, He’s the one doing the keeping, guarding, and reserving. This means we are carefully attended to and taken care of by God. 

Notice that the word “kept” is in the past tense; the keeping and guarding was completed in the past.  God has already set us apart to carefully attend to us for Himself.  This is a task that is accomplished when we accept salvation.

In the closing of the letter, Jude writes, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy…” The original word used for “to keep” here is “phylassó” – another verb similar in meaning to “téréo.”  (This verb has a stronger emphasis on keeping someone or something safe).  Not only are we kept by God, for God – something completed in the past – but God is able to keep us – something He will continue to do.  He kept us in the past and will continue to keep us into the future.

Our Responsibility

Within Jude’s letter, he implores readers to “keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.” (Jude 1:21)

This implies that Christians have a responsibility in the keeping and guarding as well.  So, although we are kept by God, we are also to keep ourselves in God’s love.

kept by God – God already did it when we accepted Jesus as our Savior

God is able to keep – God will continue to do it into the future

keep yourselves – Christians continue to do it

Ultimately, scripture teaches that true believers do not lose their salvation, but that doesn’t mean we have a free ride.  We must keep our eyes on God so that we don’t fall away into sin rendering ourselves useless to God.

This brings up an important question: How do we keep ourselves for Christ?

We find clues for that by doing a Biblical word study and looking for the words “kept” or “keep” in other parts of scripture.  Here are a few examples:

In Exodus 20:6, God, speaking to Moses, uses the word to explain that He will show lovingkindness to those who love Him and keep His commands.

In Leviticus 23:32, God talks to Moses about the Sabbath, describing how the people should behave on that day.

In John 14:23, Jesus tells the 12 disciples that anyone who loves him will keep his commands.

In these passages, God urges us to live as He said, to behave a certain way, to observe His words and do what He said to do.  This is how we keep ourselves for Christ.

Still, how do we know how He said to live or behave?  We have to study the Word and pray. We have to strengthen ourselves by reading our Bibles so we will know what God commanded. Then, we have to talk with Him daily to establish an intimate relationship with Him so we can know His heart.

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Say this prayer with me:

Father, I am grateful that I am kept for you and kept by you.  Thank you, Lord, that this part is finished. Done. In the past. Thank you for your lovingkindness.  But, Lord, your word also tells me that you are “able to keep,” which means that your care and attention continues.  I am grateful that, not only have you kept me for yourself in the past, but you are able to keep me today and forevermore.  You’re able to keep me from falling into sin.  I am kept, so my salvation is secure, forever.  More than ever, I want to study your Word, pray to you, and wait for you.  I want to live like I know you’re coming back.  I will keep myself in your love.

Amen