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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Take a good look....

There are times when we don't realize what we have - it is of great worth, but we don't really recognize that worth until someone points it out to us.  I have some old coins which I have come by in the change I get while shopping on occasion. I tuck them away, not because I realize their worth, but because I imagine they must be worth more than the penny or nickle their face value declares.  If I were to do a little research, I might find the penny worth fifty cents or the nickle worth a couple of dollars.  To the one who REALIZES their worth - they are very important.  To the casual "collector" like me, they are trinkets to be stashed away.  Some of us don't know what we have within our reach as it comes to our relationship with Jesus.  Sure, we have accepted him as the Son of God, given for our sinfulness to bear the penalty of the cross and the victory over the grave.  Yet, we don't really know what his birth, death, burial, and resurrection REALLY have to do with us.  To us, the work of salvation is something we have just casually accepted, but we haven't stopped to consider the real value of this work.  When we do stop long enough to consider the value of his work, we might just recognize the value he declares over our own life!

Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.  (Hebrews 4:14-16 MSG)

Some of us are guilty of not recognizing the value of the finished work of Christ in our lives - because we don't see evidence of it in our everyday actions.  Here's the real truth - what has been begun in us WILL be completed.  We meditate on our problems.  God wants us to meditate on him. We look at the insurmountable odds of our sin.  God looks at the undefinable magnitude of the work of Christ in our lives.  We mull over the mess of yesterday.  God sees the potential of today when we allow him into that mess.  We let the graces of God slip through our fingers just because we don't stop long enough to consider their worth, and we sure don't consider how much those graces actually declare what God sees as OUR worth in his eyes!

Ready access to God.  Have you stopped recently to consider what this means to you?  In terms of your immediate need, it means you don't have to hesitate to just lay it out before him.  In terms of your struggles and fears, there is an open door policy which allows you to take those as they arise right into his "workshop" of grace - to get them "tweaked" by his hands so they get straightened out.  In terms of our sinfulness, it means we have been given a covering over our "unworthy" state so we can actually be in the presence of a holy God.  

A priest in touch with our reality.  Wow!  Chew on that one just a bit.  Jesus was not just a good guy coming on the scene to rescue a bunch of down-and-outers.  He came into our world in order to experience the things we experience each and everyday.  In this respect, he connected with our humanity.  He is not a "up in the sky" kind of guy - he knows what it is like to experience hunger, be drawn into arguments, and to be made fun of.  He knows what it is like to have your work unappreciated, your reputation marred by viscous gossip and accusations.  He knows what sleepless nights does to a human body.  He is in touch with our reality - not because he was man made god, but because he was God made man.  

He stands ready to give.  There are not too many relationships we have which are always on the ready to give out of their abundance to meet the very needs of our lives, are there?  Yet, this Christ we serve is ALWAYS ready to give - not because we play on his emotions or deserve his gifts, but because he is in touch with the reality of our lives.  He knows the depths of our sin and stands at the ready to connect his grace at the point of our deepest disgrace.  

Here's where we find we struggle the greatest with the recognition of both OUR value to Christ, and his value IN us.  It is at the point of our sin meeting up with his grace where we struggle the most.  See, our sin keeps us focused internally.  We cannot see the extreme worth or value of our lives because all we can see is our sin.  IN Christ, our value has been declared as beautiful, rare, of the greatest worth.  What Christ has declared valuable is YOU!  Not your misgivings, or your sins.  Not your fears, or your pride.  Not your ability to fix yourself up.  He declares YOU of great value - just as you are.  His presence IN us brings even greater value into our lives - a value we don't have to work to achieve, but one which is given freely.

We think we cannot come before God with boldness because he will see the "real" us if we do.  Truth is - he already declared the "real" us of greater worth than anything else on this earth.  We struggle with the reality of our sin - he sees only the reality of his grace.  Take the mercy - accept the help.  Two very specific commands.  Take the mercy - this is the hardest thing for us sometimes, isn't it?  We don't think we deserve it, or that we must do something to earn it.  Mercy is of no value if it is earned - it is only of value when it is given to those who don't deserve it!  This is why he pairs this command with the one to accept the help.  We have to submit to his help in our lives if we are to ever be changed - seeing ourselves as new creations in Christ.  This change is only possible when we accept his help - not because we can somehow deal with our sinfulness on our own.

We are no longer "in relationship" with sin.  We are no longer "fellowshipping" with sin.  Our sin can no longer interrupt our fellowship with God.  Why?  It is based on this work of grace - it changes our access point.  Grace is an access point into the presence of the one who not only declared our worth, but who also continually makes us worthy!  He stands ready to give.  To be given something, we have to be ready to receive.  To be ready, we only need to be open to the possibility of receiving.  To squirrel away what we receive without giving it another thought is like being a "casual collector" of his grace.  We won't fully appreciate what we have in our possession until we take a good look into what grace accomplished in our lives.  Just sayin!