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Thursday, June 12, 2014

This is indeed a "set up"

Have you ever been "set up"?  It could have been a "set up" for some kind of prank where someone proudly announced "gotcha" at some point.  Maybe it was a blind date and you endured the torture of having to get ready without really knowing the other person you were going to be meeting that night, but in respect to your friend who "set you up", you go despite everything within you that is saying "don't go".  Perhaps if was your relative helping you get your first start out in the "real world" by packing up some care packages complete with a new set of pots and pans, some towels, a little bit of basic stuff you need to start a new life on your own.  Whatever the "set up", you had some apprehension, did you not?  Anytime we feel "set up", we will always feel some type of nervousness, anxiety over the potential outcome, coupled with a sense of excitement because you are going into the "unknown". God doesn't want us to feel like we are being "set up" for any type of failure in this walk with him - so he makes sure to let us know we are NOT set up for failure - but for success!

God didn’t set us up for an angry rejection but for salvation by our Master, Jesus Christ. He died for us, a death that triggered life. Whether we’re awake with the living or asleep with the dead, we’re alive with him! So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it. (I Thessalonians 5:9-11 MSG)


We approach things differently when we don't have a grave sense of apprehension, don't we?  There is less anxiety and more excitement.  God wants us to approach this relationship with him without anxiety - because all which could "go wrong" was already taken care of by Jesus!  Nothing remains which could interfere with our ability to draw close to our heavenly Father. ALL was dealt with at the cross!  We may fear rejection because of our past wrongs, but in reality, we are embraced in spite of those past wrongs!  This is contrary to our way of thinking, so God continually has to remind us that his way of doing things differs from what we might expect from an "earthly" father.  When I disappointed my dad, I know I was fearful to be with him - not so much because he would reject me, because he NEVER did, but because I felt the shame of my transgression.  In God's presence, there is no shame! We need to learn this simple truth - this truth which we tend to make so complex in our minds.

His death triggered life in us.  His sacrificial offering on our behalf settled once and for all this question of "standing" before our heavenly Father.  His life given on our behalf made a way for us to no longer "fear" God, but to settle right up into his lap as our DAD!  Just like my earthly father always restored me into loving relationship with him whenever I did something to disappoint him, I can count on my heavenly Father to do this even better! Some may not have known this type of relationship with their earthly fathers, but hear me - God isn't like your earthly dad!  No matter how good or bad your earthly father may have been - God is infinitely better!  He is infinitely patient, loving, forgiving, embracing, and restoring in his character.  Nothing catches him by surprise.  No need on our behalf is too small or insignificant for him to pay attention to when we call out.  Neither our limited view of his ability nor the limited understanding of his goodness keeps him from acting on our behalf.

IN CHRIST:  Life is exchanged for death.  Freedom is exchanged for bondage. Peace is exchanged for anxiety.  Forgiveness is exchanged for wrongdoing. Hope is exchanged for despair.  If you don't see the pattern here, let me spell it out - this is a finished work in Christ Jesus.  When we step into this relationship with Jesus, nothing and no one can separate us from the goodness of our heavenly Father.  Not our misgivings or mis-doings.  There is no cause for apprehension or anxiety.  In stepping IN, we step OUT of what we once knew and how we once operated.  

One of my favorite songs contains these lyrics by the group Rend Collective:  

Countless second chances
We've been given at the cross
Countless second chances
We've been given at the cross

Fragments of brokenness
Salvaged by the art of grace
You craft life from our mistakes

If you don't hear the words of grace interwoven in this chorus and verse, read them again and again until you do.  God is not going to set us up to fail - in fact he sets us up to get second chances - at the Cross.  Countless second chances - this is the action of grace.  Grace is not some theory - it is a person - Christ Jesus!  Countless second chances - in Christ - no apprehension, no doubt, just grace!  Just sayin!