He Remembered

Several decades ago, I was told the man had a small sawmill operation behind his house, so I stopped by. “Can you mill some shipwreck wood into boards for me?” I inquired. “I can’t cut that,” he grumbled, “It’d be full of nails. It would tear up my blades.” I nodded in understanding, but as I turned to leave, he asked, “What is your name?” I told him. He paused. “Did your mother run a hospital, years ago, down on Duncan Avenue?” he wondered, now in a reflective tone. “That would have been my grandmother, my father’s mother,” I replied. We stood together in the moment, but the far-off look in his eyes told me memories had returned him, his heart in tow, to an earlier place and time. “I was in that hospital for weeks, and she took care of me,” he recalled softly with a deep gratitude not weathered by time, “Why don’t you bring your wood here tomorrow?”

To the nation of Israel, Moses scribed, “It was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out [from all peoples] with a mighty hand and redeemed you …”1 In faithfulness to generations past, God declared these to be “his people, his treasured possession.”2 How true to His promises, then, He would be, for as the apostle Paul would one day write of Israel, “Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.”3 All of this because God loved, God promised, and God remembered.

Yet God’s blessings beget further blessings, and so He ultimately claimed for Himself all who will believe in Jesus, this “God over all.” Then how does God view us? “You are a chosen people,” wrote Peter to the early church, “a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”4

I will never forget the kindness of the man who, gratefully recalling a grandmother I had never known, was willing to sacrifice for her grandson whom he had never met. His mercy was a surface reflection of our God whose faithfulness springs from depths we cannot fathom. He will never forget us, His people, for He has made us His own, just as He promised.

Father, your promises are completely trustworthy, for you make them in love and keep them in power. Thank you for making us your own. Use us today, in big ways or small, to reflect your goodness and glory. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Christ in me is redemption.

1 Deuteronomy 7:7, 8
2 Deuteronomy 7:6
3 Romans 9:4, 5
4 1 Peter 2:9, 10

Our Hope of Glory

My father was a good dad. As a young boy, I loved him, admired him, and trusted him. At age seven, I also lost him—he died of a heart attack one summer Sunday morning. Though there were plenty of happy moments in the growing-up years that followed, they emerged against a backdrop of emptiness and loss. My father was gone, and a great deal of my childlike trust in God might as well have been buried with him.

Years later when I was a young man, I had a dream. In my dream, my father was with me again, and I was bringing him up to date on what had happened in my life—that I had gone to college, graduated, and launched my career. His attention was undivided as he listened with interest, pride, and affirmation. So when I went on to tell him also about my brother’s and sister’s lives, he said in warmth and kindness, “I know. You don’t have to tell me.” A bit confused, I paused and said, “I just wanted you to know what else has happened in our family since you died.” Then with an assuring grin and his peaceful blue eyes, he replied simply, “I never died.” I immediately awoke with tears as warm as my father’s love and a heart daring to hope again in our God and His promise of eternal life.

There’s a whole lot we won’t know about the next life until we get there. No eye has seen it, no ear has heard it, and no mind has conceived it.1 But we do know this—life will be as we know down deep it is supposed to be. There will be no more mourning, for there will be no more death. There will be no more crying, for there will be no more pain. There will be no more heartache, for God will wipe every tear from our eyes. 2

We will finally realize just how much God loves us and how highly He treasures us. We will discover the magnificence in which He created us and to which He has already begun to restore us. For though we fall far short of his splendor, He is already at work, transforming us “into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 3 Yes, we will again know the glory our loving God intended for us from the beginning, and in this hope we rejoice. For our hope is not the human notion of mere possibility or even optimism; our hope is the certainty of Christ. He who has fulfilled the promises of ages past lives today as our hope for an eternity of glorious tomorrows. He is our hope. He is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” 4

When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)

1 1 Corinthians 2:9
2 Revelation 21:4
3 2 Corinthians 3:18
4Colossians 1:27

[Read today’s Scripture in John 11:38-44.]

Today’s post is an excerpt from Christ in Me. Copyright  2016 Paul Nordman. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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You Started It!

“You started it!” It’s a universal, intergenerational childhood defense. If “did not,” “did too” isn’t going to work—because clearly you did—then “You started it” becomes the go-to oral argument before the parental court of common pleas. Who, after all, can improve upon such persuasion and eloquence?

For all who are in Christ, “You started it” still resounds, not in the sense of accusation or blame any more, but now in proclamation and praise. For it is God who takes the initiative to open our eyes to His reality and stir in our hearts to receive Him. For example, when Peter confessed to Jesus, “You are the Christ [Messiah], the Son of the living God,” Jesus responded, “Blessed are you … for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.”1 Who started it? God, the Father, started it. Upon seeing the pierced hands, feet and side of the risen Lord, Thomas—the doubting disciple—proclaimed, “My Lord and my God!”2 Who started it? God, the Son, started it. And now Paul writes, “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.”3 Who starts it? God, the Holy Spirit, starts it.

Isn’t it amazing that, what God did for Peter, Thomas and Paul, He did also for you and for me? Isn’t it mind-boggling that despite our individual differences, journeys, and unique life experiences, He brought us to the same place: salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus, His Son? And who started it? God started it. This is our story and that of countless others throughout history.

Then can we hope also for those who don’t yet know Jesus, those we love and for whom our heart aches? Yes, we can, for one thing is clear: God the initiator is not done yet; He’s still “starting it” in people—those we love and whom He loves even more. So, keep trusting. Keep praying. And watch.

God, you started it, and I’m eternally grateful. Hear me as I pray for those who do not know you; start stirring in them that they too would proclaim Christ as God and receive life in His name. It is in His name and by the power of the Spirit, I pray. Amen.

Christ in me is salvation.

Read today’s Scripture in 1 Corinthians 12:1-3.

1 Matthew 16:16, 17
2 John 20:28
3 1 Corinthians 12:3