{re}fresh

Month: February, 2012

Sifting

by Dawn Aldrich

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32 NIV

Cooking vocabulary amuses me. Strange words – braise, scald, blanch, fold, cream, and sift – describing culinary procedures designed for specific results. Some cooking steps cannot be skipped, but based upon my newlywed supply of kitchen gadgets, sifting was optional. Ignoring this step didn’t alter the taste of my cookies.

Years later I inherited a sifter and put it to use that Christmas. The recipe said, “sift all dry ingredients…twice.” Curious to compare the results, I patiently sifted.

Jesus used sifting imagery in Luke 22:31:

Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. 

He abruptly interrupts his disciples’ argument over who’ll be greatest in God’s kingdom with a warning to all (the Greek “you” in v. 31 is plural, as in, “Satan has asked to sift all of you”). Sifting was an optional procedure, but one God allowed for strengthening Peter’s faith for the encouragement of the other disciples.

Why sifting?

In ancient times, sifting removed the chaff (impurities) leaving only pure wheat kernels, ready for milling into baking flour. Today, it’s no longer necessary, but adds quality ̶ removes clumps from storage and adds air for lighter baked goods.

Satan’s motive for sifting the disciples, especially Peter (the Rock), was not for removing impurities or adding quality. Rather, just the opposite – to shake him to the core of his faith hoping he’d reject Jesus. However, Jesus prays his Father turn this sifting into something positive – that Peter’s faith be strengthened, so that when all the impurities were gone, only his pure, faithful heart remained – as an encouragement to the others.

Are you being sifted – maybe twice? Is your faith challenged to it’s core? Are you battle weary, wondering when peace will come? Although unpleasant, be encouraged for there is a purpose. Jesus, your high priest, prays on your behalf that you’ll be found pure, faithful, and strong – an encouragement and comfort to others.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. Hebrews 4:14 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 2 Cor. 1:3-4

Overcoming the Fear of Man

by mandyade

“The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.” Proverbs 29:25

Are you easily intimidated by others? Do you find that you are acutely aware of the eyes of people on you?

When we live our lives fearing man and the opinions of those around us we become trapped within the systems of this world. We are being motivated by the lie that people hold our future, our destiny and our promotion.

With this as our belief system we are constantly juggling and trying to get further in our career, ministry and relationships by impressing people. This type of performance-living becomes a trap and natural graces like creativity and confidence are stunted in our lives. We become frustrated and can never win because it is impossible to please everyone all the time.

By trusting the unseen God we place our lives under His divine protection and design. God’s Word tells us that blessing and promotion come from the north. Not the east, west or south but from heaven. God holds your future, not any person. God will bring His favor and the right people alongside you to help you in your journey without you having to contort yourself to please everyone. God wants you to trust Him above everything else in your life.

Allow yourself to become consciously aware of His presence in every situation. When you are tempted to shrink back in the spirit of intimidation and fear, grab that moment and focus on God’s presence right there!

Meditate on these facts:                                   

1.  You are deeply loved and accepted by your Heavenly Father.

2.  You are justified by Christ’s finished work on the cross, because of this you do not have to fear the opinions of people.

3.  You are pleasing to God because of the blood of His son.

4.  You can know God’s presence as the supreme reality in your life.

5.  Worldly systems and people do not have power over your life, God does.

As you begin to grasp these facts and trust God as your promoter, protector and helper you will experience true freedom in your life. Your dreams, goals and life mission will be accelerated as you forget your fear of people and move into greatness. Creativity will begin to thrive in your life and confidence will increase as you walk in this freedom.

www.mandyadendorff.com

The Bible, Where “Son of God” Means “Human”

by Mike McKinniss

Investigating “son of God” language in the Bible really is an interesting endeavor.  Too often, most Christians take “son of God” to mean “divine.”  So when we read, for example, Mark’s opening phrase (“The good news of Jesus Christ, the son of God,” 1:1), we immediately intuit that Mark believed Jesus to be God.  Mark and other New Testament writers may have believed Jesus to effectually be God, but that’s not what “son of God” meant.

Rather, “son of God” was always meant to be the characteristic relationship between all of humanity and the Creator.  Such was the case with Adam the first man, Israel as a nation, and the kings of Israel, specifically.  Each was to find an intimate connection with their Creator and so model that loving Father to the world.  Such is also the case with every believer today.

What is uniquely remarkable about Jesus, however, is that he actually fulfills this role perfectly.  Where Adam, Israel, and each regent in Jerusalem all failed in their connection with the Father, Jesus succeeded.  This is what he meant when saying in John 14:9 that in seeing Jesus, one has seen the Father.  Jesus so accurately reflected the God with whom he was so intimate, that Jesus’ words and actions were all performed on the Lord’s behalf, as if the Creator Himself were acting or speaking.

The whole point of “son of God” language in Scripture is that it is specifically in reference to humans.  Throughout the Old Testament, the idea is only ever applied to human figures.  The only way, then, that such a role could be fulfilled is through a real, flesh & blood human being.

This is the glorious mystery of God’s work on the earth.  If the Lord was ever going to accomplish any of His purposes on the earth, it was going to come through people.  It was the Creator’s intention with the first humans.  It remains His intention among today’s sons and daughters of God, of which, of course, you are one.

Seeing From God’s Perspective

by Julie

“Be Thou My Vision” is one of my favorite songs. Really it’s the cry of my heart. For me, this last year has been all about vision. Not my vision, but His vision. I have learned what it means to see myself the way the Lord sees me. I have also learned to see others the way that He sees them. I have begun to see what God is doing in my life and in the lives of the people around me. I have learned to dream with God and set goals that are God sized. His vision has brought me through each season I’ve been in.

I have been on a journey of seeing from His perspective. We can only do this if we are seeking Him. If our eyes are fixed on Jesus, He is sure to meet us. The first step to having God’s vision is to ask Him for it. Imagine how different life would be if we were all asking God how He sees our circumstances. That would affect our attitudes and our decisions. Our lives would be different if we could see ourselves as God sees us. If we asked God how he saw our loved ones, imagine the restoration that could happen in families. If we really started to seek God to show us how he sees our enemies, I am confident we would see amazing partnerships in bringing the Kingdom to earth. The possibilities are endless. Once we start seeing with God’s eyes, our whole perspective changes! I think that this is part of seeking first the kingdom of God. (Matthew 6)

So I encourage you to give it a try if you haven’t already. Ask God to show you how He sees you. Ask Him how He sees a family member or a friend whom you may not have a good relationship with. Ask Him how He views your city, your job, or your school. Bring your circumstances before Him and begin to see His intentions for those situations. If we ask, He is faithful to answer! It’s exciting to live life like this. Sometimes it’s challenging, but it’s definitely worth it. Life is much more beautiful when you are looking through God’s eyes.

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