Monday, October 28, 2013

God Everlasting, Today

Today, I trust God exists.

As I silently prayed this morning, I realized that I believe God exists. I easily rested in this truth, not struggling with questions and fear as I once did. His faithfulness has cultivated a growing faith in me. As I open my mouth in prayer, I acknowledge His eternal nature. He always has been and always will exist as a real and personal being. He receives and gives actions such as hearing and responding when I pray.

Today, I trust God extends grace to me.

Grace is God's chosen method in revealing Himself and cultivating relationship with us. It's easy to downplay the significance of grace because we're trained to gain through our own efforts. This is good when we labor as a productive part of creation, but it is prideful when refusing to humble ourselves before God's gifts. Through pride or self-sufficiency, our sinful nature can often find grace offensive or illogical. 2 Timothy 1:8-9, NASB says,

"...but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity."

God has chosen to have a relationship with me through grace. God determined to begin what He is fully able to carry out. It was His plan from eternity past and affects eternity future. His grace will be sufficient for me today.

Today, I trust that my life is a holy moment for God's glory.

Some days are easygoing, some painful. Other days I am filled with hope, and other days my mind teems with questions. Some days I am full of Him and others, full of myself. Each day I have the beautiful opportunity to resign my will to His, acknowledging that He has a plan for His glory that includes me. No matter how I feel, my situation and emotions do not change this holy moment. My very breath is being sustained by God. He desires my heart to be honest before Him, humbled, and obedient to what pleases Him. And that process might be part of the day's learning opportunity. I am one small star in the scope of the heavens who God created, named, and has purpose for (Isaiah 40:26).

Today, I trust that I am responsible to live for God's glory.

God expends His grace on us so that we can live according to our created purpose. Grace is not God's way of fattening us up for Christian laziness. When our focus is on God's glory and not our own, we connect with our responsibility in God's eternal plan. And more than a responsibility, it is our fullest joy to be a part of God's plan to share the grace we have received with others. Listen to Paul's admonition to Timothy in regards to the gospel message:

Hold the example of sound words which you have heard from me,
in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.
Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us,
the treasure which has been entrusted to you."
1 Timothy 1:13-14, NASB

We guard the gospel so that future generations will be able to hear the same message that Jesus proclaimed. Guard? How? We have a responsibility to understand God's plan (revealed and recorded for us in the Bible), to believe ourselves to be an active part of it, and to act as His children who are entrusted with the gospel and empowered by the Holy Spirit. God's plan for allowing others to hear the good news of Jesus includes our choices to actively live out our created purpose--to know God and make Him known.

(c) Kendra Higgins 2013.

NASB Study Bible. Ed. Kenneth Barker. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995.

Image courtesy of Maxime Perron Caissy /

Monday, October 21, 2013

God Everlasting (Psalm 90:1-2)

A sweet friend recently finished reading the Old Testament on her journey through the Bible cover-to-cover. She jokingly drew out her words as she noted the many, many genealogies that listed the families in Israel throughout the OT. We both laughed at her feigned pain, but were genuinely excited. Reading the Bible as a whole is no small goal. It's a chance to watch God interact with every human generation that has and will live.

Can you imagine that one day we will be the names on the list? Someone else will butcher our twentieth and twenty-first century names like they come from a different language. (Get a feel for how strange your name will sound. Mispronounce your name and greet a friend with the wrong pronunciation while you're at it!) Maybe a few of us will have short-lived fame or have our names "immortalized" on paper, metal, rock, or in the light of a computer screen. Most of us will be remembered for a few generations after we die by those who love us. Our names carry memories, but only for a while.

It's discouraging to think of it like that. If you and I gain significance by what others think (ie. what we gain for ourselves at the expense of others), by what can be attained, or by what can be posted or tweeted, we lose sight of the significance of our moment. We lose sight of trusting God for who He is and what He is accomplishing in us. Life is a sacred moment within eternity. God has given it. God sustains it. And one day God will take it away through death.

After Isaac was born to Abraham--a father at the young age of 100--Abraham had trouble with water bullies. He worked a deal with the local king to secure rights to a well that would continue to sustain his family and livestock in a dry land. After the foreign king granted Abraham his rights, Abraham planted a tree and called on El Olam, the everlasting God (Genesis 21:22-34). He recognized God's quality of existing from eternity past and continuing into eternity future. This small victory showed God's help and His ability to keep His promise to Abraham: that land would one day be his. God doesn't skip rocks across the timeline of history. His everlasting nature is part of what encourages us, sustains us, and keeps us looking toward the fulfillment of His promises.

Psalm 90 by Moses is noted as the oldest of the Psalms. Moses was a man with the fear of speaking who God used to confront Pharaoh of Egypt. In trust he wrote:

Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were born or you gave birth to the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.
You turn man back into dust and say, "Return, O children of men."
For a thousand years in Your sight
Are like yesterday when it passes by,
Or as a watch in the night. (vv.1-4)

Moses does not despair in the truth of "from dust to dust." His life was sovereignly appointed for a moment in God's everlasting lifetime. He is not so unique that he trusts God for something new. Instead, he trusts God for being the same as He has been for all people. He is the place of safety and rest to which man can look. Man gains something by looking to Him. And from an eternal perspective, He has always been and will always be God. He can be trusted as a secure and enduring help because that is what He has chosen to do for His gain, His glory.

My encouragement for you (and me) today is to consider how an everlasting God brings hope to the difficult moments, the challenges, the pain, and the unknown you face. God sees this moment and has chosen to be close. But He will not stop to dwell only in your pain or difficulty; He will continue on into eternity and lead you there.

(c) Kendra Higgins 2013.

Image courtesy of Roger Kirby /

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Naughty List

This time of year, I try to do my best to make Santa's good list, but after this weekend I might have to settle for coal in my stocking. On our lazy Saturday morning, my husband and I sat and shared about our Bible reading of late. He read in Proverbs and I, Psalms. We both encountered an address to or wisdom about the "wicked" or unfaithful person's folly. Being that Proverbs and Psalms were read to the Jewish congregation and not on the street corner to strangers, I wondered, "Who is the fool? Who is God talking about? Is God calling one of His children a fool?"

I assumed the Bible was meaning those outside of the faith community and pointed my finger there. I obviously didn't point to myself. Who doesn't prefer God's encouragement? But my conscience wouldn't let that pass. These teachings were given to the community of faith for edification. The fool or wicked person in the Bible isn't only found out on the streets. I could miss the opportunity to hear what God has to say. He could be talking to me.

Can you see a little of your own heart in these naughty lists?

"Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and thing like these..." Galatians 5:19-21, NASB

"Do not be afraid when a man becomes rich, when the glory of his house is increased;
For when he dies he will carry nothing away; His glory will not descend after him.
Though while he lives he congratulates himself-- And though men praise you when you do well for yourself--He will go down to the generation of his fathers; They will never see the light.
Man in his pomp, yet without understanding, Is like the beasts that perish." Psalms 49:16-20, NASB

"The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, But the soul of the diligent is made fat." Proverbs 13:4, NASB

"...being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice, they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful..." Romans 1, NASB

Even though in Christ you and I have become a new creation, it's easy to become impatient when these lists show me that sanctification is a process and not a fully realized result. I don't want to relate to the fool! I don't want to trust that God, in His gracious timing, is overseeing my journey in sanctification and that he will not stomp off in anger because I didn't make the cut...AGAIN. I want the ease of good emotions, happy thoughts, and happy places. I want control. So which would I rather have: my happy place or a more fully realized grasp of God's sufficient grace?

I find encouragement from an unlikely place: screenwriting and movies. Everyone loves a good villain, right?! The best villains are those who are believable and relatable. When I see the villain in a movie, I see little pieces of myself. He's human; he's a family man; he has a secret to hide; he wants to make a better life for himself; he wants to be better but just can't. Remember Gru in Despicable Me? He's a criminal mastermind that gets transformed by three orphan girls. Although the movie has another fun villain, Gru is a villain unto himself because of his unwillingness to love and change. He's fun to relate to and laugh at. That's your assignment! Watch a movie you love and think about why you love the main character so much and why you love to hate (or sympathize with) the villain.

Like the media industry, God uses the fool and the wicked man in the Bible to stir the heart. A Jew or Christian (OT or NT) who doesn't care about loving God with his or her whole self probably isn't going to respond or feel conviction from the truth. But the wise heart gains instruction when fools are reproved. A commentary on Psalm 50 says, "The purpose of these verses [vv. 16-21] is to prick the conscience of God's people so as to make them more responsive to God's requirements of the community. Those who are really interested in being his "consecrated ones" will wisely respond, whereas the wicked will foolishly cast God's requirements of the faith and repentance aside as not being relevant." 1

So, God is talking to me. He's using the foolish and unfaithful to teach me about myself and others. I can have peace when the Holy Spirit brings conviction. I don't have to fear coal in my stocking. I can be confident when I am "tainted" by sin. This is my opportunity to see myself with eyes regenerated by the Holy Spirit through faith in Christ. I can see! This is my opportunity to respond in the way I did when I first believed. I am alive! Oh, friend. God is persistent and good. My beauty began with and is being perfected by Him. He purposed for me to be a whole woman in Christ before the world began and is working toward that purpose. I am free!

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people for God's own possession, so that you may proclaim
the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness
and into His marvelous light
1 Peter 2:9, NASB

(c) Kendra Higgins 2013

1 The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Vol. 5. Frank E. Gaebelein, Editor. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1991), p. 377.

Image courtesy of Hazel Bregazzi /

P.S. - Two books that helped me enjoy the role of the villain so much more are  The Writer's Journey by C. Vogler and The Moral Premise by S. Williams.