If

Featured photo from Garden of the Gods – Colorado Springs Colorado

 

I am grateful that You are loving!

 

If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. John 15:10

 

Me:

Good morning Jesus!

 

Jesus:

Good morning Jon!

 

Me:

If I didn’t know better, from verses like Romans 5:8 (But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.), I could read John 15:10 as a statement of condition for God’s love.

 

Jesus:

“If” precedes a statement of condition, by definition. But it is not the condition that has come first to your mind. The condition is not stating that God will love you only if you behave in a particular way. The condition stated is that God – because He loves you – has prepared a beneficial (saving, growing, healthy, vibrant, giving, amazing, purpose-fulfilling, life-changing, joyful, …, and on and on) way for you to walk and has told you about it. The “if”, therefore, refers to whether you will accept His goodness and walk in the Way He has prepared; His plan for your good (Jeremiah 29:11).

 

“Don’t play in the street”, a parent tells his child. Is this a command?

 

Me:

Yes, it is.

 

Jesus:

Is it given to prevent the child from enjoying the wonders of the roadway?

 

Me:

It is given to protect the child whose experience is not developed enough to avoid the mortal dangers of traffic speeding along the street.

 

Jesus:

Is protection an expression of love?

 

Me:

Yes, it is. An expression of love by a parent meeting a critical need of the child.

 

Jesus:

Do all children obey?

 

Me:

No. Not all. Perhaps none obey all of the time.

 

Jesus:

Does disobedience in this matter dissolve the love of the parent for the child?

 

Me:

Not even if the worst actually happens.

 

Jesus:

So it is with God.

 

Me:

Thank You Jesus! I love You!

 

Jesus:

You are welcome! I love you!

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Town Deer – Woodland Park Colorado
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Bulwark

I am grateful for the day at home and the chance to reflect on the glorious benefit of the eternal stability of God to those who rely on Him.

He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark. Psalm 91:4

Down toward the end of the time before Jesus’ arrest (which, from this,  we know He clearly saw coming) we see this protective heart of God revealed at work in Him on our behalf.

Just at that time some Pharisees approached, saying to Him, “Go away, leave here, for Herod wants to kill You.” And He said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I reach My goal.’ Nevertheless I must journey on today and tomorrow and the next day; for it cannot be that a prophet would perish outside of Jerusalem. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it! Behold, your house is left to you desolate; and I say to you, you will not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” Luke 13:31-35

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Placard: Building Fort Sevier
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You Are Here (Obviously)

Released!

I am grateful for the rain on this spring day, preparing the soil to support the season’s new growth.

For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper And from the deadly pestilence. Psalm 91:3

Changing minds and hearts is often a slow process. Changing my heart and mind is a slow process. My enemy may lay traps for me in my circumstances, to be sure. But more insidious are the snares laid in my own beliefs that as yet have not been conformed completely to the truth. I thank You Holy Spirit that You are come to guide into all the Truth (John 16:13) and that the Truth is setting me free (John 8:32). What a powerful Agent of Deliverance You are!

 

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Placard at Fort Sevier, renamed Fort Bruce, renamed Fort Defiance

 

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Big gun, with my Sweetie for scale

Training

Park at center of Gwinn, MI

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  –  James 1:2-4


 

I would tend to think of “testing of my faith” being perilously close to “struggling with doubt”.

However, the Spirit – who is sent to guide us into all the truth –
prompts me to think of it more this way: If I have no trials, how would I know that I have faith that holds steadfast under strain?  I would become spiritually flaccid without any opportunity to exercise my belief in Him.  As for endurance, when one first starts to exercise, he is very limited as to what he can do.  After much practice, though, staying power vastly improves.  “Trials” are testing experiences that are more than we have tackled before.  As our physical muscles were designed to improve with increased training, so our spiritual muscles with increasing trials.

Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Sign in Park

Covered Footbridge over Escanaba River, Gwinn MI

All of 1 Peter 1 is an incredibly rich tapestry of the Life prepared for us: conceived and planned by the Father, purchased in blood by Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, stretching across history, predicted by prophets, and announced by first-century preachers; concerning grace, peace, fullness, mercy, hope, protection, salvation, eternal life, joy, praise, honor, love, glory, revelation, belief, faith, angels, and mysteries.

I am grateful for the grace that enables us to enter in to this magnificent journey with God, and to stay the course, if we are willing.

Bridge

In or Not?

I am grateful for being a new creature! I thank you for opening the way to beholding this promise more clearly.


Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17

 

As I meditated on this verse, I became mindful of all the (many) times since “accepting” Christ as Savior, that I have engaged in bad behavior.  I was reminded that at no time does the Lord override my free choice.  I have to recognize that “in” is not a state that is permanently imposed upon me, it is an invitation.  He has done His part.  Will I come in?  Will I stay?

“Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap; (Luke 21:34)

 

The price for my freedom has been paid.  Choosing to stay free requires vigilance.

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Gwinn MI Clock Tower

What is to Come

Though the world would otherwise be a (very) scary place, I am grateful for this promise; not just that in You, Lord, I can get by. I can actually have peace! I am grateful that the courage that I am encouraged to “take” is by faith in You and not something in me that I have to somehow live up to.


These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33