Sweet Like Honey

our family's journal of God at work


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Some Thoughts About Beauty and Suffering in the World and Our Response

That there is beauty in this world demonstrates that there is something more than the ugliness and pain of this life. It is wrong to live an ugly, austere, depressed, ascetic life as a Chritian because we feel guilty over the suffering of others. The hope in our life gives hope to others. We should use our hope as a means of ministering to those who have none–always ready to give an answer for the hope that is in us–a hope we can only have from God.

We should embrace what is beautiful, true and good. Our lives should be characterized by these things, along with love. We should not, however, use these things to escape from the reality of a hurting world. We have hope of a better future and so we can look suffering and pain in the face without it shattering our faith–whether the suffering is ours or another’s–and we can reach out to others without despising them for their “lack” of beauty.

We know He makes all things beautiful in His time. We look forward to no more tears, pain and suffering. We have this as a sure hope, an anchor of our souls, and so we don’t have to grasp after it here and pretend nothing is amiss in our lives or the world. We can enjoy the beauty in this world and live with joy and hope, while at the same time accept that this world is also full of evil and suffering.

Because we are not escaping into beauty we can actively look for people who are hurting and extend hope and practical help to them. We can do this without feeling like a fake, because though the suffering is real, so is beauty and goodness and it is the goodness that will go on into eternity whereas the suffering will come to an end. Praise to the Lord.


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The Power of the Blood of Christ to Sanctify

I have been reading Andrew Murray’s book the Practice of God’s Presence. The first section of the book is on the Power of the Blood of Jesus.   He goes through redemption, reconciliation, cleansing, and sanctification by the blood of Jesus.
I have been in Chapter 5 on sanctification for a while now.   Having read the chapter, I was going back through the scriptures in the chapter and praying. Murray really focuses in on the idea that sanctification is about God imparting Himself to us.

Amen, may it be so, more and more, as He has promised.

At the end of the chapter he summarizes the work of sanctification in this way:

“Through the Holy Spirit, the soul’s intimacy is in the living experience of God’s abiding nearness, accompanied by the awakening of the tenderest carefulness against sin, guarded by caution and the fear of God.

But to live in watchfulness against sin does not satisfy the soul. The temple must not only be cleansed, but it must be filled with God’s glory. All the virtues of divine holiness, as manifested in the Lord Jesus, are to be sought and found in fellowship with God. Sanctification means union with God, fellowship in His will, sharing His life, conformity to His image.

…”Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach” (Heb 13:12-13) Yes, it is He who sanctifies His people. “Let us go forth to Him.” Let us trust Him to make known to us the power of the blood. Let us yield ourselves wholly to its blessed power. This blood, through which He sanctified Himself, has entered heaven to open it for us. It can make our hearts also a throne of God, so that the grace and glory of God may dwell in us….He who is willing to lose and say farewell to everything, in order that Jesus may sanctify him, will not fail to obtain the blessing. He who is willing at any cost to experience the full power of the precious blood can confidently know that he will be sanctified by Jesus Himself, through that blood.

“May the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely” (I Thess. 5:23). Amen.”
[Emphasis is mine]

God has been doing an amazing work in giving my heart a “tenderest carefulness against sin”.   But He is also teaching me that life is found in the abundance of His presence in my life.
I highly recommend the book.   When you know the history of Andrew Murray’s life his words take on even more weight.   I also highly recommend this book on his life, Andrew Murray(Men of Faith) by Dr. William Linder Jr.

– Rob


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Is holiness legalism?

I have wrestled with the idea of holiness vs legalism for a long time.  The following is a very rough working definition I’ve formed that helps me get through each day loving Jesus and my brothers and sisters in Christ more and more, by His grace–because quite naturally, I have very strong convictions which I think are biblical and I want everyone to think and do what I think is right (Does anyone else deal with that?).  I sometimes face disappointment when a friend decides not to do a certain thing I think is right, and then I have to remind myself of these things and ask: Does she love Jesus? Is she trying to obey God’s word? Is she praying about her decisions? Is she seeking wise counsel?  I have to remember that I am not the measuring rod by which all others are judged.  Why is that so hard to remember?!!

Holiness is: the pursuit of Christ, counting all as meaningless compared to knowing, loving and obeying Him as He leads me everyday by His word and His Spirit. It means to focus on Him and be the fragrance of Christ to the lost, and fellow believers.  The attitudes behind holiness are love, humility and dependence on God for righteousness.

Legalism is: following a particular set of rules in order to gain salvation or the favor of God.  The attitude behind legalism is pride.

Holiness and legalism can lead to similar actions, but God is looking at the heart.  Do I do what I do because I love God and want to obey what He has taught me or do I do what I do because I want to fit in or get some extra favor from God? 

Holiness is not legalism.  Obeying God is not legalism.  Loving God’s word is not legalism.  Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”  The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; first the evil in our own hearts but also in the world.  Some people fear God more than others.  That doesn’t mean that the other people don’t fear God, but it is possible for some to fear more and be used by God as examples for His people–those who fear more and those who fear less should not judge each other or compare, but continue to seek the Lord and obey in what God has shown to them with joy and devotion to the Lord.  We cannot decide whether another person is walking in holiness or legalism, because that distinction is made in the heart and only God can see that. 

Holiness is good.  Legalism is bad.  Holiness is love of God above self.  Legalism is self-love.  Holiness is commanded in the Bible.  Legalism is condemned in the Bible.  Holiness leads to a love for the body of Christ, no matter what minor differences we have.  Legalism divides God’s people over trivial things.  Satan doesn’t mind of you are legalistic or if you give in to every craving of your flesh, but he hates it when you are holy.  Any biblical conviction you have, while good in itself, can lead to pride.  In order to prevent this, you must pray for God’s grace to remember that you are the worst sinner that you know and any good in your life comes from the Lord. 

Pursue Christ.  Pursue holiness.  Lead by example.  Don’t beat people over the head with your convictions.  The joyful way you live out your convictions might convince others that what you believe is true, or even if not, it will help them to follow their God-given convictions with the same loving attitude, and this can only bring glory to the Lord.

One last reminder to self: no one person can represent what God is like.  It takes all of creation to collectively declare the glory of God.  So why should I expect everyone to be exactly like I am?  It takes all of us to bear the image of God.

I want to be like Jesus: full of grace and truth.  He is who I am following after, and I invite you to seek Him with me.

—-

As a side note, the above keeps me from labeling myself with my convictions.  As strongly as I feel about certain things, I want to be known for my love for Jesus much more than for what I believe about education, clothing, music, and so on.  The gospel is another story.  I’ll die on that hill.


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What kind of questions do you ask your computer?

I enjoy the benefits of the internet.  When I want to know the answer to a burning question, I often do an internet search.  People find my blog almost every day by asking what kind of foods to avoid on a fluoride free diet.

But the other day I read a search question that concerned me, “Is it okay for me to lead a women’s Bible study?”  Since when do we need the internet’s permission to do something like lead a Bible study?  This kind of question should send us to the Bible, to our husbands, and possibly our pastor for counsel.  We should pray over these decisions and then obey the Lord, even if a thousand sources on the internet tell us we should do something different.

Has our dependence on instant answers gone too far?  As much as I love the ability to find information quickly, I sometimes wonder if our modern information technology isn’t another form of the tower of babel.  On the internet, we put our knowledge together with everyone else’s knowledge and then whenever we want to know something we can do a search and find an answer.  Only God knows everything.  But we, in an attempt to be like God, have created a god in our own image, and we depend on it more than we depend on God. 

There is a place for information sharing, and I think the internet has legitimate uses, BUT my prayer is that we will remember that God’s word has the answer to every important question we will ever ask.  His word is inspired by Himself, is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, so that we may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  Let’s look to God–He has given us everything we need.


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A woman who fears the Lord. . .

It used to be that the men would go and study in the synagogues and come home and teach their wives and children–a woman didn’t get to read the Scriptures for herself during the week.  Then on Sundays (for the Christians) she would listen during the meeting and could ask her husband questions at home.  A woman could pray, and was expected to, but she couldn’t have what we now call a quiet time which includes Bible study.  She certainly would not lead a Bible study.  She would meditate on the Scriptures she had hidden in her heart during meetings and family worship times.

I am thankful that we as women have access to God’s word, but in some ways I think we are at a disadvantage when it comes to respecting and honoring our husbands.  I want my husband to lead me and teach me, but because I have been immersed in God’s word since I was a small girl he sometimes feels that he has nothing he can teach me, and I am tempted to try to teach him instead. . .because many of us work at home taking care of our families, we often have more time to study than our husbands do and that can make us feel spiritually superior to them. 

I am not saying that we should stop reading and studying our Bibles–I am so thankful I can read it, and have it available for teaching my children during the day when my husband is at work.  Proverbs makes it pretty clear that wives play a role alongside their husbands in the teaching of their children.  But it is so important for us to remember that a spiritual woman is not one who spends her day reading the Bible and praying to the neglect of her husband and children, and who then lords her spirituality over her husband.  I confess to being tempted by this throughout my marriage, and it is sin.  God is not pleased with my arrogance.  A spiritual woman obeys the word as she loves her husband and children, is self-controlled, pure, a worker in her home, kind, submissive to her own husband, is modest, has a gentle and quiet spirit, respects her husband, raises her children with faith, love and holiness, is faithful to do good works, is diligent instead of lazy, speaks only well of her husband and is trustworthy,  can guard her tongue, is hospitable and helps those in affliction. . .

Psalm 86:11 asks the Lord, “Teach me Your way, O Lord, that I may walk in Your truth; UNITE my heart to FEAR Your name.” My prayer for all of us is that our times of Bible study and meditation on truth will renew our minds so that we can serve our families the way God intends for us to. In this way we will defeat Satan’s intentions for our family, and this is spiritual indeed!  Proverbs says the virtuous woman is one who fears the Lord and her description in chapter 31 is of a hard working, loving wife who honors her husband in all her words and actions, doing him good all the days of her life, caring for the needs of her family and the poor, teaching with wisdom and kindness–she supports her husband, with no thought for herself or her own glory, so he can succeed in the role God has given him as an elder in the land.

Father, unite my heart to fear You so that I will obey Your command to respect, honor and submit to my husband.  Make me the helper he needs so he can devote himself to the calling you’ve placed on his life.  Thank you that it is spiritual to serve in my home and in my church family and that when I do this I give no opportunity to Satan for slander.  Please keep me from being deceived by Satan’s lies.  Help me to believe Your word and obey and love You with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.


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The difficult path leads to peace

We have been reading through Jeremiah lately.  I am fascinated by Jeremiah’s conversations with king Zedekiah:

Jeremiah was sent to Zedekiah, king of Judah, to tell him of the coming judgment at the hand of the Babylonians.  Zedekiah asked Jeremiah what the word of the Lord was several times, but each time he heard it he refused to obey (Jer. 37:2). 

“Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: ‘Go and speak to Zedekiah king of Judah and tell him, “Thus says the Lord:’Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.  And you shall not escape from his hand, but shall surely be taken and delivered into his hand; your eyes shall see the eyes of the king of Babylon, he shall speak with you face to face, and you shall go to Babylon.  Yet hear the word of the Lord O Zedekiah, King of Judah!  Thus says the Lord concerning you: ‘You shall not surely die by the sword.  But you shall die in peace; as in the ceremonies of your fathers, the former kings who were before you, so they shall burn incense for you and lament for you, saying, “Alas, lord!”  ‘For I have pronounced the word,’ says the Lord'” (Jer. 35:2-5).

“Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘You shall surely surrender to the king of Babylon’s princes, then your soul shall live; this city shall not be burned with fire, and you and your house shall live.   But if you do not surrender to the king of Babylon’s princes, then this city shall be given into the hand of the Chaldeans; they shall burn it with fire, and you shall not escape from their hand'” (Jer. 38:17-18).

The false prophets told Zedekiah that if he stayed in the city that he would have peace (Jer. 37:19).   

Zedekiah didn’t listen to Jeremiah, so Jerusalem was destroyed, Zedekiah’s family was killed and Zedekiah’s eyes were put out.  He did not die in peace and he did not see the king of Babylon with his own eyes (Jeremiah 39:1-10).

What really stands out to me is that 1) the path that looks the most peaceful is sometimes the one that leads to destruction.  The one that looks difficult leads to peace if it is the one God calls us to.  2) God’s ways don’t often make sense to us but they are good and right.  3) God keeps His word. 4) We shouldn’t listen to the people who tell us what we want to hear, but to the ones who tell us the truth. 5) God wants us to trust Him and not what we see.


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The New Year

I always enjoy this time of year, thinking over the work of God in the previous year, and refocusing and prioritizing for the new year.  I am so thankful that God gave us times and seasons–guideposts to help us walk through our lives with purpose. 

We were finishing dinner last night, a bit late because Rob had been working at his mom’s all day, when we heard our front door open and a man’s voice call out. And then several children ran in and we knew it was our friends coming to surprise us and wish us a happy new year!  We had surprised them at Thanksgiving and sent our children running in their house yelling, “Happy Thanksgiving.”  It was such a blessing to visit with them.  Apparently they had wanted to come on Christmas, but it hadn’t worked out.  So they did it last night and it was perfect timing, because we had been feeling a bit discouraged over Rob’s mom’s situation.

After they left we celebrated the new year in style by cleaning  under our refrigerator and cleaning off the coils–there we were at eleven something deep cleaning in our kitchen.  Not your typical New Year’s Eve party but it felt good none-the-less!  The pile of dust we swept and mopped off the floor made it look like a grey dog had been living under the fridge, shedding all its fur.  No wonder our fridge hadn’t been keeping things as cold as it should! 

Cleaning projects like that one remind me how important it is to take a close look at our lives and remove the things that shouldn’t be there–all the dust that distracts us from our true purpose.  On the surface, it can seem like our lives our running smoothly, but in reality we are getting bogged down and are unable to function the way God intends.  Time to do some deep cleaning. . .it’s the little things that really add up. 

God bless you in this new year.

Cassie