Monday, June 24, 2013

The Importance of Personal Pronouns


[Photo of little girl hugging her doll]

After “Mama” and “Dada,” one of the first words many babies learn to say is “Mine!”

From the very beginnings of our lives we are interested in what belongs to us. As we grow older, many of the things that we thought were necessary to have in order to make us happy, just don’t matter anymore. Many times the important things are the intangibles: the people, the work, the places and the experiences we own.

Some of the most precious scriptures to Christians are those that tell us what we have because of Christ. We are told in at least four places in the Psalms that God is our portion. (Psalm 16:5, 73:26, 119:57 and 142:5).

Quoting Puritan writer, George Swinnock from his Works, IV:7-12, he says:

“When God says to the soul, ‘I am yours, and all that I have,’ who can tell how the heart leaps with joy…the pronoun ‘my’ is worth so much to the soul. All our consolation indeed consists in this pronoun. He is my God. All the joys of the believer are hung upon this one string. Break this and all is lost.”

Nothing comforts a Christian like the words, “The Lord is my Shepherd.” God yearns to make us His. He initiates that personal relationship that He intends to keep for eternity. When we acknowledge Him as ours, both He and we internally leap for joy. Martin Luther once said:

“The heart of religion lies in its personal pronouns.”

In 1876, hymn writer George W. Robinson penned these words:

Loved with everlasting love,
    led by grace that love to know;
Gracious Spirit from above,
    Thou hast taught me it is so!
O this full and perfect peace!
    O this transport all divine!
In a love which cannot cease,
    I am His, and He is mine.
In a love which cannot cease,
    I am His, and He is mine.

Heav’n above is softer blue,
    Earth around is sweeter green!
Something lives in every hue
    Christless eyes have never seen;
Birds with gladder songs o’erflow,
    flowers with deeper beauties shine,
Since I know, as now I know,
    I am His, and He is mine.
Since I know, as now I know,
    I am His, and He is mine.

Things that once were wild alarms
    cannot now disturb my rest;
Closed in everlasting arms,
    pillowed on the loving breast.
O to lie forever here,
    doubt and care and self resign,
While He whispers in my ear,
    I am His, and He is mine.
While He whispers in my ear,
    I am His, and He is mine.

His forever, only His;
    Who the Lord and me shall part?
Ah, with what a rest of bliss
    Christ can fill the loving heart!
Heav’n and earth may fade and flee,
    firstborn light in gloom decline;
But while God and I shall be,
    I am His, and He is mine.
But while God and I shall be,
    I am His, and He is mine.

Can you say of God, “I am His and He is mine!”?

The answer to that question will reveal much about your life of faith and where you are on the road. The next time you hear a toddler yell, “Mine!”—or read Scripture and see the personal pronouns—remember all that God has to give you and rejoice!



Monday, June 17, 2013



[Photo of trees]

 “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright;
he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”
 —Psalm 92:12-15 NIV

I love trees. I always have. I remember as a child lying in the grass under the huge maple in our front lawn and watching the leaves dance under the blue sky. As a teacher, I admired a line of trees that I observed every day on my way to school. I enjoy looking at the various shapes of trees, and marveling at the “perfect” contour of some.

Psalmists particularly like the image of the tree in their poetry. The Book of Genesis speaks of two very important trees (Genesis 2:9), and the book of Revelation describes the River of Life in the Heavenly Kingdom with the Tree of Life on either side of the river yielding fruit. (Revelation 22:1-2).

In some places we are referred to as “oaks of righteousness.” (Isaiah 61:3). But, in the passage I quote at the beginning of this devotional, the righteous (in Christ) are likened to a palm tree. These trees are graceful and erect standing like sentinels.

We are also compared to cedars of Lebanon. These trees exhibit strength and majesty, and of course, fragrance. Both of trees are planted (established) in the house of the Lord. What an honored place of protection.

I love the part that says they will still bear fruit in old age, fresh and green. No craggy, dried up, fruitless boughs here! They still declare that the Lord is upright, a Rock, with no wickedness in Him. Still praising Him to all, whether verbally, or in the strength of grace that keeps them still tall and valuable to the King.

I hope you notice more trees this week. Wonder at the age and glory of each one, the unique fruit, the leaves, the beauty of each one. May they remind you of Christian sisters and brothers of all ages and the importance they carry in Christ’s Kingdom.



Monday, June 10, 2013

Untapped Riches


[Photo of an old woman with a purse]

 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us
with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,
in order that in the coming ages he might show
the incomparable riches of his grace,
expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
 —Ephesians 2:6-7 NIV

Edna Farnsworth (not her real name) lived in a large house on an avenue of wealthy estates, many with servants’ quarters. Among these houses also sat the Governor’s mansion. This street of beautiful homes framed our church lot and Edna was a frequent guest with us.

Now she never attended a service, but came often to borrow books from our library. She also managed to find out when the church scheduled various receptions with dainty foods, and showed up to pile up her plate (and her purse).

Apparently Edna didn’t want to admit her wealth, or had become miserly in her old age.

How many of us have received the richness of God’s grace through forgiveness of sin and have a place forever in his family, but forget to appropriate that forgiveness and appreciate it? We feel more comfortable, like Edna, borrowing and begging rather than boldly living like children of the King.

Let us today remember our riches in Christ and rejoice in his goodness to us!

 Oh, the unsearchable riches of Christ,
Wealth that can never be told!
Riches exhaustless of mercy and grace,
Precious, more precious than gold!
 —Fanny Crosby



Monday, June 3, 2013

Space to Grow


[Photo of tennis shoes]

I laugh about it now, but when I was five, having to wear high top black PF Flyers for gym class embarrassed me to death.

Since I was the oldest child in the family, and my mother had no knowledge of what “gym shoes” should look like for little girls, she drove me to the country store and picked out a pair that would fit me for two or three years. I could “grow into them.” Remember too, that in the 1950s, little girls never wore slacks to school. So, my sporty look, while it might be very “in” today, mortified me then.

My mom expected me to grow. She never questioned whether my feet would eventually fit properly in those shoes. In fact, if I hadn’t matured appropriately by age seven or eight, my parents would have spent all the money they had to find me a doctor to help me develop like normal children.

God expects us to grow, too. In fact, Paul wrote:

“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

God will provide opportunities for our growth. And, He will help us along.

St. Peter instructed believers to:

“Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18)

Jesus, Himself, was said to have grown “in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” (Luke 2:52).

Growth, then, is a normal expectation for believers. Yet, there seems to be many people who claim to be Christians, but lack the evidence that they have grown into their own “PF Flyers.” If we find ourselves in this group, we must understand that some of the onus falls on us for this lack of growth.

The author of the book of Hebrews scolded Christians in his day by saying:

“Though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!…Solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:12-14)

What better evidence of a healthy child are growing feet? What better evidence of a healthy Christian is growth into mature faith?

If you feel in need of a “growth hormone,” start by setting a regular time for reading the Bible and for daily prayer. Make it a habit to be in church for both Christian Education class and for worship every week.

God provides the means for growth, but we are responsible to take advantage of what He provides!