December 2015

Deb Blue 5x7 tighter cropBy Dr. Deb Waterbury

 

The room is dark, and the bottle is close.  As she raises it to her lips with trembling hands, she knows that the burning liquid will dull the ache in her heart…for a moment.

What she doesn’t see is the lone figure standing in the corner of her room, sword hanging loosely by his side, a tear sliding slowly down his cheek.

“How much longer, Father,” he asks in a hushed whisper.

“Wait,” is the reply he hears.  And so he waits, quietly, painfully watching.

Also in the room are Despair and Loneliness and Anger and Guilt.  Soon they are joined by Greed and Malice and Fury.  Squirming around her, talons digging into her flesh, they continue to stab her repeatedly with unseen nails.  She doesn’t respond to their torment, however.  Instead her heart sinks.  With every passing moment she only feels more pain.  In ever growing sadness, she tips the bottle again.

“Please, Father,” asks the warrior standing in the corner, “how much longer?”

“Wait,” is his answer again.

Painfully, then, he obeys.

His knuckles tighten around the sword at his side as he watches the horde of tormenters now covering the room.  With every passing moment they are joined by more and more squirming things, their home the abyss, but their purpose now is tormenting her.  They cannot take her, for she belongs to the Great One.  They can, however, menacingly provoke her heart to sickness and pain.

Another tear falls unseen down the warrior’s cheek.  He vibrates now with the need to protect, to save.  But still he waits.

Next he sees joining the throng of creatures Discouragement and Rage.  Finally, when it seems that no more could possibly come, the one called Hopelessness slithers in uninhibited and buries its talons deep into her heart.  She moans, and very suddenly her heart gives way to utter despondency.  The warrior senses this change, sees the new arrival, and his own heart threatens to break.

Just as he opens his mouth to beseech once again on behalf of his charge, he hears the Father speak.

“Enough.”

With lightning speed he reacts, his sword barely visible as it slashes through the air.  The small tormenters scream and run, trying unsuccessfully to avoid his blade, but each is vanquished in a cloud of smoke.  The great warrior’s weapon is too much and too quick for any to evade.

Only a second has passed in human time before he has rid the room of every last one.  Instantly he is at her side, his strong face only inches from her tear-stained face.  With great affection and tender words he whispers in her ear:  “No more.  You are done now.  Stop, my dear one.”

She doesn’t see him.  She doesn’t see any of them, but she hears this voice, even if it seems to be only in her head.  Something in her clicks into place, and she knows she has come to the end.  She hasn’t any idea of where the strength will come, but she knows that she has been touched, and the end of this self-inflicted misery has come.  It is an end that will bring healing.  It is an end that has broken her, but it has broken her so that she will look to her Father.  It is a healing that must come, and it must come in this fashion.

The warrior will not leave her.  He will be there, protecting her while she finishes this exile.  And though it causes him tremendous pain to watch his charge go through such horrible pain, he trusts the Father who has promised to bring all of His children unto Himself—even if that path means He must leave them to themselves to do so.

It will be a long road, dear one, he thinks, but I am here, and you will find peace in the arms of your Father and Savior.

 

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This story may seem far-fetched to you, but if you are a believer and have sinned, losing yourself for a time to that sin, then something very similar to this allegory has happened on behalf of you.  There is a battle going on every minute of every day in the spiritual realm for your mind and for your purpose here on earth.  Satan wants to thwart all that the Father has done for you, and he will use all of the darkness available to him to accomplish his purposes. In the allegory above it was alcohol plaguing the believer. However, it could just as easily have been drugs, sex, lying, anger, malice, gossip, or a host of other sins that beset fallen man.

You must remember, though, that God will not lose you.  He will do all that is necessary, even if that means allowing you to fall to immeasurable depths so that you will once and for all find yourself on your face before Him, sobbing through tear-drenched eyes.  Only then will you be able to say, “I give up, Father.  I give up trying, and I give myself and my life and my struggles to you.”

Once you have truly done this thing, the end will bring a new beginning.  This end will bring peace.  Our Father loves us too much to let us live without the joy that only He can bring.  He will protect us, but sometimes He will let us fall so that we might stand.

So now, Believer, stand.  Whatever struggle besets you on this day, lay it down and stand.  Stand and hear your Savior say, “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

Will you stand today?  Because somewhere very near to you a warrior waits to slay all those things that torment you now.  Has it been enough yet?  Will you lay it down at the feet of your Savior and say, “I give it all to You”?

 

 

 

 

What is the extent to which #Jesus subjected Himself to #humiliation?

Philippians 2:8 “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

It may seem at first glance as if Paul were repeating himself at the beginning of this verse, since he said in the previous verse that Jesus was “born in the likeness of man.” However, Paul is taking us through a progression of thought so that we might see Christ’s perfect humility in His sacrifice. It wasn’t just that he became a man, that though He is God He still took on all of the weaknesses of human flesh, but the majority of people saw only that outward form. Most people didn’t look on Him and see anything other than a mere man, calling him crazy and demon-possessed. Can you imagine the humiliation to which He succumbed? He is the King of kings, and mankind largely didn’t see it. But our Jesus didn’t stop there. He continued by humbling Himself even further. He endured a mock trial where they spit on Him and beat Him and pulled out the hairs of His beard, all while He said not a word. He could have called down legions of angels and leveled the entire palace of the High Priest, but He remained quietly submitted to this humiliation—on our behalf. But again, He didn’t stop there. Paul said that He suffered humiliation willingly “to the point of death, even death on the cross.” Jesus humbly allowed the people He came to save to murder Him, and not just in any way. Paul used the word “even” because crucifixion, developed by the Persians and perfected by the Romans, was the most painfully excruciating death imaginable, reserved only for slaves and the worst of the riff-raff. He did that for you and for me. Oh, the amazing love of our God and Savior, and all so that you and I might know life.

Study/Meditation: After reading Hebrews 2:5-18 , why did Jesus suffer and endure this level of humiliation?

*Father, please forgive me for when I under-appreciate what Your Son, Jesus, did on my behalf. Thank You, Jesus, for Your loving sacrifice. All praise and honor and glory unto Your Name! Amen.

How much do you really appreciate the #incarnation of #Jesus #Christ?

Philippians 2:7 “…but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of man.”

Often Christians do not fully appreciate the complexities and the magnificence of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. This is one of those terms we use and honor, but those we sometimes do not fully understand or even contemplate. Paul almost forces the issue here, simply because really seeing what Jesus was willing to do exemplifies the most supreme example of humility we can ever be given. What our Savior did was more than what is portrayed on a popular reality show today where the boss of an organization goes undercover to live the life of one of his employees. Jesus didn’t go undercover. He “made himself nothing.” In other translations, the text reads that he “emptied himself.” He quite literally chose not to grasp or hold onto the privileges of His position as Lord and instead emptied Himself of those so that He could be our perfect sacrifice. Paul wrote that Jesus took “the form of a servant” and was “born in the likeness of man.” Once again the apostle used the Greek word “morphe.” Jesus literally became a servant and was born fully human, though certainly still fully God. He didn’t just dress up like a servant and a man. He became those things so that He could, in perfect humility, be the propitiation we required for salvation. Our Lord truly is the most glorious model we could ever be given on how to live in humble servitude toward our brothers and sisters.

Study/Meditation: Read Isaiah 53. How exactly did your Savior humble Himself for your sake?

*Father, I worship You in Your mercy and grace. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for Your humble sacrifice and Your love. Amen.

The central message of #Christianity lies in the #humility of #Jesus.

Philippians 2:6 “…who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.”

Christianity carries an incredible message, one that goes unmatched by any other religion in the world. In India, people pray to a god so that he won’t be angry with them, which consequently is true of every other religion in some form or another. But not in Christianity. Jesus Christ instead demonstrated the greatest form of humility in that He looked down on wretched humanity who hated Him and were His enemies and willingly yielded all privileges as God so that He could save them. Paul begins his discussion of the great incarnation of our Lord by first establishing that He is, in fact, our Lord. When Paul says, “he was in the form of God,” he used the Greek word “morphe,” which means “form.” However, unlike the Greek word “schema,” which also means “form,” one’s “morphe” is unchanging. For example, my “morphe” is that I am female. I have been female since I was born and I will die that way. My “schema,” however, changes; I was an infant, then a little girl, and then an adult. Paul purposefully uses “morphe” because Jesus was, is, and always will be God—the “form” of God. But even so, our Lord Jesus didn’t hold onto His position and the rights that go with it. Instead, He sacrificed them for us. Our hope and our future lay in the unselfish, perfect humility of the incarnation of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and therein also lays our example of living with one another now—in humility.

Study/Meditation: Read John 1:1-5, 14. How did this apostle describe Jesus?

*Father, thank You for Your Son, who willingly came to this earth in lowly humanity so that I might live. Thank You, Jesus, for Your sacrifice. Amen.

The most perfect example we have of #humility is found in Jesus.

Philippians 2:5 “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus….”

To what “mind” is Paul referring in this verse? He answered that question in verse 2, “Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” In other words, Paul’s goal is unity in the church, which he said in verses 3 and 4 is accomplished in selfless humility. Now Paul is giving us the supreme example by which we can attain this Christian unity—Jesus Christ. Understand that we cannot emulate Christ’s deity. We cannot copy His incarnation. We cannot perform His miracles or live His perfection. However, we can pattern our lives after His humility. Indeed He is our supreme example and model for this life, most especially in His humble service of others. After washing His disciples’ feet in the upper room, Jesus said, “Do you understand what I have done for you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” (John 13:12b-15) In the next few verses, Paul is going to explain exactly why we must look to the example given us by the King of kings as we live together in His name while on this earth, an example ensconced in perfect humility.

Study/Meditation: In your opinion, how important is unity among believers? Why does Paul stress it so heavily?

*Father, help me to be humble in both my attitude and my actions toward others. Thank You, Jesus, for giving me the perfect example of how to do this. Amen.

The Golden Rule is not just for Sunday school. #humility

Philippians 2:4 “Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others.”

Why is it that when the person in front of me at the checkout line has five more items than she should and writes a check when the sign clearly says “Cash Only,” it’s because she is inconsiderate, but when I do it, it’s because I am in a hurry? Or why is it that when my spouse is late, it’s because he hasn’t managed his time appropriately, but when I’m late, it’s because I have a lot on my mind? The truth is that we only see things from our perspective and will then react from that single perspective unless we purpose ourselves to do otherwise. Paul is reminding us that we must condition ourselves to take others not only into consideration, but also to consider others first. Of course, this does not mean that we take on a sort of “door mat” mentality, where we consider only the needs of others. Even Jesus took time away from the crowd when He needed it (Mark 1:35-39). It is fully appropriate to consider our own needs. However, Paul is reminding us that our needs cannot be the only needs to which we look, nor should our perspective be the only one we see. In other words, a Christian’s view on life should be dictated by something that most of us learned as children in Sunday school: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.” (Matthew 7:12) It seems simple, but it takes concerted effort. However, it is an effort that is born of the fruit of the Holy Spirit who gives us all we need in order to achieve it.

Study/Meditation: Why do you think it is so important to consider others even as you consider yourself?

*Father, help me to see the needs of those around me and to react appropriately to those needs. Amen.