God's Great Gift
Below is a poem I wrote a couple of years back to highlight what the fuss should really all be about. Please feel free to share it! What's the good news for if not to "tell it on the mountain, over the hills, and everywhere"?
God With Us
(c)2010 Rebekah Cook
Today we celebrate an event by Jewish prophets foretold
Anticipated and long-awaited by both the young and old
Today is when we commemorate our divine Savior's birth
And the hour that marked his entrance as a Son of Man on earth
What made this so wondrous and so marvelous an affair
A time so worth remembering for year upon mortal year?
What made this little infant boy attract the rapt attention
Of local shepherds and eastern kings, and not some other men?
His birth announcement was proclaimed by mass angelic song
Accompanied by starlight bursts as heaven joined the throng
They spoke of this natal miracle in majestic harmony
Declaring his identity and royal pedigree:
"The essence of Love incarnate, immortal Truth revealed
The exact representation of the Father, approved and sealed
The Word of God made very man and draped in human flesh
Eternal Lord of all creation, Son of righteousness."
The Light of all the world had come to seek and save the lost
The Source of Life to ransom us—HIS life is what it cost
The blameless, stainless Lamb of God was stained with sin's full cup
As the Prince of Peace paid purchase price for what we'd given up
Emmanuel! God with us! Bask in that most glorious thought
Our Champion came to rescue us, and won the fight He fought
Who could've known? Who would've guessed the baby who came that night
Was the very One to take our mixed-up world and make it right?
This is the news that bears repeating, and begs to be spread well
The Shaper of the universe has come to us to dwell
He lived and died, yet lives today (He conquered death, you know)
To offer all who come to Him redemption's joyful glow
Our Counselor, Teacher, Comforter, Healer—Jesus is his name
The Holy One, the Risen One of everlasting fame
The reason for the season is not merely a story we tell
It's a Person that makes my heart swell with a gladness none can quell!
As we revel in the wonder of Jesus' first coming and eagerly anticipate his return, may we follow in his steps of undaunted faith, contagious joy, and sacrificial love.
Merry Christmas to you and yours!
Is Trust Blind?
What do you think? Yes? No? It depends?
In theory, we intellectually assent to the faithfulness of God, his goodness, his love for us. In practice, many of us hold inherent in the meaning of blindness, or not seeing yet, an uncertainty and fear of what might or might not happen. Can we call this faith?
It would seem that we have confused ourselves about the nature of trust. Trust is an "assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something." (Merriam Webster) So, really, it's only a blind trust if we have not grown acquainted with the person or thing in which we have placed our trust. It is through the knowing that trust grows. Our trust is MEANT to grow. As we learn to know and "see" the source and foundation of our trust, it won't shake us up to not see the rest.
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. ~ Hebrews 11:1-2, 6
Trust grows as we deepen our relationship with him, grow our knowing him. That is where the assured part comes in. First we take a step of reliance, then it is assured by experiencing the evidence of God's unchanging integrity and the dependability of his promises. We come to trust him! When we let fears and uncertainties bring thoughts into our minds of doubt, we need to fight back with what we know about God and his unfailing love. He is so worthy of our trust.
If our trust in God feels blind (in the sense that the "not seeing" engenders fear), could it be that we simply do not know his character (Jeremiah 9:24)? His infinite ability and strength? Know that he is the very essence of truth (John 14:6; 18:37)? That he is by definition love (1 John 4:16)? That he has given all that he has to make us members of his own family—we who have no ability in ourselves to become worthy or deserving of this marvelous mercy?
"So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." ~ Matthew 6:31-34
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. ...I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:31-34, 38-39
He who provided a steady miraculous flow of oil from the widow's jug and flour from her jar (1 Kings 17), who made ravens carry meat to satisfy a prophet's hunger in time of famine (1 Kings 17), who floated an ax-head to repay a loan (2 Kings 6)—how will he not also supply my every need? For I know whom I have believed (2 Timothy 1:12), and he is ever faithful. Yes, even in spite of me!
"...if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself. ~ 2 Timothy 2:13
As a good friend of mine says, "it's great to know that God's provision doesn't depend on our ability to worry about the future." It is not as if we have to get in "x" days of worrying before handing it over to God, to ensure that he knows exactly how important our problem is. We can give up our cares, worries, and stress to him right away, because he already cares.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:6-7
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)
To cultivate an unshakable trust we must grow in our knowing of God's:
Don't just take somebody's word for it, not even mine! Your God-trust will be much stronger if you go directly to the source yourself. The Bereans had a great habit: "...they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so." (Acts 17:11)
Feel free to leave a comment! I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter. :-)
Why The Name?
For me, whether it's naming a kitten, a company, or a blog, the creative process is marked by careful deliberation. The name must capture the essence of what it represents, be easy to say aloud, and ideally have a deeper meaning found in Scripture.
As I often find that others have good insights into who I am, I asked for suggestions on titles for my blog. No prize was offered, but I still got some good feedback. : )
Tablet of my Heart is the one that grew on me the most. It's one I thought of myself, but the idea was sparked by a comment my brother made. (Stick around long enough, and you'll find that the guiding wisdom of said sibling is not an anomaly...) He reminded me how I'd chosen my email address, basing it on one of my favorite verses in Proverbs. So, while the verse at the top comes out of Paul's letter to the Corinthians, the initial inspiration slid in from Proverbs 3:3.
This led me to do a short study on the word "tablet" in the Bible. The majority of times used it refers to the stone tablets given to Moses carrying the divine inscription of the ten commandments. A few times it indicates the inscription of a divine prophecy. When the priest Zachariah tells his relatives of the name given by God for his son, he does so by means of a writing tablet. The remainder of times the word "tablet" is used, it expressly refers to a human heart.
The book of Proverbs urges us to write kindness, truth (in some versions, "love and faithfulness"), and the teaching of wisdom on our hearts. Through the prophet Ezekiel, God promises to remove our "hearts of stone" and give us "hearts of flesh." When explaining the new covenant we have with God through Christ, the writer of Hebrews quotes the prophet Jeremiah:
"And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying, 'THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THEM AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS UPON THEIR HEART AND ON THEIR MIND I WILL WRITE THEM,' He then says, 'AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE.' " (Heb. 10:15-17)
In the 2 Corinthians verse I used in the blog's heading, it all pulls together. We ourselves are Christ's letter—a message directly from God. Engraved not on stone hearts, but on human hearts of flesh, also given to us by God. Written by God himself, just like it says in Exodus 32:16: "The tablets were God's work, and the writing was God's writing engraved on the tablets." A message for whom? Verse two tells us the message is for everyone to know and read.
Hold on a sec. Everyone is going to read my heart? Sounds like a lot of pressure....But if we read on through the chapter, we see that by knowing the message doesn't come from ourselves, we can have great liberty, boldness, and confidence through Christ to share that message.
So that's my hope. That as you get to know me by literally, in this case, reading what is on my heart—you might "look intently" at the glory of the One who has written the story of my life, and be transformed through that gaze.