Don’t Waste Your Life

A few years ago, while at a ladies convention I purchased a book authored by John Piper titled “Don’t Waste Your Life.” It begins this way on the back cover:

“I will tell you what a tragedy is. I will show you how to waste your life. Consider this story from the February 1998 Readers Digest: ‘A couple took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30-foot trawler, play softball and collect shells…’ Picture them before Christ at the great day of judgement: ‘Look, Lord. See my shells.’ That is a tragedy.”

Since reading that introduction to John Piper’s fine book, I have returned to it occasionally to ponder the usefulness of my own life.

Having raised four sons over the course of 34 years and working in various aspects of caregiving for 20 years, I entered retirement six years ago. My focus now rests more fully on God and learning His Word and His ways. Along with that is husband care, pet care, house care and pursuing my newfound hobby of sewing. And yes, caring for myself. Perhaps too much of the latter.

The apostle Paul reminds us:

“You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

So there it is. Those who have been called by God, by grace, through faith in the atoning death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, are obligated to glorify God with every part of the heart, soul, and mind. When we were separated from the world onto Him, we were set on the path which is in the opposite direction from the one we had been traveling on. Instead of running from God, we are to run towards God.

Perhaps while traveling on this path you have stumbled a bit over your own feet. I know I have. Then I am prone to sit on the sidelines. This activity, or rather lack of activity, is oftentimes desirable to an introverted individual such as myself but has no eternal value or Kingdom value on earth. So what is the appropriate response?

Consider the cost. Abraham obediently placed His beloved son Isaac on the altar and was prepared to sacrifice him to God when suddenly God saved Isaac from impending death by offering a substitute. Now consider God the Father, summoning His only Son Jesus, to take that place on the altar, but this time, there is no substitute for His Son. All humanity has sinned against God and we rightly deserve to die as a result of those sins. (Romans 6:23) As God provided a substitute to take the place of Isaac, so He provided a substitute to take the place of us. Even while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. And this is the great love God has towards His children. The dramatic scene of Abraham and Isaac on a mountain in the land of Moriah was a type and shadow of the future sacrifice of God’s perfect Lamb whose death paid our sin debt.

Understand your identity in Christ.

Second Corinthians 5:17: Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold, the new has come.

Gone are the days of living for self and being controlled by our sinful desires. The indwelling Holy Spirit of God works continually to conform us to the image of God. We must respond to the inner prompting of the cleansing work of God. When we respond with repentance and obedience and endeavor to live a life of praise and thanksgiving, the more we will experience the power of the Holy Spirit and the greater usefulness we will be to the King of Kings. With God’s help we will crucify the old man daily and live more fully as one who follows Jesus.

Glorify God in your body

Often we are more committed to the purposes of our own kingdom than the purposes of the Eternal Kingdom. Every place we go and everything we do and say, let it all be for the glory of God. Present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. (Romans 6:13)

Live a life wholly committed to the Lord and be zealous for good works. (Titus 2:14)

Good works are so vital to the life of a Christian that James, our Lord’s brother declared: Faith without works is dead. (James 2:26) Our works testify of our faith in Jesus Christ and are able to ignite faith in others as they see our good works. Good works bless others and display the love of God.

Good works benefit the Kingdom of God on the earth and they also reap eternal rewards. Let’s consider 1 Corinthians 3:10 where Paul says: According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. Verse 12: Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay or straw-13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. Verse 14: If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survived (signified by gold, silver, and precious stones) he will receive a reward. Verse 15: If anyone’s work is burned up (signified by the wood, hay or straw) he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

This is the eternal outcome of our works, either good or bad on the day we stand before the Judgement Seat of Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:10: We must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

It is a judgement of God based on His reward system and not a judgement that brings condemnation. The judgement of condemnation pertains to the unbeliever when he stands before the Great White Throne of Judgement. (Revelation 20:11-15) Praise God that we have escaped that judgement! If not for the grace of God, that would be the destiny of all people.

Let us go out and by the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, snatch our neighbors, our friends, our acquaintances, strangers and even our enemies, if possible, from the judgement that leads to condemnation.

And may our lives reflect the glory of God!

~Bonnie Roerdink

A Change of Perspective

Recently I was invited to one of those parties. You know the ones. The ones in which the host or hostess offers coffee, tea and snacks. Then the presentation begins. In this case the presentation was one of natural hair and skin care products. Inevitably I begin to develop restless leg syndrome that a speedy run for the door would cure.

Why this reaction? Because I have no need to spend money on something that, up to this time in my life, have been living perfectly fine without. We use the big box store hair care products and shower gels without giving it much thought.

Why go then, you may ask. To be sociable, I guess.

My husband and I are trying to cut costs. We are trying to reduce our debt and live more within our means.

And besides, my perspective has changed. Ever since meeting a young man named Modou.

Modou lives in West Africa. Daily life for him and his family can be a struggle. A struggle to find food with the little resources they have. A struggle to stay cool without the comforts of air conditioning or an electric fan. It’s a challenge at times to find clean water in which to cook, drink and bathe. A challenge to stay safe.

You see, by the grace of God, my friend Modou is a Christian. A missionary came through, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and Modou was born again. He lives in a country which is predominantly Muslim. An environment in which the people would rather give their food to the dogs, rather than to a Christian. They won’t hire him because of his faith.

He has very little and we have so much.

Modou has much to be thankful for. He owns a Bible. There are some pages missing but He loves to read the words written by His Heavenly Father. He loves to read and reread the promises of God and the glorious future that awaits him. His faith in Jesus inspires me. He teaches me. He cares for my spiritual wellbeing and has quickly become the friend I may never have the opportunity to meet in person until we are reunited with the Lord. Since meeting Modou, the first thing I see on my phone each day is a scripture that He retrieves from a Bible app.

Pure religion is this, that we help widows and orphans. (James 1:27) My friend in the Lord, Modou, is an orphan. He and his little sister lost both their parents, bringing an end to so much in his life including the opportunity to pursue higher learning.

Modou has something far greater than the things this world can supply. He is royalty because his Father is a King. His Father has a place prepared for Him in a mansion that has many rooms.

It’s all about Him, the Creator of the universe. It’s not about me, getting the best that money can buy. The best automobile, the best clothes, the best food, the best hair products or the best of anything. It is about giving our best to God. The One who layed down His life for you and for me.

Which brings me back to spending money on things I’ve been living perfectly fine without. In fact, I may just find that there are plenty of things I never needed in the first place.

Pray for Modou. Pray that God will continue to supply all his needs according to His riches in glory. Pray for we the people who live in the wealthiest country in the world. That we would have no other gods before the One True God. That we understand what it is to sacrifice for others. Whether it be time, prayer or resources. Look for opportunities to serve others and do everything as unto the Lord.

~Bonnie Roerdink

The Shepherd and His Lamb

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Psalm 95:6-7

“Oh, give ear, Shepherd of Israel, You who lead Joseph like a flock; You who are enthroned above the cherubim, shine forth!” Psalm 80:1

“As for you, My sheep, the sheep of My pasture, you are men, and I am your God, declares the Lord God.” Ezekiel 34:31

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The above verses are a beautiful depiction of God’s relationship towards His people, then and now. It speaks of safety, provision, and caring leadership. It speaks of sacrifice, patience, and faithfulness. Perfect words to describe the God of heaven and earth.

The Old Testament speaks of many people who were shepherds. The first was Abel who brought the best portions of the firstborn of his flock. (Genesis 4:4.) God was pleased with this offering. I’m sure He was thinking of His firstborn Son; the perfect Lamb that He was to send into the world.

Then there was Abraham and Jacob, and the prophet Moses. David, was the most famous shepherd of them all. He learned valuable lessons as a young lad tending his family’s sheep. He learned how to be a fierce defender of the flock and later became a fierce defender of the people Israel, even killing a giant with a sling shot and a single stone. God the Shepherd taught David the shepherd leadership skills that proved to be invaluable while he served as the King of Israel. These lessons developed a mindset within David of faith and dependence which propelled Him to conquer nations and kings. David drew from his years as a shepherd to write the beloved Twenty-Third Psalm.

Then there were sheep. Lots of sheep. Job had 14,000 sheep (Job 42:12) and King Solomon sacrificed 120,000 sheep at the Temple’s dedication. (1Kings 8:63) The Bible makes reference to sheep more than 500 times.

Why so many sheep? During ancient biblical times, God set up a system of animal sacrifice for atonement of sin. Sacrifices were presented to God as payment for their sins and to thwart the anger their sin generated. It was a system in which the people received forgiveness of sin and thereby were reconciled to the God of Israel. It served as a continuous reminder to the Israelites of their sinful nature and consequently their disobedience of the laws of God.

One primary aspect of the sacrificial law was that the animal sacrifice had to be free of blemish. It needed to be the best of the best. This standard reflected the coming Lamb of God, who was born in the flesh, without the inheritance of original sin. Conceived by the Holy Spirit of God, born of a virgin, and lived a sinless life.

The Jewish people were continually slaughtering lambs, goats and bulls as described, for instance, in Second Chronicles 29:21. They were to offer to Yahweh the best of their flocks and herds in order to atone for their sins. They understood that their sins were forgiven by the shedding of blood.

Leviticus 17:11 helps us understand the importance of this ancient ritual. God, speaking to Moses said: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.”

Jesus said:

“I have sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice. Then there will be one flock and one shepherd.” John 10:16

How would Jesus bring these other sheep?

Answer: By laying down the glory He shared with His Father, and submitting to His Father’s will. God, the Shepherd and His Son, the Lamb, that was slain from before the foundation of the world. We were ransomed…

.. “With the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. (1 Peter 1:19)

You see, sinful man can not stand in the presence of Almighty, Holy God and all people by birth inherited the sin nature of Adam.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

And…

The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against ungodliness and unrighteousness of men…(Romans 1:18)

God, in His love and grace sent His first born Son to this planet to walk in the midst of a perverted generation to show us the Way to be saved from our sin and the wrath of God. Jesus received the assignment given to Him by the Father. To lay down His life for the sheep and take upon Himself our sin and in the process of all this, shed His blood, thereby atoning for our sin. He was the perfect Lamb of God who opened not His mouth in defense of His sinless life. Jesus showed us the Way; His Way to be declared righteous to stand before God without being destroyed by sin and fear.

It is a fearful thing for an unrepentant sinner to fall into the hands of the living God. Hebrews 10:31

Jesus said: “…Repent, and believe the gospel.” Mark 1:15

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And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:11-12)

What we were helpless to do, Christ did for us. Romans 5:6

Our part is merely to respond to the call of God. It’s an irresistable, grace filled, supernatural drawing of the Holy Spirit; inviting a repentant sinner to joyfully receive the precious Lamb of God. It is a gift unmatched by any other. It is a gift that will never tarnish or fade away. It yields peace, joy, truth and eternal life. The recipient of this life altering gift is now on a new course with a new goal. With the help of the Holy Spirit, the child of God begins to look upward towards their calling in Christ Jesus rather than inward, focusing on themselves and the temporal things of the world. We have been set free from serving sin to serving the God of creation. And this, all provided by God the Shepherd, Jesus the Lamb and the Holy Spirit.

~Bonnie Roerdink

Peace in Times of Trouble

As I write this, the United States is in the midst of the corona virus pandemic. We have more cases today than any other country in the world. Many of us are under a “stay at home” order issued by our state governors. These are trying times indeed and for some, the future may be uncertain or even fearful.

There is a promise we can hold onto. “All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28.

This is a promise for believers. True believers. Those who love God and are motivated by that love to live for Him.

Does that describe you? Think about it. Do you know the One who created the universe and everything in it? Do you know the One who knows the beginning and the end? Do you know the One who knows everything about you and formed you in your mother’s womb and watched you grow?

Today God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ say: “Come to Me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28.

It is a tender call of intimacy with Jesus to those who are weary and burdened. Weary of trying to work things out in your own strength only to be disappointed and discouraged. Weary of self doubt and self condemnation. Weary of searching for your identity. Weary of comparing yourself to others. Weary from broken relationships, weary from worry, from stress, from sickness! You name it. The burdens of life are endless!

Jesus calls: Come with all your burdens and I will give you rest.

It’s an invitation from the One who experienced the trials and temptations of life and having done so perfectly, experienced the wrath of God when our sins were laid upon Him. He is the spotless lamb of God who offered His life to pay for our sins. He died a terrible death on a Roman cross to set us free from sin and death and to reconcile us to God.

You see, sin separates us from God. It all started with the first man Adam and the first woman Eve and their rebellion towards God in the garden as recorded in Genesis chapter 3.

Sin and death entered the human experience and life was never the same. The Bible teaches that we are the offspring of Adam and by birth inherit his sin nature. (Romans 5:12)

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

Romans 6:23 says: “The wages of sin is death.” This means that through the work of sin within us, we have earned, and deserve, physical and spiritual death. That’s very serious indeed! However, Romans 6:23 doesn’t end there. It continues with the very best news ever! And here it is: “But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Eternal life? How is that possible when we all know that we will eventually die? The apostle Paul said, “For to me, to live is Christ, to die is gain.” (Romans 1:29) Paul’s life, once he was converted, was to live for God, but speaking of his death, he considered it far better to be out of the body and present with the Lord Jesus.

We all possess a spirit, soul and body. 1Thessalonians 5:23. Our spirit was made to connect with God but suffered corruption when Adam and Eve sinned in the garden. It needs to be reborn or made alive to connect with God and walk in fellowship with Him as Adam and Eve did before they rebelled in the garden. Only God can accomplish this miracle as He recreates our inner man and calls to us.

Come to Me…

Our soul is the essence of who we are as an individual. It is often referred to as the heart and the mind of a person. It is the soul that departs from the body upon death. The destination of your soul is determined by who you are joined to in this life. The soul that is joined to Satan, also known as the devil and the enemy of our souls, enters a place of darkness and torment. This is hell and there is no escape.

The soul that has been joined to Jesus, through faith in His sacrificial death, immediately enters heaven and into the presence of Jesus and our great God.

Yes, I know. It is a lot to take in but this is of great importance especially in view of the perilous times we live in. Be reconciled to God and respond to His voice in the stillness of your heart as He offers the gift of salvation through His Son Jesus Christ, who died so you can live!

You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1John 1:9

And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. John 17:3

We can have peace in the times of trouble.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3

~Bonnie