Archive | August 2016

Grading on a Curve

aid1391226-728px-Curve-Grades-Step-1-Version-2[1]Do you remember when we were in school…. how absolutely relieved we were when we found out the teacher would be grading on the curve on some of our tests?    We were Especially glad on those hard ones or the ones we just didn’t study for!!  For some reason, those teachers would have pity on us and decide they would slip us a break …. and level the playing field by taking the highest achiever’s grade and using it as the “A” point …then….they would adjust everyone’s grade accordingly.  They lowered the standards so to speak so each of us would look better on paper.   Even though we didn’t take the time to study…. we still have a grade that would make our Parents proud…. instead of a big fat “F”… we now have a C…. or B … or sometimes even an A!!   On paper…. we look pretty good!

I was thinking about this while I was driving to work one morning.   I wasn’t quite sure why that particular thing crossed my mind since I haven’t been in school for a long…. long time…. and my youngest son has been out of High School for 3 years now….. but then of course…..the analogy came.   This is what I felt God was saying to me …..
….. many people think I am like that.   They think I am like those teachers in school….they think I am grading on a curve!!

Have you ever said…. or heard someone else say something like…..

“Well… Look at Joe over there….  he claims to be a Christian but did you hear him cussing out that Referee?   …….. At least I don’t do that!”
or……
“I am a very good Christian woman…. I may have a drink once in awhile …. when I’m at home ….just to unwind a bit…… but at least I’m not like Sally over there who acts like she doesn’t and still sits on the front row of church!”
or……
“Hey…. at least I go to church on most Sunday’s and not only on special Holidays like Mr. Whats-his-name over there!”
or……

Ok… I know you have gotten the picture I am trying to paint.   I won’t keep going because there are so many more…. “at least I don’ts or do’s” …. floating around out there that we could go on for a long time.

Now… just think… if God was like one of those teachers that graded on a curve, and the only one we had to measure up to was the best scoring Christian we know…..we would all be looking pretty dog gone good.    If God would just level the playing field by lowering the standard and taking the best Christian “scorer” and using them as the “A” grade, it would make things so much easier for us.  How awesome would that be!!!  Now …..we wouldn’t even have to read, let alone study the Word.  We could “skip” church and do those fun things we want or even just sleep in on Sundays…… We would only have to Pray or Praise a fraction of the time and as long as we put forth a little effort … we could possibly be catapulted to the head of the class.   When we look at our Christian grade card now… instead of seeing that big fat “F” … we now are pleased to see an A or B!   See…. We’re not so bad after all!   God must be so proud of us!  Well done though good and faithful servant?!?!?!

Isn’t that what many of us think though?

THIS however…. is NOT what God does.   He has not lowered His standard so we can all have an easy “A”  in Christianity…..but He has raised the standard by telling us we are to strive to be like Jesus….. Not…. Joe…. Sally… or Mr. Whats-his-name!   Yet…. many of us are still “hoping”  He will have pity on us and use those “less than perfect” Christians to grade us on our walk when we get to Heaven.
My Bible says in 1st John 2:6   whoever says he lives in Christ [that is, whoever says he has accepted Him as God and Savior] ought [as a moral obligation] to walk and conduct himself just as He walked and conducted Himself.
God sat the standard with Jesus.   His walk …. His conduct…. is the standard in which we are graded on.   He … was perfect and blameless.   He… is the “A” point… and we are all going to have to do some work to pull our grades up as Christians.   Work… as in reading and studying Gods Word so we can know what Jesus did in order to become more like Him.   Work…. as in Praying to Him to get direction as well as our needs met.   Work… as in Praising Him for Who He is and for What He has done and is doing in our lives. Work…. as in developing a relationship with Him!

Jesus didn’t “fit in” to the way the world thought or did things.  He didn’t even fit in to the way the “religious” people thought or did things!   He stood out!   He was different.   He Loved those the world shunned.   He called evil…. evil!   He taught Truth!   He lived a life that was Holy!  He didn’t do what the world did or go where the world went.  He kept the Sabbath day.    He Prayed to His Heavenly Father.   He healed the sick.   He didn’t condemn the world… but brought Light and Hope!   He gave His life…. for US!!
He… is our Standard!

Now before we get down on ourselves and condemnation tries to sneak in…. God knows we could never meet such perfection while still in this world.   He doesn’t expect us to be perfect in and of ourselves…. but … through the blood of Jesus we have been given Mercy… and Grace.
Phillipians 3:12  Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christlike] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own.
The problem is… many of us are taking advantage of Mercy and Grace and using it as a “get out of jail free” card so we can slide in on someone else’s work!  But that simply isn’t Biblical.

We all will stand independently before God someday and give an account of what we did or did not do.

The Bible says in 2nd Corinthians 5:10
For we [believers will be called to account and] must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be repaid for what has been done in the body, whether good or bad [that is, each will be held responsible for his actions, purposes, goals, motives—the use or misuse of his time, opportunities and abilities].

We won’t be able to throw around the names of others to justify our actions ….. It will only be you …. and God!   You will be “graded” on your performance alone.   I am sure He will show you and me what we did… or didn’t do …. good or bad…. right… or wrong.   There no doubt will be tears!   Tears of missed opportunities…. and also of out right rebellion to His Word.   Then, I believe Jesus will step in on our behalf  to remind God of the Blood He shed for this very moment…. to cover those sins and to make us pure in Gods eyes…. and that… is when He wipes away every tear!
Revelation 21:4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be death; there will no longer be sorrow and anguish, or crying, or pain; for the former order of things has passed away.”

but….. there is one more Scripture that NO one wants to ever hear…..

Matthew 7:21-23
 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to Me on that day [when I judge them], ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and driven out demons in Your name, and done many miracles in Your name?’   And then I will declare to them publicly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me [you are banished from My presence], you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands].’

Those are words I wish never to hear!!!  I believe God is sounding many wake up calls for us to get our priorities in line…..to make the necessary adjustments in our lives and to always be prepared for what is in front of us.   Always ready.  The time is short.  Shorter today than yesterday!  Don’t assume you will pass!   Don’t take your salvation for granted!   Don’t compare your walk with the person next to you! Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today!   Jesus IS coming….. and He not only wants you to be in Heaven with Him… but He wants you to be a vessel to bring others with you to Heaven.   Follow His Standard…. !

and on that judgement day……. our diploma will read …..‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’ Matthew 25:23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grace… yep… that is what we call the free and unmerited favor of God.   Grace keeps us from getting what we deserve but….that is

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S……. Is For Sorrows Lesson 6

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S….. The last lesson of the TEARS Series.
So… what are some Tear inducing words that start with S.

Sadness……. Secrets…….Separation………. Shame……. Sickness……… Sin……… Sorrow……. Songs……… Sunshine……Stress…… Sacrifices …..

This one seemed to be hard for me to get the “right” one.   I “Struggled” through this one until the week before I was to teach it.   God kept bringing the word “Sorrow” to me and I couldn’t
figure out what would make it different from the others I taught on ….. and then …. it hit me!!!!

When we add an “S” to the end of a word…. that word then becomes plural…. meaning there now are  multiples involved.   Not only does the word Sorrow include……
Trials…. Endings….. Adultery…..Remember…..but everything not covered there as well….

The Dictionary defines Sorrow as:
To feel deep sadness or mental pain.  Deep sadness especially for the loss of someone…. or something loved.

The KJV Dictionary Defines Sorrow:
The uneasiness or pain of mind which is produced by the loss of any good. or of frustrated hopes of good, or expected loss of happiness; to grieve; to be sad.

Related words:
Agony, Distress, Pain, Suffering, Torment, Blues, Dejection, Depression, Desolateness, Despair, Despondence, Distress, Doldrums, Downheartedness, Dreariness, Gloominess, Heartsickness, Joylessness, Melancholy, Miserableness, Misery, Mopes, Oppression, unhappiness, Woefulness, Guilt, Regret, Remorse, Self-reproach, Shame, Self-pity.

For the last 5 lessons, I have given you many things that have caused tears to flow in my life….. but many of you have gone through so many things I can not even imagine how you have withstood them….!   Only through the strength of Holy Spirit…. have kept the Faith and kept on keeping on!

I began to think of my friend …. who has suffered 3 plus years with Lyme Disease.   I have seen her struggle with deep pain that attacks her body and her strength ….. mentally and physically…. and has changed her way of life in many ways.   When things get hard to bare… I have seen her somehow pull that strength out from deep within and she makes it… another day… to fight.

Then I was reminded of A Mother in our class who has faithfully taken care of her sweet daughter that has been in a wheelchair for many years.  I have seen tears and struggles through the smiles they show when they are at church only when you look deep into her eyes.   She is a master at hiding the fear…. the exhaustion…. the sadness she holds within.   God has continued to strengthen her but the sorrows…. are real and the tears…. oh I’m sure there have been many behind closed doors of her home.

I also thought of another woman who herself has been in a wheelchair from I believe MS.   I have no idea how many years she has been confined to that chair, yet you can count on her showing up to church on Sundays…. and Wednesday night services as well.   I know her heart has longed to rise up and leave that chair sitting on the curb…. and yet… she continues to push through her restrictions…. her…. sorrows…. and greets each one of us with a beautiful smile!   Proof…. of her Love for our Savior ….. shines in her eyes… and through her life!

As I walk around the room I see other women in my class who have gone through so many sorrows I have not been through.   Women who have been taken care of by a mother…. and now… are taking care of her mother.   Tenderly and patiently walking near her as she walks with a walker from place to place!
One…. Has just been through surgery on her leg and is Cancer Free.
Another who has had job layoffs…. rehiring…. layoffs….
Family and Children who have had drug addictions…..
One who lost a husband and moved several states away…. trusting …. that God had told her to move to Missouri… without having family to meet here.

And still…. though so many sorrows were listed in our little class room…. there are oh …. so many more that are facing much greater sorrows….. sorrows that I can not even wrap my head around!
Every time we turn on the TV….Read in a paper or on Facebook…. we hear more and more of…
Shootings…. like the Dallas Police Shootings.
Selfishness…. People taking the life of loved ones to get back at someone.
Slander….. Oh… the Political race at its finest.
Scared……..People don’t feel safe
Sadness….
Sufferings…..

The Bible says in Psalm 34:17-19

When the righteous cry [for help], the Lord hears
And rescues them from all their distress and troubles.
The Lord is near to the heartbroken
And He saves those who are crushed in spirit (contrite in heart, truly sorry for their sin).
Many hardships and perplexing circumstances confront the righteous,
But the Lord rescues him from them all.

I thought about that Scripture…. and the verse that says…. “The Lord is near to the heartbroken”…… How near is He really?   Sometimes we feel as though He is a million miles away and He doesn’t see our sorrows… and if He does… He must not even care!    But God reminded me of our Scripture we have based this study on….
Psalm 56:8   You keep track of all my sorrows.
    You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
    You have recorded each one in your book.

Now … let me ask you…. What happens to a tear when it falls off of your cheek?    It falls to the ground…. or on your clothes…. and then it is absorbed.  If it is absorbed…. it can’t be retrieved…. if it can’t be retrieved…. it can’t be kept in a bottle.    Right?   So…. according to the Scripture… if God collects ALL my tears in His bottle… He is going to have to be close enough to catch those tears before they fall of my cheek.   THAT is pretty close….. pretty “near to the heartbroken”…. wouldn’t you agree?

Psalm 30:5
….weeping may endure for a night, but Joy comes in the morning!

2nd Corinthians 4:17
For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long.

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At the end of each class I poured a corresponding color of sand into a tall bottle to represent the tears kept in a bottle…
T…. was for  Trials… and Teal was the color of sand.
E…. was for Endings…. and Evergreen was the color of the sand.
A….. was for Adultery… and Amethyst…. the sand.
R….. was for Remember…. and Raspberry sand was what I choose.
S….. was for Sorrow…. and Silver was the last color of sand.

The Bottle was beautiful!
I believe…. That I have Many Tear bottles in heaven!   I believe… they will be even more beautiful than this one… and in my mansion that God
has prepared for me…. these Tears…. in Gods bottle…. will be a beautiful decoration on my mantle!

One last surprise God gave me for this class…. a Poem.   I …. am not a Poet…. I have tried time and time again to write poems and they never turn out….. but when God is in it… it just happens..

                T.E.A.R.S

  Whenever life gets hard
and your tears begin to flow,
Your Father God in Heaven
Can See your every woe.

Not only does He see them,
no matter how things look,
each Tear He catches in a bottle
and records them in His book.

For every trial you’re facing
though the battle is so real,
This test will soon be over
and your tears will turn to Teal.

In life we have beginnings
and endings that are mean.
But every tear we’ve shed for them
are now for Ever-Green.

Your heart in part was broken,
Adultery… the catalyst,
But as a Princess of The King
Royal tears are shades of Amethyst.

Memories, sweet memories
They make our hearts so merry.
Good and bad, the tears you see
are now a bright Raspberry!

Sorrows seem to multiply
They set our hearts to quiver.
But when our God has touched those tears,
They’ll  Shine like Precious Silver.