Praise Points

The day after my return from the ministry trip to Romania, our church had an evening service prepared by a women’s discipleship ministry known as “Earthen Vessels.” This ministry of teaching,counseling, and encouragement to women is led by Mrs. Mary Nie and Mrs. Susan Muldoon. They took their name from 2 Cor 4:7: “But we have this treasure in EARTHEN VESSELS, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” The service was such a blessing that I asked them if I could pass on the basic content by editing it for Grace Notes. Thankfully, they agreed! Rejoice in the following praise points:

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Let’s turn our hearts to our Lord and worship Him together. John 17:3 says “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” And in 1 John 5:20 we read, “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.”

God created us to have and enjoy an intimate, dependent relationship with Himself. He walked and talked with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. That relationship was severed when Adam sinned. Jesus came to restore to us that possibility of intimacy with God once again. In Old Testament times the people approached God with fear and only through the High Priest.

In the New Testament, however, God did something new. Because Jesus shed His blood on the cross on our behalf, we can approach God with boldness and confidence (Heb 4:16). Jesus continually acts as our High Priest, so we can actually dwell in the holy of holies on a daily, even moment-by-moment basis! And even there it is not to look at Him from just inside the back door, but we can crawl up on His lap and cry “Abba, Father–Daddy, Daddy! Isn’t that awesome?

Do you desire that kind of an intimacy with your heavenly Father and His Son Jesus? Then read through this prayer of David and make it your prayer.

“O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water.
So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory.
Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You.
Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.
When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches.
Because You have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me.” (Psalm 63:1-8)

A.W.Tozer said, “It is most important for our spiritual welfare that we hold in our minds always a right conception of God. Nothing twists and deforms the soul more than an unworthy conception of God.” [1]

Consider three aspects of a right conception of God’s relationship with us. These are crucial if we are going to experience intimacy with God: We must know we are completely forgiven, deeply loved, and totally accepted by God Himself.

1. IN CHRIST, WE ARE COMPLETELY FORGIVEN.

What is this forgiveness like? These Scriptures describe the bounty of God’s forgiveness:

“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! ” (John 1:29).

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit.” (1 Pet 3:18).

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor 5:21).

“But You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption, For You have cast all my sins behind Your back.” (Isaiah 38:17b).

“As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12; cf. Col.2:13,14).

It is only when we understand that we are completely forgiven of all our sins– past, present and future (that we will never be condemned by our Father)–that we have the freedom to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior. God is now interested in change, not punishment. Jesus took our punishment for us! He paid it all; we owe it all to Him! The flesh is self-centered and wants to do something to earn forgiveness, but grace gives God all the glory. Here is the proper view of repentance: “Repentance is one of the Christian’s highest privileges. A repentant Christian focuses on God’s mercy and God’s grace. Any moment in our lives when we bask in God’s mercy and grace is our highest moment.”

2. IN CHRIST, WE ARE DEEPLY LOVED.

God is Love (1 John 4:8). All love has its source in Him. We don’t know love except as we know Him. God loves us unconditionally. We don’t have to perform for Him or earn His love. He just loves us because we are His! 1 Corinthians describes God’s unconditional love for us.:

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (1 Cor 13:4-8).

Did you ever use a daisy when you were little to do the “he loves me, he loves me not” thing? Close your eyes right now. Imagine that you have a daisy in your hand and start plucking (but remember, the issue has already been settled!) “He loves me… He loves me … He loves me … He loves me … He loves me …! [2]

3. IN CHRIST, WE ARE TOTALLY ACCEPTED.

Ephesians 1:6 says we are accepted in the Beloved. What makes us acceptable? Being IN THE BELOVED ONE! It is not our behavior that makes us His child, it is because of our birth. We are “by birth” children of God; He has adopted us (John 1:12). We are joint heirs with Christ!

Imagine you arrive home one night and the neighbor kids are playing in your yard with your own children. The neighbor children have been perfect angels–they have not thrown rocks, fought, or used bad language. Yet, your children have been acting up–they’ve done all of those things. But at supper time, which children will be invited into your home to eat? The neighbor kids or your own? Your own, of course. But the neighbor children behaved much better than your own kids; why are they not invited in? Because they are not your children [3] . One day there will be a great feast in heaven, and those who will be there will not be there because their behavior was acceptable, but ON THE BASIS OF THEIR BIRTH. They are children of the King!

We can’t change what we are by our behavior; we must be born again (John 3:3-16). If we are born again, our old Adam life has been put to death and replaced with the very life of Christ (Rom 6:6; 2 Cor 5:17). We are “one spirit with Him” (1 Cor 6:17). Everything that is true of Christ is true of us because He is our life (Col 3:4). **If you are a believer, positionally and spiritually you are as righteous as Jesus is (Phil 3:9). Do you believe that? 1 Corinthians 1:30,31 says “But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God -and righteousness and sanctification and redemption- that, as it is written, He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.” It is the cross that makes us acceptable because we are IN HIM. And there is no better place to be than in Him. This assurance is fertile soil for spiritual growth; it motivates us to do the good works that we delight in through God’s indwelling Holy Spirit.

When you hear, understand, and believe that you are completely forgiven, deeply loved, and totally accepted by very God Himself, it makes a tremendous impact on your life. It not only sets you free, but just naturally spills out to those around you. Out of your heart will flow “rivers of living water” (John 7:38). Let’s keep praising Him for blessing us so richly in Christ!

May 15, 2000 vol. 3, #20

adapted from a service of worship by “Earthen Vessels”

edited by John Woodward

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Notes:

[1] from the Best of Tozer

[2] from “Stillness in the Storm” by Anabel Gillham

[3] from “Sidetracked in the Wilderness” by Michael Wells

Earthen Vessels is part of Winona Gospel Church. This ministry of teaching,counseling, and encouragement to women is led by Mrs. Mary Nie and Mrs. Susan Muldoon. They can be contacted by e-mail:

DandMNIE@aol.com and tmuldoon@cgocable.net

Copyright, John Woodward. Permission is granted to reprint this article for non-commercial use. Scripture quotations (unless indicated otherwise) are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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