|n his 1958 book Reflections on the Psalms, in a chapter titled ”Sweeter Than Honey,” C.S. Lewis considers what the Psalms say about the Law of God. Among other things, he considers Psalm 119, “the Psalm specially devoted to the Law,”1 and compares the good and true way of God versus rival ways of life. An excerpt follows.
In the final paragraph of the chapter, Lewis observed that “[i]n so far as this idea of the Law’s beauty, sweetness, or preciousness, arose from the contrast of the surrounding Paganisms, we may soon find occasion to recover it. Christians increasingly live on a spiritual island; new and rival ways of life surround it in all directions and their tides come further up the beach every time.”3 Let us be thankful that wherever our culture goes, we can depend on the truth of Holy Scripture.
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
PSALM 119:105 (ESV)
1 C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms (A Harvest Book/Harcourt, Inc.), p. 58.
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This is the most special time of year. I cherish every chance to see holiness. It is everywhere I turn and like the beautiful Christmas trees that I have seen -it branches widely and graciously from the bottom up as well as from the shining star at the top!
Today I returned from a warm gathering of friends, each who described a family Christmas tradition that was most treasured over the years. Later, the theme of “Belonging” came to my heart. This was a new thought for me. I did not have a family near for many years and though I have had many solitary Christmas eves both because of travel and circumstances, I had no common traditions with my friends. Family did not arrive, there was no festivity nor the delight of a home to decorate though I do have wonderful memories.
I reached into the far into the past to offer a tradition from childhood. I think that I jumped 60 years back from the fear of speaking about now and looking like I did not “belong”. I ending up rambling on and on like a lost child. (an orphan vs heir?)
Later that afternoon I was stirred by the word “Belonging” in my heart by Spirit. I knew that I needed to deepen my “family relationship” with Lord Jesus. This was the real hope and joy of all Christmas tradition. If a tradition is a long established custom, then from my own earliest childhood prayers, I desired to know Jesus. Any action that followed that would be the custom. Whoever I was with formed my understanding of belonging.
Now that I am mature, I can re-form and return all of my longings to be with Christ. To me, that is one way of Be-longing to Him. I reach with joy to His Love; it is not far off, it is here.
I am hoping that share this experience with others might offer hope and encouragement especially if as you approach Christmas, you find yourself far from home or desiring to be home, in a distant place, in a season of your life when you are alone or perhaps desiring to create a special reason for coming together to celebrate.
We have every hope to live in Faith, to celebrate, for The Son of God is born in a miraculous and Holy way.
We Belong to God, who formed us with Love, sees us each in every moment of our lives; is so near that He feels each breath before it touches the air. Belonging to him also means that He has redeemed me. I am in His Family. The relentless love that pours upon me is designed to outpour as my cup overflows. His Grace and Mercy moves through us and amongst us. It increases the belonging of The Family of God.
© 2017 Linda Willows
But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!
He has called us all by name. We all belong to Him!
I found this article about “Belonging” and enjoy sharing it:
© 2012 Mark D. Roberts
Psalm 100:3 reminds us that we belong to God. The Common English Bible states: “Know that the LORD is God—he made us; we belong to him.” The Hebrew original of the last phrase can be literally translated, “we are his.” The next part of the verse reinforces this truth by adding, “We are his people, the sheep of his own pasture.” Thus, we belong to God because he made us to be his very own people. He continues to watch over us as our good shepherd.
What difference does it make that we belong to God? This simple truth can transform our lives. It can give us profound reassurance of our self-worth. We matter because we belong to the Creator of the universe. The fact that we belong to God also gives order to our lives. We are first and foremost God’s people. Thus, all of our other roles in life must be seen in the light of this primary reality. You may be a lawyer or manager or teacher, but you are first of all one of God’s people. You may be a father or a mother or a friend, but you are first of all one of God’s people. How you live in each of these other roles will be shaped by your primary relationship to God as someone who belongs to him.
Sometimes, when life is hard, or when we’ve turned away from God for an extended season, we can wonder if we still belong to him. The good news of the Gospel is that nothing can ultimately keep us away from God and his love. As it says in Romans 8:38-39, “I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powers or height or depth, or any other thing that is created.” This means that nothing, NOTHING, can erase the fact that you belong to God through Jesus Christ. What great news!
Martin Luther on “Grace”
published by Oxford University Press
by Hans Wiersma, Augsburg College
Grace is an essential element of Christian theological reflection. Primarily, the divine attribute or trait labeled “grace” refers to God’s disposition and activity in regard to the Creation in general and toward human beings in particular. From the first chapters of Genesis to the last chapters of Revelation, Scripture bears witness to the fact that God creates things “good” and gives good things.
God’s grace is especially manifest in the divine promises and other gifts described in the Bible and realized over time. At the same time, the Scriptures show that human beings—made in the image of God—have a history of devaluing, forgetting, and even abusing those things that God has graciously given. Part of Christianity’s doctrinal development, therefore, consists of attempts to describe the scope and sequence of God’s gracious regard and activity on behalf of a humanity prone to sin and rebellion.
In light of such creaturely “original sin” and ongoing rebellion, Scripture testifies that the Creator remains gracious—that God yet desires to be in relationship with human beings despite their sin. Theological considerations of grace share a basic assumption that although God is not obligated to think, feel, and act for the benefit of sinful humans, God does so nevertheless. While God’s wrath results in severe consequences for sin, God’s grace results in gifts that overcome sin and its consequences.
The full extent of God’s gracious giving is in the giving of the divine self in Jesus Christ, the divine Logos made flesh, who is “full of grace and truth” and from whose “fullness we have all received grace upon grace” (John 1:14, 16).
Martin Luther’s theology can be fundamentally construed as the development of his thought regarding the nature of grace, the nature of God’s favor and blessing bestowed upon undeserving human beings.
The many dimensions of Luther’s biblical teaching and theological reflection have, in the background a desire to understand God’s grace most fully revealed in Jesus Christ. As such, Luther’s concepts of the righteousness of God, justification by faith, the bound will, the distinction of law and gospel, the new obedience, the “happy exchange,” and many related concepts are, at heart, attempts to describe what it is to have a God of grace.
Most interpreters have rightly understood that in Luther’s view, to have a gracious God means to have a God who does not require human beings to fulfill a set of prerequisites in order to receive God’s gift in Christ or to reciprocate God’s giving in order to continue receiving Christ and his benefits.
For Luther, to have a God of grace means to believe and trust that through Jesus Christ, God has already met all prerequisites and fulfilled all reciprocations.
On this point, Luther found himself breaking new ground (or recovering lost ground) in the understanding of divine grace.
Luther “broke” with those theological forebears who taught that divine grace was, in one way or another, partly dependent on human willing and doing. For Luther, God graciously wills and works “all in all.” Nevertheless, when Luther’s many descriptions of what it is to “have a gracious God” are analyzed, a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between the One giving the gift and the ones receiving it begins to reveal itself.
For Luther, faith—that gracious means through which God graciously bestows the righteousness of Christ—creates a dynamic rather than static experience of possessing and being possessed of a God of grace.
Indeed, scrutinizing Luther’s writings for descriptions of the experientia of sola gratia continues to be a promising direction for future Luther research.
Oxford University Press
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1 Corinthians 15:10: “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”