Susan Jane King

Thriving with Jesus in life's ongoing challenges

Keeping What’s Important

moving boxes

Yesterday, I helped my daughter pack her things to move out of an apartment in Charlotte. We went through all her belongings, boxed up some, and discarded many others. It took us 7 hours to process her possessions through the sieve of what remained important and what needed to be tossed.

We are called to do the same in our spiritual lives . . . to hold on to the truth, what remains relevant and important . . . and to throw out the lies, distractions and other junk.

Jesus made a point about doing so when He said, “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins” (Mark 2:21-22, NIV).

He was making a reference to the gospel, that God in His lovingkindness chose to send Jesus to save us from our sins. The Lord was doing something new. Man’s old system of working to earn God’s approval under the Law was being tossed, replaced by grace. What man could not do, God did—sending Jesus to take care of the sin problem. The two systems cannot exist together (grace and works). One has to go.

Toss the Works 

Any time we find ourselves thinking our worth is based on our performance or feeling condemned because of something we have done, that’s the old system of works. It needs to be tossed. We are not under works but under grace. The Law with its rules and regulations was never meant to be an end in and of itself. It was designed to make us realize we need Jesus (Romans 3:20, Galatians 3:24-25). Jesus met the requirements of the Law. He was the only One who could.

Live in Grace

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NASB). God decided to lavish His favor on us through Jesus, not because of anything we did to earn it. He chose to love us. Period. He still does. His magnificent love led to His magnificent sacrifice on our behalf. Since He paid so great a price to give us His grace, we need to hold onto it and live in it, never tossing it aside, always taking it with us. He has given us His Holy Spirit to help us do that.

My daughter will be moving to Raleigh to attend graduate school in the fall. All the boxes we filled and placed in our attic will be going with her then. I will be praying she also takes and lives in the grace of God during this new season of her life.

May we all do the same in whatever season we find ourselves.

Question: How do you keep yourself aware of the grace of God? Comment at the link below.

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Susan Jane King

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Cherishing Time with a Friend

friendship

A dear friend of mine joined me on a writing retreat a few weeks ago. We stole away to a lake house and wrote to our hearts’ content. The Lord gave us a special gift in the stillness of that peaceful lake home. We got to enjoy one another’s company . . . and His.

I cherish this particular friend. She is kind, devoted, and passionate about Jesus. Every time I am with her, I get encouraged in the Lord. What a blessing! Spending four days with her was truly a time of “as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17, NIV).

When I have time with this friend, I am always reminded that she presents a picture of my very best friend, the “friend who sticks closer than a brother” . . . that’s Jesus (Proverbs 18:24, NIV). We are told in John 15:13, NIV, that “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” That’s exactly what Jesus did. I realized after I left the lake house and dropped off my friend at her home, that I can cherish time with my Friend Jesus every moment of every day. Here’s how we can all do that:

Acknowledge His presence

We can stop periodically throughout the day and simply thank Jesus for being with us. He promised He would never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5) and that He would be with us always, even until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). He keeps His Word. We can trust Him in that and acknowledge His presence with us. Reminding ourselves of His presence brings greater comfort and intimacy to our daily lives.

Talk with Him and listen to Him

We have been given the gift of being able to confidently approach Jesus because of His sacrifice on our behalf (Hebrews 4:16). That means we can talk with Him and hear from Him as we go about our lives. He cares and responds (Hebrews 7:25). Whatever we are experiencing or feeling, we can talk with Him about it. He is our dearest friend and confidant.

At the same time, Jesus speaks to us. He speaks through His Word, in our hearts, in our circumstances, and when we interact with His people. He gives the perfect advice and instruction because He is the perfect friend. When we long for and seek to hear His voice, our relationship grows deeper still.

Invite Him into our experiences

Friends do things together. In the same way, we can invite Jesus into our daily experiences. We can welcome His presence and His friendship as we live out our lives. We can thank Him that whatever we do, we get to do it with Him. The disciples on the road to Emmaus walked with Jesus, talked with Jesus, and ate dinner with Him. They realized afterward that their hearts were burning because they had gone through the day with Jesus (Luke 24:32).

In the same way, we can cherish the time we have with Jesus every day. Whether we are at the lake, in our homes, at school, or in the office, our Best Friend is always there. We are blessed if we cultivate that friendship.

Question:  What are some ways you intentionally cherish your friendship with the Lord? Comment at the link below.

Visit Susan’s website: susanjaneking.com

Susan Jane King

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Reflections on a Blast from the Past

friends photo2    friends photo1

Patrick and I with Grey Calvert Ward (left), Jan Dyrholm, and Jim Freeman.

Patrick and I experienced a great blessing this week, reconnecting with the two ladies who taught Patrick when he was five years old, trying to help prepare him for kindergarten. Their names are Grey Calvert Ward and Jan Dyrholm, and we saw them as we spoke at Milford Hills United Methodist Church. We also ran into Jim Freeman, my former boss, mentor and friend, who was CEO at Rowan Regional Medical Center when I worked there. I thanked the Lord over and over for allowing us to see and visit with these special friends.

The Lord uses people to shape us.

Reconnecting with these dear people from our past reinforced to me how intentional the Lord is in using others to shape our lives. Often, we don’t realize at the time how significantly others impact us until we have a moment like I did a few days ago . . . We run across them again, and we have time to reflect and be thankful for their influence on our lives.

The ladies in Patrick’s transitional classroom taught me a great deal about determination and perseverance. They worked tirelessly to try to help the developmentally delayed children under their care to make progress academically and socially. They loved their students and fought for services for them. They motivated parents to never give up in advocating for their children.

My former boss modeled graciousness, respect, and strength under control. I watched him interact with many different types of employees and medical personnel. He treated others like they were valued and valuable. He led others by his example to do the same.

The Lord uses people to teach us about Him.

I admire how all three of these individuals used their personality traits to honor the Lord. In fact, thinking about their personal qualities reminded me of the Lord Himself. He fights for us. He never leaves or forsakes us. He loves us to the end. He is gracious and strong. He values us, so much so that He died for us.

The Lord uses people to draw us to Him.

In fact, God’s goal is for all of us to be conformed to (take on) the image of His Son Jesus (Romans 8:29), so that people can look at us, see Jesus, and be drawn to Him. Grey, Jan, and Jim do a good job at that. May we allow Jesus to fill our lives to such an extent that He can do the same through us.

Question: How have you seen the Lord’s qualities in other people? Comment at the link below.

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Susan Jane King

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Delighting in the Snow

snow

This past week, our area was blanketed with snow, the thick, fluffy kind that turned our everyday landscapes into breathtaking scenes like the one at the top of this blogpost (the view out my front window). Since I live in North Carolina in a region that rarely experiences these kinds of snowfalls, everything came to a screeching halt. The world became quiet and still for a while. School was cancelled, businesses closed, and vehicles stayed off the roads.

The 4 to 5 inches of snow offered me to experience the blessing of being alone in the stillness. My husband and daughter were out of the country on a mission trip. My other daughter was out of town. My married daughter was happily tucked away in another city with her husband. My son was away at college. I was steeped in the quiet stillness (except for the company of two big, slobbery dogs). I found a special joy in embracing the snow because it reminded me of some vital truths.

The Lord blesses us with stillness.

During the snow, I stayed at home and enjoyed the Lord’s presence throughout each day. I slowed down, savoring each moment, talking with the Lord, thanking Him for His great love that sustains me in everything. I wasn’t dashing around to appointments, trying to complete my “to do” list. I got to experience what it says in Psalm 46:10: I got to be still and know that He is God.

That greater realization reminded me how the Lord has set us free from works. The literal translation of Psalm 46:10, NASB, is “Cease striving, and know that I am God.” We must quit working, trying to earn God’s favor. We don’t have to do anything because the work has already been done on the cross by Jesus. We can “let go” (of works) and “sink into, relax, and be quiet [rest]” in what Jesus has accomplished on our behalf. Those are the definitions of the original words for “cease striving” in the Bible.

The Lord creates a beautiful, new landscape in the stillness.

As I watched the transformation in nature around me and in the atmosphere inside my home, I thanked God for the way He makes all things new. “Says the Lord, ‘Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool” (Isaiah 1:18, NASB). Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is enough to pay for our sins. His resurrection is proof that His payment was sufficient.

If we believe that truth, a special transaction occurs, and we are changed: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NASB). We are forever changed, destined for a forever home with Jesus. We are blanketed with His righteousness, like the snow that covers the ground. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NASB).

The Lord allows us to delight in Him.

I was stopped from working during the snow. It was a season of rest and restoration. In the same way, each of us can continually enjoy a rest from “works,” trying to earn the Lord’s love and approval. We are loved and approved in Jesus. We are accepted in the beloved (Ephesians 1:6, KJV), and no one can snatch us out of His hand (John 10-28-29, NASB). We can admit we need Him, receive Him, and choose to live the rest of our lives under His leadership.

Instead of working, we now get to delight in the Lord and what He has accomplished for us. We can rest from works and rejoice in the work that Jesus did on our behalf. “So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His” (Hebrews 4:9-10, NASB). We don’t approach a holy God based on our own works, but on the completed work of Jesus. When we do, we find ourselves delighting in the Lord—even more so than the beauty of new-fallen snow!

Question: Have you allowed the Lord to free you from working to please Him? Have you accepted His free gift of new life in Jesus? Comment at the link below.

Visit Susan’s website: susanjaneking.com

Susan Jane King

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