Susan Jane King

Thriving with Jesus in life's ongoing challenges

God’s Perfect Design

Our family dog Grace

Our family loves dogs. Between all of us, we have 4 distinctly different canines in our family. We got to enjoy all of them this past Christmas season as our children came to visit. David and I own a very mellow, 8-year-old golden retriever named Grace.  Extremely gentle and sweet, she also stays close and remains acutely sensitive to everyone’s mood. She’ll nestle her head in your lap as you watch a movie, or she’ll bound around the kitchen when you walk into the house and express your excitement in seeing her. Our daughter Katie, son-in-law Curt, and grandson Landon own a boxer-shepherd mix named Lexie. Their dog is extremely loyal and devoted, following her family wherever they go, and expressing concern whenever her “little boy” seems upset. Our daughter Sarah and her husband Ben each brought a dog into their new marriage. Sarah’s Henry, a Vizsla hound, possesses boundless energy and excitement. My husband once played fetch with Henry for 8 hours straight during a Saturday get-together. Then there’s Ace, a pitbull mix. He is such a protector, patrolling the yard, and making certain everyone remains safe. All four dogs are extremely affectionate and love their family.

As I observed these precious pooches and their unique personalities over the holidays, I thought about how God shapes and crafts each of us with specific personality traits . . . and how we should embrace, celebrate, and move forward in how He made us.

Lexie watching over Landon during a recent car trip

God made us specifically and individually

Ephesians 2:10 says we are the Lord’s workmanship, the word poiema in the Greek. It means a product, a fabric, a work, of the works of God as Creator, or as one of my pastors likes to say, God’s masterpiece. In other words, the Creator of the universe fashioned and shaped each of us, including our personality traits, like a fine tapestry that is woven together from many different threads and results in a one-of-a-kind, beautiful work of art. The God of the universe created you, and He knows what He is doing. No one else on this entire planet is exactly like you. God authored your life, and He looked at you and said His creation was “very good” (Genesis 1:31, NASB).

Just as Lexie is loyal and Grace is sensitive to others, and just as Ace protects and Henry spreads joy, each of us possesses valuable personality traits wired into us by God. Many of us waste a great deal of time wanting to be different than how God designed us. I know I have done that. I’m sure it grieves the heart of God because He put a great deal of love, design, purpose, and power into who He made each of us to be. He tells us we are, “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14, NASB).

Ace and Henry

God made us with a divine purpose in mind

The Lord wants to use the way He made each of us to achieve His own special purposes. The remainder of Ephesians 2:10, NASB, says we are “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” In other words, the Lord wants to use what He designed into us for His kingdom purposes . . . to draw others to Himself.

I can see the Lord’s fierce protection in Ace, His compassion in Grace, His faithfulness in Lexie, and His joy in Henry.  On a much grander scale, the Lord wants others to see aspects of His Son Jesus in our lives:  “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27, NASB). That word glory is doxa in the original Greek form, and it means to manifest [display], give an estimation of; hence [resulting in] praise, honor, and glory. God designed you and placed you in this world not only so that you would know Him but also so that your unique personality and personal traits could be used to reflect the character, nature, and ways of His Son to people who desperately need Him. What a beautiful calling and purpose!

My husband is a lot more like Henry and Ace. He is a fierce protector of others who are vulnerable. He can lead a group forward in safety like a pitbull on patrol. He also possesses an energetic, strong personality and a great sense of humor, so he can engage well with others in different social settings. I relate more to Lexie and Grace. I’m more of an introvert. I hang back and observe others and settle in next to someone who might need a little encouragement or support. I key into other people’s feelings very easily and can relate to their strong emotions. Both David and I relate differently to others because of how God made us, and I’m certain the Lord made us this way to help different people in different ways . . . or maybe the same people in different ways.

God doesn’t make junk

Psalm 139:14, NASB, adds, “Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.”  Isaiah 64:8, NASB, says, “But now, O Lord, You are our Father, we are the clay, and You our potter; and all of us are the work of Your hand.” Our Lord knows what He is doing. He is the Master Designer. We don’t need to question His work or the purpose of His designs in each of us  (Isaiah 29:16; 45:9).

We can choose to accept and celebrate how God made us—those traits He placed in us that mirror His own. At the same time, we can go to Him about our struggles and character flaws too, and we can allow Him to reshape and mold us into a clearer image of His Son Jesus. “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NASB).

Our family dogs don’t try to be anything other than who they are. Their unique personalities shine every time we get together. They constantly remind me of our Masterful Creator. As we stand on the cusp of a new year, may each of us move forward as the individuals God designed us to be, and may His unique designs bring others closer to His Son.

Question: How has the Lord used the personal traits of others to teach you more about Jesus? Comment at the link below.

 

Ephesians 2:10; Genesis 1:31; Psalm 139:14; Colossians 1:27; Isaiah 64:8; 29:16; 45:9; 2 Corinthians 3:18

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Letting Our Light Shine

The lights on our tree, shining for all to see

We got a new artificial Christmas tree this year. We retired the old one because it had several broken branches and a splintered stand that left it looking wobbly and forlorn. Once the new tree arrived, I spent hours unfolding and separating each branch. Then, I began the intricate process of attaching stringed lights to each of those branches. Finally, I plugged the lights into the wall outlet and stood by the tree, enjoying the warm glow of the abundant white lights.

I decided to take a break at that point and to come back later to hang the ornaments. I walked back into the living room several hours later and stopped in my tracks. The tree was completely dark, not a single light twinkled on its branches. Ugh, I thought. What happened?

I went to the basement to check the fuse box, and all the switches were in the right position. I came back upstairs and sat on the couch, pondering my dilemma. Then, I remembered that the lights came with some extra little packets of replacement bulbs and fuses. I wonder if I have a blown fuse on the light string, I thought. I realized the blown fuse would have to be in the first strand of lights since they were all out. I found a tiny screwdriver and opened the fuse compartment, and there it was—a blackened light fuse. Once I replaced it, my tree lights were shining once again.

Jesus said, “‘I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life’”, John 8:12, NASB. When we invite Jesus into our hearts, His light takes up permanent residence in us. We belong to Him, and no one can snatch us out of His hand (John 10:29). His light and His power are always available to us, just like the current flowing into the lights on my Christmas tree. He tells us, “‘You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven’” (Matthew 5:14-16, NASB).

We always have Jesus with us, but sometimes, we short-circuit our relationship with Him. When that happens, we and others miss out on experiencing the radiance of His presence moving in and through our lives (Hebrews 1:3). His light and power are blocked from being fully manifested in us. What can we do to make certain our connection with Jesus stays open?

Love

We can cultivate our love relationship with Jesus. When you love someone, you spend time with them, talking and enjoying their presence. We can do that with our beloved Bridegroom Jesus (John 3:29). We can spend time in prayer, listening to and talking with Him. We can talk with Him throughout the day and look for the manifestations of His love toward us. We can read and meditate on the gospels and become more familiar with His words, character, and actions. We can thank and praise Him for His great love for us: “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13, NASB). We can shout and celebrate in our hearts that “My Beloved is mine, and I am His” (Song of Solomon 2:16, NASB).

Faith

When fear and discouragement come our way, we can choose to believe what our Lord says. We can decide to trust in, fully rely upon, and cling to Jesus. “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see . . . And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:1, 6 NIV).

Our connection to Jesus stays open and strong when we store up His Word in our hearts and draw on it in times of trouble. Job, who endured a world of troubles, was inspired to say, “I have not departed from the command of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12). We are told that when Mary received a word from the Lord, “Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19, NASB).

We, too, can store up God’s Word in our hearts and ponder over it, and then, we can put our faith in what the Lord has said in our difficult times. We are promised if we actively store up God’s Word, that “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 14:26, NASB). In other words, He will remind us of the Word we need when we need it. What a beautiful way to keep God’s power and presence flowing in our lives! The Lord’s light spreads when we do that, and He wants us to “appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life” (Philippians 2:15, NASB).

Obedience

The Holy Spirit works continuously to keep our connection to Jesus strong and open. That’s why we are warned not to grieve or quench Him (Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19). Again, we decide if we are going to do what He says. But we are promised that when we walk by the Spirit, we “will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16, NASB). Jesus said, “‘If you love Me, you will keep My commandments’” (John 14:15, NASB). In other words, our obedience comes out of a love relationship with Jesus.

When we disobey, a separation occurs between us and God (Isaiah 59:2), and when we obey, we maintain a strong connection with Him. Obeying God shows that we love and trust Him, and the Lord can move and work through a heart like that (2 Chronicles 16:9). In addition, each time we choose to trust the Lord and do what He says, His blessings can flow freely and unhindered into our lives.

Again, God’s Word serves as a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psalm 119:105). It lights the way for how we are to live. It sets the standards for obedience, so we need to know what it says. God’s standards are meant to bless us and to keep us out of trouble (Deuteronomy 10:13). We need to be storing up God’s Word in our hearts. We have to know what it says before we can choose to do what it says. Psalm 119:11, NASB, says, “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.”

God has done His part by sending Jesus as the Savior of the world. He has supplied an unending current of love and power through Him. Our responsibility is to keep the connection open, so the love, power, and presence of Jesus can radiate through our lives. May you and those you love bask in the warm glow of His light this Christmas season—and always!

Question: What steps are you inspired to take in order to maintain an open connection with Jesus? Comment at the link below.

 

John 8:12; 10:29; Matthew 5:14-16; Hebrews 1:3; John 3:29; 15:13; Song of Solomon 2:16; Hebrews 11:1, 6; Job 23:12; Luke 2:19; John 14:26; Philippians 2:15; Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19; Galatians 5:16, NASB; John 14:15; Isaiah 59:2; 2 Chronicles 16:9; Psalm 119:105; Deuteronomy 10:13: Psalm 119:11

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