Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Preparation




"I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star. And the Spirit and the Bride say 'Come!' Let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take of the water of life freely....He who testifies to these things says, 'Surely I am coming quickly.' Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen" 
Revelation 22:17, 20-21 (NKJV)

I have been studying the Bride of Christ for quite some time now. I began studying it back in the summer in preparation of our annual Fall Women's Retreat that occurred November 2nd & 3rd. The subject matter is overwhelming to say the least and I was quite intrigued by it all.

At our retreat we covered a few different subjects, 1) the Parallels Between the Jewish Wedding Customs and the Bride of Christ, 2) Preparing for the Big Day, and 3) Love Song for a Savior, but only touched on them because let's face it, you cannot properly study everything there is to know about the Bride of Christ in 3 one hour sessions! But God revealed to us (Dianne and myself, the "wedding coordinators" lol) that our retreat was just the beginning. It was simply to wet our appetite to know and grow more in the knowledge of this subject, and He led us to facilitate our next Bible study---drum-roll please---on the Bride of Christ!

So last Tuesday night was the introduction to the study and the Tuesday after Thanksgiving we will begin digging deeper into learning more about our role as the bride. As I have begun to dive into the Word on this topic again, I am thirsting to know more about what is considered the "Time of Preparation"...our time here on earth, after our betrothal and before the coming again of our Bridegroom. 

How do I prepare? What am I not doing now that I should be and what am I doing that I shouldn't?

Personally, I think the best way to describe the first step of preparation is Self-Examination. I am to be presented to Christ as pure and holy, without blemish...a radiant bride. Do I see myself this way? Not quite...which obviously means that I have work to do. I need to be preparing for when my Groom returns. And I don't know when He is returning to take me to the place He has prepared for me, so I cannot waste time. 

We as the church, the bride of Christ, we cannot waste anymore time!

Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
Ephesians 5:24-27

I've always thought that if I do this, this and this, then I was doing good in terms of being a "Christian". But if I skipped one, even one day, or if I couldn't finish the study I was on or whatever, then I was failing.
I'm learning now, in the last 3-4 years, that this is not so much the truth and I shouldn't be examining myself by earthly standards, but by the standards that God has given to His church.

There is no "check-list" so to speak...but there is a Book that gives instruction for this period of preparation.
I will fall short. I am not perfect. But I have been covered by Grace and forgiven for my shortcomings and can now move past that to grow my relationship with God and grow my faith and obey His Word and follow His lead and long for His Will.

He is my Bridegroom.

The relationship between a husband and a wife is a picture of the relationship of Christ and His church. I seek my husband's approval on earth, I should seek for Christ's approval so much more. I turn to my husband in all decision making, as Christ's bride I can't make a single decision without consultation from Him.  I look forward to growing more in my role and identity as a part of the Bride of Christ. As I am filled more and more with Christ, I see less and less of myself...I hear less and less of my voice...and I welcome the continuation of this decrease of self and increase of Jesus.
I want to be ready...I want to be presentable to my King when He rides in to get me.
My prayer is for this study to increase our appetite, to light a passionate fire within us for our Bridegroom and to cause us to live a life worthy of the title "The Bride of Christ". 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Becoming the Bride of Christ: A Personal Journey Book Tour


Today I am featuring an excerpt from Marilynn Dawson's book Becoming the Bride of Christ: A Personal Journey. This is the fourth week of the blog tour and so you will get a peak into Volume 4 of her 6 volume book. 

You can visit the first 3 stops of the blog tour here:

Volume One: Excerpt- The Prince of Peace Rides In 



If you would like to download a free copy of Volume 4, follow the link at the end of this post.

And without further ado, enjoy this excerpt from Volume 4 of Becoming the Bride of Christ: A Personal Journey!

************

Psalm 30

Psalm 30:5 For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

"Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." How many times do we hear this portion of verse 5 quoted? So many times we hear it offered to people who are going through battles of various kinds. Has it become a cliche? Has it lost its meaning? Only those who have come out the other side in full experiential knowledge that God has been with them the entire way through, can attest that this is far more than empty repeated platitudes offered for lack of anything better to say! I am one of such people who have come through trials and seen God present throughout the journey. I can mark the day on my calendar when my most recent, lengthy personal storm, the second worst storm of my entire life to date, ended, and a new chapter in my faith walk began.

Some night seasons can seem to last for days, weeks, months in my case, with lights at the end of the tunnel turning into speeding trains bearing down on me one after the other. I can remember at one point thinking I saw three lights at the end of my tunnel, they turned out to all belong to the same debilitating train!!! Several months into that storm I honestly became fearful of becoming too optimistic over things that actually went right for a change! I'd become used to seemingly positive events taking unforeseen twists in the road and blindsiding me!

Five months after that storm began, it ended! . . . Swiftly and suddenly! . . . I spent the first few days wondering if it was just another lull in the storm and waited for the winds to resume their beating. But the storm was truly dead! God had brought it to such a swift and decided halt that I was left in complete and total amazement! I could not help but praise the Lord as the Psalmist does in this psalm.

I could hear God speaking to me throughout my storm, speaking through my worship pastor, my senior pastor, through lyrical messages aimed directly at this head and heart. I wasn't able to always digest everything God was saying to me, but I did my best to break it down and seek understanding regardless. I knew one thing was for sure. . . I HAD to be in my Lord's presence! He truly was my refuge, the strong tower that I ran to in a corporate way every chance I got! He met me there too, every single time.

Psalm 30:2-3 O LORD my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me. 3O LORD, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.

I agree with the Psalmist in the verses above. I came out of that storm in full agreement with and actively engaging in verses 11 and 12:

Psalm 30:11-12 Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; 12To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.

There is nothing like abandonment in praise and worship the One who is able to save! To the One who goes with us through the dark times! To the One who meets our needs and heals our wounds! Those that know me do not wonder at my deep desire, excitement and enthusiasm to:

-be found in my Father's House,
-to consider lyrical worship as not only a way to invite others into the Throne Room of God, but as a way to enter into intimacy with my Lord, and
-to draw near to Him in gratitude and longing, thankfulness and wonder.

Truly what an awesome God we serve! I must echo the Psalmist as he exhorts the saints in verse 4:

Psalm 30:4 Sing unto the Lord, o ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.

************


You can continue following this book tour of Becoming the Bride of Christ: A Personal Journey on the next two blog stops! And if you would, share this post with your friends so that they can enjoy this read and dive deeper into their own relationship with the ultimate Bridegroom!

November 8th: Volume Five: Excerpt- Lifter of My Head

http://psalm119greaterthangold.net/

November 16th: Volume Six: Excerpt- Opening Story Segment

http://traveller-gal.blogspot.ca/



Click the link below for your free PDF copy of Volume 4: Psalm 30 between now and the next blog stop:November 8th