Tag Archives: Encouragement

We Must Know This

“If there is a God, how can I bear not to be that God?”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

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I think Nietzsche got it right here. Even as a believer, I struggle against this natural bent. How can I bear to completely surrender to someone other than myself? Surely, I know what is best for my loved ones and me. My reality often reflects this mindset. If something I’ve prayed for goes my way, Hallelujah! God has answered my prayer. If God says, “Wait” or, “No”, then hasn’t God failed to hear me and my prayer gone unanswered?

The Gospel itself reflects this tension. We need a Savior. But, God chose to effect our salvation by sending His perfectly innocent Son to die an excruciating, agonizing death on a cross in our stead. How many of us would think to have prayed for that? The apostle Peter failed in this regard and shows us his humanness.

From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things…and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.”

Jesus’ response to Peter is shockingly direct.

But He turned to Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

So much hinges on setting my mind on the things of God rather than on the things of man. To trust Him, I must know that God is utterly sovereign and completely good. But it is even more than that. I must also be willing to set aside my own plan for God’s plan. Submission to God’s will is paramount in trusting Him.

Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego discovered this as they placed their faith in God rather than in mere deliverance from Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace declaring, “…our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace…but if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods nor worship the golden image that you have set up.” A courageous Queen Esther demonstrated this when she asserted, “If I perish, I perish.” And, Job exemplified this when he said,“Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”

This same good and sovereign God sometimes withholds temporal deliverance or works in ways we never would have sought out or imagined. In the most ultimate way possible, Stephen discovered this as he was ushered into martyrdom. Battle-worn saints throughout the ages have come to know that even without understanding the why of it, suffering is evidence of God’s will and not a deficit in His character or a failure of their faith in Him.

We must know this, too. There is a God and He must be God.

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel

Matthew 16:21-23; Daniel 3:16-18; Esther 4:16; Job 13:15; Acts 7:54-56; Hebrews 11


Rest Here

Sun Rays Through The Clouds

Image via Wikipedia

Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!   Psalm 4:6

Surely, this prayer is answered for those of us who believe! The Lord’s turning toward His own is an eternal turning, a never rescinded invitation sealed in Christ’s own blood.

We live our lives abundantly beneath His watchful eye, encompassed by His love, safeguarded by His protection and encouraged daily by His help. The light of His face upon us offers forgiveness for sins, growth in our sanctification and a promise of our future and final glorification.

His love is never divided between His children, but exponentially multiplied, grace upon grace.

His attention is a benefit unlike any other offered by mere mortals even though they be men of power and renown. His is an attention to the most minute detail our souls can require with an eye towards our good end. And, He not only has our good in mind, but the absolute power to bring it to pass!

We imagine that friendship with the rich and famous may afford luxuries and opportunities that will give rest to our souls, but the truth is that relationships like these take a lot of work. One must be able to keep up, wear the right clothes, exhibit the appropriate level of intelligence and match resource for resource in an ever evolving appreciation for the finer things in life. And, should we be unable to reciprocate, our worldly alliances wither and die. Amity based on our ability to perform is absolutely exhausting.

How much better to be a friend of Christ!

Because of the Gospel blessings we have in Jesus, the relationship we have with God is not based on our performance but upon the performance of His Son. He took on human flesh. He was tempted and yet did not sin. He humbled Himself unto death on the cross. He took the punishment we deserved. He paid the death penalty that we owed. He rose again and conquered even the grave on our behalf.

It is finished. We need not work. We need not fear. When we fail, our Father does not fold His arms in anger nor sigh and turn away but calls us back with open arms, accepting us in the beloved for Jesus’ sake. And so we pray along with the psalmist, “Look here, Lord! Shine the light of your face upon us!”

This is the saving reality of the Gospel. Rest here.

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


It’s Been Awhile

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My last post here on Gospel Apprentice was in October. It’s been awhile.

For me, writing has always been an outlet. It’s a process I enjoy, even the editing part. In fact, it’s probably the editing part that I enjoy the most. Weird, I know.

I do write almost every day. But, those words are just for me. That’s not to say that my daily musings are profound or mysterious, on the contrary, they are mostly quick notes, thoughts about what Bible verse I happen to be reading or commentary on the day-to-day.

The seasons of our lives bring change, and I am experiencing such a season of change now. For about a year, I’ve been babysitting my beautiful little grandson, and I’ve never felt my age so acutely. On the days I watch my little one, we begin early. By the end of the day, I’m ready for bed by 9 o’clock. Ok, maybe even by 8:30. On my days off, there is housework to do, shopping to be done, errands to run. Even on those days, bedtime can’t come soon enough. And so, as a result, posting on Gospel Apprentice has been put aside.

The main reason I started blogging was so that someday, my children (and now my grandson) would have a record of how the truth of the Gospel worked itself out in the heart and mind of their mother. That reason has not changed. To anyone who reads it, my hope is that this blog will tell the story of an ordinary woman and her very extraordinary Savior. It is to magnify the unfathomable kindness that has been extended to me, a sinner, and to point others to the excellence and beauty of the Gospel of Christ.

I am blessed, albeit exhaustedly so, to write for my children and for our grandson, but also, as we recently discovered, for a new grandchild expected in August by my oldest son and his wife. Praise God!

This morning I got up early and left the house. I am sitting at a local coffee shop as I write this. Last night’s dirty dishes and today’s laundry await my return, but an uninterrupted block of writing time is more important.

I must be more deliberate about making time to write and for the Gospel’s sake, so be it.

So, even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those who come.  Psalm 71:18

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


The Open Hand

You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.  Psalm 145:16

THE OPEN HAND

by Terrie van Baarsel

Drinking deep of deadly lies
Blind and dead to His good will
Had He not plucked me from the mire
I would be left in darkness still.

What antidote to crushing debt
Was freely giv’n by God’s own Son!
No need had I t’was left unmet
Once sin’s power had been undone.

That God would do what I could not!
That God could do what I would not!

That God would hide my life in Christ
And calm my soul so prone to fear
Then satisfy my heart’s desire
By loving me and drawing near!

Oh, the open hand of God
That opens freely and of Grace!
No clenched fist, no iron rod
No punishment meets upturned face.


FINDING GOD IN THE WILDERNESS

Note from Terrie: A new year begins! No real resolutions this year (I have a hard time keeping them). Well, maybe just one: Read more. That’s a general enough resolution that I may find a bit of success in it. As far as Gospel Apprentice goes, I will continue to try to post 3 times a week, sermon notes, something I’ve written, and the internet mixer on Fridays. God bless your 2013. Hope to hear from you this year on Gospel Apprentice!

"The Wilderness" - Israel

“The Wilderness” – Israel (Photo credit: wmrice)

SERMON NOTES: Pastor Carlos Cuellar
January 6, 2013: Cornerstone Fellowship Bible Church

FIVE TRUTHS GOD REVEALS ABOUT HIMSELF THAT WILL ENCOURAGE US WHEN WE ARE IN THE WILDERNESS OF LIFE

Psalm 63

1. In the wilderness God reveals Himself as God so that we desire and behold Him. Ps. 63:1-2
-God takes us into the wilderness so that we can learn that He is all we need.
-In the wilderness, God strips away all other gods so that we can see Him alone as God.
-v. 1: Oh God, you are MY God…
-God awakens our desire for Him and then reveals Himself to us.
-David could’ve looked to other things besides God (David’s own sin, Absalom, his circumstances). But David looks to God.
-In our wilderness of life, we can look to the Cross.

2. In the wilderness God reveals steadfast love toward us so that we worship Him. Ps. 63:3-4
-God takes us into the wilderness to show us how much He loves us.
-There we see God’s covenantal, relentless love.
-David learns that nothing can separate Him from the love of God.
-We don’t have to wait until we are out of the wilderness to worship God. We can worship Him, as David did, in the midst of pain and suffering.

3. In the wilderness God reveals His sufficiency so that we are satisfied in Him. Ps. 63:5-6
-We realize that God is all we need.
-We often want God plus something else. God wants us to know that He is enough.
-Psalm 23: The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…(no lack).

4. In the wilderness God reveals His helping presence so that we trust in Him. Ps. 63:7-8
-He has been our help (past) and will be our help (future).
-We can be comforted by His presence in the wilderness.
-Ps. 23: Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…you are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me.
-When we can’t hold on any longer, He upholds us.
-Even in our darkest hour, we are in God’s hands.

5. In the wilderness God reveals His perfect sovereignty so that we hope in Him. Ps. 63:9-11
-When things go wrong, sometimes our first impulse is to scramble to control the situation.
-David knew that God is sovereign and takes comfort in that.
-God’s sovereign hand acts upon David’s enemies.
-David waits on and trusts God for future deliverance.

This Psalm (song) was written during one of the lowest points of David’s life. Let us also find Him in the wilderness and sing.


Run!

56/365 morning run

56/365 morning run (Photo credit: kharied)

I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free. (Psalm 119:32)

Oh, Christian, run hard after God’s commands. His yoke is easy and His burden, light. His path is free of snares and traps. He goes before you to smooth the way. Follow close. The way is narrow, but well-marked.

Run without fear, for His perfect love casts out fear. Run without guilt; your sins are forgiven. Run without worry; God will provide. Do you love Him? Are you called? Then run without question, for He makes all things work together for good.

Run without doubt, for He promises you wisdom. Run without thirst; living water is yours. Run without hunger; He is the bread of life. Run by faith, for by it you are justified. Run with joy, for therein lies your strength. Run in love, for that is the greatest commandment of all. Run and take heart; He has overcome the world.

Run for His sake. Run by Grace. Run that He may be glorified. Run well, and do not faint.

Run with abandon, beloved. Has He not set your heart free?

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


A Perseverance Not My Own

The last 4 or 5 months have been the most difficult I have ever faced.

There, I said it.

My struggles have to do with people in my life that I love very much. These trials do affect me, but what hurts worse is watching those close to me suffer. Loved ones are battling against disease, facing single motherhood, reaping life-changing consequences for sinful choices, awaiting family custody hearings, and grieving prodigal children.

I am sure I have shed more tears in the last few months than I have in my whole 57 years on this earth.

But today, Paul’s assurance to the Philippians, written so many years ago, has encouraged this believer as well. In chapter 1 verse 6, he writes:

And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

In the darkest hour, God never fails to light the way with Grace. Grace that works itself out in encouraging words written centuries ago that remind us: God is still at work not only in me, but in the people I love.

Our stories are not fully written yet!

Our lives get messy. In fact, life stinks sometimes. There have been moments over the last several weeks that I have positively squirmed under the pressure. I have let it get me down. At times, I have felt downright hopeless.

That’s why the eternal perspective we enjoy by virtue of the Gospel is of such great importance. Without it, our hope would wither and die.

Thank God for assuring me today that even in the mess we make of our lives, He is still working. He will complete what He started. I will hold on to that truth as tightly as I can, all the while knowing that when darkness overwhelms me and I let my grasp slip, that the perseverance of the saints of God lies not in their own ability to hold on, but in the power of the Gospel of Grace.

By His Grace and for the Gospel,
Terrie van Baarsel


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