Monday, June 21, 2010

New Clothes

As the LORD has providentially provided for all of my daily needs during the past year, He continues to amaze me with His faithfulness. This period has been emotionally hard and financially sparse, yet I have not suffered or sacrificed as I expected. Probably, the most emotionally difficult times have been either from fear and anxiety over what I thought might happen (things that have never materialized, PLT!) or over past wrongs that still haunt me. Handling the past wrongs is something I'll deal with in a different post. Today, I'm thinking about God's provision and how it links to larger truth from His Word.

When I first started working part-time at large major retailer last August, I was pretty excited because I've always enjoyed retail, even though I knew the pay was basically minimum wage. During the orientation, I learned we would have a dress code -- we could only wear black, white, or khakis -- so I went to the local Good Will and Salvation Army and found 5 or 6 tops that would fit the bill for about 2.99 ea.!

Last month, the dress code restriction was removed and as a "thank you" to all who participated in this regional test case, we were all given $100 to purchase appropriate business casual clothing. Again, PTL! I used the certificates during a huge sale and the extra "Power Hours" pricing, and ended up with 10 very nice and stylish shirts and a pair of dress slacks. Woowhoo! I've gotten so many compliments on these clothes, and I've been so blessed, because before I worked at this store, none of this stuff would have been considered my "style" at all. I considered myself more of a polo, button-up, pull-over kind of gal, but these clothes are frilly with pretty purple and pink patterns. Basically, stuff that I would have never even thought to try-on before I worked here.

With these new clothes and style changes, I even feel a little more new, too.

Larger Application
My sister-in-law, neice and I have been asking ourselves (and each other) about our radical life changes: What is God communicating to us through His Word about our present circumstances? So, I've been thinking about how I can learn things from God's Word as He continues to be so faithful in my life.

As it turns out God's Word has a lot to say about "New Clothes." Buckle up!

Gen 3:7 "Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves." Often, our own works, done by our won efforts and motives, are really just trying to make ourselves presentable to God. But when I do this, I wonder if God just thinks I look silly. Like Adam and Eve trying to fix themselves with fig leaves. The clothing of this world is like getting clothes from Good Will -- a physical blessing in the world's sight and a temporary reprieve, but inadequate for eternity or intimacy with God.

Gen. 3:21 "The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them." God provides the only adequate covering by which we may be in covenant with Him -- and it required sacrifice, bloodshed.

Gal. 3:26-27 "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." Considering the costliness of His gift of being clothed with Christ to us: the sacrifice of Christ Jesus on the cross, we realize that we could not purchase it for ourselves. It is a free gift (that cost God dearly).

Luk. 24:49 "I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high." When we are clothed with Christ as believers, we are also clothed with the power of the Holy Spirit to be transformed and to do God's will.

1 Cor. 15:53-55 "For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."
55"Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?"

When Christ returns, we will be resurrected with imperishable bodies and death, sin, pain and sorrow will be finally, ultimately, and eternally defeated!

2 Cor. 5:2 "Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 We live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord."

We long for our heavenly home! Death and sin will be swallowed up! If we are in Christ, We are guaranteed to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, which He is preparing for us now! We are confident! We live by faith! We have a precious and real hope - and a downpayment: The Holy Spirit! Wow!!

Mat. 25:34-42 "Then the King will say to those on his right, come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world... 35 For when I needed clothes and you clothed me..38 "When did we see you ... needing clothes and clothe you?" 40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."

If Jesus Christ really is our Lord and King, if we really are empowered by the Holy Spirit, if we really believe that we have been clothed with Christ, and if we really know that we have been given a downpayment on our heavenly dwelling in the Holy Spirit, how could we not love our neighbors just as God has loved us by helping to provide for their needs as we therefore have opportunity? Afterall, as we build these relationships, we have so much more to offer them than the local Goodwill down the street. For starters, we now have an opportunity to share about the eternal clothing that God offers to those who would trust and believe in Jesus Christ for their salvation!

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