Christian Living,  Devotions,  Education

Looking on Beauty: Learning to Behold the Good Gifts of God’s Grace

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Years ago, when I first decided to create a space to write and process life and faith, I titled my original blog, Looking on Beauty. After all the struggles I had faced, I realized the only thing holding me together was Jesus. He was my unwavering source of hope, joy, and peace in the middle of the struggles of life.

And Jesus is beautiful in every way.

Healing came in my life from time spent looking on what was good, right, and true – the beautiful truths of the good news of Christ. Those who receive this good news are beautiful, because they reflect His image. The Bible even says that the feet of those who share the good news are beautiful, because they are actively moving toward the source of life and hope — and they are leading others there as well. Our feet take us where are hearts are planted.

“And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”

Romans 10:15 NLT

Romans 10:15 was quoted from the Old Testament passage of Isaiah 52:7: “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns!”

Our feet take us where are hearts are planted.

When the word beautiful is used in the original languages of these verses it goes beyond our cultural idea of physical attractiveness (pretty, handsome, cute, etc.). In Isaiah 52:7, it is used as a verb implying the act of being beautiful or becoming – befitting for the purpose or season. The Vine’s Dictionary says that the adjective, beautiful, in Romans 10:15 means: that which is seasonable, produced at the right time,” as of the prime of life, or the time when anything is at its loveliest and best (from hora, “a season,” a period fixed by natural laws and revolutions, and so the best season of the year). It is used of the outward appearance of whited sepulchres in contrast to the corruption within, Mat 23:27; of the Jerusalem gate called “Beautiful,” Act 3:2, 10; of the feet of those that bring glad tidings, Rom 10:15.

These verses are not saying that our feet are lovely to look upon (we all have seen some less than attractive feet, right? :)) but that the process of proclaiming the gospel, the good news of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection for redeeming those apart from God, produces a lovely flourishing in those who hear and accept it. The Good News has to be taken to those who haven’t heard, and those who “go” and share it reap the blessing of being used to fulfill God’s good plans.

Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

However, our world, and even some within the Universal Church (all people of all nations who have called upon the name of the Lord in repentance and faith), portray the beautiful things of God with disdain. They place the burden of proof on the faithfulness of human beings and not on the character of God Himself. This leads to a pattern of frustration and disillusionment in the life of a true believer as they can’t live in the richness of life God desires to give. Sadly, many never see the magnificent power and awe of Christ, because their eyes are on the wrong prize. Humans do not define a holy God who created them; God alone defines true flourishing and goodness.

Humans do not define a holy God who created them; God alone defines true flourishing and goodness.

While many claiming the name of Christ are pulling our attention away from what is true, attempting to reorder what God has called good, I want to constantly turn my gaze upon the good gifts of God’s grace.

In deep loss, ongoing grief, and even physical pain, there were clear choices that God wanted me to make.

I wanted peace more than anything but had tried to find it in all the wrong places. Isaiah 26:3 is a daily reminder that beholding the beauty of Christ leads me to trust Him and therefore live in peace experienced no other way.

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3

Isaiah 26:3 ESV

What would I allow to rule my thoughts? How could I have the mind of Christ? How would I protect my heart from deceit?

I could spend all my hours and days refuting lies against Christ, God’s standards as written in Scripture, and the Church, or I could spend it focusing on the truth according to God’s Word. The Spirit is able to take that investment, producing the fruit only grown from being attached to Christ.

I could look at all the problems with humans trying to live together in Christian unity, or I could hold the vision of what God designed it to be. I could show up for worship and instead of worrying about how many people greeted me, I could do what God required of me and leave their behavior to God. And I could look for those on the fringe who needed to be loved instead of trying to fit where I wasn’t wanted. God calls us to community, but He never said it would lead to full acceptance, fulfillment or popularity – that is not the goal. He challenged me to love others even if they didn’t love me back.

I could focus on all the evil in the world and feel helpless and hopeless, or I could hold the Light of Christ up against the fog and walk toward beauty.

In those times when I would get caught in a cynical cycle of bitterness toward the Body of Christ, He led me to look on His glory – the full flourishing provided through His gifts of grace.

Photo by Alexandra Fuller on Unsplash

Here are the areas where I began to look for God’s good design:

  • The Beautiful Character of God

“I have asked one thing from the Lord; it is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking him in his temple.”

Psalm 27:4 CSB

God is perfect in all His ways. There’s nothing as beautiful in character as He.

  • The Beautiful Words of Scripture

“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.”

Psalm 19:7a
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  • The Beautiful Picture of Salvation

“to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.”

Isaiah 61:3

The believer is covered with the rich and ornamenting robe of the righteousness of His glorious surety. He is “clothed with the garments of salvation”.

Isaiah 61:10

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to Himself as a glorious church, without stain or wrinkle or any such blemish, but holy and blameless.…”

Ephesians 5:26-27
  • The Beautiful Fellowship of the Saints

“Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Philippians 4:21-23 ESV

“Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”

2 Peter 1:4
  • The Beautiful Design of Creation

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”

Psalm 19:1

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Ephesians 2:10
  • The Beautiful Gift of The Spirit

“Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”

Acts 2:38-39
  • The Beautiful Privilege of Prayer

“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”

Luke 18:1
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Our culture will not celebrate these beautiful gifts with us. They don’t see it. Even God’s people can get caught looking through a veil of bitterness and human understanding, losing sight of the greater vision of God. He is preparing us for an existence of unfathomable beauty, unmarred by the effects of sin.

He is asking us to behold this beauty through abiding and walking in His ways, reflecting the glory of His name and preaching the Good News of Christ!

I can easily forget, needing daily reminders to clear the fog from my eyes. I think we all can relate to our forgetfulness.

“So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.”

Romans 10:17

Being in Christ is a beautiful life full of eternal gifts and blessings that are tasted in this in-between. One day we will taste fully forever in the presence of the Father, Son, and Spirit. I am so grateful to be able to experience these good gifts even now. His beauty is overwhelming. When we truly see, appreciate, and thirst for more, God is faithful to move us from one glory to another. I want to cultivate that longing in my walk with Jesus, don’t you?

Let’s pray together for restoration of any area where our faith is tainted by the ugliness of sin on this world.

Which of these gifts have lost their allure in your heart and mind? Have you let the influence of our humanness diminish their beauty?

2 Corinthians 3:18 (KJV) says, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

It’s through beholding a holy God that we are moved toward true beauty, becoming more like His image every day!

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