Yellow Rose Surprise

by Ginger Sanders @GingerSanders

Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life…  Philippians 2:14-16 NASB

This afternoon I had pleasant surprise when I went out to water my roses. I had planted them two years ago in a different spot, but they had failed to thrive. We had recently transplanted them in hopes that a sunnier location would give them a second chance.  

Since then, they have perked up, reaching upward as the sunrise catches them each morning, rising to the noonday sky. Then they cool for a bit in the shade of the trees until the setting sun again peaks through and bathes them in its golden light. 

Today, as I walked around the house lugging the hose pipe (water hose for those of you in the north!) to spray them with the cool water, I almost tripped over what awaited me. There among the little red rose buds and some weeds bloomed a beautiful yellow rose! Now how in the world did that yellow rose come up from those transplanted red roses? I was so excited!! For you see, the yellow rose is my very favorite rose of all!! 

The yellow rose stands tall and proud…any rose can be a red rose, but it takes something special to stand out from the rest. My daddy only gave me one rose in his lifetime. I was riding around with him one day and he had to stop at Roper’s Florist, because he had been doing some work for Mr. Roper. He told me to stay in his truck and he would be right back out. He came out with a tissue paper and handed it to me. I unwrapped it to find a long stem yellow rose. It was a moment I will never forget. 

As I stood there today, enjoying this beauty among the ordinary, I thought about how we as Christians live among the thorns and weeds in this world. There were other roses there, ordinary red roses, budding and blooming as they do. But then, there among them was one that was different, standing out with its glow and grace.

Paul told the Philippians to “do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation among whom  you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life…” (Philippians 2:14-16 NASB). The Philippians were living in a pagan society, where the true God was not recognized. They regarded Caesar as deity, and found those who did not troublesome.

But rather than advising the Philippians to withdraw from this antagonistic population, he wanted them to live among them, holding fast to the truth of the gospel. They were to conduct themselves “in a manner worthy of the gospel; standing firm in one Spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27 NASB). They had something to offer to those living in darkness. And as they followed the example of Jesus’ humility and love (2:5-8), they would stand out from the crowd like lights in an otherwise dark sky.

We should be like that rose; we should bloom right where we are planted. When we live out our salvation, following Jesus’ example, we will stand out by reflecting the light that shines on us. Like an unexpected yellow rose blooming among the ordinary.

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Ginger Sanders

About the author: Ginger Sanders has been a Chaplain Coordinator with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team since 2008. Ginger and her husband, Denny, have responded to many disasters such as tornadoes, floods, and storms, as well as the Aurora and Sandy Hook shootings.

Ginger’s book, He Goes Before Us, features chaplains’ stories of God at work in disaster. She’s also written, and two children’s booksRound Eyes: An Adopted Child’s View of Love, and the award-winning Fireflies, which explains death to children with hope and love. Ginger also co-hosts a Christian television show and has appeared on numerous TV and radio shows. She and her husband of 50 years have four children and eleven beautiful grandchildren.

A Scary Verse?

by Julie Zine Coleman

I saw a link to a blog post the other day about the scariest verse in the Bible. Intrigued, I clicked on over. Apparently the offending passage was 1 John 4:7-8: “Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” NASB

Not only the author but several commenters took this verse to mean if we did not show love, we’d better be worried about our salvation. I had to leave a comment. Because any time we think our relationship with God is dependent on how we act, we are headed for serious trouble.

We are saved through grace alone. It is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man think to boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). The key to salvation is in understanding that nothing I can do could ever earn forgiveness or favor with God. When I realize my insufficiency, I can then, in turn, put my trust in the sufficiency of Christ. His sacrifice more than paid for my guilt. When I believe in him, I am saved. That’s the gospel, plain and simple.

But as we try to live out our lives as believers, the reality of our insufficiency can fade. In our zeal to live holy lives, it can become once again about impressing God. If I am not acting like a Christian, I will fall out of his good favor. If I’m not being spiritual, I might never have even been a Christian to begin with.

Wait…what happened to grace?

Grace is undeserved favor. By definition we cannot earn it. It is one of those inexplicable sides of God: he gives it freely to those who believe. Even more astonishing: He continues to supply grace after we are saved: it is crucial to our relationship with him. Paul urged believers to “continue in the grace of God” (Acts 13:43, emphasis added, NASB). Our sense of dependency should only grow stronger as we walk with Christ. It should drive us to keep our eyes fixed on him, because looking at ourselves, our weaknesses, and continual failure will only lead to despair. When we understand grace, and how badly we need it, we cling to him like a life preserver.

So why then are commandments like this one to love so strongly stated?

  1. There is a purpose in our love. God’s intention is to reveal himself through the Church. In Philippians 2:14-16, Paul reminds his readers that their behavior (loving each other) will show God to the rest of the world. One sure-fire way to get some notice is by living the way the Bible instructs, and foremost, living lives of love (see John 17:20-21). When we love, we will stick out like a sore thumb. (In a good way.)
  1. Love is an expression of who we are. We have been rescued from sin’s hold over us. Why would we shed the robe of Christ’s righteousness and don the metaphorical garments of our old life? Paul writes, “Our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin” (Romans 6:6-7 NASB). We were rescued from the misery of sin’s mastery over us. This includes living for self and carrying hatred and bitterness in our hearts, the opposites of love. Why willingly jump back into the cesspool?
  1. Love is a healthy life-style choice. God loves us. His Word instructs us to love. Whenever we choose what goes against His Word, it cannot end well. So it is with withholding love. Nothing will make us sicker than anger or hatred. In the end, bitterness is a heavy burden to bear, and often leads to further sin (Ephesians 4:26-27). God’s way is always the best way.

In short, yes, 1 John urges us to love. It marks a true believer and is an effective way we can show God to the world. Loving brings meaning and satisfaction to our every action.

But in no way is love a condition for our salvation or any kind of a relationship with God. As children of God, we live under the huge umbrella of grace. He loves us, not because of what we do for him, but because he is a merciful God and has already paid our debt. Any sense of accomplishment we get from following his commands should not undermine the reality of our dependence on him for the most basic of spiritual needs.

He is all-sufficient. We must rest in that fact alone.

“For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.”  John 1:17 NASB

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the author: Julie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Her award-winning book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Women, was published in 2013 by Thomas Nelson. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner Screen Shot 2017-12-22 at 2.39.03 PMfrom today’s comments. To enter our contest for Julie’s book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Women,  please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: What is the scariest verse in the Bible for you?