When God Zigs and I Zag

2019-03-19 08.16.02

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:11

As a child I was fascinated to watch things materialize right before my very eyes out of seemingly nothing. You see, my mom is a master seamstress, it’s just one of her many talents. We would go to the fabric store and sit side by side looking through all the giant pattern books for the fanciest dresses or the cutest shirts with little puff sleeves. We would ooh and ahh over many of the designs, like a kid in a “everything’s free” candy shop is a young girl in a stack full of pattern books with a loving mother that can sew.  Having made my selections we would go pick out the perfect material and all the little notions indicated on the pattern envelope. Then the magic happened… somehow my mom took all the pieces and turned it into clothing fit for the most beautiful princess (at least that’s how it made me feel)!

As my eyes combed over all the tools of the trade it was the pinking sheers that peaked my curiosity. I mean why cut zigzag if you could cut straight to the point with a regular scissors?! The pinking sheers have jagged blades and causes a zigzag cut pattern in fabric. The two pieces of fabric then fit together like a perfect zipper. If the scissor blades are not sharp its very hard to cut with and the end result is anything but a perfect fitting zipper like zigzag. How frustrating is a broken zipper! It’s slightly disastrous and so it is in my life when I find that God has zigged and I have zagged.

Have you ever been there too? When your reality turns left of all the right you expected from God?! When everything you had prayed He would do, and you knew He could do, actually happened exactly opposite and you feel like your life is beginning to fray like fabric cut with a dull scissors!

I look at Scripture and realize I’m not alone. John the Baptist, the one who baptized Jesus and saw the Holy Spirit descend on His shoulder from heaven (Matt. 3:13-17) and spent his life dedicated to preparing the way for Him, finds himself in PRISON…What?! John too was probably feeling like how in the world did he get on a zig while Jesus zagged?! Matthew 11 recounts John questioning Jesus over this matter and Jesus response to Him is recorded in verse 6, Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.

Thomas, one of Jesus disciples can’t believe after the traumatic event of seeing the One who was supposed to overcome, was suppose to save and had done NOTHING wrong His whole life and was literally put to such a brutal death on the cross, had actually returned to his friends?! How could Tomas hope again after things had zigzagged so out of control in his mind?! Life was just one big frayed mess for him now yet Jesus broke through the walls Thomas had built up in his doubting heart. John 20:26 states, …Though the doors were locked, Jesus came

Habakkuk 3:17-19 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, thought there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. How does one obtain such incredible faith such unwavering trust when you can’t see the plan, you can’t comprehend the why?

Going back to His Word which we never have to worry about being “dull”; it says in Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Now that’s sharp! His Word says in Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Do you see how that command to rejoice was repeated? God just knew it would bare repeating and with exclamation point no less! It doesn’t say I have to rejoice in my situation but rejoice in HIM, that He is IN my situation that He DOES have a plan even if  I don’t see it and He DOES hold the why even if I don’t understand! Jesus zigged because it was the better move. He has been on plan A since before the creation of the world, even before Eve ate that inopportune lunch (Gen. 3:6) , Jesus knew how He was going to redeem and save us all (Revelation 13:8)!

Jesus is the Lamb that was slain in my place and the Lion of Judah that overcame death when there was no way for me to live! He won me a Kingdom that I do not deserve and did not earn yet He’s Faithful and True and is coming back to bring me to it through the clouds on a white horse no less!! Do I comprehend that? Do I get the why behind all that?! A love, a grace, a mercy, so great so deep so immense that it surpasses my understanding?! No!! But I can trust the One who extends it because everything in His Word proves faithful. He is the sure foundation. He may not meet all my expectations for this life based on my feelings but He sure as heaven meets every single one of the expectations held up in His Word and all His promises are good for those who believe!

Did you know the pinking sheers was developed because cloth edges that are unfinished will fray easily thus a straight line cut is not as beneficial as a zigzag cut in cases when you are using unfinished fabric. The zigzag blade doesn’t prevent all the fraying but it limits the length of the frayed thread thus minimizing the overall damage to the fabric.

Philippians 1:6 says, And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.  Since my Jesus has not yet returned for me on His white horse I can assume I am like that unfinished fabric. When Jesus seems to be taking the pinking sheers to the fabric of our lives instead of a making a straight cut might we choose to trust that every zig every zag He takes is to prevent our ultimate undoing… We might not understand the “prisons” of this world but no matter how many walls we put up around our heart He is able to materialize something beautiful out of seemingly nothing if we can trust the  firm foundation of His faithfully sharp Word laid before the beginning of time. He holds the master pattern and it ends in a Kingdom where all His princesses get to dance in crowns of beauty not ashes, with the oil of joy instead of mourning, and wait for it…. a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair! (Isaiah 61:1-3)

Don’t fray out of it dear one, every zig every zag will one day display His splendor and we will twirl in the sparkles of it cast across the firm foundation of His Kingdom!

Independent Read: Revelation 5:5-9, Revelation 11:11-16, Ephesians 3:14-21

 

Still Plan A

2019-03-17 15.16.19

Many people who live on the earth will worship the beast. They are the ones whose names are not written in the Lamb’s book of life. The Lamb is the one whose death was planned before the world was created. Revelation 13:8

Today I heard someone say something that struck a chord with me and that was, “Don’t be shaken from the plan.” Not from “a” plan but “the” plan. God seems to be continuing to remind me, not, that He has A plan, but, that He is still on plan A. Praise His almighty victorious name for that right!!

I don’t know about you but sometimes I wake up with the seemingly perfect plan A in my mind for the day and by the evening I find I have come to my imperfect plan Q all frazzled and fired! So knowing that I have a God that has been able to stay on His plan A since before the world was created offers me great comfort since that is something way beyond me and I need a God WAY beyond me!

When Eve took a bite of the forbidden fruit in Genesis 3:6 and sin entered the world God was not caught off guard, His plan was not thwarted by her mistake. Revelation 13:8 tells us God’s plan A already encompassed how the world was going to be saved from sin and death!!  I can not be the only human relieved to know my mistakes will never be big enough to ruin God’s master plan A for humanity!

Job 42:2 I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. Gosh do we live like we believe this?! That He can do all things and we can’t wreck His plan. Well lets go back to what we know as my dad would say.  The sun is the closest star to us and it is 92+ million miles away, yet we can still stand here on earth and feel it’s warmth! Our God SPOKE that power into being (Gen. 1:3)! It’s huge too, we can fit a million earths into the sun! That is not even the biggest star though, there is one called Beatlejuice that is 700 times larger than our sun!! He spoke that big boy into being to! Our Mighty Creator is in a class all His own! Our ever expanding universe is about 26 billion light years across and yet Scripture says He measures the breadth of it with His hand (Isaiah 40:12)!! Do you know what else is on that mighty hand?! Your name.

Isaiah 49:16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands – On a hand that big, you and I both know that not one of our names is missing! (Especially if He can call out each of the stars by name and not one of THEM is missing (Isaiah 40:26)!!) As much as He is in the biggest of the big and we can know that from chapters in Scripture like Isaiah 40 and Job 38, we also see He is in the smallest of the small like we see in Matthew 10:29-30. He says the sparrow, worth less than a penny to the world, matters to Him. The very hairs on your head are all numbered! Psalm 56:8 says He keeps track of all our sorrows and collects our tears in a bottle and records each one in His book! Looking back on what we know I’m assured little ol me has nothing on Him, He can do all things and I’m not able to wreck His agenda. So how do I live like I believe this…

He offers a Kingdom built on the firm foundation of who He has proven to be, Faithful and True (Rev. 19:11)! We can live as a person of conviction, steadfast and sure not tossed about by the waves of doubt and insecurities (Eph. 4:14-15). Jesus rode into town on a donkey in the beginning of the week with people waving palm branches and shouting “Hosanna!” as He passed by, just to finishing out that same week with people shouting for Him to be crucified! Jesus knows what its like to live in a world that changes like shifting shadows and is full of fickle people yet remain steadfast and devoted to “plan A” (Matthew 26:54). Jesus also reminds us He’s not like this world (James 1:17)! So we have One we can run to in prayer and in His Word to receive grace and mercy in our, not so firm moments. (Hebrews 4:16)

If we look at the life of Paul we see he was able to live steadfast and devoted to Jesus through incredible, incredible hardship because he had allowed his heart to be fully persuaded to ever increasing trust and faith in who Jesus is and His great love for us. Romans 8:37 He says, No, in all things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. You can’t be a conqueror without anything to conquer or over come right. Paul had quite a history of mistakes to overcome. He started out murdering those who believed in Jesus! Yet God stopped him in his tracks one day and Paul chose to hold steadfastly to the Truth of Jesus instead of the deafening lies of the enemy. We can pray too that our hearts would fully surrender to His Truth and follow joyfully. That we would have eyes that truly see and ears that truly hear and perceive His promised presence in our lives (Deut. 31:8).

Paul was convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, not anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 He was able to shake off his past mistakes and others fickle (to put it kindly) words, attitudes and actions in the strength of His God and His saving redeeming work on the cross! Paul could stand on the firm foundation of new life and a living hope in the faithful and true promises of Jesus (1 Peter 1:3) even when nothing around him made sense and he felt fear and pain grip his heart and mind and breathe down his neck. Because what is in a believer is the power that raised Jesus from the grave and no power in hell can prevail against that! (1 John 4:4)

Not only did Paul take hold of the fact that Jesus is still on plan A, he took hold of the truth that nothing in his past had thwarted Gods plan and that Jesus still had Paul being used for His glory in plan A (Romans 8:28)! Paul stood firm on the sold plan A of Jesus and encouraged others to stand firm in Him too! Before we end, read 2 Timothy 10-17 and reflect on how God has rescued you too? What ways has or is Jesus trying to tell you, sweet child of mine I’m still on plan A and I still have you in it, your hearts not beating by accident, all your days were ordained by Me before your life began and you’re still here. Don’t let the enemy shake you from THE plan (Psalm 139:16).

Independent Read: Ephesians 1:17-21, 1 Peter 2:9

 

Set Free In Jesus!

2019-03-11 07.27.53
Some smiles can only be captured post tragedy, but they sure remind me of the joy we have when we are set free in Jesus! Let me explain, although for some things a mother of six finds herself experiencing, there is just no logical explanation!
It’s never a dull moment raising 6, that’s for sure… from finding bodies self bathed in toothpaste to heads stuck in child training potty seats to tonight’s fiasco of fingers stuck up in a bug sucking pistol! (I’ll just stop the list there for now.)
So here we are having a nice (I’ll use the word, civilized, loosely) family (of 8 ) dinner this evening when one of our children comes quietly to my side with big crocodile tears streaming down his cheeks as he holds up the bug sucker, that as I served him his dinner I told him needed to reside UNDER his chair for the duration of the meal…however… when one feels they have had enough fish to eat the next best thing is to stick your finger up a hole for bugs right?!?!?! Because this sounds like a good dinner table activity to you too right!?!
I think God looks at me similarly and thinks, child I am rooting for you to make it to My banqueting table but what am I to do if you keep deviating from what I say… when I say, “Don’t.” I really mean, “Don’t hurt yourself child!!”
So as I gaze at this precious child of mine, body pressed into me, crocodile tears streaming now not so quietly down his face with the newly attained extended appendage flailing, I think to myself, well the apple sure doesn’t fall far from the tree!  However at this point I’ve lived long enough and made more than my share of enough mistakes to know what my Heavenly Father does with me when I find myself “stuck” in self inflicted tragedies, so I followed suit.
My child was obviously remorseful and desperately in need of saving (sooooo been there)! So what could I do but fold that child in close as we hobbled over to the sink together to douse cold water over this fiery trial as we began working through it together. (A half bottle of lubricating soap didn’t hurt either!)
As we worked it free these Truths ran through my head….Hosea 11:4 I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them. Eph. 5:26 …to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. Romans 6:22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.
Have you seen the sparkle in the eyes of one set free?!! There is nothing like it, praise the mighty saving name of Jesus!
God bless. May you experience His freedom today too!

I Can Rise. Even If… Even Though…

2019-03-10 14.47.12

For all of them were trying to frighten us, thinking, “They will become discouraged with the work and it will not be done.” But now, O God, strengthen my hands. Nehemiah 6:9

Reflecting on Easter, on Whose death and resurrection we celebrate and actually I’m reminded by a dear friend that “celebrate” really is the wrong word regarding His death. “Anguish” would be better appropriated for what we feel with Him during that part of Lent, but Easter morning…. Easter morning we do celebrate that mighty victory!!

As we recognize that Jesus did life with such a burden of not only daily demands but with the overhead looming task of the cross ever before Him, that was never lifted, we can see He somehow pressed on for the purpose of the celebration!

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

This is such grand encouragement for us sojourning through this land that is not our home isn’t it!!! I mean I read in Daniel 3 about the incredible emboldening faiths of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in verse 16-18 when they reply boldly to the nasty King, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” and I pray desperately for this kind of faith don’t you!

I’m so glad that God does bring these three men through the fire unharmed with no smell of smoke on them. Praise Him He is able!!! He is able to take you in, and through, a fire and have you emerge without even a hint of smoke smell upon you! I’ve seen and experienced Him work like this and I do praise Him! But verse 18 starts with, “But even if he does not…” and I think none of us can really ever prepare for what the “even if” might mean in our lives which is why for me it requires sincere prayer for ever increasing faith and trust in the One who does hold the whole plan for my life, and those I love, in His hands.

What I find so encouraging in recognizing today that Jesus lived His whole life on earth with the heart ache of the cross ahead of Him, is that it emboldens my faith for the “Even though” things in my life. What I mean is that when “even if” didn’t end like I was hoping it would and I have to keep the faith and trust my Jesus that now, “even though it didn’t fix…” and it seems there may always be moments that constrict my lungs and threaten my heart to stop in fear and heart ache, I have His example to follow. He made it through not just surviving but thriving in His ministry despite the horrific pressure of the looming cross on His journey!!! So He knows what it’s going to take, and has the strength for me to thrive in the “even if” AND the “even though” trials in my life! And for yours too dear one!!!

This in no way means it will be easy, just doable. John 8:29 Jesus says, The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him. He could DO the things that pleased the Father while on earth and while enduring such heavy burdens because Jesus knew He was not alone. What does Jesus tell us in Matthew 28:20?! …And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. He is with us, so we can do too!!!

It’s easy to give up, to fall away from the faith full of doubts and uncertainties especially when the lies of the world say it’s way is good, pleasing and desirable! Isn’t that how Eve described the apple that caused her to trip up in Genesis 3:6!? And Jesus plainly tells us the road to heaven is narrow and few find it (Matt. 7:14). Could it be because the three words He uses in Luke 9:23 to describe walking with Him are deny, take up and follow?! Hmmmm good, pleasing, desirable or deny, take up, and follow…. yet look at how it turned out for Eve…. and Jesus says His way, The Way leads to eternal life! It’s the only way that does not lead to a question mark!

Jesus submitted to the harder way and won the opportunity for me to choose eternity with Him! This is what we celebrate!! He didn’t stay dead He rose, He is alive today!! He walked the hard walk all the way through to take His seat at the right hand of the throne of God!! So He knows full well the strength you and I need to make it through to the other side and He is extending it! I pray to be like Ezra in Ezra 7:28, Because the hand of the LORD my God was on me, I took courage…

Jesus because You are with me and have gone before me, I take courage! I will not let what I know is good to be spoken of as evil. Apart from You I can do nothing, so thank you for bringing me this far. Because of Your great love for me, and because You are rich in mercy, You have made me alive with You even when I was dead in sin – it is by grace I have been saved and You have raised me up and seated me with You in the heavenly realms. So I will take courage and take up faith in the promise that is already but not yet, but is to come because You are alive! You are alive so “even if…” or “even though…” I know in You Jesus I can rise and thrive all they way to the celebration You won for me in Your Kingdom.

Independent Read: Philippians 2:5-11, Ephesians 4:1-2, Psalm 37:4, Psalm 1:2-3, Zephaniah 3:12-17, Deuteronomy 31:8, John 15:5, Romans 14:16, Genesis 50:20, Revelation 19:11-16

 

Crave The Call

2019-03-09 15.01.00

Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe. John 20:27

As a mom of six planning for all the fun Easter egg hunts and activities surrounding the most significant day we set aside to celebrate victory in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ I found myself engaging in a little hunt of my own. A hunt through His Word. Hunting for all the times throughout the four gospels Jesus issues the call to a specific person or people group to “Come”, to come up along side Him and walk it out together, phrases like “come follow, come see, or let’s go, come back…” are sprinkled all throughout! I counted 7 times in Matthew, 7 times in Mark, 3 times in Luke and 9 times in John. The entire ministry of Jesus was a call to know Him but I counted 26 recorded times He issued that call directly in those words.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. WHOEVER believes in Jesus! You see the call is for everyone! To know Him as our personal Lord and Savior, the One who died in our place because in our sinfulness we owed a debt we couldn’t pay so He paid the price He didn’t owe in order that we might receive forgiveness and be brought into a love relationship with Him. To those who respond to the call we have the living hope of an eternal Kingdom in which there will be no death, tears, hate or any other kind of immorality! Do you crave that call to know Him to walk with Him in a love relationship all the way to that Kingdom?!

But seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13 Seeking with all my heart gives the impression of a craving, something I just can’t live without or resist (like homemade pumpkin cake). Do I seek Him and long for His Kingdom moment by moment with a craving of my whole heart?! I can pray for that!

Jesus stir up a craving within my soul in which You ignite a passionate flame that would make anything in this world, anything, pale in comparison to the romance between Your Holy Spirit and I. Enrapture my heart until I’m held breathless with all the fullness of joy to be found in You Jesus.

John 6:67 Jesus asks His disciples, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” He had just issued some hard truths and many no longer followed Him. His Word says in Mark 9:49 Everyone will be salted with fire. I would dare say sometimes life can make you feel more like you’re kindling, SOAKED in gasoline for use in a bonfire! But I can choose to let it kill me or I can stupefy the enemy by allowing it to refine me. Let’s agree not to let the enemy gloat over us. Nothing would make him happier than to see us forfeit our own free gift of salvation, so let’s let the fire of the trial be used to purify us, for God is like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap (Malachi 3:2) These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold–though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:7

Same goes with doubts… the fact you may have doubts is the evidence there is faith. I recently learned that the Hebrew word for wrestle is abaq and the Hebrew word for embrace is habaq. Just one letter makes a world a difference. Might we be willing to wrestle all the way through the fire to the embrace. Don’t give up, you may be so close! His Word says we will not understand it all this side of heaven. 1 Cor. 13:12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. Hang on dear one, one day we will see – the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. Matt. 24:13

Before we travel to the foot of the cross lets stop and read John 11:38-44. Talk about a trial, the loss of a loved one. Jesus asks for the stone to be rolled away and the sisters of the late brother protest that doing that will only let the stink out, all hope is gone anyway. Do you think sometimes we need to have our perspectives rolled away from the hopeless gray stone and onto His living Truths in order to blow the stink off our attitudes in certain grave situations? I do. I also know His Word will call me out of my cave and grave clothes just like Jesus did to Lazarus (verses 43-44). His Word will remind me that if I believe I will see the glory of God (verse 40). Sometime however that glory won’t be seen until He’s completely brought me through the fire. Moses asked to see the glory of God and God had to cover him with His hand as His glory passed by so I would think it wasn’t until He had passed all the way by that Moses saw some light (Ex. 33:21-23). Maybe some of the darkness in a trial is the protective covering of His loving hands around you working out everything for good and His glory (Romans 8:28). His Word however, is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path. (Psalm 119:105)

Jesus sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.” Mark 8:12 “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” John 4:48 As the crowds increased, Jesus said, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation. Luke 11:29-30 Read Luke 16:19-31. An unbelieving man is sent to the place of torment and he begs for someone to be sent to warn his five living brothers to believe so that they don’t end up like him but the response is they have Moses and the Prophets let then listen to them. But the man responds, no you must send someone back from the dead to warn them! – verse 31 tells the doomed man, if they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead. Luke 13:34 states, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 

Who knows but God Himself what would cause one of us to fall away from the faith or what would cause another to awaken to the faith! At the foot of the cross we see some say they will not believe unless Jesus get’s Himself off (Mark 15:31-32) and yet some came to belief because He stayed on!! And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, “surely this man was the Son of God!” Mark 15:39 I think this indicates we just need to cry out for God to persuade us to greater faith every single day! We can pray He work out Ezekiel 36:26 in us moment by moment. …I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 

Jesus give me eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart of flesh pliable in Your hand allowing You to mold it to Your will. Because You have said in John 11:25 “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” Do you?

One statement Jesus made that has always amazed me was in Matt. 26:46- Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer! This is at the point they are coming to arrest Him for His crucifixion in the garden. I would have said, “Rise lets RUN!!!!” Not Jesus, He keeps His game face on and says, “Rise, lets go!” He is not running from the trial He is walking head on in, prayed up and like, bring it on!

Micah 7:8 Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light. Proverbs 24:16 for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes. 

He showed us Who is stronger than our enemy when He walked out of that tomb! He showed us how to walk unafraid in and through a fiery trial and that brave One lives in us!!! 1 John 4:4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by your selves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31 Do you hear that call in the clamor of life, do you crave it?! “Come with me…” As a mom of six I know finding a quiet place alone can be near impossible… might I suggest the laundry room?! Every mom knows the bathroom is a no go, littles have no qualms about attempting to break in and have conversations with you in that room but the laundry room… if they break in there they may be put to work so typically it’s a safety zone for a quiet moment (just make sure you have a snack stash in there too).

After Jesus rises He meets with His disciples (John 20:19-22) and brings peace to their fears and shows them His scars and they were overjoyed. We too can be overjoyed because His scars trump ours!! But Jesus makes a second visit (John 20:24-30) because Thomas was not there for His first visit and EVERY ONE matters to Him. He comes straight through locked doors for Thomas (verse 26) and He does the same for us but when He says like He does to Thomas, Stop doubting and believe.- it’s up to us if we respond with a heart of flesh or stone.

Thomas responds, “My Lord and my God!” John 20:28 He rises because Jesus is alive and so can we! Rise, rise, and rise again each time we fall! We can fight like Benaiah who was a valiant fighter who preformed great exploits. He struck down two of Moab’s best men. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. And struck down a huge Egyptian. Although the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptians hand and killed him with his own spear. 2 Samuel 23:20-21 (Good golly did you take a moment to picture that in your minds eye!!??!) Do we live like we are on the victorious end of the cross?!! We are not fighting FOR victory but FROM it! We can be valiant fighters who preform great exploits this side of heaven for His glory too if we’ll answer His call… because our Lord, our God is ALIVE!! Praise the mighty name of Jesus!

Independent Read: Isaiah 60:1, Ephesians 5:14, Isaiah 26:19, Ezra 10:4, Psalm 139:2, Acts 26:16, Deuteronomy 28:7, 1 Thessalonians 4:16, Matt. 28:19-20

 

 

Why Am I Ridin’ The Crazy Train?!

2015-03-06 12.01.22

Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the LORD: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn; Isaiah 51:1

Ever been the brunt of a cruel and twisted joke? I have, yesterday! I walk into MY Walmart and the baking aisle had been split into two different locations none of which I could find. The eggs, cheese, yogurt even the juice boxes for crying out loud were all mixed up!!! Who thinks up these things! I’m sure it’s apart of some ingenious marketing strategy to flip a store but really!! I know my Walmart (or I used to) to where I could organize my list according to my path through the store (maybe that sounds a bit OCD but I take 6 kids, two carts, and grocery shop for a family of eight) and this method allows me to complete the mission in 45 min flat (not included the check out time… but that’s another story for another time).

I figure who wants our crazy train in their store longer than we need to be! I guess Walmart likes me more than I thought because now we have increased our shopping time to a 2 hour quest of which we may or may not emerge with the correct dinner ingredients! (Just grab some frozen waffles this train is leaving the building!!)

“Can someone please help the crazy train lady in aisle 8?!!” I haven’t heard that over the intercom (yet) however can you relate to wanting some help with the crazy train of thought your mind can take at times!!? Read Genesis 16. You can’t fault Hagar from the train of thought her mind took. Talk about interesting family dynamics. Do you see in verse 5 Sarai’s response to the building drama? You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering… That tends to be a typical knee jerk response for many of us. We look around for who’s fault this can be traced back to. Sometimes our hurt is caused by someone else but finding the one to blame has never really made my problems go away, the thing is still done and the act still hurts. There is no lasting healing in the blame game.

Abram in verse 6 tries to wash his hands of it all, Your servant is in your hands… I’ve found ignoring the problem never makes it go away either it just ends up rearing its ugly head again at the most unexpected times and usually with such ferocity that even I’m taken by surprise!

Hagar’s response is to run away (verse 6). Blaming, ignoring, and running from issues has only led me to a ride on the crazy train of thought, and that train only heads to the deep dark zone. But Psalm 139:7-12 states, Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful I know that full well. Do you know this full well?!

In that passage it makes no reference to any exceptions to the rule and God’s word is Truth (John 17:17). He loves you and can find you in the deep dark zone. And wouldn’t you know Genesis 16:7 states, The angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert – God can find you in the desert places of your mind, in the places you feel hope has died.

In Jesus hope never dies, He is our living hope! 1 Peter 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead – Notice there was a stream in Hagar’s dessert. That’s impossible you might say but, See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19 The probable is not any harder than the improbable for our God! Amen!

God engages in conversation with Hagar… wait are you thinking, well gosh if I could only hear the live voice of God I could get off this crazy train too!!… For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thought and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 Sounds to me like the very alive voice of God!

God speaks purpose and great promise over Hagar and don’t you know He does for you too!!! Sometimes we need to pray, read His word and CHOOSE joy, re-frame our situation from His perspective and filter our thoughts through the Truth of His living Word. I’m in no way saying this is easy. There have been times the desert place of my mind has been created by the shattering of my heart to dust like sand that can feel like quicksand. But He can find you even there and lift you out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire, he can set your feet on a rock and give you a firm place to stand, it says in Psalm 40:2!

Paul when chained to a guard was able to write, Rejoice in the Lord (not in your circumstance but in the Lord and he knew that would bear repeating as desert winds can be deafening at times) I will say it again: Rejoice! Verse 6, Do not be anxious about anything (somethings? NOT ANYTHING), but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds (yes your mind so that you can choose to exit the crazy train) in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:4,6 

Nothing can come to us that isn’t first sifted through God’s hands, hands that are able to make all things work for good (Romans 8:28). So Gen. 16 ends with Hagar understanding more of who God is, more of His character. Her heart now just a little more deeply romanced by His love. She says in verse 13, You are the God who sees me… That same God sees you too. Not only is He able to lock eyes on you in a crowded room but He also knows your name. Lets turn to John 20 and please read 10-18.

Do you see we enter the scene with a girl crying outside a tomb… but wait, sometimes the sorrow that stretches your heart to the breaking point might be what Jesus is using it to stretch it to hold overflowing hope and joy (Eph. 2:4-7)! This girl also comes with a history (don’t we all), in Luke 8:2 tells us she was cured from seven demons! The number 7 is the number of completion in the Bible so could it be she was considered completely gone yet we serve a God of the living not the dead (Luke 20:38), His specialty is resurrection!!

So this gal Mary Magdalene stays when everyone else has gone on… when you have the Living Hope living within you, you can go from strength to strength (Psalm 84:7) you can hold on because when your strength is gone it’s Him holding on to you. She held on and who meets her, who finds her right where she is at, who sees her? JESUS, just as He promises! He saw Hagar and years later He sees Mary and He see’s you today (Hebrews 13:8) What happens in verse 16?! It’s not until Jesus calls out her specific, individual name that she understands who He really is. This is her Jesus who died but conquered death for all of eternity and is alive again… and took the time to meet with HER (1 Cor. 15:55-57)!! No greater love.

If He knows the name of each star (Psalm 147:4) He most definitely knows your name! Turn to Isaiah 43:1 and insert your name for Jacob and Israel!! Remember, Romans 2:11 states, For God does not show favoritism. So Jacob and Israel are not loved more that you, He sees and knows your name too and want’s to meet you right where you are at to speak His promises and His living Truths over you too.

Will we choose to cry out to Him who sees us, Who knows our individual names and bend our knee to listen?! Life can be like a marching band at half time… on the field the musicians feel like a scrambled mess just marching according to the conductors directions. If they look up however at the screen shot taken from the above video camera they would see that, Oh ya we are spelling something out or I see it now, its the mascots face! But if they navigated off course while on the field because it just didn’t make sense the picture would be wrecked! He knows things we don’t and understands things we can’t, (Isaiah 55: 8-9) might we just pray for ever increasing trust in Him! He understands, I mean what doesn’t make crazy sense either is that Jesus who knew no sin was crucified!!!! He understands having to remain faithful when the plan doesn’t compute logically and is excruciatingly painful. But He rose from the gave to call you to rise too, call you by name like He did for Mary, to say, like He did to Hagar, I see YOU. May we trust our Prince of Peace to drive (so we can rest) our train of thought all the way into His Kingdom.

In His promises we can trust He is using every step on the field for good, stay the course. Psalm 119:162 I rejoice at Your word, as one who finds great treasure. The treasure of His Word points to the treasure of a Kingdom, a Kingdom of which is inside us (Luke 17:21) He puts His treasure in us regular old cracked up jars of clay (2 Cor. 4:7)! Amazing grace! A Kingdom of which He won for us by rising from the grave after His sacrifice in our place on the cross! If we want the promises we have to trust His processes. The crazy train stops here. You know… the frozen waffles are right next to the frozen dinner section, that much they have not moved, so maybe it’s not so bad and we will have a half decent dinner after all.

Jesus, direct my train of thought, transform and renew my mind, fixing it on You the perfecter of my faith. Help me remember the solid Rock from which I was cut, and to wallpaper my mind with the Truth You speak over me in You living Word. Thank you for all the true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, praiseworthy things You have given me to think about. May I choose joy in You because You see me, know my name and have won for me a Kingdom of the everlasting kind! Praise Your Name Jesus, Praise Your name.

Independent Read: Phil. 4:8, 2 Cor. 4:7-9, Romans 12:2, Hebrews 12:2, 2 Chronicles 16:9, Psalm 94:19, Psalm 95:1, Zeph. 3:12-17, Revelation 17:14

 

Pursued, Persuaded, Redeemed

2019-03-06 16.49.26

You see at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Romans 5:6

He’s always doing that you know…. things, at just the right time… For me to know that the events between mid Isaiah chapter 52 through 53 are now fulfilled prophesies of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection made 700 years before He even set foot on this planet is mind blowing!! I can’t even control the events of my own life DURING my lifetime let alone think of having it planned and figured out 700 years before hand! There in lies one of the many reasons He is God and I am not. So why do I still find myself vying for the position subconsciously in my thoughts, words and actions at times?!?

Take a quick look with me at the Bible’s hall of fame, also known as Hebrews chapter 11. A chapter in which are listed people just like you and I with every kind of imperfection that God decided to pursue. These people chose to let God persuade their heart in a love relationship with Him so lets take a look at what amazing things can happen to a life that bends to His persuasion.

Land on verse 31 of Hebrew 11. By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. First of all Rahab is listed in the hall of fame, WOO HOO go girl!! What an honor right! But tell me she is not up in heaven maybe thinking, at least at first… really God, prostitute Rahab, and not even A but THE prostitute Rahab! Sharing the whole truth of our testimonies however is often times the key to someone else’s freedom in Christ isn’t it. After all is said and done however notice in Matthew 1:5 God has breathed her name into His redeeming Word now not as the prostitute but as Rahab the mother of Boaz in the genealogy line up of none other than Jesus Christ Himself! Talk about redemption!! And talk about doing things on time! Verse 17 states, Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ. You couldn’t make this stuff up it’s just too good isn’t it!!

One more thing to highlight God’s amazing work in and through Rahab of which He pursues each one of us to do the same, however look at how she chooses to submit to His persuasion… turn to Joshua 2 for her story. Did you read it? Good. So where did Rahab’s faith come from? From verses 8-11 it would appear that it was through rumors she had heard of their God! She heard theirs was the God that parted the Red Sea and how successful they had been in battle… from the rumors she could declare in faith, I know that the LORD has given this land to you… (verse 8) and, the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below. (verse 11) She had this faith from rumors and these spies had grown up with this God and they were still testing the waters! Rahab’s courageous faith ends up rescuing her entire family – talk about stepping out and breaking the stronghold cycle in a family! She chose to run with the guys in the field rather than take refuge in the strongest most fortified walls of her city!! She was pursued, persuaded and so by faith she stepped out of everything she knew and God redeemed her life. Courageous! But you will not leave in haste or go in flight; for the LORD will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard. Isaiah 52:11 

Faith like Rahab’s produces action. See James 2:25-26. A branch on a vine does not have to stress about producing fruit right? As long as it stays connected to the vine, its source, the fruit will naturally produce. Same with us, we abide in Him and the fruit of our lives for His glory will one day be astounding! Before we close lets take a look at two more ladies who displayed great faith but first read Matthew 28:1-10.

Mary Magdalene and Mary (probably James and Joses’ mother) were on their way to the tomb where Jesus had been laid when a violet earthquake took place and an angel that looked like lightening came down from heaven! This was enough to make the big burly guards shake with fear and become like dead men! But the angel speaks right to the ladies and says in verse 5, “Do not be afraid, I know that you are looking for Jesus…” Jeremiah 29:13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Do you think concerning the events that had just happened on the cross three days ago there could have been some doubts running through those ladies heads?! Uh yah! But that didn’t stop them from looking for Jesus. In all our uncertainties He is certain. We can cry out to Him, Jesus persuade my heart!! Romance my soul! Enrapture me until I’m so full up on You that I’m held breathless with Your joy! Pray that and see! But don’t give up He doesn’t hide, He promises to be found by those who sincerely seek. Look now at verse 8.

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. (verse 8) When was the last time you were afraid yet filled with joy? It is my believe that a faith that produces action does not hold the absence of fear, but rather the presence of trust. Tell me there wasn’t fear inside Rahab as she stepped out of everything she knew?! And these women at the tomb looking for Jesus, it clearly states they were afraid and rightly so the events made many burly guys shake and become like dead men! But look at what these women found in verse 9… JESUS! It says He met them! Don’t you know He is pursuing you, He wants to meet you right where you are!

Will we open up to His persuasion of our heart? He wants to meet us in our journey. No matter where or what or why we’re where we are stopped Him from going to the cross for you and I while we were still sinners and you can’t tell me He didn’t know about it all sweet friend, our God had things spoken over His life 700 years before He came to earth! He went to the cross knowing all about you, knowing all about me and He still chose the nails. You and I are more sinful than we ever dared believe, yet are loved more than we could ever dare hope or even imagine!

Let Jesus romance your heart.

Jesus thank You for Your saving grace. Romance my heart as I open up to You to be all that You are for all that I need and may you develop in me a craving for You that can not be quenched but by more of You, let nothing of this world compare to my heart in Your Almighty hand.

Independent Read: Hosea 11:4, Romans 8:31-39