Are You Famous?

2019-03-25 17.42.10

One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” Acts 19:15

So are you famous?  I’m part of the nameless crowd myself, I’ve been doing some subbing for teachers here and there and I’m more commonly called, “teacher”, “um you” or “hey, hey I need you” much more than my actual given birth name. That’s okay, I really don’t mind, actually the latter has a nice ring to it, at least I know I’m needed for that moment right!!

Seriously though, Acts 19:15 (above) really got me thinking as I read through 2 Corinthians 6:3-12 detailing the apostle Paul’s hardships. The list is intense and not for the faint of heart for sure. Paul talks of beatings, imprisonments, sleepless nights, hunger… yet read verses 6-9 with me… in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; Holy moly! Somehow in all this intense hardship Paul can speak of understanding, patience, kindness and sincere love… sincere! Found where? In the Holy Spirit which Jesus promised to all of us believers before He ascended into heaven (John 14:16-18).

Paul speaks of being in the power of God and being equipped with weapons of righteousness in both hands! He says he is known yet regarded as unknown. He was not accepted among many of the intellectuals of Jerusalem because he now preached Jesus as Savior and Lord, God of all! Paul had learned Jesus through living out real hard life. He experienced time and time again NOT the rectifying of all his hopes and dreams and all problems fixed according to his expectations this side of heaven…. BUT that truly, truly as cannot be explained but must be experienced, that the promised faithful presence of the great I AM truly is enough! It’s enough.

Jesus you are enough, (Matt. 13:16).

Sometimes it would be easier if we could just take a course and write a paper but often times the way we grow the most is not the easy way. Paul was not on the easy route by any means but he chose to stay the course, why?! Because he had experienced Jesus and there is nothing like Him, there is no high like the Most High! …his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. Jer.20:9

Since the beginning in the garden of Eden, the enemy has been trying to get us to doubt God’s Word and His character. Yet God displays His character clearly through His Word and He faithfully meets every expectation held up in His Word! I begin to doubt when what I thought He would do doesn’t add up to my reality but that’s when I need to go back to the promises He has made me in His faithful Word. He died to save me. He rose again to give me eternal life. He is coming back to bring me to His perfect Kingdom. In this world I will have trouble but I’m to take heart because He has overcome it and stronger is He who is in me than who is in the world. He will never leave me. His strength is made perfect in weakness. The list goes on and on but I need to pray that Jesus continue to enrapture my heart till I’m held breathless with the joy found only in Him because this life can steal that breath right out leaving me with out a heart beat too.

John 10:10 says the enemy has only come to steal, kill and destroy but Jesus has come to give life abundantly. 2 Cor. 11:14 tells us the enemy masquerades as an angel of light – so we must be on our guard! Jer. 17:7 says we are blessed if our confidence and trust is in Him. In Him not in us because He understands things we can’t and knows things we don’t.

2 Cor. 8:9 states, For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. He is not asking more from us than He gave Himself and He knows it’s hard and He’s given us who believe, His Spirit within us! I will not overcome this world in my own strength or might or power but by His Spirit says the LORD Almighty (Zech. 4:6) The LORD Almighty, not some mighty but The ALL mighty says that!

So I can choose to say like Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. Jesus I want to know you like that!!! Give me please an ever increasing trust and faith in You that I might not ever be shaken. I may not be well known in famous circles on this earth (or even in small classrooms) but with a faith unshakable I will be known in the world to come, the one that matters. (Luke 10:20)

Paul felt unknown yet somehow the demons knew him and saw him as a threat. Paul was changing the population of heaven and hell in the midst of incredible hardships (yes hardshipS plural) and still is to this day with the torch of faith he left behind! I may go by “hey you” but I want to be known by the demons as a threat. In this world I will have trouble so Jesus squeeze every ounce of glory to Your Almighty name that You can from my hardships as You promise You can in Romans 8:28!! Make me one that will not be shaken from the faith by doubt when my own expectations go unmet; one that will stand firm on Your promises declared in Your faithful Word of Truth declaring You are just Who You say You are Jesus. Love, Faithful, Truth…

He is good, He has a plan and it is immeasurably more than I could ever even imagine wanting… just wait, the unknown will be made known and those of us who stood firm to the end will stand victorious with The most famous One.

Independent Read: Eph. 3:20, Phil. 4:13, John 3:16, John 16:33, Phil. 2:10-11, 1 Cor. 13:12, Psalm 46:5

Faith Trumps Failure

2019-03-24 17.20.30

Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 2 Corinthians 1:9

Recently my dad sent me a picture of a moment in my life in which I am severely reminded of the depths of a good fathers unconditional love. I can only shake my head at the outfit I wish I could say someone forced me to concoct, but alas, it was all my own doing; I wish the public outdoors in which I am pictured wearing this outfit was only a back drop within the privacy of my own home, but alas, it is not. Not only was I proudly wearing what might have been combinations of MANY different outfits, (legwarmers, tutu, hat…possibly) outside, but I had actually invited friends and neighbors to watch what I had choreographed and called my “circus”.  Oh good golly the irony.

I’d like to think I was ahead of my time performing as I did the great trap-ease act on my swing set… I mean how could “The Greatest Showman” have lost my number?! I fear my circus was a far cry from “nailed it!” actually more like “failed it” but that’s not how my dad sees or remembers it. To him it’s his precious little girl taking a leap of faith in front of one who loves her (red hearted legwarmers pulled clear up to her knees clad in tights and all). I wonder at what point do we acquire those inhibitions that make us care more about what the world thinks then what the King of the world, our Heavenly Father thinks of us?!

He is a good Father and no matter how many times you fail and try to write yourself out, He will keep trying to write you back into His story! He is not out to curse and kill but to redeem and save! For God did not send his Son int the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:17

In 2 Corinthians 1:8 Paul talks of a time they were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Jesus says we will not be tempted beyond what we can bear (1 Cor. 10:13) but as for being handed more than we can handle on our own… I think we can pretty much count on it. Why would God give me a life that I felt I could live without Him, in my own strength? Who wants to gain the whole world yet lose their soul?! Not I, said the trap-ease artist from Wisconsin!

Revelation 2:10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown. Prison testing that sounds fun, said no one ever. But we are called to be faithful in a “prison”, a prison in my mind has no doors, no free way out. So how with no way in a prison can I possibly find a way, a door to take hold of faith especially if it happens to be my own “failed circus” that landed me there?

Remember He’s about writing us back in… remember Peter?! Jesus told him how many times he would fail Him and then said after all that, turn back and strengthen your brothers! (Luke 22:31-34) He offers a door in prisons with no perceivable doors.

Acts 14:27 … opens doors of faith – Rev. 3:8 …doors of opportunity and the door to the Kingdom – 1 Cor. 16:19 …doors for effective work in the midst of opposition – Col. 4:3 …door for the Good News to be proclaimed – 2 Cor. 2:12 …doors to share Him – Jesus is the Way maker (John 14:6) He is the God if the IMpossible – He doesn’t call us to the possible but the impossible because He says I AM what you need to make all things possible! You want life that is truly life… it’s only found in Me (John 10:10)! If I have a life I can do on my own why would I look for Him? In His great mercy and love and grace He gives me what I can’t handle on my own so that I’ll look to Him and through Him receive life that is eternal and truly live. But that’s not all!

Not only do hardships entwine our heart to the King of the world but as others see us carry around in our body the death of Jesus, the life of Jesus is also revealed in our body! (2 Corinthians 4:10) His strength is seen made perfect in us, in our weak and impossible seasons so that others can know Him too! (2 Cor. 12:9) 2 Cor. 4:12 states, So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. ….(verses 13) says we believe because we have the spirit of faith. 2 Cor. 1:21 says, now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ (verse 24) it is by faith you stand firm. Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. – Sooooo if we believe because we have the spirit of faith and it’s by faith that we stand firm and it’s by God that we stand firm then our faith is from Him which is a confidence in a hope of something we do not yet see!

2 Cor. 3:12 tells us this hope makes us bold…. Bold enough that 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 goes on to say, Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Jesus in this “circus” of life please grant me ever increasing unshakable faith to stand firm in You who can trump every failure, every prison, can hold me together in the pain, and handle everything I can’t… because You are I AM, because on the road stained with Your blood there is no one that cannot get back up again. You are the good Father that views the pain, loss and failures of each precious child through eyes of love, grace, mercy and forgiveness. Who applauds each leap of faith taken in bold hope, not in a trap-ease bar, but in the arms of the One that catches every time. Then with a smile not a smirk, dusts off our silly tutus and legwarmer clad knees, hands us back our hats and says, keep going, get back up there dear one, this is a picture of a leap of faith I’m going to treasure for eternity in My Kingdom scrapbook, (as only a good, good Heavenly Father could) until the day you sit in My lap and we treasure it together.

Independent Read: 2 Corinthians 12:8-10, John 3:16

 

When God Zigs and I Zag

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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!

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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…

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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