The Press Of The Spear – A Rescue

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The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To  him be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 2 Timothy 4:18

A dear friend of mine recently turned my eyes to this passage in Scripture concerning Paul’s charge to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3 and 4. 3:10-12 states, You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings – what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted… Did you catch Paul’s statement, Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. My sweet friend got me thinking of ways the Lord has rescued me too. Now I ask you…. think over your own life and can you identify ways the Lord has rescued you? The fact that you are reading this devotional is proof He has not let you go. That no matter where you have come from or what you have gone through, He is still wooing your heart dear one.

My heart is turned to perhaps another’s rescue recorded in Matthew 27:32, Mark 15:21 and Luke 23:26. Let’s read it from Mark, A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. At first glance at least for me it didn’t appear to be a rescue but more like a nightmare of the worst sort. Like the kind you try to wake up from and you realize its not a dream but instead reality. Let’s picture this scene together just a moment.

Simon, the father of two boys, who we can draw from Mark’s mention of their names that they became known in the Christian circle but it doesn’t say they were with him at the time it just mentions the relation. Simon, it says was just… passing by- on his own way- just happened to be coming in from the country- I compared many different versions and all indicate the same thing, he just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, or so it would seem the victim of random assault. But maybe it was rather a divine appointment…

I imagine Simon, like many Jews at the time, longing to at least celebrate one of the festivals in the Holy City. We can relate right… a visit to the Eiffel tower in Vegas holds not a candle to a visit of it in Paris, France right!! So maybe he had just spent his life savings on this one trip and come to find all his vacation dreams were anything but what he was expecting. So here he is minding his own business when all of a sudden one of the soldiers that Mark 15:16 indicates was leading Jesus away to be crucified suddenly, I imagine, presses his spear tip into Simon’s shoulder blade…

“What?! Why me, there must be 100,000 other guys here in this crowd and your spear tip finds MY shoulder!?! I can assure you I’m not your guy! I did nothing!! I’m not even from here!! Seriously are you kidding me, I’m supposed to be on the vacation of a life time, I’m the good guy celebrating the festival in the Holy City!!!” This is just my own commentary and maybe these would just be his thoughts as his tongue would be too frozen in fear to actually formulate coherent words, but can you relate to that possibility? Have you been where Simon is, when everything is going NOT according to plan and you might even be thinking, yep, this is the end of me for sure! But, Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Romans 11:33 Could this actually be the perfect set up for a…. rescue!? (and the plot thickens… gosh there is no book more intriguing than His Word is there!!!)

Again I compared many versions of all three verses that mention this event with Simon and all the words listed for how they picked him are, to say the least, unpleasant! Words like, forced, seized, made him, taken hold of, compelled him, pressed into service, laid hold upon, grabbed hold of, detained, constrained… Yep can we all say we sought after an opportunity to feel those things like, NEVER, right! But here Simon is made to carry a cross that’s not even his but in a way it really is. Sometimes due to no fault of our own we find ourselves forced to carry the cross of another and sometimes we feel our own cross is too heavy. We can fall into self pity, “why am I so misunderstood, why is no one helping me, why this trial, why this load?!” I call it the “web of whys”. Clever right?! “Web of whys.” “Web of lies.” sometimes I amuse myself. 🙂 Either way, web’s are for spiders not people!

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden light.” Matthew 11:28-30 Maybe you think this verse has to be a joke but honestly I’ve found it to work. Coming to Him in prayer and in His Word there is rest for a soul and we can learn from Him. What does He show us… die to self – you might be thinking, that sounds fun… but have you tried it? The moment I stop fixing my eyes on my web of whys and worries and start getting busy serving another my burden lifts just a bit. It doesn’t make my burden disappear but it does show me His grace is sufficient, His power is made perfect in my weakness. (2 Cor. 12:9)

Let’s look at how this ends for Simon. Turn to Romans 16:13 and lets see what Paul says about Simon’s family, Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too. Incredible right!!! I told you this Bible book is thrilling!!! Somehow the spear that Simon resented pressing him in to carrying the burden of the cross would seem to have brought not only him to a saving relationship in Jesus but his whole family too!!! God is SO good!

Simon was not a random dude in a crowd, Jesus saw a man he had dreamed up before the beginning of time and in order to fulfill his GREAT purpose and plan through this man He had to allow the press of the spear. Jesus is all about the rescue of your soul too. So if you are feeling the press of the spear and all the fear, confusion, discouragement and pain that comes with it might we just come to Him like the guy in “It’s A Wonderful Life” movie (I won’t say it’s a crime if you haven’t seen it – but it is, and I will include the clip I’m speaking of at the bottom.) and just come to Him on bended knee and cry out and just see how He answers the call to woo your heart! He is able dear one, He is able to bring you all the way, ALL the way, safely to His heavenly Kingdom. Praise and all glory to His name!

Independent Read: Philippians 1:20-21

*See that picture above… that’s a spontaneous picture I was able to take of a little one praying all on his own and isn’t that what it’s all about! Like Simon enduring “the press of the spear” carrying your cross well so that one day the torch of faith is carried on!

Confirmed Presence

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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

…already laid...”, Gosh I sure find that comforting don’t you! In a world that seems to demand to-do lists before we even get out of bed and our feet hit the floor in the morning God has already, already (Praise Him!) laid my foundation! Check! Now I just need to plant myself on top because, Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 Wow! What a love note from the King of my heart! My Warrior who will fight for you and I and treasure our love! Are you getting chill bumps like me?! He is so faithful yet in my humanness I still sometimes long for confirmation, confirmation of who He is and of His presence don’t you?

Do you remember in Luke 1 when Mary is told she is going to conceive miraculously and be the mother of Jesus… she seeks (in a hurry, I think we would too considering the circumstances) companionship, of another that is also expecting. Sometimes we too just need to get around others in the Body of Christ that are strong in faith, sturdy on the foundation of Him and eagerly expecting His Kingdom as well.

Look what happens in verse 41, When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. So cool! Such a reminder that the Jesus in you will move something in others! Keep shining His light!!

Looking at the life of John the Baptist, the baby inside Elizabeth, he was a miracle kid and lived a life fully devoted to preparing the way for the life and ministry of Jesus. So when we read in Matthew 11:2, When John heard in prison what Christ was doing…. Wait, from where?! John heard in PRISON! Well that doesn’t seem right! John’s the good guy! I think John kind of felt the same way, that’s why he sent his people to get the scoop from Jesus. Back to verse 2, …he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” Haven’t we been there too? Caught in the prison of our own mind, chained by our own unmet expectations.

In Matthew 11:4-5 Jesus confirms to John what John really already knew… Jesus was the Messiah, John had prepared the way for the right guy, his life was not wasted. Jesus confirmed His presence. Even when we think things have all gone awry, even the things that God has not caused but allowed, its because He can use it for His good and His glory. If we can release our mind from the prison of our own expectations not being met we might realize that what He doesn’t meet, He wants to exceed. We will be free to embrace what is, instead of stay chained to what isn’t. Disappointment is a tool God can use to increase our faith but its also a tool the devil will use to destroy our faith. Lets agree not to give him the satisfaction!

After Jesus sends his response to John about who He is, He turns to the crowd and tells them about John and that He thinks he is great! Why didn’t Jesus say that to John? Maybe because He wanted John’s faith to rest in Himself and not himself. Golly if that doesn’t speak to my heart to trust Him even if I don’t get to see the whole picture this side of heaven! This life is not easy and even when we do everything right like it seemed John did, things can still take a left when you planned a right. John’s story ends with his head on a platter. I so wish even his story could have been different but Jesus prayed there might be another way to save me than by way of the cross too and there wasn’t. When we can’t find our answers we must look at the empty tomb and keep the faith because it doesn’t end this way, one day we will see the top side of the tapestry. I can trust and be grateful He is my sure foundation even when my legs feel like jello!

Speaking of Jello legs look at what happened to that army trying to arrest Jesus in John 18:6! When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. What!!?! Judas comes up with 600+ armed men to arrest Jesus and Jesus simply says, “I AM” and they all fall over!!!?! Crazy! So who is left standing? Those standing with Jesus. Incredible. Friends, He is the sure foundation laid before the beginning of time, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end! If He is A and Z I can trust Him with my L, M, N, O, P! Praise Him! Praise Him!

Jesus when I’m suffering from Jello legs please confirm Your presence, give me eyes that see and ears that hear and a heart willing to follow joyfully Your will. Free me from the prison of my own mind and the chains of my own expectations to embrace Your bigger picture and greater purpose. To zoom out and see things from Your perspective. You are I AM for all that I’ll need and I’m just so grateful You’ve already laid that foundation for me. What You don’t meet You exceed and I’ll praise Your Almighty victorious name, Your kingdom come, may Your will be done. I can rise because You are alive!

Independent Read: Isaiah 58:11, Eph. 3:20, Prov. 3:6, Matt. 28:20, Joshua 1:9

*See that picture above… we can’t see who made the footprints but they are there in the shape of a heart… as you walk by faith not sight trust His promises to direct your steps and be with you to the very end of the age.

A Faith That Keeps on Saving

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And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19

Do you remember the story recently about a young firefighter, 31 years old, father of 5 with one on the way… all of a sudden he was diagnosed with brain cancer and passed away quickly yet he was an organ donor. As the news picture displayed, so many people gathered to honor this hero, saving lives as a firefighter in life yet now, even now in his death saving life upon life upon life with the donation of his many young and healthy organs.

Life in this fallen world is filled with stories of tragic heart ache of which we can not explain. Yet Ezekiel 18:32 states, For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD.  It is also filled with unexplainable joys too. To those many, many lives who may have lost all hope in a miracle were granted a second chance though this young mans death. Why does it have to be this way?!

Eve in the garden focused on the one thing she could not have which was the tree of knowledge when right beside it was the tree of life! She lost sweet life grasping to have it all figured out! I feel I’ll be in the same boat forfeiting the abundant life Jesus died to give me this side of heaven and the other if I choose to devote myself to trying in my finite mind to have it all figured out. Its futile, in Isaiah 55:8-9 He tells us so. He knows things we don’t and understands things we just can’t. So how do we survive in the unknown?! I believe we go back to what we do know – remembering Jesus.

During the last supper, the night before He was crucified He participated in communion and He showed His disciples the broken bread symbolizing His broken body for us and the poured out wine symbolizing His spilled out blood for us. The cost to purchase you and I for eternal life was high too, incomprehensibly so. Do you believe this, I so pray you do! For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever would believe in Him would have eternal life. John 3:16 

When we face “unexplainably hard” we can choose to see it with the backdrop of the cross and empty grave. He did the hard thing to make sure it doesn’t end like this for us who believe. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come… 2 Peter 3:8-10. Jesus says in Matt. 24:12-13, Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. Hang on do not let your heart grow cold, hang on in the unexplainably bad of this world because we have a blessed hope coming!!!

Think of the men on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24:13-34. They are pretty distressed you can hear it in their discussion, in verse 21 they say, “but we had hoped… and what is more, it is the third day…” Many of us can relate to having been there, we did hope but by the third day, third hour, third year…. discouragement began to set in. Discouragement is just a tool of the enemy, lets not let him use it on us!! 1 Peter 1:3 says, 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 form the dead  – We can always rise because HE IS ALIVE!

When is it these two men have their hopes lifted?! It’s when they saw Jesus for who He really was! Look at Luke 24:30-32 this is just amazing! When he was at the table with them, he took the bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not out hearts burning with in us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” 

Could it be when we are brought to our knees in communion with Him and we are reminded of His broken body and poured out blood for us that we remember how deeply we are loved and He can restart our hearts. Reminding us it’s not success He requires but faithful obedience. He declares His Word to be like fire in Jeremiah 23:29 so if we need a heart restart, a fresh craving stirred within to follow hard after Him in the hard unexplainables of life, might we start in communion with Him in His Word! Praying that He stir up a hunger for Him like Jeremiah in 20:9, But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” 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.

Like the women at the empty tomb who could not comprehend the scene either in Luke 24:5-8, but what was it that snapped them back to Truth from fear of the unknown?! Verse 6 states, Remember how he told you…. verse 8 Then they remembered his words. Have we been walking closely enough to Him, do we know His word enough that He has something to remind us of, to pull up in our minds in our time of need? No time like the present to start!!!

Isaiah 43:1-4 But now, this is what the LORD says – he who create you, O Jacob, (insert your name) he who formed you, O Israel: (insert your name) “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk thought the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in you stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you… As we can see in this passage it says when, not if, we will pass through waters, fires, rivers… BUT He will be with us and it will not end hopeless, He is our Savior and we have been redeemed and one day we have heaven!

Gosh if we could only comprehend heaven right! But right now we walk in faith not sight maybe so that the glorious surprise is not one bit spoiled. Like waiting to reveal the perfect Christmas gift for the one you love! That must be a bit how Jesus feels toward us. But He gave us His word, a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Psalm 119:105 We have His faithful promises to cling to!

Lamentations 3:21-24,57 Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed for his compassion never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him. – You came near when I called you, and you said, “Do not fear.” See that picture up above of the poor raccoon, it reminds me that in this life situations and circumstances will come my way that I cannot figure out and just climbing higher on the quest to getting all the answers is futile and to my demise… I need to remember Who’s I am and climb back down into His lap and rest in remembering that the God too big for me to figure out is able to handle me and my too big to figure out situation… all the way to His Kingdom.

Jesus, fix my eyes on You who does not change like shifting shadows and help me to remember that even when I don’t fully understand I can trust in Your goodness and what Your Word says, that what harms me, You can use for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. Gen. 50:20 Keep on saving lives Lord, many many lives through the surrendered life of me. I’m holding on to faith that, what no eye has seen, no ear has heard and what no human mind has conceived are the things You have prepared for those who love you! (1 Cor. 2:9)

Independent Read: Isaiah 41:10, John 12:24, 1 Cor. 13:12, Psalm 46:10

 

Not losing the gift in the hand-off

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…while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ… Titus 2:13

Did that first part of the above verse trip you up like it did me?! …while we wait… I don’t know about you but waiting is not my strong suit. I sit still too long and I’m certain I literally start to grow mold! What’s pretty about mold? Nothing! And similarly when I have to wait on God’s timing, His way, I’m afraid my attitude has a tendency to get pretty moldy. Moldy hopelessness can tend to grow when asked to wait too long, can’t it?!

Remember in Luke 22:31-32 Jesus says, “Simon, Simon Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back strengthen your brothers.” Before we go too far, my Hebrew/Greek word study bible indicates that the first “you” in that first verse is plural! Meaning it’s not just Simon that Satan has asked to sift like wheat. BUT look at John 17:9,15 where Jesus says, I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. (15) My prayer is not that you take them out of this world but that you protect them from the evil one. Satan is a thief (John 10:10) and want’s nothing more than to steal your hope in Jesus because then he’s robbed you of your faith and thus salvation. Doesn’t that stir up a desire to scream out as a reminder to self, No weapon formed against me will prosper!!! (Isaiah 54:17) (Well depending on where you are right now screaming might be a bit abnormal, at least you can write it down in all caps on a sticky note right!!)

Peter in his denials of Jesus did not lose his faith or love but as he saw Jesus led away, he lost hope that this could ever end well and fear overcame. Romans 8:28 assures us He can make everything work together for good, His glory. Why, because He paid the total price for our lives on the cross and then rose again conquering death! Where O death is your victory, your sting! (1 Cor. 15:55) Matt. 22:31-32 –have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? (not I WAS) He is not the God of the dead but of the living. Heaven is real friends!! We have a blessed hope, Jesus has conquered, He has a kingdom of which He is coming back for us for!

Remember Satan is a thief though and he will work to blind, snatch, lull, mascaraed and mix Truth with all sorts of lies to gain a foothold in your heart and mind because he want’s nothing more than to see you and I benched, sitting held in a stronghold on the sidelines of abundant life. Thinking practically… well, so how do I make sure that doesn’t happen because sometimes life can truly feel like more than one can handle and the ground under foot seems awfully, awfully shaky. Sometimes it feels like God is allowing or asking too much. But where are my eyes when I’m thinking that way?! Me!! He won me a room in His Kingdom of which I did NOT deserve and He had to pay my way by His blood! He knelt, sweating blood in a garden one night asking for this to be accomplished any other way too! But He submitted…. to save me, and you.  So whatever He has entrusted to me for such a time as this, if it feels He is asking for it back or at least for me to lay down the illusion of control I think I have over it and fully let go and place it into His mighty hand, I have to cling to 2 Timothy 1:12. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able (HE IS ABLE) to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day. He is able to guard what I/you entrust to Him until that day – that blessed living hopeful day!

Don’t let the enemy steel what Jesus won for you in your hand-off!! The handing off, the entrusting to Him, of what may seem like too high a cost this side of heaven but it will not be! It will not be!!! Cling to the blessed hope! You are a child of God an heir to the throne! Do you know what that means!! We cannot even begin to fully comprehend its meaning except that it will be more beautiful than we could have ever even have imagined in our wildest dreams of wanting! Jesus’ example shows that He prayed in hours of exhaustion constantly. In my hours of exhaustion when I’m in my weakest state of mind am I following Jesus’ example or do I let myself be wide open game for the enemy?!

Something new hit me in Matthew 14:22-23 about Peter stepping out of the boat. It was verse 28. Just after verse 27 when Jesus walks out on the water and says, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Peter responds in verse 28, Lord, if it’s you tell me to come to you on the water. – Now remember the waves are still roaring yet when Peter hears Jesus say, “Come”, out goes Peter anyway! This struck me because in Scripture Jesus assures us time and time again He will be with us, He will not forsake us. So yes, take courage don’t fear, in this world you will feel like you have more than you can handle handed to you and asked from you, but I think…. we have the option to take courage in the boat in the storm or maybe just maybe even as He approached the boat that night in the storm and stilled their fear with His presence He allowed the waves to rage on hoping that one with faith like Peter would be up for the adventure! An adventure so thrilling so breathtaking, one in which He could show the one up for it who He is, what He’s like when your willing to trust Him to take His hand and walk through the waves, on top of the crests, in the wild wind! I think He was longing for someone to know Him to those depths and lengths. He didn’t force anyone, we can ride the storms of life in the boat or we can take His hand and and willingly surrender it all to His will, His way, “Show me You Jesus, I’m coming in close, I’m getting out of the boat.”

Verse 30 says Peter saw the wind… now you can’t see the wind only the effects of it right… maybe that’s left to interpret as what do we see as the effects of our “wind”.  In this scene it was literal waves for Peter, but what effects are the “winds” in yours and my life creating? Is it allowing the devil to get a foothold in your hope? Or is it emboldening your faith to say let the “wind” rage but Jesus call me out!!! The waves are going to rage and I see no light or end but I want to trust You. I’m on this ride called life and I don’t want to get off only having seen things from the perspective of my seat on the boat! If You are going to allow the waves to grow to heights I can’t handle on my own I don’t want to wait them out in the boat, I want you to use them for all that they are worth – show me Your glory as I step out and by Your will I’ll live to tell about it so someone else will not lose their promised blessed living hope in the process of handing off to You that which only You can guard perfectly until that day.  Thank You that Your grace is sufficient.

Independent Read: 2 Cor. 4:16-17, Heb. 12:2, Phil. 4:8, 1 Peter 1:3, Romans 8:37

*See that picture on top, its a beautiful flower no mold in sight… don’t let the devil steal your seed, don’t grow weary in the wind, on the waves, in the rocks, always hope because He is faithful thus you can grow, even thrive, in the midst.

 

Another page in our love story.

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“…If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it.'” Luke 19:31

On this snowy day in March, (Yes March! It seems to have come in like a lion this year!) it’s just the coziest sort of day to be thankful for all the good and lovely things that God has given me to think on (Phil. 4:8). Curling up under an afghan to watch a little “Pollyanna” is always helpful too.

You know in that movie there is a not so nice person that tries to control the town and even the church to which Pollyanna reminds people that no one can own a church, its God’s. This reminds me of how often our decisions can be influenced by fear. No good decision is made in fear, good decisions are made in faith.

I’m reminded of Pilate in the unfair trial of Jesus leading up to His crucifixion. I can find 7 times throughout the gospels that Pilate declares Jesus innocent, he can find nothing to accuse him of (Matt. 27:23, Mark 15:14, Luke 23:4,14,22, John 19:4,6). Yet in fear of the crowd and his boss, so to speak, he ends up giving in to what they want. Pilate makes the decision in fear to send Jesus to be crucified against his better judgment.

The crowd was pretty intense chanting “Crucify! Crucify!” (John 19:6) John 6:7 records the Jews saying, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”  However if you look back at the law in Leviticus 24:16 it says, anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD must be put to death. The entire assembly must stone him. Um, did you read what I did?! It said stone not crucify. Isn’t that what happens to our hearts when we start living in the law and not grace, in religion and not relationship. We read the Word with binoculars instead of a mirror. This world is all about getting ahead rising above the next guy but Jesus was about coming down. He went from a throne to a manger, from being worshiped by angels to a carpenters job, from being the creator of thorns (Gen. 3:18) to wearing a crown of thorns, from being Judge to being judged. That kind of humble sacrifice takes strength beyond my comprehension! One in which I pray somehow He will work out in my heart as I pray to submit and surrender my will to His.

This brings me to another thought in Luke 19:28-40 pertaining to Jesus triumphal entry. Go ahead take a moment to read it too.

Does verse 30-31 strike you like it did me?! Talk about surrender, I mean what if that donkey was all they had, what if it was a favorite friend, a child’s faithful confidon, what if it was like the child they could never have or something they had just given their life’s savings to purchase or maybe it was what they were going to sell in order to survive a bit longer until they could find work, maybe it was one of many, but maybe it felt like all they had was being taken away. You ask why and the explanation is just, “The Lord needs it.” WHAT?!?!

Maybe the owners of the donkey knew Scripture maybe they didn’t, but if they did… 1 Kings 1:33 states, he said to them: “Take your lord’s servants with you and set Solomon my son on my own mule… Jesus wants the donkey to proclaim to the world that He was the chosen Son of David to sit on Davids throne! And Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation gentle and riding on a donkey. Jesus wanted the donkey to show the world He was the one the prophets had spoken about! And do you notice in Luke 19:28-29 This donkey was planed for before He had even entered the city!! Verse 30 displays Jesus attention to detail! This donkey was chosen for GREATNESS it had a predetermined GRAND purpose to fulfill with it’s life but the owners were going to have to let go to trust Jesus with out all their “whys?!” being answered.

The only thing I can see in letting go in this passage that would have made making the decision to trust in faith rather than say no and cling to what they felt was theirs in fear of all the unknown, would be knowing Who needed it. Knowing the Lord, knowing this Jesus; and we can through His Word too!! He is the lion we can’t tame but can always trust. He is the lamb that was slain and the lion that has triumphed. He is called Faithful and True (Rev. 19:11) and all His promises are “yes” in Jesus (2 Cor. 1:20).

Jesus, please, You say it only takes a mustard seed of faith to move a mountain (Matt. 17:20) so today please grow in me that mustard seed of faith to trust You when if feels like You need my “donkey”. When everything in me want’s to cry, NO! That’s mine! Help me to let go of the illusion of control and to rest in the promises of Your Word and in Your faithfully good character. To know it’s really You and not me that holds all things together. (Col. I:17) Give me eyes to see and ears to hear and a heart to follow joyfully beyond what I can understand and to sense Your presence… I AM. To hear after, the Lord needs it….dear child “haven’t I promised you that everything is working together for good to those who love Me (Romans 8:28)? Haven’t I promised you that I will bring you to a glorious end (Jeremiah 29:11)? Haven’t I promised you that I will complete that which I’ve begun in you (Phil. 1:6)? Haven’t I promised you that I will restore to you the years the locusts has eaten (Joel 2:25)? Haven’t I promised you that no weapon formed against you shall prosper (Isaiah 54:17)? Haven’t I promised to supply all your need (Phil. 4:19), that if you seek Me first, everything will be added unto you (Matt. 6:33)?” So that I can respond in faith not fear. Okay, Lord. I trust You with my “donkey”. Please keep me close with my hand in Your Mighty one as You walk me through this next chapter of our love story together.

Independent Read: Deut. 31:6

*That picture on top… that’s a mustard seed… and it’s growing. 🙂

 

Not From Joy But Unto Joy

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Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Psalm 51:12

My six year old climbed up on my lap yesterday after kindergarten and asked me as he chewed on his apple slices, “So, are we goin’ to church tonight?” I replied, “no today is Thursday, we were just there last night. I don’t think anyone will be there tonight.” To which he replied, “that’s alright Jesus is everywhere I’m sure we could just live there too.” Then he started explaining to me all the fun games we could play in the halls and rooms if we lived there! As I was listening to my six year old’s grand ideas I thought to myself, this may very well be the reason larger organizations moved to allowing only a select few to have access to the master key! I also thought, wouldn’t it be grand if everyone of His children felt the same ferociously gentle intrigue of Jesus pulling them into the Body of Christ like my six year old!!

My thoughts turn to how can I share that ferociously gentle intrigue of Jesus with others that I feel pulling me? I think of the burning bush in Exodus 3 for an example of God’s ferociously gentle intrigue. Starting in verse 3, So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight – why the bush does not burn up.”  When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses, Moses!” To which Moses replies, “Here I am.” Well of course he does!! And since God has His attention He can gently let Moses know I AM will be all that He is for all that Moses doesn’t even yet know he needs yet! Who would not want a romance of this kind, one full of never ending mystery of the utmost ferociously gentle intriguing sort!! This must be shared right!! What motivates people to step out of pride, fear, or indifference to share the gospel?

I think of John 4 when Jesus talks with the woman at the well. She is no scholar yet nearly an entire town comes to know Jesus because she simply shares what she does know and the passion He has stirred in her heart! John 4:29-30, 39 Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ? (Maybe sometime we just need to say come see and lets seek Him together.) They came out of the town and made their way toward him. Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony… 

In this same chapter Jesus is talking to His disciples about the harvest and urges them that the time is NOW! I tell you open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. John 4:35 The part that gets me though is where He says, the sower and the reaper may be glad together. (Verse 36) I get the reaper being glad, I mean how exciting is it to see someone come to Christ, to be baptized right!! But the sower?!? Think of a farmer they worked all day sowing the seed and at the end of the day they look back and the field looks exactly the same as they started out…joy?!? I think that comes when God answers the prayer to work out Psalm 51:12 authentically in our hearts. The joy that comes in the sowing is not from sowing but the knowledge of our salvation being restored unto us daily in our hearts and minds as we yield to His will and carry our cross because He did so; that we might have salvation as ferociously gently intriguingly mind blowing as that is!!

The joy of our salvation is what overcomes what might hinder our sharing the gospel. The ferociously gentle intrigue of who He is and the fire of His word stirring a passionate joy with in our hearts overcomes our pride which really stems from anger and grumpiness and other unjoyfulness right! It overcomes our fear of what might happen in our work place or what others might say because the realization that in all our sinfulness we have been saved, rescued we have eternal salvation!!! That’s so crazy I gotta tell somebody!! And it moves us right out of indifference of being too tired, the urgency of truth welling up within cannot be contained like the women had at the well!

The key is love isn’t it… knowing, feeling, believing we are so crazy loved by Jesus in-spite of ourselves which can only come by knowing Him, His Word and if someone doesn’t have a bible how will they know?! US!! John 15:11-12 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

Jesus may the joy of our salvation in You be restored unto us this day so that, we will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills will burst into song before (us) you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Isaiah 55:12 

God bless your day! 🙂

 

On Top On Top – Upside Down

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“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. …She did what she could. Mark 14:6, 8

I must have been about 8 years old but one of my favorite desserts to make with my mom was called “On Top On Top”. It was sublime… we are talking layers upon layers of melty chocolate wafers sandwiched between piles of whip cream with of course a thick layer of rainbow sprinkles crowning the On Top On Top mountain of pure bliss. No oven needed either, just pop in the fridge over night for pure perfection… (still my kind of baking). One day we were headed over to a family friends house and we were to bring the dessert… of course I had proudly prepared my current favorite, “On Top On Top” and being the big girl helper that I was, I volunteered to carry my beautiful rainbow mountain to their doorstep. I was on top of the world – just wait until they opened that door and saw what we had brought for dessert!! Until somehow… to this day my mind still whirls around “Why!?” “How?!” For the love of all good intentions, did my On Top On Top end up UPSIDE DOWN… on their porch?! (cry.) Have you been there too? When your best efforts, your “on top on top” ends up somehow, upside down?!

But the world doesn’t stop for your upside down does it… the front door opens and sometimes you are left trying to explain, trying to salvage whats left. But we shouldn’t be caught that off guard when bad happens right, I mean… John 16:33 In this world you will have trouble. Matthew 6:34 Each day has enough trouble of its own.  1 Peter 4:12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But recently I was made to look at these verses in context… John 16:33 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. Matthew 6:33-34 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. 1 Peter 4:12-13 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. Do you too hear the hope in the fire, in the upside down?!

Jesus said in Luke 9:23 to pick up your cross daily… each day pick it up. He didn’t say waste time over how you fumbled it around yesterday, yesterday is gone. And He didn’t say figure out how to carry it for the next 50 years or till the end of the week, no…He says don’t worry about tomorrow today has enough worries of its own right, so today, just today pick up your cross today and follow Me. My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Cor. 12:9) Isn’t it amazing the divine persuasion of faith that can take place in a heart that yields to Him!!

You know I lived through my traumatic “On Top On Top” disaster at 8 years old and you know it turns out the best most melty wafers reside on the bottom of that pie and when you get to eat it bottom side up there is the delicious excitement of finding the rainbow treasure of sprinkles at the end to finish of your dessert with a flourish! I totally would have missed out if I had never gotten the chance to eat “On Top On Top” upside down style! You know people are always wondering were God is and I think we would more easily find Him if we paid attention to where Jesus went! He went up hill and He went in bad weather… He is in the picking up your cross moments.

You got to love Luke 13:31-32, At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.” He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ When taking up our cross is awful hard maybe we can look to Jesus and steal our selves the same… tell that fox of a situation you will not be dissuaded you will reach your goal because God will fulfill His promise and purpose over your life – I will yield to His persuasion of my heart and take up my cross and watch Him reach His goal in me!! So look out fox! Stronger and brighter is He who is in me upside down or right side up He will reach His goal in me!

Like the story in Mark 14 when the women is ridiculed for anointing Jesus with expensive perfume… what she did didn’t make sense to the outside world but her eyes were fixed on Jesus as she did something TO Him not FOR Him, and He saw her and her heart and He called it beautiful because she did what she could.

Jesus You took up the cross for me, help me to pick up my cross TODAY trusting You will supply the grace needed to do all that I can to bring TO You honor, glory and praise knowing that whether on top or upside down You can reach Your goal if I yield my will to Yours.

Independent Read: Romans 8:28, Matt. 24:13, 1 Cor. 16:13, 1 Peter 5:9, Eph. 6:11, Heb. 3:12-14, Phil. 4:13