Display His Splendor

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You are my servant… in whom I will display my splendor. Isaiah 49:3

In Acts 17 Paul goes from city to city sharing the good news of the Gospel of Jesus. Acts 17:17 states that Paul persisted, day by day with those who happened to be there. I find Paul’s example so encouraging because in just one prior verse, verse 16 it states how greatly distressed he was to see the city so full of idols! Yet the odds stacked against him did not dissuade him from persisting day by day to ANY who happened to be around!!

Acts 17:26 states something I want to keep in the forefront of my mind, …and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. WHY? KEEP READING! Verse 27, God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, through he is not far from each one of us. Encouraging isn’t it that He is not far from ANY of us! He already stepped out of heaven and came down to us, died for us, rose again for us!! We who believe, who’s hearts He has already called and opened to Him just need to display His splendor! You have an angle that displays Him that people He has positioned around you in this place at this time will be susceptible to knowing Him through you, through the way He created only you display His splendor right here right now!!!

Why do you think, though Paul greatly distressed, did not give up due to overwhelming odds? Paul knew first hand what it was like to live apart from the Truth and he had experienced the love and pursuit of a Savior that surpassed anything he had ever experienced before, more fulfilling than anything else he had wholeheartedly pursued in his life and he could not keep that splendid treasure to himself! Paul also knew as Acts 17:31 states, For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead. Paul knew Truth now and so persisted day by day because a day is set and is coming still in which time will run out to make a choice in whom you will serve. So, choose this day whom you will serve… but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. Joshua 24:15

Acts 17:32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of the them sneered, but the others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” Despite great distress at the odds that seem to stack against us in trying to evangelize planet earth before Jesus returns, God does say the harvest is plentiful.. .PLENTIFUL! So we will never find those that want to hear us again on the subject if we don’t keep trying day after day and with ANY who happen to be around us in this very place for such a time as this!

There is no time like the present… your time and place is a God given gift to you! You are a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:3

Independent Read: Matthew 9:37, Romans 5:8, Matthew 28:6, John 11:25, Revelation 19:11-16, 2 Peter 3:8-10

Are you asking the right question?

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…though your riches increase do not set your heart on them. Psalm 62:10

I recently read a tragic story about a doctor that tried desperately to save a young child trapped under a heavy rock just below the surface of some water. He did everything to try and lift the rock with no effect, so he ran to a near by home to get assistance. It took a few men to finally lift the stone however the little one had already tragically passed away. The doctor so distraught played and replayed the situation in his mind feeling he should have been able to save the child. Walking through this same area he noticed a nearby garden hose and it hit him he had been asking the wrong question all along! He had been thinking the problem was the rock so he had been focusing on the question – how can I remove this rock? When in actuality the rock wasn’t what killed the child it was that he was under water and could not breathe… he should have been asking himself how can I get him to breathe?! If he had been trying to solve that problem he would have noticed the garden hose, cut a piece to use as sort of a snorkel for the child to get air until they could remove the stone. “A problem understood is a problem half solved.”

I had the privilege of hearing a wonderful sermon given by a young man wise beyond his years on the passage in Luke 15 about the prodigal son. The prodigal begins life trying to celebrate me, myself and I like much of our world today and if I’m honest like me too much of the time. But gosh that way of living always lands you like the prodigal in a pile of pig muck. Unfortunately though many of us, your’s truly included have at times done a pretty good job of making our pig pens look good but like the preacher said at the end of the day its still just a pig pen.

We all, like the prodigal have a choice to make and God will honor our choice to go our own way or to follow Him. Maybe as we gaze into a new year it should be a time of, as Luke 15:17 states, When he came to his senses… to realize something bigger than me/myself and I is going on, that there is a better way to live! Coming to your senses will inevitably invoke some kind of action as it did for the prodigal in the very next verse (18) I will set out and go… Where is your life going?

Maybe you see you are in a pile of pig muck but you expect someone or something else to fix it. John 1:14 says, The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. Flesh, vulnerable flesh! To a people that would not return the favor! Not that He might RISK His life but that He would GIVE His life for us! He came fully aware He would die in our place so that we could choose to turn from our sinful ways and receive abundant life that can only be found in Jesus, the only One worthy of celebration! He is the Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6) so when we realize we are in a pile of muck lets choose to take responsibility and humbly come before the Wonderful Counselor who became vulnerable flesh yet remained without sin for your sake and mine. He knows what it feels like to be treated unfairly to feel like the plan should go another way, the feeling of abandonment, prayers not being answered, no one knows better than the Wonderful Counselor! Jesus already took the first step what more do we expect?! Step out of the muck into His open arms – He can’t wait to celebrate you! THAT is good news right there!

Apart from Him we can bear no fruit, we can do nothing (John 15:4-5). Have we deceived ourselves into thinking we can do this thing called life on our own?! Have we chosen to build our lives on the sand rather than the Rock? (Matthew 7:24-29) New’s flash, the storm hit both ways of life folks but which house was left standing in the end?! The one built on the Rock!

As we all glance at 2018 just about in the rear view mirror and gaze into the future of brand new, fresh and clean 2019 are we asking ourselves the right questions? Are we running around just trying to fix the latest big rock on our chest as we literally suffocate under the way of the world? Are we just looking for a temporary fill rather than to be FULL-filled?! Folks the Word became flesh to dwell with us, might we make it our hearts deepest desire in 2019 and beyond to continually ask this question as it says in Psalm 27:4 One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. No more running, no more muck, turn to Jesus and be saved!

There is a whole world out there that needs to breathe, needs the saving work of Jesus, are we asking the right questions? After all, “a problem understood is a problem half solved.”

Independent Read: Isaiah 45:22

Where are you staying?

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“Come,” he replied, “and you will see.” John 1:39

My husband and I started out the day playing Lumosity games together for fun, laughs and maybe even, if even just a little bit, to ward off the fear of losing our minds and not because we have six young kids and a moose for a dog! No, those six are our richest blessings for sure and make life a grander adventure than we could ever have hoped for or even imagined which makes the fear of losing our mind in our old age even more frightening… I mean I’m already planning play dates with my future grandchildren!!

Why do we let fear and worry have such control in our lives?! Fear is faith in the enemy, the liar… F.alse E.vidence A.ppearing R.eal Isaiah 9:6 states Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace… Phil. 4:19 says He will provide for all our needs – so then why are we so inclined to default to fear and worry?

I find a good example of dealing with fear in Luke 2:8-15. Go ahead I’ll wait while you read it.

Did you notice in verse 9 that when the glory of the Lord shone around them their reaction was terrified fear! Isn’t His presence suppose to bring peace and strength?! I believe it does but we have to be willing to give Him a heart of flesh willing to receive Him rather than a stubborn heart of stone. The shepherd did experience fear like all humans do but as you see in verse 15 the shepherds reaction was “Let’s go…” to God. They wanted to receive Him. They were willing to let go of fear and allow His peace to be received into their hearts right THROUGH their fear! They didn’t allow their fear to freeze them into a stone of ineffectiveness.

Now look at John 1:35-39.

Jesus asks two men “What do you want?” What if God asked you that? What would you say? The two men gave an answer I want to heed. They answered with a question back, “where are you staying?” Jesus answers, “Come, and you will see.” Interesting that Jesus didn’t give specific directions complete with land markers and an exact address. No He said walk with Me and see. Just come with Me and see.

So often we want specific answers to our fears and worries but Jesus just says trust Me, walk with Me and you will see. You will see how I am faithful and provide for all that you need, that my strength is perfect in weakness, My grace sufficient.

Today I pray to choose to respond like the shepherds. To allow His peace and strength to come through my fear and worry and take His perspective on my situation and circumstances. I choose to go and see and not remain frozen in fear but to walk with Him one trusting step at a time because He who promised is faithful!

So where are you staying? I’m staying with Jesus.

Independent Read: Ezekiel 36:26

OF what path do you run?

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to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace. Luke 1:79

So in an attempt to avoid the dreadmill, I mean treadmill yesterday I decided since my husband had the day off and could watch the kids I would take an outdoor run. However the expectation I had of an invigorating run like the kind you see runners take usually in the beginning credits of movies through crisp morning air through gently falling snowflakes… yeah, that wasn’t my reality.

My reality: I wore layers so that I could be appropriately clad for the 20 degree air as I began to warm up, however I just looked like that little boy on that movie, you know the one where he just can’t move and falls over… picture that trying to run. plus I mistakenly wore my glasses not contacts so trying to see between each breath I took through my scarf (yes I even had a scarf flaying) that inevitably fogged up my glasses so visibility was intermittent at best. Actually I even had an elderly couple stop me mid run on the sidewalk and ask if I was running for help?! Really people?! I mean some of us just can’t help that when we attempt a workout we appear to be dying!! I guess that was pretty clear direction that my dream of becoming a movie run model should just die!! But wait there is more…

I was determined to be invigorated and energized regardless of how I looked to the outside world and chose to listen to a podcast sermon on PEACE no less! However my earbuds kept shorting out and I found myself feeling absolutely NO peace as I sucked frozen air through my scarf, searing my lungs, exhaling fog on my glasses blinding my sight all while continuing to attempt what some would question as running, in enough layers to clothe the third world!!! That’s when God got through with the whisper of the word OF.

Luke 1:79 states He guides us to the path OF peace! The path OF peace means its not a path leading TO peace, the WHOLE path is a path OF peace!! Gosh, Lord I’m so sorry! Here I am looking for peace when You are already walking with me ON it!! I was just not willing to receive it! So for the remainder of my run went something like this…

Jesus thank you that my nerves work to feel the invigorating air, thank you that I have glasses that help me see better and that they fog up to let me know I’m still alive with a breath in my lungs and a heart beat! Thank you that I have enough clothes to actually layer up, thank you that I have ears to hear and a brain that notices when my earbuds short out. Thank you that I have a family to run home to. And thank You that you have put people in the world that would stop in concern for someone they felt was in distress. Jesus thank you for guiding me on this path OF so much peace!!

My run may not have looked like the model run to the world but neither may life, because often life gets messy and complicated but that’s why Jesus came, to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death… to lift our hearts, minds and eyes to see that in Him we are ON the path of peace, peace that passes understanding. So today I wish you peace that passes the worlds understanding as you take His perspective and realize as long as you are walking/running (or in my case attempting to run) with Him you already are on the path OF peace so you can stop looking for it and start enjoying it as you receive it every step of the path. God bless!

Independent Read: Philippians 4:7

 

Resolution: Choose the “let-us”!

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So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded . Hebrews 10:35

Anyone else beginning to contemplate New Years resolutions?! This year I’m going to try the “let-us” diet. What?! You haven’t heard of it? Or maybe you are thinking I misspelled something again and a lettuce diet is something you DON’T want to hear anything about! I understand, but I didn’t actually misspell it, I did mean “let-us” so maybe hang in to hear the 1, 2, 3, 4 simple steps… after all it promises rich rewards!

In Hebrews 10 I noticed 4 heads of “let-us” so to speak, that this year I hope to implement. 1. Draw near 2. Hold hope 3. Encourage 4. Meet together –  These all wrap together in a fifth head of “let-us” found in 1 John 3:18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue  but with actions and in truth. Do you see that cute little “let-us” tucked in that verse? Steps 1-4 in this “let-us” diet must be completed in sincerity and truth, that means this plan must be Jesus infused.

Do not grow weary and lose heart, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. 1 John 5:4-5 This year I don’t see resolution-failure-February! I see perseverance to a victorious end (or beginning rather) in Jesus!

Step one in the “let-us” diet is DRAW NEAR. Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:22 That said draw near with a sincere heart not a perfect heart. Do not let any imperfection keep you from drawing near to Jesus, allowing His sacrifice for you to take effect in your life.

Step two: HOLD HOPE. Let us hold unswerving to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23 In Jesus we have a living hope that will not disappoint (Rom. 5:5, 1 Peter 1:3). And He is faithful even if we are not (2 Tim. 2:13)! This is a no-fail diet, just try it!!

Step three: ENCOURAGE. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:24  Eph. 2:6 says we already have a seat with Him at His table and we have our own job to do handed to us by Him (2:10) so “let-us” lay aside competing and comparing and start living like the father in the prodigal son story… he just HAD TO celebrate the return of the prodigal son (Luke 15:32). Let’s live in such a way that we are so secure in our unearned, God given seat at His table that our sincere joy in celebrating and encouraging others just cannot be contained!

Step four: MEET TOGETHER. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:25 A cord of three strands is not easily broken (Ecc. 4:12) there is strength in numbers so “let-us” take advantage! Share this “let-us” diet with others because we know that, physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:8 

So in this New Year go ahead, grab that ding dong cake guilt free as you savor the “let-us” in His Word because who is it that overcomes? Not the one that eats the least amount of ding dongs, but He who believes that Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 5:5). Eat more “let-us”!

Independent Read: Jeremiah 15:16

The Cost For Getting Up

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And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:10

Our family received an invite to ice skating that went like this, “Skating is free, skates are free, falling is free, getting up comes with a cost!” Pretty funny but oh too true at least at my age anyway!! All jokes aside this invite got me thinking how it actually can be applied to life in Jesus.

“Skating (life) is free… (Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.), skates (what you need for life) is free… (2 Timothy 3:17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.), falling is free… (1 Timothy 6:20 Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and is so doing have wandered from the faith. Grace be with you.), getting up comes with a cost!” …. Oh yes it does!

Getting up always comes with a cost! Think of the look on that ol’ devils face when Jesus got up from the grave!! 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus got up and it cost the devil the victory over us!! Every time we follow Jesus example and choose to get up it cost the devil another victory.

Jesus died for the fallen (Romans 5:8) so that the fallen could choose to get up… to keep getting up. In Genesis 3:15 God tells the devil he will strike His heal but God will crush his head! Don’t you think if you were given that prognosis you would be looking for every chance you could to prevent your head crushing!!?! All throughout the Bible and history in general you see evidence of this, but God’s plan will not be thwarted (Job 42:2)! Just because the devil’s got a head crushing prognosis do not let him make you believe you do too!

You are on the winning side in Jesus! He got up, so that you can too! The enemy is fighting for your soul, to keep you down and if not for eternity at least down long enough to render you ineffective for His kingdom in this life. Get up my friend, AS MANY TIMES AS YOU NEED TO. Get up, keep skating, He died so you could do it freely!! Believe Jesus.

Independent read: Isaiah 61:1-4

 

The “But God” Factor

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But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much… Ephesians 2:4

In helping my children with homework… especially math, which in my mind should never change over time. I mean, it’s numbers people, if one way works in figuring out the computation why do we need to factor in SO many other methods to complicate things!? Math is just hard enough doing it ONE way! (Do I hear any other amen’s out there?!) It seems over the course of time my six children have brought home six different methods of doing the same 3 digit subtraction problems I did growing?!

Now, if I’m completely honest I may have had to say a time or two…or six, I can help you with the math but not the method, I only know one way to get to the answer. None the less I then stay up all night researching the current “new and improved” way of doing math in order to assist my children in the way they are being taught. (Also so that no one can accuse me of being an old fuddy duddy stuck in her old ways… at least not to my face.)

As many times as I’ve heard the phrase, “But mom…” whether regarding homework or anything else for that matter I am reminded of the many times in His Word we are given a “But God…” and that’s a factor, although I may not always understand, I want to always live by!

Eph. 2:1 states we were dead in our sins but by verse 4 we see a “But God…” He chose to make us alive again in His great love, mercy and grace through the death and resurrection of Jesus if we just believe! (John 3:16) Not only that but He seated us at the most important table we could ever want to be at! With a purpose and activities for us to do well before our lives even began! (Eph. 2:6,10) (I’m sure mine was not math. 😉 ) Now that’s a “But God” I’ll cling to! No more striving to prove I’m good enough, to be accepted…to truly live! I already have a seat at His table and a job created only for me, I just need to stop looking around and running the rat race of comparison and focus my attention, eyes and heart on Him! (Hebrews 12:2)

There are so many “But God..” instances in the Bible, Genesis 50:20 But God turned bad to good, Judges 15:18-19 But God provided , 1 Samuel 23:14 But God saved his life, Genesis 31:7 But God protected me, Genesis 20:2-3 I screwed up royally “but God moved in unexpected, unpredictably, miraculously, and rescued..” Are we looking for the “But God” factor in our lives? It’s usually unexpected, unpredictable, miraculous and original but are we willing to put in the work to seek Him in His Word and through prayer continuously in order to know Him and sense Him more deeply all around us?

Unlike the world with it’s ever changing methods God is the factor that stays the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, ever faithful even when we are not. (Hebrews 13:8, 2 Tim. 2:13) He can be trusted so praise Him that even though there seems no way I’ll persevere through all this math homework and I just might be dreaming Zorro will break through the ceiling and rescue me for there are a great many things I can’t do, I will not give up hope that all things are possible. (Phil. 4:13, Luke 1:37) I can’t, “But God” can!

Independent Read: 1 Peter 5:10