Eye for an Eye

eye-wipe

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Matthew 5:38-42

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

In 18th century B.C. a Babylonian King named Hammurabi created laws to assist Mesopotamia to justly deal with crime.  One law, now described as the “eye of an eye”, stated that if someone wronged you, then that person was also to be punished in the same manner.  Death for death, injury for injury, pain for pain.

In the Old Testament the early laws were established in Exodus 21:24-25 which stated; eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

In the 20th century A.D a revolutionary leader in South Africa Mahatma Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.” He was concerned and determined to give rights to Indians in South Africa.

During the Civil Rights Movement Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “If we do an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, we will be a blind and toothless nation.”

Before God sent his only son and our savior, we were to justly right the wrong by what the world would view as, you do me wrong and I will repay in same.  This was acceptable in God’s eyes in the beginning as the leaders told through God’s word.  Humans were under the law of pleasing God through their duty, honor, and sacrifice.  Many rabbis and pharisees  believed everything needed to be surrounded by laws.  

When Jesus came to save us from our sin, He preached a different message.  This message was one of love, peace, and redemption through allowing God into our hearts and minds.  No act would ever save us, and the only way was to trust His ways in faith.

Where does this leave us today?

It all begins with blind trust.  This trust is one in which occurs through the unseen.  Unfortunately, it has two paths.  One in which is crafted based on Satan’s lies, and the other which is given freely by the clarity of God’s love.  The lies we are told come from unseen fear.  When wrong occurs, fear develops, and then comes feelings of jealousy, hate, confusion, and greed.  Now when we take the path of clarity in truth and love, everything is seen as just and  God’s will.  

Our choice as Christians is to decide how this will play out in our lives.  Many times I have been blindsided in this walk.  Actually, too many times.  I make the right choice, and then comes the moment when a negative distraction or attack enters my life.  What first enters my mind, “That was unfair, uncalled for, and I need to fix this.”  Ready for combat and armed with what I think is truth.  Taking charge and allowing the world to win.  In this moment we are called to step back, pray, and lean on God’s words.

Matthew 5: 43-48“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Satan wants more than anything to draw us away during this time.  It is his goal to dismantle all the work in which Jesus has done in our lives.  But, if we as Christians choose to rise above the attack, Satan is now the one blindsided.  We are the victors.  

 Psalm 37: 1-6  Do not fret because of those who are evil
    or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
    like green plants they will soon die away.

Trust in the Lord and do good;
    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun.

The time has come for us to choose;

Eye for an Eye or Love for Hate?  

The world answers, “Take and keep what is yours. Protect it. Give what has been given to you; pain for pain” Jesus answers, “Turn away from sin and embrace love. Give the love I have for you. Release it.”  

We are to embrace, accept, and allow ourselves to be His hands and feet in this broken world.  Our protection comes from above ,and our victory has already been won.  Celebrate!

1 John 5: 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.

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MOVED and CONFUSED

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Romans 8: 2-6  because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh,God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.

Biblegateway.com

What do we stand for?  What moves us to take action?  How can we live in this confusing messy world where all kinds of messages are swirling like bees around a flower?

Negativity drives some, frustration others, and many selfish motives.

Messages of brokenness.  Broken country.  Broken towns/cities.  Broken families. Broken schools.  Broken government. Broken people wandering holding signs.

Our foundation as Christians is based on the core value of faith.  Faith is our only answer.

Hebrews 11: 1-16 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings.And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.

13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return.16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one.Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

I sit here very torn how to react to the protests around the world and in my beloved country.  Is this obedience?  Is this service for God?  Is this complete trust and belief in the unseen? What should I do?

The faith we have is developed through a close intimate relationship with God.  We find it by leaning on Him when we don’t know how to act or react.  His words are full of answers.

Proverbs 16: 9 In their hearts humans plan their course,
    but the Lord establishes their steps.

When we lean in on His words of guidance, we will find what we need to stand for and move towards.  Our steps will be lit, but completely His.

Surrender.  Let His ways be our ways.

Sitting.  Standing.  Marching.  Speaking.  Writing.  Praying.  Loving.

All possibilities in His tapestry of the life He has planned for all of mankind.

Our Lord has made promises, yet the mere humans in scripture unknowingly followed, took risks, and only saw glimpses of what was coming true in those promises.  His greatness, elusive and never understood.

Let’s be moved by the spirit to seek His ways, stay connected to His beautiful words, and allow His covenant with us become complete.  Instead of seeking a human world where we “fix” the broken, we should pursue our answers in scripture.

Hebrews 11: 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

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Chained

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Psalm 107: 10-14 Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness, prisoners suffering in iron chains,11 because they rebelled against God’s commands and despised the plans of the Most High. 12 So he subjected them to bitter labor; they stumbled, and there was no one to help. 13 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. 14 He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains.

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I have been a prisoner.  I was cuffed, chained, and attached to a large sphere which kept me from escaping.  

Shackled in fear.

Shackled in doubt.

Shackled in jealousy and envy.

Shackled in hate and hurt.

This enormous weight too heavy to move, holds all of us who are imprisoned.  It whispers our name and laughs.  It taunts us and let’s us know that it is in control.  It originated through a situation, a person, or strong feeling. We can blame this crippling state on its very existence.

Focused.  Desperate.

If only, this weight was lifted.  We would be free when it’s released.  

We pray.

“Lord release me”.

Psalm 25:15 My eyes are ever on the Lordfor only he will release my feet from the snare.

“Oh, Lord you can move mountains.”

Matthew 17:20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

“I know that anything I need, you will provide Lord.”

John 16:23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.

God hears and we are freed from this burden.  Our ability to move is now restored.  Yet, our freedom is a mirage.

We look at our arms, and the chains and shackles remain.  Our hands are incapable of full use and lifting them up to the sky is restricted.  We are now weary and confused.  Our ability to worship and praise our great Lord diminished.  

Why me Lord?  Why didn’t you fully free me?

Collossians 4: 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.

2 Corinthians 3: 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

The scars of our slavery still cut into our wrists, reminding us of what we define ourselves; Broken.

Only Jesus can take the pain and shame giving blessings in return.  Only He can heal the broken.

The way to true freedom lies in becoming a slave.  A slave to His ways.  A slave that gives his or her life to the guidance of our great master.  A master who wants nothing more than to love us unconditionally.  

First, we must submit, repent our old thoughts and feelings, and then release them to be healed by our father.  

Romans 6: 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?

1 Corinthians 7: 22 For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave.

True liberation is true joy.  A joy that defies human understanding.  When we welcome Jesus as our Lord and savior, our oppression is lifted, and only God’s comfort can fill us through the spirit.  Through trials, hardships, and tribulations we are not trapped in our old chains.  No, we are assuredly free.
Galatians 5: 1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

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Serve Where You Are

serving-hands

In Memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

James 2: 14-17 NIV  What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

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I have struggled with the concept for years on how to serve in relationship to my faith, and through the daily pull life has on my day to day.  I hear God’s words and watch other’s examples, and always feel as though I don’t quite measure up.

I could feed the hungry, clothe the poor, and give comfort to the broken.  I know that this is what Jesus exemplified in His walk towards our salvation.  This is what God wants from us to further His kingdom. But, how can I offer this up in my own world?

Sometimes I think my job may be considered service to others, but I do get paid.

Sometimes I think my kindness to friends and loved ones is service, but I do get kindness in return.

Sometimes I think just making nightly dinner is service, and often goes unnoticed.  

All these count, right?

1 Peter 4:10 NIV  Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

God has gifted each of us with a life that is very unique, and designed to be for His glory.

My home, job, family, and path were prepared before I was created.  As I go live out the life I was given, I will have tribulations and blessings.  These blessings are not to be hoarded, but shared with the masses.  

How do I share my offering to the world?  

Galatians 5: 13-14 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

“love your neighbor as yourself”, says the Lord.  This seems at times complicated.  My heart needs to be ready, grace needs to be given, and letting go of hurts needs to be wrapped in forgiveness.  I need to love myself, love all others, and then my service will be ready.

Once I am ready, I can then start exactly where I am.

Our service first starts in our homes.  We need to look at our children, husbands, and wives as ourselves.  Take their needs and meet them tenderly to show God’s love.  This begins the foundation of service.

Next, we need to spread the love and serving at our jobs and activities.  Showing His light and ways to our small world.  Yet, this is the service that is often overlooked.

The goal of giving what has been received, is to grow the kingdom of God.  He wants all of us.  Not just a select few.

Every person we encounter is within His sights as chosen and worthy.  When we set our mission aside, and take on His ways, we have accomplished praising and pleasing Him.

Grab the gospel, seek out quiet whispers of guidance, love, speak carefully with grace, and begin serving in the midst of your crazy life.

We serve not to become served, but to grow the kingdom to take back what is rightfully His. Our world depends on each of us to carry this to the day we meet our good father again.
1 Peter 4: 10-11 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

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Haters

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Mark 13:13 NIV Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

John 15: 18-19 NIV “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

Biblegateway.com

One of my greatest fears growing up was being hated by others.  I strove to adapt and hide so that I would either be liked or just invisible.  I knew what I would compromise on, and what made me feel extremely uncomfortable. But, the world is a scary place which could turn on a dime.

I continue to deal with the need for acceptance, but as I age and grow in God’s word I am able to say, “Enough”.

Jesus was the ultimate outsider who just lived the way God told him to live.  He didn’t change, succumb to peer pressure, or hide when things turned.  No, He embraced the discord.  

His words tell us that if the world hates you, well then you are doing something right.  

In the past year, I have developed a stance against the popular culture.  I am no longer listening to songs or watching TV/ movies which go against my faith and morals.  This sounds grand, but it is nearly impossible.  I alone can not guard myself from the world.

Philippians 4:13 NIV  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Through prayer and guidance in moments of stillness, I am capable of deciphering what to pull away from.  But, others don’t understand why I would draw a hard line to what is seen as pleasing in the world.

Life is to be lived to pull others towards a life pleasing to God.  Life isn’t to be lived to be praised by the world.  You can only serve one master.

2 Corinthians 4:4 NIV The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

As we go through our day to day, we may not even notice how many are blind to the ways of the gospel.  Yet, look close enough and you will realize how the slightest situation, decision, and/or conversation teeters on blatant sin.

The only way to live a life of full joy, blessings, and salvation is to turn the other direction and embrace what Jesus accepted as righteousness.  The word righteous is not to be used negatively, but it should be used to understand that we as Christian’s have a duty to stand for what is right.  

Stand for grace.

Stand for love and respect.

Stand for truth and honesty.

Stand for brothers and sisters.

Stand for serving.

Stand with Jesus accepting His sacrifice for our freedom.

His ways are not our ways.  

Matthew 10:22 NIV You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Walk closely to His word , and know you will have those who don’t understand, or may even push you away because what you exude is distasteful.  

Yet, we still love.

Proverbs 25:21 NIV If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.

As we are pushed away, our life should be a light.  A constant reminder that even when our enemies detest our ways, we continue to offer them the love of Christ.  Feed them and clothe them in a peace that transcends understanding.

Then we with the power of the spirit, can turn haters into followers.

2 Corinthians 2: 14 NIV But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.

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Never Too Late

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Ecclesiastes 3:1 

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

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The question we should ask is; Who created time?  The answer is simple; humans.  It is not something that God instituted or cares to recognize.  Yet, aren’t we so focused and overly occupied by the concept?

New Year’s resolutions, biological clocks, deadlines, time of my life, I just don’t have the time, time is flying, maybe next time, and time is escaping, are all man-made ideas that drive us all over the edge to our impeding doom.  

I have worked hard this past fall to embrace the idea that I have all the time in the world and don’t need to fret because Matthew 6: 34 says, 

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

As we begin each day, we need to remember that it is a day that our great Lord and savior has given us as a gift.  I can’t stop it from coming, I can’t manipulate it to slow down, and I can’t redo what was given.  I can only allow Him to show me the path He would like me to take in the moment.  Easier said than done, and surely I have succumbed to stress and pressure of time.  Who hasn’t lost their sanity when it ticks so loud in our ear at times and beckons to be recognized?

Jesus allowed God to dictate His time on earth.  My favorite miracle that He performed permitted time to escape His grasp and send several loved ones and friends questioning His motives.  Lazarus was a close friend of Jesus and someone who unfortunately fell ill.  Jesus had the power and gift of healing, yet didn’t run to his side to be there for Martha and Mary, sister’s of Lazarus.  I can only imagine their pacing, weeping,  and hopeful expectation in knowing that Jesus would soon be by their side, yet knowing how time was passing for their beloved brother.

Where is Jesus?  Why isn’t  He here for us?

John 11

Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days,and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

“But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”

Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”

11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”

12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.

14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

 

As I read this account of an ill friend, I hang onto the words from John 11: 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.

Why did He wait two more days, when He could have left and healed a friend?  Did God tell Him to wait?  We will never know the reason, but I can fathom that His wait was to obey God’s will.  

My small ignorant mind can not even begin to understand or decipher God’s timing.  I am sure Jesus was also perplexed, but fully confident in what God was instructing Him to do in fulfilling our gift of salvation.  

Some moments I become overjoyed and excited by the unexpectedness of the day God will bring for my future and current reality.  When I awake each morning, I begin by praying.  I first thank Jesus for awaking my body, then I praise His greatness, and last I ask Him to guide my steps in what He has planned.  

Our existence is not for our own or other’s happiness, our existence is to bring God’s kingdom to earth so that He will reign here and in heaven.  This is beautiful to hear, but hard to live out especially when we just don’t understand.

John 11: 17 – 37

17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles[b] from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.

32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

As Martha and Mary grieve, they each have a different reaction to Jesus’s delay.  One accepting of what God will do, and the other riddled with overwhelming grief and disappointment in God’s timing.  Jesus understands, comforts, and weeps for the reality of what our human eyes can see and what time will and won’t allow.  Yet, our heavenly father can shatter this concept in a second of greatness. 

John 11: 38-44

38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said,“Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here,that they may believe that you sent me.”

43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

Jesus never doubted, praised God for His greatness, and accepted the outcome.  When time seems to sneak up and whisper, “It’s too late.”  Remember that God isn’t concerned with time, any second He will step in if you never doubt. We should praise His name, and accept the outcome. Let His will be done.

 Oh, how He loves us and wants us to live for His kingdom and glory here on earth.  Our enemy wants us to believe that we are too young, too old, too busy, and too late for Him to fully love us, and provide us what we need to live within this kingdom.  

Let us pray for a blessed New Year filled with bubbling excitement of the unexpected paths that our loving father has laid out for each new day.  Pray for His loving hand to take ours and guide us in a timeless stroll of joyous peace. 

In Jesus name, Amen.

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