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.

Biblegateway.com

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.

Biblegateway.com

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:

Biblegateway.com

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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‘Tis the Season

overloaded

Biblegateway.com

Hebrews 12:2

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

At this very moment, I am willing to bet that most of you are knee deep in to do lists and may have some random stress pain that keeps reoccurring.  I can’t be alone in this season of overload.  Every time I sit down something is nagging me and pulling me away from my peace.

I hear the dog whining for attention, my son calling “Mommy, I need you!”, my husband asking if I purchased all of the gifts, and the voice in my head saying “If only I had more time.  I am not ready for Christmas.”

As a good father provides truth to their daughter, my Lord says, “You aren’t ready to celebrate what I have done for you?”

I know, yet I sin and accept the world view every year.  

How can I break the cycle of expectations and deadlines to truly celebrate my good father?

Colossians 3: 1-2 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

I’m not sure I have the answer to my question, but I know God does in His word.  

Set your mind on the things above and this will set me free. My mind is a dangerous place that reeks havoc on how I perceive every situation, every plan, and every person.  In one moment I can be sitting peacefully ready to hear God’s word and focus on praising Him, and the next moment I am reprimanding my son who seems to want to eat every candy cane he can find.

What am I truly focused on?  How can I set my mind on things above when the earthy things seem to be in my face?

Luke 10: 38 – 42 

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

I can hear Jesus’s words and see the stern yet gentleness of his face as he speaks to Martha.  His words shred my to do list, and sets my mind in the right direction.  Maybe just maybe, when I feel the urge to “do” what I think everyone needs to “feel” the Christmas spirit, I need to sit and read His comforting words “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.”

This time of year we need to  turn away from the world’s view and set our focus on the real reason for Christmas.  

We will be stressed, we will be distracted, we will be drawn away to dread the busyness.  Yet, our Lord and Savior says, “Rest in me, sweet child.”  

Mark 6: 30-32

The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them,“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.

We need to grab moments of solitude, read His word for comfort, and set our hearts to celebrate His beautiful life of sacrifice. Our Lord is worth taking the time to praise His great name and to pray for His kingdom to reign in a broken world.

This year I’m starting a new tradition of reading Luke 2: 1-21 on Christmas Day, and taking time to acknowledge that because He lived I am free.

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.

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A Glass of Water

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Numbers 33 NIV

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33 Here are the stages in the journey of the Israelites when they came out of Egypt by divisions under the leadership of Moses and Aaron. At the Lord’s command Moses recorded the stages in their journey. This is their journey by stages:

50 On the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jerichothe Lord said to Moses, 51 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you cross the Jordan into Canaan, 52 drive out all the inhabitants of the land before you. Destroy all their carved images and their cast idols, and demolish all their high places. 53 Take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given you the land to possess. 54 Distribute the land by lot, according to your clans. To a larger group give a larger inheritance, and to a smaller group a smaller one. Whatever falls to them by lot will be theirs. Distribute it according to your ancestral tribes.

55 “‘But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live. 56 And then I will do to you what I plan to do to them.’”

The Israelite people have been traveling for over 40 years!  Yes, forty years. I have been on this earth for forty-four years and can’t imagine constantly moving, yet I follow in their footsteps. Constant motion, always questioning, and maybe unbelieving my path.

One sunny day I sat at my serene back patio listening to the birds chirping and feeling the warm sun on my face.  My husband stepped out to say, “Hey!”, but I turned and told him how thirsty I was due to the heat.  

I said, “Can I have a large glass of water from the fridge?”  He smiled begrudgingly and walked back into the house.

Five minutes later (that was a long walk to the kitchen) he handed me a small kid cup half full with luked warm water from the faucet.  Did I not say, “Large glass with water from the fridge?”  Yes, this was done with a snappy tone.  

He looked at me and chimed, “Be grateful you have the water and if you drink it I will get you more.”  He then closed the door quickly so not to hear my smart response.

Funny, but this is me with God.  How often do I hear him, roll around what He said, go into the kitchen maybe become distracted or just lazy and doubting His need, half remember what was said, make up what I can remember, and then give Him what’s left.  Here God… here is what you wanted.  Oh, that’s not what you wanted, well that’s what you get, and hope you like it as I run the other way.

The Israelites followed, but doubted God the whole time wondering if He would really deliver.   If they only believed, listened with dedication and determination, they would have been in the promised land a lot earlier soaking up all of God’s love.

Let’s listen, believe, and deliver God’s will.  Then we wouldn’t need to find words to cover up the mess we made.

Daniel 9:9

9 The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him;

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Failing to Succeed

erwin-lutzer-quote-failing-miserably

Psalm 40: 2-3 NIV

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He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
    and put their trust in him.

The word failure brings us to tears and hidden moments that we desperately try not to remember.  It means deterioration or decay, especially in vigor, strength. It was unexpectedly authored by our great father.  

But, isn’t our faithful walk suppose to bring success and joy?  

If we fail, how can we know that God wants us to continue the path we thought He called us to follow?

When failure happens of any kind, our human response is to become fearful of it’s resurgence, or we may become protective by guarding ourselves.  Fear leads to isolation and unwillingness to try again.  Our life becomes numb and less than what we expect. On the other hand, our need to protect ourselves, leads to our need of performing beyond expectations, and will manifest into an overly extended lifestyle filled with doing.  

Where do you stand?  

I have been both at different stages of my life.  Recently, I have been under protection.  My schedule full, my workload beyond manageable at times, and the expectations I have of my self are far beyond reach.  I would accomplish something and feel a sense of success, but that would last for only seconds when the next to do reared its ugly head.  Never enough time, never enough resources, and never enough to satisfy the need to perform to avoid failure.

Society’s norm has its own response; avoid childhood failure.  We create awards for everyone, we build each child up for their talents, we offer options so that no one feels less than successful.  We build safeguards and feed a false sense of self confidence.  These fragile children are ripe for a loss greater than they can handle as soon as a real failure occurs.  

Psalm 119:71  It was good for me to be afflicted
    so that I might learn your decrees.

2 Corinthians 4: 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

Romans 5: 3-4 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Why has God created failure?  What is His mission in making us fall?

Our fails lead to Him.  They makes us come to the realization that He is the only one who will save us, guide us, and make things right.  We can then embrace the less than perfect moments, and can take it graciously while turning it into hope.  Hope is the faithful response to failure.  It provides our Lord the open door He needs to come into our broken lives.  This is how our faith grows.

For following His lead and accepting the falls, he provides wonderful blessings in the form of success which our human minds can not explain.  This cycle continues, and he draws us near.  He whispers loving words of inspiration and adoring love for His new obedient follower.  

Yet, isn’t our happy ending.  Our memories will falter.  

Psalm 41:9 Even my close friend,
    someone I trusted,
one who shared my bread,
    has turned against me.

Even Jesus knew Judas would betray him even after seeing God’s greatness.  We will slip again when our successes become our weaknesses.  How we soon forget where we were, patting ourselves tenderly on the back for a job well done in the world’s view.  Who do we serve?  

Our failure is inevitable and our success comes when we realize that God is more and we are less. The world is not who we answer, it is our loving father who bears our inequities. 

Lamentations: 3:22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassion never fail.

Psalm 73: 26My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever.

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Brokenhearted Love

 

Isaiah 53: 3-7

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He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted,
    yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
    and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.

My heart at times becomes shattered.  It can be caused by people, circumstances, unmet needs and expectations.  I crave to have a full heart.  A heart that doesn’t have scares or empty places.  When I was younger, my heart was filled by excitement and the anticipation of an event.  It would also become filled when my parents and family showed their love by making me feel important.  As an adult, this filling isn’t as easy as I would like.  My husband, son, friends, family, and even complete strangers are expected to help me accomplish this full heart.  Instead, they continue to cause small cracks and at times open old wounds that I have tucked away. 

As I sit and connect with Jesus, I realize that I am putting too much emphasis on my human experience.  He wants me to realize that only He can fill, mend, and extinguish the burning desires of my heart.

John 3:30  He must become greater; I must become less.

All my desires are self-centered and lacking the true graciousness of Jesus, one who humbled himself to serve.  He sacrificed His life to forgive mine.  I am saved through His selfless act of love.  

I must put my wants, needs, and desires to rest.  I need to put Him first.  This is when our broken hearts can truly love.

Submit,  listen, pray, walk with Him, and our hearts will never ache again.  When our hearts are full of His love, His gentle hands will wipe the scares and fill the voids.  It will be fully healed.

Now we can serve as He served.  

Matthew 22: 37-39 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

1 John 4:10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Our sins are washed away when we surrender to His love.  We will then be capable of loving others and our sacrifice will create a closeness to Him which defies explanation. 

Our life is to love, our purpose is to love, and our commandment is love.

 Ephesians 3: 16-17 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love

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Why?

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John 16:33 

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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.”

Oh, why is this happening?  Why does it seem I can never get a break?  Why do the people I love have to suffer?

At times it seems that I have been given more than I can bear.

Unfair.  Unwarranted.

Is this a punishment?  Cursed by God.

I’m good.  I’m trying to live as God wants me to live.  I must be unworthy of His holiness.

2 Timothy 2:12 if we endure,  we will also reign with him.  If we disown him, he will also disown us;

Each Christian carries a cross and it’s personal.  Each of us will have suffering, unfair treatment, pain, and out right obstacles that take on their own identity.  It all seems at times connected to our sins, almost destined to happen, but at times it is unexpectedly random.

Our great God knows that this will happen just as Jesus walked as a man persecuted and tortured for the sake of God’s plan.  We will either be carried around the tribulation unscathed, or we will be sent right into it with the searing pain taking us to our knees.

Why do we as Christians need this pain?

1 Peter 2:20  But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.

Our walk will have times where we will not understand why, but if we trust,lean on, and endure with the patience relying on His ways, then we will have a closeness that will endure anything.

Job 36:26 How great is God—beyond our understanding! The number of his years is past finding out.

The goal of God was to have everyone saved through Christ.  He needs to do this with free reign to move among the people, listen to spoken and unspoken prayers, speak words of comfort and direction, and inspire all to need Him with great desire.

Our duty is to submit to Him.  Not a submission of convenience, or one with doubt and guilt.  A full submission and trust that goes beyond explanation.

When we are ready and waiting.  He will be there.

He wants us to say, “I need you now dear Lord.”  He will then reply, “I am here, come to me and I will give you peace, and rest.”

Now eyes will be open, hearts will change, and joy will show up in the midst of pain.  Life is a dance in which our feet wobble through the moves of awkward music. This is just a dress rehearsal for our final destination where joy will be the only thing that ever fills our days.

Revelation 21:4  ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

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