Archive | March 2013

Our Easter goodies

he livesEaster means different things to different people. To some it is nothing more than a day to hunt for candied eggs and goodies, to give soft, fluffy stuffed toys and have a festive dinner. Sadly, Christ is no part of the celebration. As followers of Christ, it is a day we choose to remember and celebrate our Savior’s death and resurrection. Without which, we would still be lost and struggling for that peace that only He can provide.

Luke 24:1-12 NIV The first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words. 9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the ELEVEN and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

Instead of searching for temporal goodies this Easter, why not take the time to search the Bible for the awesome goodies Christ provides for us? Goodies that will never spoil or be taken away. Goodies that were purchased with the high price of our Savior’s blood and suffering. I’m going to look at just three of too many to count…

Romans 6:4  NIV 4 We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead, through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

By accepting Christ into our heart,confessing Him with our mouth and being baptized into His Kingdom, we are able to have “newness of life!”  Our old life is passed away and all things are new. A fresh, beautiful start because the lover of our soul was willing to lay down His sinless life for our sins!  Every past sin has been forgiven and no longer do past mistakes, sins or patterns have to control us.

Romans 6:5 NIV 5 For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we will certainly also be united with Him in a resurrection like His.

We are also promised eternal life. As Christ was resurrected, so shall we be! We no longer need fear death.  Eventually all of us will leave our earthly bodies and isn’t it great to know that when we leave this body of ours we will be in the presence of the Lord?

John 14:15-21 NIV 15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

After His death, Christ doesn’t leave us “as orphans”  but has provided the Holy Spirit to guide, direct and anoint us for service. As we abide in Christ, the Spirit of God guides us, corrects and anoints us as we walk through our journey of faith, giving us the power to fulfill all that He has called us to do.

This Easter, why not start seeking the word of God for all the goodies He has provided for you? If there are areas of your life you are struggling in, submit to His will and seek His word for direction. You will not find the “goodies” God has provided without seeking. When you do seek Him and His will for your life, He will more than meet you! He has already provided everything you need to live a life of victory! It was all accomplished on the cross!

Wishing you all a wonderful Easter!

Everyone has a part in the play of life

 The past several weeks we have been working on our church play, “The Sounds of Love.”  Practices have made our Sundays even busier than usual. As with any project, there is always work leading up to the end result.  Sometimes the practices times have been inconvenient, sometimes they have gone on longer than expected and they will continue until the play has been performed. With all this effort our hope is the end result will be as wonderful as it promises to be. This morning I was thinking how similar prepping for our play is to our walk of faith.
First off, we had to hear the story. Without knowing the overall story it would be impossible to know what the play was about and where each of us characters fit into it. As followers of Christ, the Bible is our “story line”. It is God’s inspired word that tells the beginning from the end. It also provides us with our identity as children of the Most High God.
Isaiah 46:10 NIV 10 I make known the end from the beginning,from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, “My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.”
Secondly, we needed a director. Without direction from someone that knows each and everything about the play from beginning to end, we would simply be stumbling about trying to make our own way, depending on our own understanding as to OUR interpretation of the play. Clearly, as believers, the director in our lives is God. Without God’s direction and wisdom, most of us have and would continue to make a mess of our lives.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;6 In all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.
Thirdly, there needs to be a producer.  In the case of our church play, this would be the church itself.  Someone willing to pay for the price of the production. Absorb the costs in order for the goal to be accomplished. Without question, in our walk of faith this is Christ.  Sinless, yet willing to lay down HIS life as the ultimate price for our sins!
1John2:1,2 NIV 2 My dear children I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin we have an advocate with the Father-Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
Fourthly, we need to study our lines or parts. If we don’t know the words or actions required we get lost and so the story gets lost on the audience. Clearly, this is the same in our walk with Christ. We need to be reading the Bible. Without knowing our position in Christ, we can easily be rocked to and fro and not be  the “beacon” to others we are called to be.
2 Timothy 2:15 KJV 15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
And finally we need to perform our parts. If even one of us doesn’t carry out our roll the message of the story gets lost. We each have a part to perform and we are to do it to the best of our ability, relying on our director as we do. As we walk out our parts we fulfill the purpose of the overall story. In our walk with Christ, each of us has a roll to play in sharing the gospel. No one is insignificant in God’s eyes and He has created each of us with a purpose. If you haven’t found your purpose yet, ask God. He promises to equip each of us with giftings and they are available for the asking!
Romans 12:4-8 NIV 4For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Don’t spend your time on the sidelines watching others perform their rolls. Find out what God has for you and perform your roll gladly, leaning on Christ for wisdom and direction and you do!

Spring forward!

ECCLESIASTES 3:1 Spring to me is a time of new beginnings!  I love to garden and Spring gives me the opportunity to first  plan out my garden, start my seedlings, ready the soil and eventually plant the seedlings and seeds into the ground.

Just as Spring is a time of new beginnings for our gardens, it too can be a season of new beginnings in your walk with Christ. Easter brings us face to face with the One who willingly died for us. The One who provided a way of adoption into the family of God. Why not use this Spring as a time to get closer acquainted with the “lover of your soul?” Spend time in God’s word daily. Make everything a matter of prayer as opposed to worrying and fretting over things of which you have no control anyway. Spend time worshipping the One who created everything instead of worshipping His creation.

Why not determine to let go of some of the things in your life that are holding you back from moving forward in your walk with Christ? This will not happen unless you determine to do so!

Thankfully, God’s mercies are new every morning. It is never to late to get closer to our Creator. Pick up your Bible and read it! It is a supernatural book that will help you to grow into the person God designed you to be. Instead of looking to others for prayer, begin to seek God on behalf of others! If you’ve never fasted, perhaps it’s time to do so! As you lay aside distractions you will find yourself desiring more and more God’s presence in your life.

Spring is an awesome time to stir up the gift of faith that is in you and move forward. Don’t look back on the old cold days of winter, but move forward in joy and boldness without excuse!

Phillipians 3:12-14 NIV 12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Honoring your word

 We live in a world of glib promises and unkept vows. Somewhere in the last hundred years people have lost the importance of keeping their word and honoring their commitments. Sadly, we’ve all done it. We have made promises that we either chose not to or couldn’t keep for one reason or another. There is a cost of course that follows. Other’s learn not to depend on us. We disappoint people and oftentimes by our neglecting the commitment made, force someone else to carry our share of the load.

As followers of Christ, it is so important that we honor our word and our commitments. When we say we will do something we need to follow through and do it. When we commit to something or someone, we need to ensure that we don’t purposely disappoint others by not taking that commitment seriously. Our word should be much more than shallow conversation.

We serve a God that’s Word is infallible and one hundred percent reliable and His Word has much to say about how His children speak in truth and honor their commitments. If you commit to taking on a responsibility, do it. If you give your word, honor it. Otherwise, your word is a lie and lacks honor.   We’ve all been hurt by others and their lack of follow through. When you speak, be sure to consider your words carefully and not dishonor your testimony as a follower of Christ.

Let’s take a look at what the Bible says about giving our word….

Numbers 30:1,2 NIV 30 Moses said to the heads of the tribes of Israel: “This is what the Lord commands: When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.

Matthew 5:33-37 NIV 33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is His footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

Zachariah 8:16 NIV 16 These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts.    

Psalm 89:34 NIV34 I will not violate my covenant or alter what my lips have uttered.

Numbers 30:2 NIV When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.

Matthew 5:33 NIV33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’

If and when we disappoint others by not honoring our word, we need to apologize. If we have not kept a commitment or vow before God we need to repent of it and through Christ we can receive a clean slate!  Before we speak we need to consider our words and our commitments so as not to put undue stress and pressure on others to have to carry out our commitments. Let’s remember that in God’s eyes, our words should mean something.

Dealing with disappointment

From time to time we all find ourselves disappointed. Sometimes we feel other people have let us down, sometimes we disappoint ourselves in the way we react or behave and sometimes we feel God has disappointed us. Today I want to address when we feel God has disappointed us.

Our natural self likes to walk in security. We want to know what is coming down the road, we want to believe that nothing unpleasant will touch our life because we are not “bad” people and therefore good “karma” should be coming our way.  When we give our lives to Christ and begin to study the Bible, we see that God does not shield us from all unpleasantness in life, He does however walk through it with us and if we lean on Him, He will even give us  joy as we do. Not because we are “happy” about our circumstances, but because He reveals Himself to us all the more as we go through it.

As followers of Christ, when we find ourselves struggling with disappointment we need to remember that there is NOTHING that touches our life that is too big or too difficult for us to endure. Having lost our son Daniel, there was a time I didn’t think I would ever be able to have joy again. I grieved for some time before I began to feel joy again but joy did come! God has designed us so that if we yield our disappointments and hurts to Him and DO NOT allow them as an excuse to grow bitter and resentful, He will allow them to better equip us for future service.

If you are going through a time of disappointment right now, do not allow yourself to become bitter and angry. Instead lay that disappointment at the feet of Jesus (and don’t pick it back up again!). Ask God to give you vision for the future. He never gives us more than we can bear and will  have a way of escape. Perhaps a new direction to head in.

I know first hand that in times past,when things would not go the way I had hoped, planned for etc. I would stew about it for days and sometimes months but I am learning that when we love and follow the lover of our soul that His ways are far above our ways. His plan for our life is motivated and orchestrated by love and He will never give us more than we can bear. We may not understand why certain disappointments have come into our lives but if we are followers of Christ, we can be take comfort from the Word of God.

Romans 8:28 NIV  28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

 Matthew 10:29-31 NIV29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Matthew 11:28-30 NIV 11″Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Finally, one of my favorite verses…   2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV 12 But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power my rest on me.”