May We Want To

He must have been exhausted as He climbed the mountain after seeing the large and looming crowds. How many had come to see Him, hear Him, or even touch Him? What was it that caused so many to simply want to be near Him?

As tired as He was He sat down and as His disciples gathered around Him he took a steadying and deep breath and began to teach them.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3.

The look on their faces might have been worth a thousand words or at least a few denarii. Poor in spirit. What was He talking about? What Jesus wanted them to understand is spiritual poorness is humbleness. He wanted them to know that deep within them they had the knowledge to grab ahold of the divine and eternal things of God.

Having traveled with The Teacher day after day, they knew how weary and tired He was and how overwhelming the crowds could be. Yet, He set the example when He climbed the mountain and taught them. He wanted them to know He would give them what they needed to be humble, to grab onto the eternal things of God and to go on and teach others to do the same.

Over two millennial later, it is no different for you or for me. Sometimes simply living life can be exhausting. We may want to climb a mountain to escape from the enormity of a situation but Jesus wants us to use the gifts He has blessed us with to meet the needs of the crowds.

For me that is feeding people. Sometimes this involves meeting the physical need for food. Many times it is spiritual food He asks me to provide. It is recognizing that Holy Spirit wants to replenish the lonely, the hopeless or the weary through me regardless it I want to or not.

I would love for you to comment on your spiritual gifts and how you feel led to use them. Let’s encourage one another as He sends us out to share Him.

May we all want to.

Shalom!

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The Big Lie

Jesus will always love all His human creation, however, we cannot stop here because Jesus will always hate sin. 

Satiated by their finished meal, the open fires casted a slight shadow over them as they and His disciples continued to listen intently. Preoccupied with the many things they had heard that day and evening were cause for consideration.

One of the things that caught their attention was Jesus telling them He would be ashamed of them if they were ashamed of Him and His words. Oh the deep, painful, and overwhelming sorrow they felt at these words.

Many of us probably associate ashamed with shame. Let’s stop right here.

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

Romans 8:1.

If you believe in Jesus there is no longer shame or condemnation on your shoulders.

In our verse today (Mark 8:38) Jesus is teaching that being ashamed is two-fold. It applies to those who haven’t accepted Jesus and have misplaced their trust and confidence in the big lie—someone or thing other than Jesus.

It also means Jesus will be ashamed of those who erroneously think, wrongly identify or align themselves with anyone or thing other than Him. I understand this is hard to hear for many especially because Jesus ushered in the new covenant of love.

Jesus will always love all His human creation, however, we cannot stop here because Jesus will always hate sin. 

It is because of love Jesus gives the warning in our verse today. The adulterous and sinful generation began the moment Adam and Eve ate the fruit and it continues to this day.

How you share this truth matters. It holds much weight. Yes, there is an urgency and we want others to know Jesus loves them. We also want them to know they don’t have to believe the big lie. 

I encourage you to think about all the practical ways you can share Jesus. Smiling at strangers, picking up those items that fall off the shelf at grocery stores that others pass by, paying for the order of the car behind you in a drive-thru. These small steps help build our confidence and trust in Jesus and prepare us to move onto the bigger assignments He has for us.

How will you share Jesus today?

Shalom!

 

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Opposite Day

Continuing their journey, the midday heat has dissipated and the cool of the desert evening is beginning to surround them. He and His disciples approach a large crowd holding torches to light the quickly advancing darkness. A donkey brays somewhere in the distance and the birds chirping begins to quiet as the desert settles for the night

He invites the crowd to come closer along with His disciples as He prepares to teach.

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.

Mark 8:34,35

The crowd is stunned by His words. His disciples, well, can you hear their thoughts? Deny ourselves…take up our cross…saving our life means losing it…losing our life means saving it? This is not opposite day or is it? The disciples have heard Jesus teach many things but this has them scratching their heads.

  • Deny is the Greek word aparneomai and means to utterly refuse to recognize the original source involved (Biblehub.com).

  • Cross is the Greek word stauros and represents unspeakable pain, humiliation and suffering – and ironically is also the symbol of infinite love! At the cross, Jesus won our salvation – which is free but certainly not cheap! (Biblehub.com).

Be encouraged! The Cross is not a symbol for suffering in general. It represents the trials, challenges and hardships we experience in life and are able to endure because of the power of Holy Spirit in us.

  • Lose is the Greek word apollumi meaning to be lost or utterly perish.

  • Save (my favorite of today’s words) is the Greek word sózó meaning to heal, preserve, rescue. Rescued from the former version of ourself and delivered into divine safety.

This is all fine and dandy but what does this actually look like for us? When we deny ourselves we are refusing to recognize the version of ourself prior to Jesus. This reminds me of Lot’s wife that turned into a pillar of salt because she looked back. I am not suggesting that we will turn into a pillar of salt for looking back at our former self, in fact, many of us are still working through area’s of our life that have to do with who we use to be, reconciling those area’s and receiving God’s abundant healing. Once we have both feet on the ground and can move forward, then, looking back is useless. I pray the power of Holy Spirit in you to see you successfully through any healing He is doing in you from your past. You’ve got this!

The Cross, oh the blessed Cross. Thank you Jesus for the Cross. Because of His death on the Cross you and I don’t have to endure that torture. We don’t have to live apart from the light and love of God. We don’t have to continue in sin because we have been set free! However, we all have, will and will continue to have struggles, trials, hardship, muck and yuck in our life this side of heaven.

Because of Jesus we aren’t lost and won’t utterly perish. We are rescued, healed and preserved by Him. We are saved.

Denying ourself for the sake of the gospel is the least we can do for what He did for us. With His help explore the area’s of the old version of yourself and ask Him what needs to go. Ask Him to help you let go. Ask Him for His help to endure the cross you are bearing. He is faithful to always help.

Jesus invited the crowd to come closer. He invites you too.

Shalom!

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The Ancient of Days

There He sits regal in all His robes, presiding over His courtroom. Sitting high above the gallery. There is kindness and love in His eys as He gazes my way. Can it be? Yes.

The Ancient of Days.

Suddenly and with out warning, His eyes blaze like a furnace. He slams down His gavel and looks directly at the accuser and proclaims, “She is NOT guilty!” The accuser, surprised and taken aback, shrinks and shrivels before my eyes. Handcuffed he is taken away to rot apart from the light and love of God that he once enjoyed.

How often do you, do I remind ourselves that as believers in Jesus we are not guilty of the accusations of Satan? Because of Jesus death on the Cross and our faith in Him we are free! The chains of bondage that held or continue to hold many have been broken. Right now, see in your mind, the breaking of these chains and proclaim, “Because of Jesus I am free!” The enemy has no victory over you. Quite the contrary, YOU, through the power of Holy Spirit and faith in Jesus have ultimate and final victory over him

In today’s verse is the word justified. It is the Greek word dikaioó. It means made right by God’s grace each time we receive (obey) faith (Bible.com).

Justification goes much deeper than faith alone. It is what we do for God on earth by His grace each time we receive faith to move and obey. Justification is ongoing and requires an action by you and by me.

As you continue to stay tethered to Jesus may you remember the power of Holy Spirit in you to receive greater and greater faith and his courage and boldness to do the good deeds He has called you to.

Live free!

Shalom!

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Anxiousness

I stepped on without a care in the world. Grabbed ahold of the black rubber rail and looked up to carry on the conversation I was having with my daughter. Suddenly it hit me. I started to shake, my grip on the rail grew tighter, I couldn’t see the top nor did I want to because that meant looking up while traveling up the 213 vertical feet of one on the tallest escalators in the Western Hemisphere. I looked down and my daughter instantly knew I was struggling and there wasn’t anything we could do about it. So I prayed. That was the longest two minutes and forty seconds of my life!

Daily the average ridership on the DC Metro system is 626,000 [The Washinton Post 1/15/20]. Every time I am in DC I am amazed by the people walking up and down the escalators throughout the metro tunnels. Standing behind those walking down there appears to be a certain sway to their descent like they are walking on a small pillow of air. Likewise watching others walk up on the opposite escalator they appear slightly bent forward like they’re carrying a small burden. I suppose one becomes acclimated to the escalators and there are elevators but I challenge myself whenever I am there to use the escalators. However, anticipating riding them always causes a certain amount of anxiousness and a WHOLE lot of prayer!

In our verse for today Paul encourages us to not be anxious about anything but focus on God bringing our concerns to Him. Many times and for many of us this is easier said than done. There are times anxiety happens in situations like anticipating riding a very tall escalator and other times it can be because of an imbalance in our system. Before we move on my encouragement is to seek God and His wisdom about what you ought to do to feel healthy and live the full life He came to give each of us.

And that’s just it…seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Including God in your every day, every minute, every choice and He will lead you in His direction which is perfect and best for you.

When we choose to live in this fashion Paul goes on to encourage us…

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7.

Practicing more peace for my heart and mind along with you!

Shalom!

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Belonging

We need encouragement in our lives on a daily basis. We need someone to build us up and help us see our value and worth before the Lord. The devil and the world’s systems grind us down and wear us out. We need others in the body of Christ to remind us that we are God’s unique and irreplaceable creations, called to unique and irreplaceable places of ministry. We need to be reminded of God’s love for us and of our importance to the church.

Charles Stanley

When our children were younger and I would drop them off at school before they got out of the car I would say to them, “Remember who you are and Who you belong to.

As a believer in Christ your identity is in Jesus[.]. I know, I know, the world and the enemy clamor for our attention and we begin to look here, we look there, we look anywhere except up. It is vitally important that you and I stay connected to Jesus on a consistent basis practicing all the spiritual disciplines [I recently read there are at least twelve] throughout the day or by Holy Spirit’s leading. He is the only One who can help us keep our focus on Him.

Whatever your today and all your tomorrows hold I bless you with the knowledge and truth that Holy Spirit lives in you as a believer in Jesus and is available to you for whatever you need.

Shalom!

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The Disguise of Vanity

My momma, a beautiful woman inside and out, would spend at least an hour everyday doing her hair just right. She had a standing weekly appointment with her hair stylist and was part of the last generation of women who carried over the bouffant hairdo from the sixties into the nineties! Each night after her hair appointment she would pin curl her hair in order to keep the shape. In the morning she would tease and back comb the top, sweep her bangs to the side and all those pin curls she would tease and flip up individually. I’m exhausted just remembering this!

I’ve never considered my momma to be vain. Certainly many of us have a daily routine that includes styling that makes us feel good about ourselves, however, there is always the danger of going to far and falling into the trap of vanity.

In our verse Paul is telling the Corinthians that the apostles proclamation of Christ’s resurrection from the dead and their faith is in vain if they do not believe in the resurrection. He is telling them that their faith is ineffective, foolish and worthless. This is exactly what vanity does to our true identity in Jesus. Vanity attempts to cause us to believe our identity is ineffective, foolish and worthless.

How do we protect ourselves from this sneaky and subtle ploy of the enemy of our soul? Consistency is the key by reading and studying God’s word. Asking the Holy Spirit to highlight what He wants to speak to your heart through His word [I like to take Scripture that speaks to me and turn it into personalized prayer on neon colored 3×5 cards], through prayer, here again, asking the Holy Spirit to lead your prayers and taking time to listen to what God is speaking to your heart. When we commit to practice these disciplines we begin to understand the work God has carved out for us to accomplish. The power of the Holy Spirit [the same power that resurrected Jesus from the dead] causes us to be steadfast, immovable and always excelling in the work of the Lord.

…because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58c.

Stay tethered to Jesus because you my friend are priceless.

Shalom!

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What’s Your Fragrance?

Have you ever walked past someone and caught a whiff of a delicious smelling perfume or cologne and for a split second you were transported back to a special memory or event? When others think of you does your fragrance cause them to sense Jesus?

One of the greatest tragedy’s of todays Church is that we have been so poorly discipled. If we truly knew how to disciple according to God’s word and through the example of Jesus we would all serve without question. We would live in such a way as evidence we love God with all our heart, all our soul, all our strength and all our mind, we would love our neighbors as ourself. We would choose to think like Jesus, speak like Jesus, act like Jesus and love like Jesus. We would care so much about the welfare of others we would remember to consistently ask Holy Spirit for cleansing, deliverance and healing from sin that causes us to hurt ourselves, hurt others and leave many wounded and divided. We would honestly and graciously hold each other accountable so a hurting, exhausted and fearful world of people would truly see Jesus and want Him too.

Shalom!

Bread of the World

Bread of the world in mercy broken,
wine of the soul in mercy shed,
by whom the words of life were spoken,
and in whose death our sins are dead.

Look on the heart by sorrow broken,
look on the tears by sinners shed;
and be thy feast to us the token
that by thy grace our souls are fed.

Author-Reginald Heber, The Presbyterian Hymnal.

There is no time like the present to ask Jesus into your heart. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, what you’ve said, how you think or what habits you have. If you confess and repent and call to Jesus, He is faithful to answer and forgive your sins. Holy Spirit swoops in for the save and begins to transform your life. A life that is filled with joy, peace and comfort regardless of situations or experiences. A life He came to give you. A life He died for you.

Shalom!

Worthy To Hear The Gospel

She ran out to meet him as she did every afternoon. He greeted her with, “Hi sweetie!” as she reached to carry in his thermos. This had been their daily ritual for many years now and it made her feel like a princess. Although she had four older brothers, he was her hero. She was the little girl he had always said he wouldn’t stop trying to have.

He was a quiet man but strong and mighty in her eyes. He rarely raised his voice at her and the few times that he did she knew she had pushed the envelope just a bit too far.

On her thirteenth birthday she ran out to meet as usual but this time was different. In her newfound teenage mind she thought it best that he no longer called her sweetie. She said to him, as she reached for his thermos, “You don’t need to call me sweetie anymore, I’m thirteen now.”

In the proverbial blink of an eye things began to change. He started to withdraw not knowing what to do with the young woman that ‘just yesterday was his little girl’ and she thought her hero had simply stopped caring.

Many years later after he had passed and upon reflection she realized how hurt he must have been by her triumphant declaration when she was thirteen. And he didn’t have the words to tell her she would always be his sweetie.

She realizes now that she felt unworthy of his love which led her to feel unworthy of the love of God.

We all fall short of the glory of God but we aren’t unworthy to hear the gospel message of His love.

Precious Friend, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done or where you’ve been Jesus wants you to hear His message of His saving grace. You are worthy of eternal life and the forgiveness of all your sins by simply believing in Jesus as Messiah, Emmanuel, the King of kings, Lord and Savior.

And her hero, well before he passed he became the best nanu to her three children.