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Posts Tagged ‘God’

In yesterday’s post, I pasted in the scripture passage and then typed in the notes from my study bible.  (Just as a reminder, I use the New Living Translation, Life Application Study Bible.)  You can refresh your memory by reading through that if you’d like before reading my thoughts for today.  If you love me, obey my commandments. John 14:15

 

If you love me, obey my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, who will never leave you.  He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.  No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.  Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live.  When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.  Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”  John 14:15-21

 

This has often been one of my favorite scriptures.  It has been such a comfort in times of trial.  It has been a schoolmaster when I wanted to do my own thing.  It has been a reminder that I am chosen even when I have felt left out.  It has been an affirmation to me about this life and the life to come when things look so bleak and undesirable.  It is a ‘well-rounded’ scripture, if you’ll allow me to say so.

 

The very first thing Jesus says in this passage is to obey His commandments.  By doing so, then we are proclaiming to not only Him – most importantly – but to the world that we love Jesus.  We could go through the entire bible and come up with more commandments than we could garner the strength to attempt to obey.  But as Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-40, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”  I think the key – the one thing – that both of these verses rest upon is the word “love.” 

 

What does it mean to love?  Is loving God the same as loving your neighbor, or loving yourself?  What about the love for a child, a parent or a sibling?  What kind of love is Jesus talking about?  When people talk about this they usually bring in the word agape love.  That’s great, everybody knows that word, so I’m not going to discuss ‘agape’ the word, but ‘agape’ the meaning.  I like to be different I guess.

 

When I think about how the scriptures continually encourage me to pattern my life after Jesus and to seek Him first, His kingdom, and to live a life pleasing to God, I think the one common thing to do all of that is to live my life as a life of love.  Now of course, that is easily said, but no even slightly easily accomplished.

 

I think about the love of God.  God loved me so much that He sent His Son to bear my sins on the cross so that I would be made acceptable to Him and so I could be adopted into His family. 

 

I think about the love of Jesus.  Jesus loved me so much that He was willing to come to this sin-filled earth to bear my sins on the cross so that I would be made acceptable to Him and to the Father and so I could be adopted into His family as a co-heir with Him. 

 

I think about the full revelation of God.  God is revealed in the scriptures as a loving father, a devoted husband, a tenderhearted master.  As such, He lovingly corrects and administers discipline as and when needed.  But He also applies the soothing salve of mercy, grace and longsuffering as well because of His love.  God is revealed in the physical body of Christ.  The physical being of Jesus, walking around on this earth, was the very essence of love abiding within.  He was the epitome of love.  Isaiah said like a lamb led to the slaughter, He opened not His mouth…when He was reviled, He reviled not again…etc. 

 

I could go on, but then this post would drag on forever.  The point is, I should embody the Spirit of Christ – or – LOVE.  I should be love, just as Jesus was and is.  Now, don’t misconstrue my words here, I know that I cannot achieve this, but I can always work towards that goal.  Only Jesus could do it because He is perfect, without sin.

 

I think I’ll leave it at this for today.  Almost each sentence or thought in this passage I have something to say and I don’t want to short change any of it, nor rush through my thoughts, but I want to spend time with each thought.  So, tomorrow, I think I’ll plan on looking at this scripture passage again.

 

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.  Psalm 139:23-24  I give my body to You because of all You have done for me.  Let my body be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind You will find acceptable.  This is truly the way to worship You.  I won’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but I will let You transform me into a new person by changing the way I think.  Then I will learn to know Your will for me, which is good and pleasing and perfect.  Romans 12:1-2

 

May God provide the increase.

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For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.  Philippians 2:13  And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.  Philippians 1:6

These two are a couple of my favorite verses.  I just love them because they assure me that not only does God care about me, but He cares so much about me that He will provide whatever I need so that I will align my desires and will to do what pleases Him.  He won’t leave me floundering.  Not only that, He won’t stop supplying what I need to have the desires and power to do these things until Jesus comes again and all sin will vanish from my heart and mind.  What a blessing that is.

David in the Psalms wrote several times asking God to give him right desires.  The prophets did too.  It is common to man to want to do their own thing, but to want to do God’s thing we need help.  The greater men of the bible recognized that it wasn’t through their own power that they could accomplish a desire for God and His will, but through God’s power working within them. 

Today is short, but I hope encouraging to you.  I enjoy you very much and am sorry that this week has been somewhat wacky.  I felt a little cheated today because there was an earthquake and it seems everyone “felt” it but me.  I heard it.  My husband, still in bed, but awake, asked me if I felt that, and I, being in the bathroom getting ready for work said, “No, but I heard it.”  It makes me think about how each of us are different.  We ‘see’ or ‘hear’ God in different ways.  It doesn’t make sense to me why I didn’t feel anything this morning because I was wide awake and had been up for over 1/2 hour showering and what-not-all.  But, such was the case. 

I’m thankful that God meets us where we are and guides us from there into His righteousness and will.  I’m thankful that He is willing to go that extra mile for each of us, to help us along in our paths.  I’m thankful because I know that I wouldn’t want to be left behind simply because I ‘didn’t get it’ and it wouldn’t be fair if I ‘did get it’ and you didn’t.  So, the best ‘Teacher’ of all time can reach us corporately as well as individually.  Isn’t that great. 

On another note, it would seem that God would get tired since He is continually working in me and you and you and you, etc.  They say there are 6 billion people on this planet, that’s a lot of work.  So next time you think that you have tried everything to help someone in their faith, remember, God’s work is never done and He never rests.  (Yes, we need to, even Jesus needed to escape the crowds to rest.  If we follow His pattern, we will always be refreshed because we will be fed by the Spirit.)  Am I rambling?  I kind of feel like it.

Here are the notes for these two verses

Notes on verse 2:13

What do we do when we don’t feel like obeying?  God has not left us alone in our struggles to do his will.  He wants to come alongside us and be within us to help.  God helps us desire to obey him and then gives us the power to do what he wants.  The secret to a changed life is to submit to God’s control and let him work.  Next time ask God to help you desire to do his will.

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To be like Christ, we must train ourselves to think like Christ.  To change our desires to be more like Christ’s, we need the power of the indwelling Spirit (1:19), the influence of faithful Christians, obedience to God’s Word (not just exposure to it), and sacrificial service.  Often it is in doing God’s will that we gain the desire to do it (see 4:8, 9).  Do what he wants and trust him to change your desires.

Notes on verse 1:6

The God who began a good work within us continues it throughout our lifetime and will finish it when we meet him face to face.  God’s work for us began when Christ died on the cross in our place.  His work within us began when we first believed.  Now the Holy Spirit lives in us, enabling us to be more like Christ every day.  Paul is describing the process of Christian growth and maturity that began when we accepted Jesus and continues until Christ returns.

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Do you sometimes feel as though you aren’t making progress in your spiritual life?  When God starts a project, he completes it!  As with the Philippians, God will help you grow in grace until he has completed his work in your life.  When you are discouraged, remember that God won’t give up on you.  He promises to finish the work he has begun.  When you feel incomplete, unfinished, or distressed by your shortcomings, remember God’s promise and provision.  Don’t let your present condition rob you of the joy of knowing Christ or keep you from growing closer to him.

Well, you can ponder these thoughts for awhile.  We get my step kids this weekend so I’ll probably be pretty busy, yet again…I will write when I can, until then, blessings upon you and praise His Holy Name.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.  Psalm 139:23-24

May God provide the increase.

 

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I’m sorry that I didn’t get back here yesterday to finish this post.  If you were here yesterday, you can skip down to the diamond page break and read the rest of this post, or if you want you can re-read the scripture.  It’s up to you… 

Misery Turned to Hope

How miserable I am!  I feel like the fruit picker after the harvest who can find nothing to eat.  Not a cluster of grapes or a single early fig can be found to satisfy my hunger.  The godly people have all disappeared; not one honest person is left on the earth.  They are all murderers, setting traps even for their own brothers.  Both their hands are equally skilled at doing evil!  Officials and judges alike demand bribes.  The people with influence get what they want, and together they scheme to twist justice.  Even the best of them is like a brier; the most honest is as dangerous as a hedge of thorns.  But your judgment day is coming swiftly now.  Your time of punishment is here, a time of confusion.

Don’t trust anyone—not your best friend or even your wife!  For the son despises his father. The daughter defies her mother.  The daughter-in-law defies her mother-in-law.  Your enemies are right in your own household!

As for me, I look to the Lord for help.  I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me.  Do not gloat over me, my enemies!  For though I fall, I will rise again.  Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.  I will be patient as the Lord punishes me, for I have sinned against him.  But after that, he will take up my case and give me justice for all I have suffered from my enemies.  The Lord will bring me into the light, and I will see his righteousness.  Then my enemies will see that the Lord is on my side.  They will be ashamed that they taunted me, saying, “So where is the Lord—that God of yours?”  With my own eyes I will see their downfall; they will be trampled like mud in the streets.

In that day, Israel, your cities will be rebuilt, and your borders will be extended.  People from many lands will come and honor you—from Assyria all the way to the towns of Egypt, from Egypt all the way to the Euphrates River, and from distant seas and mountains.  But the land will become empty and desolate because of the wickedness of those who live there.

The Lord’s Compassion on Israel

O Lord, protect your people with your shepherd’s staff; lead your flock, your special possession.  Though they live alone in a thicket on the heights of Mount Carmel, let them graze in the fertile pastures of Bashan and Gilead as they did long ago.  

“Yes,” says the Lord, “I will do mighty miracles for you, like those I did when I rescued you from slavery in Egypt.”

All the nations of the world will stand amazed at what the Lord will do for you.  They will be embarrassed at their feeble power.  They will cover their mouths in silent awe, deaf to everything around them.  Like snakes crawling from their holes, they will come out to meet the Lord our God.  They will fear him greatly, trembling in terror at his presence.

Where is another God like you, who pardons the guilt of the remnant, overlooking the sins of his special people?  You will not stay angry with your people forever, because you delight in showing unfailing love.**  Once again you will have compassion on us.  You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!  You will show us your faithfulness and unfailing love as you promised to our ancestors Abraham and Jacob long ago.  Micah 7

I have pasted in the scripture that I read today, but right this moment, I don’t have the time to write my thoughts.  I’m so swamped today…if I get time later, I’ll type in my notes, so check back later today or this evening.  If I don’t get the time, I’ll simply marinate on it overnight, that should make for better commentary.

God bless.

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There are two things that stuck out to me when reading this 1) verse 5, “Don’t trust anyone – not your best friend or even your wife!” 2) verse 18, “…because you delight in showing mercy.”

Micah, according to the timeline in my study bible, was a prophet from 742 -687 B.C.  I state this because he lived several hundred years before Jesus was born.  Starting with point number one that I listed a moment ago (verses 5-6), Jesus used these words to bring scripture into all truth in Matthew 10:35-36.  “I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.  Your enemies will be right in your own household.” 

Yesterday, I asked myself the question, “How can you love someone that is entirely self-absorbed and selfish?”  I, of course, know the answer…give it over to God and allow Him to help you.  That is good faith advice, but it isn’t very practical.  How do you “give it over to God?”  How do you “lay it at the foot of the cross.”  How do you “wait patiently on the Lord?”  The only answer that I can come up with is that if we fail, get up and try again.  It is called perservance. 

We went to my mothers last weekend and my two year old would trip and fall or some other mishap and my mom would say, “Uh-oh!  Get up and try it again!”  That is what we are like, tripping up, enduring mishaps or having some other calamity in our lives and that is what we are to do, get up and try it again.  It isn’t because we are goofs or any such thing, but because we are created beings living and working under the pressure of our sin-nature.  It is only when we “get up and try it again” that we are living and working under the divine guidance of the Holy Spirit, therefore being made perfect in God’s eyes.  God is the only one that is perfect, and therefore He is the only one that won’t ever have to do anything again because of a mishap.

So, to answer my question yesterday, I just have to simply keep trying.  I’ve had to do this at different times in my life with different people and different types of relationships.  I’ve done it with my father, my mother, my step-father, my sister, my grandma, my friend(s) and now my husband.  Which, this leads me to another thought.  If I’ve had to “learn to love” even when I didn’t feel like loving all these people, then it shouldn’t surprise me that 1) I am entirely self-absorbed and selfish to some people out there and 2) those people that get that impression about me also have to “learn to love” me.  In other words, I’m no different than anyone else both on the giving and the receiving end.

All this leads me to this thought, because we are all the same and have different levels of frustration towards different people in our relationships because of selfishness we really aren’t any different than the people that Micah and all the other prophets and great men of the bible wrote about.  We are just like the children of Israel and because we can identify with them, we can also realize how great God’s mercy really is.  As a nation, Israel was more often turning from God than turning to God and yet, each time, God would always call them back to Himself and re-instate them with His forgivenes and extend His mercy to them.  He still does the same thing for us today, everytime we “get up and try it again.” 

That is such calming thought.  The other thing that comes to mind is that, as unruly and selfish we are, God still loves us.  And since we are to emmulate God, we should “still love” the ones in our lives that are so selfish and self-absorbed.

Okay, lets move on to point number two before I start to bore you to death.  I have already spoken a little bit about this point, but I want to move away slightly from the standard, “God’s mercy is for all and it is eternal and bottomless” thought and speak about something that doesn’t get said often.  This verse says that God delights in showing mercy. 

What does the word “delight” mean?  To paraphrase dictionary.com, “it means to take or give great pleasure or joy.”  God takes great pleasure to extend to us mercy.  It also gives God great pleasure to offer mercy to us.  So in another way of looking at it, we give God great pleasure and God takes great pleasure in us.  We are the object of God’s great pleasue.  How does that make you feel.  Each one of us individually and corporately have an active part in God’s pleasure.  That out of all of God’s creation, we have the wonderful position to give our God pleasure is sucha  thrilling thought.  I’m nothing more than a speck of dust and yet I can give pleasure to my God and He takes pleasure in me by offering me mercy.  It is an astounding, jaw dropping thought isn’t it?

Tomorrow, I think I may talk more about this thought, but think about this even if I don’t, “The Lord directs the steps of the godly.  He delights in every detail of their lives.  Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.”  Psalm 37:23-24  This gives me a picture of a doting, loving father who is thrilled with every new and exciting thing that his little child has learned or who cries with that child when it falls down and gets an “ouchie.”  Bottom line, God cares.  He is intimately intersted and involved with our daily lives, every second of our lives.  Not even a thought of ours escapes Him.  To me, that is comforting, even though I know that He knows all my ugliness and sin that still resides within.  It is comforting because I know that He still loves me and even delights in me and wants to take that ugliness and sin and trample [my] sins under [His] feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!  How can I not be thrilled about that?  How can I not have an ever present, burning desire to turn to God and allow Him in to  my heart to cleanse me?

Well, I think I’ll stop for now on the delight thing and let you ponder these thoughts for awhile.  I’ll see you tomorrow if it is to be…So let it be.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.  Psalm 139:23-24

May God provide the increase.

**(As you probably know, I use www.biblegateway.com as my concordance while I’m writing each day, but I always have my bible right in front of me too.  (It is easier to copy and paste than it is to type in scripture each day.)  My bible was printed in the mid-90’s (my daughter got a hold of the first few pages) and I’m sure that they have revised it since then so there are some slight word differences, such as in my bible, it says “mercy” and on the online version it says “unfailing love.”  I guess they are the same, you can’t have one without the other.)

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David now fled from Naioth in Ramah and found Jonathan. “What have I done?” he exclaimed. “What is my crime? How have I offended your father that he is so determined to kill me?”

“That’s not true!” Jonathan protested. “You’re not going to die. He always tells me everything he’s going to do, even the little things. I know my father wouldn’t hide something like this from me. It just isn’t so!”

Then David took an oath before Jonathan and said, “Your father knows perfectly well about our friendship, so he has said to himself, ‘I won’t tell Jonathan—why should I hurt him?’ But I swear to you that I am only a step away from death! I swear it by the Lord and by your own soul!”

“Tell me what I can do to help you,” Jonathan exclaimed.

David replied, “Tomorrow we celebrate the new moon festival. I’ve always eaten with the king on this occasion, but tomorrow I’ll hide in the field and stay there until the evening of the third day.  If your father asks where I am, tell him I asked permission to go home to Bethlehem for an annual family sacrifice.  If he says, ‘Fine!’ you will know all is well. But if he is angry and loses his temper, you will know he is determined to kill me.  Show me this loyalty as my sworn friend—for we made a solemn pact before the Lord—or kill me yourself if I have sinned against your father. But please don’t betray me to him!”

“Never!” Jonathan exclaimed. “You know that if I had the slightest notion my father was planning to kill you, I would tell you at once.”

Then David asked, “How will I know whether or not your father is angry?”

“Come out to the field with me,” Jonathan replied. And they went out there together.  Then Jonathan told David, “I promise by the Lord, the God of Israel, that by this time tomorrow, or the next day at the latest, I will talk to my father and let you know at once how he feels about you. If he speaks favorably about you, I will let you know.  But if he is angry and wants you killed, may the Lord strike me and even kill me if I don’t warn you so you can escape and live. May the Lord be with you as he used to be with my father.  And may you treat me with the faithful love of the Lord as long as I live. But if I die,  treat my family with this faithful love, even when the Lord destroys all your enemies from the face of the earth.”

So Jonathan made a solemn pact with David, saying, “May the Lord destroy all your enemies!”  And Jonathan made David reaffirm his vow of friendship again, for Jonathan loved David as he loved himself.  1 Samuel 20:1-17

I’ve always been intrigued by this dynamic relationship between Jonathan and David.  This story says much about the faith and testament of Jonathan to God.  I’m going to type in the profile that is in my study bible for Jonathan because I couldn’t do him the justice that he deserves…

Loyalty is one of life’s most costly qualities; it is the most selfless part of love.  To be loyal, you cannot live only for yourself.  Loyal people not only stand by their commitments; they are willing to suffer for them.  Jonathan is a shining example of loyalty.  Sometimes he was forced to deal with conflicting loyalties:  to his father, Saul, and to his friend David.  His solution to that conflict teaches us both how to be loyal and what must guide loyalty.  In Jonathan, truth always guided loyalty.

Jonathan realized that the source of truth was God, who demanded his ultimate loyalty.  It was his relationship with God that gave Jonathan the ability to deal effectively with the complicated situations in his life.  He was loyal to Saul because Saul was his father and the king.  He was loyal to David because David was his friend.  His loyalty to God guided him through the conflicting demands of his human relationships.

The conflicting demands of our relationships challenge us as well.  If we attempt to settle these conflicts only at the human level, we will be constantly dealing with a sense of betrayal.  But if we communicate to our friends that our ultimate loyalty is to God and his truth, many of our choices will be much clearer.  The truth in his Word, the Bible, will bring light to our decisions.  Do those closest to you know who had your greatest loyalty?

Strengths and accomplishments

  • Brave, loyal, and a natural leader
  • The closest friend David ever had
  • Did not put his personal well-being ahead of those he loved
  • Depended on God

Lessons from his life

  • Loyalty is one of the strongest parts of courage
  • an allegiance to God puts all other relationships in perspective
  • Great friendships are costly

Vital statistics

  • Occupation:  Military leader
  • Relatives:  Father:  Saul.  Mother:  Ahinoam.  Brothers:  Abinadab and Malkishua.  Sisters:  Merab and Michal.  Son:  Mephibosheth

Key verse:

“How I weep for you, my brother Jonathan!  Oh, how much I loved you!  And your love for me was deep, deeper than the love of women!”  (2 Samuel 1:26)

His story is told in 1 Samuel 13-31.  He is also mentioned in 2 Samuel 9

I like the way the KJV puts it, “The soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.”  1 Samuel 18:1 (emphasis added)  I don’t even know why, but this wording, the way that their relationship, their affections are described just simply intrigue me.  Maybe this is the kind of relationship that I not only want, but expect from my marriage.  I think this is true and I don’t necessarily think that it is off from the way God expects our marriages to be.  All the symbolism in the bible that points to us as God’s bride and He the Husband would indicate a marriage relationship like the love, loyalty, self-sacrificing and trust between Jonathan and David.  

I suppose I’m a bit of a cynical skeptic, but I don’t think that there are to many Christian marriages like this in the world today.  Though, there are some really good marriages, some mediocre marriages and some horrible marriages, I just don’t think that marriages are being held up to the standard set in the bible. 

At one time I would have done anything to stand by my convictions; I withstood a church council and being “put out” of the brethren, I’ve withstood criticism, some fairly strong at that, from my family regarding my choice(s) with the raising of my children and my marriage, I’ve withstood friendly advice, suggestions and admonishment given in love because of things I’ve said or done based on my convictions.  And, my husband loves me more than he ever has loved me, yet, nothing seems to matter to me any more.   I suppose I’m going through my daily life hanging on to this old saying, “this to shall pass.”  Because I know that it will.  I can see that I’m caught up in the today and tomorrow’s of my life and I shouldn’t be.  But I’m sure that you know whenever you do get caught up in these worries, it is hard sometimes to get out of that rut and start thinking right. 

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’  These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.  Matthew 6:31-34

Ultimately, I’m here, I’m reading the Word of God, I’m writing to you, I’m doing these things by rote, knowing that eventually, God will get through to me, as stubborn and hard-headed as I am.  I know that God will save me from myself when He knows that I’m ready to take the next step.  That’s why I love God.  I know that my relationship with Him is so steady and true.  I know that no matter how discouraged I may become, how hard-hearted, how undeserving of His love, grace and mercy I may be, He is still right there beside me, waiting for the perfect and right time to “fix” me and make things better for me.  I love Him because He doesn’t force Himself upon me, but waits for me to be ready.  I love Him because “He first loved me.”  I love Him because He is waiting for me to forgive those that need forgiving and because He is waiting for me to let go of my anger and bitterness.  I am not perfect, yet He waits for me to be ready and willing for Him to cleanse me.  He takes me by the hand, wraps His arms around me and simply quietly holds me while I cry and cry until I have no more tears.  People can’t do that, they feel that they must “fix” whatever is wrong with you when you cry, but not Jesus. 

I love Jesus.  I may not be doing a very good job of showing it or living out my expectations/convictions right now at this time of my life, but my love for Jesus is still strong.  I don’t question it and I know that Jesus don’t question it and that is all that matters.  It will be good to bask in the sunshine again after I come out of this tunnel.  That will happen one day too. 

Again, sorry for such a dismal post today.  Keep me in your prayers while I struggle.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.  Psalm 139:23-24

May God provide the increase.

 

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When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled.  “Where have you put him?” he asked them.

They told him, “Lord, come and see.”  Then Jesus wept.  The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!”  But some said, “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?”

Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance.  “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them.

But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.”

Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?”  So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me.  You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.”  Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!”  And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!”  John 11:33-44

Oh Boy!  So much here to talk about.  I haven’t even read my study notes yet, but maybe after I’m done talking, I’ll read through them and type some in if I feel led to do so.

First, one of the most infamous verses, “Jesus wept.”  As speculation goes, what was Jesus weeping for?  Was He weeping for Lazarus, for the mourner’s unbelief, for their being self-absorbed or because He genuinely grieved with them?  I don’t have the answer.  The bottom line is that He showed that He cared.  Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.  Romans 12:15 

Think about it, if the God of heaven, in the form of His earth bound Son, wept for a dead man and the mourners surrounding him, don’t you think that that same God in heaven now would weep with and for us?  What I’m getting at is that God has feelings.  To think about it, you wouldn’t necessarily attribute feelings to an all powerful, all seeing God, even though all through scripture God’s feelings are exposed.  (for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods.  Exodus 20:5  God is love.  1 John 4:8  “Why are you so angry with your own people whom you brought from the land of Egypt with such great power and such a strong hand?”  Exodus 32:11 etc.)  But really, do we not laugh at the antics of our small children?  Is God not our Father?  Would He not laugh at our antics?  Would he not hurt when we hurt, would He not rejoice when we rejoice. 

If we are created in His image, would that not include His Spirit, His emotions, His reasoning?  Just because we aren’t perfect, doesn’t mean we weren’t created to be like Him.  God weeps.  God laughs.  God feels just like you and me, but deeper, more passionately than we ever could because He has all knowledge and understanding.  He is complete, we are not.

Yes, Jesus wept.  He felt sad and hurt, upset at His friends demise and the relatives grief.  And because of all the scriptures throughout the bible describing God’s emotions, I know that He understands the depths of mine.  I know that He knows what I’m going through, whenever and wherever I am.  I know that only He has the answer to see me through both the highs and lows of life.  All because He wept

There’s other thing that I want to talk about today and that was Jesus’ prayer…  “Father, thank you for hearing me.  You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.”  (emphasis added)  Just this morning, before opening my bible to read, I admit, I was grumbling and complaining to God.  I told Him, “I don’t understand why you have given me such convictions/beliefs.  They are burdensome.”  I then laughed at myself and thought, you’re such a fool.  But, God gently reprimanded me with today’s scripture passage.

God never promised that living for Him would be easy, He only promised that He would be there with us.  I’ve been down and out lately because everything that I have believed has seemed to be all for nothing.  I just don’t care anymore because I’ve been told in similar words to these that, “my walk isn’t adding up to my beliefs.”  That is quite a let down, especially when it comes from someone that should be affected the most by the way that I live, my husband.  Sure, he said it in an argument over the weekend, but it is nonetheless deflating.  I have tried so hard to live out my life according to my convictions.  And it seems that it has all been in vain.  I have been really depressed and not wanting to keep going if it isn’t affecting anyone…

Well, this morning, I was grumbling because someone new found something that I wrote in the middle of March, the 18th I think, and any time someone leaves a comment from a past post, I always take the time to re-read what I wrote and then leave a comment back to that person.  The title that day was…Commit everything you do to the Lord…and what I wrote was a reminder that I have given my life to God and He can used my life however He chooses.  Then, Jesus’ own words in the passage today was also a reminder, I don’t live for myself, I live for Jesus, for others…even if it doesn’t seem to be “working.” 

Jesus, perfect, never any sin found within Him, yet, these people still stood in disbelief, grieving their lost loved one.  Why should it be any different for me, a sinner?  Jesus kept focused on God’s plan, not His own thoughts and feelings.  Jesus, as Paul exhorts us, kept His sights on the prize of the high calling…so should I.  I may feel defeated, but it is God’s interest I need to realign my energies to.  I may feel deflated, but it is God’s work I should focus on.  If no one ever recognizes my achievements in my spiritual life, it doesn’t matter how man judges me, only God, but I must always remember that regardless of people’s opinion of my right living, God can and will use my life for His purposes.  God works for one thing and that is to glorify and honor His Holy Name. 

So, though I seemingly and apparently fail in my daily walk, I must still strive to walk in the light of my convictions, not for my benefit, but for the benefit of others, that they have the possibility of believing.  It is their choice to act upon it, I’m just called to do what I must, I’m not responsible for how they react.

And finally, I’ll leave you to ponder the huge symbolism with Jesus last words in this passage, “Unwrap him and let him go!”  We all can read that Jesus was talking about the grave clothes, but what about symbolism?  When we die to self, we are born again and become new creatures in Christ.  I think I’ll just paste in Paul’s words because he says it so much better…

Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace?  Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?  Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death?  For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.

Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was.  We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.  For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.  And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him.  We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him.  When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God.  So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.

Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires.  Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.  Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.

Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not!  Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.  Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you.  Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.  Romans 6:1-18

I couldn’t just “break in” anywhere, I had to paste the whole bit of it.  So, in my own life, what does this mean?  I wasn’t raised to be a submissive wife.  I was raised to be independent and to take care of myself and my own business.  I was raised with the belief that “if I wanted something done, I needed to do it myself.”  Depending on a man was not encouraged, not because of outright rebellion, but because of all the pain and hurt that I’d seen the women in my life undergo.  I remember making very conscious decisions not to end up like all the women in my life…

So, living under the convictions of scripture is completely contrary to how I believed before.  AND it is extremely hard.  AND I often fail.  Yet, I must throw off the grave-clothes of sin and live in the newness of life and of light so that God’s glory will shine through.  This especially means I must do this in the area of my marriage and with my husband.  There is where the biggest change can be seen in me of the “new life” that I lead.  The old man is gone, the new one is with Christ.

Anyway, I leave you to ponder these scriptures…

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.  Psalm 139:23-24

May God provide the increase.

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“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

Every year here at work we have a “Decorate the Door” contest around Christmas time.  Several years ago, this picture was what I decorated my door with.    It is a chalk drawing on black paper of the man that played Jesus in Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ.”  The words, in case you can’t read them clearly say, “For God so loved the world…He Gave.”  John 3:16.

It was after Christmas that I learned that on Christmas Eve, people were lined up in the hall to look at my door.  That was quite a humbling experience for me.  I still have this door size picture of Jesus, and I use it as my avatar.  This is one of my most favored verses in all of scripture.  God loved the world, He sent His Son to die for it.  It says “world” not people.  Jesus died for the whole world.

In Genesis 2:17-19, after the fall, God cursed the earth, “I have placed a curse on the ground.  All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.  It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains.  All your life you will sweat to produce food, until your dying day.”

I guess for me it goes back to the lilies of the field.  God shows such precious care for the flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, then that should also indicate how much He cares for us.  It would also substantiate that Jesus died for the whole world.  The bottom line is that God cares for His creation, all of it.

Think of an artist or a musician or anyone in any field for that matter.  When someone makes or creates something, or makes a break through in some science related topic, they care much about their project, creation, or theory.  It is a source of pride.  But, when someone mars it, say as Adam and Eve did with their sin, the creator becomes more protective of it and wants to restore it to its former glory. 

When I read that God loved the worldso much that He sent His only Son to save it, it tells me that God cares to the most finite and infinitesimal decree about me and my life as well as everyone else, simply because it says that He loved the world.  I can’t even begin to imagine that.  Sure you’ve got your tree-huggers and environmentalists, your nature lovers – of which I’m one – and so on.  But, we tend to get in our little group and do a song and dance about that, but what about the dirty, unkempt places of the earth?  What about the dangerous places, both man-made and natural?  If a life would make a difference in some of these places, would these people line up to give theirs?  Probably not.  They would want to live.  And that’s fine, that is what we are programmed to do.  But, Jesus gave His life for the world, the whole world, everything and everyone in it. 

In a way, it seems strange to me that He would do that because the scriptures say, “Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth, and no one will even think about the old ones anymore.”  Isaiah 65:17 (see also Isaiah 66:22; 2 Peter 3:12-13; Revelation 21:1-2)  Then I think that if Jesus set the example and died then rose again for us, and we are to die to self and be born again so that we may have everlasting life, so to should the earth also die to be made new.  Death is the consequence of sin, but life is a gift from God.  Jesus set the perfect example and showed just how much He cares for you, me, our daily lives in minutia, by demonstrating that love and care through His work on the cross. 

I guess to say it in another way, God cares so much for the whole world that He sent His only Son to die for everything within that world, then how much more would He care for me and my problems?  Or you and your problems?  He is deeply concerned with all the intimate details of our lives, both public and private. 

When the scriptures say He already knows everything about us, it is true.  When they say that we are to cast all our cares on Him, it is because He already bore the weight of the whole world on His shoulders while hanging there on the tree.  Not just people problems, but problems of the earth.  Our scientists are starting to clamour at a noisier level about global warming.  But, God knew before hand that this should come to pass, “On that day, he will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames.”  2 Peter 3:12

I guess even in the midst of all of my woes, I still stand amazed at God’s greatness, His vastness.  For Him to be so concerned about me, yet also being so concerned about every other person on this earth as well as the earth itself is nearly incomprehensible.  We can see pictures of the earth from space.  We can compare the size of the earth with other planets.  We know that space seems to go on forever, yet God cares about everyone, everything on this earth and He cares for everything else going on on all the other planets and stars and everything in between.  My mind can’t even hardly imagine a God so great as that, but my faith can by simply believing all that He said is true. 

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.  Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good.  But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.  And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.   Romans 5:6-9

All this is to say that if I am trying to live like Jesus and pattern myself after His example, then I too should be willing to love so much that I am willing to sacrifice, even for my husband.  He may be irritating and gets under my skin, but maybe I should stop and think about myself in relation to God.  I’m sure that my life hasn’t been at all pleasing to God.  Look how often I fail and cling to my ways.  Yet, God sent His son for me and He did so by including me in the whole world

I don’t know, this is one of those things that God has profoundly sunk deep into my soul and understanding, yet I can’t seem to express the completeness of this thought.  God gave.  He gave of Himself, He gave His Son, He gave His life, He gave His love.  And for what?  For you, for me, for the whole world.  Is it to unreasonable now for me to give?  Not after what God has already given.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.  Psalm 139:23-24

May God provide the increase.

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Then Jesus was approached by some Sadducees—religious leaders who say there is no resurrection from the dead.  They posed this question: “Teacher, Moses gave us a law that if a man dies, leaving a wife but no children, his brother should marry the widow and have a child who will carry on the brother’s name.  Well, suppose there were seven brothers. The oldest one married and then died without children.  So the second brother married the widow, but he also died.  Then the third brother married her. This continued with all seven of them, who died without children.  Finally, the woman also died.  So tell us, whose wife will she be in the resurrection? For all seven were married to her!” Jesus replied, “Marriage is for people here on earth.  But in the age to come, those worthy of being raised from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage.  And they will never die again. In this respect they will be like angels. They are children of God and children of the resurrection.

“But now, as to whether the dead will be raised—even Moses proved this when he wrote about the burning bush. Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, he referred to the Lord as ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’  So he is the God of the living, not the dead, for they are all alive to him.”

“Well said, Teacher!” remarked some of the teachers of religious law who were standing there.  And then no one dared to ask him any more questions.  Luke 20:27-40

Both yesterday’s and today’s scripture passages had some really good notes to accompany them, but I chose not to type them in yesterday and today, I’m not sure whether I will or won’t…we’ll see. 

Generally, when reading this, most people take away from it, ‘use scripture to answer the tough questions.’  This is true for God’s word never changes and it is the foundation and basis for life.  And because ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever,’ (Hebrews 13:8) then His Word is also ‘same yesterday, today and forever.’  With that understanding then, as Jesus used scripture to refute the Sadducees, so we can use scripture to do likewise.  Jesus rightly answered the underlying question/dilemma that the Sadducees put before Him.  Jesus discerned their true meaning and motive.

Well, that isn’t what I want to talk about today.  Jesus made this comment when He initially answered the Sadducees, Marriage is for people here on earth.  But in the age to come, those worthy of being raised from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage.  And they will never die again. In this respect they will be like angels. They are children of God and children of the resurrection. 

What does that mean?  Here He outright says, we will be like the angels, children of God.  This means that the dynamic and intricacy of our life relationships that we hold here on earth will not be the same in eternity.  Think about it, how often does scripture demonstrate our relationship with God as if we are the bride and He is the groom?  So, our marriages here, though we will recognize our partners, will not be viewed in the same light there.  We will have the ultimate singleness of heart and yearn only for our God.  Our sibling relationships will not be the same either because we are joint-heirs with Jesus.  Our parental relationships will also take on a different perspective because God will be our Father. 

“Marriage is for people here on earth.”  I suppose that I take some small comfort in this sentence.  When I think about the brevity of life, I realize that all the hardships that I face in my marriage are like the blink of an eye and then eternity will set in and I will truly be married to the “man of my dreams.”  Jesus will be all I ever need, as He should be now, I just get in the way of that. 

I don’t often dwell on thoughts of heaven.  I want to be wowed beyond consciousness.  I know that God has made heaven a place beyond my comprehension.  I know that He has done things in heaven that I can’t even begin to imagine.  I know that all of my assumptions, my understanding, my ideas, my convictions are going to appear so infinitesimal and smaller than the smallest known particle compared to what God has in store for us.  This scripture passage assures me of that.  All my preconceived notions of what heaven will be like, are like fine dust because I really can’t even begin to understand the vast greatness of God.  Jesus said that our relationships won’t be the same here as there.  If I can’t comprehend that, even though He outright said it, then how can I even begin to comprehend any other changes that will be? 

John describes his vision of the New Jerusalem in Revelations.  (The twelve gates were made of pearls—each gate from a single pearl! And the main street was pure gold, as clear as glass.  Revelation 21:21)  Even in his description – which is much more than this one sentence – I can’t even comprehend…how can pure gold be as clear as glass?  And all of the newer versions either say “clear as glass,” “clear as crystal,” or “as transparent glass.”  So, if I can’t even comprehend what the scriptures outright tell me, how can I even begin to imagine what it will be like.  I just simply can’t.  I am overwhelmed just thinking about thinking about it.  Instead, I want to be like the little child enveloped in the ‘magic of the moment’ when I first encounter Disney World … or something like that.  That precious ‘awe struck look’ that only a small child can seem to master at every new leaf that is turned.  That is what I want to feel when I reach heaven, and that is what I will feel, because I just know that I can’t even in my wildest dreams begin to know or understand what Jesus has in store for us there.

And it all comes back to today’s scripture and other scriptures like it, Jesus has said that it won’t be like what we know and are accustomed to.  When you get right down to it, we only know a life and a world that has been marred with sin.  We don’t really know what perfection looks like.  Our marriages, though a symbol of one aspect of our relationship with Jesus is nothing like what our relationship with Jesus will be.  We can only glimpse what it should be and yet we will never fully comprehend until that day that Jesus takes us back with Him to the marriage supper.  Paul said it well in 1 Corinthians 13:12 Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

I take away from scriptures like these that I just simply don’t know.  For all that I think I know, all that I think that I understand, doesn’t amount to a hill of beans when it comes down to what will be when Jesus comes again and all will stand in the light of perfection.  My marriage isn’t perfect.  My life isn’t perfect.  The choices that I’ve made are far from perfect.  I don’t understand why I suffer from such hardships.  I don’t understand why I tend to be a little more emotional than others.  But, I know that even though I try to live my life by the convictions that I hold, they too aren’t perfect.  I make mistakes, I fall down and get back up and try again.  In heaven, with Jesus, it won’t always be this way.  I don’t understand the mind of God, but on some level at least I know that by living this imperfect life and making these less than perfect and right choices, I am learning whatever the Lord is teaching me.  I believe it has to do with the scripture from Ezekiel 11, God is giving me  singleness of heart.  I am learning that nothing in this world or in this life is more important than Him and no one means more to me than Him. 

Jesus said, “If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine.  If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine.  If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.”  Matthew 10:37-39

Scripture is full of apparent contradictions to our understanding of life.  But, that is how God has chosen to reveal His word and His will to us.  We can’t understand it fully, but we can decide to follow Him regardless.  He knows our heart, even if our brains try to ‘mastermind’ our lives.  (No pun intended.) 

Now I think I’m talking in circles and about things that I don’t fully comprehend.  I’ll type in the notes for today’s scripture so that maybe you can glean something after all.

Note on verses 27-38

The Sadducees, a group of conservative religious leaders, honored only the Pentateuch – Genesis through Deuteronomy – as Scripture.  They also did not believe in a resurrection of the dead because they could find no mention of it in those books.  The Sadducees decided to try their hand at tricking Jesus, so they brought him a question that had always stumped the Pharisees.  After addressing their question about marriage, Jesus answered their real question about the resurrection.  Basing his answer on the writings of Moses – an authority they respected – he upheld belief in the resurrection.

Note on verses 34, 35

Jesus’ statement does not mean that people will not recognize their partners in heaven.  It simply means that we must not think of heaven as an extension of life as we now know it.  Our relationships in this life are limited by time, death, and sin.  We don’t know everything about our resurrection life, but Jesus affirms that relationships will be different from what we are used to here and now.

Note on verses 37, 38

The Sadducees came to Jesus with a trick question.  Not believing in the resurrection, they wanted Jesus to say something they could refute.  Even so, Jesus did not ignore or belittle their question.  He answered it, and then he went beyond it to the real issue.  People may ask you tough religious questions, such as “How can a loving God allow people to starve?”  “If God knows what I’m going to do, do I have any free choice?”  If they do, follow Jesus’ example.  First, answer them to the best of your ability; then look for the real issue:  hurt over a personal tragedy, for example, or difficulty in making a decision.  Often the spoken question is only a test, not of your ability to answer hard questions, but of your willingness to listen and care.

Enough of my ramblings…

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.  Psalm 139:23-24

May God provide the increase.

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