Thursday, April 17, 2014

Good Friday


"But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed." Isaiah 53:5


Looking up at Jesus and seeing Him hanging on the cross for us, bearing our burdens, shame and chains, there is the crushing weight of sin we would have been bound too if not for His life. The cross is not just a symbol or a story, it is the way to life.

If we could all look up at the cross now, see His body suffering for us and feel His love for us it would change he way we live every day. 

"Jesus came to give us life. We don't have to hang on a cross like He did. For Him it was a sacrifice. For us it is a gift." Dillon Burroughs

Because of Jesus we are free from chains. The chains of toxic thought patterns, fears, addictions and diseases no longer bind us forever. It is uncomfortable to be free after so many years of being bound--- so many stay in the false comfort of chains. Trust Jesus to break them off one by one, and true freedom as God intended it is learned. Layers of false teaching and beliefs are peeled off and truth is known and seen.

Jesus death and resurrection are known; but how many times do we really stop to think about the weight of what it means for us? Does this change how we live our daily lives?

He went to the cross with a passion for us, so our chains are torn off with a fervor so great we can no longer stand to live in them one more day. 

"They have greatly oppressed me from my youth,”
    let Israel say; “they have greatly oppressed me from my youth,
    but they have not gained the victory over me. Plowmen have plowed my back
    and made their furrows long.  But the Lord is righteous;
    he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.” 
Psalm 129: 1-4

He went to the cross so that our shame is removed. There is no shame in Christ. The ones who have been shamed, who carry "you are not good enough" inside--- are loved enough that someone laid down His life so that you know no shame.

"Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more." Isaiah 54:4

He went to the cross so we can boldly come to Him and ask for His healing. Jesus heals---we must believe and trust. Healing was a main part of Jesus' ministry. How often it is forgotten. 
"Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits--  who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,  who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion..." Psalm 103:2-4

He went to the cross so that we may have joy, life and light. So that that light can radiate from ourselves to others.
"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit..." Romans 14:17

He went to the cross so that in our lifetimes we know that we have a source of comfort and peace. Our eternal life is secure, we no longer have to fear a short life on earth. We know that no matter what earthly events occur, Jesus sits on His throne.
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2

He went to the cross because we are loved and valued by God. So much so that He sent His only son to show us. God wanted to reconcile us to Himself so much that He sent His son as our sacrificial lamb.
"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him." 1 John 4:9

"A sacrifice to be real must cost, must hurt, must empty ourselves." -Mother Teresa 

May we truly live through Him. And may we look each day up at the cross and say, "today I live in the victory of what you have accomplished for me Lord." Amen.

"Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life."  John 5:24

"The abundance Jesus offers is a spiritual abundance that transcends circumstances, like income, health, living conditions and even death. The abundant life is eternal." -Charles Swindoll

"Love Jesus. love Him very much. But to do this, be prepared to love sacrifice more." -Saint Padre Pio



Thursday, April 10, 2014

Peace At All Times


"Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all." 2 Thessalonians 3:16


Peace is something freely given by God to His children. He wants us to know His abundant peace so that it flows from deep within our hearts. Yet so often our actions and the things we chase after lead us away from peace. Peace is something to be walked towards with purpose. Just as we take the small and focused steps to reach a goal, peace must be sought in the same way.

"Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it." 1 Peter 3:11

We must seek God in our decisions big and small and seek His direction for our lives. Our own rash decision making can sometimes be lacking and at times causes consequences that result in  us losing peace. But as we seek God we can right our path again and move towards peace. God is the way to peace; His laws that He speaks are peaceful and righteous. As we follow God's laws we find a deep inner peace.

"When a man's ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him." Proverbs 16:7

Often God and His ways are overlooked or we think our way is better. God in His infinite wisdom knows better than us and His ways are put before us that lead to peace. This does not mean that there will not be suffering, trials or that a perfect life will result from following God. God's peace means that deep down we know the peace of God and we dwell with Him there. In spite of the circumstances that peace is steadfast.

"Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble." Psalm 119:165

As we grow to love God's law and study His word we find wisdom, joy and peace. God's ways bring life to the heart and soul and this is where His peace reigns. If we seek a peaceful home yet let in large amounts of media violence, inappropriate morals, strife, spite and gossip on tv shows then those things become what the heart and mind become fixed on. If we pursue an overly booked schedule and feel chaotic and frantic then we are not pursuing peace but some ideal of our own mind that God is not asking of us.

"Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but those who plan peace have joy." Proverbs 12:20

As we seek God's will for our lives and follow Him more closely, we find that peace is present when we are actively living out His will for us. He does not ask us to live out His will and then give us anxiety and anxiousness. He is a God of peace, His character knows no anxiety. We may have moments of fear and anxiety but it is not a place we live. And when we do feel those things we run back to God and ask for His peace. God is not a God of confusion. If we are feeling confused and anxious we may need to reevaluate some of our decisions and the direction of the path we are walking.

"For God is not a God of confusion but of peace." 1 Corinthians 14:33 

Just as we throw out our old clutter and junk for spring cleaning, there must be times we weed out the things that take away peace in our lives. Do we need to say no more and yes to the things that God is asking? Sometimes we fear saying no, but we are holding ourselves back from saying yes to the peace God has for us. Then we can fix our minds and hearts on the things that bring peace. What can we add in our lives that will bring more peace? More reading the Bible, prayer and books filled with wisdom? Less media or more faith filled, positive media? Less time spent wasted on invaluable time wasters and entertainment and more time spent on the things that are valuable and lasting brings peace to the heart and mind. They are no longer cluttered with excess, but only filled up with exactly what is needed.

"And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever." Isaiah 32:17

As we seriously seek to walk the path of God's peace, He will be faithful to guide us. We must fix our minds firmly on God and not allow our minds to be swayed with any false wisdom.

Jesus is our loving shepherd, carrying His lambs in His arms and guiding them to a peaceful dwelling place. He desires peace for His children but requires that we actively seek Him. Our soul will be stilled and quieted and we will no longer long for the clutter of the world. Those layers will be shed and God will reveal His peace.

"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." Isaiah 26:3 

"For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you."  Isaiah 54:10

Prayer: "Lord, guide me to your dwelling place and there I will find your peace. I know you are a God of peace that flows eternally. Show me what peace really is. Show me your peace, not the world's peace God. Give me strength to diligently seek your paths of peace and wisdom to weed out what is stifling your peace in my life. Amen."


Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Peace of Home

"I have surely built you a house of habitation, a settled place for you to dwell in forever."  -1 Kings 8:13


 When there is a deep river of peace running through home, it's residents are not chasing possessions but are in pursuit of God and peace within themselves. They are in pursuit of their relationships with one another. Time together is valued and getting to know one another and spend time with one another is the normal way of life. A life lived with margin for just being together is prioritized and busyness falls away.

"My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places." Isaiah 32:18

"A family is a place where principles are hammered and honed on the anvil of everyday living." -Chuck Swindoll

At home it is safe and any lack of possessions is not noticed. The simple things are treasured. Love, life, joy and the spark of life are enjoyed. The values of God abide there, the values of the world are unknown in those walls. It is not a shopping centered life, but a home centered life. Not an aquiring gadgets centered life but on eternal values life. Seasons are weathered with dignity and grace and sharp tongues are refined by wisdom and age into soft ones. Love is spoken there, love is lived there, love is known there.

"And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony."  Colossians 3:14

"The most influential of all educational factors is the conversation in a child's home." -William Temple

Small touches are here and there to make it a place of personality and learning. It is where collections reside, eccentric hobbies are pursued and the soft breezes outside are noticed.  The Holy Spirit resides in the hearts of family members and He is free to do His work there. It is not a place of perfection or of perfect people, it is a place of imperfect people being refined and growing together throughout the years. The hearts of the family members are pursued by God, He is worshiped there and parents pursue children's hearts, never giving up.

"Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.1 Peter 4:8

"Strength of character may be learned at work, but beauty of character is learned at home." -Henry Drummond

Grace, mercy and gentleness are spoken there. Mending is done when words are said that someone regrets so that the words do not live on to scar a heart. Forgiveness is offered and peace is pursued. Weeding is done in the home regularly, weeding out what God does not intend for minds and hearts to take in. Planting back the seeds of righteousness, joy, and purity. Home life is pursued with diligence and importance. The long term backbone of the home life is the backbone to each members life and work. When God dwells in our home He is taken out in the hearts of others, making a difference in hearts and lives out in the world.

"Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth." 1 John 3:18

"Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind." 1 Peter 3:8

"If therefore our houses be houses of the Lord, we shall for that reason love home, reckoning our daily devotion the sweetest of our daily delights; and our family-worship the most valuable of our family-comforts... A church in the house will be a good legacy, nay, it will be a good inheritance, to be left to your children after you." -Matthew Henry

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Sowing for Life


"Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together." John 4:36


Throughout the many seasons of life, whether we realize it or not, we are always sowing seeds. Our daily decisions, attitudes and where we focus our life's love are sowing a harvest. Some make the choice to sow carefully and steadily, knowing their attention to detail will give more hope for a good harvest. Rushing hastily others sow quickly, not fully present in the work of sowing. They want to get it over with to move on to something else. The thought of the end harvest is far from their mind; it is only on the task at hand. Either the hasty seeds of short term self gain are sown or the steady seeds of long term life giving ways are sown.

"Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap." Galations 6:7

God has given His ways to each of us. He doesn't leave any to wonder but it is up to us to find Him and read His words. We find His laws and they are life giving. When we walk away from them or ignore them because our way is better, we are sowing seeds that will lead to a thoughtless harvest. As we follow His ways we are sowing a harvest of life.

"Self discipline is an act of cultivation. It requires you to connect today's actions to tomorrow's results. There's a season for sowing and a season for reaping. Self discipline helps you know which is which." Gary Ryan Blair

Small decisions made, words said, attitudes, how we spend our time and mindsets build upon each other minute by minute. These are our seeds. Each of us sows in the field that will be our harvest each day. If we take our eye off of the harvest we become distracted and forget what we are diligently sowing for. Are we sowing for our futures, our children's futures, our grandchildren and for eternity? Often, we sow seeds of impulsiveness, sharp tongues, selfishness, things done that are regretted. Then we wonder why life turned out this way; why relationships have failed. Because daily we sowed our seeds not looking towards the harvest.

"For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life."  Galations 6:8

Self-discipline is an act of cultivation. It require you to connect today's actions to tomorrow's results. There's a season for sowing a season for reaping. Self-discipline helps you know which is which.

Self-discipline is an act of cultivation. It require you to connect today's actions to tomorrow's results. There's a season for sowing a season for reaping. Self-discipline helps you know which is which.

There are seasons for sowing, and seasons for reaping. The wise distinguish between both and keep their eyes and hearts fixed on the sowing being done well. We must begin to sow patiently. Young children's hearts and minds need years of steady sowing; relationships need patience, time and selflessness. A new job may mean sowing seeds of hard and steady work. Almost always, sowing does not produce instant gratification. The culture of the day wants instant good feelings; but God's ways produce a long term harvest of righteousness and peace. There is no temporary high, there is joy and truth.

"The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully." 2 Corinthians 9:6

There is joy in waiting, knowing a job was well done and carrying in our hearts God's peace that we did the best we could and God carried the rest. We wait on God to see the results and we trust Him. Sowing God's seed requires an abundance of trust. We must trust Him for what we do not see, we must trust that He is good always, even if we never see with our own eyes the harvest of the seeds we planted. It is wise to keep our hearts fixed on the long term harvest and not be led astray by distractions and immediate things that push and pull at us. 

"As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience." Luke 8:15 

The immediate threatens to pull us away from that which is our long term harvest. It is easy to live distracted always being tugged off course to another thing that beckons. This is the enemies goal, because living distracted and frenzied makes waiting for our harvest a challenge. Our eyes and hearts must be fixed on Jesus to yield our crop. A steady course must be charted and walked daily. The winds that blow cannot allow us to be distracted from our sowing. As we sow the seeds of selflessness, love. peace, hard work, and joy--- we are closer to our harvest.

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." John 12:24

Prayer: "Lord, give me a steadfast heart, one that presses on daily and trusts you completely. Though my sowing seems small and meaningless today, give me your joy and wisdom. Give me eyes to see your vision of the future Lord, eyes that stay fixed on your harvest. Amen."