Posts Categorized: scripture

We are . . .

Herald DisbatchPsalm 13:3Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death, 4And my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken. 5But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.…

Sometimes it is not about winning, it is about building his team, showing up for the game and giving all to our heavenly coach, witnessing to the next generation in the stands and giving them the chance for victory.

I just finished watching We Are Marshall, a movie about Marshall University in Huntington, WV and the tragic plane crash that shattered many lives on November 14, 1970. Seventy-five people lost their lives on that flight. The decision to re-build the football team was not one reached easily.

The new head coach Jack Lengyel, played by Matthew Mconaughey. was an outsider who was moved with compassion for the grieving family, school and city. However, he also knew they needed hope.

McConaughey uses the phrase, “The funerals end today,” but Lengyel said he had to make that known not only to the players but to the schools the team played. Each time the team traveled, the school would have a memorial for Marshall, but Lengyel said the team couldn’t continue and grow under those conditions. (Herald Dispatch)

To grow we have to realize that God still has plans for us. My husband, kids, and you daily remind me that the funeral ends today. Daniel saw the movie in our DVD collection and asked if he could watch it. I hesitated, knowing the intensity of the movie. He asked questions all week about the football team, about the school. He was clearly thinking deeply about the loss. “How many people are on a football team?” . . . “What are boosters?” “How do you start over?” “They must have felt like we do about losing Jonathan.”

We are knocked to the ground, barely able to breath, and the enemy is in our face telling us to stay down.

You are . . . nothing

You are . . . a failure

You are . . . a loser

Sometimes we need an outsider to see our pain, come onto the field of battle and draw up a new play book. God did this by sending his own son. He tell us:

you are . . . beautiful

you are . . . resilient

You are . . . loving

You are. . . worth the struggle

You are . . . a part of my plan

Since Jonathan’s death there are more personal losses and world tragedies the weigh heavy on my heart. Like David I remind myself of who I know God is:

You are . . . good to me

You are . . .Savior

You are . . . Mighty

You are . . . Personal

You are . . . All Knowing

You are. . . Trustworthy

“In this world you will have troubles, but take heart, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

We chant with our lives we are . . . And allow the next generation to answer. They know who they are and whose they are because we didn’t give up!

Repentence Leads to Paradise

Luke 23:39-43One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” 40But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41“And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” 43And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”…

“Christians are forever being asked to forgive, but there seems to be little emphasis on responsibility and repentance.” my friend contemplated today.

The criminal on the cross shows us what true repentance looks like.

  • Fear God
  • Acknowledge our guilt and Christ’s innocence
  • Accept punishment as just
  • Believe that Jesus is the son of God
  • Godly sorrow

The result of true repentance is that we are with Him in Paradise!

Many of us have claimed that we are a slave to no one. Jesus would respond:

John 8:34-35, 44- “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. 35“The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever.”

44You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies 45But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.

On the flip side unrepentance looks like:

  • Fear man, but not God
  • Slave to sin
  • Inflate our righteousness and deflate our guilt
  • Worldly sorrow (sorrow that never leads to repentance)
  • Constantly demand proof from Christ
  • Do not believe the truth Jesus speaks into our lives
  • Follow Satan

There are no fence sitters. Faith is not dependent upon our parents faith or lack of faith. We must chose independently . . . will I go on cursing God and die in my sins, or will I accept that I am a sinner saved alone by his grace. One way or the other we are called to account for our actions. In this life or in death. Yes, forgiving others must be a part of our daily actions; Christ forgave the world because they did not know what they were doing, even as they crucified the Son of God. But, he also lay the ground work of repentance right up to the cross. Many believed as Jesus was being crucified! Like the criminal on the cross they saw the stark difference between themselves and the innocent lamb hanging on the cross.

It is hard for me to write that we either follow Christ or we follow Satan. I want to believe that mankind is naturally good. But in my own original repentance, the truth of Christ’s statements to those who were about to murder him, made me painfully aware of the gap between my guilt and Christ’s innocence. I was following Satan and despising Christ. It is in that uncomfortable place I was offered the free gift of Paradise– truth that daily transitions me from building my kingdom to delighting in His.

Forgiveness and calling to repentance are both necessary for head turning transformation. Some  will reject and some will embrace forgiveness and repentance, but both are necessary to accomplish Jesus’ work of salvation in us.

 

In the War Room: Spiritual Warfare Momma Style

Psalm102:28The children of your servants shall dwell secure; their offspring shall be established before you.

For the first time in over two years I returned to the chapel to pray for our church youth group as they met. Coming to church has been difficult this year, and being around teenagers even harder. Not because I don’t love them, but because I miss Jonathan. From the first moment I said yes to Jesus, I have not battled a desire to escape church, until now. I began to withdraw from fellowship as soon as the casket closed. But in contrast to this struggle, God kept stirring me to pray for young men and women, some struggling very much like my son. I entered the chapel and felt the same blank, numb, weariness that I have become accustomed to these days in being in the building. I didn’t feel like being there, but God’s call was clear.

As I began to pray for guidance, as I began to pray for each of the students by name I became aware of a shift. It was as if the blinders were removed from my eyes and I began to see what I was actually praying for and against. Scripture declares that there is a spiritual battle not always seen by the naked eye. Discernment is needed and prayer opens the door for the spirit to guide us in our prayers.

13-15 Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing. Are you sick? Call the church leaders together to pray and anoint you with oil in the name of the Master. Believing-prayer will heal you, and Jesus will put you on your feet. And if you’ve sinned, you’ll be forgiven—healed inside and out.

16-18 Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t—not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did. The showers came and everything started growing again.

19-20 My dear friends, if you know people who have wandered off from God’s truth, don’t write them off. Go after them. Get them back and you will have rescued precious lives from destruction and prevented an epidemic of wandering away from God. (James 5 MSG)

There came a moment when my hands were raised, but I don’t remember raising them. I felt like Moses standing above the battle field and when his arms were raised, the Israelites were winning, but when his arms dropped they began to lose. I could see the battle playing out, and the enemy losing ground as I declared God’s truth over each child. Prayer is a powerful tool, scripture is able to slice open and reveal the enemy’s schemes. So why do I so often use it as a last resort?

Don’t grow weary in your prayers. Jesus didn’t pray to his heavenly father day in and day out because he was God, he prayed because he had limited himself to being a man! To fight the enemy’s schemes just like we can do, to stand firm while others fell away, Jesus had to pray. It was not a last resort, it was his weapon of choice. He taught us how to pray! Prayer puts a stake in the ground and says, “No further Satan!” Today I put a stake in the ground Lord, I state before God and man, I will be a watchman. I will declare your faithfulness to me, and trust that you will be faithful to our children. Will you be a watchman with me?!

Psalm 78:

1My people, hear my teaching;

listen to the words of my mouth.

2I will open my mouth with a parable;

I will utter hidden things, things from of old—

3things we have heard and known,

things our ancestors have told us.

4We will not hide them from their descendants;

we will tell the next generation

the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,

his power, and the wonders he has done.

5He decreed statutes for Jacob

and established the law in Israel,

which he commanded our ancestors

to teach their children,

6so the next generation would know them,

even the children yet to be born,

and they in turn would tell their children.

7Then they would put their trust in God

and would not forget his deeds

but would keep his commands.

Insomnia: No Match for Praise!

Job 42:1Then Job replied to the Lord:

2“I know that you can do all things;

no purpose of yours can be thwarted.

3You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’

Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,

things too wonderful for me to know.

After a week of insomnia it is a miracle that I have managed to accomplish quite a bit today. I look more like a zombie. . . maybe I should try to walk onto the set of The Walking Dead (I think I’d blend into the extras just fine). I have been reduced to crying out to God, day after day. Give me rest! May you sustain me! May you be enough for me! Provide just enough for me today!

Have you been reduced to nothing in your flesh? You have come to the end of what you physically can push through. Like Job we want to sit on the ash heap of everything that meant something to us, and curse the day we are born. Just as God showed himself to Job, he gave gentle direction today. As I worked on the breakfast dishes the Lord flashed images of things to praise him for, and as I did, I found the energy to accomplish what is in front of me. Now I must praise him in my sleep.

I’m Guilty of Passing Judgement

Colossians 2: 13When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.…

James 3:9With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.

James 4:12There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

“Who are you to determine who I decide to invite to my table?”

It is always strange to think, the prodigal son just as easily can become the older judgmental brother. But, that is exactly what I became as I struggled with my ex wanting a larger role in Jonathan’s life than he had previously attempted to have in 7 years. He wasn’t asking, he was demanding it. And the quote above are the exact words God spoke to me while I paced in the back of the church during a sermon on the Prodigal Son Parable.

“But, he is not even repentant!” Was my argument with God. There are so many people in this fallen world that it may be easy for us to pass judgment upon. Forgetting how much God has forgiven us. My response may be like yours to the horrid actions of Josh Duggar, Bill Cosby, and Jared Fogle. They are not even repentant Lord! When I hear the harm has been done to children, and for the record, I have been that child, well I–I want to cast the largest stone. That God died on a cross for these men, and for those who hurt me, is hard to comprehend. But he did!

In taking a look at almost all of the scriptural situations where Jesus gave forgiveness for sins, it wasn’t after repentance, it was before.

The adulteress woman–caught in the midst of her affair and no indication that she asked for forgiveness

The paralyzed man brought to Jesus to be healed–not looking to be forgiven, he was looking to be healed

The disciples–all would fall away as Jesus was being arrested, yet he chose them!

I think that our world has a very messed up, hypocritical and condemning perspective on sin, particularly sexual sins when it does harm to others, especially children. But, we hold those very same sins up as freedom of expression and dare I say rights when we think that it affects no one but ourselves. It is my body is our mantra! My thinking changed drastically when a second heartbeat began beating under mine. I knew that my drinking could do harm to him, so I stopped. Instantly I became aware that my actions were transferred to a baby who had done nothing to deserve the consequences of my sin. What was happening inside me was a microcosm of Christ’s actions for the entire world. But here is the kicker, Jesus pursued me before I hit rock bottom and finally cried out to him, not after.

While you and I didn’t even realize we needed him, Christ died for us. It isn’t based on our deserving it, it isn’t even based upon any of us ever getting grace figured out. He who knew no sin, became a sin offering because Josh Fogle, Bill Cosby , Josh Duggar, Karisa Moore, _____________, are loved by their creator.

What these men have done is clearly wrong, and they will be judged rightly by God. We too can clearly call sin, sin in order to restore those around us to a right relationship with God, but what we cannot do is cast the first stone. Only the one who knew no sin can condemn rightly. So where does that leave us?

  1. Remove our own logs (sin) (Matthew 7)
  2. Pray that God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10)
  3. Forgive as the Lord has forgiven us (Colossians 3:13)
  4. Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger (James1)

The bottom line is this: “Our lips must be governed by the law of kindness, as well as truth and justice.”–Matthew Henry

When the Devil Throws Things At You

1 Peter 5:8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

No one wants to be in the car with me. I get the craziest stuff as obstacles to dodge at 65 miles an hour. A large cooler . . . twice, a tire iron, bales of hay, a car, trash cans, deer, and on Wednesday it was ladders off a work truck. But, as someone reminded me yesterday, I was protected each time. So, riding in the car with me is the safest place to be!

How alert are we? Satan is bound to throw things at us when we are operating in faith! Do we take for granted the discernment of the Holy Spirit (our live in counselor), or deflate the power of temptation, or the greater power of God’s love for us? At least 4 times the enemy tries to kill Jesus before the cross, as a baby, just before he began to minister, and in the midst of a mob of angry people. How was the threat dodged?

  • Awareness of the Threat (Matthew 2:21-22)
  • Obedience (Matthew 2)
  • Knowing Scripture (Matthew 4)
  • Retreating (John 11:53) * Note, he didn’t stop preaching, just didn’t do it where the threat was heightened
  • Divine Intervention (John 10:39)
  • Giving Jesus our anxiety (1 Peter 5:8)
  • Resist by being firm in faith (1 Peter 5:9)
  • Follow the example of spiritual warriors  (1 Peter 5:9)
Suicide Didn't Diminish Worth

Pregnant Scripture

Cradled within the womb of death, scripture beats defiant.

Lean in, to discern hope’s unfolding;

multiplying cells of truth over pregnant centuries. Giving

breath to us, too often, dragged to the grave. 

Soothing empty arms,

with strong proof of life after life.

So soft, it is thunder in the vast

noise of doubt’s marketplace.

Firming

backbone to bow

to no man.

Resolving who knit whom together.

Renewing covenant with an empty

grave.

Our souls

swollen with

grief—for but a while.

Healing to Your Flesh and Refreshment to Your Bones

Proverbs 3:3Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
4So you will find favor and good successa
in the sight of God and man.

5Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
7Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
8It will be healing to your fleshb
and refreshmentc to your bones.

As I type the sun is streaming through my window, greeting me with the joy of my heavenly father. For this first year I have felt crushed by my circumstances. My goal of grieving with hope constantly weighed down by my lack of trust in God’s ways. Last night I turned a difficult corner. My sorrow, doubts and fears lay on the altar ready at last to submit to God’s will. He will produce glory from my son’s death. There is no more question mark. I can relax into his purpose because it is no longer at odds with my purpose. I want what he wants, not the other way around. “He is not a tame lion, but he is good.” (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) I can trust his goodness even if his ways are not my ways.

I cannot emphasis enough that this has come about through meditating on scripture. The verses that I have been reading since Jonathan’s death establish God’s sovereignty in my circumstances, his foundation of love, his goodness and that his will is done on earth as it is in heaven. Romans 8 helped me to determine that I want the Spirit of life to control me, not my sinful nature.

Now it is a matter of walking in the light of his path that he makes straight for me. He will show me where to go, and equip me to get there. Following his ways and leaning not on my own understanding will be healing to my body and refreshment to my bones.

Proverbs 3 My Role and God’s Role

Me

  • remember the love and faithfulness God has shown me
  • meditate upon examples of his character
  • be loving and faithful
  • love God with my whole heart, leaning on my own understanding results in half-hearted attempts
  • acknowledging God in all my ways leaves no room for selfish ambition, no maverick off-roading
  • remember that the results are his not mine
  • respect and honor the Lord’s sovereignty in every situation and see evil as opposing counsel

God

  • gives favor and success with God and man
  • straightens out my path
  • heals my body and refreshes my bones

It is Finished

John 19:30Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

“It is finished!” has been on my mind and lips since Friday. I hear it when I rise in the morning, I hear it when I stop abiding and start striving, and I hear it when I lay my head on the pillow. Jesus came to save us, and he stated that the salvation was complete. All you and I have to do is to believe.

There is not a single thing that you and I can do to add to that salvation. We cannot make another sacrifice, we cannot work harder, or be perfect in following the commandments in order to gain our salvation. He finished that work. How differently would we love, work, minister, and simply be present in our day to day lives if we embrace what Jesus completed on the cross?

“It is finished.” “Believe.” are repeated throughout Jesus’ ministry. (Luke 22:37, John 4:34, John 17:4, John 19:28, John 3:16, John 14:11 and many more) Those two phrases sum up God’s purpose in sending his one and only son. If you are anything like me, you may have a pattern of living, that even as a believer, does not reflect that we have embraced the cross. So we have a lot of ups and downs in our faith walk, as a result.

I was challenged to meditate on Jesus’ words from the cross, and the more that I hear them in my ears, my soul eagerly leans into, relaxes tense spiritual muscles, and is content with taking Jesus at his word. At the heart of believing Jesus is resting (abiding) in him. (John 15) Striving to save ourselves is a waste of time and limits the power of the Holy Spirit in us. My prayer is that we accept Jesus’ finished work and believe.

What’s in a Name?

Revelation 2:17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’

“Does God change our name in heaven?”, was a question asked last night during bible-study. This really got me thinking. Our name is written in the book of life, but what if the name isn’t our earthly name? What if it is the name God has given to us–a reflection of his love and delight in us?

I am convinced that names matter to God, just look how many he has. Immanuel (God with us), Adonai (Lord/Master), and El Emunah (God of Mercy) are just a few. God also changed the name of his chosen throughout scripture: Abram-Abraham, Jacob-Israel, Simon-Peter, Saul-Paul. Why? Because, these new names more accurately describe the character of the person and God’s active presence in their lives. God has a purpose for each of us, and I sure would like to be fulfilling his name for me on earth. Concerning Revelation 2:17, Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary states:

The new name is the name of adoption; when the Holy Spirit shows his own work in the believer’s soul, this new name and its real import are understood by him.

Beloved, you may have a name that does not accurately depict who God created you to be. We get a new name, reflecting his fingerprint on our lives and the depth of its meaning is just between us and our heavenly Father. How cool is that!

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