Friday, May 15, 2015

Daily Chronological Bible in NKJV Edition by B&H Publishing Group

B&H Publishing Group has provided us with some outstanding Bibles. If you are searching for a Bible you are to surely find the perfect Bible for you. I have been reading through the Daily Chronological Bible in the NKJV version. 

This is a really cool Bible. I was excited to receive it. I had always heard people speak about how they loved a chronological Bible. Well, now I understand why. 

This Bible is divided into three parts or acts. 
  • God's Plan For All People.
  • God's Covenant People.
  • God's New Covenant People
These three acts are divided into scenes, seventeen in all.
  • The first act is divided into three scenes.
  • The second act is divided into nine scenes.
  • The third act is divided into five scenes

For instance when you open the Bible to Act 1 you find three scenes. 
  • Creation.
  • The Fall.
  • The Flood
Act 2 begins with:
  •  Scene 1: The People: God Calls a Covenant People
  • Scene 2: Deliverance
  • Scene 3:The Sinai Covenant and Law
  • Scene 4: The Land: God's Place for His People.
  • Scene 5: Kings and Prophets

In each act we are given the Setting, Main Characters, and the Plot Summary. This Bible follows a 52 week reading program with 6 readings a week. There are color maps that are a great tool and an Index of Scripture Passages

I enjoy this Bible for many reasons. The first is that as I wake with coffee I can grab this Bible and begin with today's reading. If I were to begin at the beginning in Genesis I would find Act 1, Scene 1 Creation: The God of All of Life. Week 1/Day 1 readings begin with Genesis 1-2. Day 2 travels to John 1:1-3, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (vs.1-2). Now it moves to Psalm 8, Psalm 104, and on day 3 we pick back up with Genesis 3-5. 

On week 44/Day 1 we are on Act 3 Scene 3: Christ's Deliverance of His People. These are the readings for this day.
  1. Matthew 26:6-13
  2. Mark 14:3-9
  3. John 11:55-12:11
  4. Matthew 21:1-22
  5. Mark 11:1-26
  6. Luke 19:28-48
  7. John 12:12-36
  8. John 2:13-25
and now we are at Day 2.

See, in Week 41/Day 4 we begin with Matthew 5-7, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (vs.5:3). We then read Luke's account in 6:20-49. And we pick back up at Matthew chapter 8 in the next day's reading. 

It is my hope that I am not making this confusing, because it is so simple. This is why I love this Bible. You know how you pick up your Bible and read the account of Christ's birth in Matthew and then wonder what it says in the other Books? This Bible brings all of those scriptures together in one day's reading. It gives the reader a greater understanding and brings the Bible together in a way that makes it clear. 

Now when we reach Act 3 we have God's New Covenant People. It begins with Scene 1:
  • Christ's Coming.
  • Christ's Deliverance of His People.
  • Christ's Church.
  • Christ's Second Coming and Reign.
I find this Bible to be very helpful in placing everything in order. Scripture that matches scripture that gives me a precise understanding. This is a great Bible to read from alone or in coordination with a Study Bible. I believe in having every tool I can access to help me grow in my walk with the Lord. 

I have the hardcover version. It too comes in a paperback selection. Please head over to the site and check out this Bible. I think it's one you will really enjoy reading from on a daily basis. The readings are not long. You could easily enjoy your reading with coffee and even a friend. Then you have the entire day to ponder the reading. That's the whole idea, right? To ponder the Word! 

I'd love to hear your thoughts if you decide to purchase this Bible! Enjoy:) 

This Bible was a gift from B&H Publishing Group for sharing my review with you. 

No Place To Hide by Lynette Eason

I am a huge Lynette Eason fan! I've loved every novel she has written and I get super excited when she has a new release. This has been a great series. Here in the Hidden Identity Series she brings us the third installment, No Place To Hide

I invite you to check out my reviews for No One To Trust and Nowhere To Turn. You will want to read these in order. Yes, it's possible to read them as stand alone's, but reading them as a series will give you a more enjoyable read. 

Lynette pens novels that capture the reader's imagination. She introduces us to characters that we care about and provides us with vivid detail to the surroundings. She gives enough information that's needed, but still allows room for the mind to ponder. I love that! They are characters we can relate to on a certain level. Many of us have wondered, where we would turn or if there was one we could truly trust. And here we see that these characters feel like there's no place to hide from what's chasing them. As Lynette so brilliantly weaves this story we see that there is always a place to hide in the One who loves us mightily. 

I'm seeing that with this series trust is a main theme. Okay, can you imagine being on the run and not really understanding why? One of the main characters, Jackie Sellers, finds that a childhood friend is in need. She's in the position to help him, but is he being honest? Is he telling her everything she needs to know? In other words, can she trust him? She jumps in and gives aid only to find herself now in danger. 

Let's flip it now to the next main character, Ian Lockwood, is on the run. He's being accused of a crime, and trying to find his way out. Out of no where comes Jackie. The girl he has loved forever. She's willing to help, but can he trust her to help and not turn him over to the police? He takes a chance and together they find themselves in circumstances neither could have imagined. 

Here we have a novel about friendship and just what will one do for their friend. Jackie is ready and willing to help her friend no matter the cost. That's a great friend to have along side when trouble comes. Both of these characters have secrets. They have been out of touch for many years and much has happened to each of them. It's as though their friendship just picked up where they had left it years ago. 

We see many different ways in which love is given and trust is received. I love how Lynette entwines each novel with faith at the center. In this case the main character has walked away from God. She knows God. Has a relationship with Him, but things are complicated. She's a bit angry at Him. But through the twists and turns of this novel we see her reach for a new kind of relationship with Him. One that's built on trust. A no matter what kind of faith. 

This novel was a gift from Revell for sharing my review with you. 

Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of the Women of Justice series and the Deadly Reunions series, as well as No One to Trust and Nowhere to Turn. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. She has a master's degree in education from Converse College, and she lives in South Carolina. Learn more at

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Sparrow in Terezin by Kristy Cambron

Kristy Cambron is a writer that brings  present day together with late 1930 into 1940s history. Let me begin with this. 15,000 children were to believed to enter into Terezin. Fewer than 100 ultimately made it out. When I read those words it floored me. I knew very little about Terezin before reading this novel. As I was beginning to read I watched a PBS program about Terezin and it opened my eyes to a time and place we should never forget. 

This is the second book that Kristy Cambron brings us of her series: A Hidden Masterpiece Novel. The first novel, The Butterfly and The Violin was the most beautiful novel I have read in years. {check out my review}. It was one that I wanted to keep turning pages, but also one that I couldn't read without taking my time and absorb every morsel. This novel continues in that same beauty. If you are a lover of World War II history Cambron is your girl. What a gift she has in bringing past and present together in the telling of two stories and combining them so brilliantly into one. Her passion is penned within each page. 

This novel continues the story of present day with Sera and William. Now newly married we learn more of their story as Kristy so masterfully takes us back in time to meet Ka`ja Makovsky and other unforgettable characters. This novel comes to life as Kristy adds magnificent detail, describing not only the era, but the heart of each character. You are able to feel the emotion and your heart is left wide open to embrace every scene. I hoped and dreamed with these characters.

Once again the cover detail is beautiful and inviting. This is a novel you will love and embrace with tears. As I read this beautiful novel it gave me time to look within my heart at the graceful workings of our Master who is forever with us and leading us to the life He designed for us. These characters are memorable and will make an impact on the reader. We see faith grow and faith new blossom as those who live in their faith show the love of a mighty Savior. This is a truly unforgettable novel and one that you will share with lovers of great reads. This will be a classic for years to come. Before you read this novel I would suggest that you first read, The Butterfly and The Violin. It will give you a greater connection with the characters as we journey with them again. 

This novel was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you. 

Kristy Cambron has been fascinated with World War II since hearing her grandfather's stories. She holds an art history degree from Indiana University and has fifteen years industry experience as a corporate learning facilitator and communications consultant. Kristy writes World War II and Regency fiction and placed first in the 2013 NTRWA Great Expectations and 2012 FCRW Beacon contests. Her debut novel, The Butterfly and the Violin, was nominated for the RT Reviewers' Choice Awards' "Best Inspirational Novel" of 2014. Kristy makes her home in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Holy Conviction

As a Jesus girl I always want to magnify His name. I want to live in such a way that my life points directly to Him, but that isn't always so. Daily as I strive to seek Him I make a mess of things. You too? 

I'm never going to be perfect in myself. I'm a sinner in need of grace. Just like you I want to be the girl He is creating me to be. But that battle with the flesh is real as real can be. Whoever says that Christians are not attacked by Satan has gotten it wrong. In fact, I find the closer I grow to Jesus the more attacks come. 

The closer I grow to Him, the more I am able to see these attacks for what they are. Of course, Satan cannot touch my soul. I am sealed as an heir of the King! My soul is untouchable. My life therefore is not. Satan and his minions are out there wanting to destroy every possible opportunity and want to bring me down to a point where I no longer see Jesus in my life, but all I see is the unworthy girl who is no good. 

Recently I prayed that the Lord make me aware of any places, any strongholds, in my daily walk that needed removed. A few days went past and I heard the Holy Spirit speak to me and say, "Daughter, for only I am holy." There I was stunned before His words. "Lord, I know that You alone are holy." But He wouldn't give up. There was something He wanted me to see. Later that day I got it! Don't you love when you ask God to show you something huge and He makes Himself known? 

I was watching television and as I seen something that caught my eye I said, "Holy Moses!!" And there it was. I felt my soul move and I knew right there what He was saying to me. My heart was convicted. I had been using the word {holy} very loosely. Some of phrases included, "Holy cow!", "Holy crap on a cracker", and "Holy mackerel!!" I would see, hear, taste, smell, whatever that captured my senses and out would come phrases. I never thought much about it. That is until the Holy Spirit convicted me. 

He alone is holy. My Jesus is holy. There is nothing on this earth holy as is my Jesus. And in my words I was making other things holy in comparison without regard for His holiness. I can tell you that this broke my heart. I was before my Jesus, broken and asking Him to forgive me and to make me aware every single time these phrases escape my mouth. 

That is exactly what He has done! To others this may not be a big deal. You may be thinking, Rob, they are just words. But friends, I asked Him to reveal in me what needed removed or changed. To Him this is a deal. In my life this is a big deal. I have caught myself saying these phrases and immediately ask Jesus to forgive me and I too thank Him for making me aware. Just yesterday I was talking with my husband and started to speak the words, "Holy Moses", but before the words were out the Spirit caught my heart and guarded me. I smiled to my husband and said, "Whoops, I'm trying hard not to say those phrases", and I rephrased my words. 

What I want is to be obedient to my Jesus. I don't always follow in the steps He has provided. Oh, I falter so many times. My mouth gets ahead of me and before I have thought my words through there they go out of my mouth. My temper can erupt. I know you are there with me, friends. I'm not alone in my daily attempt to be the girl Jesus is calling me to be. Right now at this very moment I may be a bit closer and with those words I share a humble heart before you, knowing that in the next moment I can slip just as easily. See, I can't strive to be perfect. I could, but what a let down that would be.  What I can do is strive to be obedient to my Jesus. In that, the blessings will flow.

"I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
Philippians 1:6

Thursday, April 30, 2015

When Godly People Do Ungodly Things by Beth Moore

This book was written early in Beth's writing ministry. It was published back in April 2002. Loved the fact that I was now reading it in April 2015. I have admired Beth for years and her penned words have grown me in so many ways. It's wonderful to know that she is helping to shape me into who God has created me to be. 

In the introduction Beth shares that she was moved by the Spirit to write this book and it came together very quickly. I love the fact that Beth just doesn't thrown down words or use her thoughts. She relies on the Spirit to move her and to guide her pen as her passion for Jesus is revealed. 

When we think of seduction we automatically think of sex. There is so much more to seduction. Satan is king of seduction. What are we to do? Learn how to protect ourselves, build boundaries, and be aware of all Satan is capable of doing. 

As Christians we often think Satan can't touch us. That's not true. In one of my favorite chapters in this book, Beth brings to light how Satan asked permission to sift Peter and he couldn't touch Job without God's permission. Satan can't touch our soul once we are saved, but he can bring havoc in the strongholds where we allow him room in our lives. 

"Satan has to gain God's permission to wage an all-out war upon one of His redeemed." 

"Anytime we are loaded down with sin we are game for seduction."

"First, our weaknesses and areas of ignorance are huge vulnerabilities  to seduction, which can quickly lead to sins committed inadvertently."

"After catching his prey off guard, then the enemy does all he can to make the victim feel completely trapped, but as we'll discover, he can't keep up the facade indefinitely."

"Remember, he's simply after whatever works."

"Be very careful, however, not to dream of giving Satan more credit than he is due. While he is tremendously potent, armed, and dangerous, he is not the equal of the Most High God."

"At our strongest moments we are no match for him. The Almighty Three-in-One is the only one who can overpower Satan. We walk in victory Christ won for us only when we are "strong in the Lord and in His mighty power" (Eph. 6:10)."

This book is divided into three sections, The Warning, The Watchman, and The Way Home. In each chapter Beth brings the Word of God to the pages, shows us where we can become weak in our awareness, how to be strong in the Lord, and how we can live a life of hope and restoration. 

Something she taught me in these pages is that I cannot just cover up my past and pretend it doesn't exist. Satan knows my past and he knows just what to use to attack me today. I have to surrender my past and give it up to Jesus, trusting Him and believing in His redeeming love and forgiveness. 

"You need to know how to proceed from where you are now to where God wants you to go. You need to know that God is good and right. Just like mine and countless others, your own vision, perception, and estimation have failed you. You need the help of wise others so you can improve your sight and awareness. You also need to know how and why you took a wrong way." 

"You see, the very nature of a satanic scheme is that it is secretive and cunning. It is meant to trap the unsuspecting."

"Seduction is a from of oppression, of course, but it's a very sly scheme intended to catch us off guard, pitched with mind-boggling velocity from a direction we were not expecting. Seduction means the demonic trickery of a professional liar. If you'll allow me to put it this way, seduction is Satan at his best. He's looking for the trickiest means of getting inside our walls, and I doubt he considers anything a greater accomplishment than the broken wall of a devout believer."

This book is superb in every possible way. It's a book that every believer needs to read. There is so much highlighted in my book. It's one I will go back to again. Truly, this is one of my favorite books I've been blessed to read and review of Beth Moore. She teaches us how we can seduce proof our lives with Biblical knowledge, prayer, and allowing the Spirit to live within us moment by moment. 

This book was a gift from B&H Publishing Group for sharing my review with you. 

Beth Moore is a writer and teacher of best-selling books and Bible studies whose public speaking engagements carry her all over the United States. A dedicated wife and mother of two adult daughters, Moore lives in Houston, Texas, where she is president and founder of Living Proof Ministries.

Double Blind by Brandilyn Collins

This novel ROCKED!! Okay, Brandilyn Collins always gives the reader storytelling at it's very best. She grabs the imagination and pulls the reader into another dimension. I always LOVE her novels, especially her series, but his novel really had me pondering the thought of what would I be doing if I were the main character, Lisa Newberry. 

Lisa Newberry is a woman in her late twenties. Life has become unimaginable. Tragedy has struck over and over again in her life. She's lost, at the end of her rope. She wants to just give up. Trying to make it through another day seems to be too much for her. 

Here's the gist of the story, without giving any details away. She's depressed. Who wouldn't be after going through all she has been through! A new trial has come along and Lisa has been accepted to try this chip in her brain. It's a Double Blind placebo, hence the title. But hang with me. There's so much more to the title!

So, Lisa goes into all this blind. She has no idea what's about to happen. She's coming from tragedy and about to experience a whole new kind of fear. All she knows for sure is that she wants fixed and fixed now. So much goes wrong and for that info you will have to read the novel!! 

Here's why I enjoyed this novel so much. We are not at all unlike Lisa. We want a quick fix and when we are hurting and not sure how much more of life we can take we are going to do whatever it takes, whatever the risk, to get better right now!! 

I'm not sure I'd allow someone to place a chip in my brain, but I'm not in that position. There are all kinds of secrets going on beyond what Lisa is privy to. She thought she was living the unimaginable, but now she is really floating in the unknown and she is terrified, but that was the risk she was willing to take. She just didn't expect what was to happen next. She was too trusting of the people who were wanting her to do the double blind placebo. 

This is what Brandilyn does best. She makes the reader ponder. She lights the imagination and gives the reader room to take off on their own journey. Makes me ponder the idea of how many people would line up to receive the Mark of the Beast, how many people are so trusting and believe whatever they are told because they are in search of something that lead them out of their pain and bring easiness to life.  As a people we are so wanting that we are willing to do whatever, no matter the cost. Without our Guide and faith to lead us through the times that seem so far from hope we will continue to slip into a life of nothing more than a continued seeking in the wrong places. 

See, Lisa wasn't trusting God anymore. She went searching elsewhere for all she needed. After life hit her hard she was giving up on everything. Now she is looking for people who will believe her, but this unimaginable story unfolds she found herself in a place that is far worse. 

It is the one woman who she's been away from for a very long time that brings her to a place of faith and peace. Lisa has been desperate her life for something to make sense. As her journey unfolds before us we travel with her as she experiences the unexpected, but finds that God has never once left her alone. 

This novel was a gift from B&H Publishing Group for sharing my review with you. 

Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. She is a three-time American Christian  Fiction Writers Carol Award winner and has received Inspirational  Readers’ Choice and Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice honors. Brandilyn  and her family have homes in California and Idaho.

Dark Justice by Brandilyn Collins

Brandilyn Collins is the queen of suspense! She takes the reader on a roller coaster ride. It's fast, enjoyable, and you wanna get in line to ride again and again! 

This was a quick read for me. Once I started turning pages I was hooked! That's why she's known for her Seatbelt Suspense reads! 

She allows the reader to ride along on the journey. A front row seat to all that's up ahead. She has the gift of allowing the reader to embark on a mystery and one that isn't solved so easily. That's why the reader wants to continue turning pages through the night until the last page has been turned. 

I love how Brandilyn Collins brings stories to light that aren't far from the imagination. She allows the reader to ponder, what if..

Who knew taking a different route home could bring such trouble? That's where the story begins. With Hannah and her mother taking a road that isn't so familiar. Driving up on accident, the FBI at the door, and secrets that will unfold take the reader on a  journey into a world Hannah had no idea existed. Not only is her mother not safe, her daughter is in danger too. 

Oh, the limits a mother will go to keep her family safe! Hannah has no idea who she can trust, and is finding it difficult to hide from the trouble that has attached itself to her and her family. I LOVED this suspense read. I enjoyed the pace and the plot that you too will uncover as you pick up this novel!! 

This novel was a gift from B&H Publishing Group for sharing my review with you. 

Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. She is a three-time American Christian  Fiction Writers Carol Award winner and has received Inspirational  Readers’ Choice and Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice honors. Brandilyn  and her family have homes in California and Idaho.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

On Shifting Sand by Allison Pittman

Allison Pittman took me on a journey through the Dust Bowl, introducing me to characters that were vividly real. She goes below the surface of face and brings us directly to the heart of each character. We not only meet them, but are able to live with them through the storytelling that brings emotion to the forefront. On Sifting Sand takes us back in history to a time many today have not been introduced. 

This novel did take off a bit slow for me, but as I continued to read it made perfect sense. At the pace that this story flows allows us to connect with the characters and their emotions. This is a beautifully written novel. 

I love how the author brings to light the time of the Dust Bowl and the lives of this family who are not only facing the destruction of the weathering on land, but in the heart. When we do not build upon the Rock, shifting sand can take us to a place of dry and weary land. Just as the weather brings in storms, they can only prepare for what they see coming. In their lives these characters have gone through the motions for so long that the heart is left to discern life unexpected. 

In this novel we see what can happen when we allow temptation to turn to sin. Oh, how easily Nola's thoughts turned to sin. At a young age her mother died and she didn't acquire love and affection from her father. Her husband is a pastor. A man of great faith. A man who sees hope in everything. But Nola isn't seeing this great hope her husband sees. She feels alone. Her husband is affectionate and her children are a great blessing, but something is missing. 

Her husband's friend comes to stay. He arrives in a place where most want to leave. Without sharing too much of the story with you, Nola finds something in this friend, but it still is not enough. 

This is what I loved about this novel. Nola didn't feel she was good enough. That's where Satan entered and planted a stronghold in her mind. We see her battle with finding forgiveness and peace and learning to be fulfilled in life no matter where life takes her. 

Each of the characters in this novel are well balanced and are brought to life before our eyes. I found myself weeping for Nola. This is a beautiful story of finding that we are loved by our Jesus beyond our wildest imagination and there isn't any place on earth we can go where He isn't found. 

This novel was a gift from Tyndale for sharing my review with you. 

Allison Pittman has penned more than twelve novels, including her series set in the Roaring Twenties-All for a Son, All for a Story, and All for a Sister. Allison resides in San Antonio, Texas, with her husband, Mike, their three sons, and the canine star of the family-Stella. For more information, visit 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Calling on All Who Are Willing

Two friends take a hike through the woods on a Saturday afternoon. They are both loaded with filled backpacks. They brought everything needed for the hike. The sun is above them and the exploration ahead of them. But the unexpected happens. A storm erupts. The winds howl. The rains pour. The sun no longer shines above them. They find a small cavern in hopes it will bring them safety. 

This storm isn't going anywhere. As the lightening crashes and the thunder shakes they are thankful neither is alone. They have each other. These friends sit side by side, ready to protect one another. Each has brought along different items the days journey. One is carrying the drinks and the other the food. One has a flashlight and the other the first-aid kit. They put thought into what they would need for the day. But neither expecting the storm. 

Nightfall comes and the storm increases in strength. The path they took to the cavern has now collapsed as it was rushed with flashing water. Even if the storm lets up, there is no path to lead them back. Nothing looks the same as it did that morning they started out. Everything changed when the storm hit. 

They didn't pack for an extra day. Their clothes are soaked, their water gone, and their picnic lunch eaten. They snuggle in tight for the night. No stars to give light. Stuck. But not alone. Thank God neither is alone. 

Morning breaks and the sun peeks out beyond the cloud cover. The birds are singing. The break of dawn has brought them a new hope. Together they will find their way back. It may not be the road traveled, but together they will find their way. They have hours ahead of them. Trekking through these covered woods isn't going to be easy. 

The heavy rain had not only caused flooding, but slides that covered much of any path they once seen as clear. One friend slips and down she goes, crying out in pain, as now her ankle is creating it's own storm. The other friend lifts her upright, takes her pack on one shoulder and on the other her limping friend. The load of the pack is heavy as is the extra weight of her friend. They began this journey walking side by side and they will finish side by side. 

This is what friends do. They come to the aid of the other. They walk the journey, no matter how heavy the load. The love they share is a bond that cannot be broken. It's the love of Jesus that binds that bond. That three fold strand makes it strong and mighty. 

Sitting in Sunday school the question is asked, "Among you ladies who would give their life for their friend?" Sitting there expecting hands to rise, only one rose. This woman speaks and says, "If my friend was in danger there is no question." This woman didn't expect to see a class full of women sitting there with no hands raised. The next question, "Why wouldn't you give you're life for your friend?" One answers, "Well, I have a family to think about. I have grandchildren." Another, "My life is valuable." This woman who raised her hand was blown away as her friend, her great friend, wouldn't even think about dying for her.

So the question remains, "What lengths would you go to for your friend, your sister in Christ? We do what we can, but we do what's easy for us, right? There will be no backpack carrying for me. No jumping in front of a car to save my friend. It might cost me too much. I may have to give to much. Because in the end, isn't our life more valuable? 

As that Sunday school class sat there before their teacher and hushed lips, she asked, "If a car was rushing toward your friend would you push her out of the way?" Only one raised her hand. One in an entire class. As she spoke all eyes stared upon her. "Why wouldn't I give my life for my friend? I have family too. A husband and children. I love my life. But I love my friend. If I'm not willing to give my life for my friend, then my life doesn't mean much at all. My life is of no more value than my friend's life."

It was this class that woke up this woman to the reality that not everyone is in the giving mood. We give, but we give easy. We give until it costs us something. Until we aren't comfortable is when the giving ends where it began. 

Someone else can do it. There's another more qualified to help then me. I'm too scared. What if I get hurt? That's a lot of time to give and I have enough on my plate. Sound familiar? Just think if our Savior said, "Nope, I'm done here in the garden. There's no way My body is going to be hung on that cross for the world." He was willing. He gave ALL He had to give. Is any less expected of us who love Him? We can't expect from others what we ourselves are not willing to give. Of course, we aren't Jesus, but if we love Him, we must love others. 

What is the job of the church? Is it just to share the gospel? When the church doors open are the people to just file in, take a seat, hear the message, and go home? Aren't we to hear messages of hope, love, and faith? Being a Christian isn't attending church. Being a Christian is believing in the Savior. But it goes beyond just believing. It's suppose to be beyond the church doors, into the world, sharing love and giving of ourselves, not because we have to, but because we are so in love with Jesus, we want to serve with everything we have. This world around us isn't going to see much of Jesus unless we show them. We show the world who Jesus is through love. 

It's carrying that extra load. It's aiding that friend in need. It's giving until it hurts. It's realizing our life is only as important as the one next to us. Brothers and sisters stand up for one another. They band together when one is in need. We each have been given gifts, each extraordinary, each to be used willingly to further the gospel of Christ. His gospel is about love, giving, and sacrifice. 

Are you willing to carry the load? Are you willing to give until it hurts? If a friend was walking by your side and an out of control car was coming straight for them, would you even think twice to push them out of the way? 

In church we have prayer requests. We allow brothers and sisters to share of their need. We hear stories of God moving in unexpected ways. Friends, we have to go beyond the request. We have to move on their behalf so that need can be met. We can't sit and wait for someone else to give. I've heard people say, "That isn't the churches job. The church is suppose to preach the gospel. Not everything belongs inside church". Our job as the {church} is to love. Love is action. Love is coming together to find a way. It's living out the love of Christ until it hurts. It's not leaving one to the wayside. It's not picking and choosing to who should be helped. Name and wealth have no business inside the church. When we stop reaching out and serving we stop being the church.

We could be in our sister's very shoes the next week as unexpected storms arrive. What then? I can tell you exactly what. We would want the love and support of our brothers and sisters of the church. We would expect it, because that's what we would do for another, right? 

It's time we show up and act, not just speak up and sit idle. We do too much of that. We like to talk about what we would do, but when action is needed, where are we? We are busy doing our own thing and expecting others to step in and do what's needed. 

Every day we are given an opportunity to make a difference. Too often we let those opportunities fall to the wayside. The Spirit is to be our guide. He's our Compass in this ever-changing world of unexpected storms. 

Those two friends? They made it out. Half way through the wooded area there were others there searching. They were there to guide them back to safe harbor. Three days they were stuck in those woods trying to find their way out. They were exhausted, but they had One before them leading them to others who would give aid to their safety. 

That woman in Sunday school class has never had to give her life for her friend, but still today she knows without a doubt what she would do. When we have a Savior leading us, there's nothing to fear of the unknown, because He's already been there. 

When we love mighty, we give mighty. Where there is no love there is no giving. This world is filled with people unwilling to give beyond easy. God is calling for us to walk with Him, serve in ways we know isn't possible without Him. This is the church today. This is who we are called to be. 

We are to endure, to come along side by side, to give physical, emotional, and spiritual need to our sisters in Christ. If we don't love on one another how will the world see the love of Jesus? We aren't to just be there for one another in the good and joyous times. Not just those nights of laughter. But those nights when morning doesn't seem possible. When the load is too heavy for one to bear. For the person whose life is controlled by the Holy Spirit, this is the person who will go the distance, who will stand by another when all seems lost. In these moments of coming together we overcome weakness. The strength of many lifts up the weary soul. 

It takes courage to move on behalf of another. It takes trust in our Lord to show us the need and the provision. We can't always see the solution, but the Spirit is there to guide us if we will just follow. As the {church} we come together, each with their own gifts, prepared to serve, and willing to give. This is Jesus at work in us. 

When we make the choice to love on people, to give and to serve, it gives them courage to move forward. They aren't alone. They know without a doubt that friends will join in the fight. They will be there on the dark days when the storm clouds are approaching. They know that their friends aren't going to leave when it gets too difficult or too much is asked. This is when we truly see Jesus move in the church! 

"Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy." 1 Peter 4:12-13

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:34-35

"Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load." Galatians 6:2-5

"There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all." 1 Corinthians 12:4-7

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

30 Pieces of Guilt

We always point our finger at Judas with ease don't we? He's the one who kissed our Savior with dishonor. He's the one who deceived and betrayed our Savior. What a coward, right? I mean, did he even know the meaning of love and valor? What did brotherhood mean to him? Was it that easy to trade his Savior for thirty pieces of silver, the cost of a slave? We would never do such a thing, right? 

"While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, suddenly arrived. A large mob, with swords and clubs, was with him from the chief priests and elders of the people. His betrayer had given them a sign: "The One I kiss, He's the One; arrest Him!" So, he went right up to Jesus and said, "Greetings, Rabbi!" and kissed Him. "Friend," Jesus asked him, "why have you come?" Matthew 26:47-50

Judas is the bad guy we judge with anger. How could at one moment he break bread with the Son of man and the next turn him over with a kiss? A kiss was to mean respect and affection, but Judas turned it into hypocrisy. Something we never do, right? 

"Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that he had been condemned, was full of remorse and returned the 30 pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders. "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood," He said. "What's that to us?", they said. "See to it yourself!" So he threw the silver into the sanctuary and departed. Then he went and hanged himself." Matthew 27:3-5 

I've been pondering Judas. We like to throw him to the side and not really care about him, right? I mean, look what he did. But my pondering leads me to think we all can have a bit of Judas thick under our skin. 

Of course we don't really know what he was thinking before he decides to betray Jesus. We can know the temptation. We are all tempted daily in some way or another. It's how we act on that temptation that matters. What we first must understand is that God has all sovereignty. He knew what Judas would do this day. He had foreknowledge. He knows our past, present, and future. There isn't anything God is shocked about or finds unexpected. But what we must know is that Judas still choose his actions on this day. They weren't forced. No one made him do it. We all have free will. Judas could have changed his mind and fought the temptation he was facing. 

"The chief priests took the silver and said, "It's not lawful to put it into the temple treasury, since it is blood money." So they conferred together and bought the potter's field with it as a burial place for foreigners. Therefore that field has been called "Blood Field" to this day.Then what was spoken through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: They took the 30 pieces of silver, the price of Him whose price was set by the Israelites, and they gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord directed me." Matthew 27:6-10

Repentance involves a change in the way we think and act. It results in a change in lifestyle. Remorse may accompany the admission of wrongdoing, but it can also be present when nothing wrong has been done. It focuses on the consequences or effects of one's actions on others, but does not necessarily imply that those consequences were caused by wrongdoing. Judas was remorseful, but if he had been repentant he would have turned back to Jesus. So this is where my pondering sits and is stirring. 

"Jesus replied to them, "The healthy don't need a doctor, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Luke 5:31-32

Judas made the wrong decision. After he had kissed Jesus there was no going back. Jesus was going before the Sanhedrin. But Judas had the choice to now go back to Jesus. He had the choice to ask for forgiveness. This is where I think we can relate to Judas. Did he think there was no going back for him? Did he think he crossed the line of no return? No forgiveness and no love for him ever again? Did he think Jesus would not accept him because of his choices? Later we see Jesus and Peter come together after Peter had denied Jesus three times. 

"As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us." Psalm 103:12

Oh, the sins of my life. Jesus bore them all on the cross. On the cross He held them ALL! I wasn't even born yet, but Jesus held each and every sin of mine. He held all sin, past, present, and future, on the cross. This is why His Father could not look upon Him. It wasn't that He didn't love His Son. It's because He could not look upon the sin. 

"But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weaknesses, so that Christ's power may reside in me." 2 Corinthians 12:9

How many of us have thought that Jesus would never love us because of our pasts? How many of us have sinned and turned away from him with choices that took us in a valley we wished we had never entered? That is exactly where Satan wants us to be! Separated from our Lord and Savior. But friends, there's a better way than running. His sweet grace was waiting for Judas and it too us waiting for us.  

"The law came along to multiply the trespass. But where sin multiplied, grace multiplied even more so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace will reign through righteousness, resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 5:20-21

Friends, God's grace is ALWAYS bigger than our sin. There is nothing we do that goes unseen. He knows us by name. His love is bigger than our past. His forgiveness reaches beyond the depths we can comprehend. There is never a time in our life when we cannot go to Jesus. He wants us to come as we are. He wants to love us, to forgive us, and to restore us. 

Just what would have happened if Judas made the choice to go to Jesus instead of the tree and a rope? Just what if instead of turning away in his sin, he turned to the grace of Jesus? He still had a choice. But friends, how many of us have walked in the shoes of Judas? If we think for a moment we don't betray our Jesus we are wrong. We are sinners in need of grace. Our choices matter. That matter to Jesus. Can you see Judas running? Can you see his fear and his heart over his choices? He was remorseful of his actions, but he didn't turn to Jesus in repentance. Oh, how many of us our in such a need? Friends, our Jesus is waiting. He's waiting with patience and love for us to turn to Him and away from our sin. His love is greater than our sin. Oh, come sinner, oh come. All who are weary, come. (Matthew 11:28-30)

"Now I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because your grief led to repentance. For you were grieved as God willed, so that you didn't experience any loss from us. For godly grief produces repentance not to be regretted and leading to salvation, but worldly grief produces death. For consider how much diligence this very thing-this grieving as God wills-has produced in you: what a desire to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what deep longing, what zeal, what justice! In every way you showed yourselves to be pure in this matter." 2 Corinthians 7:9-11
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