Monday, April 30, 2012

Learning To See With New Eyes

"As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?"
John 9:1-2

How many times have we been here? We see someone with trials and difficulties and we wonder, "What did they do to cause such travesty?" We see a child misstep and wonder, "What in the world did their parents do?" How many times have we uttered the words, "Well, the Lord must be teaching them a lesson"?

The Lord does teach us through trials and circumstance. When life takes hold of us and tosses us like limbs thrown from a big oak and we are left with the sight of a tornado disaster, we should go to God with a humble heart. "Lord, show me. Teach me. Use me. Fill me. If there is any unclean, impure way in me, show me and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. Lift me up through this, so that you may shine. Give me Your strength, Your wisdom, and Your grace as I travel this journey."

We often make the mistake of just assuming it is something we have done. We look at our own life and make excuses, but we look at the life of others and that's where the assumption comes in like a twister. We look at them with wonder instead of grace. With that said, I too have thrown my own pity party and said, "God why? What did I do?" Instead I should be looking to Him and asking, "Okay God, what are You doing here and how can I be used of you to bring glory to the Father?"

As the disciples are standing in assumption, Jesus speaks gently to them. He is reminding them, it isn't about the circumstance, it's all about Him and how He can move and work through it to allow glory to shine. After all, He is bigger than any circumstance!

"Jesus answered, "It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the Light of this world."
John 9:3-5

Jesus wasn't saying that when night came His worked stopped, but the very opposite. He was saying that as long as He was on earth His work would go on and continue. His work is never done. He is always at work, even when all we see is circumstance. Jesus can not only see in the circumstance, but long past it. He sees those whose lives we will touch and those who will step in and touch us. He sees beyond earth and sees the heavenly gain. But that is the message here. We must look beyond the circumstance so that we can have sight that takes us from this world into the next.

This entire chapter can teach us so very much about having sight. I can be honest and say that I have been so blinded by circumstance. So blinded by the thoughts of, "I'm right and your wrong".

This young man was born blind. Jesus clearly states that this young man didn't do anything to cause this. Jesus doesn't create junk and He doesn't create mistakes. Why do we always look to our lives as if perfection is not in sight something must be wrong? Might we really consider what perfection is? I think we are way off on our vision of perfection. The only thing wrong here, was this young man couldn't visually see like those around him. But even before Jesus placed clay upon his eyes, there was something very special about this young man. Jesus knew this day would come. He knew they would meet and He knew sight would come to the blind. Even with our eyes wide open we can be so blind and miss so very much.

"Jesus heard that they had put him out, and finding him, He said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" He answered, "Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?" Jesus said to him, "You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you." And he said, "Lord, I believe." And he worshipped Him."
John 9:35-38

This young man is healed. His sight is made new and those who surround him now question him. They with their intelligence and all their stored knowledge can't bring themselves to believe. They are looking so hard for proof and the science of it all, they miss the miracle of belief. The Pharisees looked upon this young man as if he were ignorant. In just a few sentences this young man proves he is not ignorant or lacking in common sense, but it is these very men around him in need of sight.

If we are not careful we too can become like the Pharisees. Spiritual darkness is a blindness that can touch our lives and take over before we know it. Jesus was here to bring healing to this young man. He was here to bring sight and to be the Light of the world. He wasn't here to condemn him, nor place blame over his circumstance. With one touch He brought sight to a blind man.

"And Jesus said, "For judgement I came into this world, so that those who do not see many see, and that those who see may become blind." Those Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, "We are not blind too, are we?" Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, 'We see,' your sins remain."
John 9:39-41

Jesus came to save. He came to give sight to the blind. He gave sight to this girl who lived in blindness for years. Praise Jesus! I am still learning to see. Here Jesus is speaking of the sin of unbelief. When we have sight we can see our sin, but many times we are blinded by our own sin. In our lack of recognizing that we are sinners we can't understand we are in need a Savior. These Pharisees were filled with pride. They were tripping over their own knowledge. As my mom would say, "They were just a bit too big for their britches". Here we have the high and mighty. They thinking how much better and smarter they were. But next to them we have our humble Savior. We have the King of kings, teaching them through another humble young man, what having sight really is. It's seeing beyond yourself. It's believing when you can't see past today. It's being able to see past this world's idea of perfection and focus on the One who is perfect, who makes all things complete and works to create in us and through us miracles that leave the fingerprints of God.

"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."
Hebrews 11:1

Saturday, April 28, 2012

More Than A Prodigal

All through the night the Lord kept laying the prodigal son upon my heart. I can relate to this story so well. We have a few prodigals of our own. The Lord wasn't leading me to the son who left home, but in fact the father and his son who remains.

I love it when the Lord knows exactly what is churning in our hearts and just seems to whisper His word upon us so it washes over us leaving us with a new nugget of wisdom.

So, when I woke this morning, the prodigal was still on my mind so as my feet hit the floor this morning I was off to grab my Bible. I found myself in Luke chapter 15. Again, I have read this so many times, and God never ceases to give me one of the "aha" moments where you breathe in His Word in a whole new way.

Now, to begin the chapter the Lord begins with the parable of the lost sheep (vs 3-7). I notice here that there is no anger or bitterness in the Shepard as he has lost a sheep and is now leaving the others to find him. In verse 6 it says; " When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, rejoice with me because I have found my sheep." There is praise going on here! The focus isn't on why the sheep left or just where he was, only praise for his returning.

When we go down a little further to verses 8-10 it shares the parable about the lost coin. It tells us the woman searches for this coin and rejoices when she finds it (vs 9). Again she is rejoicing and sharing with neighbors and friends. She isn't beating herself over the head about how she lost it or who misplaced it, only praise of finding it.

Now when we go to verses 11-24 it brings us to the parable of the lost son. This son has a brother and has a father who loves him with all his heart. It doesn't say they have a perfect relationship. It doesn't say why the son is so angry, but just that he asks for his inheritance. Now when we receive our inheritance it usually means our parents are dead. So, was his father dead to him? This boy now has his inheritance that his father freely gives him. I notice that the father gives regardless of the actions. So a few days later the son leaves his father and brother, leaving behind his family all together. He just packs up and leaves, heading out on his own. He is searching for something. Well, we see how he lives unwisely. He spends everything he has and finds himself alone and hungry. Hungry for what? Not just food. I think he is hungry for life, for something to fill him and make him whole. Only I don't think he quite realizes this yet. This young man cannot find food or anyone to help him, so what does he do? He now thinks of his father, the man who has always been there, and is waiting his return. No matter what happened this boy still knows he can go home to his father. Did his father tell him that before he left in some way? Did his father share with him that his love is unconditional?

Whatever this boys motives were, he comes home. Upon his return the same happens as in the first two parables. His father is rejoicing. His father is going to throw a party, wrap him in love and invite friends and family to celebrate his return. The father doesn't walk away when his son comes home. He doesn't tell him, "I told you so." He isn't asking, "So, did you learn your lesson? Where were you? Where did you go? Why are you here?" He simply opens his arms and accepts the son that was lost and is now home.

But there is a twist here. The other son? The son who has been here the whole time, seeing what his father went through, and is not so happy of his return. Maybe he is happy, but just unsure. Maybe he doesn't want to feel the pain of losing his brother all over again. The son is angry for his brother's actions and doesn't understand how his father can be so forgiving and accepting of this son who left their family, left them wondering and waiting, to carry on their lives without him. They had no idea if he was dead or alive. I see this son as protective over his father and wants to make sure his brother's actions are true and he will not just bring a smile to his father's face again and leave once more hurting him again.

This is the perfect picture of unconditional love. Forgiveness. Acceptance. Redemption and the power of prayer. You know this father and son prayed for this one who left. Maybe this son even felt those prayers as he was off searching. He might think he is home for his own reasons, but I think God called him home. Can you see the look upon the son's face when his father just simply opens his arms? It's like he never left at all. He just wants to carry on like it is a new day and the past is gone. He isn't keeping score and stating all the boy put him and their family through.

This is you and me. This is our loving Savior every time we leave Him to go out searching on our own, only to return, knowing there is nothing better than to be surrounded by His love. It doesn't say how long this son is gone. It may have been a month or it may have been years. Either way there was hurt there, but more so there was forgiveness.

Do we have prodigals in our family? Yes we do. But I must ask myself, "Am I too a child prodigal?" Yes, I am. I wander from the Lord at times. Oh, He might be in my sights, but I am walking on another road all together. Down this road of me, I find there is nothing more satisfying than the love of Christ. He is where home is and home is always welcoming with love and forgiveness. This is a story of hope. We all search, we all lose our way and when we finally figure things out, God is there waiting with arms open wide. He is waiting for His children to come home. Some are off doing their own things, but He is still watching, waiting and anticipating their return. When we see the Lord for who He really is there is joy in heaven.

This story teaches us so much more than focusing on the lost son, but in staying focused on Christ through each bumpy road. It is not the circumstances that matter, it is the healing and letting go of the past. It is being ready with open arms when that child returns. I love when the father is speaking to his son who has been by his side. He says this to him; "His father said to him, look dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now is found."(vs 31-32) This father was so joyous in the return of his son. He didn't care of the past. He was only focused on now. Seeing his family complete brought instant healing for this father. I can see his tears of joy. I feel his passion as he sees his son walking toward home. I too can see the pain of this son who has been with his father. He is filled with anger, and resentment. He has watched his father fall apart, but his father shows him it's not about the past any longer. It is about forgiveness and healing. Making today the day we celebrate for we do not know what tomorrow will bring. So in this one moment let's find joy. The joy and peace we can only find in letting go and letting God.

As the Lord just washed this unconditional love over me throughout the night, leaving me with peace and hope, I pray you too will be blessed by this story of forgiveness and redemption. May today be the day you come home. Let go of yesterday and focus on today.

Don't Be In A Hurry Today

Have you ever found yourself waiting on God to move? You know, just to do something? Change the situation? Just maybe He is waiting on us!

We have no patience for waiting. We want it now. We pray and we want answers. We want to hear where to go and what to do. There are those times God just simply wants us to be still and wait. Wonder why? In waiting, we learn patience. We learn it's not all about us. We learn everything good happens in God's perfect timing.

So many times I have tossed up a prayer and expected an answer right then and there. Goodness, who do I really think I am? Who am I to demand from God? Oh the patience He has had with me. Praise God for His uncondisional love.

You know those slow cookers we keep in our kitchens? Oh, I love them. You toss everything in and you wait. It's called a slow cooker for a reason. It takes it's time. Nice and slow and then after a while the aroma takes over the entire house. It fills your memory with home. It allows you room to just not concentrate on that one thing, but move onto other things that need your attention. You put a lid on and forget about it, knowing and trusting in a few hours or maybe later that evening, your senses will prove right and you will taste of joy.

Those Sunday drives are driven nice and slow for a reason. It gives you an opportunity to take in all the sights and sounds around you. It seems sometimes the slower we go the more we see. We see things we've been missing. We catch the view that is brand new and what happens? A new joy comes. A peace washes over us. We take it all in and store it in our memory.

That butterfly that has been in his chrysalis for a time now has learned in that perfect time it's wings will open and he will take flight for the first time. Beauty comes slowly and naturally. It's not a hurried process and that's our problem. We want it in the fast lane.

I have sun tea brewing out on the deck this morning. My husband loves it and devourers it as I pour him a glass. The longer I leave it out to brew the better it tastes.

Friends, are you tossing up prayers today? Are you awaiting your answer? Do you move or wait for God to move? God hears your prayers today. He knows your needs and as you pray, He wants you to trust Him, to believe in Him and His perfect timing. While we take the time to pray, He takes the time to mold us in wait of our answer. He is preparing us and in His preparing He is creating perfection.

Don't think you have to be in a hurry today. Take your time. Walk with Him. Enjoy the scenery. Take in the view that surrounds you. Don't allow your restlessness to overtake your thoughts. Allow His peace to wash over like a warm ocean wave. Just take it all in and know without a doubt, that answer from heaven is coming.

"Be still and know that I am God!"
Psalm 46:10a

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Creating Beauty by God's Design

I have always wanted to take a pottery class. I see that God sent Jeremiah to take a class. Well, Jeremiah got to take a sneak peek at how a potter creates. How he tears down and rebuilds, to create something of beauty.

"The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, "Arise and go down to the potter's house, and there I will announce My words to you." Then I went down to the potter's house, and there he was, making something on the wheel." Jeremiah 18:1-3

You gotta love the lessons from God. He places us exactly where we need to be at exactly the right time. It's the next verse that really gets me.

"But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make." Jeremiah 18:4

What was up with the clay? Was it unworkable? Did it grow hard? If we are that very clay, in order for us to become what God, the Potter, is creating, we have to be workable. We have to be willing. We have to be that vessel ready for molding.

It is so important for us to be able to see our sin. Unless we can see our sin, can God really create new in us? We must be willing to be broken down and remade. Not by the world's standards. Not by our own standards or will, but solely by the will of God and wanting His will for our life. That takes a humble heart. A heart willing to see the flaws and realize without the work of the Potter, the clay is useless.

Just as Israel needed to repent during this time, we need to be ready and willing to repent. It's in our repenting of our sins that God brings growth. Through that growth becomes beauty. Through the beauty, God shines brightly.

"Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, "Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?" declares the Lord. "Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel." Jeremiah 18:5-6

God can create new in us. He can bring forth beauty from even our darkest sin when we humble ourselves.

"Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert." Isaiah 43:18-19

God delivers those who call upon His name and trust Him.

"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation." 2 Corinthians 5:17-19

"But now, O Lord, You are our Father, we are the clay, and You are Potter; and all us are the work of Your hand." Isaiah 64:8

It is my heart's prayer that I humble myself and realize I am nothing without my Lord and Savior. With Him I am everything and complete. It is in His hands that I find peace and rest among this crazy world. A place that is not my home. But while here, the Lord is sending me to the Potter's house. There is much for me to learn. There is growth for me as I become who God has called me to be. For me to do so, I must lay down my own tools and rely on God's molding. I must allow Him the control over my life. It's in that control that I find total peace and solace in Him. Who else would I trust more than the One who created me? Praise God, He isn't finished with me yet. There is still molding to do.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

You Missed A Spot

I remember when our children began washing dishes. They tried with all their might, but they would still miss a spot here and there. I can recall my baby girl saying, "Momma, it's all clean now." Well, the outside was clean, but the inside still had spots.

We can sit down at a restaurant and notice if our cup is dirty. Maybe our fork isn't spotless. Our plate may have a smudge of some unidentified remains. What do we do? We sure don't drink or eat out of those dirty dishes. We ask for new ones.

Our problem doesn't so much lie with wanting things clean as it does with noticing just the outside. We tend to do that to people, don't we? We see the outside and see all that needs cleaned up. Forgetting that Jesus is the One who cleans us, washes us in His grace and covers us with His mercy, to make us white as snow.

It's easy to see the outside, especially when it's the first thing we notice, and the first thing we judge. Do we really judge a book by the cover? You betcha. Some of the best books I have read, have had covers I would have never chosen, but after reading the book, it all became clear. The cover fit perfectly.

If we are not careful we can become like the Pharisees. We can make those first assumptions just by the outward appearance of man, instead of looking beyond that, into the heart and soul of man.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisees, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also."
Matthew 23:25-26

We become so preoccupied with the outer perception of people, we forget to just take a step back, take some time, and get to know the inside. We are all different. We are all unique. Created by the same God. Let us remember, He doesn't create junk. The same blood that runs through my veins, runs through yours. We are descendants of the King of kings, Lord of lords. We have a mighty heritage.

Of course we don't know what Jesus looked liked. We can imagine his dark skin and lean figure. I wonder what people saw when they looked upon Him. Did they see the perfection before them? He was unlike any other, but in many ways, so the same. He was God in man form. He saw the heart of man first. Why do we have such a hard time doing so? Is it our human nature to judge from that first meeting? It's not our human nature. It's an ugly habit that we have picked up along the way. It's prejudice embeded in the hearts of man. Shame on us. Shame on me for looking at the outward of man instead of the inner heart.

Sure, we can say our outward appearance is a reflection of what is inside. Yes, as Christians we should hold ourselves to a higher standard. But can we judge others by that same standard if they do not know it? I'm sure in my teen age years people looked upon me in my Ozzy Osbourne shirts and Led Zeppelin music and thought, "Wow, this young girl needs help. She must be trouble waiting to happen." Hm. Shame on me or shame on them? I didn't know Christ when I was a teen. I now look back and think, "Really, Ozzy Osbourne?"

"I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well."
Psalm 139:14

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you;"
Jeremiah 1:5a

"But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."
1 Samuel 16:7

That broken and lost girl of long ago, trying desperately to find herself, was loved by a God she didn't know. He was molding and creating in her, readying her heart to accept Him. He didn't care about my clothes or the color of my hair. He saw in me the girl, the woman, He created me to be. He took His time with me, so in His perfect timing, I would be ready.

"But now, O Lord, You are our Father, we are the clay, and Your our Potter; and all of us are the work of Your hand."
Isaiah 64:8

God has a way of removing what is not appealing to the heart and revealing what is beauty to the soul. If we do the changing we miss something spectacular. If we allow Him to do the changing, He will reveal in us, perfection. Just like a metamorphosis of a butterfly, He too takes His time and creates in us who we are to be in Him. It's through Him that we find who we are. Not the world. Fads come and go. Change happens on a daily basis. It's up to us where what direction that change takes us. Change can either bring us closer to Christ or take us further away.

Remember, Christ drank from our cup when He was upon the cross. He chose to take the dirty, the ugly, the ash, and bring it to a beauty only He could create. Grace is for us all. May we not look to another and judge them on their appearance, but take a few moments and simply get to know the heart. It just might be in those few minutes of our time that a life can be changed forever. It just might be our life changed by stepping out of our box and remembering God's grace in the moment of first glance.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Throw Out Your Desire For Perfection

It's spring cleaning time and one thing we need to throw out is our desire to be perfect. Oh, how I have ridden that horse and fallen off a thousand times. We reach for perfection only to fail. What is perfection and where do we find it? Our Savior is perfect. Through Him we are perfected. Ah, now that makes everything better, right? Well, it does until we forget and try to saddle that horse of perfection again.

We try so hard to be loved, to be liked, to be well, perfect. We want to to be that everything for everyone and we simply cannot. Why do we have that desire? Our Savior is the One who we need to lead others to. He is the One we need to seek. He can  handle any Goliath that passes by or camps out in our living room. Here's the thing. It's okay to say, "No". Oh my, it's a shocker, I know. How dare us say no to someone, but friends, we cannot be everything to everyone. That is not our job.

So, what is our job? To have a relationship, a personal relationship, with Christ. That's what He wants from us. He wants to be invited in. Not just on Sunday, but on everyday. He wants to have church with us on a moment by moment basis. Think about that for a minute. How often do we think of Christ? He thinks of us every second of every day. That's pretty amazing. Don't ya think?

We want to be perfect moms, perfect wives, perfect friends. We want our bodies to look perfect. We envision our home as being perfect. We want to look and feel perfection, but for us, what is perfection? I think perfection is allowing our flaws to show so Christ can shine through them. After all, isn't it all about Him? He can bring beauty from ash. He created us with His own hands. He knows every detail about our lives. You know, those details we keep secret from everyone else.

When we surrender to Him, I mean totally give ourselves to Him and Him alone, He moves through us to complete HIS perfection. When we allow ourselves to simply be His, He creates moments in time for us to allow Him to shine. Those circumstances we think are ugly and imperfect? He can use them as opportunities to shine! Those bad days where the clouds are overhead? We are too quick to think the clouds have won out, my friends. The Sun is still shining! Sometimes it's those very clouds protecting us from the harm to come.

In being a parent to five children, I learned a long time ago, I was no way near perfect. Oh, I wanted to be. I strive to be, but in my mountain climb to achieve perfection status, I messed up big time. In our motivation to reach perfection we lose a part of ourselves. We miss out on the Holy Spirit. He is our gift. Our treasure to behold. It is the Holy Spirit that can set us free of trying to hold on tight to reaching perfection.

Why not just allow God to be God? First, we must give up control. I must giggle at that as I pen the words. We only think we have control. In surrender we find peace. We find beauty. We find time to breathe and allow God to move us in ways we only dream of. In fact, with God doing the leading, He will open doors we never imagined possible.

So, just hold on to your hat. Loosen those strings. Open the windows and feel the breeze today. Say yes, when God calls you to say yes and say no when you know He is directing you else where. When we say yes to everything we are not leaving room for someone else to step in and take action for Christ. Here is a tip. It's okay to ask for help and better yet, to ask for prayer along your journey. We are to stand together. We are to band together as sisters and brothers in Christ, allowing God to lead the way, as we give up our idea of perfection and take hold of His.

"Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always."
Psalm 105:4

"For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you."
Isaiah 41:13

anything (the prayer that unlocked my God and my Soul) by Jennie Allen

Jennie Allen is a new author for me. She not only has written, "anything", but has created and penned two studies. Stuck and Chase. Studies that I would love to do!!

I opened the pages of this inspirational book and was floored by it's beauty. It's profound. It's lasting. It's powerful and yet gentle. From beginning to end it simply empowered my heart to know Christ more.

Are we willing to give up anything for God? In giving up are we losing the battle or are we gaining the victory? Oh friends, this beautifully written book shows us how to gain the victory by giving anything and everything to Christ.

"Anyone can get to heaven-no matter how messy his or her life. And by this same token, anyone can be kept out-regardless of all his or her fancy goodness."

"Our story began long before we prayed. The night we uttered the words was just a step in the process of surrender. But it was an important step. God wants to be invited in to lead our lives, for your heart to truly stand before God and say, "You have me. Do anything with me." That is a bold, beautiful move. Continuing to mean it daily as his will unfolds will prove even more powerful. Ask him to show you where he wants you to pour out your life and gifts and resources."

I could go on and on sharing my favorites of this book. Jennie pours herself into this book and shares her own life with us so that we can see perfection is not what we are after. It's simply a relationship with Christ. Surrendering to him allows growth in us as the Spirit moves.

I would say, this book would be a great read for a Sunday School class, a gathering of women to share, or just simply you and God. I devoured every page and am praying, anything for You, God. Anything.

This book was a gift from Thomas Nelson for it's review.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Truth About The Lordship of Christ by John MacArthur

If you love John MacArthur's teaching, you will enjoy this book. For me, I choose to eat the meat the throw away the bones. I will share a few quotes from the book that I did not agree with.

"It seems reasonable to assume that if God loved everyone, He would have chosen everyone into salvation. Therefore, God does not love the non-elect."

"God loves whom He chooses. He does not love everybody."

"We are redeemed not because of anything good in us, but because God chose us unto salvation. He chose certain individuals and passed over others, and He made that choice in eternity past, before the foundation of the world."

What I took away from this book was learning to be a disciple of Christ and following Him with every fiber of my being. It's not about me, but ALL about Him.

Here is a quote that is spot on.

"Sanctification is the continuous operation of the Holy Spirit in believers, making us holy by conforming our character, affections, and behavior to the image of Christ. Justification is a one-time event; sanctification is an ongoing process."

There are a great many things in this book that are so awesome and can lead us to a greater relationship with the Lord. For me, I just don't agree with every statement. Again, MacArthur leads with passion and shares valued information that can help us become the child of God we were created to be and have a close and personal relationship with Christ.

This book was a gift from Thomas Nelson for it's review.

Seal Of God by Chad Williams with David Thomas

This book is simply amazing! I love how Chad shares his testimony. He shares the ugly and the difficult truths that we are an imperfect people. He too shares the beauty of what God can do and how He can use us. But first, He must empty us of all self and that is where we find Chad. We see his growth, not just as a young man, but as a Christian, becoming the man God has called him to be.

I enjoyed learning so much about the Seals and reading his account of all he had learned. When I finished this book, I handed it over to my son, who is praying about joining the Navy,  and said, "This is one you need to read". My son is opposite of me. He hates to read, but I can tell you, he is devouring this book. It is one every young man and woman should be reading. It contains valuable life lessons for growth. We can't find our true self, until we look to Christ for who He is through us.

Praise God for men like Chad who are willing to not only talk the talk, but walk the walk, and share so others can learn to let go and let God.

This book was a gift from Tyndale for it's review.

Chad Williams is a former Navy SEAL, having served his country proudly from 2004-2010. Now engaged in full-time ministry work, Chad uses the training and experience he gained as a SEAL to help communicate the Gospel to others. Chad and his wife, Aubrey, live in Huntington Beach, California.

Friday, April 20, 2012

We have Winners of Beth Wiseman's, Need You Now

Thank you all for leaving a comment and joining in to win a copy of, Need You Now, by Beth Wiseman. I LOVED every chapter of this book. I just know you will too.

The winners are Mary Ellen Ashenfelder and Anna Sanford!! Congratulations to you both. I will be contacting you via email to grab your snail mail and I will get these gems out to you quickly for you to enjoy!

Happy Reading and blessings!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Are there stones in that, "Amen"?

Have you ever sat in church and heard someone shout out, "Amen"? Well, I'm one of those amen folks. I seem to say it all the time when I hear something wonderful or poignant, or just meaningful. You know, something that touches your soul. I love hearing, "Amen". It's not only saying you agree, but more so that the Holy Spirit is moving in our heart.

I say it in my car, at Walmart standing in the aisle, at home and at church. I suppose I'm not really that quiet girl everyone thinks I am. At times I should probably be more quiet. I seem to say what others are thinking. I just don't feel the need to hide it. But there are those times I need to bite my tongue and those in which I need to speak a little louder. Finding our voice is important in finding who we are in Christ. Our voice is important.

Funny thing about those amens we shout or quietly add. If the subject of the sin is homosexuality  our amens get hearty. Divorce, they are just as loud. Throw in all those, "big sins", and we can all say, "Amen", but what happens with those sins that are hushed? You know them, just as well as me.

The backbiting, the gossip, the betrayal of friendship, the pious one sitting in the pew, thinking they are the super Christian. The sin of simply wanting to be seen. The big head. Those who know of needs and never add a hand. Those who we never walk across the pews to greet because they have offended us. Not encouraging people in the ministry because of jealousy. Not wanting to sit next to someone because they are of different color or maybe they just don't appear friendly. Assuming, judging, and most importantly, the looks we give others. Oh, there may not be words spoken, but a look can say a thousand words.

It seems when these subjects are spoken about there is a great hush. No one wants to admit them. So, here we go. I have been there in each of these circumstances. Guilty as charged! It's easy to say, "Amen", to a comment spoken about a HUGE sin, but what about those no one really speaks about?

Are you ready? There are no HUGE or little sins. Sin is sin and here's the kicker. We are ALL sinners. We cannot be more of a Christian than another person. We can't out do Christ. That sin we think we would never do. Never say never. I have learned that the hard way. We point our fingers at others and think we know so much, when in reality we don't know much at all. Why are we so eager to want to charge others? Shouldn't we be looking inside our own heart? Doesn't change begin within? It doesn't begin from the other side of the pew. We actually have to reach in our own heart first and admit that we are a sinner. Once then, well, the world looks different. At the foot of the cross we are all sinners in need of grace.

Inside that amen is there grace? Is mercy flowing? Is there compassion and forgiveness? I can't help but wonder how God reacts to those amens of mine. There's hope for me yet. I am a work in progress.

We shout, "Amen", against drinking and smoking. But what about over eating and chew that is found in the cheek? We say our hearty, "Amen", about music and movies, but what plays in our car and where do we find ourselves on Friday night?

We find murder at the top of the list, but what about that anger harboring in our hearts? Why do we seem to tear one another down instead of encouraging one another in the Word with God's love? We do this all the time to each other. Where is the love we speak about?

We all have those pet sins. We take sin and place it on a measuring stick. Well now, that a number 5 and that's closer to a 10. Goodness, we measure ourselves against others. We measure ourselves against this world. The only thing we should be measuring ourselves against is the Word of God. But if not for the grace of God, there go I.

Let's stop measuring one another. In fact, let's stop saying, "YOU" and begin saying, "Me". I have found I can reach the youth I teach more by simply sharing the Word of God and sharing my heart, instead of saying, "You should or you shouldn't". Might we be bold enough to share our own story of pain from sin? Might we be bold enough to share the consequences of the choices we have made? Even more, may we be humble enough to show how the grace of God has changed our lives for the better. Now, there is something to, "Amen!"

"For everyone has sinned; we fall short of God's glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins."
Romans 3:23-24

"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has give us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love."
Romans 5:3-5

"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Romans 6:23

"Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on Him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
Romans 10:12-13

"For the commandments say, "You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet." These and other such commandments are summed up in this one commandment: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God's law."
Romans 13:9-10

"Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. So lets stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall."
Romans 14:12-13

Blue Moon Bay by Lisa Wingate

I love this cover! I love Lisa Wingate. She is that Southern Bell writer for me that takes me on vacation. Who wouldn't want to go to Moses Lake? She allows us to not only discover new places, but who we are inside. It's through her stories that life becomes a bit more transparent. We begin a journey of learning who we really are. I simply love that.

The currents are rough at Moses Lake when she arrives. She is living in the unexpected and ends up receiving all that she should have expected from God. This is one of those journeys of uncovering the truth. Sometimes taking a trip back is just what we need.

At Moses Lake we can learn that friendships, romance and family can all seem one way on the surface, but when we dig deeper, past all the rumors and memories,  we find that what we thought true is not reality. Those folks we had troubles with can grow to be our closest friends and those of the past can often bring us to the person we have been created to be. That person was just hidden in the anger and bitterness, waiting to be freed.

You are missing out if you have not read a book penned by Lisa Wingate. I have enjoyed my time spent at Moses Lake. I know you will too.

This book was a gift from Bethany House for it's review.

Lisa Wingate is a popular inspirational speaker, magazine columnist, and national bestselling author of several books, including Tending Roses, A Month of Summer, and The Summer Kitchen. Lisa and her family live in central Texas. Visit

Monday, April 16, 2012

Special Delivery by Kathi Macias

Friends, Kathi Macias, is one of the most gracious and talented writers I know. She writes more than a story, she pens a message of hope. She brings passion within her words and stirs your heart to do more and be more for Christ.

In her latest installment of her, "Freedom Series", Kathi takes us on a new journey into a world many ignore. Most don't even realize it's happening and sadly, it's very true. Sex trafficking is heartbreaking and an evil of all evils that prevails in our world today. Not just our world, but in our own communities.

We meet Mara once again and the family who saved her from tragedy. We too meet new girls. Girls who will change your life as you read their story. Fiction, but very real. I must tell you, this was hard for me to read. I loved the hope it brings, but my heart aches for those touched by this evil. You cannot read Kathi's words and not realize this is happening today. Somewhere, today a child is being touched by this evil that needs to be stopped!

It's a story filled with hope. A story where God is very much present and moving in the lives of those willing to be His vessels. It's just heartbreaking to picture this happening in our world today as we sit in our comfortable homes, sipping our morning coffee, another young child is being kidnapped and held in slavery.

I applaud Kathi for penning such passionate and life changing stories. This is why God gives us gifts. So that we can use them for His glory and honor.

I have loved every book, I have been blessed to read, penned by Kathi. This series is no different. Excellence in story writing. This story will captivate your heart and bring you to your knees for those touched by this evil.

This book was given to me as a gift from Kathi Macias for it's review and is published by New Hope.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Oh my, what a bite!

I am still sporting a nice little band-aid on my finger from last week. Seems my little Daisy loves Puffs Plus. See, I have been sick now for three weeks with Whooping Cough. Yuck! It hasn't been fun. I have gone through tissue after tissue. My nose is feeling it too. But my sweet son purchased me the little gems with lotion in them and boy, they have done the trick!

Not only did Daisy attack my box of tissues I had on the bed, but after I threw them in the trash, she decides to sneak it and grab them out of the trash. Double yuck! So, here I am coughing my head off and trying to get Daisy out from under the bed, before she chokes too death on an overload of tissues.

She darts from one side, under the the bed, to the next. I get the idea to sneak across the bed and reach my hand under the bed and grab for them. Ouch!! As my hand went for the tissues, she went for my hand. I missed the tissues and she got a chunk of my finger.

Now, I must tell you, I can take pain. I did not take this well. I was rolling around on the floor with tears flowing. Felt like she had crushed the bones in my finger and no one likes to see blood!

What do I do? I pick up the phone and call my hubs who is on his way to Pennsylvania. I'm not sure what I thought he was going to do, but just hearing his voice made me cry even more. Daisy had never bite me before. That was so out of character for her to do that to me. I wanted to be angry with her. I would have liked to throw something at her!

I didn't throw anything at her. She knew from my tears I was hurt. She was hurt. Her heart was broken. She knew as soon as she chomped down she had done wrong. I knew I shouldn't have stuck my hand in where it didn't belong.

This reminded me of why I don't like cats. When I was a teenager, I was at my sister's house. She had this big, beautiful cat. I loved this cat. I was always petting him. I will never forget the day it happened. My sister had this coffee table with a glass top. The cat was under the table. (Okay, maybe I just have a problem with reaching under things!) Oh, he was under there, just purring away, as I was petting him. The next thing I know, that cat has run off and I have blood pouring from my arm. It happened so fast I didn't know it happened until I felt the wretched pain. That cat tore my arm wide open. I still have the scar today.

From that day, I have never trusted cats. You might even say I have a little fear of them. Do you fear a bite? Sometimes they come from places we never expect. Sometimes that one little bite gets infected and causes quite a lot of trouble.

It just made me think of how often we get bitten by others who are really not meaning to take a chunk out of out us. We just happen to be in the way of the offender. Am I as willing to forgive others who bite me as I am Daisy? That answer even surprised me. I'm not. I think I just might hang on to that anger a little longer.

We reach our hands in at times where our hands are not needed and we pull back a scar that will stay forever. We are humans who make mistakes. We take a lot out on others don't we? Having a bad day? Bite. Not get your way? Bite. Things just not quite perfect in our little world? Bite. When we don't feel good, we let others know. The thing is, hurt people, hurt people.

We can be walking along minding our own business, maybe trying to help another or just simply being kind and we pull back a nub after out of no where we have just had a chunk taken out of us! What are we tempted to do? Bite back. Oh, the times I have done that. You too? It's easy when your finger is throbbing and your trying to figure out what in the world just happened. Your left wondering, "What did I do?" In all those cases, we must remember to love. As hard as it can be, love is that healing agent that brings calm.

We must be willing to forgive. We must remember not to stick our two cents in where it's not wanted or needed. Be watchful of where we place our hand and our heart. Treat others as we want to be treated. Be quick to forgive, even when we don't hear the words, "I'm sorry". I think sometimes forgiveness is more for us than the other person. Anger doesn't settle well in the heart.

Just as my arm healed, my finger too, will heal. Once we are bitten it breaks a trust, but there is an unbreakable bond between us as humans. What is it? We are all sinners in need of the same grace. We are not always the one getting bitten, but in fact, we can have a hearty bite, as well.

May we remember to be gentle with one another. Forgive and allow healing to take place. We might be able to add a band-aid. Sure, it covers up the ugly bite, but there underneath that band-aid, is where the healing takes place.

" The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us."
Psalm 103:8-12

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."
1 Corinthians 13:4-7

"Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."
Ephesians 4:31-32 


Thursday, April 12, 2012

"Finding Our Way Home" by Charlene Ann Baumbich

Sometimes it's in our brokenness that we find the greatest joy. If not for that need of mending, we would have missed out on a an opportunity of receiving God's grace. In, "Finding Our Way Home", we see a charming story of opposites coming together to create wonder. You wouldn't think these two characters would interact as well as they do, but they are just what the other needed.

I really enjoyed this story. It  flowed so nicely. Sasha felt as though she was losing everything, but found grace through an unexpected friend. I love how the story allows us to see how God can bring beauty from ash. I was moved at how the author brought these ladies together and they bonded through mending hearts.

The main character Shasha has to overcome her bitterness and anger. I love when she realizes just how much she took for granted and now is overflowing in gratefulness at the smallest tasks. Funny, how God can do such HUGE things through the smallest of movements on our part.

This is a well written story that leads us to God's hope and His grace. There is no sweeter place that really finding where home is and these characters show us when we surrender and let go, God shines His light on us and warms us in the sweetness of His presence.

This book was a gift from WaterBrook Press for it's review.

Charlene Ann Baumbich is the author of the Dearest Dorothy series, Stray Affections, and Divine Appointments, as well as several nonfiction books of humor and inspiration. She is also a popular speaker, an award-winning journalist, and lives with her husband in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.

Misplaced? You can find it in God.

Have you ever walked into a room and forgot why you went in there? You know when your doing laundry and you have one sock and cannot seem to find the match? Your trying to find the right shoes to wear with your new outfit, and just cant find your size in the pair you want? Your in a crowd of people and your child lets go of your hand. You turn around and they aren't there?

Have you ever felt any of these feelings as I have? My heart feels so misplaced right now. When your missing someone so much and you want and need them in your life you feel out of sorts, as if you are missing a piece of yourself. Like a puzzle your putting together and you can't find that last piece. A card game you want to play and you have lost two cards. I am that deck of cards that has lost two. I need them back to make the deck whole again. Things happen in our lives that we don't expect. Things that we are not ready for. Choices are made. Decisions are set. Our  heart is  hurting. We are left wondering where God is in all this mess.  You want to fix it and have peace now, but  just how to you fix something  that is out of your control?

Just like when your on vacation. Everything is going  wonderful and then you wake up and realize your not in your own bed. Your ready for the comfort of home. When you miss someone so badly it hurts, how can you heal that hurt? That empty spot in your heart that so needs to be filled again?

Do you ever wish you could just go back in time and know whats coming? Can you  really prepare for pain? We seem to think a do-over would work, but would it really if we can't control how others move and think?  I think that's it, when we are out of control, we simply see it as a disaster. But  God sees so much more.  He sees an opportunity for greatness.  He sees a plan before us that He hopes we  will seek and follow. 

Every time I see a mother and her daughter, I seem to feel lonely for mine. Some people say time heals all wounds. I'm not so sure that is true. For me, time makes me miss them that much more. As I walk down the hall I see their room empty. I don't hear their laughter coming from their room. The table has two empty spots. Nothing is the same. For sure, not me.

Many people give you advice,  and its wonderful advice, but no one knows what you are going through unless they have been there, and walked in your shoes. I think at times you just want to hear someone remind you, "It's going to be okay."

I have those days where I lay it all down at Christ's feet, and give Him control. But then I seem to pick it right back up again and hang on to the pain. Maybe because that is all I have let to hang on to. I have those days where I just wish I could find that sock and remember why I walked into that room. I have learned to pray and pray and pray. God gives me those moments of joy and  I can laugh. But there like an ache in your heart that still burns. 

Many people have these great big families and are so close. They have huge  dinners all the time and gathering here or there. At times I wonder if they take that for granted  or if they really know how blessed they are. That was my family so long ago,  and I long to have it back again. Families are a precious gift from the Lord. Take each moment and relish in it. Make room for laughter  and mistakes. Don't take one moment for granted  and share each day with a smile and an I love you. Give grace and mercy to one another and have forgiveness at every corner. I believe and know God will bring my family back together under His fold,  I  just long for the day to come.

"O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me."
Psalm 91:9-11

"A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all;"
Psalm 34:19

"Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and 6 my God."
Psalm 42:5-6

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11

"The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;"
Lamentations 3:25

Friends, I first wrote this post, May 31, 2009. My family was going through the struggle of a lifetime. I wasn't sure if I would ever feel peace again. All was out of sorts. But during these years since I penned this post, God was at work. He wasn't only at work in my family, but in me. He used that time to grow me. He showed me just how real He is and how ever present He is in my life. He is our Restorer. He is our Redeemer.

I love going back and seeing posts throughout the years where I thought the storm was going to last forever. The pain was so deep and the well too deep for me to dig my way out. I felt lost and misplaced just like a sock with no match. A mother's heart cannot be at peace when trouble is mounting with her children.

Friends, you can find peace. You can reach solace. We can't control every circumstance. We cannot change others. We have to understand that God is at work. He hasn't left us. One thing I have learned is the fact that there is no perfect.

If you feel misplaced today, continue reaching for God. Know that morning will come and you will be able to look back with a new gratitude and a new understanding in God's hope. We can be empowered in Christ. Rely upon His promises. They are unchanging and fill us with hope for a tomorrow we not yet see.

Could it be an angel?

Has something ever happened that you knew an angel of the Lord was with you? Maybe you have seen an angel? Do we know if we have seen an angel, really?

My husband has told me the story of when he was driving over the road, he came to a truck stop and in the front of the shop there stood a man. This man held a sign asking for help. As my husband came to him, he said he felt the hairs upon his arms begin to stand. He gave this man money, and the stranger said to him,"Thank you my brother in Christ." My husband was not in the store very long, and came out and that man was no where to be seen. He said there was no way he could have walked away that quickly. He believes he was in the presence of an angel.

My Sunday school class is filled with some amazingly giving women. One day we were speaking of homeless people, and whether or not we give. One woman stood out to me with her grace and compassion. She said she always gives money to the homeless. Her reasoning was the fact that she doesn't know their circumstances and it is not for her to judge, but to give. I thought this was beautiful. There is a verse that is just amazing. Hebrews 13:2 states this; "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels." How awesome of God to send His angels to us?  In our daily lives we do not to know if we are helping an angel or if we are helping a stranger in need. The question is, should it matter?

I believe if we knew we were helping an angel we would empty our pockets, knowing it would please God, but for us to give to another for no reason, do you think we would? I know I have given at times to men and women standing on the corner. I have heard others say, if they can stand on the corner all day, they can get a job standing all day. Sadly, I am sure I have said these words too. I know there are schemers out there getting rich from others compassionate giving, and that is totally wrong. But do we have the right to judge those asking for help? Do we know them? The point is, do we care to know them? It's easy for us to look down on others, isn't it?

Of course, we must use good judgement. Maybe we could offer to buy a meal instead of handing money. Offer a job for pay. Pray with them. At least acknowledge them as a human being. May we not be too quick to judge. With the way the world is today we can be one paycheck away from being on the same streets, asking for the same help.

In our churches we need to be aware of the needs in our communities. We need to be that outreach for Jesus to shine. We are so blessed. I am so blessed and I know my hand should open a bit more easily. Why are we afraid to give? There is nothing material we have on this earth that is more important than the person standing next to us.

May we open our hearts and our pockets. May we give what we can and not expect something in return. Just maybe we could learn to give until it hurts. It's easy to give a coat when you have twelve in the closet. We need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. We have it too easy. Goodness, I have it way too easy. There is always more we can do. Lets open our lives to our communities. Open our hearts to those around us so they see nothing but the love of Christ flowing through us.

We don't know what has happened to them throughout their lives. What war they have been in, what illness they now have that totally takes over their minds. Many of those on the streets have had much, and have lost much. We are not to judge them, for it could be me on that corner just as easy. If I was homeless for some circumstance, and I had my children with me, I would pray for someone to reach out and help us.

Give when you feel led to give, and not have the attitude that they can help themselves. For how many could be angels called from heaven to see if we are really being the christian we claim to be? In Matthew 7:12 it says this; "Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the prophets." In Matthew 25:35-40 it tells us this; "For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me. Then the righteous will answer Him, saying Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? and the King will answer and say to them, Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me."

Did you catch all the capitalized I's and Me's? These verses are  of those that we must search our hearts about. Whatever we do to other people, we in turn do to Jesus. If we knew we were doing it to Jesus we wouldn't be doing some of the things we do. We would treat Him with all love and respect. That kind of changes the whole picture when we look at His words telling us about entertaining angels and when we hurt others we are hurting Him. As we love others, we are loving Him.

Lets change the way we think, and focus on Jesus, and know that He loves us, and for that love we should be treating others with that same kind of love. The next time we see a stranger in need or someone hungry, may we allow our focus to remain on Jesus and really ask, "What would Jesus do?"

Our motives are so powerful. They really are. At times when others are watching, we are all about helping. But what about when no one is watching at all? What about those times when credit isn't coming our way? If we are honest with ourselves we know that center stage is a nice place to be. We like to think people really know the good we do. But does what others think really matter? If we are concerned with the popularity of serving in openness, we need a heart check. We need to be that vessel who serves not hoping for grand gestures nor basking in the limelight of giving.

"A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor."
Proverbs 22:9

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Matthew 6:19-20

"But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked."
Luke 6:35

"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
Luke 6:38

Dear Heavenly Father, open my heart to give graciously. May I give until it hurts. Change me to look more like You, Father. Help me to want to give to others. May I not question the need, but be willing to be empty myself for You. Use me so that I may bring glory and honor in all I do for you, Lord Jesus.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Every Knee

On Easter Sunday, my heart was mesmerised in God's Word. I wasn't able to attend church and that just felt wrong in every way, but I can say, I had church right there all tucked in warm and cozy as God spoke to my heart.

I'm in the Book of John. I am reading about Christ and the coming day of His crucifixion. I get to chapter 18 and I am taken back in time. My eyes are seeing like never before and my ears hear the sounds of footsteps.

Jesus is here in the garden. His disciples surrounding Him and there stands Judas before Him as was predestined. Jesus knew what was coming, but did Judas really understand what he had done?

Something catches my attention like never before.

"Judas then, having received the Roman cohort and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. So Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and said to them, "Whom do you seek?" They answered Him, "Jesus of Nazarene." He said to them, "I am He," and they drew back and fell to the ground."
John 18:3-6

Do you see it? I had missed it all this time. All this time I was picturing Jesus, His disciples and a few soldiers, along with Judas standing in the forefront. Oh, how wrong I have been. That was not the picture at all. The Roman cohort and officers from the chief priests to the Pharisees were of many. History searches and tells us that it could have been a thousand men on foot. Not just on foot, but carrying torches and weapons. What did they fear? Did they fear this One Man? This God no one believed in? What was it about Him that had them on guard? Did they really think He would escape? I think these arresting officers were unsure of themselves. They didn't feel so mighty standing before Jesus.

He offers to ask, "Whom do you seek?" He wasn't hiding. He wasn't running. He was facing what was to come. Here in a garden of beauty. Surrounded by men He had grown close to, He again was taking the lead.

Can you hear the birds chirping? Was the wind of soft bellows this day? Was the sun out bright or were clouds overhead? In all this commotion there was still peace. God was still in control and nothing was going to stir that.

Here in these verses we see these soldiers all bow to the knee! After Jesus announces, "I am He", they ALL drew back and fell to the ground." John 18:6

They knew! They knew without a doubt it was Jesus before them. It doesn't go on to tell us what happens to these soldiers. It doesn't share if they came to faith this day, but what else could it mean? In bowing to Jesus they were stating, "This is Lord Almighty before us on this day!" They weren't forced to bow. It doesn't say, "Only a few bowed", it says, "All".

This stirs my soul. It brings fresh tears. It brings a new vision that I have missed all this time. I know of the passages  that state, "Every knee will bow and tongue confess", but I had missed this some how. This  happened before the death of Christ! Every knee before Him bowed. That should set our hearts a blaze!

"For it is written, "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall give praise to God." So then each one of us will give account of himself to God."
Romans 14:11-12

"For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
Philippians 2:9-11

Jesus didn't tell these officers to bow. They were not forced to move, but they did. ALL bowed. At the sound of the voice of our Savior, these men knew they were standing before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. There is one like Him and never will be again. They were not here to worship God. They were here to capture Him. What were their thoughts now as they were humbled before God? Did they sleep well after this day? I wonder if peace came over them as Jesus once again shined His love before all mankind.

"I have sworn Myself, the word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back, that to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance. They will say of Me, 'Only in the Lord are righteousness and strength.' Men will come to Him, and all who were angry at Him will be put to shame. In the Lord all the offspring of Israel will be justified and will glory."
Isaiah 45:23-25

Each day may I bow before my Lord and Savior, worshipping Him and giving Him praise through my life in all ways. May I seek Him in new ways and know without a doubt that one day this world will know Him. This world will sing Hallelujah and bow at the sound of His great and mighty name. Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior to ALL, whether this world chooses to see Him or not. It doesn't make Him any less real. May we move to point this world to Christ, our Savior, through our words and actions. The day of His return is coming. Are you ready? Lets get ready together for this great day!


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