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Archive for the tag “faith”

Persist with Joy!

So the message this past weekend was to count it all joy. All the struggles, trials and tribulations are for a reason. God wants to take us from Point A to B – from where we are to where we need to be. He is developing in us a greater faith. Faith always has to be put to the test. Heaven is for the faith-filled believers; the ones who endured to the end. We never like to go through the storms in life. We are so anxious to get out of them before we learn the lessons. But Book of James tells us to stay the course and count it as joy. The testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:3-4).

In my readings this past week, I learned of the Wright Brothers tenacity. I read of the struggles in Auschwitz through Viktor E. Frankel’s Man’s Search for Meaning. And in The Greatest Salesman in the World, I am contemplating “persist until you succeed.” The theme this week is persistence or perseverance. You never know when the next step will lead you to the promise. It’s always right before you. The trouble is we give up before we find the answer. It’s always just around the bend.

I was intrigued by the Wright brothers’ determination to fly. It was all they thought about. They persisted until they succeeded. They went through many years of tweaking their design until it proved right through all their experiments. Time after time, they focused on getting it right. If this worked this time, how can it be made better for the next version? During that same time, many others tried to develop plans for an airplane. Some were close, but they weren’t close enough; they never sustained flight. The Wright brothers focused on the birds. They saw how a bird used their wings to fly. The brothers worked their designs in accordance to how nature works, and the airplane came to be in a very simplistic manner.

Viktor E. Frankel’s book gives his account of the struggles behind the walls of the concentration camp. As I was reading about his fight to live, I wondered if the lucky ones were the ones who were taken to the gas chamber right away. They didn’t have to endure the harshness and horrendous circumstances in the camp. In his account, Viktor wrote about the ones who lost hope and gave up. They died right before liberation came. Viktor lived for three years behind those walls; barely surviving on very little food – a small bit of bread and watery “soup” each day. They worked in snow and ice with no gloves or coats to keep them warm. Some had shoes with no laces or no shoes at all. I am reminded of the depravity of man when man has no soul. But Viktor survived; he made it to the end of the war and saw liberation day.

We are told in 2 Timothy 4:7, Paul fought the good fight; he finished his race and kept the faith until the end. Paul lived a life of testing. He endured the beatings, the shipwrecks, and various hardships. He stayed the course. After his conversion, Paul was told all that he must suffer for the sake of the Gospel. And he did it. He was the man for that hour – to get the message rolling through the known world. His tenacity brought the message to you and me. He introduced the Gospel message to the Middle East, Asia and Europe. And it spread like fire. He fought the fight so that we could keep it to ourselves. No, that’s not right. He did his work so that we could do ours.

We have our own battles to fight. We have our own hour to shine for Jesus. Our faith needs to be pure. It has to be tested and made sure. Like the refiners fire, the dross needs to be removed so that our faith is purified. When we suffer, we actually identify with Jesus. He took on our sin and shame and endured the cross for us. He suffered for us. So we shouldn’t be surprised when we too have to suffer in this life. It will either draw us closer to Him or it will drive us away. This is the testing of our “soils” to see if we have good soil or the word was sown in rocky soil; when persecution comes, we fall away. Faith has to be sifted. The rocks have to be removed. It’s the only way to know for sure where we stand. When we endure until the end, we succeed in obtaining the crown of righteousness. When we count our trials as joy, we keep the end in mind – the crown will one day be ours, if we persist. So, persist; it builds character in us and gives us the hope for liberation day. It’s coming – count it as joy!

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4

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In the Center

In my last newsletter, I sent out a challenge to the readers – to grow in godliness in 2015. I like to encourage them in their health goals. However, I realized most people know how to get healthy, but they just don’t do it. One of the things we need in order to obtain any goals is self-control or discipline. Maybe the area that needs work is our health or maybe its finances or even to help grow in our spiritual life. All these things though require discipline or self-control. Those of us who have the Holy Spirit in us already have everything we need to accomplish our goals. We are given self-control as a fruit of the Spirit. But why don’t we see greater success in our yearly “resolutions?” We give up way before we accomplish many of our goals in life. In my opinion, we just don’t allow the Holy Spirit to work in us to become the men and women God has created us to be.

One of the things I would like to accomplish in 2015 is to memorize scripture. I am terrible in this discipline. I can memorize numbers without really thinking too hard on them, but words are hard for me. I would also like to grow in my spiritual life. Each year I want to see a difference over the previous year. I know I cannot become the woman God has designed me to be staying the same each year. I don’t know if I particularly like how God grows us though. God likes to take us through those difficult places in order to grow. God takes us through them – He does not leave us there! There is always another valley to cross; another storm to conquer; another pit to climb out of. But it’s always with the help of Jesus and His Spirit that gives us a way out.

I want to be in the place God wants me to be in order to grow. As Pastor Steven Furtick (Elevation Church) explained in his New Year’s Eve message (on Genesis 26), we need to be able to get into the “flow” of the Holy Spirit. We might have to dig out a few wells to be able to let the water flow again. There may be areas in our lives that block the Holy Spirit from working in us. This is something that needs to be examined closely and let the Holy Spirit reveal those blockages. Last year, I know the Holy Spirit was working on my blocked wells. I had some digging out to do. I am not finished with the process, but I am much further along than I was. I want 2015 to be successful in God’s way. I don’t know what that looks like right now, but this is something that I want Him to reveal to me. I don’t need more information – I need more revelation!

One of the points the Pastor made was “we cannot fulfill our calling in our comfort zone.” We need the challenge in order to grow. Muscles are only developed when they are stressed. Faith is grown when we take risks; when we are in that uncomfortable place. The enemy would love to block the flow of the Holy Spirit so that we will not accomplish what God has in mind for us. We let the enemy win when we fold too easily! I want endurance. I want security in His presence with me in the battles. Do I really want to grow if that means God is going to place me in those difficult battles? Do I really mean what I am asking God for – His will to be done? The amazing thing is when I am finished with the battle, I will see His blessing. I will see God’s glory in it. It will be worth it in the end.

One of the verses that I really want to memorize is Isaiah 41:10. This verse was given to me a few years ago. God was beginning a new path for me, and He gave me this verse. This verse also encouraged my Mom when she was facing her battle with cancer. I know that God has a plan in all that we face in this coming year. And it’s very comforting to know that God goes with us and helps us in the middle of whatever we’re facing. We will be in the center of His flow when the wells are dug out, and the Holy Spirit is working through us in those difficulties – it’s for our good and for God’s glory!

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

God’s Gift

Christmas is here. Wow – how did it come so fast? Are you prepared? In Galatians we are told in 4:4 that when the time had fully come Jesus was born. God gave us the greatest gift we could ever ask for. He gave us His Son in human flesh so that we could come to know the Father. Revelation of Jesus changes the way we view our image of God. I must admit I have a rather small view of God sometimes. I don’t normally worry, but there are times when worry creeps up on me. In that case I am not trusting God. I must not believe God can handle my problems. In truth, I have a heart problem. The thing about our hearts is that we follow the thing that has our hearts. I have recently heard several sermons on the matter of worship. We are made to worship something. Worship is a response to revelation. Worship is the overflow of our hearts. The Christmas story is full of responding to the message with worship.

Mary responded to the angel in humility (Luke 1:38). She responded to Elizabeth with a song of praise, rejoicing and glorifying God (Luke 1:46-47).

Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John the Baptist, heard Mary’s voice and responded in a loud voice of praise for the one who was carrying her Lord (Luke 1:42). The baby John leapt for joy in Elizabeth’s womb at the sound of Mary’s voice (Luke 1:44).

The shepherds who were given the announcement of Jesus’ birth went to see Jesus and returned glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen (Luke 2:20).

Simeon who had been waiting on God’s promise to be fulfilled, took Jesus in his arms and praised God for the salvation of Israel and the light for the Gentiles had been kept true to the promise (Luke 2:28).

The wise men traveled great distances to find Jesus. They were overjoyed to find the exact location of Jesus and bowed down to worship Him (Matthew 2:11). They brought their best for Him and presented their treasures to Him.

God gave us such a wonderful gift in Jesus. What could we possible give Him in return? What does He want for His birthday gift? I can only imagine it would be our praise and worship of Him. It would be our heart full of joy and gratitude for the wonderful things we have seen and heard. After all, what else could we possibly give to the One who created everything? All our works are nothing in comparison to what He has already done. Nothing has been accomplished that magnifies God’s glory like the life of Jesus. But is worship enough for God? Shouldn’t we be doing something for Him too? I think it all begins with the proper respect for a glorious God who loved us enough to send His one and only Son to save us from our sins (John 3:16). When we get the right perspective, everything flows from that response to what God has revealed to us.

Pastor Jimmy Carroll (Journey Church) said about worship “the greater our perception of God, the greater our worship.” We cannot in our own natural response worship God the way we should. It is a supernatural response. He is the source of our worship. Louie Giglio (Passion City) said that the cross is the epicenter of worship. When we get the perspective that Jesus came to die for our sins – to bear our cross – then we will understand true worship comes at the point of the cross. When our hearts fully understand the sacrifice Jesus made for us so that we could have eternal life with the Father, we will finally be able to worship God. God’s gift of Jesus should be received with great joy – our hearts leap within us for our salvation has come!

And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

Liar, Liar

Have you ever told a lie? Has someone ever told you a lie? You might have answer yes to both of those. I know I did. But what’s worse is we believe the lies we tell ourselves. Last week, I mentioned the movie Frozen and the famous song. The icy queen tells a big fat lie in that song – well, I think it was a lie she told to her own heart. She sang that she was going to “let it go” and she sang she liked the cold anyway. Personally, I get it; we make excuses that we can believe so that we can live with the decisions we make. She was hurt, lost and alone. The decision seemed like a good one at the time. And she believed it was for the best. But was it really?

I am leading a group of women through the Daniel Plan (by Rick Warren). In session four, Dr. Daniel Amen speaks about how the thoughts we have affect our health (physical, spiritual and emotionally). His point was to capture those thoughts and ask – “Is this the truth?” If it’s not the truth, then let it go. (I know; I am carrying this song way too far.) The thoughts we have can harm us. Dr. Amen is a brain specialist. He says there are chemical reactions to our thought life. When we have positive thoughts, the chemical release is a feeling of pleasure. The negative thoughts are toxic. How true is that? Negativity kills our good moods!

How many times do we hear something over and over and start to believe it’s the truth? Scripture tells us that Satan is the father of lies. He is speaking his native tongue. Why do we let him speak to us in his own language? Why do we believe him? I think it’s because we don’t recognize the truth of God’s word to be The Truth. We are to think of the things that are noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable (Philippians 4:8). These are the things we are supposed to capture, not the things that keep us bound up in that negative place. The verse before this one, says that the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds for those of us who are in Christ. I love the picture of putting on the helmet of salvation – part of the armor that God gives us to protect our thoughts.

I don’t know who coined the term, but we need to get rid of our stickin’ thinkin’! We need to dismiss those lies that we hear in our hearts. Our own hearts will lead us astray. Our hearts will deceive us. That’s just hard to believe, but it’s true. I can look back over my past and see where heart has told me something that I believed for years. I didn’t reconcile it to the word of God. God said He made us in His image. However, we can believe aren’t worthy. We can believe we are bad people because of all the things we have done and said. There maybe things in our past that is bad. But the truth is: that God sent His Son for us even when we were so far from Him. God said He loved us, even when we don’t love Him.

I remember being in a bar (in my drinking days) and a total stranger came up to me and told me how beautiful I was. I laughed and everyone around me laughed at the drunken woman. A few days later, I was in another bar in another town, and a man did the same thing. This time, I was the only one who heard it. I was taken aback. I don’t remember what else was going on at that time in my life, but I was far away from God. I think that was God using them to tell me He loved me even when I was far from Him. He saw me as beautiful even when I couldn’t have been further from the truth of it. He never moved; I did. And when I turned around, He was right there waiting on me.

He loves us; He never lies to us. We just need to believe in His love. And He will never lead us to wrong thinking. Capture any thought that does not reflect His truth and dismiss it as a lie from our enemy.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

Saturday

I am writing this on Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The day when nothing happened. The day between fear and faith. During my quiet time, I thought about the disciples locked in their houses living in fear. Jesus was gone. I am sure they didn’t understand what was taking place. They had yet to receive the Holy Spirit; they didn’t yet have the understanding so they were still clueless on this day. They didn’t have the whole story at that point, even though it was foretold in Scripture and even Jesus said it on numerous occasions – I will be raised to life on the third day. But in the midst of their grief and their fear, they didn’t remember all the teachings of Jesus. No one had written it down yet. Here they are shut up and worked up.

I can look at Scriptures and wonder how the disciples missed it, but I am too much like them. I live in those Saturday times between fear and faith. When fear overtakes my understanding of what Jesus has taught me. When my faith is still weak, and I can’t see a thing. I know – faith is not by sight. I understand it but in the midst of the circumstances, I just don’t seem to have that full faith that Sunday is coming. Jesus said it so I should believe it. The disciples ran away. Me too, at times. The disciples had to see for themselves in a few hours that Jesus wasn’t in that tomb; what He said is true. He is alive. He has risen. But on this Saturday, the darkness is still there.

I think on this particular Saturday morning, the skies are overcast and the rain has been hit or miss, I have the sense with anticipation of a new beginning even when it doesn’t look like it right now. I think of the promises of God that are yet to be fulfilled. Yesterday, I was reading Revelation 22. It is the hope of what is to come. Jesus said in Revelation 22, “I am coming back.” He said it three times in that chapter alone. It hasn’t happened yet. It’s still Saturday waiting on the promise to be fulfilled. Three times is significant. I have the hope of that coming. I have faith that will become sight one day. I don’t know if it will happen in my lifetime or not, but either way, I will see it one day!

On that day, Sunday will be glorious just as it was when the disciples laid eyes on their risen Savior. Can you imagine the joy they experienced when they saw Him for the first time? Can you imagine seeing the nail scarred hands? Can you imagine looking in His eyes and seeing the love that must have been evident? What a glorious day when we too will see those nail scarred hands! What a glorious day when we look into His eyes and see the love that is meant for all people but His focus is on each one of us. But on this Saturday, why wait until Sunday to believe in the promise? I think we should live in anticipation of it. We should live in faith and celebrate it now. His love endures forever – even now when the rain is falling, and the skies look bleak. His eyes are focused on us, His beloved. Fear nothing. God is good and keeps His promises. Yes, Jesus is coming back. Praise the Holy One of God, the One who died for all. And praise the One who defeated death for all who believe in Him!

Jesus went on to say, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.” “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:16,33

Finished!

Jesus said it from the cross – (it is) Finished! Even in the smallest details, God spoke it and it was done. From the very beginning, God spoke and what was spoken was done – the stars, the heavens, the seas, and everything in between. Nothing is outside the tip of His finest paintbrush. He painted the picture of Jesus Christ through His every Word, and He became all that was spoken. Every detail is painted by the Master, but most fail to see His hand. Most of us are too blind to see. Most of us are dead to live freely. But Jesus said – it’s finished. Nothing else needs to be done. He died so that we could see. He died so that we could have life. All it takes is for us to believe it and receive it freely.

He paid the price and became the substitute for me. It was my death and your death that He took on. Jesus bridged the gap between us and God. Nothing we could ever do would get us into the presence of God. The religious activities wouldn’t do it. Our wills as weak or as strong as they could be won’t do it. Even our good deeds will not get us to the point of holiness and righteousness that is acceptable to God. Through Jesus, it’s done. I believe therefore, I have the righteousness, and I have the holiness. But it’s not because of me; it’s because of Jesus.

I have believed this for many years and sometimes I forget that even today, He died for the sins I committed yesterday. I forget all that I have done in my past that put Jesus on my cross. Every day, I am told to surrender and take up my cross. But sometimes I forget that I must do this so that I may be His hands and feet in this community. Yes, I am forgiven even for the sins I committed yesterday and today. Yes, I am no longer condemned. Yes, I am His child. Easter is for us to remember all Jesus has done for us and will do through us when we receive that free gift. Easter is a time to be grateful and acknowledge His love for us by His sacrifice on the cross.

Easter reminds me to come bending low at the foot of the cross and receive the gift of life for today. This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it! What God spoke into existence is still being fulfilled. Jesus finished His work here, but we still have much work to be done. What God started will be completed until the day of Jesus’ returning. How do I know that Jesus will return? Because God spoke and said it will be done. Jesus told us He is coming back (three times in Revelation 22). And on that Day, when I bend low at His feet, He will raise me up and say well done. Not because of me, but because of His work in me. What God started in me, will be finished. I may not look like I am done yet because I am not. I am still a work in progress; I still fail miserably and God still forgives me. God has the finest paintbrush still in His hands. Even the little details, which I don’t know yet, God does. God said it, and I know it will be done! The cross bridged the gap for us! Believe it and receive the free gift – it’s paid for by Jesus!

This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:5-7 (NLT)

The Warnings

A couple of weeks ago, I started reading a book called The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn. I started one afternoon and couldn’t put the book down (or close the laptop as the case may be). I read it until I got through all the nine harbingers. The book concerns the 9/11 devastation and the aftermath. The story is written as fiction but reveals the facts of the 9/11 attacks. The book basically states America is under God’s judgment. God used the attacks on 9/11 as His warning to us before judgment comes.

Soon after the attacks, I remember thinking – whether this was revelation from the Holy Spirit, I don’t know  – I believed God’s hand was taken off of America temporarily; the hedge of protection was dropped briefly. I also remember hearing the news then Senator John Edwards gave a speech on the anniversary of 9/11 in 2004; he wanted to offer the country “hope” through the Scripture found in Isaiah 9:10. The Scripture is actually foretelling the destruction of Israel. He was not the only one though that used this same Scripture. The Speaker of the House used it as well the day after 9/11. According to the book, all the prophecies mentioned in the Scripture have come true for America. The Scripture was spoken over Israel in Isaiah’s time. According to the author, with the ones who spoke the Scripture connected America to the same judgment.

Was this God’s warning of coming judgment for America? I don’t know; time will tell. But this I do know, we have not heeded any warnings to correct our course. I stopped reading to go to bed after the nine harbingers. The next morning I began on the “second” warning. As I was reading I began to get a little anxious. The night before, I hadn’t been anxious because everything had already taken place. The more I was reading about the next warning, the more I realized there could be another major “shake” in our future. I stopped reading for lunch. I put aside any anxious thoughts. I sat down with my lunch and tuned into a sermon. The sermon was on fear. The sermon was on focus, faith and fear. Where we put our focus will either cause our faith to grow or our fear to grow. Fear says “what if” but faith says “even if.” Even if something bad happens, God has already said “He will never leave me or forsake me.” Where is my focus?

One thing I know for sure, my financial picture does not make me secure. God has been working on this concept for the last three years with me. When I was anxious about the future possibilities, I realized I was looking again at the concept of my financial security being shaken again. Do I sell everything and hide in a cave? Or do I face these uncertain times with faith that God will get me through it once again? Even if I lose everything, God is my security. He is my Deliverer. We might be in for another shake that will expose our true foundations; only God knows the future. But if judgment comes, I am secure in Him. I know where my security lies. My foundation is built on the Rock.

As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well-built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” Luke 6:47-49

Going Fishing

This past Christmas, I received an Earthing mat. If you haven’t heard of this before, it’s a product that helps us connect with the earth. We have gotten away from experiencing the energetic fields of the earth. Our ancestors roamed the earth, slept on the earth and were connected in ways that we no longer experience – which I admit I am glad for! However, we still have the need to get connected – hence the mat that is grounded. It’s a way to help with healing by the earth’s energy. Okay, I don’t know if it really works or not. But what I have experienced has been pretty amazing.

Normally, I sleep about seven hours with very little interruptions. Since I have had the mat and sleep with it under my feet or legs, I still sleep about the same amount. The one thing that has changed though is that I am dreaming like crazy. Every night I dream about friends that I haven’t seen in years. I have dreamed of my Mom which hasn’t happened in quite a while. Every time I wake up with someone on my mind, I pray for them (except for my Mom – she’s already where she needs to be!). I don’t know why my old friends have come up in my dream cycle, but there must be a reason for it, so I pray for them.

One morning, I woke up with an analogy on my mind. My friends were friends I had when I was far from God. I believe I had the blood of Jesus covering me during those years, but I didn’t have a fellowship with Him. During those years, I wasn’t a positive influence on these friends. The analogy was fishing. Peter was called to fish for men. This is our calling as well. I see a lake of fire that many are in. I also see people who don’t realize the water is getting warmer. It’s like frogs that are put in lukewarm water; the water gradually is warmed to the point of boiling. They get used to gradual increase, and they don’t realized they are being cooked to death. We are called to fish the people out of the lake of fire. This illustration stayed with me as I moved through my morning routine.

The ones I am dreaming about could very well be in that lake of fire. I didn’t have the influence for Jesus that I should have had when we were friends. I let them down. When I finally understood I was far from Him, I turned around and started the journey back. I wish I could say that I brought my friends with me, but I didn’t. I missed the chance while they were in my circle of influence. I would tell them today Jesus changes everything. He changed me. I know the lake is getting warmer, and they just don’t realize it. I know it isn’t up to me to save anyone. Jesus is the only one who can minister to their needs. If He wants to use me to help them out of the lake, I’m available!

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. Luke 5:8-11

The Gift

On this day, remember the true gift of Christmas:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1). And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:30-33) And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2:4-7)

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:1-3)

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be  upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

“I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.” (Isaiah 42:6-9)

I am the Lord, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King.” (Isaiah 43:15)

Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. As many were astonished at you—his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—so shall he sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand. (Isaiah 53:13-15)

And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:17-22)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17)

(All Scripture quoted from ESV.)

We are living in the years of God’s favor. Unwrap the true gift of love this Christmas. Jesus only Jesus. There is no other name where every knee shall bow at the mention of His name. He is worthy of all our worship and all our praise! Rejoice for this is the day the Lord has made! Happy Birthday Jesus!

Born to Live

For the third time in the last couple of weeks, I have heard a message from the passage of the “lost things” in Luke 15. Okay God, I’m listening! The message this time around was about the Father and also the fact that celebration happens at the end of every parable in this chapter. I have always loved these parables, but this time around it felt like an epiphany. It was all about the celebration in heaven over finding those lost things. Jesus came to find the lost; He came for the sinners of this world. When one person is found or saved from destruction, there is a mighty celebration in heaven going on. I got to thinking about death soon after this message; I guess because I was studying the Cross of Jesus at the time and my Mom’s fourth year in heaven was right around this time. And the thoughts started following concerning death in general.

We are not born to live but born to die. The minute we are born, the clock starts ticking. We all have a death date according to Scripture. We don’t know how long we have to live on this earth. We are born to die; however, Jesus changes things. We are all born physically alive but spiritually dead. Only through Jesus are we born spiritually alive – this is our second birth (see John 3). Once we received the grace of salvation through belief of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we become spiritually alive. At that point we are no longer born to die, but we are born to live. We exchange a physical death for a spiritual life – we will live in abundant life for eternity. We will have some sort of exchange from this life to the eternal life – some would call this a physical death – I would surmise that we really don’t die at all but pass from here to there in an instant. Our last breath here on earth is our first real breath of fresh air ever taken. Isn’t that an amazing thought? We will no longer struggle with this physical limitation, but will truly be living in a new reality!

God has been working on this dying thing (or surrendering) for me for a couple of months now. We are told to die daily to our selfish desires (nature). Now, if I could only do it! After Jesus was resurrected, He went back to heaven so the Father would send us a helper (the Holy Spirit) to live within us. The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to live as we should. I know I can’t do it alone. I’ve tried. It’s too hard. My selfishness is too much a part of me. Paul states in Romans 7, we do the thing we do not want to do because of our sin nature that lives within us. The Holy Spirit is at odds with our sin nature. It’s only when we die to the sin nature that the Holy Spirit will help us live in the abundant life. Yes, I am born to live abundantly only after I die daily. Ah ha! Got it.

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Romans 6:4-7

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