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Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Woman, The Light, and The Darkness

There was a woman who loved the Light. But she also loved the darkness. It was a curious thing. 

She welcomed the Light each morning and centered her plans around it. She loved its warmth. She loved how it made her feel and how it made others feel. You could say she was a promoter of Light-- a fan, for sure.

But then night would come. As the sun began to set, she would lock her doors, shut her blinds, and change into dark clothes. She was deeply fascinated by the darkness and couldn't help making friends with it. All night, she would fellowship with darkness. She convinced herself that it was a safe relationship to entertain.

Her family didn't seem to mind the dichotomy. They would watch as she loved both sides with equal interest and resolved that as long as she was happy, they would let her be.

But she was not happy.

Not happy at all. In fact, deep inside she could feel a tearing and a wrestling in her soul. The doctor said she was bi-polar. She chalked it up to depression. "Nothing a few pills of medicine can't help," she would tell herself. But, it did not help. And her struggle deepened. 

Then her love for the darkness began to affect others around her and she began to see changes in her son. He used to be a such a happy boy. But a shadow seemed to follow him these days. He struggled to break free and be a healthy boy.

Then one day, a man from another country, who loved the Light, was in town.  The friends of the Light called the woman and said, "Come tonight. You can't miss it. He is excellent in his field." But she faced a dilemma.

"If I go at night, I will surely miss my fellowship with the dark," she said to herself.

She looked through the window as a car pulled up in front of her house. 
"Come with us!" the friends of the Light yelled. "It will be fun!"

She contemplated for a moment, for she knew she enjoyed the Light, but then lowered her blind as she turned to greet the darkness once again.

The following night, her friends of the Light came by again. "Come with us!" they yelled. "It will surely be fun."

But this time the woman did not even look through her window, for she had convinced herself that the night was dedicated to the darkness, not the Light.

Later that night, the woman fell into a deep sleep and had a dream, maybe a vision. (It was so real to her, it was hard to tell.) And in that dream/vision, she held a photo album in her hand. It was big and heavy -- filled from front to back with pictures from her whole life. As she stood there gazing at the cover, she looked up to see the Father of Light walking into the room.

"It's a big album." He said with a smile. "Shall we take a look together?"

So the woman and the Father sat down and opened the album, only to find that half the pages were loose and began to fall out. As she tried to quickly grab them and hold them in, the binding began to crackle and break.

"What's happening?" she cried out to the Father of Light, as she struggled to keep the entire album from falling to pieces in her hands.

"Your album can not stay completely together because half the pages are not secured to the binding, and the binding itself is weak. You have filled your album with both Light and darkness -- two things that can never mix, like oil and water."

"What must I do to fix my album, Father?"'she asked, as she continued to anxiously grab for the falling pages.

"Love only the Light, dear one. Only the Light. ONLY ME. The darkness pretends to be a friend, but only leaves your album insecure, shaky, and falling apart, as you can very well see. But if you fill your album ONLY with Me and My Light, I will make sure that your album will never unravel. But you must choose. You can not love both the Light and the darkness. And beware. If you choose darkness, it will soon become your cruel master until you will no longer even want the Light at all. So choose today, dear one, whom you will love. Choose the Light. CHOOSE ME!"

And with that, the woman awoke, jumped out of bed, opened her blinds...

                                                   and turned her face to the Light, once and for all.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Buying Marigold Seeds

I bought marigold seeds yesterday because I have a hope. A hope that Spring is on the way. Can I see it with my eyes right now? No. As I type this, I look out my window and see a snow-covered landscape. But I still bought the seeds...because of hope. Not a hope of, 'Boy, I hope Spring comes,' but a hope that KNOWS Spring will come. 

And that is the kind of Hope we have in God -- not one of wishful-thinking, but of one that we can be confident in. A Hope that knows, not wishes. A Hope that buys the Marigolds Seeds. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Lessons in the Crisis

Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.

Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”

But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!"

Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”

"Yes, come,” Jesus said.

So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.

Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.

After they had crossed the lake, they landed at Gennesaret. When the people recognized Jesus, the news of his arrival spread quickly throughout the whole area, and soon people were bringing all their sick to be healed. They begged him to let the sick touch at least the fringe of his robe, and all who touched him were healed.

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭14:22-36‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/mat.14.22-36.nlt

***
Jesus insisted. Yep. That's what it says. Insisted. Insisted that they get into that boat and cross that lake. Was Jesus not aware of the danger the disciples would suddenly face? Or maybe He knew but didn't care? Neither. He knew and He cared, but when Jesus sent His disciples anywhere, it was always for a purpose. There was always something He wanted to show them. There was always something new He wanted to teach them. And in this case, He wanted to reveal two things: 1) Their own hearts and level of faith and 2) Who He was, the Son of God. It took a major crisis for them to see the sobering reality of their serious lack of faith in Him. But it was also through this trial that they came out fully convinced of who Jesus was--which strengthened their faith!

Jesus hand picks what 'boats' He puts His followers in. No situation is ever for nothing. He is the great Teacher, and good teachers are always looking for opportunities to show their students something new. If the 'boat' you're in is facing a crisis, be sure to look for two things: 1) Jesus in the midst of it, walking toward you on the waves --revealing Who He is to you and 2) The lesson(s) He wants to teach you.

And remember, just as Jesus was able to get the disciples' boat to the other side, He is able to get yours to the other side, too.







Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Sell All

Jesus was cutting to the heart of the matter with this young rich man. When the man asked Jesus what he must do to gain eternal life, he was probably fishing for an answer that the man could easily add to his religious check off list. "I've done this, I've done that...is there anything else, Jesus? I don't want to miss anything on the list."

So Jesus told the young man what he already knew about keeping commandments but then went a step further and addressed the man's personal finances. This hit the man at his very core because now things just got personal! The young man was fine with going through the motions and checking off his religious duties--but his riches? Really Jesus? The man was not prepared for this answer. This was not so cut and dry like the other things on his check off list. This would actually affect the man's lifestyle and probably remove other things like his security and social status. It was too much for the man and he walked away very sad.

Jesus still cuts to the heart of the matter for us, today. The New Covenant is not about religious check off lists, but rather hearts that are so in love with Jesus that they would allow things to get personal and be willing to give it all for the sake of Love. Like the man who found the pearl of great price in the field. He went out, sold everything just to buy that field to gain that priceless pearl.

What is your relationship with God? Are you in a check off list mentality with God, or are you so in love with Him that you hold loosely to the things of this world that you might gain Him? 

Sell your possessions rich man. You are only trading up! 

***

Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 

"Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.” 

"Which ones?” the man asked. 

And Jesus replied: “‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” 

"I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?” 

Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 

But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. 

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” 

The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked. 

Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” 

Then Peter said to him, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?” 

Jesus replied, “I assure you that when the world is made new and the Son of Man sits upon his glorious throne, you who have been my followers will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life. But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then."

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭19:16-30‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/mat.19.16-30.nlt

***

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. 

"Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!"

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭13:44-46‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/mat.13.44-46.nlt




Monday, March 6, 2017

Needy And Ya Know It


God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, 
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:3‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/mat.5.3.nlt

Realizing our deep need for God is the first step in the right direction. It's the first step in salvation (recognizing and confessing we are sinners and need a Savior), but doesn't end there. Everyday of our lives should be filled with the awareness that we need God more than even the air we breathe. John 15 tells us that we are like a branch connected to Jesus, the Vine. Another image would be a baby attached to his mother by an umbilical cord. All life comes from there. And all Life comes from Jesus.

Never stop recognizing your need for God. Blessed are the poor in spirit, those that know how much they really need God. It's in that humble attitude that we can fully grab hold of the Kingdom of God!

Friday, March 3, 2017

No Pressure

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭11:28-30‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/mat.11.28-30.nlt

***
The Pharisees, the religious people of Jesus' day, put a lot of pressure on themselves and others. So many rules to follow. So many i's to dot and t's to cross. How exhausting! They were stuck in a religious mindset.

Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." He never pressures His children because He's not looking to make us more religious. What He is after is our hearts.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Requesting New Wine

I love Mary's boldness with Jesus. She saw a need and she knew that Jesus could help. Jesus' first miracle was actually a response to Mary's intercession. 

Do you see the need for New Wine in your circumstances like Mary did? If so, don't be afraid to boldly ask Jesus to step in and fill the need. You might be surprised at His Answer!

*****

The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no more wine.” 

"Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.” 

But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 

Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled, he said, “Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions. 

When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!” 

This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him. 

After the wedding he went to Capernaum for a few days with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples.

‭‭John‬ ‭2:1-12‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/jhn.2.1-12.nlt

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Your Ship Of Opportunity

No one had eaten for a long time. Finally, Paul called the crew together and said, “Men, you should have listened to me in the first place and not left Crete. You would have avoided all this damage and loss. But take courage! None of you will lose your lives, even though the ship will go down. For last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me, and he said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul, for you will surely stand trial before Caesar! What’s more, God in his goodness has granted safety to everyone sailing with you.’ So take courage! For I believe God. It will be just as he said. But we will be shipwrecked on an island.”

‭‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭27:21-26‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/act.27.21-26.nlt

***

What a ship to be on. Full of unbelievers. Full of fools. They didn't heed Paul's advice not to sail, and sure enough they all found themselves in trouble. They could have all gone down. But someone was on board who trusted God. Someone who was praying. Someone who had yielded their life to God -- Paul. And in that moment of crisis, God not only answered Paul's prayer to protect him, God went a step further in His goodness and generosity and decided to spare everyone on board. EVERYONE.

All believers have a 'ship' they are sailing in, and the ships are rarely filled with just believers. God places each of us in close proximity to those that do not know Him. And because we live in a fallen world, our ships often hit troubled waters. But it's in those moments that we get the opportunity, like Paul did, to show those on board the love, encouragement, and Grace of God. 

What 'ship' are you on today? Who are you in close proximity with that God would want to bless through you? What Godly wisdom can you offer the 'crew'? What encouragement can you offer to those on board? WHAT LIVES CAN BE SAVED on the ship because you are living in relationship with God?

God puts us all on ships. Do you see the opportunities at hand?

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Find His Pace, Feel His Rhythm, Let Him Lead


Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Galatians 5:25 NIV

or another version:

Since we are living by the Spirit,
let us follow the Spirit's leading in every part of our lives.
Galations 5:25 NLT

Thankfully, we do not walk this Christian life alone. If you have asked Jesus into your life/heart and asked Him to forgive you personally for your sins, He now lives in you. The Spirit of God, (yes, God, Himself) is now with you all the time. None of us are orphans. None of us have been abandoned -- and we never will.

But the Bible tells us that we are not only to walk with Him, we are to stay IN STEP with Him. This makes me think of my husband and I.

My husband walks faster than me. His stride is bigger. His legs are stronger. We both love to walk but it can get tricky when we try taking a walk together. I spend the whole time trying to keep up, as he's trying hard not to lose me in the dust. We are constantly aware of each other's pace. Inevitably, my husband will reach out his hand and grab mine. We both know that there is no way we are going to keep in step with each other unless we are connected --unless we consciously hold onto each other and find a rhythmic pace.

See, though the Spirit of God lives in us, we have to make a conscious choice to let Him be a part of our everyday lives. The Bible is saying: Now that you are alive in Christ, let Christ lead the way. Find His Pace. Feel His rhythm. Let Him lead. Walk with Him. Just like my husband and I must join hands in order to stay in step, so we must consciously connect with and yield to God's Spirit. And how satisfying it is when we find that flow with God - when we no longer just let Him walk next to us, but we truly connect and stay in step with His Spirit!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

DISCERNMENT 
is like looking at two identical berries 
(one is poisonous, the other not)
and being able to choose and eat the good one. 
May God give us the eyes to see the Good from Evil, 
the Healthy from the Toxic.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Confusion

Soon the whole city was filled with confusion. Everyone rushed to the amphitheater, dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus, who were Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia. Paul wanted to go in, too, but the believers wouldn’t let him. Some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, also sent a message to him, begging him not to risk his life by entering the amphitheater. 

Inside, the people were all shouting, some one thing and some another. Everything was in confusion. In fact, most of them didn’t even know why they were there.

‭‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭19:29-32‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/act.19.29-32.nlt
***

The devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Confusion is the web he spins. Deception is the song he sings. He is the father of riots and is Master Hater. He is the one at war with God, and therefore, us. He is invisible, but his work is not.

We do not have to be among those that get swept up in the confusion, though. God gives his followers a clear mind and discernment. He gives us eyes that cut through the fog of confusion. He keeps us 'sober' as we fill our minds with His Truth (His Word) and abide in Him. 

If you are in any kind of confusion today, be comforted to know that there is a way out! Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. God's Voice/Word brings Clarity, Truth, and Freedom. Remember, greater is He that is in you, than He that is in the world!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Fishing Alone

It's frustrating. Fishing all night and catching NOTHING? And it's not like these disciples didn't know what they were doing. They knew the art of fishing well. But that night, skill was not enough. What they needed was Jesus. They needed Jesus to speak. And as soon as Jesus spoke, there was an abundance! Those men saw the difference that day between striving in their own strength and flowing in God's.

Some of us labor hard, but we don't labor with God. We think if we just work a little harder, we'll prosper. But the Kingdom of God is not about striving in our own strength apart from God. No, no, no. If we do, we find ourselves like these men who fished all night with nothing to show for it.

But don't worry. Jesus is more than happy to show us 'where the fish are'. He WANTS us to prosper -- just not without HIM! If you feel like you are spinning your wheels or simply STUCK, consider if you are 'fishing' with Jesus or without Him.

***
Later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee. This is how it happened. Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples.

Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”

"We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.

At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?”

"No,” they replied.

Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.

Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore. When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.

"Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn.

‭‭John‬ ‭21:1-11‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/jhn.21.1-11.nlt

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Provision of NOW

The Lord said to me, "When did I part the Red Sea?"

I knew what He meant. He wasn't asking me a history question. He continued to say, "Didn't I part the sea once my people got there?"

Again, I knew immediately what the Lord was getting at: The provision of the NOW. The need was not met 10 miles back. He did not part the water while they were still back in Egypt. No, God chose to wait and come through for them when they stood right in front of the point of impossibility.

I have to be honest.  If I were among the children of Israel and God took up a vote, I would have definitely voted for the waters to be parted BEFORE I got there, or at least been briefed on the plan. I would have wanted to see and understood the provision from far off. I'm much more comfortable with the idea of seeing in advance how it's all going to work out than the suspense of God coming through at the 11th hour. Give me my solid paycheck that I can count on. Give me the details of my life so I can plan accordingly. Give me all that I perceive as "security".

But I'm learning that God just doesn't always roll that way. Remember the widow that fed Elijah? She was literally at her very last meal when supernatural provision arrived. Talk about God waiting until her last morsel! Or how about Lazarus? It wasn't even the 11th hour in his case. Jesus waited until death appeared to win to finally arrive on the scene! But He proved to everyone that what we think is perfect timing, isn't always what God sees as perfect timing. He's never late. And even when death seems to win, He is still right on time because He's the Resurrection and the Life and has the power to raise the dead!

But I still can't help but question God's methods here. Is He just trying to be cruel when His Provision feels delayed? Absolutely not. God can't even be tempted to be cruel like that. He is Holy and Good. But He is also the Author and Perfecter of our faith. Consider this: If He had parted the Red Sea before His children got there, they never would have witnessed the miracle with their very own eyes. And Moses never would have personally been a part of that miracle by raising his hand over the sea. God was not just interested in getting His kids through the wilderness, He was actually more interested in taking the opportunity to build their faith and trust in Him, reveal Himself to them, and even let them partner with Him in the miracle!

See, God isn't trying to tease us or torture us when His Provision seems delayed. He doesn't play games with us like that.

What He is trying to do is show us that He CAN be counted on.
In a world filled with insecurities,
He is the One that won't let us down. EVER.

And I can't help but wonder.. could it be that if we see the Provision too far in advance, would we still cling to Him as closely and trust Him every step of the way?

***


When word reached the king of Egypt that the Israelites had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds. “What have we done, letting all those Israelite slaves get away?” they asked. So Pharaoh harnessed his chariot and called up his troops. He took with him 600 of Egypt’s best chariots, along with the rest of the chariots of Egypt, each with its commander. The LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, so he chased after the people of Israel, who had left with fists raised in defiance. The Egyptians chased after them with all the forces in Pharaoh’s army—all his horses and chariots, his charioteers, and his troops. The Egyptians caught up with the people of Israel as they were camped beside the shore near Pi-hahiroth, across from Baal-zephon.

As Pharaoh approached, the people of Israel looked up and panicked when they saw the Egyptians overtaking them. They cried out to the LORD, and they said to Moses, “Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? What have you done to us? Why did you make us leave Egypt? Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt? We said, ‘Leave us alone! Let us be slaves to the Egyptians. It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!’”

But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the LORD rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving! Pick up your staff and raise your hand over the sea. Divide the water so the Israelites can walk through the middle of the sea on dry ground. And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they will charge in after the Israelites. My great glory will be displayed through Pharaoh and his troops, his chariots, and his charioteers. When my glory is displayed through them, all Egypt will see my glory and know that I am the LORD!”

Then the angel of God, who had been leading the people of Israel, moved to the rear of the camp. The pillar of cloud also moved from the front and stood behind them. The cloud settled between the Egyptian and Israelite camps. As darkness fell, the cloud turned to fire, lighting up the night. But the Egyptians and Israelites did not approach each other all night.

Then Moses raised his hand over the sea, and the LORD opened up a path through the water with a strong east wind. The wind blew all that night, turning the seabed into dry land. So the people of Israel walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground, with walls of water on each side!

Then the Egyptians—all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and charioteers—chased them into the middle of the sea. But just before dawn the LORD looked down on the Egyptian army from the pillar of fire and cloud, and he threw their forces into total confusion. He twisted their chariot wheels, making their chariots difficult to drive. “Let’s get out of here—away from these Israelites!” the Egyptians shouted. “The LORD is fighting for them against Egypt!”

When all the Israelites had reached the other side, the LORD said to Moses, “Raise your hand over the sea again. Then the waters will rush back and cover the Egyptians and their chariots and charioteers.” So as the sun began to rise, Moses raised his hand over the sea, and the water rushed back into its usual place. The Egyptians tried to escape, but the LORD swept them into the sea. Then the waters returned and covered all the chariots and charioteers—the entire army of Pharaoh. Of all the Egyptians who had chased the Israelites into the sea, not a single one survived.

But the people of Israel had walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground, as the water stood up like a wall on both sides. That is how the LORD rescued Israel from the hand of the Egyptians that day. And the Israelites saw the bodies of the Egyptians washed up on the seashore. When the people of Israel saw the mighty power that the LORD had unleashed against the Egyptians, they were filled with awe before him. They put their faith in the LORD and in his servant Moses.

‭‭Exodus‬ ‭14:5-31‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/exo.14.5-31.nlt

Monday, February 6, 2017

But I Want To Be Liked

Then the Jews stirred up the influential religious women and the leaders of the city, and they incited a mob against Paul and Barnabas and ran them out of town. So they shook the dust from their feet as a sign of rejection and went to the town of Iconium. And the believers were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
‭‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭13:50-52‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/act.13.50-52.nlt

The Jewish leaders were infuriated by Stephen’s accusation, and they shook their fists at him in rage. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand. And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!” 

Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting. They rushed at him and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul. 

As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died.
‭‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭7:54-60‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/act.7.54-60.nlt

***

I confess. I want people to like me. I want them to have a positive opinion about me. I want them to tell me that they like me. I don't want anyone mad at me. And I certainly don't want them to ever be offended by me. 

But as a follower of Jesus, I can't be guaranteed any of that. The early church in the book of Acts did many wonderful, supernatural things. But they didn't win over every person's affection. Nope. In fact, they offended and angered some people so much that mobs were formed to chase Paul and Barnabas right out of the city and literally went as far as stoning and killing Stephen to death! 

If these followers of Jesus were worried about social acceptance, they were in for a tough ride. BUT THEY WEREN'T. They were in it to do the will of the Father and let Him love through them. They were in it to see the Gospel preached and spread. They were in it for God's approval, not man's. They lovingly moved forward as God instructed them, but didn't worry who would or wouldn't like them in the process. 

Here's the thing we need to remember. There is a spiritual warfare happening all around us. It's the fight for souls. God wants His kids back and the devil and all his minions are doing all they can to block and stop that from happening. When we choose to serve God, we are going to face opposition and hate simply because we have partnered with God in His battle. But we must remember that when people resist you, it's not You they are resisting. It's God in you that they are resisting. We must keep in mind that just as Jesus wasn't liked by all, neither will we. But this never stopped Jesus from loving and doing the Father's will, and neither should it stop us.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Only Human

As Peter entered his home, Cornelius fell at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter pulled him up and said, “Stand up! I’m a human being just like you!”

‭‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭10:25-26‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/act.10.25-26.nlt

When the day arrived, Herod put on his royal robes, sat on his throne, and made a speech to them. The people gave him a great ovation, shouting, “It’s the voice of a god, not of a man!”

Instantly, an angel of the Lord struck Herod with a sickness, because he accepted the people’s worship instead of giving the glory to God. So he was consumed with worms and died.

‭‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭12:21-23‬ ‭NLT‬‬
http://bible.com/116/act.12.21-23.nlt

***

As imperfect humans, we love to take credit for things. Even if we don't deserve the credit, we are inclined to take it simply because we love the applause of men and it makes us feel better about ourselves. Simply put, we love to be worshiped.

The scriptures above give us two separate scenarios where the people worshiped Peter and Herod. But the response of these men were very different. Herod gladly took it, but Peter immediately objected to it. Peter knew to give credit where credit was due, Herod did not -- and the result was to Herod's detriment!

As God moves mightily through His Church in these last days, we must remember that all worship is to God alone. We must learn from Peter's example and remind others (and ourselves) that we are only human and that any Power that comes from us is from God. Beware that you do not take credit for something that is not due you.