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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Curtain Call!...Now Begin!

Imagine this: you are attending a concert and the show is about to begin.  But before one note is even played, or one line of the script is even read, every performer stands on stage in front of the audience and takes a bow. The crowd stands to their feet as they clap and whistle with great enthusiasm. The applause lasts so long that the audience must be prompted to stop. Then, they dim the lights, and the show begins. 

It's not the traditional way of doing things when running a performance. It's backwards, actually. Usually, praise comes AFTER a job well done. 
But this was pretty much the scene when Jesus came to John the Baptist to be baptized.  Let's recall it:
One day Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. As Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting apart and the Holy Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.” (Mark 1:9-11 NLT)

Did you catch that? The Father's words were, "You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.”  Other translations say it like this: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (NIV) Now try to imagine Him saying it the way a proud parent would say it before a school concert: "That's my kid right there!  I'm SO proud of him! Wow!  Look at him.  He is really somethin'!" 

There is so much Joy in the Father's Voice, so much approval.  He is a proud Papa! And the kicker is, Jesus hasn't even officially begun His ministry yet!  His 'show' hasn't even started!  What is happening is the Father is applauding His Son before He even does one thing!

And God feels the same way about us.  Listen, God is thrilled to be your Father and thrilled about you before you do even one lick of service with Him.  Because He loves you with the same Love He loves His Son, He does not wait to applaud you either.  He is SO proud to be called your Daddy.  He is SO proud of who you are in Him and that you have received His invitation into relationship with Him. 

Now. Picture yourself standing before God.  What do you feel right now?  Shame?  Unworthiness?  Fear? Condemnation?  If you do, then let me encourage you to tell those voices to hush, because they might cause you to miss it. They might be drowning out the true Voice of your Father and what He is really saying: "You are my dearly loved son.  You are my dearly loved daughter. And you bring me great joy!!!"

Can you hear His applause? Can you hear the laughter in His Voice as He speaks it over you? 

It's become a cliché saying, but I want you to hear it in a fresh way today:

Smile at the fact that your name is written in the Book of Life.  Smile at the fact that YOU didn't do ANYTHING to deserve such a lavish Love.  Smile at the fact that you are no longer under the weight of darkness.  Smile simply because your Father has picked you up out of the mud, rinsed you off, put you back on your feet and put you in right relationship with Himself. 
Smile because He applauds you -- even before your 'show' begins! 


Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Gem

He held it in the palm of His Hand. I could see it from where I was standing. Sister, next to me, could see it, too.

"It's bright and beautiful," she leaned over and whispered in my ear. 

I could see it sparkling as it peeked out from Father's Fingers. The sunlight captured it and released its glory. A Gem of all gems.

"What must we do to see it?" I asked her, as my desire to see it grew stronger. 

"We must ask."

"Do you really think Father will let us see it?" I said, questioning His willingness.

"Of course!" Sister exclaimed.  "It's His good pleasure to give us the Kingdom!  He pulls out His treasures every morning and holds them in His Hands. And then He waits."

"Waits?" I asked.

"Yes, He waits to see if anyone will notice. He waits to see if anyone will stop long enough to ask what He is holding and ask to see them.

"But, there are many who don't notice, so they don't think to ask. Then there are others who do notice and desire to look at it, but they are afraid to ask. They think there is something they must do to get Him to open His Hand.  They think it's conditional and requires payment."

"What about you?" I asked Sister. "Have you asked Him to see His Treasures?"

Her eyes got big with the thought of it. 

"I never used to," she said.  "I used to be the one that never noticed.  Then I became the one that noticed but was afraid to ask.  But one day, as I was standing in His Presence, He saw that I was mesmerized by the sparkle.  I could feel His excitement as He smiled, leaned forward, and said in a jolly voice, 'I have brought out these Treasures from my Storehouse today just for you!' My heart leaped as He spoke. I was stunned to learn that the Treasures He held were actually intended for me."

"Then what happened?" I asked, hanging on her every word.

"I asked."

"You asked?"

"Yes, and I didn't have to give Him anything in return.  I simply asked."

We both paused and looked at each other with a smile.

"Go on," I said.

"Well," Sister continued, "He leaned forward with His Hand extended and opened His Fingers.  Inside was the most amazing gem I had every seen.  I must have stared at it for... what seemed like forever, and then He said to me, 'This is for you.'

"He GAVE it to you??" I said in disbelief.

"Yes, and I have hidden it here inside the deepest part of my clothing. See?"

Her hand went deep inside her jacket and she pulled out a sparkling, priceless Gem.

Looking closer at it, I said, "This is a different color than the one I see Him holding now."

"Of course.  His Gems come in all different sizes and colors, all different revelations and facets of Himself.  Each time we come to Him, He is holding a different Gem."

"Amazing," I whispered, as I looked back up at His Hand. "I think I'm going to find out if that Gem is for me."