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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