Posted by: glorifyhim1 | May 9, 2017

Has Jesus Got Me?

Has Jesus Got Me?

 

Recently, I was challenged to complete this sentence: “For me, to live is ________.” Immediately, Paul’s affirmation in Philippians 1:21 came to my mind: “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” But just as quickly as I remembered this verse, I couldn’t help but think: Can I truthfully, wholeheartedly say: “For me, to live is Christ.” Has Jesus really got me?

 

I know that I have Jesus. I know that He has saved me and that His Spirit lives within me. I know that I can trust Him; that He is always with me; that He sees me, hears me, and knows me; and that He loves me in ways that I cannot begin to understand. Yes, I have Jesus; but does Jesus have me?

 

Does He have my mind and thoughts? Does He have the inmost desires of my heart, my attitudes, and my emotions? Have I yielded everything I am to Jesus, not only to save me, but day by day to change me, to make me more like Him? Does Jesus truly have my heart? Jesus, Himself, instructed: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).

 

When we truly love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, Jesus has us. It shows up in the way we talk, the things we do, and the way we treat others. When Jesus has us, the fruits that He bears through His Spirit in our lives are evident to all. There is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. When Jesus has us, there are other things that you don’t see – conceit, provoking one another, and envying one another. (See Galatians 5:22-26).

 

Paul told the Corinthians: “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). I have life because of Christ. He loved me enough to die for me. Can I love Him enough to live, not for myself, but for Him? Can I surrender all that I am to Him and seek His will and direction in my life?  Can I let go of preconceived notions and attitudes, what others think or say, and even my own dogged determination to do things my way, and allow God to shape me and mold me into the person He wants me to be? Has Jesus got me?

 

When I look at the turmoil, division, and hatred in our world today, I am reminded that Jesus, too, walked in a troubled world when He was on earth. He was tempted by Satan and pursued by both political and religious critics. He was wearied with crowds who constantly sought Him for what He could provide. He faced misunderstanding, unbelief, betrayal, and desertion. Yet, Scriptures tell us that Jesus regularly retreated to talk with His Father. And in spite of all the people and things that tried to derail Him from His mission, He persevered all the way to the cross where He secured our victory.

 

There are so many voices in our world today that try to crowd out Jesus. But when Jesus really has us, when we love Him and live for Him with all our hearts, souls, and minds, He will help us persevere, stay faithful, and complete the mission He has for each of us to do. Yielding to Jesus’ Lordship in our lives is a decision that we make everyday. It is daily dying to self and making the choice to live for Him. It is proclaiming both through our words and actions: “For me, to live is Christ!” Has Jesus got you?

 

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

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Posted by: glorifyhim1 | April 25, 2017

Learning to Love Well

Learning to Love Well

(A Tribute to a Friend)

 

Early last week I heard the sad news that a friend of mine, who lived in another state, had lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. While I couldn’t help but rejoice knowing that he had actually won the victory as he passed from life on this earth to eternal life in heaven, I also was saddened as I thought about his family and friends who mourned his loss. I, too, was saddened by his loss.

I first met Jerry Vogel probably close to 20 years ago when I attended a writers conference for a new writing assignment at LifeWay Christian Resources.  Jerry had previously worked as Preschool and Children’s Minister at several churches in Texas, but had joined LifeWay in Nashville, Tennessee where he worked to help train others who worked and taught preschoolers and children. As I attended writers conferences from year to year, I learned much from Jerry. You could not listen to one of the devotions he shared, participate in training he led, or talk to him very long, before you learned at least four  things about Jerry. He loved God. He loved his family. He loved kids. And he loved his work and work family. Jerry loved well! God’s hand was all over Jerry’s life and ministry.

 

But there is still one more thing that always comes to my mind when I think about Jerry. You see, at best, I probably saw Jerry only two or three days over the course of a week, one time a year – if even that often. Yet, each time, he never failed to remember me. He would greet me by name, perhaps ask me something about my family or church, or tell me a story about one of his grandchildren. Our chats were short, shared around a conference table or waiting in line for lunch. I heard him do this over and over again as he met new people and renewed old acquaintances. Every single person was important to Jerry.

 

This was a huge thing for me. Being the introvert I am, it is not always easy for me to “find my place,” especially in a large group. I’m much more content on the outside looking in than in the middle of all the activity. I’m sure that Jerry recognized that about me. Yet, in his own engaging way, he welcomed me, encouraged me, and drew me out, making me feel that I belonged.

 

Before Jesus’ death on the cross, He told His disciples: A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). Sometimes that love is shown in action – doing, giving, serving, praying, going, telling. At other times that love is shown in a smile; a word that encourages, uplifts, inspires, or motivates. And, perhaps at still other times, that love is shown simply by taking the time to acknowledge another individual, communicating their value and worth.

 

As I think about Jerry and the way he loved people, I’m reminded of Jesus and the countless ways He reached out to show others they mattered. The Scriptures contain story after story of how Jesus….

 

  • engaged those others avoided (ex. the woman at the well)
  • showed mercy to the accused (ex. the woman caught in adultery)
  • showed compassion to the sick, crippled, and blind
  • wept with those who mourned (ex. death of Lazarus)
  • called those that others rejected (ex. Matthew, Zacchaeus)

 

These are just a few of the many examples of ways that Jesus reached out to love people, whatever their situation or need. He often went to great lengths to show people He cared for them. In fact, He went all the way to cross to show His love for us, to show us that even in all our mess, He loved us enough to die for us.  

 

I last talked with Jerry last October during another writers conference. I had no idea that would be the last time I would see him this side of heaven. If I had the chance, I’d like to thank him for all he taught me through the years – as much as by what he did as by what he said. I’d like to thank him for modeling Christ’s love to all of us so well. A saying that has been attributed to several different people, including Teddy Roosevelt, goes something like this – “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Jerry loved and cared much. I pray that I, too, might be a better conduit of Christ’s love to others. Heavenly Father, help me to truly care for others and to love more like You. Help me to love others well.

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | April 16, 2017

What Easter Tells Me

What Easter Tells Me

 

The world tells me daily that I’m not enough. I’m not good enough, smart enough, attractive enough, capable enough, or any other kind of enough. Easter tells me that Jesus is enough – and He makes me enough as I place my trust in Him.

 

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;  That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:5-7)

Voices around me, including my own, remind me of how many times I fail. I sin, give in to temptation, and make wrong choices. Easter tells me that I have a Savior. Jesus died on the cross and paid the penalty for all my sin, forever. When I accept what Christ has done for me and place my trust in Him, I no longer have to walk in defeat. I am forgiven and freed from my bondage to sin, shame, and guilt.

 

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2)

Naysayers and non-believers point out the struggles, pain, and suffering that believers may endure. Easter tells me that Jesus is always with me, even in my most desperate times. He doesn’t just save me for eternity, He walks with me today. I can turn to Him and find comfort, courage, help, and an unending supply of grace and mercy for whatever need I face.

 

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

 

Skeptics attempt to cast doubt on the resurrection of Jesus. Easter tells me that the tomb is empty! Not only was Jesus’ body not in the tomb, he was seen by eyewitnesses after His crucifixion. He showed His disciples the wounds on his hands and side. The Scriptures confirm that Jesus is alive.

 

“I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” (Revelation 1:18)

 

Easter tells me that this world is not my home. The closer I draw to Jesus, the less at home I feel in this world because my heart and mind are fastened on things above.

 

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:1-2)

 

As I think about all that Easter tells me, I am reminded that I have a risen Savior who loved me enough to die for me, who cares for me enough to never leave me or forsake me, and who through His death and resurrection allows me to live victoriously. Because of Christ, I can know peace in the midst of turmoil, joy in times of uncertainty, and a resounding hope even when facing trials and troubles. Easter tells me that Christ is my peace, my joy, my hope, and He has secured my victory now and forever! Thank You, God, for Easter!

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | March 22, 2017

She Did What She Could

Sometimes I feel that things I do for Jesus are so pitifully small – especially, considering all that He has done for me. I have just hit the send button for a writing assignment that I have been working on for the last 4-5 months. It never fails that when its finally completed, I feel a combination of relief (it’s done!), exhiliration (it’s done), but also sadness (it’s done). Part of me goes with all those documents when I hit that send key. Then, invariably, I’ll begin to wonder: Did I do a good job? Will the words I wrote, the ideas I shared, be able to help, encourage, plant a seed? Is Jesus happy with my work? Today, as He has before, Jesus reminded me of His defense of Mary in Mark 14:6-8 when He told those who berated her: “She has done what she could.” You see, Jesus was looking at Mary’s heart. He saw a heart overflowing with love for Him, a love that she wanted desperately to express. More than anything in this life, I want to please Jesus. I pray that the work I sent in today is pleasing to Him, but even more, I pray that my heart is pleasing to Him.

Following is a reprint of a blog I wrote in 2012 regarding Mary doing what she could. Perhaps it still speaks to your heart today as it does to mine.

Showing Love to God

Recently I was reading the Scripture passage in the book of Mark where Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, took a very costly flask of spikenard, broke it, and poured the oil on the head of Jesus ( Mark 14:3-9). She was immediately criticized by others who witnessed her action. “Why was this fragrant oil wasted? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” Jesus, however, quickly came to Mary’s defense. “But Jesus said, ‘Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good, but Me you do not have always. She has done what she could. She has come before hand to anoint My body for burial” (Mark 14:6-8). “She has done what she could.”

Jesus had previously come to Mary’s defense at another time. We read of this event in Luke 10:38-42. On this occasion Jesus was invited to the home of Mary and Martha. While Martha worked to prepare a meal, Mary sat at Jesus’ feet feasting on His every word. Finally, worn-out Martha complains to Jesus because Mary is not helping. “And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.’”

When reading both of these accounts, it is easy to join Martha and the others in criticizing Mary. After all, shouldn’t Mary join in and help Martha with all the work? And wouldn’t it be much better to sell the spikenard and use the money to help those in need than to pour it on Jesus’ head? But Jesus didn’t agree. Why? Because Jesus saw something that those present did not see. He saw Mary’s heart. He saw her hungering for His teaching, hanging on His every word. And He saw her loving Him with her whole heart as she poured the costly oil on His head. Perhaps she didn’t know what else to do to show Him her love – but she did what she could do.

As I thought about Mary and Jesus’ response to her actions, I thought about my own heart. Do I hunger for His Word and long to know Him better? Or do I allow the distractions of my daily activities to interfere with my time with Him? Am I eager to express my love for Him in whatever way I can? Or do I feel that what I have to offer is not good enough, or perhaps too good, or maybe it’s not like what everyone else is offering. What does Jesus see when He looks at my heart? Would He defend me for choosing the right thing and for doing what I can to show my love for Him?

Sometimes we forget that God is more concerned with our relationship with Him than with the things we do for Him. The first four commandments deal with our relationship with God. When Jesus was asked to name the first commandment, He summarized the first four commandments in His reply. “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment” (Mark 12:29-30).  When we love God in this way, like Mary, we’re going to worship, praise, and adore Him in ways that others sometimes may not understand. Likewise, such love will naturally overflow to touch others, just as Jesus continued in His reply. “And the second [commandment], like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:31).

I know I love God with all my heart, but do I really love Him with all my mind and all my strength? I want to show God I love Him, but sometimes the things I do look so pitifully small and such a poor expression of my love for Him. And then I’m reminded of Jesus’ reply on behalf of Mary. “She has done what she could.” God sees my heart just as He saw the heart of Mary. He sees the love and the “want to” even if what I do may seem small or even if it is questioned by others.

Years ago I received a handmade clay mug that one of my kids made at school. Although it was misshapen and really quite pitiful, I treasured that mug because my child had made it. It’s packed away now with some other treasured keepsakes, but every time I see it, I’m reminded of my child and smile over the work and effort put into that mug. I love that mug because I love my child. In much the same way, I’m sure that Jesus looks at things I do for Him. Sometimes He may be saddened because He sees my heart is not wholly committed to Him. Other times He may rejoice to see His child accomplish some great thing from a heart overflowing with love for Him. At still other times, He may smile as He sees my poor, pitiful efforts but a heart full of love. It is then that I can almost hear Him say: “Let her alone. She has done what she could!”

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.

If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s

 commandments and abide in His love.”

(John 15:9-10)

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | March 2, 2017

When I Talk to God

When I Talk to God

Recently, my son called me from his car while my three-year-old grandson was riding in the backseat. He was using a hands-free receiver with the speaker on so Benji could talk to me, too. I am still smiling over the things that Benji had to intersperse into his Dad’s conversation.

“Hey GaGa. I got my stitches out.” (He had recently fell and cut his chin.)

“GaGa, I’m wearing my long socks.”

“My socks have a stripe on them.”

“I don’t have a dog anymore.” (He hasn’t had a dog for quite awhile.)

“I’m going to Target with my Dad.”

“I love you, GaGa.”

I love to talk with Benji even if I can’t always understand everything he has to say. And I love that he wants to talk to me and tell me what is going on in his world.

Later as I thought about the “important” things that Benji wanted to share with me, I realized that in his own, yet unintentional, way he had reminded me of how I should talk to God.

  • He talked about important things.
  • He talk about everyday things.
  • He talked about things he had on his mind.
  • He talked about what he was doing now.
  • He told me he loved me.

Benji talked about things that were on his mind and heart. Isn’t that the way we should talk to God?  Prayer is a conversation with our Heavenly Father, the One who made us, who saved us, who cares for us, who walks with us, who promises that He will never leave us or forsake us, and who loves us unconditionally!

Over the years I have learned that prayer is not just something that we mark off a daily checklist. It’s even more than those heartfelt words that tumble out when we face a great need. Prayer is an open line to our Heavenly Father. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and we can immediately ask our Father for forgiveness. We experience wonder or joy and lift our voices in praise and thanksgiving. Our hearts break over lost loved ones or deep needs of others and we can take those concerns straight to our Almighty God. When we are troubled, angry, weak, afraid, or lack understanding, God is always there and ready to hear our cry. Just as God told the prophet Jeremiah: “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3).

At the same time, I also know that oftentimes I just cannot put into words what is on my heart. I have trouble praying publicly or leading others in prayer for this very reason. Yet as I come to God, I can have confidence that He can “hear” my heart. James 4:8a tells us: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” Paul told the Romans: “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26). The Spirit Himself will intercede for me when the words just won’t come.

Prayer is one of a believer’s greatest privileges. I want to talk to God just like my little grandson talks to me – eagerly, joyfully, openly, uninhibited, honestly, sharing everything on my heart and mind. I believe that this is the kind of prayer that would be pleasing to God. And as I talk to Him, may I always remember to say, “I love you, Father!” I hope that makes Him smile.

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | February 24, 2017

A Crazy Kind of Love

A Crazy Kind of Love

Many, many years ago I heard a statement that has remained with me through the years. “Every child needs someone who is just crazy about him.” This statement was made by Sybil Waldrop, author, mentor, and friend. She actually included the statement in her book Understanding Today’s Preschoolers which was published in 1982. Although those words were written over 35 years ago, the statement is just as true today as ever. I’ve thought about that statement through the years as I’ve cared for my own kids and other kids that I’ve had the privilege to spend time with. Unfortunately, I’ve also thought about that statement when I’ve heard about children who honestly didn’t know what it meant to be loved at all, much less to have someone absolutely crazy about them.

What does it mean to be crazy about someone?

  • You are head over heels, wild about that person.
  • You would do anything within your power for that individual.
  • You are devoted to that person, seeking the best for him or her.
  • You love that individual unconditionally.

Why does being crazy about someone make a difference in that person’s life?

  • It tells that person that they mean something to somebody. They matter!
  • It helps that individual know that they are not alone. They can always turn to you for help.
  • It helps that person learn to trust – even when they don’t understand sometimes.
  • It assures that individual that no matter what, you’ll be there for him or her.

Every child who has someone in their life who is absolutely crazy about them, learns that they are valued, cared for, and loved. But then it occurred to me. All of us have someone who is crazy about us. Isn’t this what we have in God Himself?

  • We mean something to God. He loved us so much that He gave His only Son to save us.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

  • We do not face life alone. God promises to be with us.

“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

  • We can trust God, knowing that He loves us and wants the best for us – even when we do not understand.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).

  • We are loved unconditionally.

“Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you”
(Isaiah 54:10).

God has revealed that He is head over heels crazy for you and me – not because we deserve it, but because of who He is and because of His unfailing, gracious, merciful love! And just as a child can grow and blossom as they bask in the love of someone who is crazy about him, you and I can do the same as we exult in God’s ever-present love. How thankful I am for this crazy kind of love.

“The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”

(Zephaniah 3:17)

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | February 16, 2017

Bowing to Baal

Bowing to Baal

Recently, I was reading in 1 Kings about the prophet Elijah who challenged the prophets of Baal, the Canaanite god who was responsible for rain, thunder, lightning, and dew. The story, recounted in 1 Kings 18-19, tells how during a time of severe famine God told Elijah to present himself to King Ahab and tell him that God would send rain on the earth. When Ahab saw Elijah he asked: “Is that you O troubler of Israel?” (v.17) Elijah replied: “I have not troubled Israel, but your and your father’s house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and have followed the Baals” (v.18). Then Elijah proceeded to present a challenge. He asked for all Israel, the 450 prophets of Baal, and 400 prophets of Asherah (a fertility goddess linked to Baal) to gather on Mount Carmel.

Elijah presented the challenge. Each would prepare a bull to sacrifice, lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it. Then the prophets of Baal would call on the name of their gods, and Elijah would call on the name of the Lord. The God who answered with fire would be God!

The contest began with the prophets of Baal calling on their god from morning till noon. They prophesied until the time of the evening sacrifice, “but there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention” (v. 29).

Then Elijah constructed his altar in the name of the Lord. He made a trench around the altar, placed the wood in order, and laid the bull on the wood. Next, he instructed three times for four waterpots of water to be poured on the sacrifice and on the wood. The water ran all around the altar and filled the trench. Then Elijah called on the name of the Lord. “Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench” (v.38).

The one true God had answered!

But the story doesn’t stop there. King Ahab reported what Elijah had done to his wife, Jezebel, who worshiped Baal. Instead of exulting in his victory, Elijah finds himself fleeing for his life as Jezebel pronounces a death sentence on Elijah. Elijah fled to the wilderness, prayed for the Lord to take his life. An angel of the Lord ministered to Elijah twice, giving him food and water. Twice the Lord spoke to Elijah and asked: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Both times Elijah’s answer was the same. “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life” (vs.10, 14).

I have read this story many, many times, told it to kindergartners, and thought about how elated Elijah must have felt when he was able to tell Ahab: “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain” (v. 41). I’ve also wondered how he must have felt, after such a victory, to be running for his life. But somehow I had missed something God told Elijah as He gave him further instruction. “Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him” (v.18).

Elijah thought that he was all alone, that he was the only one left who had not forsaken the Lord God. Yet God told Elijah that there were seven thousand who had not bowed down to Baal. There were still many people who had not turned away from God, who were still faithful to Him.

When I look at our nation and world today, I cannot help but wonder how many of us have bowed to Baal or some other god. How many of us have forsaken the one true God for wealth, influence, power, or to be part of the majority? But I also cannot help but wonder how many of us have not bowed down. How many of us just keep on keeping on, and try to follow God faithfully? Our lives may not be outstanding or spectacular, and we may not seem like a factor to be reckoned with, but we belong to the one true God. We are His. Our knees haven’t bowed.

If you are one who hasn’t bowed, be encouraged. God didn’t forsake Elijah when he felt beaten down and just wanted to die. He sought him. He found him. He nurtured him. He revealed His way to Elijah.

If you are one who has bowed, be lifted up. The one true God loves you. He died to save you. He is ever merciful and gracious and will forgive and restore you.

And to each of us who claim to be Christian, be determined. Be determined to live faithfully so that others see Christ instead of our own biases, thoughts, and opinions. Jesus Himself taught us to love our enemies, to bless those who curse us, to do good to those who hate us, and to pray for those who spitefully use us and persecute us (Matthew 5:44).

I may not be an Elijah, but oh how I want to be like one of the seven thousand that God had reserved in Israel. I pray that I will not bow down to all the false gods in our world today, but that I, in my own simple and non-spectacular way, will seek the Lord God with all my heart and walk faithfully with Him all the days of my life!

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | January 31, 2017

But It Really IS About Me!

But It Really IS About Me!

Most of us have probably heard, or even told someone, “It’s not about you!” Both secular and Christian books have been written on the subject that life is not all about you and me. Even Jesus Himself told His disciples: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25).

In all honesty, I understand that as a follower of Jesus I am called to deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Jesus. Yet as I read about Jesus in the Bible, and as I think about all that He has done for me, I am overwhelmed that to Jesus it really is about you and me. Jesus came to rescue us, to save us from our sins and to restore our relationship with the Heavenly Father. Jesus Himself stated: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke19:10).

Jesus came to earth for me. He died on the cross for me. He paid the sacrifice for my sins. Through His death and resurrection, He secured victory over sin and death – for me! Jesus paid the price and made the way for all who will repent of their sin, and place their faith and trust in Him.   Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Because of Jesus, I can ….

  • be forgiven of my sins
  • know the Father and have fellowship with Him
  • have abundant life with purpose and meaning
  • know that I am never alone as His Spirit guides and helps me
  • look to the future with hope because He has already secured the victory and is preparing a place for me to live with Him forever

But what about me? What do I do in response to such love, to the mercy and grace He lavishes on me? This is when it really is all about me. What do I do with what I have been given? It basically comes down to two questions.

  • Am I faithful to Him? As the prophet Samuel instructed the nation of Israel: “Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you” (1 Samuel 12:24).
  • Am I obedient to Him? Jesus told His followers to abide in Him: “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:9-10).

Jesus calls each of His followers to serve Him in different ways. Am I being faithful and obedient? Jesus gave His life for you and me. How I respond is up to me. I pray that I will be more faithful and obedient to the One who loves me so – for it really is all about Him. He is my life!

 “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord”                          (1 Corinthians 15:58).

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | January 11, 2017

Another New Year

Another New Year

January – the first month of a brand new year – a time to begin again! Perhaps you img_3619have placed a new calendar on the wall, made one or more resolutions, or decided on one word to focus on throughout the year. For me, however, this new year seems to have taken off before I was ready. Just entering the second week of the new year, I have already attended two funerals and am facing another one the end of this week. I am already circling dates on the calendar for new, unplanned commitments. If I were to choose one word or phrase to guide my focus this year, perhaps it should be “survive” or “hang in there!”

But then I read the following verse: “If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses? And if in the land of peace, in which you trusted, they wearied you, then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan?” (Jeremiah 12:5). God had called Jeremiah to prophesy judgment on the people of Judah because of their idolatry, disobedience, and unfaithfulness to the covenant. There was much opposition to Jeremiah’s message and even his life was threatened (see Jeremiah 11). Jeremiah questioned God: “Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why are those happy who deal so treacherously?” (Jeremiah 12:1b). He then pleaded with God: “But You, O Lord, know me; You have seen me, and You have tested my heart toward You. Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter” (Jeremiah 12:3).

God’s reply to Jeremiah was in the form of two questions.

  1. If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses?
  2. And if in the land of peace, in which you trusted, they wearied you, then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan?

In these questions, God explained that the obstacles Jeremiah faced at home were actually small compared to what He could expect when he faced the kings of Judah and Babylon (the horses). Likewise, the opposition Jeremiah faced at home (land of peace), was minor compared to the turmoil he would face in the floodplain of the Jordan. It’s as if God were asking: “If you are weary now, what will you do then?”

 

No matter how hard I try to put my best foot forward, life happens and I grow weary. How will I respond when things do not go as planned, when difficulties come? What will I do when I’m misunderstood, when I face opposition? In spite of the turmoil Jeremiah faced, he did two things.

  1. He turned to God, even when he didn’t understand His ways.
  2. He remained faithful to God in spite of the opposition and turmoil he faced.

That is what I want to do, too. I want to be faithful to God and His Word. Like Jeremiah, I know that God knows me and sees me. I may not always understand but I know Him. And I also know, through my own experience, that nothing can ever separate me from Him. “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-29). He knows me. He sees me. He loves me. I pray this year that I will grow more and more faithful to Him.

 

 

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | December 14, 2016

Christmas Tells of Jesus

Christmas Tells of Jesus

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth”

(John 1:14).img_1400

I love the treasured carols and hymns that we hear and sing during the Christmas season. But without fail, there is one simple little song entitled “Christmas Tells of Jesus” that always comes to my mind and heart every year. The words of this children’s song are few and simple. You can listen to it here.

This little song was included in the Sunday School curriculum for 4s and 5s many, many years ago. I loved that little song. The kids loved it as well. They could remember the words and it was easy to sing. I guess I sang that song with every subsequent group I taught and still today, I find myself humming that little tune at Christmas time. I wonder how many of the fours and fives, now older and perhaps with children of their own, still remember those simple words. I surely hope they do.

Christmas can mean lots of different things to all of us, but the one thing that makes all the other things mean anything at all is the simple truth that Jesus was born. We can have beautifully decorated homes, Christmas trees laden with gifts, and even fun celebrations with family and friends, but if Jesus had not been born, there would not be much to celebrate.

Why does Jesus’ birth make all the difference? As John tells us in John 1:14, the Word became flesh. This is the same Word that was in the very beginning. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and Word was God” (John 1:1). This is the same Word that created the world and who also revealed God to man. “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:3-4). Jesus is this Word, the Son of God, who came to dwell among us.

But why did Jesus come?

  • He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).
  • He came to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).
  • He came to give us life – abundant life (John 10:10).
  • He came to do the will of the Father (John 6:38-40).
  • He came to show us the Father (John 14:9).
  • He came to proclaim the kingdom of God (Luke 4:43).

Because Jesus came, I, too, can know the love of the Father and have fellowship with Him. I can know the joy of sins forgiven through Jesus. And I can also know the wonder of the Spirit dwelling within me, leading, guiding, and helping me. When I accept Jesus Christ as my Savior, I can have all of these things, but there is a question I must still ask myself. Is my life different because Jesus came? Can others see God’s love, Christ’s sacrifice, and the Spirit’s work in my life?

Do I love the Lord with all my heart, all my soul, and all my mind?

Do I love my neighbor as myself?

Do I love my enemies, those who disagree with me, and those whom I cannot understand? Do I pray for them?

Do I forgive others even when it is difficult to do so?

Do I judge others or do I spread their needs before the Father, too?

Do I follow the teachings of Christ or am I swayed by public opinion?

Do I seek to do the Father’s will, or is it easier to just do what I think is right?

Jesus taught and demonstrated love for others whether friends or enemies, outcasts or sinners. He offered forgiveness, but He walked in truth. He didn’t agree with sin, but sought to help and restore individuals trapped in sin. He extended grace and mercy to all.

Christmas tells us of this Jesus. This Christmas, may each of us who look to Him as our Savior, not only rejoice in His birth, but also show both Him and the world that oh, we love Him so!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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