Ignorance

We don’t know.

We’re confused.

We’re not sure what we believe.

OR what we believe is not based on the truth.

The Apostle Paul would call this ignorance.

Ignorance isn’t a very PC word these days – it sounds judgmental and condescending.

But it’s really just a lack of knowledge and information.who-do-you-say-i-am

This was a great description of the religious group Paul was talking to in Athens in Acts 17.

And its a GREAT descriptor for many people today.  They just don’t know.

A lot of very smart people have their heads full of a mishmash of half-truths about religion and God that they have received from other also uninformed people.  Or – even worse – they believe the lies they have read on media and social media.

They don’t know.  They lack accurate information.

By definition – they are ignorant.

Paul stayed in Athens for quite a while so he could teach in the synagogue and reason with this group of religious people.

Some sneered.  They didn’t listen and they remained ignorant.

Others listened, studied the scriptures themselves and believed.  And they knew what they believed.

How much do you know about God?

How much have you researched and studied for yourself?

Listening to pastors and teachers is great but that’s just the beginning of our personal journey toward the truth.  It’s the first step.

God wants to talk to us and teach us himself through his word.  Daily.

So we can know the truth.

So we can know God.

And be known.

Please open our minds, Abba Father.

They Could Not Be Stopped

They were cursed.

They were threatened.

They were hunted.

They were jailed.

They were whipped and beaten.

They were killed.

But they could not be stopped.

Gamaliel advises the Sanhedrin in Acts 5 – if the activity of the disciples “is of human origin, it will fail.  But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

The verdict is in.jesus-was-not-of-human-origin

Jesus was not of human origin.  His Great Commission for his disciples – then and now – to go into all the world and preach the Gospel making new disciples was not of human origin.

When they tried to stop the Good News of Jesus from spreading, the Pharisees found themselves fighting against God.  You can see for yourself how well that worked.

How many believers are there in the world?  How many churches?

How many Bibles do you have in your house?

God was not stopped…..

and he will not be stopped.

We know the end of this story.

We love you, Abba Father.

Our Gift

Power

Truth

Boldness

Guidance

Comfort

Encouragement

The gift of the Holy Spirit came down upon the believers after Jesus ascended into heaven.  This is the same gift we receive today when we trust in Jesus and accept him as our Savior.purple-gift

The power of the Spirit of God dwells within us…

Guiding us – if we’re listening – in the way we should go.

Helping us make the right choices, avoiding the traps laid out in front of us by the Evil One.

He helps us discern the truth – a very difficult task in our culture today.

The Holy Spirit gives us boldness to share the Good News of the Redeeming Love of our Savior with our family, friends, neighbors and everyone in our sphere of influence.

The Holy Spirit encourages us when our journey gets tough and we experience the trials of existence on this planet.

The Holy Spirit comforts us in a way no earthly being can comfort us.  Our Creator wraps his arms around us, drawing our broken pieces close to him and lovingly mending us into a stronger person when we trust in his goodness.

The Gift – more valuable than anything we could have ever imagined to ask for.

The Spirit of God living within us.

Thank you for the Gift, Abba Father.

They Didn’t Take It…..

he gave it.

The religious leaders created elaborate plots to take Jesus’ life.

But they didn’t succeed.  Because he willingly gave it.they-didnt-take-his-life

He went to the garden where he knew he would be arrested.  He offered no resistance and permitted no violence.  After ‘he gave up his spirit’, John tells us the earth shook, the curtain in the temple tore in half and bodies of holy people who had died were raised to life.

All of creation reacted when their creator gave up his life here on earth.

The religious leaders tried very hard to snuff out the Light of the World.

But they accomplished just the opposite.

They played right into God’s plans to redeem the world.

They helped make Jesus famous.  Before his crucifixion, he was known as a unusually knowledgeable carpenter who healed people.

After this death and resurrection, his identity as the Messiah spread throughout the world and we’re talking about him today… every day.

They didn’t take his life – he gave it.  For us.

For God so loved the world.

Thank you, Abba Father.

In Agony

There are times when words just can’t express…

the pain our heart is experiencing…

the confusion going on in our minds….

the emptiness we have in our spirit.

Jesus prayed in agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (picture) the night he was betrayed.eeeeeDSC_0418

He experienced the anguish we feel.

He understands our pain.

As he prayed, God sent an angel to strengthen him.

I believe God still sends angels into our anguish today.  Sometimes its an actual touch from heaven.  And sometimes he sends other people to be ‘God with skin on’ for us.  To help us through the night.  To offer prayers and support.

In some situations, it’s all the above.

Because God knows and he cares.

He sent an angel to his son because Jesus’ friends were sleeping.  They weren’t aware of what was going on.  But that didn’t stop God from providing care for his son.

Nothing stops God from loving us and taking care of us.

Nothing.

Thank you, Abba Father.

 

 

I Will Have Many Trials

Heart-ache

Despair

Broken Relationships

Hatred

Emptiness

Jealousy

Confusion

Loneliness

And much more.

We all experience these trials,

in some variation,

at different times,

sometimes several at the same time…

making it hard to see the light.

Hard to see anything good.

Hard to make it through the day.

Jesus tells his disciples –  and us – in John 16 that we will have many trials.

Some of these trials are consequences for bad decisions we have made.

And some of them happen to us because we live in a broken world which is increasingly influenced by the Prince of Darkness.

Most of you know that the level of trials in my life took a big jump up this year.i-will-have-many-trials

Yes, I will have many trials.  I have a new, painful understanding of that reality.

And I have a choice to make in how I respond to these trials.

I can choose to get lost in self-pity and focus on what I have lost.  I can get stuck on the edge of the big hole in my life and let the rest of my life be about what I no longer have.

Or I can choose to let God grow my faith through these trials.  I can let him become even more real in my life – a strong anchor in the storm, my faithful shepherd who lovingly leads me beside still waters and restores my soul.

I am choosing to ‘take heart’ like Jesus tells us to do.  I am choosing to believe that Jesus has already claimed victory over evil and this is all part of his plan.

I have come to understand much more clearly now that this world of sadness and hatred and lack of respect is not my real home.

Heaven is.

And Jesus has prepared a place for me there.

If you are a believer, he has prepared a place for you as well.

Until then, we will have many trials.

Please help grow our faith, Abba Father.

What’s Inside?

How do I look?

What do I say?

Do I go to church regularly?

Am I in a small group Bible study?

Am I serving at church?

We often focus on the outside and the activities on our calendars.

What other people see.

But God focuses on the inside – our hearts, our minds and our souls.eidtted-blue-heart-in-eye

In Matthew 23, Jesus calls the Pharisees hypocrites because, on the outside they look clean and nice, but on the inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.

Wow!  Self- indulgence.  That’s the American dream, isn’t it?  To have what we want when we want it.  It’s obviously not God’s dream for us.

Jesus commands the Pharisees to clean up the inside and then the outside will also be clean.

Going to church is good – unless we’re just there to see and be seen.

Being a part of a small group Bible study is good unless it turns into a social club not centered on growing our relationship with God.  I’ve known about small groups that have turned into gossip cliques filled with negativity and judgement of others – especially the leadership of their church.  That is the total opposite of the purpose they should fill in our lives.

Serving at church is good as long as we balance it so we still have time to spend with God to grow our personal relationship with him.  God ‘busyness’ can easily distract us from what God really desires – our attention.

When we give God the chance to work in our lives, he always starts on the inside – redeeming our souls, changing our thoughts, opening and softening our hearts.  When we are in a close relationship with God, we don’t have to worry about the outside.  As God transforms what’s inside of us, it gradually begins to show on the outside.

How much transformation have you experienced this last month?  This last year?

Please open our hearts to you, Abba Father.

Light It Up!

Lights shining in the darkness, showing the way.

Light streaking through the sky as the sun rises.

Light sparkling off a lake.

Nothing shines and sparkles without light.

i-am-the-light-of-the-world“I am the Light of the World” Jesus said in John 8.

Amen!  Hallelujah!

He lights our way – showing us where to go.  We never have to walk in darkness.

In this same section of John, Jesus says that we judge him by human standards – that’s why we can sometimes be so blind.

We can be so wrong.

We can be so lost.

Evaluating Jesus in human terms just confuses us.

He is God.

We just have to trust in that and believe – we will never understand completely.

When we open our minds to someone as different and huge and perfect as Jesus, he lights up our thinking.  All of the possibilities in heaven and on earth become real.

Open your mind!  Let Jesus light it up!

Thank you, Jesus!

Come…. Now Go!

Jesus calls us to come,come-to-me-then-go

receive his gift of grace,

accept his leadership of our lives,

accept his love and freedom….

and then he tells us to Go!

Share the Good News with our family.

Share what we’re learning with our friends.

Share the truth with our neighbors.

Share our new joy and purpose with everyone we come in contact with.

He did this very same thing with his apostles in Matthew 9.

Why?

Because people need to know.

Then – and now.

The light of the world has come!  There is no longer a reason to remain in the darkness!

Jesus has answers to all of our questions.  He gives us joy!

Contentment!

Comfort!

Purpose!

What else are you looking for?  Jesus has it.

Come and see!

Drenched in Pain

The rain came –lightning_electricity_night_242819_l

it drenched us with grief and pain.

The streams rose –

we were threatened on every side with deep loss and sadness.

The winds blew –

beating on us every day.  Reminding us of what was lost.

The storm broke our hearts.

It changed our lives – sending us in a direction we never wanted to go.

The powerful storm moved us to a place we never wanted to be.

the-storm-beat-against-the-houseBut our house did not fall…..

because our lives are built on the Solid Rock that Jesus told us about in Luke 6.

His name is God.

And he was there through the storm – holding us, guiding us, loving us – never letting go of us.

He is with us still – comforting us, loving us, showing us the way.

The storm came, but our Foundation could not be shaken.

Thank you, Abba Father.