He Speaks…..

and I hear him.

I can call him God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit – these are all names I use for the One True God who talks to me.

How do I hear him?

When Jesus tells us about being our good Shepherd in the book of John, he gives us the key to hearing him.  The Shepherd leads his sheep “and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.” (John 10:27)  When we know his voice, we know who is talking to us and we can follow.

We all have voices in our heads….how do I know it’s his voice?

I read and study the Bible regularly.  Everything he tells me has to line up with what I read in his Word, or its not his voice.  If I hear something that contradicts what I read in the Bible, I know it’s either just my own voice or, even worse, Satan is busy whispering lies into my head again.

I hear God because I’m listening.  I hear God because I am genuinely searching for the truth.  I’m not looking for scriptures that support my opinions and agenda.  I’m studying so I can know God’s opinions and agenda.

I hear him because I know his voice.

Thank you, God, for leading me and speaking to me.

 

These Mountains are Moving

“By your faith”.

God pointed out to me this morning how often these words came out of Jesus’ mouth when he was here on earth.  “By your faith” pops up all through the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Jesus is telling you and I today that faith is what matters.  I define faith as believing in God and putting my trust in him on an hourly, daily basis – not just on Sundays.

In Matthew, the disciples tried to drive a demon out of an epileptic boy but nothing happened.  Jesus walked up, commanded the demon to leave and it immediately screeched as it left the boy. Then Jesus told the disciples that they were unable to make the demon leave because they had ‘too little faith’.  Jesus goes on to say “if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there’ and it will move.” (Matt 17:20)

I need to be reminded of this today.  Do you need to hear this, too?  There are some mountains in my life that need to move and Jesus is telling me that, through faith in God, nothing is impossible.

I believe this.  I’ve experienced this.  I know it is true.

Dear Father, I trust that you are going to move mountains through my faith in you.  Amen.

The Wind Was Against Them

Sometimes it feels like everything is going against us, doesn’t it?

Our kids get sick.

Then the car breaks down.

Our boss starts driving us crazy.

Our bank balance gets down to a single digit.

And the election ends in a mess.

We worry.

We struggle.

We stress.

We forget.

You and I forget that we have the Spirit of the Lord of the Universe living inside of us when we have put our faith in him.  He has the power to handle all of our problems.  When we turn to him, he can help us stop worrying, stop struggling and stop stressing.gdtDSC_0639

This truth became more real to me 6 years ago when I had the chance to visit the Sea of Galilee.  As we sailed through the water, I thought about the stormy night when the disciples were straining at the oars of their boat while the winds of a storm battled against them.  I could visualize Jesus walking on the water out to the disciple’s boat.

The reality of the power of Jesus became even more evident to me that day.  Jesus really is in control of everything.  He really does command the sea and the winds and everything around me.

I find that I am a lot like Peter who stepped out of the boat to walk to Jesus on the water and was doing great until he took his eyes off of Jesus and focused on the storm around him.  Then he started to sink just like I start to sink into worry and into anxiousness when I take my eyes off of Jesus.

Like Peter, Jesus reaches out his hand to me in my distress and says, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”  (Matt 14:31)  Then we climb into the boat together.  I am safe.  Secure. Forgiven.  Loved.

Why did I doubt?gdtDSC_0632

I have nothing to fear.  I have nothing to worry about.

There is no wind blowing against me that Jesus does not control and he loves me enough to sacrifice himself for me.

That says it all.  I just need to have faith and keep my eyes on Jesus.

Thank you, dear Jesus.

Not When We Expect It

I don’t understand.

While talking to the disciples about his departure from earth and his return in the future,  Jesus says, ” But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven nor the Son, only the Father” (Mark 13:32)

Jesus is admitting he doesn’t know when he’s coming back.

Jesus also tells us that we should always be ready for his return, “because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Matt 24:44)

Always be ready.

He will come back when we don’t expect him.

So why are so many people spending so much time and energy trying to drill down Revelations into a list of events so they can predict the second coming of Jesus?  I don’t get it.  Jesus said only the Father needed to know and he said we wouldn’t be expecting him when it happens.  Are we just ignoring these scriptures?

It’s obvious to me God has not made it clear when Jesus is coming back on purpose and he’s telling us it’s not going to happen when we expect it to happen.

I get it that we’d like to know when the end of the world is coming.  There were people in the New Testament that stopped working because they thought Jesus was coming back in their lifetime.  That was over 2000 years ago and it hasn’t happened yet.  Here we are again – predicting that it will happen in our lifetime.

I’ve decided  I need to be ready every day for Jesus’ return but my focus needs to remain on loving God and loving people.  That’s my purpose for still being here.  I have a responsibility to share the love and grace of God with those who haven’t put their faith in him yet.  I won’t be doing that if I’m spending my time trying to predict the end of the world.

I’m starting to think that all of this ‘end of the world’ stuff is just another strategy of the Evil One.  He’ll do anything to distract us from loving God and loving others.

I’m just not going to let him do it in my life.

My eyes are on you, Father God.

Look at the Birds

It’s hard not to be anxious about our world today.  We have a list of huge issues which continue to grow around us – Covid, politics, the economy, mental illness, our education system – just to name a few.

Most of these things we can’t do anything about.  They are out of our control.

So we worry.

Jesus tells us today in Matthew 6  to look at the birds.  They don’t make food or earn money for food, “yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?”

Yes, I am more valuable.

So are you.

We are created in the image of God.  We are the best part of his creation.

I know God cares for me much more than the birds.  So why do I need to worry about Covid?  I’ll be careful but I’m leaving any fear about Covid at my Father’s feet.  He’s got this.

Look at the birds.

Why would my stomach get tied up in knots about politics and the election?  God’s in control.

Look at the birds.

God provides everything I need.  If I worry about the economy, this just indicates I need to grow my trust in God.

Look at the birds.

The only wise and logical response when I feel anxiousness growing about issues like the mental health crisis and all the other scary stuff going on is to pray about it and be confident that God is working all things out for the good of those who love him.  He promised – it’s true.

Look at the birds.

Jesus says to you and me today, “Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matt 6:27)

No.  The answer is obvious.  Worrying and anxiety are a waste of time and energy.  Let’s use this time and energy loving God and loving people.  If you ever start to forget how much God cares for you –

Look at the birds.

Thank you, Abba Father.

 

Real Friends

I need real friends.

You need real friends.

Real friends are people who care about us, easily forgive us and want the best for us.  They are the people in our lives who cheer us on in the good times and listen well with extra tissues ready during the bad times.

I am fortunate enough to have several real friends in my life.

These friends love me enough to speak up if I’m getting off track.  They hold me accountable for behavior that is not good for me.  They subtly (and not so subtly) ask questions about my choices when my behavior is not going to help me reach the goals they know I want to achieve.  They love me enough to speak truth into my life at the right time.

These friends also have shared this journey of faith with me.  They have walked beside me as, together, we experience the transforming power of God in our lives.  They continue to encourage  me as God molds me into the person he created me to be and they celebrate with me when I find victory in my life through my relationship with God.

They help bring me to Jesus.

This is just like the four men who brought their paralyzed friend to Jesus in the second chapter of Mark.  Their friend couldn’t move, so his four friends carried him around on a mat.  They heard that this man, Jesus, was healing people – even paralyzed people – so they were determined to get their friend to Jesus.

You might think they would have been discouraged when they arrived and saw the huge crowd of people around the house that Jesus was in.  They didn’t care – this was their friend and this was going to happen….today…..right now.

So they carried their friend on his mat up to the top of the house and dug a hole in the roof right over Jesus’ head.  Then they lowered the mat down in front of Jesus.

Seeing the faith of his friends, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, ” Stand up, pick up your mat and go home.”

“And the man jumped up, grabbed his mat and walked through the stunned onlookers.”  (Mark 2: 11-12)

Jesus honored the faith of this man’s friends and healed him by the touch of his hand.

I know I have friends who need to get to Jesus.

Do you?

Are we good enough friends to help them get close enough to be touched by our Savior?

Please help us be good friends, Abba Father.

One Very Important Sentence

This one sentence does a great job of summing up the Good News – “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

If you wanted to memorize just one verse of the entire Bible, this would be it.  John 3:16. 

God loved us so much that he sent his only son, Jesus Christ, to pay the price for all of our sins for all time on the cross.  Because of Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection, those of us who put our faith in him can have an eternal relationship with God which starts here on earth and ends in heaven …. forever.

This is the most important news anyone can ever hear.  People who are not Christ-followers don’t know it, but they are looking for Jesus.  They might think they are looking for a better job, a better spouse or a better house, but they are really looking for Jesus.  We were all created with a God – shaped hole which only God can fill.  There will be an emptiness in our lives until we accept the salvation offered by Jesus and live in his Light.

This emptiness explains a lot of what we’re seeing go on in our world right now.  People are looking for something and they aren’t finding it so there is anger, frustration, confusion and unrest.  Evil thrives in this kind of environment.  This will continue until they look to Jesus to fill that hole.  He’s the only answer.

I cannot remember a time in my life when it was more important for those of us who have put our faith in Jesus to share our stories, share the Good News, share our trust in God and share that we know how this story is going to end.  Judging those who do not know Jesus is not the right response to what is going on.  Jesus tells us today that loving those who haven’t accepted the free gift of salvation yet is the right answer.

God has already claimed victory, we’re just living through the mess that Satan is masterminding.  Satan is winning some battles, but we have nothing to fear – God has won the war.

Amen!  Hallelujah!

This Is It!

It’s what I need!

As the mountain of craziness in this world around me grows, I need to find a way to stay grounded on what is good and right and helpful. Jesus shines his light on my path as I read the account of his discussion with Satan in the dessert.

Satan is confronting Jesus after he has been fasting for 40 days. My first thought was that the human part of Jesus were probably in a weakened state after all this time. After thinking about it, he has been in constant communication with his Father for 40 days straight so physically he may have been weakened, but spiritually he was strong and well fed.

Satan tried three times in three different ways to try to tempt Jesus to show off his power and rule the world like an earthly King.  Instead of giving in, Jesus quoted scripture – God’s Word – back to Satan.

God’s Word is the truth and it stood up to all of Satan’s lies over 2000 years ago. Just like it stands up against all of the lies Satan is spewing across our culture today.

Reading, studying and applying God’s Word to my life is the only way I’m going to be able to navigate through all the lies, fake news, wrong thinking, lack of integrity, manipulation and secret agendas that are swirling around me today.

This same crud is swirling around you.

Are you looking for something solid to hang on to through this storm? God and his Word to you is the answer.

Thank you for your Truth, Abba Father.

Am I Good Enough?

Being ‘good enough’ is not my goal.  Getting my act together is not my goal.  Checking all the boxes – keeping busy with ‘God’ stuff – is not my goal.

The historical account of Jesus’ baptism tells me what pleases God.

I do.

When I trusted in Jesus and was redeemed by his sacrifice on the cross, I was adopted by God and became one of his precious daughters.  ‘Joint heirs with Jesus’ – as an old hymn describes it.  What Jesus did for me makes me ‘good enough’.

While reading about Jesus’ baptism, I realize that Jesus hadn’t started his ministry yet.  He hadn’t DONE anything for God.  But God spoke from heaven to let everyone know that Jesus was his son and he was ‘well pleased’.

Let’s take a moment to let that soak in, my brothers and sisters.  Jesus was God’s son and God was pleased with him – before his ministry began.  Before he did any miracles.  Before he did any teaching.

Accepting salvation through Jesus makes you and I children of God – and he is pleased with us.i-am-pleased

Feel his smile shining down on you.

Feel his unconditional love.

Feel his forgiveness for any guilt that is weighing heavy on your shoulders.

Feel his peace flow over you in a supernatural way.

Feel his strength flow through you as he walks right beside you each day.

Let his joy fill your heart today.

Don’t DO anything.  Just feel the pleasure he has as he looks at you.  He sees himself in you.  We are all created in his image, yet each one of us reflects different aspects of him – making us all uniquely his.

I am important to God.  He has made me special.

You are very important to him.  He has made you special.

And he is pleased.

Thank you, Abba Father.

Watch It Happen

When I see something that needs to done or fixed, my first inclination is to make a plan, figure it out and get it done.

God regularly stops me and tells me there is a better way. He challenges me to bring the issue that is bothering me to him and let him take care of it. He promises that the outcome will be better if I let him take control.

So I have to smile as I read Zechariah’s story in the book of Luke.  Zechariah was a priest. He and his wife, Elizabeth, were old and childless when the angel of the LORD appeared to him.  Yes, Gabriel showed up again.

Zechariah was “gripped with fear” when he saw Gabriel.  Angels like Gabriel must be awesome creatures because the first thing they always say to us humans is, “Fear not”. Then Gabriel went on to tell Zechariah that he and Elizabeth were going to have a son who was going to do great things for God. They were to name this son John and he was going to prepare the way for the Messiah.

Immediately, Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this?” He and his wife were obviously way too old to have a baby.

Gabriel looked at him (my paraphrase), rolled his eyes and, with a hint of frustration in his voice, said, “God, the all-powerful creator and sustainer of the universe, the Great I AM, the most Holy One, sent me to tell you this great news and you ask that silly question?  You need to stop talking and just watch God make it all happen just as he has said.”

Zechariah could not speak again until the baby was born.

I have learned that sometimes I need to stop asking questions, trust God and watch him work things out for my good right in front of my eyes – through his power and on his own timeline.  It can be very difficult for me to patiently wait for him to move but, when he does, it’s the right thing at the right time, every time.  It’s truly amazing to watch as God opens doors, moves mountains and orchestrates blessings in my life.  

This hasn’t been an easy lesson for me to learn. It takes a lot of trust to give problems, issues and situations to God and leave it all in his hands.

But – believe me – it’s worth it.

Thank you, Abba Father.