Disappointed

Extremely disappointed.

In the past, that was how I often felt when I observed the behaviors of some people who call themselves Christians.  Disappointed.  It was hard not to question what ‘having faith’ meant when Christians were gossiping, using profanity, lying and basically not looking any different than the unbelieving world around us.

Where’s the transformation?

Where is the evidence that the Holy Spirit is alive inside of us?

The fact that I wasn’t impressed by many Christian’s behavior kept me from seriously working on my relationship with Christ.  What’s the use?

I was stuck in that thinking for a while until my husband gave me a word of truth that entirely flipped my perspective.  He said, “Judy, you need to get your eyes off of people and focus on Jesus.”

Bam!  He was so right!  I was being stalled in growing in my faith by looking at the faults of people instead of using Jesus’ role-model as my guide.

Paul reminds us in Romans 3 that God is always faithful.  “Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true.”

After refocusing, I no longer have Christians up on a pedestal.  My expectations of the behavior of Christians has become more reasonable – we are all people who need God’s grace living in a broken world.  Yes, even pastors and leaders in the church are in need of God’s grace.

One of the reasons God sent Jesus to earth was to give us a real live example of how we should live.  I have started focusing on Jesus and his behavior, not people.  Jesus is perfect, people definitely aren’t.  Other Christians will disappoint me, hurt me and they might say and do things that are not helpful or even true.

Since I’ve gotten my eyes set on Jesus, I know my response to these disappointing behaviors needs to be grace, love and forgiveness.  Christians are also called to hold each other accountable – with love and truth.   That’s what Jesus did as he constantly had to deal with the ‘humanness’ of his disciples.

Jesus is my role-model.  He perfectly balanced love and truth.  He is forever faithful and trustworthy.

He never disappoints.

Thank you, Jesus.

 

Made Right

Do you feel it?

Paul tells us in Romans, “This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight.  This is accomplished from start to finish by faith.”

Through my faith in Jesus, I am ‘made right’ in God’s eyes.  I have been adopted as God’s daughter and given a free ride into heaven by his grace –

not because of anything I’ve done, in spite of the things I have done.

I know, it’s hard to really accept God’s grace.  It feels like I should be trying to be ‘good enough’ to earn it.  All of the religions of the world except Christianity instruct their followers on how to earn a ticket to heaven.

But I know it’s impossible for me to earn it.  I can’t be ‘good enough’ on my own.

So Jesus paid the price for me.

And I live my life in gratitude to my Father God for making the Way possible for me.  Anything good that I do comes from being thankful for what Jesus did for me.  I want to please my Father God and shine his light of love on others whenever possible.

As the sun rises each morning, I feel God’s love and acceptance as he wraps his arms around me when, with my Bible open on my lap, God and I get together for our ‘morning talks.’  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have been ‘made right’ by Jesus.

Do you feel it?

Thank you, Abba Father.

My World Shook

My world turn upside down and inside out when my son, David Glasser, was killed in the line of duty.

The sun didn’t shine as brightly after he was killed and the nights were much darker.  The emptiness was consuming, the loss overwhelming.

Yes, my world shook to its core.

Paul writes to the Thessalonians that he is sending Timothy to them to ‘strengthen you, to encourage you in you faith and to keep you from being shaken by the troubles you were going through.”

I can relate.

The only thing that didn’t shake when Davey was killed was my faith.  God kept me solidly planted beside him as the rest of my life quaked around me.  God held me secure as everything flipped and crumbled and blew up.

Thank you, Abba Father.

Paul goes on to say, “But you know that we are destined for such troubles.”

I hear you, God.  I’m not done with having troubles as long as I live on this broken planet.  There will be more.

There are more.

And I have learned that the only response to ‘troubles’ that works is to trust and obey.  God has a purpose and a plan.  God is in control and nothing is impossible for him.  He loves me and wants the best for me.  These are facts that don’t change because of my circumstances.  It’s the truth even when I don’t understand it.

Amen.  So be it.

It Makes Sense….

that it doesn’t make sense.

Paul says to us in Galatians, “I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning.  I received my message from no human source and no one taught me.”

The Bible has a supernatural message that people without the Holy Spirit living inside of them cannot understand.  It doesn’t make sense to them because it’s ‘from no human source.’

So you and I can’t let the fact that other people ‘don’t get it’ distract us or confuse us or make us doubt the wisdom and guidance we receive from God as we read the Bible.

God speaks through his Word.

He talks to me.

He stops me when he wants me to take some extra time thinking about a certain section of his Word – like the verses I mentioned here.

I am so grateful that the Bible is not like any other book on earth.  Other books I have read inspire me but I’ve never heard my Father’s voice in my head reading me the words when he wants to draw specific attention to something.  Other authors have insight and experience that have helped me and encouraged me but none of them have the wisdom that God has.  Some authors have great imaginations and clever plot changes but none of that is the truth coming straight from the Creator of the Universe.

Only the Bible has His voice.

Only the Bible has a direct revelation from Him.

Thank you for your Word, Abba Father.

This Can’t Be Good

This is not going to turn out well.

These thoughts often go through my head when things happen in my life that I don’t like, didn’t plan for and I know they are going to be difficult to deal with.

But I have learned, these events look very different when I look at them through a rear view mirror.   I realize that- every time- these tough experiences took me in a new direction where God wanted to bless me.  I’ve had several situations happen in my life which took years of work to maneuver through only to realize that God had a long line of blessings waiting for me on the other side.  I’m trusting God right now that the same thing will happen in relation to the death of my son.  Because of the great loss here on earth, I know there’s a good chance that I won’t realize those blessings until I’m sitting at the feet of my Father in heaven.  But it will happen.

I’m sure the new Christians in Acts thought that the wave of persecution which began after the Holy Spirit came to them was a very bad thing.  Christians were hunted down and killed by people like Saul whose name later changed to Paul.

The persecution separated the Christians and send them out through the regions of Judea and Samaria.

“But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went.”

Do you see what I see?  What Satan meant for evil, God used for good.  It’s certainly not the plan for evangelism that anyone would pick, but it worked.  People all over the country heard about the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ because of the growing hostility to Christians.

It didn’t look good, but God used it for good.

This is how I choose to look at tough situations in my life.   God can bring something good from it.

He always has.

He always will.

Thank you, Abba Father.

They Looked For Him

They looked,

but they were looking in the wrong place.

After Jesus was crucified, he was buried and a large stone was rolled over the front of his grave.  Three days later, Mary Magdalene and several other women went to the tomb with burial spices to finish anointing Jesus’ body.  His body had been hastily placed in the tomb because he died right before the Sabbath so they couldn’t complete the work.

Now the women came to finish the preparation of his body for final burial.

Imagine their surprise when they saw the huge stone rolled away from the tomb with an angel sitting on it!  The soldiers guarding the tomb had fainted when the angel appeared so they were laying all over the ground in front of the stone.

Then the angel spoke to the women, “Don’t be afraid.  I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified.  He isn’t here!  He is risen from the dead, just like he said would happen.”

Jesus was no longer in the grave.

He was alive!

He is alive!

He left earth but he send the Holy Spirit who lives inside of each person who puts their faith in Jesus.  The Spirit guides us and encourages us – helping to transform us from the inside out.

Today, many people are still looking for what only Jesus can give.  They are looking for things like fulfillment, peace, guidance, purpose and love.  But our world disappoints us with only fleeting glimpses of these things.

Jesus was, is and always will be The Way.  He guides me on the right path, teaches me his unchanging truth and has given me eternal life with him.  My eternal life has started here on earth and will continue when Jesus walks with me into heaven some day.

I don’t have to look any farther.

Thank you, Jesus.

Today

It should have been me.

The thief up on the cross next to Jesus was sentenced to die for the bad things he had done.

That was me….before I put my faith in Jesus.

My rebellion, self-centeredness, and lack of compassion are a few of the reasons I should have been on that cross.

The Great News is Jesus was up there on the cross for me…..and for you.  He who knew no sin became sin for us.  He bore the weight of all of the world’s sin – once and for all.  You and I can be redeemed from spiritual death by accepting the free gift of salvation that only Jesus can give.

As I read this account in Luke 23, I visualize Jesus turning to me, looking me in the eye and saying, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

For the thief, it was that day.  Oh, glorious day!

For me, it probably won’t be today – although it could be.

And I’m ready.

There will be a day for me when it is ‘today’ because I have committed my heart and life to Jesus.  This passage in the Bible reassures me.  The thief did nothing to earn his way into heaven.  He put his faith in Jesus and it was done.  He didn’t say a prayer or specific words and he was never baptized.  Jesus knew his heart just like Jesus knows my heart.

This passage also tells me there is no waiting – no purgatory, no additional steps.

Today.

In paradise.

Thank you, Jesus 

Sifted

What does it mean to be sifted?

Ash is sifted to find anything important or useful in it.  Wheat is sifted so the unusable chaff is separated from the valuable grains.

I know what it feels like to be sifted.  My world shook when my son,  David Glasser, who was a Phoenix Police officer was shot and killed in the line of duty on May 18, 2016.  Parts of my life crumbled.  My hopes and dreams for him were stripped away.  All of his future disappeared, leaving gaping holes full of hurt in my world.

And what was left?

I had to dig deep…..

very deep,

into my faith and what I knew to be true in order to stay standing in the middle of the devastation.

Harsh sifting.

So Jesus’ words to Peter in Luke 22 stop me.  “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat.  But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail.  So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.”

Satan asked to sift the disciples – this is not the first time I have read this but it’s the first time it has sunk in.  Satan knew that Jesus expected the disciples to share the Great News of salvation to world so the disciples became a pivotal target for Satan.

Jesus knew that Peter would deny him three times in one night.  Major sifting.  So Jesus was encouraging Peter that his faith could not only withstand the shaking it was going to get, it was going to become stronger.  Through this experience of denying Jesus, then repenting and turning back to him, Peter would be more prepared to help strengthen his brothers.

I have learned there is purpose in the pain when I let God control how it all shakes out.  My prayer is that my sharing this with you will help strengthen you when you are sifted.

Thank you for your truth, Abba Father.

There is a Place for Me

A place is prepared for me.

It has my name on it.  My ‘forever home’ is in my Father’s house.

Jesus is there right now preparing my place.  And – at the right time – he’s going to come back, take my hand and walk with me into heaven.  When it’s the right time, I will go to be with him – forever.  Maybe we’ll ride up on a cloud. 

Jesus promised me this in John 14 and he always keeps his promises.  He also says, “And you know the way to where I am going.”

Yes, I do know the way.  I have been reading and studying God’s revelation to us for many years.  The whole Bible is God’s love story.  God loved me and sent his son to pay the price for my rebellion and sin so I could be set free here on earth and then live forever with him in heaven.

Are you coming with me?

Amen.  Hallelujah!

Thank you, Father.

Words that Changed My Life

They challenged me.

They held me accountable for what I had been saying my entire life.

These are the words Jesus said in John 14:

“If you love me, keep my commands”.

I had been saying I loved Jesus since I was old enough to talk.  I was brought up in a Christian family who lived out their faith in a small Christian town.  For much of my childhood, I thought everyone was a Christian because everyone in my life went to church.

I remember seriously being in love with Jesus when I was younger.  I read my Bible and talked to him all of the time.  Somewhere along the way, I slipped into being more of a ‘cultural Christian’ than actually having a relationship with God.  I went to church, I served at church, I gave money to the church, I participated in small group Bible studies and I talked about loving Jesus but God really didn’t have a big place in my daily life.   My Bible was gathering dust, but I still said I loved Jesus.

Then the Holy Spirit convicted me with these words, “If you love me, keep my commands.”  He made it clear to me that he wasn’t talking about the 10 commandments in the Old Testament.  Jesus had fulfilled all of the old law and given me two new commandments.  Only two.

The first – I need to love the Lord my God with all my heart, all my mind and all my soul.

The second – love others as myself.

These are it.  Everything else falls under these two commandments.

The Holy Spirit told me, if I really loved Jesus, I would strive to keep these two commandments.  If I didn’t start sincerely trying to obey these two, I needed to stop saying I loved Jesus.

I was blown away!  I had never taken the commandment to love God first seriously.  I was a wife and a working mother of two small kids at the time.  I had so many responsibilities and things to do I just couldn’t imagine adding all the stuff it would take to love God first!

But there was no way I was going to stop saying I loved Jesus.  No way.   I knew it was a part of who I was at the center of my soul.  So I was going to have to go for it and figure it out as I went.

It didn’t take me long to realize, when I put God first, he helped me with everything else.  He grew me into a better wife, a better mother, a better daughter and sister, a better employee, a better boss, a better friend – he made my entire life better.  Putting him first in my life made my existence so much more meaningful and ‘worth it’.  He filled the empty spots in my heart and made me whole.

When I put God first in my life, he taught me how to love others.  As my life filled with his love, it overflowed to those around me.  I didn’t have to try to obey the second command – it naturally happened as the love of my Father transformed me from the inside out.

One verse piercing my soul through the Holy Spirit changed the tragectory of my entire life.  It put me on the path on I am on today – my Journey towards the Truth.

Thank you for joining me on this journey

Thank you for loving me first, Abba Father.