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.

 

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.