What Are You Looking For?

They looked,

but they were looking in the wrong place.

Have you ever found yourself looking in the wrong place for something you wanted?  I have.  It’s a confusing experience.  Lots of disappointment.

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.”  Matthew 28: 5-6.

Jesus was no longer in the grave.

He was alive!

He is alive!

Jesus 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 continues to disappoint 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 have found the Way.

What are you looking for?

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, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” vs 43.

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 come 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 say specific words and he was never baptized.  Jesus knew the thief’s 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 

Do It!

Do you have questions about what God wants you to do?

Do you have various options but you aren’t sure which one is the right one?

One of the huge benefits of faithfully reading God’s Word is how clearly God answers these questions for me. God is constantly pointing out my priorities.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Mathew 22: 36-39.

These are the top two. Love God. Love others. I need to do these – all day, every day.

Earlier in Matthew, Jesus has some more clear directions to those of us who have put our faith in him.

“You are the salt of the earth.” Matthew 5:13.

“You are the light of the world.” Matthew 5:14.

How am I supposed to be light? Our dark world needs a lot of light, doesn’t it? I am Christ’s hands and feet on this earth. When I share his love and truth, I am spreading his light. When my life and attitude are different in a positive way from the darkness that is quickly spreading across our country, my life shines for Christ.

How am I supposed to be salt? I need to be engaged in my culture, sprinkling God’s love over the people around me. When I’m living my faith out loud I bring the flavor of Christ – his caring, forgiveness and truth – with me where ever I go.

When I have options and choices, these scriptures help me decide. Which option helps me show my love for God and love other’s the most? What choice is the best in making my life salt and light in my corner of this earth?

What about you? What does it mean to you when Jesus says you are the salt and light of the world?

He challenging us – are we accepting that challenge?

There is no time better than today to do it!

Please light up our paths, Abba Father, and guide our steps.

All In

Have you been keeping your distance from Jesus? Do you believe he is the Son of God but you just don’t want to get too close? You don’t want to go ‘all in’? You don’t want to have to give up things you enjoy?

Many of us are like Zacchaeus. When he found out that Jesus was coming, he really wanted to see Jesus so he ran ahead and climbed into a tree to get over the heads of the crowd. He didn’t fight through the crowd so he could get close to Jesus. He kept his distance.

But that’s not how it works with Jesus. When he saw Zacchaeus, Jesus looked right at him and said, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.’ So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly, ” Luke 19:5 Getting close to Jesus changed Zacchaeus’ life forever.

And that is what we need to do if we want to experience the love and joy of a relationship with Jesus. We need to get up front and personal with him. Get out of our trees. Get out of our old habits and traditions.

The only way to genuinely know Jesus is to go ‘all in’.

That’s my story. I had a close relationship with Jesus as a child but wandered as a young adult. Then I came back to church but stayed on the sidelines – enjoying the benefits of a spiritual family but not taking my relationship with God too seriously.

I knew I was on the right track but inside I was miserable and empty. When God challenged me to put him first in my life, I felt I had nothing to lose so I went for it. That’s when I found the love, grace, joy peace and purpose I was looking for. It was almost immediate.

I didn’t have to give up things I liked. I took some things out of my life because I didn’t want them anymore. The things I like have gradually changed the closer I’ve gotten to God.

And the closer to God I get, the easier it is to hear him speak and see him move. It just keeps getting better.

If you’ve been been keeping your distance from Jesus,

you have no idea what you are missing.

God is challenging you today to go ‘all in’.

He Makes All the Difference

When ‘The Chosen’ series came out, I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch it because I usually don’t like the movie if I’ve read the book. And I’m reading this book – the Bible- for the 11th time.

So I started streaming it with critical eyes and my hand ready to turn it off if it was wrong and not representing my Father well. The first episode was about Mary who was possessed by many demons. I don’t know about you, but Satan turns my stomach. The Evil One is so real to me that it was very hard to watch Mary struggle with the demons on the screen. The characters in the show were trying to help her and I kept saying in my head with my stomach churning while watching this, “When is Jesus going to show up?”

I just finished reading the Old Testament in the Chronological Bible for the 11th time. It ended at a time that the Israelites had turned back to God and recommitted to following him. But the last 10 months of reading have been full of stories of people turning their back on God, disobeying him, and worshipping weird, worthless idols. The Old Testament ends with the faithful people saying, “When is the Messiah going to show up?”

Then I look up from my Bible and see the world around me. What a mess! Evil is revered and rampant. Important values are disappearing daily. Ignoring God and his truth is at an all time high – even in our churches. It would be easy to look around and say, “When is Jesus going to show up?”

The good news for us is that Jesus has already ‘showed up’. Over 2 thousand years ago he came to earth and sacrificed his life so we can have a personal relationship with God that starts here and continues on into eternity in heaven. After Jesus died for us and raised himself back to life before going back to heaven, he send his Spirit here to live inside all those who put their faith in him.

Jesus is here. His Spirit is alive here.

As I write that, I feel such a relief! Because when Jesus showed up for Mary in the “The Chosen”, he sent all the demons away and she transformed in a beautiful, happy woman who committed her life to serving Jesus. Jesus made all the difference.

Knowing Jesus is here gives me relief as I finish reading the Old Testament which is filled with stories of the Israelite’s lack of faith and hundreds of years of wavering commitment. When we choose to put our faith in him, his Spirit can help us remain faithful and committed. Jesus makes all the difference.

I even feel relieved when I look around at all the issues in our current culture. Jesus is here. He is in control. He gives me peace and love and fills my empty spaces in a world that is a ‘train wreck’.

Jesus makes all the difference today and every day.

Thank you for being here, Jesus.

I’ve Got Your Back

When we want to accomplish something big, it takes a team.  One person can only do what one person can get done.

I have discovered when a group of people join energy and brainpower to tackle a goal together, their efforts are multiplied and good things happen. I’ve seen big successes roll in when a team of people are engaged, committed to working together and helping each other achieve a goal.

And when God is involved I have seen a supernatural factor come into play that is truly astounding to witness.  Projects turn out much better than planned.  Blessings pile up.  We see our faith growing as, together, we experience the power of God in our lives.

Has this happened to you? I’ve experienced this many times and its exciting every time it happens.

I find the historical account of Nehemiah leading the Israelites in rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem to be very motivating.  The Jews were being attacked regularly by their enemies who didn’t want them to complete the wall.  They were very discouraged.

We’ve all been there.

Nehemiah refused to stop building.  He knew that he had been sent back to Jerusalem to lead this project so he couldn’t stop.  He organized the men into teams, “From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bow and armor. Nehemiah 4:16. They protected their brothers with everything they had.

Working together,

protecting each other,

they accomplished the goal of rebuilding the wall.

They could not have done it without each other.

Our Spiritual family is like this.  We need each other.  Each one of us needs to identify our spiritual gifts in order to build each other up and fulfill our purpose of reaching others for Christ. We watch each other’s backs – loving and forgiving each other in supernatural ways.

And we love those who don’t know Jesus yet

while our Spiritual family supports us and cheers us on.

We can do this, because God first loved us…

and He has our backs.

How Did I Get Here?

I have a story.

You have a story.

How did we get here? Tell me about the mountains you climbed and I’ll tell you about the valleys I’ve struggled through.

God tells us in Psalm 107 that we all need to share our stories.  “Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story.” Psalm 107: 2.

Each of us has a unique tale to share.

Some of us have wandered, looking for a place to belong. We were hungry for love, starving for a purpose. When we cried out to God, he drew us closer to himself – to the place he made just for us. God gave us a purpose to get up every morning.

Let us tell our story, giving thanks to God for he is good.

Others of us lived in darkness, bound by chains of rebellion and addiction, stumbling through life with no help in sight. But we cried out to the LORD and he brought us out of the utter darkness, breaking all of our chains.

Let us tell our story, giving thanks to God for he is good.

Some of us made very foolish decisions and were suffering through the consequences of those to the point of thinking that death might be an option.  But, instead, we turned to God for help and he healed us, rescuing us from the living death we found ourselves in.

Let us tell our story, giving thanks to God for he is good.

Others of us have experienced violent storms in our lives as huge waves of pain and grief washed over us. When our courage and strength were gone, we finally cried out to the LORD and he “stilled the storm with a whisper” (Psalm 107:29), calmed the waves and guided us home to him.

Let us tell our story, giving thanks to God for he is good.

My story is that I have loved Jesus my entire life but I had never made him Lord of my life. In my young adulthood I decided to wander – trying out all the ‘fun’ things the world had to offer. It seemed great at first but gradually my life because very empty, my soul was constantly searching for real joy. So I called out to God who made it very clear to me that he had never left me. When I turned back to him, I found him waiting for me with open arms.

When I got off the throne of my life and put Jesus on it, I found the joy I had been looking for.

God has been drawing me closer to him as I travel this Journey towards the Truth each day. I have left the emptiness and darkness behind, finding meaning and light because I put God first in my life. 

I will continue to tell my story for the rest of my life, giving thanks to God for he is good.

The Hard Truth

I love all the blessings God has showered down on me. I cherish all of the great people God has brought into my life. I appreciate all the awesome things God has given me to enjoy on this earth.

It’s so easy to be happy and praise God when I focus on all of the good things in my life.

But how do I react when something bad happens in my life? The book of Job in the Bible is a great one to study when devastation shakes up our world.

After Satan kills all of Job’s children, Job responds with “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away: may the name of the LORD be praised.” Job 1:21 – 22.

Hard, hard truth. All of us at sometime experience ‘the LORD gave and the LORD has taken away’ part of this truth. I didn’t know how horrible this could be until my son, David Glasser, who was a Phoenix Police Officer, was killed in the line of duty on May 18, 2016. God gave me Davey for 34 1/2 precious years and then God took him away.

A tragedy. A huge loss that filled my world with grief and pain. It has been a tsunami that continues to smash dreams I had and crush hopes of what my future with Davey in my life was going to look like.

I don’t like it. I don’t understand it. God and I have had many conversations about it and I have come to one conclusion.

I submit. I submit to God’s will. I submit to his purpose. I will never like it, and I probably will never understand it. So I submit.

God is perfect. He is good, all the time. He wants the best for me. He is working all things out for my good. When I filter all of my circumstances through these truths, God gives me peace and the strength to face a future here on earth without Davey.

The LORD gives and he takes away.

May the name of the LORD be praised.

Really Living

A valley of bones.

Millions of bones.

When God breathed into them – “they came to life and stood up on their feet – a vast army.” Ezekiel 37:10.

Wow!!

Growing up in church, I always thought this vision of Ezekiel should be preached around Halloween because a valley full of dry bones suddenly connecting and standing up is weird as well as a little scary.

How time changes things! Now I love this visual because it’s exactly what happened when I turned over my whole heart to God.  His breath went deep into my soul and – for the first time – I was truly alive.  I have an eternal purpose.  I have been re-created into one of the soldiers in his army – wearing his armor and working hard next to my spiritual brothers and sisters to share the Good News and push back evil.  Each day, I read and study God’s word – getting to know him better and listening as he speaks truth into my life.

Are you looking for purpose? Are you looking for guidance? Are you looking for hope?

God gives me hope.  Not the ‘I wish’ kind of hope.  This hope is cemented into my heart by the promises of God.  I know who is in control and I know he is working everything out for my good.  I know where I’m going when I leave this earth.  I know who wins in the end.

God’s redeeming love has turned my dry bones into something good and useful.  His breath moves in my heart and soul – bringing new life each day.

There are no dry bones here.

What’s the condition of your bones?  Would you like to experience a new breath of God’s spirit in your soul?

Turn to him and ask, he’s waiting for you.

Fill it Up!

“The cloud filled the temple and the court was full of the radiance of the glory of the LORD.” Ezekiel 10:4.

This was one part of a vision that God gave to Ezekiel and I love visualizing this when I’m in a worship service where something special is happening.  Our pastor always transitions into a simple explanation of the gospel at the end of each of his teachings and then invites anyone who had not yet accepted God’s gift of grace to do it that day.  I love this because I think too many churches assume everyone who is sitting in the pew is a Christ-follower.

During the prayer that always follows my pastor’s invitation, I have gotten into the habit of watching in my mind as the Spirit of God fills the room.  While I visualize this in my head, a huge cloud of grace and love and goodness billows into the room and covers the heads of everyone in the congregation. The glory of the LORD fills the space over God’s people and hangs there – crowding out fears and disbelief and regrets. I can feel the blessings of God pouring out of this cloud.

I know God is always with us all the time but I get goosebumps when I visualized the cloud of God’s spirit billowing in and changing people’s lives – redeeming them from their past mistakes and lighting the way to a better future.

Thank you for filling our lives with your grace and love, Abba.   You are a good, good Father.