Breaking Through

Have you wondered how people can say they heard God tell them something?

Do you know what it sounds like when Jesus talks to you?

This passage in John 10 tells us how to hear God’s voice.  Jesus tells us that he is the shepherd who calls his sheep by name and they follow him because they know his voice.

And how do we know his voice?  Because we know him.

We know his perspectives on things because we have studied them.   Some of them we have memorized.  Those are the easiest ones to remember because they are etched upon our hearts.

We know what he values because we have read those things over and over and are constantly trying to apply those same values to our own lives.   We know what’s important to him because we have meditated on his Word.  So when he speaks, his voice breaks through the cacophony of our lives and hits our hearts. 

We know what he says because we know him and we know his voice.

Thank you, dear Father, for calling us by name and making yourself known to us.

In an instant…..

our relationship with God totally changed. Luke tells us that it was about noon when darkness fell across the whole land.

Jesus was hanging on the cross and, as he breathed his last breathes, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple tore open from top to bottom.  There was no longer a boundary between us and God!  Jesus has paid the price for our sin and now we are all invited into the Holy of Holies. We can have a personal relationship with God – no curtain stands in our way.

Then why do we sometimes try to put the curtains back up? Why do we sometimes put up a curtain of guilt when God wants us to truly accept his grace and get rid of the guilt? Why do we sometimes put up a curtain of control – trying so hard to control our own universe ( and failing)- when God wants us to live a life of freedom, dependent on Him because he only wants the best for us?
Dear Father, thank you for opening up a way for us to become your children. Help us to keep our lives and hearts open so we can enjoy the maximum benefits from our relationship with you.

Don’t Give In

I never noticed this before.  They are at the Mount of Olives the night before Jesus was crucified and Jesus tells Peter, James and John to ‘pray that you will not give in to temptation’.

Later, when Jesus finds them sleeping, he once again tells them to ‘pray so that you will not give in to temptation’.

Temptation to do what?  To go back to sleep?  To be afraid of what was to come?  We know how easily we can become fearful and the danger approaching the disciples was very real and deadly.  Would they be tempted to deny they knew Jesus because of the risk that represented?  We all know Peter fell into that trap, too. 

Not give in to what?  What do you think?

What was up with the Parents?

How could this happen? The Israelites didn’t teach their children about God so a whole generation grew up not acknowledging God and not remembering what he had done for them.
What were the parents thinking? That someone else would hand down a legacy of faithfulness to their children? Maybe they thought it was the priests’ job and the priests thought the parents were doing it?
They didn’t pass along the stories of God’s provision for them in the wilderness? They didn’t tell the awesome stories about God dividing the Red Sea for them and drowning the Egyptians so they couldn’t follow them and kill them?
These are great stories – what were these parents doing?
Were they distracted by their daily responsibilities? Did they just wander away from their faith? Were they lured away from the truth by the attractiveness of some of the other gods people were worshipping? Did they find such little value in the rich spiritual heritage that had been handed down to them through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that it just wasn’t important to them?
And now that I’m a grandmother, I have to ask where the grandparents were? These people were living to 100 years old – what were they doing with their Godly influence? The grandparents knew better even if the parents were missing the mark.

I just don’t understand it.

Dear Father, we thank you for Godly parents and grandparents who teach their children about you.

This is Your Opportunity

In Luke 21, Jesus is talking with his disciples about the persecution they will be facing as his followers. He tells them they will be dragged into prisons and put on trial. “But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me.” These trials and persecutions were going to give them an audience with a lot of people and Jesus told them that this would be their opportunity to share the Good News. He promises them that he would give them the right words to say.
History tells us that the disciples had a lot of opportunities to witness to the truth of Jesus Christ:
Matthew was nailed to the ground with spikes and beheaded.
Jude was beaten to death with sticks and clubs.
Simon was tortured and crucified.
Philip was scourged and crucified.
John, son of Zebedee, was tortured and exiled.
James, brother of John, was beheaded.
James was pushed from the top of a building; then his broken body was beaten to death.
Bartholomew was beaten and skinned alive before being beheaded.
Thomas was speared with a javelin.
And Peter was crucified – upside down.

The fact that we know all about the Good News today is proof that they took advantage of these opportunities. They did not keep silent even when it meant torture and death. They were ordinary men but it was clear that they had been with Jesus, and that he had changed their lives forever.  They couldn’t stop talking about him.

Thank you, dear Father, for choosing men who were fearless enough to be your witnesses so that we can know the Truth today.

Fickle People

Ruled by their emotions. Following the crowd. Praising and singing and shouting blessings to the same man they  would scream ‘Crucify him’ for in less than a week.

Looking back on this week in history, we can see how God let the Evil One spread his lies and influence Jesus’ followers so that God’s ultimate purpose of Christ’s death on the cross could be accomplished. The Pharisees thought they were finally going to win but actually they were just Satan’s soldiers, letting the King of Lies work through them to accomplish HIS purpose.

Are we ever fickle like the Isrealites? Faithful one day and doing our own thing the next? Doing everything we can to control the world and then wondering why God has permitted us to experience the consequences of those decisions? Praising him on Sunday while focusing on our own agenda on Monday through Saturday? 

Do you think Satan is happy when we’re off track and open to his tricks?

Dear Father, we are soooo grateful that you loved us enough to send your son…even when we’re being fickle people.

I am a Persistent Widow!

She knocks on the unjust judge’s door once and waits. There is no answer so she knocks again. The judge ignores her, hoping she’ll go away because he has no interest in her. But she knocks again, she doesn’t give up. She wears him down with her constant requests and the judge finally decides to give her justice just so that she’ll go away and stop bugging him.

This crooked judge gave her justice because she persisted.

How Much More our heavenly father has for us if we persist?  The unjust judge gave into the widow’s consistent pleas even though he cared nothing about her.  Our God loves us and he wants the best for us.  So How Much More peace, understanding, love, wisdom and guidance will he give us if we will persist in asking and never give up?

This has become one of my favorite stories in the Bible because it changed my daily, hourly response to concerns and issues in my life.  I have become the persistent widow.  I bring whatever it is to God every time it comes into my mind….over and over.  Family concerns, money issues, time crunches, health questions, relationship struggles, work worries, world crisis’, fear of the future….all of it.  I knock on God’s door and just keep knocking,  And he always answers with whatever I need at the time.  He covers me with a blanket of peace.  He shines a new ray of hope in my heart.  And he reminds me of his faithfulness, his power and his love for me.

Thank you, dear Father!

He’s Back!….or not?

I had to laugh.  Yes, I’m one of those crazy ladies standing in line at the grocery store and I’m laughing 🙂

Because I took a peek at the front cover of a National Inquirer hanging there and it had a big headline on the front page with the words “He’s Back!!” and a picture of Jesus superimposed over a skyscraper.

It must have been a really slow gossip week for them to have to make up that one!

Because Jesus tells us about his return in Luke 17 and he says that lightening will flash and it will light up the sky from end of end.  When the sky lights up from end to end, we’re not going to have to wait to read about it in the National Inquirer.  We will all know, without a shadow of a doubt, that this is Jesus and he is back!

Because we’re all going to see it.

Paul tells us in Romans and Phillipians that  every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.  Even those who never believed before are going to instantly understand that Jesus, their creator, the Son of God has arrived.

And this is the important stuff.  There are all kinds of ways to interpret the signs and Revelation but the main event will be Jesus arriving once again to claim those who have already claimed him as their Savior.  It will truly be impossible to miss!

Hallelujah!  Amen!

Just Step in ?!

They’re finally there!  The Israelites are ready to claim the Promised Land.  They’ve been wandering and waiting for 40 years for this moment.  All that separates them from the land that God is giving them is the Jordan River.

Joshua tells the priests to carry the Ark of the Covenant to the bank of the river and just step in.  Step In?

The Bible also tells us that the Jordan river is at flood stage and is overflowing its banks.  It’s a powerful, roaring river.  And they were supposed to step in?

Couldn’t God just dry up a path first and then they could step in on dry land?

He could have but that’s not how he does these things.  Over and over in the Bible, he asked his people for a step of faith FIRST and then they experienced his miracles and blessings in their lives.  It’s the same with us.  He asks us to respond to him in obedience even when we have no idea how he’s going to work this out for our good.  After the obedience, we get to experience the ‘how much more’ he has for us.  

Dear Father, please help our trust in you grow so that we can take the step of faiths you ask of us without worry and without doubt and without fear. 

Happiness is……

wanting what we already have.

As we sincerely seek God, he helps us understand the blessings that he has already given us. When we develop a lifestyle of gratefulness because of all of these blessings we have already received, we become truly happy – maybe for the first time in our lives.

Jesus speaks to us in our passage today from Luke about a farmer who was successful and, instead of sharing his wealth, he built more barns to store it up for himself. God calls him a fool because the farmer has focused on this earthly wealth instead of developing a rich relationship with God.  God has given him bountiful crops so he could share with others but the farmer chose to keep it all for himself.

Jesus tells us later in this passage to sell our possessions and give to the poor.  As he looks at our culture today, I think he would be pointing to all of our sheds and garages and storage units full of stuff we store away for ourselves  instead of giving it  to those who need  it.  He challenges us to be generous with our possessions, holding on to them lightly.

“Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will be also” Luke 12:34.

Dear Father, we desire to put you first in our lives.  Help us to be generous with our possessions, willingly giving to those in need.