JESUS IS…

DSCN2696Have you ever thought about, not just what Jesus is to you…but Who he is to you?  Many say he was a teacher, a prophet, or a good man.  Many look at Him as mere fire insurance.  He’s their ticket to Heaven, yet they never give Him a thought until life gets messy and then cry out for Him to fix it all.  I can say that because for a few years…I was one of those people.  We want Him to move our world, while He’s wanting our hearts to be moved…to turn to Him…to feel something for all those who need Him.  Yes, He is our only way to Heaven; “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by Me.” John 1:6.  But He is also:

  • Our Resurrection and Life.  John 11:25-26a
  • The Good Shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep.  John 10:11
  • Our Salvation. Romans 6:23, 10:13, John 1:12
  • The Lamb of God. John 1:29  Fully God yet fully Man, the only one that could pay our sin debt with His life.
  • The Light in our darkness.  2 Corinthians 4:6, John 8:12
  • The Living Water Who quenches our thirst.  John 4:14, 7:37
  • The Bread of Life Who satisfies our hunger.  John 6:35, 48
  • Through Him we have the abundant life we long for.  John 10:10
  • Our Friend.  John 15:14
  • He is Lord.  Romans 10:9, Luke 2:11, John 13:13, 1 Corinthians 12:3
  • He never changes. We can always depend on Him.  Hebrews 13:8
  • The Word.  John 1:1, 14, oh just read 1-18! ” The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us…” and this very Living Word said; “man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”  Matt. 4:4.  Friends, Jesus…the very living Word himself, says that we cannot live on food alone but on every word of God…the God breathed living Word…on Jesus.  Oh how much we need Him!  That copy of God’s Word in your hands is your life…our life.  It is the breath in our lungs.  It is what gives us the song in our hearts!  It is what teaches us of Jesus…of God’s heart and how to know Him…how to live!

He is still so much more.  He longs for us to know Him and follow Him, yet He will not ever coerce anyone to follow Him.  He invites us.  Then He leaves the choice to accept His invitation to each of us.  If you don’t know Him, will you accept His invitation to be adopted into His family today?  Repent, or turn away from your sinful life without Him and turn to Him.  If you do, I’d love to hear from you. 🙂

Who is Jesus to you?  Please share in the comments.  We can all be encouraged!

 

Love & Prayers,

Debbie

Advertisements

Don’t Despise the Desert

??????????I really dislike the desert.  It is hot (extremely hot!), barren, dusty, practically nothing grows, and it’s…well, depressing.  I thrive on greenery.  There is just something so calming about being able to see and hear the rustle of the leaves, to admire the beauty of a vast green field, or to sit in a garden – whether vegetables or flowers – that is gushing with the beauty and bounty of God’s creativity.  It makes me happy.  It inspires me.  It gives me energy.  The desert…well it just depresses me.

In Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, one definition of a desert is: “a desolate or forbidding area.”  The word “forbidding” was ??????????defined as: “not appealing, a frightening or threatening appearance”.  It is common to think of a valley as a place of hardship or trial.  It is, after all a “low point”.  But a valley many times has a stream running through it, and is lush and fertile, full of life. Each has their purpose, but given the choice…you know where you can find me!

SAM_0645 - CopyThe same is true for me spiritually.  I would much rather be in the lush green valleys with the quiet trickle of water running over the rocks.  That place where, even when life isn’t perfect, God’s Word is jumping off the pages at me, delighting me, instructing me, teaching me and comforting me.  The place where my thirst is constantly quenched with Living Water, and I am filled with the Bread of Life.  The desert is where we are constantly thirsty.  We are searching for water, looking desperately for a tree that we may sit under its branches and leaves for some protection from the scorching heat.  Searching till we think we simply cannot go on any longer.  We try to pray, try to read God’s Word, but it almost seems…meaningless, and we know that is so not true!  That is a lie of Satan, the deceiver.  He is kicking and mocking us while we are down.

Just like the physical desert, the spiritual desert is an especially difficult place to be.  I think most of us have been there at one time or another.  If not, we will be.  Why?  Deserts have their purpose, and God has His reasons.  May I be honest here?  I feel like I have been in the desert for quite some time.  Actually up until just the past few days.  Life has been quite good, with the exception of my health issues, but it could be much worse!  There have been no major trials nor problems.  I have just been struggling, fighting for that “connection” with God.  My prayers have felt like they have gone nowhere, so honestly…I’m ashamed to admit…I was barely praying for awhile.  And I know better.  I was just tired of fighting.  My time in the Word was feeling like I was just reading words on a page.  It was killing me!  I would plead with God to speak to me…and nothing.  I couldn’t understand what was happening.  Or why.

When we are in that desert place, it can feel like God is doing nothing, but He is always at work.  I was honestly so discouraged until I began to be reminded of the many people in the Bible that went through desert experiences.  Moses was in the desert for 40 years before God told him to lead the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt.  David put in a lot of desert time running and hiding from Saul before God made him king.  Even Jesus himself was led by the Spirit into the desert for 40 days to be tempted by Satan.  Desert experiences are to refine us.  They are to prepare us for what God has ahead of us.  Deuteronomy 8 tells us of the many ways God works through the desert experiences we may go through.

 

You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness….that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.  Deut. 8:2

When the going gets tough do we quit?  Give up?  I am so ashamed that I did not keep up the fight for a time.  That I did not persevere in prayer.  I wimped out.  I am so thankful for God’s forgiveness, grace and mercy.  So thankful He does not give up on me.

He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know….that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.  vs.3

Desert times remind us that we have to live by God’s Word.  Even when we don’t seem to be getting anything out of it, it is still transforming us from the inside out.  His Word is our very breath and life.  Nothing else will breathe life into our lungs, into our very being, like the Word of God.

Thus you are to know in you heart that the Lord your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son.  Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the Lord you God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him.  For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land…                  vs. 5,6,7a

We are to fear God, meaning to view Him with reverential awe.  He is God.  We are not.  He wants us to obey Him.  We won’t know what or how we are supposed to obey unless we are….yep, you got it…reading His Word!  He has great things in store for you…and me!  He is always at work in our lives, even when it seems He is silent.  We need to persevere when we feel like giving up, and remember that God always has a greater purpose in mind than our suffering.  He is bringing us to a better place.

No discipline seems pleasant at the time but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.   Hebrews 12:11

Though I still dislike the barrenness of the desert, I will no longer view it the same way.  I don’t care to travel there again any time soon, but I will remember the lessons I have learned.  Prayerfully I will be stronger because of them.  Friend, if you find yourself in that desert place, don’t despair.  Keep reading.  Keep praying.  Keep seeking.  He promises you will find Him…and it will be well worth the journey when you do.

Journeying with you,

Debbie

                                                  

A Legacy of Love

PansiesI know the Easter story, but I don’t want to just know it.  I want its truth to sink into the very marrow of my bones.  I want to be overwhelmed with Jesus’ love, not only on Easter, but every day of my life.  So I have been reading over all of the gospel accounts leading up to, and including the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus again.  Oh how I wish they would always stay fresh in my mind.

This is a story that begins with human greed, envy, betrayal, unmet expectations, conformity, prayerlessness, and evil cruelty.  But it climaxes with the ultimate love, forgiveness, sacrificial death of Jesus, and then victory over death!  Please don’t let anyone ever tell you they killed Jesus.  He gave His life willingly…for you and me…no one took it from Him.

One thing that has always made me uncomfortable…scares me actually…is how one minute the people were singing Hosanna (meaning “save now”), and waving palm branches, then the next minute they were worked into an evil frenzy screaming; “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”  See, their hearts were not with Jesus.  Not really.  They were more concerned about their salvation from the oppression of Rome, rather than the spiritual salvation that Jesus was offering, so they turned on Him.  Pilate determined that Jesus was no political threat (which was all he was concerned about), so he wanted to release Him, but he gave in to the volatile screams and insistence of the mob. Jesus was spat upon, mocked, beaten and bloodied beyond recognition.  Where the Bible uses the words “flogged, scourged, or whipped”, that was actually a leather whip which was embedded with sharp pieces of bone or metal…to literally dig in and rip the flesh.  After they pounded the nails into His hands and feet and hung Him on the cross, those passing by continued to mock and hurl abuse at Him.  How?  How does one ever say they “know” Jesus, then when life gets difficult so vehemently despise Him?  At one point while Jesus was hanging on the cross, they offered Him vinegar mingled with gall (Matt.27:34).  This was usually offered to help deaden the pain.  Jesus refused it.  He chose to experience fully, every single hideous moment of his death…on our behalf.

But there is so much more!  Oh the joy of Resurrection Sunday! “He is not here: for he is risen, just as he said…” Matt. 28:6  Victory over death. Do we even grasp all that means for us as believers?  Oh I hope we do.  As Anne Graham Lotz said: “Easter is God’s valentine.”

“…that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures,

that He was buried,

that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

and that He appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.

After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time…1 Corinthians 15:4-6a”

“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” (with no hope)

1 Corinthians 15:17

“Death is swallowed up in victory.

Oh death, where is your sting?

Oh grave, where is your victory?”

1 Corinthians 15:54b-55

We have the victory dear ones.  Victory over death and the grave, to live eternally with Jesus when we believe and accept His most generous gift…the gift of true life.  We also have victory, through Jesus, over all…yes all…of life’s struggles and hardships.  We have victory when we surrender all of it to Him.  Positive thinking and the best of intentions can only take us so far.  It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can rise above it all and live victoriously.

As we go to worship this Easter Sunday, my prayer is that each one of us will comprehend a bit better what went on those three days…and the days leading up to them.  Scripture is rich with life application from these passages.  If we know Christ as our Lord and Savior, do we truly realize what we possess, and the price that was paid so that we could possess what we have?

Then, as we gather around the table with our loved ones and break bread together this Sunday, let’s have some real conversations.  Real conversations about what we possess and the importance of living it out through our lives each and every day.  Our families are made up of imperfect human beings and as such, there will be conflict.  There will be hurt feelings.  At times, we may be the cause of those hurt feelings.  But let’s lead by example and love as Christ did and commanded us to do.  Let’s forgive as Christ did and commanded us to do.  Let’s not assume the motives of other’s.  Let’s see the people around our table through the eyes of Jesus.  When we can do that, our minor irritations with one another will seem quite petty, because honestly, they usually are.  How will we ever leave a godly legacy to our children and grandchildren if we ourselves are not living and loving as Christ did?  We all mess up and lose it at times.  So go back and apologize.  That’s living and loving like Christ.  The example has been set.  The price has been paid.  Let’s live this legacy of love and forgiveness, not only on Easter, but every day He gives us here on earth.

Yes!  He is Risen Indeed!

Bountiful Love & Blessings,

Debbie