As I sit here and write these words, I long to be back in Nicaragua. Why? Mainly because when I am there, I am able to truly disconnect from the distractions of this world, and I become focused on God like no other time.
As Americans, we are always busy. However, the truth is we make ourselves busy. We attend too many unnecessary events, watch entirely too much TV, and we keep schedules that don’t even make sense sometimes because they wear us out more than help us to relax. I am certainly guilty of this sort of thing and so, my goal is to purposely clear out some things from my life over the course of the next year.
Early this summer, I clearly heard God instruct me to engage in His word (the Bible) and make it a priority. So I began reading the gospels again, but more intently. I am using colored pencils to mark up the pages in order to draw out as much from the scriptures as possible. Right now, I am in Luke and as I read about the life of Jesus, it is amazing what pops out at me off the pages of this book.
Luke gives a very detailed description of Jesus’ life, and some things are unique to this chapter. So in light of our discussion, let me share 3 verses. To help put these verses in context, let me explain what is happening. Jesus has now grown from a baby to a child of 12-years-old. His parents have no doubt begin to let the glory of His birth fade a little. No miraculous events happen of late, and they have settled into life in the moment. The Bible doesn’t tell us much about these years, but we know that Joseph and Mary went on to have other children, and as good Jewish parents, they would have raised Jesus and his siblings in the usual Jewish traditions and customs.
Wow! What a busy couple of weeks it has been! Today, instead of creating a full blog post, I want to share with you this video clip from April 2015 when I spoke at the Suffolk Christian Church Women’s Rally! It was a great afternoon spent with some wonderful ladies. I am happy to share some of the footage with you this week! I invite you to come on over to my recently created YouTube channel and give it a view. As always, your reaction is welcome!!
Click on this link and enjoy: https://youtu.be/thF7CyLLZa0
To arrange a speaking engagement at your church, use my contact page and tell me how I can serve you!
While you are there, you can also view a short clip of video testimonials about my book, Love Echoed Back!
I’ll be back with you in a few short days with a brand new blog post called Tongue-Tied!
Wow! Here we are at the bottom of the ninth ending, and our series is coming to a close. We have rounded all the bases and are headed to home plate. Home plate represents “connection to God”. In others words, what is your relationship to God –are you connected?
Consider this, no one can get to first base without starting at home plate, nor can anyone finish a run without returning and crossing over home plate. The Bible says, Jesus is “the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.” (Revelation 1:8) In order to run the bases successfully, we need to align our lives in such a way that He permeates it from beginning to end. Every time we run the bases in order something amazing happens –we strengthen our walk with Christ, and our relationship with Him is more balanced. Life becomes less about us and more about Him. John the Baptist said it best:
Today is the day we make it to third base! We have talked about first base (i.e., character) and second base (i.e., community or relationships). Now, we turn to the base representing competency, or how we see success.
How do you measure success in your life? Perhaps it is by how long you have been married or held a certain job, or by how well your children behave, or by how much you have financially. But consider this –have you measured success by how deep your life reflects Jesus?
Certainly, God wants us to have a successful life. Jesus stated:
The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. John 10:10
Jesus’ expectation, however, is that our success in life will be poured out on others!
I, like a lot folks, relied heavily on my own man-made success, which was my nursing career. By the world’s standards, I was pretty successful. But when my career took over my life, things got messy. God would ultimately use the experiences I went through to shift my focus. He would build both character in me and community around me so that when new opportunities came, I would be prepared to walk in His will and not in my own.
What most fail to understand is life lived for God is a win-win. Not only will we live a life on earth that protects us from utter destruction and blesses us beyond our beliefs, but we will also be rewarded in heaven. Whatever we are willingly to let go of God will multiply.
“Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, will be repaid many times over in this life, and will have eternal life in the world to come.” Luke 18:29-30
Once I allowed God to train me through personal Bible study, small-group participation, church sermons, and Christian fellowship, I was ready. Once I learned that God can be trusted, my life rose to a level of success that the world can never offer.
Let me wrap up this week with an excerpt from Love Echoed Back that embodies this thought (click on image to enlarge):
Are you ready to head to home plate? Next week, we will complete the last leg in our trip around the bases, finishing our home run. See you then!!
Join Believers Church for our new series: Home Run
Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Not long ago, I got a manicure and pedicure, so I would look nice at a particular event I was attending. Who doesn’t like to be pampered once in a while? It reminded me of the night Jesus washed the disciples’ feet. If you have a chance, read today’s entire background passage John 13:1-17.
Let’s look at the first Scripture passage together. John 13:1 sets the scene:
Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end.
Here Jesus was at the moment of truth – time to carry out the Father’s will. My heart is warmed by the second half of the verse: “He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end.” That piece of the passage tells me Jesus can love me through anything -all the way to the end, which for His followers will be through eternity.
Jesus taught in many places, but His most well-known speech has been titled the Sermon on the Mount. In this teaching, what is known as the Beatitudes is revealed:
“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
God blesses those who are humble,
for they will inherit the whole earth.
God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,
for they will be satisfied.
God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
for they will see God.
God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God.
God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”
Matthew 5:3-10 NLT
As I read back through the beatitudes this week, I gained a different perspective. In the past, when I have meditated on each verse, I have thought of Jesus speaking about different groups of people –those who are humble, those who hunger and thirst, or those who work for peace. Each group, of course, represents a particular spiritual aspect that is found in the followers of Christ, and each comes with its own heavenly reward.
As we are coming off the Easter celebration, I am grateful for all that transpired that fateful day 2000 years ago –the day Jesus conquered death and set us free! However, I feel a little inquisitive about the various people Jesus appeared to once He was resurrected. For instance, who were the two men walking to Emmaus? Were they new to the faith or had they followed Jesus the entire 3 years He preached? How many times had they heard Jesus speak? Were they healed by Him?
Earlier in Chapter 24 of Luke, we are told it is early Sunday morning. That would be the same Sunday morning the tomb was found open and empty. Then the discussion turns to these two men, and we are told it is “the same day,” meaning resurrection Sunday. We are also told the two men were headed away from Jerusalem.
Why would Jesus appear first to someone outside His inner circle, and why outside of Jerusalem? We may never know the answer, but can you imagine being one of the first He appeared to?
Our church recently began a prayer and fasting event. For 21 days prior to Easter, our participating church members are committed to praying as well as fasting from something in our lives (e.g., social media, spending, food). Whatever we give up is not so much the point as that we give that thing up in order to seek God and hear more clearly from Him.
I have given up TV after 8. Why after 8? Because this is the time of night when mindless, pointless shows distract me the most and consume the time I could be spending with God. As good as some of the story lines are, I am not really missing anything important. However, if I spend time away from God, I will most likely miss something HUGE! That is simply not worth the trade-off.
More importantly, I want to rekindle my prayer life. How easy it is to start skipping a night here and there and then realize you have skipped a whole week, then a couple. Conversation with God is easy to achieve. I talk at Him all the time, but the problem is I rarely slow down to hear Him.
Have you ever accepted the challenge of crossing a line drawn in the sand? Or maybe just an imaginary line which separates you from the challenge ahead? What does that line represent to you? Is it an end or a beginning?
God has drawn a line in the sand for us – accept Jesus Christ and gain eternal life. The Bible is very clear on God’s offer. There are no two ways about it – redemption comes ONLY though Jesus.
“For he is sent by God. He speaks God’s words, for God gives him the Spirit without limit. The Father loves his Son and has put everything into his hands. And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.” John 3:34-36
Jesus spent a lot of time by the seashore. On multiple occasions, we find Him there. When He started looking for His disciples, that’s where He began.
One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” And they left their nets at once and followed him. A little farther up the shore he saw two other brothers, James and John, sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, repairing their nets. And he called them to come, too. They immediately followed him, leaving the boat and their father behind. Matthew 4:18-22