September 21, 2017

A King Like This

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A King like this, majesty
Laying in a manger
A King like this
Unto us is born a Savior
The Light, the Light has come
A King like this, the highest
Name and the song of heaven
A King like this born of
Flesh into our suffering
The Light, the Light has come

He is Christ, the Lord
He is Christ, our Savior
I bow my heart before no other name
I bow my heart before no other King

A King like this, a saving
Love that would not forsake us
Betrayed by a kiss and led
To the cross for our forgiveness
The Light, the Light has come

He is Christ, the Lord
He is Christ, our Savior
I bow my heart before no other name
I bow my heart before no other King

We lift up our eyes,
the 
Light has come
We lift up our eyes,
the 
Light has come
We lift up our eyes,
the 
Light has come
We lift up our eyes
lift up our eyes
lift up your eyes

He is Christ, the Lord
He is Christ, our Savior
I bow my heart before no other name
I bow my heart before no other King

A King like this, a throne of grace
That will stand forever
The angels sing glory, glory, hallelujah
The Light, the Light has come
The Light, the Light has come

Chris Tomlin

*   ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★   *

How many heirs to a throne, a king-to-be, have you heard of who were born in some lowly, stinky, dingy place? Personally, I can only think of one–Jesus.
By prophecy and lineage, Jesus was born a king.

Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord,
That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness;
A King shall reign and prosper,
And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.
In His days Judah will be saved,
And Israel will dwell safely;
Now this is His name by which He will be called:
THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Jeremiah 23:5-6

“Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!
“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God!
You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name Him Jesus.
He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High.
The Lord God will give Him the throne of His ancestor David.
And He will reign over Israel forever; His Kingdom will never end!”
Luke 1:26-33

This is a record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah,
a descendant of David and of Abraham…
Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.
Mary gave birth to Jesus, who is called the Messiah.
All those listed above include fourteen generations from Abraham to David,
fourteen from David to the Babylonian exile,
and fourteen from the Babylonian exile to the Messiah.
Matthew 1:1, 16-17

But why a stable? When a gem is found in the dirt and mud of a mine, it really stands out as something different than the ordinary rocks surrounding it. When a beautiful, delicate flower is found in the weeds, it makes one stop and take notice. When a precious, beautiful baby is born in a less than appealing place (such as a stable), everyone stares in amazement.  I believe God wanted the contrast so the people would notice, and He still wants that today.

Jesus was the little baby born in that dingy stable, so that the shepherds would stop and take notice.

Jesus was the little child who had a major star shining over His head so that the wise men could find Him and worship Him.

Jesus is The Light of the world so we will stop and take notice in our otherwise dark world.

Jesus is our Savior Who died an agonizing death on the cross so that we would bow before Him to receive our salvation.

Jesus is The King sitting on Heaven’s Throne that we might lift up our eyes in worship to Him, our Lord and Savior, for all eternity.

A King like this, a saving
Love that would not forsake us

A King like this, a throne of grace
That will stand forever

The Light has come!

Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there.
Its rider was named Faithful and True,
for He judges fairly and wages a righteous war.
On His robe at His thigh was written this title:
King of all kings and Lord of all lords.
Revelation 19:11-16

There is no better day than today to stop and take notice of The King whose throne was once a manger in a dingy stable, but Who now sits on The Throne of Grace in Heaven.  Join with me as ‘I bow my heart before no other name, I bow my heart before no other King,’ only Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Lift up your eyes, The Light has come! Let us sing with the angels,

Glory, glory, Hallelujah, The Light, The Light has come!

Shining

phssChristmasgraphic2014
The dawn of peace Christmas Eve
the final night the world would sleep 
Fearful of the dark
but there was a shining star leading
Wise men to a humble place
where they would find the Gift of Grace 
Laying before their eyes
hope had come to life

The Light of the world was shining
The Light of the world was shining 
He came just like He promised
His love would not be silent

Hearts would quake on Christmas Day
as they looked upon the Savior’s face 
God became a man
they could reach and touch His hands 
The hands that made the blind to see
that carried the weight of suffering 
That washed away our sins
so we could be born again

The world knows Christ is born
oh, the King of love has come
And our hearts will be His throne
it is known, Christ is born
Light of the world, leading us home
Shepherd of Hearts, come for His own

 Sanctus Real
Matt Hammitt, Chris Rohman, Mark Graalman, Jake Rye, Seth Huff

*   ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★    *

On November 3, 2015, the Taurid meteor shower and the Northern Lights were possibly going to be visible in our skies.  So at 10:00 at night (when I’m usually already in bed), Steve and I (and Muffin) drove out into the countryside in hopes of seeing them.  We immediately saw some falling stars which is always fun.  But I had never seen the Northern Lights so I was really hoping to see them, and felt somewhat disappointed as time crept by without a sighting.  Then suddenly the brightest falling star came coursing through the sky with a blazing tail…and it seemed that it came down right in front of us.  It was spectacular!  I did see a couple of moments of the Northern Lights but they were without color and brief.  All was amazing and we were praising God!

As we drove home, and even into the next day, neither of us could get our minds off of the meteor that had seemed to put on a show just for us.  Yes, it died out which was disappointing but expected.  But it caused me to think of The Light of the world, which will never die out.

His name is Jesus the Messiah, Emmanuel.

Leaving Nazareth, He (Jesus) went and lived in Capernaum,
which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali
—to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:
“Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people living in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.”
Matthew 4:13-16 (Isaiah 9:1-2)

Jesus spoke to them, saying,
“I am the Light of the world.
Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
The true Light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
John 1:4 and 9

As the song says, “The world knows Christ is born.” People around the world celebrate Christmas because a special little baby was born. It’s a beautiful story that is retold over and over during this season. (Take time this season to read Luke 1-2 and Matthew 1-2).  The sad thing is that many people only see Jesus as that baby; they don’t see Him as The Light of the world.  They don’t see that He came as Emmanuel—God with us.

When the bright lights of the Christmas decorations are taken down, the world will seem dark again.  As Isaiah said, there are “…those living in the land of the shadow of death.”  For many this glimpse of Jesus will fade as well, and they will go on searching in the dark.  People everywhere are looking for peace, grace, hope, and life, just as the wise men were looking.  The good news is “a light has dawned!” During this season we have the opportunity to share Jesus, the True Light, with those around us who are looking for more than a month of celebration.

God loved the world (all of us) so much that He sent Jesus to light our way to Him (John 3:16-17).  And Jesus willingly came in obedience to His Father, knowing it was the only way to bring redemption to us, His creation.  Jesus said that He is that Light, and just as sunlight brings natural life to us, His Light brings spiritual life to us.

During this Christmas season, take the time to bask in Jesus, The True Light. He is God’s love and life extended to you.  Take advantage of this time of year when so many are celebrating, to share the Good News that there is one light that will not be turned off or fade away. His Name is Jesus.  He is not just a baby—He is the Savior of the world.  He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
Jeremiah 31:3

If you personally are just learning about this truth, I pray that you will realize and accept that “the King of love has come,” and He, Jesus, wants to shine into your life and make your heart His throne.

God became a man…that washed away our sins so we could be born again.

The True Light of the world is shining and will never fade away.  Let Him shine into your life, and then share His Light with all around you.

*   ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★   *

Dear Jesus, thank You for coming just as You promised.  As the song says Your love would not, could not, and will not be silent.  We are overwhelmed with the realization that You, our Great God and Creator, want to shine into our lives and lead us home to be with You eternally.  We pray for those who have not yet made their heart Your Throne.  May this be the time that they accept You, not just as the Christmas baby but as their Savior.  Please help us to be faithful to share You, The True Light, when we have the opportunity.  Shine, Jesus, shine in and through our lives!  In the precious Name of Jesus, Light of the world, we pray, Amen.

(For confirmation that this was God’s promised plan,
click  here  to read 44 of the Old Testament prophecies
about the Messiah that Jesus fulfilled.)

Light Exposes the Darkness

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And the judgment is based on this fact:
God’s Light came into the world,
but people loved the darkness more than the light,
for their actions were evil.
All who do evil hate the Light
and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.
But those who do what is right come to the Light
so others can see that they are doing what God wants.
John 3:19-21 NLT

*   ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★   *

If you had the choice to walk through a dark cave with a flashlight or without a flashlight, which would you choose?  If you have ever visited a cave and the guide turned off all the lights, you know just how dark that cave is.  You literally can’t see your hand in front of your face.  To take even one step in that darkness could lead to you falling into an unseen pit, possibly even to your death.  You need the light from the flashlight to find your way safely out of the cave.

There are many people who prefer to walk in spiritual darkness because they are doing things that are wrong or their motive is wrong. They don’t want to have those things exposed by God’s Light—Jesus. They would rather take the chance of ‘falling into a pit’ than to give up their evil actions.  Ultimately, unless they repent and turn from their sinful ways, they will stand before God and He will judge them for their deeds and they will go to the pit of hell. That’s not what God wants, that’s what people choose.

But the way of the wicked is like total darkness.
They have no idea what they are stumbling over.
Proverbs 4:19

God sent Jesus, The Light, to the world to rid the world of the darkness of sin.  When evil is exposed and a person sees their sin, repents, and asks forgiveness, they can walk in the Light, and they will begin to do “what is right.”

The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and His life brought light to everyone.
The Light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.
John 1:4-5

For once you were full of darkness,
but now you have light from the Lord.
So live as people of light!
Ephesians 5:8

The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn,
which shines ever brighter until the full light of day.
Proverbs 4:18

As followers of Jesus, you and I walk in His Light.  We want to do what is right because that is what God wants.  When we sin, His Light will show us and He will forgive us when we ask (1 John 1:7-9).  When our actions please God, others will see and be exposed to His Light and be drawn to Him. As God sent out Paul, so He sends us:

Yes, I am sending you to the Gentiles to open their eyes,
so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God.
Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins
and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in Me.
Acts 26:18

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, 
God of glory, Lord of love; 
hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, 
opening to the sun above. 
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; 
drive the dark of doubt away. 
Giver of immortal gladness, 
fill us with the Light of day!

*   ♥  ~  ✝  ~  ★   *

Father God, I pray that our hearts will open like an ‘unfolding flower’ to Your Son, Jesus, The True Light.  May Your Light shining through us drive the “clouds of sin and sadness, and the dark of doubt away.” Fill us, Lord, with Your Light so that others will be drawn to You.  We adore You, God of glory, Lord of love, Light Everlasting!  In Jesus’ Precious Name, we pray. Amen, It Is So!

When You Give Thanks For Everything

encouragementbloggraphicromans15And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks He said,
‘Take this, and divide it among yourselves.
For I tell you that from now on I will not drink
of the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God comes.’
And He took bread, and when He had given thanks,
He broke it and gave it to them, saying,
‘This is my Body, which is given for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.’
And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying,
‘This cup that is poured out for you is the New Covenant in my blood.’
Luke 22:17–20 [also Matthew 26:27 and Mark 14:23]

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And so following Jesus’s pattern, Paul in Acts 27:35 “…took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it…”  ‘Tis the season….What would your answer be?  Yes, this is the beginning of the holiday season.  A time of joy and excitement.  Families gather together at the same table, all over the country and feast on turkey and dressing and sweet potatoes and so much more.  We will eat until we can’t eat anymore…and then some.  The television will be set to football (and probably more than one game at a time will be watched). But I wonder, will we remember the ‘why’ of all of this?

Will we remember that if Jesus had not come to this earth, to walk as a man and perform miracle after miracle, healing the sick and restoring sight to the blind, that we wouldn’t have the kind of life that we have now?  I imagine that joy and peace wouldn’t be present either…but I don’t even want to imagine it, do you?

In the verse above, Jesus gave thanks, before He gave them the bread and wine, at the Last Supper.  Shouldn’t we do the same?  Even if your life is broken, like the bread, giving thanks can change it all.  It might not change the actual circumstance, but it will open up your heart to joy and gratitude.

  • If you don’t get that promotion or that dream job, you can still give thanks…God has something totally for you and better than you could ever imagine.
  • If you don’t marry that man (or woman) that you just know is for you, thank God!  He has someone for you that is so amazing and you may not even know him (or her) yet.
  • If you are at the end of your rope and nothing in your life looks like you imagined or hoped for. In fact, it is not even close to what all your friends around you have…I pray that you give thanks.

Your life is so important to God and He wants so much for you…giving thanks opens doors that you never knew would open.  You are trusting your Father to do what He does best’—and thanking Him is trusting Him.  I heard this saying this week:

Worry and worship cannot exist together
…I choose worship!  What about you?

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~   ♥   ~   *

Do you know Jesus? If you haven’t asked Him to be your Lord and Savior, then I urge you to pray this prayer with me:

Dear God, I know that I am a sinner.  I need forgiveness.  I believe that You sent Your Son Jesus, to die on the Cross, to save me from my sins.  I ask that You come into my life and live and be my Lord.  Thank You for forgiving me. Help me to keep walking with You and trusting You. Help me to live a life close to You.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

My Story

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If I told you my story,
You would hear hope, that wouldn’t let go
and if I told you my story,
you would hear Love that never gave up
and if I told you my story,
you would hear Life, but it wasn’t mine

If I should speak, then let it be
of the grace that is Greater than all my sin
of when justice was served, and where mercy wins!
of the kindness of Jesus, that draws me in
oh to tell you my story, is to tell of Him

If I told you my story,
you would hear victory over the enemy
and if I told you my story,
you would hear freedom that was won for me
and if I told you my story,
you would hear Life Overcome the grave

This is my story, this is my song
praising my Savior, all the day long
this is my story, this is my song
praising my Savior, all the day long

for the grace that is Greater, than all my sin
of where justice was served, and where mercy wins!
of the kindness of Jesus, that draws me in
o to tell you my story,
is to tell of the grace that is Greater, than all my sin
of where justice was served, and mercy wins!

of the kindness of Jesus, that draws me in
oh to tell you my story, is to tell of Him
oh to tell you my story, is to tell of Him

This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long

Big Daddy Weave
written by Jason Ingram and Mike Weaver

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   *

This is the time of year when we, as a nation, take time to focus on what we are thankful for.  We have—this beautiful land in which we live, our freedom to vote, our freedom to worship, our families, our friends, our jobs, and so much more.  We should be full of thanksgiving to our Lord, because He is the Provider of all good things.

And God will generously provide all you need.
Then you will always have everything you need
and plenty left over to share with others…
For God is the One who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat.
In the same way, He will provide and increase your resources
and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.
2 Corinthians 9:8-10

The greatest gift that we should be thankful for is our salvation.  We have salvation when we don’t have freedom.  We have salvation when we don’t have family or friends.  We have salvation when we are out of work and have no income.  We have salvation even when we are in a Third World country.  Our salvation is not dependent on any of these things.

But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food.
Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you.
For God the Father has given Me the seal of His approval.
John 6:27

You see, it’s really Jesus’ story for which I am most thankful.  Our salvation is dependent on Jesus and His sacrifice on the Cross for us, each of us…not just a select few.  His provision to save us gives us grace, love, hope, life.  It gives us victory over the enemy, and freedom.  Out of His kindness, out of His story comes my story.  I have no story to tell if it were not for Jesus being willing to do His Father’s will and come to earth to live and die and be raised again to new life.

God saved you by His grace when you believed.
And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.
Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done,
so none of us can boast about it.
Ephesians 2:8-9

For the wages of sin is death,
but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23

I can and want to praise my Savior “all the day long.”

  • He gave His love, which never gives up.
  • He provides hope, which won’t let go.
  • He gave His life, so I could have mine.

Oh, the kindness of the Lord compels me to tell/sing of His grace and mercy, which always wins!

In His kindness, God called you to share
in His eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus.
1 Peter 5:10

What are you thankful for during this Thanksgiving season?  Is your list long?  What’s at the top of that list? I’m praying that your salvation is number one.  I’m praying that your story is not based on the things you are thankful for, but on the One you are thankful to.  Tell me your story; I’d love to hear you tell me about Jesus.

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   *

With great thanksgiving, Lord, we come to You.  We come with our hearts bursting with the love and joy we have for You, knowing that all good things come from You.  Thank You for all of Your blessings.  We also come to thank You for our salvation.  Thank You, Jesus, for obeying Your Father’s will, so that we can experience new life with You.  The details of our individual stories may look different, but the truth of our stories is that it is Your story.  We are privileged to share Your Good News with others.  Help us by Your Holy Spirit to praise You all the day long so that others will hear Your story and come to You.  In Jesus’ Precious Name we pray, Amen.

Truth We Can Depend On

SeekingHimLogo

Every word of God proves true.
    He is a shield to all who come to Him for protection.
Proverbs 30:5  NLT

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 And The Message version reads,

Every promise of God proves true;
He protects everyone who runs to Him for help.

Does it boggle your mind to try to understand that every (all possible) word of God proves (shows beyond doubt) that it is true (accurate, faithful)?  In our human experience, with ourselves and with those around us, we know that kind of perfection and faithfulness doesn’t exist 100% of the time.

Thankfully, it is true for God’s Word.  In the Amplified, it says His words are “…tested and refined like silver.”  And Psalm 12:6 states, “The Lord’s promises are pure, like silver refined in a furnace, purified seven times over.”  That leaves absolutely no imperfections.

Your promises have been thoroughly tested;
that is why I love them so much.
Psalm 119:140

Because of this purity, God’s Word is sure and we can trust it.  God is one with His Word.  God promises to protect all who come to Him, and we can be sure He will.

God is our Refuge and Strength [mighty and impenetrable],
A very present and well-proved help in trouble.
Psalm 46:1 AMP

In the midst of life’s conflicts and disappointments, God is our Shield. Shields come in many different shapes and sizes. Some are tall to cover the warrior from head to toe. Some other shapes are made to protect the most vital organs, and to deflect the enemy’s weapons from harming the warrior. Spiritually speaking, God does exactly that.  When we come (run) to Him, He is there to protect us from the “fiery darts” of the enemy.  In Ephesians 6:16, God says, “…in all circumstances take up the shield of faith.”  God is there for us, but in faith we must come to Him and accept (take up) His protection.

  • The more we know Jesus, the more we will know God’s Word:

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,
and we have seen His glory,
glory as of the only Son from the Father,
full of grace and truth.
John 1:1, 14

  •  The more we know Jesus, the more we know the Father:

I and the Father are one.
John 10:30

  • The more we know Jesus, the more we know the Father’s Truth:

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.
No one can come to the Father except through Me.”
John 14:6

 

  • The more we know Jesus, the more we will be sanctified and protected by God’s Truth.

Sanctify them in the truth; Your Word is truth.
John 17:17

If we will study Jesus—His life, His words, His relationships with others, and His relationship with God the Father—we will know that God’s Word is truth and we can trust it.  We will have the assurance that we can run to God and find the protection we need.  We will walk in faith, and be shielded by Him.

*   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   *

Dear God, we are so grateful that we have Your Word to turn to.  Life is not easy, and, we need Your protection even when we don’t realize it.  Help us, Lord, not to just “pick up” Your shield in times of imminent danger…but to live our lives getting to know Jesus, Your Word, so we can be in Your protection at all times.  Thank You for the promise that “Every word of God proves true.”  In Jesus’ Precious Name we pray, Amen.

I Will Not Fear

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there is no fruit on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will triumph in Yahweh;
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation!
Yahweh my Lord is my strength;
He makes my feet like those of a deer
and enables me to walk on mountain heights!
Habakkuk 3:17-19

 *   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   * 

I am claiming this verse today…and I am placing my needs before His feet. Fig trees and olive crops are symbols for the things of this world that we may lack at this very moment.  August is always hard here.  School is looming and there are always needs: clothes, shoes, school supplies (and now with one in college), the list goes on…and on. But isn’t God so much bigger than any of these?  {yes!}

It’s funny how God leads me to certain verses on the days that i write…and it always is something that I need to hear and to pass along to you.  What are you believing God for today?  Are you struggling to believe at all?  Sometimes things feel so desperate (and, truly, they may be).  There may be no food in the pantry and no money to go purchase any.  Or a really big bill is due and you have absolutely no idea how you are going to pay it.  Or an illness and a bad report has you feeling like there is no hope at all.

But the good news is this: There is always hope in Jesus!

I know that my sound cliche but it is so true! If you put all your hope and all your efforts into just praising Him today—though the problems may still be there—there will be joy in place of sorrow!  Hope will replace hopelessness and praise will replace pity.  We may not get to choose the circumstances in our lives but we can choose how we react to them.  (I am preaching to myself!)

Fear and worry are stealers, and they come straight from the enemy who wants nothing more than to rob you of all you have.  He especially wants to take your hope away.  But if we let him have that…we have let him win.  The enemy doesn’t go after your salvation.  He can’t have it!  But he can take the peace that comes with the salvation that Jesus gave His own life for us to have.  One of my favorite passages is Psalms 23.  It was one of the first ones that I learned in elementary school and it is one that has gotten me through a lot of hard times.  In verse 4 is says:

Even when I walk through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me.
Your rod and Your staff protect and comfort me.

Today, as you read this verse, fill in the blank with your own valley.

Even when I walk through ________,
I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me. 

And know beyond a shadow of a doubt that whatever it is you wrote down, that your God is able to do this and so much more.  Claim it with me today…and enjoy the sunshine today!

 *   ~   ♥   ~   ✞   ~  ♥   ~   *

Let us pray: Dear God, You are so full of love for us and Your grace is sufficient for every minute that we breathe.  You are the same always; You never change.  Thank You for Your provision and Your hand in everything that we go through.  You waste nothing, oh Lord!  I pray today for all these friends reading this today, that You would give them back their joy and peace, oh God!  And that nothing that the enemy throws at them can take away the hope that they have in You.  Silence his lies today and everyday.  Remind them that feelings are feelings but that Your Word is truth.  Lead them to the truth today. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Love is the Home for Both

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In the fifteenth chapter of Luke, starting with verse 11, we read the story of the prodigal son.  I’m sure you have read or heard this so many times but bear with me for a minute.  The actual word ‘prodigal’ means ‘the squanderer or the waster’.  And the prodigal son did squander his inheritance and totally wasted all that his father gave him.

If you think about it, we have all played both roles at some time in our lives.  Maybe at one point we are the older, responsible son—keeping everything in order and never disappointing our Father, and looking down on those who do and those who give the sinner a break.  We have also been the younger one—wasting our inheritance from our Father, turning to anyone or anything that will make us “happy”, and running so far the other way.  But instead of finding happiness and freedom, we find ourselves in slavery to this other life that we thought we wanted so desperately.  We find ourselves starving for real substance and we are desperate for the life we had before.

And then there’s the father who never gave up on his son, and continued to search and wait and believe that they will one day be a family again. The son returns and the father lavishes love and compassion and hugs. He gives him his best robe and a ring and acts as if nothing happened. Even when the older son gets mad and protests, the father does not judge him. He is fair and just, resembling our Father in Heaven.

Here is the story:

The Parable of the Lost Son

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.  After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.  When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’  So he got up and went to his father.  But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’  But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.  Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on.  ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’  The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’  ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ”

Luke 15:11-32 (NIV)

Which son do you relate to?  Have you run so far or are you a slave to something other than God?  Have you wasted all that God has given you for something you thought was better?  Or are you the older brother, looking down on the one who made the bad choices, and maybe a little bitter when he is given mercy by others?

God is your Father and He loves you.  If you have run away, He is ready to meet you where you are.  He is willing to accept you just the way you are and give you the finest life and the abundant blessings that are yours!  All you have to do is ask.  God’s arm reaches so far and you can’t ever outrun Him.

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Do you know this Father I’m talking about?  Do you want this unconditional love that you’ve just read about?  Then pray this with me:

Dear God, I know I am a sinner and I need forgiveness.  I believe that Jesus, Your Son, died on the cross to save me from my sins and I will have Him in my heart forever.  I love You.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Are You A Mary Or Martha?

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“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,
but only one thing is needed.
Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:41 and 42

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I think of all the times I am Martha and I have chosen the things that can easily be taken away…and they have been.  I remember how important it was to entertain and have people over and show off all the beautiful things we had acquired; and I wasn’t putting Jesus anywhere in the mix.  And I sure had not sat at His feet that day.  Fast forward a few years and all the pretty things went away and Jesus became all that was important to me because I saw how fast and fleeting the material things of this world really are.  But Jesus is forever.

In this story in Luke, Jesus is visiting the home of the two sisters, and Martha had come to Him to complain about her sister Mary.

As Jesus and His disciples were traveling on their way,
they came to a village where a woman named Martha lived
and she opened her house to Him and she had a sister named Mary.
Jesus sat down in the home and began teaching in a secluded corner.
verses 38 and 39

The people are hanging on every word.  Mary is sitting at His feet just drinking in His Presence.  Martha is hurrying about, worrying about how everyone would get fed, where they would sit and how this would all come together for they were hosting Jesus!

But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.
She came to Him and asked,
“Lord, don’t You care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?
Tell her to help me!”
verse 40

Martha gets frustrated and interrupts this gathering to complain about her sister not helping and how all Mary is doing is sitting at His feet!  The others look up to Him to see how Jesus will react.  He tells her (verses 41-42) that Mary has chosen the right thing to do instead of being so busy—she sat at His feet first.  All the work will still be there when she gets finished hearing her Jesus but if she gets up too fast, she just might miss something important that Jesus might say to her.

Mary was preparing her heart for Jesus while Martha was running around.  She would grasp what little words she could hear Jesus say while she was serving everyone else.  But what does Jesus say is the right thing to do?  He says, “…Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.”  Jesus cannot be taken from her.

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Can you relate to either of these women?  Which one are you?  If you don’t know, then pray that God will reveal it to you.  Ask yourself if you remember to sit at Jesus’ feet before you do anything else…or are you too busy to just be with Him…always in a hurry and forgetting to listen for His voice.  We need to remember that God is able to fix those things that we are so busy trying to fix if we will only stop trying and start trusting Him.  Trust Him today, friend.  And if you don’t know Jesus or maybe you just haven’t made Him Lord of your life, I pray that you will join me in this sinners prayer.

Dear God, I know that I am a sinner.  I need a Savior.  I believe that Jesus is Your Son and He died to save me from my sins.  I ask for forgiveness today.  Will You, Jesus, come into my heart today and be my Lord?  I want to know more about You as we walk together through life.  Thank  You for loving me and for forgiving me.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

In Christ Alone

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In Christ alone my hope is found; He is my Light, my Strength, my Song;
This Cornerstone, this solid ground, firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace, when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my all in all—here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh, Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness, scorned by the ones He came to save.
‘Til on that Cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev’ry sin on Him was laid—here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay, Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory, sin’s curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death—this is the pow’r of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man can ever pluck me from His hand;
‘Til He returns or calls me home—here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand.

Keith and Krystin Getty and Band
written by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend

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The words of a song can be so stirring!  For myself, I have found hymns to have this effect on me.  A choir director once told me that hymns are songs that “are soaked in doctrinal truth.”  One definition of hymns says that they are “… songs that help teach faith.”  What we sing through this type of song can profoundly affect how we think and feel.  And each of us have our own favorite hymns and choruses…they come to mean so much to our hearts!  This song, In Christ Alone, is considered a modern-day hymn. It contains such foundational truth.

Take for example, the very first three words of this song, “In Christ alone…” You could say them in other ways, too—‘only Jesus…’ ‘Jesus is everything to me…’ ‘You, Lord, JUST You…’

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth,
visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities;
all things have been created through Him and for Him.
He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
And He is the head of the body, the church;
He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead,
so that in everything He might have the supremacy.
Colossians 1:15-18

In and through Jesus we have been given so very much!  He truly is our ‘Light… (John 8:12), our Strength… (Psalms 28:7 and 8), our Cornerstone (1 Peter 2:5 and 6)!’

I just love to sing these next lines of this song; they are so beautiful!

What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!

My Comforter, my All in All, here in the love of Christ I stand.

Through Jesus, also, we have love (Romans 8:38 and 39), peace (Philippians 4:7), comfort (Psalm 46:10)!  He IS our ‘All in All.’

And when all things shall be subdued unto him,
then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him
that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
1 Corinthians 15:28

In Jesus our hope, our trust, our constant assurance is in the right place—on the solid foundation of who we are in Christ.  In my own life I seem to need continual reminding  to not let my feelings get in the way or my circumstances be allowed to dictate my actions.  But, as we (I!) stand firmly on the unchangeable truths of the gospel of Christ, our (my!) faith is being continuously built.

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul,
a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil,
where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us….
Hebrews 6:19 and 20

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How about you?  Do the words of this beautiful hymn evoke a response in your heart when you hear them?  (I would so LOVE to ‘hear’ your answer in the comments below.)