The Message and The Miracle

Have you ever gone through a hard time in your life and questioned is God even there? Or does he even care?

Sometimes I’ve caught myself questioning God and his motives when I’m going through hard times. I question God ‘why is this happening to me? Don’t you even care?’ Then he so tenderly reminds me, yes he does care more than I’ll ever know.

In my struggle I realize I’m not the one waiting on God, he’s the one waiting on me. If I just opened my eyes to see what God is trying to show me, His creations are all around me. He has made the heavens, the earth and everything in it. He has already sent Jesus to die for us.

Do I really need him to show me another sign of what he is capable of doing?

My unbelief and doubt aren’t so far off from the Pharisees and the crowd Jesus fed.

The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, capture the life of Jesus, his ministry, his death, and resurrection. Each gospel captures Jesus’ messages and miracles he performed. Jesus didn’t perform a miracle without there being a deeper message at hand. When a person reads the gospels one will see the pattern of a message then a miracle, a message then a miracle. When we look deeper, we can see this message and miracle pattern in our lives as well.

In the gospel of John 6, Jesus had just performed the miracle of feeding 5,000 people from only 5 loaves of bread and two fish. The crowd was amazed at this miraculous sign that Jesus did. After performing this miracle, Jesus withdrew from the crowd knowing the crowd intended to make him their king. The crowd then went looking for Jesus in Capernaum.

When the crowd finds Jesus, he then says, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him and the Father has placed his seal of approval.” (John 6:26-27)

Jesus knew their hearts already. They weren’t looking for a Messiah, the one who could give them eternal life, they were looking for another miracle.

John 6:30 says, “So they asked him, “What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do?”

Can you even imagine asking Jesus, ‘what else can you do before we believe you?’ It didn’t matter the crowd had just witnessed Jesus miraculously feed a crowd of 5,000 people with just some loaves of bread and fish, the people wanted more.

The crowd didn’t need more proof of Jesus’ abilities, they needed more faith.Click To Tweet

The same scenario happened with the Pharisees after Jesus fed the four thousand people. Afterward the Pharisees questioned Jesus. They wanted to test him and asked him for a sign from heaven.

Jesus sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it” (Mark 8:12).

How many times have we been guilty of this as well?

There are signs all around us that God is with us and cares about our struggles, yet we search for God to prove his divine authority by performing miraculous signs.

In both scenarios, Jesus did not perform another miracle when they demanded it because they lacked faith. Their request for a miracle came from unbelief (Mark 8:11 footnote). God doesn’t need to prove his abilities he is able. There is evidence all around us of his divine abilities.

Do we really need more proof or more faith?Click To Tweet
What greater sign do we need from God that he can handle our trials and struggles that he hasn’t already done for us?Click To Tweet

Do we seek God like the Pharisees and crowd does, only searching for the next miracle? Are we missing the point as well?

Our relationship with God goes deeper than him supplying for all of our needs and making sure everything is good in our lives all the time. Our relationship with God is more than just a good feeling that is temporary. Our relationship with God is eternal and everlasting.

Behind every miracle lies a deeper message.Click To Tweet

What do you seek God for? To perform another miracle? Or to be your Messiah who has come to give you life?

Searching for a miracle from God without faith is like a person telling a horse to move without ears. Faith without action is dead. Seeking a miracle without receiving God’s deeper message is like sending Jesus to die for us without the resurrection. The death and resurrection of Jesus is the greatest message and miracle ever.

Jesus’ death would be pointless if there wasn’t a resurrection. Jesus was preparing the hearts of people to have faith in him was going to require believing in the unseen of what God could do.

Matthew 17:20, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

We only need faith the size of a mustard seed for God to move the mountains in our life.Click To Tweet

Do you believe our faith in God leads to life’s biggest miracles?

Do you see the pattern of a message then a miracle in your life?

It’s all about meeting Jesus right where we are. In Him, we have life to the full that is complete and everlasting (John 10:10). Have a blessed week!

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The Power of God’s Word

I will never forget the first time I opened my Bible to read for the first time.  I didn’t know where to start or what to read.  I felt overwhelmed and lost.  There were so many words and pages.  How did I even begin?  

Once I opened the Scriptures and started reading, a whole new world was open for me.  At times I put prayer and reading the Bible on the back burner.  I let life get the best of me.  I was distracted by everything the world offered me.  The truth is, I’ve been a Christian my whole life and didn’t truly see the value in opening up the Scriptures and reading them until brokenness entered my life.

Nothing makes a person examine their priorities more than when tragedy enters their life. Click To Tweet

Tragedy makes us listen and pay attention.  My brokenness exposed what was I really filling my life with?  What was the meaning and purpose of my life?

The words on the pages of my Bible took on a whole new meaning in my life once tragedy got my attention.  The Bible verses I read became living and breathing in my life.  Opening the Scriptures is where I really met Jesus.  I began to see all of God’s promises, His heart, and character. I realized His words aren’t meant to stay on the pages of the Bible but be made alive in us.  His words are what transform our hearts, minds, and lives.  

I was always so impressed by people who could memorize and recite scripture like it was second nature.  Somehow along the way, I became one of those people, because God’s words became engraved in my heart.  I became hungry and thirsty for more.

From the beginning of time God’s Word has existed and speaks life into our lives.Click To Tweet

God’s words became light.  

And God said, “Let there be light, and there was light.  God saw that the light was good and he separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light day and the darkness he called night.  And there was evening and there was morning—the first day.”  Genesis 1:3-5

God’s words became life.  

And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures, according to their kinds:  livestock, creatures that move along the ground and wild animals each according to its kind.”  Genesis 1:24

God’s word became flesh.

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  John 1:14

God’s words heal the broken-hearted.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”  Psalm 147:3

God’s words transform hearts and lives.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from  your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”  Ezekiel 36:26

God’s words feed and nourish our souls.  

“I am the living bread that came down out of heaven;  if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever;  and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”  John 6:51

God’s words are eternal.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.”  John 1:1-4

God is The Word and The Word is God (John1:1).  God’s word cannot be changed.  They are eternal and everlasting.  His words sustain us and give us life.  God’s word speaks truth and life into our lives and have existed from the beginning of time.  Wherever we are in life we can always meet Jesus right where we are by opening up the Scriptures. 

His Word is perfect.  His Word will guide us.  His Word provides for all of our needs.  

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  John 10:10

His Word completes us.  In God, we lack nothing!

How has reading the Bible changed your life?

Do you struggle with making time to read your Bible?

Do God’s Words speak life into your life?

Nothing opens our hearts more than an open Bible.  Staying in God’s word transforms hearts and lives.  Open your Bible and discover God’s truth and love for you!  Join the Bible reading plan and get started!    

It’s all about meeting Jesus right where we are.  In Him, we will have life to the full that is complete and everlasting (John 10:10).  Have a blessed week!

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Confessions From a Checkbox Christian

Have you ever believed something your whole life and wondered, do I believe what I believe because I believe it or because that is what I’ve been told my whole life?

That is the very question I asked myself when I went away to college and was away from my family for the very first time. I had been a Christian my entire life, but my faith was put to the test when I left home. This was the point in my life was I going to put into practice everything I learned or go along with what the world says I should do? As time went by I found out real fast going along with what the world said I should do got me into trouble. I became more distant from God and wondered why was my life such a mess?

I reflect back upon this time in my life when God was so patient and merciful with me. I can see now how naive I was. In my aimless wandering I became lackadaisical and blind to the realities right in front of me. I came to my senses and realized doing life on my own, without God wasn’t how God designed me.

I started getting back into what I had grown up doing, going to church, praying and periodically reading the Bible. I would have said I was a Christian, but somewhere along the way, my Christianity became more of a routine than it was a relationship with God. Something became lost along the way. I thought by asking Jesus to be my Lord and Savior was all I needed to do to maintain a relationship with Him. How wrong I was. I thought by checking off my boxes of going to church, praying and reading my Bible would make me right with God.

Have you ever been caught in the trap of believing your righteousness came from following a bunch of rules?Click To Tweet

What I discovered along the way, was God cared more about the condition of my heart than me externally conforming to His laws. God reminded me, I was just like the Pharisees in the Bible.

The Pharisees were members of an ancient Jewish sect. They strictly observed the traditions and written laws thinking this made them self-righteous, above everyone else. They thought what made them right with God was living by legalism and keeping the written laws by men. In reality, the Pharisees were hypocrites. They honored God with their lips and not their hearts (Mark 7:6).

Wow, Is that how I was living my life, by only honoring God with my lips and not my heart?

The hard answer was, Yes. God desired all of my heart, not to just do what’s right and conform to his laws.  He cares about the condition of our hearts, and I realized I was just going through the motions with a distant heart.  Obeying God’s laws with a distant heart is like a puppet master controlling his puppet. God doesn’t want to control us like puppets, he wants all of our hearts and desires a relationship with us.

The Pharisees believed God’s grace only extended to those who kept his law (Mark 2:16). They didn’t understand why Jesus talked and ate with tax collectors who were considered sinners. Jesus was teaching them there was not a place where God’s grace can’t reach—we are to love sinners, but not the sin.

“You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men” (Mark 7:8).

The Pharisees were holding on to the traditions of the elders telling them not to associate with ‘unclean’ men who were sinners. Jesus was telling them, God’s commands in the Bible have more authority than traditions of men.  God’s commands (His love) accept and love everyone, not discriminate and condemn.


“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

When I was busy checking off the boxes, living by legalism, I realized there was always going to be another box to check, another rule to follow, or another good deed to accomplish, when was it ever enough to please God?

Living a legalistic life puts the trust in ourselves and not what Jesus did for us. When I was living by legalism, I was putting the hope of salvation upon myself taking God out of the equation. Following all of those rules wasn’t going to get me to heaven—putting my trust and faith in God was.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  Ephesians 2:8-9

In God’s love, we can be set free from checking the boxes.

There will always be another box to check.  The promise of salvation will never come from following a bunch of rules (Galatians 2:21). We are already worthy in God’s eyes don’t have to earn or prove our worth by performing more. If we weren’t worthy, God would have never sent Jesus in the first place.

We receive the righteousness of God through our faith in him.

I realized we become righteous through our faith in Christ, not by anything we do on our own (Philippians 3:9 NLT). Our good works and abiding in God’s commands is a result of His righteousness overflowing from within us—not something we do ourselves.

When I was living by legalism, I was missing out on the beautiful message of the gospel. God’s love transforms hearts and lives. His love is a free gift in which He offers to everyone. No amount of good works could ever repay Jesus for what he has done for us already.

So take the advice from a recovered box checker, you never have to check another box off again when God’s love is living in your heart. Accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior is the key to my salvation and allowing God to have all my heart is the key to transforming hearts and lives.

It’s all about meeting Jesus right where we are. In Him, we have life to the full that is complete and everlasting (John 10:10). Have a blessed week!

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3 Valuable Lessons Failure Can Teach Us

Failure.  We have all been there.  We never forget when we fail at something.  Even though it seems horrible at the time, it can be one of the best learning experiences we go through.  Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, Dr. Seuss are among some of the most successful people in history who accredit their success to their previous failures.  

A failure I will never forget is the day I failed my nursing boards (this was 19 years ago).  I had studied so hard, the result was devastating.  Three valuable lessons I learned in my failure, I carry with me to this day.  

3 Valuable Lessons Failure Teaches Us
Failure:

1. Builds character– It makes us mentally tougher.  It Prepares us to be able to do hard things.  It teaches life is not easy and we have to keep trying.  Failing my boards made me try harder.  It taught me the value in working harder, pushing myself to reach my goal.  It taught me perseverance.  Perseverance teaches us how to get through tough times.  It helps prepare us for what lies ahead.  “God doesn’t care about our achievements while we’re here on this earth. He cares about our character.” by Rick Warren

2.  Never allow numbers on a piece of paper define who you are  Whether it’s a grade you receive in class, a class rank you receive or what’s in your bank account, you are more than numbers on a piece of paper.  Take that all away, you are still who you are.

Never allow present failure define future success.Click To Tweet

Failures shape our future, prepare us for what lies ahead and make us stronger.  (The enemy) wants us to believe that we are no good, not worthy and are not able to do it.  Just because one door has closed doesn’t mean another one won’t open up.  Sometimes our failures will lead us to better paths ahead.  Allow failure to Shape your future, not define it.  

3.  Never allow failure to stop you from moving forward or accomplishing your goals.  The best way to respond to failure, is to ask, ‘What can I learn from this?’  Apply it and Keep Going. How many times did the Apostle Paul get thrown into jail and was persecuted for what he believed?  A lot.  He could have looked at his many situations as failures.  That never stopped him to on Keep Going.  He didn’t look at his situation as failure, but as an opportunity to learn, become stronger and persevere.    

God always has something better ahead. A closed door now doesn't mean another one won't open in the future. Click To Tweet

Hard work, perseverance and commitment, pays off in the long run.  You never know where your failures might lead you.  Looking back, I realized how important the lessons I learned from failing.  I learned failure….  

  • Prepared me for my future.  
  • How God used it and turned it into something better.  

I went on to obtain my Masters Degree in Nurse Anesthesia.  After the failed nursing board attempt, I never failed another test again.

I have been a nurse for 19 years, not once has a patient asked me, What grade did you get in Anatomy Class?  Did you graduate Summa Cum Laude?  Or did you pass your nursing boards the first time?  What a patient will ask you, is how long have you been a nurse?  They care about my experience and will I take good care of them, not if I’m valedictorian.  
Patients grade me on how I treat them, which is the most important grade I could ever receive.  

You are Important, Worthy and Valuable.  No matter what another person says or what failure has occurred, You Matter.  You are God’s workmanship.  He created you with a Purpose, not to be defeated but to to be Victorious.  He designed you to Succeed.  Even if you fail Now, it doesn’t mean you won’t succeed in the Future.  God will use your failures for future successes.  Take this from someone who has been on the other side of failure.  

Has Failure been apart of Your Life?

In What Ways has Failure Helped Shape Your Future?

Has God used your Failure and turned it into something Better? 

Don’t Give up, Don’t lose hope, Keep Going.  “For I know the Plans for you, plans to prosper you not to harm, but to give you Hope.”  Jerimiah 29:11 NIV

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A Prayer for Vision

 

Have you ever been so afraid of something it kept you from engaging in life?  It kept you from travel plans, going out with friends or being involved in relationships.  I’ve been there, allowing my fears to linger and build to the point of isolation.  Fear can be so crippling, not allowing us to live life, keeping us from God’s abundant plans.

Faith and fear cannot reside in the same heart.  Fear alters our vision making it difficult to see God’s plan for us.  God never intended for us to live in fear, but to live in the abundance of everything He has to offer.  Today I pray our eyes are opened to see a clearer vision for our lives, the way God sees us.

In 2 Kings 6, there was an ongoing war with the Arameans and Israel.  The king of Aram became infuriated when he learned Elisha the prophet warned the king of Israel of the plan to set his army’s camp by the border of Israel.  Once King Aram’s officials told him where Elisha was, he made plans to capture him.  He sent horses, chariots, and a strong force to surround the city of Dothan ( 2 Kings 6:8-13).

The next morning Elisha’s servant saw the army of horses and chariots surrounding them.  The servant asked, “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?”  (2 Kings 6:15).

I love this next part.  Elisha’s response wasn’t to engage in his servant’s fears but to give him encouragement and invite him in to see what he saw.

Elisha tells his servant, 'Don't be afraid, those who are with us are more than those who are with them' (2 Kings 6:16). Click To Tweet

Wow, I can’t imagine Elisha’s bold confidence.  His eyes saw the same thing his servant did, yet he did not waver.  His response could have only come from God Himself.  Even though Elisha saw the danger with his physical eyes, he stood firm in God’s divine power of what He is able to do.

Elisha then turned to God in prayer and said, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.”  Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha (2 Kings 6:17).

Elisha’s prayer amazes me.  He didn’t ask God to help save them from the attacking enemy armies, instead asked God to open the eyes of his servant so he could see what Elisha saw.

I would surely think the next thing Elisha would ask God for was protection against the attacking enemy army.  Instead, Elisha prayed to the LORD, “Strike these people with blindness.”  God heard Elisha’s prayer and struck them with blindness, as Elisha asked (2 Kings 6:18).

The servant witnessed firsthand the power of Elisha’s prayer for vision.  His eyes were opened to see what God and Elisha saw.  Elisha’s prayer took the focus off of the enemy/fear and prayed a prayer for vision to see God’s divine power more clearly.  We may not always see God’s bigger plan, but He is always at work behind the scenes.

Our own physical vision can limit us to focus on the circumstances that surround us, but God’s vision can free us to focus on His abilities, putting our trust in Him.  We can follow Elisha’s pattern of prayer when we feel our fears caving in.

Elisha’s Vision of Prayer:

  1.  He recognized the enemy’s plan to instill fear.  Instead of being a victim of fear, He put his hope and trust in God’s abilities of what He was able to do.
  2. He turned to God in prayer.  Instead of worrying, He sought God and prayed.
  3. He stood firm in God’s promises, his faith did not waver.

Satan will always try to keep us from God’s plans by instilling fear in us.  Fear will always blind us to God’s presence.  We must recognize the tactics of the enemy, stand firm in God’s promises, seek God in prayer and trust in Him.  The closer we are to God, the more clearly we can see His vision for us and hear His voice.

Are you struggling to see past your circumstances?

Write your own prayer for vision.  Ask God to see what He sees.

Prayer-  Lord Jesus, open our eyes so we can see what you see.  We pray our vision will not blind us to your presence of voice, that we will see and hear what you want us to.  We pray we will stand firm in your promises and trust in your divine power.  You are greater.  We pray your desires will be greater than our desires.  You are our God who loves us more than anything.  We praise you and thank you for your eternal gifts.

I pray for God’s vision in your life to see more clearly what God sees.  You are loved!

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The One Thing…….

Do you have that one thing that drives you crazy about yourself? That one quirk, that one idiosyncrasy, that one flaw? If I could change one thing about myself it would be my organization. I grew up with a twin who was super organized and would organize for me. As an adult, I struggled with keeping things organized and still do.

Our flaws and weakness can seem like we’re staring at a 90-foot wall getting in our way of God’s abundant plan for us. I’m so glad God never gives up on us and patiently waits for us as he guides us through our fears.

Four men in 2 Kings who were lepers, remind me of what God is able to do when we take one step of faith toward our fears.

These four men lived outside of the entrance of the city gate. People with skin diseases were forbidden by law to reside within the community. They were outcasts. These four men spent their days begging for food. At the time there was a great famine and war going on—times were tough for everyone.

One day the men said to each other, “Why should we sit here waiting to die?” they asked each other. “We will starve if we stay here, but with the famine in the city, we will starve if we go back there. So we might as well go out and surrender to the Aramean army. If they let us live, so much the better. But if they kill us, we would have died anyway” 2 Kings 7:3-4.

The men recognized if they stayed where they were, there was a 100% chance they would starve and die. If they went out to the battlefield and surrendered to the army, they had a small chance of survival. Imagine this scene. These four lepers probably spent the greater part of their lives staring at the gate that separated them from the city begging for food—it’s the only life they have ever known. Now they are about to embark on an unknown path without fully knowing if they will live or die.

“So at twilight, they set out for the camp of the Arameans. But when they came to the edge of the camp, no one was there! For the Lord had caused the Aramean army to hear the clatter of speeding chariots and the galloping of horses and the sounds of a great army approaching.  So they panicked and ran into the night, abandoning their tents, horses, donkeys, and everything else, as they fled for their lives.” (2 Kings 7:5-6-7).

I can’t imagine the courage it took the men to go past the gates that was forbidden to enter so they could have a fighting chance for their future. How amazing is our God? The odds were already against these four men, but God had worked everything out before they even got to the battle lines, they only needed to take one step of faith. God caused the army to hear an opposing army approaching, which caused them to flee!

“When the men with leprosy arrived at the edge of the camp, they went into one tent after another, eating and drinking wine; and they carried off silver and gold and clothing and hid it. Finally, they said to each other, “This is not right. This is a day of good news, and we aren’t sharing it with anyone! If we wait until morning, some calamity will certainly fall upon us. Come on, let’s go back and tell the people at the palace” (2 Kings 7:8-9).

How surprised were these men when they found no one there and abundant riches waiting for them? They went from starving to trusting in God, to receive the most lavish gifts ever in their lives. How would you respond? Would you share your newly found riches with someone else or keep them to yourself?

The response of the lepers astounds me. They lived in squalor conditions most of their lives. Their immediate response was to share with the very people who considered them outcasts!

“So they went back to the city and told the gatekeepers what had happened. “We went out to the Aramean camp,” they said, “and no one was there! The horses and donkeys were tethered and the tents were all in order, but there wasn’t a single person around!” Then the gatekeepers shouted the news to the people in the palace” (2 Kings 7:10-11).

How great is our God?

Leprosy was the one thing that kept these men from living in community with others, but God used it in the end, to bring them together. No one else had the courage to go towards the battle except these men.

We may not always understand God’s plans, but He knows what He is doing. We don’t always have to know why.Click To Tweet

I am encouraged by the courage of these four men. They were willing to abandon everything that was comfortable to them and go towards where God was asking them to go—towards the battle. When they did, God had already gone ahead of them and worked everything out. When they let go of the one thing that was holding them back, God filled them abundantly more than what they could ever ask for or imagine.

What is the one thing that holds you back?

Maybe it’s fear. shame. pride. doubt. worry. anxiety. You’re one thing may be the very thing keeping you from the abundant freedom God desires for you.

Where is God asking you to go?

I promise when we say yes to God, taking one step of faith towards where he is asking us to go, He will be there waiting to fill you abundantly more than whatever you could ask for or imagine. God is greater.

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Words from the Cross

 

How powerful are the last dying words from a person; especially when those words are from Jesus? Do you know that even in Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross he prayed for us? His last words are so telling of his undying love for us. These are the last words Jesus spoke before he died on the cross.

The 7 Last Words Jesus Spoke on the Cross:

1. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). It amazes me even as Jesus was ridiculed, persecuted, beaten and crucified he still prayed for those who were killing him. He even forgave one of the men on the cross who was sentenced with him. Even in Jesus death he prayed for us and still had the power to make people right with God and cared about their salvation.

2. “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43 NIV). These are the words Jesus said to one of the criminals sentenced with him after the criminal said, “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Can you even imagine hanging on the cross suffering and Jesus says these words to you, promising you will be in paradise today and you will be with Jesus? This signifies that this paradise is something that Jesus brings not the world.

3. “Dear Woman, here is your son” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother” (John 19:26-27 NIV). Jesus was saying this to his mother Mary, even in Jesus’ last hours of life he honored his mother by asking John, his disciple to take care of her. Could you even imagine being in Mary’s shoes watching her child suffer, hanging on the cross, knowing he was going to die? Jesus wanted to make sure his mother would be taken care of and entrusted his beloved disciple John to do this.

4. “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means “My God, My God why have you forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). This is the fourth saying Jesus says in both Aramaic and Hebrew, from the cross. Prior to this, Jesus had fallen silent for 3 hours after the darkness came. This is the first thing he said after the darkness left. In the 3 hours of darkness is where Jesus felt the wrath and separation from God for the first time. This statement shows his vulnerability as a human and reveals his feeling of abandonment from God. I think this saying shows how heavy bearing the sins of all of mankind was and therefore cries out to God for help. This shows us we should cry out to God also when we too bear much suffering.

5. “I am thirsty” (John 19:28 NIV). This is so interesting how Jesus asks for water considering he taught his disciples and followers many times that he was the living water, that whoever drinks of the water will never thirst again and have eternal life (John 4:14). It is striking how the one who is the water of life is dying in thirst. I think this shows Jesus craving for his physical comfort to be refreshed with a drink of water. Jesus not only desired for his physical thirst to be satisfied but his spiritual thirst as well. In scorn, the soldiers dipped a sponge filled with vinegar on the end of a hyssop plant to give Jesus a bitter taste in his mouth. You and I today can ‘give Jesus a drink’ by sharing what we have with those in need by feeding the hungry and giving water to the thirsty (Matthew 25:34-40). Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 383). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

6. “It is finished” (John 19:30 NIV). This statement marks one of the last things Jesus says before he dies. It signifies he completed what he came to this earth to do, to die for our sins. He says the Greek word ‘tetelestai’ which means ‘paid in full.’ Jesus didn’t say ‘I am finished,’ he said ‘It is finished,’ meaning his redemptive work was complete. “It is finished,” is a declaration of Victory! Jesus became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). He suffered the penalty we deserved. Even up to the moment of his death, Jesus remained the one who gave his life for us (John 10:11, 14,17-18). Blum, E. A. (1985). John. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 340). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

7. “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46 NIV). This is the seventh and last statement Jesus says before he bowed his head and took his last breath. Jesus died for us. He offered his body and soul, not for himself, but for us. Jesus did not die as a martyr, but as a Victor, because he completed what he came to do. All of the suffering Jesus went through, his death was not for nothing. “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit,” is actually a bedtime prayer used by Jewish children. It tells us how our Lord died: confidently, willingly and victoriously (John 10:17-18). It is a prayer of commitment to God before taking his last breath. Those who know Jesus as their Saviour may also die with the same confidence and assurance, that Jesus did (2 Cor. 5:1–8; Phil. 1:20–23). Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 276). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Wow! I can’t even believe all that Jesus was teaching us even in his suffering on the cross and very last hours of his life. It shows me how important prayer is in our lives. Praying is what Jesus was doing up until the last breath he took. He not only was showing us his love by enduring suffering and death in which we deserved, but praying on our behalf asking for our forgiveness. He comforted the criminal who was suffering telling him about God’s promise of paradise. He honored his mother. He cried out to God for help. He showed his desire to have his thirst quenched both physically and spiritually. Jesus remained faithful even in his suffering. He showed us that God is always with us, he never leaves or forsakes us.

This Easter, we can partake and participate in the victory of Jesus as his gift to us.

What do Jesus’ last words mean to you?

We don’t have to be perfect to accept this gift, have it all together or be someone great. God’s gift of eternal life he offers to everyone, no matter who we are, who we were or who we will be. Opening and receiving God’s gift of eternal life, is the best gift anyone could ever receive this Easter.

I would love to hear from you! Leave your comments below. Have a blessed and Happy Easter!

In Him,

Heather

 

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Why Does God Allow Suffering?

Have you ever prayed a prayer to God pleading on your behalf to please take this sorrow and suffering away?  Have you ever questioned God and asked, “God, if you’re a loving God, then why do you allow so much suffering?”

I don’t know if you have ever sat and read the prayer that Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane before, but it is filled with lots of sorrow and suffering.  Jesus knew the time was coming before he was going to be arrested.  He went to the Garden of Gethsemane, a quiet place to pray and sit with God.  He took Peter, John, and James with Him to keep watch while He prayed.

Jesus was very troubled and distressed.  He even told His three disciples, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death”  (Mark 14:34).  Jesus knew it was only hours before he was going to be arrested and persecuted.  His soul was heavy with the burden of what God was asking Him to do on behalf of everyone else–to bear the penalty of all our sins.

Jesus found a quiet spot and fell with his face to the ground praying and pleading with His Father, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You.  Take this cup away from me, nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will”  (Mark 14:35-36).

Jesus knew His Father was capable of all things.  He even turned to Him in His sorrow asking Him to please take this cup from me.  A cup’s symbolism is of deep sorrow and suffering.  Jesus felt as though God was leaving Him behind and turning away from Him when He who had no sin was made to be the sin offering for us.

Jesus didn't want to suffer but in the end, submitted to God and said not what I will, but what You will.Click To Tweet

God allowed Jesus to be arrested even though he was innocent.  He even allowed Jesus to be flogged, beaten and crucified despite never sinning.  God allowed His own Son to suffer, not because he didn’t care, but for US.  God doesn’t need us, yet He chose us.  He didn’t allow His own Son to suffer for nothing, but all for His glory.

God doesn’t like it when we hurt.  He doesn’t like it when we suffer.  We are His children when we hurt, He hurts.  God doesn’t desire for us to suffer but has made a plan to carry us through to the other side of our suffering where His greatest blessings reside.

If anyone knows suffering it’s Jesus.  He suffered too.

If anyone knows scars it’s Jesus.  He has scars too.

If anyone knows heartache and burdens it’s Jesus, He had them too.

In our trials, God doesn’t leave us, He’s right there with us.  In the Bible, God let Peter fall in the water, but He didn’t let him drown.  God allowed Daniel to be thrown into the lion’s den, but He didn’t allow the lions to eat him.  God allowed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be thrown into the fiery furnace but He didn’t allow them to get burned.

God’s plan for us isn’t to fail but to succeed in His plans for us.  The trials we go through may hurt a lot, but that doesn’t mean God doesn’t love us.  God is always for us not against us.  We can hold onto God’s promises of who He is.  Two promises God always keeps is He is good all the time and He loves us.  If He didn’t, He would have never sent His only son to die for us.

Are you going through a trial right now that seems hopeless?

We can learn from Jesus, that in our trials when we are filled with sorrow and suffering, we can always turn towards God, Our Father, who makes all things possible.  We can give God our sorrows and sufferings just like Jesus did so He can turn them into something so much better.  Whatever you are going through know you are not alone, God is with you.  You are loved!

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Lost Faith

Have you ever lost something very valuable?  Something that no amount of money could replace because it was invaluable?  When I was younger I almost lost something that couldn’t be replaced–my faith.  I made choices I am not proud of and those choices lead me to places I didn’t want to be.  In those moments I turned away from God, He never left my side and His merciful love brought me back home.  In the end, I questioned what was so important for me to abandon my faith?

In the Bible, the disciples were some of the closest people to Jesus.  They walked, talked and followed Him,  heard him speak, saw him perform miracles and yet coward to worldly persecution almost losing their most valuable possession–their faith.

At the Last Supper Jesus warned the disciples that someone would betray Him, one who was eating among them (Mark 14:18).  After the Last Supper, He even warns Peter that he would deny Him (Mark 14:27) and tells the disciples, they will also scatter.

Jesus warned the disciples that their faith would be tested and they too would turn away from their faith.  

“This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: “‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.”  Matthew 26:31

When Jesus says this, Peter proclaims all the other followers may fall, but I will not (Mark 14:29).  Jesus then tells Peter, before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times (Mark 14:30).  Peter and the others emphatically claimed, even if they had to die with Jesus, they would never disown Him (Mark 14:31).

When Judas appeared in the Garden of Gethsemane with the Roman soldiers, he kissed Jesus on the cheek to signal to the soldiers which one was Jesus.  “The men seized Jesus and arrested him” (Mark 14:44-46).  After Jesus was arrested everyone including the disciples scattered like sheep.

It scares me to think even the people that walked, talked and followed Jesus deserted and fled Him at the time He needed them most.  Everyone left Jesus because they were afraid that they too would be arrested for being associated with Him.

Peter moments before said He would never flee or deny His Lord and Savior.  The disciples proclaimed they would die before ever disowning Jesus.  And yet they fled.

When worldly persecution infringes upon our faith how easy is it to flee in the other direction? Click To Tweet

It was even easy for the disciples who were students of Jesus.  For three years they listened to His teachings, His warnings, His messages.  And yet they fled in fear of getting arrested.

What happened to their faith?

In the three years with Jesus, the disciples witnessed Jesus walk on water, calm the storms, feed 5,000 people with 2 loaves of bread and 5 fish, raise the dead, heal the sick and lame, give the blind their sight, cast our demons and turn wine to water.  They witnessed with their own eyes the very things Jesus was capable of.  They proclaimed Jesus as their Messiah and Lord.  And yet most of them weren’t even present at the cross at their own Messiah’s death, in His greatest suffering.

The disciples fear of persecution caused them to react with their flesh and not their faith.  Who knows?  Maybe their fear saved them from also being crucified on the cross?

It didn’t take long for the disciples’ faith to be restored.  After Jesus’ resurrection, He appeared to Mary Magdelene and two men walking in the country (Mark 16:9,12).  Jesus told them to go tell the disciples.  When Jesus appeared to the disciples he rebuked them for their lack of faith and stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen (Mark 16:14).  Again they didn’t believe!

The disciples were able to see firsthand the scars of Jesus, proof that he had indeed been crucified, buried and resurrected.  The eyewitnesses weren’t enough to convince their unbelieving hearts that Jesus had risen!  They had to see with their own eyes!

Just 7 days after Jesus’ death the disciples would boldly profess their faith in Jesus again without any fear at the Pentecost [1].  According to the book of Acts, their faith never wavered again and they stood firm even in the face of persecution.

Our rebellion, our fear, our ignorance, our disbelief, our pride are the very things that will make us abandon our faith and choose the other way.  We may not be able to witness Jesus firsthand like the disciples did, but we can witness Jesus firsthand by staying in The Word and through prayer.

Can you relate to the disciples?  They allowed their fears to almost lose the most valuable thing in their lives–their faith.  I’m so glad after Jesus’ resurrection they never questioned their faith again.

Have you ever allowed something to come in between you and God?

Have you ever lost your faith?

I am ashamed to admit I walked away from God for a period of time in my life.  It was one of the worst decisions I made in my life.  I never knew how valuable my faith was until I lost it.  I once was lost, but now I’m found.  God’s profound abundant love, captivated me.  His neverending mercy and grace, consumed me.  His forgiveness and sacrifice embraced my heart to never walk away from my faith again.

Maybe you’re hurting, in a place you don’t want to be.  Maybe you feel like you’re so far from God and don’t know how to get back.  I promise you, God is there waiting for you.  He wants you.  All we have to say is “God help me.” He will be there, I promise.

Blum, E. A. (1985). John. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 343). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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Where Do You Keep Your Faith?

This post was very convicting to me.  In my quiet moments with God, parts of my heart reveal my weak flesh and flaws that I can’t hide from.  These moments expose areas of my heart that need tending to and areas I still need to grow.  I am guilty of not always being open and truthful with who I am, trying to keep it all together so others can’t see.  In the end, I am left empty-handed, with the only option to surrender it all to God, allowing him to have every crevice of my heart, burdens and all.

The struggles we go through can seem never-ending in a world filled with evil and deceit.  In my trials, I question, do I really give it all to God and where do I keep my faith?

Where we keep our faith determines how we are going to make it through to the other side of our trials.Click To Tweet

I can honestly say in my walk with God, my faith has been all over the place.  There have been times my faith has wavered, I walked away and I even coward to worldly pressures to follow the crowd.  Looking back I can see standing firm in my faith was the very thing I needed during those times–but yet I chose the other way.

These soul-searching moments are when we ask ourselves if it’s so easy to walk away where are we really keeping our faith?

  1. Do you keep your faith in a Box?  I know this sounds silly, but really there have been times I try to put God in a box.  I limit God’s abilities by putting parameters on His timing or asking for things the way I want them.  Really His divine authority over all things goes way beyond my limited vision.  Faith doesn’t always fit neatly into a box.  Having faith doesn’t make my life easier or even pretty, in fact, my life can look pretty messy at times.  Keeping my faith in a box doesn’t allow for God’s full potential to be working in my life.  Limiting my faith to four walls of a box doesn’t allow me to experience God’s greatest blessings that go way beyond that box.  To experience the awesome and crazy moments I have to step out in faith and allow God to lead me to where He is asking me to go.  Stepping out of my comfort zone takes courageous faith that will always lead me to God’s greatest blessings.
  2. Do you keep your faith in a Corner?  Have you been guilty of only calling upon God when you need Him?  I sure have.   Life is going well then tragedy strikes and we ask God, why did you let this happen?  I then look around and realize the question to ask is why have I been so blessed up until this point?  God isn’t someone we take out when we need Him, but a constant presence and relationship.  He desires to be in our daily lives, not an occasional passing.
  3. Do you put your faith in the evidence you see?  I have also been guilty of not trusting in God and putting my faith in what I see.  Our circumstances can pile up and seem so defeating when our own eyes convince us that our situation is impossible;  there is no hope.  But then God intervenes and shows up in ways we couldn’t even imagine.  I am ashamed that I have doubted that He is able.  I may not always understand God’s plans, but I know when we put our faith in His abilities it drastically changes our situations from hopeless to hopeful.
  4. Do you keep your faith locked up?  Have you been guilty of keeping your faith so tightly locked up you don’t ever let it out for others to see?  I have been one to coward to worldly pressures and persecutions.  I’ve kept my mouth shut when I should have spoken up.  All for what?  At the expense of me possibly feeling embarrassed or not part of the crowd?  I am ashamed of my response because I know Jesus would never turn His back on me and yet I turned my back on God.  Can you relate?  Keeping my faith locked up doesn’t allow others to see the light of Jesus or allow God to have all of my heart.  What’s the point in having faith if we never let it out from being shackled?
  5. Do you keep your faith in your heart?  The only time I have ever been able to stand firm in my faith is when I have kept faith in my heart where it can grow and prosper.  God never intended for us to keep our faith hidden under a rock, but transparent for others to see–all for his glory.  Our faith isn’t just for our own benefit but for others to experience the love of Jesus.  Our faith is no good when we keep it to ourselves, it’s meant to be shared with others.  Keeping our faith at the center of our hearts allows God to grow us in ways we couldn’t imagine.

Faith isn’t faith when we keep it in a box, in a corner or shackled up in chains.  Faith is trusting God in advance. These questions have challenged me, where do I really keep my faith and is my faith evident in my life?  How about you?  Can you relate?

Where do you keep Your faith and is your faith evident in your life?

Have you ever walked away from your faith?

Don’t worry you’re not the only one who has abandoned their faith.  Join me next week as we take a closer look at the disciples who also wavered from their faith.

Keeping our faith no matter what our circumstances allow us to experience God’s greater blessings waiting on the other side.  Stay faithful, I promise God always has something better and greater on the other side of our trials.  You are loved!


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