“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
~ 1 Peter 1:3â€-â€¬5 ESV
Dude! How awesome is that?! An inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading!!
The other great thing about this passage is that it reminds us that we are born into a LIVING hope! Not a dead hope. A living hope! Also, that our hope and inheritance are guarded through faith!
How’s your faith?! Pray tonight that God will give you more faith!
Jokingly, people often say, â€œ here comes trouble,â€ when a friend enters the room. That is a classic line that never gets old and always gets a laugh but all joking aside, are we able to see trouble coming? If we can see trouble coming, we can take shelter or other corrective measures to prevent the damage it will bring. Continue reading “Mark 2:13-17 – Here Comes Trouble”
“The second is this: â€˜You shall love your neighbor as yourself.â€™ There is no other commandment greater than these.â€
~ Mark 12:31
Love. Wow! What a powerful force. Love has the ability to heal the broken, the sick, and even find the lost. What an amazing gift this emotion is the chance to share it with everyone. But is love really an emotion or is it measured in our actions and how we treat one another?
This neighbor can be a stranger or a friend but can also be your spouse or your children. When I get home after a long day the thing I want most is to get home and see my beautiful children playing and my loving wife smiling, food on the table and a clean home right? But life happens and laundry does not always get done and the kids are fighting and guess what? There is no aroma of a pot roast cooking! Now, here is why I say love is not only a choice but based on our actions. I have thought of it in both terms.
I could go in guns blazing and tear down my wife with hurtful words and make her feel like a complete failure because the house is a war zone and there are dished piled high and kids are screaming. However, this option to just blow up makes everyone miserable. It honestly got me nowhere but making my children feel like they did something wrong and they don’t know why I’m upset. Â Also, my wife feeling like she is less than worthy of being my partner.
Love Is The Answer
Then I quickly realized that “Love” was the answer to my outburst of anger. Instead of lashing out for things that had not been done around the house, I comfort my children by giving them a big hug and a kiss. Even if they are in the middle of being rambunctious, they light up when I get home and I lift them up in the air and tell them I love them dearly and missed them. I roll up my sleeves, give my wife a big kiss and ask her how her day was. I ask what did not get done that day and if there is a way I could help her finish up the chores. This option led to guess what? Dinner being cooked for me when I got home, kids wanting to be around me and help me wind down after a long day. They take off my shoes and are happy to do it even bring me my house slippers.
IÂ could go on and on about things that happen every day but if you get anything from what you read here, please know that love is a choice you have to make every day and let us show truth by our actions. So no matter what your day may bring or how infuriated someone makes you, stop think about it and make the choice to love your neighbor and know that we are all children of God. Who knows? Your love and kindness might just be what changes a person’s perspective in their own life.
And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.”
Mark 14:18 ESV
I think like most of us, we read the New Testament with our contemporary eyes being able to see the entire story. We questionÂ those who were part of the story. Like “How could anyone betray Jesus?!?! He was obviously the long anticipated Messiah!”
But, then I also am reminded that any one of us could be considered betrayers. WeÂ have trusted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and committed our lives to His, the King of kings, service, have eaten in remembrance of Him. Yet, still many of us betray him with our actions of disobedience.
We Know The Story
The thing is… we do know the story, the reality of Jesus. We can read the pages written by those who were there with Jesus while he walked this planet. We can read his disciples recollection and know who Jesus was and is. It should be easy for us to turn away from temptations to disobey Jesus, yet we still struggle.
It makes the Apostle Paul’s words ring even more true that our battle isn’t against flesh and blood. Instead, it’s against evil forces in the spiritual realm. Today, pray up. Know the battle is already won, but do you part to fight in the battle. Jesus has equipped us for the lives we are called to live. We just need to live them!
“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil.”Â Â Deuteronomy 30:15
God called His people to obedience, to choose goodness and life. There were choices set before them. Just as the Israelites had a choice to make, so do we. We are faced with choices of good and evil, life and death. Some crossroads will feel more prevalent than others. In our current cultural and societal climate, we might be tempted to think of life and death as only a politically charged choice. However, we must push past the hard drawn lines in the political arena, and press into souls. When we move past only standing for a political movement, we have the freedom to look into the eyes of the hurting and carry them to the feet of Jesus, the ultimate healer. When we are able to cross party lines, to engage in soul work with the broken, then we truly engage in the battle between life and death, good and evil. Let us remember that the choice for life or death begins in our heart of hearts, where we choose to allow or not allow the Holy Spirit to chisel away at our rough edges and produce a love for people, that can only be driven by God, himself. When we speak, may we be filled with grace. When we reach, may it be to lift the fallen. When we listen, may it be to truly hear. When we look, may we see through the lens of God. I pray that our stand for life and goodness is never overshadowed by our opinions or debates, but that our feet are firmly rooted in the grace and truth of Jesus. He lifted the hurting, convened with the broken, loved the unlovable. This, my friends, is how we choose life and goodness.
I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he calledâ€”his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.
(Ephesians 1:18 NLT)
Several years back I, along with my wife and son, were going through what I call, â€œThe Dark Night of the Soul.â€ It was such a difficult time and things lookedâ€¦.well, pretty dark and hopeless. This didnâ€™t last a few days, but several months – 18 to be more precise.
We were serving as college pastors as well as working professionally. We had more irons in more fires than those found at the Boy Scouts National Jamboree. Then, everything came crashing in. Things well beyond our control (and very little to do with anything we had done right or wrong, for that matter) had broken us down to a point where we could really see no way out.
I began meeting with one of the staff pastors on a regular basis (every morning to be exact) for coffee, prayer andâ€¦.hope. Every core belief was being challenged by the gates of hell, and it looked like they were winning. I remember telling Pastor Sam, â€œI just donâ€™t think I can go on another minuteâ€. That wasnâ€™t being melodramatic, it was really how I felt. Sickness, financial despair, mental anguish, spiritual death and anything else you could imagine was hitting me.
My friend began reading to me from Ephesians 1. I knew the passage, heck, by that time in my life I had read the Bible through completely countless times. You see, the word was in my head, some had even made it into the caverns of my heart, but for the most part, they felt like empty phrases to me.
Pastor Sam asked me a very simple question, â€œI realize you donâ€™t feel like you can make it through the day, but can you make it another few minutes?â€. Hey wait a minute, I know what you are trying to pullâ€¦. He prayed that the eyes of my heart would be opened so I could see the HOPE of my calling.
He and I sat there in silence for several minutes and then he exclaimed â€œYeah!, you did it!â€ Thatâ€™s hope at work in you! Something inside snapped. It seemed like a light came on and I started to feel the power of what Ephesians 1 was talking about.
â€¦.my heart flooded with LIGHT, so that I could UNDERSTAND the CONFIDENT HOPE he HAS given to those he called. Not hope that he WILL GIVE me, but hope that he HAS GIVEN me. I had wrestled greatly with the disconnection between my head, my heart and the circumstances around me.
Long story short(er). From that day onward, my heart (and head) began to grow in strength and hope. I began to understand the hope he HAS ALREADY GIVEN TO ME!
Are you in the â€œDark night of the soulâ€? Maybe you donâ€™t think you can go on. Let me pray this over you right nowâ€¦
Father, In the name of Jesusâ€¦
â€œI pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he calledâ€”his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.” (Ephesians 1:18 NLT)
â€œAs iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.â€
I know weâ€™ve all been there at some point in our lives. We feel broken, empty or alone inside. We can easily feel like there is nothing that could bring us out of where we are. Personally, Iâ€™ve been so low I couldnâ€™t tell which way was up at certain times in my life. As often as we all get this way, how many times can the hand or the care of a friend bring us right out of our state of mind or current situation? Sometimes just talking to a close friend about things might make all the difference in the world.
If we really listen to this scripture, we understand how much deeper this can go. Lifting one another up is a beautiful way to start. I love to help a friend who is down, or struggling just by talking the through a situation. However, even more than that, I know that by praying for them and with them is so much more important than just a kind word. We can and do make a huge difference for Christ by starting this process and using each other to grow in His name.
Aside from just praying for each other, I know we continue to grow as we serve the Lord and follow Him together. There is not one of us who can be on our â€œAâ€ game every single moment of every single day. We need one another so much to for support and strength. When one is down the other is up and supports, and as so we both get stronger. The giver of strength sees how they are helping all the while knowing they could quickly be in the opposite position. The receiver of this blessing becomes more and more equipped, ready to do the same when they are needed and called. Both are stronger as they are sharper from each other. As always, itâ€™s within Godâ€™s perfect plan for us to serve and understand together.
We have a great confidence in Jesus, our protector. The psalmist here was writing in a time of enormous turmoil, but his confidence in his God was so great, that he could lay down and sleep. Our current cultural atmosphere is incredibly chaotic, terrifying, and discouraging. But take heart, the God who provided protection for David when his life was in danger, is the same God who provides protection for us now. So, sleep in peace and dwell in the safety of the Lord.
We all know that sinking feeling, the lurch in the stomach when the card reader *beeps* and flashes those unwelcome words, “CARD DECLINED.”Â
There’s a helpless sort of feeling that comes along next. We don’t know why our card has been declined. Surely it’s a mistake? Maybe there’s something wrong with the card? What if something happened and the funds really aren’t there?
Unless some benevolent stranger steps up to pay the bill for you, you have to walk away empty handed. You have insufficient funds.
ThisÂ modern day phrase can appropriately be used to describe our sin-debt without Christ.
“. . . For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, . .” Romans 3:23
For 22 verses before that, Paul explains that it doesn’t matter how Jewish you are, or how righteous you are, or how circumcised you are,. . . it stillÂ falls short. And then he sums it up with, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”Â
All of us, every one.
We have insufficient funds to pay the cost of our sin-debt. We can’t do it. Card declined.
But there is one merciful benefactor who can, and HAS, paid the price for you.
“. . Â .For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,Â and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,Â whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.” Romans 3:23-25 (Emphasis mine.)
By the gift of God’s grace, through redemption by Jesus, we are justified! Jesus has stepped up to pay the price that we could never pay on our own. And if we take hold of that gift, plant it in our hearts, make it first and foremost in our lives, following God with all our hearts, then we can live in spiritual freedom knowing that our debt has been paid. And that enables usÂ to live boldly and fiercely for God. What a gift!