April 21, 2017

Spiritual Heartburn (Living So That Giveaway)

 Will you join me for a few minutes to take a trip back in time?

Today we will join two friends, Cleopas and his companion, walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus after Christ’s death. Friends whose hearts ached with sorrow as they spoke of how the Roman authorities persecuted, tortured, and executed their teacher and friend. In the midst of their conversation, Jesus joined them, but Scripture says they didn’t recognize Him.

Let’s imagine ourselves on that same road … believers who had put all our hope in Jesus. With His death, we now feel abandoned and hopeless. Yet, unbeknownst to us, standing next to us is the risen Jesus Himself!

Jesus asked the two men what they were talking about.

Expressing deep sadness, Cleopas shared how Jesus, the mighty prophet who did amazing miracles and preached powerful messages, had been crucified. He ended with these words: “We had been hoping He was the One – you know, the One who would liberate all Israel and bring God’s promises.” Luke 24:21

Basically, they told Jesus that He had let them down. Most distressing to Jesus was their lack of faith. They spoke these words in spite of the fact that trusted friends had gone to the tomb, discovered no body, and received a message from angels that Jesus was alive.

Jesus rebuked them: “Come on men, why are you being so foolish? Why are your hearts so sluggish when it comes to believing what the prophets have been saying all along?” Luke 24:25

Jesus knew the problem lay not in their heads but in their hearts. So He then took them on another journey. This one through the Old Testament, beginning with Moses and continuing prophet by prophet, explaining the meaning of the prophets’ words and how each predicted the very things they had witnessed.

Jesus spoke God’s Word in a fresh way.

Can you imagine how wonderful it must have been to hear the words of Scripture delivered by Jesus Himself?

Upon reaching their destination, they invited Jesus to join them for dinner. He accepted. When they sat down, Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and handed it to them. Scripture says that in that instant, their eyes were suddenly opened so that they recognized Him. And a moment later, Jesus vanished! (Luke 24:31)

What changed in that moment? Before, these two men believed only part of what they had been taught growing up. They never got the big picture of Who Jesus was and was to be. They saw the King, not the servant … the crown, not the cross … the glory, not the suffering.

Listen to the words they spoke to each other after Jesus left:

Amazing! Weren’t our hearts on fire within us while He was talking to us on the road? Didn’t you feel it all coming clear as He explained the meaning of the Hebrew Scripture?” Luke 24:32 (emphasis added)

The NIV says “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us … and opened the Scriptures to us?”

Friend, they experienced spiritual heartburn! The word “burn” is from the Greek verb kaio, meaning “to set on fire.” Metaphorically, it means Jesus’ words created a hunger and passion within them they had never before experienced. His words captivated their hearts.

Jesus, the master story teller, brought what seemed simple Bible stories alive for Cleopas and his friend. As He opened the Scriptures, the puzzle pieces came together in such a powerful way that they not only listened, but something within them changed … something so profound that they immediately went to Jerusalem to share with others what they had seen and heard.
Jesus used His Word to teach, rebuke, correct and train Cleopas and his friend. Jesus’ spoken word enlightened their minds and deepened their faith. His visit empowered and equipped them for the task He called them to … sharing the good news they had just heard.

God will do the same for us. How He longs for us to open His Word so He can teach us! God is waiting to speak into our lives just as Jesus spoke into theirs. Sometimes He will teach and train, and we’ll savor it. Sometimes he will rebuke and correct, and we’ll fight it. But through it all, we’ll gain a confidence in His Word. A confidence like we’ve never had, one that will strengthen our convictions.  And as our convictions strengthen, God will use those convictions to equip us for His Kingdom work

**This devotion is taken, in part, from Chapter Two of my book,Living So That. Click here to learn more about the book or order a copy.**

GIVEAWAY

I’m thankful you spent time with me here today. I would love to hear from you. Please share a time when you have felt spiritual heartburn. I will choose one comment to receive a signed copy of my book Living So That. Stop by next week, and I’ll announce the winner.
 

April 3, 2017

Jesus’ Last Words Through Our Eyes

With Easter drawing near, my heart turns to the cross. Will you join me for a journey?Let’s imagine for the next few minutes we have followed the crowds outside of Jerusalem, to the place of Jesus’ execution. We find ourselves at Golgotha (the Place of a Skull, also known as Calvary), watching and listening, as the soldiers nail Jesus to the cross.

It’s early in the day.

What do we see?

Jesus hanging on a cross before us, suffering excruciating pain.

What do we hear?

A noisy, unruly crowd all around us. The pounding of nails. The mocking of skeptics. The weeping of loved ones.

But let’s lean in a bit closer.

Let’s listen for Jesus’ words.

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

We don’t hear angry, hate-filled words. No appeal for a rescue. Jesus’ first words from the cross is a prayer. Words of forgiveness. We aren’t sure for whom He is praying. The Roman soldiers, Pilate and Herod? The vindictive mob crying, “crucify Him?” Those who betrayed Him? Yes, for all of these. But His Words are also for you and me. He spoke of this moment as He walked among us.

“Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43

Looking to the left and to the right of Jesus, we see Him hanging between two thieves. Both hurl insults at Jesus (Matthew 27:44), but, soon thereafter, one of them rebukes the other. Something shifts deep within Him right before our very eyes. He sees his sin. He repents. Jesus extends grace. What does this mean? With Jesus, it’s never too late.

“‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold. your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.” John 19:26-27

From the cross, we see Jesus’ eyes search to and fro for his mother. When he finds her, he calls to her and tenderly provides for her. He entrusts her to His beloved friend John. We stand amazed. Even in His suffering, Jesus cares about her needs!

The early part of the day has passed. It’s now noon. The earth goes dark. Blackness consumes the day.

“‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'” Matthew 27:46

Jesus suffers His deepest, darkest hours. Our sin, mine and yours, overcomes His body, crushing Him (Isaiah 53:10, 2 Cor. 5:21). But, Jesus doesn’t climb down off the cross. He doesn’t beg for mercy. He remains. We look at each other, tears in our eyes. Where is God? Why has God allowed this? How could He watch this from His throne in Heaven. Jesus cries out to His Father. He feels it too. Yet He still remains. Though He cannot see His Father’s face, Jesus must know He is there. Jesus must trust He is listening.

“I am thirsty.” John 19:28

We look at each other? We heard him say many times He is both human and divine. We know God doesn’t get thirsty, yet Jesus is thirsty. More proof. He is indeed who He said He is. And haven’t we heard these words somewhere before? Yes! Remember Psalm 69:3, “My soul is parched” and  Psalm 29:21, “They gave me vinegar for my thirst.” Jesus knew these Scriptures. He now fulfills them before our eyes.

“It is finished.” John 19:30

We look at each other. Jesus moan or mumble these words. He speaks them clearly, precisely, intentionally. What is finished? He declares them like it’s a declaration of triumph and victory. We both realize something. All the prophecies we heard Him speak over these past years are being fulfilled, in this moment, before our very eyes. The hard fought battle begun in the Garden of Eden now won by the Son of God (Gen. 3:15). Hallelujah!

“Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit!” Luke 23:46

We stand in awe. The weight of what we have witnessed falls hard and full. Jesus has done it. Fulfilled every word of Scripture. Kept His every promise. He willingly allowed Himself to fall into the hands of His own created ones … to be mocked, tortured, persecuted, and ultimately executed like the worst of criminals … for us! Every step of the way trusting in the love of His Father. Knowing and trusting nothing and no one could snatch Him away.

I hope you have enjoyed our time together at the foot of the cross. Thank you for joining me. I would love to hear your thoughts. Please take a moment and share what God spoke to your heart.

May each of you have a blessed and joyous Easter.

March 6, 2017

Walking Step by Step in the Light, Part 2

Welcome back for part two of Walking Step by Step in the Light.

Before I jump into our lesson, I’d like to celebrate with YOU, my dearest ministry friends, my new book that will come out in early 2018. This book shares the beautiful lessons and stories the Lord taught me as I walked through the pages of 1 John. Last week and this week’s messages are a preview of what’s tucked inside this study. If you missed last week, click here to read it. I will share more about my new study in the months to come with fun giveways and ways to participate in helping me get the word out. 

Let’s get back to our message about living in the light.

Last week we received the great news that we aren’t perfect. Best news ever, right! However, that’s not an excuse to keep sinning. We talked about how important it is to recognize and agree with God about our sin because that ensures our sin doesn’t stay hidden in the dark.

What’s the best way to do that? As I struggled with my tongue a few years back, God took me through a process. He gave me a script to follow when I find myself struggling with a sin. But following this process is an intentional choice. We must choose to:

Interrupt our thoughts

Sin begins in our thoughts. Our thoughts lead us down the path of disobedience. And it’s our disobedience that interrupts our fellowship with God. So, learning to recognize and interrupt our sinful thoughts before they lead us to action is the key to uninterrupted fellowship with God.

The best way to counter our sinful thoughts is by drawing close to God. Praying and spending time in His Word sensitizes our hearts to the leading of His Holy Spirit. Something deep within our soul discerns that we are walking outside His Will and grieving His heart.

Confess our sin

How will we respond to what we feel from the Lord? We’ll either feel convicted or condemned. And which one we feel will depend on how we view God. If we know God as a loving God who desires to redeem and restore us, that feeling will convict our hearts. We will respond in trust and obedience. But if we know God as a harsh judge who seeks to punish and shame us, that feeling will condemn our hearts. We will feel shame and guilt and run from God.

If you get nothing else from our time together today, please understand the distinction between conviction and condemnation.

Conviction is from the Holy Spirit. It’s from the heart of our Creator, our loving Father. It is good because He is good. He is safe. He is trustworthy. He uses conviction to intervene in our mess and draw us back into the light and into perfect fellowship with Him.

Condemnation is from Satan, our enemy. It is not good because he is not good. He is not safe. He is a liar and the father of lies. In him, there is no truth at all. Satan uses condemnation to intervene in our mess and move us further from our Father’s heart and deeper into darkness.

God never condemns. Romans 8:1 says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

So beware of  the evil one’s lies. Replace them with truth from the One who created and formed you and deeply loves you. Ask forgiveness from the One who is waiting to draw you back to Him.

Turn around and step back into the light

Make intentional choices to keep from repeating the same sin.

It might be memorizing a truth you can speak or pray when that temptation to gossip, criticize, or control comes your way.

It might be resolving in your heart not to yield to what tempts you and inviting a friend to pray for and with you and hold you accountable.

It might be changing friends.

Sometimes there will be a cost. But it will be so worth it, my friend.

Remember, we don’t fight this battle alone. God equips and empowers us with spiritual discernment to alert us to the people and situations that seek to lead us into sin and darkness. His Spirit provides us with the strength and courage to resist that temptation and stand on the Truth.

Walking in fellowship with Christ, day-by-day, step-by-step, ensures who we say we are, matches who we really are.

We are blood bought baby girls of the One True God. We are daughters of the Holy One of Israel. We are loved. Chosen. Redeemed. Beautiful in His sight. Created with purpose.

Don’t let the devil interrupt your fellowship with God or mar the beautiful woman God has created you to be!

I would love to hear from you today. Share one step you need to take today to walk in the light.

Blessings,