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,

February 27, 2017

Walk Step by Step in the Light, Part 1 (Winner announced)

It’s hard to come face to face with our sin. The sin that comes because of our fallen nature (because of what happened in the Garden when Eve ate the fruit). It’s especially hard with those sins we commit over and over again. We speak a harsh word. We engage in gossip. We lose our temper. We succumb to fear instead of trusting God. Each time, we tell God we’re sorry and promise we will do better next time.

And we don’t.

It’s a vicious cycle.

On the other side, God’s Word calls us to live in the light.

What does that mean? It requires that our hearts, our actions our words, our thoughts, our values, and even our schedules align with His heart and His character, not with our sinful nature and fallen character.

So much harder said than done.

The good news I celebrate today is that living in the light doesn’t require perfection! Let me repeat those words.

Living in the light does not require perfection.

God does not require perfection.

Let those words sink deep.

Only Jesus is perfect.

God requires repentant hearts. When we sin, He asks that we immediately bring that sin before Him and confess it. When we follow this formula, He forgives us fully and completely.

In 1 John 1:7, John teaches his audience to “walk in the light.” The Voice translation says, “walk step by step in the light.” Jesus is the Light of the World, so walking in the light means walking step by step with Jesus, letting Him lead, direct, and guide us.

It’s a daily walk. And we don’t walk alone. We walk with a loving, forgiving Father who empowers us to do better each and every day through the indwelling presence of His Holy Spirit.

At times, we will take a wrong step … away from the light and toward darkness. And this step may interrupt our fellowship with God. But the good news is, we need only turn our hearts back toward our heavenly Father and ask forgiveness. He waits for us to come to Him with open arms. He longs to forgive and restore our fellowship with Him.

The key is agreeing with God about our sinful thoughts! Because agreeing with God about them brings them into to the light.

What happens in the light is glorious! We don’t find shame or condemnation, we find love and forgiveness. It is the place where God will work in our hearts not only to correct us but also train us to think, speak and act in new ways.

When we don’t take immediate action to walk back into the light, we leave the door wide open for the enemy to take full control of the reins of our heart and lead us deeper into darkness and further into sin.

I have lots more to share on this topic! In fact, it’s a bit of a foreshadow of things to come. Will you come back next week and join me for Part 2? I will have a script we can follow when we find ourselves in a cycle of sin. And I can’t wait to share it with you. Please come back next week!

Let me close with a prayer.

Thank you, Jesus, for leaving the glory of heaven to enter into the grit and grime of this dark world. Thank you that You are the Light of the World. The One who can shine light into the darkness lurking in our own hearts. And when You shine that light, it is free of shame and condemnation. Your light brings with it mercy, grace and conviction. We confess that we have dark places in our hearts. I agree with You in this moment, they interrupt our fellowship with You. We ask You to shine the lamp of Your light into the deepest crevices in our hearts. Forgive us. Renew our thoughts. Renew our hearts. Make it so we honor you in all we say and do. We ask this in Jesus’ precious name. Amen.

And I would love to hear your thoughts on what I shared today from 1 John and how sin interrupts our fellowship with God. If you have a few minutes, please leave a comment.

*****WINNER OF SHARON JAYNES’ BOOK*****

Susan who posted on February 20 at 11:03 pm.

Congratulations! Susan, please e-mail me at deuteronomysix@aol.com with your full name and mailing address so we can get you your book.

Blessings,