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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

On the Porch

What is it about a porch setting that calms the spirit?

Is it the peaceful setting, listening to the nature around?

Is it the way it gathers people together to talk and reminisce about days gone by?

Each spring I look forward to the day that I can sit on my front porch and listen to the beautiful symphony that plays each morning.  The whistle of the soft breeze.  The music of the waking birds.  The grass and trees coming to life.  Its symbolic of a new start.  A new day.  A clean slate.

Don't we all wish we could just wipe the slate clean and start over?  Wipe away all the mistakes, all the hardships, the anger, resentment, hurt and frustration that life has given us?  

I think porches give us hope. The quiet setting, the glimpse of yesterdays gone by, and the HOPE of today.  Hope is knowing that you can receive a desire in the future. The possibility of receiving encourages our heart and gives us Hope.   A desire becomes a Hope when we discover a reason for its expectation.  The strength of the reason, determines the strength of the corresponding expectation.  We know what we can have by learning what He has given us, and what He has given us is expressed as promises in the Bible.  The good news of the Gospel is that all the promises of God are a resounding yes through faith in Jesus Christ.  And Hope matured brings us faith.

Hebrews 11:1  Now faith is the substance of things HOPED for, the evidence of things not seen.

 Jesus is the object of our Hope, and we patiently wait for Him in Faith.  He is the Hope for which we are in Faith.  He is real whether we know it or not.  He becomes a reality to us when we know that He is a reality, and we know He is a reality by the Faith in our hearts.  He does not change – we are the ones who change.  

Romans 10:17 Faith comes by hearing, and hearing the word of the Lord.


If you get a chance, sit on the porch.  Take your Bible and a cup of coffee or tea, and listen to the early morning sounds.  Listen to the quiet.  A lot happens in the quiet.   Gods spirit touches your soul.  His breath touches your face, and his voice, that still small voice, can be heard. 

Its a place to hope, in hope our faith grows. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Beauty and the Beast


Its almost that time...the day we as Christians remember what Christ went through for us.  

He was scourged.

He was hung on the cross to die.

But between the scourging and the cross, something happened that wasn't ordered. 

Matthew 27:27-31 

Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

They were given two orders that day - scourge him then take him to the hill and kill him.  But they had other ideas.  They wanted to have some fun first.  They mocked him.  A nearly dead man was before them and they decided to play dress up and mock him, and then they spit on him.  

Spitting doesn't hurt the body - but it hurts the soul.  Have you ever gossiped about someone?  Same as spitting in their face. Ever made someone feel bad so you would feel good?  Spit.  Ever gotten angry over a simple infraction and made a big deal out of it?  Spit.  Rolled your eyes in arrogance or raised your hand in anger? Spit

How we treat others is how we treat Jesus.  Whoa!  We don't like hearing that.  But, its true, isn't' it? We don't like to hear that, but there is a beast within all of us.  What would have happened if the Beauty had not shown up to the castle in the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast?  Ever considered that? What if she hadn't cared?  But, she did care and she did come.  And because she loved the Beast, he became more beautiful.

Isn't that how we are because of Jesus?  There is a beast within each of us.  Since the fall of Adam in the garden we've become beastly, ugly, defiant, angry.  We do things we know we shouldn't do and wonder why we do them! The Bible is called the Good Book, but its filled with spilled blood, murder, rage, lust, seduction, idolatry.  Why is it Good when its filled with bad?  Because of Jesus.

Though made in God's image, we are corrupt to the core.  We try to do good, but our very center is selfish and perverse.  But, Jesus took that spit to the cross.  He was offered wine to drink, but no cloth to wash his face.  He chose the nails and he also chose the saliva.  He chose to carry that shame instead of wiping it off his face.   Jesus became the beast so we could become beautiful.   He took the spit, the saliva, the sin so we could become beautiful.

So, today, try to spit less.  Try to become who God says you are - beautiful and holy.   

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Waiting

 You have a dream...a goal...things you desire in your heart to do, see, say, be.  But God says "Wait my child.  Not yet".  Oh, isn't that hard to hear?  You feel like hes keeping you from your blessings and you don't understand why he's making you wait.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 says "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.   You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

We can mistakenly think that God’s plan is always going to be a “feel good” plan with the intent to make us happy. Jeremiah’s message in these verses is actually radically different.  He’s writing to a group of people who are being held captive, and are in exile from their homeland.  He’s writing to let them know that although they’re not where they would have expected, nor where they would have asked God to place them, God has not forgotten them and He still has a plan for their lives.  Even in the midst of a difficult situation, God wants them to know His plans.

Sometimes God puts us in captivity - a job we despise, financial difficulties, a time of struggle in relationships - he puts us there to teach us something.  He's not doing it to make our lives difficult, but to help us learn to lean on Him and Trust Him and His ways.   So many bad things happen to good people.  I often hear the question "Why?"  I can't answer all the time why good things happen to bad people.  God is not a respecter of persons when He has an ultimate plan.  God's ways are sovereign and sometimes we may never know why He does what He does.  As the picture above says, God is going before us making our crooked paths straight.  He has a plan and He's putting all the pieces in place for us.   We may not understand but He's not asking us to understand, just to trust Him. 

Do you trust Him?  Are you willing to relinquish control of your life and live by faith, not by fact?  Are you willing to trust Him in spite of your circumstances and trust that He has a plan for you.  Are you willing to wait on the Lord as the verse below states "The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him".  I know its hard, and sometimes the road He has us on is bumpy and rough and filled with lots of pot holes, but God never promised us an easy road, just that He would be there to help us through.

For those who are struggling today, find Hope in knowing that God has a plan.  Wait on Him, Trust Him and He will make your paths straight. 


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Friendship


What makes a friend?  When you think of your close friendships, what is the common denominator that holds you together?

Mutual trust?
Honesty?
Laughter?
Common interests?

I have been thinking on friendships lately.  I have many acquaintances, but only a few TRUE friends.  Those friends you can tell everything to and you know they will not judge you.  If you need to cry, they will lend their shoulder.  If you need to yell, they will be the wall to bounce the anger off of.  If you need to laugh, they will laugh along with you.

What a friend we have in Jesus.  Isn't he the truest friend we could have?  All our griefs and shame to bear.  What a privilege to carry, everything to God in prayer. 

We have decisions to make in life.  What is the one thing you want to do? Talk it over with a close friend. We have choices, trials, sorrows, grief - we want to share it with someone because the load is too heavy to carry on our own.  Who do we go to? Our close friends.  

Jesus is the closest friend I have.  I sometimes forget that He not only wants to hear my praises, but my worries and fears.  I sometimes take the weight of my concerns and load them up on my own shoulders.  I feel heavy and burdened.  I can barely walk anymore.  I'm at the point of crawling.  On my hands and knees I take the load and lay it at the feet of Jesus, my friend who is able to carry the weight for me.   What a privilege!  As I was crying this morning, thinking of some things that are heavy on my heart, the Holy Spirit whispered this song in my heart.  I haven't listened to this old hymn for a long time...years maybe.  But as my head was bowed, I heard the sweet sound "What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear, what a privilege to carry, everything to God in prayer..."

Oh my heart was lifted.  I love Alan Jackson's version of this song...it just touched my heart.  I listened with eyes closed and focused on the words.  I encourage you to do the same.  Close your eyes, listen to the words, the hymn, and take it to the Lord in prayer.