Thursday, December 31, 2009

Growing up

What a day! I woke up for two hours planning on helping Mike with preparations for NYAID tonight only to fall asleep from 12:30-4:00pm.  I think my body went on strike.  I feel much more rested now and am getting ready for the long night ahead... 10pm-7am... whoa.

Today I was reading in 1 Corinthians 3 about divisions in the church of Corinth.  It is hard to wrap my mind around how there seem to be so many divisions within the church today.  At the same time I recognize the reality Christians still being sinful people (called righteous and holy through Christ alone) coming together to worship God.  We will never be perfect this side of heaven.  This may come as a huge surprise to some.  Or may even be frustrating.  I say this only because I am at heart a perfectionist.  Yes, it is true.  If there was a perfectionist anonymous group I suppose I would join.  But here's what God has taught me.  He doesn't want me to be perfect, he wants me to humble.  He doesn't want me pursue perfection, he wants me to rely on him. In relying on Him I will become more like Him, in becoming more like him I will please him more.   
God is so good knowing that we need help in being the children he desires us to be that he gives us the Holy Spirit who Jesus calls our counselor, a Spirit of power not timidity, a Spirit that helps us love others as Christ has loved us, a Spirit of self-discipline helping us honor God and to have protection from the emptiness of sin by following God's commandments.  
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 "Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly- mere infants in Christ.  I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it.  Indeed you are still not ready.  You are still worldly.  For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly?"
As I share my relationship with the Lord and my love for the Lord with other people one common thing they share with me is that they have seen so much hypocrisy and pride in the church that they would rather not attend and certainly they do not want to become like the Christians they have seen.  I always remind them that Christians still need forgiveness too.  Christians are not perfect and the one we should all look to as our model is Christ.  However, that doesn't excuse our immaturity as the body of believers.  
We all have a lot of growing up to do.  So let this be a year of the body of Christ being the body of Christ.  Let's put pride aside, walk in the humility Jesus displayed in his life, and be an encouragement not a stumbling block to those searching for the truth.  Let's thank God that we have a counselor to help us grow up!

Happy New Year's!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Called to be holy

2 Timothy 1:9 "...who has saved us and called us to a holy life- not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace."

We're not "holy" because we do this or that or do not do this or that.  We aren't holy because we strive to achieve perfection.  We aren't holy for any other reason than Jesus' presence in our lives.  Because of Christ's life laid down and raised up for us we are holy.  I can't be holy apart from Christ by what I do... but I am seen as holy because of Christ. 

What struck me in this verses is that I am called to a holy life. 

to be continued....

Sunday, September 20, 2009

How much do you love me?

Exodus 34:6 "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love & faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin."

Deuteronomy 7:8-9 "But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh King of Egypt.  Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him & keep his commands."  

Deuteronomy 33:12 "About Benjamin, he said: "Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders."

1 Chronicles 16:34 "Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, his love endures forever."  

Psalm 31:21 "Praise be to the LORD, for he showed his wonderful love to me when I was in a besieged city."

Psalm 33:18 "But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love."

Psalm 36:5 "Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies."  

Psalm 36:7 "How priceless is your unfailing love!  Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings."  

Psalm 37:28 "For the LORD loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones.  They will be protected forever..."

Deuteronomy 10:12 "And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and all your soul and to observe the LORD's commands & decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?"

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Faith will bring the better

Mark 2:4-5 "And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay.  And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven."

I love these verses.  Here we see the great faith of the paralytic's friends who put forth an extreme effort to bring their friend to Jesus.  Why?  B/C they believed he would heal him.  However, we again see proof of how God's thoughts & ways are often unlike our own (Isaiah 55:8-9).  The man is lowered into the room from the roof, quite a sight to see I'm sure, and Jesus moved by his faith tells him, "Your sins have been forgiven."  In our own ignorance we like the scribes in the room think ... "He's just going to say that he forgives his sins rather than healing him?" We see later of course that Jesus knows our thoughts (how amazing) and perceives our ignorance of his ways.  So he heals the man.  Why?  To show his authority to forgive the mans sins. 

But here's what gets me.  The truth is that Jesus forgiving the man of his sins would have been far better than him ever healing his physical impairment.  The man's faith led to Jesus' forgiveness of His sins... this is a far better blessing for great faith then the latter healing.  As Mike would say... "Can we FATHOM that?"

God blesses our great faith in him to do miracles in our lives.  However, sometimes he will not do as we think he will.  Again, we must be more about loving Jesus then getting things from him.  Jesus will always honor our faith and it's up to us to trust His ways/ His responses to our faith and to know that his blessings are far better.  Our faith will bring us what God has for us.... and that's far better than what we may think.  

Monday, August 31, 2009

It's All About Me

Mark 1:41-45 "Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, "I will; be clean."  And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.  And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, and said to him, "See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them."  But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter."

This amazes me.  A man is healed and Jesus tells him not to tell anyone.  This doesn't mesh with what "I think" would be the right move.  I mean Jesus could get major brownie points for heling this man.  People would see his power and know he's God!  But...alas...Jesus is much more wise than I am .... Jesus knows what is in a man.  Jesus wanted the man to be silent so that God the Father would receive the glory due Him, v. 44"...See that you say nothing to anyone, BUT go show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them."  Jesus wanted God the Father to receive the glory and not himself.  He also, knowing the heart of man, knew the self-centeredness of man.   Verse 46 tells us "Jesus could no longer openly enter a town..." now again, that just doesn't make sense to me! if this man went and told others about Jesus healing him wouldn't this be good publicity for Jesus and the gospel campaign?  

The ESV study bible explains why it wasn't...

"The joy of the healed man overrides Jesus' injunction to silence and therefore Jesus could no longer enter a town, lest he be mobbed.  So Jesus cannot stay hidden. Mark often emphasizes how the crowds' excessive attention to Jesus' miracles is a frequent problem, causing the crowds to miss the true purpose of his ministry (i.e., to proclaim the good news of the kingdom."

We are often like the man healed of leprosy.  In our excitement we go and tell others of what God is doing in our lives (a great thing to do!) however, sometimes,  along the way our proclamation of God's work in our lives becomes more about us getting attention then God receiving glory. Ouch...

Jesus told the man not to tell anyone b/c he knows the heart of a man.  Our hearts want what Jesus can do for us more then him.  The large crowds were a hinderance to Christ because they were seeking him for His miracles rather then for He was ... the Messiah, Immanuel, the Christ, our Savior.

May our lives be less about what we can get from Jesus and more about Jesus. 

Thursday, August 27, 2009

When I can't get no satisfaction

The first thing that comes to mind when I hear the Rolling Stones is always my dad.  Back in the day he used to be the lead singer of his college band, "Whoopie," which used to cover stones songs.  The second thing that comes to mind when I think of the Rolling Stones is the song "I Can't Get No Satisfaction."

Now, I know there's more to this song then this one single line, however, this line holds a lot of truth for us all.  We may not be singing this Stones hit as the theme song of our days but we certainly live our lives as if we can't get no satisfaction.  I am convinced the reason we are left unsatisfied is because we are deceived about what it really means to be satisfied to begin with AND we are looking in all the wrong places.

Psalm 107:9 says, "For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things."  

Jesus is the answer to our satisfaction. What? I can already hear so many saying this now and I'm not talking about those who don't "know Jesus personally" I am talking about the very children of God!  We, followers of Jesus, are some of the key contributers to the I can't get no satisfaction mentality!  We fall into "I'll have Jesus my way" Burger King like Christianity.  We live like we are running the race marked out for us through a drive-thru! "Excuse me... I know the bible says Jesus satisfies but can I please add a side of short-term conditional love, a size 0 pair of jeans and more money for my wardrobe?"

God says that he satisfies the longing soul.  The longing soul knows that it needs more than the things of this world to be fulfilled.  The longing soul is desperate.  The longing soul has tasted the bland manna and longed for the sweetness of honey and milk from the promised land.  The longing soul wants an unfailing love that won't disappoint.  The longing soul begins to see that it's not about putting forth effort to achieve satisfaction in the things of this world, it's about laying down our efforts to experience the One who does satisfy us in every way.  

The answer: "...He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things."

God doesn't just satisfy the soul....He satisfies the soul with what is good.  He satisfies the soul with what lasts...himself.  

Monday, April 27, 2009

Jehovah-Jireh - "The Lord Will Provide"

Hebrews 11:17-19 "By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice.  He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned."  Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from the dead."  

The story of God testing Abraham's faith recored in Genesis 22:1 -19 is so powerful!  It is a clear picture of the provision of our God, the power of God, and then love of our God.  It also reveals our humanness compared to God's divine nature.  

Remember from one of my earlier posts what John MacArthur pointed out about our tests/trials:  We don't experience them b/c God is trying to "figure out" our faith. They come so we can see the condition of our faith (how strong) and so we can see what we really are clinging to the most!  

I think it's interesting that Isaac is repeatedly referred to as Abraham's "one and only son."  (Gen. 22:2, 12,16, Heb. 11:17).  It's interesting he is described this way b/c Abraham had another son, Ishmael.  Now Ishmael was not the Son who God had chosen to establish his covenant with, but still he was Abraham's son.  Hmmm... I am no theologian.... so don't quote me on this one... but could it be that Isaac is referred to as his "one and only son" to describe not his literal familial standing but perhaps his standing in the heart of his father.  Issac was not Abraham's only son but he was the son he treasured the most, the fulfillment of God's promise, a sign of God's provision & power to do the impossible.  In that sense, he was the one and only son who captured his father's deepest affections.  "It's through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned."  He was a treasured possession.   

That's interesting you might be thinking.  I know that's what I'm thinking!  But wait... from what we know about Abraham he believed God.  He believed God's promises.  When God said to sacrifice Isaac he believed that God would even raise him from the grave just to keep his promise to Isaac.  He recognized that God could do the impossible for his son was the proof of God's power!  So why would God test Abraham?  We already see that he believes the Lord will provide: 

Genesis 22:5 "He said to his servants, "Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there.  We will worship and then we will come back to you."  

Genesis 22:8 "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering,my son."  

Let's see what Genesis 22:12 says, "Do not lay a hand on the boy, "he said.  "Do not do anything to him.  Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son."  God was testing Abraham to see his genuine fear of him.  His reverence for God.  His respect for God.  I believe the reason it was so important that we noticed that Isaac is called Abraham's "one & only son" is because it shows us the place he held in Abraham's heart.  Maybe at times Isaac even held 1st place in Abraham's heart. And God needed Abraham to see that He, Jehovah-Jireh, needed to be the one who received his deepest affections and attentions.  

Wow.  There's so much more to say about this passage... but I'll leave that for tomorrow.  For now let's all take time to pray about the "one & only" in our life.  Is our "one & only", where our affections and attentions are set, God or someone or something else?  Let's pray that God will give us the strength to sacrifice whatever it is that we may treasure more than God so that He may be glorified more in our lives and so our lives may be more blessed by finding our joy & security & fulfillment in the One who Provides all things for those who love Him!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Choosing what is better...

Luke 10:38-42 "As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.  She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?  Tell her to come help me!"
"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

Food for Thought: "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better..."

I can totally relate to Martha.  She has a house full of people, and not just any people, special people... Jesus and his disciples.  She is trying to prepare for their visit, striving to be the best hostess she can be and she's feeling the pressure of not being able to get it all done. (Reminds me of preparing for guests during the holidays).  In her frustration it clicks... "My sister can should be helping me! If she would stop being so lazy and come over here I wouldn't be so stressed out!"  Meanwhile, she storms out of the kitchen ( or where ever she was) to see Mary relaxing at the feet of Jesus as he speaks.  I can feel inside me Martha's blood pressure rising.  "I am going crazy trying to prepare for all these people to make them happy and Mary is just sitting on the floor!"  A mix of jealously and anger I'm sure.  And then she snaps (as we all do when trying to pretend we've got natural Martha Stewart like instincts), she goes right to Jesus to plead her case.  I can see the wheels in her head turning now... "fine Mary isn't going to help well wait until I tell Jesus about this one... I am doing all this for him and she is choosing to be lazy."  And THEN the unlikely response "Martha, are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."
AND her jaw drops.  Talk about humbling huh?!  Haven't we all had days like that?  We just want sympathy, we're stressed and need help, we're frustrated and just as the pressure makes us want to explode b/c of all we're doing (to serve others and God no less!) we're humbled by God pointing out our wrong motives.  Martha wanted to receive attention for all she was doing but Mary received it because of the attention she gave Jesus. Martha wanted Jesus to scold Mary for her lack of help but instead he pointed out Martha's need to be humbled.  

I love Psalm 139:23-24 "Search me, O God, and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in your way everlasting." In Martha-like times I like to say this verse to myself.  It helps give me the right perspective.  When we're frustrated it's easy to blame someone else and difficult to see we need an attitude check.  

Let's make it our prayer today to surrender our Martha-like ways of worry and stress and at times jealousy.  And let's instead pray to be like Mary choosing what is better.  To put Christ first in everything we do.  To focus on him in times of frustration.  To choose what is indeed better.  

Thursday, April 2, 2009

God's Possession

Ephesians 1: 3-8 "Blessed be the God & Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before him.  In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us all , in all wisdom and insight."

Consider: "He chose us in him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before him..."

He CHOSE us.  I love that God CHOSE me.  He didn't just put up with me he chose me.  When I was in elementary school I wasn't very athletic.  Sure I played softball and soccer for rec sports for a short time (except that I never made it to 1st base and use to take a seat in the middle of the soccer field to pick dandilions while the other kids swarmed around the soccer ball like bees would a beehive).  I was just more of an artsy kid... I wanted to pick flowers and draw stick figures in my journal and dance and sing.  Well having a more "artsy" side in gym class in elementary school didn't really pay off.  Kickball was not my favorite game.  So there I would stand on the softball field the last of three waiting to make it on a team.  I wouldn't have admitted I was a worthy player.  I wasn't going to score a homerun and my team would be lucky if I made it to 1st base.  Eventually I would hear... "Ok I'll take Kristin."  And off I would go to join a team feeling discouraged, unwanted, insignificant. My teammates would have to "put up with me" as I would miss the ball and kick a foul.  They didn't have a choice I had to be picked.  

God doesn't play favorites. Isn't that cool?  He doesn't just deal with us either.  He didn't say (sigh) "Okay I'll pick Kristin fulfill my purposes and be in heaven with me since she's the best out of the last 3.  At least she'll enjoy my creation of daisies in the outfield when she gets bored."  NO... that's not what God said.  He said "I chose Kristin."    Before the foundation of the world God chose us to be adopted as his sons to be holy, forgiven, & redeemed.  In love he predestined us.  It's one thing to feel loved b/c God is loving and you know he created you.  It's another thing to feel loved b/c he chose you.  We choose people for a reason. In a human sense we choose to love people based on their personalities, what they look like, sometimes even the things they have.  I don't believe God chooses the way we do...that's why it's so beautiful to know He chose us.  

Monday, March 30, 2009

Hebrews 5:7-9 "During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and was heard because of his reverent submission.  Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him..."

  I feel that the Lord has given me a perfect picture this weekend of what a map of life here on earth might look like.  Friday night a good friend of mine shared some heartbreaking news with me.  That someone I love dearly hasn't been honest with me, that this person I care so much about is on a road leading to brokenness.  That same night I received a text from one of my best friend's in college letting me know that she and her husband have been blessed with their 1st child a healthy and beautiful baby girl, Emme, entrusted to them as a gift from God.  I spent all afternoon Sat. surrounded by my girls from college staring at Emme, Joel, & Lauren and marveling at the miracle of life.  Sunday came with another dose of hard news keeping me up in prayer, teary-eyed and in deep thought.  

This is life.  Valleys that lead to victorious mountain tops and then back to another valley that we might again gain even more strength to conquer the next obstacle ahead.  It's funny how the Lord prepares your heart.  All weekend I was reading short segments out of a sermon by John MacArthur that spoke about why trials happen.  Yesterday I finished the sermon and the one thing that pierced my heart the most was the verse above.  

We will face trials, hardship, & heartache.  And God does not allow us to go through these trials b/c He is testing us to find out the strength our faith.  He ALREADY KNOWS the strength of our faith.  He allows us to face trials so that WE can see the strength of our faith.  As we face the valleys of life's journey we will see for ourselves the strength of our faith, what we trust in most, whether we react in pride or humility, the things of this world we treasure above the Lord, and we will receive 3 gifts 1) The ability to recognize the status of our faith 2) The ability to rely on God to increase our faith 3) The ability to comfort others around us with the comfort that he has given to us.

If your facing a trial a season of a valley that seems to have no sight of a mountain ahead remember the verse above.  Jesus offered up prayers & petitions to God who he knew would deliver him.  He cried and trembled at the thought of the cross but with reverent submission to God's will for He knew that God would keep his promise to work everything together for the good of those who love Him who have been called according to His purpose.   He saw the cross in the distance standing at the foot of the mountain top experience He knew would come and he learned obedience by suffering.  And after he suffered he was made perfect.  Jesus understands what it is to suffer, he knows the pain we feel as we enter these times of hardship.  He came here and experienced all of life and overcame sin and death & by Him we to shall overcome and be perfected through our suffering to be more like Jesus. 

After all falls Apart
He Repairs, He Repairs

Oh, the Glory of it all is:
He came here
for the rescue of us all
that we may live
for the glory of it all
the glory of it all......

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Luke 9:3-4 "He told them: take nothing for the journey- no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic."

Jesus sends his disciples out to preach about the kingdom of God and to heal the sick with the power & authority He has given to them (v.1). And these are the instructions he gives them... "take nothing for the journey-no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic."  "Take nothing."  Notice Jesus doesn't only tell them to take nothing, he's specific.  He Jesus covers any future questions they might have had about these instructions. For example, maybe Matthew could have said, "but we have to eat so we can have energy to serve shouldn't we at least bring some food?"  or say Andrew was thinking, "shouldn't we bring an extra tunic so we don't offend people with the smell of our dirty one?"  No, no, no.  He answered every possible question.  

What was the journey they were on?  Their journey was to do the work of evangelists.  Their journey was to be Christ to others, to teach others the truth Christ had taught to them, to give others the hope Christ gave them, to love others with the patient and accepting love of Christ. To live our lives like Jesus we don't need the material things of this world.  To live like Jesus we just need Jesus.  

Monday, March 23, 2009

Faith through the Storm

Luke 8:24-25 "The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Master, Master we're going to drown!"  He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.  "Where is your faith?" he asked his disciples.  In fear and amazement they asked one another, Who is this?  He commands even the winds and the water and they obey him."

I can't help but think that this was a test.  Jesus proposes that the group go to the other side of the lake and then as he rests his head a storm comes.  Jesus wasn't surprised by the squall that came about them, in fact, He was sleeping through it!!! Notice how our Saviour is afraid of nothing.  I think that is one of the things I love most about him.  When I am afraid what I desire most is to be with someone who is calm.  Someone who comforts me.  Jesus is never fearful and is indeed THE comforter of us all...especially when we're afraid.

Last spring, I was driving home from the school I was working at on a day they were calling for strong storms.  I'm not from the VA area so I wasn't sure what this meant.  I hopped in my car and tried to get home before the storm hit.  Too late... as I drove the sky started to get gradually darker and darker.  I picked up the phone and called my mom who lives in NJ and as the wind picked up and the sky got dark I began to scream to her, "What should I do?  What should I do?"  Then my phone disconnected.   Now here I am fearful and irrational screaming out "Jesus, please don't let me die."  I began to speed down the shoulder of 28 trying desperately to take cover.  The Lord did get me to an exit and safely into the Wegman's grocery store (and kept other safe from my terrible example on the road...with a Messiah College sticker and Jesus fish on the back of my car...don't you love those!) where my husband was able to meet me.  There I stood shaking with much so that one of the Wegman's employees actually came up to me to check if I was okay.  I stood around the quiet grocery store as people crowded around to look outside and to watch NBC 4 broadcast a tornado warning for our area.  TORNADO warning! What was that?  I had never heard of one of those!  

  Notice while I was driving I immediately called my mom for help.  My mom who lives 5 hours away.  This experience led me through a season of learning to turn to the Lord for help; learning to trust Him.  I was brought low before the throne of God spending my summer going to counseling for a tornado phobia, dealing with panic attacks, and days locked inside b/c I was afraid of the clouds or drizzle and this all b/c I was choosing to trust in myself and not my God.  

The Spring is coming and although the Lord has been working in my heart and no doubt has increased my faith I still get anxious thinking about what my 1st time in a storm will be like. But here is my comfort... my Saviour is not afraid and is indeed in control of the storm.  Not only the literal storms of life but also those seasons of hardship/trial that come and go.  

So here is the question for us all to remember, "Where is your faith?"  My faith used to be in myself and others and the Lord had to take me through a storm and counseling to discover my own self-reliance and fear of accepting his will for my life.  

I hope that today you will ask yourself that question; choosing to humble yourself before God instead of waiting for Him to humble you.  Where is your faith today?  Is it in God or someone or something else?

Remember:"He commands even the winds and the water and they obey Him."  Thank you Jesus!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Luke 7:41-43,47 -48 "Two men owed money to a certain moneylender.  One owed him five hundred denarii {or a day's wages}, and the other fifty.  Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he cancelled the debts of both.  Now which of them will love him more?  Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt cancelled."  "You have judged correctly," Jesus said.  
.... Therefore, I tell you, her many sins are forgiven - for she has loved much.  But he who has been forgiven little loves little.  Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."

A woman walks into Simon the Leper's house with an alabaster jar in hand weeping at the sight of Jesus.  She approaches him ready to pour out possibly her most valuable possession at his feet.  The account of Christ's anointing in Mark 14 tells us that the perfume the woman poured on Jesus was worth a year's wages!  Clearly, this expensive perfume poured out for Jesus displays a sacrificial love.  
While all of this is taking place Simon says (v.39) "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is - that she is a sinner."  
I have to say that Simon the Leper was clearly not the most humble man on earth.  This woman comes into his home displaying her love for Christ and she is mocked for it.  She after all is a sinner.  But isn't that the most beautiful part of this story?  A sinner at the feet of Jesus pouring her most valuable possession at his feet.  And to her Jesus says, "Your sins are forgiven."  
I wish we could see what happened after Jesus dismissed her that night...(v.50) "Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you, go in peace."  Where did she go?  What was she thinking?  To whom did she share what had happened?  How did her life change?  
One day she was lost in her sin, the next she was freed from it.  And this all at the feet of Jesus where she poured out her life to him and received it back a new...forgiven...set free...loved by the Saviour.  
Do you remember the first time you bowed at the feet of Jesus and knew in your heart that he had forgiven you?  Remember what that was like today.  Pour out this season of life and all its ups and downs at the feet of Savior and know that Jesus hasn't only saved us from sin and death but saves us everyday as he sanctifies us by His truth.  His love for us abounds in every season...through every change."And to her he said, "Your sins are forgiven."  

At the feet of Jesus


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Luke 7:12-13 "As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out - the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, "Don't cry."
One of the hardest days of my life was when my grandmother passed away. I remember kissing her goodbye the day before I left for a missions trip in Peru doing a double take as I walked away from her bedside. In that moment I tried hard to take a mental photograph of her smiling at my farwell cropping out the IVs and hospital bed around her. A week later I returned to kiss her cold hand as she lay in the funeral home on the same block where she lived, the same block we use to walk hand in hand through the streets of downtown Oradell. How I would have loved for Jesus to walk into the funeral home that day as I knelt by her casket my warm tears falling upon her hand. Oh to hear him say, "I say to you, get up!" what a glorious moment that would have been!

Jesus didn't raise my grandmother from her coffin like the boy in Luke 7 but he was with me and in my heart I felt the peace and comfort that could come only from him... I heard in the deep of my heart his voice saying, "Don't cry." Why would it be comforting, you might ask, for Jesus to say don't cry in a time when it is natural to grieve? It's comforting because unlike us, in our human nature, Jesus sees the supernatural. He knows the life after this one. He is the only one who has the authority to say, "Don't cry." Because in Him there is joy even in the depths of sorrow. In Him there is life that lasts eternally. Someday he will say to those who have passed "I say to you, get up!" and their bodies will rise up from the grave (not only their souls) and all the world will behold Jesus who's very heart goes out to sinners so much that He gave his life for their, for my ransom.

Monday, March 16, 2009

*Surprised By Change*

Luke 1:30-33 "But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."

Can you imagine what Mary must have felt like in that moment? She's about 13 years at the onset of puberty filled with thoughts about what to make of having a period, desiring to kiss the boy taking care of the goats for her family, and what to do about that pimple on her nose! She's just existing childhood heading into one of life's toughest transitions; adolescence, AND now an Angel tells her that she is going to have a baby! Whoa! It's fun to think about what it would have been like to be in Mary's mind during that moment. I think maybe we would have heard something like this:

Am I seeing things? Am I dreaming? Is that really an angel speaking to me? Keep breathing Mary. An angel is telling me that I am going to have... a baby. I'm trying to get used to new body parts and having to deal with new body functions and now I am going to be pregnant? How can this be since I'm a virgin? The Son of the Most High. What does that mean? Me, Mary I am going to give birth to God's son who will reign over the house of Jacob? What will my friends think?

For Mary, this would be the beginning of one of the most life changing transitions of her life. The transition from adolescence to motherhood, from single to married, from poor to rich in Christ, from Mary to the virgin Mary, common to extradordinary and this all by the hand and heart of God.

I'm sure this transition wasn't easy. There's a lot missing in our account of the 9 months Mary carried Jesus in her womb. We don't know what people said as she grew round with child. We don't know how her friendships changed or what her parents prayed for her during those months. What I love about this piece of Scripture is the way it captures the reality of how life's transitions surprise us. We must remember God designed change. Everyday we change through the circumstances we experience, through the number of days we lives.

Mary is a great example for us as we face the transitions of life. "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said."

May we face the transitions of each season of life with this prayer in our hearts... Lord, I am your servant, may it be to me as you wish during this season. As I struggle through accepting and adjusting to the decisions I will have to make and the circumstance I will face help me to remember that through this time you will mold me more into your likeness. Your ways are not my ways, help me to see the beauty of your Sovreign control over my life. Amen.