Remember your Baptism?

baptism[1]

Hopeless, faithless, weary, aching, tired of mankind;tired_tim-baker
Spirit-lacking, burden-packing, restless state of mind.
Soul-less, defenseless, dreading, mourning every pain of life;
Thirsting, needing, without having answers to each strife.

Guilty conscience, always sorry. How do you start again?
Unforgiven, still reliving each error stenciled in.
Needing, wanting, vainly trying to walk this path alone;
But not knowing, that with each trial, the Shepherd would bring you home.

 

ImmersionBaptism
The Baptism by Christina Ramos www.christinaramosart.com

Knowing Christ, the King of Kings, He gives our life new meaning.
Spirit filled, hope renewed, His love is self-revealing.
Water washing, gently sweeping penetrating skin;
Softly healing, cleansing, cleaning, erasing worldly sin.

 

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Peace abundant, soul refreshed and risen to God’s law;
Free at last the chains of sin can have no bond no more.
Happy, ecstatic, praising God, His promises to claim;
Freed forever, grace eternal, through death He took all shame.

The day will come for all to meet the one who set us free
His arms outstretched, his life sinless on the cross at Calvary.
Then He rose to crush sin’s grip defeating death for all,
And now we’re tasked to spread The Word – there’s Hope beyond The Fall.

Christ huggingNo time to waste, do not delay, no option to be late;
He’s coming soon to welcome us through heaven’s pearly gates.
So now I pray Thy kingdom come where joy and peace abound,
Where life eternal and the love of Christ are ever found.

The Manipulation of God?

The prosperity message is freely preached today in our churches and many times it comes disguised.  Yesterday, I listened to a sermon that mentioned a ‘formula’ that would ‘make prayer work’ such that God would ‘rain blessings down’.  It’s disappointing to hear this message preached, because in my opinion, it truly diminishes the real love that God has for us.

You see, I believe that when God gives us something  – He gives it to us simply because He loves us. That’s it! Pure. Unconditional. Love.

However, this preaching of ‘prosperity prayers’ suggests that when we pray to God using a formula – it’s because we’re expecting to get something back – Blessings. Needs. Wants!

I have been repeatedly told that if I pay my tithe – God will bless me!  If I pay more offering, God will take care of my bills! If I pray like this – my prayer will be answered! If I meditate more, if I serve more, if I do…more… more…MORE… God will do more… MORE…MORE!

But the bottom line is…God’s blessings have absolutely nothing to do with anything I do, how faithful I think I am or how I have prayed my prayers.  He has already told us that our righteousness is as filthy rags. So, to even suggest that God’s blessings have anything to do with my behavior reduces God to a mere puppet, who responds and is manipulated according to my actions.

While I believe that God wanted to teach us how to pray, I think He was teaching us how Me holding the Bible to the back of Christ and demanding He love me.to honor Him. I do not believe He was teaching us how to pray so that we could use it as a formula to receive blessings. The idea of this sounds extremely manipulative – and in reality – it is.  We end up using the Bible and God’s promises to try to get things from God, that He really does not intend for us to have because they may not be in our best interest.  We can end up using the Bible to tell God what to do… to demand his love, a house, a car, more money and potentially things that really may not be good for us.

How many of you would feel honored if your child only ever helped you around the house based upon what they could get out of you?  Or if your spouse only ever put something into your relationship because it meant he or she could get something in return? While admittedly it seems to be the way things are done these days, with incentives, motivations and bribes being they way to get what you want but wouldn’t you rather  receive help or gifts simply out of love? Pure. Unconditional. Love?

It doesn’t mean that we cannot ask God for things, we should.  He tells us to ask, but our love and worship is not tied up in giving to get.  I think God laid His ground rules stating how He wanted to be treated, loved and respected and therefore when you pray … ‘do it like this’. This is God’s Love Language not his ‘formula’ for manipulation.  I wonder how much God wishes that we could just give Him love, worship and prayers simply to honor Him, without the strings. Pure. Unconditional. Love.

Yes – there are certain things I would expect to have ‘right’ before I approach God in prayer.  Love for Him, a ‘right heart’,  contrite spirit, forgiveness for others, a desire to get to know Him and learn His will for me.  But I’m not doing this to get anything  and furthermore, getting my way, needs or desires met really should be last. Nevertheless, if our prayers are based upon a formula to get our needs met – isn’t God going to see through this anyway? Are we not insulting God? We cannot fool God!

I don’t know about you, but if I listen to the concept of any kind of prosperity message, it is burdensome.  It adds another layer of works to my faith, and I know I cannot be saved by my works. Just as we like to feel loved and blessed, I think God wants to be loved and blessed too. So I just want to learn to sit in God’s presence and be in awe of Him. If God’s going to bless me – He going to do it  anyway- simply because He loves me.  Pure. Unconditional. Love.

 

SALT & LIGHT

According to Matthew 5:13, Jesus is telling His followers that they are to be the ‘salt of the earth’. Then in verse 14, they are called to be the ‘light of the world’. So according to Christ Himself, His followers are to be “Salt” and “Light”. In this journey with Christ, I ask myself if my “salt” has a savor that would draw people to the Saviour? Does my “light” shine bright? Or does it dim at the first trial or hurdle that comes in my line of sight? Am I truly being a “light” and “salt”? Or am I just playing games and being “light salt”?

The Christ & The Cross Convo-What “Wood” Jesus Do……

The Cross- “Lord God, why was I chosen? I mean what did I do to deserve this torture? I had no choice! I wish that I were not the one they used. You did nothing to deserve me. Those people did not know who you are. I wish I were not the method of murder used to destroy you. I wish there was something I could have done to stop it from happening. Even Simon of Cyrene knew you did not deserve to perish on me as he dragged me towards Calvary. Even when they mercilessly hammered those nails in Your hands and put that crown of thorns on Your head, while being in extreme pain and agony, I felt anguish for you. I feel horrified that I am forever regarded as that “Old Rugged Cross”, despised by the world and the emblem of suffering and shame. Lord why me? Why was I chosen?”

The Christ- “You were chosen for a purpose. Wood is an important symbol I want my people to understand. When I first destroyed the world by flood, their only salvation was through the ark, which was made of wood. In Exodus 37:1, the Ark of the Covenant was made of wood. In the entire Old Testament, no sacrificial offering dedicated to me would be complete without the use of wood. In Exodus 26:15, my tabernacles would not be complete without wood. All of My Holy scriptures are written on paper, which comes from wood. Through Moses, I performed ten miracles and parted the Red Sea using the wooden staff I gave him so my people would be free. You see, all of these uses of wood were used for freedom, salvation, and sacrifice. Now you ask me why you were chosen. The cross is now viewed as a cherished symbol of atonement, forgiveness, grace and love. If I had no respect for wood, why of all professions would I come to earth as a carpenter?”

What is amazing about carpenters is that they take ordinary pieces of wood, make it, and construct it into any form they want. Jesus is the Master Carpenter and He can form us into something that we could never even possibly imagine. If we allow Him to be a carpenter in our lives, we can be used for any purpose that He chooses. Sometimes wood has to burn to give warmth. Sometimes trees have to be cut down to make beautiful temples. God sometimes uses the lowest moments of our lives to bless and enrich others. It wasn’t until Jesus was at the lowest moment of His life, that He fulfilled the plan of redemption and allowed mankind to be saved so can bless and enrich others with a Christ-filled life to light up the world. Since Adam and Eve sinned by eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, according to 1 Peter 2:24, Jesus had to use a tree of another form (the cross) to redeem and save us from sin. Since Adam had to die from eating from that tree, Jesus had to die on a tree to set us free. Let us always remember that Jesus dying on the cross barely scratches the surface of what He’s willing to do to save each and every one of us. So let us all live what He said in Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; and Luke 9:23 and decide what YOU “wood” do for Jesus?

God Seeks Potential… Not Perfection!

SCRIPTURE

And He said. “I will not destroy it for the sake of ten” Genesis 18: 32

OBSERVATION

Abraham was conversing with God following the departure of the three Holy Men who came to give the good news to Sarah that she would have a child.  The three Men were on their way to Sodom to destroy it.  Abraham knew that his nephew Lot lived in Sodom and he tried to bargain with God against its destruction.  At first God said if there were 50 righteous, He would not destroy Sodom.  Abraham continued this questioning, asking if there were 45, then 40, then 30, then 20, and finally 10 righteous, would He still destroy Sodom?  God said if He found 10 righteous people in Sodom, He would not destroy the entire city. Unfortunately for the city of Sodom, God only found 4 righteous people to save.  If there had been only 6 more, Sodom would not have been destroyed.

APPLICATION

I don’t know how many people lived in Sodom, but I am sure there was way more than 50, maybe 2000 or 3000… or maybe a whole lot more.  But it is amazing that God was willing to spare the entire city for the sake of 10 people. It seems that God was not so much concerned about the presence of ‘evil’ within Sodom, but the absence of ‘good’.

God is aware that we all have evil tendencies, but He is more concerned with our desire Seedlingto do good.  God does not seek to destroy us by looking for errors, He seeks ways to save us by looking for the good in us… no matter how small that is. He really wants to find it, so that He can redeem us.  Just as a tree seedling strives each day to reach the light, in so doing, it becomes a strong magnificent tree with mighty roots.  God is asking us to battle each day to improve ourselves, to be faithful, prayerful and obedient as best as we can so we can be grounded in Him and grow in ‘goodness’ with Him.  Although there will always be a ‘presence of evil’ there will by no means be an ‘absence of good’ and on this basis God is willing to save us, just as He was willing to save Sodom for the sake of 10 righteous people.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father

Thank you for looking within our hearts and trying to find the good in us, even though we know that our righteousness is as filthy rags.  We know that even in a city of Sodom, You were willing to save them, if you could only find 10 people.  It shows us Lord that You are not seeking perfection, but potential.  Help us each to achieve the potential that you desire for us.  I pray that You will place in our hearts a desire to be obedient to You and to be faithful to the best of our ability with the help of the Holy Spirit so we may grow grounded in you.  On that wonderful day when Jesus returns, I pray that you will find us faithful and that our ‘goodness’ will be present, abundant and fitting in Your sight.

In Jesus’ Name

Amen

THE BEGINNING IS IN THE MIDDLE….

THE BEGINNING IS IN THE MIDDLE
The last day of the year has finally arrived. This is the time of year when people reflect on the biggest news stories of the year and how they have affected society and culture as a whole. There are numerous newsworthy stories of 2013 that will be talked about for ages, however, what happened in 2013 that affected your own life personally? What were the highs and lows, difficulties and defining moments that have shaped you into the person you are now, for better or worse? These are the types of questions we need to ask ourselves. As we are getting closer to the return of Christ, are you even closer to Christ than you were on December 31, 2012? Although this is a question that I struggle to answer, I know that each and every day that Christ allows me to wake up, I have the opportunity to draw closer to Him. Each and every day He allows me to wake up, I have the opportunity to serve Him, praise Him, worship Him, and obey Him. I should not have to wait until January 1st to come around to resolve to be a better person, a better spouse, a better parent, or a better servant of God. January 1st is not guaranteed to anyone. January 1st is not promised to anyone. God wants me to resolve to be a better me RIGHT NOW! Why delay to follow His Way? Why wait before I embark on a journey from mediocrity to being great? I need to live each day as if it’s the last day. I need to live each day as if it’s December 31st.
This year is unique because the beginning of the New Year falls on Wednesday, the middle of the week. I am sure most people would prefer the New Year to start on a Sunday so the New Year could be the start of a new week. However, I take comfort in knowing that even in the middle of my struggle, it is the beginning of a new walk with Christ. Even in the middle of my pain, I know that the beginning of healing is on its way. Even in the middle of my sorrow, I know that the beginning of comfort is on its way. Even in the middle of my storm, I know the beginning of the sun’s rays will shine brightly in my life. So as the sun sets on 2013 and the sun rises in 2014, let us pray to God more, let us serve our fellow man more, let us study our Word more so we can fly high and soar in the 2-0-1-4. God wants us to soar higher than the highest heights we could possibly fathom, yet be humble and “grounded” so we can allow Him to use us in every way possible. So as we embark on Flight 2014, let’s not “carry-on” any “baggage” from 2013 that would keep us from soaring to new heights. Be blessed and Happy New Year one and all.

Stop Comparing and Competing!

SCRIPTURE

 “Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?”

Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.” John 21: 21 – 22

OBSERVATION

It is noticeable throughout the Gospel of John that there appears to be some jealousy and competition between John and Simon Peter.  I wondered to what extent Peter was jealous of the relationship between John and Jesus.

John 13: 21 – 26 depicts a scene where it is commonly believe that the ‘disciple whom Jesus loved’ is John and he is leaning on Christ’s breast.  Jesus has just told the disciples that one of them will betray Him.  Peter motions to John to ask Jesus who that person is.  Jesus  answers John in a private conversation to which Peter is excluded from.

John 18: 15 – 18 sets another scene where Jesus has been taken before the High Priest.  Peter follows and it is assumed that the ‘other disciple’ that followed was John.  John went into the courtyard with Jesus but Peter stood outside the door probably because he was afraid.  In his fear, Peter went on to deny Jesus three times compared with John who stood unashamedly with Christ.

In John 19:26 – 27 Jesus gives to John the responsibility to care for His mother in her old age, suggesting that He trusted him enough to do this.  Peter at this point in time was probably somewhere feeling disappointed in the fact that he had denied Christ.

John 20:3  tells us that Peter and John went out to the tomb to find out where Jesus’ body had gone.  They both ran together and John seems to take delight in expressing how he outran Peter. Nevertheless when Peter caught up, Peter went in front of John into the tomb.

In John 21:7  John tells Peter that it is Jesus on the beach,  Peter dresses as quickly as possible and runs ahead of the others to get to Jesus first.

The final liaison is in John 21: 20 – 21 when Peter is walking on the beach with Jesus, Peter turns around and sees John following.  He asks Christ who is going to betray him and suggests that it might be John.  Peter says “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?”  Seemingly and for whatever reason, possibly jealousy, Peter was trying to sabotage Jesus’ relationship with John and make John look bad.  Peter’s poor insight into his own sin is clear, he is so worried about John taking Christ away from him, that he attempts to make John look guilty of the sin he actually committed – betrayal of Christ.

Jesus answers in verse 22 “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.” In other words Jesus calls Peter out, He says even if He decides to give John eternal life on earth right now, it has nothing to do with him, Peter’s business is to follow Christ.

APPLICATION

Whether we realize it or not, we have all taken part in ‘one-upmanship’.  There is someone who gets under our skin, or we just feel the need to be better than they are, and if we are not better than they are, we need to bring them down to our level.  This is exactly what Peter was trying to do.

It seems there are several occasions where John, through no particular effort on his part appeared to have a steadfast relationship with Christ (let us not forget that John is writing about himself in this gospel.  The other gospels do not record John in such a favorable light). It seems that Peter was competing with him, even though John was just doing ‘his thing’.

I know I have experienced this in my life, where I’m just getting on with my life and people are competing with me or comparing themselves to me and I have no idea why and to be honest I really don’t care. God has given us all different gifts and He may be calling me to do one thing, and someone else to do another.  We’re not supposed to all be the same.  Jesus’ command is clear to us all.  ‘Don’t worry about what he or she is doing, mind your own business and follow Me’.

PRAYER

Dear Father in Heaven

Your Holy Book has a word for us in every avenue of our lives.  We are reminded that the disciples were human, just like us and were eligible to succumb to every sin as we are.  I am thankful that the Bible depicts them as real people who fail, just like I do, but who through repentance and forgiveness can be restored like Peter.

Teach us to be concerned about our lives and not to compare ourselves with anyone else.  Teach us to have a secure relationship and identity in you, such that we do not feel the need to ‘put others down’ in an attempt to elevate ourselves.  Lastly, teach us to pursue the gifts you have given to us, without trying to be like anyone else, recognizing that we are all different.  Help us to pray for those who may try to compare or compete with us and that we are not by distracted by it, but that we remain steadfast in our walk with You.

In Jesus’ Name

Amen

The Wrong Choice was Right.

SCRIPTURE

“But you have a custom that I should release someone to you at the Passover. Do you therefore want me to release to you the King of the Jews?”

Then they all cried again, saying, “Not this Man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.” John 18: 39 – 40

OBSERVATION

I decided to do some research on Barabbas and was reminded that Barabbas’ first name was likely Jesus too and his last name ‘Bar-abba-s’ actually means ‘son of the father’.  So in effect we had two Jesus’, both son of the F(f)ather who stood before a crowd and both were candidates for crucifixion.  It is argued that One was the Son of God, and the other was the son of the devil. Nevertheless, One was real, the other counterfeit and the Jews chose to save the counterfeit – Barabbas.

With regards to Jesus, the Son of God, it could be argued that the crowd chose the wrong guy for the right reason – or even that they chose the right guy for the wrong reason.  Was the Jewish crowd filled with evil that they chose to crucify Jesus? But what if the crowd had chosen to crucify Barabbas, the apparently right decision – where would the human race be today?  Would we have a Savior?

APPLICATION

I don’t know the reason behind the crowd’s choice, I may never know.  Despite the fact that Jesus could offer life and healing to these people, many of whom watched Jesus perform these miracles, they chose the counterfeit Jesus Barabbas – it just doesn’t make sense.

There will be times in our lives when we have to make a decision.  Sometimes it may seem as though the choice is obvious because it seems spiritually  right, holy and moral.  However, God can use any situation to His or our advantage,  regardless of whether it is right or not. For example, following their adulterous relationship, David and Bathesheba bore the wisest and wealthiest King ever lived, Solomon – who glorified God by building the temple of Jerusalem.

Sometimes, despite our prayers, our decision can be the wrong one, even though we believe we chose the spiritually right option, e.g.  choosing to serve inside the church with other members rather than serving outside with drug addicts and prostitutes.  But who may need the knowledge of God’s love more?  Whatever decision the crowd made that day, whether it was wrong or right, ultimately, God’s will was fulfilled and because of that, today we are saved.

PRAYER

Dear Father

Some times we think things are black and white, right or wrong when they aren’t.  Some times I pray fervently, hoping to make the spiritually right decision and instead I am stuck in analysis paralysis – doing nothing.  I pray that you will help us all to move forward boldly with the decisions that we place before You.  In that way, whether they are right or wrong, we will be investing our talents, trusting that You will bless the outcome and in whatever way You decide, Your will will be fulfilled and Your name will be glorified.

In Jesus’ Name

Amen.

Is Church a Safe Place?

SCRIPTURE

“These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble.

They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me.

But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them.” John 16: 1 – 4

OBSERVATION

They, the Jews believed that they were doing God’s work, eliminating the sinners and blasphemers from the synagogue.   They believed their doctrine and traditions were truth.  They believed that other people were sinful and they were without error.  They believed Jesus had a demon and they had the Holy Spirit. They believed that they were right and Jesus was wrong, because they had upheld these beliefs and traditions for so long as the elders and priests of the church. They refused to listen to anyone because they believed they were righteous,  defending God’s law and doing this all in God’s name.

And…here comes Jesus, a fresh dynamic young man with new ideas.  A preacher with a creative expression proclaiming God’s love, grace and mercy – and they chased Him out of the synagogue!!

Jesus’ own people, the people He went to the synagogue with, the Jewish people He grew up with, the priests who likely taught Him, rejected Him and eventually killed Him.  Jesus warned us – the synagogue is not a safe place – in fact it may be even more dangerous.

APPLICATION

I was a mature adult with children when I entered the realm of church membership and with this sense of belonging came a huge helping of naivety.  I wasn’t raised in the church and so I expected there would be a difference in the way people treated each other within the church as opposed to in the world.  But, this whole scenario in my observation above is all too familiar and it saddens me.  While some church people are shocked at the behavior of people in the secular world, I am sad to say, that I am even more shocked by the behavior of people in the church who profess God.  It is disappointing to say that the church is not a safe place to be.

I see people busily doing ‘God’s work’ believing they are serving Him; while I cannot judge another person’s heart or desire to serve, I am convicted that I need to be careful of what I do and how I relate to my brothers and sisters in the church.  I don’t want to ‘kill’ any of Jesus’ servants, simply because I am so caught up in protecting God’s law or church. God really does not need me to protect His law or doctrines. Neither do I want to chase someone out of the church because they do not meet the ‘image’ I have in my mind of who a Godly person is.  After all, Jesus did not meet the image of a King or God’s Son that people were anticipating.

Jesus has told us plainly, these same people in the church –  will attempt to kill us, physically (in some countries) and spiritually and in so doing, either stop or slow our ministry, believing they are doing this for God.  But Jesus warns us about this so that we may not stumble or be discouraged.

PRAYER

Dear Father

It has consistently been a blessing to meditate upon your Holy Word.  I feel disappointed by the knowledge that our own church family could some day choose to harm or discourage us.  But I feel empowered that Jesus has told us this to help us to stand firm in our ministry and in our faith despite this.  I am thankful that Jesus went before us and that He has been able to warn us of these dangers in our churches.

I pray that You will help us not to be so over-righteous in our beliefs, doctrines and traditions just because we’ve had them for so long we think they’re right.  We need to be still and listen to You when You talk to us.  I pray that You will help us not to discourage others who do not share our ministry or meet our expectations because it is possible we may not be serving You when we do this. In Luke 9:49 when John told Jesus he forbade someone from casting out demons because they did not follow with their disciples, Jesus told John “Do not forbid him for he who is not against us is on our side”.

I pray that we will not be a stumbling block for anyone, but particularly for those who are fresh, young and dynamic with different ideas who are seeking to develop a ministry in Your name.  Remind us daily Lord that there is only one safe place to be and that is resting in Your arms.

In Jesus’ Name

Amen

I’m Trusting God will do it…for His Glory…

SCRIPTURE

And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. John 14: 13 – 14

OBSERVATION

Jesus made a promise to us that He would do anything for us, if only we ask.  Jesus has also told us to ask, seek and knock, because He will give it, find it and open the doors for us (Matthew 7:7). There are many things I have prayed about and asked God for, believing they were good things, things that God would definitely want for me.  Despite knowing that God answer prayers by either saying ‘Yes”, “No” or “Wait”, sometimes it is hard to believe and understand that God would withhold or postpone something good, for example – physical healing, a healthy marriage, a new job, a new home and other blessings.

The key to this promise, is that God answering this prayer has nothing to do with us.  It’s all about Him.  You see, Jesus said “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” – Jesus will answer our prayer, but so that we will know the Mighty Power of the Our Father.

APPLICATION

Personally, I am waiting right now for a prayer to be answered.  I believe it is something that God would want for me and I have been pretty close to receiving it, in fact, I know the blessing is around the corner.  But for some reason it has been delayed and I have been disappointed today.

Nevertheless, as I started reading this chapter, I found this passage comforting.  I realized that God was telling me that though I am disappointed right now, He will answer this prayer.  But it’s not even about me, it’s so that God’s name may be glorified, not mine.

I have to take myself out of this and trust Him – whatever He has in store – it will be best for me and for His glory.

Note:  For a variety of  reasons, I was behind in writing a blog for the last two days.  Maybe that delay was for my benefit so that I could read this passage today and be comforted by its relevance to my situation.  Maybe God knew I would be right here, in a place of frustration and impatience but as I write this, I feel this slipping away as I rest on God’s promise to answer my prayers according to His will and for His glory.

PRAYER

Dear Father

I am thankful that you are an All Powerful and  All-Knowing God.  I am thankful for your timing and for the message of comfort you have given to me today to calm my fears.  Please help us all to turn to you when we need answers to our prayers.  Please teach us to trust in You and Your timing, knowing that whatever you choose is for our benefit.  Sometimes it is hard, especially when things do not go our way at the time when we want it to, but this is all for Your Glory.

Thank you for your gifts of loving us enough to shape our characters by through learning to trust in you.

In Jesus’ Name

Amen

FOLLOW JESUS!!! Not your church…or pastor, or friend…

SCRIPTURE

“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. (John 10: 9)

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.

But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them.

The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.” (John 10: 11 – 14)

OBSERVATION

The man who was blind had just been healed by Jesus and he had testified to the Pharisees of what Jesus had done for him.  The Pharisees in their stubbornness refused to hear this man’s testimony and decided to throw him out of the synagogue.  Jesus went to look for him because He knew this man had been persecuted because of what He had done and so He went to comfort him.

In so many words Jesus said to the formerly blind man, if you believe in me then although they have thrown you out of the church, you have nothing to fear.   He said I am the True Shepherd and those who follow Me will be protected as I will lay down My life to save those who believe in Me. Jesus said “you will go in and out and find pasture”, so whether you are in this synagogue or outside you will live in peace.  Even if they reject you, you can find acceptance in Me.  As long as you believe in Me, I am the one who will care for all your needs and your salvation.  Follow Me and I will always have food (spiritual) for you to eat, for I am the Bread of Life.

APPLICATION

I cannot and should not place my trust in the church or pastor to care, save or protect me in times of trouble.  Despite the pastor’s role as a ‘shepherd’, there are some who may even sacrifice me for their own benefit as the Pharisees did by throwing this man out of the church.  Just as Jesus said, the ‘hireling’ or hired Pharisee does not own the sheep (as Jesus does) and may leave the sheep to be attacked by the wolves, so that they can save themselves.    For example, sometimes, people’s spiritual needs suffer because pastors fail to act to protect members of the congregation because to do so may affect tithes – this is a very real scenario.

People may leave or be cast out of the church, but it does not mean they no longer believe in Jesus, indeed they may have a very strong faith, just as the formerly blind man did. Jesus does not want us to place our spiritual needs or salvation in the hands of a synagogue, church, pastor or anyone else, for they can neither offer us heaven nor hell.  Jesus is the only door through which our spiritual needs can be met, or through which we can enter into salvation.  If I am truly following Jesus, what else can anyone offer me that Jesus cannot provide?

Quite simply, my faith and trust should be in Jesus.  It was Jesus who laid down His life and paid for my sins. I do not belong to a church, I belong to Jesus and I will follow Him.

PRAYER

Father God

You are a Mighty God and Worthy to be Praised and Adored.  Thank You for reminding us that You love us enough to sacrifice Your only Son that we could be saved.  Thank You Jesus that You were willing to die for us and pay the penalty of our sins.

Thank You for being the True Shepherd who takes care of His sheep. Please remind us daily that our faith and trust should be in You to lead us through life.  Please help us to rely on you to meet our spiritual needs and not on our church or pastor.  One day those people may be there for us, but on another day, they may not be.  But You Lord are the Good Shepherd, ever-present and willing to lead and protect. You promised that wherever we are, in or outside of a church, as long as we  believe in and follow You, we will find peace and sustenance in Your green pastures… forever.

In Jesus’ Name

Amen

Do Not Change Your Identity!!!

SCRIPTURE

‘From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.  Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” John 6: 66- 67

OBSERVATION

Jesus had just finished feeding the five thousand, and the people were so impressed that they wanted to come and take Him by force and make Him king. But Jesus knew this was not the job God had destined Him for, so He quickly departed to be alone.  When the people found Him again, they wanted Him to perform more miracles to prove who He was, but Jesus did not because He knew He was not a performer.

Instead He talked to them in deeper spiritual terms about who He really was and what He was really here to do, but no one understood.  The Jews quarreled and complained, and now even His disciples began to doubt and turn away from Him.  But Jesus stood firm, He turned and asked His other twelve disciples if they wanted to go also.

APPLICATION

Jesus was not afraid of people abandoning Him physically or spiritually because of His testimony of who He was.  He gave them free will to come and go as they pleased and did not fight for them to return. More importantly, Jesus did not change His identity to make Himself more acceptable to others.  He refused to be king.  He refused to perform.  He refused to change to make other people happy.

Why? Because Jesus had His identity wrapped up in God His Father and His spiritual foundation was based on God.  Jesus was not dependent upon the disciples or the approval of others to help Him feel better about Himself.  He depended upon God and who God had told Him He was.  Even though the people did not accept Jesus as the Bread of Life, Manna from Heaven, the Son of God, it did not phase Him or lead Him to question Who He was.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father

I am thankful for the example that Jesus continues to show us of steadfast faith and a secure identity in You. It is very easy to be a people pleaser and to change to make others happy, especially when they decide to leave. Though it is hard to watch people leave, we know that Jesus had to let people go who did not accept the identity that You gave Him.

I pray that you will help us all to hold onto the characters that you have given to us and to seek approval only from You, and not from man.  Our job, is to make You happy by fulfilling Your will and to testify of it, just as Jesus did.  We need to daily claim our identity in You, knowing that we are indeed Children of the Heavenly King!

In Jesus’ Name

Amen

Reject or Rejected…?

SCRIPTURE

You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.   But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.

“I do not receive honor from men. But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you. I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive.”  John 5:43

OBSERVATION

During 5th chapter from verse 24 – 47, Jesus talks about how life and judgment are through the Son.  Jesus appears to be expressing His human side and is very frustrated with the Jewish people, the people who were supposed to receive Him, His very own people.  He has been as honest, open and loving as He could be.  He has testified to God’s amazing powers by healing numerous sick people and doing miracles.   Yet, the Jews refuse to humble themselves and treat him with scorn and contempt. The attitude of the Jews appears to be over-righteous, argumentative, accusatory and unforgiving with little personal insight into their own misdeeds and ignorance. The very scripture that the Jews claimed to know and were so haughty about, is the very scripture they could not comprehend, even when the scripture was personified before them in the form of Jesus.

I also thought about how Jesus felt when He came in His Father’s name and was rejected, and yet the Jews were willing to accept others when they came in their own name.

APPLICATION

There are times when the very people that we expect to accept us, instead reject us and it hurts even more when it’s people that we thought would care, like family or friends.  For some people there isn’t anything that we can do that can ever be good enough. Though we may show them the love of Jesus, by expressing care, understanding and forgiveness, just like the Jews,  they  may never see it even though they read about it in the Scriptures every day.

Furthermore, I have heard some spouses complain that their husband or wife does not listen to them, and yet when they hear the same information from someone else who in reality should have less influence, their spouse is quick to respond. It’s the same way Jesus felt when people were more willing to listen to less credible folk.

We need to be aware that despite our honorable intentions, rejection will come and it will not be easy.  Moreover, we also need to be aware when we may dismiss someone’s advice or help, because we take them for granted such that we diminish their contribution.  We need to be especially careful that at these times we do not send away the very help that God brought to us, in answer to our own prayers or His promises to us.

PRAYER

Dear God

Thank You for another day of studying and learning about the life of Jesus. Sometimes people challenge our patience, character and faith and this can be frustrating and hurtful, especially when it is friends/family. It is comforting to know that Jesus felt the same pain that we do when we are rejected and our opinions diminished, so that He understands how we feel.  But help us to know that we can also inflict the same pain on others and not to reject them.  While it is easy to point out the fault in others, it is more important that we have insight into our own behavior, so that we can humble ourselves and seek Jesus, the One who came in Your name and in whose Name we pray.

Amen.

The Faster Runner Does Not Win This Race

This race is not for the swift nor the strong, but for he that endures to the end.
I am trying my hardest to stay in this race, but my legs are cramped spiritually by sin.
I am trying to concentrate; I am trying to stay focused; but the enemy’s weapons attack me like a swarm of locusts. First, he tries to get me to doubt, when I have every reason to keep the faith, and God gives me every reason to scream and shout praises to His name. Therefore, I tell the enemy to fall back, because I am not falling for his game. I live by the bread of life and I rely on it for nourishment, but that sneaky foe tries to get me to eat a bowl of discouragement. It tastes sweet at first, but turns bitter going down. I notice the smile and joy on my face evaporates into a frown. I really need my Jesus; there has never been any doubt how much I’ve missed Him. I need to purge all of this despair and discouragement right out of my system. I remember He said be of good courage and be of good cheer,
God has not given me the spirit of fear. I am holding on to His promises, and trying to live right.
I keep running this race because the finish line is in sight. However, distractions and diversions veer me off course; I try with all my might to fight off this evil force. I realize that I cannot run this race on my own, so I send my prayers up in hopes that it reaches God’s throne. Jesus came down to carry me at the moment Satan thought he had me defeated, but when he saw Jesus lift me up and cross the finish line as a winner, he was the one that retreated. I asked Jesus how I won the race even though I have constantly sinned. He said I already forgave you; I was more concerned that you endured to the end…..I was more concerned that you endured to the end……..

Reflect on the lyrics to this song……

I Confess…

…I’m an Israelite…through and through.  Despite seeing miracles over and over and experiencing the blessings of God repeatedly – like the Israelites in the desert, I still doubt God’s protection and His ability to do the impossible.  I don’t understand how God can bless me one week, and the following week my faith crumbles when things are not going my way.  I’m putting it out there… bad as it sounds… it seems that I need God to prove Himself over and over again.

In our last blog by Delzino, it was mentioned that people watched Jesus Himself perform miracles, yet it did not cause them to believe… and it’s at times like these when ‘I get it’ and I feel the need to repent and ask God to cure this resistance in me that does not quite fully accept Him or His power at face value.  It must have been really frustrating for Jesus to ‘prove’ Himself, to people that were not open to believe in the first place.  And while I am open to believe, I still doubt. “Lord I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

I am sure that I have fallen victim to the art of projection.  It is likely the case that I do not believe in myself and my ability, and have thus projected my doubt in myself onto God – consequently diminishing Him to the stature of a human.  The reality is, that I should not bring God down to my level, but I should allow Him to raise me up to be the excellent creation that He created me to be – to glorify Him in all that I do.Woman with Arms in the Air

So today, I want to testify of God’s goodness toward me in answering the spoken and unspoken prayers of my heart despite my lack of faith and trust.  I have to praise and thank Him and confess that God has done great things in my life. YES! “…He has done marvelous things!” (Psalm 98:1)

My prayer is that as we continue our walk with God that our trust and faith in Him will grow and we will allow Him to transform and renew our minds, such that we can live a life of peace, knowing that ‘He is the blessed and only Sovereign (controller) of all things, the King of Kings, Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power (1Timothy 6:15 -16).

Miracles: Lessons from the Blessings of the Supernatural ‘Servior’

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”-Mark 10:45

The “Servior” might look like a typo, Jesus makes it clear in this verse what His entire mission on earth would be, and that is to be our Loving Server and our Lord and Savior. One of the many ways that Jesus served the people was through the miracles he performed.

Jesus performed miracles – around three dozen, depending on how you count them-but the Gospels actually downplay them. Though He never denied someone who asked for physical healing, He always turned down requests for a demonstration to amaze the crowds and impress important people such as King Herod & Pontius Pilate even when His life depended on it. Jesus recognized early on that the excitement generated by miracles did not readily convert into life-changing faith. Rarely did people find it easy to believe in miracles; they seemed as peculiar in the first century as they would seem if performed today. Just imagine your own reaction of seeing a televangelist on one of the Christian networks that “heals” members of his audience. Then, as now, miracles aroused suspicion, contempt, and only occasionally faith.

Now even though we cannot perform miracles as He did and still does, we can still learn lessons from Him in how we serve others in our community.

Lesson #1. When you do community service, or any volunteer activity to benefit others, you must expect suspicion and skepticism.

We live in such a cynical world, that even random acts of kindness to strangers will have them thinking there is a catch. Also when we go out to serve the community, like Jesus, we cannot do it just so we can get attention, give ourselves a pat on the back, or just make our church look good. Read Matthew 6:2. Imagine if you will, the mentality of the arrogant modern day apostle, “Look at me; I just gave away a free water bottle and two bags of Cheetos and Skittles! I’m such an awesome volunteer”. Service should be who we are and not just what we do. Christian writer E.G. White says in the book “Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing” that “Those who desire words of praise and flattery and feed on them as sweet morsel, are Christians in name only.”

Jesus’ first miracle in John chapter 2 (turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana) was perhaps the strangest of all. He never repeated anything quite like it, and the miracle seemed to take Jesus by surprise as much as anyone else.

As emergencies go, this one falls well down the list. It caused embarrassment, to be sure, but should a Messiah who had come to heal the sick and liberate the captives concern Himself with a social mishap? “Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied when His mother mentioned the problem. “My time has not yet come.”

Can you imagine what crossed Jesus’ mind? If He acted now that would mean His time HAD come and from that moment on, life would change. If word of His powers leaked, He would soon hear pleas from needy people from Galilee to Jerusalem. Crowds would flock: the blind, the lame, the deaf-mutes, and the demon-possessed, not to mention any street beggar who wanted a free glass of wine. So finally He reached a decision, for the first but surely not the last time in His public life, He changed HIS plans to accommodate someone else.

Lesson #2-When we serve others in any capacity, like Jesus, it would require us to change plans to accommodate someone else.

Serving others is not about us. It requires sacrifice of our time, money, our energy, and some of our material possessions. Also serving others requires us to step outside of our comfort zone. Like Jesus, we have to meet people where they are. We actually have to step out of the ivory towers of the church building and go into some of the most undesirable neighborhoods to serve those in need. We can’t expect those in the community to come in here, if they feel we are too good to go meet them out there.
The people back then blamed the victims of blindness, deafness, and paralysis on their sinful conditions. So the sicker you were, the more sinful you were. But Jesus overturned common notions about how God views sick and disabled people. He denied that the men’s blindness came from sin, just as he dismissed the common opinion that tragedies happen to those that deserve them. Job refuted that theory right? Job was the most upright man in the land and still got hit with more tragedy than anyone else. Praise be to God that Jesus, the only perfect Man who ever lived, served the most imperfect of people.

Lesson #3-When we serve others, like Jesus, we must not look down on them or stand in judgment of their circumstances as if we’re superior and they’re inferior to us. We must dismiss the ideology that bad circumstances mean they’re bad people. But if you read the Holier Than Thou version of Romans 3:23, it says “Most have sinned..some have fallen short”, no ALL have sinned and not only have ALL sinned but no matter how high and mighty you think you are, or how big a deal you think you are, you STILL come short of the glory of God. We are all just nobodies telling somebody that anybody can be saved by the Man who died for everybody. So let’s serve with humble hearts of compassion like Christ.

Let us talk about the only miracle in all four Gospels, the feeding of the 5,000. The daunted disciples were vexed and perplexed on how to feed the multitude, but the Savior was the solution. When we focus on the problems, we lose sight of the promises. When we focus on great obstacles, we miss out on golden opportunities. So I can imagine Jesus telling the disciples “I healed the sick, made the blind see, made the lame walk, raised the dead, and calmed a storm with My voice alone … so do you honestly think hunger is something I can’t handle?”

Lesson #4-When we serve others, we need to remember that little becomes much when we place it in the Masters hands. Just like the 2 fish and 5 loaves fed everyone AND created an overflow and spillover, God will take whatever gifts and talents you have to serve others and will multiply it so that it would exceed even YOUR expectations so that it will spillover and overflow to have a huge impact on so many that would greatly benefit from it.

The author Philip Yancey once said, “Jesus never met a disease He could not cure, a birth defect He could not reverse, a demon He could not exorcise. But He did meet skeptics He could not convince and sinners He could not convert. Forgiveness of sins requires an act of will on the receiver’s part, and some who heard Jesus’ strongest words about grace and forgiveness turned away unrepentant.” In the context of service, we can help so many people when we give of our time and energy, and they can still end up being ungrateful and unappreciative, but serve anyhow. And why should we serve others? What’s the point of it all anyway? Let’s look no further than Matthew 25:37-40. It wasn’t the wicked, the unbelievers, or even the Gentiles that asked those questions, it was the righteous that asked these questions. It was His followers, the believers, the Christians. He wants us to serve others we SEE just like we serve Him that we DON’T see. Matthew 20:28- the Son of Man did not come to be served, but TO SERVE, and give His life a ransom for so many.” Besides dying on the cross for our sins, out of His own mouth, serving was His only other purpose on earth. We are saved to serve. God saved us so we can serve others…God saved us, so we can serve others. So let us serve with compassionate hearts and sincerity. Francis of Assisi once said, “It is not fitting, when one is in God’s service, to have a gloomy face or a chilling look”. I believe that God not only loves a cheerful giver, but a cheerful servant.

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” -Muhammad Ali
We all need to ask ourselves, are we current with our “rent” payments with our LandLord? Or are we delinquent?

Suggested listening music to reflect on.
Keith Pringle-Saved to Serve

…Happily Ever After!

I love a happy ending! Who doesn’t? Hollywood movies, fairy tales, computer games and other fictional stories usually thrive on the concept of evil working against good.  But, no matter how sinister the plot or determined the bad guy, the good guy conquers evil in the end, and the final scene usually closes with the good guy getting the girl, world order restored and a unanimous victory cheer! What could be better than that?

superman1
Image courtesy of superitch.com

Sometimes it’s impossible not to get caught up in the ‘Hollywood Gospel’.  We are deceived by the instant gratification of a happy ending guiding subconscious beliefs that evil can be terminated by the good guy in about a couple of hours that it takes to watch the movie – and then we wonder why God is taking so long. On top of that, the ‘Prosperity Message’ suggests that if we ‘do the right things’, we can overcome sickness, wayward children, marriage troubles, financial  and world crises and whatever else is thrown our way. Our Bibles contain beautiful inspiring stories of faithful men and women like Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Abigail, the poor widow, and Leah who overcame a few snags and fulfilled incredible achievements. Right? Well… not entirely so…

These faithful few, despite victories in some areas of their lives all experienced difficult, tragic and traumatic moments which are hardly beautiful.  Abraham sent away Hagar, his concubine along with his first-born son Ishmael – the Bible does not tell us if he ever saw them again. Though there is a great story about Moses’ survival in the bulrushes, let’s not forget the thousands of babies who were murdered by Pharaoh. Ironically, Pharaoh’s family rescued and adopted Moses, but later issued a death warrant against him. Moses ran away and eventually journeyed through the desert for 40 years leading a complaining and miserable people, and at the end of it God tells him he can’t enter the Promised Land.  Then we have Elijah, though translated to heaven to be with God, at one point in time he became so depressed he wanted to die.   Prior to Abigail’s marriage to David, her former husband Nabal was a cruel and abusive man whose dealings were described as ‘harsh and evil’. As for the poor widow, she gave everything she had but there is no evidence to suggest that she ever became rich as a result of her sacrificial offering. And despite Leah’s best efforts to produce a tent-full of offspring, Jacob did not love her. These are only a few stories, but if we look around the Biblical miracles, there is murder, rape, incest, suicide, war and unwarranted death – all issues we deal with today.

Being a Christian does not guarantee protection from misfortune or unhappy endings no matter what we do. There are incredibly horrific events occurring across the world on a daily basis to people from all types of backgrounds regardless of their belief in God. While on the other hand, there are some wonderful blessings that happen to people who we might define as undeserving. Why does this happen? God has already explained why. Sin is in the world and ‘His sun rise(s) on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust’ (Matthew 5:45).

chess2
Image courtesy of Feelart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Satan is the god of this world and in Job we read that it was Satan who caused the afflictions to Job, not God. God allowed it, because He wanted Job to have free will to choose between Him and Satan (Job 1:9-22). To do otherwise would not be free will or a true expression of love by God or Job, because love does not control or manipulate.  If God was to control  and move everything in this world to take away all the pain and suffering right now, then we would be no more than lifeless pieces in a game of chess with little opportunity to exercise our own thoughts.

Why doesn’t God do something? Well he has. The true Good News is that God created a plan to counter sin and to end suffering. Through Jesus, God guarantees us the opportunity to start all over again and have access to eternal life. The promises that God gives to us, are to provide comfort in this life through trials and tribulations with hope of eternal life in God’s heaven on earth.  It’s not a short-term feel-good fix delivered through a two-hour movie, it’s a long-term plan which like most complicated people issues, is painful and slow to resolve. As depicted in M. Scott Peck’s ‘Road Less Traveled‘, many of us want to forfeit the agonizing journey to get to the ‘happily ever after’ part, but God knew that true human spiritual development and salvation required pain and sacrifice and Christ felt the full effect of that pain and sacrifice on the cross.

Image courtesy of menapolis.com

Truth is, we all need a superhero to restore law and order in our lives and to this world. But if there is ever going to be a knight in shining armor for me, it has to be Christ  even though his entry into this world was hardly dashing. The crucial matter is Christ died for me and because of his sacrificial love,  there is only one ‘happily ever after’ that I’m looking forward to. I’m willing to wait for Christ’s triumphant return to take His faithful followers home to live with Him in God’s Kingdom on Earth, where finally there will be eternal life, love, peace and unity for all. Now – doesn’t THAT deserve a victory cheer!!!!

Lifter vs Grifter

You oh Lord are my Lifter, the Lifter of my head/Satan is a grifter that just wants me dead.
He’s a counterfeit, like a magician waving a wand/He sees your people as “marks” waiting to be conned.

You Oh Lord are my Lifter, you lift me up when I’m down/You’re my constant friend and companion when no one else is around.
When the grifter constantly overwhelms me with deception, I look to connect with You to have a clear spiritual reception. Lord, Can you hear me now?

Image courtesy of geww at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of geww at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I just want to make sure I’m understood/I live for Your approval and You letting me know everything will work for good.
I have the confidence that the Great Controversy is one-sided/You have all power in Your hands, the ultimate victory has me excited.

He tried to con the world into thinking that Jesus was just a mere man/He’s still bitter because He wasn’t part of the redemption plan. He conned Eve into thinking that she wasn’t perfect/as she rejected the truth of God, and embraced the lie of a serpent.

Yet we still have to make that same choice/whether to heed that smooth talking con man or (whisper) that still small voice.The Lifter will always be victorious as He seeks to save every soul/the grifter will always be notorious hustling people to his hell-bound fold.

But lo and behold, open up your spiritual eyes/John 8:44 says the grifter is the father of deceipt & lies.
Don’t trust him when he tries to deceive/James 4:7 says resist the devil and he will flee from you and the Lifter will save you…only if you believe.

If you can’t recognize the devil unless he’s showing you his horns, you’re in trouble.The choice today is Christ vs. Conman, Lord vs. Lucifer, Alpha & Omega vs Antichrist, Deliverer vs Deceiver, Savior vs. Satan, Lifter of your head vs grifter of your soul. Choose you this day whom ye will serve, but as for me and my house……

From Breakdown to Breakthrough

Baking a cake requires a combination of specific ingredients in a particular way to ensure success. If the cake fails, I usually assume I did something wrong and I will need to make a change next time. When seeking an answer to my prayers, there is also a formula or recipe for success, such as prayer, fasting, Bible study, and faith. If the prayers go unanswered, once again I assume that I did something wrong and will need to do something different next time.

I confess that I have manipulated areas of my life to create a desired outcome, such as baking a simple cake – who hasn’t? Change your actions means you change the outcome – right? But is it possible that I unknowingly did the same with God? Was I trying to manipulate God to provide me with what I wanted, based on what I was doing?

As a Christian it is a message I have heard many times. If you want a breakthrough with the challenges in your life, whether it is good health, a restored marriage, job security, financial blessings, then you should seek to pray, recite scriptures, serve in church,  submit, forgive, sacrifice, wear the right clothes, send our children to Christian school, the list goes on.  The reverse of this message is, if your prayers go unanswered, it is because of something you failed to do, and if you are like me, you will try harder and do more to break through these walls.

Despite trying to complete my endless ‘to do’ list there was no breakthrough, until one day, I broke down. I was burned out. My heart ached, and in tears, I looked to God and said “What now?”God said:-

sunset picnic
Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28.

So I sat in God’s presence and rested.  Things fell apart around me. I rested.  My world and everything in it came crashing down. Still, I rested. During this time, I learned more about myself and the people around me. Relationships cracked, some people stayed, others left, some I chose to break, others were restored. Most importantly, God revealed to me that the area of my life I had been working so earnestly to fix, was not mine to fix – it was His. I had been trying to do God’s job.

I had to stop trying to influence Him, albeit subconsciously, and let Him do whatever He had to do in my life, even if it meant failing and losing the very things I valued. As He puts my broken life back together, I now see the breakthrough that I had been praying for. I literally had to ‘break’ – for these walls in my life to come tumbling down. I’m still walking ‘through’ to the other side – but to a different life that God has in store for me.  God had to ‘break me to make me’.

Though I am perplexed by His way, and the unexpected dynamics, I am trusting Him and feeling truly blessed.  I begin this journey with a renewed heart and desire to really know God and accept His Grace and Mercy. I finally believe that He does not bless me or answer my prayers because of what I do, but quite simply because He loves me – unconditionally. This is my testimony of Jesus Christ.

How did God bring you through a difficult time in your life?  Share your experiences or comments below…