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.

 

38

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.

Resolutions…Never Give Up!

With a New Year just having passed, there are many people who were motivated and determined to pull off a New Year’s resolution to make some life changes.  There were probably plans to lose weight, go to the gym, or to read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.  Whatever the commitment, it was likely about self-improvement or maybe even to help other people.new year resolutions3

The problem with making resolutions is that the motivation and commitment to keep these changes usually wanes after some time.  Before we even realize it, we have forgotten the plan, given up and reverted back to our default mode. We have relapsed.

The word “relapse” is a term usually associated with addictions.  However, according to Merriam Webster, relapse simply means “the act or an instance of backsliding”.  Backsliding is a term used in the Old Testament by God, in relation to the children of Israel.  The Israelites were considered “backsliders” because they would make a commitment to reverently worship God, but over time they would revert back to worshipping idols again.  They would lapse morally and spiritually in their practice of honoring the one true God, despite their initial resolve to do better.

But this is where the beauty of the gospel message becomes real.  When we fall down, we can simply get back up again.  With relapse, there is recovery.  Proverbs 24:16 says “For a just man falls seven times, and rises up again“.  When we fall down, with Christ by our sides, we have the privilege of getting back up again and continuing with our walk. Not just once, but over and over again.  It’s not about how many times that we fall, relapse or backslide.  It’s about how many times we get back up and keep walking.  Paul says that this is a race of endurance. Moreover, the race has already been won, we just have to finish!

“Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith”. Hebrew 12: 1-2

So, if you’re finding that you are struggling with your New Year’s resolution, whatever it may be, and you have fallen away from the path.  Don’t stay there! Just get back up on the path, start again and keep walking.  You don’t have to wait for another New Year to re-commit.  Every day is a new day of opportunity.  Every morning provides a new day with a new chance to make a new commitment to your resolution.  Don’t give up!  Relapse will happen.  You may fall,  but the promise is that you can recover with Christ and by daily renewal of your spirit.

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.  Romans 12:1-2

Get up, stand up and continue to take steps however small, in the direction towards your goal.  This link “Never Give Up” shows the determination of one Olympic Sprinter, who despite a fall, rose again and with his father and our Heavenly Father close by, he was able to cross the finish line. Be inspired.  With Christ by your side, you can do it too!

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day” (2 Timothy 4:7).

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”. (Philippians 3: 13 – 14).

 

 

 

 

 

Heaven’s gates are open to illegal immigrants…

Normally, I do not write politically motivated blogs, but I felt led to write this one because it reflected a religious entitlement that did not sit well with me.  Many people who profess Christianity appear to be short-sighted when it comes to earthly political matters.  There seems to be little understanding of sin, hypocrisy and what the blood of Jesus really does in allowing us the blessing of going to Heaven.

I’ve been reading a number of FaceBook posts and news articles about Obama’s Executive Order on Immigration and what that means for “Americans”.  I’m truly disappointed by posts from people who profess to be Christians, but appear to be content with the history of the ‘illegal European immigrants’ (Pilgrims) – who eventually stripped Americans (Native Americans) of their homes, rights and land.  Furthermore, European illegal immigrants also saw fit to travel to other countries and displace entire races of people and bring them to the US as slaves – apparently motivated by their Christian duty to ‘civilize’ people of color.

 I just don’t understand how, given the history of the US, today’s Americans and Christians at that, can be comfortable criticizing so called ‘illegal immigrants’ who, like the first Pilgrims came to the US fleeing persecution and seeking a better life.  Why these Christians cannot see the hypocrisy of this is truly beyond me –  but Jesus struggled with the same problem with the Pharisees (Matt 23: 24, 27). After all, Ecclesiastes tells us there is nothing new under the sun. (Eccl. 1:9). It amazes me how todays Americans are worried about so called illegal immigrants being placed ahead of them.  But back then, no one was too concerned about illegal European immigrants getting ahead of Native Americans, chasing people out of their homes and off their land. What will heaven really be like if there is going to start bickering about how Pedro, Chun-Mao or Muhammad got into heaven before all the worthy Americans who feel entitled to be there?

I believe there is a feeling of entitlement by many people living developed countries, not just the US.  There is a feeling that “we own the resources” and can somehow decide who is worthy enough to get a piece of the pie.  The reality is – not one ounce of the earth’s resources belongs to any of us and neither are we deserving of any of it. The earth and all that is in it belongs to God (Psalm 24:1) – He’s just allowing us to manage it for now and honestly, I think we’re making a bit of a mess.  I truly believe there are more than enough resources to go around.  God created the earth and told us to populate it (Gen 1:28).  There is no way that God would have given an earth that did not have enough resources to sustain a growing population.  The problem isn’t with illegal immigrants using up ‘our’ resources or taking ‘our’ jobs.  The problem is that we do not properly manage the resources that God gave to us.

The amount of food that is squandered while people die of hunger is outrageous. The number of people who push a ball around court, sing a song, or even act the fool on reality television while earning crazy fat salaries is an abomination.  Yet, we don’t seem to question that.  Somehow, our apparently developed society is able to justify ridiculous pay checks for the people who entertain us. But for those people who are hungry and seeking a better life, we heap scorn on them and keep our gates/borders tightly locked fearing they will enter the US and take from a dismal welfare system that they cannot even register with.  It just doesn’t seem to make sense, surely there should be more balance.

In heaven, everyone is going to have enough according to their need. I dare anyone to speak up to God in heaven and challenge Him as to why Pedro has a bigger house than Jack.  I leave you with this thought… there will be illegal immigrants in Heaven… lots of them, including YOU… and I!  Everyone in Heaven will be illegal, simply because not one of us has any right to be in Heaven because of ourselves or anything we have done, but simply because Heaven’s gates are open to every one.  I am truly thankful that God does not turn anyone away, but has offered us grace, mercy and Jesus. Jesus built a bridge for each of us to get legal status to Heaven as we flee persecution here on Earth and seek the hope of eternal life. As we reflect on that, we need to learn to better manage our own resources as well as offer the same grace, mercy and legal status to people who are in the US today who have come in hope of what they perceive to be a “better way of life”. Be warned, if you don’t like illegal immigrants here on Earth, then Heaven is not the place for you. Heaven will be full of illegal immigrants – so you may need to start  planning now, for another eternal home.

F.I.G.H.T. Anxiety and Worry…

Are you a worrier by nature?  Are you catastrophic?  Could you take a job in risk management, because you can and will plan for every possible eventuality based on the skimpiest of details that suggest that there may be a problem?

Sometimes anxiety causes us to worry about future events, or even to ruminate on past ones.   Revisiting this pattern repeatedly often fuels further anxious thoughts.

So, here are some practical tips to help you F.I.G.H.T. anxiety and worry as you go through your day:-

Fear:

Fear is a universal emotion.  There isn’t one person on this planet who has not experienced fear, from the newborn to the elderly.  Anxiety and worry and many other emotions are fuelled by fear.  Fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of losing control, fear of facing reality, fear of pain etc.. It is necessary that we acknowledge and accept our fearfulness.  It’s okay and very normal.

Insight:

Try to be insightful about your own emotions.  Ask yourself what is causing you to be fearful?  Identify whether you have felt this fear before, in your past, as a child or adult.  You might find that your feelings are not new and that these feelings and behaviors have been well-rehearsed as part of your response to childhood events that left you feeling afraid and now fuel the need for you to be in control, or to beat yourself up.

Grace:

Give yourself some grace.  Why?  Simply because you offer it to everyone else, except yourself.  You are allowed to make mistakes. In one of my other posts, It’s Okay to be Human, I talk about how we have become a lot less tolerant of our mistakes and those of others.  Perfectionism belongs to God.  We, as human-beings strive for excellence and at the very least, we do our best.  But when we fall short, we have a Savior, whose name is Jesus and He’s already picked up the tab for us.  So, all we have to do, is ask for forgiveness, forgive ourselves, get up and ‘keep it moving’!

Hope

Hope is knowing that there is better to come, or it’s not as bad as it seems. When I am fearful, worrying about the unknown I do one thing. I remember what Jesus has already brought me through. I think over specific events that I had no control over and yet, He either gave me victory or as James Fortune sings God will help you  “Live Through it” and “Grow Through it”.  I am quickly reminded of how insignificant I am, and how BIG God is and I am better able to hand over my worries to God and let him deal with whatever unknown events in the future I cannot control – this gives me much needed HOPE!

Trust

Trusting God is not always easy.  Especially when things have not worked out the way we wanted them to. We are told to pray and meditate, but often I cannot concentrate or focus enough to pray, read or meditate. This adds to my anxiety, because I then berate myself for not being a good Christian. I have failed to ‘focus’ on God as I ‘ought’ to based on the expectations of other Christians.  Furthermore, in the midst of worry and anxiety, I often try to pray and give God the worry, but I am soon taking it back. These behaviors are rehearsed and can be difficult to change.

So… I go back to Grace.  I accept myself where I am and allow myself to give to God whatever I have as a ‘Popcorn Prayer’.  It’s my Prayers on the Go, whether it is  just a few words saying ‘Thank You Jesus’… ‘Help me Lord’… ‘God, I just don’t know what to do, direct my paths’.  The blessing is, I begin to ‘pray without ceasing’ AND while I am weak, God can be strong.

Secondly, I have found my own way to meditate on God’s word and to focus my thoughts. How many times a day do we enter our computer password at work?  Ten, twenty, fifty times?  Well, I found it useful to change my computer password at work to represent a scriptural passage.  With the increased requirements in network security, it is encouraged that we enter more complicated passwords with upper and lowercase letters and number.  So I have begun using the first letter of each word in an abbreviated scriptural passage, along with the Bible location. For example.  ‘For I Know The Plans Jeremiah 29: 11’ may look like this as a computer password  ‘FiKtPJer2911’

Every time I type this in, I am reminded of God’s promise, ‘For I know the plans I have for you, not to harm you, to give you hope and a future’ (Jer 29:11).  I’m not only meditating, but memorizing too, and reminding myself to put my Trust in God.

So by acknowledging our Fear, looking for Insight, giving ourselves Gracefinding Hope in God’s faithfulness and then Trusting in God’s Word, we can begin to F.I.G.H.T. anxiety and worry.  Once we are able to gain some control over these emotions, it creates more to become the healthy and  prosperous individuals that God created us to be.

 

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?

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.

Did Jesus Accept Divorce?

SCRIPTURE

Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”  The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”

OBSERVATION

I have always wondered about the purpose of the conversation Jesus had with the Samaritan woman.  I notice that following Jesus’ request to call the Samaritan’s woman’s husband, she responds by saying that she has no husband.  Jesus agrees and says that she has spoken the truth.  He then goes on to say that she has had five husbands and the one she is with is not hers.

But how can she have married five husbands, yet according to Jesus, have no husband?  Surely, according to traditional views, Jesus would say that she has at least one husband, with the first marriage (where there is no death) being the only spiritually acceptable one?  Furthermore, how could she have gotten to her fifth husband without being stoned for adultery because she remarried four times?

Or did all of her husbands die? It seems unlikely, even so, what Jesus said would then be correct, she has no husband for they are all dead.  But why mention her dead husbands?  All He could have said is, that the man she is with now is not her husband.  Why would it be relevant to raise her past?  After all, Jesus says everything for a reason.

Another explanation is that she ‘had’ – meaning had sexual intercourse with five men who are another woman’s husband.  However, the term generally used in the Bible for sexual intercourse is ‘to lay’ or ‘to know’.

Lastly, could she have had five husbands and was legally and spiritually divorced from them, hence she really had no husband.  As a consequence of her five failed relationships, she decided to live with the last man so that she would not have to go through the humiliation of another divorce? If so, was Jesus accepting the validity of a legal and spiritual divorce by stating she has no husband?

While I believe and fully support the ideal for a marriage partnership to be life-long, we know that Moses allowed divorce due to the hardness of man’s heart.  However, according to some studies, the word divorce has been wrongly translated.  The original Hebrew word used for ‘divorce’ actually refers to an old practice of men who ‘put away’ their wives (separated  or left them with no legal divorce).  For her survival and that of her children, the ‘put away’ wife would remarry rather than prostitute herself. But because she was not legally divorced, she committed adultery and this is why God hates ‘divorce’ that is the practice of ‘putting away’.  Moses requested that a legal document be produced to protect women who were often oppressed, impoverished and unjustly stoned, (Deuteronomy 24:1-3).  A legal document allowed the woman the freedom to remarry without condemnation of adultery.  It has been suggested that the word ‘divorce’ in the Bible should be read using the words ‘to put away’. (For a general read on Divorce and Remarriage –  http://www.bethelministries.com/divorce.htm). Let us not forget that God legally divorced Himself from Israel, also issuing them a certificate of divorce (Jeremiah 3:8).

APPLICATION

What was the purpose of this conversation Jesus had with the Samaritan woman such that He raised her past and present?  I think that Jesus gently brought her into the awareness of her failed relationships and her current actions living with another man, but I think it was the reason behind her failed relationships that Jesus was asking her to explore.  Before He mentioned her husbands, Jesus told her that He  has living water, and if she drinks His water, she will never thirst again.  I believe Jesus was saying to the Samaritan woman – whatever you are seeking in these men, can be found in Me.  He was stipulating that He (Jesus) is the love that she has been searching for and once she accepts God’s love, she will never search for this love in another man or earthly relationship again.  I know this is a lesson I need to hear and accept.

PRAYER

Father God

Thank You for another day enjoying this miracle called life.  I thank You for the institution of marriage which ideally should be a life-long commitment.  I thank You for the opportunity to look at divorce from a different perspective.  Help us in this day and age to learn to treat people who are divorced with more compassion and care, rather than with judgment and failing.  I know that You understand because You Lord were also divorced from Israel and You bear no shame.  I thank You for the example of love and empathy that You showed to the Samaritan woman while explaining to her that we need to find love in You first.  Without the knowledge of Your love it will be difficult for any of us to truly know what love looks like and this may eventually lead to failed relationships.

Help us all to be grounded in Your wonderful gift of true unconditional love.

In Jesus’ Name

Amen

Note:  Your comments are welcome, but please note that this a controversial and sensitive topic. I ask that all words are written respectfully and with love.

Have Faith in Jesus…Not the miracles…

SCRIPTURE

Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men. John 2: 23 – 24

OBSERVATION

Jesus was able to read the hearts of people and He made a choice not to place any importance on the ‘faith’ or ‘belief’ that people had in Him because of the miracles He did.  It seems that Jesus thought their faith was superficial, I can only assume because it was faith by sight and people were more impressed with the miracle and not the Son of God.  Before the miracles – I wonder how those people viewed and treated Jesus?

Ecclesiastes 1:9 says that “there is nothing new under the sun”.  I wonder to what extent our faith in Christ has changed.  Do we treat Jesus poorly until He provides us with a miracle and then our attitudes change?  How much do we need charismatic preachers and entertaining Christian music artists to feel that God exists and is available to us?  How much importance do we place on charming preachers and melodious voices to enjoy church and feel connected to God?

APPLICATION

While there is nothing wrong with enjoying a spirit-filled worship and praise session, if we take those things away, what do we have left? Will we still be able to connect with Jesus and be steadfast in our faith?  Or do we need to see or hear something as evidence or a reminder of His existence and power? I’m not saying that we should not use music, or sermons or feel blessed by His gifts of healing. I just want to be careful that my faith is in Jesus and not in His miracles.  As Job 1:21 says – The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;  Blessed be the name of the Lord.”  When God takes something away, what will I think of Him. Will I still respect Him?  I certainly hope I will.

PRAYER

Dear God

Thank You for being a Mighty Awesome God. Thank You for this opportunity to read and study and to seek new understanding. Lord, when You look into my heart, I want You to see someone who is desiring a new relationship with You, not based upon what I see or the miracles You perform in my life.  Even if You do no other miracle for me than allow me to breathe each day,  help my faith to be deep and grounded in You.

In Jesus’ Name

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