My Family

My Family
My Family

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Limits of God

I have come to realize that there are no limits with God.  There is no eleventh hour, no last minute, no deadline to meet.  There is also no final hour, no final breath, no final word on a matter other than Him of course.  We try to impose our limits on God, our own timetables on Him when all the while He has a plan, a plan that is better than anything we could've imagined for us.  Jer 29:11 promises that when it says, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, and to give you hope and a future."  So why do we fret when our plans are laid our for us by our Heavenly Father, good plans even? 
I must confess that we've been waiting on the Lord for something for over 3 years now, something we feel is from Him.  If it isn't from Him and He has something better then Holy Moly!!  But I have hope in Him, hope in our future in Him, in our prosperity in Him.  I believe He is going to do as His word promised.  One day soon I will be able to share with you the fulfillment of this promise and I can't wait.  God is so good!!!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Get Noticed by God

"There is no one too bad or too good to get Jesus' attention." Pastor JD began his sermon today with these words as he talked on Luke 8 beginning with verse 40, the stories of Jairus and his daughter and the woman with the issue of blood.  Jairus was everything a good synagogue ruler should be pious and upright and yet when he came to Jesus to plead for the life of his only daughter he fell prostrate before him.  Such things were unheard of back then.  Jesus agreed to go with him and while he travelled the crowd pushed in on him.  In the crowd was a woman with an issue of blood, an issue which had plagued her for 12 years.  She was considered unclean, unfit, unworthy to be in crowds, unloveable, broken.  Yet she thought, she knew if she just grabbed the fringe of Jesus' garment she would be healed and made whole again.  Her life would be changed forever.  Once she grabbed it, the power was imparted and she was immediately healed.  Jesus, knowing it had happened stopped the crowd and asked who had touched Him.  Why did He ask?  Surely, the Son of God knew who it was.  It was to give her an opportunity to step forth in faith, in front of others.  Once she did come forth, He spoke very tenderly calling her daughter, the ultimate adoption on the spot!!  Her faith had made her whole.  While Jesus was speaking (you know the story), someone came to say that Jairus' daughter had died but Jesus went to her anyway saying she would be healed too.  When they arrived funeral arrangements had already begun and wailing was rampant.  Jesus said she was only asleep.  Can you imagine??  But He tenderly went to her and took her hand and told her to get up.  Here we have a beautiful image of Jesus visiting with us at our deathbed, holding our hand and speaking softly to us -- all this while "the shadow of death" falls over us.  JD gave this analogy of death for Christians:  It feels like separation will last forever.  However, think of it this way.  A mack truck is coming your way.  Would you rather be hit by the truck or by the shadow of the truck?  As Christians we are only hit by the shadow of the truck or death.  Isn't that awesome??  We don't have to fear death!!  Jesus will be right there at our side.  What a great sense of relief that is?!  Several things I want to make note of here.  Jesus' primary ministry was reconnecting us to God, not resurrecting the dead, healing the sick or any other side note or tangent.  God wants to have a relationship with us again and this is made possible by Jesus and His sacrifice.  Remember, what I said about Jesus' primary ministry being to reconnect us to God.  Well, sometimes that means we don't get our miracles.  But when we're fully connected to the Father, earthly miracles just don't matter quite as much.  I don't mean not to ask because the Word is clear that we should ask all in His name, just sometimes the answer is no. 
1.  COME TO HIM. -- don't let the law or the crowds keep you from Him.  The crowd did not keep the woman from Jesus and she was made whole and what's even more important she was adopted into His kingdom.
2.   BE PUBLIC ABOUT IT. --  Jesus called her daughter after she owned up so confess Him as your Lord in front of your friends and loved ones. 
3.  YOU CAN SCARCELY UNDERESTIMATE HIS TENDERNESS & COMPASSION. --  He cares.  He doesn't change.  He's interruptible.  On the cross He took our defilement.  He absorbed our uncleanness so that we become clean.
4.  WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT GOD DETERMINES HOW YOU RELATE TO HIM. -- If you really understood who He is, you would want Him, you would pray, you would yield to Him.  God is always working for our good.  His power guarantees He can.  His love guarantees He will.
So, which are you, the good synagogue ruler or the unclean woman?  Which one deserved Jesus' help more?  Which one got it?  Yeah, me too...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Substitute

I will open with a verse that really stuck with me from worship tonight.  Micah 7:18 & 19, "Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea."  Yes, you read that right.  God actually delights in showing us mercy.  Kinda gets ya, doesn't it???

Pastor JD opened noting that his sermon would probably be affected by the madness of the ACC tourney.  I make the same notation on this blog and hope for similar results.  JD talked with us from Luke 3 & 4 about Jesus' baptism and temptation.  Jesus' temptation was a temptation to prioritize the needs of the body over the needs of the soul.  All of the temptations were designed to sway Him from the cross.  Jesus knew that outward obedience means nothing if it doesn't come from the heart.  We need more than a behavior modification; we need a heart change.  So Jesus was a substitute for our sin.  JESUS IN MY PLACE.  His repentance (at the time of His baptism) was IN MY PLACE.  The temptation (an analogy for Israel's wandering for 40 years) was IN MY PLACE.  Only grace, His grace can change the heart!!

So how are we to overcome temptation, since we are here on earth and have skin on?  The Lord has provided weapons for us.  (1)  The Word of God -- Satan wants you to doubt God's word about you and your identity in Him.  DON'T DO IT!!  Live the promises!!  Walk in His Word.  (2)  The Spirit of God -- by renewal of faith in the gospel.  Anytime there was an outpouring of faith, there was an outpouring of the Spirit.  (3)  The Plan of God -- He wants us to learn to feast on Him and trust Him despite our suffering.  He uses suffering to change our motives.  You'll never know God is all you need until He is all you have.  (4)  Fasting -- Do I really love God or am I using Him for things?  Denying the body while allowing God to fulfill the needs of the soul.

So do you believe?  Do you truly believe that Jesus was in your place?  Do you believe that God delights in showing us mercy and grace?  Run to His open arms now and find refuge and rest my friends.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sidenote on Damaged

I know growing up I watched as adults treated others who didn't find God's favor as sinful or damaged goods.  I am glad to hear JD preach this story of Z and Eliza and know that damaged people are not always sinful people.  In fact, JD used the example that one of our pastor's football coach would ride him continually in practice.  It was the way you knew you found favor with the coach, that he cared for you -- he disciplined you and worked to make you better because he saw the potential in you.  It was the ones he didn't speak to that should have been depressed because he didn't bother with them.  So if you're suffering and feeling like God isn't listening, He is probably doing some work in your life because He loves you, not because He is ignoring you.  You are loved by God.  Remember His greatest gift is He Himself.  The rest is just superficial and fading.  This world and all in it will pass away but those who love Him will walk with Him forever.  Be blessed and encouraged!!!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Luke - good news for the damaged!!

Tonight we began a new series at church, a study on the gospel of Luke.  Pastor JD began calling Luke a gospel for cynics.  He defined gospel as good news and proceeded to call this sermon good news for the damaged.  You see, Zechariah and Elizabeth with whom the book opens were damaged goods, damaged in the eyes of humans.  They had not been able to conceive a child during their lives and now they were old, too old to have a child come into their lives.  Children were seen as a heritage much more than they are today because they were how your name was carried on and how you were cared for when you were old and how the blessings of the Lord for your family continued from generation to generation.  Sure, they had prayed for years for a child and for whatever reason God had never blessed them with one.  In those times it would be thought that something was wrong with the couple, that God's favor was not on them because of some sin or something hidden and that's why they could not bear children.  But the Bible is clear that this is not the case with Z and Eliza.  It calls them blameless, not sinless but blameless before God.  But finally, in their old age, God chose to use this couple and bless them with the mouthpiece that would announce the coming of the King.  Why did He choose them, seeing that they were damaged goods?  I believe no story in the Bible is there without purpose.  He chose Z and Eliza to show us that He chooses us too, even when we are damaged or feel we are damaged.  Our damage may not be childlessness but some other thing that God has chosen not to fulfill in our lives, leaving us scarred thinking we are unworthy (side note: these are all lies of Satan btw).  Jesus' death and resurrection paid the price to make us all worthy of His love because of His grace and mercy.  Aren't we all damaged goods somehow if we truly think about it, even if we have everything we need?  The Bible says all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God -- DAMAGED!!  But there are soooo many promises that there are for us, so many things He wants to give us and wants us to ask for.  It doesn't mean He will bless us with everything we pray for but it does mean He will listen.  Remember, the greatest gift of all is Jesus Himself!!!!  I challenge each of us to examine our lives and our "damage" and give it over to God, accept the "good news" and lean entirely on Him.