Something to Think About…

Consider that the person who so annoys you or angers you is the spouse, child, parent, or relation of someone who is fervently praying for their salvation.

What if the glimpse of Jesus this person needs is you?

Now think about the spouse, child, parent, relation YOU are praying for. Don’t you want Christians in their sphere of influence to show them love, mercy and truth?

Just something to think about. It helps keep judgement at bay and fear of the Lord (as in a healthy respect for) in the forefront of your thoughts.

Have a blessed day. 

 

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Amazing Grace

During this past Sunday’s sermon, my pastor referenced a scripture that has always touched my heart. His teaching didn’t center on this particular passage, but it was used to expound on a different subject.

 I was reminded of the scripture again this morning during prayer. This beautiful event is recorded in Luke, capturing the last few moments of Jesus’ earthly life. It so clearly demonstrates the love and mercy of God that I want to share it with you:

“Two others, both criminals, were led out to be executed with him (Jesus). When they came to a place called The Skull, they nailed him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified—one on his right and one on his left.

 “Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.

The crowd watched and the leaders scoffed. “He saved others,” they said, “let him save himself if he is really God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” The soldiers mocked him, too, by offering him a drink of sour wine. They called out to him, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!”  A sign was fastened above him with these words: “This is the King of the Jews.”

“One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!”

But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die?  We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”

 “And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23-42 New Living Translation

What a contrast between love and hate, between humility and pride, between compassionate mercy and stubborn denial. Who do you know that would intercede, asking forgiveness for the people who had condemned them to die?  Who else would take the time to comfort another while both are suffering a slow, tortuous death?

With the few precious minutes he had left, a dying man, a thief, recognized that Jesus was the Son of God and repented.  I am brought to tears when I read the verse that follows:  Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

The Lord’s words echo in my heart, filling me with awe at the magnitude of His mercy. One more soul saved from death! Forgiven not because of anything that he himself had done to earn it, but by the act of the One who took the punishment we all deserve. This is God’s amazing grace!

For whoever takes the time to read this post, just think on this for a while:

Salvation is not earned. You haven’t done enough wrong to be excluded from it and you can never do enough right to deserve it. You cannot buy mercy and grace. It is the free gift of God for whoever will receive it.

Blessings as you go about your week! If you have the time, enjoy this song by Todd Agnew: Grace Like Rain 

Outward Conformity vs a Changed Heart

Sometimes Christians can a have harsh or disdainful view of the world. Instead of speaking the truth in love, we point out everything that is wrong in society without pointing to the One Who is righteous.

 We are rightly grieved by the deteriorating state of mankind. The level of injustice and depravity leaves us stupefied at times. However, when we relay, replay or re-post issues and news, we add our own expletives and insults to the mix. We mock, condemn and stir up strife in opposition to the Word of God (Proverbs 6:16-19).

 Somewhere in the recess of our mind, a scripture speaks to our heart, reminding us about God loving the world, or something along those lines…

 In our rush to be heard, we have a tendency to forget how we once were, before we knew Christ.

 I don’t know about you, but before I accepted Christ as my Savior, I did not have the ability, much less the desire to please God. Sure, I had a conscience and a certain level of discipline, but as far as loving what was righteous (and not simply what was “right”), it wasn’t there.

 It wasn’t there because I had not opened my heart to God. He is the one who brings change. He is the one who breathes new life.

 Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not talking about shrinking back from boldly speaking the truth. I’m not talking about being a people pleaser or maintaining peace at all costs. I’m talking about seeking God’s best for people, where they have a heart to repent and choose Him. Outward conformity to a chosen standard does not make a person right with God. If the unsaved populace did start to act more like Jesus and play nice, it might make our interactions more pleasant, but God would not be pleased. Outward conformity does not equal an inward change:

 The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.” Isaiah 29:13 NIV

 We need to extend the same grace and mercy to others that God has given to us. Instead of trying to get people to act like we want them to act we should be the witnesses Jesus has called us to be, one of His “living epistles, read of all men” (2 Corinthians 3:2-3).

 God has given each of us the freedom to choose, whether good or bad, right or wrong, righteous or unrighteous. He desires that we would all choose life, but with free will comes the ability to pick your path. We have to allow people to make their own choices in life. Hopefully our lives will so reflect His love, mercy, compassion and power that it will draw people to Him and they will want the life He so freely offers:

 “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

Heart of Light

 Mercy, grace and peace to you all.

You Are Precious, You Are Loved

I was praying recently, struggling with a few things and striving to use the scriptures I share on Facebook for myself. My mind drifted to a scene from the Disney movie Frozen, where the younger sister, Anna, throws herself into harm’s way to protect her older sister, Elsa the Snow Queen, from certain death.

It’s a very moving moment. In a supreme act of selflessness, the wounded sister sacrifices herself for the sibling she loves.  It makes me cry every time I watch it. Then I thought about THE supreme act of love: Jesus dying on a cross for me. All of my worries and concerns started to melt away. Jesus loves me. He died for me.

I started to feel better. I calmed down. I could hear Him more readily because I remembered that I am loved. Almighty God, the creator of heaven and earth, has my back.

It’s a mind-blowing truth that’s too easily forgotten in the midst of distractions, worry, fear and busyness. That’s why I need to be reminded. FREQUENTLY. Daily. And when I forget to remind myself by staying focused on Him, on what He has written in His word, He will lovingly, faithfully draw me back to this truth: Jesus died for me. His sacrifice is God’s expression of love toward me. He will even use an animated story to get me back on the right thought-track.

I think most of us enjoy hearing about everyday heroes who lay their lives on the line for others: military men and women who sacrifice themselves for the sake of their country and their comrades. First responders who run into danger to rescue people they don’t know. Parents who put themselves into harm’s way to protect their children. That’s why these stories get posted to FB and emailed to hundreds of people; it’s why the hero of the hour is booked on multiple news and TV programs– their sacrifice deeply moves us. It touches our hearts and renews our hope in humanity. But as wonderful as these people are, their heroism doesn’t fix the deep, inexpressible need we all have: to be secure in the knowledge that we are loved no matter what. To know that we have not been left on our own to figure things out or to fend for ourselves. To know with certainty that someone will be there to rescue us when the need arises.

Knowing that you are loved will do that for a person. Knowing that there is someone you can rely upon, no matter what, builds confidence. It engenders trust. Knowing that you are loved unconditionally by the One who is love will transform your life.

It’s the truth you know that will set you free, so be free:

“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” Romans 5:6-11

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” Romans 8:31-32 

Awesome! Wonderful. Incomprehensible at times, but I humbly and gratefully accept His love. I can’t earn it, I don’t deserve it and I never will.

So what about those times when we have questions and we aren’t sure we want to hear God’s answer? Or when we need direction and don’t think we have the strength (desire, will, ability) to follow His leading and obey?

This too, is possible when you know how much you are loved. God’s love will never fail you. His will for us is formed from and based upon His love, His truth, His wisdom, His holiness and His Kingdom plan. Knowing that God loves me, (and He has shown me over and over again just how much) makes me able to trust Him during difficult and dark times; to relent and repent when I am being stubborn or I’m wrong; to humbly receive His correction; to move forward with His grace when fear tries to make me run away or to stand still in indecision, worried that I might be making a mistake. Knowing that God loves me gives me the security I need to trust that His plan is good, that He is with me every single day. God’s love never fails:

“There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out-of-doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection].”

We love Him, because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:18-20 Amplified Bible

He did the hard part. He made the first move. We just have to believe it and accept His outstretched hand.

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Shalom.