Finding Rest

Finding Rest

Matthew 11:28 NIV

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

What a tender beautiful God we serve! Finding rest that stays with you – I just breathe a sigh of relief when I read this passage. Jesus does not want us to even attempt going through our lives alone. He knows the challenges we face and the burdens we carry. He wants to carry them for us. Sounds too good to be true, huh? But it is true!

To the Verse:

“Come to Me… “

Coming to Jesus Christ is the starting place. Once we believe in Him as Lord and Savior, we are positionally in Christ. However, I think that our burdens being lightened depends on the closeness of our walk most of the time. I have had times in my life when God, in all His mercy and grace miraculously reached into my situation and lightened my burden before I cried out to Him, but most of the time He has wait for me to give it up to Him, admitting that I cannot handle it myself.

A daily, moment by moment, close walk with Christ makes this so much easier, because the better we know Him the more we realize how desperately dependent we really are on Him.

Weary and Burdened

“…all you who are weary and burdened… “

These days most people are burdened with heavy loads, it seems. Christ is calling us to come to Him.

Ah, Yes! Rest!

“…and I will give you rest.”

When you are burdened with something, do you tend to wrestle with it constantly? I know I do. Every minute that my mind is free from a thoughtful, is full of the burden, and I wrestle with it all day. It is exhausting, isn’t it?

Have you experienced the rest that comes from God? It washes over you like a cool breeze on a hot, humid day. The rest that comes from Christ is real rest; restoring rest. One definition of the word “rest” is –  to cease striving. I love that, especially when I putting it up against the wrestling I have been doing!

His Presence

This kind of rest comes when we learn to spend time seeking to Him in His Word and praying on a daily basis. He calls us to come to Him first, then He will give us rest.

Come to Jesus in a deeper, more intimate relationship. Sit at His feet and lay your burdens down. He does not mean for you to carry the load that weighs so heavy on you. He wants you to know Him and trust Him with the things that make you weary from carrying them.

Let’s take time to sit at His feet – spend time with Him in His Word and in prayer. Let’s seek to know Him (Jeremiah 29:13) with all our hearts. Then, we will know that we can trust Him with our burdens.

He Is Waiting

My dear friend, He is waiting for you to come to terms with the fact that you cannot carry the load you bear. He wants you to drop it at His feet and live in the freedom that He bought for you on the cross. As we live out this total freedom that there is in Christ, we will live our lives in gratitude, in worship, and in obedience.

When we hold onto the things that burden us, our focus is not on Christ but on those things. When we give them to Christ, He gives us joy and the strength to focus on Him and in turn, we bring Him glory with our lives. God is so good! What a generous, gracious and loving God He truly is.

Let’s go to the Lord in Prayer:

Dear Lord, thank You so much for Your Word and the truth that You give us to help us to walk with You in a way that brings You glory. Thank You for helping us to see how You want us to walk in a way that glorifies You and thank You for helping us to then do just that. Help us to Know You in such a way that we can trust You with our burdens and know that You are so very trustworthy! I pray for each one reading this today. I ask You that You would strengthen all of us for Your glory. Draw us to You and help us know You. In Jesus beautiful name, Amen.

Go Deeper Today:

Psalm 121:1-8

Prophetic Tapestry

Old Testament Prophecy

Old Testament prophecy ties to the New Testament in tantamount ways. It is a Prophetic Tapestry that from beginning to end, weaves a picture Christ and His coming to set us free from our sin for the glory of God. We will only touch the surface today. There are literally hundreds of prophecies that were fulfilled in Jesus Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection.

Long Before Bethlehem

Matthew 2:4-6

When he(King Herod) had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. “In Bethlehem of Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'”

Herod took Old Testament prophecy very seriously when the Magi came in search of the recently born king of the Jews. Because of this verse which is actually a quote from Micah 5:2(written around 700 years before the birth of Christ), He felt that his power was going to be challenged. We see in Matthew 2:16-18 that he had all the male children in the area under two years old killed. He took it very seriously. This horrible act also fulfilled another prophecy – in Jeremiah 31:15(written around 600 years before the birth of Christ).

One of the things this shows us is that God did not just look at our pitiful helpless state one day and say, “Oh, I think I’ll have mercy on these pitiful souls who have rebelled against me at every turn.”

The Original Plan

1 Peter 1:18-21

“For you know that it is not with perishable things such as silver and gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through Him you believe in God, Who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him.”

The plan that God send His beloved Son to die for us was in place before God even created the earth. This was not Plan B – it was His original plan!

I am so glad that I am not in control of everything because I would have looked at the big picture and said: “Forget it! I’m not hassling with those stupid people for the next several thousand years!”

On the contrary, He did create us, knowing what aggravation we were going to be from day 1. That blows my mind and makes me love Him more! He is such a wonderful loving God and He shows us His mercy and His grace over and over. Despite the hassle, He made us, loves us, and makes a way for us.

Beautiful Ties

Hosea 9:4

“I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them.”

We talked a little about OT prophets earlier this week. Hosea was an Old Testament prophet(nearly 800 years before the birth of Christ) and this was directed at Israel, but Christians are the New Covenant people of God so we can know that this applies to us as well. This same “language” is used several times by Jesus when He is teaching.

A Shared Yoke

Matthew 11:28-30

“Come to Me, all you who are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Jesus’ yoke is a shared yoke. When a farmer has a young ox to train, he will yoke it with an ox that has already been trained. The more experienced ox will do most of the work but the newer ox will be learning from the experience. Similarly, we are yoked with Christ so that He can make us what He wants us to be. The awesome thing is that we need only to cooperate with Him as He does the work.  

True Bread

John 6:32-33, 35

“Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is My Father who gives you true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.'”

“Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty.'”

As important as food and water are for our physical health, so much more important is the food and water that Jesus gives us – food and water for our spirits. He nourishes us and refreshes us as we walk with Him daily.

Rich Vibrant Threads

This is just a taste of how Old Testament prophecy weaves together with the New Testament. The Old Testament is a beautifully woven pre-cursor for the New Testament. It all weaves together to give us a rich, vibrant, intricately detailed picture of our wonderful God and how He has made a beautiful way for us to get back to Him. Never disregard it as outdated. Jesus said in:

Matthew 5:17-18

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”

As you are reading your Bible this week, when you see a quote in the New Testament, take a minute and check it out. See where it is in the Old Testament. There are usually references at the bottom or in the side margin to tell you where it is in found. It is really amazing how God has tied them together.

Let’s Go to the Lord in Prayer:

Lord, thank You so much for loving us and reaching into our world and saving us. Thank You for bending down to feed us. Please, help us to seek You diligently in Your Word to know You better day in day out. Help us to glorify You in all we do. May our lives be always growing toward You. In Jesus beautiful Name, Amen.

Go Deeper Today:

Psalm 1:1-6

 

 

Just a Clay Pot

Just a Clay Pot

We are going to continue the clay/potter line of thinking today. The more I think about myself as the clay and God as the potter, the more similarities I see. I am no more than a pot among earthen pots.

Isaiah 45:9

“Woe to him who strives with Him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to Him who formed it, ‘What are You making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’?”

Getting Serious Quickly

I hope this entry does not sound like a scolding in any way. I am simply seeing how seriously we need to take God’s plan and His hand as He molds us. Sometimes, I forget Who I am dealing with… the Maker of the Universe, the Lover of My Soul, the One Who poured out His very blood for me. We can get comfortable in our relationship with Him… far too comfortable! Who am I, to disagree with this One – God Almighty –  who I have just described.

No Pain No Gain

So easy to say. I do not like being uncomfortable and I really do not like pain. When the Potter pulls that spout out of the side of that perfectly round rim, it is uncomfortableWhen the He cuts in the hash marks to attach the handle, it hurts!

But, you know? I do really want to be like Jesus and I know you do too!

Usefulness

So really… how much more useful is a pitcher than a vase? Without the handle and the spout, that is what you have:  A vase. It may be pretty to look at but how useful is it? Give me the hash marks and the spout, thank you! God is making useful vessels not ornaments for the mantle. Don’t you want to be useful in your Master’s hand? Beautiful of course, like Jesus, but He did not just come down here and sit around, did He? Beautiful – like Jesus.

Let’s go to the Verse:

“Woe to him who strives with Him who formed him… “

How often do we disagree with what God is doing in their lives? Many times I hear people say that they have known that God is calling them to do something and they ran in the other direction… like Jonah, actually. Me? I usually disagree by reminding Him of ALL my inadequacies and then deciding I must be hearing wrong. 

Brazen Audacity

We definitely do need to be sure we are listening to for God’s voice and staying in His Word. Stating inadequacies looks like humility to us, but to God, it looks like sinful pride. That may seem like a very bold thing for me to say, and it is. The reason I can say it so boldly is because I have been convicted by the Holy Spirit about it. The reason it is pride is that I must have some more brazen audacity to think that God would call me to do something that I could do without Him!

Remember in 2 Corinthians 12:9, when Paul asked God to relieve him of the thorn in the flesh that tormented him? What was God’s response? He said that in our weakness, He is strong. If we cannot do the thing He calls us to do, but He does it through us, who gets the glory?? He does not call us because we are able.

Earthen Pots

“…a pot among earthen pots!”

Pottery is made out of clay and that is dirt, right? And God actually formed Adam from the dust of the earth. Yep, also dirt.

In Bible times, broken pottery was thrown in a field called a potter’s field. the potter would go out and collect broken pottery, grind it into a fine powder and make new clay with it.

Nothing more than broken pots – arguing with our Maker and the Maker of the Universe? Pretty ridiculous isn’t it?

Who is Accountable to Who?

“Does the clay say to Him who formed it, ‘What are You making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’?”

Obviously, real clay does not have the ability or sense to ask questions of its potter. God has given us both, and what we must not do is attempt to hold God accountable for the tools (circumstances) He uses to shape us. We must never forget that God does not answer to us. It is quite the reverse actually, huh?

Even when what is happening does not make any sense to us at all, we must trust God that He knows exactly what He is doing and exactly how to accomplish it in our lives.

What are your goals? Will you have to argue with the Potter to get them?? It won’t be worth it in the end! Easy for me to say; hard for me to do. His best is best! You know it too!

Let’s Go To the Lord in Prayer:

Lord, I do thank You so much for Your Word. Thank You for showing us so clearly, how we are to deal with how You work on us. Sharpen the rough places, cut hash marks, pull out spouts, bore holes, whatever You need to do, Lord, please make us like You. Help us to be about Your business and Your glory! In Jesus Name I pray. Amen

Clay in the Hand of the Potter

Clay in the Hand of the Master Potter

Jeremiah 18:5-6

“Then the word of the LORD came to me, ‘O house of Israel, can I not do with you what the potter does?’ declares the LORD. ‘Like the clay in the hand of the potter, so you are in My hand, O house of Israel.”

Last time, we talked about verses 3 and 4 of this chapter. Today, we will continue in that vein of thought through verses 5 and 6, putting ourselves in the place of the clay knowing that God is the ultimate potter.

Making a Useful Vessel

If the potter wants to make a pitcher, he takes the prepared lump of clay, when it is pliable and moldable in his hand and smacks it down in the center of the potter’s wheel. He must smack it down firmly so that it makes a good fix to the wheel. Otherwise, it may break loose under the pressure of his hand as the wheel spins. Once it is fixed firmly to the wheel, he begins to spin the wheel and form it with his hands. He drives his thumbs down into the center of the lump and begins raising the sides. When he has the main body of the pitcher made he cuts hash marks in two small areas where he then attaches a handle to the spots he has made ready. He then pulls out a spout on the other side.

Finishing the Vessel

When it is shaped to his satisfaction, he cuts it from the wheel and places it on a shelf to dry. Once it is dry, he puts it in the kiln and fires it at an extremely high temperature. Then he glazes it, allows it to dry, and fires it again.

The Risk of the Potter

At any point, the vessel may crumble, crack or break, but if it holds together through the second firing the potter will be pleased with it and either use it in his house or sell it for someone else to use in their house.

You are Here

Let’s put ourselves in the place of the clay and know that God is Master Potter. Just think about the whole process of the vessel, as described above. If we are pliable and moldable and do not crumble, crack or break as He makes us into what He wants us to be. Then, He will be pleased and use us for His glory. As believers, when we were saved, at that very moment Jesus covered us in His righteousness. The Master Potter now wants to make us useful to Him by changing us (sanctifying us) little by little, through different circumstances, into what He wants us to be for His glory.

The Firing Process

After past trials, with my lessons hopefully learned and my heart hopefully looking a little more like the heart of Christ, I would breathe a big sigh of relief and think, “Whew! Maybe I’m done now.”

That makes me laugh a little. I know now that the trials will not end until I stand before Him face to face. That is when I will be done and that is when you will be done. Then you and I will stand before Him in the glorified bodies He will give us when our lives on earth are done.

Oh, I still have so much that needs to be done by the Master Potter. If He did it all at once, I am sure I would crumble. I am so thankful that it is a slow process, step by step. What a wonderful place to be – in the Hand of the Master Potter!

Our Passage One More Time

Jeremiah 18:1-6

The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear My words.” So I went down to the potter’s house and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.

Then the word of the LORD came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done?” declares the LORD. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.”

Let’s go to the Lord in Prayer

Thank You so much, Lord, for Your beautiful Word. I am so encouraged by Your loving care and work in our hearts. Help us to be so ready to cooperate with You as You work Your will into our hearts and lives. Help us recognize You at work and help us glorify You in each step. In Jesus holy name, I pray. Amen.

Go Deeper Today:

Isaiah 45:9; Isaiah 64:8; 2 Timothy 2:20-21

 

 

Who is in Charge Here??

Who is in Charge Here?

Who is in charge, do you stop and think about it? Living today in our world, it is very easy to lose sight of the fact that, as Christians, we do not call the shots. Our decisions are to be based solely on God’s will and that alone. How do we know what God’s will is? Most of the time we can find out in His Word. Other times we can ask ourselves, “Is this going to bring me and others closer to God?” If you have been walking with God very long, and have grown in your relationship with Him, you know His character well enough to know when something is not in keeping with His character and therefore, His glory.

Old Testament Prophets

Jeremiah was a prophet of God. He lived in Old Testament times. Presently, in certain denominations, you hear of visiting “prophets” who are coming to preach/speak. In my experience with “prophets” of today, they quite different from the Old Testament prophets. In the Old Testament, prophets were given the word of the LORD directly from Him, usually to correct the people of God or even announce that God’s judgment was imminent. I wanted to set up a little context with verses 1 and 2. Today we will look closely at verses 3 and 4, then tomorrow we will look at verses 5 and 6.

Jeremiah 18:1-6 (focusing on verses 3&4 today)

The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear My words.” So I went down to the potter’s house and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.

Then the word of the LORD came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done?” declares the LORD. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.”

Our single purpose for living is to bring glory to God with our lives. We can only do that as He makes us useful vessels for His glory. No matter how hard we try – we cannot do this ourselves. Only God, the Potter, can make us into vessels for His glory.

Let’s go to the Verses:

“So I went down to the potter’s house, and saw him working at his wheel.”

The wheel and the potter’s hands are the circumstances that form the clay into a vessel. Without them, a lump of clay remains just that, a lump of clay – not fillable or useful.

“And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand… “

How the clay responds to its circumstances determines how effective the circumstances are at forming a useful vessel. If the clay is pliable and moldable under the pressure of the potter’s hands working along with the turning of the wheel, then the potter will be able to very quickly get the vessel into the shape he wants. If the clay is stiff, hard and/or resistant to the work of the potter then the potter may find the clay to be marred in his hands. In this case, he will have to start over with the vessel by pounding it back into a smooth lump.

“…and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.”

Pliable and Moldable

Just like the clay in the potter’s hands, we are in God’s hands. He knows what He wants us to be and He allows and even uses circumstances in our lives to mold us and shape us into vessels for His glory.

Hard times are going to come in the life of every person – Christian or non-Christian. As Christians, people who have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and have surrendered our lives to Him, we are not immune to difficulty, in fact, we are promised it will come. (James 1:2-4) It comes for a reason!

When those times come, there are a couple of ways God has shown me to help me be pliable and moldable in His hands:

  1. Stay in God’s Word! Do not let trouble keep you from God’s Word. Then is when you need His strength the most.
  2. Pray. My basic prayer during trouble is something like this:

“Lord, help me to know You better so I can trust You more. Please help me learn what it is You are teaching me here. Help me not to resist as You make me what You want me to be. Make me all Yours, Lord.”

Let’s go to the Lord in Prayer:

Thank You so much, Lord, for putting things in terms we can understand. Help us to cooperate with You as You mold us and make us what You want us to be.  Let us be pliable and moldable in His hands.May we bring You great pleasure as You forms us into the image of Christ, ready at You touch to be a vessel for You to fill with Your glory. Help us to know You better and better through Your Word and help us to seek You in every single step we take. Help us to make every step toward You. Be glorified in us! In Jesus beautiful name. Amen.

Go Deeper Today:

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

 

The Joy Set Before Him

Joy?

How could there be joy set before Him, as Jesus faced His own crucifixion? Today, we are going to be talking about just that! We will be in Hebrews 12:1-3, but we will really concentrate on verse 2. We will be using the NIV and the Amplified Version to give a more thorough picture of this verse.

Hebrews 12:1-3

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race that is marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

On Sunday we talked about it being Palm Sunday, the day we commemorate Jesus entering Jerusalem which is where He would be crucified. Today is Good Friday. On this day, we commemorate the trial and crucifixion of Jesus Christ our Lord. What He did for us is very much on my mind.

I wanted to keep verse 2 in its context so I hope you have taken a couple of minutes to read all three verses carefully. Next week we will revisit this passage and talk about verses 1 and 3 as well.

But now, let us fix our eyes on Jesus!

Let’s go to the Verse: 

NIV – “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus… “

AMP – “Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus… “

Just like I said a couple of lines up, the writer is saying, “Let’s… ”

I love the word “fix” as it is used here. I’m sure you are familiar with the word “fixative” – it is glue, right? To fix one thing to another is to put it together in a permanent way. This world can be so distracting so we must lock our gaze in on our loving Lord and stay on the path He has put us on.

NIV – “…the author and perfecter of our faith… “

AMP – “…Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher, [bringing it to maturity and perfection]… “

As you see in the Amplified, “author”  – Leader and Source – our faith comes from Him. And as “perfecter” – He is the Finisher, so He makes our faith complete. Faith is a gift from God and not only did He gave it to us, He develops it. And He does not stop developing it until it is done. (Philippians 1:3-6)

NIV – “…who for the joy set before Him endured the cross… “

AMP – “…He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross… “

Jesus looked past the agony and humiliation of the cross. He looked past taking all our sin on Himself. He could even look past the fact that because of our sin, He would be separated from the Father, which He had never endured. That separation from the Father would be the worst part of all. What He could see was the joy of pleasing His Father by following His will and redeeming us back from sin and back into fellowship with God – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He took great joy this!

NIV – “…scorning its shame… “

AMP – “…despising and ignoring its shame… “

What did Jesus have to ignore?

Basically, Jesus just did not let the shame involved in His crucifixion get to Him. It was not that He was above the shame but He was able to look past it. When shame is just a word on a page it is easy to look past but we need to think about it a little:

Execution by crucifixion was not only horribly torturous, it was extremely humiliating and shameful. There was no dignity or honor or respect – they were beaten and hung in agony to suffocate (the position of the arms prevented drawing in breath) – naked, in the sun. In the paintings, they usually have loin clothes on, but they were naked. It generally took hours for them to die because they could push up to get a breath until they were too exhausted or the soldiers broke their legs. The birds would come and take what they wanted of their bodies. The Romans would not allow Roman citizens to be crucified because it was such a horrible degrading process. The Jews believed that one who was “hung on a tree” was cursed by God.

So this Perfect, Sinless Savior went through that and more (crown of thorns, nails instead of ropes, etc.) for us and had the joy of knowing what He was accomplishing. I really do not think that any description we can attempt paints an accurate picture of the agony or the shame of His particular crucifixion, especially considering that He was Perfect Sinless God Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth.

But now… He is Back Where He Belongs!

NIV – “…and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

AMP – “…and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

I am so thankful that our Lord was willing to go through all that for me and you! Because Adam and Eve sinned, we are born into sin. We are born sinners. We cannot keep God’s law. It is impossible for us as limited humans. According to Romans 6:23, we owe our lives for our sin – not only were we born into sin, but we live actively sinning. No one can say that they have kept God’s law perfectly. Go back to the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17. Even if I have only told one “white” lie, I have missed the mark of a sinless life. Only One ever lived a sinless life – that is why He was able to take my place and pay for my sin on that Roman cross.

And after this work on the cross was done, He was resurrected and after some days on earth, He ascended back into Heaven where He once more took His rightful place at the Right Hand of His Father.

Let’s go to the Lord in Prayer:

Thank You, Lord, for doing the hard work of the cross so that we can be saved from our sin, walk with You, by the power of the Holy Spirit, in this life, and spend eternity with You when this earthly life is done. I cannot adequately express my gratitude and my gratitude is inadequate! Help us, Lord, to never forget what You have done for us! Thank You, Lord! In the beautiful name of our wonderful Savior, I pray. Amen.

Go Deeper Today:

Ephesians 2:1-10

The Way – The Only Way

The Way – The Only Way

At the last supper that Jesus had with His disciples, in that upper room that they were meeting in, Jesus talked of many things preparing them for what was about to happen to Him and to them. One part of the conversation was about the fact that Jesus was going to His Father and that He would prepare a place for them.

John 14:4-7

“‘You know the way to the place where I am going.’ 

Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where You are going, so how can we know the way?’

Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'”

The Day Before the Crucifixion

As we approach Good Friday tomorrow then Easter Sunday in a few days, I am thinking about where in the account we would be today. Today would be the day of the Last Supper and then after that, they would be going to the garden to pray, and subsequently, the actual arrest of Jesus.

I was looking over the account in John. One of my favorite parts of the conversation is the exchange between Jesus and Thomas. Probably one of my favorite parts because that would be me, having a meltdown instead of quietly listening as He unfolded the plan to us. Yes, I would be panicking as my Lord told us that He would be leaving us and that we could not go with Him.

Let’s Go To the Verses:

“‘You know the way to the place where I am going.’ … “

Jesus is telling them that they know how to follow Him there. I doubt any of them understood what He meant. It is easy for us to get to the right conclusion because we know how the rest of it plays out, right? They did not know though and that would be tough.

“Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where You are going, so how can we know the way?’… “

Seems like a reasonable question to me. But the beautiful patience and caring with which Jesus answers this question just makes me fall in love with Him all over again.

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life.’ … “

He is the Way

So when we are looking for the way – Jesus is the Way.

This life that you and I live here on earth in human flesh gets messy and confusing. Sometimes we need answers – directions. If you know Jesus as your Savior and Lord, you know the Way that you should go. We can rejoice in the fact that we belong to Him and He is the Way – He drew us a map to the Father – by way of the Cross. That is the path He took and we are to follow. (Matthew 10:37-39)

Our life here is so temporary and we have a hard time seeing that. What we do in the name of Christ and for His sake – according to His will and His Word – is so much more important than something we would do for ourselves.

 He is the Truth

When we are looking for the truth – Jesus is the Truth.

How is He the Truth? Earlier this week we talked about the fact that Jesus Christ is the Living Word. He is the Living Word and God’s Word is Truth. It is this Truth that overrides everything else. It is God’s Truth. So, that being said, we can conclude that Jesus is Truth. I often hear this misquoted and it saddens me: “The truth will set you free.”

However, the original quote is John 8:31-32, “To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to My teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the (T)truth and the (T)truth will set you free.” He is the Truth and He has set us free!

 He is the Life

And when we are looking for the life – Jesus is the Life.

When I think about someone saying, “This is the life!” I imagine them sitting in a beach chair sipping a cool drink soaking up the sun and listening to the waves crashing on themselves. But, in reality, “the life” is in Christ Jesus our Lord. That is easy to say because “the life” is like… perfect, right? But what are you escaping from when you go sit on the beach or go on vacation? Regular life with its stress, hassles, bills…  looking, at least for a little while, for a life of abundance. We want our vacations to be better than life, right? Eating cheese crackers for weeks so we can eat lobster every night on vacation.

When we realize that the life that Christ Jesus gives us is that abundant life – with peace, being so loved, and having unspeakable joy. I could go on and on. Life in Christ, focusing on Him day by day, fellowshipping with Him step by step is better than the most over the top vacation you can imagine!

The Way to the Father

“No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Jesus has been telling His disciples that He is going back to His Father in heaven. So, because they knew Jesus, they knew the Way to the Father. If you know Jesus you also know the way to the Father.

So we get all these abundant blessings in this life then we get to go be with God-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and spend eternity with Him. What a beautiful life we have in Christ. I am so thankful for what Jesus did for me so that I could have this amazing life with Him.

Let’s Go to the Lord in Prayer:

Thank You so much, Lord, for all You are and all You did to make us Yours. Help me, help us to be what You want us to be. Help us to glorify You in all we do! In Jesus wonderful name, I pray. Amen.

Go Deeper Today:

John 13 and 14

 

Thoughts – Beginning to End

Thoughts – Beginning to End

Do you ever want to give God your thoughts on a particular situation? Do you let Him know how you think He should work things out in a particular situation? I know I do.

Isaiah 55:8-9

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

It is comical really. God sees time from beginning to end, all at once. He knows exactly how to execute His plan down to the finest detail. He has all knowledge of what needs to be done in a situation and He has all power to do it. Yet, we try to tell Him what needs to be done. What it is, is foolishness on my part to think He would need my help.

Let’s go to the verses:

“‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts… ‘”

To understand the thoughts of God is definitely beyond us. His thoughts are beautiful and perfect beyond anything we can imagine. In reality, through time spent with Him in His Word and in prayer, we can know Him better and better. However, we will never be able to completely grasp how He thinks.

“‘…neither are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD.”

Things to Consider

  • We can never be completely like God in holiness and love (until He makes us perfect in heaven), no matter how hard we try. His ways are higher because He is God – Creator of everything; the all-powerful lover of our souls.
  • He is not human; He is not finite. (not limited)
  • We are not God; We are not infinite. (not unlimited)
  • God is infinite – His power, love, grace, beauty… go on for infinity! Infinity is forever – as far as you can see and way beyond – endlessly.

“‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.'”

When I think about how big the earth is – huge, massive… it is almost inconceivable. Now though, consider the entire universe in comparison to the earth.

Here in verse 9, God gives us a picture of the difference between us and Him, then He repeats what He said to us in verse 8. If you read on into the verses that follow, He continues to paint a beautiful picture of Himself for us. He is truly awesome and amazing.

Ludicrous Suggestions

It occurs to me now that anytime I try to give God solutions or suggestions on how to fix things, I am

  1. Suggesting that I might think of something that He has not thought of
  2. Suggesting that He should go about my way of resolving a situation
  3. Ultimately, I am daring to attempt to put myself on His throne by trying to do His job.

As I think about this scripture on those terms, I am very humbled and convicted. How full of pride I am! To think that He might need my answers is to lose sight of who He is. He is God – all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present God. This amazing God is never without the answers to questions or the solutions to problems. He is never surprised or stressed out. He is always in complete control with complete power to maintain that control. What a mighty God we serve!!!

Let’s Go to the Lord in Prayer:

Lord, thank You so much for Your Word! Thank You for speaking to our hearts today and helping us see You more clearly. Help us to trust You as we do see You more clearly. Help us to love You more deeply. In the lovely name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Go Deeper Today:

Psalm 51:1-11

Real Peace

Is Real Peace Illusive?

Are you struggling today to hold on to real peace or do you know someone else who is?

My interpretation of peace has changed over the years. I use to think of it as a lack of war. When I think of peace now, I think of it as me being in a state where my sanity is not being threatened because I have something that I can hold onto and count on. Actually, it is Someone.

Isaiah 26:3

“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You.”

A God who can bring real peace to the human heart and mind… what an awesome God He must be!!

The Amplified Bible says it this way:

“You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because He commits himself to You, leans on You and hopes confidently in You.”

That is quite a  large statement. How awesome it is to know that we can have, not illusive peace, but real and consistent peace! In the midst of my breast cancer experience, God brought me to this verse and basically told me to hold onto it for peace and, therefore, sanity.

Peace in Trouble

How do you have peace in the midst of dreadful circumstances? I became very familiar with the word ‘dreadful’ during my breast cancer journey back in 2003. I was filled with dread as I moved involuntarily from one new doctor appointment or one more procedure to another.

Many people have a worse prognosis than I had and my heart really goes out to them because my relatively simple experience that lasted a few months was just overwhelming. I was never really terrified or afraid of dying, but I was full of dread. With so many doctor appointments and procedures, I always had something looming in front of me. However, God gave me this Isaiah 26:3 to hold onto and hold on I did. When I would start to lose my grip on it He would tighten His grip on me. He carried me day by day down the path He had laid out for me. He kept me sane because He infused real peace into me with this verse and some others.

Are you fighting for your sanity right now? Do you need God to infuse you with His amazing peace, even more than usual?

Let’s go to the verse:

NIV “You will keep in perfect peace… “

AMP “You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace… “

God, Himself, is doing the ‘keeping’ here. Perfect peace is a real peace without gaps – it is constant. Wow!

Obsessed

NIV “…him whose mind is steadfast… “

AMP “…whose [both in inclination and character]is stayed on You… “

This is more than just thinking about God. This is being focused to the point of obsession with God in inclination[what we normally tend to do] and character[who we are at our core] – deeply focused. I want this kind of focus. How about you?

Why do people get obsessed with other people? Because somehow, the focus of their obsession seems like it will satisfy some need in them. So, it actually makes complete sense for us to be obsessed with God because He actually does satisfy us!

No Trust Issues

NIV “…because he trusts in You.”

AMP “…because he commits himself to You, leans on You and hopes confidently in You.”

Have you ever really thought about the word ‘trust’? It means to commit to; to lean on; to hope confidently in. Such a small, seemingly common word but a huge word in reality.

The most beautiful part of this picture is that God is completely trustworthy. We can confidently commit ourselves to Him, lean on Him, and hope confidently in HIm.

Our verse today has the same basic message as Romans 15:13 which we talked about a couple of weeks ago. They both say in different ways: Trust God, really trust Him, and He will give you real and lasting peace. I don’t know about you, but I really needed to be reminded of this today.

May the Lord fill you with His peace as you focus your life on Him and really trust Him today!

Let’s go to the Lord in Prayer:

Lord, I thank You so much for Your amazing peace. I thank You that we can trust You with anything and everything we are concerned about. You are able to take care of us according to Your perfect will. Help us to trust You that Your will is the absolute best thing for us! Help us glorify You in all we do, please. In Jesus beautiful name I pray. Amen.

Go Deeper Today:

Psalm 13:1-6

Tapestry of Truth

A Tapestry of Truth

At first glance, the Bible appears to be a collection of books bound together and put into a Book 1 and Book 2 kind of situation. However, in reality, the Bible is a tapestry of Truth. It is many threads woven together to make the most beautiful tapestry ever designed.

In the USA these days, there are Bibles everywhere. It is so easy to take God’s Word for granted. You can buy them in many places, from bookstores to dollar stores, oh, and of course you can order them online and have them delivered right to your door. We forget how blessed we are to have this freedom.

There are people in other countries where they do not have the freedom to have a Bible. They will get their hands on one page. With only that one page, and they will carefully read it over and over again and then lovingly give it to another person so that they can read it over and over. God’s Word is an incomparable treasure and we have so many here that they gather dust. A lot of us have several different translations – NIV, NASB, ESV, KJV, NKJV… – as study tools but there is always that one that we carry to church and read most of the time. What a huge blessing!

I hope that today we see what a huge gift God’s Word is. We have a book that we can hold in our hands. Inside this book, woven into its delicate pages, is a beautiful picture of God and His great mercy. His loves for us is so clear and so plainly stated time after time in the Bible.

A Tapestry of Love

We are going to spend our time in the New Testament today, which may seem backward, but next week I think it will make better sense to you.

The New Testament was written by several different writers who wrote under the inspiration of the Spirit of God – the Holy Spirit.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness,so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

 

A Picture of Authority

Because God has all authority on this earth that He created, as well as in the heavens, His Word also has that same authority. As a result, we need to apply it to our lives as if God Himself is standing in the room in physical form, teaching us. As a matter of fact, the Holy Spirit is our teacher and He is with us always, because as believers, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We talked about this last week – He lives in our hearts. He teaches us. By His power, we are able to read and understand God’s Word. So much of God’s Word would remain a puzzle to us if He did not help us.

John 14:26

“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

Matthew 13:13

“This is why I speak to them in parables:  Though seeing they do not see; though hearing they do not hear or understand.”

We need God’s help to understand and apply His Word to our lives. He sent us that help in the Holy Spirit. In the knowledge and authority of God’s Word, there is sweet safety. For this reason, living under His authority is for His glory and our good.

The Gospel Tapestry

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – the first four books of the New Testament were written by four different men. Two of them, Matthew and John, were counted among the Twelve Disciples. Two of them, Mark and Luke, were not even eyewitnesses to Jesus earthly ministry. We will go more deeply into this later on.

The reason I am touching on this now is that these four men each wrote accounts of parts of Jesus life on earth. They all had different lots in life and different backgrounds. But when you put all four accounts together you get a very good picture of our Lord Jesus Christ. We can see Him as He lived and died in human flesh. We can be here living, loving and growing in His Word, day by day, because of Him. And, we can spend eternity with Him in heaven! I am so very thankful!

A Picture of Christ

Now, as we go to John 1, If you read between the verses we are discussing, just know that the man named John that John, the disciple, and writer, is talking about is John the Baptist.

John 1:1-2

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.”

Who was with God in the beginning? Who is this Word who was with God and this Word who is God?

John 1:14

“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father full of grace and peace.”

The Word is Jesus. He is Living Word! He was with the Father in heaven at the Beginning. He did not come into existence when He was conceived in Mary’s virgin womb. He has always been.

Here is the clincher:  He is God. He is one of the Trinity – Three in One – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This probably is not news to you, but just think about it and let it affect your day. Let it affect your week.

Palm Sunday

Today, we observe Palm Sunday and remember Jesus entering into Jerusalem. He knew that He had come to pay the price for us, to redeem us back to Himself. He left the glory of heaven, put on flesh, got hungry and tired, walked in our dirt and worse than that, in our filthy sin, and put Himself in the place where they would crucify Him. Jesus did this because He was following the grand plan of reconciling us back to God. We should never get over that!!

Lord, thank You so very much for Your Word. It is life and breath to us. Help us to never forget what You have done for us. Thank You for loving us so much that You sent Your Son to suffer greatly and died for us. Help us to feel that in our hearts anew today. Help us to desire You as You pull us closer to You. Be glorified in us, Lord! In Jesus holy name, I pray. Amen.

Go Deeper Today:

John 12:12-18