Friday, March 16, 2018

For Us

John 19:16-17
Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).

In southern Ohio, we've had a taste of winter again before it blows out of here and welcomes spring. A few snow flurries sticking to the trees, then gone with the wind. Temperatures that dip enough to drag out the heavy coat, one more time. But we know at the end of this cold, grey season—spring arrives with color, brightness and hope. I love winter, but by this time in the season, I look forward to spring and the beauty that blooms and flutters.

With the thoughts of new life, I've been pondering the new life Jesus gives. But like winter, there was a dark time before the light. Jesus, accused of wrong doing, took up his cross and dragged it through the streets to the place where he knew he would die. The accusations flung at Jesus were false, yet he carried his cross. Literally, as he bled from a flogging, he carried his cross. Along with the heavy wooden burden, he carried our sins. Yours and mine. He carried the cross for us. Not for himself. He had no sin. But we do, and he understood he'd be the one sacrificed for us.

For us.

And that's just the beginning of the Easter story. Jesus sacrifice and pain.

For us.

How could he love us so much? I have a hard time comprehending his love. But Jesus does love us, enough to suffer this world, then die in our place. Praise God for his obedient and compassionate son.
Isaiah 53:7  He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Worn and Well Read

Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

At halftime of our granddaughter's basketball game, a couple of boys took the floor. They practiced their shots and dribbles with a well-worn basketball. The orange color had dulled to a brown and the black grooves smoothed out. As they shot we could tell they spent hours with the ball, not just from the condition of the ball, but by the way they handled themselves on the floor.

After Billy Graham passed away, I read some articles about him. In one, the writer talked about how Billy always left his Bible open. Frequently throughout the day, he'd look at his Bible to see what God had to say. I love that picture. A wise man of God continually consulting the book of truth. Like the basketball the boys wore down, Billy wore through the pages of the scripture. Obviously, he not only read the Bible but lived it.

We are so blessed to have God's word to guide us. Think about how much more difficult life, as a believer, would be if we didn't have a reference of truth to read and study. I may not understand every word, but I know the ones I do understand are God's. I want to be a follower who not only wears out my Bible but lives by the beautiful truth of God.
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. -Psalm 119:105

Saturday, March 3, 2018

This Old Tent

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 5:1
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 

I never dreamed when I turned fifty how many parts of my body would begin to fall apart. I know I'm not alone in this. No matter the age, the body can go wonky. Most days my back hurts and my bone-to-bone knee cries for help. Sometimes my fibromyalgia is more than I can bear. To be honest, I get frustrated about the things I can't do anymore. I've cried over the changes to my body, been depressed when I can't keep up with my responsibilities, and yes, even felt sorry for myself. Pain stinks! The body's crumbling frustrates. But even in all the pain, I have good news.

Even though our bodies are wasting away, Jesus has a plan for us to receive new bodies. Did you hear that? Brand new bodies, with no pain, no falling apart, no wasting away. Through Jesus we have a path to heaven. Because he died for our sins and offers forgiveness to anyone who believes in him, accepts him, repents and is baptized, he will welcome us with open arms into heaven. And then, we'll have a brand new, perfect in every way, painless body. I don't know about you, but for me that's exciting. To imagine a life with no pain gives me hope.

I look forward to the day I meet Jesus, and this old tent I live in becomes new.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Ever Feel Not Good Enough

Philippians 4:13
I can do all this through him who gives me strength. 

Deuteronomy 31:6-8
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the LORD swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Ever feel inadequate or afraid? I've been writing and posting devotions on my blog for more than seven years. Each time I put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, a feeling of incompetence sweeps over me. The dread of "not good enough" stymies my words. Then frustration sets in and my thoughts dissipate into a wisp of smoke and blow away. If inadequacy isn't enough, sometimes I'm afraid I'm not writing the words God wants me to. I feel like I am not listening close enough to him. Yet, I keep at it. I write and pray and pray and write. God knows my heart. He understands where I've been and knows where I'm going.

God knew Joshua, too. He understood that he'd need to give Joshua a lot of encouragement. If you read through the end of Deuteronomy and the beginning of the book of Joshua, you'll see that God tells Joshua over and over to be strong and courageous. God doesn't say this because he thinks Joshua is inadequate. He says it because he knows without doubt that Joshua is the man for the job. He's called him to replace Moses.

Our Lord invites us to work for him, he calls us to serve. He reminds us to work with our hands and make a living. And in all of those things, he equips us. God pours over us the tools we need. That's why I believe the words of Paul. " I can do all this through him who gives me strength." All this which Jesus encourages me to do.

My prayer is to be strong and courageous, no matter what my circumstances. To not hold back, but to move forward for Christ.