Sunday, May 29, 2011

Forgiveness....WHAT other choice do we have??

Pastor Russ had a great message at church this morning about forgiveness.  It's very timely cause in a few days I need to be speaking a bit about forgiveness at the Faith Stories Seminar AWAKEN with Women's Journey of Faith (  So I gleaned much from the message this morning.  I will share some of those thoughts with you.

Forgiveness brings FREEDOM!  We may not always believe that....but it does!

Things that happen in our lives at times are unfair, hurtful, undeserving, full of betrayal, abusing and can be extremely painful. We often don't deserve what happens at times and we can become very offended. But what we feel and what we go through is legitimate....our story is legitimate, it is very very real, and it can really really hurt!  BUT, now what??  After being betrayed, being abused, being hurt or being offended....none of that can be changed - we can't change the past. SO, now what??

Are we going to choose to fix our attention on what or who has hurt us, on the pain, on the mess that it's caused, on all the why me's and poor me's?? OR are we going to fix our attention on God!  We can choose to focus on the offense...but why? WHAT good does it do? Focus on it so it can eat us alive, cause health problems, make us bitter, cause others to dislike us cause we're no fun to be around? Why would we want to do that to ourselves? OR we can allow God to take it, submit it all to Him and use our changed heart and attitude............and live in FREEDOM!  Why would we choose to continually live in the slavery of hate, living in that pitiful hurt and wallow in self rather than forgiving it all and living in Freedom? When we take that offense and submit it to God, ONLY and ONLY in THAT is there FREEDOM!  This choice to submit it to God or not, that choice changes where we spend our energy.

Oh my friends, don't you see? We can stay stuck in that offense or we can be free!  What sounds better to you? Do you want to have health issues? Do you want to be bitter and not better? Do you want to live a life stuck for years and years in bondage? Oh that would be no fun at all!  A life becomes so incredibly SAD when years are wasted in bondage and as a result there are health issues and spiritual issues to continually deal with...and so many of them turn into such major issues!


We can choose NOT to hang onto that offense and use ALL that energy on serving and loving a God who loves us.  We can allow Him to take that hurtful past, all those bad horrible things, all those offenses - whether they are small or friend, GOD can take ALL of those things and bring good out of it.  Yes those offenses hurt, no they're not fair, yes it's hard.....but oh there is so much more freedom in letting God take care of it all. He can bring good out of it. We CAN be an encouragement to spite of what has happened to us! Forgiveness brings such FREEDOM!

Our choice determines whether we'll walk healthy or with a limp all our life. If we just hunger for revenge and hold onto that grudge and continually remain offended by a person....THAT will hurt US! It's like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die!

If we call ourself a Christian, if we are a believer of Jesus Christ, if we say we love God......then we have NO CHOICE but to forgive! It is IMPOSSIBLE to love God will all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, with all our strength.... while holding onto an offense and keeping a grudge.  If we're followers of Jesus Christ, it has GOT to be in our nature to have a forgiving heart!

Here's the BIG reality!  Are you ready for this? We don't have a choice to not forgive cause if we don't forgive others, God will not forgive us!  OUCH!  But that's right!  Our choice to forgive others is directly connected to God forgiving us!  How can we ask God to forgive us of something when we refuse to forgive someone else? It just doesn't work that way. Mark 11:25 says "When you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so your Father in heaven will forgive your sins too." Just read the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:21-35.  Also, Mark 6:14-15 says "If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins."  Matthew 6:12 says "Forgive us our sins just as we've forgiven those who've sinned against us."   When Peter had asked Jesus if he needed to forgive his brother 7 times, Jesus' response was NO Peter!  YOU forgive your brother who has sinned against you 7 x 70 times...over and over again...continually forgiving on a daily basis.  The Bible is very clear on what we need to do when it comes to forgiveness.

But we know we can't do it on our own. We need the strength and wisdom of the Lord. Psalm 86:5 says "O Lord you are so good, so ready to forgive, so FULL OF UNFAILING LOVE for all who ask your aid." All we need to do is ask and He is there ready to help us...and He WILL help us to forgive others, we just need to be willing.

So my friend, what ya gonna do?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Testimonies of Jesus the One and Only

Following are some testimonies of women who've taken the study by Beth Moore called JESUS the One and Only:

It has been wonderful to spend time studying about the life of Jesus. I was reminded of details that I had forgotten, and I noticed new details. It was also very helpful to have the culture of the day explained by Beth.
It is so moving the way Jesus loved His disciples. He wasn’t just their Saviour, he was their “walk beside, chat with, sit down and eat with” friend. Exactly the friend He is to me! God has taken such care to plan everything about me and my life. The plans God had in place before He created the earth, included me. Imagine! He was including me in his plans when He created earth, when He saved His people from slavery, when He gave his children a promise of a Saviour, when the angel appeared to Mary, when Jesus was born and then executed the beautifully designed plan that cumulated in his death and resurrection. And why? Why did God go to all that trouble and pain? Because He loves ME! He has such a huge plan, but little ‘ol me is at the heart of it. How can that be? I just can’t imagine that God planned for thousands of years (even longer), for me. Sometimes I feel insignificant, but when I think about how significant I am to God, WOW! When I read about how he taught the disciples so they could teach others, and now, two thousand years later, I can know the God of all, I am amazed. Jesus prayed for me in the garden before He was crucified. Jesus touched so many people on earth. He had such power. He was so good and so wise. He cared about the people so much. Everything was put in place so that I can know Jesus, and not just know him through the eyes of others, or through the written words of others, but know him personally. The most exciting part of his plan is yet to come. I am going to spend eternity with my best friend and Saviour. I am part of a plan that God started before time, and one that will continue for eternity. 

- BK

Rita Wiebe share this:
This was one of my favorite studies that I have done with Beth Moore. I always like the way she makes you look at scripture from a different angle. She really brought to light the life of Jesus while on earth and how He taught his disciples. For me, some of the behind the scenes events where brought forward and made one really think about what he was trying to teach them, in the circmstances that they were in. There is always more to learn from scripture, even if one has read the same story numerous times. God just picked ordinary men to be his disciples and led them through their ups and downs and through their failures. Peter was a good example and in the end he became a big warrior for proclaiming Christ and His teachings. God will never give up on us and will always use us, if we are willing.

I've really enjoyed the Bible Study "Jesus, the One and Only" and the in-depth look at most of the book of Luke.  I was particularly encouraged by the reminder that Jesus is a healer for today!  I also found the comparison of the stories of Christ as told in each of the four gospels very insightful.  I love how God's word is living and active and can give fresh insight each time we read it.  We can never exhaust its truths!

- Janet G.

Here are Mary H.'s thoughts on the study:
Jesus the One and Only. I have learned very much during this Bible study. The Lord has opened my eyes in a peculiar kind of way. God the Father allowed His Son to be "adopted" into a family on earth so that we could be adopted into a family in Heaven. How awesome. Yet each one of us who are believers have been invaded by Jesus Christ through His Holy Spirit. It is the most glorious invasion of privacy that ever graces a human life. I am the Lords servant and He wants total submission.
 Satan doesn't have to get us thinking blatantly satanic thoughts to have victory over us. All he needs is to get us looking at life from a mans perspective rather than God's. If we surrender our minds to the things of God then we are safe.
 Sometimes we think like Martha regarding our church building. We're so interested in a well equipped building, we overlook the absolute priority of intimacy with God.
 Lord we need more of you. We need boldness without shame.
 It matters to God what is going on in His Church. The business of church or the business of Christ.
 Few things cause people to sin like unforgiveness.
 God isn't looking to take our possessions away, He is looking to make His Son our greatest possession.
 We must make sure Satan knows our cooperation can't be "bought".
 Our hearts are utterly taken with Christ, is more important than any amount of service we could reder, or rules we could keep. If Christ has my heart, He has my obedience.
 God wants to completely captivate my heart and cause it to burn with passion for Him.
Jesus you are my One and Only

Jesus the One and Only was my very first Bible Study that i have been to and joining half way through the study i must say that i have really learned alot in a short period of time. I have seen many scriptures in a new way and recommitting my life to Jesus in week 9 was the hardest week for me. I had a new revelation of what Jesus went through when he died for all of us. My heart cries out for more of Jesus and to trust God that he will take care of us - He loves us sooo much. What really opened my eyes was that Jesus treated all of his disciples the same and we need to love all people in the world just like Jesus showed here when He knew Judas was going to betray Him. Overall my walk with Jesus is growing everyday and need to stay in pray,worship and praise. JESUS IS MY ONLY HOPE in this world. He died for all and JESUS IS MY ONE AND ONLY. My life belongs to Him.
- Shelley A.

Louise K. shares this from her heart:
I woke up at 3 am and thought of the King of Kings, Jesus. He brings peace to my soul. Studying Jesus the One and Only was interesting but more importantly it took me deeper into knowing Him more! Emmanuel, God with us, He is the Hope I place all my faith in. To know Jesus more is a gift that keeps on giving. My soul is restored. Jesus takes my fears and anxiety's. I love this God man from Nazareth. There is power in His name. I am so grateful for this study which focused on my Savior. Jesus, the One and Only is the Good News.

Kathryn shares her thoughts about the study:
I have always believed in God and Jesus Christ. I did not go to church very often growing up. I learned alot in school in a Religious Education class while growing up in England. I used to pray every night as a kid until I became a teenager. I had a friend who died young and seeing a lot of suffering kept me from praying and put doubts in my life. I still find it hard to pray along or with the Bible study group. But I've always felt very positive and happy after attending the Beth Moore study and I've enjoyed the leaders at Bible study. I got a job with Pastor Russ's wife and she got me involved in this Bible study and going to church.  I do feel I am a Christian but still have doubts about things that happen in the world. I've loved the Bible study and it's been very interesting and fun. I really liked Lisa talking about "Jesus bumps."  :-)

(I [Lisa] consider Jesus bumps to be when the Spirit of God is moving you. People often speak of goosebumps but they are usually because of fear and fear does not come from God. But when you get 'bumps' in church, or during praise and worship, or hearing an incredibly moving speaker or testimony, etc...I like to think of those as "Jesus bumps". :-)

How I loved this study about Jesus, the One and Only!
If there is a person to name who we can truly call the greatest it is without a doubt Jesus.
Even as a small innocent baby rulers were scared of Him, as a teenager he was teaching in ways scholars were blown away!
We have not much word how he was as a son to Mary and Joseph, but I'm sure he was an excellent child to have.
Everything he did or say in his life as a teacher was significant, nothing was in vain. He dealt with each person , whether it was a disciple, a teacher, a tax collector, a prostitute or a child in a special, personal way. He was kind and patient with everyone except with the Pharisees he was less kind.
Jesus is still the same today and will be tomorrow. How  patient is he with all of us and treats each of us in a  unique way.
The way Beth Moore talks about Jesus could make me jealous, but there is no reason, because this same Jesus is mine and everybody else's as well. It takes a lifetime to study Jesus and at the end we will meet Him, how beautiful!
I can only recommend this study to every woman, it brings us joy and closer to our Saviour.
Thanks Lisa for leading us in this study, looking forward to the next one!

Lydia E.

Another woman shared this with me:
I'm blown away by the Bible Study.  We are so lucky to be able to learn this, Wow.  I have been so focused on what is going on in my own life and how I feel about it, it was totally awesome for a new perspective and how God feels about it.   I just never looked at it from this perspective and it was just amazing.  I feel so blessed by this, I'm overwhelmed with how awesome our God is and how so very lucky we are to know him and to get to know him better each day.

This was the best study day I have been to in years, God's presence is so huge in that room you can't help but feel so totally loved by him.  The women in that room are so beautiful.  For me, it is heaven on earth. I am so humbled and so thankful. Thank you Lisa, words can't express the gratitude that I have and will always have.  It was just simply amazing.

When you can feel the breath of God, the supernatural power of this awesome God, there is just nothing out there like it.  All weekend I have felt close to tears when I think of it because I am so unworthy yet he makes me worthy.  I love him so much, I think I will just burst.  We have no idea how big this God really is and how so totally blessed we are to have the opportunity to get to know him better. 

I am still quite blown away,  it was just amazing. Wow,  thank you.  thank you.  thank you... I am so grateful.  
Wow!  I've been to alot of Bible Studies over the past decade, especially one day, the study was just amazing.  Simply amazing.  It just keeps getting better all the time.  We are so blessed to have this study I am thankful.  

Oh by the way, I was feeling so overwhelmed by how amazing this study was and how amazing God really is.  I started my vehicle to go home and on the Freedom 100.3 station they were singing a song about how simply amazing God is.  Cool!  I think I get it. Talk about a two by four over the head but in a very wonderful way.  Thank you God!!

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Why Don't you go to Church?

I'd like to try something different. I'd like to invite you to tell me why you don't go to church. Or if you do go, and don't like it, why you don't like it. If there was no one who knew you or you could say what you've always wanted to say about church and why you don't like it, please feel free to do that in a comment on this blog post. I heard through a speaker one day a number of reasons and I'd like to hear from you. So please, open up and get it out.  No one knows who you are when you post it anonymously.

Thankful for Parents

This morning in the Daily Bread, I read about what God had to say about Jerusalem in Isaiah 66:7-13. Verses 10-13 read this "Rejoice with Jerusalem! Be glad with her, all you who love her and mourn for her. Delight in Jerusalem! Drink deeply of her glory even as an infant drinks at its mother's generous breasts. Peace and prosperity will overflow Jerusalem like a river," says the Lord. "The wealth of the nations will flow to her. Her children will be nursed at her breasts, carried in her arms, and treated with love. I will comfort you there as a child is comforted by its mother."

me as a tiny babe  :-)
This passage did remind me of my own mother. I love my mom. Did I always? I know I did but there sure were times, and still are times, where I just don't
understand her. During my teenage years, there's definitely times when I had felt, well I don't want to say hate because it's such a strong word, but I really really disliked her and was very cold towards her. My mom has mental illness, and as a young girl, a teenager, embarrassment, shame, fear, misunderstanding and bitter feelings flowed quite rampant. I was never taught to appreciate my mom for who she was until now in my later years. God continually worked on my heart for me to see her for how HE wants me to see her.
the whole family when I was about
3 months old. We were happy
kids in spite of the difficulties
at times. Our parents loved us.

For many years I was warped into seeing her through my dad's eyes, my siblings eyes and through the eyes of all those around me. Yes there's been many a time where I 'wished' for different aspects in my mother or not to have a father who was more legalistic and unhappy. BUT, God has definitely done a lot of work in my heart and in my mind to see them in the light of who He made them to be.

my sister Matilda & I by
gramma Fehr's home
just at the end of dad's
property where we lived
It has taken much reading, thought processing, forgiveness and journeying back into the past to really try to understand my parents better and to try to see where they were coming from. It really took a lot of sifting through what other people thought and form my own decisions as to who I saw my parents to be. They really DID love me. Their ways of raising me was not always healthy, but there's mistakes that I've made with my own children too. But mom and dad did love me, they did care about what I ate and there were times when mom made very good meals when she was feeling well. They did care about my well being, they cared about what type of friends I
my siblings before I was born so
 I added myself up top :-)
 had and they cared about my well being. They both cared about teaching me about God and reading the Bible and praying. Even though things were quite legalistic, I know that they wanted what was best and they did all they could to keep us out of the world. My dad saw everything as being wrong and sinful, but he only wanted me to stay close to Jesus and to stay away from anything that would warp my mind. We weren't raised with a TV or going to movies or doing a lot of 'worldly' things. There is value in that! In his way, dad only wanted to teach us what was right, and I do appreciate that.
Mom & Dad on their wedding day

Mom and dad were deeply in love when they got married and when I see certain photos of them, you can see it and they stuck together over the years. Many many times, things were really really tough in their relationship, especially with mom's mental illness and her many breakdowns and hospitalizations. Dad didn't always know how to handle things, whether it be how to deal with her sickness or us 7 young kids. Trying to work hard, hold his home together, provide for his family, how to be a dad and mom sometimes at the same time, and continually work through mom's illness...I can't imagine what went through his head some days. He made a lot of mistakes and we didn't always see healthy reactions from him.  I can't imagine how my mom dealt with things sometimes either. Her mom passed away when she was 15, she was needy and her siblings were not always supportive either, she needed love and understanding, but no one always knew how to deal with her. Then she married dad and had 6 kids in 6 years and then me 4 years later. Going from baby blue to baby blue on top of her mental illness....oh wow!  I just can't imagine! BUT you know what? God knew ALL of that before the world ever began! He had all the pieces of the puzzle put together. God knew how all the mistakes, all the good things,all the sickness, all the legalism and sickness would mold us into who all of my family are today. It is by the GRACE OF GOD that we are all where we are at today!
mom & dad on their wedding
day - mom's evening
dress which I often wore
on 50's Day during my
high school years

Some say that my parents should never have been married. I don't believe that. God knew! Where would I be today if my parents hadn't been married. I wouldn't be here. Simple as that. If I wouldn't have had the upbringing I had, and the past that I had, I WOULD NOT be who I am today. God used all of that and used it to create me today. I am thankful for that. I am thankful for my wounds, and my upbringing, I really am.

Love you both, mom & dad!  Thank you for staying together forever and never leaving each other. You both loved each other until the very end. You made it through and you have beautiful kids and grandkids. You never gave up on each other. Sticking together speaks volumes...even if it wasn't always a bed of roses. There's such lessons to be learned in that!
True love wins!  HUGS!

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Do I Care?

I was driving home from a conference one weekend, with my mind whirling with many thoughts. The weekend had just been filled with time with a friend and my daughter at a spa, but also a conference for Child Evangelism. It's amazing what is happening around the province through the ministry of the 5 Day Clubs. Every summer, the message of the Gospel is being brought to thousands of children across the province through these weekly clubs. Children in small towns, in cities, in rural areas and on reserves, are being told about Jesus Christ.  Hundreds of kids each summer, accept that Jesus died for their sins, believe that He rose from the grave and is now in Heaven preparing an eternal home for them. These kids know and believe that Jesus is going to come back someday, that He IS the true Messiah!  Children accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ so innocently and purely. I think we have a lot to learn from them.

As I was driving, God showed me a picture of myself standing alone on the side of the road with hundreds of vehicles driving past me on the highway. I was the only one that knew that the highway ended a mile or two down the road, and that every vehicle would go over a cliff into everlasting darkness...their lives on this road would be ended.
DID I CARE ENOUGH? Did I care enough for each soul in these vehicles to stop every single one going past me on the road to ask them if they knew Jesus. Cause if they knew Jesus, they could turn around on this road and not continue on it, that their life wouldn't have to end on this road. DID I CARE ENOUGH to stop everyone and ask if they knew Jesus. Would they believe me that the road came to a horrible end? Would they want to know who Jesus is? Would I care enough to tell them?  This was a heart-stopping picture in my mind that God gave me.  It didn't leave me as I continued driving home.

I've been reading through this book called Radical by David Platt and a couple of weeks later, this is parts of what I read:

"Each follower of Jesus Christ is intended to take up the mantle of proclaiming the gospel to the ends of the earth, regardless of what our calling is....Every saved person this side of heaven owes the gospel to every lost person this side of hell. We owe Christ to the world--to the least to the greatest, to the rich to the poor, to the best to the worst. But somehow we have taken ourselves out from under that weight of a lost and dying world and say "I'm sorry, I'm just not called to do that."  We sit back and make excuses for not sharing the gospel with the rest of the world. We want to 'assign' this obligation of being a believer to a few missionaries around the world but YET we want to claim ALL the privileges of being a believer. So we choose to send out a few missionaries to take the gospel to the ends of the earth while the rest of us just sit back because "we're not called to that." In Romans 1:14-15, Paul says he is indebted to everyone, all Jews and Gentiles, indebted to every lost person on the face of the planet, and because he is owned by Christ, he owes Christ to the world. We see all over Scripture that God has a heart for the world. Do we have God's heart? Do we just have a heart for the world around us or do we have a heart for the world globally?  So if there's about 7,000,000,000 (billion) people in this world and approximately one-third of the people in the world are Christians, and if the gospel is really true (which I know it is) then about 5 billion people are separated from God in the sin and, assuming nothing changes, they will spend eternity in hell. 5 Billion People. And most of them live outside Canada and the United States. 5 BILLION PEOPLE!"  Let that sink in a bit people. Do we care that 5 Billion People are on their way to hell?

Do I care?  Do......I.....Care? Does that grieve my heart? Do I have the heart of God for these 5 billion people? Do I care enough to pray? Do I care enough to stop every vehicle in my vision and ask if they know Jesus? Do I care enough to support missions and do mission work myself? Do I care enough to, that any way that God shows me, take the Gospel to the ends of the earth? to the ends of MY earth? Do I have a heart for all the lost people in the world?

This has really been on my heart very strongly, and it won't leave me. David Platt is not telling us in his book that we have to sell everything we have and move ourselves out to a third world country. Every Christian can't do that. But what ARE we doing to take up the mantle and share the gospel of Jesus Christ? He is the ONLY way to Heaven, the Bible tells us that.

Last week, David Wilkerson passed away when he was killed in a car accident. His life was GONE, just like that, in a split second, a snap of the finger. He has left a legacy of being a true follower of Jesus Christ, an excellent passionate minister of the Gospel, he began Teen Challenge, he wrote the book the Cross and the Switchblade, and he has many powerful sermons on youtube. He knew where he was going. This week we were told that Osama bin Laden is now dead. Do we care about his soul even though he was a very evil man and had many people killed. Do we care about the legacy that he left? If he hated Jesus Christ so much, and never turned to him, then he is now spending eternity in hell.  Do we care about that? Do we rejoice over his death?  A couple weeks ago in the city, I drove by a plane that had crashed right beside a main road just a few feet from a gas station. Did the people in that plane know Jesus? I came upon an accident yesterday where two vehicles were overturned in the ditch and bodies were laying in the water that was in the ditch. My heart was in agony at that site! Are they dead and did they know Jesus? That is the ultimate question people...DO YOU KNOW JESUS?  DO WE CARE IF OTHERS KNOW JESUS? What fear is keeping us from asking people this question?

David Wilkerson has a very powerful video on youtube called "A Call to Anguish" that I put on here in the post below. I will use that video to close these thoughts. I saw this video for the first time last week after he had died. Please watch it! David is in such anguish in this video, wow, anguish over the church and over the lost souls of this world. Do I have that anguish of Christ? DO I CARE? OH GOD, change my heart, give me a heart of anguish for people of this world, give me a heart that grieves over what grieves yours God. Change my heart oh God!

A Call to Anguish - David Wilkerson

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

John the Baptist - The Spirit of Elijah

When the Ladies Bible study groups completed the study called Jesus the One and Only, we were entering the time of Passover and celebrating the Resurrection...the week of Easter. It was such perfect timing because the study ended with Jesus' death on the cross, His resurrection from the grave and His ascendence into Heaven. God couldn't have planned the timing of this study more perfectly. Beth Moore had such a wonderful explanation of the Passover Meal and what Jesus and His disciples would have gone through at that Last Supper.  I thought that because we were entering Passover now, learning how the Jews celebrated the Passover Meal would be such a great completion to the study. So we invited a wonderful Jewish woman to come and share about the Passover Meal with us.  It was VERY interesting and it gave such incredible insight to the Passover itself, but also to how Jesus and the Messiah is viewed by different people.  It was wonderful to have her!  Through the session, it was pointed out that the Jews are waiting for the 1st appearance of their `Messiah` and Christians are waiting for 'their Messiah`s 2nd coming'.  But what was so extremely heart wrenching for me at the time and during the next couple weeks is that IF people do not accept JESUS as the real true Messiah, then they are actually waiting for the Anti-Christ!  OH that just hit me REAL hard!  I had a cry over it! If the Scriptures, Old AND New Testament are not read, if the Bible is not studied as a whole, then people are REALLY missing out on VERY important truths!

So anyway, during the Passover celebration, many Jews will open their doors to allow the spirit of Elijah to come into their home while they are celebrating the Passover.  The `spirit of Elijah` is looked upon as Christians look to everyone should be looking to Jesus.  Often a special cup is set out with wine in it for the spirit of Elijah to drink.  While the children are out hunting for the eggs in the middle of the evening, one of the adults will drink the wine in the cup so that when the children come back in, it is empty...therefore the children really believe the spirit of Elijah has come and visited them.  It is believed by many Jews that their messiah will come in the spirit of Elijah but they don`t know what form he or she will take.  The idea that Elijah is coming back is taken from the passage in Malachi 4:4-6 which is described in more depth below.
During my devotions one Monday, I came across some verses that I`ve read many times before but this time they just jumped out at me anew and with fresh meaning after having experienced the Passover celebration.  I was so excited and just couldn't keep it to myself so I sent these scriptures to  my Bible study ladies on that Monday:
Good morning ladies,
as I was having my devotions this morning, I came across some GREAT verses that reminded me of our time last week reviewing the Passover.  Many Jews, while they are going through the Passover Meal each year, they have a cup for the spirit of Elijah, and during the meal, they open the door to allow his spirit to come in and be present with them. This raised many questions among us as to why many Jews hold the Prophet Elijah in such great esteem, and why they look to him in the same way that we look to Jesus. I just HAVE to share these verses and study notes from my Bible with you!!  :-) (scriptures are taken from the New Living Translation)
The passage that my devotions from the Daily Bread began with this morning was Malachi 4:4-6 "Remember to keep my commandments of my servant Moses, all the laws and regulations that I gave him on Mount Sinai for all Israel. Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord arrives. His preaching will turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the heart of children to their parents. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse."
'Elijah (1 Kings 17-2 Kings 2) was one of the greatest prophets who ever lived. With the prophet Malachi's death, the voice of God's prophets would be silent for 400 years. Then a prophet would come, like Elijah, to herald the Messiah's coming (Matt. 17:10-13, Luke 1:17). This prophet was John the Baptist. John prepared people's hearts for Jesus by urging people to repent of their sins. Christ's coming would bring not only unity and peace, but also judgment on those who refused to turn from their sins.'
So reading this passage and the study notes, sent me on a search with all the verses that cross referenced it....and again, I am so excited to share it with you!!
Luke 1 begins with an angel promising the birth of John to Zechariah. "Elizabeth will bear a son and you are to name him John....many will rejoice with you at his birth, for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord....he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before his birth. And he will persuade many Israelites to turn to the Lord their God. He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah, the prophet of old. He will precede the coming of the Lord, preparing the people for his arrival. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will change disobedient minds to accept godly wisdom." (v. 13-17)
'John's role was to be almost identical to that of an Old Testament prophet; to encourage people to turn away from sin and back to God. John is often compared to the great prophet Elijah, who was known for standing up to evil rulers (Mal. 4:5, Matt. 11:14; 17:10-13). In preparing people for the Messiah's arrival, John would seek to take stony hearts and exchange them for hearts that were soft, pliable, trusting, and open to change (Ezekiel 11:19, 20 & 36:25-29).'
In Matthew 11:11-14 as Jesus was teaching about the Kingdom, he says "I assure you, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet event the most insignificant person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is! And from the time John the Baptist began preaching and baptizing until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people attack it. For before John came, all the teachings of the Scriptures looked forward to this present time. And if you are willing to accept what I say, he is Elijah, the one the prophets said would come. Anyone who is willing to hear should listen and understand!"
In my study notes, it says 'no person ever fulfilled his God-given purpose better than John. Yet in God's coming Kingdom all members will have a greater spiritual heritage than John because they will have seen and known Christ and his finished work on the cross....John was not a resurrected Elijah, but he took on Elijah's prophetic role---boldly confronting sin and pointing people to God (Mal. 3:1)'
In Matthew 17 Jesus, Peter, James & John were on the mount of Transfiguration and Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus.  After Moses and Elijah left, in verses 11-13  "Jesus says, "Elijah is indeed coming first to set everything in order. But I tell you, he has already come, but he wasn't recognized, and he was badly mistreated. And soon the Son of Man will also suffer at their hands." Then the disciples realized he had been speaking of John the Baptist."

'Based on Malachi 4:5-6, the teachers of the Old Testament law believed that Elijah must appear before the Messiah would appear. Jesus referred to John the Baptist, not to the Old Testament prophet Elijah. John the Baptist took on Elijah's prophetic role, bolding confronting sin and pointing people to God. Malachi had prophesied that a prophet like Elijah would come (Mal. 4:5).
In Mark 9:11-13 at the Transfiguration, it says this "Now they began asking him, "Why do the teachers of religious law insist that Elijah must return before the Messiah comes?" Jesus responded "Elijah is indeed coming first to set everything in order. Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer and be treated with utter contempt? But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and he was badly mistreated, just as the Scriptures predicted."
'When Jesus said that Elijah had already come, he was speaking of John the Baptist (Matt. 17:11-13), who had fulfilled the role prophesied for Elijah. It was difficult for the disciples to grasp the idea that their Messiah would have to suffer. The Jews who studied the Old Testament prophecies expected the Messiah to be a great king like David, who would overthrow the enemy, Rome. Their vision was limited to their own time and experience. They could not understand that the values of God's eternal Kingdom were different from the values of the world. They wanted relief from their present problems. But deliverance from sin is far more important than deliverance from physical suffering or political oppression. Our understanding and appreciation of Jesus must go beyond what he can do for us here and now.'
In John 1:19-26, the Jewish leaders were asking John who he was; if he was the Messiah, or Elijah, or the prophet.  John's reply was from the words of Isaiah 40:3 "I am a voice shouting in the wilderness, 'Prepare a straight pathway for the Lord's coming!'"
'In the religious leaders' minds, there were four options regarding John the Baptist's identity: He was (1) the Prophet foretold by Moses in Deut. 18:15, (2) Elijah from Mal. 4:5, (3) the Messiah, or (4) a false prophet. John denied being the first three personages. Instead, he called himself, in the words of the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, "The voice of someone shouting "Make a highway for the LORD through the wilderness. Make a straight, smooth road through the desert for our God" Isaiah 40:3.  The leaders kept pressing John to say who he was because people were expecting the Messiah to come (Luke 3:15). But John emphasized only WHY he had come---to prepare the way for the Messiah. The Pharisees missed the point. They wanted to know who John was, but John wanted them to know who Jesus was.'
So there's the proof!!!  Oooooh! If only people would see it and understand!!  The Jews don't need to wait any longer for the 'spirit of Elijah' or the one who will be like him.....he's already come, in the form of John the Baptist...and so has Jesus Christ the Messiah!  Oh how we need to pray for people's eyes to be opened and that they would see Jesus Christ as the ONE TRUE Messiah!

Jesus is the Way the Truth the Life! He is the ONLY way that we can enter into eternity with God.  In Acts 4:12 Peter tells the Jewish council in Jerusalem "There is salvation in no one else! There is no other name in all of heaven for people to call on to save them."  Many people do not react well to this, they want to "prove" there is another way into heaven...but there's not!  Only Jesus can save us! God designated Jesus to be the Savior of the world and there is nothing that anyone can do to ever change that! We can be open minded to many things, but this is the ONE thing that we can never be open minded about. There is no other way that we can be saved from sin. 'No other religious teacher could die for our sins; no other religious teacher came to earth as God's only Son; no other religious teacher rose from the dead. Our focus needs to be on Jesus, whom God provided as the way to have an eternal relationship with himself. There is no other name or way!'  There will come a day when EVERY PERSON on this earth will acknowledge that Jesus is the Messiah, God's One and Only Son. Philippians 2:8-11 tells us that Jesus humbled himself obediently by dying on the cross and "Because of this, God raised him up to the heights of heaven and gave him a name that is above every other name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."  Oh I can't wait for that day!!  Hallelujah what a glorious day that will be!!

Jesus is the One and Only, thee true Messiah who is returning.  Oh that we would have the heart of John the Baptist....wanting others to know who Jesus is!  That is my prayer for us dear ones.

Training the Dog

We've been in the process of trying to train our dog.  A dog trainer has been coming to our home and teaching us some things that we need to know if we want a well trained dog.  He's had over 40 years of experience and has trained thousands of dogs - including police dogs for tracking bombs and dogs for detecting mold.  I think he knows what he is doing.  :-)  It's been very interesting watching our dog go from a very undisciplined animal to giving us glimpses of hope that he can become an enjoyable pet to have around.

But it is also a sincere reminder that if TIME is not spent training with him everyday, that we will lose everything that we've been taught.  If our dog is not reminded everyday of how he is supposed to act and not act, we will not have a well-trained dog.  If we don't teach him daily, and go over what our dog trainer is teaching us, then we have just wasted the trainer's time and our money.  This requires discipline, time with the dog and a sacrifice on our part, if we want a well trained dog.  It's also a reminder that the dog will act how we treat him because how we treat him is how we're training him. But some of the natural instincts that he has need to be remolded and trained for better use.

This process has often made me think of the Christian walk, as well as disciplining our bodies so that they function better. So many same variables apply to living a life that honors Christ. As well as many of the same variables that apply to living more fit physically and feeling good/healthy with our bodies. For instance, if we don't spend time with the Lord each day in daily devotion, Bible reading and prayer, and getting to know who Jesus is, then how do we expect to be more and more like Him? If we do not train our bodies to act and speak in ways that Christ has taught us throughout the Gospels, then our life is spent in vain. So many things that come natural to us, need to be retrained and remolded so that our life reflects more love, kindness, forgiveness and joy therefore reflecting more of who Jesus is.  In a sense, it's no different than our physical bodies. If we want to feel good and healthy, training ourselves to eat the right foods and being active each day takes a certain amount of discipline, time and sacrifice.

Hebrews 12:11 (NLT) comes to mind..."No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening--it is painful! But afterward there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs. Mark out a straight path for your feet. Then those who follow you, though they are weak and lame, will not stumble and fall but will become strong." Disciplining ourselves--our bodies, our speech, our way of eating, our habits--is not always enjoyable but if we do, oh what good rewards there will be for us down the road. If it weren't for the diligent coaching and hard practicing boys on the basketball team, they would not have made it to HOOPLA and won bronze in their division.  That win took discipline, training and teamwork.

Disciplining our dog to be well-trained and enjoyable to have around--it's not always easy or enjoyable, but if we stick with it, we will be rewarded for years to come with a dog that we will enjoy having in our family. Disciplining our children and teaching them to walk in a way that honors God is not always easy and doesn't always come natural to us, but in the end it is extremely rewarding, and their lives are better for it. Disciplining our spiritual life by taking time to be in God's Word each day, striving to live a life of love, joy and forgiveness, again is not always easy but in the end we will be eternally rewarded.  Hebrews 13:1-5 continues on teaching us to "love each other" to not forget to "show hospitality" to "share the sorrow of those being mistreated" and to "be satisfied with what we have." Not all of these instructions come naturally to us but if we train and discipline ourselves, we can become like this.  God promises (v. 5-6) to never leave us nor forsake us and that we can say with confidence that He IS our helper so we don't need to be afraid and He will give us strength. SO, we CAN do this!!  We can re-train ourselves, our children, our animals  :-) to become better and better and more and more like Christ...but with the strength and power that comes from the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

Kind of all fits together, doesn't it?  :-)

Monday, May 02, 2011

The Blessed Condescension of Christ

In the 2nd last video of the Bible study Jesus the One and Only by Beth Moore, she shared a number of verses with us that she called The Blessed Condescension.  I've put these verses together in a bit of my own testimony.  It's so amazing that God sent His Son down to this earth to live among us.  I am eternally grateful.
The scripture is taken from the New Living Translation.

Oh the Blessed Condescension of Christ, the birth of God’s Son, coming down to earth, even though he had everything perfect in heaven, he chose to come down to us to save us.  Oh how incredibly blessed we could we have ever lived without this blessed coming of our Savior? We couldn’t!!
The scriptures tell us, “The first man, Adam, became a living person.” But the last Adam—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit. What comes first is the natural body, then the spiritual body comes later. Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, and heavenly people are like the heavenly man. Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man.1 Cor. 15:45-49
God came down. He came as a life-giving Spirit in the form of Jesus, a perfect human being.  For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body [in him dwells all the completeness of the Godhead bodily].” Col. 2:9  He could have stayed in heaven but “instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.  Phil 2:7  So the Word became human [became flesh] and made his home among us.” God dwelt among us, the ones He created, He made His home among us!  Even though this world was full of darkness and man was doing their own thing, ignoring God and they had not heard a fresh word from God in 400 years, at this point the fullness of God came down to this world....Wow! “He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness [full of grace and truth]. And we have seen His glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.John 1:14  The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.Heb. 1:3
God said “I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.I sa. 53:12  Jesus interceded for me!  A rebellious teenager and adult, a sinner...he interceded for me and for you so that we would not have to spend eternity apart from him but with HIM forever!
When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.Phil. 2:8  Oh my Jesus, was completely obedient to his Father, his Abba. “He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth.Isa. 53:7  And even though “God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Cor. 5:6  They still arrested him cause they hated him so. They could not bear the perfectness of Christ and hated him for pointing out all their religiosity  and their hardened hearts. Christ did not allow their pious views to change who he was or what he came to do. So even though the glory of God shone in him, “they spit in Jesus’ face and beat him with their fists. And some slapped him.Matt. 17:2  Even though “as men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes because white as light.Matt. 17:2  They treated my Lord as a hardened criminal rather than the Son of God.  But don’t you see?  This needed to happen in order for the Scriptures to be fulfilled, in order for Christ to save mankind by dying on the cross, in order for us to be given the gift of eternal life!  This all needed to happen this way.
He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him.John 1:10-11  They took him out to the hill called Golgotha and nailed him to a cross. “By the time it was noon, and darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn down the middle.Luke 23:44-45  He asked the Father to “forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” And he gave up his spirit and died on that cross that Thursday so many years ago. He died for me and he died for you. “He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. BUT to ALL who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.John 1:10-14  Oh Hallelujah!!  What a Savior! Hallelujah what a Savior! 

The Blessed Condescension, the stooping down of God – to stoop down to us and take on flesh. (Beth Moore)