Sharing the news

Many Samaritans in that city believed in Jesus because of the woman’s word when she testified, “He told me everything I’ve ever done.” So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. Many more believed because of his word, and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of what you said, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this one is truly the savior of the world.” ~John 4:39-42 (CEB)

Because the woman at the well shared what Jesus had done in her life the Samaritans were receptive to hear from Jesus. They had not been receptive to the word before. It is humbling to think that there may be someone out there waiting to hear a story of what God has done. Waiting to hear how Jesus can personally work in someone’s life.

I can think of personal stories that I have heard that have helped me along my way. But we can’t just ride into heaven on other peoples’ stories. At some point we have to make the story our own. We have to embrace the truths for ourselves. Once the story becomes ours then it is time to share it with someone else who like we once were, are waiting to hear good news.

Heavenly Father, please give me eyes to see those who need to hear the good news. Give me the courage to share that good news with them. Amen

Jesus Prays

“I’m not praying only for them but also for those who believe in me because of their word. I pray they will be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. I pray that they also will be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me. I’ve given them the glory that you gave me so that they can be one just as we are one. I’m in them and you are in me so that they will be made perfectly one. Then the world will know that you sent me and that you have loved them just as you loved me. ~John 17:20-23 (CEB)

In John 17 Jesus prays. In the previous chapter he had been trying to prepare his followers for his trial, death and resurrection. With Chapter 17 Jesus moves into a prayer. I love this chapter. He begins the prayer giving God the glory then he begins to pray for those who will be left behind. He asks for God’s strength and protection for their continued work here on earth. Then the prayer moves to us in the future. Jesus prays for all of us in the future that we will believe and follow after him.

It is mind shattering to think that 2000 years ago Jesus prayed for me. He took time just before all he knew he was about to face to not only pray for the disciples who had been so dear but he also thought to pray for me too. With the world on his shoulders he took time for me.

What I think is also amazing is that Jesus prays for us still today. When I ask anything “in Jesus’ name” it is as if Jesus is saying the prayer. His name holds power. John 14:13-14 says, “I will do whatever you ask for in my name, so that the Father can be glorified in the Son. When you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it.” 1 John 5:14-15 also says, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.”

So I have the comfort that not only does God hear my prayer but that Jesus also prays for me. Somehow that gives me confidence when I pray, to know that Jesus knows my heart and prays too. I know also that the Holy Spirit prays for me as well. Romans 8:26 says, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”

Heavenly Father, it brings me such comfort to know you hear my prayers, to know that my words are not just lifted up to empty air. I also find comfort that when I do not have the words or the strength You are there praying for me. Amen.

Christian living

 

By his divine power the Lord has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of the one who called us by his own honor and glory. Through his honor and glory he has given us his precious and wonderful promises, that you may share the divine nature and escape from the world’s immorality that sinful craving produces. This is why you must make every effort to add moral excellence to your faith; and to moral excellence, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, endurance; and to endurance, godliness; and to godliness, affection for others; and to affection for others, love. If all these are yours and they are growing in you, they’ll keep you from becoming inactive and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Whoever lacks these things is shortsighted and blind, forgetting that they were cleansed from their past sins. Therefore, brothers and sisters, be eager to confirm your call and election. Do this and you will never ever be lost. In this way you will receive a rich welcome into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. ~2Peter 1:3-11 (CEB)

As a young adult I knew there was more to being a Christian than just being saved. “But what does God require of me? “, I would wonder. It was only after much reading that I began to realize that God does tell us how He wants to live out our Christian lives. Here in 2 Peter 1 we find that God has given us everything we need for life. God gives us faith, morality, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, affection for others and love. All of these are mine to claim. These verses tell me I have these things right now but I need to embrace them and allow them to grow.

To think that I cannot do these things means I have forgotten that I have been washed clean of my past. There was a time that I may not have had self-control, but now I do. There was a time that my morality was on shaky ground, my endurance was not strong and I didn’t always love others as I should. That is the past. Today I can claim anew faith, love, knowledge, morality, endurance, godliness and affection for others. I have been called to these things and as long as I go after these things I will never be lost. Following after what I have been called to enriches my life.

Heavenly Father, Help me claim anew this day the characteristics You have promised me through Your word. Give the Your strength as I  go through this day. May my steps not falter from Your path. Amen.

Desert

The Israelites said to them, “Oh, how we wish that the LORD had just put us to death while we were still in the land of Egypt. There we could sit by the pots cooking meat and eat our fill of bread. Instead, you’ve brought us out into this desert to starve this whole assembly to death.”
Exodus 16:3 (CEB)

It is easier to look at someone else’s situation and see how ungrateful they are being. Here the Lord had shown The Israelites great signs and delivered them from slavery. Not only do we expect them to be still thrilled that they have escaped their hard life but THANKFUL! Now we find them grumbling in their situation. They are not thankful to be out of oppressive slavery.

Instead they are grumbling because this new life is hard. It is different from what they have known before and different can become frightening. The Israelites have taken their eyes off of the promise and are looking at their current situation.

How often do I find myself grumbling because change is hard work?  Do I look back to the past and wish for what I don’t have anymore? In the process of being freed from the bondage of sin sometimes I get lost in the desert and forget God’s promise. The desert is a process that I have to go through to rid myself of “bad habits” that I have acquired. It is not a stopping place but part of the journey towards the promises God has made to me.

Heavenly Father, I thank You even in the deserts of my life. Help me to keep my eyes on the Promises You have made to me. Steady my steps as I travel through deserts so that I may not get lost and wander aimlessly. Amen.

Repentance

After John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee announcing God’s good news, saying, “Now is the time! Here comes God’s kingdom! Change your hearts and lives, and trust this good news!” ~Mark 1:14-15 (CEB)

“Repentance… requires two things: humility and trust. Repentance requires the humility involved in the confession that I am a sinner, one whose life is not whole and who lacks the power both to find either the direction to wholeness or the resources for wholeness on my own. Repentance requires trust in a power that can and will ultimately sustain and establish me if I let go of myself into that power’s hands. Without both trust and humility, repentance is impossible.” ~From Vision and Character by Craig R. Dykstra

The good news is I can repent. I can turn away from whatever keeps me from God and from living within God’s reign. Repenting though is not always easy. When I repent, or turn my life in another direction, it requires my will, effort and faith as I call on God to supply the strength I need. But Jesus promises the power and presence to enable me to live the good life that will be in harmony with God.

Heavenly Father, I seem to get so distracted with things. I keep so busy that I lose track of You. I thank You for new beginnings. Help me start anew this day. Amen.

Chasms

Who will separate us from Christ’s love? Will we be separated by trouble, or distress, or harassment, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? …. But in all these things we win a sweeping victory through the one who loved us. I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powers or height or depth, or any other thing that is created. ~Romans 8: 35-39 (CEB)

For someone who keeps trying-hard to live right, these verses can sometimes be hard to swallow. Why? Well when you think that by trying-hard you can succeed, it is hard to believe that God loves you no matter how hard you try… or how little you try.  When life is going well and I think I have everything under control it is easy to believe that God loves me. Why not? I have tried so hard to be what I think He wants me to be. But as long as I have gained my approval from God in my own try-hard way I worry that if I stop trying-hard will God’s love slip away?

Then there are those times when I have failed miserably at trying hard. The harder I try the worse things seems to go. At these times I find comfort in these words. “You love me anyway? Despite the trouble I have caused or the danger I keep finding myself in?”

Nothing can separate me from God. I already have his approval. This approval from God is beyond my control. Whether I try with all my might or I do not try at all. God’s love is always there.

I can’t help thinking about a conversation I had with my son when he was small. He wanted to know if there was anything he could do that would cause me to stop loving him. He named all sorts of horrible things. Not clean his room, run away from home, spill milk all over the kitchen floor. Then he thought of the ultimate. “What if I killed someone mom, would you still love me then?” *sigh* “Yes, I would still love you, but I would be really, really sad.”

God loves us no matter what we do or don’t do. But I do think there are times that He is really, really sad at the way we are living. I think He may even be sad when He sees me trying so hard wishing I only knew that He loves me no matter what.

Heavenly Father, I thank You for Your word that reminds me of Your love. Guide me through this day. Remind me that I don’t have to try to win Your love. Help my heart to feel Your presence already living in me. Amen.

Falling

I assure you that unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it can only be a single seed. But if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their lives will lose them, and those who hate their lives in this world will keep them forever. ~John 12:24-25

In John 12:24, Jesus says that unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone and useless. There is a promise of life inside the shell but when life is held closely in control it cannot flourish. We assume letting go is a sign of weakness. We cannot see the promise waiting to get out. Only when we get to the point where we are ready to surrender and give up the try-hard life can we begin to find true life.

As long as we try to hold onto our self-sufficiency we are living a less-than life. Although Jesus accepts us as we are he never wants to leave us where he finds us. He knows what self-sufficiency does to our soul. It slowly eats away at it bit by bit. Jesus likes to bring us to the edge of our self-sufficiency and urges us to fall down to the ground in surrender. There on the ground can the kernel of wheat soak in the life sustaining water to soften the outer-shell.  As the shell softens it breaks and light and nutrients find their way in to the heart causing new life bursts forth.

For a long time the meaning of these verses remained just beyond my understanding. I would read this scripture and almost understand, but I was not ready to give up my self-sufficiency. It was too frightening. Dying in any form is not very appealing. Besides I had relied on myself for a very long time.

Only when I felt that I no longer was capable of controlling my life that I let go and let God take over the control. I realized I couldn’t, that only God could and finally one day I decided that I would begin to let Him.  There is freedom and life in the letting. When I found that I didn’t have to be so tough I found light begin to fill my heart; with light came hope; and with hope came a new life, one where I had true freedom to be me.

Heavenly Father, I thank You for Your complete acceptance. I thank You for never leaving me the way You have found me, always pushing me to be more. I thank You for pushing me out of worshiping self so that I could truly understand who I really am as Your beloved child. I thank You for the freedom I have through You. Amen.

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