Pure Joy…Really??? James 1 part 1

That’s easy for you to say.  I am sure many in the Church at Jerusalem thought that when James opened his letter by saying it is great to go through trials.  Consider it joy, really! Trials stink.  Testing stinks. The writer of Hebrews said it best, “NO discipline seems pleasant at the time!”  But, the word is true.  We have to endure the tests and trials set before us in order to become complete, resiliant and usable by God.

 In addition, while we rarely understand the why’s behind the testing of our faith, God promises he will give us wisdom on the ways to endure and use the trials to make us better.  We simply have to ask and believe he wants us to be informed.  The greatest aspect is that we embrace our present circumstance by simply clinging to the hope of what we will become and the joy of eternity yet to come.  Life is Hard, God allows us to face it, but we never have to face it alone or without his wisdom to guide us.

God Bless You

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

Sacrifice, Dying Was the Easy Part–Luke 23

Sacrifice stinks.  It hurts, its humiliating and mostly it is a reminder of how frail and human we are.  Jesus knew for his entire life that it would all come down to this one thing—Dying well.  Jesus did not regret the beating, he did not feel the effect of the humiliation.  He really did not care that the soldiers were dividing his clothes or that the people had lost their short term hope of revolution.  He only cared that for the only time in eternity he was separated from God—that really hurt.  Still in that, he was most concerned that we would be forgiven. 

It is as simple as that, Jesus wants for us not to experience the pain of separation from God.  He wants us to know the power of his grace. He Loves us and longs to have a relationship that we will enjoy forever.  

Easter is not about the death, it is about the resurrection! Help me Lord to feel your Grace and enjoy your presence.

God Bless You

 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”

36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” 38 There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

The Death of Jesus

44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

Straight Forward Message–Luke 18

We talk about the mystery of God.  Often, God is pretty straight forward.  His purpose is straight forward, he wants to have a relationship with us.  He wants us to experience freedom in him.  His message is straight forward, surrender your life to him and he will allow you to experience the freedom and peace you long for.  His promise is straight forward, if we confess with our mouth he is Lord and believe God raised him from the dead you will be saved.

 In the midst of all that, often the simplicity is hidden from us by our desire to be in charge, by our need to have a goal we can obtain by our efforts and by the world’s view that says surrender is never an option.  We cannot grasp that salvation is a gift that we will never be able to earn.  Our choice is plain and simple—Lord, I need you, I cannot do this on my own.  Please forgive me, come into my life and make me the one you want me to be.  AMEN. No secret, no hidden agenda—Just the saving grace of God.

 God Bless You

 31 Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. 32 He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; 33 they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.”

34 The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.

God Is Our Strength–2 Corinthians 13

In closing, 2 Corinthians, Paul reminds us that while Christ was crucified as a beaten, weak, man—He never lost God’s power.  God allowed him to give his life, but he raised him 3 days later.  He shook the earth, he tore the curtain that separated the holy of holies, he raised the dead and he paid the price for our sin.  Then God exalted him to the highest place and gave him a name above every name.  God always provides strength.  In the midst of weakness, God remains the strength.  He was the strength to our Lord, He is our strength as well.  When we are struggling, alone, sick or weak–he comes along side and provides. He is desiring to meet our needs and help us to stand firm.  Help me, Lord, to rely on your strength, in the midst of my weakness.

 God Bless You

 4 For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him in our dealing with you. 5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? 6 And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test. 7 Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong—not so that people will see that we have stood the test but so that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed.

Is Jesus Christ Enough–2 Corinthians 12

Is God’s grace sufficient for you?  It used to be an easy question—Of Course!  But as we travel on the journey and experience trials, and suffering, we tend to reflect and reevaluate how serious we are about that statement.  I must admit–there are days when it is difficult to cling to the idea that Jesus is enough.  The great news is, however, that He is enough—whether we emotionally buy in or not.  He paid a price that we will never comprehend; just so we could experience a relationship with God.  It was not simply the death on the cross that makes Jesus sacrifice so compelling; it is the fact that he gave up his status as an immortal, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God to walk among us as a servant.  He was subjected to Satan, and his temptation.  He was rejected by the religious community despite the fact he was there simply to guide them to truth.  He daily dealt with the pain of humanity from a position of humility,  watching folks hurt and die—Then, he was able to express the heart of God to folks—Just Like Him. 

 I would rather have it easy, I do not like trials! But whether I have to face them or not, I have to be certain, in my life, that I can say yes to the question “Is Jesus Christ enough.”  I pray, Father, that you will give me the faith and courage to be able to say yes!

 God Bless You

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

My BooBoo is Bigger-2 Corinthians 11

What a reminder. Whenever life seems unmanageable or unsavory, God reminds us that our struggles and trials are not unique.  We are to submit and move forward no matter how we feel.  As we move forward, God shows up and we are able to point at the way he brought us through that day.  We do not point at ourselves and our spirituality achieved through adversity, we point to him and take life one day at a time. Our Adversity was never intended to be a badge of honor, instead it is simply used to mold and complete us.    In that, we can be excited because we know he will provide a way.  Help me, Lord to follow and honor you—but not grow proud in adversity.

 God Bless You

Whatever anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?

To God Be The Glory–2 Corinthians 10 part 2

When we use the gifts and talents that God has provided us, there is a constant temptation to begin to believe we are something special.  At some point, we begin to think that it is our talent and work that is making a difference in the world.  The implications of that are sad.  We lose the focus of why we are ministering and we lose the blessing of seeing God do great things.  In addition, our ministry becomes a competition—some sort of way to curry favor with God.  

The irony is, God could not love us any more than he already does.  His love is complete and unconditional.  When we begin to set him aside and minister in our own power, we are showing we do not trust him to love us as we are.  If we are to be proud of our ministry, that pride should focus on how great he is and not on how great we are.  To you be the glory, my Lord!

God Bless You

7 You are judging by appearances. If anyone is confident that they belong to Christ, they should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as they do. 8 So even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than tearing you down, I will not be ashamed of it. 9 I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters. 10 For some say, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.” 11 Such people should realize that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present.

12 We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.