Friday, June 24, 2016

Joseph a Picture of Jesus

One of the clearest pictures of Jesus in the Old Testament is Joseph. Rejected and left for dead by his brothers, Joseph ends up saving his brothers, never once condemning them. He loved them, showing them mercy, grace, and forgiveness. Yet there was underlying unbelief. 

When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.”  So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died:  ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.”’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” (Gen 50:15-17a ESV) 

The brothers lack of belief in Joseph's forgiveness, led to the fear of punishment and the outward symptom of sin, lying in their father’s name. How did Joseph react? 

... Joseph wept ... (Gen 50:17b) 

Joseph wept because he had already fully forgiven them. Yet after years of loving kindness towards them, they still lived in unbelief. 

The Bibles tells us that those who really believe they have been forgiven by God, will produce the fruits of virtue, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love as listed in 2 Peter 1:5-7. If we lack these, 2 Peter 1:9 states we have forgotten we have been forgiven. In addition, Luke 7:47 states only those who believe they have been forgiven much, love much (Gal 5:14 Romans 13:8-10). 

All of us have been forgiven much. Jesus weeps if we are in unbelief, knowing the fear of punishment leads to sin, just like with Joseph’s brothers. 

Let God’s perfect love cast out unbelief and the fear of punishment (1 John 4:17-19). Michael Edwards

Friday, June 17, 2016

Footprints in the Sand

Footprints in the Sand
from the album 'Spirit' by Leona Lewis

You walked with me, footprints in the sand
And helped me understand where I'm going
You walked with me when I was all alone
With so much unknown along the way
Then I heard you say

I promise you, I'm always there
When your heart is filled with sorrow and despair
Ill carry you when you need a friend
You'll find my footprints in the sand

I see my life flash across the sky
So many times have I been so afraid
And just when I have thought I lost my way
You give me strength to carry on
That's when I heard you say

I promise you, I'm always there
When your heart is filled with sorrow and despair
And Ill carry you when you need a friend
You'll find my footprints in the sand

When I'm weary, well, I know you'll be there
And I can feel you when you say

I promise you, I'm always there
When your heart is filled with sadness and despair
Ill carry you when you need a friend
You'll find my footprints in the sand

I promise you, I'm always there
When your heart is full of sadness and despair
Ill carry you when you need a friend
You'll find my footprints in the sand

Songwriters
COWELL, SIMON / PAGE, RICHARD / KREUGER, DAVID / MAGNUSSON, PER

Published by
Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group, BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC


Friday, June 10, 2016

Jesus Whispering to Our Hearts

Jesus Whispering to Our Hearts
The best teacher I think I ever had for making a point that everyone in that room listened to had a unique delivery method. Instead of raising his voice to make his point he’d lean forward over the podium and whisper the most important part of his lecture. All in the class hushed and leaned forward eagerly to see what important part of the lecture was about to come out of his mouth. It got our attention each and every time and we truly listened.

Imagine your Lord and Savior doing the same thing. The Bible tells us to tune in to that “still, small voice”. It is when we are quiet before Him and focused on Him that he can speak the loudest, often times in a whisper:

Daughter, it doesn’t always have to come to you what I am about to say for you to write (it). 
I may choose to whisper a thought or word of encouragement into a corner of your mind for momentary encouragement, some too precious to be written, some too heavy to bear for more than that first moment; truths to be resurfaced over and over until you’re able and ready (open) to grasp and hold them, coming up gradually as a red sunrise. 
Awesome revelations, perhaps they are frightening at first glance, but real and “normal” as they unfold embellishment with a fire that creates a beauty, special beauty even greater than the daily sunsets. 
Cling to those revelations as I bring them up. You will learn them and make them part of you as I deem you able to stretch and grow; as you yield to My molding. 
You cannot yield unless you recognize that you are holding back ... Rest in Jesus as He does His life redeeming work within you! Selah.

PS 51 “let the bones which thou hast broken rejoice”

Psalms 51 is one of my favorites. I like to read it over and over with discovery of even more each time I re-read it. Please take some time with this chapter for yourself to see what it says to you.
The psalmist is first asking for God’s mercy, not based upon anything the psalmist did or didn’t do but based upon God’s love and compassion. David asks to have his transgressions blotted out and to be washed and made clean from all his sin. He continues recognizing his sin and that it is against God only that he has committed those sins even back to his birth. He even indicates that God can make him whiter than snow. That should give hope to all of us.

What an attitude he then reveals in saying he would like the bones which God broke to rejoice. To me that is showing David’s total and utter trust in God and his assessment or David’s condition. Even in that pain to know it is “good for him” and necessary. Imagine your broken bones being encouraged to “rejoice”. No wonder the Bible says that David had a heart for the Lord.

And to then hear that he had hope and expectation that God could and would create in David a “pure heart” and give him, once again, a steadfast spirit, welcoming David into His presence and restoring David’s joy. David is requesting to be made whole so he could then teach sinners and have them turn back to God.

This Psalm alone is full of so many good and wonderful promises. There are even more in the rest of the psalm but I want to give you an opportunity to chew on it yourself and see what they Lord will speak to your heart. Be encouraged and built up in Jesus most capable and incredible name! Marijo Phelps

Lord God, at first it sounds SO hard to ask that the bones which You have broken rejoice. But You don’t want me to walk with a limp or not walk at all. You are the Great Physician and know what needs to be done for complete healing and wholeness. I submit to Your ultimate wisdom and Your Physician’s hand. I also place my hand in Yours as You continue to make and remake me – WHOLE in You. Amen.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Jesus Wept

Jesus wept. (John 11:35)

Jesus Wept
Why do we weep? Weeping is not just crying. Crying is something we might do if we drop something on our foot, or if we are terribly afraid. Weeping is something different from that. According to the Random House Dictionary, "weep" has couple of meanings that pertain to people and emotion:

  • to express grief, sorrow, or any overpowering emotion by shedding tears; shed tears; cry: to weep for joy, to weep with rage.
  • to weep for (someone or something); mourn with tears or other expression of sorrow
  • to shed (tears); pour forth in weeping: to weep tears of gratitude.

So we might weep for sorrow or joy or rage or gratitude. I know why I weep: two years ago today, my newly wed wife died very suddenly and unexpectedly. It was horrifying and disheartening, and I wept for losing her. Even as I tried to rouse her, to breathe into her and start her heart, I wept and cried out to God. I wept in rage and fear and sorrow. Mine was nonetheless a silent weeping, because I did not want to scare the children. And so behind the rush to call paramedics and keep the children out of the way, I wept. Behind the very business-like way I coordinated things and explained to the police officer the details of how I found her and what I did, I wept. While trusting that God is sovereign, that His will is perfect, and that I would one day understand it all, I wept. As we laid her body to rest in sub-zero weather a week later, surrounded by close family and friends, I wept.

Jesus wept.

In the Greek, John 11:35 says "Edakrusen o Iesous." Jesus shed tears. Strong's Concordance makes a point of distinguishing between "dakruo" and "klaio," another verb that is translated as "weep," saying that the verb "dakruo" here in verse 35 pertains to shedding tears quietly, whereas "klaio" denotes crying out, a loud mourning.

Jesus wept.

The Lamb of God wept. In the midst of coming to perform His greatest miracle, the event that confirms that the coming resurrection is real, our Savior shed tears. As He walked to the tomb of His beloved friend Lazarus, this Christ - who is Himself the Resurrection and the Life - wept.

Jerome translated the Greek and Hebrew of the Bible into Latin, the language of the Roman Empire, and he wrote this verse like this:

"et lacrimatus est Iesus"

And Jesus wept.

From the context of chapter 11 of John's Gospel, it would seem that Jesus wept for sorrow, that He was mourning something. All around Him were people weeping.

John 11:33-36
33 Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled.
34 And He said, “Where have you laid him?”They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.”
35 Jesus wept.
36 Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!”

Jesus wept in sympathy with His friends Mary and Martha, because He had loved Lazarus as a friend and brother. He wept for the Jews who did not yet understand that He was their appointed Messiah. He wept for Jerusalem, the city where God Himself had dwelt for a time in His holy temple. He wept for unbelief. He wept for belief. He wept for joy at the moment that was to come when He would demonstrate God's enormous love and grace. He wept for sorrow that He Himself must die to truly bring God's forgiveness and peace to mankind.

Jesus wept.

The Son of God shed tears for the lost, the unrepentant, the proud, the oppressed, the broken, the lonely, the fearful. Emmanuel - God With Us - wept for friends and enemies, for those who knew Him and those who did not.

Jesus wept.

The author and finisher of our faith wept for those who were yet to come, who would all be sinners, and who would all be forgiven through Him.

Jesus wept.

He who soon would send His Spirit into the world as our Comforter and Helper, He wept for the comfort of those standing nearby. He wept to let them know that God cares, that the Father feels the sorrow of His children just as much as they do. He shared the tears of Mary and Martha even as He shed tears of His own.

Jesus wept.

I weep. Although I know one day we who believe shall be resurrected in His name, I miss my beloved wife and I do not understand why she left us as she did. Along with Mary and Martha, I say to my Lord, "If You had been here, she would not have died." But even as I say it, I know it is a lie. It is a lie because we are all bound to die in this life. We must die to this life to live in Christ. It is also a lie because He has ALWAYS been here, He never left my side.

Jesus wept.

Mourn with me today, if you must. Weep. Jesus wept. Join with Jesus as He wept for the world, as He wept for the City of David, as He wept for Lazarus, as He wept for the Cross He would soon bear to Calvary.

And when we are finished weeping, join me in rejoicing. Let us rejoice in the Resurrection and the Life. Let us rejoice in the mercy of God. Let us rejoice in the forgiveness we once never thought we'd see. Let us weep and mourn and grieve so that our rejoicing is that much sweeter when we see our Lord coming on clouds of glory. Jesus wept.

Revelation 21:3-4
3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.
4 "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Lord God, Father of our Savior, Creator of the heavens and the earth, I weep today for those who have passed away before me. I weep because I miss their presence, and I weep because I am lonely. But I am never alone, and although today I weep, I yet rejoice. I rejoice in Your grace, O Lord, and I find joy in You. You are my strength and my song. And although my voice quavers with my weeping, still I raise my voice to You and sing "Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest!" Amen. Glenn Pettit

Friday, May 27, 2016

Jesus Walked Before You

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15 KJV)

Jesus Walked Before You
Some spiritual truths have to sink in before I accept them. My mind tends to get in the way, and God must set my thinking straight. Such was the case when I heard a sermon declaring that Jesus was 100 percent human and 100 percent divine. This profound truth left me awestruck. My heart was eager to know the truth, but my head was putting up a good fight. After praying and giving the matter to God, my mind and heart agree that Jesus Christ was both fully human and fully divine.

Jesus did not become a man in part, but was fully human with a body, mind, will, and emotions. Jesus got hungry and thirsty and became tired and weary. Above all, He was mortal and died. A beautiful expression of love, Jesus laid down His life so you can have everlasting life.

Having walked on this earth, Jesus understands the trials and temptations you face. Because He is fully divine, you can be confident that He has the power to change circumstances and lives, and heal sicknesses and sorrows. If you are grief-stricken, remember that Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus. If you are falsely accused, if your friends betray you, if you are rejected and ridiculed, remember that Jesus knew no sin, and He died for you. Susan Ferguson

Friday, May 20, 2016

Jesus Lights Our Way

“I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12 NAS)

Jesus Lights Our Way
Just at dusk one evening, I found myself sitting quietly outdoors on the patio. It didn’t seem like an ordinary evening…the already dingy gray skies were quickly filling with black clouds. Seemed ominous. My mind was filled with questions and my spirit was seeking assurance from the Lord about a major challenge in my life.

Gazing into the dark sky, I prayed for a sign that God was indeed with me and that the outcome of my challenge would bring Him glory. Suddenly the dazzling light from a single star burst through the black clouds. Tears of wonder and gratitude fell. The God of the universe had orchestrated nature to calm my anxious heart! His light pierced the darkness and entered my life, bringing peace and hope, and illuminating my path ahead.

Jesus’ proclamation in John 8:12 is a promise … we shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life. That promise also has a condition…to follow Him. The first step is always ours and it is very clear in James 4:8: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

Draw near. Follow Jesus. He will illuminate your path, dispel the darkness surrounding you, and bring to you peace and hope as you step forward in the light of life! Karen Pourbabaee

Friday, May 13, 2016

Jesus the Refugee

Jesus the Refugee
In our tumultuous and chaotic world, there are more refugees than ever before. Very few would become a refugee by choice, but sometimes war and famine, persecution and poverty force their hand. In Australia, a large amount of money has been spent trying to protect our borders from those who want to come here uninvited. Hopefully, we can find a way to separate the opportunists from the genuine cases without losing our compassion. Refugees are people like us. They just want a safe and secure place to live – something we so easily take for granted.

Did you realize that Jesus spent much of the first five years of His life on earth as a refugee in Egypt. At the time of His birth, King Herod was a despot ruler, who was determined to crush any threats to his throne. When the wise men from the east turned up at his Jerusalem palace looking for a new born king, Herod became very troubled. Determined to nip this threat in the bud, Herod encouraged the wise men to go and find the child – under the guise that he too wanted to worship Him. After being warned in a dream, Joseph took the baby Jesus and His mother and escaped to Egypt. The family lived as refugees for a few years until news of Herod’s death meant it was safe to return. In Jesus, we have someone who knows first hand just how tough life can be. His words of hope, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”, have the authority of someone who understands.

Give a thought for the refugees and other displaced people around the world; for those amongst us who’ve been displace by unemployment, sickness, abuse and life’s hard knocks – it’s not always their fault. Look for opportunities to lend a hand, spread some hope, and make a difference. Make room in your budget to support one of the many charities that are struggling to make a difference in these tough economic times. Mark Trodd

Friday, May 6, 2016

It's Not Over

When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." When Jesus saw her weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. "Where have you laid him?" he asked. (John 11:32-34 NIV)

It's Not Over
Beautiful One, No matter what you are facing today, no matter what it looks like or how long you have struggled, know this; “IT’S NOT OVER!”

There are times in our lives that we will come face to face with pain. I’m talking about real pain, the kind of pain that you don’t ever think you will recover from, pain that grips your heart and confuses your mind, the kind of pain that makes you question everyone and everything, including yourself and God.

Pain comes in many forms; it doesn’t favor any one person, gender, race, or social group. The truth is; if there is air in your lungs and you are on this earth, you will be confronted by pain. Some of us have known more pain than others, some of us have more to overcome than others but in the end, does it really matter? Pain is pain and when it grips your very soul, it can be the most paralyzing, overwhelming, hopeless feeling one could experience.

I may not know your name, I may not know exactly what you’ve been through, but the Father told me to tell you—“It’s Not Over!”

You might be in the place where the odds are against you, the battle may have worn you out, the enemy might be doing a victory dance, but—“It’s Not Over!”

Beautiful One, the above verse gives us more than we realize about the heart of God and about pain.

The Bible says that when Mary reached the place where Jesus was she fell down and cried out “Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Here is what she was really saying; “Lord, where were you, why didn’t you do anything, how come you let this happen?” Mary was immobilized by her pain and her disappointment was obvious; where was God when she needed him?

Have you ever asked God that question? Have you ever been in so much pain, hoping the Lord would show up and save the day only to be disappointed and the outcome you feared came upon you?

Beautiful One, no one likes to admit their doubt and disappointment with the Lord, no one, but in order to grasp the full measure of God, we need to be real for a moment, pain and confusing times do come as we walk with the Lord, they just do, for His ways are not our ways and every way to a mans heart seems right, but it is the purpose of the Lord that prevails.

The conflict is part of the plan, God is not upset that we question Him, God understands our struggles, and through the pain and tears, He always shows us things we knew not of and He always comes through, in the end, when we look back, we find, He was right there.

Pain blinds the eye and pierces the heart and if we are not honest with where we’re at, we will unknowingly view life through the lens of pain and it will effect what we believe God to be.

When Jesus saw Mary’s tears, when He heard her subtle disbelief and disappointment, He didn’t scold her, or walk away from her, He became deeply troubled in His own Spirit and He asked her “where have you laid him?”

What Christ was saying to her was; “ take me to the place you stopped believing in ME”, Christ told Mary then and is beckoning YOU now, " show ME the tomb you buried your hopes and dreams of something better in, take me to that place in your life that destroyed you and you silently gave up, take me to the place that you accepted as dead and allow me to breathe life into it again.”

Beautiful One, tough times never last BUT TOUGH PEOPLE DO!

God sees your tears and hears your cry, when YOU hurt, HE hurts, HE weeps when YOU weep, but HE remembers what we tend to forget, and that is; the situation you are facing, the pain you are in will not end up for your destruction, BUT for the Glory of God.

Beautiful One, Mary was just like us, she was a believer, she loved the Lord but adversity and pain came knocking on her door and when she cried out for help and when it didn’t come the way she wanted it to, her pain magnified, she questioned everything she knew and she voiced it to her Lord, she was real, she didn’t hide and act like she was ok, she questioned God and God met her right where she was at, in her pain and HE did exceedingly, abundantly, more than she had asked, thought or imagined He would do.

At the end of her story—Christ came through!

And He will do the same for YOU …

Pain is hard, it hurts, it wounds us in ways we never imagined possible but in the end, God will work it together for our good and for His Glory.

Beautiful One Hold On, Just Believe because He is never early, He is never late, HE is always right on time ...

And ... It’s Not Over! Shannon Heiden

Friday, April 29, 2016

Jesus Cares

Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. (Psalm 55:22 NIV)

Jesus Cares
Are you facing circumstances that seem hopeless? Most Christians experience discouragement at some point in their lives. Maybe you have prayed night and day about a problem, and it has only gotten worse. Maybe years have passed, and your prayers are still unanswered. Maybe you are going through a difficult time, and you feel that no one understands or cares. Be assured that Jesus cares, and you’re not alone, for He is with you. When you come to the end of your strength, you’ll find God’s grace to strengthen and sustain you. Trust Jesus, and He will see you through. 

Now let me ask you to look back over your life for a moment. Think about the trials you’ve faced and how God brought you through them. Remember when you were sick, and God healed you. Remember when your bank account was low, and God supplied your needs. Remember when He comforted and sustained you through a time of loss. Throughout all your troubles, He has never left you nor will He ever leave you. Keep praying, keep trusting, and keep believing. You are His precious child, and He will never stop being faithful. Susan Ferguson

Heavenly Father, pour out Your strength on those who are discouraged or weary. Touch them with Your love and give them Your peace. Assure them of Your faithfulness that will continue throughout their lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Is Your Soul a Well Watered Garden?

Is Your Soul a Well-Watered Garden?
Millions world-wide share in my efforts to create a luscious flowering garden, a place of beauty and serenity to while away the summer hours. The most important ingredient for a garden’s sustenance is water. Without it, the beauty of summer fades, leaving a sun-scorched land. Lifeless. Dry. Thirsty.

The theme of water flows through the pages of Scripture from Genesis through Revelation. There are actually 722 references to water in the Bible, making it an important theme. In the creation account of Genesis, water brought life to all the living creatures in the sea. Then and now, God provided water as a necessity for sustaining life. 

However, God did not merely generate water for the survival of our physical life, but also extended His tender care for our souls by sending Jesus, called the “fountain of living waters” in Jeremiah 2:13. God’s “living water” will nourish us through the driest times and weariest days. His provision of water is evidence of His grace and His eternal love for us. 

When we find ourselves in a dry, barren land and weariness has set in, let us pray like the psalmist David did in Psalm 63:2: “…for You my soul thirsts. Like a land parched, lifeless, and without water.” Whether we call out in abundance or in the deserts of life, Jesus, the living water, will deliver life to our souls and bring into being a beautiful well watered garden for all to enjoy. Karen Pourbabaee

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