Friday, August 26, 2016

Just Loving It

For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. (Psalm 139:13-14 NAS)

Just Loving It
Oh it really is becoming more and more fun! As you mix the colors together and make careful strokes on the page, you see an image appear. Different brushes provide different results and the picture is carefully laid onto the paper with each new stroke.

Then there comes that moment when the image is done, you can step back and say, I've finished!  It is new, it is unique and it is special!

That is the way God views us, unique, beautiful and spectacular, one of a kind original masterpieces and He placed every one of us on this planet for a unique purpose.

If you ever feel as though your life is pointless and that you have nothing to offer the world, stop that thought immediately! God loves every bit of you because He made you Himself! Ronwyn Hughes

Friday, August 19, 2016

Just Like Them

An argument broke out among them as to which one of them was the greatest. (Luke 9:46 NRS)

Just Like Them
It is too easy to judge the disciples for their blunders. They seemed at times ignorant, misunderstanding Jesus words regarding his purpose (Luke 9:45) or to engage in petty arguments about who would be the greatest amongst them in God’s Kingdom (Luke 9:46). They became jealous of another who caste out demons in Jesus’ name (Luke 9:40) when they themselves were unable to do so (Luke 9:49). At times their faith failed when they looked at surrounding circumstances rather than keeping their eyes fixed firmly on Jesus, (Matthew 14:30) and often they doubted what Jesus could do (Luke 8:24) when he was with them.

But today I want to read their story with empathy, not judgement. Yes, they stumbled, but don’t we? Believing that we are following Jesus, we still make mistakes and be blind to our shortcomings, just like the disciples.

And how does our Savior respond to our weakness, to our humanity? From conversations with his disciples we see that Jesus corrects and even rebukes (Luke 9:41, 55). Yet like a loving father who instructs his children, Jesus does so with our best interests at heart. We will get it wrong, only our Heavenly Father is perfect! Yet despite our human nature, He loves. He forgives. He understands. He remains faithful; even when we are not. Hallelujah! Jennifer Woodley

Father, thank you for your example in Jesus who demonstrated through his friendship with the disciples, that despite our failings, we can return to you to receive your love. Help us to remain true to you, in Jesus name. Amen.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Just Like a Child

“Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” (Mark 10:14-15 NKJ)

Just Like a Child
Ever reminisce on your childhood days and wonder how life was easier and much simple back then? Happens to everyone. A songwriter expressed these words in his lyrics, “we sat down for a minute and grew up into men”. Adulthood may be an inevitable necessity that comes with responsibilities and adventures, but the heart of a child holds significant place in God’s kingdom, just as the scripture above reveals.

Mark 10:1-31 reveals a quest by four characters to inherit eternal life and enter God’s kingdom. They were the Pharisees, a rich young ruler, little children and even Jesus’ disciples — all of whom may have had different ideas on the approach to eternal life. We’ll look at each of them in that order.

The Pharisees were regarded as highly knowledgeable "keepers" of God’s law. They generally believed in a vast knowledge and ability to keep every detail of the Mosaic laws given in the old testament. While they may have regarded Jesus Christ as God-sent, they never really believed Him to be the messiah. Their questions were ultimately meant to test his knowledge of the law. The question bordered on the instant where divorce becomes lawful or unacceptable by God. But Jesus replied in verses 5-9 that divorce was not God’s will. It was a modification of the law by Moses because of the hardness of man’s heart. Obviously, little kids are not bothered about marriage, much more divorce! They have no in-depth knowledge of the law like the Pharisees, yet God sets them as a standard for His kingdom. All of our knowledge and ability to keep God’s laws does not guarantee us eternal life. No one can perfectly keep God’s laws on his own.

The rich young ruler approached Jesus humbly, in his quest for eternal life. Jesus sought his opinion on this subject by referring him to the commandments. Indeed, the young ruler could boast of keeping the commandments from his youth! The question is this; if he diligently kept all of the commandments as he indicated, why would he be uncertain of eternal life? And then Jesus gave him an answer that would see him walk away in sorrow. '21 Then Jesus looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “…sell whatever you have and give to the poor; and come, take up THE cross and follow me”. This was not a strict answer; the message was pretty much simple. Eternal life cannot be acquired by self-effort, or self-righteousness, or possessions, but can only be found in Jesus. Absolute faith in Jesus. Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” – John 11:25.

It would be expected of the disciples (having spent more time with Jesus than any of the others) to have a better revelation of this reality, but it seemed contrary. Thank God that He meets us at the level of our faith. The disciples loved to have a part in God’s kingdom too (like everyone else), but perhaps, like the rich ruler, they must have presumed that you have eternal life by keeping the commandments. This is evident in their response to Jesus’ comment (v23/24) on how hard it is for the rich to enter God’s kingdom. Apparently, Jesus had disqualified every means they thought was a guarantee of eternal life, so they were astonished and then murmured among themselves, “who then can be saved?” Jesus gave the ultimate answer to this mind-troubling question, “27 With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible”. He himself was God.

The little children were the favorites in this passage. The disciples must have had the impression that the front row in God’s kingdom was not meant for kids, hence they rebuked those who brought them to be touched by Jesus. On the contrary, Jesus pointed out that only those who are willing to receive the kingdom of God as a little child will enter it. How do little children receive? Remember again how things were less complicated as a child? That’s the heart of a kid receiving. They are entirely trusting and not bothered about their effort or performance. A young boy would trust Jesus with his entire lunch. A little servant girl would believe that the sick commander of a vast Syrian army would be healed in Israel without a price.

God wants us to trust and believe in Him with all of our hearts (not some part). He invites us into his kingdom and leads us all the way. We do not earn this invitation. We are granted this privilege only as a result of God's goodness. All we need do is believe and receive. Precieux Orhue

Friday, August 5, 2016

Just Keep Walking

Just Keep Walking
I don’t want to be “the Mom” today — the adult, the decision-maker, the one in charge, the one with calm and reassuring answers to fear-filled questions, the one who must rise this morning to face the aftermath of seven and a half inches of rain falling in less than two hours yesterday, flooding streets and basements, turning freeways, runways and parking lots into holding ponds and creating a sink hole that swallowed a stop light and a full-size SUV!

As three of my kids and I left the mall late yesterday afternoon, an eerie sky loomed in the west. Minutes later, fat mid-summer raindrops splattered the windshield, gaining momentum and quickly obscuring even the tail lights in front of us. “Mom,” asked my youngest daughter clearly worried, “can you see at all?”

“Enough,” I assured her, but the puddles were growing into pools and the farther we drove the worse it got. At one intersection, a river of water, mud and gravel surged across the road nearly bumper high. We made it through, but barely, and at the next intersection two men stood waist-deep in floodwater, waving their arms in warning. We couldn’t go back and we clearly couldn’t go on, so I did the only thing that came to mind and pulled my van into a stranger’s driveway, not out of the water, but still only inches deep.

“Leave everything in the van,” I told my kids, “and let’s go! We’re walking home!” Reaching for my youngest daughter’s hand, we crossed the road, and plunged thigh-deep into the culvert. In one sickening glance, I noticed my oldest daughter immobilized, shoes in hand, eyes wide, afraid to move, afraid to follow us one step into the floodwater. We didn’t have time for fear. We needed to climb the hill and get out of the storm. So I yelled her name, caught her eye, grabbed her hand, and dragged her in behind us. We were going home, and we were going there together. Then the sirens sounded.

“Mom,” yelled my terrified youngest child, “what are we going to do?”

“Keep walking,” I shouted, squeezing her hand. “Just keep walking.”

“Lord,” I pleaded, “are You kidding? Tornado sirens? Really??? Now?” If I hadn’t been living it, I’d never, ever have believed it.

Finally home, the night became a blur of sirens and severe storms. By morning, I was completely exhausted and had no desire to be in charge, but my husband was in Denver, one daughter had been stranded overnight with friends, and my oldest son had landed in Chicago en route from Guatemala and his third short term mission trip. Somebody had to be in charge and the only relatively qualified candidate was me.

Then I heard God whisper tenderly to my soul, “Oh, My weary child, rest in Me. My yoke is easy and My burden is light,” and suddenly the sufficiency of His love burst into brilliance, buoying my spirit and radiating light—just enough light—for my very next step. Just keep walking, I heard in my heart. It was enough, so much more than enough. It was exactly what I needed, for God absolutely always is! Cindee Snider Re