Love…a heart or a cross?

In elementary Sunday school, we are working on the virtue “friendship.”  The kids and I were working on a devotional yesterday pertaining to friendship…it was about love.  And like usual it struck a question in my soul…how do I view love?

In our study we drew a big red heart on the board and wrote all the things that the ‘heart’ represented to us, such as: love, kindness, candy (Danner), nothing bad, no sadness, friends, happiness, etc  And then we drew a cross on the board and likewise wrote what it meant to us, such as: death, Jesus, sadness, sin, evil, scared, worry, painful.  The difference shocked me.  The cross is the greatest act of love God has shown us, yet it is viewed with such sorrow.  It is a reminder of who we are without Jesus…it is a reminder of what all unbelievers carry around with them, because Jesus’ sacrifice is not real to them, so they must carry their own crosses without hope.  Yet, I can choose to carry that same cross daily and allow it to weigh me down just the same.

Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33b)  He is being honest with us.  Yes, we will have hardships, daily…but through the cross He has taken up those hardships and overcome them just as we overcome them with His joy, grace, mercy, love.  Jesus also tells us to take up our cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23).  Go through the hardships and trials because they will come anyways, don’t spend time fighting them, persevere, and by following Him (closely) we will experience that joy, peace, love (fruits of the Spirit) that He so freely gives because He overcame the cross.  

So all that is left of the cross is love.  He is The Overcomer…so we don’t have to be…we can be the receivers of all His goodness if we choose to accept it.

Dear Father-

Thank You for Your ultimate act of love, for sending Your Son to overcome all of our hardships so we may pass through them knowing our Great Reward is You!  Let us cling to You and Your fruits and not to the emptiness of this world.  I lift up anyone who does not have an exceedingly abundant relationship with You…that they may lift up their cross and exchange it for the cross You overcame.  Praise Your Holy Name!  I love You!

Never Deprived

The heavens declare the Glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.  Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course.  It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth. Ps 19:1-6

 

Father-

How Glorious You are!  How bright are Your days.  Even among the clouds, Your light shines behind, always there, we are never deprived.  I lift up Your beauty in this day, that we may be reminded of Your majesty, yet Your humble grace to each of us.  That no matter the shadows in our lives, Your light always prevails.  

Love You…A

RE-Action

Continued from yesterday’s post…

The Roman mob comes to arrest Jesus and here are the disciples, probably jaw-dropped at this point, having no clue as to their role in this situation.  What do the disciples do?  Peter (John ratted him out) grabs a sword to save the day, save the world in his mind and rescue Jesus.  Or so he thinks. 

52 “Put away your sword,” Jesus told him. “Those who use the sword will die by the sword. 53 Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands[h] of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly? 54 But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now?”

Oh I am so guilty of this (I have yet to cut off someone’s ear)…but I do get in God’s way and try to save the day or rescue myself from anything discomforting.  Financial trouble – quick let me get a job, any job will do.  Discipline problems – quick let me fix my kids and ride them how ever long it takes until they turn into obedient angels (hasn’t happened yet).  Marriage struggles- quick let me do everything I can to ‘change’ my husband (that’s an act of God).  Sickness – quick let me eat everything as healthy as can be and exercise every minute I can squeeze in, or better yet, maybe I can worry about it every second I have and drive my body further into despair.  Kid’s making bad choices- quick let me freak out and call all my friends for advice and read every book they tell me to and try every crazy quick-fix-my-kid suggestion.

Sound familiar? I am a master at REACTING…and it’s the quick, no time for thought reaction. Panic sets in when we are not alert and alive in God’s word.  He has a plan, He fulfills that plan.  We are called to know Him, praise Him, love Him, and live in Him…and then spread that wisdom and love to the world.  We are not called to spread anxiety, stress, worry, or doubt.  The world has enough unbelievers…we are believers…and so we must spread BELIEF!

3“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

 

Dear Father-

Praise Your name that You have overcome the world…all the mess of the world has been diminished by You.  It is not left for us to hash through, mull over or become accustomed to.  We are not called to live in it, but to rise above the troubles of the world with praise and worship of our Creator, our Lover, our God.  In You may I live each day, alert and alive, ready for Your goodness.  I love you!

A

 

Source :Matthew 26:52-54, NLT; John 16:33, NIV

Alert and Alive

 

Alert and Alive

‘Garden of Gethsame’… Words can not describe this time or this place in the life of Jesus.  Personally, I do not even like to imagine what Jesus humanly suffered in this garden.  There is a reason God doesn’t reveal the future to us…we could not handle it as Jesus did.  But Jesus’ time in the garden we will study another day.  Here let’s focus on the disciples…because I can totally relate to how they chose to spend this time with Jesus.

They slept!  There was no sense of urgency in their actions, no reason to be on guard or alert, no deep-seated, hysterical anxiety…obviously they didn’t get the intensity or seriousness of what Jesus meant when He said He would be crucified.

40 Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? 41 Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”

42 Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away[g] unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open.

44 So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But look—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.

Yes, there are so many times in my walk with Jesus, that I am asleep, not alert, and anything but intentional.  Jesus warns His disciples (and us) to pray, fervently, be on watch, lest we fall into temptation.  Lest we fall into anger, greed, self-righteousness…any and all of the above.  Our hearts want Jesus, but our bodies are accustomed to the instant gratification of this world.  If it’s not an immediate need to fulfill, it can wait, right?  On the flip side, if it will bring us more comfort in this world, let’s do whatever it takes to get it now.  It’s the unconscious motto of self.

In His words, you can feel Jesus’ heart, His anguish, His concern for His disciples.  It hurts.  And we know the hearts of each disciple all too well, we are tired and weary and don’t really understand where Jesus takes us sometimes and what He is asking of us and when it will end and why He can’t just rescue us and call it eternity already.  But He is reminding us…wait, don’t get caught up and comfortable in this world, be on guard, this is not your real home, with ME is your true home, it’s where your heart’s desires should cultivate.

Dear Father,

Praise Your name!  I just thank You for keeping the desire of holiness alert and alive in me.  It is so easy to let this life be our focus, to get caught up in the right-here-right-now syndrome.  Forgive me Father when I choose to not turn to You first.  You are it…my heart’s desire…may my life be a reflection of that.  I love You!

A

TIME

How our lives can change in a year, a month, a day, an hour. During this time last year my fate was enveloped in a dark cloud, consisting of the word ‘kanser.’ Everything was completely unclear, especially in the first week as we waited for answers through test results, doctor’s appointments, the nurse’s phone calls. We would go to sleep thinking of the unknown, yet only to wake up and pick up those same thoughts right were we left off. It’s crazy how much power we give our minds to wonder off…to bright futures…and to total dark places.

But isn’t all of life unknown? Does any one of us know our number of days? No. Yet we live as if tomorrow will always be there. Have you ever been around someone who knew their life was coming to an end? They live as we were meant to live. Most importantly, they love as we were meant to love. That’s living…that’s purpose! And not that I want that kanser scare back, but I want to remember the deep reflection and no-limits love I felt for those God has put in my life. How quickly I felt urgency to really live in relationship…to seek forgiveness for taking my marriage for granted, or not spending precious moments with my kids, or calling good friends that I had let slip away.

Unfortunately, my to-do list never shrinks and the mundane struggles of life will always be there…but will my loved-ones? Do they know how I deeply I love them just as they are? How I treasure them? Do they know my intense love for Jesus? And my desire for them to experience that same love?

Oh time! How I have prayed for you to stand still, but it is truly me that needs to learn to work with you.  My Time…God’s tool!

27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Proverbs 31:27-28,31

 

Dear Father-
May I treasure the time You have given me. May I not waste one day, one hour, one minute living apart from You and Your ways. Help me, my Lord to focus on eternal matters before earthly. I pray that my love for You would overflow to those You have put before me! I love You!
A

It isn’t ‘PERFECT’

“One day at the end of our earthly lives, we will stand before God with a full understanding that we had the power of Jesus Himself working within us, and an acute awareness that we did so little with it.” ¹

YIKES!

Perfectionism…it’s a disease that creeps through my veins and wearingly yearns for everything I do to be top notch.  Everything I touch, speak, write must be done so that there is no fault found, no better way…it will take first place…and inside I can get relief (or so I think.) I laugh as I type!  I am doing it now…what’s the best adjective, the most descriptive verb…but it doesn’t sound ‘the best’…it could be superior (yes, I initially typed ‘better’…highlighted it…checked for synonyms…found ‘superior’…changed it).  My life is undone everywhere I turn because I seek perfection, yet it will never be achieved.

I cannot accomplish God’s will for my life with perfectionism at the forefront.   The two don’t work together; it’s one or the other.  They are both jealous and calling out to me…One out of love, grace and mercy… the other, out of fear, selfishness, control and the need for prize-winning approval.  Which will I choose?  My heart longs for the One, yet my nature falls to the other.

Today, I am submitting, at least for this moment.  Honestly, I have no time to stop and write this.  Taxes are spewing over the kitchen table…Clutter has found it’s way to every corner, and then some…the laundry no longer fits in it’s basket…my expired drivers license reminds of a life I once had (maybe I should not have admitted that in writing)…and on and on and on.  If you ask my mind, it works on self-inflicted overload .  I don’t have time for this…really, I don’t make time for what God is calling me to do.

My God doesn’t scream at me, He doesn’t remind me where I lack or fail, He only encourages and brings me wisdom.  He is not the squeaky wheel I long to subdue, only to show itself again day after day, hour after hour, second after second.  He is my peaceful place…my calm water…my rest from myself.  He only wants to work through me; and He patiently waits for me to allow that.

So whether or not this writing even makes sense today…no matter.  I have restrained the monster inside, if only for this moment, and done what God has asked me to do…give Him the first fruits of my day, not the left-over 2am thought.

Dear Jesus,

I sit at Your feet this morning…unorganized, undone, out of time.  The day is calling out to me.  And I know You will meet me here and there.  Thank You for reminding me of the power You have so graciously and freely pass on to Your people.  Teach me Your ways and subdue the worldliness in my body.  I seek freedom in You.  Forgive me for my ugly idols…I don’t like them much either.  I pray my life would be a reflection of Your power surging through me.  I love You Lord.

A

¹Tiegreen. The One Year Walk With GOD Devotional. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale,  2004.