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No More ‘Kick Me’

I read daily from a variety of authors, I adore Charles Spurgeon, Andrew Murray, Oswald Chambers, Ann Spangler just to name a few. Of recent, I have begun going through the Psalms on a daily basis, reading “This Year, The Psalms” by Jim Kutnow.

This week we are in Psalm 49, “No man cannot redeem themselves from death by paying a ransom to God. Redemption does not come so easily, for no one can ever pay enough to live forever and never see the grave.” (vss 7-9) In Mr Kutnow’s expository notes, he took us to Paul’s strong statement of being RANSOMED: “God made Him (Jesus) who had no sin to become sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21, emphasis mine) Mr Kutnow goes on to say, “So worthy in God’s sight is Christ’s atoning work that it is sufficient to pay the sin debt of every human being who has ever lived or whoever will live. (Inserting a hardy “AMEN!”) However, only those who personally trust in Christ’s atoning work have that value applied to themselves.” I have to admit, I had to stop and laugh (kinda) at the imagery it yelled (for me) I pictured an exchange of ‘signs’ (if you will) We are no longer identified with a ‘Kick Me’ or ‘Loser’ or ‘Condemned’ on our back. NO. We now have a new sign ‘applied’ to us, JESUS!

And those of us who mucked things up pretty bad, we hang our head and with a shrug we shuffle off onto the sidelines. WAIT. Stop. Turn around.  Your relationship with God intact, but you may have injured your fellowship with Him,  BUT… “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9  Fellowship restored.  Most use this verse as an evangelistic tool, however, John wrote it under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you…” (v5) Who are the ‘you?’ Christians.  Jesus followers.  They (we) have already took the steps into the God arena.

So I encourage us, to stand tall and wear Christ’s applied atoning work.  He is the answer for Psalm 49, He IS enough!

If need be, seek out the Faithful One, come in agreement with Him (confess) and re-adjust your sign.

Identified as one of His.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)

 

Holy Green Thumb Gardening

Tulips, daffodils and cheery blossomed trees, SPRING. Can I hear an AMEN! With it brings, spring cleaning, garage sales and garden plotting. For many of us, we may not have a green thumb even though we find ourselves standing in the garden center of Home Depot staring at the veggie plants with lofty dreams of luscious gardens.

To have a healthy garden, you need healthy soil. Jesus spoke of this in Luke chapter 8, the Parable of the farmer, the seed and the dirt (DeDe’s paraphrase) He spoke of four different ‘garden spots’ each representing the human heart and how it hears and responds to the seed, which is the word of God. First is the indifferent heart, the seed falls on the path, it is trampled down and doesn’t grow, basically becomes bird food. ‘Wayside hearers’ allow the seed to be easily snatched away. Second is the inconsistent heart, seed landing in the rocky ground, they believe for a while, they begin to sprout, but they don’t really allow their roots to go deep, they are great beginners, yet not good ‘finishers.’ Their results? They soon dry up and die. Third, the distracted heart, seed landing in the weed area, so many weeds, worries and even pleasures which eventually chokes life right out of them. Then, the fourth, the devoted heart, the one who hears the word, clings to it, nurtures and watches it mature in their life.

The well tended healthy soil.

The Lord showed me a picture how we can help in the ‘gardening process’ of someone’s life. We are called to affect and impact others by our words, attitudes and actions, being the word of God to them. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a great word of knowledge, or pulling out the 4 Spiritual Laws, it may be a simple heartfelt word of encouragement. As Paul exhorts,  “…speech as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace to those who hear it.”  (Eph. 4:29) What we say or do may just be what that person needs to help rake over and remove some rocks in their heart.  John wrote:  “Let us stop just saying we love people; let us really love them, and show it by our actions.” (1 John 3:18)

Remembering a few years ago, I pulled my car up to get gas, it was a chilly and windy day. The poor attendant shuffling up, opening my window I caught the smell of ‘breakfast’ at the nearby Jack in the Box. After paying for my gas, I felt the Lord say “Go buy him breakfast.” So I drove over and did just that and took it back and handed it to him. With a surprised look, he said “What is this for?” I told him “Just because and pass on the kindness and God loves YOU.” “THANKS!” He exclaimed. As I drove away I prayed for him and for the next God-lover who comes through his line, that they too would share God’s love boldly. We are used of God in His orchestrating events in other people’s’ lives, IF we are obedient. I may have just helped till his ground and perhaps pull a few weeds. We never know the heart condition of those who cross our path. The attendant’s heart, or might I say, his soil now ready (or more ready) for the Word, the life changing Word. The next person shares their testimony along with the gospel, he might, just might hear it with a lil bit less rocky ears.

So we can have a HOLY green thumb, planting kindness and love, God’s word in ACTION. Did God love the gas attendant enough to send me to buy him breakfast? YES!  Did God love me enough to speak a word for me to obey?  Yes!

Here’s a challenge, while out eating, just before you bow your head, when the food server brings your meal, tell them you are about to pray and ask them if there is anything you could pray for, for THEM. (I have never had someone turn me down.) Pulling weeds and removing a few rocks.

How are our gardening skills? Perhaps we need to consider the condition of our own soil, is it labeled indifferent, inconsistent, distracted or devoted.

Have a great God-loving, green thumb gardening week.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” – Heb. 10:24)

Post Easter, Now What?

Squishy marshmallow Peeps, earless chocolate bunnies and left over deviled eggs in the frig. Post Easter. Now what? Do we just rummage through the calendar for another holiday or event to look forward to? What excites us for the future or even … daily? For some of us, it is the planning and anticipation that is as exciting as the event. May I be so bold in asking, what causes our insides to burn with excitement, what consumes our mind and emotions?

Post Easter.

Jesus’ resurrection. AMAZING! WONDERFUL!  But let’s not stop there. There’s MORE! Let’s unpack this in brief summary. Stay with me, this is good! Luke 24, it speaks of the women going to the tomb, once there they find two angels who notify them that Jesus was no longer there, the gals go back to tell the others. Peter, as energetic as he was, runs to go see and confirm. Just following that, (v13) it says “Now that same day…” It proceeds to unfold the story of the two walking to Emmaus, who unknown to them at first, encounter Jesus. They are flabbergasted that this Stranger didn’t know what had just transpired in Jerusalem. They shared their disappointment, “We had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” Going on they explained how Jesus’ body was not found. Verse 27, “Then he (Jesus) started at the beginning, with the Books of Moses, and went on through all the Prophets, pointing out everything in the Scriptures that referred to him.” WOW, I’d love a one on one instant Bible study from the lips of the Master!

It wasn’t until Jesus was seated at their table, in their home and they accepted the bread He offered that their eyes were opened and they knew who He was. I LOVE their response, “They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?”  (v32, emphasis mine)

Their hearts burning within them. I want spiritual heart burn! I want my soul, mind, thoughts, passions, desires and appetites to burn with Him and His word! The word Luke chooses to use here for ‘burning’ is very colorful. It doesn’t just mean to strike a match and light the kindling and watch it slowly give off heat. No, it RAVISHES through the wood and consumes it! It can be likened to the Hebrew word imagery found in Psalm 39:3 as King David shares “… my insides got hotter and hotter…”

Yet some would argue that the two didn’t even recognize Jesus when He shared the WORD with them. However, the author of Hebrews declares strongly, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12 And Paul pens, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) To have the very Son of God, His presence and He b-r-e-a-t-h-e these words to them, teaching them, training them, THAT would cause their heart to burn. Not to mention some ‘double-edged’ dividing goin on. Notice that Jesus didn’t lay hands on them, put mud on their eyes, or have them go wash in a nearby pool. He didn’t even send them to the Priest for verification; He simply… walked with them. Walking and talking, they were transformed. The narrative says they got up at once and went back to Jerusalem testifying that Jesus was indeed RISEN.

For us? The next time we find our seat at church or open the Bible for devotion time, let’s not day dream off to another place or become bored with it. Let’s receive the bread Jesus offers, allow, INVITE Him to ‘point out everything in the scriptures’ and take a walk with Him, our resurrected Lord. May we breathe a whisper to the Holy Spirit, two words, just two life changing words… BURN LORD! With Your Presence, with Your word. Throwing our holiday circled calendar aside, be AMAZED at how exciting the word is, how exciting Jesus is.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)

 

 

At Jesus’ Feet

While studying for our ladies group on the 7 I AM statements of Jesus, I found that Mary of Bethany is mentioned only three times. You know, Mary the gal at Jesus’ feet, while her sister, Martha Stewart of the day was busy in the kitchen.  In these three mentions, Mary is found at Jesus’ feet, (Luke 10, John 11 and John 12)

In the Lazarus scenario, (John 11) she falls at Jesus’ feet and says “Lord if you would have been here my brother would not have died.” These are the ONLY recorded words of Mary.  All that time previously at His feet and her only recorded words are “Lord, if …” And Thomas gets the bum rap for doubt!

I set my bible aside and thought about Mary. We know the story of Martha complaining to Jesus about Mary not helping her and His response; Mary has ‘chosen what is better.’ (Luke 10:42)  It is her/our choice.

I find it also interesting, Martha hears of Jesus’ arrival in Bethany and goes to meet him, running from the family home. Mary stays behind.  The custom of the day was for family and friends to come and mourn for days alongside the hurting.  Martha goes alone. But when Jesus sends for Mary, she ‘got up quickly and went to Him,’ (John 11:29) here the mourning folks set their Kleenex aside and sprint off after her.  Did they hear her words to Jesus?  All that time listening at His feet, now her family and friends hear her brief testimony?  Could they have only caught the “IF?”

Oh this spoke volumes to me. Here, Mary was at Jesus’ feet near her brother’s tomb, it didn’t seem to matter the posture, or the previous presence, the time spent at His feet, what mattered was her heart…our heart… MY heart HAS to be transformed with a true revelation of Jesus. When I read His word …He Does… He will… He is. And THAT be my testimony.  Yes, I want to be real with folks, but I always want JESUS to be my testimony, that the ‘ifs’ be lost in the foreground, and doubt be left behind as I run to Him.

When Jesus called Lazarus forth, He began thanking the Father stating He was praying aloud ‘for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe You sent Me… LAZARUS, COME OUT!”  Go God!

At Jesus’ feet.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)

Yes, there is more, more to Mary’s story.   Mary witnessed the resurrection of her dead (4 days) brother.  As he walks out of the tomb, Jesus tells someone to remove his grave clothes, untangle the death and LIVE.  Just one chapter later, Mary is pouring expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet, she now KNOWS He is…

IT IS FINISHED, Red Letter Easter!

 

Have you ever sat and read through the New Testament and read ONLY the words in red? Jesus’ words.  For a completely new perspective, I challenge us to do just that. I know context is everything, but let’s step out of the exegesis box (interpreting the scriptures) for a brief moment, to get an amazing snap shot of Jesus, His strength, authority, His love and compassion.

Without all the narrative, those stand alone red words pack a powerful punch, knowing they are Jesus. There are dramatic statements, strong commands and tender words. “Let it be so…” (Matthew 3:15) It is written…” (Matthew 4:4)Get up…” (Matthew 9:6) “Take courage it is I…” (Matthew 14:27) “Quiet, be still…” (Mark 4:39) “Come forth …” (John 11:43) “Don’t be afraid just believe…” (Mark 5:36)  What do you want Me to do for you…” (Mark 10:51) “Who do you say I am…” (Luke 9:20)Then neither do I condemn you...” (John 8:11) I am He…” (John 18:6).

These are just a few, but there is one more that stands out among the rest. Here I do want to set the context. Jesus is agonizingly set between two thieves. His feet and hands are nailed to a wooden cross. There at the foot of the cross, many mocked, some cried and I am confident there were those in complete silence. After the vinegar water was given to Jesus, He saidIt is FINISHED…” (John 19:30 emphasis mine) He then bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

It is finished. The word in the Greek is amazing! Stand back and take in the whole Technicolor filled screen, I don’t think even Steven Spielberg with all his creative genius could convey the scene that was unfolding upon humanity. It is finished, (Tetelestai) To bring to an end, to fulfill. What is done corresponds to what has been said, ordered or commanded. (“Not My will, but Your will be done.” – Jesus, Luke 22:42, Matthew 26:39) It is accomplishing something not merely to end it, but bring it to perfection for its designed goal.”* (Please read that again) It signifies the successful end to a particular course of action. Grammatically in the Greek, it is a crucial word; it is in the ‘perfect tense.’ Meaning the action was completed in the past with results continuing in the present. Basically, “This happened and it is still in effect TODAY.”  One might say, “The gift that keeps on giving.”  This is different from  ‘past tense’ which points to an event, declaring ‘This happened.’ Nothing more.  The end.

NOT our Jesus, He is our NOW God!

As Jesus said this, His blood flowing down His forehead, from His hands and His feet, He declares sharply, His sacrifice, now eliminating the debt owed by mankind … you and me. May we take careful notice, Jesus didn’t say. “I am finished.” That would imply He a mere man and died defeated. Instead, He declares, “It is finished.” When He died and with His resurrection power, He left no unfinished business behind, He successfully completed the work He came to do. 

As the pages turn from Genesis to this very moment, God’s story is fulfilled. Does it end here?  No!  But the bridge back to the Father is perfected. Jesus rises from the dead triumphantly (Happy Easter) engages and commissions the disciples, returns to heaven to reign forever. Now we the church, with the authority given by Jesus Himself, as inspired by Holy Spirit carry on with the red letter commands, statements and tender words.

Move over Easter Bunny, here comes the risen King! It is finished!”  Relationship offered, relationship restored. May we live each day as a red letter day!

Blessed Easter to you and yours,

In Him, DeDe & Mark (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”~ Hebrews 10:24)

 

* Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Vine’s Expository of New Testament Words, Strong’s Greek Dictionary, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, NASB Hebrew-Greek Dictionary, Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon. Greek Interlinear Bible words it: “He said, “It has been accomplished.” (Yes, I am a geek)

 

Connecting the Dots to Easter

Remember as a child sliding the crayon from one dot to another until getting to the last dot, excited to see a picture form?  Often, this is how we come to understand certain things, connecting the dots.  Have we considered the ‘dot connection’ (if you will) of the Lamb of God? As we draw near to Easter, let’s pick up your crayon and begin connecting as we see the progression of the Lamb.

Genesis 22, God declares to Abraham to take his son Isaac, his only son to the mountain and offer him as a sacrifice. As Abe and son begin their hike up the mountain, father placing the wood on the shoulders of the son, Isaac says “The fire and wood are here.” Then asks, “But where is the lamb …?” As the story progresses, Isaac willingly climbs up on the altar. Abraham obeys to the fullest, God knowing His heart, stops him and provides a ram for the sacrifice. Noting, here in this chapter, is the first time love, (v 2) worship (v 5) and obey (v 18) are used. Whenever God introduces something new, we are to take notice!  Love. Worship. Obey. Hearing God, following His commands, sacrificing until it hurts, God knows. The Lamb … provided.

Exodus 12, in short: God prepares the Israelites to leave the captivity of Egypt. Instructions were given as the Angel of death would soon be unleashed, “… take the lamb…” slay and place the blood of the lamb on the doorpost of the home. Taking the lamb into their home, the blood now over them, death avoided. The Lamb … protected.

John 1, John the Baptist, known as an eccentric evangelist, sees Jesus approaching, he openly declares “Look, behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” John purposely points to Jesus, the shift of attention. The Lamb … proclaimed.

Revelation 5, the angelic choir ‘gettin their worship on’, sings before the throne “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise.” THAT verse! Read it again as the Holy Spirit breathes on you with His Majesty! (Let’s all stand to our feet!)  The Lamb … praised.

As we enjoy the sugar coated bright pink and yellow Peeps and creamy milk chocolate filled Cadbury eggs, (I SO love Easter candy!) let’s take these next few days building up to Easter, our dots connected and whole heartedly consider the Lamb of God.  As we invite others to come to church with us, pray for their understanding of what it is all about, take the time to share and explain it to them. As they and we ourselves stand in church, seeing the empty cross, may we see, understand and participate in the celebration of Jesus.

Move over easter bunny, Jesus IS the Lamb of God. He is the sacrificial lamb provided by the Father, under His blood we are protected, we too proclaim Him and yes, we stand in awe joining the harmony of heaven, we too praise Him. The Lamb of God. Dots connected.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” ~ Heb. 10:24)

 

Hosanna, the Gospel in One Word

Just before the hiding of the Easter eggs, laying out the suit, socks and dress shoes, the family dinner menu is completed, OH and don’t forget the leather bond bible. Palm Sunday. The Sunday prior to Easter. Often at church we sit with large smiles on our faces as the children walk down the aisles waving over-size palm branches. The worship leader steps forward as we bust out a hardy rendition of ‘Hosanna.’

Hosanna. What an amazing prophetic word. Looking at Mark chapter 11, it vividly explains the events of the day. Jesus and the disciples are preparing to come into Jerusalem. Jesus sends two of them ahead to get a young donkey, “Go into that village over there,” He told them. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here.” (v2) I find this SOOOO interesting, how many times do we read a portion of scripture, basically ‘skimming it verbally’ and miss some great stuff. Jesus instructs them to go get a young ‘wild’ colt, one that has never been ridden. How many of us would hike a foot up and over and hop on a wild donkey? Verse 7, “When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, He sat on it.” Jesus steps up and sits down; all MAJESTY now drapes the colts back. The colt knew.

As Jesus rides through the cobblestones streets, the crowd begins to yell “Hosanna… Hosanna in the Highest.” Waving palm branches with enthusiasm. It was common practice in the ancient world to welcome home a king or war hero by laying down branches in front of them, liken to our ‘ticker tape’ celebrations today.

Hosanna is the Greek version of the Hebrew saying ‘yasha na’ (yaw-shaw naw) meaning – ‘save now we pray.’ This is taken from what is known as the Hallel, (Jewish prayerful readings of Psalms 113-118) specifically here, “O LORD, save us; (HOSANNA!) O LORD , grant us success. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you.” (Psalm 118:25,26 emphasis mine)

Can we grasp the impact of what they are saying? Jesus was fulfilling the prophetic words of Zechariah, “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (chapter 9:9)

HOWEVER… then…. back in Mark; Just 4 chapters later, that same crowd was again yelling, but this time; “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” (Mark 15:12-14) Little did they know they were basically yelling the same thing. Both times! For you see beloved, for Jesus to ‘save we pray’  they had to ‘Crucify Him!’ He allowed it, He laid down His life for YOU, for me. By this act and He resurrecting from the dead with all Kingly authority and power He stood in the gap, reaching for your hand and placing it in the Fathers hand.

This weekend, as we sing our ‘Hosannas’ may we whole heartedly consider the fulfillment. Jesus riding an untamed colt in a Kings procession, the people crying out “SAVE WE PRAY!” THAT He did! Hosanna, the gospel in one word.  Good news for today!

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Heb. 10:24)