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It’s About the LAMB

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 our 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 …” Abraham confidently responds, “God Himself will provide 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.   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.  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 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 Holy Spirit breathes on you with His Majesty! (Let’s all stand to our feet!)  The Lamb … PRAISED!

As we enjoy 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 wholeheartedly consider the Lamb of God, the empty cross, the empty tomb – may we see, understand and participate in the celebration of Jesus.

Move over Easter Bunny, it’s not about the bunny – it’s about the LAMB! 

Worthy is the LAMB! 

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

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Leveling

Our car has this fantastic ‘heads up display’ feature, where a projector thingy shoots transparent info up from the dashboard onto my windshield directly above the steering wheel.  I can adjust the settings and the height just for me; the speed, gear, outside temp, even radio channel, all so I don’t have to look away. BRILLIANT!  No one else can see it, it’s kinda (Psst… come closer to the screen) my secret stealth maneuvering gadget, (SSMG – I’m sure 007 had one!) OKAY, okay… maybe not, but I love it!

King David too had such stealthiness, when maneuvering his LIFE, he writes, “I have set the LORD always before me, because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 16:8)  He continues, “I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set Your rules before me.”  (Psalm 119:30)  Set.  The word is shavah (in the Hebrew) its meaning is to level, to equalize, to resemble, the context here, is to focus.  David is stating he puts God and God’s word before him, right where he can see – but he doesn’t just see, he balances! Seeing the standard of God and seeing himself, he then faithfully makes adjustments – leveling, a focused endeavor of aligning. David follows with “No wonder my heart is glad and I rejoice…” (Psalm 16:9)

Following David’s example, placing God and God’s word in front of me, (with a boatload of adjusting). THE guide, all I need right there, with no need to look away.  BRILLANT!  THE ultimate ‘heads up display.’

Y’all try being in my head, driving down the road, seeing the ‘speed’ staring at me and first thought, “OK! Now isnt THIS a shavah of sorts!”  (And yes, the speed was adjusted).

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

LORD: In scripture, we often see Lord in all caps, this tells the reader this is the covenantal name Yahweh (YHWH – “I AM”) the name given to Moses (Ex. 3) when he asks of God, when I go to Egypt demanding Your people set free, WHO am I to say sent me?  Tell them, I AM has sent me to you.”  God replied. (v14)  LORD.

A YOU Focus

“O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.  So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.” Psalm 63:1-4

Each night before my husband and I go to sleep, he reads a Psalm over us, his loving voice and the rhythmic sound of scripture, especially the Psalms is gently soothing – so poetic, so honest – so declaring, so full of praise! The Psalmist starts as if standing on a hilltop and echoes of majestic relationship, “O God, You are my God!”   He then states early I seek You.  This early isn’t just a time frame mentioned, but a declaration of discipline.  Literally, EARNESTLY I will seek YOU!  Painstakingly I will set aside all things and YOU will be my focus. My in the moment – first thing YOU!

This world is so full of me, we, us and I, it really is refreshing to take a step back and see what is BIGGER than us, BETTER and worthy of our focus and pursuit. SO WORTHY – His power and glory, His lovingkindness! Our lips praise HIM, our hands raised in HIS name!  Morning or night it’s a YOU focus!

O God, You are my God!

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

If it is Possible

We are list people, whether we write it down or attempt to contain it all in our head, we love us some lists.  We list what needs to be done, our goals and items to pick up at the store.  Paul too loved his lists; the nine Fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22,23) his ‘think on these things’ (Phil. 4:8) and of course ‘Love is…’ (1 Cor. 13). There is yet another list, a list full of practical lifestyle responses, ‘in view of God’s mercy…’  found in Romans chapter 12.   We are told to be devoted, joyful, patient, hospitable and faithful, we are to love, cling and honor and in no way are we to lack zeal, curse others, and repay evil.  My favorite of this list is verse 18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with each other.”   ‘If it is possible.’ Hm, interesting, there is no if …it hangs low enough, to where I can reach it and cling to what is good or if …you can muster up some patience or devotion.  Nope, you just get those done through the Holy Spirit (in Jesus name).

The fact remains, there are times, peace does not reign in relationships, it takes a ton of work and an abundance of divine intervention.   ‘Peace’ (Eirene in the Greek) which literally means ‘set at one’ – the word picture conveys something that was once erected, has either been removed or toppled over.  Chaos, frustration, strife and even war can be the result of the deep crevasse left behind.  Peace is putting it back in its place – set at one! The ultimate example; the Garden activities in Genesis; All things are good, then man messes up, the God/man relationship is broken [leaving a hole].  Fast forward – Jesus comes [Prince of Peace] the glorious Son puts things back in its place, things made right, He fills the chasm, we now have… Peace. (Ro. 5:1)

When there is strife or any evidence of some toppling over, do we do our very best to identify, pull up and reset what is missing?  Do we invest ourselves in seeing peace restored?   Paul gives a simuliar list to the Ephesians, yet wraps it up with a divine-like bow: “Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.”  (4:32 MSG) I love his direct prodding and not to mention (but I will) hint of admonishing.  He plays the holy tag-team card, God forgave – ‘your turn.’ What a challenge!  How painful!   How risky – but worth it.  Putting God and God stuff back in the center, THAT is seeking peace with my brothers and sister.  ‘If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with each other.’

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

 

The Hemming of God

Recently I was reminded of a time I spent on a loved one’s cattle farm.  This particular visit we were working with the cattle one-on-one, giving them medication and much-needed individual attention. As the day went on, one particular cow impacted me, she was spunky and fought the process the whole way, we got her into the funneled shoot and once she was in the head gate, I put the rump board in behind her to hold her in nice and tight, no backing out. This poor gal – she thrashed so hard, causing the farmer to get a nose clamp, this was a metal clamp with a large rope attached to it, he placed it in the nostrils of the cow and brought her head up and tied her off.  This was done for her own safety.  She fought so hard that she ended up on her knees, and there she stayed.  If she would just calm down! Oh the pain, not for her, but for me!   I reached out and patted her, tenderly saying, “Just yield, it would be less painful.”  As the words escaped my lips, I stopped and sensed Holy Spirit tap my shoulder with a divine nod.  YES!  If I too would just yield to my Master, it would be less painful.

How often do we find ourselves in the ‘shoot and headgate’ of God (if you will)?  He is wanting to prepare us, heal us, create His character in us, and teach us – but … we fight it.  We thrash, bawl, and complain, oh it may be uncomfortable, and perhaps even feel a bit boarded in – the hemming of God.  David speaks of this, but in the context of BLESSING; “Before there is a word on my tongue You know it completely, O LORD. You hem me in – behind and before; You have laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” (Psalm 139:4-6)  He goes on to say, “Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (v 14b)

I have to admit, I can relate to the sweet bawling cow, I too once required the nose clamp (for my own good) after I thrashed about for a bit, I sensed God’s hand on me, and it was GOOD – I know that full well!

Sometimes we come to God quietly and other times kicking and screaming – either way, thank you, Lord, for the hemming!

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

* Please know, no cows in the above story were harmed, our spunky bawling cow was only in the head gate just a couple of moments and soon released out into the pasture.

 

Give Him Just One

Women.  We are used to multi-tasking.  Having our minds and lives firing in 5 or more different directions all at the same time.   When we find ourselves on overload, what do we tend to do, and do well?  We criticize ourselves.  I am reminded of a time when I sat amongst a small group of gals in a bible study setting. In that discussion time, we were sharing our goals for the study. There was a mother of ‘4’ (FOUR!) small, YOUNG, needing her attention, children.   In her frustration and complete weariness, she shared in depth about not having ‘enough’ time for devotions and her bible study. She was exhausted, felt defeated, and was basically giving up, to where she hadn’t opened her Bible in some time.  Those in the group kept trying to help with creative ways to carve out enough time. “Go to bed earlier, get up earlier, use paper plates, when they sleep ….” This young mom was nearly in tears. I just sat and listened. These are all good disciplined goals, yet they were more worried about the quantity of time, rather than the quality.

I finally leaned forward and looked the gal in the eyes, lovingly and tenderly asking, “Could you look at maybe just ONE verse each day or one verse for the whole week?” She stopped talking. So did the others.  Silence.  Reading their expressions, yet not verbalizing –   “This gal is NUTS! One stinkin verse?  THAT is NOT enough! I will get behind! I have to get through that one-year reading plan, gotta get my homework done! Gotta write in my journal.” This attitude belongs to many of us.  How many of us too, feel defeated and allow our God time to slip, slip away because we can’t keep up with the ‘quota’.

I then shared that it’s not the quantity of time with God and His word that is important, it is the quality. If you have just enough time to read one verse, then the baby cries, or the dog is having a fit at the front door or milk is split (so goes life).  Then take that ONE verse, WHILE you are cleaning up the milk – holding the crying baby, ask Holy Spirit to speak to YOU about that verse. You, God, His word … quality time. Listen – listen for HIS application, throughout the day, throughout the week.  If need be at the beginning of the week, jot down that verse on a 3×5 card, tape it to the mirror in the bathroom, even though you may have a parade of offspring following you in there, READ it aloud.  Again and again.

Don’t get me wrong I am ALL OVER Bible study, BUT there are seasons, seasons when time captures us. Seasons even with discipline … our life, our arms are full.  The Pastor wrote; “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.” (Heb. 4:12) Allow the ‘alive word’ to minister to YOU! Remember, God spoke the universe into place with His word, He can decorate your heart with the same. One verse?  Enough? Yes, yes it is with the Holy Spirit ‘leading you into all truth.’ (Jn 16:13)

During that moment of silence with the gals, I shared I once spent days just on Thomas’s “… my Lord and my God” (Jn. 20:28). Knowing the context, I thought about it, I said it, I pictured it and I prayed it.  Just 5 words -it was amazing. The gals just sat there and stared at me. (I was shocked that they allowed me to sit at their table the following week).

God knows us, knows our heart.  For those of us whose season doesn’t allow for hours or minutes of ‘head in the book’ sessions, don’t stress!  Don’t feel condemned, if we can give Him just ONE verse, HIS word, He can and will minister to us. It can be amazing.

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

Going Through – A Divine Necessity

There are times God takes us around life circumstances to protect us from harm and or protect us from what we may not be ready for.  Yet, there ARE times we are to go through.  We look at Jesus as our model.

John 4, verse 4 “Now He (Jesus) HAD to go through Samaria.” (Emphasis mine) your Bible may read, ‘He needed…’ or ‘He must…’ go through Samaria.  The word used here literally means ‘necessary’ (with a divine twist) not implying geographically, there was another route, a route other devout Jews took, a route out and around, the long way to avoid the Samaritan people.  The Samaritan folks were known as half-breeds; (in short) centuries earlier the Israelite territory was overtaken by Assyrians, many left, yet those who remained inter-married, they established their own teaching, establishing their own truth.

Scholars believe the narrative speaks (in context) to Jesus’ itinerary being subject to the sovereign plan of God – going THROUGH Samaria (where others avoided) was a divine necessity!  Jesus HAD to meet the woman at the well – she HAD to have an encounter with Jesus (“The way, the truth, and the life.” – Jn 14:6) – it was of divine necessity she took her news of Jesus back to her people, where ‘many… and many more believed in Him.’ (v39 & 41).

This going through was not an inconvenience for Jesus, going through was not geographically necessary, it was God necessary.  We see later in Acts, multiple times when mentioning the ‘church’ Samaria is listed – Jesus Himself laid the groundwork – He didn’t opt for the routine route – He went through.  We see Jesus use the same need or must; “You MUST be born again” (Jn 3:7) And John the Baptist said, “He (Jesus) MUST increase, I MUST decrease…” (Jn 3:30) Divine necessity indeed!  The principle for us: Following God’s leading, other than a routine route is not a DETOUR – it is a divine necessity of His sovereign plan.  The plan may be for us, for someone else, or both.

May we take note: God may NOT have us go through the same way (next time).  It would be a shame to tell God, “Been there, done this – I’ve got this!” When He’s left standing, pointing at something different.  When escaping the Egyptians, God had Moses reach out his staff and the waters parted at the Red Sea – however, when finally entering the Promised Land, He instructed Joshua to have the priests carry the Ark to the river’s edge, once their feet touched the water, it too parted.  Perhaps it may appear the same ‘go through’ but – His method may be different.  It is HIS plan, HIS path, HIS how and when.  His.

My through and your through may look different, they are of His divine plan, He may take us around – either the around or through is for His glory!

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

*The above is an excerpt from the teaching I presented the woman at church.