Friday, May 28, 2010

RE: What are you searching for?

In life, at some time or another, we all need a 'RE.'

We need a redo.
We want to revamp.
We would like to restart.
We seek renovation.
We want to be refreshed.
We thirst for renewal.
We try to realign our lives.

But what better way to accomplish this, than being transformed and renewed by Jesus Christ?
Romans 12:2 -- Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
You've had a bad day. A bad week. Maybe a bad month or a year. You're tired of following the drudgery of day-to-day life. You're looking for a fix. You feel broken, used and downtrodden. Maybe you're in the boat of people where you have Christ in your heart, but your humanity has gotten the best of you. God seems far away. You're lost and looking for direction.
 John 14:1 -- Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.
My advice? Look no further than at the foot of the Cross.

Our Savior paid the price, so that you and I could feel His endless love. By His stripes, we have found true refreshment.
Psalm 51:10 -- Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
This world tries to convince us that what it offers is far more precious than what Christ can offer. But my friends, that is so far from the truth. This world is temporary. We live for a moment, then we are gone. God's legacy and plan will continue with or without us. Why trust the world for peace, contentment and love? It can't give any of those things; and it certainly can't provide true refreshment and renewal.
Psalm 118:8 -- It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.
Let the King of Kings and Lord of Lords realign your life. Let Him refocus your life. Seek Him and He will give you the new life and the renovation that you desire.
Jeremiah 29:13 -- You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Our Father won't ever disappoint.



Tuesday, May 25, 2010

He Held the Weight of Our Impurity

Do you ever think about what Jesus had to endure while making His final journey to Calvary?
  • Imagine the agony He felt as His seamless robe rubbed against the fresh wounds.
  • Feel the sharp points of the crown of thorns that pressed into His skull.
  • Run your fingers down His temples, tracing the drops of blood that fell.
  • Try to stand tall as the weight of the cross buckles His knees.
  • Hear the roar of the crowd beckoning Him to His death.
  • Subject yourself to the force of destiny that pushed Him to carry on.
Question: What was all of this for?
Answer: So that the weight of our impurity could be forever taken away.

As Christ walked that final journey, He held the weight of our sins. As He was nailed to the Cross, He thought about each one of us. As He hung against His own weight, He was abandoned by the only person who could save Him: His Father.

We were important enough to the Son of Man, that He would lay down His life for us.
John 15:13 -- Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
John 10:11 -- I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.
Jesus is not only the Good Shepherd; He is also the Lamb of God, and many people don't understand that concept.

How can Christ be both the shepherd, as well as the lamb? What does that mean?
John 1:29 -- The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
Jesus was born into a world of sin, as perfection.
He came as the flesh of God.
His mission was to bring us, the lost sheep, into His presence.

He didn't come as a dictator.
Or a conqueror.
But as innocence.

He was spotless.
He was pure.
He was immune to sin.

In the Old Testament, people brought lambs to the altar, as a way to atone for their sins. They brought forth the purest lamb, as way to seek forgiveness from God. But when Jesus entered the world, He became that Perfect Sacrifice. He had become that perfect lamb that would atone for the sins of humanity. He would break the barrier that existed between God and man.

As He climbed the hill to Calvary, He was like a lamb being brought to the altar; the difference was that His altar was the Cross. As He hung on that Cross, every past, present and future sin of humanity was placed on Him.

And He was punished. Harshly.
He was subject to the judgment that one day you and I should have endured.
Christ became sin.

A man that was more pure than the whitest white, had become stained by the impurity that we had become. He was drenched in His own blood, but the sin that consumed Him was even greater. The impurity that He took from us, so that we could become right with God, weighed so heavily on Him, that God could not look upon Him; He can't look upon sin. So in the hours from 12 o'clock to 3 o'clock, God's own court was in session and He was forced to forsake His Son.

This is hard to imagine, but this may make the picture more clear:

A perfect God created man, in His own image. He was proud of what He had created, but that man sinned, and caused the rest of humanity to be subject to judgment. God loved His people so much, that He sent His only Son into the world, to become the perfect sacrifice. With the shedding of His Son's blood, the barrier that had been up since the Fall of Man was now broken. But before that veil could be torn, God had to judge the sins of the world. Because impurity had been placed on His own Son, God was forced to pour out His wrath on Jesus. The one man who had done no wrong, the one man who had never sinned, was now being forced to endure the judgment that should have been poured out on you and me. For three hours, before that veil was torn (the moment that Jesus released His spirit), God had forsaken His Son, so that after judgment was complete, we could be reconciled to God.

The next time that you think that you have it rough, or feel like you can't go on, think about Christ. He took all the pain and agony that we would suffer, so that we wouldn't have to. All of it was placed on Him when He held the weight of impurity and climbed that hill.

His life was a testament of LOVE; don't let His sacrifice be for nothing.

Lay your burdens at the feet of Jesus, because they have already been taken care of.

The price has been paid.
The veil has been torn.
We are no longer separated.

We have been forgiven.



Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What Life is Calling You?

I'm starting this post with a lyric to a song.

I've heard it said today
Is all we're given
Tomorrow may not come
So you better start living
I guess it all depends
On your point of view.

Pardon me if I
Just don't listen
To everything the world
Says I'm missing
There's nothing here and now
I'm gonna hold on to.

How many times have you heard someone tell you that? If you're not living in the 'here and now' or if you're not living 'for the moment,' then you're not really living...right?

1 John 2:15-17 -- Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.
The world tries to drag us down. It tries to tell us that we need to indulge in acts of the flesh to really be alive (money, sex, fun, slander, etc). But how can we be any more alive than with life Himself in us?
Galatians 2:20 says that "My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."
If you think about it in the literal sense, we are basically being told to die to ourselves. As Christians, we should be dead to ourselves, and Christ should be living within us. Our old, human, earthly desires should be gone.

Easier said than done right? Yes, because we are human. But that doesn't mean that we aren't supposed to try; to cling to God, and to call out to Him when we've become broken and weary. When we feel burdened by this life, we aren't supposed to give in; we are supposed to fight that much harder.
John 15:18,19 -- If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.
Another part of that song says this: If home is where the heart is then I’m in Heaven.

I don't know about you, but that's what I'm waiting on.
Philippians 3:20 says it the best: But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.
We aren't citizens of this earth, no matter what a mortal man tells us. We are citizens of heaven. So shouldn't we be acting like it?
Romans 12:2 -- Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
If we were of this world, I could understand acting like every other person that walks by us on the street. But think of it this way: We have been chosen, by God, to complete a task; to spread the Good News about His Son. And to do this task, we need to walk with His light. But we can't put that light on until we've stripped away every part of this world.
1 Peter 2:9 -- But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
Or how about what it says in Romans?
Romans 8:16-19 -- For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are.
The way that I see it is that I don't have a life outside of Jesus. I have no desire to live a life outside of Him. Sure, I stumble and fall more times than I can count, but I get back up, dust myself off and keep pushing forward. Knowing that I have the spirit of God within me gives me more joy than any human or worldly possession can give. I've found my life, living for Christ, and it's the most worthwhile choice that I've ever made. No life that I could make for myself on this earth could ever compare to the life that I've received through the sacrifice of my Jesus. I'd rather be hated by man, than separated from Him for eternity. I've been separated from Him long enough.
Matthew 10:39 -- If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.
So the question is, are you going to live through the world? Or are you going to let Jesus Christ live through you?

He lets you make the choice.

Choose wisely.



Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Father's Love Letter ♥

My Child,

You may not know me,
but I know everything about you.

Psalm 139:1
I know when you sit down and when you rise up.
Psalm 139:2
I am familiar with all your ways.
Psalm 139:3
Even the very hairs on your head are numbered.
Matthew 10:29-31
For you were made in my image.
Genesis 1:27
In me you live and move and have your being.
Acts 17:28
For you are my offspring.
Acts 17:28
I knew you even before you were conceived.
Jeremiah 1:4-5
I chose you when I planned creation.
Ephesians 1:11-12
You were not a mistake,
for all your days are written in my book.

Psalm 139:15-16
I determined the exact time of your birth
and where you would live.

Acts 17:26
You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Psalm 139:14
I knit you together in your mother's womb.
Psalm 139:13
And brought you forth on the day you were born.
Psalm 71:6
I have been misrepresented
by those who don't know me.

John 8:41-44
I am not distant and angry,
but am the complete expression of love.

1 John 4:16
And it is my desire to lavish my love on you.
1 John 3:1
Simply because you are my child
and I am your Father.

1 John 3:1
I offer you more than your earthly father ever could.
Matthew 7:11
For I am the perfect father.
Matthew 5:48
Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand.
James 1:17
For I am your provider and I meet all your needs.
Matthew 6:31-33
My plan for your future has always been filled with hope.
Jeremiah 29:11
Because I love you with an everlasting love.
Jeremiah 31:3
My thoughts toward you are countless
as the sand on the seashore.

Psalms 139:17-18
And I rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17
I will never stop doing good to you.
Jeremiah 32:40
For you are my treasured possession.
Exodus 19:5
I desire to establish you
with all my heart and all my soul.

Jeremiah 32:41
And I want to show you great and marvelous things.
Jeremiah 33:3
If you seek me with all your heart,
you will find me.

Deuteronomy 4:29
Delight in me and I will give you
the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4
For it is I who gave you those desires.
Philippians 2:13
I am able to do more for you
than you could possibly imagine.

Ephesians 3:20
For I am your greatest encourager.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
I am also the Father who comforts you
in all your troubles.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4
When you are brokenhearted,
I am close to you.

Psalm 34:18
As a shepherd carries a lamb,
I have carried you close to my heart.

Isaiah 40:11
One day I will wipe away
every tear from your eyes.

Revelation 21:3-4
And I'll take away all the pain
you have suffered on this earth.

Revelation 21:3-4
I am your Father, and I love you
even as I love my son, Jesus.

John 17:23
For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed.
John 17:26
He is the exact representation of my being.
Hebrews 1:3
He came to demonstrate that I am for you,
not against you.

Romans 8:31
And to tell you that I am not counting your sins.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19
Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19
His death was the ultimate expression
of my love for you.

1 John 4:10
I gave up everything I loved
that I might gain your love.

Romans 8:31-32
If you receive the gift of my son Jesus,
you receive me.

1 John 2:23
And nothing will ever separate you
from my love again.

Romans 8:38-39
Come home and I'll throw the biggest party
heaven has ever seen.

Luke 15:7
I have always been Father,
and will always be Father.

Ephesians 3:14-15
My question is…
Will you be my child?

John 1:12-13
I am waiting for you.
Luke 15:11-32

Love, Your Dad
Almighty God

Thursday, May 6, 2010

National Day of Prayer

Today is the National Day of Prayer.

In the Bible, prayer is mentioned over and over and over again. Why? Because it's powerful. It's one of the ways that we communicate with God, offer up our praises, present our broken spirits and wait with hope, for the needs that we have.
Psalm 63:4 -- I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
We see stories in the Bible where people pour out their hearts to God. We see their deepest desires, and the depths of their hearts. David, whom we know from the Bible, became the second king of Israel. He is known for having written most of the book of Psalms, but even more than that, King David was known for being a great warrior of prayer. As I think about his life and the kind of person that he was, reading the prayers that he prayed to the one true God, I'm overflowed with joy knowing that we pray to a God who hears us. He knows each one of us, and He knows the honest cries of our hearts.
Job 11:13 -- If only you would prepare your heart and lift up your hands to him in prayer!
Here in the United States, we are told that have freedom. But what kind of freedom can man truly offer us? None! God, the Creator of heaven and earth, has given us true freedom.

We watch the news and hear about people being persecuted for their faith, being martyred for praying to a God that others don't believe in.
James 5:13 -- Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises.
Psalm 116:1 -- I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy.
How do you think of prayer? Is it something you feel obligated to do? Is it something that you have to think about doing? Or do you thirst for God, waiting to be quenched by Him?
Psalm 143:6 -- I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain.
Maybe you don't know what to pray for. I know that at times, that is exactly how I feel. I think that if I'm praying for something personal, then maybe God doesn't want to hear it. But that is backwards thinking! God wants to hear everything we have to say. Yes, it's true that He gives us the things that we need, not necessarily everything that we want, but that's because He knows what is good for us. He wants what is best for every one of us :)
Matthew 6:5 -- When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.
Jesus offers us this prayer. Matthew 6:9-13:
Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may Your name be kept holy. May Your Kingdom come soon. May Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.
Today with it being the National Day of prayer, here are some things that you can pray for:

1. Those closest to you. Your friends, family, neighbors, church members, co-workers, etc. Pray for their protection, their salvation (if they aren't saved), and their walk with God.
Philippians 1:3 -- Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.
2. Those who instruct, teach, and heal. Pray for the teachers throughout the nation, as well as teachers in the nations around the world. Pray for the doctors throughout the world who are helping the sick, weak and hurt.
Psalm 6:9 -- The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord will answer my prayer.
Psalm 120:1 -- I took my troubles to the Lord; I cried out to him, and he answered my prayer.
3. The leaders. Pray for our leaders of the United States, as well as the leaders of other nations around the world.
2 Chronicles 7:14 -- Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.
4. Those who are weak, in trouble, hurt and in need of God's mercy. Pray that they would feel God's protection and love around them. Also pray for the protection of missionaries around the world. Many of them have given their lives for the Good News. Many are living in dangerous territories, or dealing with conflicts of religion.
Romans 1:9 -- God knows how often I pray for you. Day and night I bring you and your needs in prayer to God, whom I serve with all my heart by spreading the Good News about his Son.
Psalm 17:1 -- O Lord, hear my plea for justice. Listen to my cry for help. Pay attention to my prayer, for it comes from honest lips.
5. Yourself. It's important to remember yourself. Thank God for the things that He has given to you, and thank Him for the things that He has done for you. Pray for your own courage, strength and faith. Pray that God would protect you during these end times. Pray that God would reveal His plan for your life, and that He would lead you down the path of righteousness.
Habakkuk 3:19 -- The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.
Pray to God. He will hear you. Also remember, don't let today be the one time that you pray. Yes, it's important to all join together and pray, and I'm so thankful for days like this, but prayer should be constant. It could be a few words, or a cry. Prayer isn't something that should be rehearsed, or done out of routine. Let your words to God be a song of praise. His giving won't ever come to an end :)

All you have to do is ask.
Matthew 7:7 -- Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Behind Closed Doors

Psalm 51:17 -- The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
I've been struggling.

I feel like I've been talking (or writing) a lot, but in the depths of my heart, I feel myself drowning.

I read my posts. I re-read them. I find myself talking about things that are relevant, but once they become days old, I forget about the message that God has laid on my heart. I've always hoped that by writing, I'm touching someone's life, but I think I need to reevaluate my own life before trying to help others.

My walk with Christ is a daily struggle. He never promised that my life on earth would be easy. And believe me, it's not. But after thinking about it, I don't want it to be. What kind of life would that be, to have everything handed to me? There would be nothing to fight for. Nothing to have a passion for. And in these past few days, in the quiet of my heart, this revelation has come to me: I WANT to fight for Jesus. I WANT Jesus to be my passion. But more than those 'wants,' I NEED to fight for Jesus. I NEED Jesus to be my passion. I need to be so lost in Him that the world fades away, and He becomes my focus.

It's easy to 'put on a show,' so to speak. Read bits of the Bible. Pray when it's convenient. Go to church on Sundays. But once those 5 minutes, or that hour and a half is finished, life comes back into the picture.

I fight with my family. I use anger as my emotional outlet. I am easily irritated and annoyed. I look at people with scorn and disdain. This disease? Humanity. I've tried running from it. I've tricked myself into believing that I can escape the world, by labeling myself as a follower of Christ. But reality is that as long as I'm living, I will struggle.

I can recite Scripture, and teach people about the beauty inside of the Bible, but if I'm not living it behind closed doors, I've become nothing more than a hypocrite, a lukewarm follower of Christ.

That's not to say that I won't face problems, because as I said before, taking up my cross every day and dying to myself, is a daily struggle itself, but what I choose to do with those problems is what I need to look at.

I've made a small list of things that I need to improve on. I would greatly appreciate prayer from you guys, as I continue to pray for you as well.

1. I need to give more of my time to God. It is after all, His. When I wake up in the morning, I need to start my day by entering into His presence, asking Him to prepare my heart for the things that I will encounter, as well as ask Him to guide me throughout the day. I need to pray for strength and courage to be all that He asks of me. But more than all that, I need to sit in His presence, and listen. It's easy to pray for things that I want or need, but I rarely ever sit there and just listen to what He has to say.

2. I want my life behind closed doors, to be the life that Christ asks of me. I feel that what I portray isn't always how I am 'behind the scenes,' and I want my life to be transparent. I want people to see me exactly the way that I am at home. This means that I need to improve on different areas of my relationships with my family members, and friends as well. I don't want things to be hidden, because the things that I hide in my heart, are things that I'm ashamed of. I want people to see the real me, and through that, see Christ living through me. If I was living the life that Christ has laid out for me, I wouldn't need to feel shame and guilt.

3. I need to remember to love everyone. Love conquers all, and I really need to remember that. I do things out of fear. Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of loss, fear of disappointment and so much more. I have learned to guard my heart against people, so that I don't get hurt, but in doing so, I push them away and give myself reasons not to love them. Instead, I judge them, when Christ says to love. I think it's easy to point out other people's flaws and judge their actions as worse than my own, and in doing so, I am unconsciously attempting to exalt myself. If I'm not the one drinking, smoking, doing drugs or having sex, then it's easy to trick myself into thinking that my sins aren't as bad. But the fact is, sins are weighed the same. In judging others, I have no room to show them love. I critique, criticize, belittle, slander and down people; not out of my own selfish amusement, but because I want to see people succeed in their relationship with Jesus, so I try and correct them. The problem is, when I do that with judgment, I'm not honoring Christ, and therefore digging myself into a bigger hole. Pray that the love of Jesus would replace my fears and judgment.
John 13:34-35 -- A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
I need improvement.
I don't want to be a hypocrite.
I want people to see Jesus in every area of my life.
I want my life behind closed doors, to be the life that I live in the world.
I don't want to be ashamed of Christ out in the streets.
I want to be an encouragement to people.
I can't tell people to live a certain way, if I, myself, am not doing the same.
I need to remember not to judge people, for the standard that I use to judge will be used against me.

Most of all, I need to remember to love. Love everyone. Those who love me. Those who hate me. Those who hurt me. Those I have never met. And those who don't want to know me.

If I use love as my main source of energy, rather than anger, resentment, hate, irritation and annoyance, then the life that I put on display (through this blog, Facebook, Bible study, etc.) can be the life that I live behind closed doors.

Father God,

I come to you as a broken spirit; humbled and in need of you. My life has become a routine, a mask to cover up my past regrets. I've tried so hard to make myself believe that what I show on the outside is good enough. But Lord, my heart is burdened. I feel as though my prayers have become nothing more than the desires of my own heart, rather than an honest cry to you. Change my heart Father. Let the life that people perceive of me, be the life that my heart lives. I want to be transparent; allowing people to see that I have nothing to hide. Let my life behind closed doors become the life that I so desperately want to live. Break me, Lord, into the person that you want me to be, inside and out. Mold me and use me for your purpose. Father, give the me strength to love. You say that love conquers all, and I believe that. Thank you for the sacrifice of your Son, who showed the greatest act of love ever known. Help me to walk in your light, and be a light to others.

These things I ask, in Jesus' name,