Sunday, March 29, 2015

Purpose

Image result for Palm Sunday
 
"...I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth."  (NIV)  Romans 9:17

I love this picture of Palm Sunday.  Today, the sacred Holy Week begins.  I always find this week to have many mixed emotions - this exuberance of Palm Sunday with all the pomp and circumstance.  Then the somberness of Maundy Thursday to the darkness of Good Friday to the joy of Easter.  Such a roller coaster of emotions we experience this week.  This past week I had the privilege to attend a memorial service of a dear person's mother.  She was blessed to live a long life and the service was beautiful.  One thing that the minister shared that stuck with me was that the loving deceased mother had many great purposes in her life - which she shared with many others (family, friends, her church).  It made me think, what is our purpose?
 
God has provided each and every one of us with a purpose to use while we are here on Earth.  This purpose doesn't have to be worldly exposed, such as a president or high official.  This purpose doesn't have to be very prophetic, like that of a dear pastor.  Whatever the purpose is that God gave to you, what is important is  to find it and use it.  I don't believe the purpose always "slaps us in the face".  For many of us, self included, there needs to be great thought and prayer as to what your purpose may be.  Yet, don't be confused, there is a purpose.  To be a wonderful mom or dad?  Purpose.  To inspire others in faith?  Purpose.  The teach others God's word?  Purpose.  My goodness, I could go on and on, but part of the fun of trying to figure out what YOUR purpose is can be the exploration, the discussions with God.  I know it was a big part of finding out what my purpose was - writing for the Lord.
 
This week, though, we are reverent as well as celebratory in the one whose true purpose was to save us - to save you and me.  This week, we bring praise and thanksgiving to Jesus.  His true purpose was to come and deliver us all from our horrible sins.  His true purpose was to show us how to truly love, to truly give of ourselves.  His true purpose was to teach us Earthly people how to forgive - the way God wants us to forgive.  His true purpose was to be born in humble fashion, live a life of challenges and difficulties, and die a death that can only be described as horrific for you and for me.  For each and every one of us - God gave us His son for that one true purpose.  To know that someone loves me that much is an incredible comfort, relief, joy and provides me the hope I need to move through my days.
 
Purpose does give us hope - whatever that purpose may be.  The purpose of each of our lives can provide us with a sense of being - of hope.  The purpose of Jesus' life definitely gave us the hope we can rejoice in.  This week - rejoice in the hope that Jesus brought to us through His purpose.  Yes, experience each and every emotion of this week, and cherish it.  For it is those emotions that are given to us by God.  If you believe you are still looking for your purpose, I encourage you to find joy in that exploration.  If you believe you have found your purpose - stay steadfast in it and take small steps to success of that purpose each day.
 
Today marks my two-year milestone in writing this blog.  It took me some time to admit it, but I have found my purpose and I absolutely adore the honor I have been given by God to share his words with others.  Thanks to all of you who are faithful readers during these two years.  To some of my new-found friends, I thank you for joining us and encourage you to come back weekly - and share with your friends.  We can all get the good news of Jesus out there. 
 
Please pray with me:  "Oh Dear Jesus, as this holy week begins, let us walk the walk you took throughout this week - the highs and the lows, the joy and the despair.  May you bring to us the purpose of why we are here and expose us to that purpose, just as we are clear on what your purpose was to come down to Earth.  Bless our week ahead, Jesus, from the palms being waived to the empty tomb. In your gracious name we pray.  Amen"

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Unleash the Freedom

"...Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."  (NIV)  John 8:32
 
 
Sorry, it's not the greatest picture of our dog, Duke.  Truly, he is a very handsome chocolate lab!  The other day I went to take Duke for a walk.  The picture represents my dog's "LOVE" of being on his leash - once on, he moves his head back and forth - waiting for the long anticipated walk.  We have an electric fence, so Duke never has to be on a leash, unless we go for a walk.  He has total freedom of our yard, and our house (and even the couch - when we aren't home!).
 
As I was walking along with Duke that sunny day, I couldn't help but watch him as he walked along.  I noticed that he walked slower, that he was deliberate in his steps, and although he enjoyed our time together - he was fully aware that he had a leash around his neck.  I couldn't help but feel the same for us. 
 
As persons of this Earthly world, how often do we feel like we have leashes around us?  Remember that sin that weighed you down?  Leash!!  Remember when you were hurt by others and just couldn't let things go?  Leash!!  Remember when you felt you SHOULD have shared words of comfort or joy in Jesus and didn't?  Leash!!  These are all times in our lives when the sins we have done, the sins of what we didn't do, or the sins of others makes us feel as if we have a leash around our necks.  We are unable to freely enjoy life.  I know that there have been (and I am not happy to admit can still be) times in my life when I have felt this way.  This leash leads us down paths of regret, unforgiving, guilt - to name just a few of the emotions.  I don't know about you, but I am a very different person to myself and those around me when I have these leashes around my neck.
 
Yet, let us rejoice!!  Our Bible passage for today is a wonderful example of the grace and mercy of our Lord and Savior, Jesus.  As he shared with his disciples (and as he shares with us)...
  • if we stay close to God and his teachings,
  • if our faith is deep and trustworthy of the Holy One,
  • if we truly believe that Jesus died for our sins, each and every one of them
...then the truth of all the things listed above will set us free.  If we have faith, simple faith my friends, and know that what we read in the Bible is true, then that truth sets us free from our leashes, leashes of sin, regret, guilt, and unforgiving - just to name a few.  Free to be children of God.  Free to live the life that HE gave us.  Free to enjoy the blessings he provides for us.  Free!! All of this freedom is ours - just if we believe that Jesus is our Savior.  Yes, it is that simple.
 
Life brings us many situations that can be difficult; choices to make, trials to endure, and paths to follow.  I pray that our path may be that of following our Jesus.  He, too, took a path - the path that led to Calvary so that we may be unleashed.  By his walk to the cross, we can also, freely, walk to the cross with hope - hope for the freedom to live in His glory and eternal kingdom.
 
As for Duke and our walk?  As we neared home, I took the leash off of him. He ran up the driveway and into the back yard, jumping and playing - running after squirrels and twigs.  Yes, he enjoys our walks with the leash - but he loves the freedom of being unleashed.  I hope you enjoy that freedom as well - nothing feels so good.
 
Pray with me?  "Heavenly Father, we want to experience your freedom, the freedom that only comes by knowing the truth that you, Jesus, died on the cross for us.  May we embrace that truth and live in the freedom of your light.  In your name we pray, Amen". 
 
     
    

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Trust with Speed

 
"Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid.  The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense.  He has become my salvation."  (NIV)  Isaiah 12:2
 
 
I am in the process of reading a book for professional development called, "The Speed of Trust".  It is a great book that emphasizes the true importance that trust has in all aspects of our life - especially in the business world.  As the author, Covey, speaks, I come to understand the importance of building trusting relationships in my life.  I have always thought that it was important, but this books helps us to look at HOW do we build those trust relationships and what happens when you don't FULLY trust another person or another company.
 
The premise of the book is as Trust goes up, so does the speed of what needs to happen and the cost of what is happening can decrease.  I thought of so many parts of our organization where this would be so appropriate, if there was more trust, the rest of what we do would be so much more effective, efficient, and worthy of our time.
 
The biggest revelation I had, though, was that how very closely the book can be taken a step further, into our life of faith.  How many times have I FULLY trusted God and then not be afraid of what would happen next.  My typical trust with God?  Well, I would "give" it to Him (and then think about all the things I could STILL do because He wasn't answering my prayer fast enough).  Was I truly giving it all to God?  Not even close.  Then I would lament over the next weeks, or months, about why God wasn't answering my prayer - I trusted Him (or did I). 
 
If I trusted Him so much, why was I still trying to "do" something about the situation.  If I trusted Him so much, why did it consume my thoughts?  If I trusted Him so much, why did I try to change direction and hit the issue from another angle.  If I trusted Him so much . . .  Yes, you see the pattern as clearly as I do - was I truly trusting God with my needs, with my wants, with my life and the lives of those I was praying for?  The horrible answer is no.  Which means, if I can't trust the one who knows every hair on my head, who came to earth to bring me eternal salvation, who loves me so much He has a heavenly home for me - if I can't fully trust Him, how can I fully trust those around me?  Yes, it's been a long, thought-provoking week!
 
There have been times when I have given it all to God.  Many times, it is when I am totally desperate and just don't know what else to do.  It is at those times, that He quickly answers my prayers and the cost of stress and physical torment is relieved.  Yes, the same equation above holds true with our Savior.  When we trust Him fully - without any doubts or reservations, He will quickly come to our aid and the cost of having to worry about our issues is reduced.  When we learn to trust God fully, our ability to trust each other grows in His love.  It's a wonderful circle, the circle of trust.
 
Please pray with me, "Heavenly Father, I need you.  I need to rest upon you at ALL times an trust in thee forever.  Not just when times are so difficult I don't know where else to go, but to trust you each and every day - every moment of every day.  Help me to give my life to you - I trust you know what is best.  Also, please help me to fully trust those that I come in contact with every day.  May that level of trust lead to goodness and righteousness all the days of my life.  Thank you, Lord."

 


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Daffodils of Forgiveness

"For the sake of your name, O Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great."  (NIV)  Psalm 25:11
 
Who would have thought, that daffodils would be the source of the forgiveness I so desperately needed?  A simple flower, a sign of spring, brought the tears I needed to shed.  It had been a difficult week, full of heightened emotions that ranged from excitement to disappointment, from jubilation to heartache, from hope to desperation.  When that much emotion consumes me, it is hard for me to do anything except to focus - focus on what needs to get done.  Lists at work and at home had me checking things off, ensuring that I was productive.  I was productive!  If I look over the past week, there was much work accomplished.  Yet, it came at a price - my price. 
 
I knew that as I worked more and more on getting done what needed to get done, I was becoming the person I didn't want to be.  I knew better; I prayed harder.  Yet, my emotions consumed me.  The more the week continued, the worst it got.  I prayed harder.  I literally had a very short - yet direct - conversation with Satan telling him to go away.  My heart ached.  I know I'm not alone in these emotions.  I am sure that there have been times when your life has felt overwhelming and there was no immediate relief in sight.
 
The thing was that I knew I was wrong for how I was feeling and I wanted forgiveness.  I wanted to feel Jesus saying to me, "You are forgiven, my child."  I needed to feel that forgiveness - for the self-pity, for the anguish, for the doubt, for all the feelings I had.  For some reason, the forgiveness didn't seem close by.  So Saturday started like any other Saturday - 7AM - grocery store.  As I went up and down the aisles, a sense of joy surrounded me.  Yes, joy in the grocery store.  I stopped and chatted with a wonderful elderly couple.  I assisted a woman in pushing a cart loaded with groceries.  The more I did, the better I felt.  Yes, joy in the grocery store.
 
At the end of the store is the flower area.  Many beautiful fresh cut flowers and plants adorn this area.  There, right around the corner, was my forgiveness - daffodils.  I thought, "Do I spend the extra few dollars on a bunch of daffodils?"  With spring seeming like it may take forever to reach New England, they provided the hope I needed.  Next stop, cashier!!
 
It was there that Jesus was with me.  He told me, "Give some of your joy to the cashier."  As she checked out the last of my "load", the final item of the daffodils was rung in.  She looked at me and said, "Do you want to hold them or shall I package them up?"  "I'll hold them," I responded.  She handed back to me my credit card and I handed to her a bunch of daffodils.  "For you," I said, "Spring is right around the corner."  Her smile and eyes were shared in her words, "Thank  you --  that was so nice of you.  I will wrap them up for later.  Thank you!"  I smiled, took my groceries and got into the car with a lighter step.
 
As my husband unloaded the groceries when we got home, I told him of my experiences at the grocery store.  Then, right there in the middle of our kitchen, tears of forgiveness flowed.  He had been living my emotional week with me, and I shared with him how I needed forgiveness, the forgiveness I received in my daffodils.  After a good cry and lots of hugs from Juan, our day continued.  My load had been lifted - I felt Jesus' forgiveness in daffodils.
 
During Lent, we focus on the forgiveness our Lord gave to us - so willingly - on that cross.  Unconditionally he gave his life for the sins we commit every day.  When we go to him in repentance, He washes all of those sins away from us - total forgiveness.  This Lenten season may find us making the steps we need to make to forgive others, taking our bag of emotions (frustration, anger, resentment, etc.) and giving it to God.  Maybe, as I realized, the forgiveness needs to be for ourselves.  That bag of emotions is very heavy.  When we give it to God, our load is lightened and we become joyful.  I encourage you to reflect on who needs to receive forgiveness in your life (maybe it is you)!  Let go and let God . . . and relieve your heart from the bitterness.  Jesus is waiting to take it all from us.  When you do - celebrate with daffodils!!  My world has been forever changed by a beautiful yellow flower. 
 
May your Lenten season bring you the joy of forgiveness - knowing the depths Jesus went to in order to bring us everlasting forgiveness.  Blessings to all.
 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Restore Us

"Restore us, O God; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved."  (NIV) Psalm 80:3
 
One of the many blessings that my family has received from my father is the many stained glass pieces in our homes.  From my mom, my brother, as well as close family friends, we all have many beautiful masterpieces that my dad worked hard on.  Each one is truly a labor of love - whether they are beautiful pieces in our windows, lamps, or even night lights.  All of them are truly special and we treasure each of them.
 
About a year or so ago, one of the lamps that is in my bedroom started to separate.  The solder was starting to weaken and the glass part began separating from the lamp base.  Knowing how much it meant to me, my husband tried to solder it back together.  Yet, the solder didn't hold and the lamp started to break.  Each time the lamp separated from the base, my heart ached.  I saw Daddy's hard work disintegrating in front of me.
 
I couldn't help but be reminded of how our Dear Lord must feel each time we separate from Him, whether it is with our words or actions.  As we fall to sin, we fall farther and farther away from God.  Yes, we may ask for forgiveness, but throughout each day, we can fall away from God and into Satan's grip.  Yes, we can blame Adam and Eve (not to mention that serpent).  Yes, we can even blame others, "They MADE me do it."  The ultimate responsibility, though, is ours.  We are responsible for our own sin, for the things that we think, say and do that are not in line with the commandments.
 
We have great news, though.  News that will impact us each day, making us stronger, making us closer to God.  We have the great news that Jesus died on the cross for each and every sin we commit.  He did this not just out of obedience to His father, He did it purely out of His love for us.  His love, that unconditional love, that graces us each and every day.  He restored us to the children He wants us to be - and that restoration happens every day.  Each day, we sin.  Each day, we are forgiven.  There is no greater news than that!!
 
A few weeks back, I took my lamp to the only person who could truly restore it = a professional.  It happened to be someone that Daddy knew well and even after all these years of Daddy's passing, the stained glass professional remembered him.  He took the piece into his hands and told me he would "make it better".  He did!  What you see above is the restored piece - broken pieces all fixed and it shining brightly again. 
 
Isn't this what happens when we go back to our Heavenly Father to ask forgiveness?  He takes us gently into His hands and "makes us better" - clears our sin, and fixes all the broken pieces so we can shine brightly again.  As I turned on my lamp last night, it didn't just remind me of Daddy, it reminded me of Jesus - restoring us to His children.  How blessed are we to have a loving father who takes us in, regardless of how broken we are, and makes us new.
 
Shine in the good news that we are saved, that He loves us enough to die for us and rise for us, that we have a heavenly home to go to that He will be waiting for us with open arms.  I can't help but smile as I write this, as during this Lenten season, we know that we are broken - and that we are saved.  May the week ahead find moments where you smile with the joy that you have been restored!!  Pray with me:  Heavenly Father, you are the great restorer.  You can take the broken pieces of our lives; sin, regret, guilt, and put it back together to restore us to the children you want us to be.  Help us to see that in all we do and say throughout the week - may we come to you asking for your forgiveness and walking in a stronger light.  In your gracious name we pray.  Amen.

About Me

My photo

Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope we can share how God's grace has been life changing and that SIMPLE FAITH, getting back to a life that is rooted in the basics, can truly set us free to achieve so much in our lives.