Sunday, March 27, 2016

Filled Up

Happy Easter Everyone!   I pray that your day was a wonderful one!  I always find this past week, Holy Week, to be so very special.  So many emotions creep into the week.  Joy with Palm Sunday, reflection on Maundy Thursday, sadness on Good Friday and jubilation on Easter!  I know we typically focus on the wonder of the empty tomb, but today I would like to focus on being filled.  No, I'm not talking about the feeling of being full after a wonderful Easter dinner, but a different kind of fullness.

Where can we find fullness on Easter?  Where do we see something filled instead of empty?  Let's take a look.  When I am not filled, it can be for a variety of reasons.  

I could be lacking health and need to be filled with healing.  Where do I turn?  Typically, I would turn to someone who can help heal, a doctor.  Who is the greatest physician?  I would agree with many that our dear Jesus is the greatest physician.  He heals those who can't be healed by earthly doctors. While He walked this earth, he healed the lepers, he healed the lame, he healed those bleeding, he healed the paralytic.  He healed.  Today He does the same.  He heals the one with cancer.  He heals the one from surgery.  He fills those who are in need with the power of healing.  He fills us up with health!

I could be doubtful about situations in my life and need to be filled with hope.  Where do I turn?  To the only one who can provide the hope that I need, our dear Jesus.  He provides me the hope when all seems hopeless.  When I don't think that something will ever be fixed, whether it be financial or relational, that is when I need to turn to God.  In moments such as those, He will fill me with all the hope that I need and take my doubt away.  No, it may not happen in MY time, when I want it to happen, but He lets me know that "he's got this one".  He fills us up with hope.

I could be thirsty or hungry and need to be filled with water or food.  Where do I turn?  To the one that offers me to be filled up eternally - I will never be thirsty or hungry again.  As shared in John 4:10, " would have asked him and he would have given you living water."  Our dear Lord gives us everything we need, everything we NEED.   Sometimes we want far more than we need.  Our Lord fills us with just what we need - no need to gorge ourselves - but to be filled with our need of the living water.  He fills us up with grace.

There have also been times when I could be lonely, my heart could be cold.  Where do I turn?  To the one that offers me the only kind of love that can truly fill me up - unconditional love - Jesus.  How do I know that I am filled up with love from Jesus?  It is in the events from Holy Week that fills me with the love that only my Heavenly Father can fill me:
  • The humbleness of the King of Kings riding in on a lowly donkey
  • The servant heart of the King of Kings washing the feet of his disciples
  • The offering of the King of Kings of himself, crucified on a cross
  • The triumph of the King of Kings, defeating the Devil and rising from the dead
All of this was done so that I can be filled.  He fills us up with love.

So as we look upon Easter and how we can easily see how emptiness can be good, may we also see how, because of the resurrection, we are filled up - up to the brim, with health, hope, grace and love.  How do we know this even though we haven't seen Jesus?  We are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.  We can't explain it, but we know it is there.  It is truly SIMPLE FAITH!  May this Easter fill you up with all that you need.  Should you be empty, turn to the one that can fill you no matter what you need - our Savior Jesus.  Blessings!

"Dearest Jesus, thank you doesn't seem to be enough for all that you have done for us and continue to do for us.  It doesn't seem to be enough for all the "filling" you do in our lives.  Yet, we know that our thank you, our worship to you, our faith in you, is all that you ask of us.  May we bring all of that to you each and every day.  In your gracious name we pray.  Amen."

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Level Ground

"Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground."  (NIV)  Psalm 143:10

Today is Palm Sunday.  I love the vision of this Sunday - people waving their palms in jubilation, honoring our Lord.  There is so much to be said of how Jesus entered Jerusalem that day - on one of the most humble beings - a donkey.  Not a camel, not a majestic being - but a humble donkey.  Certainly says so much of our Lord.

Today's post, though, isn't about palms or donkeys.  It's about ground - the ground we walk on.  As we enter into this Holy Week, there is so much to consider, the people, the places, the events.  My heart took me, though, to the ground where Jesus walked.  This is where I would like to take us for a brief moment.

I have always been fascinated how a slight incline in terrain can make it so much more difficult to walk.  Not that I'm an avid walker, but I do realize that walking on level ground makes it so much easier to take that walk, whether it is walking the dog or walking through a store.  As soon as the terrain shifts, and an incline is introduced, the walk becomes slightly more difficult.  Move the walk to a stairwell, a hiking trail, or a mountain, and the slight level of difficulty changes dramatically.  

I find my walk with my Lord to emulate that vision.  When I walk close to my Lord, when I stay close to HIS will and walk in HIS ways, I am on level ground.  The path is defined and the walk is less of a struggle, not difficult at all.  As soon as I turn my sight off Jesus, the path becomes tough terrain - the walk is more of a chore and less fulfilled.  When my eye is off Jesus, struggles are enhanced and my mind wanders to difficult scenarios.  I give an opening for the devil to enter and lead me on a difficult path.  

Now let's look to the path of our dear Jesus as he walked to Golgotha.  After all Jesus had been through, the taunting and the beating, the ridicule and the bashing, he then carried that cross.  The path that He took with that cross began on level ground, but as the journey toward death drew closer, the climb became greater.  As Jesus came closer to taking on the sin of the world, the journey became increasingly difficult.  In Jesus' case, the walk on tough terrain was a chore, it was His mission, it was the reason He came to earth.  He came to take that long difficult walk for you and for me - so we wouldn't have to take that horrible walk.  He came to take the horrendous, inclined walk so that our walk could be on level ground.  

The next time our lives take on a walk that is more difficult, that is filled with mountainous terrain, remember that at the top of that mountain is level ground.  At the top of that mountain is Jesus, our Savior and our Strength.  With simple faith, the Holy Spirit will lead us to level ground - a path that is easier to walk with Jesus by our side.  This week gives us the unique perspective to relive what our Lord has done for us.  From the time he entered on a humble donkey, through his walk through the temple, the last supper with his disciples, his walk up tough terrain to Golgotha, and then his resurrection from the tomb, may we be grateful that Jesus was willing to take that walk back then - and still willing to take that walk with us today.

"Oh Dear Jesus, we thank you for taking us on a walk to level ground.  Although our journey may take us through tough terrain, we know that you are walking right beside us, and will help us to get past the rocky road to the level ground.  Let us be mindful of each moment throughout Holy Week.  Although times can seem bleak and dark, we know what is coming - the triumph you have over sin.  Hosanna, Jesus!  Hosanna in the highest!"

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Signs of Hope

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."  (NIV)
1 Peter 1:3

The winter in New England seems to have come to a close.  Of course, I probably shouldn't speak too soon, but there are signs that spring will soon arrive.  Yes, the temperature has been a bit warmer (it actually hit 70 degrees last week).  That is certainly a sign.  Of course, there is daylight savings time - yielding more light at the end of our day.  Yet, there are other signs that tell me spring is coming!!  As I walked around the house today, I saw the top of the tulips starting to push through the earth.  That made me smile.  Then as I turned the corner, pretty purple crocuses were in bloom.  Wow - that is a sign.  I checked out the trees and the early ornamental pear has buds on it!!  The greatest sign for me, though, has always been the return of the red-winged black bird.  I find this bird to be so beautiful, whether perched on a small branch in a mossy area or flying through the sky.  Truly one of God's creatures.  All of these signs tell me that spring is soon to be here, and that makes me have some hope that winter is over.

It made me think of other signs of hope I have had in my life.  There have been circumstances, good and not so good, where signs of hope were delivered to me to continue to another day.  

Holding my breath that the mammogram wouldn't show any more cancer - to have the radiologist say, "You are good to go for another year!".  Hope for another year of being cancer free.

Gingerly stepping onto that scale wishing for success - to see that I was down a couple of pounds.  Hope for a continued healthy lifestyle.

Sitting with a friend going through the challenges of chemo - to see a smile on her face and a spring in her step.  Hope for healing.

Praying that health would be restored to a sick family member - to see that smile of relief that they truly feel better.  Hope for continued recovery.

Sharing a life long secret of shame with a special someone - to see a non-judgmental face that is full of love.  Hope for continued forgiveness.

So many times, I have been blessed with signs of continued hope in my life.  I'm sure if we all thought about it, we have seen signs of hope when things were tough, when struggles overcame us.  Let me share some very good news with you.  Our hope isn't just in tough or good times; our hope is constant for us in our risen Lord.

Our good news comes for our Lord Jesus, who by taking on our sin and dying a horrific death on the cross, gives us the hope to wake up each morning with our sin taken away.  He provides us the hope of a new day, a new dawn, in Him.  As hope was restored to all believers that Easter morn, so it is restored to us each and every day.  Hope in what?  Hope that we can live in God's world.   By believing in the resurrected Jesus, our sins are forgiven.  We have the hope that many don't.  Hope to live with Jesus in paradise.  That's a hope that makes me smile (even more than seeing a crocus in spring)!

During this Lenten season, it's important for us to remember the one who brought us this hope and all He endured so we could have the greatest hope - eternal salvation.  Please, as the week ahead progresses, reach out to Jesus in prayer.  Have the simple faith that He will bring you all the hope you need, regardless of your situation.  Have the hope for a wonderful and bright future in Jesus.

"Dearest Jesus, we thank you for the wonderful signs of hope you have given us.  May we always keep our eyes and hearts open to these signs - as they keep us moving closer to you.  Help us to reflect on all that you have given to us, and may we thank you for the eternal hope you died for.  In your gracious name we pray.  Amen."

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Moving Mountains

"He replied, "Because you have so little faith.  Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move.  Nothing will be impossible for you."  (NIV)  Matthew 17:20

This weekend I had the wonderful pleasure of visiting the White Mountains in New Hampshire with my husband.  We always enjoy going to this special place for a needed retreat from everyday life.  This beautiful part of our state never lets us down.  The beauty of this area just soaks into your body, leaving you with a sense of calm and serenity.  It is just serene.

This time, as we looked out onto the Presidential Range and the top of Mount Washington, I couldn't help but reflect on our verse for today - moving mountains.  These mountains, so large and breathtaking, are the types of mountains are Dear Lord is talking about in this verse.  I can't even imagine these mountains moving.  

Yet, as Jesus shared, our faith in Him is that massive, that powerful, that incredible.  What Jesus gives to us is just that - faith!  He tells us that our faith may be small, as small as the smallest seed on earth.  Yet faith THAT small can move something with such grandeur.  If we were to put a mustard seed at the bottom of the mountain above, it would get lost among the immensity of the mountain.

Our faith, though, the faith in our Jesus doesn't get lost.  It doesn't become so small that it can't accomplish anything.  In fact, our faith - as small as it may be - can move greatness.  Our faith, can be the source of so much.

Our faith, though small and simple, can lead to answered prayers.  These prayers of faith may be of healing for a sick friend.  These prayers of faith may be for God to find a lost soul.  These prayers of faith may be for joy to fill a sad heart.  These prayers of faith may be for us to seek joy.  ALL of these prayers are prayers of faith- small, simple faith - that can accomplish greatness.

Our faith, though small and simple, can lead to strength.  Strength in weakness (physical, mental, spiritual).  Strength in fear (fear of the known or the unknown).  Strength in temptations (of sin and wrong doings).  Success in all these things come from faith - small, simple faith - which give us great strength.

Our Lord wants us to put our faith fully in Him.  Yet, he knows our weaknesses.  He lived among us and fully understands our sinful nature.  Therefore, He shares that small faith in Him, simple faith in what He can do, can move those mountains we face every day.  The next time you are facing a mountain of a struggle, remember that the small, simple faith we have in Jesus is all He asks from us to be able to move our mountains.  May we all rejoice in that blessing!!

"Heavenly Father, we thank you for taking our small faith and doing great things with it.  Please help us to continue to grow our faith in you - turning to you when the mountains of this life seem so large.  Help us to remember that with the small and simple faith of a mustard seed, you can do great things!"

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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.