Lead Me to the Cross

Mark 15:38-39

There are so many posts about how we should always remember the cross. If I were being honest, I would say I sometimes get tired of reading about it, but that attitude in itself shows that I need to center my attention on the cross more than ever.

In this passage, when a centurion, a servant of the Roman empire, a solider who obeys orders, sees Jesus’ death on the cross he believes that Jesus is the son of God.

This just simply reminds me of the power of the cross and Christ’s death.

When we are doubting God’s power, His plans, His sovereignty, His love, His will, really any part of His character, we must go back to the cross, we must focus on Hid death, His sacrifice.

Because, if a faithless Roman solider can look at the cross in a second and believe in the son of God, we surely, as believers, can look upon the cross and believe in God’s character.

So do not wait to return to the cross. Meditate on it daily.

Timing is Everything

Esther 4:14

Esther has always been one of my favorite female heroines of the bible ever since I watched the incredible Veggie Tales version.

Now, after how ever many years, I am finally, actually reading Esther.

I have not yet reached Esther’s bravest moments, but I have already run across so much faith and insight.

Just today I read chapter 4 and came across a specifically telling line.

Mordecai is mourning over Haman’s decree to kill all Jews. He tells Esther about the decree and asks her to speak to the king.

Esther responds by telling Mordecai that she could be killed if she enters the king’s presence.

Mordecai doesn’t have any piety for her, probably because all of his people are about to be murdered, but he says one thing specifically that I think really clicks with Esther and makes her step out in faith.

“And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Woah! That makes you think, doesn’t it? It certainly made Esther think. For a while there, maybe Esther thought she had been placed there due to her own beauty or charm, or maybe she even was cursing it all, having to hide her background, being forced into marriage… who knows? But, I have no doubt that Esther at one point in time forgot that God was orchestrating everything.

When you start to question where you are, whether it’s at a lousy job or your dream job, or maybe your jobless and feel like your going nowhere, DO NOT doubt for a moment that God put you there and plans to use you. Just do not ignore the calling.

He used Esther for something so great, but she had to be willing, brave, and faithful. Are you ready for that in your situation and do you have the patience to see how He will use you?

Who Needs Armor?

David and Goliath

1 Samuel 17

I never thought I would read the story of David and Goliath and identify with it so much.. to the point that I underlined verse after verse. I don’t consider myself a very brave person, like David, nor have I ever really faced a true Goliath, but ten again, all of us have a Goliath in our life even if it is smaller than “six cubits” high.

It’s the doubt in others toward David that struck me first. When we face an obstacle, a Goliath, whatever it may be, others will doubt your capability to conquer it, even if they do not intend to.

My Goliath right now is raising financial support so that I can continue to be involved in a particular ministry. People have certainly doubted my ability, some bluntly, others with small remarks of discouragement or criticism. One of the biggest doubts I feel like I face is exactly what David faces.

Verse 31, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight them; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”

How often do I feel my age puts doubts in others minds, including me own! Your situation might be different. Maybe it’s not age, but experience, intelligence, finances that others doubt. Whatever it is, I am sure you have a Saul placing doubt in your mind even if it is your own voice doing it.

 

But then David responds with talking about the Lord’s power (which we should do too). God had been preparing David to face Goliath, unbeknownst to David. I am sure he oftend wondered why he was sitting around watching sheep, what would that teach him, where would he ever go from there. But then as he faced Goliath he realized the Lord had used those times to prepare him

I promise you, He is also shaping you or has shaped you so you can face and conquer your own Goliath.

Still, remember what David ultimately says in response, (verse 37) “The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of the Philistine.” I can’t do this on my own, but the Lord will save me! Like David, we must trust in His power, His strength, His character, and His promises.

Here comes my favorite part of the story…..

Now Saul dresses David in full body armor: a sword, helmet, and his own tunic.

David feels strange and he says in verse 39 to Saul, “I cannot go in these because I am not used to them.” And he takes them off!

Firs of all, is he crazy?! Let’s go face a giant without armor and a sword. Oh! and let’s insult the king by refusing his armor and tunic!

Here’s how we can relate. God has built each of us uniquely, with different talents, personalities, and strengths. When we face our Goliath, others may givue us advice and tell us how to defeat the Goliath, usually telling us how they would personally do it.

For example, as I raise support, I’ve been told to do so many different things that are against my character and strengths. The advice isn’t bad, but it changes who I am, who God made me to be.

So, I love that David removes the armor, takes up his stones and sling, and defeats Goliath. God used David’s strengths, character to defeat the giant. David didn’t have to change who he was to win. He had to be brave, use the gifts God had given him, and trust in the Lord.

You also should not stop using your God given gifts because people think you’re wrong and crazy. The Lord shaped you for a purpose. If you’re facing your Goliath remember this: in response to doubts, trust in the Lord, use your God-given talents even when others thing you’re wrong, and rely on the Lord’s power completely.

Thrive

Psalm 52: 8-9

8 But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever. 9 For what you have done I will always praise you  in the presence of your faithful people. And I will hope in your name, for your name is good.

Sometimes I truly forget where I flourish.
I am sure everyone has felt like a superstar in some situation or another. When I volunteer at the zoo, my job is to mentor and supervise teens. Often times they really like me and I have moments where I essentially feel like the star of the show; they all love me, they all listen, and I feel like I can do no wrong.
I’ve had other times where I have felt similar and for a moment I think, “Life is good. I’m doing all right.” And, I forget that I always need God and nothing is my own.
So here’s the deal… you can not flourish anywhere truly but in the House of God. I do not mean at church, because often times church can be a place we struggle to flourish, but if we live in the presence of God, we will flourish.
As long as we seek Him first and foremost, as long as we don’t become self centered and self serving, we will flourish in His house.
In no way does this mean life will be easy, but if we are an olive tree in His house always, He’ll water us and care for us no matter our circumstances.

You can’t Camp on a Mountaintop

Psalm 51:10-12

 
The biggest struggle I have right now, is remaining passionate about Christ.
Of course I still love him above all others and I believe in His death and resurrection, as well as His sovereignty. I still want to do His will and not my own.
But, I once felt so close to Him, so in tune, so peaceful and now, everything “feels” silent. I know it is my fault and Satan’s that I feel this way, but I believe we all have moments of silence in our walk with God.
Sometimes He is silent to teach us something. Sometimes we are so distracted by other things, we don’t hear Him, even if we think we’re listening.
In a perfect world, we would always be on fire for Christ, but it is not a perfect world but a broken one.
Oswald Chambers wrote about how sometimes we are on the “mountaintop” with God, meaning we see as close as we can His perspective, it’s beautiful, we’re joyful, peaceful, relaxed, and close to Him. But we don’t and can’t stay on the mountaintop because we are not in heaven yet. In fact, God is so gracious and loving to give us “mountaintop” moments at all.
No, we mostly live in the “valley”, which often means life is mundane or rough or sometimes life is easy but we no longer see His perspective or feel as close.
These are the times we must persist and remain faithful.
But, it’s hard to do that. So, Psalm 51:10-12 is my prayer for myself and all of you.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
He never casts us from His presence of takes the Holy Spirit from us, but take heart in the fact that the writer of this Psalm had felt that silence, has lived in the valley like you and He saw the mountaintop again.

Jealous?

Psalm 49:16-17

Do not be overawed when others grow rich, when the splendor of their houses increases; for they will take nothing with them when they die, their splendor will not descend with them.
Oh how we often look at the lives of others and compare it to our own, especially in the world of facebook and instagram.
I so often see people succeeding in work, marriage, with money, etc. and become jealous. I wonder if I am doing something wrong to not have a life as great as theirs. And, what can I do to change that? How can I become known and successful in my work? What job will make me the most wealthy and famous? hat clothes and attitude will attract the most men?
First of all, things like facebook and instagram show only one side of someone’s life, so never assume someone has it perfect or better than you.
Secondly, in reference to Psalms, we must remember that all these “worldly” riches will disappear in time. When others, especially those who have no faith in Christ, start climbing the social ladder or something else, it means nothing to the Lord because it does absolutely nothing for His kingdom.
Of course, success, money, relationships, can do much for His kingdom if it is done by His will. But we, as His children, are not meant to crave the same things others do.
I so often covet what others have and I worry that I’m missing out, but God’s word clearly says, “Do not be overawed when others’ grow rich, when the splendor of their houses increases; for they will take nothing with them when they die.”
…………………because we’re living this life for Christ, not for our own selfish gain.

Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial

Mark 14:27-31

We all know the story of Peter’s denial of Christ. Peter is famously known for acting without thinking and in that sense, he did some very courageous, faithful things, but his pride, his absolute conviction that he was perfectly faithful was his downfall often.

In this passage, he tells Jesus that he would never fall away like the others, he will never disown Jesus.

Of course, we know he does disown Jesus. AND this, all just reminds me of how we should all handle our spiritual maturity.

Sometimes, I find myself thinking “Oh man am I mature! I already know this and that and others don’t.” In a sense, I begin to think like the pharisees, that I’m higher than others in my thinking. Like Peter, I put myself up on a pedestal, almost imagining that I am past certain sins, past certain lessons, immune to certain immature actions. BUT, as we seen with Peter, that attitude usually brings upon Satan’s attacks and we slide back into a specific sin.

After reading this passage, I very much realize that no matter how spiritually mature you are, there’s still room to learn and grow, and you must remain humble.

Thus, never treat anyone who is earlier on their walk with Christ lesser than you. We are all learning, all walking, and all prove to stumbling.