Lord

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Luke 2:11

Today’s word to describe Jesus is Lord which is defined as ruler or master. Would you say Jesus is your ruler or master? If you asked me this question, I would be quick to answer yes. However, when I really sit back and reflect, unfortunately, He is the Lord of my life some of the time and in some things, but I have to admit He is not all of the time and in all things. He’s the Lord of my Sunday mornings when there is church, and He is the Lord of my Thursday nights when we have our scheduled weekly small group. But, everything in between…again..some of the time when I think to consult Him and to make Him a part of some aspects of my life.

It is often easier to go to Him as your Lord when you have nowhere else to turn or you know you have no control anyway. Last year, we were faced with some major decisions in how to treat spinal stenosis in my neck which had already caused me to lose strength and functionality in my right hand and threatened my ability to walk long-term without surgery. I learned one big thing, when it comes to certain things like your health, we are often times forced to make Him Lord and give Him control because there is literally nothing we can personally do to fix it. Looking back, this probably should have been much more stressful with questions like do I have surgery or try another route first, which type of surgery when there are multiple options, which doctor do I trust, will my symptoms get worse and will I lose my ability to use my hand or even walk, and will I need more surgeries in the future? However, we leaned on Him and prayed not only for healing, but for wisdom, guidance, and clarity to make the best decisions. He gave us peace through it all, and not only did He provide an unexpected surgery option different than what Mayo and other doctors were performing for my conditions, but He made it clear this was the route to go. At the same time, we were faced with a major decision on whether to change my role within my career at Northwestern Mutual. Again, we made Him Lord and prayed through these decisions and the direction was clear without much stress or anxiety. Out of necessity, I learned how He can make major things not seem as big and stressful when we make Him Lord.

Then, why do I get stressed about a little thing at 2:00 on a Tuesday or wondering if my to-do list will get done or when our kids are acting up? Simple…I am not making him Lord of the small, everyday things..only the big things. My opportunity for growth in my relationship with Him is to make Him Lord of these little things. Not making Him Lord of these things robs me from gratitude for all He’s given me and the joy of everyday life with my family, friends, and in my career.

Why do we do this? Some may wonder if He even cares about the little things. Why would the God who created the sun, moon, stars, and the universe really care about my little problems? Simple..He created us. For us who are parents, think how much we care about our kids’ problems. We would do anything to help..to a fault sometimes. Think about our kids when they create a Lego or block tower. They are so proud of their creation. And in turn, they are very protective of it and get really upset when their younger sibling wrecks it. Why? Because they created it. The creator cares immensely about their creation. Each one of us are His special creation as Psalm 139:13-14 tells us.

Why else don’t we make Him Lord of the little things in our life? We don’t think we need it, and we think we can handle it on our own. But…it’s obvious we can’t or we would not get so stressed and upset about the small stuff. Many suffer from anxiety about things that are relatively minor in the big picture of life on this Earth and especially in the big picture of eternity.

How can we improve at making Him Lord of our life, and especially the little things where many of us need the most improvement? There are many ways such as reading His Word daily, attending church regularly, and joining a small group. However, I believe what all of these things really do is help us develop an awareness of His presence in our life which leads to a relationship with Him through the conduit of prayer. As a decoration in my parents’ house reads, “Prayer is the ultimate wireless connection.” This is how in the big moments and the small ones in life we offload our problems to Him and ask for His help. We realize we may not have this, but He’s got this and He’s got us. As a recent article in The Wall Street Journal my brother sent our family on the power of prayer stated, connecting with Him in prayer is like heading up a huge mountain with a heavy backpack and then handing it off to Him. Believe it or not, He wants us to. He asks us to. We are his creation, and He as our creator wants our hearts and for us to acknowledge that He is Lord and give everything to Him.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

Please pray with me…

God…please help me make you the Lord and ruler of my life. Help me to know that you, as my Creator, truly care about and are in control of not only the big things, but also the little things that will come up in my day today and every day. I thank you for this and for showing me your ultimate love by sacrificing your only Son on the cross for me. I love you. Amen.

Living Water

John 7:38

I made a mistake! I underlined the wrong passage to write on today as I was highlighting my assignments for this month. Jacob wrote on this passage yesterday and explained beautifully our necessity for Living Water. As I was preparing this week for this post, the Spirit lead me in a different direction from what Jacob covered. Since I discovered my mistake too late in the day to rewrite, I present “Living Water” take two…

 

As I think about God and try to describe His three persons, I have an easier time knowing and listing functions of Jesus and God than I do the Holy Spirit. As I pray and think, I give God credit for creation and being the Sovereign Father, Leader and Protector of people, especially in the Old Testament. Jesus is my Savior. He came to earth as a human, lived like we live and then gave His life on the cross to pay the price for my sin. The Holy Spirit seems more mysterious and maybe has less tangible traits than Jesus or God. Today the character trait of God’s we are looking at is “Living Water” and in our verse, Jesus tells us He is speaking of the Holy Spirit when He says Living Water. So I thought today we should look at some of the functions of the Spirit written about in the Bible so we can more easily recognize Him and His work in our lives.

 

John 14:26 tells us that the Holy Spirit teaches us and helps us remember the things we have already learned about God. He is our helper and counselor as we are trying to learn Gods ways and put them into practice in our daily lives.

John 16:7-8 say that the Spirit convicts the world of sin. He is the One who “speaks” in our minds to let us know when we are thinking wrongly about an issue or making a self-serving choice. He is the One who points to righteousness so we know what is right and wrong.

1 Cor 3:16 tells us that God’s Spirit dwells in us. This verse is maybe where some of that “mystery” comes in. It is very hard to explain this “dwelling” unless you have experienced it yourself. I can confidently attest to the fact that I notice His dwelling in me more when I am watching for it and listening for His voice. When I am not seeking Him, He seems much more quiet.

1 Cor 2:10-11 says that the Spirit is a source of wisdom in our lives. Because He dwells in us and He is God’s Spirit, He knows the thoughts of God and reveals those thoughts to us when we believe in Him.

Acts 1:8 says that “we will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on us”. In Eph 1:17-20 Paul explains the Spirit’s power more clearly by telling us that the power we receive from Him is the same as the mighty strength He used to raise Jesus from the dead and seated Him at the right hand of the Father in heaven. This is a very tangible explanation of the Spirit’s power!

John 16:13 proclaims that the Holy Spirit is the called the “Spirit of Truth”. “When the Spirit comes, He will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on His own but will He will only speak what He hears. He will glorify Me (Jesus) because it is from Me (Jesus) that He will receive what He will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine (Jesus), which is why I (Jesus) said that the Spirit will receive from Me what He will make known to you.

1 Cor 12:7-11 lets us know that our spiritual gifts are given by the Holy Spirit. We are all given wisdom, knowledge and power and then verses 9 and 10 give more specific gifts that the Spirit gifts to people. Verse 11 says that “The Spirit alone decides which gift each person should have”.

A few weeks ago we looked at Rom 8:26-27, explaining that the Spirit is our intercessor. You can look back at Apr 29 if you want to read over that again.

Eph 1:13 lets us know that the Holy Spirit is a seal in our lives. The term “seal” may not be very familiar to us, but as we look more closely it is actually a beautiful promise that I would like to close with this morning. The Holy Spirit is our mark/seal of adoption as God’s children. “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing that He will give us the inheritance He promised and that He has purchased us to be His own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify Him.”

 

After looking at all of these verses and their meanings, the term “Three in One” (that we hear so often describing God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit), seems to make much more sense. I was struck as I thought through these verses how perfectly each One of the Three has specific functions, but that they all work from the same truth and knowledge. They all work together to the same end. My mind will never comprehend this relationship or personhood fully, and I’ll never have words to articulate God while on this earth, but reading God’s word and thinking through His word pictures helps me understand a little bit more than I did before I started this morning. Thank you Holy Spirit for dwelling in me, teaching me, convicting me, giving me wisdom, giving me power, being perfect truth in my life, being my intercessor, and for marking me with Your seal as one of God’s children!

Living Water

John 7:37-39

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Water has always reminded me of calmness, patience, and serenity. In times of turmoil, I have looked to calm myself through the water. On retreats and campouts, I’ve veered towards finding adventure through creeks, rivers, and any other body of water.

Jesus presents us with a different kind of water. The water that Jesus speaks of is called living water. Health experts seem to agree that no matter what, water is necessary to our human existence. Any nutritionist would tell you to cut out any other drinks, and just drink more water. As humans, we can see that water is necessary for our survival. Jesus uses this fact to point out that this “new” living water that He speaks of, is essential to our survival.

What is living water? How do you obtain living water?

Living water is the salvation and an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon us.

All around the world, clean sustainable water isn’t accessible. Many organizations and missionaries’ primary goals have been around creating sustainable ways to create clean drinking water. In America, clean water is in surplus. Not many Americans have to think of ways to get a clean source of water. However, countries such as, Eritrea, Papua New Guinea, and Uganda (the three countries with the lowest access to clean water as stated in “WaterAid report reveals nations with the lowest access to water”), struggle with finding access to clean water. Even though Earthly water isn’t always accessible, the water that Jesus talks about is in abundance and offered for everybody.

To obtain living water, everybody has to just come and ask Jesus. What does this look like? Do you have to get rid of all the crud from your past before you come to Him? By no means!

When Jesus asks us to come to Him, He is asking us to recognize the need of a Savior in our lives and to trust in His promises. None of us get grace from Jesus by “doing” something, we receive grace as a gift from Him. All we have to do is come to Christ and ask Him to quench our thirsts.

Living water, the Holy Spirit, is given to us through accepting Jesus as our savior. Chris is in and working through us at that point. We can share how Jesus gave us His living water with others, and we are called to do so.

Where are you at right now? Do you have that living water flowing in you right now? What is stopping you from coming to Jesus and asking Him for water today? Who can you show this abundance pool of living water?

The Greatest Sacrifice by the Greatest to Ever Live

Today, we recognize those that paid the ultimate price, giving their lives for our country. Memorial Day is a day to remember the loss of life for our country and freedom. As a combat veteran friend of mine points out, there is no such thing as wishing anyone a “Happy Memorial Day.” Today is not a celebration day for veterans and families of those lost. Thank you to the service men, women, as well as their families, that have paid the ultimate price through the loss of their life or that of a loved one.

Carrying on the theme of sacrifice, the Bible chronicles the life of Jesus in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. We follow Jesus’ humble birth to his brutal death. Our God loved us so much, He sent His only Son to earth to model and espouse true devotion and faith to our Father. Jesus was so many things in His short life on earth.

Jesus showed empathy. He witnessed to the worst of the worst, those who many did not deem worthy of salvation. Jesus spent time with and utilized thieves, prostitutes, and murderers to spread the Gospel. He preached the Gospel to and saved the forgotten and demonstrated for us that His love has no boundaries.

Jesus modeled forgiveness. He was hated and loathed by many during His time on earth. He was despised for His teachings, the miracles He performed, and His claims to be God’s Son. Still, He did not resent or hate those that hated Him. He still prayed for, forgave, and died for the people who murdered Him.

Jesus showed us love. Jesus said “I am the shepherd,” using the example of His people being like sheep. A shepherd protects all of his sheep equally and will leave his flock to find even just one lost sheep. He wants everyone in His creation to follow Him, and believe in Him, but when we stray, the Bible tells us in Matthew 18:10-14 that Jesus will still seek us out wanting a relationship with us. Jesus guards his flock and He is love.

Revelations is a complex book of the Bible that speaks about the “end of time.” Not the end of the world, but the end of the world as it exists today. Christ will come again to save the world from sin and death and take His followers to Heaven. The description of the “end,” is known to be chronicled in the the scroll with seven seals, prophesied to the prophets Ezekial and Daniel, which will outline how the world will “end.” The Bible tells us when the “end” comes, those that know Jesus will ascend to Heaven and spend eternity with Him. Those that do not, unfortunately, will spend eternity in Hades (hell).

Revelations 5:5 tells us “But one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.’” Jesus is the Lion of the tribe of Judah. John writes in Revelations that the only individual capable of revealing God’s plan is Jesus. Jesus saved us with His death and resurrection and He will save us again when He removes the seven seals of the scroll and make known God’s plan.

We can be thankful that our God sent a perfect person to be the perfect Savior. Our God seeks a relationship with us, and it is our choice to love Him. Our God does not force devotion and love to Him but gives us the free will to believe. I encourage you to spend time reading about Jesus and His perfect life in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John to discover why Jesus is the perfect “I am.”

Lily of the Valley

Last week, my kiddos picked this bunch of flowers and surprised me. Lily of the valleys have a beautiful smell and their white dainty petals are just so pretty.

About 30 minutes later, the lily of the valley bouquet became a perfect visual. The fun and joy took a turn when they ate some candy they knew they weren’t supposed to and were overcome with guilt. The Holy Spirit prompted them to be honest and confess…oh to be 10 and 7, and have the guilt of snuck candy! Can you remember some of those moments in your youth? My oldest was wrecked, feeling like she led her younger brother into the sin, and she felt awful and couldn’t quite shake it.

The beautiful bunch of flowers was a great reminder of Jesus’ saving grace, and how he cleanses us, white just like the lilies. Song of Solomon 2:1 is a foreshadowing of Jesus, being called the Lily of the Valley, and wow, are there parallels to this beautiful flower and our beautiful savior. Jesus, like the lily, bears much fruit and shows us how to be fruitful. When I was looking into other scriptures that talk about the lily of the valley, I found that historically these flowers were also called the ‘ladder to heaven’.  The way the buds are layered on the stem makes them appear to be stacked like a ladder, and how fitting that the flower that Jesus is identified with, is also the way to heaven.

Jesus is white and pure, and he wants nothing more than to save us from our sin and cleanse us. He wants us to be clothed in white and free from the darkness of sin. The bright white color of the lily shows his purity and righteousness.

Your sin might look different than mine, and different than sneaking candy… but in God’s eyes, sin is all the same – separation from him and his ways. We like to categorize sin on earth, based on our morals, based on the consequences they bring… sometimes we measure sin like we do skyscrapers – by assigning a size. But God looks down at skyscrapers and they all look the same from his vantage point.

The lies, the stealing candy, the gossip, the pride… it’s all unrighteousness that he wants to forgive and free us from. He wants us to walk in light and be made white and pure. I’m so glad he made a way for us to do this and to free our hearts and minds of the weight of sin! To have everlasting life through believing in Jesus and confessing him as Lord.

Do you feel the prompting of the Holy Spirit to confess sin in your life? Will you allow Jesus to cleanse your heart and make it white like the lily of the valley?

Choices, walking in the light

When you awake in the middle of the night, what kind of thoughts do you have? Are they positive and uplifting? For me, there is often some intersection and processing of dreams, fear, and negativity. There is both literal and metaphorical darkness in the night, but in the morning it nearly always seems to disappear. Is this true for you?

Weeping may last through the night,
    but joy comes with the morning. (Psalm 30:5b NLT)

Do you recall the first recorded words spoken by our intentional, all-knowing God?

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. (Genesis 1:3)

He created the heavens and the earth and then turned on the lights. I presume this is the creation of the sun, the burning star with a mass 330,000 times greater than Earth and approximately 93 million miles from us. God spoke it, and it happened. What an awesome and powerful God we have… Forgive me Lord for underestimating you… You created the heavens and the earth, and everything that sustains us because you love us and you seek relationship with us. Thank you God.

Choices

Jesus tells us that he is the light of the world and that we must not talk in darkness. What did he mean by this?

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  (John 8:12)

Some thoughts comparing walking in darkness to walking in the light:

Walking in darkness Walking in the light
Remaining in sin. Guilt, shame, fear of getting caught. Fleeing from sin brings us to the light but when we do sin: Repentance, forgiveness, cleansing.  This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (1 John 5)
Physical and/or emotional pain. While this may not be something we have brought upon ourselves, pain alters our perception. Living in pain without God brings darkness.

To whom do you cry out to?

Facing our pain (instead of trying to hide from it), walking through our pain. Trusting God. He is the great healer. There are many verses on his healing, here’s one: Worship the Lord your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you, (Exodus 23:25)
Fear. Nothing kills our joy like fear. Choosing fear places us in a cloud of darkness. Facing our fears. There are scary things out there but we have a God who is for us and above all things! The Lord is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me? (Psalm 118:6)

We cannot control this world. We cannot control all of our circumstances. Our broken and sinful world brings darkness and things beyond our control but we are in control of our response. We have choices. We are given free will. We have a God who defeated the darkness and because of this we can walk in the light today and for eternity!

And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22:5)

My Life

Today’s reading:  John 14

On the night before his crucifixion Jesus shared the passover meal with his disciples.  During the course of the evening he washed the disciples feet, he predicted Judas’ betrayal, he foreshadowed Peter’s denial, and he told them he was leaving.  Can you imagine the emotion in the room?  The person to whom these men had pledged their 100% allegiance, the one for whom they’d left jobs, left family…left EVERYTHING just announced he was checking out.  They were shocked, panicked, and had questions.  Where are you going?  How will we know the way?

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Jesus heard their concerns and responded, not with the tactical answers they wanted, but with spiritual answers they needed.  His answer to all their questions was simply “me”.  Follow me and the rest will take care of itself.  I am all you will ever need.

The attribute of Jesus I was assigned to write about today is highlighted in the last two words of John 14:6 – the life.  As you may have noticed by the title of this post, I personalized the attribute and called it “My Life”.  I’ll get to that a little later.  Now back to the passover dinner.

After telling the disciples he was leaving, and then telling the he was the only thing they needed to know or have, Jesus had to convince the disciples that the life he was offering was better than any life they could possibly have living apart from him, on their own.  In verses 14-16 he references the analogy of the Good Shepherd and his sheep from a few chapters back in John 10.  In this passage, Jesus described himself as the good shepherd.  His sheep know him, they listen to his voice, and trust him to guide and protect them.  The payoff for doing this was not just to have life, but to have abundant life – life to the full.

I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.  They will come in and go out, and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:9-10).

Jesus goes on to tell the disciples the father is sending a helper in his place.  The Holy Spirit was coming to serve as their advocate, to guide and protect them.  Finally in verse 30, Jesus gets to what I think is the most encouraging and convincing reason to choose the life he offers.  Jesus reminds the disciples that he has ultimate power over Satan, evil, sin and death.  He is telling them ultimate victory is guaranteed with him on their side.  How could they (or you) not choose Jesus when you know he wins in the end?

I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me (John 14:30).  

Jesus obviously convinced the disciples to stay the course (except of course Judas, whose heart was already hardened, and who eventually took his own life out of remorse for his betrayal of Jesus).  My question for you today is this – are you convinced?  Have you chosen the life Jesus is offering?

I changed the name of today’s post to “My Life” because I am a Christfollower.  A life following Jesus isn’t trouble free, but it is better and more abundant than any life I could ever achieve on my own.  One day, the worries and cares of this world will be gone and I will spend my life eternal in glory with him.

When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory (Colossians 3:4).

Will I see you there?

Eternal Life

1 John 5:20 And we know that the son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we are in God because we are in his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and He is eternal life. 

Jesus is eternal life.

The word “eternal” means, “lasting or existing forever; without end or beginning” (Google dictionary). When I try to sit with the word “eternal” or “forever” I get lost. I have a hard time thinking of life beyond this one or what eternity will feel like.  While I cannot fully comprehend this idea, I stand on the promise in John 3:16 that says “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life”. I learned this verse in church choir and cannot say the verse without singing it out loud or in my head, depending on the company. Our physical bodies will die someday but our soul is meant to spend eternity with our creator.  We are recipients of eternal life with Jesus when we know him and accept him as savior. This is the good news! Currently this pandemic seems to be lasting for an eternity, but I know it is just a “blip” in God’s timeline. My eternal perspective has taken a hit over the last few months and this verse was a really good reminder for me. I have been consumed with work, kids, school, and all of us being home at the same time. One of the benefits of salvation through Christ is having a relationship with Him while we are here and into eternity. In the midst of trials and celebrations He is my constant and my happy ending. I am so thankful that I know this and can lean on it daily.

There is a side of eternity that is difficult to talk about but is very apparent in the Bible. If you are not choosing Jesus then the alternative is an eternity without Him. John 3:16 indicates that those who believe will not perish, but what about those who do not believe or haven’t decided yet? We are the answer to this question.  How will they know unless we share our faith and salvation stories.

Matthew 28:19  “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”.

2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Shelly

 

Leader

Leader 

 

The central question is, “Are the leaders of the future truly men and women of God, people with an ardent desire to dwell in God’s presence, to listen to God’s voice, to listen to God’s beauty, to touch God’s incarnate Word, and to taste fully God’s infinite goodness” (Nouwen, H. 2001) 

 

What kind of leader are you? Has your leadership style changed during our pandemic? Where are the areas you are leading right now? I believe we all lead to some capacity and have a direct impact on others. We lead in things we say and do while also in times when we don’t say something or do nothing. Who are some of the leaders you are looking up to now? I ask all these questions to get your brain thinking about leadership and how Jesus is leading you today? 

Isaiah 55:4 says “Behold, I have given him for a witness to the peoples, a leader, and commander to the peoples.”

I’ve been grateful to attend many leadership conferences and have many opportunities to lead in my professional career. In my home with family, friends, and in my neighborhood with friends and neighbors we equally have unlimited leadership opportunities. I must say there are many times where I realize how I could have been a better leader. Then I try to sit back and literally try to think, Do I/we model our leadership after the Lord? Jesus was loving, all the time. Not too surface-level, straight to the heart. If I were to just look at this leadership attribute I can reflect on days past and ask how can I lead more like Him? 

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.Psalm 32:8

How are you doing?  We all lead. Take time today to think of how Jesus led. Where was His heart? What were His actions? None of us will do it perfectly as He did.  Still, we have hope, we have the example provided through His living word. Each week our family has seen Galatians 5:22-23 come up as a memory verse on “Kids church”. Jennifer and the kids will bust out in the Fruits of the Spirit song. What if we as leaders no matter who we lead modeled these attributes. Love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. 

Leaders have an impact, they influence others in what they say, things they do, and how you treat them. As leaders, we influence our homes, workplace, and neighborhoods. Today, you will lead others. Today you will have the opportunity to lead as Jesus did. I pray for your leadership.  Is it a family member that is struggling? Are some medical results not so favorable? Is someone struggling financially? Does someone not know about our Eternal Father.  The One who has taken away all our sins and offers us all the free gift of Eternal Life. 

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.Isaiah 41:10

Dear Father, 

Leading is not easy left to ourselves.  Help us to have the trust and faith to point everything back to you and your divine plans.  When we are seeking answers, let us rest in Your peace that you have a perfect plan.  Help us not to lean on our own understanding but humble ourselves and listen for you.  We love you, Lord, you have given us a mission field to lead.   We pray for wisdom and continued guidance and growth to draw closer to you Lord as men and women of our Heavenly Father.  We love you.  Amen

Lawgiver

 

Today’s Reading: James 4:12

The image of the lawgiver is one that is subject to each individual.  It is based on your background and heritage and your current situations.  When you think of the lawgiver in the United States of America many people would think of the police officer, the lawyers, politicians, or judges.  If you were in ancient Rome, you would consider the lawgiver to be Caesar, or the centurions, or the soldiers.  It deepens on the circumstances that you are dealing with and your status.  These are worldly lawgivers, which have been given authority to help guide and assist us and protect us from harm.  To do the passage of today justice, we must understand the full context of the message of Christ as the Lawgiver.

 James 4: 1-12

                 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions[a] are at war within you?[b] You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people![c] Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers.[d] The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

 God did not create the laws to restrict us, but to give us freedom.   God has loved us continually from before the beginning of time.  He has shown His love in countless ways and only wants us to return this unconditional love.  But we as a people have not been able to fully reciprocate His vast and unending love for us.  We have and continue to turn away from this amazing love for other things: fame, fortune, power, prestige, and lust.  These things that we seek out takes us away from really loving God with our whole heart, mind, and spirit.  It is because of this inability that God has created a template for us to follow and realign ourselves to him.  It is this reason that he has created these guidelines to allow us to fully embrace the richness that he has in store for us.  He is a gentle father and only wants to the best for all of his children.  He gives us these laws to allow us to have a safe and brighter future and life.

This is similar to the guidelines that we as parents give our children. If we didn’t give them the guidelines of staying out of the busy intersection or not to eat a deadly plant, we are allowing them to be vulnerable to chaotic freedom with the uncertainty of life.  But when directed properly we are able to give them compassionate freedom that allows them to explore within a certain set of parameters to ensure their growth and success.

God loves us and wants the relationship with us. Because of the nature of man, we are not able to completely engage with God without the law.  But the original plan did not require the sacrifice to enjoy God’s love.  The current plan doesn’t require that we sacrifice, only if we commit and submit to Him completely. Here are some passages that illustrate this truth.

Psalm 40:6

In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted,
but you have given me an open ear.[a]
Burnt offering and sin offering
you have not required.

Psalm 51:16-17

For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Hosea 6: 6

For I desire steadfast love[a] and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

Going against popular belief, God is not a tyrannical being that wants to place harsh judgment and punishment on all mankind.  God is a just and loving God that has our best interest in mind.  He has created these laws and commandments so that there is a framework for us to work within.  This is to protect our spirit and us and allow us to share His love with others.  When we fall outside of the law, He gently redirects us and bestows compassion on us as well.  God’s love will not be overcomed by anything that is created.  God’s love even extends to those who don’t love, know, or recognize him, even until the moment before death.  This is lawgiver that I am thankful that we have and are able to communicate with daily.  Be blessed.