CALEB

Today’s reading is Joshua 14:6-15:19

My youngest is starting a new school this year. 5th grade. We have been praying about this for years and it finally happened. God said yes. The door has been opened to a new opportunity. School starts on Friday. Our supplies are purchased, registration fees paid, spirit wear ordered. Its a done deal, no turning back now. As I was preparing for this post my boy sat down next to me on the couch and quietly said, “I wish I was going to my old school”. I set my Bible aside and said, “I know, I’ve had the same feelings”. We sat in silence for a few minutes letting those honest words settle and I silently prayed for the right words. What do I say to my worried 10 year old about change and hard things and fear?  Especially when I’m thinking the same thing.

I got to tell him the story of Caleb.  He was a man who “whole heartedly followed the Lord”. Back in the day of Moses, Caleb and Joshua along with 10 other spies were sent to check out the land of Canaan (The promised land). Caleb and Joshua were the only 2 out of 12 that came back giving a good report on the land and trusted that God would allow them to conquer it. (Kind of like having a good attitude about going to a new school).  Everyone else became afraid and confused and wanted to go back to Egypt (or their old school) because they stopped trusting God would take care of them.  Because Caleb “whole heartedly followed the Lord”, God promised him the land of Canaan (or his new school) as his special possession for himself and his descendants. He was promised this land in Numbers 14. Then, 45 years later, the promise is fulfilled in Joshua 14:10-12. 45 years!!! He waited patiently for God to fulfill his promise of allowing him to see the promised land and he claimed the promise. I’m sure the 45 years of waiting weren’t easy but he continued to “whole heartedly follow the Lord” and trust the promise God gave him.  At 85 years old, God fulfilled his promise to Caleb and gave him the strength to conquer the giants of the land. God gives strength to those who whole heartedly follow him and he helps us do hard things……..like changing schools, and sending our kids to new places.

Caleb was brave, convicted, and trusted in God’s promises. I started thinking about the promises of God. The ultimate promise is eternal life to those who believe in Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, but what are the promises for daily living that my 10 year old (and I) can trust as we face our giants?

We decided that we are thankful for the promise that God goes before us – just like he did with Caleb.

“Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord is the one who goes before you. He will be with you; He will neither fail you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:8

“The Lord your God is going before you. He will fight for you, just as you saw him do in Egypt.” Deuteronomy 1:30

“You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.” Psalm 139:5

“I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron”. Isaiah 45:2

“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

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. ” Jeremiah 29:11-13

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Praying we trust these promises of God in the hard spots of life. He will show up and I can’t wait to see what He does. Claim your promise!

Shelly

 

Saved by FAITH

Today’s reading is Genesis 15,17,22; Romans 4:1-5, 9-25

The Lord spoke to Abram and told him he would be the “father of many nations” even though he had no children and was quite old.  “And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord declared him righteous because of his FAITH” (Genesis 15:16). God then made a covenant with Abram and told him that he would make him into a mighty nation. This covenant was not merely one sided, there was a part Abram (now changed to Abraham) had to obey. In Genesis 17:10 God saidThis is the covenant that you and your descendants must keep: Each male among you must be circumcised. It was a tall order but definitely a mark that set them apart and Abraham faithfully obeyed. Then in Genesis 22 Abraham’s faith is tested again when God asks him to sacrifice his son Isaac. Again, Abraham obeyed and got as far as lifting the knife to complete the sacrifice when an angel of the Lord stopped him in Genesis 22:12,  “Lay down the knife”, the angel said. “Do not hurt the boy in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld even your beloved son from me.”  And the Lord provided an alternative sacrifice in response to his faith and he promised to bless him and multiply his descendants just as he said he would do in the beginning. .

Fast forward to the New Testament and Paul is sharing the story of Abraham with the Christians in Rome in Romans 4. His theme is FAITH. God used Abraham because he first “believed”.  Romans 4:13 It is clear then that God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was not based on obedience to God’s law, but on the new relationship with God that comes by FAITH. And through our faith, God blesses us beyond what we could even imagine. Did Abraham grasp the depth of God’s promise to him?  Did he have any idea that he would be the beginning of the line to Jesus, the savior of the world? God did not use Abraham because he was perfect. It was his FAITH that made him righteous, not his good works. Because of his faith he was able to act in obedience when God told him to circumcise the males and then go on to sacrifice his son.  God will also ask us to do things in response to our faith but those things do not save us, it is our faith that saves us. Rest today in the fact that Gods promise of salvation is a free gift that only requires our belief, not our perfect performance.

Romans 4:23-25 Now this wonderful truth- that God declared him to be righteous-wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was for us, too, assuring us that God will also declare us to be righteous if we believe in God, who brought Jesus our Lord back from the dead. He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised from the dead to make us right with God.

Shelly

 

 

 

Getting to know you…

Today’s reading is 2 Peter 2:1

As I prepare to write my posts I typically take a few days to read through the assigned chapter and let it soak. I read several translations and even listen to the audible version for a little different flavor. After reading, listening and still not finding my groove, I  went to You tube and searched for a sermon on 2 Peter 1. I should have known when I chose Francis Chan, The Most Important Lesson I Could Ever Teach (November 29, 2009), that I would be convicted. Basically, I heard him say, get to know God through the Bible and stop looking to other people to do the work.  Which was exactly what I was doing! Sermons are great ways to learn and bring about conviction, but nothing can replace time spent alone with God and the Bible.  This whole chapter is about getting to know God better to avoid the trappings of this world.

2 Peter 1:3 As we know Jesus better, his divine power gives us everything we need for living a godly life.

2 Peter 1:5 A life of moral excellence leads to knowing God better.

2 Peter 1:6-9 Knowing God leads to self -control. Self- control leads to patient endurance, and patient endurance leads to godliness. Godliness leads to love for other Christians, and finally  you will grow to have genuine love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more you will be productive and useful in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop these virtues are blind or, at least, very short sighted. They have already forgotten that God has cleansed them from their old life of sin.

This relationship with God is a process, just like any other relationship. It takes time, dedication, and discipline. I love the progression of virtues in the above verse. Knowing God -> self control -> patient endurance -> godliness ->  love for other Christians -> and finally love for everyone. We can only truly love everyone when we truly know the love of God.

2 Peter 1:2 May God bless you with his special favor and wonderful peace as you come to know Jesus, our God and Lord, better and better.

Enjoy your time with God today!

Shelly

https://youtu.be/4ckV6-xHRLk

Letters from Prison

Todays reading is Ephesians 2

Paul is in a Roman jail because of his love for Jesus and he is writing a letter of encouragement to the church in Ephesus. He is encouraging them to keep believing in Jesus and do His good work in the midst of harsh persecution.  Tychichus visited Paul in jail and took the letter home to share with the church. It is a letter full of encouragement and reminders of all that God has done.

I personally thrive when I am encouraged. If I get a pat on the back or  some kind of attention for a job well done I will hang on to that moment for days.  Put me with other people who are encouraging and excited and I quickly catch the fever. I picture the big company “rah rah” seminars that get everybody pumped up to sell this or that and get excited to move up to the next level or be the best seller for the month. Everyone is excited to perform and get better and get moving. All because they hold a common belief or common goal. This letter is the “rah rah” seminar for Jesus! It reminds us of who we are and why we do what we do.

  • 2:4-5 But God is so rich in his mercy , and he loved us so very much, that even while we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Jesus from the dead.
  • 2:6 For He raised us from the dead along with Christ, and we are seated with him in the heavenly realms.
  • 2:8 God saved you by his special favor when you believed; it is a GIFT from God.
  • 2:10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

All this from a man in prison to encourage others who were free to spread the Good News of Jesus. He goes on to remind them that we are all one in Christ. This is our common core value.

  • 2: 18 Now all of us, both Jews and Gentiles may come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.
  • 2:20 We are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself.

The best news is that it is all a GIFT. There is nothing we can do to earn it, we just accept it and believe.

Be encouraged today! You are God’s masterpiece!

Shelly

 

 

Eternal Perspective

What if the first text you receive today says:

“Jesus will return today at 8:43pm”.

What would your next step be? Would you still get up and get ready for the day? Would you go to work? Throw that load of laundry in? Take the kids to swim lessons? Watch the news? Who would you call? Are you panicked or relieved? Would you drop everything and stare at the sky waiting? Is Jesus a friend you can’t wait to see or is there fear at his coming?

Or worse yet, what if the text read:

“Jesus came back yesterday. Why are you still here?”

In 2 Thessalonians 2 the people were confused about the second coming of Jesus. Some thought that due to the harsh persecution of Christ followers, Jesus second coming was imminent. Others thought the second coming had already occurred. They were fearful. Paul needed to clarify the things that would happen prior to Jesus return to get the people back on track. He encouraged them not to be fooled by what others were saying but to remember what he had told them. He was honest and reminded them that there will be great evil in the world but God would prevail. God’s plan is not to strike fear in His people about His return but to bring hope.

This brings a little perspective into my daily living. Suddenly the things that vie for my attention are no longer that important in light of Christs return. Do I really believe that Jesus is coming back? How does my life reflect that I believe this? Currently my life is busy with work, kids, baseball, basketball, laundry, and lots of time in the car. My prayers are typically requests to help me get through a busy day, energy for the evening after a day at work, or just a good night sleep. Not much “eternal perspective”. I think a great evil in my world is busyness to the degree that I don’t consider my eternity or Jesus return very often. This chapter has been a good reminder that this is worthy of my time and thought. Especially to share with my kids.  God has given me these moments with kids, baseball, basketball, and laundry to find the eternal. In each of these “things” there is heart and a moment – a divine appointment by God.

We do not have to fear the second coming of Jesus when we have accepted Him as our Lord and Savior. We look forward to it with great anticipation. Especially when we practice having an eternal perspective. And we have the Bible – the written Word of God to redirect us when we get confused and start listening to the world.

Romans 10:9-10 “For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing  in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the scripture tells us, “Anyone who believes in him will not be disappointed”.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the call of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, all the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and remain with him forever. So comfort and encourage each other with these words. ”

This could happen tomorrow or it could be in 1000 years. Matthew 24:36 says, “However, no one knows the day or the hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the father knows.”

May you have an eternal perspective today and share it with someone else. Jesus is coming back!!

Shelly

 

 

 

A Rumor of Life

Today’s reading is Matthew 28

This is the account after Jesus death on the cross. He had been placed in a sealed tomb with guards for 3 days. The guards were there as requested by the Pharisees. They remembered Jesus saying he would rise on the third day.  If the guards were in place the disciples wouldn’t be able to steal him away to falsely fulfill Jesus words. The Pharisees were afraid Jesus may actually be who he said he was. (Matthew 27:62-65).

In Matthew 28, Mary Madgdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb. They probably hadn’t slept and were feeling heavy hearted and dismayed. They went expecting to care for Jesus dead body but instead they were met with an earthquake and an angel telling them that Jesus was not in the tomb!! The guards passed out in fear. The angel said “don’t be afraid” and instructed the women to go tell the disciples. They were the first to learn and share the good news of Jesus Resurrection. Jesus meeting them on the way sealed the deal for them. He reminded them” Don’t be afraid!”

In Matthew 28:8 it says they were “frightened but also filled with great joy!”. I love this description – just like any great adventure in our lives should feel. We may be frightened but also filled with great joy as we share the good news of Jesus resurrection that brings us eternal life.  The gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) all account for this event with different perspectives and details but the bottom line is the same in each account….Jesus was not in the tomb!  Matthew 28: 6 says “He isn’t here! He has been raised from the dead, just as he said would happen”.

Unfortunately some guards at the tomb went to the leading priests to tell them what happened. The priests bribed them to keep that news to themselves and instead say the disciples came in the night and stole Jesus body. The guards were paid off and everyone agreed on the story. This sad theory still circulates today.

Jesus goes on to meet with the disciples in Galilee and he gives the Great Commission. Matthew 28: 18 –  Jesus came and told his disciples,” I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

This is the ultimate fork in road. Do you believe Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after being crucified? Do you believe the tomb was empty? Are you frightened but also filled with great joy at the thought of Jesus dying on the cross for your sins and then rising from the dead on the third day to give eternal life?

“Don’t be afraid”. Go and tell the good news.

Shelly

Mark 10

Today’s reading is Mark 10.

Jesus is walking and teaching. In reading through this chapter I catch myself putting my human emotions and frustrations on Jesus. Everywhere he goes people are following him and waiting to hear him speak. The Pharisees are always trying to trip him up like they did with their question about divorce. Then he has to explain to the rich young man that he must sell everything and follow Him to gain eternal life and the guy basically said no and “went sadly away”. The disciples never quite “get it” either and Jesus spends extra time explaining that He will die and rise again. They also struggle with selfishness and Jesus has to stop and teach them about being a servant and how to be the “least” among them. It sounds a lot like parenting to me and I get exhausted for Jesus. But He never got exhausted.  He knew the road he was walking and all the conversations, healings, and confrontations were important. They were all  leading Him towards the goal of providing salvation for the world. He never got annoyed with the questions or frustrated with their lack of understanding or knowledge. He kept on teaching and healing and loving.

In the midst of the teaching, training, and healing Jesus stopped to bless the children. In verses 13-16 parents were  bringing their children to Jesus for blessing and the disciples tried to keep them away. Jesus said “Let the little children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I assure you, anyone who doesn’t have their kind of faith will never get into the Kingdom of God”. Then he took the children into his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.

These children were not asking difficult questions about theology or dealing with adult attitudes. Their parents told them about Jesus and they were thrilled to go see him. They knew he was doing miracles and they were listening to all the talk around town about him. They had no questions about stepping into his arms and receiving his blessing. And Jesus was happy to give it. Pure joy. Faith.

I pray this prayer over my kids at night, that God would lay His hand of blessing on their heads. This is a reminder to me that He has a path for their lives that I do not control. It reminds me that the blessing of God is bigger than the sports they play, the grades they get, or the school they go to. There is an eternal perspective that far surpasses anything of this world. And I pray that they would know the blessing of God so when they face persecution for their faith they will continue to stand by it.

I pray this for you today too. That God would lay his hand of blessing on your head and you would receive it in faith. That your faith would be like a child and you would be able to accept all that Jesus has done for you on the cross.

Shelly

Mark 6

In today’s reading, Mark 6, we find Jesus back in his hometown of Nazareth.  It was the Sabbath and He was teaching in the synagogue.  After listening to him speak, some people basically started saying who is this guy and who does he think he is.  Then Jesus said, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.”  Verses 5 & 6 go on to say:  “And He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them.  And He marveled because of their unbelief.”

 

Just two quick thoughts/questions for us to ponder this morning as we get over the hump today.  One, why is it easier for us to believe something amazing could come from a stranger than it could from someone close to us?  Two, how disheartening was this for our lord and savior:  “…He marveled because of their disbelief.”

 

Give those two some thought this morning…and then find a way to show someone the love of Jesus, today.  Have a blessed Wednesday!

MT

 

Isaiah 55

Today’s reading is from Isaiah 55

Easter is still on my mind. I remember watching the Passion of The Christ when it came out at the movie theaters in 2004. I was so emotional as I watched, instead of read, all that Jesus endured to get to the cross. So overwhelming. Reading the words on the page I can easily skim over the flogging and the beating, but to watch it acted out in real time is another experience entirely. Half the time I had to look away. It was too much. I wanted to yell at it to stop and then get up and leave. But knowing that it was “My Jesus” made me not able to get up and walk out. This is the Jesus I said yes to many years ago but I had never put a visual connection to His sacrifice until that movie. I couldn’t walk away from that moment and forget about it because it wasn’t just a movie for me. It is the core of my belief about God and Jesus and His plan for this world. I wasn’t a spectator to some fairy tale but rather watching the very thing that I believe and center my life upon.

I am amazed when I think about Isaiah prophesying about this moment before it even happened.  He spoke of the Messiah being beaten and sacrificed, but also the hope and the beautiful plan for our forgiveness through Christ. A plan that was so beyond what we would expect. In Isaiah 55 he starts out by saying that this message is for EVERYONE! It is for those who are thirsty yet have no money to buy anything and it is for those who have plenty but aren’t satisfied. He urges them to seek the Lord while there is still time and to listen. Isaiah 55:3 says, “Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, for the life of your soul is at stake”. He was preparing the way for the Messiah, but why would God save the world and our souls this way? Surely there was a better option that didn’t require so much pain.

Isaiah 55:8-9 “My thoughts are completely different from yours,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

Who am I to question the divine plan of the almighty? Instead I will humbly accept the sacrifice that I do not deserve.  The ultimate sacrifice paid on my behalf. I am humbled and thankful and overwhelmed.

Shelly

 

A Needed Boost

Today’s reading is Haggai 1

Haggai was a prophet that God used to remind the people of their priorities. A long time ago the Babylonians had destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem which was a symbol of his God’s presence.  Then years later King Cyrus said that the Jews could return to Jerusalem to rebuild their temple. They started to rebuild but after awhile they lost their motivation and they stopped. I think over time the people became complacent and forgot their purpose. Instead they focused on building up things for themselves. Haggai received  a message from the Lord to get the people going again and give them a much needed boost.

Haggai 1:3-6 So the Lord sent his message through the prophet Haggai: “Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins? This is what the Lord Almighty says: Consider how things are going for you! You have planted much but harvested little. You have food to eat, but not enough to fill you up. You have wine to drink, but not enough to satisfy your thirst. You have clothing to wear, but not enough to keep you warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes! (New Living Translation)

Basically he told them that they had everything they needed but were still unsatisfied. Haggai got the people back to rebuilding the temple – eternal work. Sometimes we need someone in our lives that speaks truth and encourages us like Haggai. Are you living in luxury and working hard to keep it that way instead of building up the kingdom of God? Are you successful but still not satisfied?

Last December I stepped down from teaching in the 2’s and 3’s department at church.  My reasoning was that I had given it a good go for almost 10 years and it was time to move on to something different. The first month after quitting I will admit I enjoyed the freedom of no Sunday commitments, no lesson to prepare, no 2 service Sundays, and I could come and go with barely having to talk to anyone! And then, before I knew it, that became my routine. My intentions were always to find another area to serve, but guess what? I forgot to look for something else and now I’m not serving at all. Looks like I stopped building the temple. I forgot the importance of serving and how God uses that to draw me closer to Him.  The Good news is that we are His temple through Jesus Christ and we can rebuild anytime with a repentant heart. It is a conscious change of priorities. And with obedience to building Gods kingdom and making that a priority, God is with us.

Haggai 2:13 – Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, gave the people this message from the Lord: “I am with you, says the Lord!” (New Living Translation)

Romans 9:31  – What can we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? (New Living Translation)

Shelly