Buckets or Fountains

Today’s Reading: John 7

John 7 is another glorious invitation that Jesus provides to the people. There was probably not a single day that went by where Jesus didn’t invite people to salvation, forgiveness, and eternal life.  If you go back to John 4, He invites the woman at the well.   “ The water that I give you is eternal or living water. Drink of this water, and you will never thirst again.”  Chapter 6 Lynden talked about the “bread of life.” 

As I read about the importance of small things from Lynden yesterday, I love how he highlighted the importance of bread.  Today we are going to talk about the simplicity and necessity of water.   Did you know that over 60% of your body is water?  That over 70% of your brain and heart is made up of water.  As adults, it is recommended that we drink 2.7 – 3.7 liters of water daily.  How much are you drinking? 

 

John 7: 37-39 reads, “Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out saying, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the Scripture said, from his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’  

Are you thirsty? Have you ever been dehydrated? Research shows how madness can set in when you have not had water after some time.  I connect this with not having Jesus in our lives as not having water.  Think of where you might be?

Three verbs stick out in this invite.  When you think about evangelism, it makes sense.  

  • Thirst – Recognizing your condition.  Realizing that you are apart from God, you will always want something to drink. 
  • Come – trust in Him, abandon sin and turn towards God. 
  • Drink – live with Him each day. Surrender daily. 

The last awesome part that convicts me in this scripture is the last line that reminds us that from our innermost being will flow rivers of living water. 

This is where my picture connects.  There are many days that I’m just like the bucket taking it all in and just sitting there—just getting my fill.  Jesus wants us to be a river sharing the living water with others just like He did every day.  

Who will you share with the Living Water with today? 

Have a blessed day!

 

You’re invited…what are you wearing?

Today’s Reading: Matthew 22

v 1-14 The Kingdom of heaven is like…

The more I’ve reflected on our wedding, the more memories jog my mind.  The details that were put into everything.  From invitations selection to music played to the food and cake served.  What an amazing day.  This summer Jennifer and I celebrated our 12th anniversary.  I know I don’t say it or recognize enough the masterpiece our Lord created in my wife and our three wonderful children Jackson, Marshall, and Gianna, but I know they truly are.

The parable that Jesus shares in Matthew 22 talks about a wedding that various groups are invited to. Everyone in town was invited to, yet people refused and paid no attention to the invite for one reason or another.  For those who finally came, some didn’t come dressed for such an occasion.   There is always some thought that gets put into your outfit when attending a wedding.  For me, this parable makes me reflect on what I’m wearing.  What d do I put on each day in the presence of the Lord? What are my actions as a preparation for a wedding feast in Heaven? People like to pretend that our choices or actions don’t matter much in our modern-day world, but this parable shows that it isn’t true.

God’s invitation from Him is not a light matter. We are accepting or rejecting this once-in-a-lifetime invite. Our answer matters.  Our actions matter. Our dress matters.

What are you wearing?

Ephesians 4:20- 24  20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Every morning we all wake up and get dressed for the day. Am I clothed in Humility?

1 Peter 5:5 and be clothed in humility…

I’m grateful for His mercies He has shown me for the moments when my character lacks, and actions don’t represent Him. Lamentations 3:22-23 says Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

You are invited.  Do you accept? As we prepare now for His Kingdom, are there any garments that you are missing? Am I truly dressed and ready, or do I think I am?

Psalm 139:23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

Lord,  I pray that my actions and words represent godliness in all I do.  In my sinful human moments, help me to repent and seek you.  Father, I know the Kingdom you have invited us to is bigger and better than anything the world has to offer.  Help me each day to know this truth and share it with others.  Amen

His Loving Patience

What a great Top 10 Lynden shared with us yesterday on things we take for granted.  His examples were definitely aligned with mine as a reminder about many of the things we have in this life. After Psalm 105’s reminder about the hidden things we take for granted comes a reminder in Psalm 106 of God’s grace and patience despite our forgetful and self-willed lives.

Todays Reading: Psalm 106

I read and listened to a recent Podcast that recommended going back and reading different Bible versions.  Today I landed on the Good news Translation.

1 Praise the Lord!
Give thanks to the Lord, because he is good;
his love is eternal.
2 Who can tell all the great things he has done?
Who can praise him enough?

Who can praise him enough? I know that I can’t.  Even if I started a list right now, I’d still be making a list for days to come. Take a moment to pause and reflect. Write it down in your journal, on the side of your bible, say them out loud.

  • Praise for His transformation in my life.
  • Praise for His love and grace He shows and gives me.
  • Praise for my family.
  • Praise for small groups.
  • Praise for 1777 posts Bible Journal has posted since 1/1/2016.

These were just some I thought about today.  As you continue to read through this chapter, you will be reminded of the importance of our obedience in verse 3.

3 Happy are those who obey his commands,
who always do what is right.

Verses 6-43 humble me and remind me of the blind, rebellious, and forgetful we can be in our sinful nature how stories from the Israelites shortcomings can connect back to our stories today.  To my story.  To yours.

Thankfully, we have a Father who has given and shows grace to those who deserved judgment. Verse 44-47.  God’s faithfulness to us is not dependent on our faithfulness to him.  Just a few weeks ago, we remembered that God sent His son to die for you and me.  He showed us grace when we were still sinners.  Imagine the grace He shows as his children.

44 Yet the Lord heard them when they cried out,
and he took notice of their distress.
45 For their sake he remembered his covenant,
and because of his great love he relented.
46 He made all their oppressors
feel sorry for them.

47 Save us, O Lord our God,
and bring us back from among the nations,
so that we may be thankful
and praise your holy name.

48 Praise the Lord, the God of Israel;
praise him now and forever!
Let everyone say, “Amen!”

Praise the Lord!

A Thrill of Hope

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.  Isaiah 7:14

I wonder how this landed on people seven hundred years before Christ came. We may accept this prophecy as known and believed today, but based on the responses in scriptures, they didn’t seem to. God With Us?  Could they imagine it or understand it?

When you zoom out from this moment with God, King Azah, and the prophet Isaiah, the landscape is heavy. Isaiah served as a prophet to the people of Judah and during the reign of four different kings. This time period experienced war  after war, and all the while Isaiah counseled the kings to trust only in the Lord. Wait on the Lord. But his advice fell on deaf ears resulting in defeats, captivity, and exile.

All the while, the people had turned away from God – their hearts weren’t in it. Interesting enough, they were still going to the temple and making sacrifices for their rebellion. They knew they weren’t following the Lord, but rather than truly repent and change, they tried to quick-fix their sins with worthless sacrifices. These sin and hypocrisy cycles continued for decades!

You know what I love about God and how he used Isaiah? In the midst of all of the disobedience from the kings and leaders of the nation, to the disobedience to the everyday people – at every level they had turned their backs on the Lord – but he remained. He still continued to give them hope. He didn’t leave them. He provided prophets to point the people back to himself. The thrill of hope is woven all through the book of Isaiah!

Isaiah is truly an amazing foretelling of Jesus. God used this one prophet to share so much hope and truth about our Messiah. The need of a savior was apparent, and Jesus Christ is our perfect provision!

        • The coming of Christ is announced in Isaiah 40:3-5
        • The virgin birth of Christ is foretold in Isaiah 7:14
        • The Good News through Christ is positioned in Isaiah 61:1
        • Christ’s death and sacrifice for our sins is outlined in Isaiah 52-53
        • Christ’s return and reign in Isaiah 60:2-3

These are just a few of the many recorded and fulfilled prophesies from Isaiah about the life and ministry of Christ.

When we zoom back in to what is happening specifically in Isaiah 7, we find King Azah too rebellious and too proud to ask God, or “test God”, even though God commanded him to. God wanted to have his whole heart and be fully trusted. Even after King Azah’s excuse to not ask God, God still offers him a sign of the future to come. A future of hope and salvation through Jesus. If the people would just trust the Lord and have faith! Today we can do exactly that. We can trust. We can follow the Lord. We can let go of our empty sacrifices and rely solely on the saving grace of Jesus.

As we continue looking toward the birth of Jesus, we can trust the one who sent him. He wants us to believe. He sent Jesus so He can be with us again. I’m praying that we all experience the thrill of the hope we have in Christ!

A Living Stone

What goes into building a strong structure? Time, energy, and a strong cornerstone. Together as the Church, we are all one strong structure that is supposed to uphold our faith with Jesus as our cornerstone. That means that we must see ourselves each individually as small building blocks.

As a stone to uphold a structure, how are we able to be good enough to work together as the church and have Christ as our cornerstone?

It may come to a surprise to some of us, but we are not perfect. Our Heavenly Father made us in His image, but sin has made us broken. When we are born into this world, we are made to be broken because of sin. How do we overcome sin and be in a relationship with Christ? We can’t, we can only believe in what God has done for us to be saved.

It is by faith alone through Jesus Christ that we come to know true salvation and the presence of the Holy Spirit. As we come to a relationship with Christ, He calls us to believe in Him. That means to believe that we are made broken and in need of a Savior. Jesus is that Savior, fully God and man. He is eternal with the Father and Holy Spirit. Because God loves us and wants to be in relationship with us, He brought His Son down to Earth to preach the “good news” and to become an eternal sacrifice for all. Therefore, Jesus came to Earth as a baby, died on the cross as a man, and was resurrected to give us eternal life.

When we believe in this, there is a change in all of us. We see lives to start changing and go toward the Word of Jesus. In 1 Peter 2:4-5, Peter says, As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”. We come to Jesus broken and with a past. None of us are perfect or are called to be perfect when you come to a relationship with Jesus. We need a Savior and He wants us to be with Him.

Jesus makes us into living stones, building blocks, that will be rejected by others, but will make us into one whole structure. This structure is a royal priesthood that is in a relationship with Jesus. This structure is constantly growing and will continue to do so. The Church is unlike other structures or buildings, it will continue to transform each and every day. It will add more building blocks and become more refined, but always have a perfect cornerstone that allows the structure to never fall.

As the Chruch, let us grow more towards living like a royal priesthood and sharing the good news of the Gospel. Never forget that God’s grace is a blessing and gift towards us, that is worth sharing with everyone!

My Song

“The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation.”

Psalm 118:14

Even though most of our family does not have much musical talent, with the exception of my mom, uncle, and late grandmother, for as long as I can remember music has been a big part of our lives. While riding in the back of my parents’ car at a very young age, my Dad would quiz me on what the name of oldies songs were and who sang them when they came on the radio. I even had to know the back story of the song or band. For example, not only who sang “For What It’s Worth” (no…the name of the song is not…..’Stop..hey…what’s that sound’) which is Buffalo Springfield..but my dad would ask, “Where did the band get their name?” To which I would reply, “Off the side of a steamroller..” and roll my eyes. I remember one time in high school biology our substitute teacher was doing random trivia questions when he asked, “Who sang the one hit wonder from the 60’s called ’96 Tears’?” To which I shouted out from the back, “Question Mark and the Mysterians!” He was in awe and said never ever in of all his years of substitute teaching had anyone answered that one correctly. Well…not only was knowing the name and artists of songs a big deal in our family anyway, but that one just happens to be my Dad’s favorite song. In fact..as soon as he started out with “Who sang this one hit wonder from the 60’s….” I had feeling he was going to ask that song before he even finished his sentence. I love music so much I often say it’s good that God didn’t give me even one ounce of musical talent because if He did I would probably be traveling the US trying to make it as an artist with little to no chance of doing so.

Up until about 10 years ago when we started going to a church that played contemporary music, Christian music unfortunately was not a part of my life though. I thought of Christian music as being something with an organ which I was not into and just didn’t connect with so to speak. Then, I began to really get into contemporary Christian music and sing along just like I did with my favorite rock or country songs. Who knew that Christian music and singing about God and His love for us can be “cool” and fun, too? Now, it’s about all I listen to. I don’t think it’s a coincidence with music being such a big connection in my life that I would also say that’s when I started to connect with God more, too.

Have you ever noticed how impactful music in general and often times a specific song is to people’s lives? We often crank up our favorite song after a great day or week or connect with a certain song to help us get through tough times as well. How about the joy of watching a very young baby or child move and dance to music? If that doesn’t bring a smile your face, I’m not sure what will. It seems as though God has wired us from birth to connect with music. He’s also wired us to seek a connection and relationship with Him. Our words to describe Him today from Psalm 118:14 reference earlier is “my song.”

Can you imagine life without music? I don’t know about you, but I feel it would be pretty boring and just downright depressing. That’s what a life without a connection and relationship with God is like..empty. He is our song….our joy…our happiness…despite whatever is going on in our lives.

The following verse in Psalm 118:15 says, “Glad songs of salvation are in the tents of the righteous…” None of us are righteous and without sin…but through His blood and faith in Him we are. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God.” When we have faith and a relationship with Him, we are righteous and it changes us. Knowing we are free from sin through His sacrifice brings us true and everlasting joy. The song that plays in the “tents” of our heart is Him and His salvation as Psalm 118:15 says.

Today, I would encourage you to read the rest of Psalm 118 and embrace how it describes that “His steadfast love endures forever…” Psalm 118:6 also reminds us, “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” If you’re going through a rough time, try connecting with Him and making Him your song and joy.

Maybe you haven’t gotten into Christian music yet, but love country. Here’s a new one from Chris Tomlin featuring Florida George Line and Thomas Rhett you may not have heard yet to get you started. Or maybe you’re already into Christian music. Either way, I hope that any time we all hear it now it will be a reminder that He is our “song.”

 

Salvatio

Our daughter Gianna is now 2. As a newborn, I read that the only two fears infants have are loud noises and falling. At her young age, she has a fear of some bugs, large animals, heights by herself, and other things that her parents and older siblings have trained her to be afraid of. As an “adult” in my mid-40’s, the world’s fears have taken hold of me for many years.  These fears can include what I say, do, or act in front of others with underlining insecurity.  Fear can make you wonder if you have enough or hold a high enough position with the constant fear of failure.  The Lord’s transformation of my life started around ten years ago, even though I can point to various points in my life where I know the Lord has always been by my side.  Truth is he has never left you, I just never listened or opened my eyes.   Until I was willing to surrender my selfish pride and surrender to a losing battle, I found my salvatio. (salvation) Merriam-Webster has a few definitions for salvation like 1. deliverance from the power and effects of sin, 2. preservation from destruction or failure, 3. liberation from ignorance or illusion.  I feel like all three of these definitions fit me well at that time with some lingering effects.  But thankfully, our debt has been paid in full, and we have hope in our Lord.

Today’s verses are a couple of my favorites.

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of life; of whom shall I be afraid?  Psalm 27:1

The world is sending a message always.  In these dark times, we can always look to the light.  As something or someone starts your anxiety level to rise, relax, turn to God our say in your head, “Whom shall I be afraid? ” As you begin to feel weak, and the physical or mental exhaustion kicks in.  Remember where your strength truly comes from.  Go ahead this morning, today, at lunch, dinner.  Say it to a friend, a colleague, child, your spouse.  The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I be afraid? The Lord is the stronghold of life; of whom shall I be afraid?  Repeat it if you need to. Say it as the pressures of the world enter into your day.

Remember Gianna, still semi-fearless besides what we as parents have instilled. No fear. She would jump from anything into your arms because they trust you.     I would want my children, my wife, and myself to remember this verse as the world attempts to enter fear into our minds.   Where are you today? Are you worried about something? School? Kids? Finances? Health?  Our Lord is right there waiting to be the light, to be your strength. To be your salvation.

The Lord is my strength and my song, and He has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my Father’s God, and I will exalt him. Exodus 15:2

Whom shall you be afraid?  Sing praise today; salvation is yours.

King of Kings

 

 

My Salvation

How do you describe God? What words do you usually use? Deliverer, comforter, loving, just, redeemer, etc. There are endless words that can be used to describe God. Throughout all of Scripture, we are constantly learning more about the character of God. God is described in so many different ways, but what truly makes us believe and have hope in Him is that He is our salvation.

What does it mean that God is our salvation?

In Exodus 15:2, we see that Moses describes God as his salvation, “The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him”. Moses and all the Israelites have just been saved from the Egyptians. The Israelites, since the time of Abraham, believed in God as their Creator, but now, they are coming to a different understanding of Him, he has now become their hope and freedom from slavery. The Israelites have been delivered from 400 years of slavery. They know that God is for them, and is willing to save them! Moses is rejoicing and trusting that God is the only hope that He has.

In God, we have hope, and we are saved from our enemies. For the Israelites, their enemies were the Egyptians. Our enemies look a little different today. Sometimes we face physical enemies, but more than likely, we are facing “the enemy” through sin. Depression, anxiety, racial tensions, poverty, lust, etc. These are the tactics that Satan uses to try and lead us astray. Since we can say that God is our salvation, we have hope from sin!

Jesus Christ is our salvation and hope! In John 3:16, we see that Jesus says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”. God loves us so much that He gave His only Son to die a horrific death, so that we may be saved from our enemy and sin! God is our salvation through Jesus Christ!

In our salvation through Jesus Christ, we have confidence in being worthy of freedom from our enemies and sin! Psalm 27:1 says, The LORD is my light and my salvation; who shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”. We are not only saved through Jesus, but we are made into a new creation. God protects us in our salvation and promises that He will be with us forever.

Jesus Christ is our salvation. He is the only one that can free us from the bondage of sin. The salvation that Jesus provides is eternal. It gives us hope for the future. This salvation that Jesus grants us is to be shared with everyone. How are you sharing this joyous message today? I encourage you to lean into understanding the Gospel message more, so that way you can continue conversations in your daily life around the salvation that Jesus gives us.

Our Peace

Our world has changed over the past few months. Currently, we are dealing with social and racial issues that are splitting the country apart. COVID-19 has changed the economic, physical, and emotional tides of the country. Each day, in the United States, we hear on the news about everything that is going wrong in the world around us.

Many of our families live in fear and dismay over the COVID-19 pandemic and all the other concerns going on. Each one of us is shaken and made to rely on something in their lives for hope and peace.

During all the uncertainty, I keep listening to Christians and Non-Christians’ uncertainty of what the future could be. Each one of us depends on some type of faith. I believe that during all this time, that Christians should portray a peace that passes understanding.

Ephesians 2:14 is our verse today. It says, “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility”. Paul is speaking to the Ephesian church and is addressing the disagreements within the church. He addresses this issue by saying that, Jesus is our only true peace, and He is the only thing that can solve all their issues going on. Also, in Christ Jesus, we are made brothers and sisters in Christ. Therefore, as brothers and sisters, we must represent the sacrifice that Christ has made for us and rally together around that.

How does this disagreement that the church in Ephesians helps us understand peace?

Dictionary.com defines peace as “a state of mutual harmony between people or groups, especially in personal relations:”. As stated above, we can see that we are far from peace in this country and world. There is only one way to obtain true peace, by putting your hope and faith in Christ Jesus for your salvation. Jesus says in John 16:33, “I have said these things to you that in me you have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world”. Our peace is found in Jesus!

Each day we fight, disagree, backstab, and worry all out of the fear of the future. We are looking for some type of utopian society. Because of sin, that isn’t possible, but with Christ, we do have a peace that will surpass all understanding. See Jesus paid for our sin on a cross to provide us the peace in our hearts that we yearn for. The peace that Jesus provides, is the understanding that we have a Savior and God, who loves us so much that the Father sacrificed the Son to pay for all the sin in our lives so that we can live with Christ in eternity.

In the current season of life that we are all living, Christians need to unify under one banner, the cross of Jesus Christ. I encourage each of you to keep your hope in Jesus Christ. Life isn’t easy and there will always be some amount of uncertainty. However, when we are able to band together as believers, we gifted with the Holy Spirit that strengthens us. In Galatians 3:28, Paul says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” There is no distinction that Jesus makes.

Our peace is stronger together as Christians. I encourage you, now is the time to reach out to Christians and Non-Christians, that you know you disagree with on topics. Pray with them, share the Gospel with non-Christians and Christians alike, share a meal together, and overall be together and unify under Christ Jesus, who provides a peace that passes all understanding.

Bad Investments

Luke 21

When I read Luke 21, I get a little scared.  It starts with the destruction of the Temple.  Jesus is telling us that God’s very house will be destroyed.  When it does, we will be tempted to follow others that are not God.   We could easily be led astray.   There will also be wars, natural disasters and persecution.  Jesus makes it personal.  He tells us that we, as believers, will be beaten and tried with some being put to death.  This action is not caused by strangers or even the government. It is our own parents, brothers, relatives and friends.   Entire cities will be destroyed and overtaken.

The events found in this chapter are truly horrifying, with one exception.  Did you notice the first paragraph about the widow?  How did it land here?   It is out-of-place, isn’t it?  I thought so, until I got a closer look.  Read it again and note that the widow kept nothing back for herself.  She gave everything she had, because that is not where she found value.  Consider it this way.  She invested everything she had.  Why?  Was she foolish?  No.  She gave everything because she did not hold value in herself, her own comfort, or her own well-being.  Instead, she invested everything she had for the Kingdom.  She only though of others’ comfort and well-being.  She invested it so that God’s kingdom could be full.

It is worth considering our investments vs the widows.  I realize now that my fear when reading chapter 21 is a result of the investments I am making.  You see, if I am investing in my business or my possessions or even my family, Jesus is quick to show me that my investment will not pay off.  This is what gives me anxiety.  Thankfully, I have an opportunity to make it right.  Today, I choose to invest in God’s kingdom.  I can do it with my pennies and dollars as well as my talents and abilities. Will you?