The Garden!

iStock_000037584984SmallSometimes on our path in life we find ourselves really behind. We think that the only way to catch up is to run faster. We try to keep going so that we make headway but detours and the unexpected pop up on the horizon. Sometimes we just need to catch our breath and re-think if we are even on the right path at all.

The Creator of everything made Adam and Eve in His image for relationship. He placed them in a beautiful garden to steward with ease, with many trees and only one they could not eat from. Sadly, they chose to disobey God and the results of their actions led to the world we live in now. Hate, fear, greed, murder, genocide, sickness, disease, war, famine all have come from the disobedience of one. One of the initial curses- that man would live by the sweat of His brow- began in the garden.

God desired reconciliation with mankind, so He made a way. He sent His son to earth to live a sinless life, die on the cross, and be raised from the dead so that we could identify with Jesus and exchange our unrighteousness for His righteousness.

When the time came for Jesus to go to the cross, He first went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. The Bible says, “And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.”

Jesus would shed His blood for the forgiveness of our sins, breaking the curse. The first place that His blood was shed was in the Garden. Jesus’s blood redeemed the ground and took away the curse.

Now when we accept Jesus into our hearts, we can stop our tireless works. We can enter a place of supernatural rest and learn the unforced rhythms of grace (Matthew 11:28). When we spend time in our devotions of prayer, worship and reading the Word, we can enter into His beautiful presence. In His presence there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11)  and when we seek Him and His righteousness, not our own righteousness, He adds to us all those things we need (Matt 6:33).

We no longer have to run faster, work harder or keep spinning our wheels. We can find rest and respond to God’s infinite, unfailing, overflowing unconditional great love. When we do, we will find ourselves ahead of the pack, on the right track and stepping into our destiny and purpose.


Luke 22:44 And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.

Heart Alive!

sunset over hillWe can find ourselves in a season where we feel we are going backwards and not forwards. We think we are heading to the next level and we find ourselves back two. Situations we thought were over rear their ugly head and all of a sudden we sense something familiar about our reactions and responses to situation and people.

When the disciples watched their hope for Israel die a criminal’s death on the cross, they were crushed. Regardless of the fact that Jesus had told them that He would die and be raised again, they had their eyes on Jesus as an earthly warrior/king who would remove the Romans from Israel.

That Saturday after Jesus died on the cross, two of the disciples were walking on the road to Emmaus. They were so despondent that when a man approached them on the road, they failed to recognize it was Jesus in His resurrected body. Jesus asked them what was wrong and they were surprised this man didn’t know what had happened to their leader; and began to tell Him what had unfolded the day before.

The man rebuked them and asked if the Christ did not have to suffer to fulfill these things and He began to open the scriptures to them. After a while they stopped for food and as the man broke the bread their eyes were opened and He vanished. The disciples realized who was walking with them all along.

The disciples became elated, and realized that as the man had opened the scriptures regarding the Christ, their hearts had burned within them. As we walk on this journey in life, we sometimes fail to recognize that Jesus is right here with us. As we commune with Him through prayer, worship and reading the Word, His Holy Spirit opens the scriptures to us. As we take communion we are revealed more and more who Jesus really is and what He has done for us!!!

Even when we feel that we are going backwards instead of forwards, we have to remember that God’s plans for us are bigger than our plans for us. The disciples thought the cross was a colossal failure and it was the most tremendous success for mankind of all time. We can trust God that whatever season of life we are in, His plans are bigger and better than we can hope, think or ask!

They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?”

 

Risen!

iStock_000012716821SmallSometimes we can go through life and wonder how we got to where we are. We want to run away, move to another state, change jobs, friends, spouses. The reality is wherever we go, there we are. Instead of changing our outward circumstances, we can change our inward ones.

The children of Israel were in a horrible situation in Egypt. They had been enslaved to do hard labor by Pharaoh . God raised up a deliverer to save them by the name of Moses, who was a child of both worlds. Moses was raised a prince of Egypt but was a Hebrew by birth. Moses answered the call to tell Pharaoh to let God’s people go. Pharaoh refused to allow God’s people whom he had enslaved to leave with Moses.

The night before the Israelites would leave Egypt, God told each family to take a lamb without blemish, and sacrifice it. This lamb would be called the passover lamb. They were to take the blood of the lamb and put it over the doorpost. That night (Exodus 12:3) the destroyer would go through the land killing the firstborn of man and beast. Every family who had the blood of the lamb on their doorpost would be saved.

Jesus is our Passover Lamb. John the Baptist proclaimed “Behold the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus lived a sinless life so He could be the lamb without blemish for us. Jesus died for our sins, so we can be entirely forgiven for every mistake, failure, shortcoming and flaw, past, present and future. And Jesus was raised from the dead for our justification, so that we can look to our resurrected savior and see the work is finished. When we receive Jesus we are made righteous forever by our risen Lord.

Today is the day we celebrate Easter. We celebrate our Risen Savior. The work has been finished and now we can receive forgiveness, righteousness, justification and redemption. We can enter into our forever fresh start, our on going clean-slate and our eternal new beginning that has been won for us by our Lord Jesus.


Matthew 28:5 – The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. 6 He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said.

Believe!

iStock_000016010984SmallWe can find ourselves in situations that have turned out completely differently that we had thought they would. We feel disappointed and let down because we thought things would be entirely different. If we will just give it a little time, we might see that the outcome we desire is much more impactful than we had originally thought it would be; it just might not look like or come in the timing that we had hoped.

Jesus Christ’s ministry on earth lasted three years. His disciples believed that He was the one who would redeem Israel. They believed that He would remove the Roman empire and establish Israel as an independent state. However, Jesus taught them to pray to the Father “Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven” (Luke 11:2-4) for a reason.

Jesus had bigger plans than just establishing Israel as an independent state. He did not just want to redeem Israel but to redeem all people. He was establishing the Kingdom of Heaven on planet Earth. This Kingdom is counter culture to our world. This world says ‘climb higher to be greater.’ The Kingdom says go lower to be great. The world says ‘it’s the survival of the fittest.’ The Kingdom says ‘…take care of the widows and the orphans.’  This world says ‘look out for number one’ and the Kingdom says, ‘the last will be first and the first will be last.’

Jesus spoke of His death and resurrection to His disciples but they could not get their eyes off the here and now; so when Jesus died on the cross they were crushed. On Friday they saw their hope for Israel die before their very own eyes. On Saturday they were grieving, despondent and crushed in spirit, but what they forgot is that Sunday was right around the corner.

On Sunday Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, the tomb empty and the gap bridged; so God and mankind could forever be reconciled. Now we can receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We can stop trying to ascend to God because Jesus Christ descended for us, so that we could forever be connected to our Heavenly Father. Now when we receive Jesus we ascend to God in Christ. And we can rest entirely in Jesus Christ ‘s perfect life, death and resurrection, in His finished work.

 

Finished!

misty morningWe can go through life feeling as if we never measure up. We are told from an early age what we should be like, look like, act like and even talk like. We are compared to everyone from siblings, to parents, and even to professional models and athletes. The truth is no one is perfect. The Bible says that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

So we are born imperfect and yet there is always a standard of perfection that is placed on us by society, religion, friends and family and even ourselves. The truth is we will never measure up to any standard of perfection. Jesus Christ came to earth to live a perfect sinless life, to die a criminal’s death and to be raised from the dead for you and me.

And in this great exchange, we can lay all our burdens, sins, mistakes, failures and imperfections at the cross, and receive all of his redemption, perfection, righteousness, comfort, joy and peace.

Today we celebrate Good Friday. We honor the day our Lord Jesus Christ chose to die on the cross for us. His final words on the cross were “It is finished.” As we identify ourselves in Christ, we can stop trying to measure up and start receiving all that Jesus has won for us; and rest entirely in His finished work.

John 19:30 – Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

 

Reflect!

iStock_000037693868SmallLife can feel like a whirlwind; we can go through seasons of busyness where we feel as if we are overwhelmed with responsibilities, demands and deadlines. We try to move faster but sometimes it seems like we are going backwards. It’s during these times that we can take a moment to pause and breathe. A simple prayer, even just a “help”, will make it to the throne room.

King David had a life of extreme ups and downs. He fought lions, bears, giants, warring armies and uprisings. However, David always came out victorious. Even when he went through temporary painful seasons, David always overcame.  And at the end of his life he remained the king over his kingdom, he died of a good old age, his son Solomon succeeded him and David’s bloodline ended up in the lineage of Christ.

During David’s battles he found his strength in his prayer time. During prayer he would pour his heart out to the Lord. He would be completely transparent and tell God of all his fears and concerns, and then would come a moment of  “selah”, a pause or moment of reflection. It was in these moments of quiet before the Lord that David would be filled with strength. After the pause, David’s words would begin to praise God who had never failed him and who never would.

No matter the challenges before us or the obstacles we face, we can take a “selah” moment, and remember that if God is for us (Romans 8:31), who can be against us and that absolutely nothing ever will separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:39).

So when life tries to steal our joy, bring us down, or cloud our vision, we can remember that there is a God in Heaven who loves us, who is for us, and who will never leave us or abandon us. The God of the universe is cheering us on in this race in life, God is our ever present help in time of need.

Psalm 3: 2 – Many are saying of my soul,“There is no deliverance for him in God.” Selah But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head.

Unshakable!

Dawn sky over the flower field, nature backgroundWe can get caught up trying to make a name for ourselves, trying to keep up with the Joneses. We look to increase our status, our name recognition, earn a new title and ultimately we look everywhere and anywhere for validation. We can be addicted to the praises of people and the approval of others.

The truth is that all of that validation is shaky. People’s opinions change, titles come and go, our status rises and falls and everything and anything that we put our security in will be shaken if it’s not eternally secured in God.

When we come to God by accepting Jesus into our hearts, we come to solid unshakable ground. When we spend time with the eternal God of the universe we spend time with our maker and designer, our author and finisher.

God designed us for relationship with Him. He shaped us for specific purpose and plan from the beginning. He thought about us and placed us from eternity into the year we were born. He marked us with our unique DNA and fingerprints and as we spend time with Him, we get a greater glimpse of who we are and what we are created for. As we spend time immersed in His love, we grow more confident and secure; and our desire for other’s approval and validation wanes.

Nothing in this world compares with God’s love and acceptance. As we become rooted in this love we begin to really know who we are in Christ. As we grow in our relationship with Jesus, we are able to step more fully into our destiny, live a wide open life of generosity and blessing and leave a legacy so that others will be introduced to God’s infallible, unfailing, and unconditional love.

Forever Accepted!

???????????????????????Sometimes in life when we are hurting, we feel like we are all alone. When we experience pain and sorrow, we can wonder where God is. We feel that He has left us but that is just a feeling and nothing could be further from the truth.

When we accept Jesus Christ into our hearts, we enter into an everlasting love relationship with the Creator of the Universe. God loved us so much that He sent His only begotten son to earth for us (John 3:16), so that we would have life, a fresh start and eternal right standing with Him.

Now when we face obstacles, difficulties and hardship, we can boldly come before the throne room of Grace in time of need (Hebrews 4:16). We can cast our cares upon the Lord because He cares for us ( Peter 5:7) and we can place our fears, worries, and disappointments at the foot of the cross and receive Jesus’s comfort, joy, and peace.

We freely can come to God in our times of prayer, worship and reading the Word and know that He is there for us with arms wide open. We can receive His unconditional, unfailing and extravagant love and allow Him to remind us that we have been forever accepted and are now never alone through Christ Jesus our Lord.

iStock_000006014401SmallAs we go through life we can go through busy seasons that are full of heavy demands and impending deadlines. We begin to think that everything depends on us. However, if we have accepted Jesus Christ into our hearts, then we have God’s constant abundant supply of grace to help us.

The more responsibility we take on, the more we can lean upon the Lord. As we come to Him in our prayer and devotional times, we can come to a place of rest and receive from Him. When we lay every burden and every care at the foot of the cross, we can exchange them for God’s supernatural rest, peace and well-being.

The Bible says that Jesus’s yoke is light and easy. A yoke, in agricultural terms, is a device or harness for joining together a pair of animals such as oxen. This device would join them together so they were heading in the same direction and the burden was shared.  The more time we spend with Jesus, the more we will go His direction; and the more we will begin to learn to live lightly and freely and experience the unforced rhythms of grace (Matthew 11:28). The more we spend time with Jesus, the more people should leave our presence lighter and freer as well.

Life can be difficult, work can be burdensome, relationships can be hard but Jesus’s yoke is always easy and light. As we spend time with Him in our prayer time, worship, reading and meditating on the Word, we will find that our tensions will wane, peace will rise and we will be filled with the supernatural joy of the Lord which is our strength.

Accepted!

iStock_000004983911SmallIn life when we encounter rejection we can find ourselves hurting and in pain. Relationships have the seed for great blessing or cursing. The truth is we can avoid all pain in relationships by simply creating walls to keep rejection out. However, when we do this we also keep love out.

God is relational. God is one. God has three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and God is one. God is in constant state of fellowship. We are created in God’s image. We are created to be relational people. We will never know true joy, love or fulfillment by shutting out people. We will never know love by closing the door to relationships.

So the answer to our relational problem is not to stop having relationships. The answer is to maintain priority on the most important relationship, our relationship with God. When we daily come to God in our devotions of prayer, worship and reading and meditating on the Word, we will be cultivating intimacy with the only one who will never leave us, reject you or abandon us.

As we grow in this relationship we will discover our true identity, calling and purpose. God will lead us into His divine relationships and connections. And now when we experience rejection, we will know that even if someone rejects us, that we are still accepted forever by the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the Almighty Creator of the Universe.

As we allow the walls to crumble and vulnerability to rise, we still may be hurt from time to time but now we can come to the throne room of Grace in time of need (Hebrews 4:16) and receive help, healing, hope, restoration, joy and peace. We now bring to our relationships a confidence, and a knowledge that we are forever accepted.

Ephesians 1:6 – to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.

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