Out of Darkness

The tomb is empty!  We called to one another all day, “He Is risen!”  “He is risen, indeed!!”  I love Resurrection Day because of the reminder that Jesus lives.  He is alive! Yes, in heaven; but more than that… in my heart! “Christ in you (me,) the hope of glory.”  Col. 1:27

The Tomb is Empty

Today, I am thinking about that tomb: so dark; dank; carved into solid rock. Jesus’ body sealed in a blackness so complete that no light could penetrate once that monolith stone was rolled into place.  A giant mouth that swallowed the Christ Corpse.  Death hole.

As I ponder that grave, I can’t help but think about my own life…swallowed in a death hole. Sealed in by my sin.  Alive, but living in darkness. Groping for a way into the light. If it had not been for the Lord, I would be groping yet.

Miracle of miracles, the stone rolled away!  Light flooded the death hole, that dark grave, and death was conquered. Jesus stepped out of the darkness, a conquering Hero, bringing with Him the keys of death, hell, and the grave!   And because He did, I was freed from my death hole, my tomb of sin.  Like Lazarus, Jesus called me “out of darkness into His marvelous light!” 1 Peter 2:9  His death on that fateful Good Friday paid the price that I owed for my sin, and His resurrection led me out of the prison of condemnation to follow Him in my freedom.

Jesus is the Lamb that was slain for my sin, but, if that weren’t enough, He is the Resurrected Lord of All. That is why it is important for every Christian to embrace His resurrection with a full heart.  Because by His resurrection He proved He is Lord.

Romans 10:9-10 tells us:

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. KJV

If you want to be truly His, you must believe in His resurrection from the dead, and in doing so, embrace Him as Lord of your life.

Jesus is a Lord Who is worthy of your devotion; a Shepherd to follow; a King to serve; and a Bridegroom to love.  Not just an idea to “accept.”

Perhaps you have “accepted” Jesus, but have you believed in your heart?  (not just in your mind) Do you see Him as your Lord, with resurrection power for your life? Are you still sitting in your tomb, though the stone’s been rolled away?  Have you let Him lead you out?

I urge you to invite Him to become your own Lord.  To yield to His Word and to His leading.

He will lead you “out of darkness and into His marvelous Light!”

Let’s pray:  Father of Lights, Darkness surrounds us in this earthly realm, but teach us of Your glorious light.  Speak to us out of your Word and lead us into the realization that we dwell in a heavenly place, hidden with You in eternity.  Help us to hear Your voice as you call us into Your marvelous Light. In Jesus’Name,

Amen

Something a little different:

 

 

 

 

 

Agree with God

Recently my pastor did a powerful sermon series on “Agreeing With God.”  As I was copying my sermon notes I began to realize that this  is what the Christian life is really all about: walking in continuous agreement   (and fellowship) with God. Being willing to say with Jesus, “Not my will, but Thine be done.”

As we begin the last week of  Lent, Holy Week, perhaps it would benefit us to consider whether or not our lives, our wills, and our habits are in agreement with His ways, and His will.  If I  am completely honest, I must admit that I fall woefully short in this department…and perhaps that’s the problem…I think of my walk with God as a department, rather than a saturation of my whole life.   “How am I doing in the “God department?”  Or the “Devotions Department?”As though these were separate from the rest of my life.  Now, I know better than that!  I’ve been a Christian for a long time. But, I still fall into the habit of spending some time with Him, and then going my own way and doing my own thing.

hands of a friend

See, it’s kind of like this:  My husband retired two years ago.  Any of you who find yourselves living together as retirees will know that, in retirement, life is a whole new ball game!  You are together 24/7!  Day in, day out. Right under each others’ noses, with hardly a break!  Now this takes quite a bit of adjustment if either (or both) of you have a routine that hasn’t included the other all day, every day.

Your time isn’t strictly your  own anymore.  There is someone else’s plans, needs, and desires to consider.  This week we celebrate 48 years of wedded bliss!  In fact, we’ve known each other for over 56 years…since junior high school.  We love each other dearly and have weathered a lot of storms together. But, there is nothing like 24/7  togetherness to put a whole new perspective on a relationship!  You find out pretty quickly all of the places where you don’t really agree on things.  You can choose to go your own way and do your own thing, or you can choose to agree.   To take each other’s hand and walk together.  It is the same in our relationship with Abba Father!

What I am trying to say is: Do we have a 24/7 relationship with God?  Are we allowing Him to have His way in all of the areas of our lives? Or do we keep some things just for ourselves?  Habits; attitudes; resentments; biases?  Are we agreeing with Him? Are we saying, “Have Thine own way, Lord.”  “Thy will be done in my earth, as it would be done in heaven.”

Here is a scripture to meditate on during this Holy Week.  Job 22: 21-25 ESVStream in the Garden

21“Agree with God, and be at peace;
    thereby good will come to you.
22 Receive instruction from his mouth,
    and lay up his words in your heart.
23 If you return to the Almighty you will be built up;
    if you remove injustice far from your tents,
24 if you lay gold in the dust,  and gold of Ophir among the stones of the torrent-bed,
25 then the Almighty will be your gold and your  precious silver.

Let’s Pray: Lord Jesus, help us to say as You did in that long ago Garden Prayer, “Not my will, but thine be done.” As we spend more time in Your Word, and as we lay up your words in our hearts, may we walk in agreement with your words, your ways, and your will. Be to us our true gold and silver.  In Jesus’ name,

Amen

 

 

 

 

Show Me Your Ways

I am definitely NOT a theologian!  I will  never pretend to know the mind of God.  But, I have lived a long time, and have travelled the road with Him for a good many of those  years.  He has surprised me time and again with the way  He does things.  So, I started this blog place to share some of the things I have learned.

Show me Your ways

For one thing, if I had been the designer of this life, I would have made more mountaintops and fewer valleys  And the valleys I would have designed would have been filled with bubbling brooks and flowery meadows.  No rocky places, no desert wildernesses, no scary swamps. And no wild beasts, like wolves and vultures.  And certainly no enemies to fight along the way. Diseases, cancer, seizures, flesh eating bacteria. Not sure I would have designed storms, either.  But God….He is Lord of ALL creation.  Even this fallen, cursed earth, and all the weeds and woes that possess it.

I have learned more lessons in the dark, hard days of my life than I have on the lees and eases of my days.  Not that I don’t praise Him for the “joy unspeakable & full of glory” that I have experienced.  (“Happy are the people that know the joyful sound…”   Ps.89:15) I do with all my heart.  But, it seems that the watershed events of my life were the times when I thought I might be going down for the last time. When despair and revulsion at what was in my deceitful heart was about to overwhelm me…then He reached down His hand and lifted me up…again.  He rescued me, again.  Those have been the times when I really learned Who He is!  How He loves…and forgives.

Have you ever felt that you were almost as good as dead?  In a deep, dark, lonely place?  Don’t despair!   He is able to bring life again

Jesus said:

Verily, verily I say unto you, unless a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.  John 12:24 KJV

 

wheat field

 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it…” Matthew 16:24-26

The ways of the Kingdom of God are not our natural inclination.  Jesus asked us to follow Him, and His road took Him to a cross; to reviling and humiliation. Right up to the last days, the disciples were arguing about who would sit next to Him on thrones…they still didn’t get it! (Though eventually they would.)  and He asked them: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”  Matthew 10:38

If someone has told you to come to Jesus and everything will be fine…they are not lying to you.. Everything will surely be well with your soul! Praise God! You will have eternal security and joy on earth.  But, everything may not be “fine” with your circumstances, because He uses everything in our lives to make us more like Him.

Don’t be surprised if you have trials and difficulties…God is working virtue in you.  James 1:3 says, “The trying of your faith worketh patience…”  He wants to make you perfect and complete; full of faith and wisdom. He wants to use you.

I was recently reminded of the beloved Christian classic, “Hinds Feet On High Places” by Hannah Hurnard.  Poor ‘Much Afraid’ was asked by the Shepherd to travel to the High Places. He gave her two companions named Sorrow and Suffering to show her the way.  The journey was fraught with dangers and trials, as you might imagine.  But once they reached their destination those companions received new names. No longer Sorrow and Suffering, but now Grace and Glory.

So look for Jesus in the hard places; deserts, trials, storms, sorrows, sufferings, and crosses. He will meet you there. That is His way.  And He will bring you out, leaning on His arm; adorned in beautiful garments; a song upon your lips; joy in your heart; arms full of fruit.  That, too, is His way.

Let’s pray:  Faithful Shepherd, how we want to follow You!  Make your path plain to us. Show us Your ways, and help us to submit to Your rod and staff, as you nudge us along and protect us from true harm.  Help us to see every circumstance as a stepping stone on the way to becoming more like You. In Jesus’ name.

Amen

 

The Great Exchange

It was such a magnificent gift. Beautifully wrapped in foiled paper with a dazzling bow. I carefully untied the ribbon, loosened the tape, and peeled back the paper. When I opened the box there lay the most exquisite cashmere sweater!  A veritable cloud of cream and pink. I nearly swooned over its delicate softness. But, as I lifted it up, I wanted to cry. It was at least two sizes too small! “If it’s not the right size, you can take it back and exchange it.” he said. “I’ve got the receipt right here.”
Yes! I would definitely run to The Beautiful Gift the department store to exchange this beauty for the right size! And it would have to be this exact one.  No other one would do.

After all, isn’t that what an exchange is?  One thing for another of the same thing, or at least the same value, I mean, you wouldn’t exchange it for something lesser, would you?  That is just not how it’s done.

Not unless you are Jesus.  He is the “Ultimate Exchanger.”  He has given us His own Righteousness in exchange for the filthy rags of our sin. His own goodness for our iniquity. He was wounded for our transgressions that we might be free from the penalty for them.  He laid down His perfect, sinless life, that we might be free from the chains of guilt and shame.  Not exactly an even exchange is it?  But, thank God, He was willing to pay that price.  I couldn’t have.

In Isaiah 61:3  he announced the great exhange.  He said that He was anointed:

“To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”

In Bible times it was the custom to show grief by tearing their garments or putting on rough sackcloth clothing, and throwing ashes upon their heads.  But, when Jesus read this verse in the synagogue,  (Luke 4: 17) they knew that He was talking about the coming of the heavenly Bridegroom.  That word for  “beauty” in Hebrew signifies a bridal headdress!  He was saying I will give you a betrothal in the place of your sorrow for sin.  I will give you the my oil of joy, to replace your mourning!  (The Bible says that He is anointed with the oil of joy above all of His fellows, and He is giving it to YOU!)  He is taking away your sadness, your heaviness, and clothing you from on high with the garment of a Bride.  A garment of praise.  And now you are a tree of righteousness.  No more sin, guilt, shame.  What an exchange!

And now….we give it all back to Him….our love; our joy; our praise.  And then He lavishes more of Himself upon us …and we continue in a grand, unending exchange…

Lets pray:  Dearest Lord of the Great Exchange,  Of course we are not worthy to receive Your great gift, but we are oh, so thankful that You chose to make this unbelievably unequal trade. Your Righteousness for our sinful selves. Your Purity for our filth. Your Blood for our peace. Make us truly, truly grateful, Lord, for this great gift.  In Jesus’ name,

Amen