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For I am With You

With Easter approaching, I think of what Jesus would have thought today. How he felt. His time was nearing an end. Yet he still prolonged to prepare his disciples and serve, pursue his work he was set out to do. (Side note: If it were me, I probably would have been living my best life going sky diving and doing things I’ve never done before.) Not King Jesus.  Nope. Even his worst part of his life was his best life. He chose to engulf the journey teach his disciples, pray, and wash their feet.

He knew Peter. He also knew Peter would deny him. He had Peter in mind I’m sure on this day. He knew Peter could be forgiven if his own life was taken. (Matt 26)

He knew Judas. He also knew Judas would betray him. He had Judas in mind I’m sure on this day. He knew Judas could be forgiven if his own life was taken. (Matt 26)

He knew the high priest. He also knew he would tear his clothes off of him and accuse him of wrong when he had done no wrong. He had the High Priest in mind I’m sure on this day. He knew he could be forgiven if his very own life was taken.  (Matt 26)

He knew Pilate and all of the civilians. He also knew they would choose to have him killed. He had Pilate and the people in mind I’m sure on this day. He knew they could be forgiven if his own life was taken.  (Matt 26)

Jesus still spent his time caring for them even after he took his last breath. Having passover with the disciples. When he stood before the city, he proclaimed the name of God for his people to be redeemed. He had me and you in mind.While hanging on the cross, he proclaimed the name of God for his people to be free. He had us. You and me. Peter, Judas, Pilate, the High Priest in mind the entire time. He took wounds and beatings. He was pierced. His journey was to die. To rise again. To conquer sins. To make a new covenant that you and me could live freely in his blood. In the kingdom of Salvation and Joy. He had us in mind the whole time. How unworthy am I that he is still with me.

1. 2. 3. Days.

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The Tomb Was EMPTY. He overcame sins. For us.

He busted out of the grave for the ones who accused him.

He did all of this with us in mind.

Matthew 28:20 “….I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

His life was taken so I could enjoy his loving embrace until the end of time. His life was taken so I could live in eternity. His life was taken so I could carry him into my battles with me and he could fight for me. He did this so he could share each and every moment with us.

 

Take a moment this weekend, to be Thankful. To praise his name for staying with you. Never leaving but making a way for us to live in
eternity. 

Happy Easter. & Remember–> Jesus had you in mind.

The Cross= Freedom

The Empty Grave= Redemption

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The Shade vs The Sun

I enjoy running. I not only enjoy running, I enjoy running on all different kinds of trails and especially shaded trails.

This week my running has led me to a new trail. One with SHADE!!! (I’ve come to see they don’t have much of that in the big city) My time has been so good. I was beating my old records. That is because it was easy to breath. It wasn’t overtaken by sun and P8041206.JPGheat. The trees stopped all the wind from slowing me down. It was a nice run. 

Yesterday, being short of time, I just decided to run the apartment complex. No trees cover the roads. The sun is directly over the road. It was tough. It hurt. I had a horrible time. I was slow. The heat wore me down fast. I finished but it was tough. I was miserable.

The shade was comfortable. It was easy for me to persevere in the shaded area. I could keep going, breathing easy. The sunny trail was so uncomfortable. I was out of breath, hot, and tired. I was panting worse than my poor little dog that runs with me. 

I say that to say this. The shaded trails in life are easy. We tend to go to them more than the sunny ones. However, the sunny trails is what is shaping you for more, to be more, to handle more. The sunny trail is where the trials are and they are molding you to breath different. To persevere. The sunny trail seems to take longer in life, but that’s where dependance upon God helps. The trials feel as if they will go on forever.God is shaping you to endure and hold on to his promises. I find myself saying oh the trees are just ahead. If only I could be under them. But just like life the trials are shaping your testimony. They are altering your perseverance and perspective. They are testing your dependance upon God. They are the trails where you are strengthened, so the next time you get on them, your breathing will be a little easier. The heat won’t seem to slow you down. You are now empowered and prepared to run the sunny trail. It is just like in our trials, those are shaping you for the next. To be more equipped to handle it. To have more peace. To have endurance. 

Hebrews 10:36 says “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive all that he has promised.”

Life can’t be filled with shaded trails, the sunny ones come for us to run also.Go today and embrace the sunny trail. Don’t give up on it. God is molding you in the midst of the run.

 

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-Grace-

A friend of mine asked me what my favorite verse was, and it led me to ponder… What is my favorite verse. This was my response:

I love James 4:6 —

“But he gives more grace. Therefore he says: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble”

I love this so much. I love this because it’s probably my biggest struggle. If you were raised in church or maybe even not, you were probably taught to live up to a standard. A standard to go to School, open a business maybe, make the “big money”, to GO BIG, be big, be prideful, be perfect…. But the older I get, the more I stop and see that these things are nothing.

I have recently (in the past 2 years) seen so many people dealing with things that bring them from Christ come to know Christ and receive true freedom. Freedom through GRACE. Why? Because of their humility.  They came freely to the King. Expressing their wrongs. Not hiding them. Their faults. Being open about them. Being humble. That’s where grace is.

I catch myself being so caught up in the midst of pride. Acting as if I’ve never sinned. But boy is that so wrong. That is not humility. That is not truth. Who am I kidding, That is not possible.  God resists this.

Through this scripture, I am reminded that Grace is never-ending. He has more. and more. and more. For me. It means getting back on the alter, humbly coming, confessing I’m not always right. I fall, I mess up, but I’ll get back up. Because of Grace. Not prideful in myself, but sacrificing it all for the Glory of The Kingdom of God. To testify of HIS name.

It is truly and precisely kneeling before an everlasting, gracious God. WITHOUT SHAME. But with Humility. It is by Grace, Grace alone that we can live up to anything. THERE IS ONE STANDARD, That’s to be like JESUS. Jesus was humble.  There is no grace in pride. There is grace in humility and lots of it!

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Why me?

The children of Israel were searching for a promised land. They were anticipating what God could do! They believed, although sometimes they struggled. In Joshua, we read in chapter 1 and 2 of Joshua taking over after Moses’s death.

As the children of Israel were under Joshua’s direction, after Moses had passed, Joshua decides to send spies into the promised land –> especially Jericho.

I have 3 things I want to point out today asking “Why Me?” from these chapters that spoke to me saying “Why Them?”… but led me to thinking “Why Not?”

  1. Joshua is chosen–> In verses 2-3 of chapter 1, it says, “2:Moses, my servant is now dead, therefore I say to you arise, go over the Jordan, you and all this people , to the land which I am giving them– The children of Israel, 3: Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you as I also said to Moses”. Joshua was Moses’s assistant throughout this journey thus far. He saw Moses in the good days and the bad. I see Joshua as like the Vice President of the “club” and Moses was the president. Moses did all the work making sure those crazy needy people got what they needed, but Joshua got to be up in it watching and looking to see what all was going on, but when the Lord called Joshua, I see him asking “Why Me?”… Joshua had been there with Moses and Moses had taught him, prayed for him, watched him, and anointed him. That’s WHY. Joshua was anointed and ready; however, I’m sure he still questioned… “WHY ME?” It is only normal for us to question why me. But obedience allows redemption. We keep going and we see under Joshua, The promised land was overtaken and the Lord began to reign there.  It was a land of milk and honey. It was the land of the Living God. It was and still is HOLY LAND! Through obedience, Joshua pushed through the Why me and received.
  2. The spies are sent–> Joshua decided to send two spies into the promised land to spy out the city. He sent them into Jericho. The people of Jericho knew what was going on. They knew the Lord had promised the children of Israel the land and the were LIVID, ready for war. This was dangerous. To send two men into the city with an army ready to kill. I’m sure they asked “WHY ME?” I may die. I may not make it; however obedience allowed them protection. They changed their “Why me” to “Why Not” and went. Obedience kept them alive. Joshua 2:1
  3. Rahab, the Harlot–> She was a promiscuous woman. A woman of sin. A woman with many men, but the spies went to her home. They entered and she hid them. The Israelites put her life on the Line. She housed them and hid them upon a promise that her family would not be overtaken. They commended the promise, and Rahab along with her family was safe. I’m sure she thought “Why ME?” I have done nothing but wrong. I have lived a life of sin. Her “Why Me” was strong, but God’s Work was done! The purpose was powerful and her obedience was honored.

Three different situations all wrapped up in one story. “WHY ME?” Three different types of people. My point is “Why me” is common. “Why me” is difficult. “Why me” hurts. “Why me” isn’t comfortable. BUT–> reality is, when we leave behind the “why me” and say “why not” things happen. Lives are changed. People are saved. Homes are restored. Lives are touched. God didn’t only use the anointed man, he used two ordinary people. He didn’t only use ordinary people and the anointed man, he also used a sinner. He has the power to use anyone. So, when he calls, change your “why me” to “why not” and allow your obedience to be omnipotent, powerful, life-changing, and free.

Go Today–> Change your “why me” to “why not” and allow the Working Wonders of the Lord to be used through you!

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Spirit of Spring

Spring. 

My favorite time of year is spring and fall. I love the changing seasons. To see the beauty in the spring of God making all things new and in the fall, the old vanishes. In the spring, I truly am fascinated by the 

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spirit of the Lord in every new leaf and flower. The rivers and creeks are full from the rains, the flowers are blooming, the sun is out. It is the happiest season. It is the season of JOY. 

This spring, I have been focusing on seeing God in everything. It is absolutely amazing to me to see the change of your attitude when you focus on what all he has given us to brighten up our lives. The daffodils give off a sweet sent of happiness in their yellow color. The sunrise coming later in the day allows me to see his mercies are new each day. The green leaves remind me of his grace and if we trust in him, we will flourish and bear his fruit. The chirping birds, remind me of the freedom of voice we have to praise him and share his amazing love. 

Spring gives off the spirit of joy, but I am truly reminded by spring that if it weren’t for the rains and storms, those flowers would never have the ability to flourish and the rivers and creeks would become dry. 

I see winter as a time of waiting. Waiting for the beauty of God to restore all things and bring life to the land. Sometimes, I face a time of winter in my life, but we can’t let that define who we are and we can’t give up, because spring is coming. The joy is on the other side. The fresh leaves will bring forth food for you to share with others. He is creating a story for you to tell like the birds of the air. The sweet aroma you will give off everywhere you go. The tough seasons are there to mend us. They are a time of waiting on the majesty of the Lord and just as spring comes in his time (In Mississippi, especially), in his time, Joy will come from those dry winter nights.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

Beauty takes time. Wait through the winter. The spirit of Spring is coming. He is making things new and creating in you a Joyful spirit. Take time this spring to embrace the beauty of the creator even if it’s 5 minutes while you are in the drive through. Embrace him and thank him in those moments. Look around and embrace the beauty he gives to remind us, in the tough times, spring is coming!

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Worship

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What is worship?

A friend of mine asked this week, “What is worship?” I began to think of the many scriptures in the Bible referencing worship. It is brought up in many different context and done in many different ways.

As a conservative christian, the music is “worship”, but it is so much more than JUST the music. We tend to call the building and place we call church “a place of worship” which is so true. That is what they were built for, but the church and the songs are not the ONLY definitives of worship.
Isaiah 29:13 GWT  “The Lord says, These people worship me with their mouths and honor me with their lips. But their hearts are far from me, and their worship of me is based on rules made by humans.”

This scripture really stood out to me when I was reading about worship. In today’s society, worship can be so performed, based on rules and rituals made by humans, and it is becomes a part of a whirlwind so many times we call worship. It has no meaning behind it. A simple song on Sunday and a prayer full of pretty words is not enough “worship” for God.

So, What is Worship?

According to the dictionary, to worship is to show reverence and adoration for (a deity); honor. So, where did it get so twisted that it only happens in the four walls of church? It is a form of honor, to our creator, to the one who shaped us and made us, to the one who DIED for us.

A few of my friends replied to the question personally as well as myself, and to be quite honest some of their responses brought me to absolute tears. Worship is honor, and everyone shows honor and reverence and adoration differently. I am going to leave you with the insight of what these friends replied and maybe it will help you see the power in worship and what it means to each different person. I long for you to find your definition of true worship, and comment it below.

Trevor- “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a holy and living sacrifice– the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.” Romans 12:1 NLT   “I like this verse. I think worship has a lot to do with surrendering to God. I think this verse also tells us that most of our worship may not even happen inside a sanctuary. (But even that worship can be improved if we make sure that we are fully surrendered to God)”

Regina- “I think, it’s almost like a time of “meditation” when just you and God connect. While he doesn’t speak audibly to us, he does speak through our hearts and the Holy Ghost. I feel like it’s the time of connecting one on one with him… whether it’s during altar call, during an amazing service, or even while sitting at work listening to worship songs. Whenever you feel the connection…That is my Worship”

Carmen- “To me, worship is a response to the magnitude of the graciousness, faithfulness, and greatness of God. And that response only deepens as you grow in a relationship with God. Through the Crushing, through the storm, through the nights you don’t think you will make it, through the times where you are almost convinced God stopped listening. But, he came through, he broke the dark with light, he provided that word, he provided that friend. THAT entry into his presence. Those moments that deepen that response to him like no other. And even if none of that ever happened, Just WHO God is demands the highest, upmost worship. Just who he is. and what Jesus did. We are forever indebted. With every word we say, every breathe we take is indebted to him. It’s so unreal. That is worship to me!”

Worship is truly surrendering and giving honor humbly to our king. Worship is realizing that even in the bad, he is worthy. Worship is a true encounter, giving God all that is due to him. Worship is seeing God and his beauty in every aspect every day. Worship is what our Savior deserves. What is your definition of worship?

 

 

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-Messy Me-

If you are anything like me, your life is a MESS.

Messy car, messy house, messy health, messy food (that is my favorite), messy hair,messy clothes…. It’s all messy!

I am motivated by the mess; however, I just don’t always get to the mess.

That’s how I treat God sometimes too… Like I just don’t have time for him or I just can’t get to it. Sometimes it’s not that I can’t get to him, it is that I don’t think I can come to him in this mess… Have you ever been there? Like your mess is too big this time. Like this mess I’m in can never be used for the glory of the Lord. Like the mess isn’t wanted by anyone else.

But here I am with my mess, in his presence. He tells me he wants my mess. Flesh told me that my mess is making me fall behind. Flesh tells me My mess is distracting me. Humans tell me I need to man up and clean up my mess and push through. But Jesus says he wants this mess… That my mess is worthy to him. My mess isn’t too messy for him.  He gives me joy in the mess and is the one that will carry the weight of my mess. I just should trust. When we do come to God in our mess, he makes something of that mess, or helps us carry the weight of the mess. He shows us how to clean up the mess. My favorite author, Lysa Teurkeurst wrote, “This is the most upside-down part of the whole story. What makes her most delightful are the parts of her that are most messy. Untidy. Unpolished.  Uneducated. Untouched by perfection. Untarnished by performance. As she seeks me in her mess, she will show others how to find freedom from that weight. She will be a force to be reckoned with in the great battle of good versus evil…It’s through her uncertainties she will find her most certain purpose in the world”

WOW. Just WOW. My mess is glorious to him? HOW? He says that is the best part… Those messes are making me. My mess is molding me as I allow my burden to be lifted by taking it to the father. I am a force that muster’s up and makes a masterpiece out of my mess when I place my hope to persevere in the KING. He wants our mess. My messiness is delightful.

Upside down will help us land right side up. Messy and Marvelous are So Very ALIVE.

JAMES 1:2-4

“My Brethren, count it all JOY when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

HEBREWS 12:1-2

“Therefore we also since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the Throne of God”