The Resurrection!

Jesus, thank you for revealing yourself to the World through your resurrection!  You truly are alive just as you said you would be! I’m so thankful for your life, Lord!  I know that it means I have life. You have utterly defeated the world, sin and death. They no longer have power.  All authority has been given to You! And you have used that authority to empower us with Your Spirit and give us authority as well.  We share in your rulership! How wonderful!

We are so broken, so foolish, so full of failure and yet you still chose to become like us, in the form of a man, with all the human flaws and failings at peak potential in your own body, but you overcame it all.  Your resurrection proves it! The tomb is empty because you are alive.

Lord, thank you for teaching us all about who you are through the scriptures.  Thank you that you walk with us and patiently show us the revelation of your identity through the prophets of the old testament so that we can fully consume and understand who you are and what you have done for us.  It is incredible, God.

And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
Luke 24:25-27

I worship you, Jesus!  I worship you and love you for what you have done!

 

The Full Fruit of Your Living Tree

There is so much in my heart, God.  So much longing, so much need. In the depth of my heart you hear me.  You hear my tiny voice and rejoice over me with singing. You prepare a place for me.  You lead me and hold me up. You keep me from drowning. You dry my tears. You release me from my shame and from my sorrow.  

I know your justice will come quickly.  Once it starts it will be quick. Your justice will come and our hearts will be glad.  We will rejoice forever with you. We will never cry again. We will sing songs and be glad.  We will dance. We will laugh. We will rejoice in the eternal glory of your presence and your love.  

No more will there be suffering or pain.  

No more will there be betrayal or heartache or weariness.  Those days will pass away and be forgotten. Your justice will be swift and complete.  How sad for those who don’t know you. How sad for those who will feel the brunt of your wrath because they chose to stand with the false idols.  

You have made your glory and your salvation known.  

But the people reject you for their own gain. They reject you for money, power, and fame.  The fabricate glory and honor from the work of their own hands, and fail to see the majesty of your creation.  They can’t see what you have given them and created for them. They have blinded themselves to your love because of their own desire and lust.

Lord, how free I feel to know that your love is even bigger than my own.  How happy I am to know that when I looked beyond myself and my own desire for love and acceptance, I found deeper love and acceptance than I could have ever known apart from you!  You offer to all people the things we long for most and yet the enemy has convinced the world that joy can come from their own power. But your joy is so much better!

Bring wisdom to your people, God.  

Show the world your deep and powerful love through your redeemed children.  Help the world to see that if they can look beyond themselves they can find and receive a love and mercy and peace that they could never know apart from you.  Whatever they have found on their own is nothing compared to what you offer. Let them see that, God.

Let them know the full fruit of your living tree.

Bring life to the nations, God.
Thank you for Jesus.
Make him known!

 

 

Even in the Chaos

Lord,  I’ve been thinking about everything that has happened over the last couple of weeks.  At one point I had both of my daughters in the hospital at the same time, and as I began to list off all the things in my brain that have happened just in the last two weeks, I started to really feel like Paul, bragging about all my afflictions to boast about my weakness.  I know I’ve been talking to people a lot about my weakness lately, and all the joy you’ve given me, but God, I’m feeling the pressure, too. I’m feeling the weight of it all. My heart breaks to look at my girls and all the suffering they have endured just in the last two weeks.  And I hate the enemy for what he has tried to do to our family! And here I am, boasting about all this trouble!

But whatever anyone else dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?
2 Corinthians 11: 21-28

I understand why you’ve let this happen.  You have shown us so much grace and blessed us beyond measure through it all.  Money, friendship, joy, peace, security, you’ve given it all! Every time I tried to fall into sorrow, you would bring your peace.  When the desire to wallow in self-pity wanted to erupt from every pore of my body, you brought your joy. Miracles were happening, Jesus.  So many miracles in my flesh, there are too many to count, as time and time again your faithfulness endured when my heart faltered.

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
Galatians 5:23-25

Yet, here I am Lord.  I’m struggling. I’m irritable.  I’m tired. And I find myself asking: where’s the miracle in my flesh right now?  And I realize I haven’t had solid time in the Word over the last two weeks. I’ve managed a few minutes everyday, but I’m used to a few hours.  I’m used to solid, deep, meditative time. That first night in the ER I had hours and hours of reading the Psalms. It sustained me in the pit of Hell that the enemy wanted me to see with all of the human suffering happening all around me.  We were in a “bed” in a hallway next to a delirious homeless man, and in the bed beyond him, another man just like him. But your Word sustained us. I read it aloud. I prayed aloud. I prayed with those men. I brought them water. I held their hands and prayed for them.  I shared your love and your promises, as my suffering daughter, between bouts of her own suffering, did the same! Because your Word sustained us and comforted us. And most importantly, it empowered us. That ER became our mission field.

I’ve missed your Word, God!  The distractions have seduced me away from you and I’m struggling without it.  The reading of your Word is a luxury whose denial has hurt me worse than the any of the other trials I’ve had to deal with.  And it amazes me that so many of your kids struggle to give you five minutes a day. Don’t they know that Jesus is the Word made flesh?  That his flesh made words is your scripture? That your promises, your love, your glory are all revealed in the Word? They are content with milk, not even ready for anything else, because they are caught up in the desires and demands of their flesh alone.

But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready,3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?
1 Corinthians 3:1-3

And people think that a few sips of “milk” on a Sunday morning offered by some summary of someone else’s meditations on you is enough to nourish them?  No wonder they’re still babies! No wonder they fall into despair over such minor things! You’ve seen all the well intentioned people asking us how we’re doing.  You’ve seen the curiosity on their faces when we showed your strength, your joy, your peace! And now I know why they don’t understand. They’ve never experienced it before, God!  These babies in the faith, drinking sips of milk once or twice a week, proud of how many times they’ve walked through the doors of the church in seven days time, and never once finding the rest of your Sabbath.  Never once have they found the joy of your salvation. They work in the spirit of their own flesh, and fight battles with foam swords and paper shields.

I choose your sword, God.  The sword of the Spirit that is the Word of God.  I choose your shield. The shield of faith that extinguishes all the flaming darts of the evil one.  

16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.
Ephesians 6:16-20

God, I am your righteousness, made by the blood of Jesus.  

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21

I will walk in that truth and in that promise.  Though I float adrift a night and a day at sea, I will boast again and again in your power and strength and joy revealed in me.  I will sound like a fool and boast in my weakness and boast in my suffering, and boast in my many, many struggles, Lord.

Because in my weakness you are strong.  

Lord Jesus, show the world the power of your promises through my suffering.  Show them what your peace looks like through me. I am so jealous for my time with you, God, and even this morning, I’ve had a million interruptions.  Just now, writing about interruptions I was interrupted five times. Hashtag momlife. But God, I’m not going to stop. I’m not going to let this be another shipwreck if I can’t boast about it to the world and show them your power made perfect even in my interruptions.  I choose you, God. I choose your peace. Even in the chaos.

 

Boasting in Weakness

I am so weak, God.  My life is in a constant state of turmoil.  My babies are beaten against the rocks. My heart breaks.  My world is shaken. And yet the audacity of your love is to pour out strength, pour out peace, and pour out love.  It makes no sense in human standards. It makes no sense to me. I can’t even begin to explain the logic behind it. I’ve read it and quoted it in your Word a thousand times.  I’ve bragged on your power! I’ve bragged on my weakness. But you still keep showing me more and more and more. The weaker I get, the harder things get, the deeper the struggles I must endure, the stronger my peace, my joy, and my love because of you.

For when I am weak, then I am strong

 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Certainly if I tried to explain it, I would fail.  People would laugh and call me a fool if they didn’t see it with their own eyes.  If they hadn’t watched it all play out in front of them, they would never have understood it.  hey would think I am strong. They would think I was great. Because they can’t see my heart and my struggle and my peace, except by the work of my hands that you have blessed.  Your light shines through the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. That describes my experience. That embodies my joy.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1:5

Your light shines.  Your peace rules. Your power abounds in my weakness.

So, here I am boasting in weakness, because:  WOW! Your power really is made perfect in weakness.  I have seen it first hand. And I have felt the joy and peace that have come from your Spirit.  It makes no sense, but it has happened. Why would I ever want to be anything else but weak? The power of God is beyond joy and love and peace.  It is the perfect testimony of God’s Spirit within me. It has built my faith in ways I could never have dreamed of. It has created deeper bonds of love and insight and connection between us, God!  I want more! Let the world see my weakness, Jesus. Let the world see how mighty you are to save!

His Hand is Stretched Out Still

Daddy, someone told me yesterday that the first 40 chapters of Isaiah were all about your wrath, and that it wasn’t until chapter 41 that we see your mercy.  He seemed surprised when I answered him with my thoughts on the contrary.  Because Lord, I’ve begun to truly see your compassion and mercy in everything.  It’s like a mighty flood gate has opened and your love and mercy have poured out of it with POWER!  I’m seeing your love in everything!  Especially after hearing a sermon explaining how you define yourself from Exodus 34. God, your love really does endure forever.

You are “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” Exodus 34:6

So, when I was reading Isaiah this morning, and particularly reading in the early chapters that my friend had named chapters of your wrath, all I could see was your great mercy and love!  Wow!  In Isaiah Ch. 9-10 you pronounce the wrath that you will pour out on all things evil that have torn people away from the light and love of your faithfulness.  You promise that you will destroy all the things that have stolen people away from the peace and joy that You provide.  And you warn the people through Isaiah over and over and over:

“For all this anger had not turned away, and his hand is outstretched still.”

Every commentary I looked at said that  your outstretched hand is the hand that will smite the people.  But I just couldn’t make sense of that.  It seemed wrong to me, God.  And so I kept reading.  And sure enough, you showed me the truth.  After the warning of utter destruction you promise, comes your outstretched hand of MERCY.  In chapter 11 you announce that your judgement has a protection clause, and that protection of judgement will come in the form of Messiah Jesus!

“In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remains of his people”

Isaiah 11:11

You extend your hand of mercy!  You offer your hand for protection from selfishness and evil intent.  You are offer your hand to any who will take it.  Your judgement comes and

You will say in that day;
“I will give thanks to you, O Lord,
for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
that you might comfort me.
2 “Behold, God is my salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the Lord God is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation.”
3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
4 And you will say in that day:
“Give thanks to the Lord,
call upon his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples,
proclaim that his name is exalted.
5 “Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
let this be made known in all the earth.
6 Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

Isaiah 12

Your outstretched hand is the hand of mercy and love.  Your hand is extended for all to find cover and protection from the destruction that awaits any who would rather stand on their own, apart from you.  You keep telling us that we cannot save ourselves when the destruction comes.  Only the one who made us can save us.  So, Lord, help people to see that your way is salvation, not destruction.  Your mercy and love will have their way and you will put an end to evil.

“He will raise a signal to the the nations”

You said that “He will raise a signal to the the nations” (Isaiah 11:12) so I’m asking you to burn that signal brighter, so that people will see your love and your offer of protection and be saved.

Amen.

(Sermon Link: What God says about Himself)

Jesus Laughs

I keep hearing your laughter, King Jesus.  It has brought me so much comfort and joy and peace.  I can’t help but laugh along with you.  Your laughter has turned my fear, my tears, my struggles into joy.  This makes no sense in human terms.  I can’t begin to understand it.  I’ve tried.  I don’t know how it works, except that your laughter is contagious.  It is full and vibrant and rings out across the nations!  All who have an ear to hear it rejoice and are glad!  You have set us free!  You made the day and saved the day!  You saved me so we can laugh together!

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What an incredible feeling!  You laugh because you have won!  You have brought the victory.

He who sits in the heavens laughs;
   the Lord holds them in derision.
5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
   and terrify them in his fury, saying,
6 “As for me, I have set my King
   on Zion, my holy hill.”

Psalm 2:4-6

God, when the enemy tries to destroy me.  When the enemy taunts me with shame and guilt and fear, you LAUGH!  And when you laugh I laugh.  You have made me glad.

Mankind walks through life tempted by the promises of the world.  We are tempted to think that fame and glory and power and money will bring us joy, but we all know that it will all leave us feeling empty.  Wars are fought across the world because of money and power and glory.  The innocent are oppressed because of greed and power and lust.  Bodies are ruined, hearts are broken, and yet greed is kindled and hatred kindled along with it.  It is a fire of destruction that leaves the world in ruin.

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?

Psalm 2:1

You have made a way in the desert.  

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”  

Isaiah 43:19

In this cacophony of destruction you have made a way!  And the lies that feed the hearts of humanity are broken beneath your great love and mercy.  You have utterly destroyed the power of this world!  But because of your great love for us, and because of your heart’s desire to make the nations your inheritance, you wait a little longer to reveal yourself in majesty completely and stop the power of this world once and for all.  

I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
   today I have begotten you.
8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
   and the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You shall break them with a rod of iron
   and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

Psalm 2:7-9

Utter destruction awaits the things of this world that have destroyed the hearts, souls, and bodies of humanity.  Famine, war, lust, greed, power, death…you name it, if it brings pain and torment in anyway it will be destroyed by the light of life offered by the King of Kings!  It will all be dashed to pieces.  

My heart is like yours, my Lord, my God.  My heart longs for people to see that the only thing that can bring healing, hope, peace and joy is you.  Lord let the people hear your laughter.  Let them feel your joy and peace.  Let your laughter infect their hearts so that they may find healing, even if they don’t know how.  You will teach them.  You will show them.  You will give them all the beautiful things that the world has promised but lied about.

Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Psalm 2:10-12 

Your final wrath against the enemy of this world that spews his lies to kill, steal and destroy, will come soon.  May every soul see through the lies and fall into the laughter and love of your gentle mercy and forgiveness before it’s too late.  

Amen.