The 5th letter is…

March! I missed it! Wow, how did I not post the last month? Not sure exactly…

Regardless, I am moving forward in this series, Alphabet soup.

So far this year, I have posted 4 times (5 including this one). As you may have already noticed, I am following a pattern. There is a word for each post and I started with Absolute. Breathtaking, Committed, and Diligent followed.

All of these words describe God. Today the word will start with ‘E’.

letter e

The Word – Essential

The Worth – Sometimes people use words in the wrong context. I work at an Olive Garden. I hear the phrase, “I am starving” literally everyday! Sometimes from the customers and sometimes my co-workers but usually from both! Do these people know what starving means!?!? Starving does not mean that you are so hungry because you have not eaten since breakfast! These people are not starving so I wish they would just say that they are hungry!

Essential means ‘absolutely necessary.’ Water is absolutely necessary in order to live. It is essential. Food is also essential. These are things that needed in order to live.

God is essential. In John 15, Jesus spoke some words. In this sermon, he did not exaggerate. He did not speak out of context. The words he spoke were accurate. So much so that we need to take heed and listen. Here is verse 5 from that chapter;

5“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

john 15-5

Jesus said that without God, we can do nothing. Again, no embellishment in these words. The Son of God chose these words specifically and with a purpose. God is essential!

He wanted us to know that God is essential. We would not even be able to breathe unless God gave us the ability to do so. Death would happen. We just cannot do it on our own.

That is the penalty of sin. It is death. Physical and spiritual death.

But he gives more grace.

By the grace of God, he sustains us. He lets us live. He bestows grace so that we can come to Him and surrender our lives and follow Him.

The Work – Too many times, we try to live and succeed on our own power, talent, or perseverance. Stop it! I think that you and I need to try to abide (stay connected through consistent and constant relationship with Jesus). If and when there are mistakes, we can go to God for more grace. He loves us and the Bible tells us that His anger is only for a moment but his love is forever. see Psalm 103 

Stay tuned for the letter ‘F’. I am guessing that it will be a word that one usually does not ascribed to God. And, it just might be the best two minutes of your day!

2 minutes

Thank you and enjoy His grace today!

 

 

Pressing on, pt. 2

Ever trap a monkey? It is a simple process. You set out a cage and put bananas in it. Then lock the cage. Once the monkey sees the banana, he will reach through the cage and take hold of the banana. At this point, a person could walk up and capture the monkey.

Why? Because the monkey is still holding on to the banana. He won’t let go of the prize!

Even when danger is near, the monkey still values the banana enough that he won’t let go.

He won’t let go, ever.


 

This is a multi-part post on Phil. 3:12-14. Click here for part 1. 

Today is about verse 12. I have been pondering it all week. 

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

The first half is easy to understand. Paul has not achieved perfection. He still has room to grow. I get that. In fact, it is way too easy sometimes to realize that I have a long way to go to get to the goal. But the second half of the verse is more complicated.

“But I press on…” Paul keeps pressing on so I must do the same.

“to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Now hold on!

What does that even mean!?!?

Remember the monkey? The banana was valued so much by the monkey that he would be willing to be captured or even killed because he wanted the banana so bad. 

He loved the banana.

God loves us so much that He was willing to do anything that have us. He even let His son go to the cross and die. All because He did not want to let go of us.

Back to Phil. 3. “which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

When he took hold of me…

He took my sin away.

He forgave me.

He gave me purpose.

He now has plans for me.

His Holy Spirit now resides in me.

I became a new creation.

I can now share my life with Him.

Think about that for your life. 

How would you finish this sentence?

When Jesus took hold of my life, he…?

 

Three Ps in a Pod. part 3

Pardon. Have you been enjoying the freedom that comes with being pardoned?

Have you ever felt guilty about something? That feeling of having made a mistake is stuck with you. Maybe after some time the feeling fades. But you still know that the guilt is there.

But God changed all that. Last week, we were able to see how “one died for all.” God gave Jesus as a sacrifice for us. If you ever wonder why Jesus had to die on the cross, read Leviticus. Perhaps the most dull book in the Bible, Levitcus explains and details all of the sacrifices, festivals, and rituals that the Israelites were supposed to follow.sacrifice-priests

 

What a bloody mess! Literally everyday, animals were being cut open; their blood being poured out and sprinkled on the furniture in the tabernacle. Some of the animals were eaten by the priests while others were completely consumed on the Altar of Burnt Offerings. Leviticus 17 mentions “the life of every creature is in the blood.” The blood was important.

priest-covered-in-blood.jpg

The blood of Jesus bought our pardon.

And because we are pardoned, we can have peace.

First the pardon and then the peace. Never the other way around.

Here are verses 17 and 18 from 2 Corinthians 5, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ,”

Verse 17 gives us the Pardon. Verse 18 contains the Peace.

We need to define reconciliation. Reconciliation is the result of Christ precisely exchanging His righteousness (his blood) for our guilt.

If someone is in Christ, that exchange has taken place.

That means that you and I stand before God completely free of guilt because our sins have been covered by the blood!

Can I end with a math equation?

math-beauty-equation

Actually, I was thinking of something considerably more simple.

Being guilt free = peace.

Something familiar yet strange again.

So I was thinking…pondering something today. A certain verse came to my mind this morning and it has been bouncing around all day.

But I don’t really understand it. It boggles my mind. I made scrambled eggs for my kids this morning. It feels like my mind is just like those eggs, all scrambled.

This verse is one that I have known for as long as I can remember. But today, I felt like it was a new verse, one I had never heard before. It seemed to be so full of promise and hope.

All I need is for God to open my eyes (Psalm 119) to the depth and richness of His words. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit will guide me into all truth (John 16).

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

Words so engrained yet they barely register. If I am ‘in’ Christ, I am new. I didn’t feel old. Maybe not old but dead.

Yes, that’s it. Dead. No purpose. No sense or reason to live. Sin had it’s way with me. I was dead but now I alive, new!

All because of Christ. Everything is a result of what He has done. Everything. He is the vine and I am a branch.

I can’t do anything without Him.

I don’t own anything without Him.

I am nothing. Old.

BUT WITH HIM…I can do anything.

I have anything and everything I need. He is my all and everything.

 

Wow…”The old has gone, the new is here!”

Exiled! part 4

Have you ever broken a promise? I have. And other people have as well. In a word, it is disappointing.

God never breaks His promises. And that is awesome.

  • The last three weeks have seen the Israelites being exiled, commanded to stay and settle in Babylon all because God has a plan for them.
  • You can click here to read Exiled! part 3. It might be good to catch up. =-)

So now, in the last post of this series, we will see the best part about the Israelites being exiled.

Let’s look at a couple of verses to start things rolling. Jeremiah 29:12-14 reads, 12Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares theLord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

God is making some promises in these verses. In fact, I will copy these verses again but I will add some underlines this time.

12Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.b I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares theLord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

When I read this, it seems very obvious to me that God has a plan. I feel like He always has a plan. But in that plan, there is always our part. We have to obey God in order for His plan to succeed. Even though God is all-powerful and could do anything He wants to, He has chosen for us to be a vital portion of His plan.

He needs us.

He set it up so we could play our part and both of us win. A true win-win situation.

Just for fun, here are those verses one more time. This time, however, I have put our part in bold letters.

12Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart14I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.b I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares theLord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

  1. Call
  2. Pray
  3. Seek
  4. Find

God wants us to give Him everything. Our whole heart. Jesus said the same thing in the New Testament.

If we call, pray, and seek Him with all our heart, we will find Him.

And that is just one of the many promises that God has never broken.