Thursday, March 31

What Brings You to the Cross?

Standing at a distance, she gazed at the man’s crucified body, dying on a cross, as her heart pounded in agony. Deep sobs heaved her chest. Her knees began to buckle.

What brought her to the cross? A mother’s love. For this was Mary’s son, dying for the world.

John the disciple, who had leaned upon this Divine Man so many times, stood with Mary, in utter dismay.

What brought him to the cross? Genuine love and deep gratitude.

With John and Mary stood Mary Magdalene, trembling. Tears of grief streamed down her cheeks.

What brought her to the cross?
Love, for the forgiveness of the sins in her life, for scripture says, “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much.” (Luke 7:47a NKJV)

Kneeling on the ground at the foot of this Man’s cross, the soldiers cast lots for His tunic.

What brought them to the cross?
Their duty. And now their greed.

Two thieves hung on either side of this cross.

What brought them to the cross?
Violation of the law.

Simon the Cyrenian was there.

What brought him to the cross?
Bearing the burden of the cross to the hill of sacrifice.

The multitude gathered, murmuring to each other.

What brought them to the cross?
Anger. Belittlement. Wonderment. Doubting.

The chief priests stood with the scribes, poised in pride and defiance.

What brought them to the cross?
To mock Him, thinking it all utter foolishness.

What did all these have in common? They all needed the very thing for which this Man Jesus was dying on the cross: Salvation and the forgiveness of their sins.

Some accepted it; some rejected it. Paul later wrote to the Corinthians, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor. 1:18 NIV)

What brings you to the cross?
Love? Gratitude? Grief? Duty? Violation of God’s Law? Bearing a burden? Anger? Belittlement? Wonderment? Doubt? Pride? Defiance? Mocking?

Do you come weeping in pain, sorrow, or loss? Emptied of hopes and dreams? Feeling lost in your circumstances?

Without the cross, there would be no Garden of Easter Gladness…to lift you up, to wipe away your tears, to remove your grave clothes of fear and depression.

Walk that trail from the cross to Easter’s Garden of resurrection. See your Saviour Jesus standing there, waiting for you.

He compassionately whispers your name and says, “Do not wear the grave-clothes stained with the tears of grief. Come into My garden of beauty and I will give you the robe of Easter’s resurrection gladness. Take My Hand and let Me lead you along the path to life everlasting. I will never leave you nor forsake you. I gave My life that you might live eternally with Me.

Jesus always brings us hope of resurrection as on that first Easter morn. He says, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 NKJV)

Do you believe this?
If so, weep no more. May you experience the salvation and forgiveness of the cross, the power of the resurrection, and embrace the risen life in a new way this Easter season.

What brings you to the cross? May it be...Genuine Love.

~~This is part of for their writing project The Death, Burial, and Resurrection.


Monday, March 28

Thought to Ponder...

Linking up with others at Finding Heaven.


Thursday, March 24

Quiet Time Dance

(I felt led to repost this.)

Whirring lawnmowers. Annoying blowers. This was how my morning started. How could I attain quiet for a conversation with the Lord?

I walked to my family room window and looked out. Bazillions of beautiful blossoms arrayed the trees, and, at the same time, spewed out their allergy-packed pollen as thick as fog, prompting tissues to peek out of all my pockets. A brisk breeze released the grip of the “helicopters” on the maple trees, as the tiny descendants concealed the ground in a blanket of ancestry.

These sights and sounds heralded the profusion of nature’s new, spring season.

As I stood there gazing at God’s hand of creativity, a brief, spring sprinkle fell delicately on our patio, animating the dried seedlings to hop and dance.

Giggling at the delightful sight of dancing seedlings, the thought crossed my mind: sometimes the blustery winds of a new season blow against us, and we succumb by loosening our grip on the Lord as our Vine of nourishment. In letting go, we find ourselves lying on the ground, disconnected from our fellowship with Him.

When this happens, we usually misunderstand the point of what has come our way. Yes, sometimes the enemy blows his hot blast of affliction upon us, but, other times, it is God’s sweet breath of purpose.

Along with His wind of purpose, God occasionally sends showers, whether as gentle dews or great downpours as an answer to our prayers. Either way, we are not always hopping and dancing at the answer He provides.

When we learn to welcome, with open hearts, all the elements of each new season in our lives, whether heat, cold, rain, or drought, as being the gentle guidance of the Lord to rejuvenate us and bring about a new season of growth in our lives, praise and thanksgiving will begin to emerge from deep within us.

Starting down in our toes, praise will begin to bounce around, creep up into our throats, and dart out our mouths, causing our spirits to delight and dance before the Lord.

When you feel like a dried seedling lying on the ground, do you welcome the spring rains of circumstance that fall upon you? Do you understand that they are sometimes the answers to prayers? Do you dance in praise to the Lord for them?

As the saying goes…

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to’s about learning to dance in the rain.

Joel 2:23 says, “Rejoice in the LORD your God! For the rains He sends are an expression of His grace.” (The Life Recovery Bible NLT)

Prayer: Lord, May I recognize those things that come into my life as being elements of guidance and growth so that I may follow Your lead and welcome them with dancing feet in praise and thanksgiving. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Monday, March 21

Season of Renewal

“Then you send Your Spirit, and new life is born
to replenish all the living of the earth.”
(Ps. 104:30 TLB)

It’s here again…the first signs of renewal! Spring is poised, ready to pounce out from behind winter’s shadows.

But before creation blossoms forth with its spring beauty, nature always endures a season of travail. Trees stand lifeless, branches withered and devoid of blooms and fruit, appearing unproductive to all.

The Lord once said to me, “During the long winter months, when nature has seemingly lost all its beauty, life still flows deep within its darkest recesses. The trees appear naked and dead without their leaves and blooms. The ground seems hard and bare without the beauty of flowers and grass. But, in reality, life is ever-present, ever-flowing.

“It flows in the sap that is deep within the trees. It stirs within the seeds of flowers yet to bloom. Both are quietly at work, awaiting their appointed time to be awakened and spring to life.”

When the trees awaken from their seasonal slumber, they arise from darkness and decay to newness of rebirth, as their external starkness is replaced with bursts of beauty.

Spring’s animation then begins. Breezes swirl above the tree tops, tickling the fresh, new buds as they poke their tiny heads into the warmth of the sun. The streams overflow with the fullness of April’s showers and skip over the rocks as if gurgling with laughter, while May flowers crown their banks.

The Lord said, “Sometimes My people must also endure their long, winter months of travail when their fruit seems to have withered and their branches seem bare. But deep within their roots, My Spirit moves with eternal life.

“All may seem dark, lost, and devoid of life and beauty, but, in such a life lived with Me, My work still goes on. Allow My Life to flow through you, especially in the darkest of times, and then you will be renewed.”

Sometimes, swirling seasons of life swoop down upon us through storms of bereavement, affliction, or adversity, which leave us devoid of the blooms and fruit of our lives.

Though spring enters with whirling winds and rain, it still brings a message of hope, of new birth, not only to creation but to us as well. God’s timetable for regeneration is always on schedule for that eternal, divine Sap flows through us and bubbles up with new life at the designated time.

As we wait out those bleak seasons, expecting renewed inner beauty and strength, we can wait with assurance, as Isaiah said, “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.” (Is. 40:31 NKJV)

Does your life feel as though all your beautiful leaves have fallen from your limbs? Are the first signs of decay setting in, causing you to feel bare and fruitless? Has your inner strength diminished?

God’s Spirit of regeneration still flows within you. Your time of renewal will come. The Lord said, “All may seem dark, lost, and devoid of life and beauty, but, in such a life lived with Me, My work still goes on...Allow My Life to flow through you, especially in the darkest of times, so then will you be renewed.”

Whether your circumstances swirl around you or lie dormant, your life will again blossom with beauty as the Eternal Sap of Life brings renewal at just the right time.

“Behold, I am doing a new thing. Now it springs forth.” (Is. 43:19a Amp)

This is part of the blog chain for March on the topic of swirling. Check out the other great posts that are listed in the sidebar.


Thursday, March 17

Heart Murmurs

Heart murmurs…

* are extra heart sounds caused by turbulent blood flow, sufficient enough to produce an audible noise, ranging from very faint to very loud.
* are due to functions and activities of life or of living matter (physiologic conditions) outside the heart.
* are a treatable and preventable condition. If not serious, medication will improve the condition. If more serious, surgery may be in order.

But what if it is spiritual rather than physical?
What then are those heart sounds, from faint to loud, due to conditions outside the heart?

Israel had this heart problem. What was it? Murmuring and complaining. And God was grieved and disgusted with this whiny bunch.

God once said to Moses and Aaron, “How long will this evil congregation murmur against Me? I have heard the complaints the Israelites murmur against Me.” (Num. 14:27 Amp)

What were the outside conditions that caused their murmuring? They deplored their situation. Israel “grew impatient along the way, and they began to murmur against God and Moses. ‘Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die here in the wilderness?’ they complained. ‘There is nothing to eat here and nothing to drink. And we hate this wretched manna!’” (Num. 21:4-5 NLT)

David said that “they despised the pleasant land, having no faith in His promise. They murmured in their tents, and did not obey the voice of the LORD.” (Ps. 106:24-25 ESV)

The results of too much whine?
The book of Numbers should be a red-flag warning to all of us. Because of their murmuring and complaining, God implemented numerous forms of punishment, among them…

1) fire
2) plagues
3) fiery serpents
4) death for the entire congregation except for Joshua, Caleb, and those under the age of twenty.

God chastised Israel, saying to them, “Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness of [mind and] heart [in gratitude] for the abundance of all [with which He had blessed you], therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the Lord shall send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and in want of all things.” (Deut. 28:47-48a Amp)

That was the Old Testament, you say. But has God changed?

The English translation of The Received Greek Text says in 1 Corinthians 10:9-11a, as Paul exhorts, “Neither overtempt Christ, as some of them tempted, and perished by serpents. Neither should you murmur, as also some of them murmured, and perished by the destroyer. And all these things happened to those as examples, and it was written for our warning.”

All these things happened as object lessons for us, to warn us against whining, complaining, and not being grateful because of life’s adverse circumstances, that we might not receive God’s discipline. He may use different methods today, but His righteous anger has not changed.

Is a murmuring heart a treatable and preventable condition? Yes!
To maintain spiritual health, we replace the whining that destroys the proper functioning of the heart with the remedy of praise and thanksgiving. However, if we do not work on our heart condition, God certainly will, using His own special type of surgery.

If Proverbs tells us, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life” (Prov. 4:23 NLT), and Jesus said, “Whatever is in the heart overflows into speech” (Luke 6:45 TLB), then we need to heed those words, for “He who guards his mouth keeps his life.” (Prov. 13:3 Amp)

All Israel had to do was step through the portal of thanksgiving, but their murmuring, disobedience, and impatience slammed the gate shut, barricading the entrance to God’s promise. For forty years, they lived next door to that land of milk and honey, but most of them never lived to set foot on it.

The wilderness takes its victims while they are yet wandering in their complaints. To live in the Land of Promise, you must step out of the wilderness of murmuring.

Does your heart pour out too much whine or pulsate with praise and thanksgiving?

~~Lord, my prayer is this, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (Ps. 19:14 NLT)~~


Wednesday, March 16

St. Patrick's Day Blessings

Saint Patrick was the national apostle and patron saint of Ireland. He was born in Roman Britain sometime in the latter part of the fourth century A.D. The dates of his birth and death are fuzzy.

When he was about sixteen years old, he was captured by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Ireland, where he lived for six years before escaping and returning to his family. He entered the church, as his father and grandfather had before him, becoming a deacon and a bishop. He later went back to Ireland as a Christian missionary.

Legend says that Patrick taught the Irish about the concept of the three-in-one of the Trinity by using the three-leafed shamrock to explain the concept of the Trinity.

So, why is it celebrated on March 17th? One theory is that that is the day that St. Patrick died. The biggest observance around the world is, of course, in Ireland. With the exception of restaurants and pubs, almost all businesses close on March 17th.

Many Irish attend mass on this day as it is a religious holiday as well, where prayers are offered for missionaries worldwide before the serious celebrating begins.

I love the Irish blessings and thought I’d pass some of them onto you.

~~Happy St. Patrick's Day...Lynn~~


Monday, March 14

Deliver Us from Evil

“And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.”
(Matt. 6:13a NKJV)

(This is the seventh segment of The Model Prayer series.)

The negative side.

Lead us not into temptation.

In other words, “Lord, do not carry us into those situations where we might succumb to seductions or enticements to sin, or trials of our fidelity.”

But does God actually guide us into those situations that would suck us into a lapse of faith or holiness? Of course not. James said, “And remember, when someone wants to do wrong it is never God who is tempting him, for God never wants to do wrong and never tempts anyone else to do it. Temptation is the pull of man’s own evil thoughts and wishes. These evil thoughts lead to evil actions and afterwards to the death penalty from God. So don’t be misled, dear brothers.” (James 1:13-16 TLB)

Paul encourages us to “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Eph. 6:11NIV), so that we “do not give the devil a foothold.” (Eph. 4:27 NIV)

The positive side.

Deliver us from evil.

The word deliver means to rescue or preserve from, rush or draw for oneself. Evil is described as hurtful, annoyances, hardships, pressed and harassed by labors, denotes evil that causes pain, sorrow, bringing toils, perils, of a bad nature or condition, or wicked.

In other words, “Lord, draw us to Yourself and away from those wicked, hurtful perils and conditions.”

If we willingly succumb to the dangling lures and shiny baubles of the enemy’s seductions, we venture out of God’s protection.

One of my favorite murder mystery movie series is Agatha Christie’s Poirot, the great Belgian detective. Once, as his “little gray cells,” as he calls them, pondered a puzzle of clues, he said, “The devil himself dances among us; we just don’t see him.”

He was right. The devil and his cohorts waltz around, dangling temptations before our eyes and ears to steal our joy, kill our faith, and destroy our fellowship with God. They do all they can to dance around us, to divert our focus away from God and to delay or defeat His answers to our requests.

We always have a way out, for the Word says, “God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Cor. 10:13b NIV) We just don’t always use it, do we?

David pleaded with God, “Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil, to take part in wicked deeds with men who are evildoers; let me not eat of their delicacies.” (Ps. 141:4a NIV)

What captivates our hearts? What attracts our eyes? Are we focused on worldly possessions, temptations, and thinking or on all that the Lord says in His Word?

~~Lord, “Don't let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.” (NLT) Draw us to Yourself and away from the evil that would seek to cause us pain, sorrow, or other perils. May Your Word be stored in our hearts to keep us from sinning against Your love. Amen.~~


Thursday, March 10

A Thought to Ponder

Today...I offer a thought for all to ponder...

Monday, March 7

Forgive Us Our Debts

“Forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors.”
(Matt. 6:12 Received Greek Text)

(This is the sixth segment in the The Model Prayer series.)

“Forgive me.” How many times have I asked the Lord that? Bazillions!

Forgive. In Greek, the word used here primarily means to send forth or away. Or to remit, being completely cancelled, and to let go, give up.

The Greek word for debts means that which is legally due, as sin as a debt demanding atonement, something owed, or a fault.

As means even as, like as, according as, or in the same manner as.

Debtors is defined as one who owes anything to another (primarily in regard to money), one held by some obligation, bound to some duty, or one who has not yet made amends to one whom he has injured.

When a violation of God’s Word occurs, an atonement is necessary. In the Old Testament, God appointed sacrifices to be offered to atone for a person’s sins, but it had to be an offering of the heart.

God said to Judah, “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me [unless they are the offering of the heart]?” (Is. 1:11 Amp) Whatever the gift, the heart had to accompany it; otherwise, God rejected the gift, “Who wants your sacrifices when you have no sorrow for your sins?...I want nothing more to do with them.” (Is. 1:12a,13b TLB)

The OT sacrifice was merely a temporary substitution until Jesus offered the ultimate and eternal sacrifice, paying the penalty for all sins. As Jesus told the disciples at the Last Supper, the wine represented His “blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matt. 26:28 NKJV)

This is eternal debt cancellation. However, cancellation does not mean consequences for our wrong decisions no longer exist. Discipline still remains in place.

Do we ask others to forgive us when we hurt them, not kept our word, or sinned against them in some other way? What of those who have done or do the same to us? Are we ready to forgive them? God forgives us in the same manner that we forgive others. Have you ever asked the Lord if there’s anyone whom you have forgotten to forgive?

Peter once asked Jesus, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered him, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matt. 18:21-22 NIV)

Then, Jesus told the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant in which the servant who had begged forgiveness of his large debt from his master turned around and demanded payment from his fellow servant. The fellow servant begged forgiveness for his small amount but was unsuccessful. The servant refused and had his fellow servant thrown in jail.

When the master heard of what the servant had done, he “turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.” (Matt. 18:34 NIV)

And here’s the part we like to ignore: Jesus finished the parable by saying, “This is how My heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matt. 18:35 NIV) Whoa!

Yes, some offenses against us are extremely difficult to forgive. Do you have any like that in your life? Are you willing to forgive? If not, have you asked the Lord to help you be willing to be willing to forgive? Do you want the Lord to forgive you? Then, you know what you have to do.

Besides asking forgiveness of our sins, we forget to seek forgiveness in one other area. Just as in the parable, we have financial debts, those things that are owed. As stewards of all the Lord allows in our lives, do we need to ask His forgiveness for mishandling it?

Though written to the Roman church, Paul’s words ring true for us today: “Pay all your debts except the debt of love for others - never finish paying that! For if you love them, you will be obeying all of God’s laws, fulfilling all His requirements.” (Rom. 13:8 TLB)

He also wrote to the Colossians, “Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” (Col. 3:12-13 NLT)

Lord, “Forgive us what we owe to You, as we have also forgiven those who owe anything to us.” (Phillips)


Thursday, March 3

Do You Have Spiritual Endurance?

What tests your spiritual endurance?

*lack of a job?
*no insurance?
*home foreclosure?
*your spouse’s affair?
*a child with an addiction?
*a husband hooked on porn?
*death of a child or other loved one?
*the twisted knife in your back from your best friend?

On occasion, many of these strike at once causing chaos to overwhelm us. Our eyes spill over with the tears of heartache. Discouragement sets in.

What do we do? Have a pity party? Get in a nasty mood? Throw a fit? Camp out with a negative attitude? Stomp around yelling at everyone?

What happens to our hope? To our faith? To our spiritual endurance?

David wrote, “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again - my Savior and my God!” (Ps. 42:5 NLT)

Who comes to mind as a biblical victor, a spiritual endurer?
James wrote, “For examples of patience in suffering, dear brothers and sisters, look at the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy.” (James 5:10-11 NLT)

I love reading Hebrews 11, the faith chapter.
Listed are the names of all those who persevered from Abel to Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and all the rest…by faith, by faith, by faith. They held to the backside of the cross, having the faith to see what was yet to be. They had no anchor of hope in Christ as we do.

And they all endured!

Our faith walk should be like Abraham’s,
for he knew God kept His promises, “He drew strength from his faith, and, while giving the glory to God, remained absolutely convinced that God was able to implement His own promise.” (Rom. 4:21 Phillips)

Paul also said of Abraham, “No unbelief or distrust made him waver (doubtingly question) concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God.” (Rom. 4:20 Amp) His words of praise strengthened his faith, connecting Him to God’s power.

And what of Paul? Didn’t he endure horrendous afflictions?

He said, “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but not crushed and broken. We are perplexed because we don’t know why things happen as they do, but we don’t give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going.” (2 Cor. 4:8-9TLB)

What is your attitude as you endure your trials?
Do you hide in the cellar of doubt and worry or hang out in the attic of praise and gratitude? Do you give up or rest in the power of God? Are you a spiritual victim or victor?

Does Jesus say to you, as He did to Peter when he began to be overwhelmed by the waves, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matt. 14:31b NKJV) Or does He say to you as He did to the woman that came to Him on behalf of her demon-possessed daughter, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire”? (Matt. 15:28 NKJV)

“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.” (Heb. 12:1-2a NKJV)

As you look to the Lord in your time of trouble, may He complete and perfect your faith that you may be a spiritual victor.