Tag Archives: Faith

Keys and Doors

I have a new friend.  Her name is Lona.  When she came for dinner on Easter, she brought me this kitchen towel as a hostess gift.   It reminds me of her, not only because it was a present from her, but because she does open big doors with little keys.  I know because I pray with her every week.

In Matthew 6:19, Jesus told Simon, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”  Simon had just made his confession of faith, telling Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”   Jesus had replied by calling him Peter, which means rock, and saying, “On this rock I will build my church.”

The church is the living fellowship of all those who believe that Jesus is the The Christ, The Son of God. Jesus is the chief cornerstone of the church.  Peter, the Rock, was the first man to understand and believe that Jesus was the The Christ, the Son of God, and as such, he was the first living stone ( see I Peter 2: 4) placed upon the cornerstone of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Church is built upon the belief and confession that Jesus is The Christ, The Son of God.  That is the door that opens the Kingdom of heaven up to anyone who would believe.   All of us who share this faith are living stones built up over the centuries upon the Rock of our Salvation, Jesus Christ.

Like Peter, every believer is given the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.  The keys are to bind and to loose. To forbid and to allow.  To close and to open.  What do we bind, forbid, and close?  What do we loose, allow and open?  We loose, allow and open when we share the truth of the good news of Jesus Christ.  We bind, forbid and close when we deny the lies of the evil one.  We bind and loose whenever we exercise this authority in prayer.  We speak and believe the word of God given us in the Scriptures and apply them to the lives of our families, churches, and communities.

Lona has beautiful brown eyes that sparkle with the life of Jesus.  She comes to prayer expectantly.  She uses her keys, exercising her authority to bind and loose confidently when she prays.  I hear her.  I learn from her.  Sometimes during our hours of praying with Jesus, He shows her what He is doing, and she giggles with delight. I hear that laughter and I know bad things are being locked up and good doors are opening for those we pray for.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for giving us the keys to the kingdom of heaven.  We are humbled and grateful.  Open our eyes to see doors that need to be opened and to doors that need to be closed.

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Living Dead or Born Again

Life can leave us feeling dead.  Have you ever felt that way, breathing and exchanging air but starved for life, longing for change but powerless to make changes, longing for a heaven on earth, the kingdom of God in the here and now? Or do you believe  you are living, oblivious to the fact you are really dead?  It might be better for you to be one of those who feel dead and are seeking life!

In the third chapter of the Gospel of John,  we watch and hear Jesus tell the Pharisee Nicodemus, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” Nicodemus is puzzled and wonders, how can this be?  Jesus tells Nicodemus that flesh gives birth to flesh and spirit gives birth to spirit.  He tells him that no one has ever gone into heaven except for the Son of Man who came from heaven.  He tells him that the Son of Man must be lifted up so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.

The apostle John tells us that everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.

The apostle Paul proclaims that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  He describes mankind as dead in their sins.  Indeed, the living are the living dead until they believe that the Son of God, Jesus Christ, was lifted up and crucified on a cross to pay the penalty for their sin. Then they are born of God, born of His  Spirit – given His life, an eternal, abundant life that begins in the here and now.

The good news is that you don’t have to be living dead.  You can be born again to everlasting life.  Will you believe in the One who was lifted up and died for you?

 

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Invisible, Not Imaginary

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Long ago a wise boy named Tim told me, “I like Jesus and Snuffleupagus.”

In a neighborhood named Sesame Street lived Big Bird.  His best friend was a four legged, gentle, soft spoken creature called Mr.Snuffleupagus.  They hung out and confided in one another.  Amazingly, no one else on Sesame Street had seen Big Bird’s best friend.  They erroneously believed that Bird’s BFF was imaginary. That didn’t really matter to Big Bird because he and Snuffy kept enjoying one another’s company and being there for each other.

Long ago in Bethlehem on the first Christmas, a BFF quietly moved into our neighborhoods.  Not everyone encountered him.  But to those who had eyes to see and ears to hear, who welcomed and received him, he became the most incredible best friend forever.

That Best Friend is Jesus.  He is fully man and fully God.  He is all knowing and all powerful.  He delivers and saves from sin and death. He is loving, kind, merciful and fun. He tells us to cast our cares on him because he cares for us.

Like Big Bird, it doesn’t really matter to me if you know my Jesus is real or if you think he is imaginary.  My BFF, Jesus, is real to me.  I know him, and he knows me.  We hang out and enjoy each other every day.

Jesus isn’t exclusive.  He has room in his heart for an endless circle of friends.  He wants you in that circle.  May you uncover and unwrap the gift of his friendship underneath your Christmas tree.

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ALL I NEED TO KNOW


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While looking in October for some yarn at one of my favorite shops, a Fiber and Book Store, I saw a Little Golden Book, titled Everything I Need to Know I Learned From A Stars Wars. I smiled, chuckling to myself, and thought; here’s the perfect novelty Christmas gift for my sons who are 40 and 38 and grew up loving the Star Wars Saga.   I purchased yarn and the books.

I have read the book, enjoying the pictures and content. Although some of its message conveys wise and valuable counsel for children and adults who are kids at heart,  I KNOW THAT EVERYTHING I NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED FROM MY BIBLE.

Here is some of the truth the Bible has taught me about God and myself and some of the realities I live in because I have believed that truth:

God created me; He wove me together in my mother’s womb.

He has loved me with an everlasting love.

He has loved me so much that He sent His Son Jesus to come to earth to live and bleed and die and rise again so that all my sin and shame could be washed away by His shed blood.

Jesus has equipped me and sent me on a meaningful journey, an exciting, challenging mission.

He has been traveling on this mission with me; in fact He is always holding on to my right hand. He has promised that no one can ever snatch me out of His hand and that He will never leave me or forsake me.

He has promised to give me wisdom whenever I need it and ask for it. He has promised to lead and guide me on this mission.   Sometimes I have been afraid, really afraid, near terrified, but He has calmed and quieted my heart and mind.

His Spirit has kept giving me power to obey His command to say no to anger, rage and pride. His Spirit has kept giving me power to walk in His Light and to be kind and compassionate and to forgive and bless those that hurt me. When I have failed to do these things, He has picked me up and told me to try again.

With God nothing has been impossible. Jesus has promised that I can do all things because He strengthens me. He has told me to keep believing because faith is the victory that overcomes the world.

Jesus has said that He is going to rule and reign on planet earth and that I get to be with Him. I have been looking forward to this for a long time.

The Eternal God, who has always ruled the universe and still does, has given me everlasting life and has promised I am always going to be with Him in heaven forever because I believe in His Son.   I’ve banked my life on this promise.

I obtained my role in THIS REAL STORY, THE BEST ONE EVER TOLD, by believing its truth and trusting its PLAYWRIGHT/DIRECTOR.

Tryouts remain open. The only talent required is a willingness to trust THE PLAYWRIGHT and to follow HIS DIRECTION.  Come one and all.  You are loved, accepted and needed.

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My Father

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My Father said:  “I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after them.  I will make an everlasting covenant with them; I will never stop doing good to them and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me.  I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul.”  Jeremiah 32:39-41

This Father, my Father,  wants to be your father.   He wants to give you a heart to love and reverence Him.  He wants to make an everlasting covenant with you.  He wants to inspire you with such awe over the beauty and goodness of His character that you would never turn back from His Presence.  He wants to do you good;  in fact, doing you good makes Him happy!  He wants to plant you in His everlasting Kingdom.

He is pursuing you.  He is calling you home.  He is your destiny.   Your creator is your redeemer.

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Rebuilt and Replanted

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Earlier this summer, my husband and I celebrated our 45th Wedding Anniversary.   We were newlyweds in the early 1970’s,  an era enriched with the beautiful music preformed by Karen Carpenter and her brother Richard.   They told our story in We’ve Only Just Begun*:  “…White lace and promises.  A kiss for luck and we’re on our way.”  They expressed our dreams in For All We Know**:  “…We’ve got a lifetime to share.  So much to say…Let’s take a lifetime to say I knew you well…And love may grow for all we know.”

Our promises and dreams were godly, and we sought God’s blessing and invoked His help.  It is good we did.  For life happened.  Demands and stresses within and without took a toll on our marriage, which nearly failed.  (You can read our story by going to the book page of this website.)    We’ve had a lifetime to know each other well and see our love mature and grow because of the God we trusted.

“Then the Nations around you that remain will know that I , the Lord, have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate.  I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do it.”   Ezekiel 36:36

In this, our 45th year of life together, Howard and I honor the God who rebuilt and replanted our marriage, the God  who spoke and did what He said He could do!

* written by Nicolas,Roger S./Williams, Paul H.

**  written by Bunch, John/Colbert, Joshua/Cordoba,Derick/Neptune, Cha

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Hold Me

 

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“I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.”  Exodus 19:4

“You whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth….I have made you, and I will carry you.”  Isaiah 43: 3 and 4

My husband developed pain in his left hip last week.  Those of you who follow my blog, know that Howard had stage three lymphoma in 2013.  In light of his history, any little pain that might have been ignored, now has the capacity to arouse fear in both of us.  And we have been fearful as we await his routine three month check with the oncologist in a few days.

Last Sunday our Pastor was teaching from Exodus 34, teaching that the God of Moses seeks to be known, that he self-discloses.*  God said he is Hesed.  Some translations of Hesed are loving kindness, or steadfast love, or abounding in love. As Pastor Cody talked of trusting God’s love, he shared a story about his young daughter.  He asked her, “How do you know I love you.”  She replied, “Because you snuggle with me.”

How do I know that God extends his Hesed to me?  He snuggles with me.  He holds me.  He carries me.  He always has.  He always will.

In the quiet of worship, I decided it was a good week to really lean into my Daddy God, to let him hold me and calm me with his love.  As we drove home from church, in my mind, I kept hearing the words and music of the late Rich Mullins:  “Hold me Jesus.  I’m shaking like a leaf.  You have been my King of Glory.  Won’t you be my Prince of Peace?.”**

This morning during my quiet time with God, the words and music from Matt Maher came to mind: “I just want to be in your arms, moving ever closer to your heart.”***

Fears have been calmed.   Whatever lies ahead, all will be well, because of God’s Hesed.  I am being held.  My husband is being held.  We are in the everlasting arms of our Lord.

*You can listen to Pastor Cody Kargus’s sermon of 3/8/15  at www.maranthafree.com

** Hold Me Jesus by Rich Mullins

*** Letting Go by Matt Maher/Paul Moak

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A Goal and A Job For 2015

Faith:  confident belief in the truth; belief not based on logical proof or material evidence; loyalty to a person or a thing.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from  yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  Ephesians 2: 8-9

Believe:  to accept as true or real; to expect; to have faith or confidence.

Work:  mental effort or activity directed toward the production or accomplishment of something.

In John 6, we read of a crowd asking Jesus what they should do to do the works of God.   Jesus answered, ” The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

We are NOT saved by works, but we are saved FOR WORKS.  Before we get conceited or proud of our works or weary and burned out by them, let us remember: the work we are saved to do is to BELIEVE IN JESUS.   Perhaps much of what we do for the Kingdom of God is not effective because we extend energy devoid of belief.  Perhaps we extend energy believing the lie that the advancement of the Kingdom depends on us, rather than on the Power of God, working through us.  Perhaps we move forward without seeking God’s guidance and blessing in believing prayer.  All our efforts are wasted if they are not fueled by believing prayer.

Sometimes we are called to stand still and watch God work.  Sometimes we are called to work with him.  But we are always called to believe him.

Let us remember that all that is accomplished for the Kingdom of God is the work of God.  He gets the GLORY.   We have the great and awesome privilege of believing him, of cheering him on, of praising him.

Lord Jesus,  help me remember that my goal and my work for the year ahead  is simply and profoundly TO BELIEVE  YOU.

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A Coin With Two Sides

A year ago my husband fought a battle with stage 3 lymphoma.  I believed Jesus is the healer.  I believed Jesus could heal my husband.  I prayed believing for that healing, but I did not know whether the Lord would heal my husband on this earth or in heaven.

I prayed yielding my will and desires to the will and desires of  God for my husband.  These two truths freed me to yield to God:   We are always loved and God is always good – he is righteous and holy in all his ways.

Trust is like a two sided coin.  On one side is a believing face, and on the other side there is yielding face.  Trust is the sum of believing God and yielding to him.

Our Lord prayed for his Father to spare him from the suffering of the crucifixion.  He knew God could – he believed God could.  But in the end, he yielded his will to the will of God.

I think it is possible to believe God without yielding to him.   I think it is possible to yield to God without really believing him.  I want to keep trusting God like my Savior did, believing and yielding in tandem with all my heart and mind and soul.

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To Believe Or Not To Believe

To believe or not to believe God.  Is that your question?  Is that your dilemma?   In a sense, this dilemma is the ultimate wager.

Blaise Pascal said, “Let us weigh the gain and the loss, in wagering that God is. Consider these alternatives: if you win, you win all, if you lose, you lose nothing. Do not hesitate, then, to wager that he is.”

Jesus said that he is the way, the truth and the life.  He said that no one comes to God the Father except through him.  (John 14:6)

Understand to believe Jesus or believe to understand Jesus?  Is that your dilemma?

Saint Augustine said, “Understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand.”

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