DAILY DEVOTIONAL by Katie Messer: “Through The Valley Of Achor” Week Eleven, Day Seven plus Review

DAILY DEVOTIONAL by Katie Messer: “Through The Valley Of Achor”

Week Eleven, Day Seven plus Review

 

“Out of the depths I cry to You, O LORD; O Lord, here my voice. Let Your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. If You, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness; therefore You are feared. I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His Word I put my hope.” Psalm 130:1-5 (NIV)

 

How gracious is the Lord Jesus Christ to pardon the iniquities of each breathing soul who cries out to Him for forgiveness. Jesus spoke very plainly on the topic of the consequences of sin and not entrusting our hearts to Him for eternal keeping in Luke 16:19-31. In this account, Jesus clearly affirmed not only the reality of hell and hadees, but also the sheer agony and torment experienced by any and all who choose to ignore the free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. The suffering within hell will be eternal (Isaiah 66:24) and it is for the love of those created of God, humanity as a whole, that Jesus Christ stepped down from heavenly glory in order to redeem the mess that each of us contribute to the fallen human condition (Ephesians 2:8-9). Ezekiel 33:11 encourages us in that the Lord does not take pleasure in having any experience the eternal torment, unprecedented suffering and utter separation from God, that is the reality of hell and hadees (John 3:16). Yet, for all who do not choose Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and do not confess their sins to Him, this is the coming reality (1 John 1:9-10). Ladies, hear this today, as hard as things may be in your present sufferings—NOTHING experienced on earth can match or surpass the excruciating pain and torment of hell. Praise the Lord that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself now holds the keys of death and hadees (Revelation 1:18). There is eternal freedom from suffering through Jesus Christ alone (John 11:25). He alone holds the keys after He victoriously conquered the grave on the third day (Matthew 16:21, Romans 6:9, Romans 14:9 & 1 Corinthians 15:3-4)! If you have not given your life to Jesus Christ in the past, or are reading this today, and are sincerely unsure as to where you would go if you died today—pray with me now to accept Jesus Christ into your heart this very moment.

 

Dear Lord Jesus,

I confess that I am a sinner—a person who has messed up in life—and need to be forgiven by You. I believe that You are the one and only Son of God, and that You were raised from the dead on the third day. I ask You to come into my heart and be the boss and Lord of my life from today into forevermore. Thank You for loving me enough to make a way for me to avoid eternal punishment. You are now my Savior, Lord Jesus. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

 

Prayer For Today:

Lord Jesus, You alone reign. You have told the stars where to stand and defined how far the tide should rise. The migratory patterns of birds, mammals and aquatic life are all ordained by You. With all Your splendor, with all Your grandeur, You make time for a mere mortal like—me. Lord Jesus, You assured Your disciples with compassion, that not even a sparrow falls from the sky without Your notice and stated that we are so much more precious than birds (Matthew 6:26). As my nerves are shot and anxiety builds with yet more changes and challenges on the horizon, teach me to pour my heart out to You in praise and worship. Teach me to love well those You have given to me and praise You while I practice servanthood towards them. Teach me to worship You rather than worshipping comfort and all its forms of pleasure for You alone deserve my loyalty and praise. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

 

**Week Eleven in review. Please write down the most meaningful verse from this past week below. As you do, tell the Lord how mighty He is. Remind your own soul of the greatness of God. In the midst of hardship, remember that God is at work in your life, encouraging you to keep trusting Him for a solution to each difficulty and heartache of life (Isaiah 49:13).

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DAILY DEVOTIONAL by Katie Messer: “Through The Valley Of Achor” Week Eleven, Day Two

DAILY DEVOTIONAL by Katie Messer: “Through The Valley Of Achor”

Week Eleven, Day Two

 

“Restore the joy of Your salvation to me, and give me a willing spirit. Then I will teach the rebellious Your ways, and sinners will return to You.” Psalm 52:12-13 (HCSB)

 

Scripture is packed with stories of followers of Jesus Christ who had to endure severe hardship. Despite popular belief that following Jesus means you will be immune to all suffering, heartache and trouble of any kind—this simply is not truth—and when heartache comes to those who have held such fragile views of God’s goodness—chaos can take root within their hearts as a war of who God really is wages within the soul. Ladies, know this day that hardship in this life is real. But with that said, take heart for ultimate victory over the pain and injustices of this life are found solely through the Lord Jesus Christ (John 16:32-33). When we come to realize the gravity of Jesus Christ being the Son of God—coming to earth and living a sinless life—dying on a cross as an innocent man to atone for our sinful living—then raising from the dead on the third day from the grave—our souls should be stirred to rejoice at His salvation. If not, may we sincerely pray to see if our salvation in Jesus Christ is real (1 John 1:8-10). Salvation is found through no other means and by no other name than by Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the one and only Son of God (John 3:16). At this, may we run to the dying and broken world with the hope and good news of Jesus Christ the risen Savior (1 John 4:9-16)!

 

Prayer For Today:

Dear Lord Jesus, please give me boldness to declare Your goodness. Please allow my soul to recall the filth that I have been ransomed from. May I never forget my own personal need for Your rescue. Strip me of my selfish ways. Break me of my arrogance. Break me of my need to be right. Lead me in Your ways and lead me to Your truths so that I may declare unadulterated truth to a world that needs You (1 John 5). I ask for You to direct my eyes beyond this current struggle and see this multi-layered challenge as a “light affliction” as the Apostle Paul referred to all struggle, difficulty and pain (2 Corinthians 4:17). In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

 

DAILY DEVOTIONAL by Katie Messer: “Through The Valley Of Achor” Week Ten, Day One

DAILY DEVOTIONAL by Katie Messer: “Through The Valley Of Achor”

Theme of Week Ten: My God is All I Need

Week Ten, Day One

 

“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves.” Matthew 11:28-29 (HCSB)

 

The LORD Jesus knows that each of us is going to go through periods of great want. He knows that this life is going to throw us curve ball after curve ball at times that will leave us exhausted. How gracious our LORD to invite us to come to Him, personally, and receive the rest that we each to desperately need in times of trial. By taking up the yoke of the Lord, we are then able to be directed, in how to respond within any given situation. How wonderful to recount that we serve a risen LORD who is able to empathize with the suffering that results in this fallen world, yet was never sinned (Hebrews 4:15). He not only understands, but He has provided each of us a way out of the sorrow and grief by providing His own grace, strength and guidance to last beyond our entire journey (2 Corinthians 12:9).

 

Prayer For Today:

Mighty and Powerful Jesus, how unworthy am I to approach You with my troubles. You are awesome. You are holy. You are righteous. Yet, You sincerely care for each of Your creations—and invite us to come receive rest from You. What an invitation! Through Your own sacrifice, I am only able to approach the throne of grace. It is all because of You, Jesus. Help me to focus on Your goodness and incredible power in times when I feel helpless. Teach me how to give You my burdens regarding (name)__________ and all that goes along with the situation’s many aspects to consider. Thank You that You are all-knowing (1 Corinthians 2:10-11), all-loving (1 John 4:9) and all-present (Psalm 139:7-10) in Your creation and in heaven. You are God and I praise You for who You are amidst the storm. I choose to hold fast to the promises to my heart for trusting in You. In the powerful name of Jesus I pray, amen.

 

DAILY DEVOTIONAL by Katie Messer “Through The Valley Of Achor” Week Six, Day Five

DAILY DEVOTIONAL by Katie Messer “Through The Valley Of Achor”

Week Six, Day Five:

 

“A generous person will be enriched, and the one who gives a drink of water will receive water.” Proverbs 11:25 (HCSB)

 

In the midst of a traumatic season, it can feel a bit as though you find yourself continually on the receiving end of a blessing. Yet, deep down, we all want to feel needed by another—even during a time of great turmoil. As Proverbs 11:25 states, when we take the time to invest in the lives of others and bless others, we ourselves will feel refreshed. Jesus then speaks of this message of generosity as He states that what you give to others will later be given to you (Luke 6:38). The gift of a freshly picked flower, a coffee for the person behind you in line or even an unexpected note of encouragement to another are all examples of ways to show generosity to another in the midst of personal chaos. In the midst of this season of uncertainty, be encouraged that by finding a small way to bless another will in fact make your heart happy. Why? Because we were made to help create, build up and better the very places and situations we were placed into—for His glory.

 

Prayer For Today:

O LORD, I need so much direction. So much help in this time. How in the world will I give to another when I am so exhausted and overwhelmed? Please show me how I can bless another, even in a small way, today for Your glory. Please be with (name)_________ as we look for ways to bless others for Your name. Thank You for another day to draw closer to You. If for nothing else, thank You for this beautiful opportunity to grow in my relationship with You.

DAILY DEVOTIONAL by Katie Messer: “Through The Valley Of Achor” Week four, Day four

DAILY DEVOTIONAL by Katie Messer: “Through The Valley Of Achor”

Week Four, Day Four:

 

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you.” Isaiah 43:2 (NASB)

 

When we put our hope in Jesus Christ, we are not promised a life free of strife and suffering, but rather granted protection in the midst of the chaos. The Israelites followed Moses out of Egypt. It was beyond the laws of science that God would deliver them through the Red Sea as He chose. Yet, God is not bound by created elements such as science. Thus, it was God who held back the tall walls of ocean water to create a dry path for all His beloved people to walk into literal freedom, away from those who had held them captive (Exodus 14:21-22). Also illustrated through the lives of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, it was not that the fires of oppression did not come, bur rather that the LORD delivered them in the midst of the flames (Daniel 3:27). As we find ourselves up against an ocean that seems too large to cross or fires to big to survive, call upon the name of the LORD to be saved.

 

Prayer for today:

Dear Lord God, I am astounded by how powerful You are. You see all the details of every situation and desire that not one should perish. Thank You for these stories of faith. How encouraging to hold fast to the truth that we serve the same living God as the saints of old. Please rescue (name)_________ from the ensuring attackers as You were so faithful to do with the Israelites leaving Egypt. Please deliver (name)_________ from the fire and flames as You did with Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego for Your glory. Nothing is too difficult for You and I thank You for intervening in this today. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

 

 

 

Sorrow Into Seeds: A Story About Trusting God In Times of Great Transition

The day Lucy-Lu had been dreading continued to draw near. With each completion of yet another day of summer, their family’s moving date was growing closer all the time. Lucy-Lu’s daddy was a military officer. And although she loved that they had been able to travel around the world with him throughout her young life as a family, it was challenging—well, very challenging to continue to pick up and begin in a new place every 12-24 months. Oh sure, the adventures of living in the nation’s capitol, riding camels in the desert of the Middle East and speak of Jesus in outdoor evangelism trips to the park in Florida with Backyard Bible Club were all amazing. But, deep down, she longed for a time when she wouldn’t have to say good-bye to precious friends or feel the discomfort of cold sores or a hurt tummy caused by all the changing pieces anymore.

 

One day Lucy-Lu came to talk with her mama, Christy about the move. Lucy-Lu had expressed just how much she didn’t want to move, but this time it was different. She shared that each night, tears rolled down her little girl face and that she cried herself to sleep. Her mama almost didn’t know what to do. This move was affecting all of the family in different ways, yet all very much profound.

 

Then, Christy put the dishes aside and took Lucy-Lu into her arms and she prayed with her. She thanked God for this time of learning to trust God when it was hard because Christians are called to “rejoice always, pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5-16-18 NIV). Christy had silently prayed for wisdom as she hugged her precious baby girl and the Holy Spirit reminded her that God is in the business of turning our sorrow into seeds.

 

As Christy shared that the upcoming double move was proving challenging for her as well, Lucy-Lu snuggled in close to her mama and listened very closely. “You see, baby girl, when we follow Jesus, we want to go where He sends us—no matter where in the big world that is. Why? Because people all over this big world must hear about Jesus Christ as their risen savior. Does that make sense?” Lucy-Lu silently nodded her head. She had buried her face so deep into her mama’s side, all that could be seen was her sparkly golden hair. Her mama continued.

 

“And each time we experience hardship in this life, we have an opportunity to trust Jesus as we step out into the unknown. Is it scary, sure it is. But, Jesus Christ told us not only would we have scary things in life, but that we would have victory through such hard thing in Him. (“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV). Sometimes, we don’t really know what we believe about this or until difficult times come into our lives and our testimony is watered by our tears.

“But, even then, look to God—He has not changed. The Bible says that even when I didn’t know you were crying yourself to sleep every night leading up to this move, God did. (“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Psalm 56:8 NLT). I remember going through some really difficult times when I was a little girl and feeling like my whole world was turned upside down. But, you know Who never changed? God. (“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me.” Jeremiah 29:11-13 NLT)

 

Lucy-Lu, remember, God never promised that we would never have difficulty in this life. Rather, God promised to never waste our difficulty. The Bible assures us that God uses all things to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His will (Romans 8:28). Thus, God can take our sad times—and remember, it’s OK TO FEEL SAD—and turn them into something beautiful for the advancement of the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ around the world. So, in that, it’s like our sorrow is turned into seeds for the Good News of Jesus Christ.”

 

Lucy-Lu just listened with fixed eyes. Her tired soul and hurting heart needed each word. Christy saw this in her little girl’s eyes and reached for her Bible. “Here now, let me show you a passage in the Bible that really helped me as we were leaving the Middle East a few years ago.” Lucy-Lu watched her mama flip the thin pages of her green covered Bible. She loved the sound of the pages turning. “Ah, there is it. Listen to this, baby girl, it’s from the book of Psalms, chapter 92 verses 12-15.

 

“The righteous man will [a]flourish like the palm tree,
He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
13 Planted in the house of the Lord,
They will flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They will still [b]yield fruit in old age;
They shall be [c]full of sap and very green,
15 To [d]declare that the Lord is upright;
He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.”—(Psalm 92:12-15)

 

You see, sweet girl, when daddy had to travel to Lebanon for a year without us, it was very scary to me. We were all moving out of Qatar, but in different directions. I was very scared and cried many, many tears. I didn’t think I could do it. I was convinced of it! But,” (she smiled and spoke gently as she continued) “you know what? God knew I could WITH HIM. God sees our fears and tears and turns them into something beautiful. In that time, I learned that trust in difficult and scary times and worship God through it. Did you know that?”

 

“In fact,” her mama said with a smile. “Let’s worship Him right now as we wait for the answers to come from Him. May we worship Jesus Christ as we wait for His perfect and sovereign timing.” And with that, Christy began to sing “It Is Well” with her daughter and rocked her within her arms as they worshipped the God who was leading them to a new place. And as they praised the God of the Bible, they felt a renewed sense of peace and acceptance as they submitted anew to the Lord Jesus’ leading for their family with this next PCS.

 

Jesus Christ said to His disciples, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27 (NLT)

VLOG: Christian Apologetics in light of Islam (part 3 of 5)

The Holy Spirit has laid it upon my heart to share of conversations over the past near decade with dear friends from the Islamic faith regarding Christian doctrine. In this five part series, we will explore why Jesus had to die, if there is really only one God, which apostles should we follow, what the Christian church believes regarding other creeds and how does one decide what is right and what is ultimately wrong. May the Lord Jesus Christ be glorified and draw hearts to Himself for He alone is worthy.

 

Mass Shootings In America

“Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. “So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”

Matthew 10: 26-31 (NASB)

 

In the wake of yet another mass shooting that has claimed the lives of various ages, America finds itself soul searching. The nation is left to wonder, what would drive someone to kill; again. And some have questioned as to the goodness and very essence of God, as a result of allowing such evil within a place of worship. Yet, as Christians, may our minds not be filled with confusion, but rather reassurance from the Word of God.

 

“Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. “O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”

1 Corinthians 15:50-58 (NASB)

 

Ladies, may we take an honest assessment of the world in which we live; the devil is very much on the move. He is influencing the hearts and minds of willing individuals to steal, kill and destroy property, values and even the very lives of others. Yet, this sinister plan to devastate humanity is nothing new for the devil. In fact, the devil has prodded willing individuals and groups to carry out his dastardly deeds against the plans of God. We see this first hand in the account of Adam and Eve within the book of Genesis chapter 3. God had specifically called one tree off limits for Adam and Eve, yet the devil was able to plant seeds of doubt and discontentment which gave way to rebellion and ultimate death (Genesis 3:1-24).

 

Jesus Christ put it this way, “”The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

John 10:10 (NASB)

 

Amidst yet another time of great grieving, and sincere loss, as a follower of Jesus Christ, may we not lose our eternal perspective of the sheer sovereignty of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ (John 16:33)! May we pray to the God over all to provide the essential comfort and healing for each and every individual affected by the loss of life (Psalm 34:18, Psalm 147:3 & Isaiah 57:15).

 

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Psalm 34:18 (NASB)

 

May we claim the truths of the Holy Bible that nothing can pluck us out of the hand of Almighty God once we have entrusted our lives to Jesus Christ (John 3:16, John 17:6, John 17:12, John 18:8-9, Galatians 3:28-29, 1 John 1:9-10, 1 John 4:9-10) . The families who are grieving are indeed needing comfort from the Holy Spirit, but praise God Almighty that as believers in Jesus Christ, they do grieve without hope.

 

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NASB)

 

Contrary to the popular preaching of “prosperity gospel”—which twists passages from the Holy Bible to imply that a true follower of Jesus Christ should never endure hardship, health problems or suffering of any kind—simply stated, this is not taught anywhere in the Bible. In fact, within the Holy Bible, in the book of Hebrews 11:1-40 (also known as the “Hall of Faith”) heroes of the faith are listed long with the great difficulties they endured before achieving greatness for the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Yet, the final verses of chapter 11 also speak of the mistreatment for the same God.

 

35Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; 36and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. 37They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated 38(men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.”

Hebrews 11:35-38 (NASB)

 

 

Ladies, may we see the full picture of those who follow Jesus Christ. We are given eternal security and peace with God Almighty through Jesus Christ; yes, this is ironclad truth. Thank you, Jesus! BUT this does not mean that we may not suffer extreme hardship within our lives that may include persecution, torture or even death. Why? Because this is a fallen world since humanity rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden. But praise God for our Risen Savior Jesus Christ who came to seek and save all who call upon His eternal name (Luke 19:10, John 3:17 & 1 Timothy 1:15).

 

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you. Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him and be firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world. Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little.”

1 Peter 5:6-10 (HCSB)

 

Suffering is not a topic that anyone enjoys, but within a fallen world with many forms of evil, as followers of Jesus Christ, may we RUN TO A WORLD THAT IS DYING with the secure hope of eternity through the perfect life, innocent death and victorious resurrection of Jesus Christ the reigning and eternal King. 

 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;”

1 Peter 1:3-7 (NASB)

 

Ladies, if you find yourself reading this today and wondering, “then what the heck is the point?!” The point is that various trials on this earth are used like refining fire is used to purify and burn out impurities of both gold and silver (Psalm 66:10, Proverbs 17:3 & Daniel 12:10).

When we experience hard times or witness mass injustice, our souls cry out for justice. When we see heinous acts committed against innocent lives, we want to see someone pay for the violation. And on a much broader scale, this is exactly what Jesus Christ did when He came to earth for each and every breathing soul (Isaiah 53:5-6). Jesus was born of a virgin (Matthew 1:18, Luke 1:35), lived a perfect life as God in the flesh (2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 4:15), and died a criminal’s death as an innocent man (1 John 3:5). Who did He die for? He died for me…and you…and the rest of humanity from every language, tribe and people group. Why? Because the Holy Bible states that each of us have fallen short of the perfect standard that is expected by a truly righteous and just God (Romans 3:23). And as a result of our rebellion to meeting the standard of God, justice needed to be paid. And that is exactly what Jesus fulfilled in His coming! Praise the Lord! He paid the price that not one of us could (1 Peter 1:18-19). And in return, gave us a reward that not one of us could earn (Luke, 23:42-43, Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:23-27, 1 John 4:9-10).

If you have never accepted the Lord Jesus into your own heart, I encourage you to do so this very day. This world is only a blink of the eye in relation to eternity. Secure where you stand with Almighty God, now, I beg you. Receive the cleansing from all wrong doing and shameful acts that mar each of our hearts before receiving the washing of Jesus Christ of our souls.

 

“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

1 John 1:8-9 (NASB)

 

You can pray with me now. If you mean these words before God, you can be assured that Jesus Christ has come into your heart.

 

Dear Jesus, I have made mistakes and missed the mark of perfection. I ask for You to forgive me and to come into my heart as the leader and Lord of my life forever. I believe that You are the Son of God. Thank you for taking my screw ups upon Yourself and taking the penalty for me. Thank You for then giving me eternal life for believing in You. Help me to honor You with how I live. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

 

If you have just prayed that prayer, please reach out to a local pastor or even this blog post so we can encourage you and celebrate with you! Praise the Lord for new life through Jesus Christ!

 

“He has not dealt with us as our sins deserve or repaid us according to our offenses. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His faithful love toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:10-12 (HCSB)

 

 

 

 

As The Wind Blows

A while back, in the midst of cleaning the house and preparing meals, our toddler son brought in a beautiful bouquet of little yellow flowers from our backyard. He proudly walked up and held them out to me with a broad smile and his chest puffed out. He had picked these just for me and he was overflowing with anticipation for me to take his gift. I had been so busy and tired that day… as had pretty much been the case for every day previous that year as my husband was traveling much for business. But, something about the way he approached me caused me to pause. I knelt down and smiled warmly as my heart was reminded of a dream the Lord had given me years prior.

 

In this dream, I saw streetlights at night along a beautiful park. These stately lights then turned into burnt matchsticks that were bent over and smoldering. And from there, I could see dandelion seeds taking flight from the smoldering matchstick as the wind blew. At the time of the dream, I was preparing for the missions field and a foreign culture. Yet all the while, I had a strong sense that this dream would apply to a later time, but had no idea what it could mean. Then, after marrying my husband and moving to the Middle East with our precious ten-month-old son and our precious toddler daughter in toe, something struck a cord within my soul.

 

I was burnt out, feeling overwhelmed and utterly out of ideas of what to do with our littles in the day. I needed a break—so I thought. I needed to just get away and recharge—so I kept telling myself. Yet, as I would meet with a wise, older Christian woman about once a month, I was blessed to glean from her insights on life. And among them, she kept pointing out how much the Lord uses us mothers to forward the kingdom of God here on earth. And it is not simply on our “refreshed days”, but often times through our heartache and times of great need for intervention of His divine nature, that we are able to see and experience His presence all the more profoundly.

 

After another wonderful time with this precious older woman of the faith while still in the Middle East, I headed back to our home to my husband and our now sleeping children. I could not shake the feeling that I was missing out on something. That somehow I was focusing on the wrong things during our time abroad. And then, the dream of the dandelion seeds in the wind came back to mind as I thought of our children.

 

Because of Your adversaries, You have established a stronghold from the mouths of children and nursing infants to silence the enemy and the avenger.” Psalm 8:2 (HCSB)

 

It hit me like a ton of bricks. I was that burnt out instrument and complaining rather than seeking the Lord’s guidance and continual renewal. I was that smoldering match. But, what encouraged my heart—and what was affirmed through prayer in that moment—was the reality that raising Christ loving and Christ following children is vital in combatting the enemies of God. Stay with me here….It is in such seasons of prolonged fatigue and sleepless nights that God was able to show Himself all the more glorious in my own story. It was when I was willing to cry out with my need for Him and claim the truths of His Living Word, contained within the Holy Bible, that I would find a renewed sense of focus, meaning and willful hope. Perhaps you too can relate. It is when I have been willing to say, “this one is so far beyond me, Lord…I just cannot go another step. Please take the lead. I just want to honor You”

It is there, in that very moment that the Lord intervenes in truly miraculous ways that astound the mind and baffle the senses.

 

“He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.” Psalm 40:2 (NLT)

 

All these memories came rushing back to me as I hugged my son and thanked him for his flowers before he ran back outside to play with our daughter who was already on the rope swing. And as I walked into my husband and I’s master bathroom to place my new bouquet next to the very same type of flower bouquet my daughter had given me just the day previous, my eyes saw something that affirmed it all. Where the delicate little flowers had rested the day previous, now white little puffballs were bloomed in their place.

 

It was such a profound and meaningful encouragement to my heart from the Lord. Although I was indeed exhausted and trying to take care of two extremely active children, the fact remained—these children are my seeds.

 

As mothers, and women in general, we have the awesome privilege to not only physically, but also spiritually invest into the lives of our children. And whether it’s a “good day” or “bad day”, they watch us to see how we choose to respond to the circumstances the Lord allows into our day.

 

He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights.” Psalm 18:33 (NLT)

 

Ladies, I encourage you this every moment, to ask the Lord above to breathe afresh upon you. He can take any situation and breathe life, hope and direction into it (Ezekiel 37). Acknowledge your need for His guidance, favor and continual mercy amidst the chaos (Psalm 71:20). Ask the Lord to breathe anew upon your soul to refresh you in this time of need—right where you are—so that you may glorify Him even in your fatigue and responsibility (Psalm 138:7). Ladies, please take this to heart, the care and guardianship of the next generation is of highest importance to the Lord (Genesis 1:28, Psalm 113:9, Psalm 127:3, Mark 10:14).

 

Thus, may we not only be in prayer for this next generation daily, but may we pray for the Lord to equip us to minister, mold and model lives that are sold out to the cause of Jesus Christ. May we be willing to follow the Lord in obedience and speak of His eternal glories to the little ones of this upcoming generation.

 

In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall.” Psalm 18:29 (NLT)

Through the power of His holy name, we have been given not only the victory over hell, but over all forms of confusion, fatigue, inferiority, comparing and all other forms of evil that the devil would love to use to discourage us as mamas, and women in general. Take back what is yours, as a daughter of the Most High; take back the victory that was handed to you personally as Jesus Christ victoriously defeated evil and it’s many forms as He bore our sins upon the cross and gave us His healing (Isaiah 53:3).

 

“For Your faithful love is higher than the heavens, and Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. God, be exalted above the heavens, and let Your glory be over the whole earth.” Psalm 108:4-5 (HCSB)

 

Walk in it. Own it. Ask the Lord to blow upon the current situations in your own life and take His message of hope, restoration, peace and healing to all people groups who are in critical need of encouragement (Ezekiel 19:10).

 

May the LORD cause you to flourish, both you and your children.” Psalm 115:14 (NIV)

Easter: Victory for the Soul (Part III)

The detachment of soldiers with its commander, along with the Jewish officials, arrested Jesus and bound Him (John 18:12). All of the remaining eleven faithful disciples then scattered and left Jesus to be taken by Judas and those who desired to bring Him to death; just as Jesus had prophesied (John 16:32).

Peter followed at a distance with John, as Jesus was then taken to Annas, the father-in-law of the High Priest that year, who was Caiaphas. Time had become a blur for the disciples as each soul-wrenching step of Jesus’ sorry excuse for a trial unfolded. He was beaten, slapped in the face, mocked and spit on (Isaiah 53:5, Matthew 20:28, Matthew 26:28 & Mark 10:45). Jesus was humiliated as He was dressed up with a military robe, made to wear a horrible crown made from twisted thorns and had a reed placed within his hand—as soldiers mocked him while laughing and bowing to their idea of a false king. They struck Him in the head repeatedly (Matthew 27:29-30 Mark 15:17 & John 19:2-3).

Within this depraved display of the rebellion of the human heart against the One whom in fact created all things, Jesus had been sent to Caiaphas, then before the entire assembly of the Jewish leadership, known as the Sanhedrin, where they met at daybreak and brought Jesus before them. The mighty Sanhedrin questioned Jesus as to whether or not He was in fact the Son of God (Luke 22:66-71). The Sanhedrin, as powerful as it was, did not have authority under Roman rule to crucify. Thus, Jesus was sent to Pilate to officially protest for the crucifixion of Jesus the Christ. Yet, Pilate found no such cause for death of this “King of the Jews” (Luke 23:4). Pilate, after learning that Jesus was a Galilean, sent Him to be seen by Herod Antipas, seeing as he held jurisdiction there and resided in Jerusalem (Luke 23:6-7). As a result of the cruel treatment Jesus suffered under Herod, Pilate and Herod (whom had been hostile towards one another up until that point) became friends that day (Luke 23:11-12). The badly beaten Jesus was then sent back to Pilate where three times Pilate appealed to the people that he found no grounds by which to kill Jesus—even stating that Herod found no cause to kill Him, hence Jesus had been sent back to Pilate (Matthew 27:21-26, Mark 15:7-15 & Luke 23:13-17).

The Jewish leadership and outcry of the people for Jesus’ death had won out over facts. A terrorist of the day and known murdered, Barabas, had been released to the people—as they chanted and shouted for the death of Jesus and affirmed their desire to have Barabas back within their society in order to ensure the death of Jesus (Luke 23:18-25). Jesus had been led out of the city of Jerusalem to the Place of Skull to be crucified with a criminal on either side of Him (Luke 23:32-33). On the way there, the brutally beaten, whipped and bleeding humanity of Jesus was unable to carry His own death instrument. Thus, a man by the name of Simon, a Cyrenian, was made to carry the cross on which Jesus would momentarily be nailed and killed upon—until the final destination was reached (Luke 23:26).

Once at the Place of the Skull, large nails were then driven Jesus’ hands and feet. This was the most brutal and barbaric killing instrument of that day. And it was reserved for only the worst of criminals. Yet, here was Jesus the Christ, proven to be innocent by even Pilate and Herod, and he was experiencing a criminal’s death. It could not have even been carried out upon a Roman citizen. Thus Jesus, as an innocent substitute for each and every one of the human race, bore the brutal punishment of death upon a cross (Romans 8:28). To speed up the process, at the urging of the Jews, the Roman soldiers were instructed by Pilate to break the legs of those upon the cross to cause the arms to stretch higher above the head, ushering the arrival of death quicker—seeing as the following day was the Sabbath (John 19:31-32). Yet, this was not done to the Lord Jesus Christ as He was not a victim of His circumstances, but rather He had willfully determined to go through the brutal death of humanity in order to ransom His creations (Isaiah 53:9-11, Romans 5:18, Philippians 2:8 & 1 Peter 2:24).

 

“This is why the Father loves Me, because I am laying down My life so I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down on My own. I have the right to lay it down, and I have the right to take it up again. I have received this command from My Father.” John 10:17-18 (HCSB)

 

While enduring the cross and continued atmosphere of satanic celebration, the soldiers divided Jesus’ clothing by casting lots (Psalm 22:18 & Matthew 5:44). Jesus had publicly cried out to His Father in heaven to “forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). He had also assured the penitent thief on the cross next to Him that “today you will be with Me in paradise” (Luke 23:42-43). When all had been accomplished to fulfill the prophesies of the Old Testament of the Lord Jesus, He cried out in a loud voice “It is finished!” and gave up His spirit (John 19:30).

The crowd gathered below was a mixture of demonic taunting and agonizing screams of horror and pain. When it came time to break the legs of Jesus, He had in fact already died (John 19:33). This fulfilled the prophesy of the Psalms and the prophets (Exodus 12:46, Numbers 9:12 & Psalm 34:20). The rocks split and the veil within the Holy of Holies of the Temple split from top to bottom as a result of Jesus giving up His spirit (Matthew 27:51). The punishment for the depravity of all humanity had in fact been paid in full (Matthew 27:45-53, Mark 15:33-38, John 3:16, Galatians 3:13-14 & Titus 2:14).

“God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”  1 John 4:9-10 (HCSB)

It was still dark out on the morning of the third day since Jesus’ death. Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James and Salome were heading to the tomb owned by Joseph of Arimathea, where the body of Jesus had been laid three days prior (John 19:38). It was now the third day since His brutal death on the cross. The women, with heads covered and ash covered faces, walked towards the borrowed tomb. It was daybreak and they were coming to place the customary spices upon the body of Jesus (Mark 16:1). They began to ask one another whom would open the tomb for them to complete their task; seeing as a large stone had been rolled across the entrance and Roman soldiers had been stationed in front of it to ensure it stay closed (Mark 16:3). Yet, as the women approached the mountain from which the tomb had been carved, there was a violent earthquake! The large stone—which had been secured by the Roman soldiers to avoid potential body snatchers (Matthew 27:64-66)—was no longer in front of the opening of the tomb at all! No, in this hour of daybreak, still from a distance, it appeared to the women as if the massive stone door had been rolled away (Matthew 28:2, Mark 16:4, Luke 24:2 & John 20:1)! The women hurried to the tomb, not sure as to what had taken place. But as they entered the tomb, not one of them could locate the body of their crucified Lord Jesus Christ. Rather, two men in glowing clothes appear next to them and the women fall to the ground in utter fear.

Why are you looking for the living among the dead? ” asked the men6He is not herebut He has been resurrected!  Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee7saying‘The Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful menbe crucifiedand rise on the third day’? ” 8And they remembered His words.” Luke 24:5-8 (HCSB)

Mary of Magdala, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and the other women ran back to alert Simon Peter and John of this terrifying and exciting news.

“So she ran to Simon Peter and to the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put Him!” John 20:2 (HCSB)

Simon Peter and John simply could not believe what was being shared and they set out for the tomb themselves. John outran Peter and looked inside, seeing the burial clothes and no body. Peter finally arrived and also saw the burial clothes and noted that the cloth used to cover the face of Jesus had been folded up and placed separately (John 20:3-7). At seeing this for themselves, both Simon Peter and John returned home (John 20:10). Mary of Magdala remained facing the tomb of her missing Lord. As she wept, she stooped down to see into the tomb and she was amazed at what her eyes beheld! In the place of the missing body of her Lord Jesus, there sat two angels; one where His head was and another angel where His feet were! The angels asked her why she was crying. Mary of Magdala explained that her Lord Jesus’ body was missing and that she didn’t know where to find Him (John 20:11-13).

14Having said thisshe turned around and saw Jesus standing there, though she did not know it was Jesus.

15“Woman,” Jesus said to her“why are you cryingWho is it you are looking for? ”

Supposing He was the gardenershe replied, “Sirif you’ve removed Himtell me where you’ve put Himand I will take Him away.”

16Jesus said“Mary.”

Turning aroundshe said to Him in Hebrew“Rabbouni!”  — which means “Teacher.”

17“Don’t cling to Me,” Jesus told her“for I have not yet ascended to the Father.  But go to My brothers and tell them that I am ascending to My Father and your Father — to My God and your God.”

18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord! ” And she told them what He had said to her.”

John 20:14-18 (HCSB)

Jesus Christ’s resurrection over death and the grave is essential to the heart and soul of every individual to ever tread this vast planet. It is the most passionate expression of unconditional love, unyielding loyalty and determined redemption in all of human history. The Creator of all things, was willing to ransom humanity out of the place of depravity and eternal condemnation by taking upon Himself the shame, guilt and suffering due for each foolish, manipulative and sinful thing each and every person on this spinning rock have ever done. And in return—what’s in it for us? A new identity—complete reset. Forgiveness and pardon from every twisted and even unspeakable things we have said, thought or did. It’s all covered by the brutal price He was willing to pay—to show you, and each person alive—that your life has eternal meaning, your days have infinite value, a you are deeply loved by the God who made you.

As Jesus ascends into heaven, the baton had been passed in a sense. Jesus had charged His disciples to now GO into all the world and tell everyone about Him and the NEW LIFE that is available to ALL PEOPLE from EVERY NATION by calling upon the Lord Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior for cleansing and redemption (Joel 2:28-32, Mark 16:16, Luke 24:45-47, Acts 2:21, Acts 16:31, Romans 10:13). And the beautiful thing—this message of radical redemption is still available for one and all for all time. If you have never made a decision to follow the Risen Savior, Jesus Christ, I encourage you to do so this very day and get cleaned, forgiven and eternally set right with Almighty God. You are worth it…Jesus Christ proved it (Revelation 5:12).

Happy Easter, one and all. He is risen! Jesus Christ is risen, indeed!