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Posts Tagged ‘Christ’

Long my imprisoned spirit lay, Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;   

Thine eye diffused a quickening ray— I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;              

My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

We are shaped by the past–not defined by it.  Beholden to our memories–yet not held captive.  Molded by our experiences–but free to become more.

Consider Moses.  Born a slave, he was raised as a prince.  Then, in a moment of rage, he earned the unsavory title of a murderer.  Fleeing from his past, Moses hid in the desert and–in the most desolate of places–discovered God. That was the moment that changed everything in Moses’ life.  Instead of being embittered by life’s twists and turns or stymied by unforgiveness, guilt, or shame Moses was transformed.

He was no longer Moses the Prince nor Moses the Murderer.  Instead, he became Moses the Delivered.  As a man whose purpose had changed from one of self-preservation to one of God’s glorification, he began living afresh–sustained by his Lord, certain of his mission, and impassioned by the freedom found in Yahweh.

We, too, can share in that purpose and freedom–regardless of our past.  Despite hurtful memories or difficult situations.  We can become More than we are today–because of His redeeming power and matchless grace.  There is freedom in Christ, dear friend.

Scripture for Reflection

The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,[a]
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed.”

Luke 4:18  (www.biblegateway.com)

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calendar

The to-do list sat passively on my desk as if mocking my attempts to cross each item off.

  • Call the doctor’s office.  (Schedule three children on different days to avoid missing work.)
  • Write Christmas thank-you’s. (Never mind that it’s almost Valentine’s Day.)
  • Finish that writing assignment.  (Remember, it’s due tomorrow.)

I did manage to arrange appointments between bites of chewy, warmed-over Sesame Chicken but my little notepad is clearly lacking a display of satisfying check marks–and I love check marks.  There is something so wonderfully tangible about slashes of pencil disecting the daily chore list.

I used to fall into the same self-affirming practice with my faith.  If I could just stick to the plan, complete the list, maintain the ritual–then I would have done something worthwhile.  Moved ahead.  Prove myself worthy of God’s love.

  • Get up before the sun and read X number of Old Testament chapters.  (Forget that I can’t concentrate before 6 a.m. unless I go to bed by 10:00 p.m.–a minor miracle in a home with four children.)
  • Forgo the laundry for prayer time.  (While there are times to kneel in prayer without the encumbrance of Fruit of the Loom in my hands, I’ve discovered the attitude of prayer is as important as the circumstance of prayer.)

Self-affirmation of faith doesn’t get me–or anyone–anywhere.  It only reveals our need for Someone to erase the unattainable list we’ve created for ourselves.  And Christ is that Someone.  There is no list.  The slate is wiped clean.  Dear friend, let’s find our satisfaction in Him today.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1-2

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When I was a young woman–still in highschool–a beloved lady in my life accused, “You’re getting to be a fanatic.”

I hadn’t joined a group of extremists.  I didn’t  lock myself to a chainlink fence and protest nuclear weapons.  I didn’t even promote a political community.  What had I done?  I chose Jesus.  Really?  No–He chose me.  Even me.

Jesus didn’t mind my messy life.  Like a tender father bending down to dust off his daughter’s knees when she’d fallen from her bike, Jesus picked me up.  I love you.  And I fell in love with Him, too.

At the time, my feelings were pricked.  Fanatic.

Now?  At least this dear woman saw something different in me.  Could it be  Christ had begun his transformation in my life?  Did I talk about my First Love too often?  I’m not certain.

I haven’t been called a fanatic for years, but I might not mind.  These days people call it radical Christianity.

So…how do I live radically for Jesus?   Do I sell all of my posessions to feed the poor?  Do I beat my chest at the sin hiddend behind the walls of the “dance club” or sign a petition to protect an innocent life?  Maybe.  Those could be good things…important things.

But, maybe living radically where I am means serving my family with a servant’s heart.  Maybe living radically where I am means loving that critical person I had trusted before.  Maybe living radically where I am means trusting God with my children.  Maybe living radically where I am means still loving Jesus.

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Its about Time Series III’ve never been one to make New Year’s resolutions.  I guess I’ve always thought of it as something that seems mildly unimportant and easily dismissed–especially when a flourless chocolate torte in a pool of raspberry sauce looks tantalizingly delicious and I’m wearing a pair of forgiving, elastic-waisted slacks.

But this year, I’ve felt challenged to focus on a resolution, word, or phrase to represent an intended direction for 2013.  It’s a word I dread to put out there for everyone to read.  Why?  Because if I type the characters for you to read then I’ll be accountable for living my life accordingly.  And honestly, today I don’t want to claim this word as my own.  In fact, I would prefer Christ didn’t expect it of me.  Why?  Because I am hanging on to resentment…anger….and even a sense of self-righteousness regarding someone who hurt me long ago.  This is when living like Christ takes me to the core of who I am. I can see beneath the thin veneer of Christian-ese and I don’t like what I see.

But the word keeps pulsing in my head…forgive…forgive…forgive.  There it is–the word that continues to thrust itself to the edge of my conscience.  Maybe God has continued to place a thought, word, or verse of scripture on your heart this week or even throughout the day.  Is He calling you to lay your burden at his feet?  Is there something you clutch tightly to your chest because you’re afraid of what might happen if you give it to Him?  Perhaps He is whispering to you just as He did to me, “Put your resentment down, Child.  It’s an anchor holding you back from experiencing what I have planned for you.”  Or, perhaps there is another area He wants to claim for 2013.

Friend, let’s invite Him to do a work in us this year.  Will you join me?  Why not start today?

 

Verse for Reflection

2 Corinthians 5:16-18

16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.

Invitation

Is there a defined area you believe God wants you to focus on this year?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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"He will never leave you nor forsake you."Covergirl and Este Lauder promise we’ll see the difference.  The Biggest Loser and American Idol assure that once we’ve “made it”, our lives will have meaning…purpose…value.  Cultural icons and pop psychologists promote self-fulfillment as the answer to our problems.

But the life-changing, perspective altering difference doesn’t come in a bottle.  He came as a baby.

The life-changing, perspective altering, purpose-giver didn’t come to earth seeking fame. He wasn’t wrapped in a flawless body.  Instead, he was wrapped in swaddling clothes.

The life-changing, perspective altering, soul-fulfilling choice didn’t hang on the cross to bear only the stripes on His back, but to bear the nails in His hands that would set us free.

 

…I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.  John 10:10

 

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMany years ago a Far Side cartoon featured a small dog and it’s owner.  The words in the bubble read, “Blah, blah, blah, Minnie.”  Like Minnie’s owner, I’m certain my words–though spoken–are often unheard.  I imagine it something like this.

Tammy:  Child 1, please put your toys away when you’re done playing with them.

Offspring’s Interpretation:  Child 1, blah, blah, blah…play with your toys.

And…

Tammy:  Child 4, call if you’re running late.

Offspring’s Interpretation:  Blah, blah, blah…run late.

Or…

Tammy:  Child 3, when you calm down then we can talk.

Offspring’s Interpretation:  You can talk.

You, too, might struggle with a similar problem.  Maybe your colleagues don’t consider your opinion, your children disregard your guidance, or your husband ignores your input.

Christ understands, friend.  His words fell on the ears of the religious leaders of the day, but they ignored the forgiving call of his voice.  The masses dismissed him as worse than a criminal and overlooked his promises of freedom.  Even Christ’s own family dismissed him as deluded.

But there are some who listen…some who respond.  They are the ones He came to save.

Scripture for Reflection:  My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  (John 10:27)

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I burst into laughter when I saw this note online.  I knew it was one my own children might have written. 

Lie #1–“Who put this hole in the wall?”  Not me.  “Right…” 

Lie #2–“Why did you miss 7th period?”  I ate something bad for lunch and fell asleep at my friend’s house.  “Mmm-hmmm.”

Lie #3–“You didn’t call when you were late because…?”  My phone died and ——-‘s parent’s don’t have one at their house.  “But their number is in my addrsess book.”

As children we all lied–especially to avoid punishment or facing the ridicule of others.  But are adults prone to lying?  According to one  statistic, adults lie in 1 of 4 conversations that last longer than 10 minutes.  (The Truth About Liars) 

Unbelievable?  Not really.  After all, Adam and Eve lied to God.  It’s been part of the human condition ever since.  Here’s the great news, friends.  God covered Adam and Eve’s sin with clothing, but our sin was buried with Christ and we received a pure and lasting identity when He was resurrected.  Whatever our struggles may be–anger, lying, jealousy–nothing can stand in the way of Christ’s forgiveness.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation…”  2 Corinthians 5:16-18

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody,  I think that is a much greater hunger,

a much greater poverty than the person  who has nothing to eat.

Mother  Teresa

“Did you believe the lie?”  I asked.  Surveying the room, I knew many of the women did–and probably still do.  But on that day I wanted to press into the truth–Christ came to remove the burden of those who are laden down.  He came to release those shackled by the chains of expectation, perfectionism, and human attainment.  He came to love the abused, the fatherless, and the unloved.  Christ came to provide freedom.  Have you claimed that freedom yet?

If you haven’t taken hold of it, today is the day.

Believe in His love for you.  You are His beautiful and precious child–“fearfully and wonderfully made”.  (Psalm 139:14)

Believe in His ability to release you from the memories or sins of the past for “His mercies are new every morning”.  (Lamentations 3:22-23)

Believe in His redemptive power and promise of a beautiful forever–“No eye has seen,  no ear has heard, no mind has conceived  what God has prepared for those who love him”.

Believe the truth, dear Friend.  Claim freedom today!

 

Recommmended Reading

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A social outcast, Mary Magdalene was the bad girl of Galilee.  Women warned their sons about that woman and respectable men turned away in embarrassment at her knowing smile.  Mary was hopeless.  Rejected.  Irredeemable.

A beloved son rejected his father and his God for the false pleasures of the world.  Having ruined the family name, the young man returned home an impoverished and downtrodden fool…the stench of wild living still clinging to him.

Known for his religious zeal, Saul served as coat valet during a murderous rampage of  Christian converts.  Children cowered in his presence.  Families mourned.  A self-proclaimed executioner, Saul was guilty.

What do these people have in common with each other?  With a beloved friend or relative?  What do they have in common with us?

His name is Jesus Christ–the Savior sent to restore the rejected and rescue the irredeemable; the Shepherd commissioned to guide wayward children home to the Father; and the Lamb offering His life for those who are guilty.

Be encouraged!  Christ came to save the prostitutes, prodigals, and perpetrators.  He came to save the sinners.  He came to save you and me.  No sin is too great nor soul too tarnished to be outside the grasp of a loving God.

Verse for Reflection

We, of course, have plenty of wisdom to pass on to you once you get your feet on firm spiritual ground, but it’s not popular wisdom, the fashionable wisdom of high-priced experts that will be out-of-date in a year or so. God’s wisdom is something mysterious that goes deep into the interior of his purposes. You don’t find it lying around on the surface. It’s not the latest message, but more like the oldest—what God determined as the way to bring out his best in us, long before we ever arrived on the scene. The experts of our day haven’t a clue about what this eternal plan is. If they had, they wouldn’t have killed the Master of the God-designed life on a cross.    (1 Corinthians 2:8-10)

Action Step

Who did God put on your heart as you read this devotion?  Are you struggling with the idea that God offers love and forgiveness to you?  Or have you been praying for a friend who hasn’t yet met the One who sets us free from our sins?  Tell the Lord about it and then give Him that concern, thought, or prayer for today.

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“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says.”  (John 7:38 MSG)

The demands, doubts, and disturbances continued to punctuate my day and I’m exhausted.  Weary.  Worn down like a rock immersed in a stream for too long.  Have you been there, dear friend?  Are you the go-to-girl at home, work, or with your friends?  Do you desperately need refreshment?

Then drink deeply from the Living Water.  Unlike either of us, Christ is an unlimited resource.  He’s available when you’ve been up until 3 a.m. with a feverish child or consoled a friend grieving a dream unrealized.  He’ll parch your thirsty soul when others have taken everything from your reserves.

Filled to overflowing by His inexhaustible promises, you’ll be prepared to pour your life into others once again.

This Week’s Challenge  Take a walk to the Water’s edge.  Spend 15 minutes each morning with Him praying and reading Scripture.  Never read the Bible?  A great place to start is the Gospel of John.

Suggested Books/Authors

Life Lessons:  Gospel of John by Max Lucado

And He Dwelt Among Us by A.W. Tozer

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