Still Waiting…

Have you ever heard the phrase, “active waiting”? I would dare to suggest that it is a biblical principle.

Waiting is a part of our lives, but one that frankly most of us don’t enjoy. Our society is becoming increasingly instant and those of us living in it decreasingly patient. If our internet doesn’t load a page fast enough we throw a fit. When our cell phone doesn’t have coverage it is an inconvenience instead of an opportunity. Speaking of cell phones, how long do you stand in line at the grocery store before yours is out of your pocket and you are texting or checking social media? Yeah, me too.

Waiting is an expected companion to our daily routine. While we might not like it most of us have found ways to accommodate, or even embrace it.

summer 3

When it comes to waiting for answers, well that’s something different.

Do you remember waiting as a child for an answer from your parents about whether you could do something you longed to do? Or waiting for a birthday or Christmas to see if you would receive that special gift you’d been longing for? As a kid waiting can seem unbearable. I’m not sure it gets easier as adults.

Many have been waiting a long time for an answer to a special prayer. I know I have. Whether it’s direction for the future, longing for a child, the dream job, or healing from a hurt or illness those prayers are precious to us and we don’t understand why we have to wait. It can be easy to question God and at times put our lives on-hold while we wait.

I have found this can be a mistake. Whatever the reason we are being asked to wait, life goes on around us. God expects us to be a part of it and gives us some principles in scripture for what we should do in the meantime.

1. Look inward:
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14
NIV

I do not believe every unanswered prayer is left unanswered because of sin but I think we should always begin by examining our heart and life for places where sin may be keeping us from God’s will and His answer.

2. Reach outward:
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Luke 6:38
NIV

It can be so easy to become focused on our prayers and desires that we forget about those around us who also have prayers. God may want to use us as part of His answer to them. By looking outside of ourselves, giving of ourselves through God’s gifts to us we will not only receive a blessing of being part of someone’s answer, we may find God giving us part of our answer in the process.

3. Never give up hope:
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
R
omans 12:12

God will not abandon us. He may take us through a process before He can answer our most fervent prayer. There may be lessons we need to learn, a mission we need to complete or our relationship with Him may need to deepen before He is able to bless us with the answer we are seeking.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

If you are still waiting for the answer to that special prayer I encourage you to think about how you can wait actively, and remember to continue fixing your eyes on Jesus, seeking Him and a deeper relationship with Him. You’ll find the time will pass with unexpected blessings for you and those around you.

 

blessings and peace to you as you wait today…
Paula

 

 

Reflections

morningHave you ever been in awe of a reflection? The beauty of what is before you is remarkable in itself, then multiplied as reflected in the water below. It can be breathtaking and held in your mind for a long time.

What about your own reflection? Sometimes we are surprised as we look at our reflections in the mirror, finding something we didn’t expect that causes us to adjust our appearance. A quick glance is all it takes to realize things aren’t quite right.

As water reflects the face,
    so one’s life reflects the heart.
                          Proverbs 27:19 

The same can be said as we consider what our lives reflect. When people look at our actions and hear the words we speak are they seeing the reflection of the Lord’s love and mercy or instead the burdens of the day weighing us down or causing us to react in our human strength and wisdom?

As you go through your day and catch your reflection in a mirror or other surface take a moment to examine the reflection of your heart as well as your appearance. Sometimes a quick glance is all it takes to whisper a quick prayer, adjust your attitude and ensure you are reflecting the heart of God.

blessings and peace to you today!
Paula

When You Really Mess Up…

Have you ever really messed up? I mean a colossal fail that there seems to be no way to recover from?

Peter did.

Epic fail.

So much had happened in a few short hours.

He was eating the Passover feast with Jesus and the other disciples when Jesus started talking about  someone betraying Him. His exact words were, “But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table…woe to that man who betrays him.” Luke 22: 21-22 NIV

Immediately they started discussing amongst themselves who it could be and before long they were arguing about who was the greatest among them. It was a silly debate but they had all been together a long time and Jesus was talking about leaving them. There was tension in the room and they all just got into it. They didn’t mean anything by it but it made the tension thicker.

Jesus stepped in and tried to tone down the argument and then He turned to Peter. “Simon, Simon,” Jesus said, “Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32 NIV. Peter was confused. Why would his faith fail? He was one of the disciples closest to Jesus. He wouldn’t fail Him. Before Peter had a chance to ask any questions they were leaving.

They went out to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed. Peter had seen Jesus pray a lot of times but never with this intensity. Jesus seemed troubled. He had asked them to pray with Him but they all fell asleep. When Jesus woke them he told them, “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” Luke 22: 46b NIV.  Peter was confused again. How could they fall into temptation when Jesus was there with them?

There was no time for questions. A crowd approached, led by Judas. As Judas kissed Him Jesus was immediately seized and led away to the house of the high priest. Peter followed, at first keeping his distance but then made his way into the courtyard where there was a fire going. It was still very early in the morning and a chill was in the air.

All around him conversation centered on Jesus, who He was and what might happen to Him. Although Jesus was further away they could see Him standing there, bound, waiting for the priest. Fear began to overtake Peter and he hoped he wasn’t recognized. They might arrest him too for no reason. After all, Jesus hadn’t done anything wrong. Suddenly Peter heard a voice – “hey, you” said a young woman, “you were with that Jesus!” Peter denied it and tried to casually walk away when others recognized him too. “You were with Him – you’re a Galilean.” and “You are one of His followers”. He denied each comment – even saying he didn’t know Jesus.

Loud

As he objected that third time a rooster crowed and Peter came to his senses. What had he just said? He denied His best friend and Savior. He looked up just in time to see Jesus turn and look straight at Him. That look pierced Peter to the core and he turned and ran out of that courtyard. He didn’t know where he would go, for it was impossible to run from himself.

Now he understood. Jesus had told Peter he would be sifted – tested by Satan. But Jesus had also said He had prayed for Peter that his faith would not fail. And it had. How could something Jesus prayed for not come true? Peter was despondent.

He wasn’t able to speak with Jesus again for as the day progressed Jesus was tried, accused and crucified. The Sabbath wasn’t very restful for Peter. He couldn’t get past what he had done and it appeared he would not be able to ask forgiveness either. After a long, troubling day Peter finally fell into a fitful sleep. He kept seeing the guards and hearing that rooster crow.

Peter awoke to the shouts of the women – He’s gone! Jesus body is gone! An angel says He’s alive!

Peter was the first one out the door and headed towards the tomb. John beat him there but Peter saw for himself the cloths Jesus had been wrapped in laying haphazardly on the slab where the body laid. But the cloth used for Jesus’ head was folded neatly and placed in a separate place – like it was intentional. It didn’t make sense. Could Jesus be alive? Is that what He had been trying to tell them all this time? And if He was alive, what did it mean for Peter. Could things ever be the same?

They gathered in an upper room, all but Thomas, trying to sort out what they had seen and what the women had been told. The doors were locked – they were all still afraid – when suddenly Jesus was there with them. He greeted them with “Peace be with you”, showed them His hands and feet that still had the nail marks in them. Jesus was alive! Then as quickly as He appeared, Jesus was gone again. Peter was overjoyed, but still uncertain about how Jesus would feel towards him.

It took a week before Peter had the chance to find out. They had been fishing when Jesus appeared on the shore. They knew it was Him because they hadn’t caught anything all night and were ready to come ashore when He told them to put the net out again. When they did it was immediately filled with so many fish they could hardly pull it in! Peter jumped out of the boat and got to shore before the others. Oh to be with Jesus again! To talk with Him and ask forgiveness for what he had done. Peter couldn’t wait.

After they ate Peter finally had his chance. Jesus took him aside and they talked. Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Jesus more than all the others. This gave Peter three chances to take back what he had said. He was forgiven. Jesus charged Peter with caring for the people – Jesus’ lambs and in the years to come Peter didn’t let Him down. After all that had happened Jesus used Peter in mighty and powerful ways. People were healed, demons were driven out, and many came to believe in Jesus as their Savior all through the power of the Holy Spirit through Peter.

Peter was just an ordinary man, like you and me in many ways. He learned that while he let Jesus down he did not ultimately fail Him. He made a big mistake, but through repentance Peter was restored and used to further the kingdom of God.

If you feel you’ve let God down and failed in a way that can’t be repaired remember Peter’s story. The same can be true for you if you repent, turn back to the Lord, and promise to feed His lambs.

blessings and peace to you,
Paula

Walking Out Of The Grave

jesus_hands

Sunday, April 5th

Walking Out of the Grave
HE IS RISEN!!

Matthew 28:1-8

“He is not here; He has risen,
just as He said…” Matthew 28:6a

Sabbath was over and the women just had one thing on their minds. They must prepare Jesus’ body for a proper burial. They left quietly as the men had finally fallen asleep after hours of discussion, debate and devastating sadness over the loss of their leader and friend. The women were also mourning but right now they had to set their grief aside for this important task.

They walked to the grave carrying spices and discussing how they would gain access to the body. A huge stone had been rolled in front of the entrance and sealed with the Roman seal. Even if they could get past the stone, breaking that seal would mean certain death for the women.

As dawn broke and they reached the tomb they stopped in amazement. The tomb stood wide open, seal broken and stone rolled away. Frightened and concerned that someone had taken Jesus’ body the women rushed ahead and found an astonishing sight inside the tomb.

Jesus body was gone!

Before the women could process the thought they noticed there was someone there.

Two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them the men said to them, Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee:  ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’

Then they remembered his words.     Luke 24:4-8

 

And they believed!!

The women didn’t stop to ask questions or wonder where Jesus was. They ran back, woke the men and told them the good news!!

 

Jesus is Alive!!

Jesus is Alive!!

 

The men followed the women back to the tomb and saw for themselves that Jesus’ body was gone, but the cloths He had been wrapped in for burial remained.

 

Their sadness turned to wonder and hope that Jesus was truly alive!

 

A short time later Jesus appeared to His friends, confirming the truth that He had walked out of the grave and conquered death. I pray that this Easter you will allow Jesus to walk into your heart. Whether for the first time or as a renewal of your faith I pray you will know the hope of His gift for us on the cross and allow Him to bring you the joy of His resurrection not only today but every day of the year.

 

 

 

Prayer

My Savior and my God!! You walked out of the grave and beat death so that I can walk into Heaven with you someday. My hope and joy is renewed on this Easter day each year as I celebrate with others this incredible gift.

 

Lord, this year may the joy and hope not end with the celebration of this day. As Spring turns to Summer and days turn into weeks and months help me to keep the gift of your resurrection in the forefront of my mind. Help me to remember that each day is a gift give to me because of Your life on earth, death on the cross, and Your walk out of the tomb.

 

And may my joy and hope be contagious, bringing others closer to You.

 

Walking In The Sadness

jesus-sealed-tomb

Sabbath, April 4th

Walking In The Sadness ~ Would I Have Believed?
John 20: 24-29

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29


“It is finished.”

They were the final words Jesus spoke on the cross.

Then He died.

Jesus was gone.

All those years spent with His disciples teaching, healing, loving, and helping them to know God in a way they never had before were just a memory now.

Jesus was dead and the Sabbath came so quickly they couldn’t give Him a proper burial. Today was supposed to be a day of rest and worship but all the disciples could do was cling to each other and try to understand what had just taken place.

Together they wept and mourned for the One who was their teacher, their Leader…and their friend. For years Jesus had talked about Heaven and His Father, and even about being betrayed and dying but the disciples never quite understood. He even said He would defeat death and would give eternal life to all who believed in Him and His Father.

Still, it never quite made sense.

Now some of it was sinking in but the sadness was so strong that hope was elusive. What did Jesus say about defeating death? He did talk about dying and being raised to life. (Matthew 16:21) In fact, just the other day before they entered Jerusalem He took the disciples aside and said it again:

“The son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.” Mark 10:33-34

Still it was confusing. Did Jesus mean he would come back to earth or that he would rise again in Heaven with His Father? How could they know for sure?

It must have been almost too much to process.

And I have to ask myself, “Would I Have Believed?”

Would I have expected Jesus to come back from the dead?

It’s so easy to be critical of the disciples and their disbelief when we read about the events of Holy Week. After all through the years they had spent with Jesus He kept telling them these things! Why did they mourn instead of standing strong and telling others to wait & see, Jesus would not stay dead?

Honestly I’m not so sure my Sabbath would have been any different. The reality of what I had seen would probably have overridden any truth I had heard from Jesus. The emotions would have been strong and sadness oppressive.

The truth is that even today with all the knowledge I have about Jesus and the power available to me through the Holy Spirit still I often don’t believe. Sometimes I weep and mourn over what I believe has been lost without allowing God the opportunity to resurrect it in His time.

Would you have believed? When you face losses do you weep and mourn or anticipate a resurrection to come? God can do anything, if we only believe.

 

Prayer

Lord, I know how it all turns out. I know You conquered death and walked out of the grave. But I might not have believed on that Sabbath in the midst of my grief. And like the disciples it can sometimes be hard to believe You can bring good out of seemingly impossible situations in my life.

Continue to increase my faith and remind me of Your power to conquer situations that seem impossible to me. And Lord, as my faith increases please help me to help hold others up when their faith is weak.

The Long Walk To The Cross

trail
Friday, April 3rd

The Long Walk to the Cross
Matthew 27: 27-56

“Surely He was the Son of God!”
Matthew 27:54b

We call it Good Friday, but there was very little good that happened that day. Jesus started His week entering Jerusalem to shouts of praise and “Hosanna to the King!”. Now he stood bruised and beaten before a judge, awaiting His sentence of death.

None of this was a surprise to Jesus as it was the ultimate purpose in coming to earth. But knowing the purpose didn’t make it easy or less painful. Remember Jesus was fully & completely man. He was as human as you and me.

He felt every time the whip hit His skin and broke it open. The air stung his wounds but they didn’t stop. Over and over he was lashed. Jesus felt the thorns press into His scalp, burying themselves into His skin for the duration of the day. He felt each fist that struck His face but He never showed anger towards His enemies. He stood there and took it.

The mocking of the soldiers hurt too. While Jesus had the love of God and knew that the words weren’t true they still had an impact. Perhaps the worst pain of all was watching each of His disciples flee from those who arrested Him, fearing the same fate for themselves. And then Peter. The one who just the day before had declared his allegiance to Jesus had denied that he knew Him three times.

When I think of the physical pain Jesus went through I am so grateful He went through with it all. He didn’t have to, you know.

Then there was the long walk up the hill towards the place He would die. Think of the pictures and films you’ve seen of Jesus carrying, or perhaps dragging the cross to Golgotha. That cross, likely weighing over 100 pounds, pressed down on an already weakened Christ as He moved toward His last hours. At the top of the hill Jesus stopped walking and allowed nails to be driven into Him and be hung on that same cross He carried.

Jesus walked that road for you and for me.

At any time Jesus could have called an end to all of this. He was taunted and teased to save Himself and come down off the cross. What His mockers didn’t realize that Jesus could have. At any moment He could have proven He is God and didn’t have to hang there.

But He didn’t.

When Jesus Christ called out from the cross “It is finished!” He was speaking of death’s curse over the earth. The curse of death came when Adam and Eve chose to sin. From that moment on we were separated from God’s perfection by sin. Jesus came and lived without sin, then allowed Himself to be killed as the final sacrifice for each of us.

This is the GOOD that came from Good Friday!! Any man, woman or child who believes Jesus is the Christ and accepts Him as Leader of his or her life will also conquer death and will live forever in a perfect Heaven.

I am so grateful for the sacrifice Jesus made for you and for me.

I pray that if you don’t understand this sacrifice and the free gift of Salvation you will seek out someone who can answer your questions and help you receive it for yourself. It will be the greatest Easter you’ve ever experienced!

 

Prayer

Oh Jesus, how could You have made that long walk to Your death? You were weak from beatings, weary from mocking, and weighed down by both the cross You carried and the sins of every person who ever lived or will live.

I am humbled and so grateful You made the choice to endure this for me. Thank you hardly seems like enough.

Lord, please never let me forget the price You paid and the pain You endured to save me from eternal death. I can never fully comprehend and thank You seems like hardly enough.

But it’s all I have to offer. Thank You for the cross. Thank You for the price You paid. Thank You for loving me more than I can comprehend.

 

Betrayed, Arrested, Disowned

Thursday, April 2nd

Betrayed, Arrested, Disowned
Mark 14:43-50

“The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.”

In amongst the blessings of life we all have times when things don’t go our way. We face sickness, pain, loss of jobs, days when dreams don’t come true or someone didn’t come through the way we thought they would.

All of this is part of living in a sinful world filled with imperfect people. And we learn to cope with it. But have you ever been betrayed by someone you love? Have you ever had a time when someone you thought would stick by you pretended they didn’t know you? This goes beyond disappointment. It’s enough to plunge someone into despair.

When Jesus finished praying in the Garden of Gethsemane He walked directly into confrontation. He faced a group of His enemies…and one of His closest friends. The kiss Judas greeted Jesus with was not a kiss of affection. It was a kiss of betrayal intended to identify Jesus to those who wanted to take His life.

Jesus was bound as He walked out of the Garden of Gethsemane, led off to be judged. His friends followed at a distance or I imagine some of them slipped away as not to be taken captive themselves. Either way they didn’t stand at Jesus’ side to plead His case to the man who would judge Him.

We don’t know why Judas agreed to betray Jesus, but we do know that he did it for a few pieces of silver. And we know Judas was so ashamed of what he did, sure he could never be forgiven that he took his own life.

As Jesus walked into the temple to be judged Peter followed. I believe in His heart Peter wanted to protect Jesus and defend Him but I also think he was scared.

Whatever the reason, when asked if he knew Jesus Peter denied that he did. He was pressed by someone who saw him with Jesus and still he denied that he did. Three times Peter denied that he had anything to do with Jesus and he never had a chance to make it right before Jesus died.

Have you ever said something and then wished you could take it back? Perhaps you have treated a friend badly or had a fight with your family, then parted before being able to make it right. It is a terrible feeling.

The good news for Peter was that after Jesus rose from the dead He gave Peter an opportunity to redeem himself. Three times Jesus asked Peter if he loved Jesus. Three times Peter said that he did. And all three times Jesus told Peter to go and take care of others, helping them to know Jesus as Peter himself did. Peter didn’t let Jesus down again.

This same opportunity is available to you and me. No matter what we do, when we genuinely confess and repent to Jesus we will be forgiven. It may take time to repair the damage done to earthly relationships but there is hope for those as well.

 

The same gift of forgiveness and restoration offered and granted to Peter is there for us too. We only need to ask.

 

Prayer

Lord, it can be so easy to judge Peter for turning his back on You when the pressure was on and at the same time so easy to forget that I have most likely done it too. Perhaps it wasn’t a blatant declaration that I didn’t know you but rather keeping quiet in a conversation instead of defending You. Or maybe it was taking credit when I should have given it to You.

Father, please forgive me for these times. Point them out to me so that I can be more aware and stand stronger next time. Thank You for Your gift of forgiveness and the certainty that while I may deny you through my words or actions You will always claim me as Your own and welcome me back with open arms over and over again.