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He Picked You!!

Happy_valentines_day

Are you filled with anticipation today for the excitement that awaits you?

Perhaps suspecting surprises of flowers or candy or even a sparkly something on this special day?

NO?

Is today tough for you? Is it a day that reminds you of being alone…taking you back to your grade school and junior high days when you stood in a line waiting to be picked? You waited and waited as others were chosen, whispering to yourself each time, “pick me! pick me!”

Fast forward to adulthood as you look around and see others picked to fall in love while you’re still saying, “pick me”. It can be a hard way to spend the day.

I have good news for you…someone DID pick you!

pick me cupcakes

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17

Is this verse too generic for you? Let’s try it a different way. Read the verse out loud and say your name each time there is a blank:

For God so loved ____ that He gave his one and only Son, that because _____ believes in Him _____ shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn ______, but to save the world through Him. John 3:16-17

You were chosen to be you – uniquely you and loved by an amazing God. He has wonderful plans for you whether or not you have a sweetheart to spend Valentine’s Day with. I understand the pain of being without an earthly love/significant other who loves you, dotes on you and can’t wait to spend time with you. I still desire that.

But one thing I know for sure. The love of other human’s will fail. They will disappoint us. They will anger us. Some day they may leave us (at least for a time) through death.

Not so the love of God. The apostle Paul put it this way:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

God’s love isn’t always easy to comprehend on human terms. But if you reach out for Him, He will reach in and change your life in wonderful ways.

Even if you’ve known Him for years, come to know Him in a new, deeper way this Valentine’s Day.

Today, may the unending love of Jesus wrap you in a hug deeper than you’ve ever experienced before.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

blessings and peace,
Paula

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A Servant’s Heart

Jesus washing feet

There’s an old hymn, Living for Jesus by Thomas O Chisholm that begins like this:

Living for Jesus, a life that is true,
Striving to please Him in all that I do;
Yielding allegiance, glad-hearted and free,
This is the pathway of blessing for me.

When I think of living for Jesus I also think of living the way Jesus did when He lived on earth, having a heart like His. As I begin to examine all Jesus did and said as He walked the earth I find that truly His heart was that of a servant. Although He is God Himself He lived to serve others and show then the love that runs deeper than human understanding.

I began to wonder, what does it mean to have the heart of a servant? A servant sets his or her needs and desires aside until those of the master are met. The only goal is to serve the master. The second verse of Living for Jesus reminds us of how the price Jesus paid as a servant here on earth should compel us to follow His example.

Living for Jesus Who died in my place,
Bearing on Calv’ry my sin and disgrace;
Such love constrains me to answer His call,
Follow His leading and give Him my all.

We are called to be servants of God and set aside our goals and desires while we serve Him, and in turn serve others in His name.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition and vain conceit, but in humility consider others better (more significant) than yourselves. Each of you should look not to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.   Philippians 2:3-4

Serving looks differently for each of us. For some it is meeting a financial need or providing a meal or ride. It may be helping with household chores or repairs, or perhaps lending a listening ear, a warm hug, or simply the presence of a friend. We are all called to pray for each other, lifting up needs and celebrating joys. (Romans 12:15)

 The third verse of Living For Jesus speaks to this very thing:

Living for Jesus, wherever I am,
Doing each duty in His holy Name;
Willing to suffer affliction and loss,
Deeming each trial a part of my cross.

It goes against our human instincts to seek to serve our Master instead of serving ourselves, our wants and needs. Having the heart of a servant sometimes takes us out of our comfort zone. It compels us to listen to God and those around us instead of being quick to speak. We may also be called to reach out to someone different from us, but through our servanthood we give hope to others and hopefully point them to Jesus.

Living for Jesus through earth’s little while,
My dearest treasure, the light of His smile;
Seeking the lost ones He died to redeem,
Bringing the weary to find rest in Him.

 

As often happens in the kingdom of God, when we are obedient to serving our Master and pleasing Him we find an interesting twist.

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of heart.
Psalm 37:4

God is not a master who requires us to serve until we are weary and discouraged. He is so loving and generous to us that as we focus on serving Him and reaching others with His love we find our deepest desires are also fulfilled.

 

As we go through the week ahead may we focus on having the heart of a servant. Let’s look less at ourselves and more at those around us who could use a helping hand, listening ear or extra prayer. Let’s pray the prayer of commitment in the chorus of Living for Jesus, dedicating ourselves to Him.

O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to Thee,
For Thou, in Thy atonement, didst give Thyself for me;
I own no other Master, my heart shall be Thy throne;
My life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ, for Thee alone.

 

As we look back at the end of the week we’ll be amazed at the blessings that have come our way!

Blessings & peace to you this week!
Paula

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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Walking Into Servanthood

Jesus wash feet

Tuesday, March 31st

Walking Into Servanthood
John 13:1-17

“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted”  Luke 18:14b

Jesus was a King. He was God living on earth yet He walked everywhere He went. He had no fancy carriage and no palace in which to sleep. Jesus and His disciples slept under the stars and ate whatever they could find. Yet they never went without. Jesus came to earth to demonstrate God’s love for all people by meeting them where they were.

Jesus welcomed children, fed the hungry, healed the sick and lame and loved everyone, no matter their occupation or the sins they had committed. He expected them (and us) to follow His example.

Perhaps one of the greatest acts of servanthood Jesus showed was at their Passover supper the night He was betrayed.

In John 13 we read that as the meal was being served Jesus got up from the meal and removed His outer clothing. He picked up a towel, tied it around His waist and poured water into a basin. Jesus then began to wash the feet of His disciples, drying them with the towel tied around his waist.

There is great significance in this.

First – We just discussed that Jesus and His disciples walked everywhere they went. If they wore shoes at all they were likely only a form of sandals designed to protect the bottom of their feet from rocks and other debris. They were held on by cloth or leather strips, barely covering the tops of their feet as they walked along the dusty roads. Their feet were constantly filthy. Only an individual themself or a servant would wash his or her feet.

Second – A king was dressed in robes and splendor. Jesus never did wear the kingly robes he deserved, and He removed the only robe He was wearing and replaced it with a towel tied around His waist just as a servant would have worn.

Third – Jesus did the unthinkable. He bent down to His disciples, kneeling before them to wash their feet. This posture of kneeling before someone was again what a servant would do to a master. Not a posture fit for a King.

Some of Jesus’s disciples argued with Him. Imagine if you had spent the day walking through a muddy field or down a dusty dirt road wearing open sandals. You arrive home to find someone famous whom you really admire waiting for you with a bowl of water and a towel ready to wash your feet. Would you be excited, or embarrassed? Most of us would want to run around to the back entrance, hop in the shower and clean up before this person could see us. It was the same way with the disciples.

The lesson Jesus was trying to get across is that it doesn’t matter what position you hold or how much money is in your bank account. It’s irrelevant how many Facebook friends you have or if you rub shoulders with influential people. The only thing that matters to God is how far you are willing to go to show love to others.

Jesus knelt before them and washed their feet.

Jesus allowed His enemies to mock Him, beat Him and whip Him until He could barely stand.

Then Jesus gave His life for His friends. That includes you and me.

 

If the creator of the world did all of this for us, is it too much for Him to ask us to humble ourselves before others?

 

I’m going to ponder this today…and hopefully put it into action.

 

Prayer

Jesus, you gave us such a beautiful example of loving others. Everywhere You went kindness and mercy flowed from You. Never were you too busy for someone in need and never were You too important for even the least of society. The desire of my heart is to replicate this way of life but I fail more than I succeed. Lord, today show me how I can be more like You. May Your kindness and humility show through me and if others ask about my actions may I lovingly and humbly point them to you.

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Jesus Walks Into The Temple

overturned-table-122946_630x210-600x200

Monday, March 30th
Jesus Walks Into The Temple
Mark 11:12-19

“My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”

Jesus woke with the image of the temple from last night burned into His memory and as He walked toward Jerusalem knew the task that lay ahead of Him. The scene as He approached the temple confirmed what He knew in His heart. The outer court was filled with money changers and merchants trying to swindle worshipers out of their offerings. The noise of those hawking their wares permeated the air, attempting to coerce visitors out of their offering money with the purchase of sacrifices at exorbitant prices.

The crowd with Jesus was amazed as He paused from teaching and made His way through the temple courts overturning tables and benches. They could see the anger mixed with sadness fill His face as Jesus drove out the money changers and merchants who had overrun the temple courts.

Quoting the prophet Isaiah He spoke: “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house for prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” (Mark 11:17) The whole crowd was amazed by His teaching for no one had ever dared speak against the chief priests and teachers of the law who allowed this practice to take over the Lord’s temple. The teaching was not popular however with those leaders. They saw the reaction of the crowd and feared Jesus, looking for a way to kill Him.

I have often been quick to judge those money changers and merchants wondering how they could turn the Lord’s temple into a marketplace, distracting those who came to worship and pray. I have thought, “I would never do that!” But I have been wrong.

Romans 12 1-2 says:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.

God’s desire for His temple in Jerusalem was to be a place of prayer. It was to be dedicated to Him and a refuge where He could be found by anyone seeking Him. It was to be a holy place of worship where all who brought sacrifices and sought forgiveness from sin were welcomed and cleansed.

The same is true of us. God created us to worship Him but too often we allow ourselves to conform to the sinful patterns of the world around us. I don’t know about you but too often I get to the end of a day and realize that I didn’t sacrifice my sinful desires enough. I allowed the cravings of my stomach to override my mind as I put too much unhealthy food into my mouth instead of putting it down. Or perhaps I listened to the voice that told me the comforts of my bed were more desirable than physical exercise and time with the Lord. Perhaps it was joining in with the crowd of complainers and mockers instead of speaking what was kind and encouraging and right.

If God came into our heart or mind on any given day would He need to overturn tables there? I’m not talking about mistakes or one-time sins but are there habits settled in that need to be driven out?

If you or I suddenly realized that Jesus was walking beside us would we be startled or pleased? I know it’s something I need to consider more.

 

Prayer

Lord, it’s so easy to judge the money changers and merchants for their actions in the temple courts and not look inside my own heart to see what actions are there that should not be. Please walk with me through the day today and make me aware of habits I have developed by conforming to the world instead of your desires for my life. Help me to offer my body throughout the day to you as a living sacrifice. My heart’s desire is to be holy and pleasing to You. May that desire not only be reinforced in me today but be evident to those around me as well.