Posted in Uncategorized

Blessings and Curses

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who have been made in God’s likeness.
Out of the same mouth come praising and cursing.
My friends this should not be.
Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?
                                                            James 3:9-10

 

I am a thinker — sometimes to a fault I guess. This passage helps me realize that sometimes I “think out loud” regarding a person and his or her actions. Perhaps I am frustrated or just don’t understand how/why they can act a certain way. I don’t mean malice against them.

But how does this “talk” sound to someone who hears it?

Does it sound as though I am speaking against a person…cursing them in a sense?

How many times would it be better to keep my mouth shut?

Quick to listen James 1-19

I have discovered that at times keeping my mouth shut will help diffuse a situation even when others around us are being critical. I find that offering an alternate opinion often actually adds fuel to the fire of complaining and criticizing. Listening to someone complain and not responding, or diverting the conversation in another direction will often stop the negativity.

Scripture also tells us

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…
1 Thessalonians 5:11

If we concentrate on finding the good in others it doesn’t mean that we will never be frustrated with people or situations we encounter. It does however give us a different perspective and keep us from being outwardly critical. We will find that the atmosphere around us becomes less negative and more peaceful.

We will also find that as we are less outwardly critical we become more inwardly peaceful and positive as well. Our minds will begin to automatically think less negatively and more peacefully as we practice the presence of Christ within us.

We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
                                                         2 Corinthians 10:5b

We can’t do this in our own power. It involves daily…sometimes hourly calling on the Holy Spirit to give us power that is not within our own human nature. His presence in our lives is what allows us to live peacefully in a world full of negativity.

It is what this world is hungry for, even if they don’t know it!!

As people encounter this peace they may question where it comes from. This opens opportunities to talk about Jesus with them!

I invite you to give this a try today and through the coming week. Begin to think about how little comments mean more than we give them credit for. And remember what it feels like when you receive a compliment or kind word. Even small kindnesses can add up to big blessings!

Blessings & peace to you as you bless others!!
Paula

Posted in Easter, Uncategorized

He’s Alive!!

“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.

Photo07300602

They left before dawn 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!

Empty-Tomb-Picture-11

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.’      Luke 24:4-8

 

Then they remembered his words.

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!

I pray that this Easter you will find Jesus in your heart. 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 every day of the year.

blessings and peace to you. He is Risen!!
Paula

Posted in Easter, Uncategorized

Sabbath: Would I Have Believed?

“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-sealed-tomb

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 week and mourn or anticipate a resurrection to come?

God can do anything, if we only believe.

blessings and peace to you as you believe today,
Paula

Posted in Easter, Uncategorized

What’s So Good About Good Friday?

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.

Jesus 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 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.

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. Then He allowed nails to be driven into Him and He hung on that tree.

 

For you, and for me.

nail hand

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 shown that 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!

blessings and peace to you this Good Friday,
Paula

Posted in Easter, Uncategorized

Betrayed, Arrested, Disowned

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 you thought they would. Sometimes we aren’t sure if we’re even following God’s plan for us.

DSC04752

All of this is part of living in a sinful world 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 was confronted by 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 arrested in the Garden and 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 those 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 was taken into the temple to be judged Peter followed. I believe Peter wanted to protect Jesus and wanted to defend Him but I think he was scared. Whatever his 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 it. When Peter heard the rooster crow early that morning he realized what Jesus said had come true. Peter had denied he anything to do with Jesus three times. Imagine his despair as Jesus died before Peter had a chance to make it right.

Loud

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.

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

blessings and peace to you,
Paula

Posted in Uncategorized

Persevere ~ A Lesson from Gethsemane

As we draw closer to Easter weekend we remember the time Jesus spent preparing for the last meal He would eat with His disciples before His death. Throughout the day Jesus tried to explain to them what was to come – of His imminent betrayal and eventual death. His disciples didn’t get it. Jesus washed their feet, explained to them about serving others, and asked them to join Him as He prayed in the garden. He never gave up trying to teach them of God’s love for them.

When evening came Jesus gave us such a beautiful yet heart wrenching picture of perseverance. Jesus knew He was about to be betrayed and executed. He had lived a perfect life. In all His interactions with those who opposed Him Jesus never sinned. Yet He would be ridiculed and hung on a cross to die the most painful death for all people who believe that He is Lord and Savior.

His heart must have been so heavy, yet He persevered.

Jesus Gethsemane

Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane that evening to pray for God’s will. Matthew’s gospel tells us that Jesus prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” He didn’t receive an answer so He prayed again, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” Jesus prayed a third time in the same manner, persevering for an answer from His Father for what He was facing.

The outcome of Jesus’ perseverance was not His deliverance from the coming ridicule and death. It was not what He desired but for Him it was more important for God to be glorified than for Him to be comfortable. Because Jesus persevered and completed the purpose for which His Father sent him to earth we reap countless blessings. Every year as we remember Jesus’ sacrifice for us we are reminded that if He had not persevered through His times of tribulation we would not have the gift of eternity in Heaven with Him.

Each one of us has challenges to work through and overcome. While yours may not seem significant to the world it is significant to you, therefore it also matters to God. Whatever you are facing as you read this I pray for your perseverance. Don’t give up – on yourself, a solution, and especially your faith that God will bring good out of your circumstances. And as you persevere remember that through Jesus’ gift of salvation we can have the blessing of peace that passes all understanding.

blessings and peace to you as you persevere today,
Paula

Posted in Easter, Uncategorized

Palm Sunday – It All Started With Hosanna

The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,

“Hosanna!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the king of Israel!”
  John 12:12-13

Palm ProcessionIt all started with “Hosanna”.

Jesus and His disciples were on their way to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, a very important holiday for the Jewish people. It is at Passover that Jews celebrate their freedom from slavery in Egypt.

A brief history lesson:

God’s people had been slaves in Egypt for generations. What began as an invitation by Pharaoh for Joseph and his family to share the Egyptian land turned into fear. Joseph and all of his brothers had died and a new Pharaoh came to power. He saw how numerous the Israelite nation was and was worried that the Israelites would someday side with Egypt’s enemies in a war…and he would be out of a job, or worse yet, killed.

To prevent this from happening the Egyptians became slave masters over God’s people and forced them to hard labor with little or no pay. They lived this way for over 400 years until God provided a way out for them.

One night the Israelites were instructed to kill a lamb without any deformities and paint its’ blood over the doorposts of their home. The angel of death visited the land of Egypt that night and killed every firstborn son. Those with lamb’s blood on their doorpost would be spared.

That very night God’s people left Egypt under God’s protection and found freedom from the Egyptians. They were no longer slaves but were free to worship their Lord in their own land.

Every year this freedom is remembered and celebrated in the homes of Jewish families and for some it is a time of pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the geographical center of the Jewish faith. This was also true in Jesus’ time.

As Jesus entered Jerusalem on a colt that day He was celebrated. People waved palm branches and laid them and garments on the ground for His donkey to walk on. This was a custom when welcoming someone of high honor.

Palm Sunday

People had been following Jesus everywhere He went for years, but He had recently raised Lazarus from the dead and many more who saw or heard what He had done now followed Him into Jerusalem shouting praises to Him and declaring, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”

Only Jesus knew the truth of what this week held. He would perform more miracles and teach His disciples more about loving, serving, and sacrifice. But riding on that donkey Jesus knew many of the same people singing His praises would desert Him. They wouldn’t understand the sacrifice He was about to make that would give them a new freedom.

He knew before the week was over they would be calling out, “Crucify Him!”

And Jesus knew He would give His life for each one of them.

Jesus’ life had been perfect (just as the lamb at the Passover celebration) so He was the only one who could serve as a sacrifice for us. While He disagreed with the religious leaders and some of the laws of the land Jesus never sinned. He took with Him to the cross the sins of every man, woman and child who ever lived or ever will live.

It can be easy to praise God and welcome Jesus as leader of our lives when we see miracles and other good things happen in our lives. It’s also easy to turn away from Him when we don’t understand how He will bring good from a difficult situation.

As we enter Holy Week and reflect on the last days of Jesus before His ultimate sacrifice may we examine our hearts and ask ourselves if we believe without reservation. Will we stand and proclaim Jesus is Lord through it all?

blessings and peace to you on this Palm Sunday,
Paula

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

What Happened To Compassion?

Our world is filled with cynicism, busy-ness and ‘me first’ mentality. We are a people quick to judge and quick to become annoyed. How many times do we see someone fall down and we laugh and continue on our way? Or gossip about someone different from us behind their back?

make fun of

Our “news”casts are filled with sensational stories of people cheating on their spouses and doing outrageous stunts at the expense of others. Stories of kindness and compassion rarely show the sensationalism to make the cut.

As I write this I am convicted of conforming.

I am guilty too often of becoming part of this fast-paced world of “me first”.

How many times does a conversation include mention of a concern or hurt and I choose to skip over it and move forward as to not get drawn into more details? Am I in too big a hurry to get on to my own agenda instead of having compassion on a friend or a stranger?

Do I find amusement when something goes wrong for someone else?
Do I chuckle instead of lending a helping hand?
Not always, but perhaps too often.

Jesus calls us to have compassion for each other:

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,
clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Colossians 3:12

This is something He modeled for us throughout His ministry on earth:

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.
So he began teaching them many things. Mark 6:34

Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes.
Immediately they received their sight and followed him. Matthew 20:34

Jesus was a busy man. He had people to reach and disciples to teach. But over and over we see Him model for us compassion as he stops to spend time with someone hurting, sad or in need of compassion.

It didn’t cost Him anything but His time, and often the results were eternal!

As we go into this weekend may we follow Jesus’ example of compassion.

compassion hands

I pray that each of us will not be too busy to give our time and lend an ear to someone who needs a touch from someone who cares. Watch for opportunities as you go through your days.

You could be the peace in someone’s puzzle today!

blessings and peace to you!
Paula

Posted in Uncategorized

Missing The Mountain For The Mountaintop?

Ah, the mountaintop. The view is breathtaking, it seems we can see forever and we often feel so close to God. Whether it’s a physical mountaintop, relational or spiritual the mountaintop brings a high that leaves memories that linger.

mountaintop

Moses went to the top of Mount Sinai to meet with God and receive the Ten Commandments. (see Exodus 19)

Elijah went to Mt. Horeb where God spoke to him on the mountaintop. (see 1 Kings 19)

Even Jesus went to the mountaintop: He allowed satan to take Him to the mountaintop to be tested and Jesus was transfigured on a mountaintop where He went with His disciples. (Matthew 4)

So often we search for the mountaintops in our lives an yearn for those times of exceptional experiences to mark moments to remember.

But are we missing something in our quest for the mountaintop?

As I was spending time with the Lord the other day and wishing for a mountaintop experience to snap me out of the winter doldrums and inspire me in areas of my life God showed me something completely different. While I was looking for the top of the mountain and wishing for what was up ahead I was missing the precious times I can have with Him along the way.

trail

Searching the scriptures I found the example Jesus gave us when He met with God during His time on earth.

After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.    Matthew 14:23a

One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. Luke 6:12

Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives.  Luke 21:37

While Jesus had mountaintop experiences during His time on earth He didn’t need a mountaintop experience each day.

When Jesus needed to get away and meet with God He went to the mountainside – not all the way to the top. He separated Himself from the everyday routine and went to a place where He could be alone with His Father and recharge.

Where do you go to meet with God and recharge?  Do you have a place – and a time each day where you separate yourself from the world around you and focus on what God has for you that day?

If not, I encourage you to find that time. No matter how busy your schedule you can carve out a few minutes if you make it important. It may mean getting up 10-15 minutes early or turning off the tv for a while.

While you don’t need to dedicate hours each day to study and prayer, a few minutes is vital to your walk with God. It is in those minutes where He can refocus you, encourage you, even redirect you along the path.

And it is here where He brings peace to the puzzle of your life!

Where and when do you meet with God each day?

blessings & peace to you…
Paula

Posted in Uncategorized

Freedom

DSC04373

Today is the Fourth of July ~ Independence Day for Americans. It’s a day when we honor our country and celebrate the freedoms gained over 200 years ago. It’s also a time to spend with family and friends, celebrating with cookouts, picnics, festivals and fireworks.

As I reflect on the freedoms I have as an American my mind also wanders to the freedoms I have as a child of God.

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

We are born as slaves to sin. Our very nature is to question authority and want to do things our own way. But this sin separates us from God and keeps us from spending eternity with Him in Heaven. The immediate sense of satisfaction we have by exerting our   independence in doing things our own way keeps us from an even better reward after our time on earth is done.

Thankfully Jesus came from that incredible Heaven and lived a sinless life here on earth.  For anyone willing to submit to God’s will for our lives and trust in Jesus to lead us in His ways we receive freedom from our sinfulness and so much more.

We are free:

  • from guilt and shame 
  • from bad habits 
  • from believing the lies of the evil one!

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.  John 8:36

Wouldn’t it be something if we celebrated our freedom in Christ as jubilantly as we celebrate our country’s freedom?

Happy Independence Day from me to each of you!

blessings and peace…
Paula