For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. —Romans 15:4

Saturday, March 26, 2016

It's All About that Grace, 'bout that Grace, 'bout that Grace

Luke 24:1-6
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb,  but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.  While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.  In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here; he has risen! 

After the spring plows turned the dirt in the fields, my family and I would walk the rows searching for arrowheads. While everyone else in my family seemed to have a knack for finding tips and pieces of flint tools I wandered off, as most little girls would, to find shiny, pretty stones. I got especially excited when I found a rock with "glitter."

But my childish excitement for a sparkly rock diminishes in comparison to the awe Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome must have felt the day they found a stone, or should I say "the stone" rolled away from Jesus' tomb. After witnessing their friend's terrible death on Friday, they'd gone home and rested on the Sabbath before they'd prepared the spices needed to anoint Jesus' body. On Sunday morning, they gathered their supplies and walked to the tomb. The book of Mark reports that the women wondered who might roll away the huge stone that blocked the entrance to Jesus' burial place. But when they arrived, WOW! the huge rock had been rolled to the side of the tomb. And their beloved friend was gone. Not stolen, not placed in another cave, but gone, of his own volition.

And those angels, those wonderful good-news bringing, dressed in white angels, shared the fantastic news with those precious ladies that Jesus had conquered death. Blessed Jesus died a cruel death so that I might live forever. Then God raised him up and breathed life back into him. Can you feel the amazement and excitement? I can. Are you overwhelmed with the mercy and grace Jesus poured out? I am. Praise God for this beautiful joy-filled reason we celebrate Easter.

Rejoice in the Lord! He is risen!!!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Even Thomas Barrow Found Redemption

2 Timothy 1:9-10
He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

Thomas Barrow coerced people, manipulated the people he worked with, lied, and spied. For five seasons on Downton Abbey, he was treacherous, a sinner by any standard. As a result he was lonely, disheartened with life, and downright miserable. Sinning doesn't produce a beautiful life. Yet, even Thomas Barrett found redemption. By season six his life took a tragic turn and the very people he hurt and manipulated came to his rescue and forgave him. What? Forgave the guy who was so mean. Yes. They rallied around him and welcomed him into their family and loved him. And you know what, he smiled, he loved back, and he found peace.

I realize Thomas was a character with a scripted life, but how much does this reflect reality? I sin. The Bible says we all do. And yes other people's sin has hurt me just as my sins have hurt others. Yet, I am forgiven. Because Jesus gave his life for me. No matter how good I try to be, goodness won't save me from eternal hell. But Jesus will. He died for me, for everyone. He came to earth as human, experienced life here and suffered through death. But the beautiful that resulted is indescribable. God brought Jesus back to life. His resurrection is pure hope. The hope I recognized when I accepted Jesus as my Savior, my friend, my redeemer. As Easter approaches think on these things. Through Jesus I received forgiveness and continue to, because I follow Jesus, obey his teachings, and pray for mercy. I'm not saved by my power but by grace. Praise God for Jesus!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Who's Your Ringmaster?

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

Recently, I've heard people say, "That's not my circus and they aren't my monkeys."  Then whose are they? I'm pretty sure the circumstances that surround my life are mine. The question is what am doing with them?

I've been to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus a couple of times. The discipline and practice that goes into each act amazes me. The performers who swing from the trapeze bars in sync must have rehearsed for hours on end. They didn't miss a beat. Even the clowns moved in trained step.

Living a spiritual life sometimes feels like a circus act. Imagine walking the highwire, holding onto a balancing pole. You're holding steady until Satan adds the weight of worry to one end. The pole begins to dip and tugs you down. The Holy Spirit nudges and says trust your master. Whew...back in balance. A few steps later, boom...fear is hanging on the other end of the pole. No, I'm going to fall. Then I remember to pray and seek God's guidance. Back in step just a little farther to go. My footing slips. Anger tips the balance. I think on a scripture that fills my heart with peace. He's straightened my path. I'm almost to the platform. With joy, I step onto the safe surface and bow before Jesus, my Ringmaster. If I trust him, lean on him and submit to him, he'll be with me every step. Praise God for his son!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Nooks and Crannies

Ephesians 3:16-19
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
from wikipedia

Steam rose from the toasted English muffin. I popped it onto my plate then scooped butter from the plastic tub. As I spread the dairy goodness over the muffin, the butter melted and oozed into every nook and cranny and soaked deep into the bread.

The way the butter melted into every space and filled up all the dips reminded me of the way Jesus' love pours over me. His compassion saturates my heart, mind, soul, and very being. He replaces the emptiness in my soul with his power and strength. I wish I could say everyday life is easy because of Jesus' love, but that would be a lie. Pain and sin creep in. Despair and stress take over. But we have the promise to be filled to fullness, totally drenched with the love and joy of Jesus. Praise God for sharing his love through Jesus.