Tag Archive | praise

It’s Saturday. Now what?

SCAN0104“It was Friday, and the Sabbath was about to begin. The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and watched how Jesus’ body was placed in the tomb. Then they went to prepare some sweet-smelling spices for his burial. But on the Sabbath they rested, as the Law of Moses commands. Very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, carrying the spices that they had prepared. When they found the stone rolled away from the entrance, they went in. But they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus, and they did not know what to think. Suddenly two men in shining white clothes stood beside them. The women were afraid and bowed to the ground. But the men said, ‘Why are you looking in the place of the dead for someone who is alive? Jesus isn’t here! He has been raised from death.'” Luke 23:54-24:6a (CEV)

What happened on Saturday?

None of the Gospels address the activities of the disciples on Saturday except to say it was the Sabbath and they rested. Jesus Christ, the King of kings, Messiah, the Christ, Son of God is dead. And we have no idea what they did except that they rested.

How? Why? Because God commanded it? Really?

He was supposed to redeem His people, conquer the enemy and set up a new kingdom. Peace is supposed to reign and justice prevail. Everything they had put their hope in was gone. And not just gone, but dead and gone. In the ground … dead, buried and gone. Behind a rock and sealed gone. What happened?

The unexpected happened.

We’ve all been there at some point at some time. Everything is moving forward, life is good, and your best laid plans are coming to fruition.

And then?

The unexpected.

Everything just … stops.

We do get a glimpse of what those who didn’t follow Jesus were doing.

“The next day, on the Sabbath, the leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate. They told him, ‘Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: ‘After three days I will rise from the dead.’ So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing his body and then telling everyone he was raised from the dead! If that happens, we’ll be worse off than we were at first.’ Pilate replied, ‘Take guards and secure it the best you can.’ So they sealed the tomb and posted guards to protect it.”  Matthew 27:62-66 (NLT)

Those who wanted Jesus dead also wanted to make sure He stayed dead. The disciples rested and the religious leaders continued to plot.

We must each decide what to do when Saturday comes because you can’t get to Sunday without Saturday. You can’t have victory without a battle. You can’t overcome without being under; without being down-and-out. Your response on Saturday will depend on what you believe, who you follow and in what or who you put your hope.

Something to Consider…

It’s Friday: This is the day of preparation. Everything had been going well up to this point. How could things go so wrong? Are you doing what you need to today so you  can be ready for tomorrow? Are you prepared for the One who was, is and is to come? Friday’s happen. Turning points come. And as hard as it is to believe, Friday’s end and it may not be how you expect. Will you be ready? Jesus is available now to help you prepare for tomorrow.

It’s Saturday: The unexpected has come. You wake up and it’s still true. You can’t believe it. What now? What’s next? In this time of uncertainty, confusion, and pain – rest. Worship and praise your Father in heaven. He knows what has been and what will be. Trust Him now.

It’s Sunday: The sun has risen and so has our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. A new day has come and Jesus has redeemed. He makes all things new bringing life and hope to our seemingly dead dreams. His light makes a shadow out of all that was before. Expect Sunday to come! Jesus is risen!

Advertisements

Practice and Experience Change

Butterfly“Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” Philippians 4:9 (The Message)

I’ve been co-leading a morning women’s group with a friend and have been thinking about some of our first lessons and topics of discussion. I’ve found it can be so easy to read, talk about and consider various verses that are meant to help us understand what God really wants for us. We are to put into practice all we have learned, seen, heard and come to understand. But I wonder, do we really or rarely apply them to our lives?

Our very first discussion was on Philippians 4:8 and what we think about. We recently talked about self-control, one of the traits of the fruit of the Spirit. Self-control is the turning to God in all situations and decisions. It is the giving up of our excuses, justifications and blame games and allowing Him to lead us knowing He is in control of everything.

So when we who have the Holy Spirit living inside us say we can’t stop thinking about something that is troublesome or worrisome, ugly, evil or hateful, we choose to rely on ourselves rather than God and the power of the Holy Spirit to help us make the change.

My oldest daughter has a friend who had said some very mean and ugly things to her. She accused her and condemned her based on information from a third-party.

My daughter is relationship oriented. She loves friendships! Always has. As a toddler, nothing made her more excited than seeing a friend outside playing and knowing she was able to go out and join the fun. A friend constituted anyone her same size! Sleepovers, play dates and outings were her source of enjoyment. As a teenager, she didn’t have as many friends, but she was very loyal and mindful of all her friends.

So when this particular friend decided to act out on what she heard rather than talking to her and expressing her concern, I was quite upset and put out. I wanted to lash out at this girl…and her mother. I replayed over and over in my mind the messages my daughter had received and all the things I could say or do in response. I was consumed for a time with very angry and bitter thoughts. It carried over into conversations affecting the tone I used with others. As I realized how this was hindering my joy and relationships, I knew my thoughts needed to change.

Philippians 4:8 came to mind and I realized that nothing going through my mind was lovely, excellent or praiseworthy. It may or may not be true, but I didn’t even know the whole story at that point and was making judgments based on partial information just as this friend had done to my daughter. That wasn’t just or noble.

I began to thank God for the relationship I have with my daughter and that she chose to talk with me about the problem. I prayed the truth would be revealed and her reputation restored. I praised God who can heal any wound and reconcile any relationship. My thoughts changed and so did my heart.

While there were still problems and issues to work through, eventually this friendship was restored. There was understanding, repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation.

This is the ultimate goal in everything we believe about our loving Father in heaven. We come to know and understand the truth of who He is, what He did, why He did it and just how much He loves us. We acknowledge our part in the problem with a desire to turn from our old ways. We accept His forgiveness and move forward with God confident in our restored and reconciled relationship with Him through our faith in Jesus Christ.

“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.” Romans 12:2

We can choose to set our minds on the things of this world or on the Creator of this world. We can concentrate on the problem or trust in the One who knows the solution. We can sit in our bitterness and resentment or we can allow God to replace it with His love and kindness. We can call out every issue we have with every person or we can be grateful that God, who is always right and just in His actions, did not hold our mistakes, or even our intentional disobedience against us.

Something to consider…

Do you have a heaviness of heart? Do you replay your troubles over and over in your mind? What thoughts do you need to replace with His truth and righteousness? He can lighten your load and change your thoughts.

Do you have deep wounds from broken relationships? Does it feel like there is just no way anything good can come of it? Jesus can change your thinking, change your perspective and give you hope that changes your heart.

More than Girl Friends

SAC Camping 2010(Jesus said) “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35 (NIV)

“Any part of my life that I am not willing to let God have, take control of, correct, or change is a part of my life that will keep me at a distance from Him.”

This was my first thought as I sat down to reflect on the past five years.

Five years ago today, my husband had a meeting with someone who was, and thankfully still is, a very important and influential person in our lives. Unfortunately, at the time there was a division. I didn’t know how it would turn out, what all would take place in the process, but I remember at the time telling someone it would be okay. That was all I could say.

God has been so faithful since that day, just as He was every day before and will be every day going forward.

18 months after this event and after much turmoil, I received an email from a friend. She was someone I was just getting to know really. We knew of each other, but didn’t really know each other. She reached out to invite me into a group of women who were seeking God together.

It was in God’s perfect timing that this invite came. I was alone, abandoned in some ways, struggling for freedom in others.

What I found was a group of women so focused on God that over time, they would allow God into every part of their lives and encourage others to do the same. It sounds simple in some ways, but in so many ways it was no small task.

They are gentle, peaceful, loving women who simply want what God wants and not just for themselves but for every woman, every person. Their real and raw thoughts, feelings, emotions and struggles made it possible to see God’s hand in their lives which in turn, helped me see Him in my own joys and sorrows, struggles and needs.

About three years ago we did an action challenge.  We were to be intentional about being the hands and feet of Jesus whether it was through kind deeds, words or prayer. We traced our hands, some traced feet, and on them wrote out all of the things we did over the two weeks. I looked at my “hand” last night for the first time since the challenge.

I am humbly amazed at the prayers answered, the solid friendships that have grown and the huge family of sisters I belong to. I don’t know where I’d be without Jesus and I am grateful that He chose to love me through these women.

Prior to this group, I often wondered if I was too serious about my faith. Does everything have to be about God? I discovered with the help of these women the simple answer is “yes”.

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:17 (NKJV)

The truth of Jesus is real and it matters. Everything we do, think, or say has the opportunity to draw us closer to Him, show His love to another and bring Him glory.

These women have drawn close to God, showed His love to many and have brought Him glory in all things. They are not perfect, they have made mistakes, but their hearts are set on Him and He has worked all of this together for good according to His plan.

I am not perfect, but I am also not who I once was in part because of the time spent with this group. I thank them from the bottom of my heart for their obedience and willingness to be vulnerable. I thank them for being more than friends, but family…Sisters in Christ

Something to Consider…

Are you wondering about God just wanting to know what is true about Him? Who is He? Does He really love you? And if so, what does that mean for you going forward? Seek Him by seeking out others who also really want to know Him. His love for you will be evident as you seek Him together.

God’s love for us is made complete through the obedience of people. You cannot be alone and fully understand or grasp the love of Jesus. Commit yourself to a local church and you will find more than a building of Christians, you will find a family and a home.

God’s Glory

“Ascribe to the Lord, O might ones, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.” Psalm 29:1-2 (NIV)

This past weekend, I was working on a Bible study for an upcoming women’s retreat. One of the questions is, “We are to experience God’s glory, Christ’s love and the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives. Which do want to experience in a greater way? Explain.”

I often spend time reflecting on what I write, asking God if it’s accurate, true, what He wants said, but I also ask myself the questions and reflect on my answers just like I ask others to do when participating in a study. So this morning, as I opened the blinds to see the sun rise, I considered God’s glory and what that really means. What does it mean to experience God’s glory?

I sat down to read, not sure of what I’d choose, I just opened my Bible to begin the search. I looked down to see where I was and there was Psalm 29.

“The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord thunders over the mighty waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is majestic.” Psalm 29:3-4 (NIV)

It goes on to describe the powerful force God is in nature and His glory that is revealed to us every day.

I am not one to worship at the throne of celebrity. I’ve never been into backstage passes, autograph signings or pictures with the stars. What they do is cool at some level and I enjoy it in some way but they are just people like me whose life just happens to be on display for all to see.

So I wonder: do I put God in this category as well? Do I just feel so comfortable with Him that I don’t give Him the glory and honor due? Do I ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name? Do I worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness? Sometimes, yes, but not nearly with the gratefulness or fullness that I should.

Bill Cosby use to tell a joke about his children and him telling one of them, “I brought you into this world, I can take you out.”

This is the God who can destroy everything at the mere sound of His voice. I think of this world and the bad things that happen and wonder why He doesn’t just wipe us out. We hurt each other regularly, some worse than others. If we don’t kill physically, we kill each other with our words emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

This God whose voice can shake the desserts and twist the oaks; instead of destroying, He gives strength to His people and blesses them with peace. We have done nothing to deserve such compassion and grace.

God in His glory decided to bring us into this world. He chose us as His own. He could take us out if He wanted, but He doesn’t. Instead, He brought His son into this world to take our place, to take upon Himself the weight of our transgressions and sins and iniquities, our infirmities and sorrows. All so we could be reconciled to God and live with Him forever. All so we could experience His strength and peace. What a mighty and great, loving and compassionate God we have.

“The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever. The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.” Psalm 29:10-11 (NIV)

Something to Consider…

Spend some time taking in all God has created, all of the beautiful and intricate detail He has put into everything He has made. Everything in nature fulfills its purpose for Him.

Consider the care He took in creating you, precious and unique in His eye. Do you use what He gave to fulfill His purpose for you? Do you bring Him honor and glory in what you do and how you speak to others? Can your voice, like His, destroy? Or do you speak with His strength and peace?

What’s Your Battle?

What can we say about all this? If God is on our side, can anyone be against us? God did not keep back his own Son, but he gave him for us. If God did this, won’t he freely give us everything else? Romans 8:31-32 (CEV)

I’m doing a Bible study and one of the questions asks, “What’s your current battle?”

There have been so many times in my life when that question has been asked and I could rattle off at least a few issues, if not a list of twenty! Do you know what I mean? There’s so much going on, so many things that seem to be in conflict or at odds with each other.  I can be overwhelmed at the magnitude of the issue or the number of issues that I just want to curl up and not deal with any of them.

I need time to get into God’s Word but I have to get to work and I have a long ride. I need to exercise but I can’t find a time that doesn’t conflict with a meal or sleep. Speaking of sleep, I’m exhausted! How can I go to bed at a decent time when I’ve been out all evening at kid’s activities and still have a few things to wrap up at home?

And those are just the day-to-day activities. Add in conflicts, misunderstandings and judgmental criticisms to the mix and the day-to-day just got messier. What about those habits you’ve been wanting to change and for whatever reason you are not resolved to carry it out. You feel you have no will power and just want to forget about it; be content where and how you are.

But you’re not content. No matter how hard you try, you can’t let it go. You concentrate on your failure not your desire, your outcome not your source. The big picture of it all overwhelms your need in the moment.

Does it sound like I know what I’m talking about? Think I’ve been there a time or two?

Oh, the battles I’ve faced. I would cry in remembering if it wasn’t for the good and gracious love of my Savior. Then again, there are times that I just have to cry in acknowledging that He did carry me through. Don’t get me wrong, I still have a lot of work to do. I have choices to make and must act; but when I give it to Him and ask Him to help me in my situations, in my human condition, He works in me to help me see His truth in my battle.

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:4 (NIV)

As we follow His lead, He straightens out our mess, brings clarity to our confusion and gives us peace in our uncertainty.

Something to Consider…

If you know and trust Jesus, you already have the One with you who has overcome the world. If you don’t know Jesus, you can ask Him into your heart right now. You can ask Him to be the leader of your life. He always says, “Yes!”

What battle do you face today? Be honest with God and let Him know everything that concerns you.

What answer are you hoping for? Ask Him into your battle and let Him show you His answer.

What’s on Your Mind?

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

The first time I gave a brief testimony, I said, “I don’t talk a lot; but when I talk, I talk a lot.” I wish I could say this about what I think. Unfortunately, I tend to think a lot about a lot of things. My husband tells me I think too much. And in many ways, he’s correct. I can sit on something and give it room and power in my mind when it has no business being there. I worry over things I can’t change, re-live situations that are over and done with and ponder things that could be, might be and I hope aren’t.

There are also times when I feel like there is no time to think. I am overwhelmed, stressed out and in constant motion. I have no time to make sense of what needs to be done. My mind is going non-stop wearing me out and wearing me down.

We often seem to think that we can’t help what we think about. We’re just sitting there minding our own business when suddenly we remember a situation, a comment, something that was done to us and we consider it. We let it take up space, take up time and take up energy that could be better spent on something good.

We want to set the record straight. We want to see a right outcome. We want what is good but our thoughts about how to get there are full of bitterness, frustration, anger and our ultimate goal is to prove we are right.

So what thoughts constitute what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy?

“But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Psalm 1:2

Psalm 1:2 says the blessed man keeps his mind on God and His Word. His Word guides and directs our steps and actions. (Psalm 119:35,105)

“I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.” Psalm 119:15

God’s way of handling any situation is worthy of praise. He works all things together for the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28) That is excellent!

When we choose to do what God says even if we don’t know how it will bring about a right outcome, we get ourselves back into alignment with His truth. As we choose to love God and others as He loves us, our mind goes to what is noble, right and lovely.

Something to Consider…

What thoughts are on your mind? Often, what we see is what we think about. Ask God to show you how to see your circumstance and relationships though the lens of His Word.

 “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” 1 John 3:16

At some point, we need to stop thinking so much and start doing. Laying down our life doesn’t necessarily mean we physically die for another, but rather we set aside our agenda for the benefit of someone else. Our actions in love can change not only our own thoughts, but our hearts and the thoughts and hearts of others as well.

Sing a New Song

“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.” Psalm 40:3a

If He, Christ, has put a new song in my mouth, what was the old song?

We sing the song loud and proud! Words of complaining (Can anything be good?), blaming (It’s not really my fault!), venting (I can’t believe what I have to put up with!), gossip (Don’t tell anyone but…) and derogatory remarks (Oh, it’s just a joke.) come so easily. Sometimes they are meant for one set of ears, other times ringing out for anyone who will listen.

There was a time when the worst we had to worry about was our words being repeated by someone else. We could always say they didn’t really understand us: no evidence, simply hearsay.

Then there was the possibility that it would be recorded either by audio or video tape. Ever been in a position of watching a fun family video and suddenly you realize what’s coming next? Ouch!

With email came the accidental “Reply All” and the intentional “Blind Copy”.  “NOOOOOO!” can be heard echoing over the tops of the cubicles.

With the internet and social networks, the world suddenly got a lot smaller and our words go much further than we ever imagined. If I comment on a friend of a friends post, and he has different privacy settings than me, whose settings rule? Yikes!

And texting – who’s really on the other side of that phone?

“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.” Psalm 40:3a

But now we can have a new song; one we want shouted out at the top of our lungs for all people, all nations to hear! I don’t know about you, but I want the words I speak to lift others up, not tear them down. I need my words to be an encouragement to myself as well. Most of all, I want the words of my mouth, those that come from the depth of my heart, to be pleasing and bring glory to my God and Savior, Rock and Redeemer!

Because we live in the love of Christ, He has removed the old words of multiple complaints and has placed them with new words of joy and adoration that glorify and bring honor to Him – the one true living God who is holy and over all creation. If we, who have been without Him and now know Him, are changed by Him, we should be joyfully sharing Him with others. Why share?

“Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him.” Psalm 40:3b

Because of our words and actions, a great number of people will see the change God has made in our lives. Our words will tell of Christ’s great love for us and our complete joy in what He’s done. They will choose for themselves to seek out and understand our God, and when they do, they will find Him and put their confidence in Him.

And in that, our joy is made complete!

Something to Consider…

Are you wanting, needing something to change? Do you want to replace a dismal and dreary outlook with one of hope and joy? You cannot know Christ and not be changed.

At Northgate Church, there is a new song being sung; a song of love and life and joy! Prayer covers everything and encouragement abounds! If you do not know Jesus, I invite you to join us this and every Sunday! He’s always there!