proverbs14_12textThen one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over. Matthew 26:14-16 NIV

Matthew 26 opens with a meeting between Jesus and his disciples. The Lord has just finished teaching some hard truth—truth about personal responsibility and awareness of God’s power and His holy expectations for his children. Across town, the chief priests and elders of the Jewish people are assembled. They’ve chosen a high and lofty location for their meeting and as they’ve come together, they’ve been scheming about how they might secretly arrest Jesus, and then kill him. “But not during the festival.” Oh, no, because the people might riot if it were done during the festival, and what a mess that would be!

These two meeting recorded in Scripture draw a sharp contrast between righteousness and hubris as we walk along the Lenten road. In his meeting, Jesus was preparing his men to accept that right thing he must do to please His father once the Passover had begun. Caiaphas and his henchmen, on the other hand, were scheming about a way to end the attraction the bloated city of Jerusalem had with the carpenter’s son. What strikes me about these meetings and people, is that both sides thought they were doing the right thing.

How could they both be doing the right thing?

Were they both doing the “right” thing?

“What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” -Judas, the Betrayer

I don’t know about you, but I’m grateful to have God’s Word to light my way as I journey on to Easter.

I’m glad to have access to those passages that point out the self-denial it takes to serve God in truth and righteousness.

I’m even glad for the hard verses that highlight my responsibility and the awareness of God’s expectations for me.

These portions of Scripture help me determine who was right and who was evil in their actions two days before Passover those many centuries passed.  To do right, Jesus denied himself and bowed to the High King of Heaven. Doing evil, Judas took a bribe and treated himself to a purse full of blood money.

Both Jesus and Judas died horrible deaths that week, but only one of them was raised again and saved millions for eternity, because of his selflessness. Jesus did the right thing for us and in so doing, he saved our souls.

Thank you, Lord Jesus!

 

Advertisements

Why1-600x600While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them,
“What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”

“The son of David,” they replied.

He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says,
“‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.”’  If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions. Matthew 22: 41-46 NIV

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV

It’s clear in the Word of God that we aren’t always aligned with God in our thinking.

Why did that happen?
What was the purpose?
Where did that idea originate?
Have I done enough?
Where did I zig, when I should have zagged?
What needs to be done to straighten out this mess?!

We are full of questions, but sometimes struggle for answers.

When Jesus sat with the Pharisees and gave them air about their feelings regarding the Messiah, the conversation ended in confusion for them. They didn’t know or couldn’t comprehend what Jesus was saying. We are not unlike them some days. We try to figure things out…try to come to consensus…try to know what we ought to do, but we don’t. We are confused. It’s in those moments when prayer is our greatest tool, and quiet time with God our greatest practice.

God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and his ways are not our ways. He is different. He is mighty. He is majesty. He is Lord. His ways and His purposes can totally escape our thinking, even on our best days, which is why we need to quiet our hearts and seek Him in prayer. He knows how things work in the world He created.

Today, let’s find time to seek Him out and ask, expectantly.

When have you been confused about the right thing to do?  When have you decided to do it God’s way, instead of  your way?  Explain.

8611

Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first. 19:27-30 NIV

Have you ever wanted to be perfect?

I have wanted to be perfect!

I have wanted to do everything right; think rightly, work rightly, eat rightly, interact with others rightly, and handle my finances, rightly. I have wanted to be a perfect wife, a perfect mother, a perfect employee, and a perfect writer. Regrettably, I have failed at each of these endeavors at one time or another. At one time or another I have had to admit to myself (and painfully, others), that I am not perfect, that I probably never will be perfect, and that I am depending wholly on the perfection of Christ to cover over those areas of life that I am unable to handle perfectly.

We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us? -Peter

Peter was a man who wanted to be perfect. He wanted to love his Lord, perfectly. He wanted to minister in Christ’s name, perfectly. He wanted to be a perfect leader, a perfect lover, a perfect friend to Jesus, and he never, ever, for his whole life wanted to betray him. Peter failed! What then will there be for him? For me? For us, when are all so imperfectly serving?

Grace
Forgiveness
Compassion
Love
Renewal

A chance to begin again, this time understanding that Jesus is the Perfect One.

Only Jesus!

Do you strive for perfection? When has that goal seemed out of reach?

Feeling Targeted

i-might-as-well-wear-one-of-these-on-the-back-of-my-shirtIt happens to the best of us!

Lately, I’ve been heading into new territory with my gifting.  I’ve gotten some nice reviews and compliments regarding the changes, but with them has come what seems like added attention from the adversary.

Today, a few things have gone awry and usually I would slough them off, but today I don’t seem to be able to for some reason.

Anger is the temptation du jour, today.

When you pray next, would you remember me? I don’t want to be aggravated, or unsettled, or distracted, or vengeful, or feel defeated, but I know someone who would like me to fall into that trap.  It happens to the best of us,right?  Today, because I feel like a bull’s-eye is on my back, I’d sure appreciate knowing you guys are defending me on the battleground.

Thanks! I so appreciate you!!

When have you felt like you had a bull’s-eye on your back?  What is the enemies go-to temptation when he’s wanting to harass and harangue you?

Mt. Pisgah Wesleyan Church (6)…and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah. Matthew 1:16b NIV

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. Matthew 1:24 NIV

Have you ever had a life decision to make and wondered, how am I going to figure this out? Was your first thought to sleep on it? If it was, you did good.

God speaks in our dreams!!

I’ve begun my Lenten readings in the book of Matthew this morning, where I’m seeing God speaking a lot to Mary, Joseph, and Jesus.  I’m noticing how often God reached out to them in their dreams. I’m seeing Him telling them about dangers ahead, ways to get around them, places they need to go and see, and oh, it has not escaped my attention that He has also let us know how their obedience fulfilled long-awaited prophecies concerning the Messiah. God led our Savior and others in pointed and direct ways in the past, and He did often it through angel messengers in dreamy night-time moments. How awesome is that?

I’m getting goose bumps realizing yet again the myriad ways our Lord has for reaching out to us, and all for our good.

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season, and with it came an invitation for me to reflect on Jesus’ life over the next 40 days and think about my willingness to go deeper with Him. Going deeper can be scary, but it can also be rewarding.

Here’s a thought: Between now and Easter, what if we challenged each other to do that scary thing and move in a new direction? Would you take that challenge?

I’ll take that challenge!

Each week day during the season of Lent I’ll be writing a devotional here that borrows from the pages of the Bible; one that relates to a reading about Jesus and his earthly ministry and sacrifice. At the end of each devotional there will be a reading schedule for that day.  I challenge you to pick up your Bible at home and use it to read the passages for that day and talk about what you find, with God first, then family and/or friends.

I’m excited to see what new insights and revelations the Lord will share with us during this Lenten season. My expectation is that He has a lot to say, if only we will listen. Maybe tonight…maybe between fits of snoring…maybe we’ll hear or see something dynamic! How great would that be?!!

Today’s reading in from Matthew 4-6.

 

 

 

 

 

Anger as Fuel for Revenge

…don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life. Ephesians 4:26b-27 MSG

anger

The A Word With You devotional by Ron Hutchcraft was so good this morning that I wanted to share it here today.

In the devotional, Ron points out the importance of keeping an eye on our frosting dispositions and remembering to love like Christ, in true and humble ways, always seeking the good of others. It reminded me of my Pastor’s messages from the Daniel series he just finished. The series encouraged us to not only survive in our upside down world, but to thrive.  So good!

Enjoy and be blessed today, as you are blessings to many!

https://hutchcraft.com/a-word-with-you/your-hindrances/the-high-price-of-a-little-ice-8387

 

 

neverstoppraisinggod.jpg

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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9 NIV

I may have mentioned her before, this coworker I had whose favorite retort when things went wrong was, “We’ll just praise the Lord, anyway!”

Dawn had an amazing capacity for loving her Lord. She was a gorgeous woman, young, vivacious, hair down to her toes in an era when long straight hair was a very appealing quality to possess. She was a hippy-like free spirit who loved on Jesus every day and filled the air around her with this positivity that was hard to deny.

Dawn was winsome in every way, and beautiful to boot. Lots of people were attracted to her, but least of all for her external beauty. It was the constant and abiding love she had for Jesus that attracted me, and I know it attracted others. She made bad situations better by pointing to praise whenever we were tempted to pout. In this, she was like the apostles of old, and the affect it had on everyone around her was amazing.

When the hard times come, do you praise or pout?

The Apostle Paul shared with the church at Philippi some amazing insight into praise that served them well. He wrote,

“ Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4-7 NIV.)

Dawn knew how to rejoice in her Savior.

Dawn knew how to spot a temptation and how to take it down.

Dawn knew that praise always opens the door to joy, and she opened that door for others, a lot!

Dawn was a joy to work with and a force for good in a tired world.

I wonder how often I mirror Dawn’s witness? Do you wonder the same about you? 

peace by the sea

It has been my experience that people who live peaceful lives are of the intentional sort.

These peaceful ones make it their habit to do three things every day, and I believe their practice of these three habits has been the impetus for the quiet and confident hearts they have beating in their chests.

Peaceful people live righteous lives.
They don’t do whatever they feel like doing. Instead, they think through a decision and when they don’t know the right thing to do, they pray, wait, ask of those they respect because of their spiritual maturity, and then they move forward, trusting fully in God to shape their efforts and fulfill His will.

Peaceful people tend their own gardens.
Not only do they tend their own gardens; they make sure not to tend the gardens of others. This requires them to be judicial in what they think, say, and share with others. They don’t gossip and they don’t accuse. They don’t give unsolicited advice. Peaceful people wait for others to come to them and ask of them what they think, then they prayerfully share their experience in Christ. They talk about their journey and where it has taken them, and then they let others decide for themselves what they will do with the information they’ve been given.

Peaceful people trust their outcomes to God.
People who value peaceful hearts put all their trust in God for the outcome with their efforts. They try the best they can to add wisdom to their decisions, by being regularly in God’s Word. They allow the Holy Spirit to direct their efforts and they take pains to act in ways that will cause the least amount of concern or hurt to Jesus and their fellows. They leave wrath, vengeance, violence, and offense to God to handle, and they trust in Him to settle accounts in His own ways. They trust Him for everything, all day long, and because they do, they get to see God act in ways that others miss.

All those who trust the Lord with their lives will find themselves living peaceful, purposeful, vibrant and righteous lives. Their hope is in God, because they know that when He promises to never stop doing good to them, He means it!

Do you have a peaceful heart?  Are you confident and quiet in your spirit, and fruitful in your faith?

I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. Jeremiah 32:40 NIV

The fruit of righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever. Isaiah 32:17 NIV

Through-A-Glass-Darkly

To those who lead others to believe that Jesus is only love and nothing more, I would say two things:

1. We see through a glass darkly, and dimmed windows challenge our ability to see and understand clearly how love works from a godly perspective (1 Corinthians 13:12).

2. Jesus is not merely love, but also justice, mercy, and fiercest obedience.

He is Justice:  For the neglected, abused, and cast off.

He is Mercy:  For the many who have been trampled.

He is Fiercest obedience:  For He lives to serve a holy God, attracted to purity and commanding all to do right. 

The Revelation pictures Jesus on a warhorse, pursuing those who have maligned the Word of God and judging them for their war-making ways (Revelations 19:11-16).

Don’t be fooled, our Champion is not weak; only patient with those still searching for truth.

When have you heard that Jesus is love, love, love, love?  What does your experience with sin speak to your heart about that supposition?

graceupongrace…you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours. Isaiah 61:7 NIV

What does God have waiting for us when we make the decision to walk with Him?

Joy.
Peace.
Purpose.
Gentleness.
Loving kindness.
Perspective.
Respect.
Grace.

A double portion of the good stuff!

God is not cheap in handing out promises to his children, but the fulfillment of those promises does have a price tag attached. Thankfully, Jesus pain the price for us.

Jesus asked forgiveness, knowing we were confused.

Jesus went to the cross, convinced and confident.

Jesus hung in the hot sun that day to win our salvation.

Jesus bled and died to cover our sins; He faced humiliation so that we might not have to.

Would Jesus have done these things if it had only been my future in jeopardy?

Yes!
He says in his Word he would have.

I don’t know about you, but for me, that settles the matter. Who else would sacrifice so much to redeem me back from destruction?

Only my Jesus.
Only your Jesus.
Only Jesus, the Savior!

Are you still resisting the offer of grace Jesus has made?  What are you afraid of…what catch are you sure exists in the arrangement, but is hidden from view?