Jesus Alone is Our Rescuer!

Are you in need of a rescue? Sometimes life brings storms that knock you down, overwhelm you, and overpower you.

Mark, Kayla, and I went to see Jesus this past Saturday. Well, obviously not the real Jesus, but the production entitled, “Jesus” at the Sight and Sound Theater in Lancaster, PA. It was a wonderfully choreographed  performance portraying the rescuing power and love of Jesus!

Scene after scene people faced emptiness, illness, and hopelessness. They faced the storms of this world that the enemy meant for their harm. They had no way of filling their empty nets or their empty stomachs. Many suffered for years with illness, even sought the help of doctors, but didn’t get better. While others hoped for love, only to be left thirsty and condemned. But it was through those very storms Jesus intended to bring them good and to show them His glory!

In the presence of Jesus the winds of doubt and unbelief were calmed, the waves of worry and fear ceased, and the drowning weight of sin was lifted and forgiven. Whatever the need, whatever the storm, Jesus was the Rescuer!

However, there were several stories where there was no rescue, there were some lives that weren’t changed. Some of the people Jesus encountered were proud and didn’t believe they were in need of His help. They had created a reality for themselves that didn’t allow for need. They kept themselves above and separate from the storms of life. But it was deception. Their proud, unbelieving hearts wanted the praise of men and so they did all the “right things” to be admired by others. Meanwhile their hearts were raging with storms of sin; jealousy, hatred, and murder.

Jesus will only rescue those who want to be rescued!

There was a storm raging within me this past year. It began with a pain in my shoulder. I’m not sure the cause, but it seemed to begin when I was mowing the steep hill behind our house. I had pulled the mower backward up the hill and thought that I strained something. The pain continued into the fall and actually became much worse, even to the point that my neck was in constant pain too with some nerve issues causing tingling in my fingers. Of course I googled my symptoms and found several diagnoses, but every time I picked up my phone to call a doctor, I couldn’t make the call.

When I asked God about it I sensed He had a purpose for it. Though it was a storm meant by the enemy for my harm, I believed God would work it together for my good and intended for it to show me that Jesus alone is my Rescuer!

During this time there was another storm raging, a turbulent relationship. I believed there was a connection between these two storms.

I don’t know if it was stubbornness or faith, but as time went on I became confident that God would heal my shoulder and He would calm the turbulent relationship!

So I chose to endure the pain in my shoulder, allowing the pain to remind me to pray about the situations involved in the relationship and to learn how to rely on Jesus alone to bring supernatural rescue.

What I really appreciated about the performance of “Jesus” was the simplicity of rescue as Jesus met the need of every one who came to Him. The only things required of those Jesus rescued were actions of faith.

They needed to lower their nets when they had already fished all night, and they needed to find a couple loaves and fishes, so Jesus could fill their emptiness.

They needed to push through the crowd to touch His robe, and go and wash in the Pool of Siloam to be healed.

And they needed to receive His love and forgiveness to find hope.

This is what I believe God wanted me to learn as I was faced with these storms of life.

The simplicity of rescue requires actions of faith!

I had tried to rescue the relationship on my own…

When the wind and waves brought worry and fear I tried to rescue the relationship with control.

Then when control didn’t work I became frustrated and just wanted to give up altogether.

My attempts of rescue didn’t work.

Just as there was nothing I could do to heal my shoulder, I began to realize there was nothing I could do to calm the turbulent relationship.

Sometimes I felt foolish for putting up with the pain in my shoulder when I knew I could go to a doctor and have it taken care of. But then I would think, as painful as my shoulder is and as much as I want it to feel better, I want even more for this relationship to be healed.

There is a simplicity, almost a foolishness, in the ways Jesus rescues. His rescue is not from man’s perspective or within man’s understanding. Every story in the performance of “Jesus” involved supernatural love, and supernatural power.

And so I chose to take my eyes off the wind and waves and chose instead to look to Jesus. With my eyes on Him, He calmed my worries and fears, and brought peace to my mind. In His presence I could hear His voice tell me the actions of faith I needed to do so that healing and restoration would come.

And now, along with all those who Jesus rescued,  I too have a rescue story. Because of those storms I was given the opportunity to stop relying on myself and chose to learn how to rely on Jesus alone! Those crashing waves have become the very things that have made me stronger and braver, they certainly were intended for my good!

And it was by Jesus’ power and love alone that my shoulder is completely healed and the turbulent relationship has been calmed!

Whether you get to go see “Jesus” or not, I pray you will choose to take your eyes off the wind and waves that are crashing over you and put your eyes on Jesus.

For Jesus alone is your Rescuer!

 

 

 

 

How Persistent are You?

Could difficulties or opposition be keeping you from pursuing a course of action? How persistent are you?

Persistence – firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.

A course of action begins with excitement and enthusiasm. You have a vision of something that you want to accomplish and are filled with ideas and plans of how to bring that vision into reality. As you begin to put those ideas into action you are excited to see the potential they hold. As you implement your plans there is much enthusiasm to see them take shape.

But, what happens when those ideas lead to difficulties?

What happens when your plans are met with obstacles?

A course of action needs more than excitement and enthusiasm!

A course of action requires persistence!

“Then, teaching them more about prayer, he (Jesus) used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence.” Luke 11:5-8

Jesus was teaching His disciples about prayer when He told them this story. Jesus knew story-telling was an effective way to teach spiritual lessons. His humanness gave Jesus personal experiences so He could physically understand from our perspective and tell stories that bridged the gap between the ways of the flesh and the ways of God.

This story speaks of persistence. There will be unexpected times when you need something you don’t have. No matter what cupboard you look into there is no bread, no cereal, no cookies; your cupboards are empty!

What do you do when faced with empty cupboards?

You ask, you seek, and you knock on the door of the one who has what you need.

But what if your question isn’t answered the way you want it to be? What if your seeking doesn’t bring about the results you need? What if the door isn’t opened to your knocking?

This is when you have a choice.

You can go back home believing that it was a waste of your time to ask. You can decide the one you thought could help you really couldn’t. You can determine that you will never knock on that door again.

Or, you can choose to be persistent!

You can choose to keep asking, keep seeking, and keep knocking because you know deep down inside that the One who’s door you are knocking on does have what you need, will provide what you are seeking, and in the right time you will receive it.

“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” Luke 11:9-10

Mark, Kayla, and I visited the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island yesterday. Before we went I read about the history of the Statue of Liberty and learned that her story was filled many difficulties, opposition, and delays from the time she was first conceived in 1870, until she was finally placed on her pedestal in New York Harbor on October 28, 1886.

Though her presence has been, and perhaps still is, embraced by many and opposed by some, today the Statue of Liberty is the most visited National Park in America.

I am inspired by her story because it reminds me that I can’t allow difficulty and opposition to stop me from pursuing what I believe I’m called to do.

And though I know I can’t accomplish in on my own I can keep asking God and He will give me knowledge and understanding.

And though I don’t seem to have the time to work on it, I realize that when I seek God, He will help me to make it a priority over other things.

And though it seems like it will never come together, I can choose to keep knocking, for God will make a way when there seems to be no way.

Nothing good has come from nothing!

Now when I look at the Statue of Liberty I see an incredible work of art that has stood tall for generations holding high the torch that enlightens the world, and the book with “July 4, 1776,” representing freedom for all, and I’m reminded of the importance of persistence!

You too are called to a course of action that is meant to stand tall for generations. As a child of God you are the Light of the world; meant to be held high and bringing light to the world around you. You have been given a book of freedom, the word of God, to guide you and to share with others.

Holding onto these things; cherishing them and refusing to let them go, and extending them to others will be met with difficulties and opposition, but when you persistently stand tall, firm on the promises of God, you will leave a lasting legacy!

 

Keep asking, keep seeking, and keep knocking…

How persistent are you?

 

 

Thirsty?

An update on my garden…

We have been harvesting a lot of veggies from our garden this summer.

We certainly are eating local, organic, and from farm to table!

 

Recently we experienced a dry spell and I was reminded of the importance of water. The plants weren’t affected much from the dryness, but the fruit of the plants were beginning to suffer. Some of the zucchini began to get yellow and shriveled at the ends, the tomatoes were small, and the spinach and kale grew slowly.

While hand watering was a help, it was not as good as God-given rain!

Water is essential!

The physical body can go three to four days without water.

But what about your spiritual body? How long can you survive without Living Water?

Jesus was passing through Samaria when He found himself tired and weary from a long walk. His disciples went off to buy lunch while Jesus sat to rest beside a well. A Samaritan woman came to get water for her household. She was surprised when He, a Jewish man asked her, a Samaritan woman, for a drink.

“Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.” “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water?  John 4:10-11

The Samaritan woman needed to make that trip to the well to get water, it wasn’t something she could put off, there weren’t other things that were of greater importance, her physical thirst brought her to the well that day.

She came to the well prepared. She knew the well was deep and in order to get water she needed a bucket and a rope.

But that day the woman learned there are two types of thirst.

While she was consumed with her physical thirst, Jesus was consumed with her spiritual thirst!

Jesus understood the importance of the water from the well and without it she would die in several days. But He also understood the importance of Living Water. Without Living Water the woman’s thirst for love would never be quenched, she would have no joy, and would die without hope.

Jesus understands your physical thirst, but is passionate about your spiritual thirst!

Jesus was fully God and fully human. Tired, weary, and thirsty from His long walk, Jesus used His physical thirst to draw this woman into a conversation that would quench her spiritual thirst!

Jesus was able to look beyond the woman’s physical thirst and saw she suffered from a much deeper thirst, a thirst of her soul, that kept her looking to the affections of men, but never being satisfied.

Jesus knew He was God’s gift of love to her!

Jesus knew He was the Living Water that would permanently quench the thirst of her soul!

When Jesus exposed the bad fruit her life was producing, the woman knew He was a prophet of God, perhaps even the Messiah. The Living Water Jesus gave her, God’s gift of love, quenched her thirst and changed her instantly!

Once the Samaritan woman received the truth and drank it in, not only was the thirst of her soul quenched, but her story brought Living Water to all who lived in her town!

This story is a reminder that Jesus understands your humanness. He cares about the things that you need. And it is those physical needs that can be the very things that He uses to get your attention to draw you into conversation so that He can show you the deeper needs of your soul.

Jesus calls all who are thirsty to come to Him!

“Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink!” John 7:37-38

Physical dehydration can come upon you slowly and you aren’t even aware until you experience the symptoms; increased thirst, headaches, dizziness, at which point you will do everything you need to so that you are rehydrated.

Spiritual dehydration can come upon you slowly as well. Much of life may seem normal, but when you begin to look at the fruit of your life it may show symptoms of dehydration. Your love may be turning towards the wrong things, you may find you aren’t as joyful as you once were, your patience may be wearing thin…

It is recommended you drink at least eight 8 ounce glasses of water each day.

What about Living Water? How much are you drinking each day?

God’s gift to you; Jesus, the Living Water, is always available to show you the deeper thirsts of your soul. And once you know the truth and drink from Him you will be satisfied, and produce good fruit. 

Are you drinking enough?

I hope I’ve made you thirsty!

Grab a tall glass of ice water and your Bible and drink!

 

 

Remember to Not Forget!

Do you suffer from forgetfulness?

I certainly do, I just walked into my daughter’s room to wake her up and forgetting what day it was I reminded her to wear her orange shirt for camp today. A few seconds later she said to me, “It’s not orange day.”

We all forget things from time to time. The consequences of forgetting can range from wearing an orange shirt to camp when everyone else is wearing blue, to something far greater.

From the very beginning when God first chose Abraham and called him out of his land to go to a new land He would provide for him and his family God has intended for His people to be set apart from all others. God intended for His people to know him, to love Him, and to never forget Him. God promised that by not forgetting Him, His people would experience freedom and blessings that would prove His supernatural power and love.

But the Israelites suffered from forgetfulness!

And though David wrote of the hope and life that comes from not forgetting God…

“So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands.” Psalm 78:7

“I will delight in your decrees and not forget your word.” Psalm 119:16

“I will never forget your commandments, for by them you give me life.” Psalm 119:93

David suffered from forgetfulness!

It’s easy to forget!

Mark, Kayla, and I went on “The Walk over the Hudson” this past Saturday, and afterwards visited the Vanderbilt Mansion that is nearby. I haven’t read too much of their history, but one sentence I heard about them really caught my attention and causes me to ponder. Though Cornelius Vanderbilt was the richest man in America, and his son went on to double his fortune, and then became the richest man in America, the family fortune was gone by the third generation. There were many factors that played into it, World War 1, and the Great Depression, but it seems as though the family suffered from forgetfulness.

Definition of forgetfulness – Marked by neglectful or heedless failure to remember

So, if forgetting is the result of not remembering…

to beat forgetting is to remember!

History is recorded so that we can learn from those who have gone before us. We can learn from their successes and from their failures. We will either choose to learn from their mistakes and change our actions or we will choose to continue in the ways they lived and encounter the same consequences they suffered. God reminds us of the importance of not forgetting what our ancestors have gone through.

“I don’t want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters, about our ancestors in the wilderness long ago. All of them were guided by a cloud that moved ahead of them, and all of them walked through the sea on dry ground.” 1 Corinthians 10:1

“But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” James 1:25

We can’t forget something we never learned.

We can’t remember something we never knew.

With so much information instantly available to us today it seems as though we should be able to learn valuable lessons, and we should know many things that will benefit us. But, instead it seems the ease of accessing information keeps us from really taking in information so that we never fully learn or know the things we need to.

Why study something when we can just look it up again tomorrow? 

To not forget requires intentional learning!

Remembering requires intentional knowing!

I have found that the more important something is the more I will do to make sure I don’t forget. I will put it on my calendar, write myself a note and leave it in a very visible place, send myself an email…

God knows we are prone to forget, so He tells us many times in the Bible to not forget, and He reminds us many times to always remember. So, if you find yourself forgetting God…

What is causing you to neglect God?

Why is it that you are failing to remember God?

How important is God to you?

It is in the forgetting that you experience bondage and suffering due to poor choices. 

It is in the remembering that you experience the freedom and blessings of God. 

While there is a great difference between the consequences of wearing the wrong color shirt, and losing the family fortune, the consequences of forgetting God are even greater.

“And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” Matthew 16:26

May you make it your priority to never forget to remember God!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Freedom Comes With a Cost!

Today we celebrate the freedoms we have here in America. We remember our history and ponder all that has happened through the years since America was first discovered. We must never take for granted the hardships, the sacrifices, and the lives that were given so that we might live here in peace and freedom.

Freedom comes with a cost!

Years ago America was the answer to many people who wanted a new land where they could worship God the way they believed God intended them to. Many people were searching for a place to live where their rulers wouldn’t require them to worship God in the ways that weren’t according to the Bible.

America was the answer!

Here in America they found peace and freedom to worship God. It came with a cost, but by God’s power, love, and amazing grace, religious freedom still remains today.

The history of America’s freedom is somewhat similar to the history of our spiritual freedom.

Christopher Columbus left the comfort of his land in search of the treasures of India.

Jesus left the comfort of His throne in heaven to come in search of the treasures of men’s souls.

Christopher Columbus’ discovery became an answer to many who were bound by their ruler’s laws, and forced to worship in ways that went against the truths found in the Bible.

Jesus’ presence here on earth brought an answer to those who were in bondage to the religious leaders of the day, and to those who were held captive by the lies of Satan.

The peace and freedom of Christopher Columbus’ discovery came with a great cost; it required much suffering, blood shed, and sacrificial death.

The peace and freedom that Jesus brought also came with a great price, great suffering, blood shed, and sacrificial death on the cross.

Jesus is the answer!

But as seen in both situations the great price of peace and freedom can be forgotten. They can be taken for granted. And they can be taken away.

When we forget our history we loose our identity. 

When we loose our identity we forget our purpose.

When we loose our purpose we no longer consider the personal cost our peace and freedom requires.

As Americans and as Christians we must remember our history. We must know who we are, why we are here, and do what is required of us to live in the peace and freedom that has been made available to us.

Freedom comes with a cost!

When the Israelites were set free from their bondage in Egypt and entered the promised land, a land flowing with milk and honey; a land intended for their peace and freedom, God gave them this warning…

“But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today. For when you have become full and prosperous and have built fine homes to live in, and when your flocks and herds have become very large and your silver and gold have multiplied along with everything else, be careful! Do not become proud at that time and forget the Lord your God, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt. Do not forget that he led you through the great and terrifying wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, where it was so hot and dry. He gave you water from the rock! He fed you with manna in the wilderness, a food unknown to your ancestors. He did this to humble you and test you for your own good. He did all this so you would never say to yourself, ‘I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy.’ Remember the Lord your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful, in order to fulfill the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath.” Deuteronomy 8:11-18

…and I believe it is a warning for us today.

The Israelites fought battles, with the supernatural power of God, to gain their freedom.

Our forefathers fought battles, with the supernatural power of God, to gain our freedom.

Jesus fought a battle, with the supernatural power of God, to gain the freedom of all who believe.

So we too have battles we must fight, with the supernatural power of God, to maintain the freedoms we have here in America and the freedom we have in Christ.

“I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he comes to set up his Kingdom: Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths. But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you. As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:1-8

There is a day coming when the freedoms of America will fade and the perfect freedom of God’s Kingdom will reign forever. But until that day comes, God encourages us to make the most of our time here on earth. Whether we continue to enjoy freedoms here in America, or whether they are taken away, we have been made free in Christ, and that freedom can never be taken from us.

But in the meantime, there is a good fight we are to fight, there is a race we are to run.

The freedoms we have mustn’t be forgotten, taken for granted, or allowed to be taken from us. We must remember all Jesus did for us and choose to live in the freedom He provided. We must daily walk by faith in the freedom of God’s word. And we must fight against the lies of the enemy that try to deceive and take away the freedoms we have been given.

And when we live fully in the freedom of Christ we will joyfully and courageously tell others the good news of the freedom they have been given in Jesus!

So, on this day of remembrance, let us make the most of the freedoms we still have here in America to carry out the ministry opportunities God has given us.

Freedom comes with a cost!

What will it cost you?

Are you willing to pay the price?