Straining toward the cross and hoping for Heaven. I forget who said it, but I recall a pastor speaking on straining towards the cross and hoping for heaven. It’s such a beautiful image, and an image that we sometimes forget. We’re always straining towards the cross, because we can never actually reach it. We see the cross as lowly. We see Heaven as glorious. We think we’re straining towards heaven, but we as Christians are straining towards the cross, because without the cross you cannot reach heaven. You can’t skip the cross and get to the gates. We think because the cross is lowly it’s not something to be sought after, but the cross is the true Stairway to Heaven. Without those pieces of wood and those nails we have no hope. We must strain for the cross. And hope for heaven.
There is nothing wrong with loving the Bible from the place of a broken person trying to find the heart of God. You don’t have to perfect and then come to Jesus. Come to Him first and He will perfect you. You will never get to place where you are holy as Christ, you can’t, it isn’t possible. But that’s why we chase after God, because He is the only one who is perfect and Jesus is the only way into Heaven, our greatest works, even to give until we have nothing and to die for the sake of another is nothing without Jesus, it won’t get us anywhere without Him. We are all broken people, unable to measure up to the glory and ritchousness of God, but that doesn’t mean we should run away from Him, but instead run to Him. All He wants is a repentive heart that wants to change. A heart that knows it needs Him. A broken heart knows who the Healer is and is ready to be loved and fixed and made whole. Love Jesus in your brokenness and let Him love you into a whole new person.
It’s so hard to tell people when you are not okay, and then have them giving their opinions or not fully understanding you hurts so much. But when you give it to Jesus- sit down for a moment and talk with Him, telling Him that it hurts, why it hurts and how much you need Him and His help- it doesn’t hurt more, it might hurt less, and now you have someone you can talk to about it who won’t judge or condem, and He actually can help where people cannot. Isn’t it funny how when you talk to people about your pain they give you a speel about how your Faith should be bigger, or you need to read your Bible more, or you should be praying like this- but when you come to God He just listens. He knows where you are at in the journey and how tired you are and how long you’ve been stuck in this same place. He knows how hard you are trying and how much it hurts. He doesn’t say ‘read more of your Bible, pray harder, grow your Faith until it hurts no more!’ He simply says, ‘come here. Let me hold you. I’ll take care of it all.’
Talk to Jesus. He’s waiting for your call.
Um…no thanks Jesus, I’m good.
Recently I was in church with my cousin. The preacher mentioned the healing of the blind man. You recall that healing? Jesus spat in the dirt and then rubbed it on the man’s eyes. It makes me cringe a little thinking of it, seeing as I’m a bit of a germaphobe. My cousin laughed at me when I rubbed my arms in horror at the thought of having spit rubbed on me. “Ya.” She said, “It’s like. Thanks but no thanks Jesus, I’ll just stay blind.”
She was joking, but it made me think, how often do we turn away Miracles that Jesus wants us to have because we don’t like the way that Christ is going to make the miracle happen? How many times does Jesus spit in the dirt and we draw back because we don’t like it? The miracle that’s coming doesn’t outweigh what we have to go through to recieve it, in our minds it doesn’t at least, if we waited and had the miracle happen despite the spit and mud, we would realize the value and gift of that blessing. How many times has Jesus said, “let me take you through this and I will give you this blessing.”
Or, “if you give up this, I will give you this instead.”?
And so on and so on. But we don’t want to go through the pain, the illness, the fear, the move, the new job, the outreach, [fill in the blank]. What came to mind when you were given the chance to put down your own draw away reason? I know what came to my mind. But as John Wayne once said, “courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyways.” The cause before the effect of the miracle may not cause suffering or pain, but there is always a little fear. It would be strange if there wasn’t, because we are dealing with the ultimate power. God. And His love, grace and blessings. And when dealing with God there is a lot of unknowing. We run headlong on Faith and that can be really scary. But perfect peace comes from knowing that you are trusting what you don’t know to the all knowing, one true, God.
Miracles aren’t always easy. Sometimes they are hard. Sometimes they take sacrifice. Sometimes you have to have spit rubbed in your eye before you can see. But know this. God always, always, always, has your best in mind as He works His plan for your life.
Have you ever seen a flower trying to grow up on a pathway?
Of course you have.
Some people see it growing and skirt around it so they don’t interfere with it’s progress, but most people just walk on top of it and keep going. Why would it’s progress matter to them? Why would it’s success make a difference to them?
Broken and head bent with sap seeping out of the stem the little flower looks like it will die there, never to reach it’s final goal.
But if I kind person sees it and tries to help it by binding it’s stem and tying it to a small ground stake, the little flower might grow a little longer. But eventually the old wounds will kill it, because even the simple kindness of a stranger can’t heal the torn tendrils inside. However, if the guardener sees it, broken and dying as more and more people crush it under their feet He would have the power and knowledge to save it. He could dig up the flower and transplant it in a safer spot, then He could go to work, feeding and watering and the perfect amount of sunlight, adding nutrients and stapling back together the broken stalk until it is able to stand. With the help of the Master the little flower can grow, and grow and grow and keep growing until it’s too strong to be crushed by the world again.
As Christians we are trying to grow. Some people see that and let us keep growing but others try to stomp on us and crush us and seems like no one cares. We may find support in a small group or in our friends and even in our pastor, but until the broken vines search for Jesus we will never be truly fixed. People can help but they can’t heal. Until we reach out to Jesus we will continue to fade. But once we reach for Him He knows how to cure us and love us and help us. He is our God and He is our friend and He is good.
Turn to Him when the world is crushing you, only He can truly help you.
Don’t fall into the lie that you can change God to fit into your box, trust me, any box we humans create will be too small for our Great Big God to fit into.
Changing our ways to be Christ like is something the devil tries to keep us from doing, he wants us to stay in his clutches and makes it look like freedom when in truth it is a deep pit with a heavy lid. Only through Jesus can we find true freedom, only in trying to follow God’s commands and keeping our eyes on the savior do we stand a chance of being out of the devil’s reach. Don’t back away hissing when I say we need to try to follow God’s commands, I know it’s hard and that we don’t always want to, sometimes it even hurts – but it’s the only way to be a Christian. You will fail from time to time, there is no doubt of that, I fail daily too, but you keep trying to do better, that’s what God wants- not perfection, but effort, He sees that you are trying, and He helps you back up when you fail so you can try again. We don’t like being told what to do because the devil is rebellious and he wants us all to be the same, but you will be happier if you learn to do as the Bible commands, I know we all cringe at that word and hiss ‘don’t tell me how to live my life,’ okay, God won’t tell you what to do if you choose not to follow Him, that’s your choice, but if you claim the title ‘Christian’ you must also follow the God you claim to serve, there is no gray area.
And if you do decide to discard the box and see God for who He is and follow His path to see what He wants for life- be prepared to be amazed, because Jesus, who cannot fit into your idea of Him, is greater and more amazing then we could imagine, and He has a greater and more amazing plan for you then anything you could have thought up on your own.
Lent devotional 31
God says His eye is on the sparrow. I love this because of the bird He chose to name. He didn’t say peacock or flamingo or eagle, He said sparrow. The most commonly found, plain, tiny bird out there, that is the one God named. I love our sparrows in our yard, they remind me of God’s compassion. I see the extra feathers deep under the top layer of feathers that these small birds fluff up to stay warm, I see the way they come and go in a multitude for protection but once in a while will flit over to the bird feeder alone only to whisk away at the slightest movement from inside the house. I see the way God provides deep branches in the forest around us so that these birds have shelter, I see their courage when defending against a preditor. God equipped these tiny, ordinary birds so that they could do great things to survive. He equipped us in the same way. He gives us answers to the needs we have. He watches over us and lifts us up when we have stumbled. He gives us the abilities to weather all storms and He alone hides us in the shelter of His wings.
You may feel small, plain, one in thousands; but God sees you, His eye is on you and He is taking care of you. You are not ordinary or insignificant, you are loved and cherished, more than you could ever know.
Lent devotional 30
Do not let your giant’s shadow block out the light from the Son- He is there and He knows you and He wants you!
Ah the giants. We see them, hear them and manifest them in our own minds. They are big, ugly and can proliferate into thousands of clones that kill all the good around them. Where do our giants come from? They come from a dark section of your mind that fills you fear and nausea until you can’t think. That section could be caused by what you see in the world around you, or by a life circumstance that has you afraid, it could be because of a lack of faith that God can take care of things, or by lies that you have been told that bang around inside your mind and make you doubt who you are or where you’re at or the goodness of God. But He is good. Your giant may look like a huge oozing mass of all your fears staring down on you ready to destroy you, but God has given you armor. You are protected by His Spirit, by His Salvation, by His Faith, by His Righteousness, by His Truth, by His Readiness. He fills you, He enters your heart and mind and fights for you. Your Goliath cannot defeat you if your eyes and mind are fixed on Jesus. He is there taking care of you. Have Faith in Him and courage because of Him. Don’t let your giant win, no matter how big he may seem, your God is bigger.
Lent devotional 18
I will speak Jesus and the devil will flee because he knows that name and what it means for him.
Darkness is inevitable, there will always be darkness in this world because it is dying. People cling desperately to things that don’t matter, trying to make it feel like they aren’t about to be consumed. But there is a name the darkness knows and flees from. Speak Jesus. The devil will lie to you. He will try to make you feel lost, left behind, confused, worthless. Speak Jesus. He will show you that you are found, accepted, loved, wanted, valued. Jesus is coming back to take us home. The darkness of this world will not haunt us in the presence of Jesus. Where Jesus is there is no fear. He is light. Brilliant light. When this world dies we won’t be with it. Imagine seeing Jesus coming and picking us up in his arms and laughing and smiling, holding us close and saying, ‘come on precious, let’s go home.’
Jesus drives away darkness, present darkness and eternal darkness.
Lent devotional 11
What if I look deep inside and find no gems? What of I’m just a rock? -Whisper of the heart
We all want to be someone special; we all want to be a woman or man whose name is written in the stars, and most of us fear the same thing, we fear that after a lifetime of searching for gems deep inside we will discover that we are just rocks. Plain. Boring. Not special at all.
That fear can manifest itself in our forcing ourselves into a tallent that we don’t really possess. For years I have tried to teach myself how to draw and, as like all things you work at, I have gotten steadily better. I could never make a career of being a painter or drawer, that’s not my talent, but I wanted to see if I could improve myself because I wanted to. But what if I decided that drawing was my special gem inside myself, even though I was not gifted in this type of art? I could spend a lifetime trying to hone a gem that was not there and end up looking back at my life with discouragement. We fear being just a rock when so many others shine so brightly. We don’t want to feel like nothing. But being a bright and shining star doesn’t make those people better than you, just because they get more applause and have the spotlight. Don’t forget, stars are mostly helium and hydrogen, beautiful hot air. Guess what rocks are made out of? Most rocks are made out of microscopic, fused together, crystals. Even a stone slab covered in grafitti on the side of a bridge is filled with gems, they are just too small to see, but they make up the stone’s substance. Don’t fight your whole life trying to become a gemstone in fear of only being a rock, all rocks are gemstones in some way. Be yourself. Be who God created you to be. If He made you a singer then sing, even if it’s only for the Church worship team. If God made you a painter, paint, even if it’s ceilings in a hotel loby. If God made you fast, then run, who knows? You might win the Olympics. Don’t doubt the value of being a rock, and don’t work to written in the stars, just work to be written in God’s book.