I’m going to go nerdy for a minute.
Does anyone remember the old Yugiohs? I mean the original? Well I found a bunch of my old dvds the other day and had decided to watch a couple. The ones I watched were the Capsule monsters movies. Yugi enters a board game and gets armor which when activated allows him to merge with his favorite monsters; then he gains their different powers and is able to use them to fight evil. Cool right? In the same way when we become children of God we put on the armor of God and when we ‘activate it’ by praying and reading our bible and devotionals and such we gain God’s power and can use it to fight against the devil. In the movie when Yugi uses the armor it drains his strength, but when We as Christians use the armor of God it gives us more strength and energy. We are filled with new vitality as We face our day and We always have God with us. We never need to remove our armor and rest from it, yes sometimes the armor of God is heavy and feels a little like a burden but the more We work at wearing it everyday the lighter it becomes. The power of God vanquishes all other things even weariness. We are never defenseless or powerless when we have God because He is always taking care of us and He is the one true ultimate power.
God is not like smaug, the great dragon from the Hobbit, where when we come into His lair trembling and say “I had heard stories about you but I did not believe them,” he stands back from us flexing the scales across his chest and blowing a snort of smoke out of his nose he proplaclaims, “and do you now?”
In contrast when we come up to Jesus trembling saying, ” I had heard stories of you my Lord, but I did not believe them.” He looks at us with love and responds, “I know, I have been waiting for you to come and see me for yourself.” Then He hugs us and all our fears and sins and scars melt away and not only do we believe the stories we now know the man they are about and we know He loves us. His gentle embrace following us everywhere we go until we get to live with Him in His kingdom. There is no dragon pride, just the gentle/powerful/all knowing/unending love of a king.
(Credit to owner for the cover image)
How often have we felt like the world has delivered a spin kick in the stomach to us and then laughed as we grimaced in pain? Too often I’m sure. We have all been there. Down and almost out, wishing we could crawl from the fight ring of life and curl up in the comforting shadow of the stands where nobody can see us. We close our eyes and try to wish away what we have been dealt, but when we open them the hurt is still there. We blame everything. The world, people, ourselves, even God, but when it comes down to it there’s only one to blame for all misery and that’s the devil. He is knocking at the door to our hearts and our minds waiting for us to open up even just a little, and because we aren’t letting him in he brings a battering ram with him. Victory in such times comes from response. If we let Jesus take over and respond as He would want us to then we win. The devil won’t stay long if it’s Jesus who answers the door. Whenever the hit comes, where ever you are, however it presents it’s self Jesus is right there ready to defend you; He is a loving and jealous God and He is very protective of His people. I know that it’s hard to understand why the pain happens at all but the trying of our Faith produces endurance; sometimes suffering is required of us and it is impossible to understand why a living God would hurt His people, but He isn’t the one hurting us, yes He is allowing it, but He isnt causing it. I once heard a pastor say, “don’t pray away your blessings.” What he meant was if we never suffer than we never get to see God save us. Miracles don’t happen for people who don’t need them. We must put all of what we go through in God’s hands and respond as Jesus would no matter how hard it is because that is how we reach a break through. Whenever the devil comes to the door step back and let Jesus answer He has defeated the devil before.
We have all heard the great expectations sermon; it’s a really great sermon, but do we come truly come with great expectations? Today I had a miracle that actually shocked me. After having the vet out to diagnose my horse’s unexplainable lump as just that an unexplainable lump I started to get serious about my praying for him. To be honest before I found out that the vet had no idea what it was I just figured if God healed him that was fine but if he didn’t the vet would just treat it and it would still be fine, but unlike God the vet doesn’t know all. Today I checked my horse’s lump and it was GONE! There wasn’t even a trace it had been there! If you want to shout a Hallelujah go right ahead because I am still amazed! Oh and did I mention the lump had been there for nearly 4 months? It wasn’t something that was just going to go away. In this life we have so much that we can take care of ourselves because of modern medicine, modern technology, modern this, modern that that we sometimes don’t even bother to seriously pray about things, because if God doesn’t fix them that’s fine we know someone who can. That is the wrong way to think. I can say this because I go there too. I like to think that I seek God first and just go with Him on things but I (as many people do) fall into the solving it myself rut. God can do EVERYTHING! We just need to give Him the chance to take care of things for us, and to truly believe that He can. We don’t want to leave off asking for help until we reach something we truly can not do ourselves, because if we see God taking care of the little things we will most likely have more faith when we need to give Him the bigger things. Another thing I love about God is that I didn’t have to do anything to make this or any other miracle happen. All I did was pray and believe and I saw the unbelievable. I fail constantly and hurt God probably daily, as hard as I try not to my human nature gets in the way of my Christianity at times. I am also a major failure when it comes to being a public witness, my words stick in my throat and I end up saying nothing. Yet despite all these negative qualities of just being me God steps in and holds me when I cry. He still listens when I pray and blesses me with amazing miracles. It is so nice to know that no matter how bad we screw up, No matter how constantly we sin and fail Jesus still loves us. He wants us to do better that’s true and He will help us do better, but He’s still loving us everyday no matter who we are or what we’ve done. Isn’t that the most amazing miracle of all? because it’s that constant, undying, faithful love and ridiculous grace that led our Jesus to die on the cross for our sins, and to rise again three days later. What a miracle!
God I come with great expectations for this and everyday! Thank you for being our constant friend and greatest miracle. Amen.
The two thieves on the crosses are perfect examples of Christian and non-Christian people. Both were thieves, both were sinners but one chose to follow Jesus in the end. Like the two thieves we are all sinners and we all fall so short of the kingdom of God it’s hard for many to believe that they can go to Heaven. Jesus died as a criminal without committing any crime so that even the theif hanging next to Him could join Him in Heaven. Just the same, we all have a place with Jesus in Heaven if we choose to accept it by accepting Him. All people are people, there is no biological difference that separates those who are Christians and those who aren’t. The difference is Jesus. The difference is the Holy Spirit moving in us making us act…. Christian, we are just two sides of the same coin. All non-Christians can come to Christ there is absolutely nothing making it so that they can’t; not only that but Jesus welcomes them, us, everyone! Jesus wants the whole world to see Him and to not feel they are unwelcome in His home and at His table. Listen and you will hear His gentle voice calling you home. Today I want to end by saying this; anyone who feels cast out from the church because they are struggling to find their place in God’s kingdom, don’t feel like you’re alone, remember that the church cast Jesus out too. There are many churches out there and in truth sometimes you have to look a little before you can find a pastor and a congregation that suits you, but when you do you’ll feel like you’re home. Jesus wants YOU even if you don’t feel wanted and HE Loves you no matter how unlovable you feel. So choose Jesus because He has already chosen you.
Pray with me please
Jesus I know I am a sinner, I know I fall short of your glory but I also know you love me and you want me; please come into my life and fill me with you. Please forgive my sins and draw me to you and closer to you. Help me find you and to not feel discouraged. In your name I pray. Amen.
We all have pain in our lives; pain we feel each day, pain that causes us to fall asleep on tear-drenched pillows. The peace is in the fact that the pain won’t last. Jesus hates it when we hurt so He reaches down a hand to hold. Jesus knows the good that will come from our suffering but He will not allow us to suffer to alone; He is always with us. A little while back I had fallen from a rock wall and had landed on my face. Not wanting to go through my day with the big cut down my lip showing I proceeded to cover it with make up, guess what? It almost completely disappeared; on the surface everything seemed to be fine so no one knew the pain behind the makeup. All people use cover-up throughout their lives so that on the outside all looks fine and no body knows what’s going on on the inside, no body but Jesus. Does anyone remember the song ‘don’t cry out loud’? For how many people is this song their life motto? “I’ll be fine, I can stand strong, this is my problem not anyone else’s.” Sound familiar? This life has a way of knocking us back, but Jesus is there so we don’t hit the ground. We fall into His strong arms and like the best friend HE is, who always has our backs, Jesus straightens us up and faces our giants with us. It’s not necessarily a bad thing that we as people don’t feel comfortable sharing our pain with others, but we must never forget that Jesus is sharing our pain with us. He feels it too and understands. He cried alone in the garden so that we will NEVER have to cry alone. As you work at moving through your pain please remember, most of the people around you have pain they are moving through too and that they need you to be gentle with them, just as you need others to be gentle with you.
Acts 16:25 and 26
Deafening slams of iron on iron as each door leading to your prison is closed behind you. Damp earth chills you to your veins and the deeper you go underground the more you have to rely on the light from the torches. ‘Be strong and courageous’ keeps echoing inside your head as your wounds remind you of what your captors are like. Finally you reach what seems to be the center of the universe and now you can fully hear the screams, cries and taunts of fellow prisoners. The eerie torch light shows shadows of scarred faces and you reach your own personal cell. The door is closed behind you with a crash like thunder and you are now cascading into a world of darkness as the soldiers and the torches slowly move away.
I suspect this analogy is a close description to what Paul and Silas felt as they were transported to their prison cell after being beaten by the Roman soldiers. Many Christians have been blessed to have never known this level of fear or pain, and yet many Christians suffer just as this if not more so on a regular basis; a suffering they accept because of their faith.
Today however I am going to be speaking on the mental and spiritual cage. If your mind is caged so is your spirit. What your mind dwells on your spirit will inevitably follow. We are all prisoners of this world; unless we know Jesus. However Christains still face the suffering of a caged mind from time to time, our cage just isn’t eternal. Things of this world find us and hold us locked behind bars. Self doubt, sorrow, fear, suffering, anger, even indifference can be cages quite similar to the prison I described in the beginning. Cold, damp, dark, caged. But the same God, the same just King who freed Paul and Silas from their physical prison can and will save us from our mental prisons. What was the secret trick the prisoners from Acts 16 had up their sleeve? Worship and praise. The times when we feel least equipped to worship are the times we need to worship the most. When we clear our minds of the situation and fill our minds with the Holy Spirit we can hear the gates creaking and slowly see the bars bend and break setting us free. God intends for us to live in Spiritual freedom through Him so He gives us ways to keep our minds and souls uncaged. When we are caged, as we will be once in a while, God takes the keys of our hearts and unlocks the doors to free us once again. He is a good king and doesn’t leave His people to suffer.
If you look around your mind and see prison bars please, turn your mind to worship and let God; let our warrior king come in and set you free.
Today I was looking out over the lake in front of my grandfather’s cabin, and watching the gentle, grey waves roll in as multi coloured leaves escaped from their branches and settled on the stirring water. My mind flitted back to the ocean. The ocean is so much like God in many ways (and maybe God intended that) but today I thought of how the ocean is the world’s great contradiction. The sea is wild and untamed and sometimes quite harsh, yet it’s also gentle and nurturing. If you are out on the waves during a winter storm it’s a miracle if you make it back to shore! The wind howling, the water in turmoil, ice pellets driving into you like shrapnel; suddenly you realize this is not a place meant to be tamed or conquered and you are very much out of your depths thinking you could control such an controllable force! What you don’t see from the surface of those wild, teasing waves putting you back in your place is the security and comfort of the lives down below. When a big, cold winter storm attacks the animals under the surface swim deeper under the water until they are not affected by the storm. The ocean holds an array of extremely beautiful and delicate creatures who are unafraid and unharmed by the raging storm above. Where they are is quiet and safe and they know they are protected by the water. The ocean is so much like God in this way. To those who do not know God this world can be wild and harsh and untameable. They are like a little boat bobbing around in a wild winter storm, out on a great ocean and if they come out unscathed it’s a blessing. For those who know God and have accepted Jesus, it is like being a sea creature. We are safe in Jesus and comforted by His presence. When the storms of life hit we swim deeper into Him until we are enveloped by Him and are safe. Jesus does sometimes make us ride out some tough storms, but He always gets us through. Even if we don’t see Him protecting us right now He is there and He is keeping us safe. The ocean that crushes rock walls into sand is the same ocean that gently hydrates and feeds the ever so delicate anemone. The same God that conquers armies and parts the seas is the same God that gives dew to the flower and sends honey bees to scatter it’s pollen. What a perfect and powerful, loving and gentle God we serve and love; we are so very blessed to be called His children.
Ladies, I bet you could name at least one movie where your heart was momentarily stolen by the suave and handsome thief. Whether he was the main character, a secondary character or even a minor character I bet you could think of at least one. He steals for a good reason maybe, kind of like Robin Hood, or maybe he really is a scoundrel but there’s just something about him. I know a robber who steals for a good reason, a good guy who many don’t see as a thief. But there’s the catch, what He is taking already belongs to Him. Jesus is the grave robber. He comes like a thief in the night and steals us away, isn’t that fabulous! When we die we don’t just lie in our graves with nothing to do; Jesus comes for us and only our bodies go to the grave, our souls, our personalities, us… we go to Heaven. Jesus isn’t trying to be alluring to falsely take from us, He steals our hearts with His love and His truth and His sacrifice because He adores us, and once He has our hearts we belong to Him and Him to us and we no longer are of this world. If we give Him our hearts while we are still alive then we can have no fear in death because Jesus is our grave robber. He snatches us away so we are not captives of the grave but are captives of the one true King. I don’t know about you, but Jesus is my favorite robber, a robber who steals us away because He loves us. He is not a thief in truth because He owned us even before we knew what life was and now death is life and this new life is the greatest adventure because it’s an adventure where we can see and touch Jesus, the thief who stole us from death and suffering.
It happens often in movies and in novels, where the hero is backed against an impossible wall and there is no way to escape. Suddenly the hero cries out for help and out of nowhere appears an all powerful friend who turns the entire situation around, and now the hero and her/his pal are beating back the enemy until they are victorious! That’s us with Jesus. So often we find ourselves backed against a wall and realize there is no way we can save ourselves so we cry out to Jesus, “Help Me Lord! I am trapped! Deliver me!” and like the friend in all the movies Jesus comes to us and changes our whole situation until we can see a new horizon and an escape from our enemy. Unlike the fictional movie friend, Jesus is already there waiting for us to call on Him. He’s not far away and has to come running, it’s not that He’s just showed up at the right time, it’s that He is with us already, we just needed to come to Him for help. Now notice also how in the movies the friend and the “hero” have to still battle their way out? that can also be the case for us. Jesus comes to our aid but we still have to fight through our problems with constant prayer. We will be delivered it just sometimes takes time; the defeating blow to our enemy is that we are no longer fighting alone, the minuet Jesus is fighting with us the tables turn and we have the winning hand. Another thing I want to point out, have you ever noticed how the “hero’s” friend is often the true hero of the story? For example: Sam from Lord of the Rings, Toto from Wizard of Oz, Little Creek from Spirit, and so many others, always remember that we are not the hero of our story, Jesus is. He’s that friend who drives out the darkness and brings us hope. Our friend is there to help us because He loves us, and heroes always come to save those in need. Isn’t it nice that we have a real and alive hero who came to save us and is there to help us? A hero who goes by the name Jehovah.