Jesus and Verbosity

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This is my 6th blog in a series called “Jesus Said”. The purpose of this series it to take a closer look at the word of God and discover the message God has for us so we don’t drift away from the life He desires for us. Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.  Hebrews 2:1  Today we are looking at what Jesus said about verbosity.

Verbosity: the quality of using more words than needed; wordiness

And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Matthew 6:7-13 NIV

This blog was written about three weeks ago as I sat on a beautiful Sunday morning in my favorite front porch rocker with tears streaming down my face. Tears for a friend that died just a few hours before I sat down to write. As I looked through the topics in this series I wanted to write about, “verbosity” stuck out.

Words! Words! Words! They can be so destructive and empty or they can be powerful and heartfelt. They can also feel as if they could never be enough. I remember all the times I prayed with this particular friend while she sat in the hospital waiting for new lungs to arrive. It’s funny, it was only about 10 years ago that I wouldn’t even pray out loud – now I will stop in the middle of the Starbucks line and pray with someone. I wish I had  known before what I know now. Prayers don’t have to be long, perfect, beautiful, edited poems we recite. It isn’t a competition. My prayers, your prayers and their prayers, if from the heart, all matter. All count and all are heard!

As Jesus says in the verses from Matthew, He already knows our hearts so there is no need to go into a long detailed account of it all. So why pray at all? God wants to hear from us. Prayer, like sitting down with a friend to chat, builds our relationship with Him. He listens. He knows. He understands, but wants to hear it from you. Consider this, we may hear about something that happened to a friend, but when we see that friend we always want them to share their story, their feelings and their experience. We want to listen because we care and we realize it helps when we actively listen and let others share their hearts. When we pray, that’s what God is doing for us. So, leave out the flashy, fake and planned. He just wants you to come as you are and share what’s on your heart – plain and simple.

“The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this: Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are. Set the world right; Do what’s best— as above, so below. Keep us alive with three square meals. Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others. Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil. You’re in charge! You can do anything you want! You’re ablaze in beauty! Yes. Yes. Yes. Matthew 6:7-13 MSG

A prayer request as I close:

I know we all have a thousand and one people to pray for these days, but if you would add one more to your list and pray for my friend’s family. She is celebrating in Heaven with her mom, but there is a sweet little boy who has lost his mom, an adoring husband who will miss her painfully and a father and step-mom who must endure the loss of a child.  They are left with hearts full of sadness, loss and grief. Please pray God will provide them every provision during this time of loss and I will pray for those of you who are also grieving the loss of a friend, loved one or relationship. God hears our prayers – every one – and is close to the broken-hearted.

Keep it simple. God hears you!

Jesus and Angels

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This is my 3rd blog in a series called “Jesus Said”. The purpose of this series it to take a closer look at the word of God and discover the message God has for us so we don’t drift away from the life He desires for us. Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.  Hebrews 2:1  Today we are looking at what Jesus said about angels.

Hebrews 1 and 2 are filled with references to angels and how Jesus stands out among them. I find it fascinating how the unknown author of Hebrews takes so much time pointing out to his readers that Jesus is no ordinary angel or person. Jesus stands out! He is above the angels, and as these verses point out, God never spoke of any of His angels the way He spoke about Jesus.

For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”? Or again, I will be to him a father,and he shall be to me a son”? And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” Hebrews 1:5-6
Then, we get to the actual references that Jesus uses in His life and parables.
In the parable of the lost sheep where Jesus is talking about the value of children, He says, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in Heaven.Matthew 18:10
Even here, as Jesus awaits His faith in the Garden of Gethsemane, He says to Peter as he tries to defend Him, Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” Matthew 26:52-54
My children have asked me so many times if angels really exist. There are have been times in my life where people I don’t know (or do) have shown up at just the right time to help me when I was in need. I have even said to them, “Thank you for being my angel today.” I have had others say the same to me. I have felt the presence of angels at the death bed of two dear friends. However, before digging into the scriptures to see what Jesus said about angels, I couldn’t say with confidence, “Yes! angels to exist!”
Studying the word of God is so important. We can’t answer the important questions in life, find the correct guidance and grow closer to a Heavenly Father that loves us beyond imagination without sitting down and picking it up for ourselves. I pray as we continue to move through this “Jesus Said” series you will be inspired to grab your Bible off the shelf and dig a little deeper into the topic on your heart.

Jesus and Your Right Eye

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This is my 4th blog in a series called “Jesus Said”. The purpose of this series it to look closer at the word of God and discover the message God has for us so we don’t drift away from the life He desires for us. Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.  Hebrews 2:1  Today we are looking at what Jesus said about body parts, specifically your right eye and right hand.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. Matthew 5:27-30

OK, this is a pretty harsh and bit yucky too (it certainly fits in with the “Halloween time” of year). Leave it to Jesus to give a little shock factor. I love it! However, I believe Jesus is trying to get our attention for an important reason that isn’t just a tough lesson on adultery and marriage . . . it goes much deeper.

Obviously, Jesus isn’t really saying we should gouge out our eyes or cut off our hands when we sin – otherwise we would all be dead pretty early on in life. Amen! In these scriptures, He is trying to illustrate how incapable we are of overcoming sin and temptation (whether it’s lust or something else) if we don’t have Him in our lives. God did not create us with the ability to overcome temptations and sin on our own. It requires our Heavenly Father to be in the mix. It’s only through the grace, strength, endurance, love and courage that God offers that we are able to stamp out the deceiver’s lies and tricks.

Is there something in your life that is causing you to stumble repeatedly? Maybe it’s a friend that isn’t a great influence, maybe it’s your eyes that seem to wander or a hand that never seems fulfilled unless it’s holding the latest jewelry or trendy top. Or is it innocent flirting that could slowly lead to more before you realize it or just a grip on our finances that is too tight to be generous for God’s kingdom? I believe we all have something in our lives that needs a little cutting off, a trim. Unlike a haircut, this trim will take much more effort and may even be a little painful, but the final product will be a life that depends more on the Lord, one that walks closer with Him and a Light that shines brighter for Him.

Will you take a minute to reflect and pray about what needs to be trimmed out of your life so there is more room for Christ?

Jesus and Salt

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This is my 2nd blog in a series called “Jesus Said”. The purpose of this series it to look closer at the word of God and discover the message God has for us so we don’t drift away from the life He desires for us. Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.  Hebrews 2:1  Today we are looking at what Jesus said about salt.

Let’s begin by looking at the definition of salt. Salt is a white substance used to flavor or preserve food. Chemically speaking, salts are compounds that result from an acid or base after being neutralized.

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” Matthew 5:13 (from the Sermon on the Mount to Jesus’s disciples and the crowds who gathered)

Like salt, when our lives are filled with the Word of God we can be preserved to look more like the person Christ sees and have the ability to bring others to Christ. Being filled with Christ, we can neutralize anger, resentment, fear and other entanglements that enter our hearts and minds.

Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” Mark 9:50

We could look at this from several angles, but it seems Jesus mostly talks about how we restore the saltiness if the taste is lost. In other words, how do we return to being the salt of the earth and productive disciples for His glory and kingdom if we have lost our way (saltiness). We are useless if we are not connected in Christ through His word and Holy Spirit. Although, Jesus doesn’t give us specific directions  in these verses on how to specifically restore the saltiness, He reminds us that salt without flavor is useless. In fact, in Luke 14:35 (ESV) Jesus says, “It is of no use either for the soul or for the manure pile” No sugar coating the meaning in that verse!

We are useless to share God’s word and love with others if we lose our saltiness or connection with Him. All the things we desire: peace, rest, forgiveness, love, restoration, healing, eternal life, contentment, strength, passion, __________________________________ (you fill in a word). All these things can only come from one source. The source of life that flows from our Heavenly Father. He is the only one who can offer us the lasting salty flavor we crave and need to be useful for His glory.

Although he doesn’t give us specific ways to find our salty flavor in these passages, we are reminded throughout scripture in other places on how to make it happen. Check out these verses:

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  Matthew 6:33

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:16

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5

I know! It seems to simple, but the key to keeping it salty is to ask and to believe. He who has given so much to us – asks so little in return. Why do we make it harder than it needs to be? What are some ways you can return the salty flavor into your life?

 

The “Jesus Said” Series . . .

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After spending some time in Hebrews over the past few weeks, I was moved by several verses that describe Jesus and make Him known in ways that give us no room for doubt about His character and His heritage. So, over the next few months I’ve decided to do a series about the Son of God and what He said (as documented in scripture) about certain topics. Disclaimer: it’s not going to be political. We are going to look at what Jesus said about everyday things like secrets, cumin, angels and more.

First, who this Jesus?

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you” Or again, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son” And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” Hebrews 1:1-5 (ESV)

This is what ended up in my notes after reading this passage (see picture below).

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I know it’s difficult to read so I’ll put my rays of sunshine into bullet points. The Son of God: radiates from God’s own glory, expresses the character of God, sits at the right hand of God, is anointed by God, greater than all the angels, cleansed us of our sins, sustains everything with God’s power, loves justice and hates evil, has a name above all names. It’s tough to argue with those facts. The unknown author of Hebrews cuts right to the chase about Jesus in these first few verses. It’s almost as if he is in a hurry to get the most amazing facts out as a reminder so they (Jewish Christians considering turning back to the old ways of Judaism) won’t disregard the rest as junk mail and toss it. I feel like, as Christians, we sometimes do this to the word of God. We take what we like and we toss what we don’t. It’s all there for a reason and it’s ALL God inspired. Every single word!

Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.  Hebrews 2:1

This verse reminds us of something vital to our Christian lives! We can read these incredible descriptions of Christ and believe them, but if we aren’t paying close attention to what He said and taught as He walked this Earth by reading the Bible, we will have the tendency to drift away from it. To forget the Truth, who we serve, His power and His glory can mean death to our faith and His light that desires to shine in us.

I hope you will stick around for this series. We are going to have some fun exploring the scriptures and uncovering some interesting thoughts shared by our Savior. Let’s do some reading so we don’t do any drifting!