The World Behind You

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“The cross before you, the world behind you”

This week, I wanted to take a short break from our “Jesus Said” series and share one of my favorite prayers with you. I share it often when I speak to groups of women and it blesses me EVERY single time. I pray it speaks to you and rekindles a fire in your heart and reminds you of who you are in Him this Thanksgiving week.

I am a disciple of the Messiah.
I will not let up, look back or slow down.
My past is redeemed, my future secure. I am done with low living,
small planning, smooth knees, mundane talking, chincy giving and dwarfed goals.
I no longer need pre-eminence, prosperity, position or popularity.
I don’t have to be right, tops, recognized, praised or rewarded.
My face is set; my goal is sure.
My road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions few.
My God is reliable, my mission is clear.
I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, delayed or deluded.
I will not flinch in the face of adversity, not negotiate at the table of
my enemy or meander in the maze of mediocrity.
I am a disciple of the Messiah.
I must go until He comes, speak of all I know of Him, and work until He stops me.
And when He comes for His own, by the grace of God, He will have no problem
Recognizing me, because my colors are clear.
-Unknown Zimbabwean Pastor

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Jesus and Tears

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This is my 7th 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 tears.

My daughter came home the other day and told me they had celebrated the Day of the Dead in Spanish class. “They have a myth that you shouldn’t cry or it will create problems for your dead friends and family.” she mentioned causally, but with a look of question in her eyes. “Well, I’m glad that isn’t true!” I quickly remarked or all my friends, relatives and people I didn’t even know would be REALLY mad at me because I cry when they die and it’s healthy to cry.” I explained that I thought the reason I have to have my tear ducts replaced (I really did last week) is because I have cried so many tears for those who have come into my life and died, or for those who I recognize will be missed deeply, died tragically and sometimes when I’ve cried for joyous occasions and miracles of healing or a birth I’ve witnessed. Of course, I was kidding about the amount of my tears being the reason for my need of new tear ducts, but it feels like that could be the reason at I look back at some seasons of my life.

I discovered three main things about Jesus and tears this week. One, our tears are an offering. Two, Jesus didn’t like to see people weep and three, when it comes to death we shouldn’t weep, but rejoice. Let’s take a look.

In the book of Luke when Simon (a Pharisee) invites Jesus to dinner a sinful woman anointed His feet. Jesus responds:

“Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Luke 7:44-47

First, our tears are an offering. An offering is defined as something that is given to God or a god as a part of religious worship. When we cry to Him, the tears that fall are an offering. He takes the offering and offers us His peace, comfort, care, healing and love.

Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Psalm 126:5

Jesus brought more than one person back from the dead. He didn’t like to see others weeping and wailing over the loss. Just like we don’t. Only Jesus could actually do something about it and sometimes did. We see an example of this in Luke 7:13-14 when Jesus raises a young man from the dead after seeing the widow weeping.

When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!”

His heart goes out to us when we are hurting and when we cry, we wail, we mourn. He has compassion on us. He seeing and feels our pain and walks with us promising joy and laughter. I’m not sure about you, but knowing someone understands and cares when I’m am hurting always helps.

Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Luke 6:21

Third, Jesus reminds us not to cry for those who leave this earth. Now, I get this, but lets be honest! It’s not them I’m crying for, they have it easy up there in Heaven hanging out with Jesus, seeing old friends and relatives, singing praise songs in the Glory of our God. I’m crying for me! Yes, it’s selfish, but I’m the one stuck down here without my person and it hurts when daily life, food, places, and songs remind us of what we once had that is now gone. That said, Jesus asked an interesting question when He first appeared to Mary Magdalene after she tells John and Simon Peter His tomb is empty:

“He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic,“Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” John 20:15-17

OK, I love this. Jesus is like, “Woman, what’s up with this crying?! Don’t you know I’ve got to head back up to Heaven to work out the rest of this BIG plan God’s got going on for you and everyone else. It’s all good. I’m headed right where I belong.” Again, so much easier for the one who is going to Heaven (Oh, and for the Son of God) to be all chill about it. (side note: I’m not sure why death makes me us so much slang. It just seems to work here.)

As the holiday season approaches, emotions are heightened and the sense of loss we seem to deep to overcome. Keep crying when you need to cry. Don’t deny yourself the quiet moments to mourn the loss of those you love and have lost, our tears are an offering and God cares and sees your pain and has promised you joy and laughter in the days to come. God adores YOU and counts each tear that falls.

 

Jesus and Fertilizer

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This is my 5th 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 fertilizer. Yes, fertilizer. Stick with me!

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’  “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’” Luke 13:6-9

Although this parable is said to symbolize Israel’s disobedience towards God, let’s break down and see how it can relate to our own lives by looking a little closer at three phrases or ideas: 1) for three years, 2) dig around it and fertilize and 3) cut it down. Here we go again, last there was the gouging of eyes and this week more cutting, but at least it’s just a fig tree this time. Let’s break it down:

1. three years – Scripture tells us that we have a patient God who is slow to anger. He will never leave us, but he has given us free will which sometimes provides us with just enough rope to tie ourselves up in a BIG mess. Amen!?

2. dig around it and fertilize – When we create a mess, God does what He can with it to turn it into a beautiful Abstract piece of art to molds and shapes us in ways that make us stronger, more faithful and trusting of His ways. We may dig the hole, but God uses that hole to fill it up with fertilizer. The purpose of fertilizer in soil and in us is to promote growth and increase productivity. God desires that for each of us.

3. cut it down – Unfortunately, sometimes we are stubborn, slow learners who have to learn the hard way (Ugh, that would be me). When this happens and God has been patient, fertilized hoping for a change, but gets no response we give Him no choice but to leave us to our own devises. We are so caught up in ourselves, our pride, fear and addictions the fertilizer useless; the disease and infection has spread to far. The tree dies (or our hearts do) and it must be cut down. Cut down so it can be replanted with, hopefully, richer soil, greater strength and no disease. A fresh start!

The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet. Nahum 1:2

Thankfully, we don’t need to be cut down to start over. However, I can’t promise it won’t feel as if you have been. We only have to believe in our risen Lord, ask for a fresh start and accept the gracious and merciful gift of forgiveness and love. Being forgiven doesn’t mean that the consequences of our actions will disappear. Paying the consequences for ignoring the benefits of the fertilizer still come with the love and forgiveness, but the love and forgiveness are real!