He Knows My Name

One of my favorite parts of the resurrection story is when Mary Magdalene was standing outside the empty tomb, heartbroken because the tomb was empty, and she did not know where the body of Jesus had been taken.

When Jesus appeared to her, she did not recognize him and thought he was the gardener. “Sir, if you have carried him away, please tell me where you laid him.” At that moment, Jesus spoke her name. “Mary,”

At the sound of Jesus speaking her name, she realized it was Him!

Something is very special to us – the sound of our name in the voice of a loved one.

Jesus spoke of knowing His voice in John 10

“I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”

In Psalm 139 the writer reflects on how well God knows us.

O Lord, you have examined my heart
    and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
    and when I rest at home.
    You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
    even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too great for me to understand!

To me, in times of difficulty – it is so good to know that Jesus knows my name.

Want Eternal Life?

A rich young ruler came to Jesus with an important question: “What can I do to inherit eternal life?”

Depending on what religious background you come from, there could be different answers.

Some religions reject the very idea of “eternal life” and believe your spirit will live on in some form or another and that reincarnation depends on how you lived in the present life.

Other religions believe you inherit eternal life by the good deeds you do in this life.

Christianity is unique in stating there is nothing we can do to inherit eternal life, but that it is a free gift given by faith in Jesus Christ.

Yet, when we look at this young man’s encounter with Jesus, the answer Jesus gave seems to imply we do inherit eternal life by what we do.

Jesus told him “If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” Is Jesus saying that we are saved by obeying the commandments? What about the verses that declare we are saved by grace and not by our own efforts?

When the young man asked Jesus exactly what commandments he should keep, Jesus recited six of the ten commandments. The young man informed Jesus that he had kept all these commandments all his life, but then asked, “What do I still lack?”

The rich young ruler was confident of his goodness. Still, he apparently recognized that something was missing. He had been honest and truthful. He had kept himself pure from sinful deeds. So what did he lack?

Jesus saw that this young man was leading a selfish life. He had not cheated anyone, but he had also not been willing to share his riches to help others. He lacked the love of God for others.

Jesus was pointing out the one area where the man did not fulfill the Law. If inheriting eternal life meant giving up his wealth, he was not willing to do that. His love of wealth became the obstacle to his following Jesus. His love of money prevented him from obeying the two greatest commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” and “Love you neighbor as yourself.”

Today many look at this story and say that only applied to this young man because Jesus knew the young man’s heart was focused on money. He would never ask us to sell all we have and give to the poor.

Probably not. But I think the lesson for us is to examine our own heart. Is there anything we want to hold on for ourselves and not surrender to the Lord. Maybe it is our money. Are we generous with the financial blessings we have been given? Do we spend it all on ourselves or reach out to the needy in our community? Maybe it is our time. Are we willing to turn off the TV and spend some time in prayer and God’s Word. Or give up that nap we had planned and go visit someone who is lonely and in need of encouragement. Maybe it is our talent. Do we seek how we can use the God-given abilities to not enjoy ourselves but to help someone else? Bake that cake for a neighbor, knit a scarf for the homeless, play music to the elderly in the nursing homes.

Eternal life is a gift from God. But we need to make sure that there is nothing that stands between us and a love for God that puts Him first, others second and then ourselves.

Is there anything I lack? Lord, show me.

Words to Build a Life On

Although I wrote this 8 years ago, it is still true today.

Grandma's Ramblings

DSCF0001
When I was a young girl just learning to read, my primary storybook was the Hurlbut’s Story of the Bible for Young and Old.  Originally published in 1904 it was the complete Bible story including the Old Testament and the New Testament.  Unlike most of today’s Bible Storybooks for children, this book was a continuous narrative of the Scriptures told in one hundred sixty-eight stories.  I loved reading about the Old Testament characters – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Samuel and King David.  While other children of my generation read books about Dick and Jane that said,

See Spot run!

I was busy reading about the prophet Samuel who said,

Is the Lord as well pleased with offerings as He is with obeying His words?  To obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen to God’s word is more precious than to place offerings on His altar.

Today I am an avid and…

View original post 1,067 more words

Friday’s Fruitful List

The Bible lists nine fruit of the Holy Spirit. I find it interesting that it is fruit not fruits; singular not plural. Appears God desires for us to display all of His attributes; not pick and choose. It should be our prayer for all of the Holy Spirit’s presence to be shown in our life.

  1. love
  2. joy
  3. peace
  4. patience
  5. kindness
  6. goodness
  7. faithfulness
  8. gentleness
  9. self-control

Jesus said we would be known by our fruit.

Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit...Matthew 12:33

Two things I note about fruit.

First, for a tree branch to bear fruit it must be attached to the tree. Cut apart from the tree, it will soon wither and die. Jesus told us:

Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.

So, we cannot on our own display with any consistency the fruit of the Holy Spirit. That is the beauty of it. We do not have to work hard and strain to be loving, have joy, self-control etc. When we “stay in the vine” we will produce the fruit as naturally as an apple tree produces apples.

Second, the purpose of fruit is to provide nourishment for those who pick the fruit. Sometimes I think we feel having fruit of the Spirit is to make us some wonderful Christian. But I think the purpose is to provide love, joy, peace etc. to those around us who need it.

I pray I will have the love of God so those I meet who need someone to show love will find it in me. I pray I will have the joy of God so those I meet who may be discouraged will be encouraged by what I say or do. I pray all of the fruit will be shown in my daily life as I meet others so that I can be an encouragement, maybe provide a challenge, certainly show the character of Jesus to others.

It’s Not Fair – or Is It?

Reading this week in Matthew the parable Jesus told of workers and their pay. He tells of the owner of a vineyard who goes out to find workers to harvest his crops. Apparently, there were men who had no permanent job and would gather in town hoping for someone to give them work for the day.

Arriving early in the morning the owner offers the group of men gathered there a day’s wages if they would work in his vineyard. The amount of wages being agreed on, he took the men to his fields to work. As the day went on, he decided he needed more workers to get the job done so he returned to the town square and found more men looking for work. With this group no set wages were agreed on; the owner simply said he would pay them whatever was right. He continued to go back to the town square throughout the day and hired more workers each time with the understanding he would pay whatever was right.

At the end of the day when time came for the workers to be paid, he told his manager to pay those who had been the last to be hired first. Was this fair? Imagine you were one of those who had worked throughout the entire day having to stand in line and wait while those who only worked one or two hours received their wages first.

The men who were paid first received a full day’s wage. Seeing that, those who had labored all day thought they would be getting more and were probably excited about the prospect of making more than a day’s wage.

However, when they came to be paid, they received the same wage as those who had only worked a few hours. They were not happy campers.

Was this fair?

When the workers complained to the vineyard owner, he reminded them that they had agreed to work all day for a day’s wages. That was fair. He had kept his word. They were given exactly what he had promised and what they had agreed to.

In our culture this would be a source of lawsuits and demonstrations. How does that line up with “equal pay for equal work.”

Wondering what Jesus really meant by this parable, I think of the meaning of God’s grace.

The workers had not been taken advantage of. They received exactly what they had agreed to and what was the going rate for a day’s labor. This story shows the owner’s generosity, his mercy, his grace to all.

I believe it is a good reminder to us that we are not saved by what we do, but by the mercy and grace of God. Sometimes we may think “I’m a good Christian. I have never cheated on my husband. I have been a loving mother. I give generous to the church and to those in need. But I am slow to recognize how sometimes I have acted selfishly, been unkind or critical to others, turned a blind eye to someone in need.

And so, we really want God to be fair? To give us what we deserve? Have we lived a perfect life with no need of mercy or grace? Thank God that he is not fair.

He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. Psalm 103:10

Second thought – the workers who came late to the field, did they not have a family that needed to eat also? How was it wrong to give them a wage that allowed their families to also have their needs met?

Some of us may make great sacrifices for the work of God. Then like the thief on the cross with Jesus, others slip into the kingdom on their deathbed without having done anything for God’s kingdom.

Is this fair?

This scandal of grace is a sign of the unbelievable goodness of God. It’s possible that someone could look at a lifetime of service and feel, like the early laborers, that they were cheated. But this is the wrong way to look at faithfulness.

When we truly recognize the lavish generosity of God’s mercy, it’s a game changer. We stop focusing on what’s “fair,” and begin to humbly appreciate God’s unbelievable benevolence. Hopefully, we recognize what the early laborers missed: It’s a privilege to serve a God who is so kind and unselfish.

The Jesus project

The Joy of Being Number 2

I wrote this blog over four years ago – but this week my husband and I have been reading the book of Acts – and once again I see my role mode – Barnabas and his great ability to encourage others. That is still my prayer for myself.

Grandma's Ramblings

We all love a winner!

#1

We hold parades, parties, all kinds of celebrations when our team becomes state champion.  Coming in second in a state-wide contest leaves people feeling so dejected.  They seem to forget that being second means they have beat out many other teams.

#1 team

In the Olympics, athletics say they are going for the gold.  You don’t win silver, you lose gold.

This desire to be number 1 is not necessarily a bad thing.  To try to do your best, to succeed, to take pride in what you achieve, to have a healthy self-esteem are all good qualities.

But when that desire to be number 1 becomes so important that it leads us to step on others to reach the top, to despair when we do not achieve first place or to be overly prideful when we do, it has become a negative influence in our life.

For…

View original post 1,075 more words

Friday’s Words for Wisdom and/or Laughter

More gems from my devotion book.

  1. How rare it is to find a person quiet enough to hear God speak
  2. God will only answer when you come close enough to hear.
  3. The other person’s sins, like the other car’s headlights, always seem more glaring than our own.
  4. As the leadership of a nation goes, so goes the nation.
  5. A lot of kneeling keeps you in good standing with God.
  6. People who admit they’re wrong usually go farther in life than people who try to prove they’re right.
  7. The real value of a thing is the price it will bring in eternity.
  8. Busyness in the King’s business if no excuse for neglecting the King.
  9. The only part of the Bible you truly believe is the part you obey.
  10. The Gospel is neither a discussion nor a debate; it is an announcement.

Dangerous Prayers

My church has been doing a series on dangerous prayers – and it has given me much thought.

I have to admit that most of my prayers are for me and mine. While there is certainly nothing wrong with praying for my family, my friends, my needs, taking a look at some of the prayers in the Bible has reminded me that I am called to let my love and concern go beyond my own small circle.

Looking at the prayers in God’s Word leads me to go deeper in my prayer time. Time spent in prayer should not just telling God of our needs and desires, but a time to be quiet and let Him speak to us.

Psalm 139:23-24 – “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”

The prayer of the early church in Acts has always amazed me. After two of their leaders had been arrested and spent the night in jail, they were released with the command to never speak of Jesus again. Arriving at the house where the church was gathered for prayer, I would think they would pray for God’s protection, for deliverance from the persecution. But they did not. Instead, they prayed “make me bold.”

Acts 4:29 – “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.”

In our culture today when it seems society is more and more hostile to Christian principles it can be so easy to just ask God to keep me and mine safe. But I need to ask God to help my family, my friends be bold to proclaim God’s love to this needy world.

Many times, when I pray for my family, my prayers are focused on more material issues. “Give this child a job.” “Heal this child.” “Help this child in their efforts for school or work or family.”

Again, these prayers are certainly ones we should pray. After all, God cares about every aspect of our life. But I found a prayer in one of the Apostle Paul’s writings that helps me focus on the most important needs of my family – their spiritual welfare.

Colossians 1: 9-12 – “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.”

In today’s message my pastor talked about Isaiah and his experience when he had a vision of the Lord in all His glory. Isaiah’s first response was to recognize his own sinfulness and need of cleansing. When the seraphim placed a coal of fire on his lips and told him he was forgiven, his immediate response was to say “Send me.”

I often wondered why the seraphim chose to place the coals on his lips rather than on his head or hands. But when Isaiah saw the glory of God, he responded by saying “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.”

Isaiah understood what Jesus later told us. “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them. But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”

As Isaiah experienced God’s forgiveness, he was ready to say, “Send me.” How often do I pray for God to meet this need or solve this problem, but how often do I make myself available for God to use me as an answer to that prayer?

I realize as I pray I need to take time to be quiet, to let God speak to me about areas in my life that need forgiveness, healing, strength. To say “search me.” To pray “make me bold” that I might be unafraid to share the good news of God’s love to those I meet at the store, in the library or wherever I may go. To focus more on the “spiritual” needs of those on my prayer list and not just on the “physical” needs. To ask God to “send me” and then seek to be more aware of the opportunities He places in my path to be used of Him.

Dangerous prayers – prayers that might require more of me rather than just giving God a list of wishes/needs for Him to take care of.

Join me in praying some dangerous prayers and see what God will do in us and through us.

Friday’s List for Wisdom and Laughter

  1. Eternity is too long to be wrong
  2. Say “no” to sin and “yes” to God
  3. Make no “appeal” for God until you “kneel” to God
  4. God is not so much seeking those who can do everything as He is those who are willing to do anything.
  5. Security is not the absence of danger, but the presence of God no matter what the danger.
  6. We cannot look at the cross and still think our life is of no importance to God.
  7. The only part of the Bible you believe is the part you obey.
  8. Man sees your actions, but God sees your motives.
  9. Satan never fears the Christian whose Bible is covered with dust.
  10. Religion is man searching for God, Christianity is God reaching down to man.

Friday’s Quotes – Importance of God’s Word

  1. Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
  2. How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living accord to Your word.
  3. I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You.
  4. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.
  5. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
  6. It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.
  7. The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.
  8. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
  9. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
  10. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.