My desire to grow closer to Jesus

542156_Churches-Covered-in-Snow-7Its been bitterly cold here in southwest Indiana. It doesn’t typically hit the teens for highs here. This cold reminds me of growing up in northeastern Iowa. Winter was always bitterly cold there. But what we had there that we don’t have here was mounds and mounds of snow. I remember having a difficult time getting warm. I’d sit next to the heat register in our dining room in the mornings eating my breakfast to try and keep warm. We had a fireplace in our family room and any time there was a fire, I’d be sitting on the hearth to catch the warmth.

I was thinking the other day about how this past need to keep warm in the bitter Iowa cold is a lot like my need to grow ever closer to the Lord. The world can be a bitterly cold place and I find I want to be closer and closer to Jesus to get warm.

So, how can I do that? For me, it’s staying in God’s Word on a daily basis. And not just once a day. Throughout my day. Yes, I have my study for Bible Study Fellowship to work on each day. But, taking time to read His word and devotions based on His word should also be a part of my day. God speaks to us through His word and what better way to draw nearer to Him than having Him speak to us.

Next for me, is music. KLOVE radio is having their annual 31 day challenge. They challenge us to listen to only Christian music for the month of January. For me, that’s no big deal. I listen to Christian music probably 95% of the time. This is another instance of God speaking to me. Songs can have a huge impact on me and I believe the Lord uses that to guide and direct me.

Third, prayer. My prayer life goes up and down in consistency. Don’t know why, but it does. But, I also know that without prayer I’m not building a very good relationship with God. How can a relationship grow if there’s no communication? So, for me to get all warm and snugly with Jesus, I need to speak with Him daily. And, just like with reading His word, not just once a day, but throughout the day.

This is a new year. I don’t really like making resolutions or doing that “one word” thing. I prefer to allow God to guide me throughout the year and move me in whatever direction He chooses without being stuck to a resolution or word. However, reflecting and desiring to improve on our Walk with Him is never a bad thing. If the calendar can help guide that, so be it. So, right now, at the start of 2015, I’m desiring a closer relationship with my Lord and Savior and I’m going to use those three points up above to do that. Plus, anything else the Holy Spirit shows me I need to do.

Those are my thoughts for today.

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Names of Christ #5–I AM

In the book of John, there are seven “I AM” statements made by Jesus that tell us who He is. Every one of these statements can be considered unique names of Christ. Read them over and consider what they mean to you and the implications of Christ possessing each of these qualities.

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35)

Just as food can calm our hungry stomachs, Christ can calm our hungry souls. The need for “something more” that we all seem to desire. Our thirst and desire for relief from the guilt of sin is found in Jesus Christ and we never have to yearn for salvation again if we believe in Him and accept in Him once and for all.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

To live by the light of Christ is to see clearly the meaning of life—to live a life devoted to God and His will for us. It is like following someone in the dark and that person is the only one with a flashlight. He is followed because he can see the way to go but following the flashlight-bearer is a choice.

I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. (John 10:9)

Right here, Jesus is telling us he is the way to salvation. He is the only way. We must put our trust and faith in Him to be saved. To be able to come in and go out is to move freely and safely. Christ provides the protection for us just as Psalm 121:8 says “The LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” To find pasture is to find abundance and nourishment. Again, Jesus provides that for each of us that believe in Him as our Lord and Savior.

 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)

Jesus as Shepherd does more than risk His life; He gives His life in death. This sacrifice is for “the sheep”—his followers.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

Jesus is speaking to Martha here after Lazarus has died. He was drawing her into a personal relationship with Him using the doctrinal beliefs she already had. He wants her to know that He is the source of a resurrected life—both spiritually and physically. The spiritually dead person will live again in Christ and those who believe will never die because of the certainty of eternity with Christ.

Martha’s response?  “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” (John 11:27). Is that your response?

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

Jesus here states that He, alone, is the source of the way, the truth, and the life. He is not one of the ways or one of many truths. He is not just a philosopher teaching about a way, a truth, or a life. Here, He clearly states His deity and oneness with God the Father.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

To remain in Christ is to bear fruit both in Christ-like character and in influencing others. To remain or be dependent on Jesus is not a negative thing. It is truly living by faith. 

Here’s another song to listen to go along with Jesus Christ as the Great I AM.

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Those are my thoughts for today.

Week #1–Lamb of God

Week #2–Son of Man

Week #3–Son of God

Week #4–The Word

Names of Christ #4–The Word

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. (John 1:1-4)

The book of John is my favorite Gospel (and possibly my favorite book of the Bible, period). It was the first book I studied as a new believer. Jesus’ designation as The Word has always made me feel comfort and warmth. Possibly because I’m a writer and words are special to me–I like using just the right words to get my thoughts across.

Jesus used words to create the universe and all that is in it. Throughout the first chapter of Genesis it says “And God said, ‘Let there be….’” God spoke and it happened—light, animals, plants, humans. John 1:3 tells us that Jesus made all things with those spoken words. This Word that created all things and continues to sustain them, became personal by living and dying in the world He created.

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. (John 1:10-11) 

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. (John 1:14a)

Words have a power all their own

Jesus left his exalted place on high as the Creator and Sustainer of all things to live with us lowly humans, His created beings. Why would he do that? Because He loves us even though we reject Him all the time. That blows my mind. I would do a lot for my kids. But if they continually rejected me and my love, I think I’d turn away from them and sever the relationship. So glad God is not like me!

Jesus provided us with physical life by creating us. Then He provided us with spiritual life by giving up His life so that we might have a relationship with the Lord God for eternity. It just boggles me to consider that. The creator of my physical life also has provided me with my spiritual security even though He didn’t have to. He wanted to because of His deep love for me, and for you.

This Easter season, consider that concept. Thank God for your physical life but also give Him the gratitude He so deserves for your spiritual life. That as The Word, He became flesh to live among us to provide us with the way to a relationship with Him for all eternity.

Those are my thoughts for today.

Week #1–Lamb of God

Week #2–Son of Man

Week #3–Son of God

Names of Christ #3–Son of God

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20

The second part of the Trinity–Son of God. This name for Christ is a familiar one. It might even be one that you say “well, duh.” However, what does it mean for Jesus to be the Son of God?

To be a son means to have the full benefits of that family. To be a part of those people you call parents. For biological sons, it may even mean having physical characteristics like your father. Our son is tall just like his father, he has a dimple in his chin like his dad, he also has the high forehead his dad has. Many people say he looks like his dad. I, personally, think he is a good combination of both of us. My son’s son, also has similarities to his father. The dimpled chin and the high forehead. When holding up a photo of my son as a baby next to our grandson, oh, boy, is there ever a similarity.

So, how is Christ like His father. What characteristics does He have that the Father in heaven has? How about: holy, all-knowing, all-powerful, righteous, merciful, gracious, kind, judicious, promise keeper, faithful, and just.

Jesus, himself, said to know Him was to know the Father (Matthew 11:27–All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him).

He is the exact representation of the Father (Hebrews 1:3–The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word).

So, for us to know Jesus Christ, believe in Him with our whole heart, and accept Him as our Lord and Savior means we know God the Father also. Because, Jesus IS God.

John 20:31–But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Here is another song for you to listen to this week and to reflect on Jesus as the Son of God.

Jesus Son of God by Chris Tomlin

Those are my thoughts for today.

Week #1–Lamb of God

Week #2–Son of Man

Names of Christ #2–Son of Man

Jesus Christ used the title “Son of man” for himself. It is used 82x in the New Testament (NIV). Most of the references are found in the Gospels—all four of them actually. It occurs only three times in the New Testament outside the Gospels (Acts 7:56; Rev. 1:13; 14:14). The term points to the humanity and servanthood of Christ, but also reflects Daniel’s (7:13 & 14) vision of the son of man as a coming figure of judgment and authority.

According to the Holman Bible Handbook, Jesus used the title Son of man in four different ways: (1) Jesus was simply referring to himself (Matthew 26:24); (2) the Son of Man is one who exercises divine authority (Matthew 9:6); (3) the Son of man fulfills His earthly mission by death and resurrection (Matthew 12:40, 17:9, 12:23); and (4) the Son of man will return in great glory to establish His kingdom (Matthew 16:27-28, 19:28). In this way, Jesus defined who He, the messianic Son of man, is.

Here are some passages to meditate on when considering our Messiah, the Son of man, Jesus Christ.

Mark 10:45:

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve,

and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Here Christ shows us that His greatest act of service was giving His life as the payment for the price of our sin. For us, also, we should desire to serve others above being served.

John 12:23:

The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.

We may think of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross here. But, His resurrection reveals His glory and his eternal life. By believing in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we, too, can have the same eternal life.

Matthew 9:6:

But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.

Here, Jesus has healed a paralyzed man. The teachers of the law accuse Him of blaspheming. But Christ lets them (and us) know that He has the power to forgive and the power to heal. He still has the power to forgive (if we but ask) and the power to heal.

Matthew 24:44:

So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come

at an hour when you do not expect him.

We are not to worry about the exact date or time when Jesus will return, our emphasis should be on being ready, at all times.

Luke 12:8:

I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God.

No better reason to be bold in our witness. By our actions and our words, we need to show others Jesus Christ. Because when we do, he tells the angels about us!

John 3:13:

No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.

Christ came down out of His home in heaven to live among us for a brief time. After His resurrection and 40 more days on earth, He went back to His home to sit at the right hand of the Father to intercede for us. Jesus is our only way to heaven. He became the connection between heaven and earth.

Here is a song, an oldie, but fits so well with my Lenten theme of Names of Christ:

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Names of Christ #1–Lamb of God.

Those are my thoughts for today.

Devotions for Lent–The Names of Christ

Today starts Lent. That season in the Christian calendar when we believers in Jesus Christ take 40 days (not counting Sundays) to reflect on Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf. Each week during Lent, I am going to write on one of the names of Jesus. In doing so, I pray that both you and I will gain a deeper appreciation of who our Savior is and will be evermore thankful on Easter Sunday for what he has done for each of us.

This week: The Lamb of God.

“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God,
who takes away the sin of the world!’” (John 1:29)

Lately, I have been studying the life of Abraham. I’ve done this study before but since it was many years ago, I am gleaning new things from this study. One of those new things is the similarity that can be drawn between Isaac’s sacrifice and the sacrifice made by Jesus. I don’t believe I’ve ever paid attention to that fact. I’ve just always looked at Abraham’s faith and obedience. But Isaac was a dutiful son just like Christ was to God the Father. Both were born after a delay from a promise, both of their names have special meanings, both of their mothers were given the promise of their births along with the fathers, and both of their births brought abundant joy.

In Genesis 22, God tells Abraham to take his son, his only son, whom he loves (v. 2) and to sacrifice him at Mt. Moriah. Just as God the Father gave his Son, his only Son, whom he loves (Matt. 3:17) as a sacrifice for us. In v. 4, Abraham, Isaac, and their servants have traveled for three days to get to the place God told Abraham to go to for the sacrifice. Three days, the same amount of time before Christ’s resurrection. Abraham, too, believed his son would defy death. He told his servants that they would return after their time of worship (v. 5). However, Christ did truly rise from the dead. Isaac at some point died.

Isaac in v. 6 is given the wood for the sacrificial fire to carry by his father. Christ had to carry his own cross of wood to his place of sacrifice. Both of them obeying their fathers; not questioning or backing away. Both being obedient sons and willingly offering themselves because of their confidence in their fathers’ requests.

The similarities end at v. 13. For Isaac, a substitute was provided—a ram. For Jesus, no substitute could be provided because He himself was the substitute. He died in our place, for our sins. Christ died for us because of His love for His father and His love for us.

Jesus Christ IS the Lamb of God. There is no salvation without faith in the Lamb’s sacrifice. When you know and believe in the Lamb, you will follow Him wherever, whenever, however.

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. (Isaiah 53:7)

Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. (1 Corinthians 5:7)

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. (1 Peter 1:18-19)

In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” (Revelation 5:12)

Those are my thoughts for today.

Credit needs to be given to Bible Study Fellowship and Pastor Ken Idleman of Crossroads Christian Church, Evansville, IN for providing inspiration in the writing of this blog.

I’ve linked up with Christian Mommy blogger for Fellowship Fridays.

Am I being Terah to my husband?

For 2013, I am trying to be more obedient to God. To make sure I am in His will and doing what He desires for me to do with my life.

Several weeks ago, the senior pastor at our church mentioned something during his message that struck me and has continued to play around in my head. In Genesis 11, it mentions that Terah, the father of Abraham left Ur with Abraham, Sarah, and Lot and went to Harran. Terah died in Harran.

What our pastor said was that he wondered if Terah delayed Abraham’s trip to Canaan. You see in

Genesis 12 we learn that God has called Abraham to leave Ur and go to the land God will show him. Abraham was obedient and left. However, there seems to be a bit of a lay-over in Harran. One that lasted possibly several years.

So, the question is, did Terah cause Abraham to delay his travels because he was ill, because he liked Harran and wanted to stay there, or just something else happened? Then our pastor posed this question to us — who are we being Terah to?

Not only am I to say “yes” to God and be obedient in what He is calling me to do, but I am also not to hinder someone else’s obedience. Wow! That hit me. I certainly hope I am not keeping someone from being obedient.

My first thought was my husband. As a wife, I know that I have some influence with my husband, but am I hindering his call? You see, my husband has a deep desire to help and mentor young engineers in Uganda. He went there two years ago and has wanted to go back ever since. I, on the otherhand, haven’t felt drawn to go to Uganda. Oh, sure, I’d love to go to Africa some day for a vacation. Take a safari, etc. But, I don’t see myself serving there in any kind of capacity. Not like my husband. His service comes out of his business experience and desire to mentor. I’m not a business person, I don’t see what I could possibly do on a business as missions trip to Africa.

So, am I being Terah to my husband? Am I hindering his call from God? I don’t have an answer to those questions yet, but I certainly am seeking the answers. Because if 2013 is my year of obedience, I suspect it is not just my personal obedience but also allowing and encouraging obedience in others, most especially my husband.

Those are my thoughts for today.

Today I am linking up at Fellowship Fridays with Christian Mommy Blogger.

Being obedient to God in 2013

Some people like to pick a word for the year. They pray about it and seek God’s guidance on what that word should be, what they should focus on in their faith walk for the year. I’ve read several blogs this year of women who are doing this. I’ve never done it and have never heard of such a thing.

At first, I balked at it. Seemed like it would tie you down and not give the Holy Spirit room to guide you on things you needed to change throughout the year. Plus, I find myself moving away from things I see as Christian “fads.”

However, God has been driving home “obedience” to me. I don’t know if that should be my WORD for the year, but I do know that He is making it clear to me that I’m not being obedient. In what, I’ve yet to figure out. But, I’m going to make sure I’m not getting in the way of something He is telling me to do.

I’m in Bible Study Fellowship and this year we are studying Genesis. Obedience is all over Genesis. Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden by being disobedient. Noah was obedient in building the ark. People were disbursed and given many languages by being disobedient at Babble. Abraham was obedient by leaving Ur and going to a place he did not know. Then he was disobedient by having a child with Hagar. That disobedience is still being felt in the world today!

I certainly do not want to be disobedient to the point of causing future generations to suffer. Plus, by being obedient to God’s call on my life, I reap blessings I might never have received.

So, where have I been obedient this week? I met with our church’s women’s ministry director about starting a group for women who are entering this new phase of life (empty nesting or for me, almost empty nesting). How do we be parents of these young adult kids? How do we handle them wandering away from the Lord? How do we move from not blaming ourselves to realizing their choices are their choices and their consequences are their consequences?

I’ve been thinking about this ministry for some time. God kept bringing it to mind and finally I realized that I was being disobedient by not taking that step of seeing if I could start a group. So, I did. It feels good to be obedient. It is also scary–stepping out and doing something new. I’ve led women’s Bible studies before, but this will be a little different. God is growing me. He’ll need to grow me a lot more!

So, for 2013, I suspect Obedience is going to be my theme. Unless He shows me otherwise.

Those are my thoughts for today

Pray for a personal revival–Blackout Thursday

Blackout Current Prompt

“Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your steadfast love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation. Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly. Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land.” Psalm 85:6-9

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