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Archive for the ‘Jesus’ Category

Puzzle Pieces

In Bible, Christ, focus, Jesus, purpose, Scripture, stress, Truth on August 30, 2014 at 12:22 pm

puzle de un corazon roto

It was complicated. Three hundred pieces cut in the oddest shapes I’d ever seen for a puzzle. Some I swore were edge pieces and for a while was frustrated that they weren’t fitting into the frame with the other edge pieces. If you’re like me, you put the edges together first, then work on the various sections that appear to go together, carefully studying the full image to navigate through the picture. But not everyone does it that way.

One puzzle friend of mine never looks at the picture on the box. She believes that’s cheating and so she constructs puzzles solely by their shapes. I nearly laughed out loud when she told me her strategy. To me, her method is ridiculous, especially when she grabs a piece that is totally unrelated in color then turns it round and round to try to make it fit. I watch this and think what a waste of time that is; to not even consider the colors, their patterns, direction or curvatures seems crazy and frustrating to say the least. Yet, after completing over a dozen puzzles with her, I have learned that her technique works well for her; it’s what she knows and her trained eye is like radar, zeroing in on just the right piece. (Need I mention that her patience level is higher than mine?)

Still, I derive no satisfaction from her methodology. I prefer studying the image on the box top, absorbing its wholeness, beauty and nuances. I hold pieces up to it, attempt to match the color and then estimate the piece’s location in the enlarged frame on the table. I relish the mounting anticipation of accomplishment as each piece clicks perfectly into its proper place, revealing increasingly more of the final picture.

This particular puzzle, however, was disturbing. As I said, pieces were not cut in the traditional shapes and so it wasn’t as enjoyable. Many pieces simply rested next to each other without hooking. And, when I’d match up those non-hooked pieces, I didn’t feel the same satisfaction. It was almost as if I was worried they would fall apart or shift; I couldn’t rest until their surrounding pieces held them securely in place.

As I do with everything, I contemplated how this puzzle compared to life. The Holy Bible has always been the picture on the box for me and each event of my life a piece to the picture. At a very young age, I learned to hold up each piece of my life against God’s Word, studying its pattern, nuance and color to see where it fits in His final image of who I should be. In his letter to the Colossians, the Apostle Paul said that Jesus Christ is the “image of the invisible God.” Paul taught in all the churches he visited that Jesus is the picture of what we should work to create from our lives; that all the pieces of our life should fit together to reflect Him.

That being said, I think it is a colossal waste of time to sit and stare only at the shape of an event or circumstance in our life, continually turning it round and round to make it fit with the other pieces in our life without even looking at the big picture to see where it should go. Instead, unless we have great patience, we get frustrated and walk away, leaving the pieces in a pile for someone else to figure out.

I realize this may be a simplified metaphor of living a life that pleases God, but I believe that living the life God planned for us is easier than we make it. I believe we complicate the puzzle by refusing to look at the Creator’s final image: His Son, Jesus Christ. Instead of holding up each of our pieces against the model He gave in Jesus’ life on earth, we frustrate ourselves by turning the circumstance round and round, trying to force it to fit where we want it to fit—where it was not created to fit.

Yes, it’s tempting to get angry and give up when life’s puzzle pieces aren’t traditionally cut; when they don’t fit nicely together the way other puzzle pieces fit. And yes, it’s tempting to look at a piece and think, I know this one doesn’t go with this puzzle. But if it came out of the box, it goes with the puzzle; it’s just a matter of effort and patience to find its place in the big picture.

Are you struggling with a piece of your life? Trust me, it fits in God’s final picture for your life. In His sovereignty He allowed it to happen. It has a place somewhere amongst all the other pieces and from His perspective, it’s beautiful.

~CCS

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Author’s Note: I dedicate this article to my wonderful Editor, Debbie Adlof, who, over the 14 years she has owned, edited and published the Community Word has become a dear friend. Debbie, thank you for letting me write this column in the Community Word and never once censoring my content, despite the mounting public outcry against God’s Word in public venues. Even if you disagreed with my articles, you never let me know and printed them in full. You have always been wonderful to me, though I have been chronically late with my submissions (even on your last issue!). Thank you for your kindness, respect and friendship. May God bless you richly as you focus your attention on your family and any other pursuits He has for you. Believe me, your puzzle, when complete, will be a beautiful picture God created out of beautiful you!

In Like a Flood: How to Overcome the Onslaught of Evil in Our World

In Bible, choices, faith, fear, God, Jesus, prayer, Scripture, terror on September 10, 2013 at 4:10 pm

The Boston Marathon bombing poses searching questions for counter-terrorism agencies across the world. Photograph: David L Ryan/AP

When I was a child, the nightly news seemed like a foreign movie. It seemed that everything evil happened on the other side of the planet, far from our suburban home.

When we went to church and heard the Holy Scriptures, sometimes one of those news stories would surface in the sermon and the pastor would use it as an example that God was seriously going to punish those who did evil—but not here in the United States. At least that’s how I interpreted the sermon. After all, we’re all safe here in the good ol’ US of A, right? Sure, we had our crime as any country does, but generally, my view of America was that we are the peacemakers, the humanitarians—the civilized.

As Christians, we are called to spread the good news of Jesus Christ across the globe, but the uncivilized, dangerous and evil people were handled by missionaries. These were people specifically called by God to leave the comfort of their American home, travel to a jungle and tell the natives they need Jesus.  At home, we would dutifully pray the Lord of the Harvest to send workers to the fields to gather in the lost souls as Jesus told us too—but secretly we’d pray: please, Lord, don’t send me!

With the truly sacrificial duties left to the missionaries, we could focus on gossiping and judging each other; arguing about what color the carpeting should be in the new sanctuary and snubbing those who dared to enter our place of worship unkempt. After all, did God not say we must be holy and separate from the world?

Now our children kill other children for fun. Our teens set off bombs in our streets. Our junior high boys stock up ammo in their room and bring it to school so they can shoot as many people as possible.

How did this happen on our soil? The talking heads have endless theories and solutions, and some of it may indeed help, but those who call Jesus their Lord and Savior can no longer play church. Evil is here, in our homes, our schools, our churches and streets. Evil has come in like a flood and we will quickly drown in it if we don’t pay attention and get on our knees. We can no longer pretend that the bad stuff happens off shore. We can no longer just put a dollar in a church envelope as the offering plate passes by and smugly feel good that we’ve blessed someone somewhere.

The ancient book of Isaiah, Chapter 59, practically describes our country word-for-word. Life is bleak and overwhelmingly hopeless and our own sins have brought dark consequences upon us. Justice flees from us; peace eludes us and shedding blood is a sport. What can good people do? We try to live good lives and we give our time and money to help others, so what do we do about all this evil in our beloved country? Many snipe at the government, others snipe at the school system, the justice system, the lack of two parents in the home, etc., etc. Yes, all these are factors in our dilemma, but not one of them alone released this flood of evil into our streets.

In fact, none of the solutions we concoct matter in a flood–all that matters is survival, and undoubtedly, a flood of evil is here. It is sweeping away our religious traditions, setting our church buildings on fire and driving us into corners of fear and hopelessness.

Is there no answer?

In verse 19 of Isaiah 59, the Lord proclaims that, “When the enemy comes in like a flood,
The Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.”

Though this chapter is written to Israel, God is the same everywhere, and He will not allow evil to destroy those who love Him. Interestingly, the west is mentioned in the first part of the verse:

“So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun; when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.”

God will save us, America, but we must fear only Him. We must call upon Him with repentant hearts and pure motives. This flood of evil rushing over our precious land, threatening to devour our families will not prevail if we get on our knees now and call out to the only One Who is mighty to save!

The church was never meant to be a building for good people to gather and revel in their goodness while everyone else gets what they get. The church is here to represent the unconditional love of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who loved us so much He chose to pay the penalty of our sin so we could be delivered from evil.

What will you choose? Will you drown in the flood of evil, or will you embrace the standard that God raises against it and look to Him for your salvation?

~ CCS

How to Know God

Photograph: David L Ryan/AP “The Boston Marathon bombing poses searching questions for counter-terrorism agencies across the world.”

The Prayer Chair

In believe, Bible, choices, Christ, death, God, Heaven, Jesus on May 22, 2013 at 7:45 pm

Ledersessel

Daddy met Jesus in person in the same place he met him in prayer every morning.  It was a burgundy recliner, worn from the years and matted down by the sweat of many days of hard work. Next to it was his abandoned Bible with a duct-taped spine. He didn’t need it anymore because he left earth with its Author.

If you read my column regularly, you know my dad died in January, 2011. Each month’s article in 2012 was written in honor of the life he lived and the godly inheritance he left me and my brothers. I know I have completely mourned his passing, but the other day on my way to church a song on the radio opened up my eyes to something I hadn’t seen before, something about the place where he died.

The song, by Chris Rice, was Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus), one of my favorites. I was just singing along, relishing the reminder that I am loved by a wonderful Savior when the last verse of the song burst my heart open:

And with your final heartbeat,
Kiss the world goodbye,
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory`s side… and

Fly to Jesus,
Fly to Jesus,
Fly to Jesus and live,

Fly to Jesus,
Fly to Jesus,
Fly to Jesus and live!

Extreme joy flooded my whole being, forcing a cool stream of tears from my eyes. In my mind’s eye, I saw my Daddy in his prayer chair looking up into the eyes of his Savior who personally came to take him home.

How do I know that’s how it happened? Well, according to my mom, Daddy, came downstairs that Wednesday afternoon and sat in his recliner next to hers to have a fruit cup and watch TV. He had just spent about an hour snow-blowing the six-to-eight inches of snow that had fallen the night before and was worn out. Within seconds of sitting down, he was in the midst of a massive heart attack. Mom jumped up when she saw his contorted face and said, “I’m calling 911!” Daddy said, “No don’t.”

The paramedics were there in minutes and later, one of them told us that when they got him into the ambulance, they tried to put a nitro-glycerin tablet under his tongue to help jump-start his heart. Daddy closed his lips tight so they wouldn’t put it in his mouth and shook his head, “No.”

In the ER, a doctor and his team worked on his chest with paddles, shocking his heart over and over when all of a sudden Daddy lifted his hands and waved them all off, shook his head as if to say, “No more,” and died.

Why would someone in the midst of such a life-threatening crisis refuse the help of capable hands? I believe it’s because Daddy finally got to look into the eyes of the One Who created him in his mother’s womb; the One Who saved him from a deadly fall after a night of drinking with his U.S. Air Force buddy in Berlin in 1956. I believe it’s because he got to look full into the perfect face of the One Who gave him a new life that night so long ago when he embraced the cross of Jesus Christ as payment for his sin—an acquittal from the damaging choices he had made up to that point. Daddy wanted to go home! He wanted to fly to Jesus and live!

Do you have a prayer chair? Do you have a place where you meet your Creator in person every morning, a place where you feed your soul for the day? My Daddy did and now I do, too. Every day I long to look into those forever eyes like my Daddy did on that day. I want to know Him, the Father of Lights, as he is called in the Bible. I want to know Him so completely that when it is my time to leave this earth and He comes to take me home, nothing on this earth will keep me here. My prayer chair will be empty and my Bible will be there next to it because I will be with its Author, the World’s Best Father!

Deliver Us From Evil

In choices, God, help, Jesus, judging, parenting, plots, terror on May 22, 2013 at 7:42 pm

Zubeidat Tsarnaeva

“America took my kids away from me,” said a woman who is wanted in the U.S. on a felony charge; a woman who left her two sons here to fend for themselves.

This woman, the mother of the Boston bombers, wailed and screamed into a camera on the other side of the world, blaming America for framing her sons, suggesting that we poured red paint all over Boston’s Boylston Street to simulate blood and stage the unconscionable bombing in April.

Zubeidat Tsarnaeva rocked back and forth in her seat, flapping her arms up and down at what appeared to be a press conference from Dagestan, crying, “I thought America was going to, like, protect us, our kids, it’s going to be safe,” she told reporters. “But it happened, opposite. My kids just — America took my kids away from me.”

I do not begrudge a grieving mother her words while in a state of shock, and rarely do I write opinion pieces on news stories, but this particular rant smacked me in the face.

America is many things, but we did not stage the bombings in Boston that killed and maimed our citizens like a Hollywood movie set just so we could create a reason to kill her sons. While details are still flowing in on the Boston bombings, my point is simple: America is not responsible for the choices those bombers made. Those boys researched how to make those bombs. They planned their entire route and where to place those bombs. They stood there on our streets with utter contempt for us and detonated those bombs without as much as a flinch. They walked calmly away as everyone around them instinctively rushed to help their fellow Americans.

No, Mrs. Tsarnaeva, America didn’t take your kids from you. You left them here and they took our welfare checks, they took our pressure cookers, they took the lives of our citizens and maimed hundreds of innocent Americans who were out celebrating patriotism.

As disturbing as this woman’s claims are, hers is only one voice amongst a growing army of radicals who believe that America is evil and must be eliminated. That is downright sick. To some of you, it stinks of Nazism, for you remember all too well the atrocities Hitler perpetrated on the Jews. But America is not the only target of radicals. Dictators around the world continue to spew their venom of hatred towards other nations and people groups.

Such is the voice and the ways of evil, right? I mean, what can we do? We are just innocent citizens minding our own business, working for a living and hoping none of that crazy stuff happens in our town, or on our street, right? Ask that of the couple whose boat became famous the night Suspect #2 climbed into it to hide from the cops. They were just minding their own business in their quiet little suburban home and in an instant the entire world was watching every movement in their backyard.

My fellow Americans, now is the time to fall on our knees and plead with the God who formed this great nation to intervene on our behalf. Now is the time to put our faith and trust in the only One who can conquer the forces of evil in our land. But know this: God gave us a will. He doesn’t interfere with our lives unless He is asked. It’s time to ask.

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Deliver us from evil.

Why Travel this Christmas?

In Bible, Christ, Christmas, faith, Jesus, love, plots, Scripture on November 27, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Thanks to the underwear bomber who ruined Christmas, the friendly skies have turned dark. Travelers over this past Thanksgiving took to the highways in record numbers in order to avoid scanners and strips searches at airports. But travel they did and, regardless of the obstacles and inconveniences, nothing stops travelers at Christmas.

Little is known about the Wise Men who traveled from the east to find the Christ Child. Their appearance, barely a few sentences on the pages of Scripture, dissolves so quickly, it begs the question as to why they have commanded such prominence in the telling of the Christmas story.

Like a side plot, the Wise Men weave into the narrative, unwittingly stir up trouble, present their gifts then sneak out of the country in fear of their lives. That’s it. But why? They were astrologers! Sure, there was one star that was brighter than the others, but what drove them to lay extravagant gifts at the feet of a two-year-old in a faraway land? Why travel if the star was the prize? They could study the sky and its heavenly bodies from their own rooftop.

Clearly, it wasn’t about the star. If that’s all they were seeking, why bring gifts? No, it was the One the star pointed to that drew them to Judea. They knew from their studies of ancient Hebrew writings that this star heralded the birth of a king—a very special king—and they were driven to worship Him no matter what that journey entailed.

Their quest, hardly a passing curiosity, undoubtedly absorbed years of their attention prior to the arduous journey. It was a quest that has inspired millions, including me—souls who will not rest until they find the Christ Child of Christmas.

Fortunately, we don’t need to travel to a physical location to find Him. Our pursuit is one of faith. Believing that God is Who He says He is, that Jesus is Who He said He was, that the Bible is God’s inspired Word and that the story is not over until He says it’s over.

Yes, finding the Christ Child involves travel, but the land we must traverse to reach Him is that of our own heart: the mountains of lies and false doctrines, the valleys of pain and past hurts; the rivers of tears and misunderstandings and the deserts of loneliness and discouragement.

Why travel through such horrible conditions? Why leave the comfort of our habits and familiar surroundings to pay homage to an ancient character in a story that could possibly just be a fable perpetuated by religious fanatics? There is only one reason, and it throbs ceaselessly in every human heart from birth to deathbed: Love.

For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

That verse, John 3:16, like the Christmas story itself, is still to this day, the simple, uncomplicated reason why millions still travel to places of worship on a silent night in December.

It is the reason we stand in long lines of impatient shoppers to possess gifts for our loved ones—a reenactment of the extraordinary lengths to which God went when He wrapped His precious Son in human flesh—the perfect gift.

Love and hope, and the promise of an eternity of peace and goodwill, is that not the quest that calls to your heart every day of the year?

Travel to see the King this Christmas, He is worthy of your most extravagant gifts.

A Perfect Government is Born!

In Bible, Children, Christ, Christmas, Jesus, kids, parenting on December 7, 2009 at 1:54 pm

Enemy forces occupied their country. Without notice, raids infiltrated their towns and their children’s blood ran in the streets. Spies mingled among them as they shopped. Life was not safe when they made their way home.

The road was rocky, dusty and long. Transportation was smelly and stubborn, an over-burdened burrow that smelled and clopped along in obedience to a sojourner whose pregnant wife was perched on its back.

When they arrived, the town was packed. Inns were swollen with like-travelers who also were required to return to their birthplace. The occupying regime had imposed a national census and the ancient city was teeming with more citizens than it had rooms to spare.

Unfortunately, the couple was desperate. Labor pains were dominating their decisions and soon any kind of shelter would suffice. Only one option arose.

The stable was on the outskirts of town, which meant more travel. Hungry, tired and anxious, the soon-to-be parents welcomed the rough surroundings and settled in for the long night.

As the humble pair wrapped the world’s future ruler in swaddling clothes, they were oblivious to the angelic choir that was announcing the event to a band of shepherds in a nearby field, and to the travelers from the east seeking an audience with him.

They had no idea that the gifts these wise men would lay at his feet would soon finance a midnight relocation to avoid a massacre of every male child two years or younger in their town.

Life was rough for the man and wife, from their betrothal, which was threatened by public shame when she became pregnant before the wedding, to their disappearance for several years in a foreign land.

When their son was twelve he came up missing during a family church visit and nearly gave his parents a heart attack looking for him.

His adult life was short. Within a few years he was known throughout the entire country and beyond its borders for having supernatural powers, and his proud widowed mother watched in horror as the government, fearful of that power, illegally condemned him and publicly murdered him.

But, back in the manger, sleeping safely in sight of their loving gaze, they named him Jesus by divine instruction, unaware that that name would be on every tongue in every nation of the world.

Some would use it to blaspheme, some to praise. Some would use it for gain, some to cry for help. Some would fight to eliminate it from public use; others would engrave it on their hearts.

His name would cause wars, settle arguments, divide nations and flow from the voices of carolers. It would comfort the weak, offend the strong, counsel the uninformed and free the prisoner.

Regardless, the name of Jesus was, is and always will be the only name by which we are saved from eternal death.

“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. And the government will rest on his shoulders. These will be his royal titles: Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. He will rule forever with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David. The passionate commitment of the Lord Almighty will guarantee this!” Isaiah 9:6-7

Dialogue

In believe, Bible, communication, healing, Jesus, Scripture on October 14, 2009 at 4:43 pm

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I’ve never fully understood the phrase, “ears to hear” until today.  As a writer, I must have “ears to hear” if I am writing dialogue in order to keep each voice unique.

But today as I was reading  chapter nine of the Gospel of John in my Bible I laughed out loud.  Almost the entire chapter was dialogue and as I read it, other phrases popped in my head, like: “Duh!”  “deer in the headlights” “What, are you deaf?” and a few more.  You’ll see what I mean when you read this dialogue:

DISCIPLES:  Who sinned, this man or his parents?

JESUS:  Neither. (turning to MAN) Go wash in the pool.

(MAN washes clay off eyes in pool and gains his sight.)

BYSTANDERS:  Is this he who was blind?

OTHERS:  He is like him.

MAN:  I am he.

OTHERS:  How were your eyes opened?

MAN:  A Man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and told me to wash in the pool.

OTHERS:  Where is He?

MAN:  I don’t know.

(OTHERS take MAN to church – it was Sunday)

PRIESTS:  Tell us again how you received your sight?

MAN:  I told you already, He put clay on my eyes and I washed and I see!

PRIESTS: (amongst themselves) How can a sinner do such signs?

(MAN shrugs)

PRIESTS: What was it you called Him again?

MAN:  He is a Prophet.

PRIESTS:  Go call the man’s parents.

(MAN’s PARENTS come to the front of the church)

PRIESTS:  Is this your son?

PARENTS:  Yes.

PRIESTS:  Was he born blind?

PARENTS:  Yes.

PRIESTS:  So, how come now he can see?

PARENTS:  We don’t know, ask him, he’s an adult and can answer for himself!

PRIESTS:  Are you sure he was born blind?

PARENTS:  We’re sure.

PRIESTS:  So, how did he get his sight?

PARENTS:  Ask him!  He can answer for himself – don’t involve us!

(PRIESTS call MAN back – MAN returns)

PRIESTS: Listen carefully, you are to give glory to God for healing you – not this Man you call a Prophet, He is a sinner!

MAN:  Whether He is a sinner or not, this I know: I once was blind, but now I see.

PRIESTS:  What did He do to you?  How did He open your eyes?

MAN: (very irritated) I told you already and you didn’t listen!  Why do you want to hear it again – so you can become His disciples?

(dialogue continues back and forth in this fashion for a few more verses.  Finally, MAN is kicked out of church after PRIESTS claim MAN is insulting their intelligence and knowledge of Scripture – JESUS sees MAN walking out of church)

JESUS: Do you believe in the Son of God?

MAN:  Who is He?  I want to know so that I can believe.

JESUS:  It’s Me, the one talking to you.

MAN:  Lord!  I believe!  (MAN falls down and worships)

JESUS:  I came into the world to bring everything into the clear light of day, making all the distinctions clear, so that those who have never seen will see, and those who have made a great pretense of seeing will be exposed as blind.

(MAN was blind PRIESTS were deaf.  MAN sees, PRIESTS still deaf.)

THE END

MORAL: “ears to hear” are attached to the heart, not the head.

Window Shopping

In believe, Bible, choices, Christ, faith, God, growth, Jesus, Scripture on October 3, 2009 at 2:03 pm

iStock-windowSmallOver the past few months I’ve been reading through the Gospels in my Bible. Starting with Matthew, I’ve read a chapter a day with a deliberate desire for God to reveal His Word to me in a fresh, new way.

By the time I reached the last verse of Luke 19, it dawned on me that God’s Word was so much more relevant and alive than all the times I had read the Gospels.

When this revelation fully manifested in my slow brain, I saw clearly that I had been ‘window-shopping’ through the most significant sections of my Bible.

“Oh, that’s neat,” I would say when reading how Jesus fed 5000+ people with a boy’s lunch.

“Huh, that’s cool,” I would mutter when I’d read that Peter got out of a boat and walked on water to Jesus.

I casually passed over these phenomenal acts of God’s Son with little more than a yawn and headed back to the Psalms where I could better relate to the ‘woe is me’, ‘please change my circumstances, Lord’  and ‘save me from my enemies!’ passages.

Don’t get me wrong, the Psalms are timeless writings of precious, heart-wrenching intimate moments of doomed souls crying out to God for salvation, deliverance, hope and healing. So why breeze through the four written accounts of God’s Answer to all those ancient pleas?

I am ashamed that I have merely glanced at the Gospels’ priceless treasure. In them is the path, the door, the key, the hope, the fruition of God’s promise to Abraham and all who would believe – by faith alone.

Now, I’m tearing apart my house like a crazed, madwoman who lost a valuable coin.  I’m selling everything I have to buy a field where I found a priceless pearl.

I finally get it.  The kingdom of heaven should be pursued.  It’s not history. It’s not a shopping expedition for what fits best into our lives.

It’s real. It’s here.

It’s mine.

Alone

In Christ, Easter, Jesus, love on September 26, 2009 at 7:48 am

Love saw Hate and was unafraid.

Sin was great and now is paid.

God sees you through Love’s pure eyes,

He waits until you realize.

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If the human eyes who watched the broken, bleeding body of Jesus Christ hang on a cross could have seen what was actually happening around them, they would have dropped dead.

They would have seen billions of angels hovering behind that instrument of torture, millimeters from their Master’s torn flesh, fiery swords drawn, holy rage pulsating through their veins, awaiting his command to save him. One single word from their precious King’s lips would have released their fury and nothing would be left, not the people, not the planet, not the devil.

But he held them back with outstretched arms.

Those human witnesses would have seen the old dragon, Lucifer himself, parading around, hissing out his victory song off key; its non-melody paralyzing their hearts more than any Roman could. They would have seen him stirring up his recruits, those wicked imps who chose to follow him when God cast him out of heaven so long ago.

They would have seen something that startled even the spiritual host – a twist in the plan.

You see, Jesus died ALONE.

God turned His face away from His Son.  And in that horribly excruciatingly solitary moment all heaven gasped. Satan sauntered up to the cross, felt his enemy’s wrist, found no pulse and danced away; and hell went with him.

The Father and the Son had never been separated. Not once. The angel’s shock was indescribable. The earth itself erupted, sending shock waves through that hill of death outside Jerusalem. The sun ran and hid behind dark clouds.

It was over. To the devil, that meant he won. To God, it meant the devil lost.

In Christ alone.

Barren

In garden, God, growth, Jesus, obedience on September 24, 2009 at 12:36 pm

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That’s how he found it. He had planted the tree on his land hoping for an annual crop of tasty fruit. He nurtured it from a sapling, watered its ground, even talked to it.

His land was vast and he was pulled in different directions to tend all his gardens, vineyards, groves and crops, but this tree he loved most. When it’s season arrived, there was no fruit.

The farmer swallowed his disappointment, dug around its roots and fertilized it, saying, “This will help you bear fruit.” And another year passed. No fruit.

After the third year of no fruit, the farmer’s concern turned to frustration. After all he gave to this tree – more than any other tree, crop, vine or garden, it gave nothing in return.

In Christ we are called to bear fruit:

  • love
  • joy
  • peace
  • patience
  • kindness
  • goodness
  • faithfulness
  • gentleness
  • self-control

(Galatians 5:22,23)

When God comes to you and looks at your life, will he find it barren, fruitless?  Jesus told this parable in Luke 13:6-9.  The gardener came to the tree and found it barren.  He said, “Cut it down, why does it use up ground?”  If you feel your life is barren and there is no sign of the ‘fruit’ listed above growing in your life, you are at risk!

But thanks be to God, our Advocate, Jesus Christ, says to His Heavenly Father on our behalf, “Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if it does not, after that you can cut it down.”

Thank You God for second chances!  Please help me allow you to grow this spiritual fruit in my life so that when You come to examine me, I will please You.