I worry in America we suffer the most from lack of discipline. We eat what we want, wear what we want, say what we want & act like we want, Sometimes to the detriment of ourselves and others. We are largely controlled by our feelings. Instead of letting our feelings be a gauge for something, we let it be THE thing. We don’t exercise because “we don’t feel like it.” We don’t do service things because “it’s not my nature.” We don’t eat right because “we don’t like it.” I am convinced we could follow our feelings into the pit of hell if we are not careful. Instead, We have put the cart before the horse. Feelings were never meant to be the “end all, be all,” but, rather, a guide. You’re hungry and want to eat a whole chocolate cake? So, do you eat a whole chocolate cake? No. You take that feeling of hunger and eat something HEALTHY. You want to punch someone in the throat. Do you? No. You use that feeling to know something is amiss and try to solve it productively. Feels are the gauge, or warning, to us that some action might be needed, not orders to follow. As Christians, we are called to deny ourselves and there is sweet freedom in not being controlled by the whims of our feelings. Recently someone made the point that we find ourselves saying “That was a good worship service” based on how WE feel, if WE get the chills, if WE get an endorphin rush. I admit i’ve fallen into this myself. Problem? WORSHIP IS NOT FOR US. IT’S FOR GOD. So, I began to be mindful when I sang the words that didn’t “hit me,” rejoiced in the melodies that weren’t my favorites, and raised my hands when I didn’t always “feel it.” Why? Because my praise and my actions and even my opinions will not be dictated by my feelings. My praise will be a living sacrifice to God, whether I’m “feeling it” or not. My actions will no longer be dictated by what I feel, but what will bring God the glory. And even my opinions will not be determined by my feelings, but filtered through what God and the Bible have to say. We have to stop letting our feelings be our master!
He Rolled the Stone Away
Symbolism saturates the Bible, from the waters of baptism that wash away our sins to the Holy Communion that represents Christ’s body. God loves symbols. He put the rainbow in the sky to symbolize his promise and instructed his people to erect stones to remind them of HIS promises. The tribes of Israel were even arranged as they are in heaven! It is no surprise, then, that even the resurrection contains a symbol. You see, in the Old Testament people were sometimes sentenced to death for their sins. It was the worst sins that evoked this sentence. And it’s method? The culprit was put in the middle of a circle and stoned to death. It should come as no surprise, then, that when Jesus resurrected from the dead, He rolled the stone away. Not just the large stone in front of his grave, but every stone of death. The stone of adultery, the stone of drunkenness, the stone of murder – all were rolled away by Jesus. He took the burden and the shame and the sting away, deflecting every stone destined and intended for us – saving us from eternal death. Yes, he rolled the stone away. Every single one.
Born to Die
On the day we celebrate Jesus’ birth, I often think of Mary. She received a prophesy about the child she was to bear, but no handbook. She, like all us parents, lived in the apprehension of the unknown. She was given hints, however. After Jesus was born, 3 wise men from the East came, bringing gifts of gold, frankincense & myrrh. Gold, fitting for a King. Frankincense, used in burial. And myrrh was used as an anointing oil to consecrate priests and kings. It was also used in embalming. How strange would it be for a mom to receive a coffin at the birth of her child? But each and every gift pointed to Jesus’s purpose and destiny: He was born royalty: King of the Jews, to cleanse and redeem us as our High Priest, through his death on the cross. Born for our salvation, but born to die. Living as a Light to the world, but always in the shadow of the Cross to come. Praise God for his infinity love & to Jesus, who submitted to the Father to the point of death for our redemption & restoration!
The journey of faith is a (sometimes scary) emotional rollercoaster. On one hand, it acts as a safety net & simultaneously teases. Mary was told she would have the Son of God (emotional high), but she was an unmarried young woman (emotional low), but she knew God would sustain her (emotional high). Joseph was told he would rule (high) but then got sold into slavery (low), thrown into prison (double low), all with the “failed prophecy” hanging over his head (triple low) only to become VP of the world (high). When we find ourselves in “the pit,” part of us wants to mourn and wail and cry…and yet….there is something that whispers “this is not the end.” It is both comforting and teasing. Comforting, because it is not the end. But teasing because we don’t know how things will play out. Sometimes our mustard seed of faith feels more like a wish whispered on the wind, unstable & unsecured. We fleshly want to fall apart, yet faith reminds us of that thing called hope. Hope. Nothing in itself, but EVERYTHING in the hands of God. If you find yourself in the pit, keep believing. Keep praying. Keep hoping.
Straight as an Arrow
My daughter recently shared a verse that has become one of my favorites: Genesis 49:24. the proceeding verses talk about Joseph & how he was attacked on every side, yet “his bow remained taut.” My son has recently taken up archery & I have learned 2 things: if the bow is not taut, the arrow won’t go far and if the bow is not taut, the arrow also will not go in the intended direction. Likewise, if our intentions do not remain solid, we are like a wandering arrow at the mercy of a lax bow. But notice the second part of the verse “(his bow remained taut) because of the strength (he received) from the Lord.” Lest we begin to brag in our strength, we are reminded that even THAT is from the Lord! Let us all strive to have taut bows in the midst of trial!
Sometimes faith makes you look stupid. It did Noah as he built an ark. It did Moses’ mother, as she fashioned a basket for a baby destined to die. And it did me, today.
Today as I was getting ready, the Lord urged me to tAke a beaded bracelet to a new friend. I worried I would look stupid – I had no idea if she even liked braceletS. But I took it.
Before I got there, I saw on fb SOMEONE HAD GIVEN HER SOME BEADED BRACELETS JUST THAT MORNING! What are the chances??? I was tempted for a second to cave to the false god of reason & not give her the bracelet when I heard the Lord whisper, “i told you to give her the bracelet, regardless of what others have done.” I felt silly. I felt stupid. But I gave her the bracelet.
Faith does that sometimes: asks you to do the illogical. Many times acts of faith don’t make sense and we might never know the point. But that’s why they call it faith.
If you feel an urge, but it seems “stupid,” – DO IT! Step out into the unknown and watch God work wonders you never even dreamed of! You will only feel stupid for a moment, I promise! 😄
Our son is on medicine that has to be refrigerated, yet we are a family of 6. The medicine comes in bulk, so we were running out of places for food/leftovers. I remember shooting up a quick prayer for a refrigerator, but had forgotten until I saw our neighbor offering their good conditioned, double sided, fancy refrigerator up – for free! You guessed it: we now have enough room for food and meds! God is so good like that – even after we have forgotten, or even given up on, a prayer – He hasn’t! Praise be to God for His ever loving kindness!
Join me and Katie at anchor.fm/chaoscoffeejesus for a little bit of Jesus & a whole lot of laughs! 💕 https://anchor.fm/chaoscoffeejesus
The world refuses to stop and grieve for the loved ones we lose. When we lose those most dear to us, the world goes on. Nothing stops. Nothing slows. It doesn’t even apologize. It is really rather rude, just like grief itself. Like an uninvited guest, grief sneaks up unannounced and unexpectedly, demanding to be heard. There is no stopper, no plug, no gate to bar the door to our hearts. Without warning, a song or a scent or a phrase will evoke a memory and, without even a courteous, “Is this a convenient time?” grief will barge in, taking all our attention and demand to be dealt with, whether we want to or not.
If you wrestle with grief long enough, he becomes an old friend – a welcome friend at times, as it was the only place you can still feel the one you have lost. You balanced the fence between knowing you need to move on and fearing that, by doing so, you will forget them.
You eventually find comfort in your times with Grief because it is there you learn the healing is, indeed, in the aching. Mourning and aching become the tools that slowly and ever so surely balm each broken piece of your heart and put it back in place. Different, not the same, but in place, nonetheless. Complete but empty, cracked and forged – but renewed.
It is at that moment you know what love means. It isn’t always the passionate highs or the butterflies you feel. It’s going through hell and coming out wounded and bruised and, when asked, saying you would do it again in a heartbeat. It is remembering the pain and the heartbreak and the struggle – and smiling. Despite the pain and struggle, you stand on the other side of mourning and saying with confidence and a smile, “It was worth it all.”
April Estes, sweetmimosa.blog
When we Pray
If we only could see all that happens when we pray, we would do it more often! Here are just a few things that happen when we hit our knees:
1. An angel offers up our prayers to God at God’s altar with a golden censer & much incense.
Rev. 8:3 And another Angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer, and much incense was given to Him to offer with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.
Rev. 8:4 And the smoke of the incense went up with the prayers of the saints out of the hand of the Angel before God.
2. Angels are released to work on our behalf as soon as we pray:
12 Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.
13 But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia.
3. The Holy Spirit interprets with groans & moanings for us.
Romans 8:26 “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.”
4. Jesus intercedes for us at the right hand of God.
Romans 8:34 “Christ Jesus who died – more than that, who was raised to life-is at the right hand of God, and is also interceding for us.”
5. God sends guidance.
Abraham was sending his servant to find a wife for his son, Isaac, and promised an angel would help him:
Genesis 24:7 “The Lord, the God of heaven…he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there.”
And, just as promised, God sends Rebekah (Isaac’s future wife) just after the servant prayed for the sign.
“15 Before he had finished praying,(AO) Rebekah(AP) came out with her jar on her shoulder. “
Let us ask God to help us remember all this and “see” it in our minds as we go to Him in prayer & pray more!