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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

 

“You do not realize now what I am doing,
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but later you will understand.”
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~ Jesus
 
John 13:7
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As Jesus’ disciples did not understand what Jesus was doing, we also often do not understand what God is doing in our lives.  The following devotional thought, from Streams in the Desert, encourages me as I think about John 13:7. 
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In this life, we have an incomplete view of God’s dealings, seeing His plan only half finished and underdeveloped.  Yet once we stand in the magnificent temple of eternity, we will have the proper perspective and will see everything fitting gracefully together!    
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Imagine going to the mountains of Lebanon during the reign of Israel’s great king Solomon.  Can you see the majestic cedar?  It is the pride of all the other trees and has wrestled many years with the cold north winds!  The summer sun has loved to smile upon it, while the night has caused its soft leaves to glisten with drops of dew.  Birds have built their nests in its branches, and weary travelers and wandering shepherds have rested in its shade from the midday heat or taken shelter from the raging storms.  And suddenly we realize that this old inhabitant of the forest has been doomed to fall victim to the woodsman’s ax!  
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We watch as the ax makes its first gash on the cedar’s gnarled trunk.  Then we see its noble limbs stripped of their branches as the tree comes crashing to the ground.  We cry out against the wanton destruction of this “Tree of God,” as it is distinctively known, and express our anger over the demolition of this proud pillar in the forest temple of nature.  We are tempted to exclaim with the prophet Zechariah, “Wail, O pine tree, for the cedar has fallen …!” (Zech. 11:2), as if inviting the sympathy of every less-majestic plant and invoking inanimate things to also resent the offense.       
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We should not be so quick to complain but should follow the gigantic tree as the workmen of “Hiram king of Tyre” (2 Chron. 2:3) take it down the mountainside.  From there we should watch it being sailed on rafts along the blue water of the Mediterranean.  And finally, we should behold it being placed as a glorious and polished beam in the temple of God.  As you contemplate its final destination, seeing it in the Holy of Holies as a jewel in the diadem of the almighty King, can you honestly complain that this “crown jewel of Lebanon” was cut down, removed from the forest, and placed in such a noble setting?  The cedar had once stood majestically in nature’s sanctuary, but the “glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house” (Haggai 2:9).
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So many people are like these cedars of old!  God’s axes of trials have stripped them bare and yet we can see no reason for such harsh and difficult circumstances.  But God has a noble goal and purpose in mind: to place them as everlasting pillars in His heavenly Zion.  And he says to them, “You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God” (Isaiah 62:3).  J.R. Macduff
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Pastor Saeed has been moved from a prison cell to a hospital room.
Please continue to pray that he will be released,
and free to return home to his family.
 

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“I was in prison

and

you came to visit me.”

— Jesus

Matthew 25:36

 

I am dedicating this Lenten season to three Americans who are wrongly imprisoned in Iran: Pastor Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati (former marine), and Bob Levinson (former FBI agent).  I wrote about them in February, so please see that blog post for more details about this crisis. 

Unfortunately, we can’t go to visit them, but we can make “virtual visits.”  Let me explain: I can picture thousands of us praying for these men during Lent and asking angels to attend and minister to their needs.  As angels took care of Jesus in the wilderness and in the Garden of Gethsemane, we can ask for angels to care for all three men.  Angels delivered Peter from prison!  Along with praying, each time we do something for them — write a letter on their behalf, post information about them on social media, or make a donation, that too is a “virtual visit”.  

Prayer requests for Pastor Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati, Bob Levinson:

    – Quick release

    – Angels will be present and comfort them

    – Good health

    – Favor with the guards and other prisoners

    – Comfort for their families

    – Great sleep and peaceful dreams

    – Enough food and water

    – Provision for all needs and their families needs

 

Let’s commit to praying for Pastor Saeed,

Amir Hekmati, and Bob Levinson,

 every day during Lent.

 

An angel from heaven appeared to him

and strengthened him. Luke 22:43

 

If you have already made a commitment for Lent, please consider including this Lent request. 

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“You did not choose me,

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but I chose you …”

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– Jesus 

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Each day we have the opportunity through our thoughts and actions to choose Jesus.  When we choose kindness over irritabilty or choose reading the Bible before entertainment (social media, TV, etc.) we choose Jesus.  Sometimes I even whisper the words, “I choose you, Jesus.”  At other times, at the end of the day, I will think, “I didn’t choose well; I didn’t choose Jesus today.”  In 2014, let’s make a concentrated effort to “choose Jesus!”

My close friends Dianne and Perry Dodge hold marriage conferences.  One of their talks discusses what five minutes a day can do for your marriage.  When you improve your relationship with God, it can improve your marriage.  Making small choices for just five minutes every day can make a big difference in your life.  Here are some of Dianne and Perry’s suggestions of ways to devote five minutes of time to God throughout the day.  I challenge you to choose a few of these ways to spend more time with God.

 

What Do You Have That You’re Willing To Give To God?

 
 
My first 5 (or more) minutes of the day 
 
 
5 (or more) minutes of television time in the morning 
 
 
5 (or more) minutes of television time in the evening 
 
 
5 (or more) minutes of email/Facebook/internet time during the day 
 
 
Get up 5 (or more) minutes earlier 
 
 
5 (or more) minutes in the car 
 
 
5 (or more) minutes at lunch time 
 
 
Leave work 5 (or more) minutes early 
 
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5 (or more) minutes during ________________________ 
 
 
 
Underneath each one of the above that you’ve picked, write down what you’d like to do during those 5 minutes. ie. Pray (talking to God, and listening to Him), read scripture, thank God for the things He’s done for you, pray for your spouse, pray for others, write in a spiritual journal, listen to inspirational music that draws you closer to God, etc. 
 
    (used with permission)
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I would love to hear what you choose from the list and how choosing Jesus makes a difference for you in 2014. I choose to devote my lunch hour to God. 

How great it would be to hear Jesus say at the end of my life, “You chose me!”

As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  (Colossians 3:22) 

 
Eight and a half years ago, Dianne Dodge and I prayed that my youngest son would be born on her birthday, January 1.  Not only was he born on her birthday, but he was also the first baby born in Nashville, TN in 2006.  Happy birthday to Dianne and my son Sterling!  
 

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The woman, seeing that she could not go
unnoticed, came trembling
and fell at his feet.
 
Luke 8:47
 
 
She didn’t want to be noticed … She didn’t want anyone to see her shame or to know her pain.
 
He wanted to give her the gift of being noticed.
He wanted to take away her shame and to heal her pain.
 
Jesus wants you to know that he notices you …
He wants to remove all your shame and wants to heal all your pain.
 
Will we now notice others in their pain?
 
Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Mark 5:34
 
To read the story click here:
 
Dedicated to Missy Gaw who inspired this post

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“If you knew the generosity of God
and who I am,
you would be asking me for a drink,
and I would give you fresh, living water.”
 
~ Jesus
 
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Do you thirst for Jesus?  When I try to answer that question, I want to scream “yes,” but in reality the answer is often “no”.  In the book, Beautiful Outlaw, John Eldredge masterfully discusses the “playful, disruptive, extravagant personality of Jesus.”  I love it when I read something new about Jesus!  This book highlights aspects of Jesus’ personality that are clearly seen in scripture but too often overlooked because of years of religious muck.  It makes me thirst for Jesus in a way I never have before, and I invite you to join me in reading this book.  The following is a compilation of quotes from Beautiful Outlaw:
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We need Jesus like we need oxygen. Like we need water.  Like the branch needs the vine.  Jesus is not merely a figure for devotions.  He is the missing essence of your existence.  Whether we know it or not, we are desperate for Jesus …. A true knowledge of Jesus is our greatest need and our greatest happiness.  The purpose of your being here on this planet, at this moment in time, comes down to three things:
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1. To love Jesus with all that is within you.  This is the first and greatest command.  Everything else flows from here.
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2. To share your daily life with him: to let him be himself with you.  On the beach, at supper, along the road – just as the disciples did.
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3. To allow his life to fill yours, to heal and express itself through yours.  There is no other way you can hope to live as he did and show him to others.
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Sadly, for too many people, the Christ they know is too religious to love, too distant to experience, and too rigid to be a source of life.  It explains the abject poverty of the church.  But hear this — Jesus hasn’t changed one bit.  He is still quite himself.  The Scriptures assure us that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). 
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It’s a little ironic that in a sophisticated visual age like ours we still cling to a two-dimensional Jesus.  Such is the power of religious fog.  Everyone talks about Jesus’ “great acts of humility, faith and compassion.”  What about his great acts of playfulness, or cunning?  What about his brilliance, his wit, his irreverence, the scandalous freedom with which Jesus lives, his exasperation and impatience?  Not to mention his humanity; we have nearly forgotten he was a man.”
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Let’s take time and extend effort to get to know who Jesus really is … 
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“I offer water that will become a wellspring within you that gives life throughout eternity. You will never be thirsty again.” ~Jesus
 
 
Quotes from Jesus from John 4, translations The Message and The Voice
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