Palms Sunday- Jesus Rode in Knowing All That Would Happen

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Riding in on a white colt, Jesus heard the shouts and praises of “Hosanna to the Son of David” as people were excitedly welcoming Jesus by throwing palm leaves and even their cloaks on the road before Jesus. And why not? News had spread of his miracles especially his recent one of bringing Lazarus back from the dead. The people had been waiting for their Messiah, promised one, for a long time.

But Jesus knew what was about to happen in a few short days. He knew that the crowds would turn against him and cry out give us Barabas and of Jesus, crucify him. Jesus knew what was in their hearts, what is in our hearts, but he rode in to what he knew lay ahead- His Suffering for us. He knew he would be arrested, be put through a rigged trial, be beaten and tortured, and be crucified.

Jesus comes to us throughout our lives. He stands at the door and knocks and anyone who opens the door, he will enter. He comes to us knowing what is in our hearts. Knowing we will fail him, stumble along, sin, mess up, but he comes to us anyway. Why? Why did Jesus ride into Jerusalem knowing they would crucify him in a few shorts days? Why does he come to me each day and say,”It is a new day” and why does he come to all of us?

Jesus gave the answer days before his crucifixion when he taught his disciples in John 15, ‘greater love has no one than this, to lay down his life for his friends.’ Jesus rode in knowing all that would happen, he comes to us in our lives knowing our weakness, because- HE LOVES US.

The question is will we receive him and his love for us?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

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Blessed by Seeing Others Blessed

Yesterday I was blessed to be able to rejoice with those who rejoice and it was a wonderful way to end the week on a positive note.

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My Friday began like most Fridays do by teaching English for a group of moms. In the afternoon it was another doctor’s appointment, but it wasn’t too bad. He changed a few prescriptions for me to start trying to treat me for Fibromyalgia. The best part was early evening.

One of the pastors from my church told me a neighbor wanted to give one of their dressers away to a family in need. He asked me if I knew of anyone. Of course I do. I always do. The first family that came to mind was a family from Iraq I have been blessed to get to know. My friends from church Lorri and Scott picked up the dresser to deliver it. I went to the family’s home to wait for them.

During my visit I kept thinking about what Paul wrote in Romans 12:

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn”

Both the husband and wife passed the U.S. citizenship test recently. It is such a big deal and a big win for them in a life that is difficult for them. We sat and drank tea. The husband showed me his certificate. I lost track of how many times I congratulated them. I am so happy for them.

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The husband was fortunate that there was a ceremony at the Immigration Office the same day he passed the test, so he has already taken the oath and received his certificate of Naturalization. The wife passed her test on a different day and will have her ceremony in a few weeks. I am so proud of both of them.

It was a double blessing for me to also be able to see how well my friends from church Lorri and Scott have connected with the family. It was evident to me that the wife and Lorri have become good friends. Scott patiently listened to the husband tell stories in his broken English. They are both excellent examples of showing the love of Jesus to others.

So, even though I went to another doctor’s appointment being the pinball patient I am, the day was awesome because I could end it by rejoicing with my friends.

How was your Friday?

God Bless. Thank you for reading.

 

 

 

 

Do We See Them?

Last night I watched a wonderful movie- Same Kind of Different As Me. There was a line in the movie that caught my attention when Denver told Ron that when he gives a meal to a homeless person, the person is still homeless but what Ron is really doing is saying, “I see you.”

God has called me to share his love with refugees and immigrants from all over the world living in my city. That is what my life is all about, so of course I see the people from other countries. But my experience has sensitized me to being aware of others around me as I go through life.

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Last weekend, I was in a store and noticed a single mom with her daughter. Her daughter was pushing one of those carts for children. I made the comment, “I see you have you helper. She probably has ideas for you about what to buy.” We smiled. A few minutes later I walked by them again and the daughter had found the popcorn she likes showing it to her mom. As I walked by, I said, “She found something she likes.” and I smiled.

Sometimes I go to a coffee shop in the afternoons and see some elderly people playing card. I like to stop at their table and say someone has a lot of aces. They laugh.

In the mornings at the school where I teach moms, I like to interact with the children briefly. I joke with them about needing more homework. I also like to bless them by wishing them a good day in school.

These are just a few examples. The question is do we see them?

Jesus always sees us. Jesus saw a man named Zaccheus who no one wanted anything to do with because he was a tax collector. Zaccheus was too short to see over the crowd, so he climbed a tree to see Jesus. Jesus saw him. In Luke 19 we read:

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly”

Jesus saw him and visited him in his home. That led to Zaccheus coming to faith in Jesus and changing his life.

Do we see them? Do we see them as Jesus sees them? They want to be seen. We all want to be seen. Our world is becoming increasingly impersonal and people long for connection. Do we see them and are we willing to connect with people?

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We know Jesus sees them. We also know Jesus wants to do his work through us. Do we see them?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

 

Jesus Came to Seek and Save the Lost, What About Us?

 I have been dealing with bronchitis again this week. Bronchitis is no stranger to me. I have not slept yet because I spent most of the night at the hospital getting breathing treatment. So I want to share a post from the first week I started going again with my blog last year in March:

Jesus contrasted himself with the evil one when he said of himself, “I have come that they may have life” and of Satan, “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy.”

Jesus also said that he came to seek and save the lost.

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SO what about us? How can we participate in seeking to bring life to others?

There are many ways to be part of showing the love of Jesus to others in hopes of bringing them life.

1- Share the comfort God has given you that Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians 1.

I admire a young woman recovering from Eating Disorders who writes a blog          Beauty Beyond Bones. She shares about how Jesus helped her recover from an Eating Disorder through her blog.

We can get involved in helping others through direct contact also. I work with refugees and immigrants in my home city. Through spending time with them and helping them, I have had the opportunity to share Jesus with them.

2- Support others in prayer and/or financially that truly work to share Christ’s love.

I am NOT talking about the TV people!!!

One ministry that I support is Love Justice International. It is a ministry that intercepts victims of human sex trafficking and also has group homes for the children and young women they rescue. This is an terrible problem in the world. I wrote a fictional story about Mary Magdalene meeting a young woman who was a victim of sex trafficking in my blog of short stories- Jessica’s Encounter at The Harbor Coffee Shop. If even one young woman reads that story and it gives her the hope and courage to look to Jesus for help to escape, all of my blogging would be SO worth it.

3- Get involved with our church. Find a ministry in your church that you feel passionate about and get involved.

4- PRAYER. Since I found out I have Celiacs Disease, which is just another autoimmune problem added to my list, I have really simplified my prayer life. I start each day asking Jesus to help me show his love to those I will see that day and to give me opportunities to share his love. That is how I start my prayer time.

These are just a few ideas that come to my mind.

There is so much suffering in the world around us, in the lives of people we may know or we may not know. There is a simple yet most profound message we can share with those who are suffering- Jesus Loves You, but that message comes packaged in the love we show in practical ways, in small things, in big things, through personal contact, through being vulnerable to share.

They are among us, they live close to us, they live far from us, they might be silent, they might be vocal, BUT, they all need JESUS.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Show Compassion

Sometimes the reality of what my refugee friends have endured and been through slaps me in the face like a jolt of reality. I get so busy helping them with their new lives here that the reality of their experience seems far away.

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Then I read a news story like the one I read yesterday that appalled me. I will use the term Daesh not the usual term used by the media for the criminals who terrorized Iraq and Syria these past several years. Daesh was especially brutal to the Yazidi people. British Special Forces were closing in on the last of the Daesh criminals and found fifty Yazidi women beheaded who had been held as sex slaves. Evil at its worst.

There is nothing I can do to stop such atrocities over there. The one thing I can do is love the refugees who are here. I can help them build their new lives here. I can be an understanding empathetic ear as they share their stories. I can try to make them feel welcome here. I can reach out my hand of friendship.

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Like Paul said in 2 Corinthians 11:

“Who is weak, and I do not feel weak?”

I love my Yazidi friends and my other refugee friends who have been oppressed such as my Mandean friends from Iran and my Karen friends from Burma. So many others too from other places. My home city has refugees from all over the world.

In moments like when I read the article, I feel some of what Jesus felt when he saw the crowds of people coming to him in Matthew 9:

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

Jesus felt an overwhelming compassion for them and he feels that for us. He feels that for my refugee friends. My hope is to show my refugee friends the compassion and love of Jesus.

In these weeks of physical therapy and going from doctor’s appointment to doctor’s appointment in hope of finding out what is wrong, it is too easy to lose focus. God has called me to love the refugees in my city. Whether I feel good or not, that call does not change nor do I want it to. My prayer is for God to give me the strength and to love them through me.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

 

 

A Love to Remember This Valentine’s Day

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The picture of the heart cut out of the bush is not a typical image for Valentine’s Day. There is a reason I chose it. Creation is one of God’s huge I love yous to us. He created everything we see and placed us here to enjoy it.

On Monday I shared about the different kinds of love in the bible. Agape is unconditional love. God loves us unconditionally to the point that he sent Jesus to be our Savior which Jesus shared in John 3:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

While God loves us unconditionally with Agape love, it is not possible for us to love God unconditionally because our love for him is always in response to him loving us first which we see in 1st John 4:

We love because he first loved us.”

God loves us unconditionally which empowers us to love others with God’s love. It is interesting that in the verse both words for love are derived from agape. It is because God loves us that we can show God’s love to others.

So tomorrow and this week as people are celebrating romantic love and friendship/family love, which are all okay by the way. my encouragement to my readers is to also take in God’s love.

Look at creation around you such as the stars at night that show how immense God is and how immense his love for us is.

Even as people give flowers, remember they would not exist if God had not created flowers in the first place.

Think about Jesus on the cross dying for us because of his love for us.

Think about the moments in our lives that God has been there for us including ones when it seemed he was the only one there.

The list could go on and on of the ways God shows his love to us.

Remember what John wrote in 1st John 4:

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.”

So yes celebrate Valentine’s if you plan to. But remember God’s great love as you do so.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

 

 

Music Mondays- Build My Life by Amanda Cook

With Valentine’s Day coming this week, there will be much focus on love, romantic love.

In English we only have one word for love. In the original language of the New Testament in the bible, Koine Greeek, there were four words for love. Agape, Philos. Storge and Eros. Eros being the one for romantic love which is the focus for Valentine’s Day Storge and also Philos being friendship or family love will also be celebrated on Valentine’s Day as family members exchange cards or gifts and friends likewise. Philos was also used for the deep brotherly/sisterly love between fellow Christians.

Agape is the word for God’s unconditional love. God loves us unconditionally. He showed us his love even though we did not deserve it. He showed it by Jesus coming as Jesus said in John 3:16:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”

There is nothing wrong with romantic love if expressed in the right way, the way God intended. Family and friendship love are wonderful. However, God’s love is eternal and the one we can always count on. The other kinds of love may fail at times. Boyfriends and girlfriends can break up. Marriages can fail. Family and friends can disappoint. But God’s love never fails and never ends.

I love the lyrics for the song Build My Life

“I will build my life upon your love

It is a firm foundation

I will put my trust in you

I will not be shaken”

So this week as people celebrate Valentine’s Day, my focus will be on God’s love. Nothing wrong with celebrating the other kinds of love with each other, but my focus will be on God’s love.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

 

Comforted by God to Comfort Others-The Voice of Peace

There are bloggers I enjoy following for personal enjoyment and then there are bloggers I follow because they inspire me. One blogger that inspires me is The Voice of Peace. She inspires me because she is willing to share about how God has helped her and continues to help her overcome trauma. Her vision is to help others who have been assaulted by sharing her story and encouraging others about how Jesus can help them heal.

In my blog I try to share different ways Jesus has helped me with various issues such as health problems, past abuse, personal failures etc.

I love 2 Corinthians 1:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

God comforts us so we can in turn comfort others with the comfort God has given us. It is a beautiful process. God brings healing and restoration to our lives and in so doing prepares us to be vehicles of comfort for others, so they may experience God’s healing and restoration.

So many blogs I follow are because of how they are willing to share how God has comforted them. I plan to continue sharing their blogs in coming weeks and months and shining a spotlight on them. I have done so and will continue to do so.

For today, I want to shine the spotlight on my little sister in Jesus and her blog The Voice of Peace. I want to share one of her videos with you. She has recently begun a youtube channel too, so I want to share her video- Just Like You. She shares about how just like other victims of trauma, she knows what it is like to be assaulted, but also knows the healing Jesus can bring. I am so proud of her. Please check out her video.

 

 

Happy Birthday in Heaven to my Earthly Father- God is a Loving Heavenly Father.

January 6th has special meaning in many countries as the celebration of 3 Kings Day to remember the 3 wise men coming to visit the baby Jesus bringing gifts to worship him. However, January 6th has a different meaning for me. It is the day of my father’s birthday.

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He passed away in April 2009 and I was with him when he died reading from 1 Corinthians 15 about the resurrection of Jesus. Ours was a complicated father son relationship. He was an alcoholic who was at times abusive and most of the time withdrawn and unavailable emotionally. It was determined in his last year on earth that he had clinical depression, so I think he self medicated. He had been sober for about 30 years when he died. I wrote last year about how forgiveness from me led to my father receiving forgiveness from God. You can read that by clicking on- forgiveness from me.

For anyone who has problems with their relationship with their father, it can make it more difficult to embrace that God is a loving heavenly father.

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And yet that is exactly who God is, a loving heavenly father. If we read through the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, we see that Jesus called God father and not only in reference to God being his father. Jesus called God, “You father in heaven” as he spoke to those following him. Jesus used the possessive your father teaching about relationship with God. When his followers asked Jesus to teach how to pray, the example Jesus gave as a model of prayer that we call the Lord’s prayer begins with:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,”

Jesus taught that our heavenly father knows what we need before we ask showing God’s concern for us. He taught that we are valuable and precious to God. He taught us that God loves us many times including the famous John 3:16:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Paul wrote in Romans 8 that we can call God Abba which for us means that God is a deeply caring father:

“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

God does not want his children living in fear of him in the sense of being scared of him, respect yes, scared no. He wants us to come to him, receive forgiveness, and live in a father child relationship with him.

God is patient and knows our weaknesses and hurts. If it takes time for us to be able to embrace him as father because of past abuse or neglect by our earthly fathers, God will patiently bring healing into our lives.

God is a loving heavenly father. Because of that, I was able to forgive my earthly father and am able to say today, Happy Birthday in heaven to my earthly father.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

 

Matt The Wedding Coordinator?

In my post yesterday about the Liebster Award I shared as one of the random things about me that I have been a wedding coordinator before and that I might share the humorous story in a future post. A few people commented they wanted to hear about it, so here goes.

My life proves that God has a sense of humor. I often find myself in situations where I think perhaps God gets a chuckle out of seeing what I am willing to try to help others. For example, one year close to Thanksgiving I decided to cook a Thanksgiving lunch for the people who come to my weekend groups at church. I put two turkeys in the ovens in the basement at church and started cooking the turkeys. Then I had a thought, more of a question, in my mind. How do I know when they are done. I had never cooked a turkey before.

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So I went upstairs hoping to find someone in the church that knew. I found a friend of mine Kris in the church. I asked her how to know when a turkey was done and she asked me why. I told her. She came downstairs and took over.

A few pastors at church have received emails from me that are basically- I have an idea. I don’t mind stepping out with no solid plan in situations such as meeting a new people group that has come as refugees that no one knows anything about. I enjoy getting to know them and learn as I go.

So one day a refugee family from Ukraine had a need. Their daughter wanted to get married but their Ukranian church rented a 7th Day Adventist church building on Sunday mornings and they had no access to it on Friday evening or Saturday for their wedding. They had no money. So I asked one of the pastors at my church and arranged for them to have it for free at my church. The women who usually coordinated weddings for the church did not feel confident helping people with broken English, so I agreed to do it. The bride had friends who lived here long enough to know where to get wedding stuff, so my job was really them asking me if they could do something, I asked the building manager, he told me yes or no, and I told the bride’s family yes or no. Wedding coordinating seemed simple.

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So a year later, when a young lady from China wanted to have a Christian wedding, I thought no problem I can coordinate it. I met with her and her fiance and realized they were so new to Lincoln and their friends were too. They didn’t know where to get wedding stuff. So I called my friend Kathy from church. Kathy and her husband had helped with my ministry before. I asked Kathy, “what are you doing tomorrow afternoon at 2:30?” She responded by asking a question, “Why? What have you got yourself into this time?” I told her the situation and she said she would be there. Kathy met us at the church and took over, I think I still had the title Wedding Coordinator, but I am not sure.

So Lily of retrospectivelily, you are single and have a boyfriend. When it is time for your wedding, I will coordinate it for you for free since you are one of the ones who asked me to share the story. 🙂

Hope you all enjoyed my story. Thank you for reading. God Bless.