The Lord God has put his Spirit in me, because the Lord has appointed me to tell the good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort those whose hearts are broken, to tell the captives they are free, and to tell the prisoners they are released. He has sent me to announce the time when the Lord will show his kindness and the time when our God will punish evil people. He has sent me to comfort all those who are sad and to help the sorrowing people of Jerusalem. I will give them a crown to replace their ashes, and the oil of gladness to replace their sorrow, and clothes of praise to replace their spirit of sadness. Then they will be called Trees of Goodness, trees planted by the Lord to show His greatness.
They will rebuild the old ruins and restore the places destroyed long ago. They will repair the ruined cities that were destroyed for so long.
Jesus closed the book, gave it back to the assistant, and sat down. Everyone in the synagogue was watching Jesus closely. He began to say to them, “While you heard these words just now, they were coming true!”
All the people spoke well of Jesus and were amazed at the words of grace he spoke. They asked, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”
Jesus said to them, “I know that you will tell me the old saying: ‘Doctor, heal yourself.’ You want to say, ‘We heard about the things you did in Capernaum. Do those things here in your own town!’” Then Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, a prophet is not accepted in his hometown. But I tell you the truth, there were many widows in Israel during the time of Elijah. It did not rain in Israel for three and one-half years, and there was no food anywhere in the whole country. But Elijah was sent to none of those widows, only to a widow in Zarephath, a town in Sidon. And there were many with skin diseases living in Israel during the time of the prophet Elisha. But none of them were healed, only Naaman, who was from the country of Syria.”
2 Chronicles 7:14
Then if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, if they will pray and seek me and stop their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven. I will forgive their sin, and I will heal their land.
by Pastor Carter Conlon
The Thoughts on Faith and Prayer messages short sermons (15-20 min) given during my congregation’s corporate prayer service on Tuesday nights. I’m really excited to learn that they are being recorded and can be shared. This is a great message about the totality of what we are called to be in Christ Jesus.
This was an amazing sermon on repentance. I’ve studied and written and lived with a repentant (as much as I’ve been able to at any given point and time) for years now – this sermon took me to another level of understanding.
I’ll clean up my notes later, but for now, listen and be blessed.
Mark 1:14-15 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Psalm 51:1-3 : Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
v. 10-12 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
– There’s hope. A repentant heart looks forward.
Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.
JC: Truly I say to you, you will be with me in paradise today.
No matter how many promises are made, it’s yes in Christ… guaranteeing what is to come
Acts 3: 19-21
Repent and turn
**Bring fruits worthy of repentance.
**Unless a seed dies and fall to the ground…
1. Jesus is the Kingdom of God personified: Kingdom of God is near /is here. He is here/with the believer.
2. What is repentance?
-Coming to a point where we admit there is a problem we can’t fix and recognize that solution is with God.
-It is an attitude of the heart that keeps you going. A changed mind. Change of conduct showing a disdain of sin.
5. It’s not just stop doing wrong things but to start doing right things. Also repent/turn from doing nothing.
6. Past performance is no indication of future results
– There’s hope. A repentant heart looks forward.
“The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron; with a point of diamond it is engraved on the tablet of their heart, and on the horns of their altars,while their children remember their altars and their Asherim, beside every green tree and on the high hills,on the mountains in the open country. Your wealth and all your treasures I will give for spoil as the price of your high places for sin throughout all your territory.You shall loosen your hand from your heritage that I gave to you, and I will make you serve your enemies in a land that you do not know, for in my anger a fire is kindled that shall burn forever.”
Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength,[a] whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind,[b] to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”
Like the partridge that gathers a brood that she did not hatch, so is he who gets riches but not by justice; in the midst of his days they will leave him, and at his end he will be a fool.
A glorious throne set on high from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary. O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you shall be put to shame; those who turn away from you[c] shall be written in the earth, for they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living water.
Jeremiah Prays for Deliverance
Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise. Behold, they say to me, “Where is the word of the Lord? Let it come!” I have not run away from being your shepherd, nor have I desired the day of sickness. You know what came out of my lips; it was before your face. Be not a terror to me; you are my refuge in the day of disaster. Let those be put to shame who persecute me, but let me not be put to shame; let them be dismayed, but let me not be dismayed; bring upon them the day of disaster; destroy them with double destruction!
Keep the Sabbath Holy
Thus said the Lord to me: “Go and stand in the People’s Gate, by which the kings of Judah enter and by which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem,and say: ‘Hear the word of the Lord, you kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who enter by these gates.Thus says the Lord: Take care for the sake of your lives, and do not bear a burden on the Sabbath day or bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem.And do not carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath or do any work, but keep the Sabbath day holy, as I commanded your fathers.Yet they did not listen or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck, that they might not hear and receive instruction.
“‘But if you listen to me, declares the Lord, and bring in no burden by the gates of this city on the Sabbath day, but keep the Sabbath day holy and do no work on it,then there shall enter by the gates of this city kings and princes who sit on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their officials, the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And this city shall be inhabited forever.And people shall come from the cities of Judah and the places around Jerusalem, from the land of Benjamin, from the Shephelah, from the hill country, and from the Negeb, bringing burnt offerings and sacrifices, grain offerings and frankincense, and bringing thank offerings to the house of the Lord.But if you do not listen to me, to keep the Sabbath day holy, and not to bear a burden and enter by the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem and shall not be quenched.’”
“Jesus appeared as an ordinary person. He never appeared in recognizable form. He was still Jesus, but not in the form people expected to see Him in. He appeared as a Gardener. How amazing is that? He was telling us that He will have a body here on earth. Many bodies in the form of ordinary people walking in the power of God.” ~ Pastor Carter
“You and I are not called to be super stars. We’re not called to have all the answers. We have an answer within us. We’re called to be just ordinary people with faith and compassion. There’s been more done in my life through words of assurance and tender hands than every prophets that’s ever lived in the Kingdom of God.” ~ Pastor Carter
Luke 24:13-27“O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”
“Suffering and sorrow and confusion and darkness does not mean that we’ve lost the battle. We have to be able to explain to them, which He did – He opened the scriptures and showed them that it is the plan of God to send His Son, and have His Son die on a cross and to take the sins of the world upon Himself, to be placed in a grave and to be raised again from the dead on the third day – so that forgiveness and life and victory could be brought back for those who put their trust in Him. Sometimes darkness has to come before the dawn. Sometimes suffering has to come. You see, we’ve allowed a gospel to be preached that it’s all sunshine all the time. How do you explain when things start going the other way?” ~ Pastor Carter
“No matter what you’re suffering, no matter how dark it is, what God promised you is what it’s gonna be!” ~ Pastor Carter
John 21:4-14“Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.”
Romans 8:34-36Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
“Cast the net on the right side of God. Get back to where the power of God is! The victory…the battle…everything we long for is in Jesus Christ!”
Ephesians 1:17-22 Spirit of wisdom and revelation; the hope of His calling.: ...that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great mightthat he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
“There is power in speach. We are the only thing in creation given the ability to willfully speak the Word of God.” ~ Pastor Carter
2 Corinthians 5:17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
“Lord, some of these things are so simple, they’re deep… but you have clearly shown us the pattern. Until the day we get home, will you help us understand these things? Embrace these things? Help us to meditate on these things today? And will you comfort us in our confusion and sorrow that we to willl comfort others? In the name of Jesus, amen.”
“We take something so simple and we make it so complicated. Then it becomes frustrating. And with the frustration comes fruitlessness.”
I’m trying to get back to the simplicity of just being a Christian.
“I have told you these things to keep you from giving up. People will put you out of their synagogues. Yes, the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are offering service to God. They will do this because they have not known the Father and they have not known me. I have told you these things now so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you.
The Work of the Holy Spirit
“I did not tell you these things at the beginning, because I was with you then.Now I am going back to the One who sent me. But none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ Your hearts are filled with sadness because I have told you these things. But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go away. When I go away, I will send the Helper[a] to you. If I do not go away, the Helper will not come. When the Helper comes, he will prove to the people of the world the truth about sin, about being right with God, and about judgment. He will prove to them that sin is not believing in me.He will prove to them that being right with God comes from my going to the Father and not being seen anymore. And the Helper will prove to them that judgment happened when the ruler of this world was judged.
“I have many more things to say to you, but they are too much for you now.But when the Spirit of truth comes, he will lead you into all truth. He will not speak his own words, but he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is to come. The Spirit of truth will bring glory to me, because he will take what I have to say and tell it to you. All that the Father has is mine. That is why I said that the Spirit will take what I have to say and tell it to you.
Sadness Will Become Happiness
“After a little while you will not see me, and then after a little while you will see me again.”
Some of the followers said to each other, “What does Jesus mean when he says, ‘After a little while you will not see me, and then after a little while you will see me again’? And what does he mean when he says, ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” They also asked, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.”
Jesus saw that the followers wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you asking each other what I meant when I said, ‘After a little while you will not see me, and then after a little while you will see me again’? I tell you the truth, you will cry and be sad, but the world will be happy. You will be sad, but your sadness will become joy. When a woman gives birth to a baby, she has pain, because her time has come. But when her baby is born, she forgets the pain, because she is so happy that a child has been born into the world. It is the same with you. Now you are sad, but I will see you again and you will be happy, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will not ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you anything you ask for in my name.Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy will be the fullest possible joy.
Victory over the World
“I have told you these things indirectly in stories. But the time will come when I will not use stories like that to tell you things; I will speak to you in plain words about the Father. In that day you will ask the Father for things in my name. I mean, I will not need to ask the Father for you. The Father himself loves you. He loves you because you loved me and believed that I came from God. I came from the Father into the world. Now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”
Then the followers of Jesus said, “You are speaking clearly to us now and are not using stories that are hard to understand. We can see now that you know all things. You can answer a person’s question even before it is asked. This makes us believe you came from God.”
Jesus answered, “So now you believe?Listen to me; a time is coming when you will be scattered, each to your own home. That time is now here. You will leave me alone, but I am never really alone, because the Father is with me.
“I told you these things so that you can have peace in me. In this world you will have trouble, but be brave! I have defeated the world.”
16:7Helper “Counselor” or “Comforter.” Jesus is talking about the Holy Spirit.
Jesus said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s house; I would not tell you this if it were not true. I am going there to prepare a place for you. After I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”[a]
Thomas said to Jesus, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. So how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father, too. But now you do know him, and you have seen him.”
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father. That is all we need.”
Jesus answered, “I have been with you a long time now. Do you still not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. So why do you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I say to you don’t come from me, but the Father lives in me and does his own work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or believe because of the miracles I have done.I tell you the truth, whoever believes in me will do the same things that I do. Those who believe will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And if you ask for anything in my name, I will do it for you so that the Father’s glory will be shown through the Son.If you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it.
The Promise of the Holy Spirit
“If you love me, you will obey my commands. I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper[b] to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it does not see him or know him. But you know him, because he lives with you and he will be in you.
“I will not leave you all alone like orphans; I will come back to you. In a little while the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you will live, too. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and that you are in me and I am in you.Those who know my commands and obey them are the ones who love me, and my Father will love those who love me. I will love them and will show myself to them.”
Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you plan to show yourself to us and not to the rest of the world?”
Jesus answered, “If people love me, they will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Those who do not love me do not obey my teaching. This teaching that you hear is not really mine; it is from my Father, who sent me.
“I have told you all these things while I am with you. But the Helper will teach you everything and will cause you to remember all that I told you. This Helper is the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name.
“I leave you peace; my peace I give you. I do not give it to you as the world does. So don’t let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going, but I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you should be happy that I am going back to the Father, because he is greater than I am. I have told you this now, before it happens, so that when it happens, you will believe. I will not talk with you much longer, because the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me, but the world must know that I love the Father, so I do exactly what the Father told me to do.
“Come now, let us go.
14:4You . . . going. Some Greek copies read “You know where I am going and the way to the place I am going.”
14:16Helper “Counselor” or “Comforter.” Jesus is talking about the Holy Spirit.
“The decisions you make now will have serious consequences.”
If you enjoy a good Adam and Eve, David and Goliath, Jesus in the desert story, you’ll enjoy God’s Not Dead. This film pits a college freshman up against a celebrated philosophy professor and essentially academia. It’s a film that illustrates the fallout that can happen in your life when you truly take a stand for Jesus Christ in a culture that has no real opinion or passion about faith.
Are you willing to forfeit your family, your spouse/significant other, and your future plans in order to follow Christ and the leading of the Holy Spirit? This question is the premise of the movie. From it the movie evolves into a series of situational choices and confrontations that could represent a day in any of our lives.
The story follows certain interactions among a weary pastor, his visiting missionary friend, an anti-theist professor, a Christian college student, a college student from a Muslim family, a backslider and a non-believing blogger.
“The most committed atheists were once Christians. We took the blinders off; we saw the world for what it is.”
The scene these words were spoken in was particularly powerful because it indirectly touched on the epidemic of “conditional faith”. People with conditional faith are willing to acknowledge God as long as He does the things they want Him to do in their lives. Once He ignores or refuses to act on a request, then the person with conditional faith will no longer be willing to believe in, worship or honor a God that didn’t accommodate their life.
This element makes God’s Not Dead an excellent teaching film on an individual or group level.
Then the LORD answered me and said: “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith. ~ Habakkuk 2:2-3 NKJV
Are you familiar with the TV series, the Highlander? I think Adrian Paul is the reason I had a huge crush, not just for Scots men, but for Scotland! I watched the television series long before I saw any of the movies.
The premise of the show was that immortals inhabited the Earth. They didn’t know about their immortality until they died and rose up again. They were destined to roam the earth in solitude or fight to an eternal death when they encountered each other because they believed, ultimately there could only be one immortal left on Earth.
I mention this because the Highlander’s tagline helps to illustrate my thoughts for this post. There can be only one.
I am husband hunting. Over the past few weeks, people’s reactions to my blunt speech about my search have implied that verbalizing and taking action on my desires is somewhat inappropriate. Like, I’m somehow stepping outside of a box they assigned me to.
Well, I don’t fit well in boxes and other peoples discomfort with truth and purpose are not going to hinder me. I’m not ashamed. I’m not embarrassed. I’ve simply reached a point in my life where I’m ready for marriage, family and the whole kit and caboodle. I’m ready to fully lay my life down for my unit. First, I must acquire a partner. I am under no misconceptions that there can only be one. Despite popular opinion and practice, I don’t feel the need, nor do I buy into the hype, that I need to sample men. There’s no need to test flavors, acquire substitutes or play house, try out options or explore different models. I won’t be used for any of that. You’re either ready for the full purchase or you can keep on moving.
I would like to extend a heartfelt, sincere “Thank You” to the ones who are moving out the way and clearing the field for a sincere, viable prospect to step up and consider throwing his gauntlet into the ring. Their instant scurry has provided a better line of sight to that one.
For those of you sitting back, waiting to be approached – I guarantee you it won’t happen. I am not soliciting men; I am simply announcing my availability. A wilting, whimpering man too scared to speak up for himself will not attract my notice or my favor. However, one who boldly approaches and lays his plans on the table will certainly earn my ear. Note: Having access to my ear is not the same as earning my hand.
Those men running away in terror from a woman seeking her mate have no need to worry. I’m not looking for a scurrying mouse; weak character removed you completely from the opportunity to acquire this prize. It’s the man standing firm in his identity and his purpose, walking towards me that my eyes are glued to.
What’s so scary about marriage?
Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys His word, love for Godis truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. ~ 1 John 2:4-6
The more I think about it, the less I think that’s the true question. Perhaps I should ask, what’s so scary about honesty, commitment and nakedness?
Hmmm… I think that’s a recurring theme in my writing. I keep coming across people who are so deep in the fig leaves they don’t know how to perceive anyone who refuses to conceal themselves.
Myles Munroe stated, “Vision is personal, but it is never private.” In Habakkuk 2: 2-3, God tells us to write the vision He gives us plainly on a wall or tablet. We are to make our vision visible. Visions are not just for the seer, they are also for the surrounding community.
Now, the question running through your mind could be, “Why do others need to know about your vision for marriage?”
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, that since my vision is lined up with what God planned marriage to be (a committed, life-long relationship He is in the midst of), He’s pointing out a sore spot to a lot of “Christians” living in the world. Many people who claim to believe God and trust Him are exposing themselves as liars. Unfaithful. Untrustworthy. Undisciplined. Unholy. Selfish. Lustful. Liars.
Ouch. But that’s what self-proclaimed Christians become when they sample one another intimately and/or sexually outside the bond of marriage. You may think it’s love and you’re exonerated, you may think mutual agreement allows for a friendship with benefits, or you may just be honest enough to admit to your lustful nature. No matter how you’ve excused your immoral conduct, you are still violating God’s laws.
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. ~ 1 Corinthians 6:18-20
I don’t know…. Perhaps I’m flabbergasted that some people are truly opposed to commitment and marriage yet see nothing wrong with violating the Holy Spirit with their bodies. Or violating themselves with their bodies on a lesser level.
Over the pass few weeks, I’ve been told I am in error for even looking for a husband, let alone speaking aloud about what I want. Some people have laughed in my face. Others were shocked that I am serious. A few have asked me why I won’t just adopt as a single parent, why I won’t just have a child and skip the husband. Married women have asked why I want to complicate my life with a man. The simplest of the questions have been: Why do you want to marry?
My simplest answer is: God paired mankind from the beginning. The Bible is full of marriages that have changed the course of human history. The relationship God demands of us is a prototype for our relationship with our spouse. Everywhere in His word, I read about my partner and I read about what I am to be as a partner. I want what God has written about. I what what He has promised. And I am ready to receive it. Simpler still: I want to marry because I believe God.
To the “naysayers”
It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6 and who have fallen[c] away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. ~ Hebrews 6: 4-6
For the naysayers a.k.a. the nonbelievers, it’s not difficult for me to believe with someone who is believing for a manifestation in their life. I may have to come to grips with it, depending on where my understanding is, but I certainly don’t sit back with an air of judgment and an expectation to see them fail.
It’s interesting to me how shocked and, dare I say, offended people are at my boldness. Actually, their shock is offensive to me. Their timidity is disturbing to me. Why? Because they are attempting to blind me with their lack of vision. They are trying to restrain me with their own lack of purpose.
A person of purpose admires purpose in another. A person of faith recognizes faith in another. A Believer lifts other Believers up.
This is not to say that I need everyone’s support or hope for universal agreement in my quest. I am free of that need. The Word says that I need only join with one or two others in the name of Jesus when requesting anything in my life and it will be granted (Matthew 18:19-20). And whatever we ask for in faith, believing we have received it will be granted (Matthew 21:22). Those requirements have been met. I call this process done in the name of Jesus. What you see before you is a woman acting out her faith. The one who’s coming has already been prepared for me. Sharing this process is simply a creative way for me to wait for his arrival.
Yesterday, I came across the sermon, God’s Greatest Creation by Dr. James Flamming. In it, Psalm 51:10 is highlighted, Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Flamming posits that God’s greatest creation is not complete. That our continual seeking of God requires a continual cleansing of our heart and renewal of our spirit. As you can imagine, that had me thinking. But not as much as his next point.
He spoke of David’s relationship with Bathsheba as one in which David positioned himself as God – attempting to control the events in her life to suit his own desires. The prophet Nathan was sent to David to share a parable and deliver God’s judgment to him (2 Samuel 12:1-14). The parable was one of a rich man taking from a poor man with no consideration or remorse. David was outraged and exclaimed, “Surely the man must die!” Nathan replied, “You are the man!”
Words of praise
According to popular opinion, I am awesome… glow with an emanating light… have the light of God shining through me… and am radiant with some inner peace…..
I’m sure if I thought long enough, more such words of praise would come to mind. My friend, Rhonda, has repeatedly told me through the years, “Shawnda, you are one of God’s chosen ones.” I always chuckle and shrug, as with the other words of praise, I brush the speaker off with a quick thank you and change of topic. But Rhonda caught my attention last week. It could’ve been timing. It could’ve been the fact that other seeds had been dropped and many prayers had gone up. After I shared some very flattering feedback similar to the above, Rhonda looked at me and said, “Why don’t you believe? We aren’t all going to tell the same lie.”
I suffer from the paradoxical thought that I’m no more special that the next person, while committing myself to the work of pointing out the uniquely special characteristics of the people I come in contact with. “I’m nothing special, but you certainly are,” has been my message, even while knowing no one is well-served when I play small.
Can you stand to be a blessing?
So, what if I am the woman? What if I’m the one to deliver a message to you like no other? What if I were able to see my light as clearly as I see my darkness? What if I were able to harness the good in me as securely as I suppress the sin nature?
What if you are the person? What if you are the one your neighbor is waiting to receive from? What if you are the blessing?
I prayed a prayer last week before visiting with a friend: “Father, give me the ability to accept and receive whatever he has to offer.” I didn’t want to walk into the conversation with expectations or walk away with unanchored hope. I just wanted to appreciate the moment for what it was.
That little prayer opened me in so many ways. When Rhonda later dropped her words into me, I wondered, “What is it about me that I haven’t accepted or received?” Indeed, what is it about me?
I hadn’t accepted my light.
Narrow is the way
A young poet at my church blessed the congregation with his words a few weeks ago. A verse he worked from has been rocking me ever since.
“Enter through the narrow gate. The gate is wide and the road is wide that leads to hell, and many people enter through that gate. But the gate is small and the road is narrow that leads to true life. Only a few people find that road. ~Matthew 7:13-14 NCV
Very familiar verse, but I truly heard it for the first time that day. I truly saw my congregation for the first time. They weren’t all on the same road.
See, my most painful struggle with the church has been because I supposed everyone in the church was seeking a Christ-like existence. I assumed that those who called themselves Christian and attended church regularly were seeking to become more and more Christ-like; a functioning part of the body; a loving neighbor…. I assumed I was joining one big happy family.
So much for assumptions…. As I spoke with someone after the poet performed, I looked around the moving congregation. In an awed voice, I said, “That’s why… they haven’t found the road.” Matthew 7:14 said it all for me in that moment. “But the gate is small and the road is narrow that leads to true life. Only a few people find that road.” I was able to acknowledge that I was one of the few.
After Jesus told His disciples He is the way, the truth and the life, He said, “I tell you the truth, whoever believes in me will do the same things that I do. Those who believe will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12)
So I ask you this, assuming (there’s that word again) I am not the only one who has difficulty accepting his/her light, if you believe in and on Jesus, and believe all things are possible through Him why is it so difficult to accept that His light is shining through you…that you are capable of the same life-altering miracles He performed? That you, by asking God to create a pure heart and renew a steadfast spirit in you, would be able to resemble and represent Christ to those who are thirsting for Him?
“You are the light that gives light to the world. A city that is built on a hill cannot be hidden. And people don’t hide a light under a bowl. They put it on a lampstand so the light shines for all the people in the house. In the same way, you should be a light for other people. Live so that they will see the good things you do and will praise your Father in heaven. ~ Matthew 5:14-16
I have been remiss. From this point forward I will be sure to instruct people to praise my Heavenly Father when they incorrectly praise me. Please, praise the Father for the work he has done, and continues to do, in me. That will keep us all in remembrance and as a result, I’m sure I’ll feel more comfortable letting my light brighten the world around me.