Easter means Victory!

“Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57

Photo by Georgia Pointer

If there has ever been a time when we need the hope of Easter, it is now! With a pandemic devouring lives and livelihoods, politics revealing the blackest of motives, and violence crouching at the door of every public place, focus on the resurrection is a welcome diversion and confident hope.

I am sure that you who know Jesus are feeling the heaviness of these times like I am. Without Easter, this life would be the best we could hope for. Despair would wear a grove in our minds and the hereafter would be even worse. Thanks be to God, because He raised His Son from the clutches of our worst enemy, we can sing while the world rains down its worst. We have a glorious, invisible place to fix our eyes while the newscasters flood our screens with heartbreaking images day after day. That empty grave means evil does not win, and in every difficulty we can more than overcome.

We already have the victory, My Friend, we only need to lift our eyes of faith to behold it. In Christ, whatever we are facing already has our boot print on its neck! We can let trouble talk it’s treacherous trash knowing that the Risen One will always have the final word. Easter changes everything. Easter means victory!

When You belong to Jesus

Photo provided by Kathy Rainwater

“You are not your own, you were bought at a price.” I Corinthians 6:19-20

The world sees belonging to Jesus as bondage, restriction, and the absence of all things fun. Those of us who know Him understand that the opposite is true. To be a handmaiden to the King of Kings is the highest station one can hold. No other master has ever given so much for the security of his servants. We understand that any “no” is an “I love you.” We believers have experienced the peace that comes from doing hard things and leaving the consequences with Him. We understand that while we wait for that ultimate rest, we have power, bankrolled by the cross, to battle in an invisible war with weapons not of this world. Because we belong to Jesus, we revel in a love that will never let us go and that frees us to be all He made us to be.

As for fun, the fence of His commands hem us in so that we may have full-throttle freedom within the widest of fields the Good Shepherd provides for us. Because He did not spare the best He had, we have the joy of what seems like a reckless trust that in reality is a knowledge that anywhere He forbids us go is nothing we needed in the first place.

An easy life it is not; that will come on the other side. The Master has no fine print, He warned us that our journey here involves taking up a cross, tribulation, and suffering. He also assured us that we would never walk alone and that our victory is a foregone conclusion. That’s how it is when you are forever bound with the cords of His love. That’s how it is when you belong to Jesus.

In Times Like These

“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season.” 2 Timothy 4:2

When troubled times come, you and I have work to do. Those around us need godly direction and the Lord has appointed us to give it. Do not think that you must be eloquent or that you need a special skill to be the light in dark situations. My friend, if you belong to Christ through faith in Him, you already possess the Light, you just need to let it shine!

Refuse to be distracted by political unrest. Your marching orders are still the same in season and out of it. These difficult days are merely a current that brings the fish closer to salvation’s net, an earthquake forcing earth’s inhabitants to look up when all they trusted in is unstable. You are appointed, in your own circle of influence, to be the voice that points your charges to Christ. May the Lord give you boldness, strength, and love that overrides fear in times like these.

The Depth of Christmas

Colossians 2:10. “and you are complete in him….”

Whatever your deepest need, the answer can be found in the Christ of Christmas.

I recently witnessed a woman in desperate need of the father of her baby to declare his love in a permanent commitment. She would never form the words, “Ask me to marry you,” but everything she did said those words for her. The man seemed clueless, and her frustration was palatable.

Human beings can never fulfill us the way Jesus can. As women, we want to be wanted, to be cherished and for someone to show we are worth whatever it takes to win us. It is no exaggeration to say that Christ leaving Heaven to come to earth and suffer crucifixion is the quintessential expression of love! This should forever settle the deep question of our worth no matter who rejects us.

Rejoice that Christ’s coming had in mind the fulfillment of all your deepest needs. Embrace Him in gratitude for all He has done, My Friend. May the rehearsal of His intention in coming merry your heart in its deepest places this Christmas season!

From Here To Him

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear….” 1 Peter 3:15

Phillip got the call from God to go to a desert road to share the gospel with an Ethiopian eunuch. The African was reading a Scripture that sparked questions, and God, in His grace, supplied someone to answer them. I love that the Bible says that “Phillip opened His mouth and beginning from the Scripture he preached Jesus to him.” Phillip started from where the man was and beat a path straight to the cross. Is there any road that God’s Spirit cannot hack through to the cross?

This holiday season is an ideal time to talk about Jesus to people who do not know Him. They are already singing about Him. Christmas is a blaring conversation piece for sharing the gospel. I encourage you, My Friend, to ask the Lord to open your eyes to those opportunities in which many are in an ideal place to consider the real reason for this season!

A Merry Thanksmas!

Photo by Georgia Pointer

“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15

We are one day past Thanksgiving Day (I hope yours was a happy one) and now we begin the Christmas season. I know you have heard the complaints about folks who tread on the face of Thanksgiving in the mad rush toward Christmas.

I ask you, why do the two holidays have to be mutually exclusive? Did the coming of Christ not usher in a whole list of new reasons for gratitude? Salvation, identity, power, and eternal security are just the tip of the mountain of gifts lavished on us by the Good, Good Father. How can anything stifle the giving of thanks in the face of all that the coming of the Christ Child ushered in for us? The challenge lies in being intentional about itemizing each blessing of Christ’s birth during this busy season.

I challenge you, My Friends, throughout this season to engage in the rich exercise of thankful enumeration of what the birth of Jesus means for your life and your future. Reflect while you drive. Ruminate while standing in line. Meditate on it while you bake. When you feel you have exhausted your list, you will have only scratched the surface. Ask the Father to open your eyes to see even more; He will gladly do it! The result cannot help but be a cornucopia of praise, worship, and gratitude, and celebration. It will be a happy blend of Thanksgiving and Christmas: a merry Thanksmas!

PS. I would love to hear your reflections as they come to you. It’s always more fun when we do it together. I will share mine in the comments throughout this season and I invite you to join me!

No, You May Not Have That

How big were the hackles that rose up in you at those words? No one likes to be told, “ no” but it can be one of the most loving words we could ever hear. Every person has at least one thing that they struggle to surrender. Sometimes it is not even a bad thing we want, but it happens to be something God has not chosen for us. That’s hard, isn’t it? The only way to come to terms with this mystery is to trust. You and I must trust that God has His reasons and make peace with not knowing what they are. Trust requires letting go of control (as if we had it anyway) and reminding ourselves that God gave His best in Jesus, so everything else is extra. Keeping this mindset can be a challenge, but the peace it yields makes the striving worth it.

May the Lord lead you to the green pasture of trust in Him, and may you drink deeply from the still waters of surrender to His will for your life, My Friend. Graze on His all-sufficient grace! Never forget that He is the Good Shepherd and His “no” is an expression of His love and sovereignty that leads you in the path of righteousness for His name’s sake and for your own good.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” Proverbs 3:5

Photo by Keith Pointer

Where Is Your Setting?

Photo by Kathy Rainwater

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:1

I recently got caught in a funk. Just when the Lord had pulled me out of one funk, I got caught in another. This time I stepped into the trap of comparing myself to someone else. I could see the bony finger of the enemy poking me in my chest as he spewed, “If you had been more like her, your life would be better. This is just one more way you have failed and it’s too late to turn things around.” It was awful! The voice, camouflaged as my own, went on to paint a rosy picture of all the possible ways the other person succeeded where I fell short. My heart was heavy with discouragement. Then my gracious Lord came riding in with the Sword of the Spirit ( Ephesians 6:17) pronouncing today’s verse to me. Right away, the light of truth revealed that my mind was not set on heavenly things. My setting needed an adjustment.

How about yours? Has the political, racial, financial, and physical climate of this world knocked your mind off it’s heavenly setting? Have your circumstances?

Depression, negativity, ingratitude, grouchiness, impatience, and sometimes hopelessness are good indicators that our mindset has shifted. The way back is to look up, to remember what the Lord has said and give it preeminence over every contrary thought. (2 Corinthians 10:5). Because of Christ, we have the upper hand in everything, but if our thinking is skewed, we risk a certain poverty that blinds us to His plenty.

I have found the Father to be gracious and compassionate, My Friend. He specializes in realignments and resets, and He welcomes us when we come to Him. Do you need His help in that way today?

A Word About Our Words

Photo by Keith Pointer

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

If someone who does not know you were to have recorded every word you said yesterday, what conclusions would they draw about you? Would they see a different person depending on who was around you? Would they say you were of the same character throughout the day?

It is easy to forget that the Lord hears every word and has promised we will answer for every one of them. It is easier still to forget that the words that come out of our mouths tell the truth about our hearts.

None of us gets it right all the time, but let us strive to be more mindful of what we allow to come out of our mouths today. When we stand before the Lord, may He find that the number of sweet, encouraging, and edifying words outnumber the ones that displease Him.