The teacher is here, and is calling for you. John 11:28
You teach us through your words. And teach us through your works. May we look intently into both and learn from our gentle and lowly Master, our kind and compassionate King. Today, may our footsteps mimic yours. Amen
On Easter Sunday morning, we as believers celebrated THE monumental day of our Christian faith. We woke up with joy, we sang songs of praise, we ate great food, we fellowshipped, we acknowledged our Savior to each other, and we felt hope in our unified proclamation.
And then... we went back to sleep.
On Monday morning as I rolled sleepily out of bed to start another week, I had this quiet thought concerning our day-before-festivities, "What does it mean to live 'out of the tomb'?"
For one, it means we can walk (and even run!) freely in Christ because of His amazing grace.
Let's recall the simplicity of the gospel: Jesus died for us, was buried for us, and rose again for us. He took our sins on his body, was buried with these sins, and then wonder-fully left these sins behind. He himself said, "it is finished!"
Why then do we keep some of sin's grave clothes wrapped around us as we "exit the tomb" with our Savior? Some entangling strips come to mind: unfounded fear, unnecessary worry, stiff-necked pride, wavering doubt, tight-fisted control, spit-fire words, bitter jealousy, unloving spirit, insatiable lust, meddlesome gossip. Yuck. Are any of these attitudes still wrapped around your shoulders like a stinky burial cloth? These things were meant to be left behind. The gift of freedom is for all; however, it's a one-time choice (salvation), but also a daily practice (sanctification) to believe and receive his offer.
Today, ask yourself, "What do I need to leave 'in the tomb'?''
Take the stench off. Fold it up and put it away forever. Of course, we cannot be sinless, and of course we will always struggle, but it's time to grow more aware and be more desirous of the glory-filled person Jesus longs for us to be.
He lives... in you!
He lives in you... out of the tomb!
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
I was talking to a young friend of mine about our common struggle; it's called the "fear factor." Sometimes this unchecked emotion can be immobilizing, or it can even make you run in the opposite direction from where you know you are supposed to be headed. As we were discussing some of life's overwhelming decisions that certainly do come down our paths, I told her that I've learned, especially in difficult, doubting, or daunting times, to live by these two words: in Christ. The simple whisper to my soul of the words "in Christ" motivates me to take the next step, to say the next word, to write the next post, to move the next mountain.
As believers, we all struggle with something, but we don't have to be overcome by it, losing our true selves in the fight. Let's remember just who it is that abides in us! When we do, everything can change:
In Christ, fear changes to confidence.
In Christ, confusion changes to peace.
In Christ, doubt changes to faith.
In Christ, no self worth changes to full purpose.
In Christ, weakness changes to strength.
In Christ, selfish living changes to selfless giving.
In Christ, discouragement changes to hope.
I could go on and on. When each of these fleshly tendencies mentioned above are invaded by the life of Christ, his powerful glory fills our weak flesh. Your drab mindset and gray heartbeat change to a radiance that doesn't belong to you, yet is graciously given to you... in abundance.
In Christ we become fully alive!
What about you? What unchecked emotion needs to be swallowed up in Christ? Let his Spirit overcome your fear, your dismay, your confusion, your self worth...
Faith first; your feelings will follow. Keep stepping forward in Christ.
The truth is, when you live by these two words, not only will you benefit from this choice-change, others will want what you have; they will desire ...Christ in them.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves. 2 Corinthians 4:7
Do you want to enrich your prayer life but just need some guidance to do so? I have written a devotional called Forty Day Journey of Prayer to help. Each day is meant to both encourage you in God's word and also reveal God's heart concerning his desire to hear your unique voice. Below is a sample day from the devotional in which we see Hannah pouring her soul out to the Lord...
As for Hannah, she was speaking in her heart, only her lips were moving, but her voice was not heard. So Eli thought she was drunk…But Hannah replied, “No, my lord, I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have poured out my soul before the Lord.” 1 Samuel 1:13-15
For the full story, please read 1 Samuel 1:1-20.
The story of Hannah is most likely a familiar one to all of us. She was married to Elkanah, but was unable to bear children. She longed for a baby, and waited and waited for one to come, but to no avail. So, she prayed.
Was this fervent praying that we read about in the above passage the first time Hannah had prayed over her heart’s desire? No, I don’t believe it was. Scripture says that year after year she was provoked by Peninnah, who was Elkanah’s second wife. (Imagine that situation!). This woman was able to bear children, and taunted Hannah tirelessly. Hannah had lived in this distressing environment fora long, long time. I would bet that all that time, she prayed fervently for a child.
After reading and thinking about this passage, pondering what to write, I heard the gentle whisper, Pray like Hannah. I thought of that simple sentence and realized just how powerful it was. Let’s look and visualize how she prayed:
She, greatly distressed, prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. (1 Samuel 1:10)
She was speaking in her heart, only her lips were moving… (1 Samuel 1:13).
(Hannah said), “I have poured out my soul before the Lord.” (1 Samuel 1:15)
What if we all prayed like Hannah? Can we? One thing it requires is time. Hannah went up to the house of the Lord (v. 7). We too must make a deliberate choice to set aside time and go to the Lord. Also, Hannah was vulnerable. She wept before the Lord, pouring out her distress and her desire. She was so involved in her praying, she forgot everything around her. Unashamed and unhindered, she prayed.
This morning, once again, I felt the gentle nudging, pray like Hannah. In the quiet darkness, I stood up--not sure why; I just did. I recited my prayer list in my mind, but at the same time, I poured it out from my heart. I talked to theLord about all the things that I had committed to Him. I just kept talking with a small whisper. Lifting up my hands, I kept pouring it all out. The beautiful thing is, I know I was heard. Peace flooded in.
I cannot fully understand the mystery of prayer, but I can understand the command to doit. I will never be able to explain the reason for the “no’s”, the “wait’s”, or the “yes’s”, but I can trust His sovereign plan to answer in His right way, and in His right time. For Hannah, after years of a seeming “no”, the cry of her heart became a “yes”. Let this encourage you.
In your journal write down the name Sovereign Lord, and then write your prayer list underneath. Today, find some time and space to pray like Hannah. Take your list before the One who hears and honors your heartfelt, soul-bearing cries. Don’t give up. If He commands us to pray, there is a reason for it.
For further reading and journaling write down any words that encourage you: Exodus2:23-25; Psalm 142:1-2
ThankYou for listening to us! Hear our cries, O Lord. We lift up all our requests toYou in earnest knowing that we have been heard. We trust You to work. We thankYou for Your peace. Amen
Forty Day Journey of Prayer is a devotional that helps guide the reader into a daily conversation with God. Each day begins with a focused-Bible verse or passage and then is followed by insights pertaining to it. Journal lines are provided to write out prayer requests and personal thoughts. As one commits to reading God's word and praying in this way for forty days, his/her relationship with the Lord will then be marked with both sweetness and strength.
Forty Day Journey of Peace is a devotional that takes the reader on a quest to find out what brings God's peace. It is divided into three sections: peace with God, peace within, and peace with others. Each day focuses on a selected Bible passage so the reader can discover and apply new insights. Further Scripture references and journal lines are provided to enhance and deepen the participant's journey of peace.
What if a secret to having a life-long marriage was to simply start out with healthy habits between husband and wife from the the very beginning? Or, what wisdom can a wife in her tenth or twentieth year of marriage gain as a refresher in her relationship with her husband? Chris Baxter's Twenty-five Years, Twenty-five Lessons: Letters to a Bride from a Seasoned Wife is a beautiful gift book written for wives of all ages. Within the106 pages of this decorative coffee table book are twenty-five valuable lessons that Chris learned throughout her marriage. Some of the subjects discussed are: putting on love, resolving conflict, laughing often, having a healthy hobby, and prayer. These Scripture-based lessons are written in letter-form to a specific young bride which easily engages the reader on a personal level. The twenty-five lessons are accompanied with lovely watercolor wreaths, luring the reader's eyes from one page to the next. This book is both beautiful in form, and magnificent in Words.