Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Holy Blindness

"...Jesus asked, 'What do you want me to do for you?'

'Lord, I want to see!' he answered.

Jesus replied, 'Look and you will see! Your eyes are healed because of your faith.' Right away the man could see, and he went with Jesus and started thanking God. When the crowds saw what happened, they praised God."
Luke 18:38-43 CEV

You may recognize this as the parable of the blind man because it is. But instead of looking at it at it's face value, let's go a little deeper, shall we?!

What do you think that Jesus was trying to say to us through this parable? Could it be that we are all basically born blind. We are like a batch of little kittens or puppies. Little puppies and kittens are born with their eyes closed.

They are closed for the first few weeks of their lives. They can't see anything-- their environment, their surroundings, their own brothers and sisters. Their caregiver. Not even themselves. They can't see but they can feel. During those weeks, the caregiver is licking on their eyes, keeping them clean and free from debris and germs. As they mature, and their eyes are ready to take the brightness of their world, the eyes are suddenly opened. First little slits, and then each day, a little more until they are full blown, wide open.

Well, I think we are a lot like that. We are born into this world, and we are are blind. We are blind to the fact that we need our Lord. We are blind to the fact that we are not complete without Him. We are blind to the fact that we are born into the arms of a Father that has designs for us. Great designs. Designs to bless us, not to harm us. A Father that loves us wholly and completely, even in our blindness.

You see, your Father is and will always be there. He has been there from the very beginning. You don't have to ask Him to become a part of your life--He has always and will forever be there. It's you that needs to accept that knowledge and say "Yes!".

This blind man begged. He had begged for a long time. Begged for love, attention, security, acknowledgement, true relationships. But were did it get him?

Then what happened when he called out to Jesus? He only had to called twice. I'm sure that once would have been enough but the people around him starting shushing him. Did you notice that even though He couldn't see Jesus, he felt Jesus. He just knew. He had his faith. Great faith. And what is faith? Faith is believing in things that you cannot see.

What about you? Do you only believe in things that you can see? Do you find comfort in things that are tangible? That you can hold in your hand? You say, "I want to believe but I need something that I can feel. That I can hold. That is what I need to put my faith into."

Well, you know, you've had it all along. What is it? It's the Holy Bible. God in tangible, holdable form.

Are you ready? Are you ready to see--to REALLY see? See the life that your Heavenly Father has planned for you? All you have to do is say "Yes"!

Monday, November 28, 2011

The True Meaning of Hospitality

"When Jesus got to the tree, he looked up and said, 'Zacchaeus, hurry down. Today is my day to be a guest in your home.' Zacchaeus scrambled out of the tree, hardly believing his good luck, delighted to take Jesus home with him." Luke 19:5-6 MSG

In case you don't know the story, Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector in Jericho. Tax collectors were not very well liked or respected. But Zacchaues, had heard of this man called Jesus and for whatever reason, wanted to see Him. He was so earnest in this need, that he ended climbing up a fig tree in order to be taller than the crowd.

And what did Jesus do? Did Jesus shun him? Did Jesus ignore him? That is what Zacchaeus was used to. No. Jesus stopped and looked up at Zacchaeus and said he had to come down out of the tree for He was going to be a guest at his home. In fact, the NIV version states, "I MUST stay at your house today." That implies a divine necessity. That it was part of the greater plan.

And what did Zacchaeus do? Did he say, "Sorry, but I don't want you to come to my home. I'm a busy man and just wanted a peek at you. I don't want and I can't take the time to have you go home with me, make you a meal and then entertain you. I'll get a raincheck." No. What does it say in the MSG version? It says that he scrambled out of the tree, hardly believing his great luck, delighting in bringing Jesus to his home. Wow!

Here is a man that his community looked upon as a sinner, a piece of dirt and treated him as such. But who had the heart that was open to have Jesus enter in? Zacchaues. Who scrambled, out of a 30-40 foot tree--which wouldn't have been easy for a short, stout man--to receive his guest? Zacchaues. Who looked upon this command as a moment of great luck--a wonderful gift--and not an inconvenience? Zacchaues. And who was delighted--full of joy, happy, tinkled pink--to take Jesus home? Yes, Zacchaues.

We have a lot to learn from Zacchaues, don't you think? How many times have you had the opportunity to look for Jesus, and because it was too hard, or because it would cause you an inconvenience, you put it off for another day? How many times when Jesus was asking you to come and be with Him, to invite you to open yourself, your heart, your spirit to receive Him, did you say, "Oh, not today. I need to clean things up and I don't have time right now." That you didn't look upon it as a great gift, but as a have to? As an irritation? And how many times have you been delighted when Jesus comes calling? Be honest--how many?

Maybe Zacchaues was a sinner--but on that day--the angels were cheering for him. On that day, he entered the courts with thanksgiving. On that day he became a new creation in Christ. The old was gone, and the new remained.

What about you?

Friday, November 25, 2011

תודה, תודה לך! (Hebrew for Thank You)--Day 5

"For I received from the Lord the teaching that I passed on to you: that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took a piece of bread, gave thanks to God, broke it, and said,
This is my body, which is for you. Do this in memory of me. In the same way, after the supper he took the cup and said,
This cup is God's new covenant, sealed with my blood. Whenever you drink it, do so in memory of me.

This means that every time you eat this bread and drink from this cup you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes."
1 Corinthians 11:23-26 GNT

Dear Jesus,

I read this verse today and a realization came to me. You knew. You knew that when You were having the last supper with Your apostles, that you were going to die that very evening. Die for sin. Human sin. Die for me! Die for my sin. And You gave thanks anyway. Wow!

Where were Your emotions that night Jesus? Were you sad? Scared? Hesitant? All those emotions would be perfectly acceptable. Maybe You were even a little excited. After all, You were finishing what You came for. You would be able to be back in Your rightful place, at the right hand of Your Father. Back in Your own skin, so to speak. What were you feeling?

Dear Jesus, I am truly grateful for what You did. I can't even begin to wrap my mind, heart or spirit around it. I praise You and Your infinite love and grace that You have shown me from the moment I was knitted in my mother's womb. I thank you for never feeling that You were cheated. By that I mean that I don't think that You ever felt that You wished that You hadn't done what You did. That You got the short end of the stick. That if You could, You would take back Your sacrifice. That is what I'm afraid that I, in my humanity, would feel. But You don't.

I praise You for Your faith in me. It is totally amazing to me that You, in all Your infinite wisdom, can trust me to do some of the things that You have entrusted me to do. Thank you for using me in that way. For working through me.

In Your love, I am totally humbled yet totally empowered at the same time. That, in Your love for me, it doesn't matter how smart I am, what I look like, my accomplishments, my talents, my body shape--it doesn't matter. Your love for me and our relationship isn't hinged on that. You look in my heart and to You, I am the most perfect child anyone could ever have. And for that, I thank you.

Each and every day, I remember you. Each and every day, I am in communion with you.

"They will be My people, and I will be their God. I will give them one heart and one way so that for their good and for [the good of] their descendants after them, they will fear Me always.

I will make with them an everlasting covenant: I will never turn away from doing good to them, and I will put fear of Me in their hearts so they will never again turn away from Me. I will rejoice over them to do what is good to them, and I will plant them faithfully in this land with all My mind and heart."
Jeremiah 32:38-41 HCSB

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Grazie!--Day 4

"Thank God for this gift, his gift. No language can praise it enough!" 2 Corinthians 9:15 MSG

Happy Thanksgiving Day my LORD!

Dear God, I thank You today for my ancestors who thought of this day so that we, as a nation, can stop and remember what You have done for us. I pray that there will come a day that we won't need a National holiday to help us remember to thank You. That everyday will be a day that we thank You, all day long. That it would be second nature. That it would seem weird not to thank You--whenever and where ever.

Today, especially I want to thank You. I want to be like the apostle Paul as he wrote the above passage and praise You for Your gift--Your precious Son, Jesus. And I too, feel like Paul--there are not enough words or the correct words, to thank and praise You. But thankfully, since You know my innermost being, You know.

I thank you for giving beyond to point of giving. For sacrificing Your one and only Son. For--even though You knew He would be coming back--You had to still go through some 30 years without Him on the throne next to You. That through that time, You had to watch Him be called names, hated, plotted against. That at the end, You had to watch Him receive the full weight of my sin and be totally detached from You and die. What a heart break that must of been! Yet because of Your immense love for me, You and He choose to do it anyway. I am SO humbled. I am SO thankful.

Dear Lord, please forgive me for those times when I forget. For when I go on thinking that I know better than You. When I think that my way is the only way. Dear Jesus, You didn't die in vain. Your life is what pumps the blood through my veins. Your love is the oxygen that fill my lungs. Your grace is the food that I need to feast on.

On this day of Thanks, I pray that others will realize that it is not just about turkey, cranberry sauce, black Friday. I pray that the true meaning becomes real. That the light comes into their dark places and they realize what has been true all along. That You gave us Your only and begotten Son to us. To cover us so that You could have a relationship with us. You yearned, desired and loved us that much. And then they receive that truth and impart that power into their lives and praise their Heavenly Father. What a gracious Father you are!

I simply and completely love You.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Danke schön!--Day 3

"Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart." Philippians 1:3 MSG

Good morning Lord!

What a GLORIOUS morning You gave me! You continually bless me with surprises from morning to night.

I woke up this morning with a thankful heart for the people you have placed in my life. People that have helped guide me and mold me into the child that you want me to be. People who have stayed and people who have just dropped by. People who have spoken into my life and changed me forever. People that may have never spoken, but just by being there, their presence is what spoke. You planted them all and I thank You.

I thank you for the times that You have allowed me to speak into other's lives. Thank you for that tender moment when two souls can come together and just pray and You come. Thank you for breakthrough, for healing of emotional and spiritual scares, for Holy tears.

Dear Jesus, I thank you for my dearest, truest, closest friends of all--You. And with You, the Father and the Holy Spirit. Without the three of You, my life would be meaningless, I would be totally lost. You are the true meaning of agape. You are agape! You never reject me, even if I reject You. You never ignore me, even if I ignore You. You never stop loving me wholly and completely, even when I deserve it. You are the full essence of unconditional Grace.

And lastly, I hesitate to say this, but I do believe it--Lord I do thank you for those in my life that have hurt me. And the reason I hesitate is because being hurt is not pleasant. And I truly want be honest when I pray this and not a hypocrite. But I know that You have used these hurts to grow me. To make me a better person. Even though Your heart may have been breaking because mine was--it wasn't in vain. You were there. You were there when those who vowed friendship but later, for whatever reason, changed. You were there when a parent who gave me mixed messages--loving one moment, hurtful, abusive the next. The sibling that just left without reason. Whomever. I give that hurt to you Lord. On this day, I truly release it into Your capable hands. And I leave it--not to take it up anymore. I want to break the chain that has wrapped itself around my heart and spirit. The chain that has kept me in bondage. That has kept me from truly experiencing the full glory of Your love and grace for me and the love of others that You have placed in my life for me.

I love you my Precious Lord.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Merci à vous!--Day 2

"21 For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles." Romans 1:21-23 HCSB

Dear Lord,

Please, help me not to become like the Gentiles in the above verses. Help me not to become so accustom to Your awesome love for me that I forget to thank you. That I start taking You and Your wonderful life miracles for granted. That they become every day for me. Not the wonderful miracles that they are.

Please help me to continually--each and every day--ponder upon those blessed acts, pleasant or unpleasant. This includes the ones that I was aware of and the ones that I'm not aware of. I pray, please help my spirit--when I have my quiet time with You--to become aware of the hidden miracles that took place. For I desire to give You thanks for ALL things.

I want NO other God than You in my life. Help me to please not make my work, my education, my plans for the future, material wealth, my hobby, my volunteer work, my family,--anything--more important than You.

Please, also give me opportunites to share Your awesomeness with others. Help me to glorify You with my life, my actions, my words with others that You bring into my life path. Help me to be Your eyes, Your ears, Your mouth, Your heart. And I thank you for trusting me.

For You are my God, and I am Your child. And I cherish us. Amen

Monday, November 21, 2011

¡gracias--Day 1

"8 Give thanks to the LORD; call on His name;
proclaim His deeds among the peoples.

9 Sing to Him; sing praise to Him;
tell about all His wonderful works!

10 Honor His holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.

11 Search for the LORD and for His strength;
seek His face always.

12 Remember the wonderful works He has done,
His wonders, and the judgments He has pronounced,"
1 Chronicles 16:34-36 HCSB

Dear God,

This Thanksgiving week, I want to make a conscious effort to try to thank You each and every day for being the God, the Father, that You are to me. Thank you for being a God that I can be proud of. That I can trust. That I can trust with ALL things. Not just some things.

Thank you so very much for all the things that I have seen and not seen that You have done for me. From the smallest to the greatest. For those times of helping me find my car keys, to the times that You are covering me with Your love when my heart is breaking or confused.

Thank you for Your strength. For sharing that strength with me when I am weak. When I am vulnerable.

I do seek your face always.

My heart does rejoice when I acknowledge how AWESOME You are! Sometimes, You just blow my mind! How I honor and adore You!

And as weird as it may seem, I am also truly grateful for those times that You do have to past judgement on me because it is during those times that I know that You love me enough, to want me to be the best I can be for Yourself, Your kingdom and myself.

You are my God, and I can't thank or express enough my feelings for You. Thank you for just knowing.

"34 Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good;
His faithful love endures forever."
1 Chronicles 16:7 HCSB