Tag Archives: Paul

Comprehending His Power Is My Power

We are just about to finish up my first full year of Bible Study Fellowship, and as a group leader, in the study of Matthew. The experience has been richer than I could have ever imagined. I am so blessed to have been invited to be a group leader even though I had very little BSF experience.

The final two lessons cover the second half of Matthew 27 and Matthew 28, Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. The lessons coincided with Holy Week and Easter, and what an amazing blessing that was! I’ve heard the Holy Week and Easter stories many times. I’ve attended Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter church services for years. And yet this year, going deeper into those stories through the BSF study, I saw a great truth that I had never seen before in quite the way I did this year.

Throughout this year the Lord has been speaking to me through this study about how in His humanity He faced the same temptations and trials that I do. He resisted the temptations and overcame the trials with the same tools I have at my disposal: prayer, scripture, and the Holy Spirit. But it wasn’t until we got to the crucifixion and resurrection that it really sunk in.

As Jesus faced the cross in the garden of Gethsemane, He prayed earnestly, to the point of sweating blood, for the strength to see His mission through. When I face difficult trials, I can do the same. I have direct access to the Father in prayer because of what Jesus did for me.

But more importantly, I have the power of the Holy Spirit living in me. After His resurrection, Jesus said to His disciples: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. . . . And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18, 20. The authority He had, and still has, was sufficient to allow Him to lay down His life on the cross for our sake, and to take it up again at the resurrection and thereby defeat death, our greatest foe. Now that’s power! And He will always be with me so that I have that power at my disposal when I face temptations and trials.

If Jesus can overcome death by the power that enabled His resurrection, then by that same power overcoming sin is well within the realm of possibility for me. His power over death is my power over sin.

I feel like Paul’s prayer for the believers in Ephesus and for all believers has been answered in me:

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. Ephesians 1:18-21.

I’ve known for a long time that I have the power of the Holy Spirit living in me, but somehow the enormity of that power that raised Christ from the dead never quite hit me like it has in the past two weeks. This power will not only convict me of my sin and lead me to repentance, but when exerted in the authority of Christ it can and will enable me to overcome the temptation to sin that I face on a daily basis. I am a conqueror of sin because Christ lives in me and His power is my power!

As if to reinforce this message, just this week I bought the new Mercy Me CD titled “Welcome to the New.” There is a great song on this CD titled “Flawless.” It starts like this:

There’s got to be more
Than going back and forth
From doing right to doing wrong
‘Cause we were taught that’s who we are
Come on get in line right behind me
You along with everybody
Thinking there’s worth in what you do.

Then Like a hero who takes the stage when
We’re on the edge of our seats saying it’s too late
Well let me introduce you to amazing grace

And then the chorus reminds me that:

No matter the pain
Still the truth is
The cross has made,
The cross has made you flawless.

No matter what they say
Or what you think you are
The day you called His name
He made you flawless.

In the eyes of God I am flawless because He sees Christ’s perfection when He looks at me. Knowing that, and knowing the power He provides, I don’t have to go back and forth from doing right to doing wrong because that’s no longer who I am. If I embrace His amazing grace and His resurrection power, each day He changes me and enables me to be more of who He’s called me to be.

And here’s the video of Mercy Me singing this awesome song. I hope it blesses you as much as it has me, and encourages you to hold tightly to His grace and power, because the cross has made you flawless, too.

1 Comment

Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life, Music

Memories Haunt in the Light – A Poem

I stand upon the solid Rock
I’ve found my firm foundation
Living each day in the Light
Being sure of my salvation

I know His words of grace are true
‘Cause I feel them deep in my heart
I rise each day, out into the world
And that’s when the memories start

The sky is blue, the sun is bright
A chill wind stings my face
I should be happy and light, but cold
Triggers thoughts I seem to chase

Like Paul with his thorn, I pray the Lord
Would remove the pain today
“My grace is sufficient,” He replies
As over and over I cry and pray

But what if grace is not enough
As this memory haunts the light
This is when I must trust and believe
To escape the darkness of night

He uses this memory of pain
To teach me compassion and grace
For the bruised and the broken
Haunted by memories of disgrace

He’s made me merciful and kind
This lesson is not meant to destroy
But some days I’d rather be less caring
And remember only love and joy

My Rock remains firm beneath me
In spite of my doubt and fury
His grace will suffice, I rest in His Light
One day this memory He’ll bury

2 Comments

Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life, Poetry

Whom Can God Use? – A Poem

Three weeks into the study of Matthew in Bible Study Fellowship I’ve already learned — or been reminded of — a great truth. God can, and does, use the most unlikely and undeserving people to accomplish His great purposes for mankind. He can use even me and you, whether we believe it or not.

Whom Can God Use?

Whom can God use?
He used Tamar the Hittite
Rahab the prostitute
Ruth the Moabitess
And the Gentile wife of Uriah
to create the line of King David
the ancestors of Messiah

Whom can God use?
He used Pharaoh the hard-hearted
Moses the murderer
Herod the Great, a cruel king
And Joseph the carpenter
to set up and fulfill prophecy
of calling His Son out of Egypt

Whom can God use?
He used Peter the hot-head
Thomas the doubter
Mary Magdalene the prostitute
and Paul the murderous zealot
to spread the Good News
of His mercy and saving grace

Whom can God use?
He used June from Australia
My sister the atheist
New friends in Bible study
And an angel in a dream
to call me out of my exile
from the hell of depression to the Light

Whom can God use?
He can use you
no matter your past
Despite all I’ve done
He can use me
to share His sweet love and light
with a world lost in darkness

1 Comment

Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life, Poetry

Something New

Note: As you read this post, you might ask yourself why I am telling you so much about my hair dyeing experiences. Trust me, there’s a purpose and a lesson to follow my seemingly rambling story.

In early July I decided to color my hair with a box of auburn hair dye that had been in my hall closet for about five years. We were on vacation for two weeks but didn’t go anywhere and I was starting to go stir crazy so it seemed like a good thing to do. The dye was more like a bit of highlighting, only slightly changing the color of my hair. A few people noticed but not too many. Within six weeks the color had faded significantly because it was the kind that washes out in 24 shampoos.

Then over Labor Day weekend I decided I wanted to do it again because I liked the slight red hint to my hair color, so I went to the store to get a box of the same dye. Unfortunately, that brand and color were no longer available (it having been five years or more since I bought it). So I selected another shade of red in another brand, though still the non-permanent kind that is supposed to wash out, this time after 28 shampoos. I took it home and dyed my hair the Sunday before Labor Day.

The color change was much more dramatic this time. I really wasn’t sure I liked it at first and was reluctant to go out in public as a redhead. Even my color blind husband could tell it was a very different color when he returned home from a backpacking trip at the end of that week. Many people have noticed and commented on my new hair color, and a number of them have taken to calling me Red. Even now, several weeks and many shampoos after dyeing it, my hair is still strikingly red. Today at church I had someone I barely know come up to me for the express purpose of telling me she really liked my hair color. Because the many comments I’ve gotten have all been positive, the new color is starting to grow on me and I think I will probably re-dye it when it fades.

On my way home from church I was thinking about how many more comments I’ve gotten with this dramatic hair color change then I did when I just highlighted my hair. It occurred to me that these experiences are a great analogy for the Christian life.

Scripture tells us that faith in Christ will change us. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV). But sometimes we are afraid of a bold new creation that God has called us to be. Instead, we allow little highlights of the new to show through. The change in us is subtle and noticed by only a few, just like my first experience of dyeing my hair with a subtle red highlight.

But if we allow Christ to truly change us and boldly allow His light to shine through, others will notice, even many people we don’t know well. People may even comment on the change. As Christians, as we see this new creation in others, we should comment on this change and provide them with encouragement. Just as receiving positive comments about my new hair color has made me feel much more comfortable with this change, the new Christian will feel much more comfortable with the changes Christ makes in them if they receive positive encouragement.

The apostle Paul taught us to encourage one another when he wrote, “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong—that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” Romans 1:11-12 (NIV). Let us, then, mutually encourage one another to let the Light of Christ shine so that others may see the change He has made in our lives. Let us share the great peace and love He has placed in our hearts. Let us never be ashamed of the new creation that we are in Christ, even when the world scoffs at our faith. Just as I have come to appreciate the nickname Red, let us appreciate and rejoice in the name Christian, followers of Christ, His new creation.

3 Comments

Filed under Faith, Family, Jesus, Life

Bridging the Distance

A couple of weeks ago my husband and I went to see Dwight Yoakam in concert. It was a great concert — but then Dwight always puts on a great concert. True to my nature, I’ve listened to a lot of Dwight both before and after the concert. He sang one of my favorite songs called “If There Was a Way” and I realized that I did not have that album on my iPod. I quickly remedied that a day or so after the concert and have been listening a lot to that album.

There is another song on that album that has me thinking. It’s called “The Distance Between You and Me.” It’s a sad song about a couple that has grown apart. The chorus says:

I lie awake and hear you breathing
Only inches from me in this bed
Not much space but it’s all that we needed
To live alone now that our love is dead

This song is particularly sad because it describes so many couples in our society today. They start out their marriages happy and blissful, but somewhere along the way a distance grows between them, sometimes so big it’s immeasurable. The distance leaves them alone even as they occupy the same house, the same bed. Many wonder what leads to such aloneness.

But it’s really no mystery. Quoting Psalm 4:4, the apostle Paul advised, “‘In your anger do not sin’ Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” Ephesians 4:26-27 (NIV). Sadly, so many people do not heed this advice. Pride, anger, and lack of forgiveness cause the distance. One spouse says or does something that hurts the other, maybe intentionally but maybe not. And the other spouse refuses to forgive, holds a grudge. Then another incident leads to another grudge, and on and on it goes. Each grudge separates them and eventually enough anger and unforgiveness destroys the love and intimacy they once enjoyed.

Another problem that causes a distance between husband and wife is when one or the other uses sex as a weapon, when because of anger one refuses the other’s advances. Paul also warned against this situation when he gave his “Instruction on Marriage” in 1 Corinthians:

The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife. Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 (NLT).

Thankfully, there is a way to bridge the distance and loneliness, and heal the hearts of estranged love. Honesty, love, and forgiveness will heal all wounds. Live together with “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:12-14 (NIV).

The best option is to live by God’s design for a healthy marriage as revealed in His Word and thereby prevent Satan from getting a foothold in your lives and creating that distance that destroys love and intimacy. But where Satan has already gained a foothold and a distance has grown, that distance can be bridged by love and forgiveness. Love that appears dead can be given new life by God’s grace.

2 Comments

Filed under Faith, Family, Jesus, Life, Music, Women

A Triad of Elfje

I really love the elfje short form of poetry that I discovered last week. Today I want to share a triad of elfje based on the Gospel — a reminder that three is a wonderful number.

Disciples

Loyal
eleven disciples
unlike the betrayer
brought me the Gospel.
Peace!

©©©

Conversion

Brilliant
Heaven’s light
blinding apostle Paul
taught me the Gospel.
Grace!

©©©

The King

Purple
royal robes
adorn the King
source of the Gospel.
Love!

4 Comments

Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life, Poetry

The Past I’ve Left Behind – A Poem

The past I’ve left behind me
pursues me in the dark
trying to persuade me
I’ll never hit the mark

But I keep pressing forward
to the life that lies ahead
where God has promised glory
my prize for which He bled

The past has no hold on me
for the Son has set me free
my future is eternal life
His child I’ll forever be

12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT).

3 Comments

Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life, Poetry

Sharing Day by Day

With the approach of Lent, I’ve been pondering whether I would give something up this year or add a daily habit as I have done in the past. I thought about blogging every day for Lent, like I did in 2010, but I have a lot going on right now and have been enjoying the freedom of not feeling like I have to post something every day. Then I thought about taking an extended break from blogging, including not checking my blog stats or reading other blogs, so that I would have more time to focus on the new Bible Study Fellowship study I am starting tonight. I was leaning towards the latter option.

Then yesterday in church the sermon was based on Acts 17:16-34 (NIV) about Paul’s missionary efforts in Athens. Verse 17 says “So he [Paul] reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there.” I decided then that I would blog every day instead of giving up blogging for Lent.

But still I was concerned about how I was going to accomplish this. Then last night as I was trying to go to sleep a poem started forming in my mind, keeping me awake. I recently placed a small notebook and pen next to my bed to write down poems or other blog ideas so that they would not get lost like the poem that was the subject of a recent poem of mine titled A Poem Lost. So I flipped on the light, scribbled down the beginning and ending of this poem so that I could finish it later (I will be posting it tomorrow). I turned out the light and as I again tried to sleep it occurred to me that I could write a short poem every day for Lent. It will require the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit to accomplish this task, but with His help I can.

So beginning on Wednesday, which is Ash Wednesday and the first day of Lent, I will be posting 40 new poems, one for each day of Lent (not counting Sundays). As Paul did, I will be sharing God’s love day by day as we approach Holy Week and the blessed death and resurrection of Jesus.

4 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Faith, Jesus, Life, Poetry

Before the Throne – A Poem

This morning as I was listening to music on my iPod the song Trust in Jesus came on and I started to think about standing before God’s judgment throne. Paul confirmed what is written all throughout the Old Testament, that everyone, even Christians, will face God’s judgment.

For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.
It is written:

“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will confess to God.’”

So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.
Romans 14:11-12 (NIV).

It occurred to me that as much as I appreciate what Jesus has done for me now, it will only be as I face the judgment throne of God that I will be able to fully appreciate the magnitude of His grace. Just as Solomon did, “I thought in my heart, ‘God will bring to judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time for every deed.’” Ecclesiastes 3:17 (NIV). Perhaps it is to fulfill His promise to bring us great joy and blessing that God will reveal, at the end of our days, how much He truly loves us. Only by revealing our great need for His redemption can He make us understand.

Before the Throne

I stand before the throne of God
He opens His book to my list of sins
His messenger begins to read
my transgressions, one by one

In my mind I begin to prepare
my defense, my justification for each sin
I think I am ready to answer
to show that I deserve mercy

The list goes on and on and on
Will it ever end?
My justifications begin to fade
My heart grows weak with shame

How can I stand before His throne
the judgment throne of the Almighty
I tremble in fear of His wrath, His righteous judgment
I know it will destroy me, I cannot stand

I fall to my knees before His throne

I bow my head knowing His judgment is true
Realizing I have no defense
I have broken every commandment, every law
without a single justification

Suddenly before the throne
between me and God’s final judgment
Stands the One who came to save me
His mercy and grace pour over me

I remember with great joy
that while I was yet a sinner
He loved me, He redeemed my soul
I trusted in Him and He is faithful to forgive

Before the throne of judgment and grace
I lift my voice in praise and adoration
Finally understanding completely
What His great love has accomplished

1/8/13: Shared this for Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub today.

14 Comments

Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life, Music, Poetry

It Is Finished Even as It Begins

A new year begins today. It’s another year to live and work and play, and to make resolutions to be better than last year. It’s another year in which many will again strive to earn God’s grace and their own salvation by singing in the choir, volunteering for the altar guild, giving to the poor, attending church or mass each week, or any number of other good deeds.

But why do we work so hard to add to what Jesus has already done? Why do we try to earn what has been given as a gift from God? On Calvary Hill Jesus said, “It is finished.” John 19:30. Paul wrote that Jesus said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you.” 2 Corinthians 12:9. There is nothing more that we can or need to do for our salvation.

Even the act of believing in Jesus, the ability to have faith in His saving grace, is a gift from God: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV).

So as you begin 2013, rest in the grace of Jesus assured of His mercy and your salvation.

Go forth and sing in the choir out of gratitude for what He has done, but do not fret if you miss a practice or are unable to sing for a Sunday service.

Help out with the altar guild to share the blessing of God’s grace with others, but do not allow yourself to grow weary with the work.

Give to the poor out of thankfulness for the bounty God has bestowed on you, but do not give out of mere obligation and with resentment.

Attend church or mass because you desire to fellowship with God and other believers, and to worship the Lord in community, but not because you think you will lose points with God if you do not.

Perform good deeds as the Spirit leads, in the power of Jesus, so that God might be glorified, but don’t be deceived into thinking such deeds are necessary for your salvation.

For centuries Satan has tried to strip the children of God of the peace of knowing His love and grace. The Accuser engenders fear and doubt in the minds of believers, trying to deceive us into believing that God hates us and requires us to pay for our own sins and earn our own salvation.

But God’s Word is clear on this point: It is finished. The atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the embodiment of God’s love and mercy; His grace is sufficient to cover every sin and grant us eternal life with Him. Nothing Satan says or does can change this truth.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8.

3 Comments

Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life, Service