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Spiritual Gifts

 I was studying these passages this morning as I have been delving deeper to understand the book of Ephesians.  There are about 14 different spiritual gifts that I read about in the above passage, Romans 12:6-8, 1 Cor. 12:4-11 & 28.  I challenge you today to look at these scriptures and ask the Lord about the gifts he imparted to you.  

These gifts aren’t for us alone but for the body of Christ and the equipping of the saints.  How are you using your spiritual gifts to spur on others and helping them to grow?  If you currently aren’t using your gifts ask God to show you how they could be used and ask Him to empower you by His Spirit.  I love dear one and believe God has uniquely gifted you.  Use you gifts today to shine out the love of Christ!

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Great Shepherd

Jesus is the Great Shepherd of the sheep 🐑.  I love this photo of Jesus holding a lamb.  It reminds me of how intimate and personal He is with each of us.

This makes me think of our dog Daisy.  I tend to hold her a lot.  Whether it’s just to pick her up to let her know I love her or to comfort her in a storm.  Jesus does the same for us.  He holds each of us close too his heart through the chaos we face and the times of great joy.  He nearer to us than we could ever imagine.  

Jesus not only is near but He equips us.  I needed to hear that truth today!  He equips us for everything good for doing His will.  What do you need to be equipped for today or in the weeks to come?  Tell Him about it and ask Him to reveal to your heart how he is readying you for what is ahead.  Draw near to Jesus today and see what He can and will do through you. 

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Free to Fly

When were you baptized?  What do you remember about it? I was baptized when I was 27 after hearing a very clear sermon on baptism.  My pastor baptized me in pool.  It was a very meaningful experience for me.  

What stands out to me is the picture of being buried with Christ in death as he put me under the water and then raised to new life in Christ as he lifted me out!  

I chose the picture today with butterflies in it.  Catapillars go though a cocoon stage and then emerge into the world as colorful butterflies.  Before Christ we were like the caterpillar and walking around foraging for food, stuck in an awkward state.  After Christ we are like vibrantly colored butterflies.  We are free to fly and soar in our walks with Him!

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Worship Him

Let us Worship!  This means to bow down, to fall down, to show reverence.  It not only is an outward action (bowing and kneeling) but it’s the state of our heart.  When we give God our full surrender.  The last time I felt this full surrender was on Good Friday.  I was listening and singing along to Christ be Magnified.  It was a moment where my spirit truly connected to the Lord’s.  My hands couldn’t help but to be raised as I sang the song with my whole heart.  Think of a time when you worshipped God with your whole being.  Ask God to deepen your love for Him as you worship him today.  Put on some worship music and connect with your Abba Father.

“Oh Christ Be Magnified in me.  Let His praise arise. Christ be magnified in me.  Oh Christ be magnified.  On the alter of my life. Christ be magnified in me.”- Christ be Magnified, Cody Carnes

“Praise the Father, praise the Son, praise the Spirit three in one.  God of glory majesty!  Praise forever to the King of Kings!” – King of Kings, Hillsong Worship

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Armor of God

I recently faced a big battle with my anxiety.  My anxiety level shot through the roof.  I couldn’t keep a clear perspective of what was happening.  My fears seemed to have taken over. All that I thought or imagined came true in my mind.  Those fears were guiding my thoughts instead of the Word.  I was in a complete battle and it felt like the enemy was winning.  

Today as I look in retrospect, I am reminded of these verses in Ephesians 6.  First we are commanded to be strong in the Lord.  We can’t be strong in and of ourselves.  We need God’s strength to uphold and help us.  The 2nd command is to put on the full armor of God!  The Lord helped me to see that I face battles with very little armor.  This gets me beaten up and bruised by my adversary.  We are supposed to be wearing the full armor of God, so we can stand against the schemes of the enemy. 

The pieces of the armor are, the belt of truth, breast plate of righteousness, shoes for the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit.  Each one makes a collective effort to enable us to stand in a fight we are facing.  I’d encourage you to read over Ephesians 6 and see which elements of the armor you might be missing today.  Choose to put them and see how God will ready you for battle.

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Walking on Water

I share this with you because I’ve been imagining myself walking on the water with Jesus.  In my life and yours there are a lot of waves surrounding us that can cause us to be fearful and distract us from Jesus’s face.  Right now the pandemic is a big wave.  Any hint of sickness in our home has caused me to feel as though I’m sinking.  When this happens, I find myself anxious and worried that something could happen to those I love.  

What keeps me walking to Jesus is his truth.  Isaiah 41:10 tells us “So do not fear, for I am with you, do not be dismayed for I am your God.”  What is your big wave 🌊 that is keeping you from walking to Jesus.  I’d encourage you to talk about it with a close friend and Jesus too.  Let them know what is on your heart and so they can point you to some words of hope during the storm.  “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of the world will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”

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Record of Sin

The phrase “record of our sins” stood out to me this morning.  As a child and young adult I always thought God has a big chalk board with all of the bad things I had ever done on one side and the good things on the other. This lie that I believed would sometimes cause me to go to bed crying over my many sins.  After accepting Christ, it was so freeing when I learned that as far as from the east is from the west, so has God removed my sins. Psalm 103:11  

The resurrection day we just celebrated has everything to do with the forgiveness of our sins.  Jesus came to set us free from the power of sin and death!  “When Jesus died, he died died once to break the power of sin!” Roman 6:10  In verse 11 it goes onto say we are now dead to sin and ALIVE to God!  Then why do we still live with our sinful nature?  

We are living in a fallen world where sin is prevalent.  We have a choice everyday if we will give in to our sinful desires.  For me I realize I can sin without even thinking about it.  Sin can easily pop out my mouth with a painful word or a thoughtless action.  I realize it’s only the power of the cross that can truly change me.  It’s choosing to believe I am dead to sin and alive to God.  What have you learned over the years or even today about sin? Share it with someone else and encourage them that Jesus not only conquered the grave but sin too!

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Resurrection and Life

This beautiful promise comes from a story told by the apostle John, one of Jesus’ closest friends (John 11:1-43). Jesus was speaking to Martha who had a sister named Mary and a brother named Lazarus. Lazarus had died four days ago, and the sisters were grieving the loss of their brother. From their perspective, it was over. There was no hope and they were wrestling with the implications. However, Jesus was about to do something that not only would show great compassion for this family but would also reveal something about who He was.

Jesus wept as he saw the pain of Lazarus’ loved ones gathered. He empathized with them. But Jesus also offered hope to the sisters, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.” This was shocking. By saying he was the resurrection and the life, Jesus claimed that he was equal to God! Then Jesus backed up his claim by raising Lazarus from the dead. As you can imagine, there was great rejoicing and amazement as people no longer processed what life would be like without Lazarus, but processed what life is like with Jesus.

And this is why we celebrate Easter. Jesus made many other claims that he was God. He performed many signs and miracles to back up those claims. But the most important one was his own resurrection from the dead! “I have authority to lay down my life and to raise it up again!” John 10:18 The fact that Jesus can offer hope in this life and hope beyond this life is the reason to celebrate.  Christ is Risen!!!  He is risen indeed!

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The Life

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life!  “The way” in the Greek is a highway or road.  What road or way are you taking today? What will it lead to?  Jesus is our way to knowing God.  It’s through Jesus that we can have access to the Father.  That means you and I can talk to the God of the universe!  He is never too busy to meet with us.  He is our personal, loving Father.  

“The truth” Jesus shows us the true God.  In John 15:15 it ways “all I have heard from the Father, I have made known to you”.  While he walked on the earth Jesus was continually pointing us to the Father though his words, deeds, and actions.  What truths do you hold onto in these uncertain times?  Here are a few promises.  “I will be with you always” Matt 28:20 “I will strengthen and help you” Isaiah 41:13 “I will give you rest”. Matt. 11:28

“The life” There isn’t any true and lasting life apart from knowing God.  And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God and Jesus Christ you have sent.” John 17:3. Our life is fleeting.  It’s like a vapor that is here one moment and the next it is gone.  Our lives here on earth are temporary but our life in heaven is eternal.  What life are you currently focusing on?  How can you choose today to make eternal life your focal point?

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The Gate

Jesus is the gate!  What does this mean?  Well for security, there was only one entrance into a sheep🐑 pen, the gate.  Back in the times of Jesus the sheep pen was made of 3 1/2 foot stones piled high to protect the sheep from robbers. John 10:1.  Imagine 20-25 sheep huddled up together in the the night.  It was the shepherds job to protect the sheep and lead them to green pastures.  

“Whoever enters through me”  Our entrance to real eternal life will always be through Jesus. John 3:15-17 We can’t enter through any other way such as other religions or our good works.

“Will be saved”.  It’s Jesus’s perfect life and His sacrificial death which saves us from our sinful ways and brings us into right standing with God. Rom 3:23

“Find pasture”. This reminds us of Psalm 23:1-3. “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still & quiet waters, He restores & refreshes my soul.”  Jesus meets all of our daily needs emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  He also encourages us to find our rest in Him.  I think this is a also of picture of the abundant life we can have through Him. John 10:10

I’m so glad that Jesus provided a way for us to have a personal relationship with God.  We are free today to accept this free gift of salvation that He offers us.  Eph 2:8

If you made this decision today tell someone else and celebrate!  It’s a day for great rejoicing!!  Luke 15:7