Only JESUS Is Enough

“And they laughed at Him [JESUS], knowing that she was dead. But He took her by the hand and called out, “Child, get up!” Her spirit returned, and she got up at once. Then He directed them to give her something to eat. Her parents were astounded; but he ordered them to tell no one what had happened.” – Luke 8:53‭-‬56 NRSV

“Once when JESUS was praying alone, with only the disciples near him, He asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They answered, “John the Baptist; but others, Elijah; and still others, that one of the ancient prophets has arisen.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “The MESSIAH of GOD.” Those who are ashamed of Me and of My words, of them the SON of MAN will be ashamed when He comes in His Glory and the GLORY of the FATHER and of the holy angels.” – Luke 9:18‭-‬20‭, ‬26 NRSV

I see a major recurring theme around JESUS and His ministry. He never does anything for the glory or recognition of it. When He heals someone, He invariably says something to the effect of “Go, and tell no one.” Looking at the big televangelists, it’s all about showmanship and ratings and money – bigger and better. That’s not the Way of JESUS. Personally, I want to be like Billy Sunday or Billy Graham or Bill (‘Billy’) Henry. Not the crowds that gathered to hear them speak, and I’m pretty sure they would each scoff at being described as eloquent or charismatic; instead, they were humble and gave all Glory to GOD. There are countless other preachers and teachers, past and present, who display the humility CHRIST shows. The song “Only JESUS ” by Casting Crowns is one I believe all Christians could use as a theme song. In an interview with frontman Mark Hall by TheChristianBeat.org, he said: “There’s much talk these days about legacy. How do we want to be remembered? The more I think about it the more I’m reminded that anything in me that’s worth remembering are the things that Jesus has worked on, and is still working on in me. On my own I have nothing to offer the world, but Jesus does – so don’t mind me. Jesus is the only name to remember.

When I die, it doesn’t matter if people remember my name, but my prayer is that they will remember me as ‘that woman who loved JESUS.” When He returns in His Glory, I pray that I have shown that I was not ashamed of Him, so that He will not be ashamed of me. Like Mark Hall of Casting Crowns says, so do I, On my own I have nothing to offer the world, but Jesus does – so don’t mind me. Jesus is the only name to remember.

AMEN!

Under Judgement

“For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ ” – Luke 7:33‭-‬34 NRSV

Which are you? Are you judged by the people around you because you don’t eat bread* or drink wine, or are you being judged because you do eat bread and have a glass of wine or beer? ‘Bread’ can be changed to many other foods – different meats, or any meats; being vegan or vegetarian or gluten-free or Kosher or avoiding any number of different foods – for many reasons. Just because I have wine or beer with my meal doesn’t make me a drunk, and if I should choose to eat a certain way my reasons shouldn’t be questioned or cause ridicule….. and yet it is. Not me in particular, although it has happened. Christians are not alone in judging other people. Look around at the negative posts on social media, the absolute ugliness and denigrating of each other in politics, the so-called ‘reality’ shows on television. So much name calling and general put downs. It’s really disgusting that so many people calling themselves Christian participate in this behavior.

JESUS said this to His disciples: “If any want to become My followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for My sake will save it.” – Luke 9:23‭-‬24 NRSV

I’m not very good at denying myself. Looking at myself and those around me, it doesn’t appear that many of us are any good at it. Credit cards maxed out, huge mortgages, vehicle loans, personal credit lines, store credits…. where does it all end? We are judged for what we have – and we are judged for what we don’t have. For it to end, we have to make a beginning. As we go through each day, beginning now, whenever a negative or judgemental thought forms, take a second to realize that you don’t know how or why that person is the way they are. The wealthiest person can be the most emotionally miserable and bereft, and the one whose appearance is of extreme poverty might be content in their soul. Until we know that person, we can’t understand their pain.

‘Perfect’ Christians

Perfect Christians don’t exist, nor do perfect churches, and anyone who tries to say differently is a liar and possibly a fool.

But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to His [JESUS’] disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” JESUS answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” – Luke 5:30‭-‬32 NIV

Do you find a sense of relief in this passage? I do! Knowing that JESUS came for me, the bruised and the broken, full of faults and cracks, it’s amazing, …. and unbelievable??? Why would the King of Heaven, Who created this amazing universe, care about an insignificant being like me? I say inappropriate things, I want to be the center of attention, I keep getting involved with men who just want to use me. I’m selfish and self centered. All these faults, and JESUS Loves me??? I used to be one of those people who thought that I had to be perfect for GOD to Love me. You know, wear the ‘right’ clothes, act the ‘right’ ways, don’t smoke or drink or curse or dance. Be in church for Sunday school and training union (Sunday evening classes) and services, and Wednesday prayer meetings. I was pretty self-righteous and judgemental, and it can still creep up on me at times – I have to be on guard against it.

There’s a song from Hilary Scott (of the group Lady Antebellum) called “Thy Will” that seems so appropriate for me – and probably many others – right now. Here’s the first verse:

I’m so confused
I know I heard you loud and clear
So, I followed through
Somehow I ended up here
I don’t wanna think
I may never understand
That my broken heart is a part of your plan
When I try to pray
All I’ve got is hurt and these four words

Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done

Sound like anything you’ve been through, like feelings you’ve felt, thoughts you’ve had? Then I follow it with this beautiful song by Lauren Dagle, who sings from her heart:

I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough
Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up
Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low?
Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know

Taking all I have and now I’m laying it at Your feet
You have every failure God, and You’ll have every victory,

You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe, oh I believe
What You say of me
I believe

I think that sometimes we think, we believe we are following GOD’s Will, but maybe it becomes more what we want more than what He wills for us, and maybe, sometimes, it is His Will that we go through the hard time so that we remember that He is GOD, not me or you. I don’t like being told I’m wrong, or that what I’ve done wasn’t correct, and I’ve never liked being called out or disciplined. It makes me bristle and want to argue, to show that I was right, dadgummit, even when it’s the LORD GOD Who is doing the discipling! Really, do I honestly think the CREATOR is wrong? Yeah, oops. I think it’s pretty obvious that I am far, far from perfect! But, perfection – and perfectionism – aside, the GLORIOUS Truth is that our GOD, our LORD and KING of Heaven, LOVES me, Loves us, anyway! He Loves us through our imperfections and our brokenness, He Loves us regardless of our silliness and stubbornness – HALLELUJAH! Remember what JESUS said: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

I thank my GOD every day for the gift of His Salvation, even when I’m felling down because of the situation! Can you say the same? Oh, I pray that you can! All the brokenness, all the junk and bad times probably won’t meticulously change for the better, although our LORD can do anything, especially the things that we see as impossible.

This is what God says to us, and whispers in our ear:

B.I.B.L.E.

So you like anagrams? Me, too! Here’s another one I have seen:

Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. B.I.B.L.E.

For several years, I was a leader in the recovery program at my church. We asserted (and I still do) that 1) Everyone alive has Hurts, Hangups, and Habits, and 2) There are two types of people in the world – those who need recovery, and those who are in recovery. The small groups I led were made up primarily of women who had suffered some form of abuse in the lives; some had been in horrific situations. Why didn’t they just leave, you ask? Oh, it’s not that simple, and it’s a subject I have addressd in previous blogs, so it won’t be dealt with today. In our ‘Basic Instructions’, a very important thing I’ve learned is that any situation we find ourselves in, whether by our choices or someone else’s choices, we don’t have to go through it alone. Read all of Psalm 27. These are a few of the verses I like to share with my ‘girls’ – and also with any man who is struggling. Struggles and hurt are not gender specific!

“The LORD is my Light and my Salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the Stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. You have said, “Seek My Face.” My heart says to You, “Your Face, LORD, do I seek.” For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in. I believe that I shall look upon the Goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” – Psalms 27:1‭, ‬3‭-‬3‭, ‬8‭, ‬10‭-‬10‭, ‬13‭-‬14 ESV

If you are paying attention, I have used these verses in other blogs. They are very appropriate scripture verses to use every day! In verse 10, the psalmists states that his “father and … mother have forsaken” him. I was blessed beyond measure that mine did not forsake me when I was caught up in the enemy’s traps, although they were hurt beyond imagination by my lifestyle. That, unfortunately, is not always the case. For a number of my girls, the abusive lives they were trapped in was, in fact, perpetrated by their very own parents. It’s frequently on the news as well, when parents, foster parents, relatives, and other authority figures are the sources of abuse. I can’t even imagine how an adult can be that way to a child, or another adult. It is straight from the depths of hell. But read on to verses 13-14!

“I believe that I shall look upon the Goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”

We read these verses with incredible Hope. I, too, like the psalmist, believe that “I shall look upon the Goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! I see it every day. The Goodness of the LORD shines through the changed lives of the women (and men) who have sought the LORD in their lives, and allows others to see how Good He is, for:

“Great is the LORD, and greatly to be Praised, and His Greatness is Unsearchable.” – Psalms 145:3 ESV

Do you have the Hope, the Peace, the LIGHT of the LORD in your life? He doesn’t care how ‘bad’, how broken you are. He wants us as we are. He is the Great Physician, the Creator and Craftsman. Ony the LORD can repair us and hold us together. Don’t mistake this to say that once you receive JESUS CHRIST as LORD of your life, everything will become peaches and cream. Au contraire, my friends, when we allow Him to Love us as He longs to, the enemy, that prince of everything dark and evil, known as Satan – our enemy will hit us with anything he can come up with to turn our face away from the LORD. It often works, too. When the abuse doesn’t lessen, when our finances get worse instead of better, when illness seems to loom over us and our loved ones, even death…. we can reach for heaven and the Peace of the Holy Spirit, or we can fall into ugliness and despair. It’s always a choice; one that I confess to messing up quite frequently.

“For from HIS Fullness we have all received, Grace upon Grace. …. For GOD so Loved the world, that He gave His Only SON, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For GOD did not send His SON into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the Name of the Only SON of GOD.” – John 1:16; 3:16‭-‬18 ESV

AMEN. How will you fare when standing in front of The Judge?

GOD IS LOVE

“So we have come to know and to believe the Love that GOD has for us. GOD is Love, and whoever abides in Love abides in GOD, and GOD abides in Him. …. There is no fear in love, but Perfect Love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in Love.” – 1 John 4:16, 18 ESV

“The LORD your GOD is in your midst, a Mighty One Who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His Love; He will exult over you with loud singing.” – Zephaniah 3:17 ESV

“There is no fear in love…” A beautiful statement of Truth. I am that person who has spent most of her life ‘looking for love in all the wrong places’, as the song goes. All of the “love” I found was full of fear: fear of rejection, fear of disappointment, fear of discovery, fear of punishment, fear of physical and emotional pain. Looking back on it all, I wonder how on earth I was so blind, but then – I know how it happened. I took my eyes off of JESUS. It only takes a minute, sometimes, to fall off of the path of our LORD and into the grasp of our enemy. I fell hard, and the enemy had a death grip on me. He put blinders on me and turned me away from the Love Light of my LORD, and directed my gaze into the brightly shining bling and glamour of the world. I came to believe the enemy’s lies, and his deceitfulness was pretty complete. For years, I wandered in his world, turning away anyone who reached out to help me out of the swamp. I ‘knew’ I couldn’t escape; I was completely under his spell.

Thank GOD for His Son and the Absolute Love He has for us! No human could free me from Satan’s grip, but my SAVIOUR could …. and He did! He plucked me from death’s door, and I began to awaken from the trance-like life I had been living. It wasn’t instantaneous, and it required hard work on my part to crawl out of and away from the abyss, but I wasn’t doing it on my own. My LORD JESUS CHRIST was there, the HOLY SPIRIT and His angels, to hold my hand or free me as I would be stuck in the muck, and always shining His Light of Love and Clarity around me. Thank You, LORD! I lived in fear all of those years I was away from the LORD, when all I needed to do was to lift my eyes away from the ugliness to banish the fear. My LORD was always there, waiting patiently for me to see Him. It only took one word from me for Him to take my hand – JESUS. He IS Love, PERFECT Love, and no-one can defeat Him or destroy the Love He has for each and every one of us. His Love redeems us, completes us, heals us. There is no better, no higher love than the LOVE of our LORD GOD and our SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST.

“There is no fear in love…”

Let that be your strength and your courage! GOD is Love, and He wants to lavish His Love on us. It’s the only love that you will ever find, no matter how far and wide you look, the only unconditional, unchangeable, unremitting, and never failing LOVE that will never fail or leave. No fear. Amen!

Taste and See

“I will praise the LORD at all times. I will constantly speak His praises. I will boast only in the LORD; let all who are helpless take heart. Come, let us tell of the LORD’s Greatness; let us exalt His Name together. I prayed to the LORD, and He answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with Joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the LORD listened; He saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the LORD is a guard; He surrounds and defends all who fear him. Taste and see that the LORD is Good. Oh, the Joys of those who take refuge in Him! Fear the LORD, you His godly people, for those who fear Him will have all they need.” – Psalms 34:1‭-‬9 NLT

JESUS CHRIST, my Living LORD! LORD of ALL; CHRIST Alone, Cornerstone.

“This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my Refuge, my Place of Safety; He is my GOD, and I trust Him.” – Psalms 91:2 NLT

I BELIEVE, LORD, help my unbelief! Just like the man in Mark 9:24, I do believe, yet I struggle to believe that the LORD GOD of the Universe has time to deal with my situation. A true oxymoron! I believe, yet I doubt. “Oh, the Joys of those who take refuge in Him!” Why do we doubt that the Almighty, the One Who created us, the Universe, from nothing (not space dust, not primeval sludge…. out of nothing but His Words as He spoke the Universe into being!) – how do we doubt that He, the LORD GOD Who knows how many hairs are on my head, can take care of my petty (in the bigger picture) issues? It’s just so hard to let go!! (No control issues here …. as the people who know me are rolling on the floor laughing!!)

It is hard to trust, especially when a life has been full of broken promises, heartaches, and fractured dreams. GOD knows this. Isn’t HIS life full of them, too? First, His most beautiful creation, the angel He called Lucifer, rebelled against Him: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!” – Isaiah 14:12 KJV. Then, man, Adam, whom the LORD created to be His companion, who was created in GOD’s Own Image : “So GOD created man in His Own Image, in the Image of GOD created He him; male and female created He them.” – Genesis 1:27 KJV – this man and woman, who were given the world, literally given the world, decided they could do better than the LORD in making their decisions. Over and over, man has disappointed, rebelled against, and cursed GOD. What heartaches we have caused our Creator! We break our promises, we bargain with Him – LORD, I promise I’ll go to church every Sunday / start praying / quit drinking (you get the picture!) if You’ll just do this thing for me…. and I’m as guilty as anyone to try to bargain with Him!

We thiink that He doesn’t answer our prayers when we don’t immediately get the answer we’re looking for, but that’s not true. He always answers every prayer that is prayed, it just isn’t always the answer we want. He might say ‘yes’, He might give an audible ‘no’, or He might say ‘wait’. That’s the answer I seem to get a lot, and I know there is a purpose …. but it doesn’t make the wait any easier! What do we do when He says ‘wait’? Get frustrated, irritable, angry? Truthfully, I’ve been all those things. No, it’s much better to do as the psalmist wrote: “Wait on the LORD, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” – Psalms 27:14 KJV

And so I set myself to wait, to pray and to speak His Name; to boast on the LORD, and to taste and see that He is GOOD. Amen!

Courageous

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” – Proverbs 17:22 NIV

And just what, exactly, does courage have to do with a cheerful heart? I am asking myself that same question…. All I can do is follow the prompting in my heart and explore what it is that GOD is trying to say to me (I’m notorious for tuning HIM out so that I can hear ME better….)

The definition of courageous is “not detered by danger or pain; brave.” I am emphatically NOT courageous by definition! What I have found in my own life is that when I listen to my GOD, and follow through with what He is telling me, it requires some courage on my part. When I accomplish the objective, and even if it’s not accomplished but I know I gave my best effort, my heart is cheerful. If I don’t even try, my spirit is crushed and my attitude spirals. Danger is often subjective. Obviously I don’t mean physical dangers you can see: a chasm in the roadway, snakes …. and other wild animals lke bears – and skunks! …. someone breaking into your home. Less obvious dangers can be the person you can’t see on the other end of your computer (stalkers, people wanting to make you a victim), a gas leak, having a blowout. There are individual dangers, too, that no one else can perceive. Fears of the dark, heights, meeting new people, driving, having to ask for help, even the danger of physical pain can prevent us from stepping out courageously, to do GOD’s work.

“No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what He requires of you: to do what is Right, to love Mercy, and to walk Humbly with your GOD.” – Micah 6:8 NLT

There’s this thing that happens inside of us when we take that first, courageous, step past our fears and our perceived dangers. Our hearts open up and we become susceptible to GOD’s Mercy and His Blessings in our own lives. When we don’t take that step, our spirit begins to die, figuratively. It becomes crushed. A friend told me once that if I refused her help, I was stealing a blessing away from her – did I really want to do that? A crushed, dried up life doesn’t know courage or recognize blessings, and it misses out on GOD’s Mercies. Being courageous doesn’t mean bragging and boasting of our accomplishments. It means walking humbly in the shadow of the LORD, doing, to the best of our abilities, whatever He should ask of us. Remember what JESUS said:

“…. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.” – Luke 12:48b NLT

Listen to Casting Crowns sing this scripture in their song “Courageous”!

Photo by Horsley Lab – Harvard