Saturday, April 26, 2014

Yes, Jesus Matters!

Matthew 6:33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness...

Within my church fellowship, the Pastor is starting a new series entitled, "Does Jesus Matter?"  This week in my writing class journal prompt, I used the same question to kick off this sermon series and start a thought process in this direction.  It's default mode for  some of us who minister in areas where testimony is essential,  an eternal perspective.

I journaled about major events both on the tragic side and on the everday-life-happening-joy side. Jesus mattered when I was a child learning to pray and attend Sunday School. I never knew though, if Jesus mattered to my parents until they were either faced with illness or spiritual healing after years of trying to do life without God as a priority. Jesus mattered when marriage and children came along. Jesus mattered when cancer and funerals and diagnosis left my heart hurting. Jesus mattered in the dark, cold recesses of space when my husband looked into my eyes, shaking his head, relaying the report from the O.R. "Timmy didn't make it."

Jesus matters to me.  In times past, not everyone knew it, not everyone witnessed Him as the Lord of my life.

You know why?

Because I wasn't putting Him as Lord in my life. 

Wishy-washy, fence sitting, compromised, undisciplined, a little discouraged, sometimes defeated...

BUT...Loved, purposed, ministered to, pastored, discipled, nurtured.

 God's patience abounds!

I matter to Jesus.  He pursued me, loved me unconditionally, and always restores and fills me with Hope.

I accepted Jesus as a child of 9.  Saved. Born again to matter in life, make Him known. I experienced death of a loved one for the first time at 19...twice. Now, Heaven mattered. The "C" word entered my personal space. I needed to know if Jesus mattered to my Dad. With tears He assured me, Yes, Jesus mattered.  Motherhood, and that sense of responsibility to "raise up a child in the way he should go...," laughter, family legacy, tradition and celebration mattered. Birthdays, holidays, soccer and baseball games, report cards and late night cookie baking, driving lessons and vacations, joy and tears, music and medicine...Did Jesus matter?  Strength and growth mattered.

When I drove up to my smoking, smoldering, flaming inferno of a home--did Jesus matter? I soon came to know, his will matters. My trials equate to His love lessons.

Once again, I say Jesus matters to me. His Grace established a place in my heart long ago and the Holy Spirit never gave up on me.


Amazing Grace!

Unfailing Love!

Jesus Matters because He is God, and I am not.

He is and was and always will be. He reigns as sovereign Lord of all and one day EVERY knee will bow.

In Christ Alone My Hope is Found.

"When I wake up in the land of Glory, with the saints I will tell my story, there will be One name that I proclaim"    Jesus, Jesus, Jesus...Just that name.

Thank you Lord for this song of my heart!  You are my Life in everything that matters.  You are Lord, the Holy Matter that spins the universe one more day. Show me how to love others who seem to feel they do not matter to You. Thank you for Your patience in my life, moving You up my priority list. May I bring You glory in my story, in and through my matter. The Cross, your Resurrection, made an Eternal Matter. All we need to do is Believe.  Reveal Your evidence of power and Your mercy. Keep me faithful in the continued journey and allow me the privlege of making You matter in others. Amen.

Friday, April 11, 2014

TESTimony in Faith

James 1: 2-5 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

State testing is scheduled for next week. It's new this year, a new way of recording the knowledge, the critical thinking skills; a new way of assessing our school population as compared to others. Gone are the test packets and bubble-in sheets.  We will ease into a computerized way of testing-- reading passages and problems and answering on a computer screen.

Picked to begin the new system first, the junior class.  Testing will be over a three week period, 2-3 days, in the first few hours of school.  Students will be pulled from class, moved around, some teachers administering the test and others not.  Testing, it disrupts the norm, leaves one anxious and exhausted.  Each submitted answer sheet is personal, your name is on it.  

And what of the outcome?  How well did you do?  Score high, low or among the average?  What are your stragedies for answering the questions? What possible ways can you be prepared?  


Our faith is tested every once in awhile. Unlike state tests, faith tests are never on the calendar. They show up unannounced.  Maybe it's just a "pop quiz;" over quickly, answered and dealt with in a succinct manner and turned over quietly to ponder the lesson learned.  Other tests come to us in a surprising, maybe even complicated or sorrowful ways, requiring different skills and possibly an "essay" with something to prove: an attitude that shows "God's Got This."  Time to put into practice what are sanctification process wants to test.  Sometimes, these tests take time and much endurance. 

What testing skills should we consider? 

I found this acronym,  R.O.A.D.S 

R: Read the title and make a prediction.  

                 Scripture promises us that all things work together for good to those that love the Lord. (Romans 8:28).  This sets up our attitude as one who will perservere with God on our side. 

O: Outline the passage during reading. 

                Scriptures instruct us to study, to show ourselves approved, so that we can correctly handle and understand the Word of Truth.  (II Timothy 2:15). 

A: Answer each question first before reading all the answer choices.  

               Look for the Godly answers, not the world's answers. (Romans 12:2) 
               In the book of James, the instructions are to seek His wisdom and it will be given generously.
 ( James 1:5)  
                The Psalmist tells us: (Psalm 25:12) Who is the man who fears the LORD? He will instruct him in the way he should choose.

D: Dash out all the wrong answers
                 If we are seeking the Lord's will, pray for and use discernment. Seek counsel in the wisdom of others who trust in the Lord.  (John 7:17-18, Proverbs 3: 5-6).  
S: Select the best answer.  

                 Isaiah 30:21 And your ears will hear a word behind you,  "this is the way, walk in it," whenever you turn to the right or to the left. 

Of course, always get plenty of rest and eat a good breakfast. Yes, rest in the Lord that He will deliver you in and through this test. Feed on the Word of God and strengthen your faith with unceasing prayer.  There are times when answers are not always clear. Sometimes, no reasoning makes sense. Trusting in our Teacher keeps us guided in our quest towards wisdom and knowledge in Him.  Clarification may be in the Heavenly realm. The Christian learns to trust, live in transparency. Even when we don't do so well, shared lessons learned and stragedies with other "students of the Word," grow us.   Join study groups, gather prayer partners, speak in TESTimony!  In faith lessons and faith tests, you can't really copy the answers from another, you can only glean encouragement. Everyone has his own test. God's plan is personal, unique for each one of us. In that, our faith receives an award, a paid in full scholarship in a life powered by the One who corrects all are wrongs and gave His 100% for us. He transfers that grade unto us and sees us as His prized students! 

Lord, I have to be thankful for tests, for in these, Your divine purpose I can put into practice. This is my faith in action. My attitude is not always what it should be. Many times I get frustrated, grumpy, overwhelmed. Rest, refocus and rejuvination from Your Word gives me new strength. Satan wishes I sleep in, fail miserably and lack preparation. Let me never fall into that category but take each test as an opportunity for your assessment towards Your Will for my life. In my flesh, I will fail, but in Your Spirit, may you receive the glory.  I press on.  Amen.  

What faith lessons has God taught you? 
What scriptures always point you towards a Godly attitude when facing a trial?
Can I pray for you?