Get in on the Action!

But ye beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. Jude 1:20,21

We are not programmed robots. God created us with a free will to do as we please. As I study this verse in Jude, I see four action verbs.

The first is “building up.” Every day our actions are either building us up in the faith, tearing us down, or complacency is causing a slow deterioration. The apostle James said “faith without works is dead.” How can our faith grow without the right orthopraxy (doing of the word)? We must not just be hearers of the Word but doers as James instructs. What does our behavior do in efforts to build us up? Do we just admire the ideals of Christianity and read about Jesus with fondness or are we trying to live our lives like Jesus? Are we just hearing what He says or are we doing what He says? How can we be “building” if we are not “doing”?

The second action verb Jude gives is “praying” Prayer is our direct line to God. This is our communion, our one on one communication. We would never expect any relationship to grow if we never spoke to the person; the same is with Christ. He is on the other end, saying come talk to me. He is calling but we must decide to answer.

Thirdly, “KEEP yourselves in the love of God.” To keep is to “retain possession of.” We have been given God’s love and we must accept and hold on to it. Grasp tightly to the love that sets us free through Jesus Christ. Don’t lose sight of this love.

And this brings us to the fourth; “LOOK for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The enemy does not want us to build up in the faith, to have communion with the Father, to know Christ’s love, so he will do all he can to distract us from Christ’s mercy. The enemy will condemn, but take heart, we know better; Jesus is merciful. He knows our weakness. He knows we fall short of the holy standard and yet, he is merciful.

Let’s look at them in reverse order:

  • Look for the mercy of our Lord, the one who saves us from our sins and gives eternal life.
  • Keep His love and hold it close so that we can give love to others and show the world who this Jesus really is.
  • Always be in prayer, our direct line of communication.
  • Build up your faith continually to the glory of God.

Go ahead! Get in on the action!

In His love,

Johanna

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Whatever is True

One of my favorite verses in scripture is “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things” Philippians 4:8. I admit I would think of this verse with warm feelings, maybe even a bit shallow. I would think of this wonderful paradise a sort of utopia or even comparable to that feeling on Christmas morning. As I have been reading and studying it other ideas began to pop out at me–a very different idea than I have had in the past.

The first virtue that the apostle Paul states was “whatever is true.” This got my wheels turning. Is truth easy to think about? Does it even maybe give us pain at times? When Isaiah saw the truth of God in all His holiness, He began to see the reality of His sinfulness. He said “Woe is me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” Isaiah was clearly in anguish over this revelation. He had been exposed. I don’t know about you, but I have encountered times in my life that I had to face the truth about something and it was painful and even sometimes traumatizing. This sort of puts a damper on the warm fuzzy feeling.

Can we really think genuinely of what is noble and right and pure, lovely and admirable if we don’t first come to know what is true? Truth is what gives reality meaning. If we don’t first define truth, we are left defining all the latter attributes by what standard? Without truth, you will have a false security in everything. I understand that the only way to genuine righteousness, genuine purity, genuine nobility, genuine compassion, genuine love, and genuine forgiveness is when I understand the very truth of my own brokenness. When we cross this threshold from death to self and walk into true life eternal within the person of Jesus, we will find the absolute blessed freedom that we longed for. He does not fail. He will not fail.

In His love,

Johanna

My Identity 

I come to the Father through the cross of Christ.

I will not be oppressed by my weaknesses and strength.

I will not be knocked down by the power of sin and death.

I boldly stand as the person I was made to be.

I am looking unto Jesus who is alive in me.

In His love,

Johanna

Jesus Doesn’t Care About the Easter Nod.

Well here it is again…….easter eggs, peeps, chocolate bunnies, lilies, and the biggest church attendance day out of the year. Now wait, I am not being cynical. Don’t yell at me. I like bunnies, and I like painting easter eggs. Peeps are great too, especially when you let them get a little stale. I am really NOT the Easter nazi. Here me out.

What is Easter about? We know it’s  about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, but what does this really mean? It’s about the power of the cross of Christ. It’s about fellowship with the Lord. It’s about being formed into the likeness of him. It’s about Jesus paying for our sins. It’s about Jesus giving new life. It’s about Jesus living in me. It’s about the love that he poured out on the cross for me. It’s about the fact that I am no longer condemned. I am free! I am forgiven.  It’s about having unending joy through Jesus. It’s about everlasting peace, by way of the Prince of Peace. It’s about my savior, my Lord, who I serve forever. THIS IS BIG STUFF! This is EVERYTHING! Jesus doesn’t look at a holiday and say, “why thank you for observing me this one day out of the year.” The true meaning of Easter is not about a single day of the year, that we decide to put on our Sunday’s best and pay homage to this man named Jesus. The true meaning of Easter is Jesus IS alive! He’s not just alive one day a year. NO! NO! NO! When we accept his gift by way of the cross, Jesus is alive in us everyday of every moment of the year. I want to start waking up every morning shouting “HE IS RISEN!” I want every normal day to be a declaration of the Risen Savior. I want the end of my life to have one message, his name is Jesus!

So no, God doesn’t give points for the Easter nod. God looks at the heart. He wants YOU! All of YOU! Once you taste this Water of Life, you won’t want anything else. You won’t just want to give an Easter nod, you will want to live your life for Him. 

 Will you declare with me not just this Easter but every day, HE IS RISEN! This old natural life is put to death by way of the cross. Keep coming back to the cross. I AM MADE ALIVE THROUGH JESUS! 

 HAPPY EASTER!

At the brink of disaster, He caught me!

Here I am an empty vessel. I thirst, I hunger, my longings never cease. I want and I need. Its a constant crave cycle. I need to be filled up, emptiness will never do. Oh, I try to fill it up with nostalgia, with family, and fun, approval, even going to church. These things I know will never fully satisfy. My trust can’t be put in anyone of these single things. These things are all good, but they won’t leave me fully satisfied. This I know to be true with my entire being, because I have tasted the Water of Life; it wasn’t by my own might or power. I did nothing, accept dive into His arms – spirit to Spirit. When I knew I had no hope and I was at the brink of disaster, I didn’t stop and analyze the statistics and weigh my options. I had no other option. I knew this to be true; spirit to Spirit. I jumped. In mid air I went from death to life. He caught me and made my fully alive. I am filled up spirit into His Spirit. I am His and He is mine, not by might not by power but by His Spirit! This old nature is still to be wrestled with, and until I reach glory, I have to jump into His arms daily spirt into His Spirit!

Make me spiritually alive. Fill me up dear Savior!
Amen!

The Crave. The Experience. The Joy.

I have often thought, why do some people who by outward appearance follow Jesus, not have a strong desire for him–by outward appearance I mean, church goers, religious exercisers of the sorts. I grew up in church. I was a religious exerciser. I had plenty of head knowledge of the things of God, and I am very thankful for that because I believe that was the seed being planted, but this alone is not enough. Like in the parable of the sower, the seed can be planted but if it does not take root it will fall away, it will be choked by the thorns of this world. A seed craves water and sunlight to thrive and grow and not be choked by the weeds. You could give the plant gatorade but it will not grow. You could give a seed many things but there is only one way it will grow.

The crave is in every man. This yearning inside that just won’t stop is in everyone. We crave the only source that will satisfy, and that is Jesus. One way and one truth is not a far fetched thing. Our whole universe is operated around a system of a one way organization; just like plants will not grow properly but through one way. It seems more far fetched that we could all be satisfied by different ways and systems.  We all crave one way through Jesus, but some choose another way, and then another way, and another. The crave is never satisfied and we end up a restless soul. St. Augustine said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until it rests in you.”

The experience is Jesus. We could know a lot about him, even respect him, even call ourselves followers of his teaching, but have we experienced him? Knowing about him and respecting him, and even following his teachings in and of themselves won’t satisfy. We have to experience him. We do what he says because we love him not because we think thats the moral thing to do. Our desire for him will grow as we experience the person of Jesus. The devil in hell knows more things about God than most people but this does not mean he desires him or loves him. How do we get to experience Jesus? We first experience him when we see ourselves for who we really are, wretched soul, empty, dying, deprived of the One who fulfills. We continue experiencing him when our chief goal is to give all glory to God, and when we continue to ask as the apostle Paul said, “What do I have that I did not receive?” God reveals himself when we let him have his way, and we put to death our own way. There is only one way.

The gift is Joy. We have to fight our carnal desires every day, and with the grace of God enabling us  to fight the good fight, we will know what it means to have fullness of Joy. Jesus warned, “the thief comes only to kill, steal and destroy, but I have come that they may have life and and have it to the full.”John 10:10 What does the enemy want to do? He wants to kill the craving for Jesus, steal the experience, of Jesus and destroy the joy of Jesus. Don’t let him have his way! Fight! Fight! Fight! Put on the armor of God and seek only Him. “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. AMEN!” Philippians 4:19,20