28 April 2014

31 Day Scripture Challenge

Only 3 more days! I've been anxiously awaiting the start of the 31 Day Scripture Challenge created by Kristin Schmucker from www.kristinnicoleblog.com

Beginning in May, the challenge is to read scripture every day for 31 days and share what you read by posting a photo using the hashtag #lampandlight or writing a blog post to encourage each other on this fun journey! It's a way to get involved and make scripture a priority by sharing our thoughts and inspiring others through these next 31 days.

Starting Thursday, I will be sharing what I chose to dedicate these 31 days to. I will alternate between Instagram posts and blog posts (so there won't be 31 blog posts). Feel free to follow along and comment with your favorite scriptures, something you learned, or an encouraging word! I truly believe this is going to be a light in the darkness for someone.

For more details about this challenge, click here. I also used Kristin's image from her blog to create the button below for others to share during this link-up month so feel free to add it to your blog. Can't wait to start on this journey with you all!

Refining the Wild Grapes

24 April 2014

Two Thieves

This past month has went by in such a blur for me. I've been finishing up the last few weeks of college, preparing for Nursing school (one month till I begin, yikes!), attended a Youth Convention with my church and celebrated Easter this past Sunday with friends and family. The blur has come with many blessings.

During Easter Sunday I listened as our Associate Pastor taught on the cross - the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus. He didn't just tell the story but he began to indulge in the surroundings and the people in that day. Specifically, the two thieves who were hung on crosses on either side of Jesus. Those two thieves held a deeper meaning for me that morning.

In Luke 23 we see the story in its entirety. My focus is mainly in Luke 23:32-43 - take a moment to pull out your Bible or your Bible app and read through those verses. I never focused on the two criminals. I always knew they were crucified with Jesus but that's where their story ended for me. Read verses 39-43 again.
"39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, 'Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!' 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, 'Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.' 42 And he said, 'Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.' 43 And he said to him, 'Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.'" (ESV)

Here, we see two different responses. The one criminal is rebuking Jesus just like the crowd saying that if He is who He says He is then save them. But the other criminal is repentant. His words show that He realized just who Jesus was in that moment. He realized there was no fault in Him. He realized that He was their Savior, the one who was preached about, the one who healed, mended, and saved. Instead of following the crowds and mocking Jesus, he feared God. He was in awe of Him. His repentant heart cried out to Jesus asking Him to remember him when He reached His kingdom.

The best part about it all was that Jesus answered him! Jesus was hanging, nailed to a cross, in deep agony and physical pain (I believe it was also deep emotional and spiritual pain as well), but He still listened to the cries of this thief.

Through the suffering of the cross, Jesus still expressed his divine love for man.

He showed compassion as He listened to the plea of one who cried out for forgiveness. Through His own pain, He answered the needs of a sinner. That was His undying love expressed that day. As if the cross wasn't enough, He still saved a wretched sinner who didn't deserve the mercy he was shown.

Doesn't that sound familiar?

In our sinful nature, our human flesh, we don't deserve the mercies of God. But He gives it to us anyway. We don't deserve His love. But He shows it to us anyway. He's there right in time. Don't give place to thoughts that say you aren't good enough for forgiveness or that you are too much of a sinner to repent. Although we may not face the punishment of being crucified, that criminal was no worse than any of us, but God listened to his cry, remembered him and saved him. The cross was never the end, it was only just the beginning. Jesus still loves, mends, heals, listens and wants you to come to Him with a repentant heart.

He still saves.

07 April 2014

Audience of One

I wanted to share a thought with you today that comes from 1 Chronicles 16 and Psalm 100. This was something I heard spoken in a sermon at my church and I was reminded of it today.

No matter how lonely, afraid, nervous, or weak you feel, you will always have an audience of ONE. Someone who loves spending time with you, someone who cares about every single one of your emotions, someone who cries tears of pain/joy with you, someone you can call a friend for the rest of your life, as well as someone who calls you friend,  someone who will love you in the midst of your greatest dreams and greatest failures.

His name is Jesus.

1 Chronicles 16:8-12, 29
Give thanks unto the Lord, call upon His name, Make known his deeds among the people.
Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, Talk you of all his wondrous works.
10 Glory ye in his holy name: Let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord.
11 Seek the Lord and his strength, Seek his face continually.
12 Remember his marvelous works that he hath done, His wonders, and the judgments of his mouth;

29 Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: Bring an offering, and come before him: Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.

Psalm 100
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: Come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord he is God: It is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, And into his courts with praise: Be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; And his truth endureth to all generations.

He is always listening and pursuing you. He dwells in the praises of His people. Take a moment to give thanks today. You will always have an audience of one.