Thursday, September 27, 2018

Blessed Assurance

“Back and forth they talked. “Didn’t we feel on fire as He conversed with us on the road, as He opened up the Scriptures for us?” Luke 24:32 MSG



Scripture tells us about two friends, followers of Jesus, who are leaving Jerusalem on the morning of the Resurrection. Jesus begins to walk along side them, talking and teaching them. They do not recognize Jesus until after He blesses the bread, breaks it, and gives it to them. His presence kindles a fire within their hearts.

Life happens in the hurried and the slow, the random and the sure, the desperate and the joyful moments that fill our days. A pattern begins to form as we gather our experiences and passions, our talents and knowledge in trying to see the big picture. Sometimes we want a solution or need direction; sometimes we just need to rest.

Timothy Keller writes, “Build an identity that gets its significance from God.” Too often we try to connect our life-dots through accomplishments or talent or relationships. We attempt to build our own identities through culture or philosophy. We even claim the behaviors of religion, like confession, forgiveness, baptism, communion, worship, giving, prayer, but do we recognize Jesus as God-within-us? Does the presence of Jesus ignite a spiritual flame within my heart? 

Blessed Assurance
Even before time began, Your beauty danced across the heavens. From the highest peaks to the deepest canyons, from the widest deserts to the strongest rivers. Your glory shines. From forever to forever, Your are Jehovah-Elohim, the Eternal Creator. 

Even before I took my first breath, Your plans for me were known. From the sweetest celebrations to the gravest sorrows, from the abundant blessings to the fiercest challenges, Your love abides. From before to after, forever be my dwelling place. Amen. - dho

Thursday, September 20, 2018

I Am Blessed!

Blessed are the....   Matthew 5:1-12

“Blessed are the...” begins the most familiar verses in the Beatitudes. “Blessed” comes from the Greek word MAKARIOS, a “poetic word” meaning happy or good fortune. Blackaby describes this concept as a “result of divine favor” but goes much further by defining that this kind of good favor comes from a relationship with “God who satisfies our soul and promises future reward.” Such divine favor comes through a relationship with Christ, and is not found elsewhere.

Sometimes reading different versions of the Scripture can give new insights into the meaning.  As I am reading in The Message “You’re blessed” over and over, I begin to contemplate how I am blessed. Certainly the tangible things in life immediately come to mind, like security and shelter, then health comes next, followed by loving relationships. Soon I realize the things that come to mind are all about me! In these verses, Jesus is teaching a “new awareness” or a “new consciousness” about what really brings us happiness.

Blackaby writes that to find happiness requires we “experience the Kingdom’s inner riches, in the midst of external poverty and distress.” WHAT? Reading again in The Message I begin to see phrases that reveal the truths for a disciple of Jesus such as - “less of you - more of God” and “embraced by the One most dear” and “content with who you are”. My favorite is verse 7: "You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being care-full, you find yourselves cared for.” Happiness is being in a relationship with Christ while life happens!

In the article, “An Inside Job...What Really Brings Contentment?” Martin Thielen, pastor in TN, writes, “Extensive studies have proven that external circumstances...account for only 10 percent of a person’s happiness.” He goes on to say, “contentment is an inside job.” This Jesus prescription for happiness is a “divine paradox”. The world will always be in conflict with God’s promises, and Christians must trust God to be both power and presence, even in the darkness of uncertainty. We are “blessed” especially when we find ourselves struggling and grieving, when we lay down self and disappointment, when we experience evil in the world or persecution for our beliefs. In all these times, Christ remains with us, always the comforter, always the encourager, always faithful and true. “To be happy in Jesus” brings more divine favor than I could ever need. -dho


Thursday, September 13, 2018

Every Blessing!


As summer ends, reflect back over our discoveries in Scripture that reassures us with the unlimited possbilities of God. So often, in the quiet joys and little victories we forget that God celebrates with us, creates the joys, and even makes a way for the victories. In the chaos of crisis and the hurriedness of hectic, God walks beside us. We are never alone when we put our faith in God. Take a few minutes to listen to this song "Counting Every Blessing"! - dho



click to listen


Thursday, September 06, 2018

In the Garden - God Can Do All Things Summer Series

Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will. Mark 14:36





Despite dwelling in complete paradise and daily walking with the Creator, Adam and Eve not only encounter temptation but act on this. Disobedience breaks their relationship with God. They are banned from paradise to toil the land. The consequences of sin are born in the garden of Eden.


     I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses;  
     And the voice I hear, falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses...

On the night Jesus is arrested, He takes His disciples to pray. The deep loneliness reaches through the darkness as Jesus comes before His Father. Jesus recognizes the rebellion of humanity and the gravity of God’s judgement. God’s plan is for Jesus to follow a path of suffering, to take this “cup” of wrath, to endure alienation from God as the ransom for all sin. Perfect Love will submit to God’s will and usher in a renewed relationship with God - “sins forgiven, heaven secured, joy restored, peace.” Knowing the cost of humanity’s sin, Jesus’ willing, unselfish response to an incomparable choice fills the night. Grace is born in the garden of Gethsemane.

     And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own,
     And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.

We fall on our knees before our Father desperate for His healing intervention, His mending touch. With tears and sorrow and loneliness we cry out in our suffering demanding answers. Other times, with joy and hope we shout praises to God for miracles we could only imagine, resolutions greater than our requests, sighs of wonder rise with prayers of celebration. In all these moments we can feel the embrace of God, a God who chooses love and forgiveness and peace. We find Jesus in the garden of a God who can do all things! -dho

We do not trust him because of what we can prove from our circumstances, but from what is revealed about his character at the cross. There we learn that even when circumstances are awful and inexplicable, God will ultimately bring about the good he intends. - Gospel Transformation Notes