The Chosen

I have been waiting for months for this to become available for months now and last night I sat down and watched the first four episodes of THE CHOSEN.  This is  a crowd-funded, Hollywood style TV show about the life of Jesus and the people closest to him.  It’s about seeing the disciples not through the light of sainthood, but as real people and walking with them through the journey they might have taken as they came to know and love Christ.

https://studios.vidangel.com/the-chosen/episode-one

I’m so happy to be able to share this with you and I hope that you love it as much as I do.  We need more shows like this.  Shows that put the light and love of Jesus into the world, and I can’t think of a more perfect time…this Easter season.

God bless,

Meredith

All you have to do is ask.

Today in my readings Paul talks about “…behaving decently, as in the daytime” Romans 13:13.  And I’m not going to say anything new here, but sometimes it bears repeating, it helps to be reminded.  How many of us exhibit behaviours in the privacy of our own homes, behind the closed doors of hotel rooms, or it the darkened anonymity of bars and night clubs, behaviours that we would never want our mothers, our children, our friends to see.  That’s what Paul is talking about. And he’s not just talking about our physical deeds, but our emotional ones as well, the ones we keep secret in our hearts, the jealousies, the coveting, the dissensions and grievances.

I will be the first one to admit that there are things I might say or do in my own house that I would never want other people to see or hear.  Losing my temper, slamming doors, speaking badly of someone.  I do them all.  I forget that someone is always watching.  That my actions never occur in a vacuum.  That’s why Paul’s words are so important.  In this letter to the Romans he is calling on them, on us, to “put aside the deeds of darkness, and put on the armor of light”.  Are you asking yourself how?  Or have you convinced yourself that your behaviours in those times were justified, or that they drove you to it.  That they deserved what they got or that’s just how you were made.

I won’t even tell you that those things aren’t true. But part of what Paul is telling us, part of the message of Jesus, and the reason he died for us and our sins is that we are called to be better.  To rise up against our own sinful nature, “the way we were made” and put aside the deeds of darkness.  If you’re like me, maybe you’ve tried this before, but feel as if you always slip back, you always fall down and maybe you’ve even reached the point of giving up. I can relate.  But today I’d like to tell you that we are supposed to fail, in fact we will fail every single time if we are trying to go it alone.  I have come to learn that the absolute only way I can be a different person is through Christ.  Time and time again the bible calls upon us to surrender ourselves to our Father in heaven.  But we are so stubborn, so determined to have our independence that we refuse, we protest the freedom and light that is offered to us freely.  But that’s okay.  Because our time here on earth is about that journey.  About gaining a gradual understanding of the power of the life and death and love of Jesus Christ and God our Father.

So if there is a darkness in your heart or a heaviness in your spirit, know that you don’t have to shine a light on it yourself, you don’t have to carry the burden, because there is someone greater than you who will happily do it for you.  Someone who wants to do it for you.  All you have to do is ask.

God bless,

Meredith

More of You

On Tuesday I wrote about feeling overwhelmed and weighed down by my every growing list of obligations and responsibilities.  I also wrote about how much I need to lean on God to help me.  He has given me all of these blessings, not to be a burden, but to use these opportunities to lift him up and he will never give me more than I can handle.

I’m not going to say that I’m feeling less anxious, in fact last night I was feeling particularly overwhelmed and it was suggested that this blog was the first thing that needed to go.  I don’t think that’s part of God’s plan, I get a lot out of writing it.  I’m just going to keep praying for strength and stamina and remembering that these “obligations” are actually blessings and opportunities.  That being said, it does mean that today’s post isn’t going to be a long one but I wanted to share this song with you.  It lifted me up yesterday and reminded me of what is important and I hope it does that for you today as well.

God bless,

Meredith

The Weight of the World.

We all have times in our lives when we feel anxiety and stress.  Times when the obligations and worries of the world, and our lives seem to pile up and become overwhelming.  Times when we feel as if we are not strong enough to carry the weight that is on our shoulders.  I’ve been feeling that way recently.  That there is so much to be done, and not enough of me to do it all.  There are people in my life for whom I have a great deal of fear and worry.  In the past, when I’ve had those feelings, I have often struggled to drag myself out from under the mental and emotional pressures I have placed upon myself.  I have felt like a failure.  I have railed against God and the challenges he has laid upon me and those I love.

What makes this time any different?  Trust.  In those times when I begin to feel my burdens pulling me under, I have a lifeline that I can reach out and grab.  Jesus.  Sometimes it’s all I can do to repeat “Jesus help me” over and over again.  Sometimes I  plead for a miracle, but trust that however God chooses to answer my prayer, he loves me and those whom I pray for, and this is all part of his plan.  And I remind myself that my Father in heaven has my back and he will not give me anything I can’t handle, as long as I take His hand and believe that he is with me.

Doing all those things doesn’t mean that the feelings of panic go away forever or completely, but they lessen. My relationship with God has grown to a point that I will not, can not help but turn to him in all times and in all places.   Even in my struggles, I see the blessings and joy his has given me.  He will walk through the valley with me, and when I know I am not strong enough, he is my strength and my shield.  He will carry me when I can not walk the path on my own.

Trust in the Lord, with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5.

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms…” Deuteronomy 33:27.

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. Psalm 28:7

God bless,

Meredith

Called By God.

One of my favorite writers of the New Testament is Paul.  I don’t know why, but I just feel such a connection to him and a truth speaking to me in his writings.  And one of my favorite of his letters is Ephesians.  Today I started working on my reading and as a general rule, I tend start by copying my daily verse or psalm or chapter in a notebook.  I’m one of those people whose brain learns best by slowing down and writing something.  It also gives me a chance to go back and underline stuff that I find speaks to me.

So I had just finished writing out Ephesians 4:1-9 when I realized that the verses I was supposed to be reading were Ephesians 5:6-20 (also great btw).  But here’s where I thought, well I guess God really wanted to read this part of chapter 4 because I had to double take to even figure out how I could have possible mis-read what today’s reading was.  And since this was the part I felt compelled to blog about, one of you people reading this blog post also needed this verse today.

What was Ephesians 4:1-9 about you ask?  Unity in the Body of Christ.  And here are verses 1-7 for you to read and reflect on with me.

“…I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.  Be completely humble, and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit — just as you were called to one hope when you were called — one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

That you know God is no accident.  He called you.  He chose you.  He loves you.  All you have to do is reach out and accept the grace that Christ has apportioned to you.

God bless,

Meredith

Giving Of Yourself.

Giving generously of your wealth.  It’s talked about often in the bible; by Jesus and Paul, in the Old Testament and in the New.  But so often we assume that the giving is simply referring to our financial wealth.  Perhaps that’s because money and physical riches have become so important in our consumer driven society.

But in many ways, giving money is one of the easiest ways of giving.  Politicians are constantly throwing money at problems, because it gives the appearance of something happening.  But what if giving of our financial wealth isn’t really what Jesus was talking about?  What if he meant for us to give generously of our truth wealth; our time, our hearts, our talents?  I know for myself, that becomes a much bigger hill to climb.

It never feels as if there are enough hours in the day, days in the week or weeks in the year.  It’s hard to think about sacrificing the precious few minutes of peace I have.  It’s hard to think about giving more of myself than I already give to my family and friends.  But I think that is really what God is calling us to do.  Or what he is calling me to do.  Because giving generously is personal.  It’s about you finding the gift that God has given you that is hardest for you to share.  Maybe for you it is money.  Maybe it’s your time.  Maybe it’s your talent.  I think this is partly what Jesus meant when he said “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” Luke 9:24  And I’m pretty sure that when Jesus is speaks of taking care of the poor, he isn’t just referring to those who are poor of wallet, but those who are poor of heart, and mind and spirit.

Where is God calling you to give generously in your life?  Who are the poor he is calling on you to take care of ?

God bless,

Meredith

Don’t Be One Of The Nine.

Times of crisis; when everything seems lost…these are most often the times we reach out to a power greater than ourselves.  These are the times we find ourselves on our knees, we find ourselves making bargins, begging, willing to consider miracles possible, if only they can be for us.  I’ve been there myself.

Luke Chapter 17:11-19 tells the story of Jesus healing no less than ten leapers at one time on his way from Galilee to Jerusalem.  As part of the process He sends them to a priest to be cleansed.  In the end, only one comes back to thank him and give praise to God for this miracle.  Sounds familiar doesn’t it?  Because we are so often more like the nine who didn’t return, than the one who did.  We ask God to do something for us, we promise we will go back to church, start praying again, be better…but no sooner do we get what we want, then we are right back to our old ways.  We aren’t true to our word.  We take God’s gifts and we forget to say thank you.  We dull ourselves to the wonder of the miracle we have experienced.

Thankfully God is always faithful and he doesn’t hold a grudge.  He knows even as we say those words, as we make those promises and bargins if we are going to be true, and He is ever hopeful that we will choose Him.

For some people the only relationship they have with God is one of asking.  I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing.  I think of it instead as simply a stop on their journey.  God would rather you ask him for things than have nothing to do with him.  And think about your children.  When they are young all they do is ask for things.  In fact when they are very young, when they are babies, they don’t just ask, they demand!  Sometimes loudly.  So if you are in a place where all you find yourself doing is asking God for things, that’s okay.  But as you grow in your relationship and your faith, you will find yourself more like a teenager or a young adult, able to give thanks, to appreciate your blessings.  And I think as you continue to grow you will eventually find yourself in a much more adult relationship, more like a parent or friend than a child.  Able to give and listen and wait upon the Lord. You will find yourself becoming a servant; grateful to be useful, wanting to be used.

Jesus says to the the one who returns, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

Part of  faith is recognizing and giving thanks for our blessings, for the miracles God works in our lives.   I feel as if Natalie Grant sums up how we should approach this story and our faith perfectly in her song “More than Anything”  “Help me want the Healer more than the healing.  Help me want the Savior more than the saving.  Help me want the Giver more than the giving.  Help me want you Jesus more than anything.”

God bless,

Meredith