Friday, April 18, 2014

Soul Seller

Judas sold out Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, but that isn't all he sold. He sold his soul. Anytime we work against a friend, fellow Christian, or family member we work against ourselves. The price of betrayal is way too high for the betrayer. 

Look at what Judas "gained" in betraying Jesus...

~Last in line. Anytime the names of the disciples are listed Judas lands up last. He is the least of the Twelve. 

~A replacement. See Acts 1:25. Judas is replaced soon after Christ returns to heaven. Most betrayers are replaced in our lives with those that are trustworthy. 

~Death. We all know that Judas killed himself. Most betrayers do...kill themselves in a sense. They sacrifice their reputations. They kill trust. They murder their relationships. 

We make think that our betrayers get away with murder. Not so, because they sell their souls in the process. We can leave them in God's hands knowing that He will take care of the details. The vengeance is His, not ours.

Betrayal doesn't do unnoticed by Christ.  Run to Him if you are feeling betrayed. He, more than anyone else, understands. We don't need to take justice into our own hands.  Hand your betrayer over to the custody of Christ. Once betrayed the best we can do is pray for those that inflicted the hurt.  Pray blessings over their lives.  Pray that they will heal.  Pray that the forgiveness from our hearts will flow so we can heal. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A New Thing

  See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19

Last year during Easter if you had told me where I would be this year I would not have believed you. God took me on a journey, a wilderness wandering. One where I left my Egypt, a place of bondage and pain, to wander a bit.  I can't say that I have arrived.  Maybe I never will this side of heaven, but for the time being I am where I need to be. God made a way in that wilderness even though much of the journey was bewildering. He left me wondering what He was up to, then He ended up doing a totally new thing!  While painful and perplexing in the process there is now peace.

Isn't that the way of God? A Christ on a cross. In a pit of pain. All because God was doing a new bring us peace.  Peace with God.  Peace with ourselves.  Peace with others.  Peace comes at a price and normally involves pain. Many times it involves a lack of understanding.  The new thing just doesn't make sense.
The newly risen Savior didn't make sense...

Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened. Luke 24:12

The dead don't walk off. They aren't escape artists. A three-day-old dead person doesn't pull off his own resurrection. Or does He? Peter left wondering. Mary confused. The disciples dumbfounded. That's what happens when God decides to do a new thing.  A thing to bring us peace. A thing to make a way in the wilderness so we can reach Him. A thing that brings us into relationship with the One that is all about resurrection.

This Easter? I am thanking that Escape Artist. The Wilderness Way Maker. The One who can pull off His own resurrection.  The One who made a new thing!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Always an Inside Job

Betrayal is always an inside job.  You can't betray a person you aren't close to.  You can't betray a stranger.  It is those in the inner circle that you need to worry about.  Judas was in that inner circle. Close enough to cause pain. Close enough to hand Jesus over to the authorities simply because they handed him 30 pieces of silver.

Betrayal is always an inside job.  A job that comes from the heart. A betrayer can look good on the outside, but it is the inside that counts.  Judas was a disciple...a follower of Jesus.  You don't get better credentials than that! The greatest harm comes from the deep recesses of a heart gone bad.  The outside of a person tells you nothing of what is lurking on the inside.

The inside job becomes the outside job when the heart of the betrayer reveals itself...

So how do we deal with those on the inside of our lives who hurt us?  Here are some concepts that God has been teaching me...

-Be discerning about your inner circle.  If you see warning signs (a critical spirit, selfishness, jealousy) repeatedly in a person, then you need to "love them with a long-handled spoon".  Love them, but don't give them your heart.

-Realize that betrayal is a part of life.  If Jesus was betrayed, you probably won't escape it either.  Jesus understands what it feels like.  Accept it and run to Him for comfort. The more you fight it...the worse it becomes.

-Give yourself time to heal from betrayal. It can take a long time.  But through the healing process make forgiveness your goal. Reconciliation may not be possible (because that takes two people).  Reconciliation may be an unwise move with an unhealthy person, but you can always forgive.  It takes time, but it will be the best medicine for healing.

-If you are betrayed, learn from it.  Ask God what He wants you to get out of the experience.  Does He want you to be more compassionate with those that are hurting?  Is He teaching you how to have better boundaries?

 It is my prayer that if you have experienced betrayal and are trying to heal from it that you will go to the One that knows how it feels.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Never-ending Gratitude

You would think you could run out of gifts to thank God for, but He out gives every time!!  I can never thank Him enough for all that He gives!


-Being asked again to write the curriculum for a local Christian summer camp.
-The opportunity to influence the lives of children
-Writing the lessons on Joseph, my favorite character of the Old Testament. Joseph was definitely unstoppable!

-Freezer meals made in a morning
-Words of love and encouragement from so many
-The promise of spring

-Bread baking
-Breakfast with a friend
-Getting our computer fixed
-Easter here soon!

-Getting some prep work done for Spanish lessons
-Warm sun that makes me sleepy
-A Saturday to get caught up on chores
-Being in a great place emotionally

Friday, April 11, 2014

Of Friends and Foes

The friend becomes the foe.  The one in the inner circle breaks the chain and steals a kiss.  How Christ must have grieved over Judas.

After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.”  John 13:21
Even though He is God and knew what Judas was up to, it troubled Him. Down to His soul.  If you have ever been betrayed, know that Jesus understands completely where you are coming from.  He has felt the agony of betrayal.

You have heard it said, "With friends like these, who needs enemies?"  And yet, Jesus call Judas friend in the moment of his betrayal.

And Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you have come for.”  Matthew 26:50  

Jesus saw Judas as a friend. He knew that His fight was not against the flesh and blood Judas, but against Satan.  Yet, there are different types of friends.  Close ones.  Ones you only see from time to time.  Childhood friends.  Jesus calls Judas a "hetairos", a person who attaches himself to another to see what he can gain for himself.  The wool is never pulled over the eyes of the Shepherd.  He knew full well what type of friend Judas really was.

We all could take a lesson from Jesus when it comes to friends. We need to realize that when our friends or someone we trust turns on us that it really isn't about us and them.  That Satan is in the midst making a mess.  We also need to understand that not every friend will be a lifelong supporter.  They will come and go in our lives. We need to let them go through forgiveness.  Some will even fulfill their purpose by turning on us.  Judas sure did. We may feel abandoned by those around us, but we are never truly forsaken.  Oh, What a Friend we have in Jesus!

To read the rest of the series on Jesus and Judas, click here.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Power of Brokenness

A lone egg left in the nest after a season of raising babies.  It looked perfect.  A little dirty, but not a crack to be found.  Perfect.  Yet unfruitful.

While we hate hurt.  Plead for no pain in our lives.  Avoid annoyances at all cost.  The fact still remains.  Brokenness brings life.  No egg ever gave birth to a baby bird by being totally intact. So why do we try to walk away, push away, and flee from the very thing that can bring us life?  We fight it with all the strength we have.  The irony?  Facing it makes us stronger. Facing it brings freedom. Taking it straight on brings life. The more broken you are the bigger your potential to bless the world.  Ask the egg. The broken one that leads to chirping in the morning. A fluttering of wings heard nearby.  A splash of color in the sky. The whole egg? It can't boast of such magnificence. 

I used to think I wasn't broken. Came from a perfect family.  Perfect grades. Perfect behavior.  That was a lie.  Even Christ in His perfectness was broken.  You can't bring forth life without it. Christ followed those same rules. Broken to make us whole. Beaten to set us free. Scarred to grant us salvation. The magnitude is almost too much to comprehend. There is no way of getting around it.  Facing brokenness brings freedom. 

I learned a long time ago life without cracks is a farce.  These days I am more broken than whole, but I am not fretting...knowing that God will use it somehow to bring life.  He already has. He continues to. He will in the future. Someday the brokenness will take wings and fly.

Monday, April 7, 2014

What to do with Your Judas?

Betrayal can be a hard thing to stomach. The one that was supposed to love you...the one you let into your heart smashes it to pieces.  We have all been there.  The immediate response is to wall up your heart.  Makes sense.  And sometimes, that is what is needed to give time for healing, but it cannot stay like that forever. As we approach Easter, I am looking at how Christ dealt with Judas. Here are a few ways to look at your Judas and how to treat them to bring healing.

Realize that they are there for a reason.  ALL your relationships cannot come to be unless they first run through the hands of God.  He doesn't allow anyone or any circumstance in our lives unless it first gets His approval.  Remember Job?  Satan wasn't allowed to mess with him until God gave the approval.  While this may be hard to accept, knowing that God is in control can bring ultimately a sense of peace.

Your betrayer will take you where you need to go... to your cross.  Judas was the pathway for Christ's journey to the cross.  Your betrayer will do the same.  The cross is a place of pain, but also a place of promise. We tend to shrink from our crosses...those hard circumstances in life, but maybe a better attitude would be the one of Jesus who said in Mark, "Arise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!"  If we can see past our crosses like He did we can move from pain to peace.  Realize that God is working to take you to a different place through the betrayal.  He may want to weed out a sin, a weakness, or simply move you in a different direction.

Your betrayer is a Genesis 50:20 type of person.  You know the ones...they throw you into a pit {of despair} and sell you off {reject you} to the first bidder.  But here's the matter what pit your betrayer throws you into God has other plans.  He is the Mastermind of the plot twist.  He can turn your pit into a palace.  He can take your crucifixion and create life.

So what are we supposed to do with betrayers?

Wash their feet.  Love them and serve them.  The night of the Last Supper Jesus wrapped a towel around His waist and washed Judas' feet.  He served him knowing full well what he was about to do.  How did He have the strength to do that? At least with our betrayers, we don't see it coming.  But to know what is about to happen and love anyways?!  It seems crazy. Yet...

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God.  So he got up form the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist...John 13:3-4

Jesus could love Judas because He knew who His Father was. He knew He was returning to God, and that God loved Him.  He knew that one could separate Him from His Father.  We need to have the same attitude.

While you may no longer have a relationship with your betrayer you can still love them from afar.  You can pray for them.  Pray blessings for them.  You can refrain from speaking ill of them no matter how much they deserve it. If you still have a relationship with them there are a myriad of ways to show love.  Because when we "wash their feet" the pain they inflicted loses its power.

This is just one post in the series, Jesus and Judas.  To read more click on the link.

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