"if nothing ever changed, there would be no butterflies"

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Why Celebrate?…Easter

"He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay."  Matthew 28:6

Happy Easter!  As you begin your celebration with family and friends, I thought I would write one more time this week :) I hope you enjoyed this journey following the last days of Jesus on earth.  Today, let's talk about what this was all for.  Enjoy this beautiful day!

So this Jesus, when He was 33 years old, after 3 years of ministry, was taken to be crucified.  He suffered on the cross for 3 hours and died, from what I have been told, at 3:00.  He gave up His spirit and died which brought forward the 3rd part of the trinity.  We talked 3 days ago and I said that wasn't the end of the story.  Well, here is what it all comes down to.  

On the 3rd day, Mary Magdelene and the other Mary went to the burial site but the stone was rolled away from the tomb (Matthew 28:1).  Jesus was not there!  They found an empty tomb with burial cloth and realized that is alive, He came back to life!  He conquered death!  But all of that was not for nothing.  The bible tells us that we are of sin.  It's not that I'm telling you that you did something wrong to allow it, I am telling you that it's what we are made of.  It would be like telling a latté that it is not made of coffee.  We are born of it and from it.  

God, who is holy, cannot even look on sin.  He must be removed from it, like we learned this week.  Back in the old testament  God would require a perfect spotless lamb to be sacrificed   It was the shedding of blood from that perfect lamb that would clear the sin away, but as soon as the people left the spot that they would sacrifice, they would sin again.  I know I do that all the time, as soon as I go to God with my repentance, I find myself saying or doing the same thing again…ooops.  Isn't it nice to know your not alone.  Anyway, so with our eternal sin problem, God made a way to have communion with us messy sinners, He supplied His own perfect, spotless lamb, Jesus.  

This week, we learned how Jesus lived, how He taught and how He died.  Today we learn How He rose again.  I pray that your eyes are opened to see this truth and that you place your faith in Jesus.  I pray that you enjoy this Easter with your friends and family.  I pray you have great conversations and that you have grace to share with those sandpaper people at your table.  I thank God for the focus to write all week and am so glad you joined me in these pages.

In light of all of the number 3's thrown around, I have 3 questions for you:

1) Do you believe?  Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?  Do you believe that He rose from the dead?  That He did this just for you so that you can spend eternity with Him in heaven?

2) Do you trust Him?  Have you placed your faith in the fact that without this trust, we will spend eternity in hell? 

3) If you answered no to questions 1 or 2, why celebrate Easter?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Why Celebrate?…Good Friday

but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” Luke 22:46 

Here we are on Good Friday.  Kind of an oxymoron if you ask me, but I guess when we really think about it, if this day did not happen, we would all spend an eternity in hell.  Bottom line, we are human and we will fail!  God knew this, which is why He sent His Son to be the sacrifice.  He took our place on the cross and when we put our faith in that truth alone, we are part of His eternal kingdom.

I remember when we were young, my mom would not let us speak for three hours on Good Friday.  She would tell us that we had to think about what Jesus went through during that time.  When I remember that silence, not in reflection mind you, simply to eliminate punishment, I think of the game of chess.  My dad had a marble chess board with beautifully sculpted ivory and ebony pieces.  As I think on the events of Good Friday, I think of that chess board.  An interesting game, chess.  A whole lot going on, moving, thinking, scheming, sounds so much like the last days of Jesus on earth.

There are a few characters in a chess game.  Some of them are displayed throughout this story.  We have two kings.  One on one end of the board, the king of darkness, who is the devil and on the other end, Jesus, the King of light.  There are pawns on both sides.  The ivory ones total 12 disciples as well as some others that sat under Jesus’ teachings.  The ebony, appears to be in short demand, hosting chief priests, scribes and elders.  Pontius Pilate appears to be on the ivory side at first.  The game unfolds, there are good men and there are bad men.  It’s simple, the good men follow Jesus all the time, right?  Wrong!  As we read, we will see that sometimes the colors can change, the game can and will change forever.

At the Passover meal, Jesus explains to the men that His time was coming.  He tells Peter that Satan has asked to sift him as wheat.  I love Peter, he reminds me of myself, so zealous, yet sometimes clueless.  He swears that he will stand strong, telling Jesus that everyone else's faith may fail, but not his.  Move those ivory pawns up one space each.

  After dinner, Jesus heads toward Mt. Olive to pray.  His disciples follow him.  Jesus asks them to stop and pray that they will not give into temptation.  He slips away to have a word with The Father.  Luke tells us that there was an angel there giving Him strength.  His prayers were so intense that He began to sweat blood.  When He went back to His disciples, He found them asleep.  He asked them again to pray that they would not give into temptation.  But again, they fell asleep.  Let’s move our ivory pawns right back.

Up walks the crowd with Judas, who greets Jesus with words of betrayal.  “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him.  It wasn’t bad enough that he would betray Jesus.  It wasn’t even bad enough that he would identify Him by a kiss, but Judas insulted Him by calling Him teacher, identifying Him as one who teaches the truth.  At this point we can remove one ivory pawn and move the ebony king forward.  

According to Luke 22:51, Peter, our overzealous friend, gets all fired up and pulls his sword out.  He cuts one of the priests ears off, to which Jesus yells “No more of this!”  Let’s move an ivory pawn a couple forward for that one.  At this point the game seems to be moving slowly, though the king of darkness has made ground, there is still control of the board on the ivory side.

After Jesus is taken into custody, His men do what any frightened accomplice would do, run.  They scattered about, leaving Jesus to His captors.  Peter, our man of faith, found himself by a fire, a girl calls out “This man also was with him.” says verse 56.  Two other times, Peter is asked if he knows this Jesus and two other times, three total, Peter denies it!  After hearing the rooster crow, Peter realizes he fell into temptation.  Oh, if only he would have stayed awake to pray.  Let’s remove an ivory pawn and move forward an ebony one.

Meanwhile, in Matthew 27, Judas realizes what he has done and takes the money back to the elders and chief priests.  He tells them he was wrong and that Jesus was innocent, but it was too late.  The men had their hands on Jesus and they weren’t about to release Him.  Judas leaves the coins and hangs himself out of disgust for his own flesh.   Let’s remove an ebony pawn for him.  Wow this game is getting interesting.

Here is where it gets tough.  Back to Luke 22 beginning in verse 63, it tells us that the ones who arrested Jesus beat Him and mocked Him.  They would blindfold Him and punch Him in the face, telling Him “Prophecy!  Who is it that struck you?”  I can just see the ebony pawns moving forward, one by one.

They bring Jesus before Pontius Pilate.  He cannot find any wrong done by Him.  Even after they give him their complaint, he dismisses him to Harrod.  He  and his men treated Jesus with contempt and mocked Him.  They sent Him back to Pilate who still refuses to find fault.  He proposed that they beat Jesus and let Him go, however the crowds did not like this and they began to scream “Crucify, crucify him!” in Luke 23:21  

They demanded Barabbas be released instead.  The ebony pieces begin to close in on the ivory side as Pilate caves and says “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” per Matthew 27:24.  Though Pilate did not find fault in Jesus, he held his god of people pleasing higher than the God of eternity.

From there, the bible tells us that they gathered a whole battalion before Him.  They put a scarlet robe on Him and gave Him a crown of twisted thorns.  They gave Him a reed to hold and shouted things like “Hail, King of the Jews!” then hitting Him with that very reed.  They did unthinkable things like spit on him as they made Him carry His own cross, beating Him all they way to the top of the mount.

As He was nailed or crucified, they yelled things like “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!”  They cast lots on His clothing and laughed as they humiliated Him.  At this point even the ivory pawns are starting to look ebony.   But this is where the game changes, Jesus speaks!  He tells John to look after His mother and tells His mother that John will now be her son.  The ivory King moves forward.

As Jesus loses breath, His back flat against the rough wood, He pulls up on His wrists in order to get enough air to speak.  Growing tired, He speaks again.  Luke 23:34 “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  You see Jesus knew that the commotion going on was all at the hand of the devil.  These men would not treat Him this way if they knew who He truly was.  Let’s move that ivory King forward again.

There were two criminals on either side of Jesus.  Both were having fun with the crowd, yelling things at Jesus, mocking Him.  But something happens, one of them speaks.  “Are you not the Christ?  Save yourself and us!”  The opposite criminal mocks, now, Jesus and the criminal.  As the winds change, the once ebony pawn becomes pure white as he says “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

These words of belief give Jesus the energy to pull Himself up enough to speak again.  Luke 23:43 Jesus says “Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”  Death begins to encompass the King, He begins to feel the separation from His Father, who cannot look on sin.  He cries out with all He has “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?”  

You see hell is simply the separation from God.  It’s an eternal thirst and hunger.  It is the lack of satisfaction and a never ending pain.  Like an itch on your body that is numb, you can never scratch it because you can’t feel it, yet you feel the itch that you cannot stop thinking about.  Jesus felt that empty longing feeling for His Father.  The chess board looks more grim than ever at this point, there is a whisper from the enemy “check”.  Believing he won the game, I believe he begins to celebrate, even Jesus questions God!  In John 19:28, Jesus says “I thirst”.

One of the Soldiers gives Jesus a sip of sour wine that they put a hyssop branch with a sponge to his mouth.  Do you remember that branch?  The same one used to paint the doorframe with sacrificial blood on the very first Passover.    It seems to be the end of the game, but our Jesus, our King is made stronger in His weakness and He moves forward again as He speaks one final time.

Through the angst in His voice, He pulls up one last time and says “It is finished,” and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. (John 19:30)  The bible tells us that the men go away beating their chests, assuming the victory.  But of course, in Jesus fashion, it’s not the end of the story.  As death seems to encompass the region and darkness appears to fall.  There is a wind that comes from the direction of heaven.  If you listen closely you can hear it.  It’s the sound of Jesus whispering “Check mate!”

Let’s pray:  “Lord,we thank You that this is not a game!  We thank You for being victory.  This road that Your Son walked makes me physically sick, I cannot imagine how it makes You feel.  God, You created this world.  It’s hard to believe the suffering that You had to endure, via Your Son.  God we sit here thankful that in less than 100 hours, we get to celebrate a resurrection.  A life from death.  Your Son came back to life and lives and today!  As I read this story I see that You allowed Peter to walk his story so that we can fight the urge to deny You when others are speaking against You.  I see that You allowed Thomas to doubt so that we don’t have to when our world is falling apart, we can cling to what we know is truth.  I see that You allowed Judas to betray Jesus for thirty coins so that we may know that nothing is worth selling out our faith.  So that we would be aware when we believe we deserve prosperity or health for our faith.  We understand that we are no different than those men.  We thank You for making us strong in our weakness and for helping us to remain victorious.  Lord, thank You for allowing us to live in eternity with You.  It doesn’t make sense that Your perfect, righteous, blameless, spotless Son would take my place, but I am so humbled and thankful that I cannot help but follow You!  We thank You for the tears, because without them, there would be no joy!  It’s in Your Sons name that I ask these things.  Amen”

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Why Celebrate?...Holy Thursday

"When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.” Matthew 26:26

It is Thursday, during the Passover.  Jesus and His disciples are going to share a dinner together.  The chief priests and scribes were trying to figure a way to kill Jesus so He told His disciples to see a man with a jar of water.  They were to set up the Passover meal at his house.

There are so many versions of this story and though they are similar, they are worth reading.  So let's do just that.  Read Matthew 26:26-35, Mark 14:12-26, and Luke 22:1-34, but my favorite version is John 13:1-17.

Before the dinner begins, the story is foretold.  Judas is used by Satan and before the Passover dinner, he trades the Son of God for thirty pieces of silver.  Fast forward to dinner.  They share this Passover meal in celebration and remembrance of the freedom from Egypt.  This meal is called the Seder Meal, there is a good overview on hebrews4cchristians.com that explains the feasts, timing as well as the meal and it's meaning for each item.

As they sit around the table, Jesus tells them that the time is coming that He will not be with Him.  He shares the unleavened bread with them and tells them that this is His body, which will be given up for them.  He shares the wine and tells them to remember Him pouring out His blood.  He tells them that He will not drink of it again until they drink it together in heaven.

It appears during these instructions, either the disciples weren't listening or didn't believe what Jesus was telling them.  But in all of these symbols and in all of this beauty, there is something so symbolic that convicts me every time I read it.  In John 13:1-17 it tells of what Jesus does after the dinner.  Jesus takes off His cloak and wraps a towel around His waist.  He then goes to each disciple and washes their feet.

Let me back up, back in those days, to wash someones feet was below them.  I read that it would make you the least of servants.  So here He is, God in human form.  He is aware of what is to come and how it would go down.  He even tells His disciples that one of them has sold Him out.  He is telling His disciples that He will go away and then tells them to learn how to serve from Him.

Jesus washes their feet, each and every one of them.  He washes the feet of the ones who argued over who was the best.  He washes the feet of the two who were boasting and racing  each other.  He washes the feet of the one who will question Him, not believing until he sees the holes from the nails.  He washes the feet of the one who will deny Him three times that night.  He even washes the feet of the one who sold Him out for thirty stinkin coins!

What is He telling us?  Jesus is telling us that if we are to be called His disciples, then we must humble ourselves and  serve others.  John 15:20 tells us that no servant is greater than his master.  If Jesus is our master, then we cannot expect to get away without humbling ourselves and serving.  

Whose feet are we to wash, whom doe we need to humble ourselves before?  This should be the ones that we don''t want to.  The ones who hurt us.  The ones who don't have our best interest at heart.  You see, the world tells us that we shouldn't humble ourselves before the ones who hurt us because we are a doormat.  God's word says humble anyway.  So as we go about this weekend, most likely surrounded by people that we do not choose to do daily life with, lets wrap that towel around our waist and begin to serve.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Why Celebrate? Passover

"Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin.None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning.  For theLord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door andwill not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you." Exodus 12:21-24

Why do we celebrate Passover?  Perhaps you don't celebrate.  I used to think this was strictly a Jewish holiday, that is until I educated myself.  In Exodus, Moses demands Pharo to let his people go from Egypt.  When Pharo doesn't listen, The Lord allows ten plagues to hit in order to free Moses and his people.  The Lord tells Moses and Aaron in Egypt that there is one tenth and final plague.  The people must take a spotless lamb and kill it at sundown.  They must take some blood and paint it with hyssop plants.  Hyssop is a wild shrub of uncertain identity whose twigs were used for sprinkling in ancient Jewish rites of purification.

They paint the blood on the doorposts and across the lintel or top of the door frame.  That night, The Lord would pass through Egypt, He would take the firstborn man or beast from each house.  If the home had the blood at the doorway, The Lord would pass over the house, leaving the firstborn man and beast to live.  This act would executing judgement, separating the believer from the non believer.

He also gave strict instruction on how to cook the animal and eat it.  He told them not to boil it or eat it raw.  They must roast it and they also needed to burn the remainder by morning.  The Lord thinks highly of tradition or ceremony.  This Passover celebration is something they celebrated every year.  They would travel for this.  Remember in Luke 2:41, this is when 12 year old Jesus traveled with His family to the temple to celebrate the Passover.  When His mom and dad, Mary and Joseph get back home, they realize that Jesus was missing.  They found out that he had stayed at the temple.  

Two things about the instructions given for passover jump out at me.  First, they needed to find a spotless lamb to sacrafice.  1 Peter 1:19 says "but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot."  Jesus was described as a spotless lamb.  That verse goes on to say that with the precious blood of Christ, we were purchased, not with gold.  Do you remember what they put on the doorposts of their homes in order to allow The Lord to spare their firstborn man and beast?  You got it, blood.  This plague is the foretelling of what is to come.

So as you celebrate The Passover, think about why you do so.  This year, let's be intentional about what we celebrate this week.  Let's pray:

"Lord, thank You for Passover.  Thank You for sparing us  who believe.  God You created these ceremonies or celebrations, they are in Your name, God.  Lord, I believe that You are Sovereign.  God You have provided that spotless lamb, one without blemish.  God You provided Your Son, Jesus to fill that role for the ultimate sacrifice.  We love tradition and we thank You for making some for us.  I pray each reader can think about this week.  I pray in all the tradition or celebration, that You Lord, are not overlooked.  We cannot have Salvation without belief in Jesus.  Thank You for symbolism.  Thank You God for understanding.  We love You and it's in Your Son's name we pray."

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Winter again?

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:13-16

I have read the verse "You shall be holy, for I am holy" many times.  I thought it to be encouragement for walking in the way that I need to, however, it almost seems like we are being set up for failure.  How can this perfect God ask us to be holy?  How can the omnipotent One expect us not to mess up?  How can I live up to this standard?

I have been in an extremely odd season in my life.  I have been humbled beyond my expectation.  Just when I feel low, I realize the bottom drops a little more.  God has taken this girl from being one who relies on affirmation and acceptance, to one who lives by the truth.  But even that seems to go away quicker than I can imagine and before I know it, the mirror shows the one I used to see.  My prayer this year has been, empty me, and boy has He.

This passage says "Therefore, preparing your minds for action,and being sober minded".  This is telling us to be ready.  Ready for what?  Ready for the attack.  If we have been changed in any way, we need to be prepared to be tested in that way.  If we are not tested properly, we will not be ready for the antithesis of our faith to have at us.  The bible says to stand firm against the devil (Eph 6) and not to let him make us fall.  But sometimes, we are the ones doing the jumping.  We have to remember that though we want change in our lives and may have even seen evidence of it, we are still one stupid comment, decision, or thought away from who we were before the grace of God lifted us up.

This winter seemed to go on forever.  It still feels like it's not willing to relinquish it's grip.  We will get that hint of spring either by green grass being visible or a familiar smell of new in the air.  It seems like as soon as that reminder of the coming season appears, winter returns.  My spiritual walk is no different.  God has been leading me over the past month or so to forgive and seek forgiveness.  Just yesterday I was feeling good about the places that He had taken me.  I could almost see the grass growing, shedding hope that this overdone season is coming to an end.  As quick as the smell of change filled the room, the snow began to fall.

This passage tells us that we need to be ready because winter is always around the corner.  It tells  us that though we see change in our lives, the enemy wants our change to look false.  He wants us to think that we are a pathetic excuse for being a child of God.  He tells us verses like this are unattainable, and asks us why we bother.

As I woke up this morning, I felt a heaviness that I could not pinpoint. I was feeling defeated and didn't know why.  I called out to God "Search me and know me, tell me why I feel this way".  He brought this verse to mind "You shall be holy, for I am holy".  He also brought to mind a few comments that I made yesterday that went against everything this verse says. I realized that God is in the spring and He is asking me to trudge through the snow one more time to catch up with Him again.

He is asking me to set my mind fully on grace.  Not only the grace given to me, but the grace that I am to extend, thus eliminating those thoughts and comments.  He is asking me to be obedient, to follow Him so that I do not stay in this season of ignorance and pathetic thoughts catapulting me back to who I was.  He is asking me to be holy, by seeking Him, by reading His word, and by humbling myself daily in my thoughts and actions.

I am thankful for spring.  I am thankful for a Savior that won't give up on me.  I am thankful for a God who is victorious.  I am thankful that He knows what it's like to be tormented mentally for 40 days in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11).  He isn't asking us to be perfect, He is simply asking us to be aware, be ready, and call on Him.  

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Warm & Cozy

So when I woke up this morning, it was warm in the house.  Normally this wouldn't be a big deal, however, Tuesday night our furnace stopped working.  I am a usual freeze baby.  I sit comfortable in my seventy degree house most days wearing a hoody and covered in a blanket.  

That night was cold, but nothing like the next day when the thermostat hit fifty-three degrees.  At some point late yesterday, my husband fixed the problem.  Life went on, no big deal right?  Wrong!

When I woke up this morning, it was back to warm and cozy.  It prompted me to thank God for the warmth that I was feeling.  You see, sometimes, it takes the deserts of our lives to make us realize what we have.  It is when we are stripped of a blessing, that we realize the value.  If I would not have lost my heat, I would have forgotten to be thankful.  We go through life being blessed by one thing after another.  We are so blessed that we tend forget that what we are experiencing is a blessing.  We expect it!

When I woke up this morning in the warmth of my house, I thanked God.  I thanked Him for the heat and prayed for the ones who do not have a roof over their heads.  I thanked God for comfort and realized that without God, there is no comfort.  I thanked Him for taking care of my family, for blessing us beyond anything we deserve.  

I think this is what James meant by count it all joy (James 1:2)  When we have trials, even tiny ones such as heat, we grow from it, we learn from it, and Lord willing, we are changed because of it.  So as you go about your day I ask you, what are you thankful for?  Even more so, what struggle are you thankful for?  I could write a book here, the only problem is that if I am honest, I am still asking God to help me be thankful.  Let's pray:

"Lord, I come before you, almost embarrassed.  But God You are so much greater than any negative emotion.  You have taught my heart that the smallest things require thanksgiving.  Lord, I am sorry for my lack of thanks.  I am sorry that I take advantage of my time among other things.  I pray that You will direct my steps to serve You only in the way that You are calling me to.  God I don't want to serve everywhere just because I think You will be happy with me.  I want to serve only where You are calling me.  I want to be where you are Lord.  Thank You for loving us.  Thank you for our reminders.  It's in Jesus name that I pray...Amen"  

If you are interested in working with the homeless, my church has a homeless ministry where they go downtown once a month with a meal.  Depending on the time of year, they will bring needed items as well.  Even if you don't live close and feel that you want to sow into this ministry you can do that at www.lakeridgechurch.com

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Galatians 2 (part 1)

Welcome back, I hope you read Galatians 2 and are ready to go.  Last time we talked a lot about religion verses righteousness.  I love Paul's story, however, sometimes he can talk in a way that makes you want to read it more than once.  Keep reading and pray that God will give you discernment, He is faithful if you ask, I promise.

As Paul writes Galatians 2, something cool is uncovered.  In about 47 AD, Paul heads to Jerusalem to see the leaders of the church.  He travels with Barnabas, but they also take someone else this time, Titus, who was considered uncircumcised.  His purpose was to meet with the leaders to give them the revelation of what God has given him to share with the uncircumcised.  Ok, can we just park her for a minute?  What does the bible mean by circumcised and uncircumcised?  Basically, circumcised means the Jewish people.  Uncircumcised is considered the Gentiles, or not Jewish.  According to Ephesians 4:18 Gentiles are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance because of their hardness of heart.

Paul's ministry was to share the gospel of Jesus Christ to the ones who didn't live the church life.  The closest thing that they could call church was saint mattress of the box spring with father pillow presiding.  The people he went to see were upstanding in the church, pillars according to verse 9, though it also tells us that their titles meant nothing to him because God shows no partiality.  Did you ever tell someone to pray for you because you thought they were closer to God than you?  Let me assure you that God has no favorites.  He is jealous for each of us to have a heart that pursues Him.

So as Paul shared this revelation, which is the gospel, with the leaders.  He also brings up an interesting point in verse 4.  Paul tells us that people snuck in to try to basically lure them into slavery.  I don't know about you but I used to think that because people went to church, that meant they were christian, they were safe.  But let me tell you that God has shown me otherwise.  He has taught me so many lessons on this topic.  There are wolves in sheep's clothing out there as Matthew 7:15 tells us.  We need to be very careful to guard our hearts and protect our minds because different ideas will come from lots of places, trying to steer us away from the truth (Proverbs 4:23).  There are many who still believe that our ticket to heaven is based on what we do to earn it or the rituals that keep us on that track.  The gospel proclaims that the ticket to heaven is solely placed on our belief, our faith.  John 3:16 tells us that God loves us so much and if we believe Jesus was born to take our sin and hang it on the cross with Him, than we will not perish.

Paul writes that these pillars of the church were not teaching him, yet when they saw the grace of God on his ministry, James, Peter, and John gave Paul their approval.  They knew, at that moment, that maybe ministry goes beyond the walls of the church.  They all agreed, however, that they should work together with the poor.  Each of us have been given gifts and talents.  It would be silly to think that we are all gifted in the same gifts.  We need to trust God in whatever place He has us.  We need to take Paul's advice and not compare ourselves to anyone else.  This will not further God's plans.  I have had personal experience here.  I have spent the last year of my life trying to figure out what God would have me do.  I had plans for my future, maybe not the same ones that God has, and I wanted to get them going.  Through an extremely tough season, I have learned that God has me exactly where I am supposed to be.  Maybe it doesn't look anything like I expected, but I trust Him and will put all I have into this present season.

Ok, there is more to this chapter but I am going to stop here for now.  I pray that you will continue in Galatians so that we can walk this road together.  Let's pray!

"Lord, I lift up all of the readers today.  God I pray for wisdom to understand what we are reading.  I pray for discernment of what God is saying to each of us individually.  But most of all, God, I pray for changed lives.  I pray that in some small way, you can allow deeper growth for everyone reading.  Thank You Father for Your word.  It's in Jesus name that I ask these things-Amen"