GAPS - BIG. ENORMOUS. IMPOSSIBLE!
That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
About 10 years ago, for my birthday, my husband gave me a red and black Pinerrello road bike. Road bikes have very thin tires, small seats and are made to go fast! I love riding with a group of anywhere from two to 20 people. We all wear helmets and stay in a single file line called a paceline. In the paceline, we ride a few inches behind each other so we are able to conserve energy and travel faster because the person in front is blocking the wind creating a draft. Occasionally, someone in the paceline is unable to maintain the speed and he or she falls back and a breach or gap occurs. When this happens, either the lead rider will slow down and let the rider catch up or more commonly a stronger rider will get in front of the struggling rider to bridge the gap by making it easier for the rider to connect with the rest of the group.
Over the years, I have been on both sides of the gap. At times, I have struggled and fallen behind. Thankfully, someone rode in front of me to help reconnect me with the group. Other times, I have ridden in front of a struggling rider to help bridge the gap.
In Scripture, there was a time when the Israelites turned their back on the Lord and a BIG gap occurred. The Lord had selected Moses to lead the Israelites out of slavery; guided them by a cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night; took care of their every need and provided Manna from heaven and quail to eat everyday, yet they were ungrateful and grumbled against Him!
The Lord was slow to anger. But when the Lord called Moses to meet with Him on Mount Sinai, and the people “exchanged their Glory (God) for an image of a bull, which eats grass” (Psalm 106:20), His anger burned against them and He was going to destroy them. That was an ENORMOUS gap! The Lord would have destroyed them, “had not Moses, His chosen one stood in the breach (gap) before him to keep His wrath from destroying them” (Psalm 106:23).
Moses sought the favor of the LORD his God and stood in the gap on behalf of the Israelites and the LORD relented and did not bring on the disaster (Exodus 32:11, 14). One faithful man cried out to the Lord on behalf of a nation and their lives were spared!
Another man who stood in the gap was and is God’s one and only son, Jesus Christ. Blameless. Sinless. Perfect. “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men-the testimony given in its proper time” (1 Timothy 2:5).
When Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, He bridged the IMPOSSIBLE gap between sinful man (us) and Holy God Almighty. The gap is closed when we confess with our mouth “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead, then we will be saved (Romans 10:9). Jesus continues interceding to the Father on our behalf. We do not have to travel this road of life alone or lonely! Jesus lovingly bridges the gap for you and for me!
God Can Use Anything, Even a Dog!
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
I love how the Lord can even use my dog to teach me great truth. I have a two-year-old Weimaraner who has captured my heart. An evening bike ride is one of our favorite things to do (well I ride he runs). Several months ago we were on one of our rides, as we passed by a house I noticed a lady standing in her front yard holding onto her dog. We got about a half a block away when her dog came flying out of nowhere and attacked Tahoe.
Now Tahoe is a lover not a fighter and as he was trying to get away from Cujo (not sure, but that might be his real name) his leash wrapped around the front of my bike and down I went. The lady finally caught her dog and dragged him back to her house. I checked Tahoe and myself for blood, picked up my bike continued on our way.
I went from scared to fuming in about two seconds flat and for two blocks I had this dialog going on in my head, “I can’t believe that lady just let her dog go, she saw us riding by, she knows her dog is vicious and she just let him go, people like that should not have dogs...” I would have continued my rant if I hadn’t looked down to see Tahoe trotting along with a big smile on his face (oh yes he smiles). He had already forgiven the attack and was enjoying his run.
That is when I heard the Lord’s whisper to my heart “that is how quickly I want you to forgive.” 1 Corinthians 13 tells us “love keeps no record of wrong.” But let’s face it forgiveness is not always easy; like when your husbands says something that cuts, or you just can’t seem to please a critical parent, or a friend lets you down, the list goes on and on. If we are not careful these things can build up and make our hearts hard and bitter. Others have been hurt in deep, dark ways, that that are difficult to speak about and seem impossible to forgive.
In Matthew 18 Peter asked Jesus “how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?” Essentially Jesus said unforgiveness is not an option and told the parable of the unforgiving servant who was thrown in prison to be tortured because he refused to extend the forgiveness he received to a fellow servant. Jesus is very clear in his command to forgive.
To paraphrase St. Augustine “Our Lord never commands what he does not also provide”. So how do we forgive?
Colossians 3:13 says "Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." The key to forgiveness is to remember that we are forgiven.
His forgiveness is not based on our merit, there is not a single thing we can do to earn it, and we do not deserve it. Our sin and rebellion against the Holy, Righteous, Loving Almighty Creator of the universe pales in comparison to any sin that is committed against us Yet, through the blood of Jesus the Lord forgives us. When we allow the joy of that truth to penetrate our hearts it gives us the freedom and desire to do the same for the people in our lives.
Everything the Lord commands us to do is for His glory and our good. When we forgive we reflect His glory, we display a glimpse of what God’s forgiveness looks like. Forgiveness is also for our good; it sets us free from the prison of bitterness, anger and hatred and allows us to live the joy filled abundant life the Lord desires for us.
Weekly Memory Verse
I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, ‘Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them."
I am anticipating gathering with family this weekend. My husband and I are packed up, ready to drive to our son’s home where the two of us, along with our five children, one son-in-law, our grandson, and two friends will be together for an entire weekend. My heart is overjoyed at the prospect!
I just love each of my family members, I really do like them! I enjoy spending time with them. I relish the conversations and laughter we share.
When my children were young, I tried to spend time playing and appreciating quiet moments with them. But, as any parent knows, much time is consumed every day just meeting their needs; leaving parents tired and longing for tranquil time alone.
I wouldn’t have wanted my children to have remained little forever; that would be unnatural. My husband and I were not raising children to be children; we raised them to be adults. Still, it would be wonderful to cuddle them just one more time when they were 10 or tuck them into bed when they were six, or read that favorite story again to that four-year-old. I do not dwell on those days gone by, but rather savor those sweet memories. And I look forward to meeting with them now, at their present adult ages, with their adult thoughts and yes, even adult problems. These are special times as well.
Jesus was physically with his disciples for three years. Day in and day out, Jesus lived life with these men. He had memories of when he first met each of them. He knew their strengths and weaknesses. Scripture tells us that Jesus loved these men right up to the end of his life on earth. John 13:1 reads: “Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”
The gospel writer, Luke, wrote about this gathering, quoting Jesus as saying to his disciples, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God” (Luke 22:15-16).
During this last Passover time, knowing that his time of suffering was near, Jesus needed strength and encouragement, and he longed to be with those closest to him in the world.
That’s how God created us; we need each other. The biological families that we have, may not be where we can draw such strength and encouragement, but sometimes they are.
Just over a year ago, I gathered with my family for my mother’s funeral. It was a sad time, but also a time of hope for we knew that our Nana was with Jesus. The strength and encouragement we gained from gathering together was so important. My children gave me strength as we celebrated my mom’s life.
I think that our Heavenly Father looks forward with great anticipation to the day when he will have all of his children home with him.
The disciple John wrote of this future gathering in Revelation 21, “I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, ‘Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people.God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.’ And the one sitting on the throne said, ‘Look, I am making everything new!’ And then he said to me, ‘Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true’” (Revelation 21:3-5 NLT).
Weekly Memory Verse
Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
A few short weeks ago, our precious granddaughter was born. She is blessed to have a big sister that is 2 1/2 years old. A parent is never quite sure how a new sibling will be received by the older child. It was abundantly clear, even at the hospital, that Piper was very excited about her baby sister. She told a nurse, “I have a baby sister. I love her!”
Piper was eager to lead her aunt to their hospital room. As we got off the elevator she led the way! My daughter and I slowed up as we approached a large group of nurses that were gathered in the hallway for a shift change meeting. Piper, on the other hand, confidently walked briskly through the group. The nurses laughed and said she would make a great nurse someday. Piper didn’t seem to notice the obstacle in her path, because she was on a mission to get to her new sister’s room.
As I replayed this scene in my mind, I kept thinking about her determination and boldness to get to the room. The visual made me think of Hebrews 4:16, “Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
How amazing to think that God our Father, “The King of kings,” wants to meet with you and me! Not only are we invited into His Throne Room, but He tells us to come “confidently” or “boldly.”
Just like my granddaughter’s boldness, I picture a child of the King charging into The Throne Room, believing his or her heavenly Father looks forward to talking with them. \
Today, what is your confidence level in bringing your needs to The Lord?
Have you believed a lie from the enemy, telling you that you don’t deserve to call on The Lord based on what you have done, your sinful past?
Maybe you have chosen to believe the lie that God doesn’t answer prayer because He hasn’t answered your request yet, or the answer you were hoping for is not the one you received?
In Luke 18:1b we are encouraged to, “always pray and not give up.” Jeremiah 33:3a reminds us to, “Call to Me and I will answer you.” As you read and meditate on these verses, listen to His still, small voice speak to your heart. The Lord desires to meet you where you are, and guide you into His loving arms.
He wants to give us mercy and grace to help us through whatever is going on in our lives. His grace is everything!
It is His grace that brought us to Himself.
Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”
And it is His grace that touches everyday of our lives.
“Out of the fullness of his grace he has blessed us all, giving us one blessing after another. (John 1:16)
May we trust in His unfailing love!
“Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.” (Psalm 36:5)
Lord I Run To You
Lord I run to You,
No one else will do
Lord in troubled time
I will run straight to You
Though my heart and flesh may fail
You’re my ever-present help
My tower of strength
My portion evermore
A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I had the pleasure of being with my parents on a 6-day trip to Blue Ridge, Georgia. While my parents are both active, traveling is no longer comfortable or desirable for them. And because they love the Smoky Mountains, we wanted to help make the 10-hour trip possible and easy for them. We excitedly started planning our trip together! In the midst of planning this getaway, my parents decided to get a PUPPY!?!?! They fell in love with a Shihpoo and named her Nikki. (A Shihpoo is a mix between a Shitzu and a Poodle.) Because this tiny, two-pound puppy was only 9-weeks old, they did not want to leave her in the care of anyone else; so, Nikki was included on our road trip! She went everywhere with us.
This little bundle of energy entertained us the entire trip - she chased her tail, pounced on her squeaky toy and bit our toes! We really enjoyed sitting and watching her. She brought great delight to my parents! We had a fabulous time together and returned home safely.
Shortly after our trip, I read the following statement from a devotion book, “I do not honor You (Lord) merely by obeying You. The way to glorify You the most is to enjoy you.”
Enjoy the Lord? I have considered phrases, such as, love the Lord, obey the Lord, follow the Lord and trust the Lord, but at that moment, and I am rather embarrassed to admit this - the words “enjoy the Lord” seemed like a new and refreshing concept. Then, I discovered that another phrase for the word enjoy is “rejoice in.” Luke 1:47 says, “and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (NIV). As we enjoy the Lord, we are rejoicing in Him!
Have you considered spending time with the Lord and not wanting anything from Him; not being in a hurry but just sitting at His feet and enjoying Him? Enjoying Him in HIs creation?
Looking for Him in every situation that you are experiencing?
Think upon the truths in these verses and simply enjoy Him:
This week, maybe we can take time to simply enjoy the Lord; to enjoy His presence and His creation; to not be in a hurry when spending time with Him. To marvel at His creation, as well as the creatures that He has created for us to enjoy - you know, like a little puppy.
My precious husband, Bill, and I have been planted in Fort Myers, Florida for almost 35 years. As a newly married couple, God most graciously had placed people in both of our jobs to share Christ with us. Its hard to believe it has been almost 34 years since we asked Jesus into our hearts! Bill and I have been blessed with four children, 3 daughters, then a son. These blessings came quickly, all within 6 years!! During these years I'm so thankful I was able to be part of women's ministry classes at our church, helping me to grow in my walk with Him. Then came the day when I was asked that question that stretched me way outside of my comfort zone...will you teach a class? Its hard to believe that I have now been teaching more than 20 years. Bill and I love to travel, most of the time going to visit our 9 grandchildren, oh ya, and their parents! I also love reading, walking and hanging out with some very special young moms in Beloved that bless my socks off!
Julie is a Kansas girl who resides in sunny Southwest Florida. She's been married to her husband Sean for 23 years and they share two boys ages 21 & 17. She enjoys baking and biking, but her absolute favorite thing is snow skiing which is a little difficult to do in a sandy 80 degree land.
She became a follower of Christ at age 10. She loves studying and teaching God's Word. She has a passion for encouraging moms to love and follow Jesus.
Beth grew up in a loving home; however, in her early 20s she faced a very lonely time. During that time, she cried out to God and asked “If You are real, please show yourself to me!” God met her where she was and she trusted in the Lord Jesus at that time. Her life verse and desire is “no matter what happens, to conduct herself in a manner worthy of the gospel.” Philippians 1:27
Beth now resides in Tampa, Florida with her husband Larry. The Lord has blessed them by blending their family of five children. They currently have eight grandchildren and are hoping that there will be more grandchildren in the future.
Donna accepted Jesus as her Savior at the age of nine and has been amazed at God’s goodness and faithfulness throughout her life. She has been blessed to have had many mentors through each season of life, who have shown her what trusting God looks like. Donna and her husband, Bryan, make their home in central Arkansas. They have five grown children and are grandparents to wonderful grandchildren. Donna enjoys spending time with her family, laughing with friends (usually over coffee), going for long walks with her husband, and reading a good book (which may also be accompanied by a cup of coffee).
Sarah is a true Florida Cracker. She was born and raised in Southwest Florida. At the age of 6, Sarah accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior, and she hasn't looked back since. Hebrews 13:8 is one of her favorite verses, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Eating delicious desserts, spending time with her family and friends, and teaching people about Jesus are a few of the things she enjoys to do in her spare time.
Sarah has been married to her best friend and husband, Brandon, for 7 years. They have been blessed with one beautiful, determined son, Asher, who keeps them on their toes. Sarah and her family live in the Tampa area. They love exploring their community together, family hugs, and eating pizza whenever possible.
Katie Flint just recently moved back home to Fort Myers, Florida with her husband, Ryan and two children, Collins and Madden. At the age of 5, Katie accepted Jesus Christ to be the Lord and Savior of her life, after attending Vacation Bible School. Through each phase of her life, God has shown her that He alone is trustworthy. The verse that has been her life source is Psalm 46:10- “Be still and know that I am God.”
She is a stay-at-home mom and enjoys exercising and baking. She has been married to her husband Ryan for almost 9 years, who is her high school sweetheart. They enjoy trying new restaurants, family trips to the beach, and relaxing at home.
Marsha grew up in a small rural town in upstate New York. In 2006, after finishing college, she moved to sunny SW Florida where she met her, now husband, Shawn. Together they enjoy spending family time with their two fun-loving toddler boys Zachariah and Kairos.
Marsha enjoys living an active lifestyle, which is helpful, considering that her favorite hobby is baking.
Though she attended church as a child, Marsha was not saved until adulthood when her eyes were finally opened to the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.
Since being saved, God has placed a loving burden on her heart to share the truth about God’s healing grace with those who may feel like forgiveness is not possible for them.