In honor of our Lord and Savior and the resurrection holiday we all just celebrated this week, I want to focus on Matthew 28:6. I usually use the New Living Translation, but I am using the New International Version this week. I think the wording is more profound in this case.
Matthew 28:6, "He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay."
First of all, the good news was that our Lord was not there. He had risen. Our whole faith is rooted in these words, in the belief that Jesus conquered death on that cross. And the following words, “Just as he said he would.” So faithful, so trustworthy. Our Lord said he would, and he did. Jesus is a promise keeper. Let’s meditate on that this week.
You might be thinking, what the heck are sins of the flesh. We Christians are known for our churchy talk, but this phrase is straight out of the Good Book. It is our sinful nature. Inside, all of us desire to sin. This desire is in everyone, Christian and atheist alike. This craving calls us to things that are not good for our spiritual and, in many times, physical well-being.
Sins of the flesh are those iniquities that we desire out of lust. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit comes to live within us. We become a temple. Christians should be living through the Spirit. We need to keep ourselves from immorality because our actions affect ourselves and the world’s perception of Christ. God knew that we would need his help. That is why he sent the Holy Spirit to dwell within us.
Galatians 5:16 says, "So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won't be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions."
So we should be living out of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit helps to keep us spiritually-minded. When we surrender to the Holy Spirits’ instruction in life, we will receive gifts of the Spirit. In Galatians 5:22-23, we read, “The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”
We will know true love, joy, and peace when we follow God’s will for our lives. But, when we aren’t, we will feel guilt, anger, and shame. Now you may be wondering what these sins of the flesh are. I will leave you with the scripture below.
Galatians 5:19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
This week, my encouragement is from Matthew 19:26. “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man, this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible.”
In this chapter of Matthew, we can read about how Jesus was telling the disciples how hard it is for a rich man to get into heaven. He tells them it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. The scriptures say the disciples were astounded and asked who in the world could be saved? Jesus replies with our verse. With man, it is impossible, but with God, all things are possible.
With God all things are possible. Isn’t that incredible? We need to remember it is not by what we do that we are saved but by what Jesus did. We will struggle, but even when we fall short, Jesus is there. Jesus loves us, he already paid our debt, He will never leave us. Jesus picks us up and makes it possible for us to move forward. Jesus makes it possible for us to find joy and contentment so we can do better. He redeems us, and He makes all things possible.
I hope this scripture brings you encouragement this week!
Hi. How are you? Or, more importantly, how are you doing in your faith? When was the last time you had a check-in? I know all too well that life comes at us 100 miles an hour, and if you are anything like me, you get distracted or complacent. But, even if you don’t, it is still essential to evaluate yourself every so often. So, here are some questions you can ask yourself to make sure you are running at top performance in the spiritual department and making the most of every opportunity in these evil days!
Am I seeking the Lord first in all my decisions and praying for wisdom and discernment?
Am I spending quiet time listening for God’s still small voice?
Am I acting out of my emotions or taking my burdens to the Lord?
Am I following God’s rules that are clear in the bible?
When conflict arises, am I listening carefully and thinking through my response?
Am I prioritizing my time with God?
What do my answers to the questions above suggest to me?
Where do I need to grow and what is my first step?
When I was teaching girl’s bible class, we had self-evaluations every so often, and I can see how much they help us see problem areas and places where we are doing well. So, I will ask you again, How are you doing?
When my anxious mind is reeling, I usually count on Psalms to give me peace in the chaos. I love how the psalmist perfectly captures the hopelessness found in our human experience and the remedy found in God’s love and support. This week we get our encouragement from Psalm 94:18-19.
Psalm 94:18-19. It says, I cried out, "I am slipping!" but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer."
I love this verse because we do slip. I have anxiety, and I tend to catastrophize situations in my mind. I can convince myself quite effortlessly that the problems in my life are too big, too overwhelming. But, when I am slipping, He is there to remind me that He is greater. I love how in this crazy, messed-up world, Jesus is my rock, my only constant. When doubts fill my mind, only He can set me at ease. How lost I was without Him. My mind reeled with doubt, anger, confusion, but Jesus calmed the storm inside. He brings me to His perfect peace.
When I first started as a Christian, I resonated with Peter. He is stubborn and stands up for what he thinks is right. Notice how I said what he thinks is right. Yea, Peter grew spiritually, and I am too. Now I admire Paul. His books give me so much encouragement. So this week, I started with a small verse from the extended one you see below. It is Colossians 4:2, “Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.”
The whole piece is too good not to share it in its entirety, so please read it below.
Colossians 4:2-6 , "Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains. Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should. Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone."
So, this week let’s devote ourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. First, let’s pray for each other so that God will give us many opportunities to speak his good news. Pray that we, as the body of Christ, would live wisely among nonbelievers. Remember that we need to make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Next, we can pray God gives us pure hearts so our words will be gracious and lovely. Finally, we can pray for our brothers and sisters in chains, bondage, and war. Pray the Lord is working in the circumstances they are in and that they can get the message out to those who need to hear it.
Learning about other cultures and traditions is something that interests me immensely. I am New Mexican, and the customs there are vibrant and affluent. New Mexico is very saturated in old Catholic art and traditions. From the historic cathedrals to the shrines dedicated to the Lady of Guadalupe in the historic districts. Visiting is very much an experience whether you are catholic or not.
You can expect rich customs and traditions from many religions, except American Christianity. I know I must seem like I am always on the attack of American Christianity, but lately, I have been feeling flat in my worship. I crave something more. I read my bible, am enrolled in Bible Study Fellowship, attend church every Sunday, and listen to podcast sermons daily. I try to make Christ an integral part of my day. I still crave more.
I have been learning more about Christianity’s Hebrew roots and Jewish customs. It is essential to know and experience certain things to understand them fully. For example, my boys and I recite the Shema Prayer daily since hearing it in our nightly Abide meditations. My boys have taken to saying the morning and evening prayer and love to say the Hebrew words in the Shema. Doing this has also brought attention to the words in Deuteronomy 6:5-9. My kids have questioned what it means to wear them on your hands and forehead and write them on your doorposts. They have asked why we do not have this written on our doorposts. It has profoundly impacted us. Even though we pray, adding the Shema helps us re-frame our prayers to come to the Lord with reverence and worship rather than just supplications.
The Shema prayer is a Jewish prayer recited at morning and evening services. In the Abide meditation, the gentleman mentions that no doubt Jesus said this prayer every day, which moved me to make it part of our routine. I prayed about it because I did not want to offend my Lord. But, I felt this was something good and was led to move forward because, as you know, He offers discernment when we seek it. He affirmed me, and we are truly blessed. I cannot tell you how amazed I am that my kids have taken to this so well. My boys remind me to say it now, and I hear them throughout the day repeating it. My oldest son already has it memorized and leads us in our prayer.
What traditions and practices do you and your family do together to keep your heart on God?
This week, I remind myself to keep my thoughts fixed on Jesus and good things. I am repeating Psalm 19:14, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”
Isn’t it amazing to think that we can please the Lord just by having good thoughts? Our thoughts can determine the course of our day. But, we also have the power to bring life or death with our words, not only for ourselves but to everyone we meet. Our thoughts and words have so much power, so we have to direct them towards Jesus actively. I also really love saying, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. It makes me feel close to Him, like a term of endearment. I find my rest in Him. He is my rock.
Keep your thoughts fixed on Him this week, and see the fruit you will bear!
What is wisdom? The dictionary defines it as the quality of having experience, knowledge, and sound judgment, the quality of being wise. Many would think that having ample knowledge makes a person wise, but on the contrary, someone can indeed be very knowledgeable and still be very unwise. Wisdom knows how to apply knowledge correctly to one’s life.
In the world, at school, we learn that knowledge is wisdom. We digest humanism or man’s view of the world. In this view, we are the center of our universe. Each person is essentially their own god. The problem with this view is that there is no universal truth, no moral standard. What is good in one person’s eyes may not be in another and vice versa. When we remove God’s moral standard, we have no absolute moral standard to measure against, and this can cause an ethical dilemma.
We think we have to look in textbooks and listen to lectures to obtain wisdom, and though those will help us gain knowledge, only God can give proper understanding. God’s word tells us that God is the creator of all things, and living our life by His commandments and absolute principles is what a wise person would do.
The problem with us, as people, is that we are bound to our sinful flesh. We have natural tendencies to accept humanistic thought because our flesh craves it. One way to battle this is to remember that we are a consecrated souls as children of God, and we have the power to overcome these temptations. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” God has given us all the tools to have true wisdom, to walk the path He has chosen for us. It is up to us to choose true wisdom or not.
This week my mediation verse is 1 Corinthians 10:13, “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.“
I love this verse as it has helped me often and when I am in the throes of temptation I hear the still small voice in the back of my head repeating these words to me. We all deal with temptation from time to time. But, no matter the scope of the lure itself, we can rest assured knowing that our Lord is bigger and stronger. He gives us the power to overcome, so we can quickly look for that exit and beeline to the door!
I hope this scripture will encourage you this week! If you enjoyed the wallpaper from last week, I added it again.