My LOVE is Hanging On a Tree

jesus on cross at night

What a beautifully, horrible sight to see,

My LOVE is hanging on a tree.

No mortal man has hung him there,

They couldn’t keep Him, though they dare.

No nail or spike could hold Him tight,

The love that held Him pierced the night.

That precious blood, the body broken,

A lavish gift, yet just a token.

What kind of love so strong and free,

Would hang itself upon a tree?

A love that lasts, that spans all time,

Then goes beyond its set confines.

Peace my heart, don’t fret or cry,

For now my LOVE sits on high.

On heavens throne He now resides,

And I am sitting by His side.

copyright Jodi A. Woody 2015

Book Review for “Unintended Target”- Christian Mystery/romance

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“Unintended Target” by D.L. Wood was a great read. Christian romance, with a twist. There is mystery, action, and romance. I really enjoyed it and will be reading more from this author. The characters are fleshed out, the story is well written. I can recommend for ages 16 and up, though written for adults. The Christian message isn’t “in your face” but is simply a part of who the characters are. A good read! I give it four stars.

Get Out!

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“Hebrews 10:38 (KJV), Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.”

I love my bed. It has one of those pillow toppers and though it has some age on it, I still sleep very comfortably there. After a long hard day, I can crawl between my flannel sheets with my electric blanket set just high enough to be cozy, and feel like I am wrapped in a warm comfy cocoon. I never get the dishes done while I am in bed. The floors and laundry stay dirty and unfolded while I lay in my comfort. I do sometimes write in bed, and quite frequently do my morning devotions there. Why? Because I feel comfortable in that spot. Nothing challenges me while I snuggle there, though I can be inspired in my comfortable place, I rarely act out or work toward that inspiration. I have to get out of my comfort zone to accomplish much of anything. In fact people who are “bed ridden” would give anything to be able to get out of bed. What I consider one of my comfort zones, they think of as a prison.

God has so challenged me over the years. I hate change. I love being comfortable. That’s why conflict was always hard for me, moving was a nightmare, and don’t even talk to me about changing schools as a high school student! Did I mention I hate change? I know God also has a sense of humor, how did He get me to step out of my comfort zone? First off my parents moved around a lot. Each move to a better house, a better job, or a better neighborhood, and I hated it. Then I married a man with a gypsy heart. And guess what…we moved…a lot! I had to change Churches, doctors (I suffered from a chronic illness at the time), grocery stores, jobs, etc. One move was across the country, almost 2,000 miles away from family and friends. Did I mention I hate change? Life felt a great deal like one big roller coaster to me, and I didn’t handle it well. One of the manifestations of that was the symptom of my illness got worse, my marriage had its issues, and I wasn’t exactly a stellar parent.

Instead of taking it all away, and setting me in one spot, God strengthened me, and healed me, and taught me how to stand on His word. In the middle of all of that, He called me to the full time ministry. My faith was enough to step out in that area, though most of the time I felt like someone would notice how unqualified I was and send me home. I ended up in the full time ministry (working at the Church or for the Church) for over 16 years, for two different Churches. I helped and reached countless people, most of them children, during that time. My confidence in myself, and mostly in my Heavenly Father grew leaps and bounds. My marriage was healed, my body was healed, my kids turned out great, and I was able to put down roots in one place for an extended amount of time. God never wanted my roots to be in a place, but to be rooted and grounded in Him.

Ephesians 3:16-20 (NASB), “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,”

So if your comfort zone is a place, get out! If it is a person, walk away! If it is a certain set of circumstances, have faith! God always intended for us to have a “comfort zone” it is Him and it is Heaven. When we abide in Him no matter who we are around, what the world is doing, how the weather is, how tired or confused we seem to be, how rebellious our own flesh can become, we can be confident that He is on our side and will bring us through. When we place our trust in Him and live from Heaven (we are citizens there after all) we know the victory is ours.

Back in the day when I suffered from Anxiety, slowly I stopped going anywhere I had ever felt anxious. It started with standing in a line for anything, then it was the Movie Theater, then restaurants, pretty soon it was anywhere there was a crowd, or something unfamiliar. Unless, my “safe person”, my husband came with me. I might still get anxious, but I could handle it if he was there. God wants to be our “safe person.” When we know He is there with us, we abide in Him, and He abides in us, we can safely go anywhere, do anything, and accomplish His plans for our life.

Hebrews 11:6 (NIV), “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

Do you want to please God, then GET OUT!

Of any comfort zone outside of Him.

 

Complacency is My Enemy

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Complacency is My Enemy

Someone who is complacent has become overly content — the junk-food-eating couch potato might be feeling complacent about his health. The literal meaning of this word’s Latin root is “very pleased,” but even though complacent people may seem pleased with themselves, we are rarely pleased with them. They are unconcerned by things that should concern them, and they may neglect their duties. A complacent person might be heard saying, “Ehh, don’t worry about it!” — when there really is something to worry about. (vocabulary.com)

Have you ever felt like you just don’t care? Like you couldn’t work up or fake interest even if your life depended on it? Maybe you grew tired of life, or weary of well-doing. Maybe Satan boxed your ears and you were completely blindsided by the attack. Or, maybe it wasn’t too much bad, but too much good. You finally made it, have the trophy wife, 2.3 children, white picket fence, and that dream job. What else do you need? Right. Maybe it was all of the above and like King Solomon, decided it was all vanity, pointless. Has serving God become too much bother, too much of a chore, or not enough fun?

Consider one of the signs of the last days.

II Timothy 3 (NASB), “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

The word complacency isn’t used here, however… A person stagnant in their spiritual growth, person complacent with their life, exhibits some of those behaviors. When King Solomon allowed complacency and apathy to rule his life, he led his family and a whole nation astray.

Any living thing is a growing thing. When you stop growing, you are dead. Where would you rather go fishing, in a freshwater lake, or the Dead Sea? A stagnant pool isn’t conducive to life, but a spring fed one sure is. It takes a long hard winter to make the trees roots go deeper into the ground to anchor itself. It takes resistance of weights to build up muscle tissue. Sure we all want an easy life. We dream of the day when we don’t have to work so hard. Sometimes getting our flesh to submit is like trying to get wrestle a greased pig. But an easy life doesn’t force us to change, to build up muscle, to rely on God and His strength for us. We stay carnal Christians, or spiritual babies.

James 1:2-15 (NIV), “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business. Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

Blessed is the one who perseveres, who battles uphill, who swims upstream, and who allows God to change them, the one who is truly alive in Christ. There is a saying, “any old dead fish can float downstream”. There is only one acceptable form of “death” for a Christian.

Romans 6:11-14, (NIV), “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.”

One of our Pastors used this example from the Movie “Wall-E”. If you haven’t seen this animated movie, you should! There is so much a Christian could learn from it. In case you haven’t let me just explain a bit. Wall-E is a robot, the last functioning one on earth, which is devoid of all life. His job is garbage duty. Every ancestor from earth is living in space, it’s been hundreds of years. Those humans are all attached to a bed, think of our modern hover-rounds, and look like blobs of flesh. They don’t do anything, but look at their screens, suck fluids out of big cups, and move on their “beds.” No struggle, no stress, everything handed to them and they never lift a finger. The result? A vain existence, or as Solomon said, “Vanity, Vanity.” They were way past complacent, until this little robot sneaks on board to save his love. The chaos that ensues causes them to take a look around them at what they have become.

Trials strengthen us in so many ways. Mostly by building our faith in God, in His loving care for us.

Don’t be complacent, complacency is your enemy

 

Eclipsed

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV), “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

If you have read any of my devotionals, or are familiar with my blog, or know me at all, you have figured out that I use this verse a lot. Why? Because I have discovered, the hard way, that it is very important to keep our focus on Jesus, or as Isaiah says in Isaiah 50:&, to “set your face like flint”.

Think about it this way. The sun, which is huge, can be totally eclipsed by the moon which is about four hundred times smaller. How is that possible? The moon gets between the earth and the sun blocking out the light. In the same way we can allow “things” to get between us and the Son, Jesus. Sometimes it is a person, our problems, our anger, our disappointment, even our success and accomplishments. Other times we end up giving more attention to our surroundings, the devil, or our own selfish desires. No matter what keeps our attention, if it isn’t God, we can eclipse His glory.

A total eclipse pretty much caused darkness, a partial eclipse may still give us a small glimpse, maybe a little light around the edges, but God never intended us to live either way. His plans for us are uncountable, His thoughts for us limitless, as many as the sand (in the desserts, in the lakes and rivers, and even under the oceans).

Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV), “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Psalm 40:5 (NLT), “O LORD my God, you have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal. If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them.”

Psalm 139:17-18 (NIV), “How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand– when I awake, I am still with you.”

We can’t fulfill His purpose for us if we can’t keep our focus. A runner has to keep the finish line in his sight, a scientist has to constantly think about that cure, a writer works toward the end of the story, all of these things take focus.

In reality, His Glory should eclipse everything else. His love should overwhelm us! His light should cause every other distraction to fade away, including our problems. His promises greatly outnumber our afflictions!

If you need a little encouragement, listen to the song “He Is Jealous For Me” by David Crowder Band. Here is just a small sample “all of a sudden I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by Glory”.

So, what are you allowing to eclipse Him?

Or have you chosen to allow Him to eclipse all else?

Choose wisely.

Created to be Loved

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Do you or did you ever wonder why God created you? Why would He even bother? He was complete in Himself. He lacked nothing…

If we look at John 4:16 we can find our answer.

(King James Bible), “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.”

Love isn’t an attribute of God, it isn’t one of His characteristics. He IS love. I know that’s hard to wrap our head around, but think with your heart for just a minute.

So, back to our question. “Why did God create me?” The answer is simple. Love needs an object of affection. Even though He was complete in Himself, that He didn’t need anything, or anyone, He wanted you! God wasn’t lonely…that’s just silly. But He did want someone to lavish His affection on.

How does that make you feel about Him? Do you trust Him more? Are you more confident in His plan in your life? Does it stop the voices that say He is angry or mad at you, that you don’t matter, that no one cares? What happens to your self-worth when you realize God is love and that He loves you, more than you could ever imagine.

The very same scripture the English Standard Version reads,

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” I John 4:7-12 (emphasis mine)

The main way that His love is manifested, obvious to us, is in the fact that He gave His own Son to erase and eradicate our sin, and our sinful nature. It is the Holiday season as I write this and Thanksgiving is just around the corner, with Christmas coming up soon. I am planning my tree and figuring out how I am going to decorate it. I want my home to feel warm and inviting, to show my loved one’s how much I love them. Also, this time of year I can’t help but think about how much my Heavenly Father loves me. Jesus not only won the tree contest, hanging Himself there as a public display of His love, He won the battle with our enemy! Now the only fight we have to face is the fight of faith, staying strong and secure in His love.

His own shed blood is proof enough of His love, but there is more! He has planned out a whole life for us that is showered in His love. When we step off that path, we remove ourselves from His perfect plan. Even when we do that, once we realize our error, He turns all our bad ideas, wrong choices, and unplanned mishaps, around for our good.

His love isn’t fickle, it doesn’t waver, because His love isn’t an emotion or a feeling. It is who He is! His love is never ending, and never selfish. His love is always free and never has strings attached. He loves Adolf Hitler as much as He loves you. He loves that drug dealer as much as that homeless teen who sells her body for food, and He loves me as much as Mother Theresa. How can that be? Because it is unconditional! No conditions, no strings, there is nothing you could ever do that would change His love for you, not even murder or forsaking Him. Think of the Israelites, who lived under the law, they rebelled and turned away from Him, even choosing to serve false gods. Yet, if you read through the Old Testament, it is full of His love. Was He frustrated, angry, and disappointed in them? You bet, mostly I think He was saddened. Under Grace, which Jesus brought to us, God doesn’t get angry at us, ever. He only sees the final outcome. He sees us covered by His blood. He sees us loved and accepted into the beloved. He sees us as His dear children, if we accept that love.

Every person created was created as an object of His affection, but every person created isn’t His child. Only those who choose to accept that love and everything it entails, those who choose to be led by His Spirit. Those He calls His.

Romans 8:14 (NIV), “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.”

He loves you!

You were created to be loved by Him!