Jesus in the Blood

standard February 4, 2019 3 responses

Today’s Reflecting Light is written by Adrienne Bridges, who has the most beautiful heart for the Lord. She is also committed to teaching her two precious daughters to know and love Him as evidenced by this post. Her story is such a sweet reminder of how far and deep Jesus’ presence goes…into our very bloodstream.

I tucked my lively three-year-old into bed one evening encouraging her to get some rest. Declaring she was not tired she firmly hugged my neck, insisting I linger in her bed a little longer. Ordinarily I would offer music or a nightlight, but this night I reminded her of Jesus’ presence simply being near. I assured her that He is near both of us, ready to hear all about our day even though we did not physically see Him.

It was then my larger than life toddler responded, “I know where He lives, in my blood!” As my initial gasp regained closure from the word blood coming out of my pint-size daughter’s mouth, I realized the depth she had revealed. She then went on to say, “He lives in my heart and it goes to my blood.” Wow. Thank you, little prophet baby.

How true her statement is!

When we ask Jesus to come into our heart and allow Him to reign over our souls, His Holy power infiltrates all our being, bearing His goodness. Jesus’ sacrificial blood isn’t secluded to one region of our heart nor should it be contained just within our mind, but rather our overall life. Yet, sometimes we forget this concept and only allow Him to work within the areas we are comfortable in.

But when we meditate on the entire image, then we see that the sacrificial blood flows freely into our bloodstream to give us life through Jesus. Galatians 2:20 paints a clear picture as it states, “My old identity has been co-crucified with Messiah and no longer lives; for the nails of his cross crucified me with him. And now the essence of this new life is no longer mine, for the Anointed One lives life through me – we live in union as one! My new life is empowered by the faith of the Son of God who loves me so much that he gave himself for me and dispenses his life into mine!”

Allow that love to sink in. Reflect on His offering to us. He desires to simply be near to us at all times. Whether it’s at an 8:00 pm bedtime or a 2:00 am struggle, He is a calming presence for both a restless toddler or an adult battling a carrying force during the darkest hour in life. He desires to communicate with us in every aspect of life, be it a work decision or guidance with a family member. May we rest in that and allow Him to reign over ALL of it.  

May we also have the mindset of a toddler, reflecting that His life starts in our heart and flows into our blood.

Adrienne has been married to Matt Bridges for nearly 10 years and is mother to Neely (age 6) and Camille (age 3). She loves mornings with God’s Word, a cup of coffee anytime of the day, her crockpot, grocery shopping, and the joy of making memories during this chaotic season in motherhood!

Spirit of Giving

standard November 27, 2018 2 responses

Do you ever wonder why gift-giving is a part of our Christmas tradition? It’s the time of the year when we find ourselves more mindful of the needs of others, and more generous with our time and money.

It seems that as soon as the Thanksgiving leftovers are put away, the air begins to shift. The perfect tree is selected and wrangled onto the car. Multiple trips are taken to the attic in order to uncover the lights and ornaments that were hastily stored away last January. A prayer is lifted that every bulb is still intact on the strands of Christmas lights. And when the final decoration is placed on top, it is time to stand back and admire the illuminated beauty of it all. However, that is just the beginning of the season. Now it is time to add the brightly wrapped presents to sit under the tree.

Why is it that the Christmas season brings out such a spirit of giving?

It’s because the season is centered around the truth that a great gift was given to mankind in the form of a tiny baby. Whether you are a Christ-follower or not, it doesn’t change the fact that the spirit of giving stems from the timeless truth that God gave the world the ultimate gift when He gave us His Son.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. ~ John 3:16

Who wouldn’t want to unwrap the gift of eternal life? I’m grateful to serve a God who showed me the true spirit of giving by giving me the greatest of gifts, His Son.

No Darkness at All

standard October 22, 2018 2 responses

Have you ever been in an unfamiliar place while it was pitch black dark?

Think about how you felt in that moment. Maybe you were scared, nervous, insecure.

Now think about how it made you feel as soon as light flooded your eyes and you could see your surroundings. Did you exhale a big sigh of relief?  

Now let’s take a moment to link that physical experience to the spiritual side of our lives. Think of a time when you were in a dark place emotionally and spiritually in your life.  Did you feel as if the light had left you?

Were you able to experience the light overcoming the darkness?  How did it feel to have that flicker of light return to your life?  

If you have not yet felt the light in your current situation, offer up a prayer right now for Jesus’ light to enter into your situation.  

1 John 1:5 says,

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”

Believe it, dear friend! Where God is, there is no darkness.  Your situation may seem dark and gray at the moment, but you serve a God who defeated the grave and He will do the same for you.

Where there is light, there is also hope.

And in that place, there is no darkness at all.

The Name of Jesus

standard August 28, 2018 2 responses

On a scale of 1 to 10 how comfortable are you saying the name of Jesus?

Imagine you are talking with a new acquaintance, perhaps even a co-worker, and the topic of religion comes up, are you more comfortable saying that you have a relationship with God or are you willing to say that you have a relationship with Jesus?

I ask this question because of a recent conversation I had with a very good friend of mine who is totally sold out for the gospel and is not afraid to share her faith. However, she told me that up until a few years ago she was timid when it came to saying the name of Jesus out loud. She would refer to her faith in God, but didn’t want to be offensive by mentioning Jesus. However, the Holy Spirit convicted her to start bringing the most powerful of names into her conversations and it changed everything for this beautiful Christ-follower.

Philippians 2:10-11 tells us,

“That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

It’s not just any name. It is the name that is exalted above every name. There is no other name that can save the lives of mankind.

May we be so bold as my wise friend and bring the name of Jesus into our conversations.

Bringing Him Our Treasure

standard December 20, 2017 Leave a response

 

No nativity is complete without the wise men coming by camel to bring their gifts to Jesus.  Am I right?

Matthew 2 tells us the wise men followed the eastern star and when they found the baby they worshipped him and opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts:  gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Notice that they didn’t bring a whole convoy of objects. They brought a representation of their very best gifts. They chose to bring quality over quantity.  They presented Him with the things that they truly treasured.

What is it that you treasure? Take a moment to think about it. What would your gift be and how you can present it as an offering to your King today? It doesn’t have to be elaborate or perfectly wrapped. It just needs to be meaningful.

Maybe it’s taking the time to serve at the local soup kitchen and offering a kind word to those you meet. It could be as easy as slowing down enough to listen to someone who is struggling this season. Or it could be as difficult as giving up that treasured parking spot you’ve been waiting on at the mall (gasp!).

Don’t let the hustle and bustle of the season rob you of bringing your very best gifts. Resolve to choose quality over quantity. And remember, when you take the time to love others in His name, you bring something so valuable: a treasure fit for a King.

(The above painting is by Joellen Lee who uses her gift to bless others. )

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

standard November 29, 2017 3 responses

One of my favorite Christmas carols is “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing.”

Last fall I stood at the top of the Bethlehem Hills in Israel and experienced where these angels would have heralded the birth of our Savior to the shepherds keeping watch over their flock by night. It was surreal to say the least.

However, in the near distance there is a beautiful mountain where Herod the Great had his servants chop off the top and resurrect a palace for himself there named Herodium. The audacity of Herod’s attempt to exalt himself above all others was glaring.

What struck me as ironic was that just a few miles away from Herod’s stately palace, there were angels proclaiming the arrival of the true king. One that was humble enough to be born in a manger and die on a cross for your sins and for mine.

Philippians 2 says this of Jesus’ act of humility:
For this reason God also highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Is that not the most glorious thing you have ever heard?

No one ever puts a picture of Herodium on their Christmas cards. That’s because the true king came and His name is above every other name. His name is Jesus. 

Hark! The herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn king;
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled.
Joyful all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim
Christ is born in Bethlehem.

Abide

standard November 8, 2017 2 responses

My nephew Jeremiah was barely a month old when I had an opportunity to babysit him for the afternoon. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on him for a few hours and kiss on his sweet round cheeks.

If you’ve ever been around a newborn, then you know that they typically only eat and sleep which was just fine with me because I was ready to do some cuddling.

After feeding Jeremiah, he immediately went to sleep on my chest and his soft breathing in and out lulled me into a state of rest. With each sweet snore that he made my soul became more and more still.  As I soaked in the moment it reminded me of what it means to truly abide.

Jesus tells us in John 15:9:

“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.”     

The word “abide” in the original language also carries these definitions: to remain, to dwell, and my personal favorite, to be held.   

When you wake each morning take some time to spend with the Lord. As you do, you will feel that love growing stronger with each passing day. Jesus loves you so fully and completely.

Just as Jeremiah was content to be held and loved on by me that afternoon, allow yourself to feel the love of your Savior.

Just Abide.

Even If

standard October 18, 2017 20 responses

Sometimes you’re walking through life and it all makes total sense. A fall breeze is blowing and you’ve got your windows down and your favorite song is blasting on max volume.

And then there are times when absolutely nothing makes sense. You were minding your own business, but suddenly your legs were kicked out from under you, landing you flat on your behind wondering what in the world just happened.

How could your circumstances have changed so drastically within a 24-hour period? It’s a valid question and it’s one that I wish I had the answer to.

I’m sure Martha and Mary felt somewhat similar when they were just trucking through life in the quiet town of Bethany, enjoying being a part of this new movement called “the Way” that heralded Jesus of Nazareth as the long-awaited Messiah.  When all of a sudden their beloved brother falls ill. And it’s not a “he’ll sleep it off and be better by tomorrow” sort of sick, but it’s evident that he has a life-threatening illness that requires immediate attention. They do some quick thinking and send word to their friend Jesus and ask Him to come on the double!

Jesus receives the message and this is His response: “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.” (John 11:5-6)

Wait. What??

One of His very best friends is sick, SO He stays put?  What kind of sacrificial love is that? That seems a little counterproductive, wouldn’t you say?

By the time Jesus gets there Lazarus is dead. Not just any kind of dead either, but dead-dead. Like four-day-old-stinking-in-the-grave dead. It’s bad. And Martha let’s Him know it.

Where have You been? If you would have been here, He would not be dead!

Adding to His mysterious behavior, Jesus replies in the most cryptic way. “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Umm, yes…I think I do. But my brother’s still dead and I’m beyond devastated.

To say that we believe when life is good doesn’t take much faith.  But we have to be willing to ask ourselves this question when life throws us that inevitable curve ball.

Do I believe this?

Because believing Jesus is the truth is easy enough UNTIL…

your brother dies;

you miscarry that baby that you waited and prayed for;

your spouse confesses the unthinkable to you;

…THEN it’s personal.

But faith is believing EVEN IF…

your brother stays in the grave;

your arms remain empty;

your spouse refuses to come home;

…Trusting in His sovereign plan.

Jesus never said that life would be fair. In fact, He was perfectly straightforward when He told us that in this world we WILL have trouble, but we are to take heart because He has overcome the world! (John 16:33)

He is still the Resurrection and Life, EVEN IF life does not work out the way we thought it would.

Jesus eventually kept His promise to raise Lazarus from the dead with the purpose that God would be glorified through the act (take time to read this incredible story in John 11 if you aren’t familiar with the details). Both Martha and Mary received their miracle that day when their brother was resurrected and reunited with them. However, this was not the case for my sister and me.  Why did God allow Lazarus to live and Jeremy to die? This is a question that I have often pondered and I still do not know the answer to. Nevertheless, I had a choice to make, just as you do.

When He says that He is the Resurrection and the Life and He then asks me, “April, do you believe this?” I answer Him wholeheartedly:

Yes, Lord. I believe You are the One who holds the resurrection power.

I believe You are the only Way to eternal life.

I believe You are the Truth.

Even if…

(“Even If” by Mercy Me)

A Faithful Friend

standard September 6, 2017 1 response

Just then some men came, carrying on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed.  They tried to bring him in and set him down before Him [Jesus].  Since they could not find a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the stretcher through the roof titles into the middle of the crowd before Jesus.  Seeing their faith He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” (Luke 5:18-20)

Have you ever experienced paralysis in your life?  The kind of paralysis where one debilitating episode comes after the other.  Your body aches all over, even though your muscles have long stopped working.  You struggle to pick yourself up off the ground, but to no avail.

And then you hear that there is a man in town who performs miracles.  He goes by the name of Jesus, some are even calling him the Son of God.  Every fiber of your being knows that your healing lies within the building that is close enough to hit with a stone…that is, if you could throw a stone.

And as you lie there simply defeated, your friends walk in and gently place you on a stretcher. They inform you that they are taking you to meet this Jesus.  Just as your hope begins to soar, it is immediately dashed as the realization that the chances of your friends getting you inside the jam-packed building to where your healing lies are slim to none. There is not an inch of room to spare.

But your friends are not ordinary.  No. They are extraordinary.

They look at the seemingly impossible situation and find a way to climb the walls with you on the stretcher, remove part of the roof, and lower you into the room where the Son of God is teaching.  But you didn’t end up just anywhere in the room.  Amazingly, you are placed at the very spot you need to be: in front of the only One who is capable of forgiving your sins and healing your limp body. 

This is all because of your friends, who saw your need as greater than their own. You know that they each have things they would like to ask of the Son of God.  They could use miracles in their own lives, but their selflessness and desire to see you restored took precedence.  They are faithful friends.

And Jesus, seeing their faith, grants the healing and forgiveness that you have desperately hoped for since the paralysis hit.  You will never be the same.  Your healing came because of the self-sacrificial love of your friends who were willing to do whatever it took to place you directly in front of your Savior.

Now that you are healed, will you do the same for others?  Are you willing to be a faithful friend?

Lord, would You allow me to be a faithful friend to others, pointing them to the only One who can heal them and forgive them of their sins, Jesus? Thank You also for the friends that You have placed in my life who show me Your love continually.      

An Anchor for the Soul

standard August 8, 2017 2 responses

Summertime is in full swing, as is the air conditioning and the consumption of sweet iced tea.  Here in the deep south, one of our favorite summer pastimes is to take long boat rides down the river, sometimes water skiing for hours on end, and other times fishing until our heart’s content. It is always great fun to slather on the sunscreen and fellowship with friends and family, enjoying the day without a care in the world.

However, I know firsthand that in an instant the weather can change and a severe thunderstorm can appear out of nowhere.  This exact thing happened when I was on a family redfishing trip in the deep marsh off the coast of New Orleans.  One moment we were soaking in the warmth of the sun, and the next we were fleeing to find shelter from the pelting rain.

We raced to the nearest boat dock and hurriedly put our anchor down to keep us from slamming into danger.  And as we huddled together waiting for the storm to pass, we were thankful for the sense of security that the anchor provided us with while we waited and hoped for the sun’s return.

This situation reminded me of the imagery of a sure and firm anchor that the writer of Hebrews gives to illustrate the promises of our faithful God.

“So that…we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us. We have this hope – like a sure and firm anchor of the soul.” (Hebrews 6:18-19)

He lets us know that when the storm rages, it requires more of us than simply to remember the promises of our unchangeable God, but we must also “seize the hope set before us.”  We reach out our hand and take hold of something sure and firm.  Something that is bigger than the wind and the waves. It is hope.

It is hope that centers us.  Hope that keeps us from crashing into the bank.  Hope that keeps our eyes on Jesus instead of our circumstances.  Hope as an anchor for our frightened soul.

The storms of life will undoubtedly come our way, usually when things are moving along just fine.  We may be caught off guard at first, wondering where is God in our time of need.  But then we remember that He has given us His promises as something firm and sure to keep us centered.

He has given us hope to seize.  He has given us Jesus as an anchor for our soul. 

God, You are my refuge when the storm rages. Help me to seize the hope that You have given me and to look to Jesus as the sure and firm anchor for my soul. Amen.