Rise

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You wouldn’t give a huge responsibility to a person who failed you, would you? If you are a boss, would you promote the man that sells the least number of cars in your showroom? If you are a father, would you entrust your son with your house knowing that he had previously lit it on fire? It doesn’t make sense, but Jesus did something just like that. The night before He was arrested, Jesus saw the zeal in Simon Peter’s eyes. He saw his love and dedication, but He also foresaw the mistake Peter was going to commit hours later. So Jesus prepared him in advance saying, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22: 31,32).

Here’s what I understand from this: 1)Jesus knew that Peter was going to mess up and disown Him. 2)Jesus still gave Peter a huge responsibility (strengthening the other disciples, who were NOT going to disown Jesus).

Peter’s mistake was BIG: denying his Teacher three times, after three years of fellowship and friendship.  How do you heal from that? How do you make up for it? How would you forgive yourself if you were in Peter’s shoes? On the other hand, I’m pretty sure that Jesus was hurt by that denial. Luke 22:61, even notes that once the cock crowed, Jesus turned and made eye-contact with Peter. What a dramatic scene! That moment the Lord’s words flashed through Peter’s mind: ‘Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me’ “. However, Jesus didn’t focus on that failure. He knew it was going to be terrible, and He was so sweet to prepare Peter for it. But it’s as if He wanted to teach His follower and friend, ‘I will NOT be disappointed in you because of your failure. I will STILL see the same person in you, a leader’. As you read the gospels (Jesus’ story), you’ll notice that Peter along with two other disciples (John and James) used to go on special trips with Jesus. It seems that He saw leadership qualities in them and was cultivating those gifts. He saw a leader in Peter. You would think that Jesus would lose confidence in His trainee after that fateful night, surprisingly He didn’t!

Jesus knows your mistakes and mine .. so very well. He knows about the relationship you shouldn’t have nurtured for so long, the words you shouldn’t have said. He knows about all your bad decisions, and your moments of weakness. Nevertheless, because of who He is, He can look you in the eye right now and remind you that He sees a leader in you. He cannot possibly be disappointed in you, because unlike people He sees what comes after the failure. He sees a great comeback. And says, ‘I am ready to give you the greatest responsibility you’ve ever had right after you rise up from the ashes’. So you mourn, grieve, and do whatever you need to do… but not for long. Don’t dwell there. He’s already seen the whole scenario through, and He’s already forgiven the past. You are still as precious to Him as the day you were born. Rise up and get ready for your biggest mission yet.

 

For more on love and relationships, check out Your Love is Better than Wine: Letters to Mr. Right by Michal Haddad

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Tempting

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The other day my husband and I took our son to the park to play. Of course the park was full of  kids, who didn’t spare a swing, or a slide. Then a little girl showed up driving one of those cool mini cars; a white BMW convertible – every Kid’s dream. She casually parked her car by the slides, and got out to play. However, the other children were mesmerized by the vehicle. Some of them roamed around, staring like it was eye-candy. Others couldn’t help the urge to touch it, or hop inside. One of the moms even had to pull her three-year-old out of the seat, “It’s not ours, get out!”, she explained. Then blurted the exact words that crossed my mind as I watched, “It’s very temping, I know”.

That was funny to watch. Thought provoking too. It made me wonder why we don’t flaunt our faith in God the same way that girl did with her cool car? What if instead of parking our beliefs and love for God by the corner, we actually brag about Him and bring Him along wherever we go? Think with me, how many conversations do you have each day in which God is not mentioned? How is it that we can find NOTHING to say about our God, unless we are in church or with people who share the same faith?

We’re talking about the same Jesus of whom Paul said, “For in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). If we’re so dependent on Him to breathe, to have our heart beat non-stop; to keep gravity in check, and make sure the stars don’t fall and crush us, then how could we NOT find something to discuss about Him?! If He’s our all in all, how can we limit our love for Him to a couple of hymns we sing in church, or a Facebook status, or a simple tweet? Why is He not a part of our daily headlines?

A couple of years ago, I realized that I had lost my passion to talk about Jesus. I still loved God very very much, but for many reasons I stopped discussing God with those who do not share my faith. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I ever wanted to shove my beliefs down people’s throat. It is simply that I want to share who I am with others, since He is the reason I move, love, live, and exist. So why not walk into my next hang-out with friends, my next play-date with the neighbors, my next family get-together, or job interview and show Him off? I dare you and I dare myself to do that!

Perhaps, if we stop being so timid about our faith, people would leave the silly, petty, temporary pleasures and will actually envy us for the relationship we have with GOD. Hopefully they’ll roam around our stories and experiences with Him and want to hop in and join the ride for their own good.

 

For more on love and relationships, check out Your Love is Better than Wine: Letters to Mr. Right by Michal Haddad

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Crazy Enough…

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No body wanted anything to do with him. That was the kind of man you’d avoid on your way to work; the kind of man kids run away from, simply because he was naked and dangerous. He lived in shackles and chains, though he was not a prisoner. He was demon-possessed, humiliated, and left alone on the outskirts of town, since no one could live under the same roof with him; until the day Jesus decided to stop by …

Of course, like He would always do, Jesus ordered the demons to leave the man and commanded them to be transferred to a herd of swine nearby. The pigs ran off the cliff into the water, because they could not tolerate for seconds what that man had tolerated for years. Now Jesus’ actions were definitely wondrous, but what shocks me is the people’s reaction. See, when the citizens of “Gerasenes” saw the man that had been demon-possessed clothed and sitting quietly at the feet of Jesus, they begged Jesus to go away and leave them alone, for a great wave of fear swept over them” (Luke 8:37). What is the matter with you people? Jesus just solved one of your problems. The scary man in your town, is now a normal person!

The people in that region were afraid of the wrong person! It seemed that they had grown accustomed to the craziness of their poor neighbor. They got so used to hearing his screams, that it became “normal”. They were fine with life as they knew it, and were terrified of change even if it were for the better. They remind me of us. How many times do you and I refuse to move out of a pathetic situation, because we simply got used to it? We get comfortable in our own misery and when Jesus shows up offering a better life, we push Him away. We freak out. We’re okay with that unhealthy relationship that steals every ounce of joy we have. We’re okay with our self-destructive habits. We feel safe in our pit and we don’t want to get out. We’re afraid that Jesus may bring too much change.

That day in Gerasenes, only one man got His miracle. Only one man was changed, healed, restored. Maybe he was crazy enough NOT to reject Jesus’ help. It seemed like the Lord stopped by that area especially for him. He’s stopping by your house today, may you be CRAZY enough to let Him change you, heal you, restore every part of you that you’ve been holding out on.

 

For more on love and relationships, check out Your Love is Better than Wine: Letters to Mr. Right by Michal Haddad

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A Passer-by

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He was walking in. She was walking out. He had a crowd following Him. She was accompanied by a funeral procession. He was just passing by; did not know her, had never met her. She was leaving the village to bury her only son, and she had buried her husband sometime earlier. There she was faced with the same adversity twice.

However, when Jesus sees the need, He cannot turn His back and simply ignore it. He cannot simply pass by you and NOT do anything. “When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. “Don’t cry!” He said” (Luke 7:13). How sweet is that? He was moved by her tears. You may say, I’ve cried myself to sleep or wept in prayer for years for a specific need, still He’s never been moved by my tears! I am telling you, He has. I wish you could hear Him say, “Don’t cry, my dear one”. Believe it, in your heart. Hear it in your spirit. There was never a person that approached Him and walked away empty-handed, or unchanged. Believe that!

So after comforting her, He walked toward the coffin; toward the problem, the disappointment, the dead dream“.. He walked over to the coffin and touched it, and the bearers stopped. “Young man,” He said, “I tell you, get up.” Then the dead boy sat up and began to talk! And Jesus gave him back to his mother”(v.14, 15). Why did the coffin bearers stop? Lots of people were probably touching the coffin, so why would they stop? Another passage in Luke 6:19 gives us a hint, it says, “Everyone tried to touch Him (Jesus), because healing power went out from Him, and He healed everyone”. Did you get it? The bearers felt something. They ALL felt healing POWER the moment Jesus touched the coffin. That was a different kind of touch. He wasn’t weeping along with the crowd. His touch was a changing touch. A touch that made the whole procession stop and turned a funeral into a celebration!

What is it that has died in your life? A dream? A vision? Hope for something to get better? A relationship that has died? A situation that keeps getting worse; and in your heart you’re walking out, preparing to bury that hope forever. Jesus is passing by that coffin today, and He wants to touch your coffin. Not just in a loving comforting way, but also in a powerful, healing, transforming manner. He’s going to touch the coffin in your life, and you’re going to stop.. right there. He wants to make things new. Do you believe that? Would you believe Him to bring life out of the death and despair that has encamped in your life for a while now? I pray you would.

My prayer for you today, is that you’d have enough faith to experience the supernatural, overwhelming power of Christ.

 

For more on love and relationships, check out Your Love is Better than Wine: Letters to Mr. Right by Michal Haddad

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Glorious and Beautiful!

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People are moody. We’d be feeling good about ourselves today, and the very next day our self-esteem hits rock-bottom. I am able to relate to this a lot especially now, since my husband and I are expecting our second baby boy. In case you haven’t heard about pregnancy mood swings, let me tell you; it’s not fun.. for anyone!

One of the things I love about the Bible is that it deals with our real issues, like that self-esteem roller coaster we’re all familiar with. So let me take you back to the time of Moses; to the day God gave detailed guidelines for making priestly garments. Exodus 28 shows that they were mostly made of linen, gold and other colorful threads were integrated all over the robe. There was also a chest-piece covered with twelve precious gems representing the twelve tribes of Israel. For the priest’s head, God designed a turban which held a medallion made of pure gold that read “Holy to the Lord”. God made it clear to Moses that the entire priest’s outfit must be “glorious and beautiful”(v.40). As you read the passage, you’ll notice that the garments seemed so royal and fancy, as if designed for a king. I say all of that to remind you that in the New Testament, the Bible says in Revelation 1:6 that Jesus“has made us (you and me) a Kingdom of priests for God his Father”.  

It’s as if God wanted us to imagine ourselves in those royal clothes. That’s the way He sees you. That’s how He desires for you to see yourself; clothed like a king. So when the world puts you down, you can remember that they have no control over your value or self-worth. When you realize how awesome your position is as God’s priest, you’ll be able to do what priests do best. The priest was meant to wear that breast-piece (with the twelve rare gems), so he could bring the twelve tribes of Israel to God’s presence. In a way, that was meant to “remind” God of the entire nation of Israel, and bring their needs to Him. Imagine if we realized our true worth in Christ and were mature enough to bring the needs of those around us in prayer. Imagine if we performed our role as God’s priests, instead of feeling insecure and unsure about our identity, we actually grow up and carry others’ needs before Him. I believe that would make a lot of difference for everybody.

So this week, as you get dressed up to start each day, imagine yourself in those extravagant, imperial clothes. And may you rise up to the awesome position you hold in Christ.

Partners in Action

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It was another busy day. Family and friends brought their sick, laid them at His feet, and He healed them (Matthew 15:30). Another day of miracles. Another extraordinary day for His followers. Later on, after taking care of the people’s illnesses and weaknesses, Jesus thought of their very basic need: food! Can I get an Amen, food lovers? (Can’t help getting excited about food).

The disciples probably enjoyed watching the miraculous signs and felt lucky to observe the Teacher up close and personal. However, Jesus had something else in mind. In verse 32, Jesus actually called them and shared what was on His heart. He said, “I feel compassion for the multitude, because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not wish to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way”. Now the disciples’ reaction was sort of like: ‘Uh..Okay!! So? What do we have to do with this?’

The disciples tried to explain that it would be impossible to feed all those people (four thousand men other than the women and children). Jesus in turn suggested,” ‘How many loaves do you have?’ And they said, ‘Seven, and a few small fish’ ” (v.33). This is how the action started by Him directing the crowds to sit, blessing and breaking the bread, and passing it on to the people.

See, in His question I hear Jesus saying: ‘Give me something to work with. What have you got that I can use?’ There are situations in which Jesus yells that out to YOU and me: ‘You want to know God’s heart? Give me more of your time, your attention, your dedication. You want your relationship with your spouse to improve? Offer Me a heart that’s willing to forgive and grow. You want to make a difference at work? Put Me in charge of your tongue and your behavior. Give Me something to work with and I will make you a partner in what I do best. A Partner in miracles.’

Mind you, Jesus could’ve fed those crowds without the disciples’ help; without having the seven loaves and the fish. After all, He is the Alfa Who created everything out of nothing. Yet, it is our privilege to be His partners. So my friend, would you step up to the plate? Give Him something to work with, you’ll never ever regret that.

 

For more on love and relationships, check out Your Love is Better than Wine: Letters to Mr. Right by Michal Haddad

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Knowing

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What does it mean to “KNOW” somebody? Ever thought about that?

The other day in church, I was moved by one of the songs that said:

“So let go my soul, and trust in Him;

the waves and wind still know His name.”

The waves and wind still know His name. Wow. The last line was meant to take us in memory to the time when Jesus rebuked the wind and waves by simply saying, “Peace! Be still!” (Mark 4:39). From there I started thinking of the non-living things that KNEW the name of Jesus; things that recognized His power even though they were not created in His image. For instance, during His grand entry into Jerusalem, Jesus declared that if the crowd were to quit praising Him, the STONES would cry out (Luke 19:40). Another time, a FISH willingly trapped itself in Peter’s net with a coin in its mouth, so Peter and Jesus could pay the taxes (Matthew 17:27). The Bible even says that DEMONS “believe” and therefore KNOW the name of Jesus (James 2:19). Back in the Old Testament; if the WALLS OF JERICHO could speak, they’d re-tell over and over again how they tumbled before the Lord, even the RED SEA parted to make way for God’s people.

The heavens, the universe, our body parts that He Himself numbered, the rivers and the oceans, the mountains, sickness and diseases… they all revere His name. I don’t know about you, but all these shame me. The entire creation responds to Him with such reverence and adoration, while I fail to remember on a daily basis how MIGHTY and INCREDIBLY AWESOME He is. When we are faced with life, in all its forms and colors, shame on us if we forget that He is bigger than life itself. He is bigger than the problems we face and the illnesses that stalk us. He’s bigger than our heart-breaks and disappointments. He’s bigger than death and every fear that tries to steal our peace. Oh, if we would only remember that truth, our lives would be very different.

If Jesus showed up right now by the “Sea of Galilee”, the surface of the water would recognize the soles of His feet. Shame on us if we’ve been walking with God all this time, but still do not truly KNOW how glorious, capable, and earth-shattering His name is. Maybe the waves and the wind can teach us a thing or two!

 

For more on love and relationships, check out Your Love is Better than Wine: Letters to Mr. Right by Michal Haddad

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