Saturday, April 14, 2012

From the Archives: "I Want That!"

This was my very first blog post for Strengthened by the Word.  Although it's not one of the most polished, it remains one of my favorites.  I pray it inspires you to embrace God's very best.

If someone said to me, "pleroo," I would politely say, "God bless you!" Many words that I don't recognize sound like sneezes to me. But dismissing this term with a casual joke would be a shame, for I would then miss an important gift from God.

Our Father desires that we be made complete - or filled - in may significant ways. "Pleroo" is the transliteration of the Greek word meaning: to fill to the full, to cause to abound, or to fill to the top so that nothing shall be wanting, to full measure, fill to the brim.

Think of the familiar illustration of a jar that is filled with rocks. The jar looks full - as if nothing else can be added. But we can now pour a large amount of sand into that jar and the sand will, indeed fit into the nooks and crannies of the rocks, especially if we gently shake the jar so that the sand will filter to the bottom. All of the spaces now look filled. But, if we pour water into the jar and add enough water so that it is level with the brim of the jar, NOW, the jar is truly filled. It has not been left wanting and is, indeed filled to the top. We cannot add anything else to the jar without causing the water to run over the sides. The jar is complete or filled and meets the definition of pleroo.

Paul prays that believers in the church of Colossae be filled with knowledge, spiritual wisdom, and understanding. King David is quoted in Acts as saying that the Lord fills us with gladness in His presence. Also in Acts, believers will be filled with the Holy Spirit. The first letter of John is written so that our joy may be made complete and Jesus, Himself prayed that we may have His joy made full.

When my daughter was small and spent time toddling around the house, the music from a TV commercial would often catch her attention. She would stop whatever she was doing, stare at the TV for a few seconds and give her full attention to the commercial, which was usually trying to sell her a toy. At the end of the commercial she would say with certainty, "I want that!" And within seconds, she was back to her toddling. Her words return to me often, mainly when I read a promise from God or see the light of Jesus shining through one of His people. I say to myself, "I want that." When I study what it means to be complete and filled with what God wants for me... peace... knowledge... wisdom... comfort... understanding... joy... gladness... and so much more, my spirit cries, "I want that!" And God is ever faithful!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Why did Jesus have to Die?

That’s a great question, and one that many people may ask this season.  Today, Good Friday, is the remembrance of Jesus’ death on the cross. Why was His death necessary?

Way back in the Garden of Eden, the first sin of Adam and Eve resulted in separation in their relationship with God. Instinctively, this couple knew their relationship with God had changed.  After all, they were used to walking through the Garden in constant fellowship with Him. Once they sinned, however, Adam and Eve hid themselves from God, feeling shame for the first time.

Today, sin isn’t a word that is used much in everyday lingo. Many believe in order to classify something as “sin,” it must be egregious, and cause great harm to another.  The truth is, in very simplistic terms, sin is anything that we think, say, or do that is not pleasing to the Lord. Most of us sin in one way or another every day of our lives. Such sin separates us from God, and results in spiritual death.

When Jesus gave His life on the Cross, He took on the burden of the sins of all of His followers for all time.  The shedding of His blood washes His followers as white as snow – as if they had never sinned in the first place – and offers a way for restoration of our relationship with God the Father.  In essence, the Cross provides a bridge to enter into fellowship with God.

Do you have sin in your life?  Have you made a habit of thinking of it as merely a “hang-up” or a “certain struggle” that you have?  Truth be told, these things (if they are not pleasing to God) are sin, and keep us from a right relationship with God.  Without the sacrifice of Jesus, who was perfect in every way, there is no way to cross the chasm between God and us.  Without the cross, there is no way to spend eternity with Him in heaven. 

If you have never known Jesus as your forgiver and as the leader of your life, you can simply and easily accept His sacrifice right now.   First, admit that you have sinned and that you need His forgiveness and peace.   Believe that Jesus Christ died for YOU on the cross and that He rose from the grave on the third day.   Talk to God through prayer (no special words are required) and ask Him to forgive your sins and become the leader of your life. 

If you have taken those steps for the first time, I would love to hear from you!  I would love to help you find encouragement and accountability as you walk toward a meaningful relationship with God. 

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 NIV