Tag : jesus-2

Are You Stressed? By Mayada Naami

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

(Luke 10:38-42, NIV)

This past week has been extremely stressful for me. As I reflect on the things that are stressing me, I realize that I am distracted and spending less time with the Lord. Are you busy and allowing the noise and distractions of the world to cause your soul unrest? In a world of “busyness,” seek the Lord and His righteousness always and He will give you rest.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

(Matthew 11:28-30, NIV)

This weekend, at Gateway Church, my Pastor, Robert Morris, continued his series “Divinely Human” with the story of Mary and Martha. As I sat there and listened, I related to Martha. Martha was “distracted by all the preparations that had to be made” while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet listening to what He had to say. Jesus shares His “Divine Nature” with anyone who chooses to sit at His feet. Life can get very busy with our day-to-day responsibilities, but we must choose to spend time daily with our Teacher and Friend. As you spend time with Jesus, He changes you into His likeness. The change is gradual, little-by-little you become divinely human, reflecting His Light in this dark and busy world.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. Freedom from legalism, guilt, shame, condemnation, and self-rejection. True freedom from the power of sin; selfishness, manipulation, and control. Freedom from the fear of death and what others think about us. Freedom from comparing ourselves to others knowing with confidence that Christ dwells in us. Like Mary, we can rest at His feet with peace, knowing that we are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory. Everlasting glory which can only come from the Lord, Who is Spirit.  

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

(2 Corinthians 3:17-18, NIV)\

Categories: Blog

Internal and External by Lisa Burkhardt Worley

Jesus never forgot about his small group. While he spoke to the masses, and people were constantly seeking him out for healing, he did not disregard his twelve disciples. In Mark 9, Jesus had just healed a demon-possessed boy, one who the disciples tried to help and couldn’t. After that miraculous healing Jesus traveled through Galilee and did not want anyone to know he was there because he desired to spend more time with His disciples in order to teach them.

And boy, did he teach them. He told them he would be betrayed, killed, and three days later would rise from the dead. He instructed that whoever wants to be first needed to be last. He shared that children are important and that anyone who is not against them is for them. The last teaching was about sin, and he said if your hand, foot or eye causes you to sin, you might as well cut it off. He concluded, “It’s better to enter the Kingdom of God with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where the maggots never die and the fire never goes out” (Mark 9:48). Wow Jesus, have you seen any good shows lately? “The Chosen” is a great series.

It was a heavy conversation, but Jesus cared deeply about his small group of twelve and wanted them to be ready when he physically departed the earth.

This passage was a reminder that our internal circle of family and friends is just as important of a ministry field as those we know externally.

When I thought of the love Jesus had for his disciples, I thought about our own Pearls of Promise team, now at eight, and the love I have for each of them. While we have a broad reach through our media, our small group is just as important, and I cherish the position I hold as servant leader.

In the same way, I try to live out my faith in front of family members. They know where I stand. My youngest son just sent me a photo of a beautiful piece of art in Prague where he is visiting. It depicted Jesus carrying his cross. He knew that would be meaningful to me and it also told me he’s watching and listening, and hopefully, witnessing authenticity.

Internal is every bit as important as external. Jesus knew that, and took every moment He could to teach and minister to his disciples. We cannot forget the ones God has placed in front of us to disciple. We should see it as a privilege and an honor that the Lord has entrusted each of us believers with a small group of His children to whom we can minister and to whom we can teach—just like Jesus did.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).

Categories: Blog

Suffering Like Jesus by Lisa Burkhardt Worley

On my second trip to Israel, I once again went into the Holy Land with Expectation. There is a sense of God’s presence in the Land so I wanted to receive revelation as I did in my previous visit eight years before. What I did not expect is what happened the day before we left the Land. Our group had just toured the Davidson Center, an archeological park and museum near the Western Wall. We were on our way to the teaching steps at the Temple where Jesus most likely taught on numerous occasions when splat! I fell to the ground. It was a strange fall because I had no sense I was going down and had not lost my balance. I was upright one minute and writhing in pain on the ground the next. I had landed hard on my right arm and it felt broken. I later found out it was a fracture in my radial bone.

My first thought was, Why did this happen? I was so excited about being in Israel a second time, I could not understand why God didn’t prevent my fall in this Holy site. Then it hit me, and I couldn’t shake the idea. What if Jesus was allowing me to experience a smidgeon of the suffering he felt when walking the streets of Jerusalem? We traveled down the Villa Dolorosa, the same path that Jesus took on his way to the cross. He had been beaten so bad that he was unable to carry his own cross. That’s where Simon of Cyrene came in to help. Here I was in dire pain, understanding in a deeper way what our Savior must have experienced.

Peter discussed suffering as a way to be more like Jesus. Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:12). So through this experience, I believe I’ve learned a few things about physical suffering.

  1. Suffering draws us closer to God. I’ve replayed my fall numerous times, and every time I think about what Jesus went through for us. I experienced great discomfort walking the streets of Jerusalem, but I kept powering through because I thought that my injury was nothing compared to what the Savior experienced. That thought gave me supernatural strength.
  2. Periodic suffering shows us that we are not invincible. We are weak vessels entirely reliant on the mercy and grace of God. One second I was okay; the next I had a fractured arm. Life can turn upside down in a split second. This scenario also forced me to allow others to help with things that are normally easy for me, like opening a heavy door or lifting the milk out of the refrigerator. Injuries humble us.
  3. Sometimes, we do not receive immediate healing. A woman I did not know prayed over my arm in the Jerusalem hotel elevator. When I returned, I went down to our church altar for prayer. Another woman I met, who has a gift of healing, prayed over my arm as well. Friends prayed. Nothing miraculous happened. I believe in healing. I’ve prayed over people myself and seen them healed supernaturally, but for whatever reason, my arm still feels broken. I think God sometimes says no to healing because he is doing something spiritually in us in the midst of suffering.

The great news is that God never leaves our side during suffering. He promises in Isaiah 43:2: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” God is always with us in both the good and the bad.

Categories: Blog

Where Was God in My Trauma? By Leslie Zavala

Our guest blog is provided today by Leslie Zavala. Leslie is a theology student and speaker with over seven years of experience leading and teaching in the mega-church, youth-ministry sphere. She lives in North Texas with her husband and two dogs. Her main passions are helping people apply the gospel to their mental health, how correct theology can transform our experience of God, and removing social/religious barriers that keep people from receiving the grace of Jesus for themselves. 

Where was God in my trauma?

“If God is good, why did he let ______ happen to me?” For anyone who has gone through trauma, you have to be able to reconcile the sovereignty and goodness of God with something terrible that might have happened to you.

For a long time my theology of God stood in opposition to my life experiences. I had a theology of God’s fatherly love and I had a theology of God being in control of everything, however, it lived in a completely different world than the one where my pain existed. This was a problem because that meant that none of my spirituality was able to touch my inner-world in a way that changed things.

But our understanding of God was never supposed to remain cognitive. In Jesus, the reality of the fullness of God entered the world of pain. When under the Old Covenant, humanity’s experience of God had to be separated from its experience of sin, Jesus came to bridge that gap. In Jesus, there could be real pain, but there could also be real joy. There could be real suffering and there could be real redemption all in the same world.

One of the most impactful exercises a counselor lead me through in order to bridge the gap was to “place” Jesus in the scene of my trauma (or greatest hurt). They had me picture the moment of trauma. Where was I? What was I feeling? What was happening? Then they asked me: where was Jesus in this scene? Where was he in the room? What was he feeling? What was he saying? I recommend doing this supervised with a professional or trusted friend in case the memory is triggering for you but also so that if you believe that Jesus is far away and that he was indifferent to your suffering, they can lovingly correct you.

They then walked me through some key verses such as God being close to the broken-hearted (Psalm 34:18), Jesus weeping at Lazarus’ tomb, and the promise in Revelation 21:4 about God wiping every tear from our eyes and asked me to apply that truth to the scene. This absolutely changed my perspective of the event because now Jesus was not this indifferent figure that “let” these things happen to me, but instead he too was broken-hearted and angry on my behalf. He was rising up in justice to redeem me from the effects of sin in the world and in myself. Now when I picture the event, it tells me a story of a God who desperately wanted to break into my world, and who wants to right every wrong that I have experienced.

Whether you use that exercise or not, reconciling the character of God that you read about in the Bible with your own experiences is one of the best things that you can do. I felt spiritually stunted for years, unsure of why I wasn’t seeing any result of all of my church-going and Bible-reading. And I actually think it was the goodness of God in my life, because before he wanted to talk to me about relationships or finances, he wanted to make sure that my knowledge of his love was able to touch, heal, and transform the greatest areas of pain in my life. And today, he wants to do the same thing for you.

Categories: Blog

Power of Love by Mayada Naami

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

(1 John 4:7-12, NIV)

With Valentine’s day around the corner, everyone is getting ready to celebrate love. Moms are running out to buy cards, gifts for their kids, their friends, and teachers. Men are planning romantic dinners, getaways, and ordering floral arrangements. Single people throw parties to get through this holiday that represents what the world has come to describe as love—feelings; romantic feelings. While we are hurrying to stores and making reservations to fancy restaurants, let’s reflect on what truly is love and the power of Love. Love is not a “feeling.” The Bible tells us in 1 John 4:16-17 “God is Love” and tells us “How love is made complete among us.” It’s simple; when God is among us, Love is among us because GOD IS LOVE. Love, the way the world defines it, is a feeling; an emotion that people follow. We as believers follow Jesus who is Love in the flesh.

This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.” 

(1 John 4:13-17, NIV)

God freely gave His Holy Spirit to anyone who believed in Him. This power of Love/God is available to all of us. Romans 8:11 tells us that all those who place their faith in Jesus are immediately and permanently indwelled with the Holy Spirit. It is that simple. As believers, the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each of us. We are all parts of one body, the body of Christ. We are all baptized into one body and made to drink of one Spirit. This power of Love/God/Holy Spirit is in us every moment of the day and can be shared with anyone we encounter. We can reflect God when we show Love to others. Love is not a feeling or an emotion, Love is God. We are called to witness and rejoice in the power of the Holy Spirit, and to bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This year let’s celebrate True Love, let’s celebrate God.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

(1 John 4:18, NIV)

Categories: Blog