Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Incomprehensible Love

Easter is right around the corner. Most people are thinking about what they're going to make to eat, gathering Easter eggs, buying candy... but the real reason behind it is Jesus raising from the dead.

Let me backtrack a bit. This past Sunday was Palm Sunday, when Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey, being welcomed by the people. Later in the week, Thursday, He stood trial. Why? Because He was betrayed by one of His disciples.
He first was beaten, spat upon, mocked - even before He stood trial. Then He went before the Sanhedrin, then Pilate, Herod Antipas, and then before Pilate again. They didn't know what to make of Him. He at last stands before Pilate, on trial for the last time, and Pilate asks the people what Jesus had done. Pilate saw that Jesus was blameless, not guilty of any crime. According to the festival he had to release one person on death row free. Pilate asked the people who they wanted released to them, Jesus or Barabbas.
The crowds, who had openly welcomed Jesus just days before, shouted for Barabbas to be released. They yelled out for Jesus to be crucified. Pilate, seeing no wrong in Jesus, shouted above the noise, "Why? What has this man done wrong? I have found in Him no grounds for the death penalty." (Luke 23:22). But the people kept shouting for Barabbas, a murderer, to be released and for Jesus, the Son of God, to be crucified.
Who is this Barabbas? Who is this man, who appears briefly in the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John? Who is this prisoner who deserves death for his crimes? Yet whom the people want to be set free? According to Luke 23:19 he had been thrown in prison for the crime of murder, and because he had led a rebellion in the city. 
We look at that man and then at Jesus and wonder how anyone would want him released over Jesus? Jesus died the next day while Barabbas continued to live. Jesus was put in chains while Barabbas's chains fell down. Jesus was condemned while Barabbas was free. Where is the justice in that? Yet how much of ourselves can we see in Barabbas? We who were dead in our sin (Ephesians 2:1-4) and yet Jesus paid the price for our sin.

He died so we could live,
He suffered so we could be healed,
He was put in chains so that ours could fall to the ground,
He was mocked so that we could live unashamed,
He was condemned so that we could be set free.
He went through all of that... for us. 

What crazy, amazing love is that? What incomprehensible love is that? What grace and mercy did He show?
We hear about Jesus' crucifixion pretty often. Most of us have John 3:16 memorized. But may we never lose the awe and wonder of the love He gave, that amazing grace He showed! 

So what about Barabbas? What happened to him? Scripture doesn't say. It doesn't mention if he thanked Jesus or went on to follow Him, it doesn't say anything more about Barabbas... But he didn't disappear. Barabbas lived his life, maybe in the sinful ways he did before... but I can't help but wonder if he spent time thinking about Jesus. The man who was perfect and yet took his place.  We don't have any idea what happened to Barabbas, but I think that what happened that day was something that he always remembered.

Later, in Luke 23:32-43, two other criminals are mentioned. But instead of walking towards freedom like Barabbas they faced the painful, horrible death of crucifixion.Scripture doesn't say what crimes they committed - but the terrible death on a cross was saved for the worst of criminals. Jesus was hung on a cross, with a criminal on each side of Him. Some of the people there yelled and taunted Him, one of the criminals joined in. 
But the other criminal said in Luke 23:40-42, ""Don’t you even fear God, since you are undergoing the same punishment? We are punished justly, because we’re getting back what we deserve for the things we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!”"
He knew he had messed up. He knew he deserved the death he was suffering. And he recognized that Jesus didn't.
I love what Jesus says next in verse 43, "And He said to him, “I assure you: Today you will be with Me in paradise.”"
Wow. Jesus offers grace to the criminal beside Him. The other criminal mocked Him while the other saw who Jesus really is - the Son of God.

Last week I posted about freedom in Christ. It's because of what Jesus went through we can have that freedom. In those two stories we see two men who are the same in one way, being sinful and criminals, and yet we see their different responses to Jesus. With Barabbas we don't know what happened to him, with one of the criminals he mocked and rejected Jesus. But the other man saw who Jesus really is.

What's our response? How do we respond to the love and freedom Jesus offers?

Below is a video that I really encourage you to watch, it's a great 'sermon' (almost nine minutes long) and really worth your time if you chose to watch it.

Jesus went through all of that for us. He loves us. He extends grace and freedom to us if we just chose to accept it. What's your response?

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Freedom in Christ

I've been reading through the book of Galatians and last week I came across chapter five and a  verse stuck out to me.
Galatians 5:13, "For you were called to be free."
That one part, those seven letters, hold such a beautiful truth. The context of this verse is Paul writing to the churches of Galatia and he's telling them that they were made to be free. He's telling them that by God's grace they are saved. He's asking them why they would turn back to worthless things instead of turning to God.
It's strange, that while you're free you would go back to what enslaved you. But isn't that what we do at times? We resort to the worthless, temporary things of the flesh for enjoyment that lasts for but a fleeting moment.
Galatians 5:1, "For freedom, Christ set us free. Stand firm then and don't submit again to a yoke of slavery."
Wow. For freedom, Christ set us free. When Jesus died on the cross He took upon Himself all the sins of the world - yours and mine - to set us free. He rose again, conquering death, and He's alive today. He set us free for freedom. We should rejoice in the freedom we have from the bondage of sin - not go back to it.

Isaiah 52:1-2, "Stand up, shake the dust off yourself! Take your seat, Jerusalem. Remove the bonds from your neck, captive Daughter Zion.” For this is what the Lord says: “You were sold for nothing, and you will be redeemed without silver.”"
Even though we're free then at times we sit in our filth, in our sin and chains. But we've been redeemed! We are to stand up and shake the dust off of ourselves and start living the way we were meant to - free.

Galatians 4:7, "So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then God has made you an heir."

Ephesians 1:4-6, "For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will,  to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved."

Those two verses say that we're no longer slaves, but children of God. If you are in Christ then you've been adopted into His family. In love He predestined us to be adopted.

Galatians 4:9, "But now, since you know God, or rather have become known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elements? Do you want to be enslaved to them all over again?"
Often we picture idols as gold or silver statues that you'd bow down and worship .... but idols come in so many different forms. Idols are anything or anyone in your life that you put before God. Those things we try to cling to will let us down, they are worthless. But God has set us free and He's waiting for us to run back to His open arms.
Idols can come in the form of friends, books, writing, music, TV, sports, and so many other things. While some of those things aren't necessary bad then they are when we put them before God.
Don't run back to what enslaved you, but instead run to Him who saved you.

If you've accepted Jesus into your heart then your former self has been crucified with Christ.
Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me."

We weren't made to be enslaved to sin, or to sit around in our broken chains, not accepting the freedom we have in Christ. We were made to be free. So let's stand up, shake the dust off ourselves, and live in the freedom we have in Jesus Christ!


What's your favorite verse in Galatians? What's your favorite Bible verse about freedom in Christ? In what ways do you think we go back to what enslaved us? Any other thoughts?
Feel free to leave a comment below! I'd love to hear from you.

Luke 4:18, "The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed,"

John 8:36, "Therefore, if the Son sets you free, you really will be free."

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Rejoice Always

1 Thessalonians 5:16, "Rejoice always!"
Then verse 18, "Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."

In everything.

Easier said than done. Rejoice always? Give thanks in everything? Even in the messy moments, when tired, or in pain, in experiencing grief or insecurity? Even in those times? The answer that verse gives is yes.
I have to admit, it's so hard to be thankful at all times. At times I'd rather complain or just tune my thoughts out from thanksgiving. But that Bible verse says to in all times.

1 Thessalonians was written by Paul. The same one who persecuted Christians, had God turn his life around on the Damascus road, preached the Gospel, was imprisoned and suffered for his faith  - yes, that Paul. I might think that my week isn't the greatest, but Paul literally suffered for Jesus' name. And yet he rejoiced always and gave thanks in everything.
How did he do that?
It wasn't him, but Christ within him (Galatians 2:20).

I have a She Reads Truth Bible and there are short devotionals in it. One I read recently said, "True thanksgiving doesn't remove our sorrows. It acknowledges the coming glory that will."
We give thanks to God knowing that one day the suffering, pain, and sorrows will cease.
We give thanks to God for He is good.
We give thanks to God knowing that even in less than ideal circumstances then He has a plan.
We give thanks to God because He is in control.
We give thanks to God because He remains unchanging and is worthy of our praise.

It's hard to give thanks. It's even harder to always rejoice and give thanks in everything. But even when life keeps throwing things at you then there is always something to be thankful for.

Psalm 75:1, "We give thanks to You, God; we give thanks to You, for Your name is near. People tell about Your wonderful works."

The Bible, especially the Psalms, have words of praise to God. Try reading some of those.

Psalm 95:2, "Let us enter His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout triumphantly to Him in song."

We can worship and praise God through many different things. Writing, singing, reading scripture, and so many more things.

Psalm 107:1, "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever."

Let's strive to praise God always.


What are just three things you're thankful for today?

What are some ways you try to remain thankful despite of less than ideal circumstances?

Any favorite Bible verses about being thankful?

Saturday, March 10, 2018

A Tag - Liebster Award

I was tagged by Cori over at ForTEEN for this tag... so thanks Cori! And then I got tagged by Paige from Paige’s Pages  so thank you as well. I actually answered the questions Cori gave me first so I’ll be answering her questions. I've actually never done a tag before but I decided to give this one a shot so hang with me here :).
This tag's name is the Liebester Award tag and it was made to help people discover new blogs.
I'm posting this on a Saturday so it's throwing off my blogging schedule a little but I will still (God willing) be posting on Tuesday as usual.

Here are the rules....

  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Answer the eleven questions they gave you
  • Name eleven facts about yourself
  • Nominate eleven bloggers to do this tag and let them know
  • Give them eleven questions to answer

So here goes nothing...

1. How long have you been blogging for?
It will be two years this May

2. Who are you closest to in your family (can be more than one)?
I'm close to all of my family members... my parents and three sisters.

3. What's the story behind your blog title?
There is one name above all names and I started this blog to bring glory to His name. It also comes from Philippians 2:9,10, "the name that is above every name... Jesus" 

4. Where do you want to live when you get older?
I haven't thought that far ahead? Honestly I have no idea.

5. What's your favorite wild animal?
Dolphins. Dolphins are the greatest.

6. What does your dream bedroom look like?
Color scheme of gray, green, and maybe some blue. I'm basic.

7. What is your dream job?
...... Can I pass on this one? I don't really know....

8. What's your favorite season?
It was spring. But I have allergies now so it's Fall.

9. How do you relax?
Reading, writing in my journal, watching a movie.

10. What do you do in your free time?
Write, read, hang out with friends sometimes, watch movies sometimes.

11. What is your dream vacation?
Probably traveling the world.


1. I am a homeschooler 
2. My favorite color is green.
3. I love almost any kind of music from Skillet to Laura Story
4. My top two favorite songs right now would be So Will I (100 Billion X) by Hillsong United and Reckless Love by Cory Asburg 
5. My first writing notebook with poems was a green spiral one with my name written on it in sharpie.. I started it when I was eight.
6. Probably my favorite Psalm would be Psalm 63:1-8.
7. My favorite out of the four gospels would be John.
8. I'm in the youth band at my church... I love to sing.
9. I love journaling... I have nine used journals (not including other notebooks)
10. I love smoothies, pizza, and chocolate (not necessarily all together)
11. Thinking of eleven facts about myself is harder than I thought

And I tag... you! Any of you out there you would like to do this tag. So I'm kind of bending the rules....

Here are the questions if you'd like to do it...

1. Why'd you start a blog?
2. What's your favorite book trilogy (or top few)?
3. What's your favorite band?
4. Do you have any pets? 
5. What are your top two hobbies?
6. If you could be famous for one thing what would it be?
7. Favorite flower?
8. Top three desserts?
9. Mountains or beach?
10. You prefer hot or cold weather?
11. If you could travel to any country (that you haven't been to before) what would it be?

So if you're interested in doing this tag, feel free! Let me know in the comments and I can go look at your answers once you post them :). 

Have a great weekend!!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Thy Will Be Done

Picture the scene. Jesus has been betrayed.  He goes out into the Mount of Olives to pray, He's in anguish and His sweat is like drops of blood.
He says in verse 42 in chapter 22 of Luke, "“Father, if You are willing, take this cup away from Me..." He asks God if He's willing, to take the cup away from Him... so that He carry the weight of the sin of the world on His shoulders. But then He adds, " —nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.”"
Despite the anguish Jesus is feeling, despite the fact that He knows God's will is for Him to be the Ultimate Sacrifice for all mankind.... despite all of that He says, "not My will, but Yours, be done."
Often we pray the opposite, "My will be done, not Yours."  Jesus surrenders Himself to His Father's will.
Earlier in His ministry Jesus teaches His disciples how to pray... and in that prayer He says, "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:9-13). And we see Him live that out later.

We're to follow His example.

One thing I love from the Gospels is that Jesus doesn't just tell his disciples what they should do... He models it for them. Jesus doesn't just tell us to obey God's will, but He lives that out Himself. He knows it's hard, He knows the struggle.

Hebrews 4:15, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin. "

That verse says that Jesus knows. He's been tested and is able to sympathize with us... and yet He is without sin. Submitting to God's will to never easy, but Jesus did.

Four years ago this past Sunday my family moved. My dad and mom were following God's will for him to serve as a pastor here. I knew that they were obeying God's will, but at the time I mostly recognized that I was leaving my friends. But God knew what He was doing. Looking back I can now see how God has been working these past few years.
Sometimes we don't see how things can be apart of God's will, but He has a plan. We just have to try to trust Him and surrender to His will. When we try to let our will be done everything goes wrong.

There's a song by Hillary Scott called Thy Will (click here to listen to it) and through the song she says that she's confused and that she doesn't understand. But she says thy will be done. A fact about this song is that she wrote it after having a miscarriage. She put her pain to paper and submitted to God saying thy will be done.

It's hard to follow God's will. It's hard to surrender and trust Him. But even if we can't do anything else, let's say thy will be done to God. We won't understand at the time of why these things are happening... but God has a plan.

Thy will be done