{Day 31}: 7 Jesus-Quotes…It’s a Wrap

falldoorWelcome back to the last day of 31 Days of Love in Red Letters.

I hope this series has encouraged you and helped you to see more of Jesus. I have enjoyed studying to write these posts, and have learned so much along with you. I’ll continue to write from the words of Jesus from time to time.

The biggest thing I’ve learned from the challenge itself? I can push myself and write more often, but also I’m not in the best place in life to write this often. That wasn’t really a surprise. Clearly, since my norm is to write a post or two a week.

31 Days of Love in Red Letters Fall Jesus

To wrap up this series, I have a list for you. These are passages I wanted to dig into, but didn’t have the chance. May they inspire you to study and find the deeper meaning on your own.

7 Jesus Quotes On Love ~ In Red Letters:

1. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ Matthew 9:13

2. Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Luke 18:16

3. The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.  Luke 4:18-19, quoting Isaiah 61.

4. Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest. Mark 6:31

5. Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Mark 8:34-36

6. And will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night? Luke 18: 7

 7. Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in Heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. Matthew 5:44-45.

And there you have it. It’s a wrap!

I hope you will enjoy falling leaves and crisp fall air, chilly walks followed by warm apple cider, all the anticipation for the holidays, and tonight ~ little ones dressed as superheroes, princesses, bananas, and cowboys knocking at your door.

Happy fall, y’all! ~Angela

gagepumpkin

 

{Day 30}: It’s All In Who You Ask

 

31 days Jesus love in red letters prayer ask seek knockWelcome back to 31 Days!

Yesterday, I could not manage to sit down at my laptop for more than a minute. Because life happened.

We had an emergency with our orphan hosting application. Everything had to stop, because it had to be done that day. But it wasn’t only that it had to be done. As in, me filing out more paperwork.

I had to get a social worker to come out to my house that day, and to complete a report by today. We had someone scheduled for the following week, and had been waiting a couple weeks for that appointment. But suddenly it wasn’t enough, and I had a list of people to call and beg. Or the whole thing would be off…and two little girls would be sitting in their orphanage in Latvia this Christmas instead of enjoying a vacation and family time here.

Do you want to know what I’m the worst at?

Asking people to do things for me. Period.

But the thing I’m getting better at?

Asking my Father in Heaven to do things only He can do. Believing He can make it all work–today–and that He wants to do that for us…and for a couple sweet little girls.

So before I started dialing numbers, I asked God. And then asked my kids to come pray with me, so we could ask God together.

Then I talked with several people who said, I wish I could help you, but there is no way. So I kept asking God, believing He would make this work.

And HE did!!!

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8

31 Days Jesus Door red letter wordsSo many times, I’ve prayed lazy or forgetful. But this verse means keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking. Persist in prayer.

Some believe ask, seek, and knock apply to different levels of intensity. For instance, sometimes, we only need to ask God for something. Others, we ask, but we also need to seek by doing whatever part we can do. And sometimes, we need to knock at His door with urgency. He values our passion and persistence.

Matthew 6:8 says, …your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. Has this line ever left you wondering why we should ask, seek, and knock? I’ve wondered.

I think that prayer is most simply, obedience. But it’s more than that. When we pray, we depend on God. We rely on Him. We trust Him. We align our hearts with His, and learn to care about what He cares about.

Our Father in heaven gives good gifts to those who ask Him. 

{Day 28}: On Dwelling in Christ & Fast and Swirly Surprises

Welcome back to 31 Days of Love in Red Letters.

Today’s a really special day. It’s my 2nd child’s birthday, so before we dig in, a birthday shout-out…

I loved one little boy, and I do mean little, when this pregnancy surprised us. How in the world would I keep up with two babies? Then Ryder came shooting out. And I do mean shooting. He turned delivery into one of those fast and swirly fair rides, where you get off and say to all the blurry people around you, What just happened?

He’s been cruising through life ever since, all smiles and adventure, turning our days into super-fun, much less painful rides.

He was the first to grow me that extra heart. You know when you love your first baby so much, you have no idea how you could ever have room for the next? And then he arrives, like you’ve always known him, and you can’t believe you questioned it.

So happy birthday, my 2nd child. I couldn’t love you any more, Ry. You make me love surprises.

31 Days Jesus birthday

Now back to our study. We left off last Thursday in John 15, with the question, how do we bear good fruit?

Remain in me, as I also remain in you.

No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

I used to pray often for specific fruit to show up in my life. It felt like nothing changed. So I questioned how to remain in Christ, like there was some magical answer I hadn’t yet found. I sat with Jesus regularly, but didn’t see the results I hoped for.

I’d jump into my Mom Day, and my joy would leave the building by lunchtime. Or even 9 am. And patience? I’ve written about that before, in a post entitled In Which I Tidal-Wave. So you know, it’s a struggle.

I wanted to remain in Jesus. Actually, I wanted Him to remain in me and for that to be visible. But then I ran through days with so many obstacles, attitudes, and mishaps. With so many kids! :)

31 Days red letter words Jesus walking dead

Finally, I gave up.

After hundreds of prayers begging for patience, I threw my hands up and told the Lord He would have to do all these things in me, because I couldn’t get it together.

Then the strangest things happened…

I started to understand and be overwhelmed by grace.

Beauty was everywhere, and it all pointed back to Him.

I worshiped Jesus, instead of focusing on my behavior.

I let go of results, and felt doomed to being double-minded and a bit of a rollercoaster forever. But over time, He formed fruit in me. When I admitted my inability and trusted His work and His timing.

I am convinced we don’t need to try so hard. We don’t need to work on specific attributes. We just need to be with Jesus. We need to continue to look to Jesus, to dwell in Him, and to thank Him for all He’s working together for good in all the ways we cannot see.

Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. {Live in Me, and I will live in you.} (AMP)

31 Days Love Red Letter Words Jesus

{Day 27}: What We Really Need When We’re Weary

31 Days fall red letter words Lord is my shepherd

Welcome back to the very last week of 31 Days of Love in Red Letters!

I had planned to finish the passage from John 15, about bearing fruit, today, but things don’t always go the way I’ve planned.

Amen?

I chatted my way through a blogger’s conference this weekend, and when I woke up Sunday morning, the Lord had a word for me: REST.

And I agreed. Wholeheartedly. My brain is stuffed. It feels a little like my head might explode. Before that happens, let’s hurry to Jesus’ words from Matthew 11:

Then Jesus said,

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.

Have you heard these verses a hundred times? Maybe they even hung on a plaque on your wall back when plaques were a thing? I don’t know. They did mine. The problem is, sometimes I’m reading the Word from a completely self-centered perspective. What’s in it for me?

So this passage has been about rest. Jesus gives rest, and Jesus wants me to rest. But that’s not really the big idea. He wants us to simply come. To Him. He wants us to take His plans, His life, His direction as our own, and to let Him teach us.

He’s not just saying “Take good care of yourself. Have some Me Time.” He’s not telling us to sleep in more or sit down a while and put our feet up. I’ll be honest, that sounds great right about now. But the real idea is–go to Jesus, and learn from Him. The promise? As we do that, He will give us rest.

In other versions of this passage, Jesus’ words are translated, Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden. Labor likely implies burdens we take upon ourselves, while heavy laden suggests the burdens other people put on us.  I think we all understand what it’s like to be weighed down by burdens, or say maybe, expectations.

The theme of the conference I attended this weekend was Hospitality and living lives of invitation. So of course the passage God brings to my mind this morning shows Jesus, once again, inviting all who will come, to Himself. Paying attention (once again) to the burdens people carry, and offering a new way of life in Him.

On that note, May you find rest for your soul.

31 Days Love Red Letter Words Jesus

{Day 24}: When Opportunity Knocks

Proverbs 31 Ministries Contest Winner Devotion

I learned about the contest a few days before the deadline, but knew right away I would enter. The biggest reason? FEEDBACK.

It’s not often a writer gets valuable feedback from an editor. So I’m told. The truth is, I don’t think I’ve ever submitted anything to a contest in my adult life. Shame on me.

Proverbs 31 Ministries, through COMPEL, their amazing writer’s training ministry, hoped to give each writer editorial feedback.

So when I opened the email during the middle of a school-at-home Wednesday, and it said ~ Angela, you won, as well as a couple paragraphs of positive feedback from the editor, I could not stop crying.

My kids sat there, confused.

Mom, what’s wrong?…But isn’t this a good thing, Mom?…I think this is a good thing!

This good thing is a blessing to me, and I’ve been praying it will bless others also. Click here to read my devotion, The Slavery of Striving.

Have a beautiful end-of-October weekend!

~Angela

{Day 23}: True Vine & Real Good Fruit

31 Days Jesus red letter words true vine good fruit

In the Old Testament, Israel was sometimes symbolized by a vine. As in Psalm 80, You brought a vine out of Egypt. You drove out the nations and planted it.

The vine produced both food (grapes, raisins) and wine for celebration. But the vine had the potential to produce a sweet harvest, or a rotten one.

Jesus speaks to His disciples in John chapter 15, hours before He was taken to the cross. He contrasts Himself with Israel, giving us the last of His I AM statements~

I am the True Vine, and my Father is the Gardener.

He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.

The Greek word for cuts off also means lifts up or redirects. Scholars believe the meaning here is that branches bearing NO fruit represent those who are not true believers. But some believe Jesus is saying His branches that bear no fruit have to be redirected, that something has to change, because His branches must bear fruit.

The word prunes comes from a Greek word which also means cleanses. Those branches which already do bear fruit will be cleansed by His Word to bear even more fruit. You get the feeling here, that we are here–we live–to bear fruit for the glory of God.

31 days Jesus red letter words true vine good fruit

Which begs the question, what does it mean to bear fruit to God’s glory?

Growing up, I thought the phrase bearing fruit meant one thing–leading people to Jesus. As in, getting them to want to pray THE PRAYER. That was the simple definition of bearing fruit I had heard. Talking through the way to salvation and praying with a person is absolutely bearing fruit…fruit that will last. But it’s not the entire definition.

Several New Testament passages compare the fruit of sin and death with godly fruit. The fruit of sin is most obviously, sin: idolatry, hatred, jealousy, fits of rage, sexual sin, selfish ambition, disunity, drunkenness, greed, and other behaviors motivated by the sinful nature. See Romans 7 and Galatians 5 to study this further.

The OT speaks of good fruit God desires, fruit like justice and righteousness.

In the NT, the Fruit of the Light consists of goodness, righteousness, and truth. (Ephesians 5:9)

The Fruit of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5)

So then, how do we bear good fruit?

Let’s pick up there on Monday.

Tomorrow, I will share with you my contest-winning devotion from Proverbs 31 Ministries. See you then…

~AngelaProverbs 31 Ministries Contest Winner Devotion

{Day 22}: When Everything Is Awful

31 Days red letter words Jesus

Sometimes, things go from bad to worse and the bad news just keeps coming. Sometimes when it rains it pours.

Jesus’ disciples learned He would be leaving them. His leaving would be full of suffering.

“I am with you for only a short time, and then I am going to the one who sent me. You will look for me, but you will not find me…” John 7:33-34

One of their close-knit group would betray Jesus. Then Peter would disown Him before men.

To make matters worse, Satan wanted to test them. He would work hard to take them all down. To destroy them.

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32

They would all scatter, leaving Jesus’ side when He needed them most.

“This very night you will all fall away on account of me…” Matthew 26:31

Soon, the Light would leave this world, and things were going to get worse for these men. They would be exposed and hated and persecuted. What a bitter pill to swallow. This wasn’t the coming kingdom they expected to see.

Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in Me.

After all this bad news came like a blow, Jesus spoke to His closest disciples, His dearest friends. He observed how it felt to be in their shoes. He noticed the state of their disillusioned hearts.

Jesus knows “all our secret undiscovered sorrows, the wounds that bleed inwardly; He knows not only how we are afflicted, but how we stand affected under our afflictions, and how near they lie to our hearts…He knows our souls in adversity.” ~Matthew Henry

The remedy for their sorrows and discouragement? Trust in God, and trust in Jesus. It wasn’t cliche’, but it was truth.

31 Days Love Red Letter Words Jesus

He encouraged them that He’d go prepare for them and later return to bring them home, where they’d always stay with Him. He said, You know the way to the place where I am going. But they didn’t. They didn’t understand, so Jesus told them again. Here’s who I AM~

I AM the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me. (John 14)

When your heart is troubled, and the blows add up, or one heavy blow shatters life as you know it…rely on Jesus. Cling to Him. He knows your heart, where it’s broken. Hold Him fast. He is the way to life.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord Himself, is the Rock eternal. Isaiah 26:3-4

31 Days Love Red Letter Words Jesus

{Day 21}: Walking Dead

31 Days red letter words Jesus walking dead There’s no way to talk about LIFE without also talking about death.

But most people don’t really want to talk about death. Until it’s upon them, or upon someone they love. And then they want to know, what happens from here?

When Jesus’ friend Lazarus died, Jesus wrestled with Death, and defined Himself, again, as the Life.

Lazarus fell sick, and his sisters sent word to their close friend, Jesus. They knew He held the power to heal Lazarus, and they expected He would do it.

But Jesus responded with a delay. He stayed put for a couple more days, saying this sickness would not end in death. Its purpose was to bring God glory.

Jesus knew things they didn’t know. He knew the ending to this story.

But then Lazarus died.

Jesus arrived at the house, and Lazarus’ sister, Martha,  came out to meet Him first. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  Jesus responded,

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?  John 11:25-26

Evenso, Jesus was moved, and He wept. His spirit was troubled, which is also translated, angered. Here we see Jesus angry at the tyranny of Death–angry that Death has long ravaged and ruled over mankind. Wrestling with Death, He weeps over the tragic consequences of sin.

Just before He transcends the laws of this world and triumphs over Death.

Jesus orders the stone of the tomb rolled away. He confidently thanks the Father for granting His request. Then He calls Lazarus out of the grave, to life.

Wrapped in strips of linen, Lazarus walked out of the grave just like that, after having been there four days dead.

Take off the grave clothes.” Jesus called the man to life and then directed his friends to free him completely.

As the Resurrection and the Life, Jesus brings the spiritually dead to life again.

31 Days red letter words walking dead Jesus

If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36

{Day 20}: The Lord is My Shepherd

31 Days fall red letter words Lord is my shepherd

YOU GUYS. This weekend, I found a button. I think it’s going to revolutionize blogging for me. Because I now know how to turn words another color!!!

I know, I know. This seems pretty elementary. I always meant to figure it out, and now that I’ve just happened upon a button, I don’t even have to. How fun! Too bad I didn’t figure this out before I started a series about RED LETTER WORDS. But here we go anyway…

Welcome back to {the new and improved and in-color series} 31 Days of Love in Red Letters. 

Is this month cruising by for you too? But what gorgeous fall weather we were blessed with this weekend! Truly a gift. I hope you were able to get out and enjoy it.

In the book of John, we find the fourth answer to this question ~ Jesus, Who are You?

Previously, He answered, I am the Bread of Life. I am the Light of the World. I am the Door.

Now, I am Good Shepherd.

I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.

I am the Good Shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.

John 10:11, 14

The people Jesus spoke to knew shepherds. Both shepherds who cared for flocks of sheep, and kings called shepherds, who led God’s people.

Unfortunately, they were used to false shepherds. Religious rulers, Pharisees, and chief priests ruled over them with an abundance of burdensome rules and harsh punishments. Long before that, kings ruled over the people of Israel, failing to obey God or respect the role He had given them.

31 Days red letter words Jesus fall the Lord is my shepherd

Jesus comes on the scene as a great contrast. He is the Good Shepherd. Who knows. Loves. Cares for. Guides. Protects. Feeds. Provides for His own.

He risked danger for them, the way a loving shepherd would do for his sheep. Ultimately, He died to pay all the penalty not only for them, but for all who would come after them. For any who would believe in Him and receive Him. For us!

Just before Jesus says He is the Good Shepherd, He tells them something about thieves. Thieves come only to steal, kill, and destroy. Like the false shepherds, and the evil one. These were not out to serve the people. They cared only for themselves.

In contrast, Jesus came to give a rich and satisfying life to His own. His main concern was for His sheep.

Like the old Psalm says, Jesus shepherds us still.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

~Psalm 23

31 Days Jesus The Lord is my shepherd red letter words fall

For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; He will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Revelation 7:17

Thanks for joining me here today. Have an amazing Monday.

~Angela

{Day 17}: World Poverty Day

Welcome back to 31 Days of Love in Red Letters!

31 Days Jesus World Poverty Day

Today is World Poverty Day, and I want to encourage you to join the fight–and move forward with hope.

Maybe you’re already praying and supporting the fight against poverty, but sometimes you wonder if anything is getting better.

Maybe you’ve looked around and been overwhelmed by such great need.

Maybe it appears the problem is too big and the solution too small.

Maybe you think it’s not possible to defeat poverty. 

That’s a myth. We can do this. We can put an end to extreme poverty.

31 Days Jesus Red Letter Words World Poverty Day

The truth is, between 1990 and 2010, the number of people living in extreme poverty was cut in half.

The truth is, in one generation, the number of children dying before their 5th birthday was CUT IN HALF.

The truth is, AIDS is no longer a death sentence. New HIV infections are steadily declining. Diseases like Malaria and Measles are being defeated.

But there’s another side to the truth. Despite all this progress, 1.2 billion people still live in extreme poverty.

In his book, Hope Rising, Scott C. Todd says, “Extreme poverty does not have to exist. When Christians accept that fact and start living accordingly, we will find the solution is already within our reach.”

But more importantly, Jesus said to give generously. Not to those who can pay us back, but to those can never pay us back.

Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.” Luke 14:12-14

31 Days Jesus red letter words world poverty day

Please join us, to fight world poverty. Compassion International is an excellent place to start. We sponsor children through Compassion, and even had the blessing of meeting a few of them face-to-face in their home country last year.

We witnessed first-hand the important work of this organization. They are fulfilling a high calling, and seeing amazing results. We get to be a part of it, which is truly thrilling. Sponsor a child, and you will be blessed!

(Statistics above taken from Hope Rising.)