{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.)

{Day 16}: The Door

31 Days Jesus gate

Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.

All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them.

I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.

They will come in and go out, and find pasture.”   John 10:7-9

Previously, in this series, we’ve spoken of other ways Jesus identified Himself–as the bread of life and the light of the world. Now we come to another of His “I AM” statements, where He tells us He is the gate. Some versions say, I am the Door.

Obviously, in this passage, we the people are the sheep. Does that make you squirm a little, too?

I have little personal experience with sheep, but I tend to think Ewww… Sheep are smelly, stubborn, stupid creatures, which follow blindly.

Then again, maybe we relate to sheep more than I thought.

One of the earliest Bible verses I learned was Isaiah 53:6~We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.  

The thing is, Jesus knew exactly what was in a sheep. And a man. And a woman.

He was still willing to be the Door for us.

I heard a preacher tell a story about the sheepfold and the entry gate. There was one entrance into the fold, and there wasn’t typically a gate or door at the entrance. So the shepherds would lay there in the doorway to protect the sheep at night from intruders like wolves or from storms or maybe even night wandering…sheepwalking? Don’t quote me on that last part.

The shepherds became the door of the fold. By laying down there at the entryway. For their sheep.

Jesus does this for us. He provides for our needs. He protects us from the evil one. Yes, trials and suffering come whether we are His sheep who listen to His voice, or not. But the enemy will not overcome us or snatch us away from Him.

31 Days Jesus Door red letter words

As the Door, He’s not about trying to keep out the Black Sheep. He’s about sacrifice, about laying Himself down for us.

As the Door, He’s not about sheltering or withholding life. He opens the door, and we’re free to go out and then come back home.

May we always find ourselves at home in Christ.

But when we stray, 

May we quickly find our way to the Door,

The Open Door who welcomes wanderers home.

 

{Day 15}: Love Your Enemies

31 Days red letter words Jesus LoveWelcome back to 31 Days of Love in Red Letters.

I should admit, this is one of those weeks for me.

I think it’s called Post-Vacation Stress Disorder or something. It’s not pretty. I don’t know which end is up, basically. I’m still not sure which day we’re on. Laundry has taken over my upstairs hallway. It keeps multiplying.

I have so many little projects in the works, that some moments I have no idea where to even begin. This is a heavy week of school, because we missed a week when our co-op was in session. Now I remember why that was such a bad idea. :)

Something’s gotta give, so today, I’m keeping things here extra simple and just sharing a short passage.

Simple, except that these may be the hardest of Jesus’ words to follow in the whole Bible.

Jesus pretty much says:  You’ve heard from people, that you should love one way. But I’m telling you to love a very different way. The way your Father loves. Perfectly.

Read these words from Matthew 5~

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, 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.

“If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” 

So there you go. Love others, period. Even–or especially–those who do you wrong. Because your Father loves this way.

He actively loves those who love Him back, and those who don’t. He wants us to do the same.

Another place we find His love in red letters.

Wishing you all a happy hump-day! It is Wednesday, right?

~Angela

31 Days Love Red Letter Words Jesus

 

{Day 14}: Of Light

31 days red letter words Jesus light

When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  John 8:12

Do you ever read passages like this and think, but what does that mean to me, today? To us who believe?

In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:4-5)

Jesus is the “Light of the World” to me. I believe He is everything He says He is. But the bigger question? Is He my Life and my Light? 

31 Days red letter words Jesus light

When God rescued the Israelites from slavery, and brought them out of Egypt, He showed Himself as the light on their way, day by day.

By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people. Exodus 13:21-22

By day you led them with a pillar of cloud, and by night with a pillar of fire to give them light on the way they were to take. Nehemiah 9:12

The Lord went ahead of them, and yet His presence remained with them.

His light guided the way.

He told them when to move and when to stay.

He led them to the exact places He had for them to take.

In these ways, He was light and also the way to life for Israel.

In these ways, Jesus is our light, showing us His love and the way to life. Giving us His light. Making us light like Him.

May we live our days as children of light.

31 Days Love Red Letter Words Jesus

 

{Day 13}: Before Wheat Bellies & Grain Brains

31 DAYS JESUS RED LETTER WORDS WHEAT BELLIES GRAIN BRAINSHappy Monday morning, friends. Welcome back to 31 Days of Love in Red Letters.

I hope you’re ready to grab this week by the horns and do it up right. Me? Not so much. We vacationed at Disney World last week, with the kids. SO much fun.

But after the dozen-hour ride home this weekend, I’m coming down from my family-fun high. My Introversion is flaring up again. I’m afraid this week might grow its own horns, grab me against my will, and toss me around a bit. Just a hunch.

Before we jump into Scripture, let me ask you. Have you ever tried to cut bread out of your diet completely? And by bread, I mean crackers, tortillas, pitas, and other forms too. I’d guess nearly all of us have at some point. Bread has been written up and called out more times than I can count. In many opinions, bread and bread-related items are the great enemy of good nutrition and a healthy body.

It’s hard for us to give up though. As soon as you think you’re over it, somebody serves up warm pitas with fresh hummus at a family gathering, and Next Week flashes like neon lights inside your brain. You think, there’s always tomorrow. Because warm pitas. True story.

Nonetheless, other than for the love, it’s not a problem for us to stop eating bread. There are plenty of other even better options to fill our hunger.

It wasn’t that way in Jesus’ time though. They didn’t live in a food culture like ours, with overflowing marketplaces and restaurants beckoning on every corner. Food was not a hobby.

The people of Jesus’ day actually needed bread.

Obviously, they feasted. But not the modern Western way. Not all the time. They ate much less than we do, from what I gather. They went without sometimes too.

Jesus walked the earth before all the wheat bellies and grain brains. Bread was the most important part of their diet, and many existed on bread alone.  They knew how important it was and appreciated its value.

Bread gave life. Bread sustained. They considered it almost sacred, and knew who provided bread for them daily.

Remember manna, the bread from heaven? While the Israelites wandered in the wilderness, God provided manna every morning. While manna was a miracle from heaven,  it wasn’t the true bread of life.

In the 6th chapter of John, Jesus speaks with crowds who have followed him to the other side of the lake. They ask Him for a sign to help them believe and remind Him of manna. He tells them the Father has something much better than manna for them.

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35

A few verses later, Jesus again says, “I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that comes down from heaven…” (verses 48-51)

Jesus is the most important staple of our lives. Needed daily. In abundance. For life.

Oh Lord, give us this day our daily bread…

 

To start from the beginning of this series, click here.

31 Days Love Red Letter Words Jesus

{Day 10}: Waves of Grace

Welcome Back to Day 10 of 31 Days of Love in Red Letters! To begin this series at the beginning, click here.

When I started this blog in October 2012, I called it Waves of Grace, because God was in the process of showing me His grace for me everywhere I could possibly look. Today I offer one of my earliest blogs, entitled Even Waves Are Made of Grace:

gage beach

From the FULLNESS

of His grace,

we have all

received

one blessing after another.

John 1:16, NIV

If you look through our travel scrapbook (from the days when I had time to scrapbook), you’d notice a theme. We’ve been to a lot of beaches. And we love them all, or at least this girl loves them all. My husband cares about rideable waves and surf zones.

I’m just there to take it all in~let the waves lull me into a blissful, relaxed state, and take a daily run down the beach. When I get to run down the beach, instead of down the road, I feel like I could keep running FOREVER…or approximately 5 miles, whichever ends first.

So what does John 1:16 have to do with the beach? According to my buddies Walvoord and Zuck, even waves are made of grace. Actually, what they say (in The Bible Knowledge Commentary) is that one blessing after another come to Christians “as waves continue to come to the shore.”

The Amplified version of John 1:16 says,

For out of His fullness (abundance)

we have all received (all had a share and we were all supplied with)

one grace after another and spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing

and even favor upon favor and gift (heaped) upon gift.

Grace, blessings, gifts–all these roll in constant, as waves to the seashore. I think of standing on my favorite beach under an ever-changing sky, staring out over miles of blue I can’t see the end of, the waves like background music.

But this is not the way life feels from day to day. Rare moments of stillness or glimpses of beauty don’t trip me up. It’s the days I feel I’m running hard through sand that sticks, swimming tangled up in seaweed toward shore. And I admit, I don’t persevere through these gracefully.

Earlier this week, I filled my husband’s ears with just how hard this is (my life), when the kids won’t listen and I have so.much.to.do.it.hurts, and the calendar is packed, and there’s only so much time. While delivering this speech, I didn’t think about power in the waves I love so much or blessings that are mine.

He kindly led me away from the emotional ledge I sat on, and later, my Bible reading challenged me with the way Jesus handled problems.  In John 6, the disciples had a huge, hungry crowd to feed and only a tiny amount of food to feed them. But BEFORE Jesus fixed this problem, he did one thing I easily forget.

He gave thanks.

I don’t know that I swim less tangled or run less hindered, but when I stop and give thanks–not only as a pre-meal ritual, but rather a constant recognition that all is grace and from the Father’s hands–I start to see the graces more clearly. I receive them.

Is this it? This small thing, all the difference between walking down the beach focused on thick, difficult sand or gazing out at sun-sparkled, glorious waves of grace?

31 Days Love Red Letter Words Jesus

Thank you for joining me for #31days. Now go out and weekend well!

If I can pray for you for any reason, please contact me at angela@angelaparlin.com.

See you Monday!

~Angela

{Day 9}: Beauty of Blessedness

31 Days Jesus Red Letters Blessed

Jesus walked away from the crowds, to a mountainside, where He sat with His disciples. We call His words the Sermon on the Mount, but this is far from a formal sermon.

Let’s sink into the beginning of the passage, called the Beatitudes, or Declarations of Blessedness.

Here Jesus spoke to His followers, and described a person living in a right relationship with God. He emphasized internal qualities, attitudes of the heart. Those which exist only when one fully trusts in and surrenders to God.

The religious rulers of the day, known as the Pharisees, favored outside appearances, so Jesus’ words contradicted them. But God–who reads our insides clearly–cares much about the motivations of our hearts.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3-10, NIV

The Amplified Bible expands on the word blessed–to be envied, spiritually prosperous, with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of outward conditions. So blessed means a whole lot more than happy or materially blessed, as we might imagine the word.

There’s a difference between the word blessed (barak) used often in the Old Testament, and blessed (makarios) in this section of the New Testament.

Both words describe human attitudes or actions that lead to blessing. But in the OT, the blessed life certainly included material blessings.

In the NT, God’s kingdom is now present (in the person of Jesus) and His blessed ones already know the joy which comes from living in that kingdom. Here, blessing describes the inner experience of the believer and does not necessarily have anything to do with material blessings. (Summarized from the Encyclopedia of Bible Words by Larry Richards.)

So a person in a right relationship with God looks like this (or is growing toward this) on the inside:

  • The opposite of proud and self-sufficient.
  • Knows their needs and presents them to the Lord.
  • Humble and gentle, patient and longsuffering.
  • Desires personal righteousness.
  • Loves people, shows mercy.
  • Inwardly clean from sin through faith in Christ and continual acknowledgement of their sinful condition.
  • Peaceful toward others, at peace within.
  • Stands out, are misunderstood, and therefore persecuted.

For the list-makers and check-off people among us–my people–it’s important to note that this passage is a description, and not a list to accomplish. We should desire these characteristics for ourselves, yet we are unable to make them happen on our own, without the indwelling of Christ.

This is a picture of the beauty God works in a heart given to Him, and a list of ways He rewards His people. The more I read these words, the more I want them to be about me, in greater measure.

God wants good things for us, but not the kind of “things” we can hold in our hands. He wants us to see Him and be His and desire His kingdom more than this whole world. 

Can you hear the Love today? The Love in these Red Letters?

For the beginning of this series and list of posts by day, click here.

See you tomorrow for one last thought before we weekend…

~Angela

31 Days Love Red Letter Words Jesus

 

{Day 8}: Take the Stairs

31 Days Red Letter Words Jesus Take Stairs

Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.  John 1:51, NLT

Self-discipline expert, Rory Vaden, spoke at our annual business convention a couple years ago. Sharing messages from his book, Take the Stairs: 7 Steps to Achieving True Success,  he encouraged us to stop looking for quick fixes, instant gratification, and escalators in life.

Most of us struggle with that a little bit, don’t we? Fast is just so much…faster. But we all know it’s often not best.

He challenged us to take the stairs instead–one focused, self-disciplined step at a time. Around our house, we started saying “take the stairs” when talking about doing things the hard way.

Today’s verse is a totally different way of looking at the concept of take the stairs.

31 Days Red Letters Jesus Take Stairs

Stairway leading to Montmartre, the highest point of the city of Paris, France

Just before we get to the scene in John 1:51, Philip, a disciple of Jesus, tells his friend Nathaniel to “come and see” the Messiah. Nathaniel has doubts about Jesus, and asks, Can anything good come out of Nazareth?  So Jesus, in all His wisdom, tells Nathaniel some things about himself. Things He wouldn’t have known without supernatural knowledge.

Nathaniel then believes He is the Messiah, and Jesus says, That was nothing compared to what’s coming. You will see much greater things!

I tell you the truth

With this phrase, Jesus calls attention to an important affirmation. He’s saying, Pay careful attention to this.

You will all see heaven open

Scholars disagree on whether Jesus meant this literally or figuratively. Either way, Jesus’ work on earth gave human beings a glimpse of heaven.

Revelation 1:7 speaks of things yet to come with, “Look, He is coming with the clouds and every eye will see Him…”

And the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man

Remember Jacob’s dream?

He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God ascending and descending on it. Genesis 28:12

The one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.

Jesus says now He is the ladder between heaven and earth. He is Jacob’s ladder to us, and angels continually assist Him for the good of His followers. When Nathaniel understands Jesus as the link between heaven and earth, he will have seen greater things.

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him. He alone bridges heaven and earth.

I hope this verse gives you a picture that sticks to your thoughts today, a picture of Jesus standing as the only stairway on earth that reaches to heaven. Take the stairs!

31 Days Paris France Jesus Red Letters take stairs

Stairs leading up to Sacré-Cœur Basilica, Paris, France

*If you wish to find the first post in this series, as well as a list of all posts in this series, click here.

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Happy October Wednesday,

~Angela

31 Days Love Red Letter Words Jesus