Friday, December 30, 2011

Even if some cover their ears | We say goodbye to 2011

Family & Friends,

We have come to the end of another year. Today is the last "Be Inspired" for 2011. I have chosen to share Acts 7. It the entire chapter, take a few moments to read.

I pray for this New Year that is upon us that the Lord would give us plenty of opportunities to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ; that we would not shrink back for time is short. People slip away every day, including our family members and friends.  Even if the crowd closes their ears and refuse to listen to the truth, their might always be one that God will use, one that will respond, be transformed and sent out; Saul was changed to the Apostle Paul. The Lord has a way of reaching men and knocking them of their "high horse" and getting their attention. He did it to me and saved my soul.

Let's share the greatest news ever! There is still time to invite someone to church and begin the New Year in the courts of the Lord.

In all the pain and joy of 2011 the Lord continues to mold me and even you.  Nothing escapes him, he sees it all. Let's hold on, for life goes by quickly; we want to be found standing/bowing in the presence of God, having our ears hear, well done good and faithful servant.

Interesting that the crowd covered their ears after Stephen had shared his testimony and told them the truth that had led them to that point. They heard it but did not receive it.  They chose death over life.

Click & Read Acts 7

Friday, December 16, 2011

In Memory My Niece Jasmine | The Seed

The Gift of Hope
Hope—A place, perhaps a state of being that lives in the future?:
One of the definitions I found reads…To look forward to with confidence or expectation.
Look down at your hands…..
If they are clenched….Unclench them…..
Slowly Stretch them out before you…..
We will climb, slow as it may be and grab a hold of Hope.
Hope is something we look to; it seems it lives in the future.  We are not quite there but are striving to arrive.  Hope is like a dream that is in the distance; seems attainable but I haven’t reached my destination.
The Hope I share with you today is found in the Lord.
But God desires abundant life for us.
John 10:10
It’s a future that includes memories of the past
with a tangible grasp of the future.
What is does indicate is we have chosen, not to be a prisoner of the horrific tragedy that has affected us and forever linked us together.  It signifies that the anguish, the real pain we feel will not keep our joy suppressed; a victim curled up in a corner of despair and unfruitfulness.
Co-worker, and beloved daughter, it encourages us to proactively remember Jasmine Rodriguez and continue to make her life count!
Through their hurt and brokenness they allow a breath of hope to lift them beyond the throbbing pain and live again.
You see, Hope is not just an action or a feeling, though in saying so we are correct. 
But for me Hope is the person of Jesus Christ that has given me life; life abundantly and the confidence to share it with you today.
It once thrived and the beautiful smelling aroma of life was noticeable from afar. 
This seed brought joy to others.

How incredible that in God’s design the seed though it seems dead still has the ability to produce life.

Jasmine, a beautiful flower, once a life full of dreams and desires;
a life that affected us all and left an imprint in our hearts forever; this life that was snatched from us can become a seed for us to plant, a seed of hope for us to water and wait to see its fruit.
We plant a seed.

  It’s a seed of hope for the future,
it’s a seed for the sake of the prisoner who has yet to escape. 
It’s a seed of Hope for us who live. 
A seed that together will bridge the beautiful life of
Jasmine Rodriguez to those that have yet to be free.

We chose to be free, no longer a prisoner ourselves of hopelessness. Though sorrow has been a companion, we now swap partners like in a beautiful dance and choose Hope to guide our future days to come.

"And that my soul knows very well
You lift me up, I'm cleansed and free
And that my soul knows very well
When mountains fall, I'll stand
By the power of Your hand
And in Your heart of heart I'll dwell
And that my soul knows very well
Joy and strength each day I find
And that my soul knows very well
Forgiveness, hope, I know is mine
And that my soul knows very well"
(Song lyrics by Darlene Zschech)

Today I want to begin with a small exercise….
Now open your hands….
Through pain and grief, sorrow and hurt…. we announce today that we will indeed reach out to live again…
Hope promises a better tomorrow.
My name is Elizabeth Rodrigues and I am Jasmine’s Aunt.
I have found that Hope has never disappointed me. 

For some Hope can be a feeling, and in saying that we are correct.
My hope is in Jesus Christ who has saved my soul, given me purpose and joy in this life.
Today I want you to understand that I don’t come with a quick fix for the pain we share.  
I’ve come to impart a glimmer of hope to get us to tomorrow.
The Word of God says, "Sorrow may last for the night but joy comes in the morning." (Ps. 30:5b)
We have had a lot of mornings since that horrific day that changed our lives; the day that brought pain and a stinging ache to our hearts.
We are tender beings. 
We have emotions that can cause us to laugh and emotions that can feel the tragic pain of loss.
I remind myself...
It’s ok to live…..Liz it’s ok to live and laugh again.
The enemy of our soul desires that we would stay confused, unfocused, troubled, and perhaps to have remnants of guilt consume us.  What could we have done differently, did we miss a warning. Could we have avoided this?
We can stay in this ring for a while, fighting imaginations and thoughts that at times that are deceptive. 
Death is a real separation that can leave us empty for a time.
You see, the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; But God says, I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

The Lord wants his people free.  Isaiah 61:11
We can’t have sorrow and despair walk with us as if they are our companions through this life. 
Grieving and mourning they serve their purpose; it’s how we are designed.  I know this full well as I have not only lost my niece, but only 4 months before, my mom too was gone in a blink of an eye, therefore now I too must embrace tomorrow with Hope.
We hope because there is a future.  
Today’s ceremony is an indication of us moving forward.
Moving forward does not mean we have forgotten. 
Living life now requires a new weapon, a fortified agent to carry us through our tomorrows. 
That, weapon, that negotiator is Hope.
Hope will not disappoint us.
Hope is the key that opens the prison door so that we are no longer the prisoner.
Hope can and will prod us to resist the shadow of depression and hopelessness. 
Do it for yourself, for the sake of my niece, cousin, co-worker and friend.

We often hear of those that have experienced tragedy; how they somehow get the courage to overcome; how somehow they can push past all the pain and impulse to do nothing;
Friends and family, today that is us.
The Bible is the resource that has pointed me to the Hope I speak of today. 

We are going to take hold of our sadness and brokenness and for the sake of Jasmine, for the sake of others who are still in need of help, we are going to plant a seed of hope today.

A seed is the part of the vegetation by definition that has died. 

We did not choose the death that occurred. 

For the one who has yet to escape the nightmare that they live in; 
For the one whose dream might be crushed;
For the one who lives in a world of fear and darkness; 
For the one who’s life might be in danger; 
For our own healing process, we will choose HOPE.

There is Hope for us and hope for the future.

Stretch out your hands……
We have the ability, but most importantly we must choose to let go of the pain that wants to create scars that will immobilize us.
We live because we must, lest we too perish in the land of hopelessness.

Father in heaven, Lord Jesus; help us release the pain.
A seed, though it seems dead; once planted, watered and nurtured can bring new life.
Take these seeds as a gesture and reminder to keep our hearts fruitful and make
Jasmine’s life memorable…making it count!

If you have ever purchased a seed packet, you know that at times we end up getting a few
“wild flower” that we did not necessary come with the original purchase, but when they bloom, somehow they add to the beauty and array of the landscape.
Along with hope today, I pray that in your heart joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and of course the greatest of all Love would sprout forth.
We need a breath of fresh air, friends
A sweet aroma to fill our hearts again…..

God bless you!~Liz

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Possible Answer

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:3-5

A possible answer.... 

Lord, I look at the speck in my brother's eye because its easier for me to point to someone else's fault than to see mine; and yet you have come not to condemn me, though I'm guilty, but have come to pay the penalty of my sin....oh Lord I'm sorry. I don't think to much about the plank in my eye because then I would not be the good person everyone thinks I am; and yet your Word says that there is no one good except God alone (Luke 18:19)

Honestly, often I am blinded with pride and I can't even see my own flaws. Oh Lord I don't want to be a hypocrite. Lord I know I can't pretend to you. Your Word reflects who we really are. We come to you who is able to wash us clean, refresh and renew us. Your Word says that you oppose the proud but give grace to the humble (James 4:6) Help us oh Lord to recognize when we sin so that we may come to you quickly! Lord, we know if we confess our sins, we know that you are faithful and just to purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). It's a new day! Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassion never fails. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23). Lord we will examine my own hearts.

God bless you!Liz

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Meals & Vitamins

Matthew 26:20-30

Now when evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the twelve disciples.  As they were eating, He said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me. Being deeply grieved, they each one began to say to Him, “Surely not I, Lord?”  And He answered, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl is the one who will betray Me. The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” And Judas, who was betraying Him, said, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” Jesus *said to him, “You have said it yourself.”  While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you;  for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many
for forgiveness of sins.  But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

In this fast pace world people are used to everything quick. A short message of encouragement is good, its like a vitamin; it brings nourishment where we lack.  But, rest assure we must sit down and eat; eat a good meal ( a long message; profound; causing us to think deep on the Word of God); a meal where you must get your hands dirty to get to the inside of that chicken piece even as you savor every bit (lol).  Meals are meant for us to sit down with the Master, our Lord, and stay there a while.

Imagine if the disciples decided that sitting with Jesus at the last supper was way to much. "Come on Jesus can you just wrap this up quickly",  imagine that.  "Jesus all this stuff about body and blood, what are you saying, can we just stick to the Law, just refresh it for us" (you know a quick vitamin). Never!  That would be ridiculous, besides it was the Passover, that which was required by the Law. How incredible that God himself sits with those that are hungry, those that want to hear from him.  Here at the table where this feast is being enjoyed, they learn that betrayal was lurking even at the table, the Lord showed us how to give thanks and still today we remember his command, "do this in memory of me".  At the table during this elaborate meal we see glimpses yet again that He, Jesus our Lord, would be betrayed (it had been said so many times, so many different ways, through the Prophets, via Christ words) and so he says it again. Sometimes we just don't get it.  Sitting for a while at the table is a place of rest! Hallelujah! Though he knew he was about to die, he did not rush off the table; he sat; the Bible says he reclined (now that's not someone who is in a rush). Hmmm, even
after all that, they sang a hymn and then went out.  Glory to God for the "meals" and  the

"vitamin". I'll take them both!

God bless you!~Liz

Access to the King

Esther 5:1-2

On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance.  When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. 

There is a garment of Righteousness that we wear, those who have bowed the knee and in repentance have called on the One who alone can save us from our sins.  

It's not a garment that we have made, our hands cannot produce this covering. We can't buy it or manufacture it ourselves. It is a garment of great cost and value. Angels strengthen him, Jesus Christ, even as sweat, like drops of blood are falling to the ground. (Luke 22:43-45) 
We don't have enough money to buy, not enough good works or efforts to attain it. In the beginning of time we see the Father bringing out a covering for Adam & Eve. The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.  (Genesis 3:21)

Fear had come into their hearts.   We find them hiding behind a bush; “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” Genesis 3:10   Blood was shed.

Jesus has paid a price with his very own blood and has obtain eternal redemption for us (Hebrews 9:12).   

Jesus has made a way for us to commune with the Father again.  The results of the cross, the way made for us, the sacrifice of the Son who obeyed even unto death (Philippians 2:8 ).

He has given us access and paid the price required; For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 

Now we can enter; Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

He is the One on the white horse who's name is Faithful & True  He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. (Rev. 19:11 & 13)

A covering, a robe of Righteousness given to use and designed and paid for by Jesus!  From the beginning of time God has been clothing us if you will.  So go ahead, dressed in the garment he gave you, enter his courts, and find mercy & grace. It's because of the Son that we can enter.  Fall on you knees in reverence, fall on your knees and worship Him.  Make your request known to him who sits on the Throne.  Pour out your heart to him.  He is not taken by surprise.   Esther 5, says that the king was sitting in his royal throne facing the entrance and there his eye catches a glimpse of Esther.   I can imagine Jesus sitting on His Throne waiting to see who will enter his courts.  He's paved the way and paid for the access he had given us.  It's by his blood.  So go ahead and enter into the Palace of the King! Like Esther, approach and touch the scepter extended to you. You have captured not only his eye but his heart!

God Bless you!~Liz


 Acts 9:32-34 As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the Lord’s people who lived in Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas,...