Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Celebrating 30 Years | The Bride & The Bridegroom

Ephesians 5:21-33 

Today my husband and I celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. We pre-maturely celebrated it in August during our Alaska trip.  I love celebrations...I try to make them last for a long time :)

Well, 30 years ago I did not know the Lord.  We got saved during our 7th year of marriage; on vacation....but you already knew that :)  Marriage is hard work.  There is submission and death. There is washing and cleansing and I'm not talking about laundry. I thank God for all he has taught us during these last 30 years.  I'm thankful for how he has changed us and continues to do so.  He has been Faithful.
Marriage, an institution created by God requires a commitment to love, honor & respect even when you don't want to; even when there are difficulties.  Marriage is a commitment to seek God in the midst of everything life throws at us, hardship, disagreements, disappointments and every tool that Satan has in his belt to try and make God a liar.  The Bible says that what God has joined together, let no man separate (Matthew 19:6)  

Are you shocked?  You mean you thought our marriage was perfect?  Let me write this gently....there is no perfect marriage.

Perfection: entirely without any flaws, defect or shortcomings.  Wow...try and measure up to that!

Perfection as I know it only has come once. His name is Jesus and he promises to come again. The Scriptures are full of his wooing...his calling to us...calling to his unfaithful "bride".

And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden;  but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” Genesis 2:16-17 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Genesis 3:6

Paradise was tainted!  
God who knows all things has been lavishing us with love (1 John 3:1).  He has been calling his bride (you & me) to himself.  We are to submit to the Lord but instead we have eaten of the forbidden fruit.  Submission has evaded us and rebellion has caused us to wrestle with the Bridegroom. Why does he still love us?  He will give himself up for us; he will leave his Father's side and grab hold of the one who avoids and tries to eluded him.  Her shame has griped her even as sin continues to crouch at the door (Genesis 4:7) 

Do what is right.  How can I return?  There is a covering that he offers us, the corner of his garment that can be spread over us but we push it away (Ezekiel 16:8)

The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.” So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley. Then I told her, “You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will live with you.” Hosea 3:1-3

What an illustrations of God's love for us!  He has washed us, he has cleansed us, he has made us holy. It's the Bridegroom doing everything possible for the reckless bride.  He will allow himself to be humiliated, despised and rejected, just for us.  (Isaiah 53)

He is the Bridegroom, the Lover of our Soul, the Kinsman Redeemer (Ruth 3:9) who has indeed spread the corner of his garment over us.

Marriage created by God, illustrated even in our relationship with God.  We try to run, but he pursues us.  In our unfaithfulness to him, he remains faithful.  In our anger as we hold our fist high and demand the "whys" of life, he extends forgiveness. When life was his to keep; when a thousand angels could have been dispatched to rescue him; when comfort was traded for pain and his Kingly Crown for thorns; He was thinking of his Bride.  When the garment he offered was rejected and his flesh striped like rags; He chose to keep his covenant.  He is the Bridegroom and he is coming for his Bride!

Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.”
-Revelation 19:7-8

For the challenging marriages, hold on; He is Faithful.
For the newly married, brace yourselves for challenges and anchor to the Truth.
For all of us who serve the Mighty Bridegroom, stay at his feet, he will never leave us or forsake us!
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her  to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,  and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.  In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body.  “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

God bless you!~Liz www.lizrod.com

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Crimson and White

Isaiah 1:18
“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

Colors....they invoke memories for me. Have you ever looked at a color and had a memory come to the forefront of your mind?

Last week as I was driving to work, the beautiful Hudson Valley foliage was before me. It's that time of year where the mountains, full of green trees begin to change color. In only a week's time you can see the transformation begin to take place. What was green a week ago, this week can be orange, red or yellow, maybe even a touch of purple is seen. I was gazing at the beautiful colors as I was driving and immediately a memory, a small piece of time from my childhood flickered in my thoughts. I was about 10 years old; I remember sitting on my living room floor, in the Bronx, the small apartment I grew up in. I began to smile as I was driving; it was good memory. See in my thoughts, I am on the floor with a box of Crayola Crayons, the 64 box collection that included the great silver and gold crayons; I can see some of you shaking your heads, you remember that too. The thoughts continue to unfold; my mom and I are engaged in a  coloring book; the book was Josie & The Pussycats ( a cartoon from the 1970’s). I sat on the floor and as far as I'm concerned it was hours, just my mom & I coloring. The entire page is filled with all the multiple shades of yellow and orange. 

Well, all this to say to this day, whenever I see the colors orange and yellow and all the different  shades of these two colors, I think of that day when I sat on the floor coloring with my mom. It does not matter if I see these colors on the foliage landscape or if the colors are together in a fruit basket, the results are the same...and yes I always smile.

The Bible speaks of two colors that immediately for the believer should invoke memories as well. Its crimson red and white. The Bible says that our sins are like crimson and the covering is white, white as snow.

Could you imagine a bucket filled with red paint. Now take a handful of snow and try to cover the red paint, try to layer enough snow so that the paint is no longer visible. Better yet, take white paint and try and cover it, mix it in.....well you end up with a shade of red. See the trouble I have is that no matter how much of this white snow or white paint I try to use I can't seem to cover it. What I end up is masking the red in a pretty shade of pink...but red none the less.

In my sinful state, in that part of my life prior to knowing the forgiveness of my sins, it did not matter what kind of "covering" I tried to use; sin always seeped through. I could try and be good; you know make up for all the bad things I've done, but there never seems to be enough good. We could try to change, but somehow the road we're on bends and we find ourselves in the place again. The self "way" has many avenues it travels prior to surrendering to the Lord. We get married and there is a name change. But we remain the same. We travel , we move, we change jobs....but one look in the mirror and we see the same person. So, how can I experience this change?

How does it happen? OK, I'm ready Lord to settle this matter. You promise that my sins though they are as scarlet can be white as snow.

It's a decisive turn. It's me traveling down the road and deciding to go in the opposite direction. It's that gentle whisper that speaks and calls to us. And the questions remains, do we answer the call? Do we turn?

When Jesus was arrested and falsely accused, the Scriptures say that the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and mocked him, shouting "Hail, king of the Jews!" Purple, a color representing royalty which indeed he was, but the soldiers missed it. Pilate dismissed him and as the crowds shouted, "crucify him". We see Jesus end up on a brown wooded cross (John 19) Crucified, red blood dripping from his golden flesh, surly with bruises in all kinds and shades of purple and black. Bruises from being in the hands of sinners; sinners he was willing to die for.

It's the crimson red bucket, you and me. He will cover it up; and this time the right substance is used. The red blood that flowed is more than able to cover every sin you and I have ever committed; every evil thing we have ever said; even every sin that may still await us down the road. How? The Bible says it’s the righteous one suffering for the unrighteous (1 Peter 3:18) It reads that God demonstrated his love by dying for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8), yes while we were still beating him, spitting on him and causing him great pain. While his face was on the ground, the cry went forth to his Father in heaven, "My father if possible take this cup from me", but we read that his love for us moved him directly to the cross; "Yet not my will but yours be done". It's the sixth word we here from Christ on the Cross that makes our crimson red sin, white as snow.....It is finished (John 19:30) The tomb is empty...there is no one there (John 20) It’s the begotten of the Father, paying a debt we could not pay.

Yes, colors like scents can invoke memories. Inhale and look deep within.

Do you smell a sweet perfume, a fragrance the Lord has left with when he came to visit and took our crimson red sins, paid and covered it, leaving us to shine and glow, causing us to be white like snow?
I do.

There are a few more colors from that 64 box of Crayola Crayons I like.....Streets of God ( Rev 21:21). The Rider on the White Horse whose rider is called Faithful and True (Rev 19:11) Glory to His Name!

God bless you!~Liz www.lizrod.com

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Little Disclosure

2 Corinthians 5:17-21Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Are you "comfortable" enough to ask for help?

Last week I decided to spruce up my hair. I am 49 years old and some of that grey is showing. I have nothing against grey...but wanted a little "pick me up". So I proceed to the bathroom where I will begin my makeover. Well, most of you know that arthritis has ravaged my hands and I just don't always have the strength needed to do simple tasks. Therefore, I invoked my wonderful husband's assistance to help me get my hair in tip top shape. As the transformation begins, I am putting this hair stuff all over the areas that need "transformation"; a little here, a little there. And then it happened.....my husband speaks up and says, " don't forget your side burns" . I almost past out! Side burns, I'm a girl, "I don't have side burns", do I? I imaged Elvis Presley sideburns...and white ones none the less. Well, we laughed and the 3 second embarrassment session was over. I guess I wasn't that embarrassed....I'm sharing it with you.

Well, just a simple "disclosure" to make a point. All kinds of healthy relationships; relationships we value; people we interact with everyday might just speak truth to us. What happens when your best friend tells you that your dress does not really flatter you? What if they forgot your birthday? Maybe you were hoping for an acknowledgement that never happened.  Relationships are multi faceted and very intricate. They encourage us, like the Word of God says, Iron sharpening Iron As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.Proverbs 27:17.

And, then there are times that relationships cause some pain whether intended or not.  What if your friend hurts you; do you just forget about it and allow bitterness to take root? Did they mean to hurt you, did you misunderstand? Either way....let's settle the matter quickly, after all these relationships are precious. They are gifts from God. Yes, I said GIFTS.

Truth does not always come in a fluffy warm blanket. Sometimes truth just blurts out and says, "don't forget the sideburns".....ouch!

Jesus always spoke truth. Actually, He is Truth. Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6. Jesus did not shy away from speaking truth; sometimes it hurt, but when the listener really listens, it always bring life.

Were we "uncomfortable" with who we were as he hung on the tree? Did we realize he was showing us how much he loved us? We at times can't see our our faults or our need for a Savior; no, so instead we throw insults or some type of diversion; something to get the focus away from our error, our deficiency. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads. Matthew 27:39. We don't reach out for help; too embarrassed, too prideful.

A Rescuer has come, a King; someone better than us.   He came to save us, tell us some truth about us; our "state of being", but instead of listening we took offense. But to those that can humble themselves and receive this gift of eternal life; allow the Perfect One, indeed a King, to show and point out our flaws; that kind of heart God can work with.

He took all our flaws, the Bible calls them sin and took them upon himself. He welcomed the cross, bore our sin, paid out dept, all because he love us!

Sometimes it's not easy hearing the truth. But if the one who is speaking is someone you love and trust; well then I guess I better cover up the "sideburns" :)

If Jesus says, he does not like the way I spoke to someone; well then I guess I better work on that apology quickly and mean it!

We must strive to keep our relationships healthy, honest, and bring God honor. If God could humble himself and die to clean up our mess; well if God can do it.....hmmmm...I must be able to also.

This is the week to give thanks (though it's not the only time). So, go out and "touch up" any areas that need "sprucing up" in your life. Reach out to friends, co-workers and neighbors. Let the spirit of reconciliation go to work through you. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

Thank God for the "gift" of relationships.

I thank God for you!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Got Questions?

Psalm 104:1 

Praise the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty.

It's been five months. My sister and I recently were remembering my mom, the day she slipped away from us. I hear the doctor's words as if he were standing right in front of me afresh.  She is now gone from us. Sometimes questions still linger.  As many as I may have; only God is Sovereign, only God knows.  The only thing I know for sure, it that she is with her Lord. I believe what the Word of God says; He indeed is preparing a place for us.  So....I say like the lyrics to a song I recently heard by Matthew West... "save a place for me"  for I do know I will see her again. LISTEN Song | Save a place for me

Jesus spoke to his disciples about trouble, about suffering and trials.  He assured them that they would indeed come, but not to fear, for Christ himself had overcome. John 16:33   The apostle Paul wrote....For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Ephesians 6:12

Suffering, hardship, trials and adversity; this happens to everyone. Sickness, financial loss, separation from love ones, the unexpected .  Yes we all go through times of need and pain; a sense of poverty that grips us. Can God use our suffering and the deficiencies we go through to bring glory to his Name?  Yes he can, but do we let him?

As a church we have been reading the Book of Job and my pastor has expounded well on this book. God is Sovereign and does all things well and for his end and for his glory! SERMON | IT'S NOT WHAT YOU THINK

Yes God is Sovereign! We all have questions; we don't fully see the big picture, the tapestry and testimony that God is preparing.  READ | Job 38-41


 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,...