We Can’t Change People – Though We All Wish We Could And We All Try To. This Is Reserved For The Holy Spirit Alone

photo of man doing handstand on desert.jpg

If things don’t happen as we think they should we tend to become impatient. Especially with people.

We often want to change people around us to suit us better.

The Christian walk is all about change …a changed heart, a changed life, a changed covenant with God. But none of this change is brought about by us.

We can’t change people either – though we all wish we could and we all try to. This is reserved for the Holy Spirit alone.

That’s a big challenge to accept – especially in close relationships – to take our own hands off – and let the heart of God in.

In other words to be ready to take my eyes off another’s issues and to turn to the Lord with the attitude of heart to say, “Lord what do you want to do in my heart through this situation?”

This leads us to the cross. To lay down my own life and find God’s Grace. My faith and patience will be tested – but nothing is proved genuine until it’s tested.

Matthew 7:3
And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?

James 1:3
knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

  • Mark Saunders

The Cross Is The Deepest Example Of God’s Love We Have. Once A Man’s Heart Grasps That His Life Can Never Be The Same

frozen wave against sunlight in the shape of a heart

The desire for perfection often brings with it a lot of pressure and frustration. It’s impossible to be perfect.

Yet the Lord instructs us to be perfect. What does He mean?

All of us have sinned and fallen short of the grace of God. Perfection is not never missing it – it means “complete.”

People say there’s an emptiness in a man that only God himself can fill. We try fill it ourselves with many different things. It can only be filled by Jesus Christ.

Jesus once told to a rich young man to sell all his possessions and follow Him to be perfect. Why? The man’s heart was attached to his riches. Jesus knew that riches could never bring completeness to this man.

Jesus also prayed for perfection of unity amongst his followers – the love of God in Him and Him in them …as a testimony to the world of the love of God.

The only perfection we will ever find is the love of God. That’s why Jesus wants us to be perfect as He is perfect.

Apostle Paul encourages us to put on love which is the bond of perfection.

The cross is the deepest example of God’s love we have. Once a man’s heart grasps that his life can never be the same.

God doesn’t want us to feel that we need to be perfect. His word says that His power is made perfect in weakness. The Holy Spirit helps us even in our weakness.

What He does want is that we accept His love for us – that love is shown in Jesus.

There is no barrier between us and God other than either our unbelief or our pride. Put these aside, find the completion we have in Christ.

There is no religious law He places on us. Are you ready to surrender your life to Christ?

Only His love can make you and I perfect.

Matthew 5:48
Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

2 Corinthians 12:9
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Colossians 3:14
But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.

  • Mark Saunders

What Holy Week Can Teach Us about Disappointment

Seasons of disappointment challenge us to understand God’s idea of “good,” if we’ll but listen. For it so easy to praise God when times are good… but far more difficult when times are bad.

Think about the first Palm Sunday. The Gospel of Matthew tells the story of Jesus’ grand entrance into Jerusalem in chapter 21. It says, that as Jesus entered the city riding on a donkey…

A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of Him and those that followed shouted:

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee” -ESV.

Things were looking pretty good for God’s people – Jesus was a Messiah who could feed thousands at the snap of a finger; He could shame the Romans by wrestling Matthew from their grasp (their biggest tax collector). Jesus was able to stymie all the powerbrokers in Jerusalem. Yes, times were good and God’s people went out of their way to give Jesus a warm welcome — laying down their cloaks, cutting branches, shouting songs of praise, declaring His righteousness… and it was good and right that they do!

But they didn’t really understand why. The people rushing to pave the streets with cloaks and palm branches thought that Jesus was finally going to bring about the political changes they had longed for. Things were looking up: Jesus was about to crush the Roman oppressors!

Or so they thought.

Silhouette of 3 crosses under the blue sky

Their error was looking at “good times” from a temporal point of view, rather than eternal. And by the following Friday, you can’t find anyone who is excited to praise Jesus. They weren’t about to laud a convicted criminal. As Jesus stumbles up the long, painful road to Calvary, the crowds lining the street mock and jeer at him. The only person who provides a helping hand is Simon of Cyrene… and that’s only because he is forced to.

Even the disciples turned on him. They started the week thinking they had in Jesus, a rising star. Things were just going to keep getting better and better! But by the end of that dramatic week, they were running scared and hiding in the shadows.

Oh friend, you and I are no different. We have our big dreams of what loyalty to Jesus will do for us. We think that because we’ve signed up to follow Jesus, that God will reward us. Our 401K will keep growing, our boss will honor our dedication, our friends will recognize our hard efforts, and our church pews will be filled to overflowing.

God does reward us… just not always in the here and now in the way we expect.

Instead, when the stock market crashes, and our jobs are labeled non-essential… when each “refresh” of the pandemic statistics only show things getting worse… when God doesn’t answer our prayers in the way we think He should…

Well, the disappointment could cause us to turn away from God. We could think He’s forgotten us; that He really doesn’t have the power to save us.

Do not make that mistake. God’s idea of “good times” are seasons when patience is honed, courage is revealed, compassion is shown, and trust is refined. So, remind yourself of the eternal victory Jesus accomplished at the darkest moment on Calvary’s hill. Remember how Jesus endured the hours of shame and pain-filled isolation on the cross for the eternal joy set before him… the joy that is ours, too, if we choose it.

Oh Friend, celebrate Jesus today. And not just today. Throughout this dark and difficult season of life, I’m making every moment a reflection of my gratitude toward my Lord and Savior. And I believe you will do the same!

Joni and Friends Blog

Palm Sunday

The Triumphal Entry

Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.”

All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying:

“Tell the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your King is coming to you,
Lowly, and sitting on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ”

So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:

“Hosanna to the Son of David!
‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’
Hosanna in the highest!”

And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?”

So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.”

Matthew 21:1-11 (NKJV)

Matthew 20:17-19 (NKJV)

Jesus a Third Time Predicts His Death and Resurrection

Now Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.”