We Are Aliens In This World

Although this post first appeared October 4, 2016, I felt it worth re-posting.Hope you agree.

Last month during our trip through the Southwest, Pilot and I went through Roswell, NM on our way to Carlsbad Caverns. Although our intent was to visit the International UFO Museum Research Center to see if the truth really is out there, a tornado threatened to send us sheltering beneath the Roswell Museum and Art Center where Pilot soaked in the history of the Robert Goddard exhibit, so we decided to get out of town. Fast.

It seemed everywhere I looked between Roswell and Carlsbad there were aliens.

And this got me thinking about those of us who belong to Jesus.

We are in this world, but not of it. We are aliens, if you will. Sojourners traveling through this world, waiting for the day Jesus takes us to our eternal home in heaven.

To quote Henry David Thoreau, we march to the beat of a different drum. At least we should. People should be able to look at what we do, what we say, where we go, how we treat people, and notice we are different.

We are to reflect Jesus, not the world.

The patriarch, Abraham, was called out of the land of Ur to travel to a place God would take him; Canaan, the land the Israelites called the Promised Land. Abraham was an alien in a foreign land. He was just a-passin’ through.

We are called to be different from the world around us. We are called to a higher standard. A standard set by God. Not a standard set by the culture that surrounds us. God has chosen us to be holy and pure. We belong to him, as such, we are his ambassadors to people who do not yet know him.

This world is not our home. We are aliens. And that’s a good thing, don’t you think?

The truth is out there, and it isn’t found in a science fiction tv show. It’s found in the Words of Truth recorded in God’s Holy Bible.

Have you visited the International UFO Museum Research Center?

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But you are not like that, for you have been chosen by God himself—you are priests of the King, you are holy and pure, you are God’s very own—all this so that you may show to others how God called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.Dear brothers, you are only visitors here. Since your real home is in heaven, I beg you to keep away from the evil pleasures of this world; they are not for you, for they fight against your very souls. 1 Peter 2:9 & 11 (TLB)

You can find my November Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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The Good Shepherd

A random gust of wind, courtesy of Hurricane Delta, blew over a section of our fence. This side of fence borders our neighbors who own two dogs. The friendly dogs loved the new found freedom of exploring our backyard until the fence was repaired.

One day as I sat outside in the early morning silence listening to birds sing and watching flocks fly overhead, Scout and Gadget burst from their backdoor and bolted straight into our yard.

After some time, their owner called for them. Even though she called them by name, they ignored her.

In case you’re wondering, no, I didn’t entice them to stay. I simply sat in my chair and watched what they would do. Scout stood by my chair, looked in the direction of her owner’s voice, then looked at me. Gadget ignored her owner’s voice and continued exploring our yard.

After several more calls, Scout took one final look at me, turned toward her yard, and went home. Gadget looked toward home, yet didn’t budge. Several more calls. Nothing.

I stood, walked toward Gadget, called, clapped my hands, and told her to go on home. She came to me, paused, then walked into her yard.

Again, no. I’m not some irresistible dog whisperer, and our neighbors love and take care of their dog babies. So no reason to avoid going home.

But this interaction between owner and dog got my mind thinking about the interaction between the Good Shepherd and his sheep. When Jesus calls us, who are we more like? Scout or Gadget? Do we recognize our Shepherd’s voice and go to him? Or do we hear his voice but ignore him altogether?

In the tenth chapter of John, Jesus tells us he is the Good Shepherd. He is the Gate through which his sheep are saved. He is the Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. He knows his sheep and calls them by name.

When he calls, his sheep recognize his voice and come to him. His sheep follow him because they know his voice and know they can trust him. The sheep won’t follow a stranger, because they don’t know his voice.

Although I could have enticed Scout and Gadget to stay with me instead of going to their owner by offering them treats or belly rubs, I didn’t. Even though they know me, are comfortable with me, and know I won’t hurt them, they aren’t my dogs. They aren’t my sheep. They belong to someone else.

There are those in the world who take advantage of their position. They try to entice Jesus’ followers away from him with falsehoods, offers of influence, power, financial gain, any number of things. They want Christ’s sheep to follow them. They don’t want Christ’s sheep following the only true Good Shepherd.

As sheep who belong to the Good Shepherd, we need to shut our ears to false shepherds and open them to the voice of the One who knows us by name and loves us with an everlasting love. As our Good Shepherd, Jesus’ love for us is so great he willingly laid down his life in death so we would never face separation from him.

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The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice and come to him; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. John 10:3 (TLB)

You can find my October Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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The Work of God Displayed

Lately I’ve pondered events in our lives we wish didn’t happen, or wonder why God allowed in the first place. In re-reading the story of the blind man Jesus healed in John 9, his disciples asked Jesus who sinned. The blind man or his parents to cause the man’s blindness.

Jesus told the disciples neither sinned. The blindness happened so God’s glory, the work of God, might be displayed in the man’s life.

I find people today still ask the question the disciples asked. “Who sinned to cause this calamity?” They assume someone surely sinned. They don’t this it as an opportunity for the work of God to be displayed.

If we jump to John chapter 11, we see after Jesus deliberately tarried before he set out for Bethany, he raised his friend Lazarus from the grave. When Lazarus’ sister Martha questioned Jesus’ delay, he told her it was to show God’s glory so the work of God would be displayed.

A friend of mine once commented it is a good thing when Jesus raised Lazarus from the grave, Jesus used direct address and called Lazarus by name. Otherwise, if Christ simply said, “Come out!” with no name attached to the command, every body in the surrounding tombs would rise. True.

Thinking of our own lives, and the lives of those around us, can we look at the less than spectacular events, and see the hard things as opportunities to display the work of God? I think so.

Have the eyes of those once blind in darkness opened to the Light of who Jesus is as Savior, Lord, and King?

Have those once dead in sin raised to new life in Christ?

Has the bitterness of past hurts and unforgiveness fallen from lives as surely as scales fell from blind eyes?

Has the one who wandered far off God’s intended path re-calibrated their GPS coordinates and returned?

If so I would say each of these events, and many others, happened so the work of God would be displayed.

How has God displayed his glory and work in your life or the lives of those you know?

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Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believe, you would see the glory of God?” John 11:40 (NET)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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You can find my June Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

When You Turn Back

Did you ever notice when Jesus met the disciples on the seashore with a breakfast of grilled fish which he cooked for them after his resurrection, he called Peter Simon?

Jesus didn’t call the apostle Peter, the rock; the name Christ gave him. Instead, Jesus called the apostle by his birth name. I hadn’t paid much attention to that detail until I prepared this month’s Easter posts.

Also, I love the fact Jesus didn’t say if you turn back. No. Jesus said when you turn back.

Thank you, Jesus, he tells us the same.

It’s not one strike and we’re out. Not even three strikes and we’re out. Jesus tells us after we fail, after we fall, when we turn back to him his grace is sufficient. His sacrifice is sufficient. He is sufficient.

Do you think when Peter heard Jesus call him Simon, it was similar to the feeling we get when our parents call us by our first AND middle names? Maybe.

Jesus spoke Simon’s name twice. He needed Simon Peter’s full attention. The words Jesus spoke were extremely important. Especially given Peter’s previous denial as the Lamb of God awaited crucifixion.

Yes. Jesus named Simon the rock, however, Peter needed to understand in addition to his strong side, Peter also had a vulnerable side. Just like the rest of the disciples. Just like the rest of us. Every single one of our strengths can be turned into our weaknesses. Those are the areas where Satan shows up. He takes the good and twists it into something bad.

Peter felt confident he would never forsake Christ. Satan took that confidence and twisted it into self-pride. That prideful spirit allowed Peter to care more about protecting himself, and what others thought of him, than he cared about protecting Jesus.

Each of Christ’s disciples have a vulnerable side, a target Satan intends to penetrate to destroy our testimony about who Christ the Risen Savior is. It is a target Satan can only attack with God’s permission. A target of temptation Jesus prays we will withstand  through the power of the Holy Spirit in those who belong to him.

Peter’s story didn’t end when he denied Jesus around a fire the night Christ was betrayed. After he repented, turned back, and set out to proclaim Christ and him crucified, Simon Peter preached a sermon during Pentecost that saw thousands confess Jesus as Lord. And that was just the beginning.

Like Peter there are times we fail. We deny we ever knew Jesus through our careless words and actions. Jesus knows the outcome before Satan even draws back his bow and sends fiery darts our direction.

Like Peter, when we fall we have a choice.

Will we let our failure define us, give up, and walk away? Or will we acknowledge our fall, get back up, repent, and when we turn back, strengthen those around us?

Who knows? But one thing is sure. Whatever we do after we fall is just as important as what we did before we fell.

Grace. God’s grace. Grace that is greater than all our sins.

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Simon, Simon! Listen! Satan has received permission to test all of you, to separate the good from the bad, as a farmer separates the wheat from the chaff. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. And when you turn back to me, you must strengthen your brothers. Luke 22:31-32 (GNT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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You can find my April Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

Alive!

Although CO-VID-19 may have hijacked the way we usually celebrate Resurrection Sunday this year, the truth remains, Jesus is alive! Nothing. Absolutely nothing can change that most glorious fact. Amen?

In the story of Jesus’ arrest, we read Peter denied he ever knew Jesus. Not just once, but three times. The exact number of times Jesus predicted.

In the Resurrection account recorded in Mark, specific mention is made that Peter be told the Good News. Jesus is alive. That glorious information was not to be kept from the apostle. Peter needed to know Christ rose from the dead. Peter needed to know Jesus was alive. Peter needed to know Jesus wanted to include Peter in Jesus’ story.

Maybe we’ve been like Peter. One way or another, we’ve denied we knew Jesus. Maybe it happened through our careless words or thoughtless actions. Maybe we hid our light under a bushel when given opportunities to represent Christ in this dark world.

But you know what?

Jesus loves each of us. He really does. He loves us so much he willingly paid the price for our sins so we wouldn’t have to. He took the nails and sadistic lashes we deserved. Jesus took the punishment and wrath of God that was headed our way upon his perfect, sinless self.

He did that for you. He did that for me. All so we could be included in Christ’s story of Good News. Jesus is alive!

Jesus is not the Great I was. Jesus is the Great I AM.

Even after Peter’s denial, Jesus invited Peter to eat some grilled fish by the seashore before his ascension into heaven.

We may not be invited to eat fish with Jesus by the seashore, but he invites all who name him as their LORD and Savior to come to the table set in his presence.

The question for us is, what are we going to do about it?

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The next evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene and Salome and Mary the mother of James went out and purchased embalming spices.

Early the following morning, just at sunrise, they carried them out to the tomb. On the way they were discussing how they could ever roll aside the huge stone from the entrance.

But when they arrived they looked up and saw that the stone—a very heavy one—was already moved away and the entrance was open! So they entered the tomb—and there on the right sat a young man clothed in white. The women were startled, but the angel said, “Don’t be so surprised. Aren’t you looking for Jesus, the Nazarene who was crucified? He isn’t here! He has come back to life! Look, that’s where his body was lying. Now go and give this message to his disciples including Peter:

“‘Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died!’” Mark 16:1-7 (TLB)

 

He Is Alive!

©Frances Gregory Pasch

“Where has he gone?” the people asked.

“Who rolled the stone away?”

Most shook their heads in disbelief

And knew not what to say.

“Could this have been the Son of God?

Could all he said be true?”

Then angel smiled, “don’t be afraid

He’s gone ahead of you.

He is alive! He conquered sin!

He’s risen from the dead!

He’s on His way to Galilee,

Exactly as He said.”

How blessed we are to have a God

Who reaches out with grace

And promises if we’ll believe,

We’ll see Him face to face.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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You can find my April Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.