Many years ago, in my crafty season, I made Christmas letterhead that said “Celebrate Jesus!” It was my modest attempt to remind those I loved that Christmas was really about celebrating our Savior.
But then, at some point that Christmas, it hit me. The celebration isn’t limited to one season. LIFE should be all about celebrating Him!
And so my signature was born.
I come to you as a child of the church. Some of my earliest memories center around Sunday school and the sanctuary. We weren’t always in church over the years, but we were there enough that I accepted Jesus in the summer after sixth grade.
On that day, at summer camp, in a chapel by a lake, I accepted Him as my Savior. It was years before I accepted Him as my Lord.
You hear the question all the time: “Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior?” And you hear others answer, “Yes.” It seems you especially hear them answer affirmatively if they were raised in church like I was – because that’s the response you’re expected to give.
In actuality, though He was undeniably my Savior and I knew it in the depths of my soul, I had no clue what it even meant to accept Him as Lord. Worse, I didn’t know there was a difference. I guess I figured “Lord and Savior” was all the same thing. But…lordship?
I knew what it meant to follow the guidelines I was taught in church.
I knew what it meant to obey the rules laid down at home.
But Jesus as Lord? I didn’t even know what a lord was, or not until I started studying certain historical time periods.
Throughout history, the lord of the estate or region was the one who ruled – similar to a king, but on a much more personal level. If he were a good lord, he kept his eye on you, saw to it that you had what you needed to get your work done, knew if you were sick… He accepted a certain level, a high level, of responsibility for you.
And you? If you truly accepted him as your lord, you obeyed him and submitted completely to his authority. You made sure you knew what he expected of you and you did it. You learned what pleased him and tried to make him happy. You were his and he was yours, and you considered it an honor to serve him.
It was after gaining this understanding that I began to grow up as a Christian. Jesus’ question in Luke 6:46 is relevant, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and don’t do what I say?” Here is reality; it’s one thing to say He is your Lord. It is another thing entirely to live with Him as your Lord. Honestly, it seems that most Christians today don’t even know what He says. How, then, can they let Him be Lord? So…
Number 1: We learn what He says. The very first thing we have to do, of course, is start listening to Him. Read the Word and truly pay attention to it. Pray and genuinely listen to what He has to say to you. Be in the church He calls you to and let the minister He has set there guide you as you learn.
Number 2: Act on what He says. Always do what He says, and put forth every effort to please Him. Remind yourself continually that He was never supposed to be only your Savior, but also your Lord.
Accepting Jesus as your Savior requires a heart change and a declaration. Accepting Jesus as your Lord requires action – continual, faithful, intentional action.
Salvation is free, but accepting His Lordship requires effort – an investment of time, heart, intentions, and actions.
But oh, the rewards on that investment!
Our FATHER! Not some uninterested god who created the planet and then walked away, not an angry God who has to be appeased. No. He is MY FATHER who loves me and will love me forever, who wants the best for me, who has good plans for me.
who art in Heaven
He’s not bound by Earth. He has a higher perspective. Where I can only see what’s around me, He can see everything. Where I have access only to the resources at reach, He has it all.
Hallowed be thy name
My father is holy. His very name is holy, and I commit myself to living a life that reflects His holiness, to strive to have a reputation that reflects well on my Father. Yes, living in this world can make that a challenge, so I ask, “God, help me.”
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven
Yes! It’s GOD’S KINGDOM that I want to see here on Earth, where HE rules, where HIS will and ONLY His will is done just as surely as it is in Heaven. I know it will happen ultimately, and pray it is soon. I also pray that it be in ME today. Let God’s kingdom come in the earth that is Tammy Cardwell. Let God’s will be done in the earth that is Tammy Cardwell.
Give us this day our daily bread
Yes, please provide our physical needs for the day. Even more, let me feed on God’s Word. Let me chew on it and find in it the spiritual nourishment I need for the day. Let it strengthen me and help me grow.
And forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors
Ah, Lord God, give me the ability to always walk in forgiveness. I refuse to let unforgiveness poison my soul, and want to always forgive, whether or not the other person ever deserves it or asks… or even admits they were wrong. And Lord, forgive me for my sins as I forgive them.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil
Yes, oh yes. Lead me in every step I take, Father, so that I can stay far away from temptation and the evil that comes with it.
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever
And that is the bottom line. It’s ALL about God. No one ranks higher. No one has His authority or power. He was in the beginning and will be throughout eternity.
Deuteronomy 16 ends with the command to never set up Asherah poles or sacred pillars beside the altar they would build for God.
God knows man. He knows that man will instinctively want multiple gods. It seems strange that He would have to give this command to His chosen people, but they disobeyed it repeatedly.
And Christians disobey it today. We don’t call them gods, but if we elevate them in importance so that we treat them as equal to God, then that’s what they are. We may refuse to admit it, but refusing doesn’t change truth. 😕
“He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own.” These are much more than words to an old song.
I grew up in a typical American Christian home. By that I mean that we loved God, but lived our Christian walks on our own terms. Generally, that meant we went to church when we felt like it, prayed when we needed something, and read our Bibles when we wanted to. For me, everything changed when I started attending church regularly at 18 and began to realize what I’d been missing.
As I grew in my walk with Him I discovered true hunger. The closer I got to God, the closer I wanted to be. I was in my 30s when, as a minister was talking about one of the many conversations he’d had with God, an undeniable desire rose up in me. “God,” I begged. “I want that type of relationship with You!”
Long story short: Today I have it. It took a while. I had to learn to shut up and listen, to recognize His voice, and once I recognized it I had to learn to always be listening for it – and to respond. A conversation, you see, takes two. Now we talk a LOT.
It may be Him starting the conversation, or it may be me. It may be deep theological converse or it may be lighthearted stuff. He answers questions I once would not have dared ask, and He tells me secrets. Sometimes He ambushes me with information I’d not even considered asking for. He warns me of things to come, and He reassures and comforts me when I’m hurt or afraid and run to His arms.
Now, here’s the point. I’m not special. The only thing about me that’s different from some others is the strong desire I have for this relationship, and my willingness to do whatever is necessary to develop and maintain it. I’ve had to seek Him out and spend time with Him; I’ve had to work at getting to know Him just like I’ve had to do with my earthly best friend.
God wants everyone to have this type of relationship with Him. It’s what He created us for.
How do I know?
He told me.
Celebrating walking with Jesus!
We ask the question, “Is Jesus your Lord and Savior?” and the one who has accepted salvation automatically says, “Yes.” I would ask it differently today. “Ok, He is your Savior, but is He your Lord?” There is a difference.
The one who has accepted Jesus as his Savior has been saved from bondage to sin, and every time he realizes he has sinned he can repent, ask forgiveness, and be pulled back up out of that sin as one is saved from drowning in water.
But here’s the thing. Some people are having to repent of sin continually while others walk more consistently upright. What’s the difference?
It’s Jesus’ lordship.
In Luke 6:46, Jesus asks, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ but do not do what I say?” This is the key. If Jesus is truly my Lord, I will do what He says. If I do what He says, I will be much less likely to sin and have to be rescued from the consequences of that sin. So how do I do what He says?
First, I must know what He says. This takes active effort on my part. It requires getting into the Word, studying it. (2 Tim. 2:15)
Then I have to apply His Word to my life. I have to live what I’ve learned. This requires me to continually choose His will over sin.
And, ultimately, I strive to develop an intimate relationship with Him, to learn to hear His voice so clearly that a whispered, “Go this way,” keeps me on the right path.
I will – I choose to – keep Him as my Lord.
Celebrating Jesus’ lordship!
I was asked, recently, about my favorite Bible story. What is it, and why? I had a hard time choosing, but I said it was Ruth. Why? Because the book of Ruth tells a powerful story of redemption.
Elimelech blew it. He let fear of famine drive him out of Judah into Moab, where he knew he wasn’t supposed to be. All seemed well for a time, but eventually he and both of his sons died; his lineage was now not just polluted by rebellion, but was dead.
And then there was Ruth, a Moabite who had no business even being in the family. Even so, because of her faithfulness to Naomi, she was welcomed with open arms and eventually married Boaz, Elimelech’s kinsman redeemer.
In marrying Ruth, Boaz did more than redeem her. He redeemed Elimelech’s line when he gave Ruth a son, Obed, who counted as a descendant of Elimelech and would carry on the family name as well as inheriting Elimelech’s property. Obed, truly, was a son of redemption.
And Obed begat Jesse.
And Jesse begat David.
And through David came Jesus.
And so the son of redemption is the ever-so-great grandfather of our Redeemer.
Celebrating Jesus, my Redeemer!
While driving home from the office, I had a moment of… I felt a little spiritually unproductive; I suppose that’s the best way to say it. I thought, “Oh, I need to turn on some worship music or my Bible study app.” Then I heard God’s voice.
“But you like the silence.”
“Yes,” I responded. “I do.”
“So enjoy it.”
Believe it or not, I cried in that moment as I was reminded that He truly understands me. People, God GETS you! He knows all the details of what makes you tick. Even such a simple thing as this, that I value silence because I get it so seldom, is an important thing to Him. He cares about the details!
Celebrating Jesus and God’s love for me!
As a child, I heard numerous prayers that included the words, “if it be Thy will.” As a result, I had one picture of “Thy will be done.” Mind you, that picture is not inaccurate, simply only one part of a picture.
As an adult, I ask that God’s will, and only His will, be done in situations and people’s lives all the time. But today…
In this week’s Flourish Journey (passionpublishing) I was led to read Psalm 19 and several other scriptures in light of “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven,” and I saw something new. Or, perhaps I should say I saw an old truth with fresh eyes.
I want God’s will to be done in and through me just as surely today as it will be when I live in Heaven. I want to continually and actively choose to do God’s will, to continually and actively choose to let God’s will be done in and through me here on this earth just as surely and consistently as I will when I’m living in His presence.
Psalm 19:13a shows this was David’s heart. “Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me.”
Yes, my prayer is, “God, help me. Help me to live out Your will today just as purely and completely as I will live it in Heaven.”
Celebrating Jesus and the power He gives!