Posted by: glorifyhim1 | August 21, 2014

When the World is Falling Apart

When the World is Falling Apart

 

 

A few days ago I was working on a devotion when I took a break to listen to the evening news. I sat in stunned silence as I listened to the reporter detail the savage execution of US journalist, James Foley. Hours later, I still couldn’t shake the horror of seeing Foley kneeling in the desert beside his executioner just moments before he was slain. I thought about this young man and his final moments, about what he may have endured since his disappearance in Syria almost two years ago, and about the ache and sorrow those in his family were surely experiencing. It was difficult to get back to work on my devotion which, oddly enough, was about finding joy – even in hard and difficult times.

 

Also, right here in our own nation, another “war” has erupted in Ferguson, Missouri after the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a white police officer. The shooting sparked protests, as well as looting, vandalism, and growing violence. The unrest led to the declaration of a state of emergency and imposed curfews by the Governor of Missouri. Presently, the National Guard has been activated to assist police in maintaining order. Once again, it was difficult to work on my devotion on joy as I thought about all the lives affected and reeling from events in Ferguson.

 

Can we really have joy when it seems that the world is falling apart? I scroll through Facebook and it seems that life goes on – new births, smiling brides and grooms, anniversaries, graduations, first day of school pics, and even ice bucket challenges – events that seem so far removed from executions in the Middle East and the rioting and violence in the Midwest. As I prepare for a family reunion this weekend, I almost feel guilty. But then I remembered the following advice and encouragement that Paul offered to the Roman believers: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12).

 

We live in a fallen world, a world that is broken and infected with sin and evil. Bad things happen. But the Bible tells us that God sent Jesus to save the world. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16-17). This hope that we have in Jesus is what brings joy to a believer – yes, even in the hard times. You see, when I think about all the bad things happening in our world as well as the many personal tragedies we hear about every day such as broken hearts and homes, illness, disease, and death; I can rejoice knowing that Jesus has already overcome and won the victory for all who trust in Him. One day Jesus will return and we will be through with this sin-sick, destructive old world. We will finally know that perfect world that God originally created for us. But for now, we wait, as Christ, in His great mercy, longs for all men to be saved. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us,[b] not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

 

In the meanwhile, we’re citizens of Heaven while living here on earth. Jesus warned His disciples before He was crucified that they would have trouble in this world.

 

“These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble.  They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them” (John 16:1-4).

 

But Jesus also reminded them that this fallen world was not the end.

 

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

 

Yes, my heart has been sad this week as these fresh images of a world falling apart join so many others we’ve witnessed in just the last few years – school shootings, gang violence, and countless other persecutions. But, yes, we can still have joy because of Jesus. I can rejoice in the One who came to save us and give us hope when it seems that there is no hope. May we all remember Paul’s instruction to the Romans and “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

 

“ But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?  Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”

(2 Peter 3:10-13)

 

 

  

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | August 12, 2014

The Why and How of Forgiveness

The Why and How of Forgiveness

 

Have you ever struggled with being able to forgive someone who has hurt or wronged you? Perhaps it was something said or done deliberately to hurt or annoy you. At other times, the offending party may have been totally unaware that their words or actions caused you pain. Either way, have you ever forgiven someone for an offense just to have to deal with it again and again as you continue to recall the hurt? No matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to let go of it.

 

Through the years, I have to admit I’ve been there from time to time. But no matter how justified I felt to not forgive someone who had wronged me, I knew in my heart it wasn’t right. The Bible clearly teaches us to forgive. Paul taught the Ephesians: “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). He taught the Colossians: “bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do” (Colossians 3:13). The writer of Proverbs stated: He who covers a transgression seeks love, But he who repeats a matter separates friends” (Proverbs 17:9). And even Jesus, Himself, proclaimed: And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25). We are taught to forgive regardless of how someone has trespassed against us.

 

Why? Why is it so important to forgive? I’m sure there are many Biblical scholars who could answer this question far better than I can, but this is what I’ve discovered as I’ve grappled with the issue of forgiving others.

 

  • Forgiveness affects my relationship with my Heavenly Father. I am saved by grace alone. My salvation does not depend on whether or not I choose to forgive someone who has wronged me, but Jesus commanded us to forgive others. When I fail to forgive others, I sin. When I fail to confess this sin to my Heavenly Father, my relationship with Him is broken. As we read in 1 John 1:9-10: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” Only as we agree with God about our sin and confess our sin to Him, can we be cleansed, forgiven, and restored.
  • Forgiveness affects my relationship with others. I’ve discovered that when I fail to forgive, I cannot love others as Jesus commands. Jesus taught: “But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful” (Luke 6:35-36). My Father forgave me of all my sin – not because I deserved it, but because He loved me. He calls me to do the same. Just as Christ’s merciful, unconditional love makes a difference in our lives, our love can make a difference in the lives of others.
  • Forgiveness affects me. My ability to forgive others reflects where I place my trust. Do I trust in myself? When I keep records of wrongs and rights and how I can repay, I’m trusting myself to right all wrongs. On the other hand, when I can release all the wrongs others have committed against me to my Heavenly Father, I trust Him to work things out. And when we seek Him and follow Him, we can know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). Releasing all my hurts to my Heavenly Father frees me to move forward instead of constantly living life in rewind. Instead of allowing the actions of others, over which I have no control, to occupy my mind and thoughts, forgiveness helps me to put these things behind me, let them go, and move on to the next step God has planned for me.

 

But how do we do it? How do we forgive when we really don’t feel like forgiving? How do we forgive when terrible wrongs have been perpetrated against ourselves or others? While it may not always be easy, forgiveness is really not an option for the believer. Perhaps the following can help when extending forgiveness is hard.

 

  • Recognize that it is God’s place to judge, not ours.

“ Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19).

 

  • Surrender the person and the situation to God.

“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass” (Psalm 37:5).

 

  • Pray for the offender.

“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

 

  • Trust God with the outcome.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

 

We are probably never more like Christ than when we can extend love and forgiveness to those who have hurt or wronged us. Likewise, when we commit to pray for someone who has hurt us, we may discover that our thoughts and attitudes change toward that person as Christ works in us to produce a love like His. What a difference forgiveness can make in all our lives – as we are forgiven and as we forgive!

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | August 5, 2014

Called To Simply Be

Called To Simply Be

Yesterday, I was a child

Who laughed and ran and played,

Oblivious to time or change

Or even the time of day,

Climbing trees, riding bikes,

Wading in cold creeks,

Life was made for living,

I was content to simply be.

But as I grew and packed away

The memories of those days,

The pressures of life and living

Soon obscured those simple ways,

Consumed with work and schedules

And so many needs to meet,

Life became a struggle

As I forgot how to simply be.

But as I worked and struggled

And fought to make my way,

I prayed for God’s direction

And for needed strength each day,

He heard my prayer and answered

In an unexpected way,

He helped me see my children

As they laughed and played each day.

Assured of their father’s love

Life was lived with joy,

Not with stress and worry

Over every broken toy,

My Heavenly Father loves me, too,

My steps and needs, He sees,

He gives me life for living

And calls me to simply be.

My Heavenly Father taught me this lesson many years ago, but as is usually the case with me, I’ve needed to be reminded more than once. What does it mean to be called “to simply be”? To me, this is the basic call that God gives to each of us to be His child. When we accept His offer of salvation and surrender to His Lordship in our lives, we become His children. As John declared about Jesus: “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:12-13). God made the way and calls us to be His children.

 

While many of us know this in our heads, for some reason we seem to have trouble translating it into our hearts. We joyfully accept God’s offer of salvation and set out determined to make it work. But we forget the most important thing of all. God wants us first and foremost – more than anything we can do for Him. God wants us to know the joy of walking with Him; to find strength, help, and courage in His presence; and to know peace and rest as we fellowship with Him. He wants us to look to Him as a child looks to her father, totally trusting in the one she loves and who loves her. This is our first calling – to simply be His child. Any other calling God makes on our lives flows from and through this relationship as He guides us in and through the situations and circumstances we face each day.

 

God calls every believer to be  ….

 

  • Still and know God – “Be still and know that I am God….” (see Psalm 46:10).
  • Yoked to Him – “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29).
  • Trusting – “Be not anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on;” “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (see Matthew 6:25a, 33).
  • Faithful – “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23).

 

As we seek and surrender ourselves to God, as we walk with Him and learn from Him, as we trust Him and are faithful to do what He shows us, not only can we live life with joy, but He will give us peace in the midst of all our circumstances. Our Heavenly Father will take care of all the details. May we answer His call to simply be.

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | July 28, 2014

To Love Like Christ

PENTAX ImageTo Love Like Christ

 Last week I received one of those telephone calls that sends a Mom’s heart racing and her blood pressure skyrocketing. I gripped my cell phone tightly as I listened to the controlled voice of our youngest daughter. “Mom, my house has been broken into. I’m waiting now for the police!”

A thousand questions rushed into my mind, but, thankfully, she reassured me of the most important one of all. “I’m okay. I saw the door had been kicked in, so I didn’t go in. I came back to the car and called the police.” The next hour or so seemed like an eternity as I waited 2-1/2 hours away to hear what was going on. I knew my daughter had been gone for a couple of nights on a work assignment and she had made the discovery when she ran by her house at lunch time after returning. Soon, I listened as my daughter recounted the difficulty of walking into the small house she had just rented and moved into a few weeks ago, to find it thoroughly trashed. In addition to missing items; drawers, cabinets, and storage containers had been ransacked, contents dumped on the floor, thrown and scattered. She barely knew where to start cleaning up, much less the heart to even begin.

But, that’s not the end or the point of this story. The point of this story is what happened next. The people my daughter worked with and went to church with (she works at the church she attends) rallied around her. People from her office showed up to help pick up the worst of the mess that very afternoon. She received offers to stay in homes until she could decide her next step. Friends have offered to help her finish cleaning up and sorting the mess left behind. Other friends have offered to help move her remaining things into storage or a new place to live. In short, she has been surrounded by the love of Christ.

And, oh, isn’t that what we all need? But not just when bad things happen! The one thing that we all need more than anything else in the world, whether we want to admit it or not,  is to be loved. Love matters because it says that we matter. One of the last instructions Jesus gave to His disciples before His death was about love. “ A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

Love makes a difference. Think of the many ways that Christ’s love makes a difference in your life. I immediately thought of the following.   Because Christ loves me….

  • I have life, eternal life. I am no longer condemned (see John 3:16).
  • I can love others. Christ’s love for me enables me to love others – even when others are spiteful to me, or when they do things to use me or persecute me (see 1 John 4:19; Matthew 5:43-48).
  • I can have fellowship with the Father (see John 14:23).
  • I can have hope even in the darkest of times (see Romans 5:2-5).

But as much as I rejoice in the wonder of Christ’s love and the difference it makes in my life, I also know that Christ doesn’t want me to just keep His love to myself. He wants me to share His love freely with others. I have to ask myself if others see Christ-like love in my life? Do I love only those who love me, or who are like me, or who I deem to be worthy of my love? Christ loved both the sinner and the saint, the social outcast and the accepted friend, those who loved him and those who hated and betrayed him. He took time for the children, showed compassion to the hurting, and went out of His way to befriend and show love to those who needed it most. He was no respecter of persons, but loved all unconditionally. Do others see that kind of love in my life?

When I stay close to Christ and allow His love to flow through me, others can also experience the difference Christ’s love can make in their lives. To be sure, my daughter’s friends are providing help and encouragement during a tough time. But even more, as they allow Christ’s love to flow through them and as they lift up and hearten my daughter, it’s as if Christ, Himself, is reaching out to surround her with His love. How thankful I am for the love of Christ and for faithful followers who share His love so well!

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

(Ephesians 3:14-19)

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | July 22, 2014

When We Abandon God

When We Abandon God

 

Most of us would probably agree that as believers we would never, ever abandon God. How could we ever turn our backs on the very One who planned for our redemption before we were ever even born? How could we forget the One who has walked with us through hard places, blessed us in countless ways, and who gives our lives purpose and meaning? Yet, we do it all the time.

 

We abandon God in many of the same ways that the nations of Israel and Judah turned away from Him. In spite of the many ways that God showed up to protect them from their enemies, make them victorious in battle, and to supply their every need, time after time they abandoned God and pursued other gods. And we do the same, today – not just as a nation, but personally as well.

 

The Old Testament books of Kings and Chronicles recount the various rulers of both Israel and Judah. There were those who “did what was right and good in the eyes of the Lord his God” (2 Chronicles 14:2). There were others who “did evil in the sight of the Lord” like evil kings before them (2 Chronicles 22:4). And, sadly, there were even some who were so evil that they died “to no one’s sorrow” (2 Chronicles 21:20). But, perhaps just as sad, often those who did right and good and whose reigns were blessed by God ended their reigns turning from following God and from pursuing Him wholeheartedly.

 

One of these rulers was Joash who became king of Judah at the tender age of seven. Joash was the son of the evil king Ahaziah. When Ahaziah was killed, his mother, Athaliah destroyed all the royal heirs and assumed rule over the land. However, Joash, the infant son of King Ahaziah was hidden by the wife of Jehoiada the priest so that he was not killed. For six years, Joash was hidden by the priest and his wife in the house of God.

 

After six years of Athaliah’s evil rule, Jehoiada worked out a plan with the religious and civil leaders and covenanted to overthrow Athaliah and restore the throne to Joash, the rightful heir. Jehoiada’s plan succeeded and Joash became king. With Jehoiada serving as his guardian and counselor, Joash “did what was right in the sight of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 24:2).

 

Unfortunately, that is not the end of Joash’s story. Although Joash repaired the temple and restored the house of God to its original condition and served the Lord, he, too, abandoned God at the end of his reign. After Jehoiada died, King Joash listened to other leaders of Judah and began to serve wooden images and idols. God sent prophets to try to bring them back to God, but Joash would not listen to them. Even the son of the priest Jehoiada, Zechariah, spoke to all the people and asked them why they were transgressing the commandments of God. He warned them that they were forsaking God and that God would forsake them. But Joash and the people refused to listen. Then, Joash, who had been protected, guided, and counseled by Jehoiada, commanded that Jehoiada’s own son, Zechariah, be stoned to death. Joash, himself, was severely wounded later in battle as God delivered Judah into the hands of the Syrians. Joash’s own servants killed him as he suffered on his bed. (see 2 Chronicles 24).

The life of Joash depicts the downward spiral that occurs when we abandon God.

 

  • We forget.

 

Joash forgot the kindness of Jehoiada. He forgot his help, his guidance, his advice, his counsel, and all that he had taught him. He forgot God, how He had prospered Joash’s rule as long as he sought Him with his whole heart.

 

  • We listen to the wrong advice.

 

After Jehoiada’s death, other rulers in Judah came and bowed down to Joash. He listened to their advice rather than remembering the godly advice of Jehoiada. They left God and served wooden images and idols.

 

  • We abandon worship.

 

Joash abandoned the house of God. They abandoned the daily burnt offerings that indicated obedience and faithfulness to God and instead worshiped images and idols. They forsook worship of the one true God.

 

  • We fail to obey God’s commands.

 

Joash refused to listen to the prophets that God sent to try to bring the people back to God. Instead, he conspired and killed God’s messenger.

 

And we do the same in our own ways.

 

1. How do we forget?

 

Do we forget God’s past mercy, grace, and faithfulness?

 

2. Who do we listen to?

 

Do we become prideful because of past accomplishments and trust our own wisdom and judgment? Do we listen to advice that the world or our non-Christian brothers and sisters offer? Do we test advice we receive against truths contained in Scripture?

 

3. Who or what do we worship?

 

Do we love God with all our heart, soul, and mind? (See Matthew 22:37.) Do we seek Him, honor Him, and serve Him?

 

4. Do we obey God?

 

Do we only obey when it is easy, or do we obey when it’s hard as well? When God’s commands run counter to culture, who do we obey? When God’s commands are in opposition to activities we practice, who do we obey?

 

As the lives of the kings of Israel and Judah so aptly demonstrate, when we continue to turn our backs on God and abandon Him, we will reap the consequences of the choice we make. But no matter where we find ourselves on this downward spiral, our lives do not have to finish like the life of Joash. God is ever merciful, gracious, ready to forgive and restore each one who will repent and turn to Him. “’Now, therefore,’ says the Lord,
‘Turn to Me with all your heart,with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.’ So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God ,for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm”
(Joel 2:12-13).

 

The choice is ours.  Will we abandon God or will we choose to seek Him in all things? I pray that I will seek God so that like those good kings, it can be said about me that she “did what was right and good in the eyes of the Lord her God.”

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | July 15, 2014

Continuing My Journey

Continuing My Journey

 

I only have a little over a month left with my current group of kindergartners in Sunday School – alas, my last group. What a privilege it has been for the past 32 years to help young children as they begin their life-long journeys of learning about Jesus. I have been blessed beyond words and ever thankful that God has allowed me to be part of such a ministry.

 

My decision to leave did not come easily. I’ve worked with preschoolers for so long that I’m not sure if I can sit quietly with adults. Neither am I sure if I can get out of the habit of packing two or three bags every Sunday morning filled with activities, CD’s, snacks, and everything I need to engage five- year-olds. And will I ever get used to not making homemade play dough? But in spite of all my reservations, I think it’s finally time for me to leave kindergarten.

 

As I thought and prayed about the decision I needed to make, I happened to read the following passage about God’s call to Abraham.

 

The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, and said to him, ‘Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.’ Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran. And from there, when his father was dead, He moved him to this land in which you now dwell. And God gave him no inheritance in it, not even enough to set his foot on. But even when Abraham had no child, He promised to give it to him for a possession, and to his descendants after him” (Acts 7:2-5).

 

Although I have often read about God’s call to Abraham, this time I noticed several key things about that call.

 

1. God told Abraham to go without knowing where.

 

When God calls us to go somewhere or do something, He doesn’t always give us the whole picture of what He has planned. He wants us – our worship, our devotion, our obedience, our complete trust. He guides us in the way He wants us to go as we stay close to Him, listen, and obey.

 

2. God told Abraham to go to a land He would show him.

 

God doesn’t set us off on a course and expect us to navigate it all by ourselves. He told Abraham to go to a land that He would show him. In much the same way, God will give us direction and guide us to the “land” He has prepared for us.

 

 

3. God directed Abraham step by step.

 

Abraham left as God directed, but he stopped in Haran – not in the land of Canaan. We don’t know why Abraham stopped in Haran, but apparently he stayed there until the death of his father. Then God moved him on to the promised land. Genesis 12 recounts God’s continued call to Abraham to leave Haran and continue on to Canaan. God leads us step by step. Sometimes we may take detours and fail to follow God’s leading. We may go when God says stay, or we may stay when God says go. But God is ever ready to help us get back on track and continue on.

 

4. God gave Abraham not an inheritance, but a promise.

 

God promised to make Abraham a great nation and a blessing to others. However, He gave Abraham no inheritance in the land to which He brought Him, but promised to give the land to Abraham’s descendants (see Genesis 12:7). God gave Abraham a promise instead of a possession. Possessions have a tendency to hold us back, while promises tend to push us forward as we seek to obtain the promise. I think that the call God places on your life and mine is probably a lot like the one given to Abraham. Our callings, our ministries, are not our possessions. They are not something we own or that define us.   Our callings and ministries are sacred opportunities to participate in some way in God’s kingdom work – a work that is intent on revealing the precious promises of God.

 

 

God calls each of His children to follow wherever He leads them. The callings differ as well as the times and seasons for those calls, but one thing remains the same – our total surrender to God as He directs our steps. When God called me as a young Christian to help in a 4- and 5-year old Sunday School class, I had no idea the calling on my life that would continue to unfold over the next 30 or so years as I grew right along with the kids I had the privilege of teaching. But God set my course, directed my steps, and called me to follow Him. As I look back over these years, I see God’s faithfulness in all the ways He guided me. Now, as I look forward, I know that I can trust Him to continue to lead and direct my steps, knowing that I can depend on His faithfulness whatever He calls me to do.

 

 

I’m so thankful for the call God gave me all those years ago to teach preschoolers. What a difference that call and all the preschoolers I’ve had the joy of teaching, have made in my life. Although it’s hard to step way, just as Abraham left for a place he did not know, I feel that it’s time for me to do the same. I’m going to stay close to my Heavenly Father, and pray that He will guide me step by step as I continue my journey. And I’m going to keep pressing on and looking forward to the promise that awaits all of God’s children – but I still might bring the playdough!

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | July 10, 2014

What I Love Most About Jesus

What I Love Most About Jesus

 

There are so many things I love about Jesus – His love and compassion, His merciful and forgiving nature, His strength and power, His righteousness and justice, His humility and grace, His commitment and steadfastness to fulfill God’s plan – I guess I could go on and on. But there is one thing that I love most of all. The one thing that I love the most about Jesus is that He sees me! He doesn’t look past me, around me, or pretend not to notice me. In other words, in a world where people are so often just another number, and who are oftentimes scarcely even noticed by others, Jesus truly sees me. I matter to Jesus.

 

Jesus came for all of us, but He came for each of us individually. Jesus stated: “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep” (John 10:14-15). We matter to Jesus – He knows each of His sheep intimately and well. He knows our hang-ups and problems, our hopes and our dreams. He knows when we hurt, when we fail, when we are overcome with joy. He sees us; He knows us; we matter to Jesus.

 

The Scriptures offer numerous examples of ways that Jesus saw and ministered to men and women just like you and me. He showed compassion to the multitudes and healed the sick, the crippled, and the blind. He freed others from the power of unclean spirits and demons. Jesus calmed the wind and the waves and His disciples’ fears. He talked with the woman at the well as He passed through Samaria, fully knowing her need, and leading her to know the Messiah. He saw crowds who were hungry and gave them food. He befriended tax collectors and sinners and called them to follow Him. He called lowly fishermen and taught them to be fishers of men. He offered forgiveness to a woman caught in adultery. He cried with Mary and Martha over the death of Lazarus. He welcomed and took time for young children. He came to Thomas who doubted and showed him the print of the nails in His hands. After being denied by Peter, Jesus sought him and restored him.

 

All of the above stories and so many more, reveal a Savior who sees us. He sees us when we’re sick and hurting. He sees us when we’re fearful, anxious, or tormented. He sees us when we’ve lost our way and need direction. He sees us when we’re hungry or have needs. He sees us whether we’re rich or poor, black or white, young or old, believing or doubtful. Jesus sees us, wherever we are, whatever we’re going through, and He is ready to climb right into the boat with us and get us through our storm, no matter how difficult or messy it may be.

 

But not only does Jesus see where we’ve been and where we are, He also sees what we can be. The people that Jesus walked along side of in Scripture rarely stayed the same. Jesus made a difference in each of their lives. Because of Jesus, outcasts became disciples and sinners became soul winners. The hurting, weary, and lost found a Savior – a Savior they wanted to know and that they wanted others to know as well.

 

It’s the same today, my friend. Jesus sees you and me just as He did those early followers. He invites us to open our Bibles and listen to Him, to retreat to our own inner sanctuaries and talk to Him, and to invite Him to come into our hearts and change us. He may be calling you to be a preacher or teacher like Peter who had formally denied even knowing Jesus. He may be calling you to give to others like the rich Zacchaeus who had obtained money by questionable means. He may be calling you to just come to Him with your questions and your doubts. Or He may be calling you to just come and rest your weary soul. Whatever He may be calling you to do, He asks you to come just as you are – just like all of those He walked with in Galilee, Capernaum, Samaria, and Judea. They came poor and wretched, sick and hurting, lost and hopeless, and they found a Savior. May we all do the same.

 

Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.All who ever came before Me[a] are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

(John 10:7-10)

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | June 25, 2014

When My Strength is Small

When My Strength is Small

 

 

We all have those days — those times when we feel that we just don’t have any more strength. We can get to that place through any number of ways. It may be a grief that is just too much to bear. Perhaps it is pain or suffering that just finally takes its toll. Or it could be an unyielding work load, a relationship that is filled with problems, or even a combination of all these things. But there comes a time when all our efforts to endure, to hang in there, and to keep pressing on, just don’t seem to be enough. We have come to the end of our strength.

 

The Bible has a lot to say about strength. Paul advised the Corinthians to “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13). Such words can inspire and encourage us, but, frankly, when I’m worn out and wrung out and I’m at the end of my rope, I want to simply ask, “How?” How do I do it? How do I become strong? It’s kind of like this pain I’m having in my knee right now. When I stand, it hurts. When I walk, it hurts. Sometimes, even when I sit it hurts. My knee, or the cartilage and ligaments around it, are weak. In time, certain exercises and activities can help strengthen my knee, but right now I can’t do those. In much the same way, when I’m down and out with no more fight left in me, how can I be strong?

 

Thankfully, the Bible gives us some words of advice on how to be strong. The following Scriptures have been helpful to me many times as I’ve grappled with how to keep standing and remain strong when I feel oh, so weak.

 

  • “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

 

Sometimes, when I’m struggling with something whether it is physical, emotional, or even spiritual, I try to figure it out or work it out myself. I think on it, agonize over it, work at it, and literally wear myself out. But Jesus invites us to bring all of our troubles and issues to Him. He doesn’t want us to try to bear it alone. Believe me, I don’t know how it works, but I know it does. When I truly surrender my issues to Him, He makes a difference in me. My problem may not be miraculously solved, but He gives me rest from the worry and strife that plague me and gives me renewed strength to face them.

 

  • “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

 

When we’re tired and weary, we need to remember that no matter what battle we’re facing, we’re not in it alone. The Lord our God is with us. He goes with us. He promises to not leave us or forsake us. Usually, when we’re really down, we feel that no one could possibly understand the depths of our hurt or agony, but God knows and He promises to stay right there with us. He assures us of His constant presence with us in our storms, and He gives us strength.

 

  • “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Ephesians 6:10).

 

Paul encouraged the Ephesians to not just be strong, but to be strong in the Lord and in His power. This is the strength that comes from not only taking our situation to the Lord, but trusting Him with it. No adversity comes to us without the knowledge of our all-powerful, all-knowing Lord. Jesus taught: “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31).Do we really believe that our God is in control? Do we believe in His power and that He can do anything? Can I let go of all my what if’s, what I think, what I want, and trust Him to work things out according to His wisdom and plan? When I can do this, and surrender my most precious wants and desires to Him, I can discover a different kind of strength – a strength not in my abilities or what I can work out, but a strength that I can know because of the all-powerful One that I know. I find my strength in Him, in His wisdom, and in what He can do.

 

When my strength is small, I’m so thankful that Jesus invites me to come to Him and just rest. I’m glad that He promises me that He won’t leave me, but that He’ll walk with me through any trouble I face. And how joyful I am to know that I can be strong, not because of what I can do, but because of the amazing God in whom I can put my trust.

 

“But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.”

(Isaiah 40:31)

 

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | June 14, 2014

The Qualities of a Great Dad

The Qualities of a Great Dad

 

Two Great Dads

Two Great Dads

 

Dads come in all shapes and sizes, with differing gifts and abilities, and with various interests, hopes, and desires. While no two Dads are exactly alike, I feel that there are four qualities that can be seen in all great Dads. These four things result in gifts to their children, a legacy, if you will, that will forever stay with their kids. I feel blessed to have known quite a few of these great Dads. See if you recognize these four qualities in Dads you know.

 

  • A great Dad loves like there’s no tomorrow.

 

A great Dad loves his kids and his kids’ mother – more than he loves himself.

 

  • A great Dad gives like there’s only today.

 

A great Dad shows his love by giving. He gives time and more time, money and more money, and sometimes he gives up some of his biggest dreams for the dreams of those he loves.

 

  • A great Dad lives those things he teaches.

 

A great Dad doesn’t just tell those around him what to do. He shows them how it’s done. I love the quote by Clarence Budington Kelland: “My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.”

 

  • A great Dad knows that real men pray.

 

No matter how great a Dad may be, truly great Dads know that their strength and help come from the greatest Father of all, their Heavenly Father. There are really no self-made men. Real men depend not upon themselves, but upon God.

 

As I thought about these qualities, it occurred to me how each of these traits can point us to our Heavenly Father as well. A Dad who loves his family with an unconditional love models the all-encompassing love of God. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). This deep love of God cost Him deeply as He gave His only Son, Jesus. And Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice as He willingly lay down His life for you and me. True love leads to giving and sacrifice. As Jesus walked on earth, He demonstrated the life God calls us to live, even retreating often to spend time alone with His Father in prayer.

 

I’m so thankful for the great Dads that I’ve known. So many of them have helped me see my Heavenly Father more clearly as I’ve seen what love and sacrifice look like as they were modeled in front of me day-by-day. As a child I didn’t always understand the many ways my Dad sacrificed for me. He made it look so easy – I thought it was just what Dads did. But, now, so many years later, as I’ve seen my own husband make it look so easy when I knew it always wasn’t, I’ve come to understand one more thing about great Dads. They don’t see the difficult times and the hard days as sacrifice. They don’t count the pluses and minuses or keep records of rights and wrongs. Just like the father of the prodigal son in the story told by Jesus (see Luke 15:11-32), a great Dad simply loves with his whole heart and longs to be gracious to those he loves – once again, just like our Heavenly Father.

 

A great Dad loves like there’s no tomorrow,

A great Dad lives like there’s only today,

A great Dad lives those things he teaches,

A great Dad knows that real men pray.

Happy Father’s Day to all those great Dads!

“He has shown you, O man, what is good ;And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?”

(Micah 6:8)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | June 10, 2014

Hijack a Horse or Keep on Plodding

Hijack a Horse or Keep on Plodding  IMG_0011

 

I knew that things were getting tough yesterday when I actually wondered how hard it would be to hijack a horse that stood patiently next to the creek waiting for his owner. I knew I couldn’t do it – I mean, literally, I probably couldn’t even get myself on the horse much less do it before the owner realized what I was doing. Yet, oh, how my leg hurt! But instead, I just kept on plodding down the gravel trail.

 

You see, my husband and I decided to take the day off and go to a nearby state park, do a couple of simple hikes – more like nature walks – see a couple of waterfalls and just enjoy the early summer morning. I should have known better because the muscle in the back of my leg had been sore and hurting off and on for the last couple of days. But I figured that a good walk was probably all that I needed to work it out. Let’s just say that wasn’t what my leg needed at all!

 

After walking only about two miles, I realized my leg was feeling much worse. As we passed over one of the creeks and saw two horses resting near their owners, I couldn’t help but wish I could climb on one and ride it back to the parking lot. We kept on going, however, but by the time we stopped for a break at one of the beautiful lakes, I knew we were going to have to turn back. Every step seemed to be more and more painful and I’m positive that I made it back to the car through sheer grit and determination – and, more importantly, a prayer in my heart for God to help me make it.

 

Later, as I rested with my leg propped up on a bag of ice, I thought about how much our lives are like my little escapade that morning. Think about it for a minute.

 

  • We start out life with big plans and dreams.
  • We may have some little problems, but we don’t give them a lot of thought. After all, we’re headed toward something great.
  • Suddenly, we discover that we need to face things we hadn’t expected or planned. They may not have been on the list when we signed up.
  • Likewise, some of those little problems begin to grow bigger. Minor inconveniences, temporary setbacks, seemingly simple issues can eventually add up to major problems. And in the process we realize that our lives bear very little resemblance to the dream we had envisioned.

 

So then comes decision time. What do we do? Do we take matters into our own hands and try to make things happen the way we want them to? Do we seek immediate relief, a fast fix or temporary solution, and hijack a horse? Or do we pray and keep on plodding?

 

Believe me, I’ve done all of the above – well, I haven’t actually hijacked a horse, but I have sought immediate relief – and I have taken matters into my own hands and tried to do things my way. But over and over again, I’m learning that the best thing to do when I don’t know what to do is to pray and keep on plodding.

 

 

There is no matter, no concern, no problem too small – or too big – to bring before God in prayer. Paul wrote to the Philippians: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). This is the first step to really actively walking with God. It’s learning to trust Him with our needs, our worries, our tears, even our anger. It’s sharing our hearts with Him and welcoming Him to work in us to effect what He planned, which may not necessarily be the same thing that we planned or dreamed. But it is in that safe, sacred cocoon that God’s will begins to unfold in your life and mine. It is God who completes His will in my life as I walk with Him and yield to Him. As Paul also stated:

“being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

 

While God is the One who works things out and completes His will in your life and mine, we can hinder or help His work in us. We hinder Him when we fail to walk with Him and try to take matters into our own hands and work things out the way we think they should be handled. We help Him by –

 

  • Spending time with Him regularly, praying, reading His Word, being sensitive to His Spirit
  • Approaching Him with a willing heart, ready to do whatever He wants me to do
  • Remaining faithful in those things I know to do and continuing to walk in obedience
  • Accepting the situations He allows into my life and remembering the many precious promises He has made to me, including that He will never leave or forsake me

 

Sometimes, all I know to do is to just pray and keep on plodding. I guess when you think about it, that’s all we really need to do. It’s not for us to know what God may be up to in our lives or how He plans to use us in His kingdom’s work. But even Jesus proclaimed:  I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4). So, while we can, I guess we just need to keep on plodding and leave the results up to God!

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