Posted by: glorifyhim1 | April 17, 2014

Looking Beyond the Cross

Looking Beyond the Cross

A couple of weekends ago, our daughter finally convinced my husband and me to hike a short trail near our house. Now to fully understand this, you have to know that my husband and I love getting outdoors, walking in the woods, and experiencing the beauty of nature. But you also need to know that to us, hiking is walking in the woods. It has nothing to do with inordinate amounts of climbing, pulling one’s self up holding onto a shrub or bush (or crawling on your knees which I resorted to for a while out of necessity), or having to maneuver over a sheer rock outcropping in order to finally reach the longed-for tip-top of the mountain! In addition, you should also know that we didn’t know all of this about this “short little trail” when we agreed to go.

I admit that our daughter did mention that it was a gradually steepening trail – “but it is short,” she assured us. She said the trail was well-worn because it was very popular so there were some well-eroded areas – “but it is short.” She even prepared us for the rock out-cropping at the top – “but I know you can do it” – and you guessed it, “and it is short.” She continued to persuade us, telling us that we could take it slow and stop and rest whenever we needed to. And then she described what she knew would reel my husband and me in. “You won’t believe the view,” she said. “It is incredible!” So, we finally agreed to go.

The trail was everything she said and more! But, I do have to admit that when I finally worked my way across the rock out-cropping at the top, the view was incredible. It was like a bird’s eye view of where I lived – the school near our house, the steeple of a church a few streets over, the college directly beneath our perch, and off in the distance the interstate that raced by our quiet little town. From the other direction, I spotted tiny mountain roads and I could even make out the Blue Ridge Parkway that circled the far mountains. As I sat on the rock at the top, and looked at the amazing view around me, I had to agree it was worth the struggle to get there.

But as we headed down the trail which seemed almost as difficult as going up, I found myself wondering if I would be willing to do it again. Would I be willing to climb the trail again when I knew what it was like? Would the incredible view at the top be enough to encourage me to tackle it again? In spite of the beautiful view, would I have set off in the first place if I had known how difficult it would be for me?

It made me think of Jesus. Do you remember when Jesus began His last journey into Jerusalem? Luke tells us: “Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). Unlike me on that trail, Jesus fully knew what awaited Him in Jerusalem. Yet He “set His face,” determined to accomplish what He came to earth to do. Although His disciples did not fully understand what He told them, Jesus explained to them what would happen to Him: “Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, ‘Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon. They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again” (Luke 18:31-34).

Knowing all of this, Jesus was still prepared to go. When Peter rebuked Him and exclaimed, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” (Matthew 16:22b); Jesus spoke to him strongly: “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men” (Matthew 16:23). Jesus was determined that nothing would interfere with God’s plan – no matter that it would cost Him His very life.

I’ve often thought about Jesus’ determination to go to Jerusalem and His unswerving commitment to God’s plan. I can’t imagine what it was like for Him to keep pressing forward, fully aware of what lay ahead – betrayal, denial, mocking, ridicule, scourging, and a cruel death on a cross. How could He do it? But you see, not only did Jesus know what awaited Him in Jerusalem, but He also was able to look beyond the cross. He knew that what He had to endure there meant all the difference for you and me. Without Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we would be forever, hopelessly lost. We needed a perfect, sinless Savior. We needed Jesus.

So Jesus pressed forward, willing to suffer and die so that you and I could have life. Jesus stated Himself: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10b). Jesus died to give us life – both abundant life now and eternal life. While the cross meant suffering and death to Jesus, it gave me life.

Through the cross ….

….  Jesus showed me God’s love (see Romans 5:8).

….  Jesus paid the penalty for my sin (see 1 Peter 3:18).

….  Jesus reconciled me to the Father (see 2 Corinthians 5:18-29).

….  Jesus gave me hope for today and tomorrow (see Romans 5:1-5).

Jesus willingly “set His face” toward Jerusalem and laid down His life in order that we might truly live.

As I sat atop those rocks the other weekend, I was tired and worn, but not defeated. I had struggled to the top and I could taste the victory. I could see beyond my temporary pain to the beauty unfolding before me. Neither was Jesus defeated. He was nailed to the cross on the day before the Sabbath. As His friends prepared His body and laid Him in the tomb, how they must have grieved! But the cross wasn’t the end. Although Jesus suffered and died, although He bore the nail prints in His hands and feet, there was victory beyond the cross.

“Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them,[a] came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly[b] perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’

(Luke 24:1-7)

And, my friend, there’s still life beyond the cross today. Sometimes our lives may seem like my little mountain trail – rough and steep, rocky and hard. Our way may be difficult and we may even feel defeated at times. But just like my trail, our time here (in my daughter’s words) – “is really short.” Our victory has already been won and secured by our Savior. May we just keep looking beyond the cross!

“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

(Romans 8:37)

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | April 8, 2014

Being Done With Lesser Things

Being Done With Lesser Things

Sometimes I get discouraged – not necessarily because of what may not be going right in my world – but because of me! I get discouraged because it seems like I allow the same things, over and over, to trip me up and cause me to stumble in my Christian walk. Is it just me? Or do you, too, find yourself asking forgiveness for the same kinds of things over and over? If so, know that we are not alone. Even Paul, the one called by God to carry His message to the Gentile world, described his own frustration with sinfulness. “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do” (Romans 7:15). And then he exclaimed: “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24).

Who will deliver us? The truth is Christ has already delivered us. Paul identified the deliverer – “I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:25). When we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, we have victory over sin through Him. Then why do I keep on doing the same things that I don’t want to do? I’ve accepted Christ as my Savior. I love Him with all my heart and want to live for Him. Why do I do the things I do?

My confusion reminds me of the small child who slipped a quarter in her pocket from the change cup in her Dad’s office break room. When her Dad realized what she had done, she began to cry and immediately returned it. “Why did you do it?” her Dad asked. “All you had to do was ask me for a quarter.”

“I don’t know,” the little girl stammered, “it was just there!”

Sin is like that. It’s just there. And while Satan is not omniscient and he cannot read our minds and thoughts, the Bible affirms that he is a master of deception. Jesus Himself stated that Satan “was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44b). Satan has sought to deceive, entice, and tempt mankind ever since his encounter with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Make no mistake. He is still out to attack and tempt us where we are the most weak and vulnerable. He is our adversary – not for us, but against us. He wants to destroy us and our witness for Christ. Peter reminds us: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

Just like that little girl, sometimes we give in to sin because “it is just there.” It doesn’t have to be something that we plan or willfully engage. It could be as simple as someone cutting us off in traffic and we respond in anger. Perhaps we are slighted or hurt by a fellow Christian and we become defensive and critical. We may be running late and grow impatient with others who get in our way. Sin is not always the premeditated evil that someone seeks and plans to do. Oftentimes it is the result of situations and things that are just there and we respond in the flesh.

I’m learning in my own Christian walk to recognize some of the things that threaten to instantly put my brain on autopilot and leave me ashamed and seeking forgiveness. You could probably make a list, too, although yours would probably be different from mine. What’s on our lists really doesn’t matter, but the fact that it allows Satan to have victory over us in these areas matters a lot. Every time I fail, Satan wins. It’s time to be done with all these lesser things that not only affect me, but more importantly, that damage my witness for Christ.

So how do I live victoriously? The truth is I can’t – that is, not by myself and in my own strength. But I have a helper. As Jesus prepared to leave His disciples, He told them: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26).When I accepted Jesus as my Savior, the Holy Spirit took up residence in my heart and life to help me live the life that God calls me to live. My fleshly nature doesn’t always like Him being there. My fleshly nature wants to argue, get my own way, return insult for insult – you get the picture. But the Spirit within me reminds me who my Father is and how He wants me to live. He convicts me when I live contrary to the way God wants me to live, leads me to repentance, and helps me get back on the right track.

This struggle between our flesh and spirit is one that we will continually deal with here on earth, but the closer we stay to the Father and the more we abide in Him (studying His Word, obeying His teaching, walking and talking with Him in prayer), the more battles we will win. Paul states it simply: “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). The only way we can live consistently and overcome the fleshly desires and responses that war within us is to walk in the power of the Spirit. When we walk in the Spirit, we yield to the Spirit and allow Him to ….

  • Guide us

“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come” (John 16:13).

  • Teach us

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26).

  • Help us

 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-17).

  • Give us discernment

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God,  and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (John 14:1-6).

  • Bear fruit in us

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

The Spirit works to accomplish His work in us and through us – something that we could never do in our own power or strength. And as we yield to Him, we begin to act and look more like Christ –  For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:  “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed”(1 Peter 2:21-24).

When I think of all that Christ went through for me, the slights and offenses I may suffer are as insignificant as that quarter swiped by the little girl. I think it’s time to be done with all these lesser things. Instead may I commit myself “to Him who judges righteously,” and may I seek to “live for righteousness” every day as I walk in the Spirit.

And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”

(Galatians 5:24-25).

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | April 1, 2014

Game Changers

Game Changers

Like many of you, I enjoy watching college basketball – especially near the end of season when tournament games and March Madness roll around. While all the teams I’ve cheered for have met the end of their seasons and headed home, I still enjoy watching some of the remaining games and guessing who will finally emerge as the current champion. This year I’ve been amazed at the number of close – very close – games. Often the winners were not decided until the final few seconds. In many of the games, another minute or two could have possibly rendered an entirely different outcome as the score see-sawed back and forth between two very good teams.

As I watched some of these games, I thought about what made the difference in winning and losing. Surely, it helps to have talented, gifted players who excel in different aspects of the game. Likewise, it helps to have good programs that support the coaches and players. Yet while many factors can contribute to a team’s success or failure, I have determined that one of the real game changers in any contest is the head coach. I watched some teams that persevered and overcame double-digit deficits to emerge victorious. I watched still others who pulled off miraculous wins in the final second or two of a game. When I would have written off several games as already determined, a quick time-out on the side of the court produced a team with renewed zeal, perhaps a different strategy, fired up, re-energized, and ready to overcome the seemingly inevitable loss. These are the kinds of differences a good head coach can make.

Do you realize that you and I can have a game changer in our lives, too? Sometimes, I have those days when I feel a lot like that team going to the locker room at half time with seemingly no chance to win. Everything seems to be stacked against me and I have no clear solutions to my problems. What do I do? Where do I turn? But then I am reminded that as a believer, I know the real game changer.

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”

Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler[a]
And from the perilous pestilence.
He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.”

(Psalm 91:1-4)

 

The above psalm helps me remember that I am not alone. I have the Most High on my side. Alone, I am no match for the troubles, problems, and difficulties that may come my way. But in His Presence I have help and hope.

 

  • He is my refuge who I can turn to.
  • He is my fortress who will shelter and protect me.
  • He is my deliverer who will bring me safely through the plans and snares that Satan uses to trip and trap me (just like a trap set by a fowler to catch a bird).
  • He is my coverer. As I abide in my Heavenly Father, He provides a place of safety, rest, and comfort.
  • And He is my shield, ever faithful to His Word and His promises.

 

What a difference it can make when we seek God and trust every area of our lives to Him. A dedicated basketball player looks to his coach for direction and guidance. He trusts in the coach’s knowledge of the game, his understanding of the players’ skills, and his awareness of the strengths and weaknesses of the opposing team. How much more should we trust every detail of our lives to our Heavenly Father? He knows us intimately and completely. He understands every detail of our lives, our deepest needs and concerns. He is fully aware of any storms or difficulties we are enduring, as well as the sins we can’t seem to overcome. He knows every struggle and adversary that we face. But even more, He knows who He created us to be. He knows who we can become when we surrender all we are to Him.

 

Every once in a while you will see that exceptional basketball player who seems to always know just what the coach wants the team to do. It’s as if he instinctively knows which plays to run, when to change the pace of the game, or how to inspire and encourage his team mates on the floor. He, too, becomes a game changer as he puts into practice what he has learned from staying close to the coach and learning from him. But what about us? Do we stay close to God and sincerely seek to learn from Him? Do we really believe God and what He says? Do we really feel that we can trust Him with every single detail of our lives? Just think of the real life game changers we could all be if we truly believed and trusted God. I want to be that kind of game changer. How about you?

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | March 22, 2014

Undiscovered Treasures

Undiscovered Treasures

Recently, I accompanied my daughter to a department store while she shopped for some new jeans. Not planning to buy anything myself, I browsed through the clothing aisles casually looking at the various items. I was actually making my way to my favorite part of just about any department store – the kitchen section. I love to look at all the new gadgets, scout out all the small appliances, and decide if there is anything that my little kitchen really needs so I can begin a gradual hinting process.

But I never made it to the kitchen section. I was sidetracked by a simple sign at the end of a clothes rack – up to 70% off. Wow! I had to stop to look at this rack. As I thumbed through the assortment of tops, slacks, shorts, and some things I’m not exactly sure how they were supposed to be worn; I began to understand why they were marked 70% off! But, then, it happened. I spied a pair of lightweight jeans, the brand I love to wear, in a color I had looked for all last year and couldn’t find, and in my size! I flipped over the price tag and couldn’t believe my eyes – $12.59! I had found a treasure.

Almost immediately, I began to question what seemed too good to be true. “There must be something wrong with them,” I told myself. Hesitantly, I made my way to the dressing room, almost as if I needed to prove to myself that something was wrong. But when I tried them on, I can’t say they fit perfectly – my jeans never fit perfectly – but these were only $12.59!! And did I mention another 20% off my total purchase? I had discovered a treasure where I had not even planned to look.

The sad thing is that far too often we miss out on much more than a $12.59 pair of jeans. We miss out on real treasures in life all because we fail to stop and we fail to see.

As I get older and my memory begins to fade, I’m finding that I have much more trouble doing something that I’ve always done – multi-tasking. Oh, I can still do it, but when I do I discover that I miss out on things. I can’t seem to remember as much about one thing when my mind is trying to keep up with several things. Sometimes, I have to tell myself to just stop. Stop and concentrate on the immediate concern. Stop and enjoy the present moment. Stop and allow God to uncover His blessings according to His timing. There are so many treasures waiting to be discovered – precious times with our families and friends, beautiful things in the world around us, special moments with God Himself – but we have to stop the busyness and fully experience the moment.

I’ve also found that too often I look at things around me without really seeing. I can sit outside with my husband and enjoy watching the squirrels and birds in the yard. But my husband sees one squirrel chasing after another one carrying a walnut, the bluebirds and sparrows fighting over residence in a birdhouse, and the tree limb that needs to be cut out of a nearby tree. He not only looks, but he also sees what is really going on. It makes me wonder how many times I fail to see really important things. How often do I look at people, but fail to really see them? So often I look at people from my perspective, what’s going on in my world, how what they say or do affects me. In all honesty, I can’t always really see, understand, or know the why behind the words and actions of others. Are there hurts and worries? Could harsh comments or unkind words be a cry for help? Do I react to their outbursts or do I pray for them? Do I hold every wrong word or action against them, or do I forgive? Do I look beyond my limited vision and instead try to see God’s special treasure, this person that He created and loves, and that Jesus died to save? How many human treasures do I walk past, cast off, ignore, or fail to truly see?

It’s one thing to miss out on a $12.59 pair of jeans, but it’s quite another to miss out on priceless treasures that God brings into our lives. I want to take the time to discover every treasure He has prepared for me whether it be a golden sunset or a child’s laughter. And, most of all, I want to look beyond my limited vision, beyond the apparent and the world as I see it, and to truly see the people I meet and interact with every day, knowing that each one is God’s special treasure.

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?
 For You have made him a little lower than the angels,
And You have crowned him with glory and honor.”

(Psalm 8:3-5)

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | March 12, 2014

Becoming Holy

Becoming Holy

“But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16).

What does it mean to be holy? Holy can be defined as being dedicated or consecrated, or as Merriam-Webster states “devoted entirely to the deity or the work of the deity.” Dictionary.com also describes a holy life as one that is “saintly, godly, pious, devout.” Am I a holy person? How about you? Would others look at you and me and declare us holy? What should holiness look like in a believer’s life? And, perhaps more importantly, how do we allow holiness to define who we are?

As I thought about this, I was reminded of a story about Jesus in Matthew 11. John the Baptist, who was in prison at the time, heard about all the works that Jesus was doing so he sent two of his disciples to Jesus to find out if he was the “Coming One,” the one that John had been proclaiming, or if the Christ was still to come. Jesus answered His disciples: “’Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me’” (Matthew 11:4-6).

Just as Jesus’ works confirmed who He was, the things we do should likewise identify us as His followers. When we truly surrender ourselves to Christ and live for Him, that’s what happens. Our lives are no longer ours, but they belong to Christ. We are holy – not because of who we are, but because of whose we are. When we surrender our wills to His and live the lives He calls us to live, we will reflect Him to a lost world who needs so much to see Him.

Yet, does the world see Jesus in your life and mine? Paul spoke to the Corinthians regarding this failure. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? (1 Corinthians 3:3b). We fail to reflect the holiness of Christ when we give in to the ways of the unsaved world. When people without Christ can’t see any difference between what I’m saying or teaching, or where I’m going or what I’m doing, neither can they see Christ.

We are called to be holy so that others will see Jesus. But, oh how many times do I fail to measure up? I don’t know about you, but I’m afraid that I wouldn’t often be described by others as being “saintly, godly, pious, or devout.” Don’t we all mess up? We become angry and say hurtful things. We struggle to forgive those who have hurt us. We often look less like Christ and more like the world. But we are not called to try to be holy; we are called to be holy. So how do we become holy?

The first step to being holy is repentance and surrender. Peter preached at Pentecost: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). We become holy people when we surrender our ways, our wills, our total selves to Jesus Christ.  

The next step to being holy is learning to walk in-step with Christ, allowing His Spirit to lead us and teach us. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26).

It is as we surrender to Christ, walk with Him, and allow His Spirit to guide us, we become holy people. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).  As we yield to the Spirit’s work in our lives, He will bear fruit in us that we could never do by ourselves – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (see Galatians 5:22-23). These are fruits that the world can see and that can bring glory to the only One worthy, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

God wants His people to be different. He wants us to be holy, so that others will want what we have – so that they will want to know the Christ that we know. 2 Corinthians 2:15 is a good reminder for all Christians about our responsibility to be holy. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing” (NIV). I pray that I will listen more to the Spirit as He leads me and allow Him to reveal more of the beautiful Christ I know to a world that so desperately needs Him.

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

(1 Peter 2:9)

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | March 8, 2014

The Riches of a Child of God

The Riches of a Child of God

This past week I was saddened to hear of the unexpected death of the husband of a sweet Christian sister I met years ago.  While I had not had the privilege of meeting her husband, nor the pleasure of seeing her for quite some time, I had enjoyed keeping up with her and her lovely family through Facebook.  This sweet friend is a vibrant Christian who pours heart and soul into everything she does. I have often admired her from the distance and her beautiful Christian witness. The outpouring of love and sympathy that accompanied the unexpected news reminded me of something that way too often we seem to forget. We are never – never – outside the reach of our amazing God.

Troubles and difficulties have a way of consuming us and thereby, obscuring our vision and blinding us to truths that Scripture makes abundantly clear. But as I witnessed the outpouring of sympathy and love, and the many declarations of prayer for her and her family, I knew that the God she loved and served had not abandoned her at her time of need. He was there, His Spirit within her just as He promised (see John 14:15-17). He was also there in and through His people who would sit beside her, give her hugs, and just cry with her. The very God who hung the planets in space, who formed a world of beauty, light, and wonder from darkness and chaos; this same God was reaching out to comfort His child and help her through one of the darkest moments in her life. This, my friends, is what it means to know the riches that come from being a child of God.

Every child of God is blessed with riches that emanate from God Himself. Consider just some of those riches that every child of God can enjoy. He offers them freely – not because we’ve earned or deserve them, but because of who He is.

  • God’s surrounding presence with us at all times

“And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b).

  • God’s unequaled power on our behalf

“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him” (2 Chronicles 16:9a).

  • God’s tender mercies when we fail

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

  • God’s abundant grace when we need it and even if we don’t deserve it

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

  • God’s unconditional and abiding love

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;  they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23; ESV)

Paul stated it well to the Ephesians: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,” (Ephesians 1:3). In this world, being a Christian does not exempt us from the same kinds of troubles and tragedies that non-believers face, but we have Him! It is in Him that we can have light in the darkness, comfort in the pain, and hope when all seems to be hopeless.

My sweet sister in Christ has and will grieve her great loss – but not without the hope she knows in Christ. The riches she knows in Him will hold and sustain her, walk with her through the difficult days, and surround her His great love and faithfulness. All believers in Christ can know these same riches because of Him. He can be our Anchor; He can be our Rock; He can be our Hope! How innumerable are the riches of being a child of the Most High God!

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | February 28, 2014

When I Come to God

When I Come to God

This week my husband and I began the dreaded chore of repairing, painting, and trying to revive worn out, used up rooms. Now I don’t dread the anticipation, the planning and preparing. It’s fun to look at paint charts and plan how we can rearrange and change things. But all that eager anticipation quickly dissipates as chaos ensues. Mattresses and furniture take over the hallway and every vacant spot. Dust an inch thick is uncovered where furniture has been firmly planted for ten years or more. And then come the questions. Where did I get this? What should I do with this? What is this? And, finally, why ever did we start this?

I admit I wondered that a time or two this week. Whatever gave me the bright idea to move half of my bedroom into another room to make a work room/office? And would I ever be able to find anything again? I really can’t answer that last question since we haven’t finished yet. But we have finished repairing and painting one room and my main job now is cleaning out and moving what needs to go into that room. Can I say it again? What a mess!!

Yet in all the dust and all the mess, it is amazing the beautiful gems you can uncover – things that have been packed carefully away and stored for almost a lifetime. Yesterday, I laughed. I cried. I felt defeated. Yet I emerged with my heart overflowing, feeling like I must be the most blessed person in the world. You see, I unearthed container after container of cards, hand-written  letters and notes. There were notes of encouragement from friends and loved ones at some of the most difficult times of my life. There were messages of congratulations and best wishes at times of celebration and new beginnings. There were sweet notes of love from my then husband-to-be and scores and scores of hand-made cards with scrawled messages from the kids. I spent most of the morning immersed in all these memories that covered so many years.

As I enjoyed all the cards and notes from the kids, their frankness and simple honesty, I was reminded once again of something Jesus told His disciples.

Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.’  And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them” (Mark 10:13-16).

Jesus set children apart as an example for all of His followers. How do we come to Jesus as a child? Jesus doesn’t list the qualities of children that we need to have, but as I looked through the cards and notes yesterday, I was reminded of a few that He may have had in mind.

  • They come with joy – not out of obligation, duty, or thinking “because I ought to.”
  • They come with complete honesty – just as I am with no pretense or dissimulation.
  • They come with simplicity – straightforward and natural.
  • They come with love – complete unbridled, overflowing love.

I couldn’t help but wonder what my Heavenly Father sees in me when I approach Him? Does He see me coming to Him with joy – just to be spending time with Him? Does He see me coming to Him with complete honesty – not trying to explain myself or justify my actions? Does He see me coming to Him as naturally as I would come to my earthly Daddy – approaching Him with complete trust and assurance that He loves me and wants to hear from me? Does He see love on my face and in my heart as I adore Him, praise Him, and just enjoy being with Him?

As I read so many of those simple kid-scrawled notes, I saw what I want God to see when I come to Him. I want Him to have no doubts about how much I love Him. And even if I may not always be able to express what is on my heart or understand exactly what is going on around me, I want Him to see a heart that is ready to trust in Him no matter what – because I believe in Him. Oh, when I come to God, may I come as a child!

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | February 21, 2014

I Love You!

I Love You!

Recently, we were having a hectic morning in my kindergarten Sunday School class. It was just a small class, but things were just not going smoothly. Kids played with blocks, cars, and playdough. They made creation pictures, gluing and/or drawing pictures of things God. We talked about the Bible story and the wonderful world God made. But one moment I was cautioning a child to keep the cars on the carpet while at the same time I was helping a child find a picture of the sky for day two of creation. Meanwhile, I was trying to get a child involved who didn’t want to do anything – then there goes cars across the floor again! Finally, at group time everyone wanted to talk instead of listen. What had happened to my kindergartners? Could it have been being out of school almost the whole week before because of snow?

By the time we had finished group time, I was frazzled and frankly worn out. As we got the kids rounded up and they all sat down for snack, I turned on my laptop to show a small segment from a DVD that accompanies our lesson. Now I had inserted the DVD, located today’s lesson on God’s Wonderful World, and had it all ready before I had even left home for church. But for whatever reason, every time I tried to play the DVD, it would play the segment for last week’s story. I tried going to my main computer file and selecting the DVD drive again, but instead of bringing up the menu, it would go straight to the same segment. I took out the DVD and re-inserted it, but again it by-passed the menu and went straight to last week’s segment. As I feverishly worked, trying to find the correct file, one little visitor (whom I had never seen before this particular Sunday) seated beside of me, leaned over and looked up into my face as he happily munched his goldfish. “I love you,” he said with a smile.

Miraculously, the segment for this Sunday’s Bible story began to play (I have no idea what I did any differently) – and my heart melted. Suddenly, the hectic morning didn’t seem quite as crazy and I didn’t feel nearly as frazzled and worn out as I had earlier. And all because, for whatever reason, one little fellow decided to tell me that he loved me.

“I love you!” Just three little words, but what a powerful impact they can have. We all want to be loved and appreciated, loved and understood, loved and cared for, loved and _______ (you can fill in the blank). But whether it is a sweet little preschooler, a loving parent, spouse, child, or friend; not one of them can fully volunteer the type of love that encompasses all that I am and all that I need. There is only one who can offer that kind of all-knowing, all-encompassing love. This is the kind of love that comes straight from the heart of God, Himself, our loving Heavenly Father.

Yet, in all honesty, does God’s love really make a difference in your life? Does it make a difference in you? Have you questioned God’s love when you were going through difficulties or being treated unjustly? Have you wondered about God’s love when some of your most precious dreams and desires continue to go unfulfilled? What about when you pour out your heart to God, but He seems so dreadfully silent? Do you ever question how a God who loves us enough to send His own Son to redeem us could allow such things to happen?

I have been in those places, too. And while I certainly don’t have all the answers or any neatly ordered explanations to offer anyone in those hard places, I do know that it was God who met me in those places, who loved me and walked with me through them. The following verse was one that I clung to after we lost our first daughter who was stillborn many years ago.

“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded than neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39).

This verse has become my “go to” verse whenever I’ve struggled to make sense of things that make no sense. I may never know or fully understand why some things happen, but God’s Word assures me that absolutely nothing can ever separate me from His love. When I face difficulties, this verse reminds me that my God loves me and that He will not forsake me when I need Him most. It’s just as if He is like that little preschooler, saying, “Don’t forget. I love you!”

But God’s love is more than three little words that make us feel good. It flows from His very nature – who He is. “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8). God’s love is active and full of promise. Psalm 23 presents a wonderful description and a reminder of God’s love and care for His children. Take a moment to read this psalm (printed below) and think about what it means to be loved by God.

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell[
a] in the house of the Lord
Forever.

 

God’s love provides our every need, surrounds and protects us, leads and guides us, and refreshes and restores us. God’s love assures us that He will never leave or forsake us, but that He will continually pursue us with His goodness and mercy – His faithful love. And even more, God’s love reminds us that not only will He be there for us today, but that He has also prepared for our tomorrow when we will dwell with Him forever. I pray that whatever you are going through today that you will be aware of God’s presence and that you will hear Him say to you – whether it is through food on your table, a hug from a friend, direction for your journey, or perhaps through three simple words from a little child – “I love you!”

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | February 12, 2014

Saying Yes

Saying Yes

I told myself that I wasn’t going to talk about Snickers, but ……..

Snickers quickly moved into our home and into our hearts.

Snickers quickly moved into our home and into our hearts.

To add to my less than spectacular start to this new year, this past Saturday I watched as my son and daughter-in-law drove away – not only with my precious grandson, but also with a furry, four-legged critter that had made her home with us for close to three years. I told myself that I wasn’t going to cry (at least not until they drove away), but they hadn’t even put on her leash before I was blubbering and sniveling like a two- or three-year-old. And that was just the beginning – I’ll spare you all the details as to how it went once they left!

But as a gentle calm finally began to settle over our house and everyone went on to bed but me, I thought about dear, sweet Snickers. When my son had first asked if I would be willing to keep her while they were working in Chile, I said yes, but felt no. Snickers was a big dog, but a young dog – a husky/lab mix that was active and full of life and energy. I was much more comfortable with an old dog sleeping beside the wood stove. I wasn’t sure about a big dog running, jumping, and bounding in and out of the house.

But Snickers quickly put all my fears to rest. I guess you could say that she adjusted to us and we adjusted to her. We grew together into a new normal and she quickly found her place, not only in our home, but also in our hearts. And, oh, how hard it was to watch her leave!

As I thought about all of this, it occurred to me that sometimes the very things we are most reluctant to do, can oftentimes be among our sweetest blessings. I loved Snickers even then, but was worried that I wasn’t up to the task. And don’t we often react the same way with spiritual things as well? If I have doubts or fears, it is easier to just say no. But when I do, I tend to forget one very important thing. Paul reminded the Corinthians of this fact: “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20).

I was bought by the death of Jesus Christ. He paid with His very life to redeem me. I am no longer my own (see 1 Corinthians 6:19). While Paul was addressing the sexual sins of the Corinthians, the truth of this verse applies to all believers and how we choose to live our lives. Paul told the Ephesians: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). God created each one of us with differing gifts and abilities and He calls us to use them to honor and glorify Him so that others can know Him, too. Sometimes we may not be sure about the things He asks us to do – and our first inclination may be to just say no. But, ultimately, it’s not our decision – for we are no longer our own. We have been bought with a price. When faced with questions and decisions, we need to take them directly to the One who made us and bought us.

You see, we don’t know what God knows.

God knows…..

….. what He has planned for us to do

  • “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

….. our fears

  • “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you,
    Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand”
    (Isaiah 40:10).

….. our doubts

  • “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).

….. our worries

  • “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).

….. our selfishness and pride

  • “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

God knows who He created each one of us to be, what He created us to do, yet He also knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows our fears, our doubts, and our worries. He knows where we are weak and all our inner battles and struggles. He knows all these things about us, yet as the verses above declare He promises to be with us, help us, strengthen and uphold us. He assures us that He will direct us, that He will guard our hearts and minds. And through all of this not only does He use whatever gifts or abilities that we surrender to Him to bless others and help them know Him better, He blesses us as well with more of Himself.

I’m glad I said yes to my son about keeping Snickers. Surely, it is hard now. She quickly comes to mind when I see the stray cats that she would bark at mercilessly, the squirrels that she chased constantly, and the neighbors’ dogs where they held regular meetings with Snickers at the corner of the backyard fence. And our walk on Sunday afternoon was a little bittersweet as I was reminded of how she had grown so familiar to our Sunday routine that she would whine and beg after lunch until we grabbed her leash and took her for a walk. Yet thinking of her and all the things we came to love about her still blesses me.

How much greater the blessing when I say yes to God! It may not always be easy, but how special it is to be used by Him, as He sees fit. And as I seek Him, surrender to Him, and walk with Him, He reveals more and more of Himself to me. And that is the greatest blessing of all – to know Him! “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:7-8).   May we all say yes!

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | February 3, 2014

Moving….Moving….Moving

Moving….Moving….Moving

This past weekend my husband and I assisted in a move, the second one within a little over a month. The first move was for our youngest daughter as she relocated for a new job. This latest move was for our son and daughter-in-law as they, too, settle into a new area and new jobs. These moves, of course, were not our first moves and likely won’t be our last. As most people can agree, work relocations, family situations, the need for more room or the need to scale back, as well as a host of many other reasons contribute to our continuing need to keep on moving.

On the other hand, my husband and I have moved ourselves only twice since we were married. Within our first couple of years of
marriage we moved from our first apartment to a rented trailer and then to the house where we live now – all in the same town and near areas where we both grew up. But while we may not have changed locations, we seem to have constantly moved right where we were. We built two additions – at different times – which essentially replaced the house we bought. Through the years we’ve changed and re-decorated rooms, painted walls, ripped up carpet, put down new flooring, not to mention all the necessary repairs that are a necessary part of home ownership. As much as I love my home, however, and in spite of all the memories we’ve made here, there have been those times when I’ve thought – “Wouldn’t it be better to just move than to get in all the mess that we sometimes do as we try to improve and make things better?”

But as we have worked on-site to improve and as we’ve helped our children through a variety of different moves, I have learned that moving of any kind is not usually easy. Moving requires changes and adjustments. It often requires patience and a long-suffering, tolerant attitude. And above all it demands a leader (or as our kids called my husband – the little commander) and the willingness of all involved to follow that leader and to work together. Sometimes it can get a little messy, but the end result is usually worth every bit of the effort.

As I thought about this it occurred to me that the same is true for not only physical moves, but for moves in our spiritual lives as well. Taking that first tentative step to accept Jesus as Savior and to follow Him is just the beginning. As we surrender to Jesus, He begins His work in us. He works to move out those feelings and attitudes of the flesh with which we’ve become accustomed and comfortable, and to replace them with the fruits of the Spirit. He helps us move out hate and replace it with love. He convicts us of jealousy and envy and helps us to be content and to forgive and be kind to others. Instead of wrath and contention, there is self-control, gentleness, and peace. As Jesus works in us, He helps us to think less of ourselves and more of others. Little by little, as we yield to Him, and heed His Spirit within us, we allow Him to move out all of our old desires and replace them with the works of His Spirit. It’s not always easy and it, too, can get messy sometimes as we battle our fleshly desires. But as we follow Christ and allow His Spirit to lead and guide us, He can make it happen. The apostle Paul states it well:

 “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”

 “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,  idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,  envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.:

 “ But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”

(Galatians 5:16-26)

Our physical moves can be difficult when we fail to embrace the changes and make necessary adjustments; when we become impatient with one another, disagree and argue; and when we fail to listen to and follow the designated leader. In much the same way, we can hinder God’s work in our lives when we resist the Spirit’s work trying to change us, when we cling to our fleshly attitudes and desires, and when we fail to follow the Spirit’s lead as He works in us to move out the old and move in the new. But what a difference He can make in our lives when we yield to Him and allow Him to move us and change us.

I know that we’ll probably face other moves in our future. I know for sure that God is continually doing His moving work in my spiritual life. I’m thankful that He is ever loving and patient with me, and especially thankful that He is not willing to leave me some place where I may have grown comfortable, but where I shouldn’t be. I want to keep my eyes on Him and be ready to move as He leads me. May we all keep on moving!

“For in Him, we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28a).

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