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!

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | June 3, 2014

When I Finish

When I Finish

 

Many of you have probably read or heard the story of the little boy who was busy drawing a picture on a sheet of paper. “What are you drawing?” his mother asked.

 

“I’m drawing a picture of God,” the little boy replied matter-of-factly.

 

“But, we don’t know what God looks like,” countered his mother.

 

The little boy thought for a minute and then replied, “Well, we will when I finish my picture!”

 

While we can all smile at this little story, it can also cause us to stop and think about the picture of God we’re painting with our lives. What does the God you and I profess to believe look like in your life and mine?

 

Before Jesus ascended into Heaven, He told His disciples: “ But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me[a] in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The disciples were first-hand observers of all that had happened. Through the Spirit’s power, they could tell others about Jesus’s life, the things He said and did, and about His death, burial, and resurrection.

 

While you and I were not there with Jesus and, therefore, cannot give a first-hand witness like the early disciples, those of us who have accepted Christ as our Savior do have a story to tell. Through the work of the Spirit within us, we can tell others about Christ and what He has done for each of personally, the difference He makes in our lives. But oftentimes, the lives we live say much more about Jesus than the words we speak.

 

People who are lost need to hear about Jesus, but often it’s how they see Him portrayed in your life and mine that makes them really want to know Him (or not). Jesus taught: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).  Paul taught the Philippians to “become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15). When we follow Christ, obey His teachings, and live a life that honors Him, we can help others see Christ. Love, joy, and peace replace hatred, contentions, and all kinds of wrath. Goodness, kindness, gentleness, and patience replace selfishness, envy, jealousy, and evil striving. (See Galatians 5:19-23.) When we put our faith in Christ and obey the Holy Spirit living within us, others will see a difference in your life and mine, a difference that can witness to those without Christ.

 

Yet, it is also true that when I profess Christ, but fail to live as Jesus calls me to live, I can actually cause others to turn away from Him. Paul warned the Galatians: “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 5:24-26).  Such actions keep others from truly seeing Christ.

 

I can’t help but wonder how God looked in the little boy’s finished picture. More than likely it reflected a lot of those things he had learned about God. Perhaps God had a big smile and open arms because the little boy had heard that God loved him and cared for him. His picture may have shown God big and strong because he had learned that God could do anything. Maybe he was in the picture with God, perhaps holding God’s hand.

 

In much the same way, we paint a picture of God as our lives reflect the God we know. When we experience God’s unconditional, amazing love and allow that love to transform us, we cannot help but show that love to others. When we learn that God does not forsake us in the hard times, but that He’s right there with us, we exhibit a faith in God that invites others to learn more about this God we know. Everything we go through, every battle, every pain, every joy offers opportunities to better know, and to reflect to others, the One who doesn’t just help us through life, but who makes life worth living. And little by little, day by day, we add new details and new brush strokes to the picture we’re painting of Christ. How I hope that my picture continues to more and more reflect the Christ I know. And then, one day, when Christ calls me home, when I finish that last detail and it’s time to lay my brush down, oh, how I hope I can say, much like that little boy – “Now they’ll know what God looks like – when Christ finishes my picture!”

 

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

(2 Corinthians 3:18)

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | May 25, 2014

When You Remember

When You Remember

 

We all know that freedom isn’t free. Freedom requires sacrifice. Jesus Christ offered the greatest sacrifice of all when He surrendered Himself to die on the cross and save us from our sins. He did for us what we could not do for ourselves. Through His sacrifice, He freed us from the tyranny of bondage and sin and gave His life to give us life – a gift that we could never repay. So what do we do in response to such sacrifice? We live! As Jesus stated in John 10:10b: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

 

Similarly, there is no way that we can repay the sacrifices made by men and women who died to help make and keep this nation free. We can honor their memory and sacrifice, however, by fully embracing the precious gifts of freedom that we know because of what they did for us. On this Memorial Day, may we all take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices made by so many – the men and women who served, the loved ones who waited for them, and the empty places that were never filled. May we remember them, honor them, and thank them by truly living.

 

 When You Remember

 

 

When you remember

All those who sacrificed,

The ones left changed and stained by strife,

The ones who gave their very lives,

When you remember

And reflect upon that price,

In honor of their memory,

Live your life!.

When you remember,

Spend time with those you love,

Lend a hand to those in need,

Seek your God above,

Embrace the joy of living,

Pursue your hopes and dreams,

Cherish every moment

That the gift of freedom brings.

When you remember,

Enjoy each sight and sound,

The beauty of the sunrise,

The hush when it goes down,

Listen to the whippoorwill,

The sea gulls’ lonely cries,

The rolling, crashing ocean waves

That frolic ‘neath the skies.

When you remember

All those who sacrificed

For the precious gift of freedom

That money cannot buy,

When you remember

And reflect upon the price,

In honor of their memory,

Live your life.

 

 

As we remember, neither should we forget that our lives are not our own. We have been bought at a price, the precious life of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body[a] and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).Through Jesus’ sacrifice, we are made free to truly live – to live a life that really matters – may we all remember.

 

“Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | May 11, 2014

Why Moms Cry

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Like most mothers, over the years I have received my share of sweet, precious gifts and cards for Mother’s Day. I still have some of the handmade cards my kids made when they were small and their simple expressions of love still make me smile. Now that my kids are older, I still smile as I read their cards and notes, but more times than not, unbidden tears also spring forth. I wonder why.

Perhaps I cry because being a mom is different now. I have always loved being a mom even when it wasn’t necessarily easy. When the kids were little, there was always something to do from laundry and cooking to reading picture books and playing. Some days even showers were a luxury and often the patter of little feet even accompanied me to the bathroom. As the kids grew, so did the issues we had to grapple with from teaching obedience and encouraging kindness, to instilling respect and developing  responsibility in tender young hearts. But whether we were playing and laughing or fighting a battle, I genuinely loved being a mom. But those years surely passed quickly. Could that be why I cry?

Perhaps I cry because I know that sometimes I failed. We begin parenting loving much, but knowing little. But unlike most other things we do, our practice at parenting doesn’t necessarily make us better. I often felt that the more I parented the less I knew. I loved my kids and definitely wanted to get this parenting thing right, but I know I certainly had my share of “mess-ups and wish I could do overs.” So, now when I read those sweet messages of thanks from my kids, I’m overcome anew with the faithfulness of God who hung in there with us and showered us with His mercy and grace. Could that be why I cry?

And, perhaps, I cry simply because that’s what moms do. True love is both a sacrifice and an investment. True love gives without seeking anything in return, but true love often receives back so much more than what was ever sacrificed. I know that’s true when I think of the many ways my kids have returned my love. They have brought me so much happiness, joy and laughter through the years. We’ve learned and grown together. My kids helped me to become a better mom and I hope that I’ve helped each of them to become the man or woman God created them to be. Moms become so entwined in the cares and worries, hopes and dreams of their children. Could that be why moms cry?

I’m thankful that God allowed me to be a mom. I realize that being a mom in itself is a gift that should never be taken lightly. Our first daughter was stillborn yet even she, in her death, taught me something about life. Through her death, God taught me about living with thanksgiving and hope. Because of Jesus, I can give thanks that my daughter’s death was not the end. Instead I can have joy and hope as I know that one day I will get to see her again. Losing her and then having other children has made me abundantly aware of all that was lost, but it has also made me more aware of the incredible gifts our children really are. Perhaps it is this gift of motherhood, the sweet calling to simply be a mom that really makes moms cry. How thankful I am for that incredible privilege! Thank You, God, for allowing me to be a mom.

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | May 6, 2014

Grandson of Dodo

Grandson of Dodo

“After Abimelech there arose to save Israel Tola the son of Puah, the son of Dodo, a man of Issachar; and he dwelt in Shamir in the mountains of Ephraim. He judged Israel twenty-three years; and he died and was buried in Shamir” (Judges 10:1-2).

The above Scripture contains all we know about Tola, the sixth Judge of Israel. He was the son of Puah, the grandson of Dodo, and from the tribe of Issachar. He lived in Shamir in the mountains of Ephraim. He was a judge for 23 years. He died and he was buried.

After reading the more-lengthy accounts of some of the judges that preceded Tola such as Deborah and Gideon, I found myself wanting to know more about him. What kind of judge was he?  What notable events occurred during those twenty-three years that Tola judged? What about other events in Tola’s life? Why are we told so little about Tola?

Unfortunately, we know even less about his father and grandfather. Judges 10:1 is the only reference to these two men, Puah and Dodo. They were descendants of Issachar and the father and grandfather, respectively, of Tola who judged Israel 23 years.

While one must be careful in reading between the lines of Scripture, I can’t help but wonder if the lack of information about Tola could be simply because there wasn’t anything spectacular to report. Perhaps Tola simply obeyed God and did what God called him to do. Tola came on to the scene at a very difficult time. We are not told of any significant oppressive activities occurring, but Israel is in the middle of a civil uproar. Gideon, the preceding judge, had 70 sons, one of which was Abimelech. When Gideon died, the children of Israel once again became disobedient and turned away from the Lord. Abimelech planned a murderous conspiracy whereby all of Gideon’s sons (except Jotham who escaped) would be killed and Abimelech would be made king. Although not a real king, Abimelech ruled poorly for three years. His downfall occurred when the harmony between Abimelech and the men of Shechem who had supported Abimelech’s grab of power, began to fall apart. The ensuing struggle between the two factions eventually resulted in Abimelech’s death. One can only imagine the problems that such an uprising undoubtedly dealt the nation of Israel. They needed someone to save and unify them, and to turn them back to God. And God raised up Tola.

The next three verses similarly recount another judge that God raised up. “After him arose Jair, a Gileadite; and he judged Israel twenty-two years. Now he had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkeys; they also had thirty towns, which are called “Havoth Jair” to this day, which are in the land of Gilead. And Jair died and was buried in Camon” (Judges 10:3-5).

These few verses about these two judges remind me that sometimes God needs a Gideon or a Deborah and sometimes He needs a Tola or Jair. God knows His children, their talents, gifts and abilities. He knows their struggles and their needs. But He also knows what each one can be when we allow Him to work in and through us. We often tend to think that the truly called of God are the famous, well-known individuals such as Abraham, Moses or King David, or in our world today, the well-known evangelists and teachers. But God calls and raises up each of His children, equipping and enabling them to be the answer to someone’s need – whether it be an entire nation, a church, or perhaps a single child. He raises us up to use our heritage, our experiences, our abilities and possessions to do what He calls us to do. Sometimes our callings may lead to notable accomplishments that can fill pages, while at other times the things we do may affect few or go completely unrecognized. But God has a purpose of each of His children. As David exclaimed in Psalm 138:8a: “The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.”

Just as God had a purpose for David the King, He also had a purpose for Tola. And down through the ages He has raised up men and women to fulfill His purposes for each particular time and place. The same is true today. God still has work for us to do, but are we seeking and listening to Him or are we allowing all the competing voices in the world to drown Him out? I love the lyrics to the contemporary hymn “You Raise Me Up” performed by Josh Groban. The lyrics for the two stanzas and chorus go something like the following:

“You Raise Me Up”

When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary;
When troubles come and my heart burdened be;
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence,
Until you come and sit awhile with me.

There is no life – no life without its hunger;
Each restless heart beats so imperfectly;
But when you come and I am filled with wonder,
Sometimes, I think I glimpse eternity.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up… To more than I can be.

 

Oh, how we need to invite our Heavenly Father to come and sit with us. How we need to allow Him to fill us with wonder as we catch a glimpse of Him and His desire for us. For it is then that He can raise you and me up, too. And then, whether our accomplishments fill pages, or like the grandson of Dodo; people just know that we lived, we died, and that God raised us up, that will be enough!

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | April 29, 2014

Another Kind of Love

Another Kind of Love

“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”  (John 15:12).

Most believers are fully aware of Christ’s commandment for His followers to love one another. We are even somewhat familiar with what this love can look like such as giving to those in need, going to other places to show and tell people about Jesus’ love, visiting the sick and lonely, and being there for those suffering or hurting. This is love, love in action.

But there is another kind of love. This love is not so much about going and doing or serving others in Christ’s name. It is more about who we are in Christ than in what we do for Him. While it may not be as easily detected as more active forms of love, the one who models this kind of love is a powerful witness to the way Christ loves us. What is this other kind of love?

I like to call this other kind of love, heart love, because it comes straight from the heart. It just happens naturally as we interact with others. This love – when we get it right – shows the same kind of gracious, forgiving, merciful love to others that Christ Himself shows to us. As we fully experience this fathomless love that we cannot begin to explain or understand – much less, contain, our lives become an expression of Christ’s love.

But this other kind of love is not something we can manufacture on our own. It is born out of our relationship with God. John explains: Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:7-11). Sadly, we can be born again Christians, fully accepting Christ’s work on the cross to save us, and yet fail to enter into a life-changing relationship with Him.

How could this be? Primarily, because we accept what Christ offers, but fail to take the time to really get to know Him. When Christ told His disciples that He was returning to the Father, Thomas questioned: “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” (John 14:5). Christ responded: “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him” (John 14:7).In a true relationship we come to know one another. The Old Testament used the word know to denote the intimate relationship between a husband and wife. Knowing involves drawing near, spending time, learning, growing, and understanding. Knowing God involves these same things. It’s coming to know not just about Him, or even things He did. It is staying so close to Him that we look at things and feel about things just as He does.

When we enter into relationship and really come to know our Christ, heart love just happens. Jesus taught what this kind of love looks like.

  • We love those who do not love us. We’re kind to those who hate us. We pray for those who use us and persecute us.

 

“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).

 

  • We let go of grudges and are quick to forgive those who commit wrongs against us – even when we may not feel that they deserve our forgiveness.

 

“Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven’” (Matthew 18:21-22).

 

  • We deal graciously with others and avoid a constant spirit of fault-finding and criticism. Surely, we must be discerning of right and wrong, but judgment belongs to God, not us. Instead we stay close to Christ and allow Him to work in us convicting us of our own sin, and then seek to encourage and help others, not tear them down.

 

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.  And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:1-5).

Jesus also showed us what this kind of love looks like.

  • He loved all people – from tax collectors and sinners to His closest disciples and friends. He accepted them as they were, but He never condoned their sin. He encouraged them to turn away from their sin and to sin no more.

 

  • He was patient with His disciples when they were slow to understand and failed to grasp His mission. When they argued over greatness, He patiently explained how his kingdom differed from the kingdom of the world.

 

  • He forgave and prayed for both His friends and enemies, even those who nailed Him to the cross.

My friend, Christ truly loves each one of us with this kind of love. Sometimes, the all-encompassing nature of Christ’s love for everyone overshadows the fact that He knows and loves each of us individually. He knows my social awkwardness and my quiet nature, and He loves me. He knows where I’m weak and when I choose to disobey, and He loves me. He knows my worries, my hurts, my desires; and He loves me. Although He knows every last thing about me – the good, the bad, and the ugly – He loves me! And He knows and loves you the same way.

One thing I’m really looking forward to when I get to heaven is seeing my Savior, but I can’t help but wonder how it will feel to look into the face of the One who did so much for me. When I think of how He loved me even when I failed Him or when I did the right things but for the wrong reasons, will I be able to look into His face which I so desperately want to see? I honestly feel that if I drop my head in shame that He’ll tenderly raise my chin with his nail-scarred hand and look into my eyes so that I can see His face of love. Then, as my tears spill forth, His Word declares: “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). May such amazing love cause me to love others as I am loved so that they, too, may know another kind of love, the love that comes straight from the heart of God!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | April 23, 2014

What Hurts God

What Hurts God

Earlier this week my daughter-in-law sent me a photo of our six-month-old grandson who had just received a vaccination at the doctor’s office. “Since I have to suffer, so do you,” she commented. And as I looked at the pained expression on his little face and the big tears rolling down his cheeks, I knew exactly what she meant.

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I had been there, too. I could clearly remember watching the faces of my sweet kids cloud over and the tears gush forth as they felt the sharp sting of the needle. But what always hurt me even more than seeing those tears was that look of utter disbelief over my apparent betrayal. It was as if they were screaming: “I can’t believe you let them do this to me! How could you? Don’t you love me?”

As much as my husband and I have hurt for our kids when they have been sick or suffered emotionally, I think we’ve hurt me even more when instead of being companions in their suffering, they’ve seen us as part of their pain. When they disagreed with our discipline or decisions we made about things they could or couldn’t do, we became their enemies instead of their helpers and friends. And that is what hurt me most of all.

I wonder if God hurts that way, too. Those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior are members of God’s family. Paul told the Ephesians: God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure” (Ephesians 1:5, NLT). John the Baptist also witnessed this truth.  But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12).

God wanted to bring us into His family and the Scripture confirms that “it gave him great pleasure.” Just as we rejoice over the birth and lives of our children, God planned for our adoption into His family. He loves us. He wants us. So wouldn’t it naturally follow, that we can either bring Him joy or hurt Him deeply by our actions?

I’m sure there are limitless ways that you and I can hurt our Heavenly Father because we fail to “put off” things we should and fail to “put on” things we should. “But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him” (Colossians 3:8-10).But as a loving Father who chose us to be part of His family, I think we hurt Him in other ways as well.

I think God hurts when …..

  • I fail to honor and respect Him

 

“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15, ESV).

 

 

  • I fail to seek Him and spend time with Him

 

“Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:12-13).

 

 

  • I turn away from Him when I have questions  and don’t understand

 

“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water”
(Psalm 63:1, ESV).

 

  • I don’t trust Him

 

“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).

 

In much the same way as earthly parents desire to have a trusting relationship with their children, God surely desires that with you, me, and all of His children.  Anything less surely hurts Him. When God looks at me even when He sees tears on my cheeks and questions in my heart, I pray that He will see my face turned in faith to Him, seeking, resting, and trusting – because, after all, He is my Father and I know that He loves me.

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