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.

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?

 

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