Posted by: glorifyhim1 | June 28, 2015

Of High Court Decisions and Other Decisions

Of High Court Decisions and Other Decisions

On Friday the Supreme Court made a landmark decision that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage. This decision is being applauded as a victory by some, cautiously accepted by others, and adamantly scorned by still others who hold fiercely to the belief that marriage should be between one man and one woman.

While I hold to the latter belief with all my heart, I realize that not all people, even of the same faith, subscribe to my beliefs on this subject. But rather than arguing or debating or trying to convince others of what I believe, I’d like to instead encourage all of us to consider decisions that each of us make every day. It is these decisions that ultimately determine how we look at life and how we choose to live life.

Every day we decide –

  • Who we will follow.

Do we follow our friends, people we admire, or idols that we cling to? Everybody follows somebody or something.

  • Who we will listen to.

Do we listen to those we follow, to prevailing thoughts and attitudes, or even to our own personal opinions? Whose voices do we allow to dominate our thinking and decision-making?

  • Who we will seek for guidance and understanding.

To whom do we go when we just don’t know? With so many competing voices, who do we trust to give us guidance and understanding?

  • Who we will obey.

Who or what governs my actions every day? Who do I obey?

In my own life, I know, without a doubt, who I want to follow, who I want to listen to, who I want to seek, and who I want to obey. It is my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, sometimes I fail. But when I come to Him and confess my sins, He is faithful to hear and forgive (see 1 John 1:9) and as I seek Him and listen to Him, He will help me….

  • To follow Him.

“Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life’” (John 8:12).

  • To listen to Him.

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27).

  • To seek Him for guidance and understanding.

“Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day” (Psalm 25:5).

  • To obey Him.

“If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

While you may not think that these everyday decisions have anything to do with the High Court’s decision, I think they have everything to do with it. No matter what side of the fence you may be on, just think if every one of us truly decided to follow Jesus, to listen to Him, to seek Him for guidance and understanding, and to obey Him, He would lead us in His way – not yours or mine. Just think of the difference it could make in our world, if just those who claim to be Christian would honestly spread out our questions, our differences of opinion before the Lord, and totally, completely seek to follow, listen, seek, and obey Him.  If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). My heart is broken over the state of our nation. Please join me in seeking Christ, turning from our wicked ways, and praying for the healing of our nation. Our seemingly little, every day decisions, are undoubtedly the most important decisions of all!

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | June 20, 2015

Another Father’s Day

Another Father’s Day

This is another Father’s Day without my Dad. He has been gone for 24 years and I still miss him. The following devotion, written four years ago, recalls a special memory I have of my Dad. I hope it blesses you as you think about your own Dad.

A Father’s Tears

 

This month I have faced life without my Dad for twenty years. Sometimes it feels like he cannot have possibly been gone that long. At other times, it seems forever since I’ve heard his coarse laugh and saw that familiar twinkle in his eyes. Some people say that time heals all wounds, but I’ve learned that healed wounds can often still leave scars. I think such is the case when someone we truly love dies. While we learn to go on after a loved one dies and the initial wound heals, there is forever a scar that marks our loss. That scar left on our hearts can still cause tears sometimes, but what is truly amazing is that same scar can also bring smiles. It may hide a painful loss, but it preserves so many precious and beautiful memories.

 

Usually on Father’s Day I think about my scar and I remember my Daddy. I think about his easy laughter, his joking and fun-loving nature. I think about things we did together as a family and recall many favorite memories. Yet this year I was reminded of something I didn’t see a lot from Daddy. I remembered a time when I saw Daddy’s tears. I can only recall my Daddy crying a handful of times. On this particular time I was in the hospital and had just given birth to my first child, a stillborn baby girl. Daddy sat beside my bed with my husband and me, trying to make small talk, trying to encourage, but ever so often his eyes would glisten with tears which he would quickly brush away. That memory has stayed with me through the years and today my scar reminded me of my Daddy’s tears.

 

As I thought about times that I had seen both my Daddy and my husband cry, it occurred to me that Dads cry pretty much for one reason. They’re not like most of the rest of us. Think about it. I can cry over anything at just about anytime. If someone snaps too harshly at me, I can cry. If someone makes a rude gesture to me while I’m driving, I can cry. I can cry over my kids’ problems and over the things that make them cry. I can cry over a picture on television of a malnourished third-world child. I can cry over a sad movie or book. I can cry when I don’t even know why I’m crying! But not so with most Dads. From what I’ve witnessed, Dads generally cry over something that they can’t fix.

 

Dads are fixers. They fix the car, the sink, the toilet. They provide the needed money. They work out solutions to problems. They love for their kids to ask them for advice. Dads seem to be happiest when they’re fixing things. But when they can’t fix what’s wrong, when they don’t have an answer to the problem, that’s when Dads are more likely to cry – or retreat so that you don’t see them cry.

 

For whatever reason, our Dads’ tears affect us immeasurably. In my Dad’s tears I saw strength, an immeasurable love that would have done anything in the world to fix my problem – if he only could. And today as I thought about my scar and the memory of my Daddy’s tears I was reminded of my Heavenly Father.

 

He, too, loves me with an immeasurable love. “In this the love 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” (1 John 4:9-10). What God did for me I cannot explain, but He clearly demonstrated His love through Jesus and His work on the cross. Jesus showed us the love of the Father.

 

God’s love for us resulted in scars in the hands and feet of Jesus. I wonder what God thinks as He looks upon those scars after all these years. Does He sit beside Jesus and sadly think of the pain and suffering that Jesus endured? Or does He look at Jesus’ scars and smile as He thinks of you and me and the life that we can now have because of Christ? As God watches us struggle with pain and suffering, I wonder if he cries just as Jesus wept over the death of Lazarus (see John 11:33-35). As He looks upon our fallen world and the inhumanity of man to man, I wonder if He sheds tears just as Jesus cried over Jerusalem because of their rejection of Him and the coming judgment they faced (see Luke 19:41).

 

Just like our earthly fathers, I think that our Heavenly Father cries with us and for us. Hebrews 4:15 reminds us that Jesus is our High Priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses. He is not untouched by our problems, but understands the struggles and temptations we face living in a fallen world. He has the scars to prove it.

 

I wonder if this is the very reason that God planned for fathers. He wants them to stand in for Him in the home, defending and protecting, fixing and solving, loving and caring – revealing the Father’s love – perhaps sometimes even through a few tears. Thank You, Father; thank you, Daddy! I remember the scars.

 

________________________________

 

I’ve been blessed to know quite a few amazing Dads – Granddads, uncles, other family members, as well as the Dad of my own children whom I share life with every day. My husband, too, is a “thing” fixer, an advice giver, and a problem solver. He loves not only with his heart, but also with his hands, as he consistently puts the wants and needs of others ahead of his own. And I’m seeing these same qualities emerge in our own son as about three years ago he, too, stepped into the role of fatherhood. Watching all these great Dads, even with their differing gifts and abilities, I’m a firm believer that if the Mom is the heart of the home, then the Dad is the glue that holds it all together. Yes, I definitely believe that God planned for fathers to defend, protect, fix and solve, love and care – and sometimes to just hold us and cry – to stand in His place revealing the Father’s awesome love for all His children. Take time this weekend to say thank you to the fathers in your life.

Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love.”

(1 Corinthians 16:13-14)

 

 

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | June 8, 2015

Overflowing Joy

Overflowing Joy

 

Last week, I had the sweet privilege of helping care for my grandson who will be two years old in October. Benji is talking, walking, and full of life and energy. He loves to build towers and knock them down, dance to Kid Bop tunes on Pandora, and march and do the motions to childhood favorites such as “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” The Ants Go Marching,” “The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round,” and many, many more. Needless to say, Gramma sometimes has trouble keeping up!

 

One day last week as I sat on the floor playing with him, he hopped up, paused, and then exclaimed: “Oh, me!” I burst out laughing as I immediately knew that he was repeating what he had undoubtedly heard me say over and over again as I struggled to get up and down and keep up with him. He flashed a big smile and eagerly repeated: “Oh, me!”

 

Benji’s joy and love of life are contagious. I can’t be around him for every long without catching some of his joy. I’m reminded of Proverbs 17:22: “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” I received some very good medicine last week as Benji’s happiness and joy rubbed off on me.

 

But this week as I get back home with work to do and deadlines to meet, I find myself wondering about my measure of joy. Is the joy in my heart like a good medicine? Does it bubble up, overflow, and rub off on others? Or instead, do I allow my responsibilities, worries or problems to crush my spirit as well as the spirits of others?

 

Believers in Christ should be the most joyous of all people – because of the source of our joy. As the prophet Isaiah reminds us: “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels” (Isaiah 61:10). The believer’s joy is in the Lord Himself. Note that the prophet rejoices in my God and what He has done for him, personally. His delight and joy is in his personal relationship with God.

 

God, through Christ, has done for us what we could never do for ourselves. He has clothed us with the garments of salvation and covered us in robes of his righteousness. We are saved from our sin and adorned with the righteousness of Christ. Think of what it means to be adorned in His righteousness.

 

 

  • We are new creations. (See 2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • We are made righteous. (See 2 Corinthians 5:21)
  • We have peace with God. (See Romans 5:1)
  • We are accepted by God. (See Ephesians 1:6)
  • We can come confidently into God’s presence. (See Ephesians 3:12)

 

 

The believer’s joy is not dependent on situations or circumstances. It is grounded in the Lord and in our relationship with Him. While we surely cannot always be “happy,” as we delight ourselves in God and trust Him in every area of our lives, we can discover a deep, abiding peace and know an exceeding gladness because of what we have in Christ. This is the kind of joy that we can know even on our difficult or “Oh, me” kind of days. And, sometimes, this joy may just bubble up, overflow, and rub off on others!

 

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

(Philippians 4:4)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | May 23, 2015

What Really Matters

What Really Matters

 

Those of you who know me well know how much I love the stories in the New Testament about Mary and Martha. I realize that my love for these stories are probably because of how much and how many different ways my Heavenly Father has used them to speak to my heart over the years.

 

Particularly, I used to struggle with Jesus’ defense of Mary when she chose to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to Him rather than help Martha in the kitchen. This story is recorded in Luke 10:38-42. I’ve been in the kitchen and felt the pressure over trying to get everything just right and have it all ready on time for special guests. I could identify with Martha’s concern as well as with her aggravation toward Mary. But, Jesus was looking at Mary’s heart and her desire to listen and learn from Him. As He told Martha: “Mary has chosen that good part.” In other words, Mary had chosen what really mattered.

 

I have come to realize that daily I make choices. They may not seem like big choices, but no matter how big or small, they have a way of reflecting what is truly on my heart, those things that really matter to me. Sometimes, my choices can reflect my need for some “heart work.” Perhaps, I’m more concerned with what other people think, or even what I think, rather than what God would have me do.” What does God see when He looks at my heart, today? I pray that my heart may be more like Mary’s heart and full of love for her Lord.

 

If you, like me, need to be reminded from time to time about pursuing what really matters, perhaps you would like to read the following re-post “Showing Love to God.”

 

 

Showing Love to God

Recently I was reading the Scripture passage in the book of Mark where Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, took a very costly flask of spikenard, broke it, and poured the oil on the head of Jesus ( Mark 14:3-9). She was immediately criticized by others who witnessed her action. “Why was this fragrant oil wasted? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” Jesus, however, quickly came to Mary’s defense. “But Jesus said, ‘Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good, but Me you do not have always. She has done what she could. She has come before hand to anoint My body for burial” (Mark 14:6-8). “She has done what she could.”

Jesus had previously come to Mary’s defense at another time. We read of this event in Luke 10:38-42. On this occasion Jesus was invited to the home of Mary and Martha. While Martha worked to prepare a meal, Mary sat at Jesus’ feet feasting on His every word. Finally, worn-out Martha complains to Jesus because Mary is not helping. “And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.’”

When reading both of these accounts, it is easy to join Martha and the others in criticizing Mary. After all, shouldn’t Mary join in and help Martha with all the work? And wouldn’t it be much better to sell the spikenard and use the money to help those in need than to pour it on Jesus’ head? But Jesus didn’t agree. Why? Because Jesus saw something that those present did not see. He saw Mary’s heart. He saw her hungering for His teaching, hanging on His every word. And He saw her loving Him with her whole heart as she poured the costly oil on His head. Perhaps she didn’t know what else to do to show Him her love – but she did what she could do.

As I thought about Mary and Jesus’ response to her actions, I thought about my own heart. Do I hunger for His Word and long to know Him better? Or do I allow the distractions of my daily activities to interfere with my time with Him? Am I eager to express my love for Him in whatever way I can? Or do I feel that what I have to offer is not good enough, or perhaps too good, or maybe it’s not like what everyone else is offering. What does Jesus see when He looks at my heart? Would He defend me for choosing the right thing and for doing what I can to show my love for Him?

Sometimes we forget that God is more concerned with our relationship with Him than with the things we do for Him. The first four commandments deal with our relationship with God. When Jesus was asked to name the first commandment, He summarized the first four commandments in His reply. “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment” (Mark 12:29-30).  When we love God in this way, like Mary, we’re going to worship, praise, and adore Him in ways that others sometimes may not understand. Likewise, such love will naturally overflow to touch others, just as Jesus continued in His reply. “And the second [commandment], like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:31).

I know I love God with all my heart, but do I really love Him with all my mind and all my strength? I want to show God I love Him, but sometimes the things I do look so pitifully small and such a poor expression of my love for Him. And then I’m reminded of Jesus’ reply on behalf of Mary. “She has done what she could.” God sees my heart just as He saw the heart of Mary. He sees the love and the “want to” even if what I do may seem small or even if it is questioned by others.

Years ago I received a handmade clay mug that one of my kids made at school. Although it was misshapen and really quite pitiful, I treasured that mug because my child had made it. It’s packed away now with some other treasured keepsakes, but every time I see it, I’m reminded of my child and smile over the work and effort put into that mug. I love that mug because I love my child. In much the same way, I’m sure that Jesus looks at things I do for Him. Sometimes He may be saddened because He sees my heart is not wholly committed to Him. Other times He may rejoice to see His child accomplish some great thing from a heart overflowing with love for Him. At still other times, He may smile as He sees my poor, pitiful efforts but a heart full of love. It is then that I can almost hear Him say: “Let her alone. She has done what she could!”

 

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.

If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s

 commandments and abide in His love.”

(John 15:9-10)

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | May 16, 2015

A Gentle Answer

A Gentle Answer

 

Sometimes I get angry. The nightly news is generally full of stories that can make my blood boil in a minute, from grave injustices to abuse and murder. Just this week, in discussing one such story with a friend, I remarked: “Just give me a broom and introduce me to this person!”

 

Perhaps you’re like me. Sometimes you get so mad, you would just like to take the matter into your own hands and administer your own kind of justice. But, alas, I was immediately convicted of my justice-seeking attitude. As James reminds us so well: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (James 1:19-20, NIV).

 

God desires righteousness in your life and mine. This is not a righteousness that saves us, however. We are saved when we confess our sins, repent, and place our faith and trust in Christ. At that time, we are declared righteous as we are covered by the righteousness of Christ. But at that time also, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us and to work within us to convict and transform us and to continually help make us more righteous. Paul explained this to the Romans (see Romans 5:17-19). As believers are sensitive and yield to the Spirit’s guidance and work in their lives, they can become more righteous and will look more like Christ. This is the righteousness God desires.

 

Paul described characteristics of those believers who walk according to the Spirit’s guidance. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23a). I don’t think my anger could fit into any of those characteristics. Sometimes, as believers, we forget that even when we’re right, there is also a right way to respond. Kindness and gentleness, love and goodness, the very nature of Christ needs to permeate all that we do. When we respond with anger and harshness, hate or ridicule, we not only make enemies of those who disagree with us, but we do so in the name of Christ. No matter how right we may be, our lack of kindness and caring does little to witness to someone who needs to know the loving, gracious, merciful Christ that we know.

 

Perhaps we, too, could use the reminder that Paul gave to Titus to give to the church that Paul had planted in Crete: “Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men” (Titus 3:1-2). Similarly, Paul taught Timothy: “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:23-26).

 

As believers in Christ, the way we respond to others reflects on our Savior and Lord. Responding to those who oppose us with gentleness and respect does not mean we turn away from the truth or forget who we are in Christ. Peter addressed this issue when he wrote: But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).  When we respond with gentleness and respect, we help others not only hear what we have to say, but we demonstrate first-hand Christ’s unconditional love. And in the process, we just may have the opportunity to not just win an argument, but more importantly, to win a brother or sister for Christ. I think a gentle answer is worth it. Don’t you?

 

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | May 9, 2015

A Lesson From Mama

A Lesson From Mama

 

This weekend we will be celebrating and honoring our mothers. Although my Mama has been gone for over twenty years, there’s probably not a day that passes that I don’t either remember something she said, perform some task she taught me, or wish I could seek her opinion or guidance. But although she taught me oh so many things, one of the most important things I learned from Mama was not something she actually taught me. Instead, it was something she gave me. Mama loved me with all her heart.

 

As a child, I quickly learned that not only did Mama take care of me, but that she valued me. She was always there for me. She didn’t give up on me when I messed up. She still believed in me when I failed. And she was always my biggest supporter, rejoicing over my simplest victories.  Mama was someone on whom I could always count and depend. I learned a lot about what love really looks like as I both felt Mama’s love and as I watched her love others. There was no pretending, no hypocrisy, or anything fake about Mama’s love. And now, years later, I realize how much her love helped me to better comprehend God’s love.

 

One of my favorite Scripture passages is Romans 8:35-39. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This verse has reminded me over and over as I’ve faced challenges in my life that God values me, too. He is there for me. He loves me and there is absolutely nothing that can separate me from His love. And I can’t help but feel that it was the love I had received from Mama all my life that helped me to grasp the completeness of Christ’s love for me.

 

You see, Mama modeled Christ’s love (as identified in the following Scriptures) as she loved me …..

 

  • fiercely (see 2 Chronicles 16:9)
  • protectively (see Psalm 31:20)
  • sacrificially (see John 3:16)
  • unconditionally (see Romans 5:8)
  • joyfully (see Zephaniah 3:17)
  • faithfully (see Psalm 86:15)

 

She loved like Christ!

 

I’m so thankful for my Mama’s love and for the lesson I “caught” as I watched her model Christ’s love to me and others. Aristotle has been quoted as saying: “God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.” May we love others that way, too, truly valuing one another and serving as conduits of Christ’s ever-present, enduring love.

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | April 28, 2015

The Lord Is My Shepherd

The Lord Is My Shepherd

 

This week I had a biopsy performed on a thyroid nodule. While the thought of having a needle poked into this gland situated at the base of the throat is somewhat disconcerting, I think what concerned me most was not being able to swallow during the procedure. It’s funny that I rarely even think about swallowing, but tell me I can’t and I immediately want to swallow.

 

As I thought about how to keep from swallowing, it occurred to me that thinking about it actually made me want to swallow. I needed to have my mind fixed on something else. That’s when I decided that the best way to keep from thinking about swallowing or what was happening during the procedure would be to go over Scripture and praise choruses in my head. I was armed and ready!

 

I decided I would begin with the familiar Psalm 23 which begins: “The Lord is my Shepherd.” My doctor explained that before he pricked my neck with the needle, he would tell me to swallow. Then he would perform the procedure and remove the needle.  There would be six needle pricks and I could swallow between each one. Thus it began. I swallowed, closed my eyes, and thought “The Lord is my Shepherd ….,” but I think the end of verse 2 – “He leads me beside the still waters” – was the farthest I ever made it throughout the entire procedure. For the most part, I could barely collect my thoughts and begin reciting the familiar words in my head until it was time to swallow and begin the process again. The entire procedure probably lasted no more than 30 minutes. But as I left the office, the sweet phrase “The Lord is my Shepherd” was still running through my mind – and my heart!

 

Later as I thought about all of this, I couldn’t help but wonder: Throughout most days, on what do I fix my mind?  What do I think about? Do I focus on problems or worries? Do I rehearse hurts and ponder anger? Or is my mind fixed on Christ, my Lord, my Shepherd? Do I take my problems, worries, hurts, and anger to Him and allow Him to lead me and walk with me through them? Isaiah 26:3 tells us: “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Likewise, Paul told the Colossians: “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2). And Jesus, Himself, taught His disciples that even in ominous times to keep their eyes on Him (see Matthew 14). Peter could do the miraculous – walk on water – as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus. When he looked away, however, and concentrated on the wind, waves, and the storm, he began to sink.

 

The Lord is my Shepherd. I can fully trust Him – even when doubts, anxieties, fears, and troubles come. He knows me. He laid down His life for me. He leads me. He restores me. He comforts me. He is with me. How I rejoice that I can fix my mind on these precious truths! Yes, the Lord is my Shepherd!

 

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

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

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

(Psalm 23)

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | April 15, 2015

Everyday Reminders

Everyday Reminders

 

Have you ever had the privilege of watching a young child – or even someone young at heart – encounter something totally new? I have been blessed to witness many such sweet moments with my kids and with other kids as well. But, somehow, I had forgotten what it was like until I was reminded a couple of weeks ago.

 

I had the joy of watching my 1-1/2 year old grandson, Benji, on his first trip to the zoo. It was so much fun to watch his reactions to the different animals. He peered curiously at the sleeping lions. He pointed and laughed at the flamingos, definitely one of his favorites. He observed the alpaca with a little trepidation as it munched food from his hand. He responded to the giraffes with curious wonder as they approached the viewing platform and returned his stares. From the elephants to the zebras, from the turtles and snakes to the meerkats, Benji was in awe!

 

Benji feeding alpaca

Benji feeding alpaca

Benji with giraffe

Benji with giraffe

Benji enjoying his favorite - the flamingos

Benji enjoying his favorite – the flamingos

Looking for flamingos

Looking for flamingos

Flamingos!

Flamingos!

 

How easily we lose such wonder. As we age and face the responsibilities of life, more times than not, we allow our worries and problems to eclipse our sense of wonder. I’m sure God knows that about us. After all He made us. The Psalmist David declared: “For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14). So, in His mercy and love, God finds ways to remind us, to help us sense the wonder once again. And why does it matter? Because it is in the wonder, the awe, the inexplicable, and the unexpected, that we see God and are reminded of Who He is. He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe (see Colossians 1:16-17). He is the God of all power and might Who can do anything (see Jeremiah 32:17,27). He sees us and knows us (see Genesis 16:13-14). He is our Shepherd (see Psalm 23:1), our Refuge (see Psalm 46:1-3), our Peace (see Ephesians 2:14), and so much more! And it is God “who alone does great wonders” (Psalm 136:4a). In the midst of our everyday routines, problems, and heartaches, we are reminded that this God of wonders is with us.

 

As I watched Benji, I couldn’t help but exult right along with him over the wonder of God’s handiwork. But I also found myself rejoicing in the wonder of Benji, himself, the child for whom we had longed and prayed. I was reminded of a faithful, merciful God Who had brought us through some hard times, blessed us with some good times, and Who was and is with us at all times.

 

2015-04-03 13.54.50 As I watched our sleepy little fellow on the ride back home, I worshiped God and thanked Him. Once again, my Father had gotten my attention and reminded me that He is the God of all Wonder whose mercy, faithfulness, and love endure forever and ever.

 

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | April 8, 2015

After Easter

After Easter

 

This past weekend believers around the world rejoiced and celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Yet after that very first Easter, Jesus’ closest followers were found sorrowful, confused, and afraid. They had walked with Jesus; listened to His teachings; watched Him as He healed the sick, calmed the sea, and even raised the dead. The disciples had listened as Jesus prepared them about His coming death and resurrection. Mark tells us that Jesus “began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again” (Mark 8:31). Yet when the events Jesus predicted actually came to pass, they failed to believe.

 

  • Luke records that when the women took the news to the disciples that Jesus had risen, the words of the women “seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them” (Luke 24:11).
  • Mark records that Jesus appeared to two of them as they walked into the country. These two then “went and told it to the rest, but they did not believe them either” (Mark 16:13).
  • One of the disciples, Thomas, was not present when Jesus had presented Himself to the others. When they told Thomas they had seen Jesus, he replied: “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe (John 20:25).

 

In fact, even when Jesus Himself appeared where the disciples were gathered, Luke tells us: “Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, ‘Peace to you.’ But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit” (Luke 24:37).

 

Why do you think the disciples were slow to believe? While we are quick to question their lack of belief, in all honesty, aren’t we a lot like them? Sometimes, we don’t believe either – and for many of the same reasons.

 

  • The disciples were afraid. They were hiding because of their fear of the Jews. Does fear sometimes cause us to reject and, thereby, not believe what God has told us in Scripture?
  • The disciples didn’t always understand or comprehend Jesus’ teachings. Does our lack of understanding contribute to our unbelief?
  • The disciples had their own scenario of how things were supposed to work out. They were envisioning Jesus as reigning as a victorious king – not dying like a thief on a cross. When my ideas about what I think my life should be are rearranged by God’s plans and purposes, am I challenged to believe God?
  • Thomas wanted to see before he would believe. Does my lack of sight keep me from believing?

 

Do we allow our fear, our lack of understanding, our plans and desires, and our lack of sight to keep us from believing God? Easter reminds us that God had a plan. As Paul told the Galatians: “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,  to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5). After Easter we’re reminded that we have a choice. Do we believe? Do we believe the prophets who foretold God’s plan long before Jesus was born? (see Isaiah 9). Do we believe Jesus who came to do what we could not do for ourselves? (see 1 Peter 3:18). Do we believe the eyewitness accounts of those who saw Jesus alive after the crucifixion? (see John 20-21). Do we believe the truth of God’s Word that we, too, are chosen. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,  just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Ephesians 1:3-4). And do we believe that God has a plan for each of our lives? (see Jeremiah 29:11).

 

Those early disciples were slow to believe, but as they were confronted with the truth of Christ’s death and resurrection, they became fearless and totally committed to doing what Christ instructed them to do. Will we do the same? Will we choose to believe, take Christ at His Word, and be totally, completely committed to Him? I pray that I will.

 

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | March 28, 2015

When Faith Answers

When Faith Answers

 

One definition of faith by Merriam-Webster is “a firm belief in something for which there is no proof.” Rather than define faith, the Bible describes what faith does. “Now faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1) or as the NIV translates: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” True faith is marked by confidence and assurance – not so much because of what we believe but because of the One in whom we believe.

 

This week many of us were surprised by God. We have been praying for a young man who is in the process of battling leukemia. He has been in the hospital for around two months undergoing rigorous chemotherapy which hopefully will result in a 0% production of leukemia cell blast and thereby make him a candidate for a bone marrow transplant. Earlier this week, biopsy results indicated that he was, in fact, at 0% production. Unfortunately, however, instead of being able to rejoice over the biopsy results, he was in ICU facing another battle as infection in his body resulted in septic shock.

 

To say his situation seemed dire is practically an understatement. He was placed on life support and listed in critical condition. Yet, as all who knew this young man or who had heard about his battle, prayed, prayed, and prayed some more – a miracle began to unfold. Even the doctors were baffled that although there was 0% white blood cell production, his body was beginning to heal. The color was slowly returning to his face and his body seemed to be responding to the antibiotics. This young man’s battle is surely not over; he has a long way to go. But for those of us praying, the hopelessness we felt as he was taken into ICU has now been replaced with expectation and renewed hope.

 

I wonder. Why were we surprised? As I thought about this I was reminded of the story of Peter when King Herod began to harass the church. He had already killed James, the brother of John, and then he seized Peter and put him into prison (see Acts 12). But while Peter was in prison, God sent an angel to deliver him and bring him out of the prison. Peter went straight to the house of Mary where many were gathered to pray for him. However, when Rhoda went to answer the door, she heard Peter’s voice and, without opening the door, ran to tell the others that Peter was there. But they didn’t believe her. Finally, as Peter continued to knock, they opened the door to see him. And “they were astonished.”

 

I’ll be honest. I cannot help but be both surprised and astonished when God answers prayers in such spectacular ways. Why is that? When I have fully surrendered my life to Him, when I believe with all my heart that my God can do anything, when I fully trust Him in every area of my life – why should I be surprised or astonished? And then it occurred to me. I’m not surprised because I doubt that God could or would act. I sincerely believe that my life, my world is in God’s hands and I trust Him totally and completely. Could it be that the answer of faith cannot help but be overcome with wonder and amazement when what we know in our hearts is suddenly, unexpectedly seen with our eyes?

 

As Hebrews 11:1 teaches, we learn that faith is “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” When what we believe through faith, not by sight, suddenly becomes a visible reality, we cannot help but be astonished! When God makes visible what the Spirit has confirmed to us in our hearts, faith answers with giddy excitement and wonder. Look and see! God did that!

 

But, sometimes, as we all know, we do not see the miraculous answers. We believe. We pray. But loved ones die, innocent victims suffer, and evil triumphs over good. The writer of Hebrews acknowledged this as well. “Others were tortured …. Others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented – of whom the world was not worthy” (Hebrews 11:35b-38a).  But faith answered. Through faith they endured affliction. And in faith, they died with confidence and assurance – “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

 

The answer of faith places our hope, confidence, and assurance in God alone – not in what we may be able to see or understand. But every so often, God chooses to surprise us with the miraculous and we stand astonished and amazed! I thank God for these special surprises that encourage us, that renew our expectation and hope, and that remind us of the confidence and assurance we have in Him. And I thank Him that when we don’t see the miraculous, when the surprises don’t come, we can still stand astonished and amazed because we have Him. He is our hope, our confidence, and our assurance – forever – when faith answers!

 

So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

(2 Corinthians 5:6-7)

 

 

Older Posts »

Categories

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 127 other followers