Posted by: glorifyhim1 | October 11, 2017

Faith When It Hurts – Part 2

Faith When It Hurts – Part 2

 

A little over four years ago, I wrote the devotion “Faith When It Hurts”*(see this devotion below) in honor of a loved and devoted church member who, although paralyzed by a stroke and confined to a wheelchair, faithfully attended church every Sunday morning until His Savior called him home. This past week, this dear gentleman’s daughter was also called home as cancer ravaged her body, but not her spirit. Just like her Dad before her, she modeled not only an undying faith, but also a faithfulness that kept her behind the piano she had so lovingly played in our services for 37 years. She continued to beautifully play the hymns and songs that undoubtedly brought her peace and comfort in the midst of her struggle.

 

As I thought about this dear lady and her living testimony to her Savior, I couldn’t help but think how both she and her Dad, even in difficult and desperate times, held onto the One who promised to always be with them. While they did not know the “why” behind their battles, they placed their confidence in the One they knew and trusted completely – their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

 

I am so thankful for the privilege of knowing these two who showed me and countless others what a life of faith truly looks like – even when it is hard – even when it hurts. All of us have our share of struggles and difficulties in this world. Do we grapple with why? Do we wonder and question? Do we allow them to crush us under their weight as we try to carry them alone? Or do we turn to Jesus and surrender everything to Him? Scripture reminds us that our God is with us – even during the hard times.. Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).  Our God does not leave us or turn His back on us during our difficulties. He walks with us and encourages us. He strengthens us and helps us. And He will hold us up when we cannot stand alone. What a beautiful picture of our God, the One in whom we can safely trust – no matter what!

 

*Faith When It Hurts  

This past week our church lost one of its most devoted members. This dear man worked unceasingly for his church until he was paralyzed by a stroke and became confined to a wheelchair over 14 years ago. Still, with the help of his beloved wife, he was there practically every Sunday morning sitting in a chair stationed at the end of the pew next to where his wife was seated.

Although the stroke debilitated him physically and impaired his ability to communicate, it was not able to obliterate his faith. He demonstrated to everyone who saw him week after week that his devotion to Christ and the church had not changed. While he could no longer work and serve as he had been accustomed to, he could still worship – and that he faithfully did every Sunday morning.

Some people might wonder why. Why would he continue to come to church when it was undoubtedly so difficult for him to do so? Why would he continue to worship a God who had allowed him to be struck down and to suffer in such a way? Some may wonder why he didn’t take the advice that Job’s wife gave to Job after he lost his property, his children, and his health: “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9)

Yet I think he was probably a lot like Job. Job replied to his wife: “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10) What a declaration of faith! Faith is probably no better seen than when it is demonstrated in the life of an individual caught in the throes of adversity. It’s easy to trust when skies are blue, food is on the table, and all is well. But trust is more difficult when storms blow in, when provisions are meager, and when, for whatever reason, our world is turned upside down and our lives begin to unravel. Yet it is at those times – times when our faith seems so small – when we need it most of all.

One definition of faith in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is a “firm belief in something for which there is no proof.” The Bible defines faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). So what does faith look like? Consider just a few examples from Hebrews 11.

  •         Noah built an ark before there was one drop of rain.
  •         Abraham left his home and journeyed to a place to receive his inheritance, not knowing where he was going.
  •         Sarah bore a child when she was well-past child-bearing age.
  •         Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph all believed in a future they could not see.
  •         Moses chose to suffer with the Israelites rather than enjoy the worldly pleasures of Egypt.

Among many other examples, the writer of Hebrews then exclaims:

“And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of the weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again.

Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still 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. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.

And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.”

(Hebrews 11:32-40)

The above examples remind us that faith is not always pretty. It doesn’t always come out on top in our present circumstances. But just as the heroes above were looking forward with faith to a promise, we also are looking forward to the fulfillment that awaits all believers – the complete realization of God’s promises in His coming kingdom.

As I think of the examples of faith above, I can’t help but think that some of these faithful ones were probably just like you and me. They wondered about their challenges. They questioned why some received miraculous deliverance while others were tormented, stoned, and afflicted. But in spite of their questions and their lack of understanding, they believed in the One who made the promise. The Scriptures remind us: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

There are still people of faith today. Sometimes their faith may be small like a tiny mustard seed (see Matthew 17:20). Often they don’t know the reason behind their trials or the purpose for their suffering. But they do know the only One who is worthy of their faith and trust. So just like Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and countless others down through the ages, they run their race, the one designed for them by God Himself, and they look “unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). They surrender their need to know, their desire to understand why, to the One who loved us enough to die for us. And they walk with Him, looking forward, one step at a time, until like our friend at church, they finish their race, behold their Savior, and realize the victory of faith!

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Posted by: glorifyhim1 | September 25, 2017

How, Then, Do I Live?

How, Then, Do I Live?

 

There is so much trouble in our world today, so much hatred and evil, so much division and controversy. Oh, how I wish things were different, but in the midst of all this trouble, what can I do? What can any of us do?

 

The truth is there is something that each of us who follow Christ can do. We may not be able to correct all  wrongs and make everything right, but the Bible helps us know how God wants us to live – even in the midst of hard, trying times. Am I doing those things? Am I pleasing God by the way I live?

 

In the book of Romans, Paul, among other things, attempted to help believers in the early church, who came from many different backgrounds,  to come together as one in Christ. In spite of their differences, and in spite of ours today, all believers are one in Christ. So, in the midst of all our division and controversy, let each of us ask ourselves, “How, then, do I live?” Paul gives us some guidance in Romans 12. As I read this chapter, I need to ask myself:

 

  • Am I living my life totally surrendered to God? Do I allow Him to transform my heart and mind with His Word and truth? Or am I yielding to my preconceived thoughts and attitudes, or what I think is right?  (See Romans 12:1-2).
  • Do I use the gifts God has given me in service to Him, and do I seek to encourage others who may have different gifts? Or am I critical, or envious, of others and their gifts (See Romans 12:6-8).
  • Do I love others well – without hypocrisy and insincerity? Am I kind to others in both my words and my actions? Or does my love always mask a heart that is filled with self-centeredness and hidden agendas? (See Romans 12:9a, 10).
  • Do I hate evil and cling to what is good? Or do I make peace with evil and sometimes compromise what is good? (See Romans 12:9b).
  • Do I rejoice in the hope I have in Christ? Can others see that joy? Do I tell others about that joy? Or do I keep it safely tucked away and guard it while bemoaning the discord around us? (See Romans 12:12).
  • Do I remain steadfast, doing those things I know to do – praying, helping others, encouraging others, doing good? Or do I turn inward and focus on myself? (See Romans 12:12-13).
  • Do I try to live peaceably with all men? Can I honestly say that in my actions, my attitudes, and the things I say, that I pursue peace with others – especially with those who disagree with me? Or, in my desire to win an argument, prove my point, or even convince someone of something that I know in my heart is right, do I sometimes forget to not be overcome with evil, but to overcome evil with good? (See Romans 12:18-21).

 

These are hard questions and I admit that I do not always like my own answers. Yet, I believe that the above-referenced chapter in Romans is just as meaningful to us today as it was to the early church.

 

The truths in this Scripture challenge me as I think about how, then, do I live. Regardless of our troubled and divided world, I am called to live a life that seeks God, that serves Him as He leads, and that loves others well. These verses encourage me to turn from evil and to do good, and to remain steadfast and faithful, doing those things that I know to do. This Scripture also reminds me to live joyfully, always ready to share that joy with others, and to strive, as much as is within me, to live peaceably with all people. 

 

This is how I want to live. I hope this is how you want to live, too. How, then, do we live?

 

“Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things (the second coming of Christ), be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless” (2 Peter 3:14); and “beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and               knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”  (2 Peter 3:17-18).  

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | September 10, 2017

When Storm Clouds Gather

When Storm Clouds Gather

 

Last week many of us sat glued to our television screens watching the unbelievable devastation left in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Initial estimates recorded that over 30,000 people had filled Houston shelters with innumerable others displaced or seeking refuge in other areas. We watched as countless people, people who had lost everything, were rescued from flood waters that continued to rise. There were so many stories, so many wearied souls, so many tears.

 

This week it is Hurricane Irma marching onto the scene leaving a path of destruction across the Caribbean, Cuba, and now Florida and the southeastern United States. On the heels of Harvey and touted as one of the initially strongest storms seen, it is probably just a matter of time until more stories of destruction and devastation begin to unfold.

 

As I watch and listen to news reports, I truly find it difficult to wrap my mind around such devastation and loss. How do you deal with it? How do you pick up the pieces and move forward?

 

At one time or another, we all face storms of some kind. It may not be a hurricane. It may be another natural disaster such as a tornado, a fire, or blistering heat and drought. Sometimes unexpected storms may come in the form of a serious illness, a debilitating accident, loss of a loved one, desertion, financial loss, or in some other way.

 

When storm clouds gather in your life, what can you do? Here are a few thoughts that have helped me during storm-ridden times. Maybe they can help you, too.

 

  1. Turn to God.

 

So many times we want to blame God for our difficulties. Yet how could the same God who sent His Son to die for us desire to hurt or destroy us? The Bible tells us that God created a good world (see Genesis 1). Yet, through deceit and disobedience sin entered and corrupted God’s perfect creation. Today, we shudder over the stories of hate, abuse, and evil that people commit toward one another. This is not the world that God created. This is the result of the choices we make to sin and do evil.

 

Likewise, the natural disasters we experience are the result of our fallen world. Romans 8:22 states: “For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.” Even our natural world is eagerly waiting to be delivered.

 

Storms that enter our lives, whether through human choices or natural disasters, are the result of our fallen world. Jesus Himself, told His disciples: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

 

  1. Trust God.

 

Major storms in our lives will inevitably cause us to ask: “Why?” “Why me, God?” Even when we realize that our problems are the result of living in a fallen world, we struggle with why an all-powerful, sovereign God would allow whatever storm we’re facing to come into our lives. Why does He choose to divinely intervene in one situation, but remain strangely silent in another one? The answer is always the same – we don’t know.

 

We cannot know the mind of God. Yet countless Scriptures affirm that our  God is a good God. David exclaimed: “The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works” (Psalm 145:9). The prophet Nahum declared: “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him” (Nahum 1:7). Even Jesus responded to the rich young ruler: “Why do you call me good? No one is good, but One, that is,  God.” (Mark 10:18). We can trust a good God who loves and cares for us.  

 

Even in the sufferings and trials a believer may endure, the Bible assures us of an important truth: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).  God is not blind-sided by the bad things that happen to us. Yet He can take all things, both the good and bad, and work them together for good. So the struggles and heartaches, yes, even the bad things we endure, are handled carefully by a loving God who works to redeem even those things for our good.

 

When we come to God, turn everything over to Him, all our hurt, questions, and sometimes even our anger, He hears us. The Psalms are filled with songs and prayers of people who discovered the peace, the joy, and the absolute wonder of a God who was always with them even during the hard times. They rejoiced in a God who was their shield (3:3), refuge (9:9), strength (18:1), support (18:18), shepherd (23:1), light and salvation (27:1),  helper (30:10), deliverer (40:17), guide (48:14), defense (58:9), shelter (61:3), among many, many other things. When we place our faith and trust in our Sovereign God, even in the midst of our questions and need, He meets us right where we are and blesses us with His Presence and gives us His peace.

 

  1. Claim Victory in Christ.

 

When we question the why behind storms we face, rarely will we receive an answer. I think that’s because God gave His ultimate answer when He sent Jesus to be our Savior. 1 John 4:9-10 tells us: “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.” God did for us what we could never do for ourselves.

 

If God had not sent His Son, we would be dead in our trespasses and sins. However, Jesus paid the penalty for our sin when He died on the cross. Jesus, Himself, stated: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26). When we believe and accept what Christ has done for us, we become victors through Jesus Christ. Nothing on earth can separate us from the His love. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? …. Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:35, 37).

 

No matter what storms we face or go through here on earth, we already have victory in Christ. And one day God will make all things right. Revelation 21:4 states: “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.” We will be forever home with the One who loves us and made a way for us to be with Him forever.

 

Yes, we will have troubles in this world – and, yes, even more, as the day draws near for Christ to return. As the storm clouds gather and as evil triumphs, I find myself growing more and more homesick. This world is really not my home. I am yearning for my forever home when God makes all things new. Until then, I am reminded that Jesus told His disciples that in Him they would have peace, and to be of good cheer (see John 16:33). So, whatever comes, I pray I will turn to God, trust Him in all things, and cheerfully claim the victory that I have through Christ Jesus. I remember Peter’s reply when other disciples were turning away from Him. Jesus asked his disciples: “Do you also want to go away?” Peter replied: “Lord, to whom should we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6: 67-69). Amen and Amen.

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | August 30, 2017

Saying Yes to Jesus

Saying Yes to Jesus

 

As we grow older, my husband and I seem to be receiving more and more mail encouraging us to think about ways we can leave a legacy for future generations. Unfortunately, we are not wealthy, nor do we have possessions of great value. While it would be great to leave such a legacy that could help others long after we both are gone, we realize that it is highly unlikely that we could do so. In much the same way, we would would love to leave a nice inheritance to each of our children and grandchildren. But what if we aren’t able to do so? What kind of legacy could we leave behind?

 

Perhaps our legacy could be something we have taught them, memories of special times we have enjoyed together, the laughter we have shared, and sometimes even the tears we shed. Just maybe, the life we have lived together, can in some mysterious way be a legacy that can continue to encourage them in the hard times, help them when they need direction, and even provoke laughter as they remember something we said or did. If this could be our legacy, then what about our life would I want them to remember most of all?

 

Without a doubt, most of all, I want our children and grandchildren to remember that we said yes to Jesus. Why is this so important to me? Jesus, Himself, said it best: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10b). That is the life that I desire for each of my children and grandchildren – abundant life in Christ Jesus. I realize that the most important decision any of us will ever make is whether we say yes or no to Jesus. Saying yes recognizes that we are sinners in need of a Savior. Saying yes affirms that Jesus is that Savior, the One who died on the cross to pay the penalty for all our sin. Saying yes surrenders all that we are to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We are no longer our own; we belong to Him. More than wealth, success, or any human achievement, I pray that my children and grandchildren will live their lives daily, saying yes to Jesus.

 

When we say yes to Jesus ….

 

  • Jesus satisfies us. He takes care of all our inner hunger and longings. He meets our deepest spiritual needs.

 

And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).

 

  • Jesus lights our way, gives us understanding, and shines in and through us to touch others.

 

“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).

 

  • Jesus ushers us into the Kingdom of God. He is the only way. He shelters us and we are secure in Him.   

 

“ I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture” (John 10:9).

 

  • Jesus becomes our Shepherd. He protects, defends, and will never leave us or forsake us. He gave His very life for us!

 

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (John 10-11).

 

  • Jesus gives us eternal life. It begins the moment we say yes to Him.

 

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.  And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?’” (John 11:25-26).

 

  • Jesus brings us to the Father.

 

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’” (John 14:6).

 

  • Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit to live within us, to bear fruit in our lives.

 

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

 

When we say yes to Jesus, we receive Him in all His fullness to be with us, to walk with us, and to work in us and through us. And in the process we are blessed beyond measure with His peace, His Presence, and abundant, eternal life.

 

No bequest, endowment, or gift could ever match the gift that Jesus Christ offers to everyone who will say yes to Him. I want that for my children, grandchildren, and all my family. I want that for my friends, acquaintances, for everyone I know and don’t know. Jesus loves You. He died to save you. He wants to bless you with abundant life today and forever. I plead with you – say yes to Jesus!*

 

“He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

(John 1:10-12)

 

*If you do not know how to say yes to Jesus, click on the link “How Can I Be Saved” on glorifyinghim.wordpress.com.

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | August 12, 2017

My Hope for America

My Hope for America

 

Like many of you, I have listened to the news reports of the violence that has engulfed Charlottesville, Virginia this weekend as white nationalists and counterprotestors clashed over the removal of Confederate monuments in the South. To be honest, instead of anger or revenge, I feel a deep sadness. What has happened to America?

 

Our nation is more divided today than I can remember in my lifetime. I was a child in the 1960’s and can remember all the turmoil in our nation during the Civil Rights Movement. It was a hard time in our nation. And I am not so naive to think that all the problems this movement exposed, were magically solved. Yet, on a personal level, I also remember during those ensuing years going to school, playing, and working with people of many different races and nationalities. I attended college with many international students and I developed friendships with others who didn’t look like me, talk like, me, or believe like me.

 

I personally believe that the widespread intolerance and hate we are witnessing in our nation and world today are not because of what we look like or our political persuasions. It is because of who we are on the inside. I realize that not all people believe in Jesus, but if even those of us who say we do, honestly lived what Jesus taught, can you even begin to imagine the difference it could make in our world? On the night before Jesus, Himself, was crucified, He visibly demonstrated His servant’s heart as He knelt and washed His disciples’ feet. Then He told His disciples:  “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

 

Jesus also taught His disciples that they should love their enemies. “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).

 

How do I show love to my enemy? Do I listen to him with my heart? Do I give her respect even when I disagree? Do I try to find solutions to problems? Do I honestly and earnestly pray for him or her? As Paul told the Romans: “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:17-18).

 

As a Christian, I sincerely believe that America’s only hope lies in the believers among us turning to God and seeking Him with our whole hearts. As the Lord told Solomon after He had prayed and dedicated the Temple: “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). We must humble ourselves before Him, pray and seek Him, and turn from our sin. If we do those things, He will hear us, forgive us, and heal our land.

 

No matter who is right or who is wrong, regardless of what we think should be done, can we humble ourselves before God and seek Him and His way? Only God can change the hearts of men. Let us, as much as we can, seek to live so that others can see the love of our Savior – the Savior who delays His coming as He desires all men to be saved. This is my hope for America.

 

“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

(1 Timothy 2:1-4)

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | July 25, 2017

When We Don’t Measure Up

When We Don’t Measure Up

 

Have you ever felt that you just didn’t measure up? Perhaps you didn’t measure up to someone else’s expectations? You just weren’t good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, or strong enough. Perhaps you, yourself, felt inadequate or unable. Why try if you knew you would fail? You knew you didn’t measure up.

 

I have had my share of moments when I knew I didn’t measure up. Sometimes it was at the hands of others as I’ve been ignored or left out. At other times, I, myself, felt so unqualified for a task someone wanted me to do. And at still other times, my own fears, weaknesses, and  insufficiencies have convinced me that I didn’t measure up.

 

Those of us who have experienced such moments can take heart that we are not alone. Consider just four examples of people in the Bible who also knew how it felt to not measure up.

  • Moses felt totally unqualified to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. He replied to God’s call with “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11)
  • Gideon felt small and weak. He wondered how someone like him could  save Israel from the Midianites. He replied: O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house” (Judges 6:15).
  • The prophet Elijah had run out of steam. He felt alone and discouraged. He answered God: “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the word. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life” (1 Kings 19:10).
  • Peter, the disciple, surely felt fear and failure as he followed Jesus after his arrest in the garden, yet denied knowing Him three times. Peter had previously bravely told Jesus: “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” (Matthew 26:35)  

 

Moses felt unqualified. Gideon felt small and weak. The prophet Elijah felt alone and discouraged. Peter surely felt fear and failure. Yet God did not give up on them when they failed to measure up. He met them where they were and helped them see who He is.

 

  • God assured both Moses and Gideon of His presence with them (see Exodus 3:12 and Judges 6:16).
  • He helped Elijah see the true picture – there were many in Israel who were still faithful to the one true God (see 1 Kings 19:15-18).
  • Jesus forgave Peter and restored him to ministry (see John 21:15-17).

 

At different times in my life, I can identify with each of these followers. I have felt totally unqualified for something God called me to do. I have felt small and weak, and unworthy. I have been tired, worn out, and discouraged. And I have experienced fear and failure. Yet, I have learned that when I just don’t measure up, God will do the same things for me as He did for Moses, Gideon, Elijah, and Peter. And He will do the same things for you, too.

 

  • He meets us where we are – not necessarily where we ought to be.
  • He reminds us of His love and presence with us.
  • He helps us see the reality of our situations which are probably quite different from what we have imagined them to be.
  • He stands with open arms, ready to forgive and restore us.

 

Little by little, God is helping me learn that it is not about measuring up to my own or anyone else’s standards or expectations. Instead, it is putting my faith and trust in Jesus Christ and seeking Him in every area of my life. Just as Moses and Gideon learned, when God calls us and is with us, He can  accomplish in and through us more than we could ever do through our own abilities. Like Elijah, we learn that God is our strength and help when we have run out of steam. He knows when we need rest and nourishment. Yet He also knows when it’s time for Him to ask: “What are you doing here?” We can trust that He will direct our next steps. And like Peter, we learn that we have a God who loves us more than we ever can ever comprehend. He is ever ready to forgive us when we fail and to restore us to a life of purpose and meaning.

 

How thankful I am for my Savior and Lord who promises to always be with me; who strengthens and helps me; who knows and understands me; and who loves, forgives, and restores me. I know I can never measure up, but what peace in knowing I don’t have to. For I know the One who loved me enough to die for me, who covers me with His righteousness, who makes me worthy. And this One more than measures up!

 

“He has shown you, O man, what is good;

And what does the Lord require of you

But to do justly,

To love mercy,

And to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | June 17, 2017

A Story of Three Dads

A Story of Three Dads

 

I have been blessed to know many great dads. I would like to tell you about three dads who are very special to me. They have taught me much, probably more by their actions than their words.

 

The first of these dads is my Daddy.

This is a picture of him with my sister and me – many, many years ago!

 

To say that Daddy looked after me and took care of me is an understatement. He was always there for me – from rescuing me when I backed our little Rambler into a deep culvert across from a little neighborhood grocery, to picking me up at college and driving me home or to the local burger hut when I “seriously” needed a break!  

 

Daddy worked at the local textile mill and often put in long hours. He also worked numerous odd jobs to supplement the family income. When I was small, I can remember eagerly waiting for him to come home. There might be a surprise in his lunch box or perhaps a ride around the yard in the wheelbarrow. And as my sister and I got a little older, perhaps we could talk Daddy into taking us swimming in a nearby creek.

 

Daddy was a lot of fun and enjoyed playing jokes, but if I had to think of one word to describe Daddy it would be giving. He was free hearted with everything he had. He didn’t have a lot of money, but he would help someone who needed it anyway he could whether it was volunteering labor, delivering food from his garden, or giving a ride to the doctor. As busy as he was, he never seemed too busy to give just a little more of himself. The very week that Daddy died, I remembered crying fresh tears a few days later when I opened my refrigerator and was reminded of a fresh supply of garden lettuce that Daddy had picked, cleaned, and given to me just before he had died. Daddy found much joy in living and I think he received most of that joy through all he gave to others.

 Here is a picture of the next Dad I would like to tell you about. This is one of our favorite family snapshots when our kids were young.

My husband first became a Dad to a little girl that he was never able to hold in his arms. Our first daughter died at birth. Although separated for now, my husband has faithfully honored her memory. One of the most treasured traditions that he continues even now is giving me a vase of four flowers – one for each child, on every Mother’s Day. But I think I can best tell you about him by sharing some of the kids’ thoughts about their Dad. These are the words I have often heard them use to describe him – hard-working, dependable, trustworthy, fun, the answer man, and, affectionately, “old man.” When they think of their Dad, they immediately think of someone they can depend on to be there, to do what he says he will do. They know they can go to him with a question or a problem and that he will try his best to help them. But they also remember that he was “fun.” He made funny comments, did funny things, and enjoyed a good laugh. Our daughter chuckles remembering when her Dad found her shopping list and scrawled “redneck repellent” to the bottom of her list!

 

As I have watched my husband with our kids through the years, I think the word I would use to describe him is “selfless.” Things were never about him or what he wanted. He was always taking care of his family and putting their needs – and wants – ahead of his own. Although our kids are all grown now, his selflessness still radiates as he reaches out to help them and others in ways that he can, from packing a U-Haul, to fixing and repairing something, to building ramps, to serving on disaster relief teams. He finds joy in selflessly helping others.


Lastly, here is a picture of my son with his son, Benji, at a place they both love.

My son and daughter-in-law’s first son, Silas, died just before birth or I’m sure there would be two little fellows in this picture. There is a special place in my son’s heart for both Silas and Benji. I love watching my son be a Dad! Surely, he takes care of Benji’s needs, but what makes my heart most proud is how he loves him. He does the extra little things that mean everything to a young child. They play on the playground together. They share “coffee” dates. Sometimes, he takes Benji to work with him. They go grocery shopping together. They pick out flowers to take home to Mommy. My son even makes sure when they go to a certain store that he has a quarter to give Benji for the sticker machine. I’m sure my son remembers when his own PaPa, my Dad, gave him quarters for the machines at our grocery store all those years ago.

 

I think the word I would use to describe my son would be caring. He cares for his wife, his sons, and the foster children they have cared for in their home. He cares about the poor, the needy, and those who are less fortunate. He is sensitive to those who have no voice and is burdened over their plight. Yet, in the midst of deep concern for others, he remembers a little boy who wants to see Thomas the Train and who desires a quarter for the sticker machine.

 

Three Dads – each one with varying gifts and abilities, facing different hurdles and challenges, but each bringing their own special gifts to being a Dad. On this Father’s Day, I’d like to thank my Heavenly Father for these three men and what they mean to me and our families. And I’d like to thank each of them for showing me what a  difference lives of giving, selflessness, and caring can make in the lives of others around them. You all were, are the best! Happy Father’s Day!

 

“The righteous man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him.”

(Proverbs 20:7)

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | June 14, 2017

Yearning for Egypt

Yearning for Egypt

 

The Old Testament tells the thrilling story of how God, through many signs and wonders, delivered the people of Israel from the oppressive rule of the Egyptians. He led them out of Egypt, even parted the sea so they could cross on dry ground and escape Pharaoh’s army. He provided bread (manna) for them each morning and sent quail for meat at night. When they were thirsty, He provided water from a rock. Yet, in spite of all the ways God led them and cared for them, somehow the people couldn’t seem to grasp the big picture.

 

Instead, the people complained. They grumbled. They wished they were back in Egypt. Even as they stood on the brink of the promised land, they shrank back in fear as they listened to the spies’ report of the giants that were living there. “Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, ‘Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness!” (Numbers 14:12)

 

While we often read these stories and shake our heads in disbelief at the Israelites’ lack of trust, don’t we often do the same thing? Haven’t we all yearned to return to some day, some time when things seemed so much better?

 

Sometimes as I look at the world today, I wish I could return to the world I knew as a child, or even as a young parent, when things just seemed so much better. I hate turning on the news to discover what evil has taken another life or multiple lives. I am so weary of all the arguing, bickering, and casting stones that does little to work out real solutions – but instead promotes even more hate, disrespect, and division. I find myself grumbling and complaining far too much. I yearn to return to “Egypt.”  

 

Yet, as I read about the people of Israel as they journeyed through the wilderness, I realize that there were basically three things the people had forgotten.

 

  • They had forgotten their former difficulties and how they had pleaded for deliverance from their cruel taskmasters.
  • They had forgotten who they were. They were God’s chosen people. He had called them out and was leading them to the promised land.
  • They had forgotten who God is. Scripture confirms that God is Sovereign over all. “For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me. Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure’” (Isaiah 46:9b-10).

 

When I begin to grumble and complain and yearn for “Egypt,” I believe that I forget the same three things. I forget the difficulties and problems of those earlier years. As the saying goes, the “good ole days,” were not always as good as we remember them to be. A simple flip through the history books confirms that each generation has their share of difficulties and problems. As time separates us from those days, we tend to remember the good things and forget the difficult or hard things.

 

I forget who I am – or whose I am. I am a child of God! Jesus died to save me and give me eternal life. As Paul told the Colossians, we are reconciled to God by Christ.  And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight” (Colossians 1:21-22). Even in the midst of troubles and difficulties, I know that I am His. The Bible is filled with promises for all of us who place our faith and trust in Him. No matter what we endure here on earth, we have his promise. “For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5b-6)

 

Lastly, I forget who God is. Scripture is abundantly clear that God is above all and over all. God, Himself, stated: “For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me” (Isaiah 46:9). God is Creator (Genesis 1:1). He is Sustainer, holding all things together (Colossians 1:17). God can do all things (Matthew 19:26) and absolutely nothing can thwart His purposes. I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You” (Job 42:2).

 

Instead of yearning for “Egypt,” I want to look forward to what lies ahead. I want to grasp the big picture. Instead of grumbling and complaining over all that is wrong, I want to remember who I am in Christ and who God is! I want to place my faith and trust, solely and completely in Him, claim His promises, and look forward with hope. I want to follow Him!

 

 

“I Have Decided” by Aaron Pelsue

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAIplRcxM4E

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | June 7, 2017

In My Sweet Spot

In My Sweet Spot

 

The term “sweet spot” has come to mean a variety of things from that perfect spot on a bat or racket that makes the best contact with the ball, to that flawless combination of factors that leads to good returns on the stock market. Typically, one’s sweet spot is considered to be the place or point where you are at your best. It could be something you do, or don’t do. It is that “just right” place where you know joy and contentment. Do you have a sweet spot?

A few years ago, I would have probably told you that my sweet spot was sitting on our front porch swing, listening to the little creek nearby and watching the kids play in the yard. It was a time for rest, silent prayer, and rejuvenation.

 

At other times, my sweet spot was on a stool at my kitchen counter, banging away on typewriter keys – yes, a typewriter! – as I worked on my first writing assignments. That sweet spot later moved to the corner of my bedroom at my desk computer. Then, still later, it moved all over the house as I carried my laptop from one room to another – but, no matter the location, when I was writing, I was in my sweet spot.

 

Over the years, I have discovered my sweet spot in a variety of places including a room full of four- and five-year-olds as we painted, played with playdough, drew pictures, talked, sang, and learned about Jesus. I’ve discovered it sharing heart to heart talks with my kids and receiving big hugs and wet kisses from my grandson. And as I grow older, I am finding my sweet spot in those cherished places that spark memories and speak to my soul – walking along the sandy shores of the Outer Banks, taking in the expansive views of the Great Smoky Mountains and along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and visiting places that even from my childhood are precious to me.

 

But as my sweet spot places have grown and and changed, I realized that in all honesty, I have but one sweet spot. It is not so much where I am or what I am doing. In fact, my real sweet spot gives meaning to all the others. My sweet spot is found in my relationship with my Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ His Son. As I abide in Him, I am in my sweet spot, that “just right” place where I am accepted, complete, and can be the person God created me to be.  

 

David, the shepherd boy who became king, beautifully described this “sweet spot” in Psalm 23.

 

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”

 

He shepherds me. No matter what I am going through, I have a Father in whom I can trust. He loves and cares for me. He leads me and watches over me. He satisfies me.

 

“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.”

 

When I am weary, He helps me find rest. When I am troubled, He gives me peace. When I am broken and undone, He restores me. Daily, He guides me and helps me to grow in His righteousness.  

 

“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.”

 

He is with me – in all things at all times! When I am afraid, when I am anxious and worried, when I am totally undone – He is with me. His Presence comforts me.  

 

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.”

 

I am secure and safe in Him. Even when surrounded by enemies, He gives me His peace. He pours out His Spirit upon me and blesses me with His Presence.

 

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

 

He is a good God! His mercy and love are unending. Even when I fail, He is merciful and gracious to me. He is with me now and forever!

 

Through the Presence of God’s Spirit within me, I am forever in my sweet spot. I can damage its sweetness when I fail to seek Him, or when I do not take to time to talk to Him in prayer. I can damage its sweetness when I cease to read His Word and listen to what He is saying to me. My sweet spot can become anything but sweet when I insist on my own way and fail to listen and obey Him. Yet I am reminded that just as God pursued the nation of Israel, He pursues you and me today. The prophet Jeremiah told the people of Israel that the the Lord had said: Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you. Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt” (Jeremiah 31:3-4a).

 

I love being in my sweet spot with my Heavenly Father.  I’m humbled by His love, thankful for His mercy and grace, amazed at the privilege of abiding in Him, and overjoyed that I can be in my sweet spot with Him forever! I pray that you know this sweet spot, too. He opens His arms to all who will come to Him. Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

 

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | May 14, 2017

What I’d Like to Tell Mama

 

I always tend to get a little sentimental at Mother’s Day, especially since my Mama is no longer with us. Mama died about a week after Mother’s Day in 1994 – that’s 23 years ago. It is really hard to think that it has been 23 years since I have heard her voice, enjoyed her sweet laughter, or shared our heart to heart conversations. I miss her!

 

I have heard it said that while we never really get over the loss of a loved one, time helps heal the wound. I guess in some ways that is true. As we place one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward, the initial rawness and hurt of the wound seems to give way to all the cherished memories that flood our minds and hearts. As we remember and treasure each one, we hold our loved one close. They are always a part of us although they are no longer with us.

 

Even after 23 years, however, sometimes it can still be hard. There are those times when I just wish I could see her face, when I could just talk to her about everyday things, and when I could ask her tons and tons of questions. As I thought about this, I began to wonder, if I could, what would I like to tell Mama after all these years.

 

First of all, I’d like to tell Mama how much I always loved her. I probably didn’t tell her that near as much as I ought to have.

 

Next, I’d like to thank her for all she did for me. Again, I’m sure I didn’t say thank you enough.

 

And, oh how much I’d like to have another one of those heart to heart conversations, catching up on the last 23 years. I’d like to tell her about her grandkids and what they have been up to. I can just see her eyes sparkle as I announce that now she has a great-grandchild! I’d like to tell her about jobs and vacations, hard times and good times.  

 

But, probably, more than anything, I’d want to thank her for the way she loved me. She loved me unconditionally. Sometimes it was a tough love when she had to discipline or correct me. At other times it was a tender love when she saw my hurt or need. But I never had to question whether or not Mama loved me. She demonstrated it over and over as she watched over me, cared for me, taught me, and walked with me day by day. Her love was a precious gift on which I could always depend

 

If your Mom is still with you this Mother’s Day, perhaps you would like to tell her some of the same things I wish I could tell Mama. If so, why not tell her how much you love her? Thank her for all she does for you and the rest of the family. Give her a call or, if possible, sit with her on the porch, at the kitchen table, or even at her bedside and share a few precious moments. Let her know how much she means to you.  

 

I’m always touched that one of Jesus’ last actions as he hung on the cross was to make sure His Mom would be cared for. John tells us: When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home” (John 19:26-27). What a sweet, tender moment! And what a beautiful example of love that Jesus showed to His mother.

 

I am so thankful for my Mama and for the difference her love made in my life. While I cannot tell her all the things I’d like to tell her on this Mother’s Day, I can joy in all the treasured memories and rejoice in the hope that one day I will see her again. Thank You, Jesus, for my Mama and her sweet love!

 

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