Posted by: glorifyhim1 | December 11, 2014

I See You, Christmas

I See You, Christmas

I see you, Christmas,

in the face of a little child,

eyes aglow in wonder

at the twinkling, dancing lights.

I see you, Christmas,

in the joy young lovers know

sharing hopes, dreaming dreams

and a kiss ‘neath the mistletoe.

I see you, Christmas,

in the family all a scurry,

shopping, baking, decorating,

hurry, hurry, hurry!

I see you, Christmas,

in those scarred, sick, and alone

who cling to you like an anchor

remembering sweet days long gone.

I see you, Christmas,

And the tender gifts you bring,

gifts of wonder, joy, life, and hope,

gifts bestowed by the King.

Yes, I see you, Christmas,

You’re an anchor for my soul,

For the baby in the manger

Is the King who makes me whole.

 

Every Christmas I remember so many Christmases before – precious memories from childhood, sweet memories from those first years as husband and wife, joyous memories with our children and now with a dear grandchild. I remember so many happy Christmases, but I also remember some difficult ones as well – the many first Christmases without – without Grandparents, without our waited and longed-for first daughter, without Dad, without Mom, without a loved brother-in-law, without Poppa and Granny (my in-laws), and without a precious grandson.

 

But there’s something funny about Christmas. In spite of all the happy, sad, mixed-up Christmases we may have known, Christmas seems to always usher in a season of expectancy and hope. As we look back to that very first Christmas when Jesus was born, we’re reminded that God has a plan. Jesus’ life was not an easy one, but He traveled the path laid out for Him all the way to the cross. Why? Because of His love for you and me. It is that love that not only redeems us, but that continues to surround us and help us as we navigate the life that God has planned for us as well.

 

I know that I’ll never be able to fully wrap my mind around that kind of love. But every Christmas, I’ll remember. And as I remember and reflect on all the Christmases with which I’ve been blessed – both the happy and the hard, I’ll once again see the wonder, joy, life, and hope that Christmas brings – all because of Jesus.

 

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

 (John 1:14)

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | December 4, 2014

Christmas Has Already Come

Christmas Has Already Come

 

I love Christmas! I love the beautiful lights and decorations, the sounds of Christmas carols and music, the cooking and the baking. I even enjoy the shopping as I look for special gifts to surprise everyone on my Christmas list. But sometimes ….. instead of truly enjoying all of these things I love, I find myself rushing from one thing to another, crossing items off my list, and hurrying to make sure I get everything done. Instead of enjoying the sights, sounds, and wonder of Christmas, I exchange the beauty and wonder for a mere crossed-off to-do list and a mission accomplished. But guess what! Christmas has already come!

Just this morning I headed to the grocery store to purchase items I needed to prepare a cheese ball, sausage balls, and other snacks for my family’s annual tree-decorating “party.” It’s really not a party, but just something that gradually developed over the years. We eat snacks, decorate the tree, and watch at least one old and favorite Christmas movie, one that we all practically know by heart. Through the years, this has become one of our family’s favorite traditions. Sometimes, we are able to put up our tree on the same day as the local town’s Christmas parade. Then we’ll go to the parade together first. It’s really a simple little event, but getting everything ready requires shopping, cooking, cleaning, and decorating – a lot of work. As I headed to the store this morning, I found myself mentally going over my list of things I needed to do when all of sudden it occurred to me. Did it really matter if I didn’t get everything done? After all – Christmas has already come!

I feel sure God laid this on my heart. Christmas has already come! Sometimes, we can get so distracted by all the “good” things we enjoy and love about Christmas that we forget why we do them in the first place. We can celebrate Christmas with or without a tree or festive decorations. We can celebrate Christmas with or without expensive gifts or thoughtful presents. We can celebrate Christmas with an elaborate feast or a simple meal. We can celebrate Christmas with one candle, thousands of lights, or no lights at all. Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of our Savior, to reflect on His coming then as well as His coming to each of us personally, and to offer our thanks and praise. Christmas has already come, but with every Christmas we have another opportunity to remember, reflect, and rejoice.

I thought about this simple truth – Christmas has already come – as I pushed my cart through the grocery store. I realized anew the absolute wonder of what Christ did for you and me. And I also realized the absolute joy – not in crossing off another item on a Christmas to-do list – but in celebrating the wonder of Jesus’ birth, God becoming man. As I gather with family and loved ones throughout this month, I’m sure that there will be things that I may not get done or that may not work out exactly as I planned or wanted. But I pray that all I do will be done joyfully to celebrate the One who has done so much for me. May you, too, rejoice in knowing – Christmas has already come!

“For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

(Isaiah 9:6)

 

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | November 25, 2014

On the Top of My Thanksgiving List

On the Top of My Thanksgiving List

This Thursday is Thanksgiving Day. Every year at Thanksgiving I like to stop for a minute, take a little time to myself, and think about the many blessings of the year. Some years the thoughts just tumble forth and I am ecstatic with praise. Other years there may be one beautiful blessing or memory that dominates my thoughts. And then there are those years when something really difficult or painful seems to obscure all other thoughts.

Today, as I thought about these things, it occurred to me that there is always one constant in my thoughts of thanksgiving. It’s always there – right at the top. It’s there when the sweet blessings are too numerous to count and it’s there when I’m ready to go ahead and turn the calendar to a new year. And it was there this morning even as I thought about friends who are facing surgery, others who are battling cancer, still others who are struggling with loss or difficulty, and as I thought about our country that seems to be more and more broken as I read of the unrest in Ferguson.

What is on the top of my Thanksgiving list? God is with me! We usually think about Emmanuel, God with us, during the Christmas season as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the One who came to save us. But in my own life, I have learned that this is the one thing that I can always cling to no matter what – God is with me! He’s with me when I am filled with joy, thanksgiving, and praise. He’s with me when my heart is broken and when I can’t even put my needs into words. He’s with me in my happiest moments and in my darkest of days. God is with me!

Jesus reminded His disciples of this fact before He departed from them to return to heaven. He first told them what to do and then He said: And behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28: 20b). Jesus knew what His disciples didn’t. He knew the troubles, persecutions, and difficulties they would face. What better thing to leave them with than the assurance of His presence with them?

God’s presence makes a difference. Consider the following Scriptures.

  • God’s presence can give us courage, make us strong, and help us not to fear. (Deuteronomy 31:6)
  • God’s presence can bless us with contentment. (Hebrews 13:5).
  • God’s presence can give us rest. (Exodus 33:14)
  • God’s presence can refresh us. (Acts 3:19-20)
  • God’s presence can be a place of refuge for us. (Psalm 91:1-4)
  • God’s presence can give us great joy. (Psalm 16:11)
  • God’s presence rejoices over us and quiets us with His love. (Zephaniah 3:17)
  • God’s presence protects and shelters us. (Psalm 31:20)
  • God’s presence provides comfort. (Psalm 23:4)
  • God’s presence surrounds us with His steadfast love. (Lamentations 3:22-23, ESV)

We know God’s presence with us through the gift of the Holy Spirit whom we receive when we accept Jesus as our Savior. Jesus explained this as He talked with His disciples in John 14:16-17: And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” What better reason to offer thanks than for the absolute wonder and privilege of having God with us forever?

This Thanksgiving I have so many things for which to give thanks to my Heavenly Father. I know that every good gift I have received has been straight from His gracious, merciful hand. I know that in every struggle or trial I’ve faced, I have not been alone for He is always with me. And as I look into the future with all its questions and uncertainties, I remember His promise: “And behold I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  What a precious gift to know that He is with me forever. I’m sure this gift will always remain at the top of my Thanksgiving list. Thank You, Jesus!

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | November 19, 2014

Do You Know?

Do You Know?

 

 

This morning I listened to the song “Mary, Did You Know?” From the first time I heard this song, I’ve loved it. It has become one of my favorite Christmas songs – a must to hear often throughout the Christmas season. But – I listened to it before Thanksgiving!

You see, I’m also a holiday “purist.” Before Thanksgiving we listen to and sing “We Gather Together” and we decorate with pumpkins and fall flowers. Not until after Thanksgiving, do we pull out the Christmas dishes, decorations, and buy Little Debbie Christmas tree cakes! Planning and looking for gifts has been the only thing through the years that I generally did before Thanksgiving!

As I listened to the familiar lyrics this morning, I couldn’t help but smile to myself and wonder what the kids would say if they saw me sneaking in a Christmas song before Thanksgiving. And I wondered about myself. I had been thinking a lot about Christmas lately. I had already treated the family to a tin – Christmas tin, that is – of Swedish ginger snap cookies before I made my gingerbread for Christmas! Am I softening as I get older? Or, am I forgetting about Thanksgiving as my mind wanders toward Christmas?

But as I listened to the lyrics of “Mary, Did You Know?” over and over as I worked this morning, I knew that the good news contained in this song was not only for Christmas – but for every month of the year. The One worshiped in these lyrics deserves our highest thanksgiving and praise in November and He is our rock, strength, comfort, joy, peace, hope, whatever we need every month of the year.

Do we really know that? Or do we hear the stories over and over, so many times, that it doesn’t penetrate our hearts and minds? Do we really know ….

…..that He did the unbelievable – walked on water, calmed the storm

…..that He did the miraculous – blind see, lame leap, deaf hear, dumb speak, dead live again

…..that He is Lord, that He is God, that He is the Great I AM?

And do we know that He is not a has been God – He is still God today. He can still do the unbelievable, the impossible, and the miraculous in your life and mine? The question is – Do we believe?

I believe, oh, how I believe! I know His Word is true, yet how often do I allow the concerns, worries, struggles I’m going through to obscure my vision of who He is and what He can do? I think I just may continue to listen to this song throughout the year to remind me of this One who came to save me, deliver me, and make me new. And may I never cease to thank Him and praise Him for who He is – not just at Thanksgiving or Christmas, but every day of the year. And I may just celebrate this with a nice slice of fruit cake even if it is before Christmas!

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | November 11, 2014

The Other Side of Sacrifice

The Other Side of Sacrifice

 

 

Today is Veteran’s Day, a day set aside to thank the countless men and women who served our nation and to honor the sacrifices they made. As I thought about my own husband who served during the war in Vietnam, I asked him if he had a picture he would like for me to share to honor his service. The picture he immediately presented to me was not what I had expected.

You see, I have seen many of his service-time photos, though many have faded through the years. I have seen him smiling and laughing with his buddies as they kidded one another in the barracks or as they enjoyed a brief furlough. I had also seen the one of the handsome, skinny, young man all decked out in his uniform that his mother had so proudly displayed for so long that the picture actually stuck to the glass in the frame. But my husband didn’t give me one of these pictures. Instead, he gave me this one …..

Sam

“This one?” I asked. I’m sure I didn’t hide my surprise. But then I asked him to tell me what was happening in this picture.

“That was a makeshift tent that I constructed to try to get some relief from the sun,” he calmly explained.

Then it hit me. While I had heard his stories and knew something of what he had gone through, there was no way I could fully comprehend the sacrifices he had made. While I was thinking of honoring his service with nice pictures and awards he had received, he was remembering his sacrifices, from the loss of simple, everyday comforts to the weightier thoughts of loss, fear, separation, and the awfulness and stench of war.

Sacrifice is loss, giving up something precious, for something or someone else. And, usually, the only person who fully knows what sacrifice costs is the one who actually makes it. The greatest of all sacrifices was when our Lord Jesus Christ became our Savior by willingly giving Himself to die on the cross to save us from sin and death. Oh, how I’ve rejoiced and praised Him for what He did for me. But, I always want to think of resurrection Sunday rather than crucifixion Friday. I don’t like to think about His pain and suffering. I’d rather think about His victory and defeat of death. Yet that victory was won through suffering and Jesus taught us to remember His sacrifice. And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me’” (Luke 22:19).

What does remembering what Christ did, do for me? Remembering what Christ did for me helps me to live the life He calls me to live today. As I remember His sacrifice, His love and forgiveness, and His faithfulness expressed in so many ways, I am not only encouraged in my life, but I know that I can trust Him not only today, but also tomorrow.

In much the same way, our sacrifices matter. When my husband looks at the above picture, He recalls some of the difficulties he suffered, but he is also reminded that some men and women will forever wear the scars of battle. Still others never made it home. Remembering these sacrifices reminds us that the freedoms we enjoy, and that we so often take for granted, definitely came at a price. Remembering such sacrifice can affect the way we live today.

On this Veteran’s Day, I’d like to say thank you to the many men and women who have answered our nation’s call and served in our military. Thank you for helping to keep America free. Thank you for the sacrifices that you made that while I may not fully be able to fully comprehend, I do appreciate. And thank you to my husband who taught me even today that sacrifice is rarely pretty  – and as my Savior reminds me, sacrifice often leaves scars.

 

 

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | November 6, 2014

Choosing To Believe

Choosing To Believe

 

 

I’ve always loved Thanksgiving – and thanks giving. But through the years, after becoming a Christian, I’ve discovered new depths to what it means to be thankful. Surely, my heart overflows with the wonder of my Father’s love who cared enough for me to allow His Son to die so that I could have eternal life. To be honest, I can’t even begin to comprehend that kind of love. But I am learning that while I may not fully understand or comprehend His love, it’s always there – even in those times when life just doesn’t make sense.

Paul told the Thessalonians: “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). For a long time I stumbled on this verse. Even if I’m not necessarily thanking God for the bad things that happen, how do I thank Him in the midst of pain, loss, sorrow, difficulty, and trouble? While I am not a theologian and while there are surely many commentaries out there from reputable scholars who can explain this quite clearly, I’d like to simply share what this verse has come to mean to me.

Bad things happen to all of us. Sometimes, we deserve it. We make bad choices and must bear the consequences of decisions we made. At other times, the bad things that happen to us may be the result of someone else’s wrong choices. At still other times, no one can understand or explain why something bad happens. For whatever reason, however, sorrow or trouble comes. The ball is now in our court. What do we do?

I’m reminded of the question Jesus asked His disciples when many of His followers turned away from Him.  “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” (John 6:66-67). Jesus had just fed over 5,000 people from two fish and five small loaves of bread. He had walked on a stormy sea. He taught them that He was the bread of life sent from Heaven.

“I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:35-40).

But they didn’t believe. They turned away from Him. And this is ultimately the question we all have to answer – and especially when life doesn’t make sense. Do we really believe God?

Peter answered Jesus’ question. But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:68-69).

Two years ago this month my son and daughter-in-law lost their first-born son, Silas, who was stillborn.  I quickly discovered that there are plenty of questions, but there are no answers. As I have struggled, however, I often found Peter’s question echoing in my mind and heart. “Lord, to whom shall I go? You have the words of eternal life.”

In my own life, dealing with the hard things in life has always – yes always – demanded that I settle one issue first. To whom do I go? In other words, in whom do I believe and in whom will I trust? There is only one who has the words of eternal life – “the Christ, the Son of the living God!

Jesus taught us that we would have difficulty in this world. 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). In other words, in this world…..

  • You will have trouble……..                           but I have overcome the world
  • You will have trials……….                             but I have overcome the world
  • You will have loss…………                             but I have overcome the world
  • You will have sorrow……..                            but I have overcome the world
  • You will have difficulty…..                            but I have overcome the world
  • You will have ________…….                    but I have overcome the world

And, therefore, because of Christ, I can thank God in my time of tribulation….

  • For His peace (John 16:33)
  • For His comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-4
  • For His presence (Matthew 28:20)
  • For His hope (John 14:1-3)
  • For His promise (John 3:16)
  • For His _______

Just as we don’t know what kind of adversities we may have to face in this life, likewise there is no limit to the number of ways that God can cover us with His mercy and grace and bring us through those times.

When I’m facing those hard times, I try to remember that our world is a broken world. This is not the world that God created it to be. It has been broken and marred by sin. One day we will know the world the way God created it. Then we won’t know the sorrow of saying goodbye to a child we never had the opportunity to know. But, because of Jesus, I can know that this dear child lives and one day, I will see and know him, too. Thank You, Jesus!

 

 

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | October 28, 2014

Trying to Fit In

Trying to Fit In

 

 

It seems that for much of my life I’ve been that proverbial square peg trying to fit into a round hole. Being an introvert by nature, I crave time alone or with intimate small groups. I generally avoid large groups when I can and when I can’t, I generally feel socially awkward and out of place. At the same time, however, I love people. I really want to be on the inside, talking, interacting, and sharing; but, I generally feel so uncomfortable that for the most part I just can’t seem to fit in. Have you ever been there?

 

Through the years God has helped me to see who I am in Him, instead of what I may think about myself, or what others may think about me. So I really hadn’t thought about this for some time until just recently. My husband and I were on the way to a large city about 300 miles away where I was attending a writers’ conference for a new assignment. We were reminiscing about similar trips we had made through the years for other assignments when suddenly unbidden tears began to sting my eyelids. I remembered. Oh, how well I remembered. I could still recall how fearful I was on that very first trip – not so much over the assignment, but over the experience itself! Could I fit in? Would I be accepted? I could still feel the gnawing fear and worry I felt about being able to fit in.

 

But, I had no need to fear. It wasn’t so much that I was able to fit in, but I was accepted. I may have still been that square peg, but I didn’t feel the need to try to fit in or be what everyone else wanted me to be or thought I should be. I may not have been stylish or eloquent, or have the abilities of other writers, but I was accepted! Their acceptance was a precious gift to this square peg!

 

Paul told the Romans: We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: ‘The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.’ For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (Romans 15:1-7, NIV).

While I didn’t fully comprehend it then, now I understand that those dear Christians were simply modeling the love of Christ. They accepted me and encouraged me not because of who I was, but because of who Christ is.

I personally think that we probably look the most like Christ when we love others —

  • Without reservation
  • Without condition
  • Without preconceived notions and attitudes

And –

  • With acceptance
  • With forgiveness
  • With praise to God

 

Think of the way God showed His love for us. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Christ loved us unconditionally, even when we were still sinners. Do we love others – even our own brothers and sisters in Christ – the same way? Or do we dole out love based on our own pre-conceived notions of who is deserving of our love?

Still, today, I sometimes find myself wondering about what I need to do to “fit” in and be accepted. But, thankfully, Christ has helped me see that in Him –

 

  • I am chosen (John 15:16)
  • I am a child of God (John 1:12)
  • I am not condemned (Romans 8:1)
  • I am His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10)
  • I am redeemed (Ephesians 1:7-8)
  • I am a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19)
  • I am a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)

 

While I may not always fit in or be accepted by others, I know that in Christ, I am complete. He created me, square peg that I am – not to try to fit in – but to be the person He calls me to be and to love and encourage others with the same attitude with which He has loved me. As Jesus, Himself, stated: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34). In Christ, we can all fit – completely and perfectly!

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | October 15, 2014

A Time for Singing!

A Time for Singing!

 

IMG_0501_A

This Friday, October 17, my grandson will turn 1. We celebrated this momentous milestone this past weekend with his Mom, Dad, family and friends. To say there was much joy, laughter, and celebration would actually be an understatement. It was definitely a time for rejoicing!

 

As I watched Benji play, laugh, and pretty much “ham” it up for his adoring audience, I couldn’t help but think about one year ago as we waited for him to be born. We were all praying that he would make it safely into this world. My daughter-in-law’s pregnancy had not been without incident and we were all too mindful that almost one year earlier, we were gathering not in joy, but in tears, to say good-bye to my son and daughter-in-law’s first son, Silas, who was stillborn. It had been a rough couple of years.

 

But as I witnessed the sheer joy on my son and daughter-in-law’s faces as they celebrated this most precious gift, their son, I thought about the following Bible verse.

 

“For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.”

 (Song of Solomon 2:11-13)

 

All of us face times of winter, don’t we? The storms and rains may come to us through sadness and sorrow, serious illness or an unexpected diagnosis, struggles and hard times, or any other number of ways. During those times of winter, we are often confronted with doubts and questions as we cry and grope for answers and understanding. But as I’ve discovered, when I’m in the middle of winter, it’s hard to see the spring.

 

Yet, in my own trials, I have come to realize that while I may not always understand nor have all the answers to my questions, and while I may not be able to see the spring, I can know that spring will come. It may not appear as soon as I would like or it may not even look as I had envisioned it, but spring will come. How can I know that?  Because of faith!

 

Hebrews 11:1a reminds us: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” If you read through Hebrews 11, you quickly see that while some of the heroes 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 weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again” (Hebrews 11:33-35a); still others were tortured, mocked, scourged, imprisoned, stoned, sawn in two, tempted, slain with the sword, afflicted, and tormented (see Hebrews 11:35b-37). Yet these heroes of faith “all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13).

 

 

I’ve discovered that in those times when I’m in the middle of sorrow or difficulty, when I’m in the middle of winter and can’t see spring, I have an advocate before God who will quicken my faith and renew my hope. I love the Amplifed Bible’s translation of John 14:26.

 

“But the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will cause you to recall (will remind you of, bring to your remembrance) everything I have told you.”

 

When I feel helpless, defeated, broken, and without hope, the Holy Spirit becomes my Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby! He does what I can’t do. And, even more, He causes me to recall “everything I have told you” – all those precious promises that can help us once again see spring. And, sometimes, through our Father’s mercy and grace, we not only see the hope of spring. Sometimes our Heavenly Father blesses us with a little taste of spring right here on earth – when all we can do is sing!

 

That’s what my heart did last weekend as we celebrated Benji. And although its October and Fall is in the air, I’m thanking God, today, for spring. The winter is past and the time for singing has come!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | October 7, 2014

A God Who Cares

A God Who Cares

 

???????????????????????????????

This weekend we had to say our final goodbyes to our daughter’s sweet cat and constant companion for almost 15 years. The decision to have her put to sleep was not an easy one, but it became inevitable as her condition continued to deteriorate and she grew weaker and weaker. Although we all knew it was the humane thing to do, that didn’t make it any easier. In fact, it was just plain hard!

 

Each time we find ourselves having to say goodbye to one of our beloved family pets, I find myself thinking that perhaps we shouldn’t get another one. With all the sorrows and worries in this world, why put ourselves through just one more avenue to hurt and pain. But then I remember all the joys that these dear animals have brought into our lives – the warm snuggles, the unwavering acceptance, the individual personalities that work their way into our hearts and lives. And I know, in spite of how much it hurts when they leave us, our sweet furry friends are definitely worth every ounce of our emotional involvement.

 

While the Bible makes no mention of having animals as pets, we are told that God created all kinds of animals and that He “saw that it was good” (see Genesis 1:24-25).  In Genesis 2:19, we are told that God “formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air.” The word used for “formed” tells us that God took great care like a potter at work fashioning each animal He made.

 

The Bible also tells us that God cared for the animals He made. He was concerned about their food (Psalm 147:9, Matthew 6:26a); their need for rest (Deuteronomy 5:14); and the way they were treated (Deuteronomy 25:4; Deuteronomy 22:10). God gave man authority over the animals He created (see Genesis 1:28) and with that authority responsibility to care for His creation.

 

Do you every wonder why God created animals? When we read about creation in Genesis 1-2, notice that God transformed chaos into a world of light, beauty, and order – a world in which you and I can live. He took care of every detail and provided everything that man needed in order to live before He created man. There were lights in the heavens for day and night; water and dry land; plants and trees that provided food; fish, birds, and all kinds of animals. Surely, some of these animals were needed for work and later on for food, but I think God also created animals for our enjoyment. God made a world that could not only meet our needs, but that provided beauty and enjoyment. Before man was ever created, and before you and I were even born, we see a God who planned, prepared, and who provided for us – a God who cares!

 

Jesus taught His followers about God’s care. “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,  yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” (Matthew 6:25-29, ESV). Jesus reminded His followers that even in a broken, sinful world that God cared for His people and would take care of them.

 

God still cares for you and me, today.

 

  • He cares about our needs and He will supply them (see Matthew 6:25-29).
  • He cares about our fears and He will strengthen us (see Isaiah 41:10).
  • He cares about our weaknesses and He will give us grace (see 2 Corinthians 12:9).
  • He cares about our troubles and He will comfort us (see 2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
  • He cares about our tears and He will hear us (see Psalm 56).
  • He cares about our turmoil and He will give us peace (see John 14:27).
  • He cares about our failures and He will forgive us (see 1 John 1:9).

 

And …..

 

  • He cares about our lostness and He will save us (see John 3:16).

 

Although God made a perfect world, in His knowledge and wisdom, God knew we would mess up. So, He also planned for our salvation – even before we were ever born. Now, that’s a God who cares!

 

As I think about our great and awesome God, I am overcome that He cares so much for me. Surely, He cares about the big, important things in my life, but He also cares about the little things. Sometimes, I think that’s what overwhelms me the most. I’m amazed that such a great and mighty God who has all knowledge, power, and wisdom, cares about the little things I worry about, the small hurts that sometimes bring tears, and the weaknesses that trouble me that no one else sees. He sees, He hears, and He cares for me. And, sometimes, He reminds me of His care with simple joys, special blessings that I may not have even known I needed – like my daughter’s furry, little speckled cat who sometimes felt my tears, shared my chair, and warmed my lap. Thank You, God, for caring for me!

 

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | September 27, 2014

My Greatest Misconception About Following Jesus

My Greatest Misconception About Following Jesus

 

 

Living the Christian life has not always been what I thought it would be. No, I didn’t make my decision to follow Christ thinking that all my problems would be solved and that all my dreams would come true. Even as a youngster, before I ever committed to following Christ, I saw good, honest, hard-working Christians who didn’t always have it easy. So, somehow even as a child I knew that becoming a Christian did not mean that I would necessarily be blessed with earthly treasures and all good things. So that wasn’t a misconception I had about following Jesus.

 

Neither did I believe that becoming a Christian meant that God would love me more. Oh, I know – and am ever so thankful – that God loves me, but He doesn’t just love me because I decided to follow Him. He loved me first. He loved me before I ever really thought about becoming a Christian. He loved me when I was lost. And He loves me now, even when I mess up. There is nothing I can do to make Him love me more. He has already loved me enough to die for me. Again, somehow, even as a child I knew God loved me. I knew He loved all people. So that wasn’t a misconception I had about following Jesus.

 

To be sure, as a young Christian, there were many things I didn’t understand about the Christian walk. But as I think about my decision to follow Christ, I believe my greatest misconception was that I could do it! Oh, how I wanted to. I wanted to follow Jesus. I wanted to do what was right. I wanted others to see Christ in me. But, unfortunately, I didn’t always succeed. I would continually “turn over new leaves” trying to get it right. Just like making resolutions for the new year, I would vow that I would not lose my temper, not be provoked to jealousy or envy, only think the best of others, and so on depending upon whatever temptations Satan threw my way. Yet, time and again, I would fail.

 

Then one day I stumbled on 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” I couldn’t help but wonder. If I’m a new creation, if I have in effect been restored to what God planned for me to be, then why do I keep on stumbling? How can I live the Christian life?

 

I’m not sure when I finally got it, but, eventually, I realized that my decision to follow Christ was just the beginning – the jumping off point! When I made my decision to follow Christ, I was placing my life in Christ’s hands, surrendering it completely to Him. I was embarking on a journey – not by myself, but with Christ. I was entering into a relationship with the One who died for me and it was Christ who would work to transform me to look more like Him. Paul explained this process: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

 

Through this relationship that I have with Christ, He teaches me, guides me, and helps me to learn how to live the Christian life. I can’t become more like Christ in my own strength. No amount of sincere effort, starting over, trying harder, or resolving to do better can enable me to live that life. But just as I trusted Christ for my salvation, I also trust Him to change me, to work in me and help me to become more like the person God originally created me to be. It’s a process. I’m a work in progress.

 

But just as any relationship requires work, so does my relationship with Christ. If my husband I never talk to one another, spend time together, listen to each other, or seek to please and honor one another by the way we treat or talk about each other; we will grow distant in our relationship with one another. So it is with our relationship with Christ. Following Christ begins with a choice and a decision. But if we truly want to follow Christ and walk with Him, we must commit to not only trust Him for our salvation, but to also trust Him in every area of our lives.

 

When I trust Christ….

 

  • I rely on Him and not on my own understanding.

 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

 

  • I seek Him first and above all other people or things.

 

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

 

  • I follow and obey His teachings.

 

“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’” (John 8:31-32).

 

  • I study and come to know God’s word.

 

“The book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it” (Joshua: 1:8a).

 

  • I love God and love others.

 

“So He answered and said, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself’” (Luke 10:27).

 

  • I seek to honor Him by the things I say and do.

 

“Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21, ESV).

 

As a young, new believer, I didn’t fully understand what following Christ looked like. I thought it was all about me and what I did. But through the years, I’ve discovered that following Christ is so much more. As I seek Him and trust Him day-by-day, I have found a friend, a friend who…

laid down His life for me (John 3:16; 15:13),

who cares for me (see 1 Peter 5:7),

who helps and sustains me (see Psalm 55:22; Isaiah 41:10),

who guides and teaches me (see Psalm 32:8),

who comforts me (see 2 Corinthians 1:4),

who surrounds me with His presence (see Psalm 139:7-12),

who intercedes for me before the Father (see Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25),

who will never leave or forsake me (see Hebrews 13:5)…….

a friend who is with me for life, even unto death, and who will be waiting for me in Heaven – when I’ll finally be fully transformed into His image – not because I finally got it right, but because I know Jesus and He had it right all along.

 

“And be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.”

(Philippians 3:9)

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

Categories

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 109 other followers