This is my second year reading through the Bible. I’m not reading it for the second time. I’m not even halfway through the Bible. I’m slowly but surely reading through the Bible while still getting the most out of my reading.
The past several days I’ve been meditating on a phrase from the final verse of Psalm 48:
that this is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever. Psalm 48:14 emphasis mine
He will guide us forever.
Isn’t that beautiful?
Forever is such an interesting word. For me and my finite human brain, the word forever is ethereal and poetic. It is almost like a pretend, made up word. What does forever really mean? What does forever feel like?
There was a reference beside the word forever in the text, so I had to look at what was written about this beautiful phrase. The footnote read: Septuagint; another reading is (compare Jerome, Syriac) He will guide us beyond death
Now that really resonates with me. I am no stranger to death. I have had numerous loved ones die. I see death in the changing of the seasons. I also see death in more banal ways such as light bulbs going out and the blackening of my phone’s screen.
God will guide us beyond death! That is exciting. That gives more meaning to our life after this one. It also gives us reassurance that our trust exercises in this life on earth will help us in the next. God will be guiding us through it. No matter what we’re going through in this life or the circumstances we meet in the next, God is leading us. Jesus told us He would always be with us even to the end of the age, and it is even more comforting to know that God is guiding us from this life into the next.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27
These are the words Jesus spoke to His disciples before His arrest, before His crucifixion. How could Jesus be so calm? How could He tell His closest followers to not be afraid or troubled when He knew the horror of what was coming?
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
Because Jesus is God’s Son, He knew the BIG picture. He knew He had to die to save the world. In order to save you and me, He would die.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23
I cannot have a relationship with God without Jesus. You cannot know God without Jesus. Jesus is the only way. We cannot have eternal life without Him. We only have eternal death.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
There’s one catch. You. You have to pray. You have to trust. You have to admit that you are not perfect and you will never be perfect. You have to admit that you do the wrong thing. You sin. I sin. Everyone sins.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
Believing that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and for my sins will save you. Only then can you truly know peace.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7
Cupcake was playing in her Grandmother’s living room. I was mindlessly sitting there waiting on Hunny.
A little voice floated up to me, “Would you rather be a grown up or a doll?”
I’d rather be a doll.
“Why?” she asked, concern flashing in her giant blue eyes.
Everyone likes to play with a doll.
“Well, everyone looks at you and they see just a mommy, but when I look at you, I see a princess. When God looks at you, He sees a princess. He sees someone He can use.”
I was unprepared for the wisdom that spilled out of her. Thankfully, Hunny arrived in time for me to hide my tear brimmed eyes.
I don’t know how the world sees you. Maybe you’re just a mommy, just a student, just a co-worker, just a guy, or just a passenger. But you are more than that. You are never “just a -” to God. You are EVERYTHING to Him. Your worth is so high that He sent His Son to die for you. Your worth is beyond measure because God’s love for you is beyond measure.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerers through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37, 38 (emphasis mine)
Rest in His love and remember:
I saw an article about addiction on The Huffington Post website. In the article, the premise as to why some people become addicted to substances and others do not is because of their need to bond. According to the article, humans are bonding creatures that crave bonding so much that they will bond with substances if needed. It hypothesized that if people with addictions had families and friends that loved them and people who did not judge their actions, they would not use substances.
I was totally 100% in agreement with the findings of this article until God reminded me of someone. Someone who had a successful business. Someone who had a loving wife and loving children. Someone who was respected in social circles. This person had everything the article said a person should need to refrain from addiction and yet this person abused alcohol. This person was my Grandfather.
The one bond this person did not have is the one bond that can save him. It is the only bond that can save. It is the bond between us and God. A bond that can only be achieved through Jesus Christ.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me.” John 14:6
We can’t love anyone enough to help them. We can’t love ourselves enough to change. We need God to do that. We can’t get to Him without Jesus.
Why is it always your most well intentioned friend who cuts you down or throws you into a depression spiral?
One of my well intentioned friends messaged me on facebook (you know I love facebook!) that she had a miscarriage and that even though it was sad, her heart was now healed. I messaged that I am glad that she was happy but that I cried over her baby. I get a message back that I need to let God heal my heart and that I can’t go on like this and to promise her I will let God’s love heal me.
Am I not letting God heal my hurt? Is it my fault that I’m still emotional about miscarriages and lost babies? Am I defective?
I messaged her back. I recounted everything I had gone through and what God has already done to heal me. One of the things God did was free me from being afraid of sex. I was terrified that I would become pregnant and not survive a second miscarriage. I didn’t want to go through the literal hell I went through losing Jason. And I haven’t even shared the half of it.
Stories of drug addicts who welcome Jesus into their hearts and never touch drugs or alcohol again are fantastic stories of the awesomeness of God. Then you hear stories of people who are saved and battle addiction their whole lives. It is easy to think, Geez, that guy is doing it wrong. Maybe he’s not saved. Maybe he’s not letting God work in him.
But maybe something greater is happening there. Maybe the constant day by day struggle for survival makes that person dependent on God and dependable for God. Maybe that guy is growing and becoming more like Christ every second they flee from temptation. Maybe that guy’s treasures in heaven will outweigh his chaff. Maybe that guys struggles make him more accessible to a group God wants him to reach. Maybe that is God’s plan for him – to shine His love and His light and His glory into dark souls and the dark corners of the earth. Maybe the places he can reach cannot be reached by the guy who was instantly healed.
Emotional pain is difficult. Unlike physical wounds, you can’t see them. You can’t gauge how much longer it will take to heal. There’s no cast for broken feelings. We are all wounded soldiers: arms in slings, bandaged up, and limping through life. It is why God wants us to bear one another’s burdens and to share our joy and grief with one another. It helps healing.
I have been struggling to get into the Spirit of Christmas this year. I’ve cried more than I’d like to admit. I’ve been grumpy and irritable, but I’ve been trying to shake it. I know I’m grieving over the loss of my son, and now I’m grieving over the recent loss of a dear friend’s father.
I have tried everything I could imagine to regain the joy that Christmas brings. I decorated the house. Though truth be told, I only had the heart to put up a few decorations. The tree is up and my Grandmother’s Nativity is up. I have been listening solely to the Christmas music station while in the car. I point out all the Christmas lights to the Littles as we drive past them. I made myself watch It’s a Wonderful Life. I even agreed to attend a Christmas Cookie Swap, which I would not have done if a good friend had not invited me. Cookie swaps are the epitome of hard work for little to no pay off. You bake a bazillion batches of your favorite cookie and receive cookies you pawn off on others. I finally resigned myself to the fact that I am not going to get in the Spirit of Christmas this year. I decided that I was ok with that.
Then it happened.
I was shopping for a Christmas Party to be held at our church when I saw them. In a sea of Santa, reindeer, elves, and snowmen, I saw my Jesus. A lovely illustrated Nativity on a gift bag proclaiming, “The Prince of Peace is Born Today” (This was at the Dollar Tree, mind you, not a “Christian” store). And in an instant, I became joyful. I became hopeful. It reminded me that God will reveal Himself to us.
And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13
No matter what trials and tribulations you face this Christmas season, know that you can find Him when you truly seek Him. He will give you His joy, His peace, and His love.
Have you heard of Operation Christmas Child? The first time I did, Hunny and I were dating. Even though the organization had been around for fourteen years, I had never heard of it and I didn’t quite understand it.
Operation Christmas Child started in 1993 to help the children who were facing the effects of the war in Bosnia. It started as a way to show the Love of Christ through a simple gift box. Now over 113 million children have received shoebox gifts and countless lives have been changed.
National Collection week is a month away. It’s never too early to pray for the shoeboxes, volunteers, and families.
The 5th & 6th graders needed someone to fill in for their teacher on Sunday morning & I volunteered. They didn’t remember what they were studying last week and the curriculum wasn’t in the room. I listened as they talked among themselves and found an in: MOVIES. I had them name a movie, summarize the plot in one sentence, and share how that relates to the real world, the Spiritual realm. At one point, they were talking all at once and one student quoted Finding Nemo, “Keep swimming, keep swimming, keep swimming.” I was unable to elaborate on that because it was someone else’s turn to speak and before long we were discussing outcasts.
I want to encourage you to keep doing what you’re doing.
There will be times in our lives when everything goes wrong. You pray about it, you keep being faithful, and things do not improve. Months go by. Years go by. Nothing seems to change. Hardship after hardship rain down on you. You feel like you cannot make it one more day.
You can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13).
You can overcome.
Do not give up doing good (Galatians 6:9).
People are watching. You can be living proof that God is bigger than our circumstances. You can be an example of faith. You can show someone else that God is worth trusting (HE IS!). God is using you through your circumstances. The people around you are getting a front row seat to God’s majesty. When good things finally come our way, you can proclaim God’s faithfulness. You can be living proof that God’s word never fails.
Don’t complain (Philippians 2:14).
Even when times are tough, you are being used by God, the Alpha and the Omega, to shape eternity. Eternity, people! How can we complain when we have such an important role that stretches from this life on into the next?
Keep trusting. Keep praying. Keep swimming.
Many people I know are turning 30 years old. For some reason, this is a sad prospect to most people. They are no longer considered “young” by our youth obsessed culture and feel that their relevance is slipping. Dreams vanish. Life is over.
I don’t think so.
In Numbers Chapter 4, God chose people who were aged 30 – 50 years old to do one of the most important jobs: breaking down and setting back up the tabernacle. I know what you’re thinking: That sounds boring.
These people were moving the holy of holies. They were moving God’s throne on earth. This physical place was where God came to meet with Aaron and his sons, the High Priests. This was where the sacrifices happened. This is where blood atoned for the sins of the people. Since the Israelites were moving through the lands, the tabernacle had to come along.
The furnishings from the sanctuary were so holy that if the people accidentally touched something, they would die. They weren’t even allowed to look at these things. Automatic death. Aaron and his sons had to go in first and cover all the things in the sactuary before the Kohathites were to come in and move it. Other guys had to cover up the pieces of the tabernacle correctly and carry it to the next destination. That was a huge responsibility and an honor. I am sure that there were guys who were 29 years old wishing they were 30 and guys who were 51 wishing they were 50.
You have been given a similar calling. You are moving a tabernacle from place to place in order to help bridge the gap from this life to eternity. As a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, you carry holiness inside you: Jesus Himself and the Holy Spirit. You carry a tabernacle with you wherever you go. You can make it available to others or you can close it up. You can clothe it in righteousness or you can hide it.
God has a specific calling on your life that does NOT quit once you reach a certain age and it isn’t waiting for you to reach a certain age. It is now. It is being kind to a stranger. It is calling that family member. It is sacrificing your time to sit with a friend. Or sacrificing money to help out. It is being the arms of God to hug someone, the hands of God to feed someone, and the feet of God to walk with someone. It may sound boring, but when you change your view to look at it from the throne of heaven (God’s perspective), it is everything.
Yes, it’s the 20th of April and I am ten days behind. Between sickness and not having a laptop, it’s amazing that I’m not further behind. I am finally feeling well enough to sit up and type.
Today is Easter Sunday and I wanted to share what the first one was like. This scene is taken from John 20.
I love that Mary doesn’t recognize Jesus until He says her name.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. John 10:27
We are His! Hallelujah!