Thirsty Thursday: Beyond Death

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

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.

Thirsty Thursday: Forgiven Much

I have two newly pregnant friends. One is married. One is not. I have been sharing as much as I can with both of them, because being pregnant is hard and scary and everyone deserves support. I’ve been through some serious stuff, so I know I have the ability to be a comfort. I message them both with things that are relevant to pregnancy and sent both of them Mother’s Day cards. One is extremely thankful and the other one doesn’t give me the time of day.

Which one would you guess is the thankful one?

It is not the married one.

I am not reaching out to these pregnant ladies for applause or for attention. I do not expect any thanks. I am doing it out of a genuine hope to be helpful and ease the pain of a stressful time. But it brought something to mind.

Jesus was invited to dinner at an important, religious man’s house named Simon. While they were dining, a woman who was known to have a bad reputation, came into the house. She cried so hard at Jesus’ feet that His feet got wet. She wiped His feet with her hair, kissed His feet, and even broke an expensive bottle of perfume and poured it on His feet. Simon thought, If Jesus was who people say He is, He would KNOW who this woman is and He would NOT let her touch His feet.

Jesus then told him a story about two people who owed debts. One owed 500 denari and the other owed 50. Neither could pay their debt, so the moneylender decided to cancel their debts. Then Jesus asked him which he thought would love the moneylender more. The religious man answered that he thought it would be the one who had the greater debt.

You have judged rightly. Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven–for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.Luke 7:43b-47

When I was younger and dumber, I mean, less perceptive, I thought, Oh no! I don’t sin that much, so my love for God isn’t going to be great.

Wow.

I would find it funny if it weren’t so shamefully embarrassing.

I read that we have on average 82,000 thoughts a day. Let’s say all your thoughts for a single day are sinful. Jesus paid the price for 82,000 sins. Let’s say your thoughts are sinful for a week. That’s 574,000 sins that Jesus paid for with His blood. Let’s say your thoughts are continually sinful for a month. 2,542,000 sins covered by Jesus. Let’s go crazy. We’re going to suppose your thoughts are sinful for a full calendar year, 365 days. Jesus wiped away 29,993,000 sins through His death on the cross.

That’s just thoughts, people! I’m not even going into words you say or actions.

I know that I wrestle with my thoughts on a daily basis.

We should not let our socially acceptable sin blind us to the fact that they are sins and that we are sinners in need of a Savior. We all have fallen short. We all have been forgiven much. Don’t let pride get in the way of seeing how good you really aren’t and how great God really is.

Thirsty Thursday: Socially Acceptable Sin

Sexual sin as a whole used to be social taboo in puritanical North America. Unwed mothers used to give their babies up for adoption, leave them on doorsteps of churches, or have their families raise them as a sibling. Marital infidelity was something shameful and if such a behavior were found out, it would cost the adulterer their job or their position or even an election as a political official. Homosexuality was seen as perversion. No one would admit to being homosexual and if they did, a person could be arrested or worse. All manners of sexual sin are socially acceptable today. The only two I can think of that are not socially acceptable are bestiality and incest.

My sin is socially acceptable. No one can see or hear my thoughts. Because of this, I am perceived as a “perfect person.” As a “model citizen” no one is going to point their fingers at me or wave signs of hatred in my face. My doubts and my fears go under the human radar, but blip loudly on God’s.

All sin is unacceptable to God.

ALL sin.

That is why Jesus had to die for us. God cannot associate with sin. So when you’re sitting over there lusting at the girl behind the counter, God sees it. When you think mean things about a family member, God hears it. When you break the laws of the land by surpassing the number on the speed limit sign, He knows. And it hurts Him. Having sex with your boyfriend is practically encouraged in American society, but you are disobeying God and breaking His heart. Only Jesus can wash your sin away.

Jesus has washed my sin away, and I ask for forgiveness when I stumble. I ask for forgiveness when I am not faithful. He is just to forgive me every single time. Have you asked Him to wash your sins away? He can even take your socially acceptable sin.

Thirsty Thursday: Peace

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

Thirsty Thursday: The Greatest Bond

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.

Thirsty Thursday: Finding Christmas Spirit

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.

Photo on 2014-12-18 at 15.02

Thirsty Thursday: A Word on Pain

Hunny and I have been through more hardships in the almost six years we’ve been married than the average person experiences in a lifetime. There have been times when I wondered why God kept allowing pain into our lives. I wondered why God did not intervene on our behalf.

But He did.

By allowing pain in our lives, God has shaped Hunny and me into more compassionate people. We are more loving people. We are more forgiving people. How could we be reflections of our Father in heaven without being loving, forgiving, and compassionate? It would be impossible.

Paul wrote to the Romans:

For I consider the sufferings of this present time (this present life) are not worth being compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us and for us and conferred on us! Romans 8:18 (Amplified Bible)

Paul knew a thing or two about pain. He was shipwrecked, stoned, beaten, and jailed. He felt like his sufferings were nothing compared with knowing Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:8).

Besides, I am not the only person on the planet going through a hard time. The Bible says that as Christians, we should bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). How can we help someone else if we’ve never been through difficulty? How can we support someone, how can we show God’s love to someone, how can we encourage someone if our lives are always perfect? Who would be able to relate to us? No one.

You may be going through a difficult time in your life. Look at it as the blessing it truly is, because when this storm is over, you’ll be able to help someone else through their storm. God will use you to be His arms to hug, His feet to go, and His mouthpiece to speak life and truth and love.