Now, what?

 

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Now what? I can’t see anything ahead.

My husband died on November 11, 2016. I was told we were near the end a week before his death. I could see the changes with my own eyes. So, why was I so unprepared? There had been many sleepless night and nights with only a few hours of sleep for years.  The last week was no different. At night I would lie across my bed to rest with my alarm set to wake me in 30 minutes in case I actually drifted off to sleep. I did not want him to die alone but I had to have a little rest. And there were the medications to give and other things…

And now? Now, the emotions overwhelm at times. I can’t stop the tears when they come. The relief I thought I would feel is there…but not to the degree I expected. I mean…it had been a hard journey, a very hard journey. He was dependent upon me for many years…in varying degrees, fully dependent the last few years. While I do feel relief that the end has come, I did not expect to feel so lost.

I knew who I was before his death. For many years I was a mother doing my best to raise my children to love God above all else. I was the wife who kept so much hidden from others — hiding the truth from them. Then the role moved into full-time caregiver. It was stressful but I knew who I was. Now the void. I don’t know who I am. Maybe it is the loss of feeling needed. Maybe it is all the changes and losses I have gone through in the last five years.  I really don’t know. I know I always expected to be taking care of him for many years to come…even before the diagnosis I knew I would be taking care of him in a different way than most wives. So, what does a caregiver do when it ends?

I know my children care about me.They simply do not understand. I think at times they wonder why I am not filled with more peace now that the journey is over.  I can barely explain it to myself so how can I begin to make them understand?

On numerous occasions I have said and I have written that our joy must be in the LORD, and that we must find delight in Him alone — meaning that we seek Him as our utmost delight so that if everything else were taken away we would still have joy. Someone might look at me now and think that I am not living up to what I have taught. They might be right….yet, truly He is my joy and delight. I am amazed at the love of The Savior and I am amazed at His beauty. So, why does my heart still ache and my tears flow so freely? Because the yearning of my heart is not for anything here…

To hear The King’s voice. To gaze upon Him. One day He is coming back. Until then I must find a new way to serve, a new mission. I must not believe that my useful days are in the past but simply look to Him for help as I search for what I should be doing while I wait for His return.

Now what? Even though I may not see what lies ahead. I see Jesus, The King. That is enough…more than enough. May He help me to find my way as I keep walking toward Him, and to find my identity in Him alone. I am learning that everything is tied to Him. Slowly I learn…slowly I move forward to make that knowledge a reality in my life. It is one thing to know; it is another altogether to practice it so that it changes who you are in every aspect of your life — your love, your joy, your purpose, and yes, your identity.

Yes, there is a struggle right now, a struggle I pray I will result in growth. But even in the midst of the struggle there is an ever abiding joy for He abides forever.  So, though the tears may flow at times, the joy remains.  Tears and joy until He comes. Then He will wipe away all the tears, and only the joy in Him will remain.

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In God Alone

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For several weeks I have been questioning my own heart. Am I longing for Christ to return because my circumstances are tough at times? If my circumstances suddenly changed and things were better, would my eyes still look up as often as they do now?

Am I praising God and telling others “God is good” because of all that He gives me? Is God good because he gives me things? Would I find Him just as good if all the things He has given me were suddenly taken away?

Do I truly love God? Why do I love Him?  Searching questions for the heart. Questions I have been pondering in my own heart.

On one particular Sunday morning I went to worship God but my heart wasn’t really in it. It has been some time since this happened but I can vividly recall what I was thinking. My thoughts were more on wishing my life was different rather than on the Great I Am.  I admit it. I wanted God to fix things in my life first, then I could be free to fully worship Him.  I know that is an awful admission. But God knows that is what was in my heart that day.

As I listened to the sermon, my mind slowly moved from wishing God would fix things to realizing I did not truly love God the way I should– at least not at that time. The preacher spoke of the Great Shepherd Who went searching for the one lost sheep, and of the great God He Is. He pointed out that Christ is the greatest treasure and ultimate satisfaction. As the sermon continued, my heart faced the truth that I was not satisfied with God alone. I wanted God plus a different set of circumstances. Ever been there? Are you there now?  I could say God was everything to me but it wasn’t true. God was not everything to me…not at that time. I could claim that to have God was all one needed but it wasn’t being lived out in my heart.  I cried out to God for forgiveness, and my heart found peace in Him alone…again.

My children are no longer little so they do not need me as they once did. I have been in a marriage that has been filled with so much pain through the years, and now I am caring for my husband who cannot communicate or care for himself,and whose condition does not allow me much freedom. It makes friendships difficult  I am lonely at times.  Yet, God is there– His constant abiding care and presence. I see it in so many ways. I know it is true because He promised to always be with His children, and He cannot lie.

Did you catch it? Wanting God plus something else –it is  there — still lurking beneath the surface of my heart. It was there that Sunday morning. I saw it. I thought I conquered it. But it was not a total surrender of the desire for God plus something else.

Now someone will say that it is not wrong to desire different circumstances in life, that if your loved one has cancer or some other illness or problem you will certainly desire for that to change. I understand. I agree. I am not saying it is wrong to desire different circumstances. It can be…if you are desiring it from selfish motives as I was, thinking only of my own loneliness or if you need your circumstances to change before you can be satisfied in God. One may be fully satisfied with God and still want circumstances to change but one cannot want circumstances to change before they are fully satisfied with God. In other words, am I fully satisfied with God if my circumstances never change? When I can say  “yes”, He is truly everything to me.

So, what is all of this about? What am I trying to communicate to you? Only that I am still fighting with these desires? No. I write this to offer hope that you and I can overcome our desire for God plus something else and find complete satisfaction in Him. There is a psalm that I have been studying for some time now that has helped me to see how to end this struggle…no, not once for all. But I know I can put this psalm into practice any time I find that I am not fully satisfied with God alone.

The psalm is Psalm 131. It is only three verses long but oh, the message in those three verses.

“O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.  O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore.” (Psalm 131)

Notice the flow of the psalm  It begins with the psalmist stating that he does not occupy himself with things too great for him. The idea here is one of contentment. He trusts the LORD. He turns his heart to the LORD. He  has”calmed and quieted” his soul like “a weaned child with its mother.”  It is important to realize that the psalmist quieted his own soul. It is within our power to quiet our own hearts. But the power to do so is due to the source of the psalmist’s contentment. He constantly turned his heart to his God. The psalmist paints a beautiful picture of a small child in his mother’s arms — perfectly content just to be there. A nursing baby is not always content to simply be held but a weaned child is very content in his mother’s arms, seeking nothing but the closeness of his mother. That is exactly what the psalmist finds in God — seeking only to be near God brings a calm and quiet heart of contentment which leads to the note of hope with which the psalmist ends his song.

So, how to put this into practice?  I have found that when I am not content, when I am  feeling burdened, lonely, confused or uncertain that if I turn my heart to the LORD and focus my mind on the LORD — upon His Greatness and His nearness–I can rest in Him the way a small child rests in his mother’s arms. A peace will begin to settle over my heart. It takes some effort to focus solely upon Him. It helps to be alone with the LORD in prayer and in His Word, but I have practiced this at times when it was not possible to be alone with the LORD. Some days I find I must run to Him often and quiet my soul with the knowledge of His love. It is a circle. We go to Him to quiet our souls and we find, “….he will quiet you by his love..” (Zephaniah 3:17)

We have the power to quiet our souls by going to Him as a small child seeking nothing but His nearness. We will find that He quiets us with His love in the same way a small child is quieted by the love of his mother.

Seek the LORD as a weaned child seeks his mother, wanting nothing but to be held in His love. The heart will find a quiet calm of contentment, and a hope that keeps one moving forward.

“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.” (Psalm 62:5)

Joy In The King

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This life abounds with blessings if we only have eyes to see. All people, regardless of their beliefs, enjoy many good gifts  from  the gracious Hand of God, The Creator.  All good things come from the Father (James 1:17).

Yet, most of the world drinks from His gracious Hand without acknowledging the One Who made it all. Many people have developed a heart of gratitude…but without gratitude toward God. How can one be thankful without being thankful to Someone?  It is a strange culture that teaches one should be thankful but fails to teach Who they should be thankful to.

However, these gifts should not simply fill us with gratitude toward God for the pleasure they give us. These gifts should always point us to the Giver Himself. The taste of a  delicious fruit should lead you to praise the Creator, and to a greater desire for HIM. The glowing sunset that leaves you almost breathless should leave you in awe of your Creator, and with a longing for Him. Love for another person that flows joyfully in your heart should cause your love for God to overflow and your joy in Him to increase. The gifts never fully satisfy because they are meant to leave us with a desire for soemthing more — for Him.

If the gifts fail to create a deep longing for God, we have missed the main point of the gifts.

Many people have made the decision to “choose joy” even in difficult circumstances because they have learned the secret that we can control and choose our attitude.  Feelings come uninvited but an attitude is developed by choice. But they have failed to learn the deeper secret…that the deepest joy and the only lasting joy is found in King Jesus. then I choose Him, I can find the deepest joy because I have chosen the Source of joy. God is completely and utterly joyful, and we can share in His joy.

So, how do we come to a deeper joy in The King and maintain that joy in Him through all kinds of days – good, exciting, difficult, troubled, heartbreaking — through all the ups and downs of life?  I think there are three keys that are fundamental to finding and to maintaining joy in The King.

The first key is: Desire for God.  We will not find joy in someone we do not yearn to be with or to know more deeply.

” My soul yearns for you in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks you”…(Isaiah 26:9a)

“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? ” (Psalm 42:1-2)

Psalm 45 presents a beautiful picture of The King. He is fairer than the children of men, and grace flows from His lips (Psalm 45:2)

He is mighty in His glory and power. He is noble in power but without pride. He is good and true. His arrows defeat the enemies of the King. He is a good and victorious king. (Psalm 45:3-5)

His throne is an everlasting throne, and He rules with honor (Psalm 45:6) The King loves righteousness. Therefore, God has anointed Him with the oil of gladness above all the other kings (Psalm 45: 7)

His beauty and goodness are seen even in His clothing. ” Your robes are full of the smell of all sorts of perfumes and spices; music from the king’s ivory houses has made you glad” (Psalm 45:8)

The question I must answer: Do I truly yearn for God?

The second key is: Awe….standing in awe of God.

Some time back I saw a Facebook post about an “awesome’ dessert. Our culture throws the word ‘awesome’ around on a regular basis.  But things are not awesome. People are not really awesome. Deity is the only true awesome.

Take time to consider the works of His Hand.  Read Isiah 40 on a regular basis.  Mediate upon His Greatness. Go outside. Look around you at the beauty His Hand created — the beauty of the clouds in the day, and the beauty of the stars at night.

Stand in Awe of Jehovah the King.

“Let all the world fear the LORD; let all the of the world stand in awe of him” (Psalm 33:8)

The third key is: Delight in the King

Yearning for God and standing in awe of Him will lead one to delight in Him. We cannot find joy in someone we do not delight in.

Do you delight in Him?  We find delight in all kinds of trivial pursuits and things but do we find our greatest delight in this glorious King?  Should it not thrill us and fill us with delight to know that the God Who created all things, who has all power and all wisdom, and all knowledge should love us and want us to share in His glory? How can we not take delight in God, in knowing He is our Father and King, our Protector and Gracious Redeemer?  What an awesome and wonderful God. What a wonder that He created us so that we could know Him!

Oh what a delight it will be to look upon this glorious King! What an awe it will be to stand in His presence!

Do you yearn for Him and for His return?

May we determine that each day we will  delight in Him, stand in awe of Him, and yearn for Him.

D…Delight

A…Awe

Y…Yearn

How beautiful, how beautiful,
The sight of Thee must be,
Thine endless wisdom, boundless power,
And awful purity!

Only to sit and think of God,
Oh, what a joy it is!
To think the thought, to breathe the name,
Earth has no higher bliss.

What rapture it will be,
Prostrate before Thy throne to lie,
And gaze and gaze on Thee! *

*from a hymn by Faber

 

Purity Of Heart

pink-1512231__180     Christians are told to guard our hearts and to live pure and holy lives.  Yet, we live in a time when entertainment is filled with violence, sexual content, nudity,  filthy language, and profane language that takes God’s name in vain. For those who make no claim to seeking God and wanting to be more like Him, watching a movie or a TV show, or playing a video game that includes these things may not create a problem. But for the Christian there is a huge problem in seeing a movie filled with these things. There is a disconnect between out claim to want to be holy and pure like God, and sitting in front of a screen to view a naked woman or a naked man. The claim that we long to be like God and see Him one day is not compatible with our actions.

John Piper * drives this point home  when he writes,

“I want to see and know God as fully as possible in this life and the next. Watching nudity is a huge hindrance to that pursuit. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). The defilement of the mind and heart by watching nudity dulls the heart’s ability to see and enjoy God. I dare anyone to watch nudity and turn straight to God and give him thanks and enjoy him more because of what you just experienced.

Jesus gave a warning that a man should not look at a woman with lustful intent, and the man who does this has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Do we really believe that seeing a naked woman on the screen — or a naked man — poses no desires to sin in the minds of Christians?   Can we imagine that Jesus Christ would say “go watch a naked woman or a naked man engaged in a sex scene on screen — that poses no threat to sinning with your heart…go and enjoy.”   Can you seriously imagine that He would say such a thing?”

Christians need to give serious thought to the language they hear in their entertainment. Are we really comfortable with the foul language? With the vulgar and coarse things that are said? Are we really comfortable with hearing the precious name of the LORD taken in vain?

We teach our children the song, “O’ be careful little eyes what you see. O’ be careful little ears what you hear. For the Father up above is looking down in love…”   Do we no longer need to be careful with what our eyes see or our ears hear once we reach adulthood?

We have the responsibility to guard our hearts because from our heart flows who we are.

Above everything else guard your heart, because from it flow the springs of life.–Proverbs 4:23

” A good person produces good from the good treasure of his heart, and an evil person produces evil from an evil treasure, because the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.”– Luke 6:45

May we all store up good treasure in our hearts, so that from that good treasure we can produce good for the Master. Let us determine to guard our hearts, to keep them pure, to live for King Jesus rather than following the crowd.

If we want to see God, we will guard our hearts and keep them pure.

* This reference to John Piper is not a full endorsement of all he writes or preaches.

What Is Your Desire?

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The story was told of a wife who was a Christian,and who wanted her husband to become a Christian. She had pleaded with him on many occasions but to no avail. He always seemed to turn a deaf ear to her pleadings.

One day in frustration she asked, “Why do you ignore my pleadings?”

He replied,  “Your life is no different from mine, other than you get up early on Sunday mornings while I sleep in. You laugh at the same jokes that I do. You watch the same movies I do. You get upset at the same things I get upset about. You worry about the same things I worry about. You want more stuff just like I do…honestly, honey, I just don’t see why I need to give up sleeping in on Sunday mornings. I mean other than that our lives aren’t any different.”

His wife opened her mouth to respond but stopped short….what could she say? Everything he had said was true. She wanted to say that those things weren’t important… She wanted to retort “no one is perfect” but knew she was only looking for an excuse.

So, she simply said, “I see”, and quietly walked from the room.

She went into her bedroom and knelt before the LORD. She cried, “Lord, how different do I have to be?” She knew where to find the answer. She opened her Bible. She began to study it in earnest.  Hours later she knelt again, and this time she prayed for forgiveness — not only for not being different from the world around her,but also for not really wanting to be different from the world. She saw the lack of love in her question : “Lord, how different do I have to be?”

Loving someone makes a person act differently. She could see that in other relationships but had been blind to that truth when it came to her relationship with the LORD. Loving God with all her heart would certainly lead to acting differently.

As the days passed by, she changed. No longer did she plead with her husband to become a Christian. When her husband wanted to watch a movie she was no longer comfortable watching, she quietly suggested another one or if he insisted, she would quietly say, “you watch it. I will study my Bible.”  When he was upset, she remained calm. When problems came, she was not anxious for she had learned to trust God.When he yelled at her, she no longer yelled back at him.

One day her husband came to her. “You are different,” he said.

“Yes,” she replied, “I am.”

The story I am told is a true one. I know the first time I heard it, I was struck by the husband’s description of his wife. I had to look at my own life. How different am I from the world?  Does God really make a difference in my life?  I mean a real difference. Am I anxious and worried about the future? Does my temper flare at little things? Are my words uplifting or do my words tear down?  Can people see a difference….or is the only difference…the world sleeps in on Sunday mornings while I get up, and “go to church.”

Am I playing at being a Christian or pursuing a life of holiness?

How different DO I have to be?

“As obedient children, do not be shaped by the desires that used to influence you when you were ignorant. Instead, be holy in every aspect of your life, just as the one who called you is holy.For it is written, ‘You must be holy, because I am holy.’ ”  (1 Peter 1:14-16)

How different do I have to be? Notice Peter wrote “do not be shaped by the desires that used to influence you..”  What desires? The desires that shape the world around us: the desire for more and more things, pride in the things I own and in my accomplishments, the desire for entertainment, the desire to get the last word in an argument, the desire to get my way, the desire to be noticed …all summed up by the apostle John in these words, “…the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life…” (I John 2:16)

Instead of being shaped by these desires, we are told: “You must be holy, because I am holy.”  God is holy. To know what holiness looks like, I look at God. I learn from Him, and then I start living like Him in every aspect of my life.

To be shaped by the world’s desires is foolish for the world is passing away along with its desires. (I John 2:17)  To be shaped by the desire to be like The Great I AM is to abide with Him forever. (I John 2:17)

I must look into my heart. What do I desire?  A passing life of worldly desires or eternal life with Deity. My desire will shape who I am becoming…more like the world or more like the God of Heaven and Earth.

Do I truly desire God? My life will reveal the answer.

 

Let’s Celebrate!

thU79P1464 My husband has Frontotemporal Dementia. And, no I am not celebrating that fact. Keep reading, please. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this brain disease, let me give you a brief sketch. This brain disease destroys a person’s ability to communicate and the ability to understand language. It also destroys a person’s ability to reason. One variation of the disease causes strange behaviors and obsessive compulsive disorders. Now, that is a simplified overview of the disease but it will give you a better understanding of our daily life.

My husband has an obsession with opening kitchen drawers…and shutting them…and opening them. He has an obsession with finding packages of food in the cabinet that he can open and pour on the floor, dump in the kitchen drawers, or carry around to other parts of the house and hide…  He also likes to take things out of the trash can at times and place on the kitchen counters or other places in the house… Did I mention at times he likes to pour the bottle of water someone left out on the counter in the kitchen drawers or pour out the half empty coffee cup I forgot and left sitting on the counter?

I know I was not out of the room more than three minutes…only to return to find…that  he had found the package of M & M’s that I had hidden — the one I share with my sweet granddaughter when she visits — all scattered across the floor.  A recently opened package I might add. It looked like the floor was decorated in them. At least it was colorful. Kitchen drawers were standing open. Coffee was running down the counter. Yep, I forgot my coffee…again.  Empty boxes from the trash lined one side of the kitchen counter. And then I noticed the hand towels in the kitchen drawer were all wet — he found that bottle of water someone left on the counter.

What was my reaction? I would love to tell you that I calmly took the broom and began to sweep up the M & M’s — that melt in your mouth not in your hand delicious chocolate. I did pick up the broom. I did calmly begin to sweep….for about 3 seconds. Then I threw the broom on the floor and started to cry…and to rail against life.  Words tumbled out — words like “I can’t take this another second”….”no one really cares”….yeah…I know. Not good.  I was having a  party. A nice little pity party, and maybe not so little at that.

My youngest son gave me an odd look — something like a “where did you come from” look which upon reflection I was thankful for because hopefully that means he doesn’t see me like that on a regular basis (thankfully).  He attempted to point out some flaws in my thinking which at the moment only seemed to add to my feelings of despair.

I left the room in a hurry to be alone … just me and my pity.  Isn’t a girl allowed to feel sorry for herself just a little bit without having to feel so guilty about it??  I mean after all it is tough at times…and the morning had started on a bad note…surely, I have a right just to sit here and feel sorry for myself. Why do guys (even 16 year-old sons) have to be so logical ALL the time? I guess it really is true that a pity party is a party of one. My son sure wasn’t coming to my party.

Then the truth came rushing in. Instead of a pity party I should be having a celebration — a real party. I not only have tons of blessings in the way of family and friends — I have the ultimate blessing of God Himself. What do I have to moan and to complain about?  My LORD left the glories of heaven to come to earth so that He could overcome sin and its effects, and to show us the true meaning of life. What are my little difficulties compared to what He endured for me? What are these light afflictions compared to the glory that is to come?

Now that is the best reason to have a party.  A celebration of the greatness of Deity! To know that one day  Christ the King is coming back and while I wait I get to wake up to a beautiful creation….I get to love my family….and I get to eat M & M’s with my sweet granddaughter…well, as soon as I go to the store and buy another bag to hide in a new hiding place.

And the  best and the greatest gift of all — I get to walk with the King of kings every day.  I can approach Deity in prayer. I can read His Word and find joy, comfort and hope, and assurance that He is always with me. I get to worship Him!  Now that is the best gift of all…while I wait for Him.   He is everything!  And when you have everything, you have nothing to complain about!

So, let’s celebrate. Let’s celebrate that the King lives forever, reigns forever, and He is the ultimate joy of life. This King is coming!  And when He comes — what a day that will be. Now that will be a celebration like no other.

Now to find my son and apologize….and find a broom…and a mop, and cleaning cloths.

Study To Be Quiet

thWWFPWO5D The apostle Paul wrote by inspiration,

“And that you study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you.”  (I Thess. 4:11)

Let’s explore the phrase “study to be quiet.”  Is Paul instructing us to simply talk less? While it is true that, “when words are many, transgression is not lacking…”(Pro. 10:19), I do not think that is the main point of the instruction. The phrase “study to be quiet” can be translated as “aspire or make it your goal to live quietly”.

How does one learn to live quietly?  To study something is to set the mind or thoughts upon a subject. The same can be said when we aspire to something or make something our goal. Whatever we study or make our goal, we must dwell upon and fix our mind upon. We must work diligently at the goal we have set.

Quiet means to be still; to refrain; or to be in a state of rest. The word also means to be free from alarm or disturbances, peaceable, not turbulent, contented, calm and not agitated, smooth and unruffled.

Putting these words together we learn that to study to be quiet is to work diligently to set our mind to be calm, to be free from disturbance or alarm. It is to find a place of tranquility and quiet rest.

But how?  We live in a time of uncertainty and unrest. People fear for the future of our country. It is easy to become disturbed at things that are happening in our world — in our own corner of the world as well as the world at large.

For the person committed to Christ and His sure and precious promises, the answer is quite simple. I must remember to focus upon Christ. I must constantly be aware that He is on the throne. Christ is King of kings. He is over all. We are subjects of the everlasting kingdom.  To set my mind on the joy of knowing Him, and to set my mind upon His everlasting kingdom will do away with the agitation and concern I feel when I look at the world around me.

Calm can reign in my innermost being when I set my thoughts upon Christ Jesus. Study to be quiet — to live quietly — means that I make Him the center of my life, that I am aware of His abiding presence at all times. Christ Jesus, the King of kings, brings peace and joy to my troubled soul because I understand that belonging to Him places me in a secure place no matter what is taking place around me.

May my daily prayer become: “Lord, help me to grow this place of quiet rest in my heart where you reign Supreme so that I may live quietly before others.”

 

 

The Wonder Of It All

12417839_536619703172051_3533392532454891213_n (2) Have you ever stopped to think about the wonder of everything around you?   Have things including life itself become too ordinary — too mundane, too stale?

Jesus told His disciples that “unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3) . The immediate context is a lesson in humility. Children are not filled with pride and worldly ambition. C. S. Lewis saw even more here,  and I think he was right. He saw that children are willing to take risks, and explore. They wonder at things.  Christians must be willing to risk their lives serving God. Christians should look at the world with newness and freshness, to explore His world and wonder at all He has given us.

How do we get past the mundane to the wonder of it all — the wonder of it all is that the world doesn’t have to be the way it is — in fact, it doesn’t have to be. Life itself is a gratuitous gift from a loving Creator. Can we let our eyes  look beyond the mundane routine of life, the hurts inflicted by others, and the uncertainties of life and see some wonder in each day?

Truly there are no ordinary things. If we can only open our eyes wide enough, we can see –.the sun coming up in the morning, the beauty of the sky, the trees, the flowers, the smell of fresh rain, that fresh cup of coffee or glass of refreshing water, that delicious meal, your favorite dessert, the gift of electricity, a hot shower,  your home, the small child that waved at you in the grocery store, your own children or grandchildren,  singing,  the good book you are reading, the gift of laughter — and the list goes on and on. Pause throughout the day. Enjoy your food. Reread the paragraph that made you think or made you feel happy.  Be thankful to the loving Creator. Wonder at the things around you and let the wonder always point you to the gracious Creator.

And wonder at the greatest wonder of it all — the good news of Jesus Christ. All good news has the character of surprise. The good news of Jesus the Christ is no different. Aren’t we surprised each time we read the story or hear it told?  Surprised that the Creator came and rescued His creation from sin and death? That the Creator was willing to die on the cross for us?  Yes, the word gospel means good news, and it is indeed good news. It is the good news about Christ and His kingdom — about His coming again!  In a world of darkness the good news is Light.

Yes, the world is sinful. But Christ has the power to change everything. Isn’t that exciting? The gospel is good news. Good news. The majority may reject it. They may love darkness rather than the light. But the gospel is still the good news of King Jesus.

Christ has the power to change our mundane lives and give them meaning and excitement. The King is coming! Can there by anything more exciting than that truth?

He is the true wonder of it all and He is coming!

 

 

Be Patient. Who, Me?

th65KSFPQQ  How would you respond if a friend told you to “be patient” in the midst of a very trying situation?

That was the message that James sent to some Christians who were being mistreated by the rich (James 5:7-11). The rich were oppressing them. Wages were being withheld, and the text indicates that some were being oppressed to the point of death. Wealth and power are to be used to help others to the glory of God not for evil purposes as these rich men were doing.

By inspiration James writes “be patient” – to endure the trials without grumbling and without comparing their circumstances to those around them, especially their oppressors who seemed to be getting away with their wicked deeds.

However, James doesn’t just exhort them to be patient or long-suffering under their trials. He puts the exhortation in its proper context – be patient until the coming of the LORD; His coming is near. Everything finds its proper context in the LORD. The LORD will take care of the wicked when He comes. The LORD will put everything right at His coming.

Contextually, the coming of the LORD here finds an immediate application to His coming in judgment upon the Jewish nation that took place in A.D. 70. God used the Roman empire to bring judgment upon the Jews for their rejection of the Messiah. The Romans were merely an instrument in the hand of God. God’s judgment brought some relief to Christians from persecution and oppression by the Jews who rejected the Christ.

There is also a second application to His return to judge the world (Acts 17:31) and destroy every rule and authority, and to give immortality to those who belong to Him (I Cor. 15)

They did not know when the LORD’S final coming would take place, and we do not know the day. Therefore, His coming is near because it could be any time. It could be today or tomorrow or even in the next moment. We are eagerly looking for our Savior who is our hope. (Titus 2:13)

James exhorted them to remember Job whose faith remained strong in His God even during severe trials that God allowed Satan to inflict upon Job. Satan had thought Job only served God for the blessings. How very wrong he was!

Trials test our faithfulness to God. Are we seeking God or do we seek His gifts only? Yes, God rewards us. God Himself is our great reward. Job sought God. His faith in God was not destroyed when the blessings were taken away.

When Job’s friends came to visit him, they did not even recognize him. How much his appearance must have changed! The boils tormented his flesh and the sorrows marred his countenance! What misery they must have read in every line of his face – what depth of anguish and sorrow must have filled his eyes. They sat in silence for a whole week in the face of such pain and grief.

Job’s trials came to an end, and the LORD blessed him for his endurance. We read,

So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning…” (Job 42:2)

Job’s life teaches us that in the end all will be made well. God rewards endurance. It may not come in this life. But the reward will come. The curse will be fully removed with Christ’s coming. The latter end will be more glorious! We will gaze upon the King who died for us. All heartaches, all sorrows, and all cares will flee.

Problems come to all of us. But Christ gives purpose to our suffering. He is glorified through us when we endure trials with patience, looking to Him for the strength we need. He is glorified through us when we acknowledge His sovereignty in our life and serve Him with gladness amidst the trials of life. He is glorified through us when others see that nothing in this life can cause us to turn away from our LORD.

When trials come your way, focus on Him. Focus on bringing glory to Him through your suffering.

In those moments when life threatens to pull you down, look up to Him and look to Tomorrow. Tomorrow is coming – a tomorrow when all is made right.

There is not one sorrow, not one heartache, not one trial that we endure that the LORD doesn’t stand with us and for us. Not one. Burdens are not to be lightly brushed away as if they are nothing. We hurt. We cry out to God. But these trials become light when we use them to His glory and compare them to the eternal weight of glory in Christ that awaits us. The reward far, far, far outweighs the trials we are called to endure (2 Cor. 4:17-18). We must keep Christ before our eyes, and know that all trials here are brief and light compared to eternity with Him.

Whatever the trial, look up. Be patient. Who, me? Yes, me! Why? That He may be glorified through my life.

Remember – The LORD is coming! All will be made right in the end which is truly The Beginning. God will dwell with us forever. What immeasurable joy!

Our Brokenness

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Have you ever seen your own brokenness?  Dr. John Monroe writes:

“The less you see your own brokenness the more broken you are.”

There is great truth in those words. Look with me today at the account of a woman who vividly saw her own brokenness.  In Luke 7:36-50, we read of Jesus entering the house of a Pharisee and reclining at the table. A woman enters the house.  This woman is a sinner. She has learned that Jesus is in the house, and she wants to see Jesus.

She enters with an alabaster vial of perfume. The woman takes her place behind Jesus near His feet. See her humility. She is weeping.  Her tears fall from her eyes upon the feet of the Messiah. Not just a few tears but enough to wash His feet!  She dries His feet with her hair, and kisses His feet as she anoints them with the perfume she brought as an offering of her love for the Messiah. The gift is also an acknowledgement of His greatness,  an acknowledgement of her need for forgiveness and of her own brokenness.

What a marvelous picture of one who sees the brokenness of her own life due to sin! The Pharisee doesn’t get it. He is blind to his own brokenness. He has no needs. He is too full of himself. He is self-righteous and looks down upon this broken woman weeping at the feet of Jesus, and all he sees is someone who is a sinner…not at all like him…or so he thinks.

Jesus asks the Pharisee who loves the most, the one who is forgiven little or the one who is forgiven a huge debt. The Pharisee  answers that the one forgiven the most will love the most, and Jesus tells him that he has judged correctly. Does this imply that we should become great sinners so that we can receive more forgiveness in order to love God more?  No. That is not the lesson. The lesson is that we all — every single one of us — is broken and in need of great forgiveness. Some of us are totally blind to the need for forgiveness from sin.  Some of us believe our sins are “little” and we aren’t really “that bad” so we believe we have been forgiven little. We just barely need savng..so we think. Thus, we love little. Some of us see how truly broken and needy we are no matter the sins we have committed because we know the truth that sin brings death — even those sins we consider “little.”   The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Any sin. Let that sink deep into our hearts. Sin has destroyed our lives.  Sin has left us broken. We don’t need to go out and greatly sin in order to greatly love. We just need to come to the realization that all sin against God is a great debt…so when He graciously forgives us, we understand the greatness of that forgiveness.

When we see our great brokenness, come falling at His feet, confessing our sin,  and weeping at the feet of the Savior by being immersed into Him through faith in Who He IS (Colossians 2:11-12) , we are made whole by the Great Physician. You  can’t be made whole outside of Christ. You can’t get into Christ without being immersed into Him (Romans 6:3-5; Galatians 3:26-27).

When we submit to Him, we are no longer broken people. But we must continue  to  acknowledge our faith in the Christ of the cross every moment of our life, and continue to acknowledge that we are dependent creatures not independent ones. We must never become self-righteous. We are to live whole lives in order to glorify Him. He makes the difference in our brokenness!!!!   He can and He will  make the difference in our lives if we lean upon Him. We are whole when we look to Him for all our needs, when He truly becomes our everything. He is a God who does not simply mend us — He makes us new (2 Corinthians 5:17). He is more than a God of second chances. He gives us a new beginning in Him! Praise Him for the new life you have in Him!

Daily -moment by moment – acknowledge your dependence upon Him to remain whole in Him. We must admit we are broken in order to be whole. Never lose sight of this great truth.

Jesus spoke these words to the woman as she left, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

We come weeping to Jesus, all broken from sin, and we  can “go in peace”  because we no longer walk in the brokenness of sin but with The Great Physician. To go in peace is to continue to walk with the Master. Never leave the only ONE who makes you whole.

Graciously thank Him for taking you, broken from sin, and making you whole.