Believe 

Don’t you love the way God speaks into our hearts at just that perfect moment?  He provides comfort to us. He prepares us to be right where we need to be for a blessing, and then sends blessings our way.  Oh, how I marvel at His detailed love for me! 

Tomorrow, marks 28 years ago that my husband and I were pummeled with horrible news. We were told our fourth child, a beautiful 9lbs 4oz baby daughter would not be born alive. Through fears and tears, and all the agony of birth, I painfully delivered our still born little girl. Some of you know this pain. Thankfully, most of you don’t.

It was on a stunningly, colorful Fall day that we laid her tiny little casket to rest in the cemetery on that hill overlooking a small New England town. A memory etched in my mind still, with a sting in my heart that has certainly healed with time. Healed, but never forgotten. 

Autumn is here again. So, naturally this time of year always brings my thoughts back to sweet baby Mary Sharon. Her chubby little body, fat fingers and a nose exactly like her daddy’s. Oh, if you only knew. 

When I remember her, I think of Heaven. I know I will see her alive, because I put my trust in Jesus. Similar to what King David said in 2 Samuel 12:23b, “I will go to her but she will not return to me.” Being assured that I will go to her one day, has made all the difference in healing. I am grateful for scripture verses like these.

God in His faithfulness, has again reminded me that He has not forgotten. He knows what this week holds for me. He, in His sovereignty, has me and my bible study girlfriends smack dab in the middle of a chapter full of the promises of heaven. Tonight, this is the place in scripture where our study begins.

Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.” John 14:1-4  

I smile as I write, because of His faithfulness to be ever tender and always kind in His ways. He didn’t have to remember me this week, but He chose to. He is incredible! He always looks for ways to lavish His love on us. He never forgets His girls. Ever!   

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You Choose, You Decide

The other day a speaker was talking about his favorite poem. I listened a little more closely because the poem he talked about was my favorite during high school. It was “The Road Not Taken,” by Robert Frost. More than 37 years have past since high school.

As I listened to this man speak, I could relate. With all the different opportunities available, it is difficult to decide which way to go. Life is full of numerous different paths, but I must choose the ones I take. 

Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

God’s Word is the standard for people. It’s like a plumb line to keep those who obey it straight. The Bible illuminates wisdom to help in our decision making and keeps us headed in the right direction. It shows the way to go.

Our Creator designed people with the ability to make choices. It’s not so much which path we choose to take, but how we live as we walk down that path that really matters.

He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

In light of the requirements of God listed above, doing righteousness, loving kindness, and living in humility, (YIKES! That’s quite a list), it is comforting to know the One who walked it perfectly and to trust in Him alone to lead the way that I am to go.

Thomas said to him … How can we know the way?” (John 14:5b)

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

The choice is ours. Who are we going to trust in to get us the approval of The Father, ourselves and our own righteousness and humility, or in Jesus and His? I have made my decision. I choose to trust in Jesus. Now you choose. You decide.

Exhausted and Cranky

Sometimes I am so physically wiped out at the end of my work day that I feel like I can not do another thing. There are times when I get up in the morning and wonder how I will make it through the day. During these times when I am exhausted I can easily become cranky. I just want to be left alone. I want my own space. I become consumed with me. How selfish I can be. This morning as I sat at my table for a few minutes before heading off to work I was reminded where my strength comes from.

I love you, O Lord my strength.  Psalm 18:1

As I sat thinking about Jesus and meditating on my love for Him, I wondered how often He must have been physically exhausted. We are told in scripture there were times throughout Jesus’ ministry that He needed to pull away and rest.  During one occasion, a severe storm was overtaking the boat He was in. Though seasoned fisherman were terrified Jesus was sleeping through the wind and waves. Why? He was exhausted. 

The gospels tell us that great crowds were always following Jesus. 

The constant pressure of people must have been draining. Yet, each time He saw the masses, He met them with compassion. He was never cranky or short fused. Instead, Jesus was unselfishly concerned for and devoted to the welfare of others. He saw their needs and brought life and hope to them, always. Even when He was physically tired.  

When I realize that an exhausted Jesus responded perfectly to others, it reminds me that I should be careful to imitate Him. He does not condemn me, He strengthens me. He knows my weaknesses. He understands tired.

We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  Hebrews 4:15-16

I can confess my sin of selfishness to God and receive strength from the mercy and grace that only Jesus can give. I love you O Lord my strength!

What if The Gift is God Himself?

The last several weeks I have been studying the subject of prayer. One of the books I have been reading has several quotes. The quotes were written by different followers of Christ throughout history. One of them posed a question.  

What if praying means opening ourselves to the gift of God’s own self and presence?

Hmm! What if God Himself comes to me when I pray? I’ve been pondering this for some time now. When I think about God coming to me and residing with me, it’s extremely humbling. To realize this truth is incredible. Throughout scripture God’s Word reminds me of His desire to come to me. God Himself desires to be near me, to abide with me. He wants intimacy with me, with us. Amazing! 

God wants to relate with us and the relationship He desires is realized in the Messiah, Jesus Christ. That’s why Jesus came to earth. Jesus Himself has brought us intimacy with God through Himself. 

“The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, ‘You are a priest forever.'” This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant. Hebrews 7:21b-22 

He (Jesus) holds His priesthood permanently, because He continues forever. Consequently, He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:24-25

In the past, a human priest offered prayers and interceded for the people of God. But now, Jesus Himself intercedes for all those who draw near to God.

 Intimacy with God happens when I quiet myself and bring myself to pray. Because of Jesus, God the Father leans in, He comes close and I find a sweet place of fellowship with my Creator. Pondering these truths brings me to a place of worship. My soul sings. Christ in me, the Hope of glory! 

Good is From Above 

Have you noticed that when hard times come people often are quick to blame God? Whether a personal storm like a divorce or something public like a hurricane, many look toward heaven with fingers pointed and condemnation on their lips. It usually sounds something like this, “If God did (fill in the blank) I want nothing to do with Him.” It’s heart breaking to witness people fall into this clever trap the devil sets to lie against God.

The book of James warns us about the tempter and his evil deception. 

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial. For when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is being tempted , “I am tempted by God,” for God can not be tempted with evil and He Himself tempts no one” (James 1:12-13).

God’s Word is clear. It is not even possible for God to cause evil. The evil things we experience do not come from God. It is actually the complete opposite.

“Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights., with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:16-17).

It is every GOOD gift and every PERFECT gift, never evil, that comes from above. God IS good. Good is His nature, His character. It is who He is.

If we look, we will see the goodness God gives to people in life’s storms. Sometimes, it’s the heros rescuing people from the flood waters, financial help for someone who has lost a job, or it is a hug and a shoulder to cry on for someone going through a personal storm.

We must believe the truth, the everlasting Word of God. We can counter much of the deception by reminding ourselves God gives good, not evil. Let’s be careful to acknowledge and proclaim to people “that good thing right there, THAT was a good gift that comes from God.”

Sealed With a Promise

Here it is only the end of August and already there is a chill in the early air. The cool weather reminds me of fall at my grandparents farm as a little girl. During the harvest, Gram was often busy canning vegetables. I know very little about canning, however, I do know that the sealing process is extremely important. Without a proper seal on each jar, the contents inside will leak out or take in air and spoil. The seal insures everything on the inside will be okay for future use.

In the letter to the Ephesians we are reminded that those who lean on, trust in and rely on Jesus Christ alone for salvation are sealed in Him. 

“In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation — having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance with a view to the redemption of Gods own possession, to the praise of His glory”  (Ephesians 1:13-14).

God gives His Holy Spirit, to those who believe His message of truth, as a promise, like a man gives an engagement ring to his future bride. The presence of God’s Spirit in us, testifies to us that we are His. He will not forget us. We are guaranteed of His return for us. He has set His seal as a pledge, like a promise, and preserved us for a glorious future forever with Him.

I remember the steep stairs going down into the cool dark root cellar of my grandparent’s farm. There were several shelves of vegetables that Gram had carefully canned months before. I had been asked to retrieve some green beans and pickles that were tucked away waiting for a future feast at her dinner table.  

Have you been sealed In Christ by completely trusting in Him alone for salvation? Some day our Lord will retrieve us to Himself. We will be called to our heavenly home, to His table. And oh what a glorious feast that will be! 

Even Now I Know

Reading in John 11, I am struck by the complete trust of Martha and the quickness of Mary’s response to seek Jesus even in their grief. These women have remarkable faith. Take a moment to ponder the verses here and the interaction between the sisters Martha and Mary, and Jesus. Imagine being in their sandals. How would you respond to Jesus? 

Now when Jesus came he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. John 11:13 

Only four days had passed since Lazarus death. No doubt, sleeplessness, grief and inner turmoil towards Jesus’ absence overwhelmed the broken hearts of these sisters. Remember by this point in Jesus’ ministry, these women had witnessed several miraculous events by Him. Yet, where was Jesus when they desperately needed Him? 

So, when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” John 11:20-22

Martha heard Jesus was near and she could not wait for His arrival. She is so confident in her Lord, that even in her overwhelming grief she trusts Him completely. I love her response, “But even now I know”. There is no bitterness or anger towards Jesus though He was not present to heal her brother. Even in her brothers death she is convinced that Jesus is good. That Jesus is God. 

She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the son of God who is coming into the world.” When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private “The teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. John 11:28-29

As soon as Mary heard that Jesus was calling for her, she quickly rose to meet Him. She does not hesitate. She does not refuse to budge in bitterness over His absence. She immediately responds to His call to her. 

I can not help but admire these two women. I learn so much from them. Though they are filled with grief at the loss of their beloved brother Lazarus, still all of their faith is in Christ Jesus.

Faith in God does not disappoint! Ever! And these two sisters are about to experience that personally as they watch, with their very own eyes, their brother Lazarus walk out of his grave!