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Temporary good-bye

I Thessalonians 4:14-18 – “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

Well, I find myself on the road again. This time, we are headed to a funeral. Grandpa lost his battle here on earth but won a far greater prize – the presence of Jesus. As my little niece so appropriately put it, “Grandpa closed his eyes and when he opened them again, he saw Jesus.” How cool is that!

But as comforting as it is to know that he is in the presence of His Savior, we still have to say good-bye or rather, so long for now. And that’s not always the easiest task to accomplish. 

You see, we all are a bit selfish. We want him here. We don’t want to have to face all the challenges of living without him. We want it to be easy. We want to go up to his house and have him go with us to get the 4 wheeler out of the shed. We want to see him stand at the gate to the pasture and call the cows. We want to fuss at him about not putting his own socks on (long story). We want to hear him give grandma a hard time and laugh at his quirky little ways. But that’s not the case with this trip.

This time, we go to comfort one another. We go to say our “so-long for now” and to lay him to rest. We go to remember. We go to cry. We go to laugh. We go to give our support.

But one day, in the not too distant future, I imagine, we will see him again. We will see him, my dad, my grandma, my other grandpa, my uncles, and all the friends and loved ones who have gone on before us to the presence of God. Jesus will come back. Those graves we so diligently keep will burst open. We who are left will meet Jesus in the air. Oh….I can’t wait! Even so Lord Jesus come!

So amongst all the tears and sadness, I will be holding to hope. I will be smiling on the inside because I know this is just a temporary good-bye. This is just another bump in the road. Grandpa knew it. Daddy knew it. All of us who have accepted Jesus as our Savior know it. Death is hard. Death is sad. Death seems so final. But it’s not. Jesus has overcome death. And that is why I will be smiling on the inside – because I know it is just temporary.

Inside

Psalm 51:6-12 – “Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.”

Christmas is just around the corner. The time is quickly approaching when a lot of people are going to be present crazy. There are some people obsessed with creating the perfect package. They buy the best wrapping paper, beautiful ribbons and bows and a super fancy tag to name the recipient of the present. They spend a lot of time wrapping, taping and creating the picture perfect present. 

But who knows what is on the inside. It could be a rubber snake for all the receiver knows. The package could be the most beautiful thing ever created and on the inside is garbage. And then all that time and effort into the outside seems futile. Who wants a beautiful package filled with yuck? 

So many people today are working on the outside when what they should be more concerned about is the inside. Now don’t get me wrong here, I believe that it is our responsibility to take good care of the body that God has given us. I think we need to treat it with respect and feed it good, healthy food and monitor our health to be the best person we can be for the service of Jesus Christ. But all of that should not be our primary concern. 

It’s what is on the inside that counts. What is going on in that brain of yours? Are you striving each and every day to make it more and more like Jesus’s? Do you fill it with His word and think on His will for your life? 

You see, just like a Christmas present, we can fix the outside up to be very nice and visually appealing for those around us. But are we visually appealing to our Heavenly Father on the inside? He sees our thoughts, our motivations, our desires, our dreams – is the root of all these things grounded in Him?

David, bless his heart, was far from perfect. When he wrote this psalm, he had just been busted by the prophet Nathan about his affair with Bathsheba. He had messed up big time. But the thing about David is this – when he was called out for his sin, he didn’t try to blame it on someone else or make excuses or anything like that. No, he owned his sin, he repented of his sin, he accepted the consequences of that sin and then he moved on with the lessons applied to his heart. And still, after everything David did, he was called “a man after mine (God’s) own heart.”(Acts 13:22)

David knew that it was the things on the inside that counted. He knew that he needed to be cleaned. He knew that wisdom and truth were of vital importance. He knew that the only way to get what he needed was to turn back to God. And he humbled himself and asked for that restoration. 

God is ready to give me restoration whenever I ask. He knows that my inside needs a good cleaning out. He is just waiting for me to step up for the cleansing. Unfortunately, sometimes that cleansing is painful. It requires me to admit that I have been wrong. It makes me to see that I’m not as perfect as I like to think that I am. Yet, there is a peace in realizing that I am hot mess. I think the peace comes from the remeberance that I have been purchased with the blood of Jesus. That in His eyes, when I confess and turn away from my sin, my hot mess gets cooled off and I’m back to walking with Him. 

Your life is a gift to God. Are you wrapping it up with pretty paper and fancy bows and filling it with yuck or are you more concerned about what He will find when the paper has been stripped away? Because one day when we are standing before the Judgement Seat, we will be stripped away of all the fancy paper and just be standing there with what is on the inside. What are you going to have to give the One who gave His life for you?

My Week

1Peter 5:6-7 – “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

I have had a very interesting week. It was one of those weeks that I didn’t realize that I needed support but God knew that I did. 

There are times in my life when I really work hard at something. Then there are times when I feel like I’m not doing so good at it. All the indicators seem to point to a problem. And that was me this week. I had been talking to myself (don’t laugh, you do it too!) and telling myself that there are plausible reasons behind the changes, that everything would be okay. And then the devil comes in and starts whispering in my ear – “You’re failing. See, you can’t do it.” But God sent me people to lift me up and encourage me. He sent me people to remind me that I am doing this thing right, that I will be successful – in His time. I love how God just does little things like that to show me that He truly does care, that He is interested in all aspects of my wellbeing. 

And then there was the surprise facial. Oh my! I got a text the other day from the owner of the salon my family goes to. He asked if I would like a free facial for being such a loyal customer. Umm, yes!!! I know, silly little thing. But you know what? God knows that I don’t take time for myself. He knows that the next two weeks are going to be insane in the membrane. He knows that I’m going to need a reminder of a blissful time – and so He gave me one. I was able to get my hair trimmed and have a facial and then come home to do some other personal beautification that was in desperate need of being done. All in all, it was a very relaxing night. Just what I needed before the insanity begins.  

God cares. He cares about your mental health. He cares about your emotional health. He cares about your physical health. He cares about your spiritual health. He cares. 

But here is the key – you have to be willing to let Him take care of it all. You have to be willing to humble yourself before Him and let Him lead. Now, am I a picture perfect example this week? By no means! He is just merciful, praise His Name! 

So let me encourage you to see Him working in your life. See Him giving you what you need before you know that you need it. And give Him praise for it. He loves you so much. He wants only the best for you. Follow Him and let Him give it to you. 

A Piece of Peace

Philippians 4:4-9 – “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”

Many people are looking for peace. They are looking for peace in the Middle East. They are looking for peace in their home. They are looking for peace inside themselves. Peace is not elusive. Peace can be found. 

Through the leadership of the Holy Spirit, Paul tells us where and how to find peace – in Jesus. Peace can be found in living for Christ. Let’s look at a few ways to find and know peace in our life:

1. Rejoice, always. Do you always feel like rejoicing? Not me. When traffic is horrible and I’m late for work, I do not feel like rejoicing. But I should. I can choose to look at from this perspective – I get more time to pray and think on God’s word OR I get more time to enjoy the beauty of His creation. It is kind of hard to remember that when you are moving one inch every 10 minutes and you know that you are going to have to stay late because of the ginormous amount of paperwork you need to finish today, but it is possible to change your perspective if you give Him the opportunity to do so. 

2. Let everyone see God’s hand in your life. When you have the opportunity, give a shout out to Jesus. Let those around you know how He is working in your life – good and not so good times. You know, “it was raining yesterday but praise God He reminded me to bring my umbrella.” Little shout outs can make a huge difference. 

3. Pray. Lay it all out for the Lord. He wants to know the good, the bad and the ugly along with the praise, the cheer and the joy. This is like the fast lane to peace – when you give it to Him, your burden is so light you can’t help but embrace peace. 

4. Think on the right things. There is so much in this world that is depressing. It is sometimes hard to find good news. But you have access to THE Good News – the Bible. Choose to remove from your meditation the yuck that is so prevalent in the world today. Choose to think on the things of God which will lead you straight to peace. 

Peace is a beautiful thing. It can come and go because we fail. We don’t hold onto it like we should. We think we can handle things and then puff! There goes peace. Peace comes from a constant relying upon God to handle things. The world is too dark and too ugly to allow true peace to be prevalent on its own. We need the True Light to show us true peace. 

So let me encourage you today, Princess, to seek out a piece of peace. All of these things together will bring you peace. But also, one little slice will bring peace as well. Choose one or choose them all. Try one out and experience a piece of peace like you have never seen. God is ready and waiting to shower His peace upon you.

Attitude of Gratitude

Colossians 2:6-8 – “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”

Thanksgiving is two short days away. I love to cook Thanksgiving dinner. But, oh my, with work, running my son to soccer and laundry, I’m just praying to get it all done this year. I just got my 20 lb. turkey in the brine this morning. The bread for the dressing is drying. But there is still a lot to be done.

And then there is “Black Friday”. The insanity of it all is wild! Stores are opening on Thanksgiving day just for the almighty dollar. How sad! Their employees don’t get that special day with loved ones. They have to be at work. And for what? For somebody to get a present that may or may not be appreciated and that may or may put them deeper into debt.

Oftentimes, we loose sight of Thanksgiving. It gets gobbled up by Christmas every year. I think part of the reason that the world does this is so that we won’t remember and recognize all that we have to be thankful for. Because in doing that, we realize that we don’t need as much and then we don’t buy as much. And then I loose sight because of my preparation for the meal. In trying be and do it all, my thankfulness goes out the window.

Our pastor reminded us Sunday of some little notecards that had been left in the vestibule at church. They said, “What if you woke up tomorrow morning with only the things you were thankful for today?” I’ve heard that little question before but never really took it to heart. There are days when I would have a lot and days that I would have nothing at all.

One year I did a thankful journal. I think I’m going to do another one next year. It seems to me that by purposefully writing down what I am thankful for each and every day helps to keep my heart in an attitude of gratitude all year long.

You know, Christ lived a life a gratitude to the Father. He knew His time on this earth was limited and He wanted to make the most of it. The world tried to take His attitude of gratitude away. He knew the power of gratitude. He knew that it holds the key to humbleness and love.

With gratitude and thanksgiving comes a realization that you would be and have nothing without Him. There is no way you could love without Him. The job you have, the car you drive, the food you eat, the home you live in – all are blessings from Him. And even when things are sparse or poor, He still is blessing you in some way – you may just have to look a little harder for it.

So, as we face the two days before Thanksgiving, my challenge to you is this – be thankful. Be grateful. Let the distractions fall away and choose to see your blessings. And then, thank Him. Because without Him, we would be nothing.

The mote vs. The beam

Matthew 7:3-5 – “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”

Have you ever been laying in bed saying your evening prayer before bed and talking to God about someone that is driving you nuts and then all of the sudden the convicting power of the Holy Spirit whispers in your ear “hey, maybe you are the problem”? Maybe there really is no tangible problem at all with the other person. Maybe it is just your bad attitude that is the issue. You gotta love His attention in your life.

This happens to me, a lot. I have always been the type of person who tries to let things roll off my back. But sometimes my spiky attitude gets perked up and catches anything that tries to escape via my back. It’s terrible. Just terrible.

This is all internal, you understand. It’s not like I get an attitude with people, often. Usually, all of this stuff is going on in my head. If my head had a video screen…..oh, it would not be good sometimes.

Usually we think of sin as something that is done outside our body. But the sin that goes on inside our mind is just as bad, maybe even worse. But in God’s eyes, there is no worse – it is all bad.

Anyway, the attitude of our heart is important. I know I have said that like a hundred times, but I can’t stress it enough. Maybe it’s because it is something that I need to be reminded of constantly.

Back to the verse. It is so much easier to see someone else’s problems than to look at our own. I can see why a person bugs me, but do I ever stop to consider how I might be bugging them? Do I ever stop and think that my actions my tick them off causing them to react the way they do, which in turn bugs me? Crazy old circle!

So what is the answer? Remember yesterday I encouraged you to listen for the Holy Spirit in your life showing you the things you do wrong and then choose to turn from them and go the other way? Prime example right here. Do you have someone in your life that makes you want to gouge out your eyeballs because you do and do and they complain and complain? Turn it over to Jesus. Maybe there is someone in your life that needs your prayers for them. Maybe you should stop doing and start praying. Maybe you need to let Jesus change your attitude towards them. But that means choosing to walk away from your hurt feelings and all the things they have done or said to you in the past. And that can be a hard one to do. But just grab the hand of Jesus and start walking. Today is a gift, that’s why we call it the present. Take His gift of peace and contentment and run with it. Life is too short for hurt feelings and worry.

By a hangnail

Job 7:1-4 – “Is there not an appointed time to man upon the earth? Are not his days also like the days of an hireling? As a servant earnestly desireth the shadow, and as an hireling looketh for the reward of his work: so am I made to possess months of vanity, and wearisome nights are appointed to me. When I lie down, I say, When shall I arises and the night be gone? and I am full of tosssings to and fro unto the dawning of the day.”

Have you ever had a bad day? Or a bad week? Or a bad month? Or maybe even a bad year?

Well, let me encourage you here. I sincerely doubt that anything you go through can compare to what our dear friend Job went through. He lost his family (all but his wife), his home, his wealth and his health all in a short period of time. God allowed Satan to take everything but his life. Now…..how bad was your day again?

The point is this: Life is not going to be sunshine and lollipops every single day. Things are going to happen. Maybe really bad things. Maybe things that will make you curse the day you were born, like Job did.

But one thing to remember about Job – he may have moaned and groaned and whined and complained, but he never cursed God. He asked why but he didn’t question God disrespectfully. Job knew that God was in control of all the bad things that were happening to him.

He also knew that sometimes bad times come. Things happen that stink. People die. You loose your job. A natural disaster comes and scatters your belongings from here to yonder. A terrible illness may ravage your body.

But if you are a child of the King, He has you in the palm of His hand and nothing can change that. You might feel as if you are holding on by a hangnail, but He still has you. He will pick you up and set your feet on solid ground. You may have nothing left, but you have Him to hold you.