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Bearing burdens

Galatians‬ ‭6:2‬ ‭KJV – “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”‭‭‬‬

Galatians, chapter 6, verse 2. A simple verse with profound meaning. But what does it mean to “bear … one another’s burdens”?

Last night, we had our monthly ladies’ auxiliary meeting. We had our Bible study. We conducted our meeting and finalized the plans for our upcoming mother/daughter luncheon. And then, we had prayer requests. 

Now, when some people hear “prayer requests time”, especially amongst women, they might tend to think that this is a time to gossip about others. But I tell you the truth, it is anything but that. 

This is the time when we share the intimate thoughts and concerns on our heart. We share things that we might not share when we are out in public. We express concerns and frustrations and longings that God has placed within our hearts. It is a special time. It is an encouraging time. And occasionally, we even get a good chuckle out of some of the things we share. 

But this is the way we “bear … one another’s burdens”. 

Too often, the devil wants to keep us isolated. If he can keep us from reaching out to our sisters and brothers in Christ, he can keep us right where he wants us – in the pit of despair. He knows that when we share our burdens things become less bleak. 

This simple act of sharing creates hope. We know that someone else is praying for us. We know that we are no longer facing this challenge, this frustration, this fear alone. We know that God has provided someone else to come along side of us and, literally, hold our hand. I know, God is with us and willing to hold our hand anytime we ask. Yet, God also knows that sometimes we need that human touch; sometimes we need our sisters and brothers in Christ. 

So the next time that something has got you down or maybe something has gone incredibly right, share. Tell someone. Tell lots of someone’s – the more the merrier! God has provided people in your life for that very reason. And be a good recipient. “Bear … one another’s burdens” with gladness and seriousness. And remember, you never walk alone. 

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Lazarus Story

‭‭John‬ ‭12:9-11‬ ‭KJV‬‬ – “Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.”

It is always good to be in the house of the Lord. Yesterday was no exception. 

Lazarus. He was the dead man that Jesus brought back to life. He was the brother of Mary and Martha, the infamous sisters with two different viewpoints. Yet, he was one that loved Jesus and Jesus loved him. In fact, when he was dead, “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35). 

Lazarus had a story. He had a story of friendship. He had a story of love. He had a story of learning from Jesus. He had a story that made other people perk up and take notice. They wanted to come and see this man that had once been dead and in the grave, yet now here he was, sitting at a table eating with Jesus. How could this be?

As followers of Christ, we all have a Lazarus story. We all have a story of walking in darkness and then walking in the Light. The people we are around might know that we are followers of Christ, but do they know how we got there? Do they know why we stay there?

This was the question posed to me during the message last night at church. It really struck a chord with me. People know that I go to church and read my Bible and try to live like the Lord wants me to live. I don’t curse. I don’t drink. I try to treat people with respect even when I disagree with them. But do I make an effort to tell them my Lazarus story?

Just so it is out there, here it is –

I was just a girl, maybe 9 or 10, when I heard Jesus whispering to my heart. I had been to church my whole life. I knew the stories. I had heard the sermons. I knew Jesus. But I had never invited Him to be the Lord of my life and Savior of my soul. My uncle was a pastor. One night, my mom, brother, grandma and I were visiting him and the family. It was a Wednesday night. I don’t remember the message at all. I just remember that I couldn’t sit still and something wasn’t right. I remember going back to my aunt and uncle’s house and going into the bathroom with my mom and telling her, “Momma, I think Jesus is speaking to my heart.” She said, “Let’s go find your uncle.” And we did. And he took me down the road to salvation. I prayed and asked Jesus into my heart that night. I remember that feeling in my heart so very well. I felt as if the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders. I remember how excited I was and how excited everyone around me was. It was a good night. And every since that day, I try my hardest to treasure that feeling of being completely and totally loved no matter what circumstance I find myself in that day. Looking back on my life, I can truly and honestly say that making that decision that night was the best thing I have ever done. I have never been alone since. I have had struggles and challenges and trials, joy and laughter and friendships, tears and questions and ponderings – but never have I doubted God’s love for me and His acceptance of my repentance. 

I didn’t live a life of deep, dark sin before I was saved. My Lazarus story happened pretty early in life. But my Lazarus story is one of life long love and faithfulness. Mine is a story of walking. Jesus and I have been walking together for well over 30 years. He has been working on me for that long. He has a lot to do. Have you ever heard that song “He’s still working on me”? Well, that pretty much sums up my life. 

You see, each Lazarus story is different. Each one has a different starting point and a unique set of circumstances that led that person to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. And every person who has made that decision has a different path that has brought him/her this far. Yet, despite the differences, we are all headed to the same place – a eternity with Jesus. 

The purpose and goal of telling our Lazarus story should be to bring along as many people as we can. Ours is a story of redemption and love and relationship that provides others with the opportunity to experience the same thing, no matter their backstory. 

So I want to encourage you this week to share your Lazarus story. People may know that you are a follower of Christ and that you are not like everyone else around them. But do they know how you got there and why you stay there? Tell them! Listen, this is just as much for me as it is for you. 

My story

Mark 5:19,20 -“Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.”

Yesterday in Sunday school, we were discussing sharing your story or telling your testimony. For many, this is the key to bringing them to Christ. They are able to see what He has done in your life when you share it with them. And that is great…

But it made me think, what about me? I grew up in church. I have been going since before I exited my mother’s womb. I have known nothing but getting up and going to church every Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night. I was taught how to study The Word. I was encouraged at home to pray and discuss my life with my Savior. 

Do people want to hear about that? Does that really make that big of an impact on people? Isn’t it way more interesting and awe-inspiring to hear how God changed an addict to one of His saints? 

I discussed this with my husband. When I look at my life, I see God’s faithfulness. I see His hand at work in every area I have ever invited Him to be in and some that I didn’t. I see His guidance and compassion. I see His love during trials and His kindness when I very stubbornly learn a lesson. 

But there is no major change in my life. And I’m okay with that, don’t get me wrong. I just let the devil make me think that my story isn’t important. No one wants to hear about year after year of Sunday school lessons. No one wants to hear about my so-called problems that really don’t amount to a hill of beans. Right?

Wrong. This is the story that God is writing that is called My Life. My Life is different that Your Life, even if we grew up with the exact same principles. We all have a story to tell. Some stories may seem less dramatic than others but they are just as important and can make just as big of an impact. God is still writing my life. That, in and of itself, is amazing. He still cares enough about me to write His story on my heart each and every day. He wants me to live each chapter with gusto and to share the entirety of it with anyone that will listen. 

So this week, don’t let anyone tell you that your story isn’t good enough or interesting enough. Your story is your own. Your story is unique and special. Your story is something that someone needs to hear to be encouraged or maybe it is something that someone needs to hear to bring them to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Tell your story.

Cooking with my son

Deuteronomy 6:7 – “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”

My son is 14. The time has come to start teaching him to cook. He wasn’t too thrilled at the prospect of cooking, but he is a good kid and did it any way. And guess what? I think he actually enjoyed it. He followed the recipe and made a few blunders, but all in all, he did a very good job and was very proud of himself. 

This whole experience caused me to remember that I need to be diligently teaching my children the principles of the Lord as well. They need to see me studying, praying, applying God’s principles and doing whatever else God has called me to do. They need to see. 

I need to be encouraging their walk with Him. They need to know, understand and appreciate that He is the only One that can be with them throughout everything in their life. 

Educating our children is vitally important. I have been reading in the Old Testament lately about one generation serving God and the next one has straying far from Him. And part of me doesn’t get it. I try very hard not to judge but rather to understand how that can happen. It is hard for me since I grew up in a home that loved the Lord, as did my parents. I can’t imagine my life without Him in it. 

But that is because my family was faithful. They taught me about God, about Jesus and His sacrifice. They taught me right from wrong based on the Word of God. But here is how it keeps on going – I chose to follow Him. 

I can teach my son all day long how to cook and clean and do laundry and any other task necessary for domestic survival, but until he decides he is going to do it, it means nothing. 

The same is true for the teachings of God. I can guide him and teach him and instruct him in the principles of the Lord, but until he takes them and applies them to his own life, they are just hanging out there in the air. 

But regardless of how things may or may not turn out, it is my responsibility to be diligently doing what I know God wants me to do. All I can do is teach and pray. And so, that’s what I do. 

A fourteen year old cooking breakfast for dinner is a big deal. But a fourteen year old living out the principles of God is an even bigger deal. 

Let me encourage you today to be an educator in someone’s life. You may or may not have children, but I can guarantee that there is someone in your life that needs educating. And God put you in their life to teach them about Him. 

Keys

Matthew 16:19a – “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven…”

Keys. We all have them. We have keys to our vehicle, keys to our home, keys to our lock box, keys to work – essentially we have keys to just about everything. In fact, some would even say that there are some that hold the key to your heart.

But what good is a key if it is not used? Really? No good at all.

Keys are used to safeguard something. We obviously want to protect something or someone if we have a key.

Every once in a while, however, we want to use that key to unlock and free something. We want to take a look at that social security card we keep locked away. We want to try on that beautiful piece of jewelry hidden away in a lock box somewhere. We want to go home, so we use our key to get in the door. We need to go somewhere, so we turn the key in the ignition.

I have a super cute key ring that I got in Hawaii. Great memories are associated with that key ring. But the most important thing about this item is the fact that it holds all the keys that I need in my life. I panic when I can’t find my keys. My biggest fear is being away from my husband and locking myself out of my car. That happened before – when the car was running. Bad day. Really cold. Don’t want to remember that day – moving on….

Jesus left us His keys. He has given us power and authority to do His will on this earth. We have a great responsibility associated with these keys. Perhaps that’s the reason we don’t use them very often. People might get offended if we use the keys. The power these keys have might be more than we want to face. See a trend here? Fear. Fear keeps us from using those keys. Fear keeps us from receiving the blessings from those keys. Oh, we like to jingle them around from time to time but do we really want to use them?

Maybe it’s high time we did. Maybe we need to go out on a limb and shake up the tree a bit. Whatever you’d feel the Lord leading you to do about the keys, do it. I promise His blessings will be worth it.

‘Tis the Season

John 13:34-35 – “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

I saw this on social media the other day.

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It really touched my heart that this young woman was willing to stand up and stand out. She was willing to show God’s love in her actions, regardless of the words came out of her mouth.

There has been a big hoop-la about keeping Christ in Christmas. And I totally agree. But just because someone takes it off of their cup doesn’t mean that I can’t celebrate it.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are celebrations of the heart. It is a time to honor and glorify God for the abundant amount of blessings that He has poured down upon us. And if we recognize them as celebrations of the heart, we will be inclined to fulfill the commandment given in these verses. We will find ourself showing love to one another, being kind and doing so with a pure heart. Then, and only then, will others be able to see that we are celebrating those blessings that we certainly do not deserve.

By this time next week, you will probably be like me – fat and happy from the delicious meal the day before. Leftovers will gladly be on the menu and the shopping will begin in full force. But let’s not forget why we celebrate these two very important holidays. And let’s not let those who choose not to see God in everything ruin the spirit of the season with their negativity. Give them some tinsel and kindly say “bless your heart” and mean it. Because truly, these people who would take Christ out of Christmas and blessings out of Thanskgiving, need Jesus in the worst way. And it is our job to show Him to them.