Sunday, April 26, 2015

Constant Comfort

"I am the good shepherd; I know My sheep and My sheep know Me - just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father - and I lay down my life for the sheep."  (NIV) John 10:14-15
 
 
Good Shepherd Sunday - I love this Sunday.  I have always enjoyed the picture of Jesus as my shepherd.  Typically, when I think of this picture, I think of Psalm 23.  Yet, today, we read about the Good Shepherd in John.  There is a comfort that comes with knowing that someone is shepherding over me.  I NEED to know this - for there are many times when I need that comfort to see me through and let me know that someone cares for me.
 
I am extremely fortunate that I have many people in my life who look out for me and my comfort - many who truly care for me - my husband, my mother, my children, my friends.  All of these people have provided comfort for me.  Yet, there are times when not even these people can provide comfort for me.  They may try, yet they don't know the type of comfort I need.  Usually during those times, I don't even know the comfort I need.  Please tell me you can relate!!  You know - those times when words just don't come easily; where I struggle with what I am feeling, what I need; the times when I just want to be by myself and pray that - miraculously, someone will understand my thoughts.  As time goes on, I realize that nobody knows my thoughts and what I am struggling with.  It is at that time that my Shepherd - the one who laid is life down for me - is there for me.
 
How can Jesus do that when nobody else can?  Because He knows me better than anyone else does.  He knows what I'm feeling long before I know it.  He is there for me because He knows what I need.  The best part of all of this is that He never leaves me.  He never leaves me as I depart for work from my home.  He never leaves me when others may get frustrated with me.  He never leaves me when I just don't know what to say.  He stays with me - every moment of every day.  Even when He died, He came back.  He came back for you and for me.  He came back so that I know I can count on Him.  He came back!!
 
So when those days come when - no matter how many people may surround you - you need to have your own personal shepherd to comfort you, remember you do.  He is standing there right beside you.  Jesus is with you every moment of every day.  He guards you as one of His precious sheep.  The assurance that you and I will always be one of His flock brings me comfort just when I need it.  I pray that the love and guidance that our Dear Jesus has for each of us is felt by us - especially when we need it.
 
"Dear Savior, thank you for your constant comfort - the comfort that is never failing and is just what I need, when I need it.  Thank you, Jesus, for dying for me - and coming back for me.  Your love is felt always."


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Faithful Instruction

 
 
Many of you who follow me regularly know that Friday was a very special day for me.  Friday, I met someone that I deeply respect and admire, Lysa TerKeurst.  Lysa is a wonderful author and speaker.  I know that many of you joined me at the Ladies Day Apart conference and were blessed by her words.  Her speaking came directly from the Bible, which I truly loved.  As we all wonder and ask where our path for God may lead us, I often turn to the richness of the Proverbs 31 website.  They continually inspire me to move forward.
 
Of the many things that were shared on Friday, the one I took home the most was our ability to try and live our faith in everything we do - to impart our faith in moments throughout the day, providing a sense of faithful instruction.  Now, I have to be honest, as much as I try, I find moments to complain, be angry and to sin with comments of judgement and control.  Come on, I am sure I am not the only one that has these moments, but I have them more than I would like.
 
As was shared, living out our faith is more than participating in Bible studies, more than going to church and singing loudly, more than volunteering for opportunities in our community.  Yes, all of those things help people to see us as Christians.  Yet, more importantly, it is in the LITTLE things we do that helps to define us.  It is how we react to certain situations - even difficult ones.  It is how we respond to bad news - with hearts that find joy in difficult situations.  It is how we show love instead of anger.  It is how we not just rejoice in times of wonder, but how we rejoice in times of turbulence.  Yes, it is the daily words and actions that help to define us.
 
Funny how this showed itself yesterday in our home!  My husband and I were working hard trying to bring spring to our house.  Juan was busy taking care of some "rough" patches of grass by spreading soil and seed.  I was busy freshening up our kitchen with some new handles on our cabinets.  We were feeling pretty good about what we were accomplishing.  Then, the moment came.  We noticed that a pipe had busted as a result of our cold winter and our basement had water in it.
 
Out came the wet vac.  Out came the towels.  Out came many things we had stored down there that were now filled with water.  The next hour or so found us having a change of plans and dealing with a mess we weren't expecting.  Instead of Juan and I looking at each other with words of discouragement and frustration, we both looked at each other and said, "God must have wanted to encourage us to clean out the basement."  We both laughed, but also knew that God's hand was in what happened.  It could have been much worst if this happened while we weren't home.  God is Good!!
 
It was more than just "thinking" God was with us - it needed to be said.  Our hearts became more joyful and a tough situation turned into a blessing.  Our days are filled with moments where we can make a choice - to use words of judgement, to use words of discouragement, to show actions of anger.  We can also choose to change the way we respond and provide a more God-Like response - one of joy in tough situations, not just in moments of divine blessings.  This week ahead, take a moment to decide how you are going to respond - for your words that you share show the faithful instruction you have with yourself.  An added bonus can be the faithful instruction you may have on others!!  May blessings abound!!


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Warning Signs


 
"...holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith."  (NIV)  1 Timothy 1:19
 
This past week, my husband's car ended up in the shop, so they gave us a "loaner" to use while they fixed it.  It's a very nice new car, with all the bells and whistles.  As we were driving along, Juan said, "Look - they have sensors all over this car to ensure you are safe.  It senses when you are going over a yellow line and warns you.  It senses when you want to make an unsafe lane change and warns you."  He was right - this car warns you about many unsafe driving choices.

It made me think of the many times I made unsafe decisions.  Truly, they are too numerous to mention. These decisions were made for a number of reasons - many of them were reactionary, some of them were impulsive, and yet other decisions were made because I was a follower.  It think back upon those unsafe decisions and now realize so much.

When I make decisions that are reactionary to what someone has done to me or the situation I have been put in, I typically don't take the time to step back from the decision and analyze it against what I know is good or right.  Yes, these are the times I SHOULD be asking "What do you say about this, Jesus?" but usually there is no conversation with Him during these times.

Impulsive decisions are even worst - those decisions I tend to make without even THINKING.  Yes, I just DO.  Many times, these are decisions I make in regards to an unhealthy eating plan.  I try to work hard and follow a plan that I know will produce good results, but my impulsive decision to just DO without thinking puts me into trouble.  These are the times when I should be asking, "Help me Jesus to make a different decision," but usually there is no conversation with Him during these times.

Engaging in decisions because I wasn't strong enough to do what I knew was right, but followed those who were wrong, has happened more times than I want to admit.  Why didn't I stand up for myself, my values, my beliefs?  Why did I go with the flow - use poor language, gossip when I shouldn't have, etc?  There are many examples here.  These are the times when I should be asking, "Help me to be strong, Jesus, to walk the way YOU want me to," but usually there is no conversation with Him during these times.

I am sure by now you have noticed the theme.  There have been many opportunities when I should have stopped to converse with my Lord.  In each of these situations, there were plenty of warning signs to make me stop - a conscience filled with the Holy Spirit to assist me on this journey of life.  These warning signs, given to us by Jesus, are there for us to stop and understand that an unsafe choice may be coming ahead.  Our conscience is there for a reason - for us to stop direction and reach out to the One who gives us all that we have.  He knows that if we make good decisions based on our strong conscience, we will not be "shipwrecked", we will follow in His path.  

Join me in the week ahead to be aware of the warning signs - to be aware when the Holy Spirit is working in us to tell us something, to teach us something.  When these warning signs are there, stop, and have the conversation.  I know that the blessing for us will be very rich - for it always is when we speak with Our Lord.

"Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us the gift of the Holy Spirit living in us.  May we ensure that we recognize the warning signs when they appear and help us to converse with you, leading us to safer decisions.  In your gracious name we pray.  Amen."

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Emptiness


"...but when they entered, they did not find the body of The Lord Jesus."  (NIV)  Luke 24:3


Emptiness has a negative "feel" to it.  There aren't too many things in this world that, when empty, feel good.  Think about the following:

         An empty glass means that one thirsts
         An empty dish means that one hungers
         An empty bank account means that one needs work
         An empty chair means that one is missing
         An empty pillow means that one longs for sleep
         An empty heart means that one longs for love

When we think about empty, we tend to think of the things that we don't have, that we wish we had, or things that are not within our reach.  It can lead to sadness, despair, or even darkness.  I know I am not the only one that may have had emptiness in our lifetime.  When we lose a loved one, when we lose a relationship, when we lose a job, we have an empty feeling - something is missing.  This can be a very difficult place for us - I know it was for me.  When I had that empty feeling in my life, I was very sad and full of despair. 

This past Friday, Good Friday, can be such a day - especially for Christians.  When we spend time reflecting upon all of the sin we have caused throughout our lives, it can be a sad and dark day.  That is what Good Friday is all about - to understand what our Dear Lord and Savior went through because of our darkness, because of our sin.  I know Good Friday leaves me feeling empty - knowing how much pain and affliction I caused Jesus because of MY sin.  It was all my fault - it was our fault - that He was on that cross.

Yet, today, Easter - we celebrate EMPTINESS!  We celebrate the fact that the tomb was empty that Easter morning long ago.  We sing triumphantly that we will no longer be empty - that our souls will always be full.  It is because of that empty tomb that we are able to go through every day KNOWING that no matter how empty our life may feel, no matter the empty pains we may experience, we will always be full of our Lord, if we have simple faith.  

All Jesus asks from us is that we believe - believe that He died for us, believe that the tomb was empty on Easter morning - just believe.  Yes, it is that simple.  Yes, it is that easy.  Yes, it is that fulfilling.  Fill the emptiness of your life with the grace, mercy and peace that our Savior gives us - fill yourself up with the goodness of God.  May the word "empty" no longer bring you darkness and despair.  May the word "empty" bring you joy, hope, love and simple faith.

Please pray with me.  "Heavenly Father - may you continue to help us realize that the empty tomb provides us a lifetime of joy and love.  The empty tomb gives us hope, gives us a place in heaven, gives us strength to look at other empty items with your strength.  May each person who is reading this have an Easter filled with the happiness of a life everlasting with you."
Happy Easter Everyone!

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Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope we can share how God's grace has been life changing and that SIMPLE FAITH, getting back to a life that is rooted in the basics, can truly set us free to achieve so much in our lives.