Here’s a word for today: Grace. Don’t think the world gets it. Do we?
There’s a three year old in my life. His world, today’s world, moves so fast. Expected to know so much only three years into this craziness called life. And I think the stress of it gets to three-year-olds just like it does to grammy-year-olds. Sometimes we just want to be loved – no expectations – and a whole lot of g-r-a-c-e when we just want things our way.
We also want to pout, question, and say we don’t like it. We don’t like worrying about pandemics – pout. We wonder where God is in all the loss – question. We want to be honest when we don’t want to stay home, wear a mask, wash hands one more time – don’t like it! “Be gracious to me, Lord, for I call to you all day long.” (Psalm 86:3 CSB)
In times like this we sometimes don’t act like the faith we say we have. We mess up. My grandson loves coming to my house but a few times lately he has been hard to get along with, emotional, unreasonable. I want to get in his face and say ‘listen, what’s the matter, you have all you need’ – instead I just hug him and wait for it to pass.
Same with God and us. I feel Him trying to find my eyes, ask what’s the matter, tell me you have ALL you need. Instead He just loves me. Knowing that whatever I experience in any trial – past, present, or future – His grace covers it all and it leads to a someday of no more of this.
As a group of friends recently discussed how often we don’t act/think/speak like children of God, one of them said the most profound thing. She said when that happens she just wants to say: “I’m with Him.” Jesus, the one who helps us as we muddle through our days. “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life.” (John 6:68b GNT)
So today, when you yell, cuss, think bad thoughts, cheat, lie, are jealous, and the list goes on – just lift your eyes so He can get in your face. No condemnation will be found. Gently He will look you in the heart and remind you, He’s covered it all – and all this ‘stuff’, He’s got that too.
This God, He’s no dictator and He’s not a pushover either. But He is the One who allows us to blow it and come running to His lap, again. And forgiveness flows. I’m with Him.
Not going many places these days. A world that used to zoom from here to there has slowed waaayyyy down.
So welcome in so many ways. Love that being late isn’t really a thing right now (pretty much anyway). Love that money is being spent on things that matter and new perspective has come. Not really loving not being able to plan a vacation and not getting to see my children who aren’t here in town.
Remembering lately though, that wherever we are, in our four walls or hiking a trail, we’re never alone. “You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.” (Psalm 139:5 NLT) Can’t turn and not find God right there.
May not always seem like that’s true. Wondering if a business that’s closed will make a come back – that seems all alone. Waiting to see a loved one who is ill but no visitors allowed – that seems all alone. Shopping with a mask on, all going the same direction, six feet apart – that seems all alone.
And it’s hard. Hard because burden sharing almost seems inappropriate these days. Everyone has their own set of ‘what ifs’, ‘now whats’, and anxious thoughts. There is One whose ready to listen…“Where could I go to escape from your Spirit or from your sight?” (Psalm 139:7 CEV)
The answer – no place. Never left you before, isn’t going to now. Every moment of you has been surrounded by Jesus. From the creation of your spirit long before you were formed to the very last exhale on earth – ever present. (Read Psalm 139, notice all the places the writer thought of – still not one of them was absent of God.)
“I will be with you always, even until the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20b CEV)
And then after the end of the world too – as long as you know Him as Savior. Do you? As you go – throughout your day, the walk around the neighborhood for the hundredth time, and all those places you might wish you could avoid – still never alone. As you go, this life is not lived alone or unknown. You are cherished. Where you go, He is there.
I really just want a quick fix. Snap of the fingers back to normal. You know…how it was just a month or so ago.
We Americans can now see just how dear freedom is. For this small taste of restraint, of lack, of uncertainty is working its way through communities and across our land. And different hearts and souls are having to face the what ifs? What if things don’t go back to the way they were – soon, in a few months, ever?
Truly questioning can I rest in that – can you? Here’s what we need to cling to: “Jesus Christ never changes! He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8 CEV)
But how to embrace these times? One day at a time.
About 2,000 years ago a man named Paul wrote some good advice: “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” (1Corinthians 16:13 NIV)
Why on guard? Because now when we’re anxious or unsure, the enemy will tempt and mislead. Stand firm in the faith? Call on Him hour by hour, don’t doubt just cling. Be courageous? In the face of the unknown, of the hard, of the what if – only the courage of Jesus in our hearts. Be strong? Unmovable in our faith, unshakable in our hope. All this is possible only in light of eternity.
Paul finishes his thought in verse 14 “Do everything in love.” Hard times or uncertainties can turn us inward, make us deaf and blind to others. Everything in this verse means: everything.
Whatever the day holds, whether it looks a whole lot like normal or has no semblance of it at all; whatever we find ourselves in the midst of, let His love for us – and in us – be the approach we take. A whole lot more love is needed right now. God never runs out of that precious commodity. And because He doesn’t, we don’t have to either. These times – they call us to how we needed to be living all along – more grace, more mercy, more love. There is freedom in these – freedom that knows no quarantine.
Don’t you love a good book? Fiction or non-fiction – written well, I can’t get enough. Especially the happy ending ones.
The book of John ends this way: “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (John 21:25 NIV)
John wrote his first hand account of Jesus’ ministry on earth. He wrote down the things the Holy Spirit instructed him to write. But as he reflected on his finished work, there were so many things left unwritten. Enough to fill volumes. Because every single thing Jesus did while here, was a story in itself. A life story.
On this side of the timeline of John’s gospel I can confidently say, that the whole universe would not have room for all the books that could be written – because what Jesus did, did not end.
He’s still working. Still writing the story of you, of me. Countless souls whose lives He has impacted, each with a unique story of the Jesus who saves. John also wrote the last book of the Bible: Revelation. Towards the end of the last chapter Jesus says: “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (Revelation 22:12-13 NIV)
Though the books we read here on earth end, Jesus’ story never does. And if you have Him as Lord & Savior, yours doesn’t either. What we have is not a happy ending – we have a glorious beginning that does not reach an end. Because forever, eternity, can’t end.
Time to let Jesus write our stories – let Him add our volume to the countless others. This story may have heartaches, adventures, pitfalls, failures, joys, excitement – but threaded through the story of every Jesus follower is this: HOPE. Because this life is just a beginning and its conclusion here on earth is not the end.
“The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” (1John 2:17 NIV)
Easter is a few short days away. It will be the first one (since becoming a Christian) that I have not been in church celebrating all that this remembrance means.
I’m hoping there’s a lot less bunnies and colored eggs this year – and a lot more Bibles open and crosses displayed.
Open Bible…in it is the answer to every question. Many will scoff at that statement. I assure you that without Jesus as Savior you will not find answers. With Jesus, whatever burdens your heart, the promises and the power contained in this Book heal each one. It covers the beginning of earth’s time to the end of its days. “In the beginning God created” to “what must soon take place” (Genesis 1:1a, Revelation 1:1b NIV)
Do you know that each and every day of your life was written by God before you ever took your first breath? “All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16 NIV)
Whether you are mourning the loss of a loved one to Covid 19 or fearing for your own life in the face of it, know this truth: there is purpose in each of our days. We can’t waste one. A life lived seeking out and fulfilling God’s purpose on earth is a life that is never cut short. For whether it lasted a few short years or reached the century mark, it is precious.
Decide today who you will live for. Will it be for self – or for Jesus? The answer does indeed have an impact – not just for you but for all who cross your path. To decide there is no God, deny the very one who makes your next breath possible – makes celebrating Easter (Christmas) meaningless. Might as well take a nap. To decide every day is one the Lord has made, I will rejoice in them – makes Easter all the more meaning-full.
There is no celebration like it. For this celebration says: God did make me. God does have plan. I do have a purpose. This world, a mere handful of years, isn’t all there is. The answer to all questions: Jesus came to earth, lived a sinless life, died on a cross, rose from the dead – and now we can live forever.
That answer is all we need, no matter what we are facing. It is written so that we may know true love. Love that gives such freedom that we can blow it and still find room in forever. Will you accept such a great love today?
Normal is no more. Years of normal definitely tell me this isn’t it. Sheltering in place – like during a storm, only the weather isn’t the issue. Covering faces and hands. Avoiding hugging, not getting close. Jobs gone in a matter of days.
Unsettling really doesn’t do much justice to the way many are feeling. Anxiousness has a way of pulling us inward. Then we forget, as we scan nearly empty shelves, that others wandering the same aisles are in search of something to make them feel more secure. And a loaf of bread won’t do it.
But here’s what we need to remember – this isn’t where we’re supposed to settle, to call home, to rest in. “For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.” (Hebrews 13:14 NLT)
Yet to come – promised, sure, everlasting. A home where there is no more Covid-19 (nor anything like it).
Doesn’t it come down to this: laid bare, all our soul really longs for is an end to evil, strife, heartache, pain? This is not to be on earth. It is to be someday. Don’t miss it. Do you know this Jesus who promised? Promised to never leave us, forsake us. Promised to prepare a forever home for us – full of joy, endless wonder.
“When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” (John 14:3 NLT)
So do not fear a virus. Fear not knowing there truly is more than this world. Be so very sure that even in the unsettled moments, your eyes automatically look up. Up to the One who is not surprised by any storm – weather or disease or lost job or any of the pains common to our world.
He lived them, walked among them – lovingly healed the blind, touched the leper, spoke calmly to the woman about to be stoned. In an instant, love like that, heals all. That love can heal you too – maybe not here, maybe not right now. But in eternity.
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NLT)
I woke up early (too early) recently and found my mind drifting to insignificant things and becoming irritated easily. Getting up, I sat in the dark – and though it took a while, I figured it out.
Anxiety. Whether it’s corona virus or our children or our finances or whatever, we’re all just a little on edge right now. And what my heart knows and has to send up to my head is this: God knows and He’s in control.
Oh that sounds so trite, so Christian-ese – to the world. But to me, a Jesus follower, Truth has a way of saying: ‘those little things you were fretting over, those things that could hurt a relationship, those things that have no eternal value – let them go’. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34 NIV)
Since sin invaded human hearts there have been plagues, devastation, destruction. Covid-19 isn’t a new thing, it’s one of many of the devolving aspects of this fallen world. Remember Jesus saying, ‘In this world you will have trouble’? He wasn’t kidding. This world is, has been, will be on a downward spiral til He returns. Why?
Because that’s the effect of broken relationship with God. But there is good news, make that great news. This isn’t how it’s supposed to be and someday He will make all things new.
“And the One sitting on the throne said, ‘Look, I am making everything new!’ And then He said to me, ‘Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:5 NLT)
So what’s next? When it comes to all the woes of this world we don’t know. But what is next for us is to keep doing next things. Things like Bible study and prayer. Things like training up our children to know God. Things like showing up for work and doing a great job. Things like loving our family well. Things like reaching out to the lost to show them hope.
As the Bible instructs, take life one day at a time. Live in such a way that God is pleased and others see Jesus in us. Seek the Holy Spirit to show us our next step and our next and do today what we can but trust in God for what we can’t. “This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24 ESV)
Let’s do all our next things – one day at a time – until they add up to a lifetime well-lived.
It’s different – being older. When my favorite three year old comes over and we come up with ideas of what to do next we both go full speed saying: “Let’s do it!”
I think at three there is only one speed – full throttle. But at grammy age I’m looking for slow motion. Wanting to see the most of the times I’m living right now. A knowing that it passes in a flash and that time isn’t a given.
So I run after one year old wonder and three year old adventure – and climb lighthouses with loved ones who haven’t started aching (yet). This is the life. The one given to us by the One who knew us before time – and who promises time truly is endless with Him. “Those who obey the LORD are daily in his care, and what he has given them will be theirs forever.” (Psalm 37:18 CEV)
The camera on my phone doesn’t do justice to the joy – glory – wonder of what I’m trying to capture.
Jesus vision is what we need. “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2 NIV) Easter is a few short weeks away. You and I see the cross and the pain and the separation – as if it’s an end. Jesus saw joy. Knowing that though this was a bitter way to prove His love, it was the only way. This was the life, on earth, that He lived for us.
And so I want to live this life well. I want to live it in a way that shouts ‘I love Jesus’. I want the joy set before me, eternity, to be the expression on my face daily. I want the glory of what is to come to be what my little guys remember about me. “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:4 NIV)
In wonder let’s wander these days. Speaking with our lives life to those who watch us. For we are always being watched – by those close to us, those at work, in line at the store, and by our Father.
Let’s live knowing, indeed, it is ‘well with our soul’.
Deep in thought lately, needing time before putting it into words. Ever have times like that? Times where you just have to – need to – be a little quiet?
I’m kind of loud sometimes. Life is loud lots of times. But God speaks in the quiet. I love this: “The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.” (Isaiah 32:17 NIV) No righteousness of our own – a righteousness lived out for us, sacrificed for us, once – for all and forever.
And confidence? Forever? Yes, I’ll take that free gift too. Thanking Jesus for the knowledge that if we will trust in the quiet of Him, then in the midst of the loud storms and crazy life turns, we will be confident.
But what can we be confident of? “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:25-26 NIV)
Yes, He is good. Our hope is in Him and we can be confident that eternity is ours. That this day, this life isn’t all there is.
We’re waiting for the return of God’s Son – to bring about all that the Bible tells us from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. From “In the beginning God” to “The grace of the Lord Jesus”.
Grace – a word our world is far from. No overlooking any wrongs, no room for differing opinions, no room for genuine love or forgiveness.
And yet the sure promises of the Lord, penned by the Holy Spirit, remind us of the grace that is true and is ours. “The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17 NIV)
So the quiet we need comes from Grace and Righteousness, that of Jesus – a quiet that isn’t about noise level but about a life that is restful, serene because it is lived trusting God and lived pleasing Him. Yes, in quietness I will still my soul. (Psalm 131:2 NIV)
PLaY CReaTivEly WitH YoUr LiTtLe OnE
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