Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Lost Sheep Around His Shoulders

Ever stumble and fall flat on your face?  Does it sometimes seem like everything that can go wrong does?  It happens to us all sometimes.  The danger comes when the enemy whispers in your ear, "Now you've blown it...God surely won't forgive you this may as well give up."  Or, "When you became a Christian, life was supposed to be a breeze.  But everything seems to be going wrong instead.  Better to try something else to make life better..."
But we know from God's word that those are lies.  Throughout the Old Testament, Israel walked away from God many, many times, but every time they repented they were forgiven.  God's nature is unchangable.  He's the same today as yesterday and will be tomorrow.  And hard times? We're going to have them.  But God doesn't cause the trouble.  He's the one who helps us through it.  Jesus said it well: "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world."- John 17:33 (emphasis mine)
So if trouble in this life is to be expected, how do we get through it?  Today in church my Pastor gave us four ideas:
1. Don't walk away from God when things get tough. Persevere.  Lean into him instead of away.
2. Don't put your securities into this life.  Build up instead your treasure in heaven for where your treasure is, there is where your heart will be.
3. Respond to suffering in this life with praise and thanksgiving.  WHAT?!
 No matter what trial you're going through you can praise God for something.  I praise him for forgiving me no matter how many times I fall.  I praise him because no matter how much pain I have now, in heaven I'll be given a perfect body that will never experience pain again.  I praise God for loving me though I don't deserve it.  I praise God that he's promised that I'll have an eternal life that will be beyond imagination.
Kinda like that!
4. Recognize where your life is off kilter with God and repent of it, if that's the problem.
Peace comes from our relationship with God despite our circumstances.  I've learned a lot about that lately; check out some of my past posts.  Several times over the past year I've come very close to losing a friend that I love dearly, but I can say that out of these trials I know that I'm closer to God because of it.  It's been an agonizing time for me, but God truly carried me through it.  Perseverance has made me stronger.

If the trouble comes as a consequence of wrongdoing, just get up, dust yourself off, and tell him you're sorry.  He created us; he knows we're not perfect and loves us anyway.  Remember the story of the lost sheep? Jesus told it this way:
"Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them.  Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?  And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.  Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.'  I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent."- Luke 15:4-7

In our Christian walk it's important to examine our hearts and keep them right with God.  It's so easy to go astray and wander off like a lost sheep.  But how wonderful to know that he will put us around his shoulders, carry us home and rejoice!  It's an honor to serve a faithful and loving Father.
May our lives be pleasing to him, may we keep the faith through the storms of this life, and rest in the arms of  the one who holds the universe in his hands.

Wishing you blessings as always, and-
many thanks to my Pastor who was the inspiration for this post.
I hope you like the little fishes!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Turning on the Light

Have you ever had a terrible nightmare and wakened sweaty, terrified and shaken? I don't know about you, but the first thing I do is reach for the light.
It floods the room, banishing the shadows and the horrific images fade as I come fully awake and see what's really there in the room with me.
When I think of my life without my Lord it was something like that. It was a nightmare world that I just couldn't wake up from.  But when I surrendered my life to him everything changed; as I studied his word and learned to walk by faith, the difference is like dark and light. As it says in Psalms, Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.-Psalm 119:105  So that's how I know how to walk. His word lights up the path that my feet should take.  It shows me the obstacles that might make me stumble and shows me where the path is that I'm to be following.

To others who are still trapped in their various nightmare worlds, or just wandering blindly along, how can we not share this light?  It isn't just for us to see our own way, we're meant to share it with the world around us.  As it says in Luke, when Zechariah was prophesying about his son John who would prepare the way for Jesus:
"because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace."-Luke 2:78-79

Jesus told us, "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."-Matthew 5:14-16
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."-John 8:12

When we follow Jesus, read scripture, incorporate it's teachings into our lives, and have an active prayer life, we can't help but shine our light.  When we become involved in ministry, we shine a light.  When we share with others how our lives have changed, we shine a light. :) 

Keep shining your lights for those in darkness to see and be drawn to a life of love and peace that only he can give.
Wishing all of you many blessings!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Follow Me

To the humble, toiling fisherman
He said, "Come, follow me"
They dropped their nets and lives
Never dreaming of the miracles to be
He healed the sick, all who came
He loved and ate with sinners
Treating all people the same
He opened the eyes of the blind
I know that's what he did for me
He opened up my eyes
And at last I truly see
Now like those long ago fisherman
I follow as he leads me along
Be it through the mountains and the valleys
When I am weary, he is strong
And as I follow him
I pray every single day
To become more like my Savior
Loving others the same way
Let me mirror his compassion
The love freely given to me
So others may follow him too
We are captives now set free
Through the dank dark shadows
And in days most brilliant light
I always know that I am safe
As long as my Savior is in sight
His spirit fills me with abundant peace
Though the world is full of strife
I will follow til he takes me home
Into the wonder of eternal life

Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep. O Lord, you preserve both man and beast. How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.- Psalm 36:5-9

My friend Sue, who was so critically ill these past few weeks is finally recovering. Many times we thought we'd lose her- though only for a little while; we will surely be reunited with our loved ones in our eternal life.
But it's looking like she'll be with us awhile yet here.

Wishing you all blessings as always!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Finding Peace

I think all of us come across a few people in our lives that truly inspire us.  I'm lucky that my mother and stepdad are two of them.  They are amazing people, full of faith and love that I'm so grateful for.  I'm very blessed to have two more; my former in laws that have continued to be a huge part of my life.  As in my last post, this treasure of a woman remains critically ill, which is why I haven't written much lately...
But through all the heartache, in the dark hours of night when I can't sleep, I know I'm not alone.  My heavenly Father raises me up to continue, and in him there is still peace that passes understanding.
My soul finds rest in God alone;
my salvation comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
Psalm 62:1-2
On my bed I remember you; 
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
My soul clings to you; 
your right hand upholds me.
Psalm 63:6-8

Wishing blessings and peace to all of you!