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Archive for September, 2012

Changes in Seasons

It is that time of year when we rapidly begin to see changes in the weather. The temperature drops. The colors on the trees reflect the majesty of a Creator God with all the beauty and splendor of the colors across the spectrum.  As I stood on the shore of Lake Michigan this week, however, I was also reminded it was a change in how I need to dress.  The wind was whipping the sand in a fury.    My hair was blowing and my ears were cold; I needed a warm hat.  I had on a light baseball-style cotton hat, but it certainly wasn’t adding much warmth.  I needed to change the type of hat or at least the quality of hat I wore.

 

That moment seemed a perfect metaphor for my life.  Not only does a change in season require me to change my outer garments for more warmth, but there are activities, relationships, responsibilities that require me to change the “hat” I wear…sometimes several times a day.  Do you experience that too? You are a daughter–a hat; a mom–another hat; a wife–yet, another hat; an employee–perhaps many hats, on and on…life requires me to adapt adjust and wear different “hats” based on circumstances, roles and relationships.

 

So it also was for Jesus Christ.  Jesus wore many “hats.”  To Mary, Jesus Christ was a son (John 2).  He was a brother (John 7) and faced the scoffing we all have experienced from siblings at some point.   To Martha, Mary and Lazarus, Jesus was their friend (John 10). To the disciples, Jesus wore the hat of a future king, leader, the Messiah.

 

This month our writers are going to share how they are being drawn closer to Christ and His image through the various “hats” they wear…journey with us and please leave a comment about how your “hats” change with the seasons, with various roles and relationships, but most of all, how you experience God’s love and grace as you wear different “hats”.

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As God’s dearly loved children, Jesus has entrusted us with His mission.  In fact, many call it the Great Commission…

“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations…’”  Matthew 28:18-20

Within that Great Commission, each of us as His children are entrusted with a specific mission field we have been called to.

Whoever you are and wherever you are, God has placed you in perfect position to bring glory to Him by living out His Truth–His love and forgiveness, His joy, wisdom, and His comfort.

Whether you are in a jail cell or in a high-rise, whether at work or in school, whether highly educated or high school dropout, poor or rich, genius or average intelligence, extrovert or introvert, SAH Mom or Full Time Mom in the work force…God has a uniquely designed mission plan for you that can draw others to salvation through Jesus Christ and will bring glory to His Name.

May we never forget that we are on mission, dear Lord Jesus.  Help us not to forget!  You have blessed us with every spiritual blessing, entrusted us with so very much.  We want to be responsible with what you have entrusted us, and we look forward to the day we will see you again and hear your voice say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

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This week we have talked about the amazing things God has entrusted to us as His children.  Things like His love, His forgiveness, His joy, His wisdom, His mission…and today we look at how His comfort is entrusted to us.  The comfort He gives to you and me allows us to bring solace to those around us who are struggling.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”  2 Corinthians 1:3,4

Let’s be really honest with ourselves!  We are not always willing to step out and support those around us. So what keeps us from passing God’s kind of comfort on to others?

I am just plain old lazy.  Mercy is not my spiritual gift.  I have my own set of challenges.  Hey, I am the one that needs comfort!

I know for me, sometimes I am uncomfortable with the level of pain the person is experiencing.  Perhaps it feels too huge to me, something I have never experienced personally and so I am intimidated.  But I have to admit that there are also times I see friends struggle with something they see as big but it seems like a really small thing to me…and I hold back on offering comfort.

While we never really completely understand what another person is going through, even when we have dealt with similar issues, is that really a valid reason for me to hold back on offering comfort through a simple kind word or a promise to pray or the offer of help?

And just because I don’t struggle with certain challenges doesn’t give me the right to judge another person’s struggles as a “small” thing to deal with.

May our hearts be open to allow God’s comfort to flow in to the nooks and crannies of our struggle, and may we then pass that comfort we have received on to those around us who are also facing challenges of their own.

 

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Need a laugh?  Here are some funny “wise sayings” from around the globe found in the game Wise and Otherwise:

Kiss the dog on his mouth until you get what you want from him.

(An old Moorish saying.  Just don’t forget to first put mouthwash in his water dish!)

Bald people can always find a comb.

(A proverb from Thailand.  I will have to ask my husband if this one is true.)

If you have no money be polite.

(A Danish saying.  So true, so true!)

Wisdom, the ability to see things accurately, and to understand which choices are the best ones out of all the options…that is a treasure worth chasing down!  And the beauty is, God is excited for us to desire wisdom and He readily entrusts us with His perfect wisdom.

James, in the New Testament, tells us we can boldly ask God for wisdom.  James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”  Not only will He give greater understanding to us, but He will entrust us with His wisdom without making us feel humiliated for asking.

King Solomon of Israel asked for wisdom when the Lord offered to grant him a request.  (I Kings 3:5-14)  He was led by God to pen all kinds of wise sayings in the book of Proverbs to in turn help others have greater understanding and discernment.  Wisdom such as: “gossip separates close friends.”  “Wine is a mocker.”  “Make plans by seeking advice…”

May we earnestly seek wisdom and understanding from God as we walk through our day and may we bless those around us with the precious wisdom God has entrusted to us by our example and our conversation.

 

 

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As I jumped in the shower, my mind reeled with thoughts of the morning. My early morning run had refreshed my body and soul, but as I stepped in the door, the abrasive realities of life glared at me head on: a kindergartener in tears over going to school, a discussion with my spouse over financial insecurities, spilled cereal, and busy schedules. While the steaming hot water poured over my body, I picked up my body wash and noticed its name: everlasting sunshine. I hadn’t noticed it before, but today I was grasping for hope, and in those simple words … everlasting sunshine … my mind turned back to truth, to my everlasting “SON”shine, my Savior who promises me both joy and hope in spite of my circumstances. How I long for that joy He promises! How I want to truly capture it, pursue it, like a young child chasing after a brilliant yet elusive butterfly.

When Jesus spoke to His disciples in John 14 and 15, He sought to comfort them with His wisdom, His promises, His peace. In John 15:11, He delves into the reason behind His words: “I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” Complete joy? Full of joy? Joy that overflows and abounds? I want that … my soul searches and I know my human nature and my human limitations and I wonder how that complete joy can be attained. My memory takes me back to a favorite verse, Psalm 34:5, in which the psalmist declares, “Those who look to Him are radiant with joy; their faces will never be ashamed.” That radiance, that “everlasting sunshine,” that I have been pursuing is mine when I look to Him. In Hebrews 12:2, I am instructed to “keep [my] eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of [my] faith.” It seems the instruction is clear. There is no lengthy, multi-ingredient recipe to joy. It is there for the taking when I keep my eyes on my Savior, when my focus is Him, solely HIM.

The circumstances of life may swirl around me like hurricane force winds, but when I stake my claim in Jesus, when I keep my eyes on Him, He is “able to protect [me] from stumbling and to make [me] stand in the presence of His glory, blameless and with great joy” (Jude 24). Jesus is the joy-giver. His power can overcome my inabilities, my limitations, my insecurities, and He wants me to take His joy and share it. God trusts me with His joy. He knows that when I look to Him and that radiance that can only come from Him fills me up, I will have an everlasting sunshine that draws others to Him. Am I ready to take the plunge, to capture His joy for good, and keep my eyes on Him with a rock-solid strength only He can provide?

The joy of the Lord is our strength!  May He fill us up to overflowing!

 

 

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Yesterday’s focus was on how we have been entrusted with God’s enormous love for us.  We also have been entrusted with His all encompassing forgiveness.

“If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?  But with you there is forgiveness…” Psalm 130:3,4

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  I John 1:9

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”  Ephesians 4:32

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”  Colossians 3:13

The link between God’s forgiveness of us and our forgiveness of others is inspiring, daunting, motivational, and a little uncomfortable…

Are you like me and find that forgiveness is an easy concept to embrace in Phase One, God’s Forgiveness of MY Personal Sins, but then asI hit Phase Two, me forgiving others,  it gets a little tricky?  I am helped  to do this hard thing when I think about it in this way:  I have been entrusted with a sacred privilege and responsibility, from the God I passionately love, to pass God’s kind of forgiveness on to those in my life even when it isn’t easy or the person is difficult.  This motivates me to step up and meet God’s expectations.

I know this, in all things I can choose to trust God!  Even when it is hard to forgive with His kind of forgiveness, I can know that He is with me and He will help me to follow through.

 

Father God, thank you for your forgiveness! Please help us today and in the coming days to be faithful with what we have been entrusted, and in particular, help us to be faithful to forgive.

 

 

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Last week on this blog we took a look at ways one woman has found she can trust God…practical, every day type of things like family and finances that all of us can relate to.  This week we are going to look at what God entrusts to us as His children.

By way of definition, to entrust is to invest or charge, as in a duty or responsibility.  To entrust is to delegate, to give over something to someone for performance, or care, or protection.

Immediately my mind connects the above definitions with words like good and precious and valuable…one doesn’t entrust something that one feels neutral about or that is worthless.  And that is certainly the case when we are talking about the kinds of things God has entrusted to us as His children.  And what tops the list of precious things God has entrusted to us?  For me, it has to be God’s love!

“…And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge…” Ephesians 3:17,18

“My command is this:  Love each other as I have loved you.”  John 15:12

“We love because He first loved us.”  I John 4:19

Link the principles of these verses together and what a powerful thought…God has entrusted us with His enormous love, giving it until it  overflows so that we can spill that love over in to the lives of others.  We have the privilege (and responsibility) to invest God’s kind of love in the lives of those around us.

Later this week we will be looking at more things that have been entrusted to us–His amazing forgiveness, His perfect joy, His precious wisdom, His dear comfort, and His amazing mission.

May God bless our week!  May we step forward in a new realization of His love that has been entrusted to us and may we pass that love on to those around us!

 

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