OUR GOD OFFERS REST

November 7, 2016

Rest. It’s what a weary mom longs for after sleepless nights with a newborn and busy days with non-stop toddlers.

Rest. It’s what an athlete needs when physical exhaustion pushes him to the limit.

Rest. It’s what an overworked worker looks forward to when planning that long-anticipated and well-deserved vacation.

Rest. It’s what we all need, when stressed and burdened, we cry out to God, “I just can’t do this anymore!”

More than physical rest, we need rest for our souls.

When we are under pressure. When we are being bombarded with worry. When we can’t live up to someone else’s expectation. When we stagger under an unbearable burden. When we are trying to be good enough. When we can’t do it – whatever “it” is – anymore!

Oswald Chambers wrote: “…when the circumstances of the day seem too much to bear, we do well to recall that there is always an invitation to share the yoke with the One Whose strength never fails and the result is rest for our souls.”

Yes, our Father God offers rest for our souls in Christ’s invitation: “Come unto Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest….you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28,29)

Do you want rest for your soul? Then give in; accept the invitation. RSVP “Yes, I’m coming, Lord.” Then rest in Him.

(Join me every Monday as I share more discoveries on my quest to know God better)

 

 


OUR GOD IS GENUINELY GENEROUS

July 18, 2016

Recently I discovered that a “baker’s dozen” didn’t start out as a gesture of generosity. It was a safeguard implemented by British breadmakers around 1260, because they were being accused of shorting their customers with skimpy loaves.

Our God – unlike those British breadmakers – is genuinely generous, and we find evidence of that truth all throughout the Bible. Here are some examples:

God’s love has been poured out in our hearts. (Romans 5:5)
God made the riches of His grace abound toward us. (Ephesians 1:7)
God is abundant in mercy to all who call on Him. (Psalm 86:5)
God abundantly forgives all who return to Him. (Isaiah 55:7)

The greatest proof of God’s generosity is found in the word “whoever”. In John 3:16 we read: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” No person is outside the “whoever” group. God’s generous love for all mankind motivated Him to offer eternal life in Jesus; because His invitation is also generous, whoever believes in Jesus can enjoy our God’s generosity forever.

Maybe your local bakery doesn’t give you the 13th donut; that’s OK. (They aren’t very good for you anyway…) You can be sure of this undeniable truth: our God is genuinely generous. He gives us much more than an extra donut, and we are eternally thankful for that!

(Join me each Monday of 2016 as I share what I’m learning on my quest to know God more.)


OUR GOD KNOWS OUR NEEDS AND HAS THEM COVERED

April 11, 2016

Our needs don’t take God by surprise; He knows all about them. God even has his plan in motion to cover all of our future needs. Take Jacob’s family, for example. (Genesis chapters 37-50) God knew that a future, severe famine would ravage the land, and also knew that Jacob and his family would have no food, but He had them covered.
– Jacob didn’t know about his future needs when he held Joseph’s blood-stained tunic in his hands, and weeping, “…refused to be comforted”.
– Joseph’s brothers didn’t know about the future famine when they threw him into the pit.
– Joseph himself didn’t totally understand God’s plan when his brothers sold him to the passing traders, or when he was unjustly accused and imprisoned in Egypt.

But God knew; His plan was in motion. Before Jacob’s life-threatening need for food, God already had it covered. Following his imprisonment, Joseph was put over all of Egypt, and God used Pharaoh – the pagan ruler – to give Jacob and his family not only food during the famine, but also the best of the land.

In Matthew 6, Jesus specifically mentions material needs just prior to assuring His audience that “your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things”. (v. 32)

Maybe you have tremendous material needs right now; or you may have needs in the future that you are unaware of now. Jacob’s story and our own experiences confirm Christ’s words: our Father God knows what we need. Trust Him. He’s got them all covered!

(Join me every Monday of 2016 in my quest to know God better)


OUR GOD, OUR REFUGE

March 14, 2016

Safety. Security. Protection. From our first breath until our final one, we all need to feel safe, secure and protected. Who watches out for our safety and protection? Who can we run to when we’re afraid, or feel threatened? The Psalmist made this declaration, which has given assurance to many of God’s children throughout centuries: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though….” (Psalm 46:1,2)

Even though what? … Even though I’m going through the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced? Even though the storm that’s on the horizon threatens to destroy me? Even though the impending danger has the capacity to sweep me off my feet?…Even though I feel unsafe, insecure, afraid and unprotected? Is God my refuge then? Can I really count on Him?

Remember when the disciples were experiencing a scary storm and cried out to Jesus in fear? He calmed the storm and calmed them, responding, “…do not be afraid.”  (Mark 6:49,50) They found their refuge in Jesus.

When we feel like the disciples, in the middle of a destructive storm, let’s cry out to Jesus and take refuge in Him. Either He’ll calm the storm, or He’ll calm us. Maybe He’ll calm both. He is our refuge.

(Join me every Monday of 2016 in my quest to know God better)


OUR GOD LIFTS US UP

March 7, 2016

The phrase “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps” suggests that we have the capability of lifting ourselves out of an impossible situation by our own effort. Really? Can we really pull ourselves up?

“…there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.” (Luke 13:10-13)

How many times, in those 18 years, did that bent-over lady try to straighten herself up? Maybe every day. Maybe several – or many – times a day. Or maybe she just gave up, resigned to being bent-over forever. Then Jesus showed up and did what she couldn’t; He made her straight.

What impossible situation weighs so heavy on you that it has you bent over? Your calloused fingers constantly tug on those bootstraps, but you’re still bowed down. There’s no way that you can lift yourself up; your impossible situation doesn’t change.

When your best efforts leave you bowed down and bent over, believe that God can lift you up. Let go of those bootstraps! Trust God today to do what you can’t.

“The Lord raises those who are bowed down.” (Psalm 146:8)

(Join me every Monday of 2016 on my quest to know more of God)


OUR GOD IS LOVE

February 15, 2016

True love isn’t symbolized by a valentine; true love is symbolized by a cross on Calvary.

True love isn’t represented by a chubby cupid; true love is represented by the nails that held our Savior to that cross.

True love isn’t expressed in a melt-your-heart love letter; true love is expressed in the words of Jesus. “Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

True love isn’t confirmed by marriage vows; true love is confirmed by the fact that nothing “shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39)

True love isn’t finding the love of your life. True love is GOD, reaching out to you.

If you’ve been longing to find true love, pursue God. God is love….true love.

(Join me every Monday of 2016 as I share my quest to know God better)

 


FREE TO CHOOSE

December 29, 2015

A new year, a clean slate and endless choices. We have 366 days ahead of us, (2016 is a Leap Year!) and how we choose to live each day depends on us. We may not be able to choose our circumstances, but we are free to choose our reactions, attitudes, and our conduct. Since we are free to choose, here are some excellent choices I want to make, and I hope you join me!

CHOOSE TIME ALONE WITH GOD. We can start each day spending time with God to get His perspective, wisdom, direction, strength and peace, or we can “wing it” on our own. Psalm 63:1 tells us: “O God, You are my God; early will I seek You…”  It usually doesn’t go as good when we “wing it.”

CHOOSE GRACE. Let’s opt to treat others with the lavish grace that God pours out in our life. In Matthew 10:8 we find these words of Jesus: “Freely you have received, freely give.” We can show grace to others only because we’ve received it from Him.

CHOOSE TRUTH. Instead of allowing damaging thoughts pull us down, let’s believe what is true. We find truth in God’s word. Christ said that if we abide in His word, we will know the truth, and the truth will make us free. (John 8:32) Believing the truth of His Word, we’ll be free!

CHOOSE TRUST. We have a choice: to worry and be afraid, or to trust God. We can’t do both. Psalm 9:10 says, “And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.” Why would we not choose to trust our Faithful God?

CHOOSE TO LIVE FOR JESUS. It’s either our selfish agenda, or His; our lives revolve around ourselves, or they revolve around Him. The Apostle Paul wrote that “…those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” (2 Corinthians 5:14)

CHOOSE SURRENDER. Our burdens can get really heavy; we weren’t made to carry them. That’s why we have the privilege of giving them to God. Peter’s encouragement to believers is to cast “all your cares on Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) Our Heavenly Father wants us to trust Him with our burdens.

CHOOSE CONTENTMENT. It’s easy to gripe and complain; to be grumpy instead of thankful. Let’s learn what the Apostle Paul learned: to be content. He said, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” (Philippians 4:11) When we are content, we are thankful!

CHOOSE TO END THE DAY PROCLAIMING GOD’S FAITHFULNESS. We can end each day lamenting how bad it went, or thankfully proclaim God’s faithfulness. Here’s a recommendation from the Psalmist: “It is a good thing to give thanks to the Lord…to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning and Your faithfulness every night.” (Psalm 92:1,2)

Don’t forget: we’re free to choose!


“HE COULD COME AT ANY TIME NOW”

April 20, 2015

It was by far the most beautiful Saturday morning in NE Ohio since last summer, which seemed light-years away due to our exceptionally harsh winter. We were enjoying a cloudless sky and temperatures in the los 70s when our son Adriel dropped the kids off to spend a few hours with us. Eight-year-old Jehiel and Milos, 6, were busy with Lolo George: fishing, painting dart boards and helping straighten up the garage. They were having so much fun that they almost forgot about playing games on the tablet, their favorite inside activity. Two-year old Kayra was “helping” me make hamburger buns in the kitchen. A little clump of dough – and way too much flour – kept her occupied at the counter while I got my work done. Then we headed out for a bike ride around the lake. She giggled and squealed with delight while watching the geese.

As we were finishing lunch, Jehiel presented his plan: “Now I can go fishing, help Lolo George some more, then play with the tablet…” We reminded him that time was short and Daddy would be coming to pick them up real soon. Convinced that he still had plenty of time, I again reminded him, “But you don’t know when Daddy’s coming. He could be here any time now.”

That reminded me of what I read just hours earlier. Jesus told his followers: “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.” (Matthew 24:42). He will come in the context of normal, everyday, heavily scheduled, busy days.

Aren’t we all a bit like Jehiel? Don’t we get so involved in our plans and wrapped up in our activities that we forget the reality that Jesus might come at any time?  Jesus summed up the teaching about His return like this: “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matthew 24:44)

As we go about our busy days, let’s be ready and remember this: He could come at any time now!


The Elf on the Shelf, the Mensch on the Bench or the Light in the Night

December 15, 2014

For a long, long time, Santa had to patrol the world alone to find the “naughty or nice” kids. Then he hired an Elf on the Shelf. Now Santa’s helper, the Elf on the Shelf, fulfills that mission, according to the “About us” page of  www.elfontheshelf.com.

The Mensch on the Bench brings Holiday fun to Jewish children. Who is the Mensch on the Bench? His creator, Neal Hoffman, states in The Jerusalem Post that he is “A Jewish version of the wildly popular Elf on the Shelf toy; the doll and book set retells the Hanukkah story and explains what it means to be a “mensch”, a Yiddish word meaning person of honor” (www.jpost.com)

While the Elf on the Shelf and the Mensch on the Bench are light-hearted fun, they shouldn’t steal the show. The most important figure of the Holiday Season is the Light in the Night. Hundreds of years prior to Christ’s birth, the prophet Isaiah wrote about Him, saying, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.” (Isaiah 9:2) Dispelling any doubt about who Isaiah was referring to, Jesus Himself declared in John 8:12: “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life.”

In January, the Elf on the Shelf will be packed away in the attic, and the Mensch on the Bench will be carefully wrapped and stored with all the Holiday decorations. Without the Light in the Night, those who live in darkness will still be in darkness; the fearful and the lonely will not have changed. Those who suffer bondage and despair will not see a way out. But there is a way out! There is life and hope in Jesus, the Light in the Night.

We can live without the Elf on the Shelf, and we can lead a normal life never having a Mensch on the Bench; but we cannot live without the Light in the Night – Jesus! And that is the reason why He is the central figure of the Holiday Season!


THE GREATEST ACT OF LOVE – An Easter Acronym

April 13, 2014

Is Easter only about colored, decorated eggs, the Easter bunny, “Peeps” and jelly beans? Is it simply another long weekend? Or is Easter about having the table set with fine china, an impressive Easter centerpiece and an excess of well-prepared food? What is Easter?

We can best understand Easter by seeing what God has to say about it. After all, it was His greatest act of love that prompts this annual celebration: The death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. Looking at an acronym for the word “Easter” will give us insight into its meaning.

E – Everlasting life. That’s the foundation of our celebration. In one of the most well-known Bible verses, we read: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

A – Assurance. In a long heart-to-heart session with His followers shortly before His death, Jesus assured them (and us) “Because I live, you will live also.” (John 14:19)

S – Salvation. Before Jesus made his physical appearance on earth, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph, announcing Christ’s arrival. He said: “You shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

T – The Gift. Throughout the Bible, we are reminded that we are all sinners, deserving death. But we praise God that “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

E – Enemies. That’s what we were when Christ died for us. Because Jesus died, we are offered reconciliation. The apostle Paul explained it this way: “…when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son.” (Romans 5:10)

R – Resurrection. To a woman who was grieving the death of her brother, Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” (John 11:25,26)

Color the eggs. Eat the “Peeps” and jelly beans and enjoy your delicious family meal. But always remember God’s greatest act of love, and let the reality of Christ’s death and resurrection be the center of your celebration. That’s what Easter is all about!


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