Right Here, Right Now

Have you ever heard someone say “I was born in the wrong era?” I must confess, I have said this. I have made this comment because I sometimes have a yearning for a simpler life. For me, the ideal would have been around the turn of the century. Not the last one, the one before. The Victorian Era with all the beautiful dresses, the lazy Sunday afternoons along the riverbank complete with meaningful conversations. A slower life, with fewer distractions. That’s when I should have been born. It suits my personality better.

Actually, if I would look honestly at that era, I would see that it had its own set of challenges. It wasn’t just sunny days and beautiful people. If I had lived in that day, it’s likely that one or more of my sons would have served in WWI or died of the influenza.  From a distance, life in another time might look easier, simpler. But no time in history was without problems and difficulties.

And that brings up the real question. Why was I born in this era? Why am I alive at this very moment?

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”Ephesians 2:10(ESV)

If the things God designed me to do for Him were prepared beforehand then it sounds like I was meant to be on earth at exactly this time.

Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.” – Psalm 139:16 (ESV)

God knew when he created each of us just what we were ordained to do. He already had our days planned out for us so that we would accomplish what He designed us to do.  He told Jeremiah (Jer. 1:5) that He had appointed him as a prophet to the nations while Jeremiah was still in his mother’s womb.

So why are we tempted to long for a different life? Maybe it’s not a different era, but a different set of circumstances that we could have in this life. Maybe a different location, maybe a different family, or maybe a different set of skills or abilities.

It’s easy to focus on the difficulties of living in the 21st century. We face things that seem so much harder than those who have lived before us faced. We long for less stress and more time. But it is all an illusion. Each generation has been prepared and equipped by God to accomplish His works in the circumstances where they find themselves.

We were ordained to be living right now. We have a purpose to fulfill in these days and God determined that we were the generation to do this work. What we have is today. This day, to bloom right where God has planted us, to be faithful to Him in this time that He has ordained for us.

What can you do today to further God’s kingdom? What can you do today to bring Him glory?

Ask Him.

The Samaritan Woman

I love the story of the Samaritan woman (John 4). Jesus spoke so clearly to her about her sin and because she received His words, her life was changed. She left her old life and went into the city to tell others about Jesus.

There are three things that make her life an example of what our walk with the Lord should look like.

  1. She listened to Jesus with an open heart. She didn’t make a zillion excuses or blame someone else for her sin.
  2. She made the choice to turn from her old way of life and to believe that she could be different.
  3. She told the story.

It doesn’t matter where you are when Jesus finds you, only that you choose the new life He offers and then tell others about it!

“From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.”” –  John 4:39(ESV)

In Need of Change

I think we can agree that we are living in a season of tremendous change. Our culture is changing, our daily lives are changing, sometimes so fast we can barely keep up. Change is hard, but can be good. Nothing ever stays the same except God. He never changes, but He wants to change us. We know it’s good for us—we need to grow. We can’t stay the same. God has a better plan for us than what we can see from where we are at this moment. The only way to get there is to allow Him to change us. What does this mean for me as an individual?

Once I accept the fact that God wants me to change, I have to settle another issue. I don’t have to change by myself. I don’t have to work harder to be perfect. I don’t have to set a zillion goals and struggle to meet them in order to please the Lord.

God says we can come to Him just as we are and HE will do the changing. He will set the goals and direct our steps. We don’t have to do some sort of extreme makeover in order for God to accept us. He already knows all about us and loves us just as we are.

BUT, He loves us so much, He can’t bear to see us stay as we are. He has so much more in store for us if we will just allow Him to mold us and make us into the people He created us to be!

Even as the world is changing around us every minute, we can allow God to continue to work in us and change our hearts. It actually makes adjusting to the changes around us much easier as we let Him work on us from the inside out.

Heavenly Father, here I am with all my weaknesses and imperfections.  Today I yield to You and ask that You make the changes You know are necessary. I will trust you with the final product because You designed me in the first place.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17(ESV)

Finding Joy in Life’s Messes

No one would argue that the past year has been difficult. Everyone knows that life has been a mess for many people. Most of us are tired and ready to be done with the mess. Many of us are discouraged or at the very least, disappointed in how things have gone for the past year.

My 2020 has been full of difficulties. We have dealt with broken relationships, health issues, and financial challenges, and those were unrelated to COVID-19 arriving on the scene. We have had our share of issues with COVID too. My folks are still recovering from having the virus a month ago. My father-in-law passed in early December after a stroke, and we couldn’t travel to Ohio for the funeral because it is just too risky right now. We have been to church only a handful of times in the past 12 months. We feel isolated and wonder how much longer this can go on.

And yet, right in the middle of all of this, I have this sense of peace. I can be driving to the grocery store and suddenly feel overwhelmed with thankfulness for the life God has given me. I start grinning and telling God how grateful I am for His blessings and His love for us. How is that even possible with all the difficulties we have been dealing with? I sometimes start to feel guilty for having such a positive outlook while so many are struggling and hurting. Don’t I have any sense of compassion at all? Am I just living in denial concerning all the hardships?

I’ve been thinking about this for a while and finally read something that flipped a switch in my understanding. I have no reason to feel guilty. I am not lacking in compassion. What I am experiencing is not denial… it’s JOY!

Do you know how I can find joy in the middle of all this mess? It’s because joy is not based on my circumstances and it’s not something I can muster up on my one. It comes directly from the Holy Spirit. He provides the joy. All I have to do is embrace it.

My circumstances–YOUR circumstances, no matter how difficult, do not change the character of God. He is still good. He is still compassionate. He is still faithful… the list can go on and on. He isn’t any different whether our life is perfect or a total mess.

But we do have a choice to make. We can keep looking at our circumstances and allowing them to guide our view of God or we can look at the character of our God and allow that to influence how we view our circumstances.

The choice is yours.

“And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the Lord. – Psalm 27:6 (ESV)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. – Romans 15:13(ESV)

Stop Being a Backseat Driver

Would you rather be the driver or the passenger? Do you feel more comfortable when you are in the drivers seat? Most people will say they feel more in control if they are driving.

How about when you are in an airplane. Would you rather be the pilot or the passenger? What’s that? You don’t know how to fly a plane? So you would definitely rather be the passenger in this case.

Why is it that we can trust the pilot of a plane more than we can trust someone else who is driving a car? Perhaps it’s because we know we can’t fly the plane better than the pilot, but we think that we just might be able to drive the car better than someone else. So we become a backseat driver, giving directions to the one in control of the vehicle.

From a spiritual perspective, we know we should allow God to be in the driver’s seat but we often try to take control of things. Why is it that we can’t seem to think of Him more as we do the airplane pilot and not as the car driver? How have we convinced ourselves that we are better able to manage our lives than God is? If we truly believe that God is able to do all He has promised to do, then we can trust Him to get us to our final destination unharmed.

There is an extra blessing that comes with allowing God to drive. While He is managing the journey, we are free to relax and enjoy the scenery. He has made a beautiful world, He has given us each an amazing life, but if we spend all our time trying to tell God how to drive, we miss the breath-taking beauty all around us.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” – Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)

“How great is your goodness that you have stored up for those who fear you and accomplished in the sight of everyone for those who take refuge in you.” – Psalm 31:19 (CSV)

The Perfect Surprise

Have you ever purchased the perfect gift for someone and been so excited to give it to them that you could hardly wait? Maybe a new bike for your child or that new tool your husband has been wanting.

In the early years of our marriage I bought my husband a new circular saw for Christmas. I was so excited, for I knew it was just what he wanted and he would not expect it. It would be the perfect surprise.

A few days before Christmas he started playing the guessing game. “What did you get me for Christmas?” Of course I wouldn’t think of telling him. He proceeded to guess and blurted out “a circular saw!” I had been so sure he’d never guess that I wasn’t prepared and my face gave me away. I was so mad at him it’s a wonder he got that saw at all!

Scripture says God has some surprises for us that we will never guess.

but just as it is written, ‘Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.’ “ – 1 Corinthians 2:9

Our Heavenly Father is so excited to show us what he has for us. But there’s more!

Think back to a time when you have had some wonderful news to share with your spouse or a friend. Maybe you said “listen, I can’t wait to tell you!” or “I have the most wonderful news!”

Take a look at Jeremiah 33:3, which says,Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”

The Lord has incredible things to tell us if we will only stop to listen. He is patiently waiting to show us what He has created for us and He has such wonderful things to tell us that He waits in great anticipation. He waits for us to come near and say, “Show me, Father! Tell me, Lord! I want to see and hear all that You have to share.”

Take some time today to ask Him. You will be blessed and you will also bring joy to your Father’s heart because He longs to share what He has prepared for you.

God is full of perfect surprises!

 

What Do You Need?

Are you angry, discouraged, in need of a listening ear? Perhaps you need someone to give you wisdom for a decision you need to make or a problem you need to solve. Do you need a counselor? You need a Wonderful Counselor. It’s Jesus.

Are you weary of the battle? Do you need someone who will fight for you? Someone who has the power to defeat the enemies that want to destroy you. Someone who has the strength to win, every time! You need a Mighty God. It’s Jesus.

Are you afraid? Do you need reassurance that you are loved? Do you need someone to listen to your fears and worries? Someone who will truly care about your struggles and who will love you no matter what you’ve done. You need a father. An Everlasting Father. It’s Jesus.

Does life feel out of control? Are you anxious about broken relationships, your job, your health or your family? Do you need someone to come alongside you and offer you comfort? You need peace. You need the Prince of Peace. It’s Jesus.

He is all you need.

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”. – Isaiah 9:6 (KJV)

What Should I Be When I Grow Up?

A while back, after a particularly long stretch of frustration with my current circumstances, I wrote in my journal a series of questions.

“Who am I, Lord? What is it that I’m supposed to be doing at this stage in my life? Am I really making a contribution to Your kingdom?” I almost felt like I was asking God what I was supposed to be when I grow up.

I didn’t get any answers that day. But a few days later, as I shared this desire for direction with a friend, she confessed that she’d felt the same way. She’d gotten a clear answer from God which I believe was also His answer for me.

She said she believed God had told her that what she was supposed to be was… available. Be available.

We won’t all be called to be preachers, or writers, or doctors. We won’t all find a niche that we will remain in for our entire lives. As we grow, we change. And as we change, God may change what he wants us to do for His kingdom.

As I look ahead to a new year, I won’t be making New Year’s resolutions. My desire is to just be available. God knows exactly what he wants from me during the coming year.

At Christmas time, it’s appropriate to consider the idea of making myself available. After all, the reason we have any hope at all is because Jesus made Himself available to His Father’s will and became a child who would bring hope to the world.

Consider giving Him a gift this year. Make yourself available.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”Matthew 5:14-15 

Make No Mistake








Make no mistake, God does not make mistakes.

We hear it all around us. The questioning of God’s ways, both from skeptics as well as believers.

We hear things like, “how could a good God allow this (or that) to happen?”  We also hear those who would question the actions of God recorded in the Bible. We just can’t understand the motives and decisions of God and it bothers us. For centuries the skeptics have tried to discount God’s infallibility by pointing out the presumed contradictions in the Scriptures.  But God is clear in His own defense ( as if He needs any).

Deut. 32:4 says, “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.” (NIV)

Psalm 18:30 says, “As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.”

Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

The disciples thought that the death of Jesus was a mistake. They didn’t understand, even after walking with Him for three years, that He came to die on purpose. It didn’t fit into their logic. They thought He had come to free them from Rome and when He died they were sure that it was a mistake.

Still today, His followers are often puzzled by the way God works in our world. It doesn’t make sense to us. But would we really want to serve a God that made sense to our limited human intellect? Probably not!

When we see injustice and tragedy in the news it’s hard not to ask why. When we face painful circumstances in our own lives or the lives of loved ones, it’s hard not to think God made a mistake.  But we must remember what the prophet Isaiah told us. In Isaiah 55:9 he says “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” That means we can’t even begin to understand what is in the mind of God. When we try, all we do is get confused and discouraged. Instead, we would do better to focus on trusting Him to do what we cannot do for ourselves. Trust him to not only make our circumstances work for our good, but to take our own mistakes and bring good from them as well. He is able to make all things work for good. That means the ugly things we see in the headlines every day as well as our own foolish mistakes brought about from our misguided motives and selfish desires. We can let God bring good from all of it if we will trust Him. He knows what He’s doing.  Always.

Follow Me

Most of us, at one time or another, have experienced a guided tour.  The assumption from the very beginning is that the guide knows the way.  Why? Because he’s been this way before.  He isn’t going to take you somewhere he hasn’t already been.   Most people don’t head out on a guided tour in a state of fear and anxiety about whether they will return safely. Most of us have no trouble trusting our guide to lead us through a safe, enjoyable experience.  The truth is, though, depending on what kind of tour you take, there may be many potentially dangerous situations that could occur. They don’t occur because the guide knows what they are and he avoids them.

In those situations we actually put a sort of blind trust in a perfect stranger. How do we know for sure that this smiling, cheerful guide is qualified to lead us anywhere at all?  Actually, the “blind” aspect is the key.   If we were aware of all the potential dangers, would we be as trusting?

I don’t do well with heights. I have an inner ear disorder that causes me to become dizzy on a two-step ladder. Imagine that I am being led across a narrow walkway. If my eyes are closed it wouldn’t matter if it were a walkway through a beautiful garden or a narrow path with thousand feet cliffs on both sides. If I trusted my guide enough to close my eyes, he could lead me anywhere safely.

There are many times in life where it would be foolish to “blindly follow” someone else’s guidance. But with God it’s different.  At times, He asks us to follow Him without letting us know where we are going.  Without telling us anything about any of the dangers we might encounter. He just says, “Follow me.”

At that point we have two options. We can balk and ask a million questions to try and decide if we should go OR we can take a deep breath, put our hand in His and take the first step knowing that the Creator of the Universe knows the way.

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.””John 8:12