It’s all in the doing…

I’m not sure if this is actually a blog post or a personal memo. Either way, I can’t get it off my brain, so here it goes.

My pastor preached on forgiveness this past Sunday. He used Matthew 5:21-26 as his primary text and did his usual phenomenal job of teaching us how to appreciate the way the words were deliberately chosen, as well as bringing the Word to life and making them practical. I can appreciate all of that. I love the way words are crafted, too…and I thought he brought out some really great points.

He talked to us about Romans 12:12 tells us to “be transformed” and then began the process of showing us how the rest of the Word makes that both possible and practical. Pastor Chris reminded us that we’re not to stop at the standards set by the world, or even by those set by historical religious teachers…we’re supposed to meet God’s standard.

In case you don’t remember just off the top of your head or haven’t reached for your Bible yet, Matthew 5:21-26 deals with anger…and forgiveness.

I thought Pastor Chris did a great job. I loved the sermon…and then…

I had to apply it this week.

Don’t ever think that God doesn’t have a sense of humor…or timing…cropped-heart

Now, it’s up to me to get busy with the doing.

“Forgiven people forgive.” That’s what we were taught on Sunday. That’s where I’m walking this week.

How are YOU doing the Word this week?

Grace & Peace!

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Light afflictions?

Light afflictions…

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory”   2 Corinthians 4:17

I’ve been thinking a lot about heaven these past couple of weeks. I’d love to say that’s because I’m so lofty-minded, but the real reason is because I keep getting news about people I know who have just recently gone there.

That’s right. This is about that…and a few other things. I’m fine. We’re well and hoping to continue that way, but a lot of people I love are really hurting right now. Within the past two weeks I’ve learned that a friend lost her husband, one lost her mother, another lost her father, one lost a son and, just this past Sunday, a family member lost a son…all that in addition to the realization that I may have actually lost count of the recent surgeries and the difficult diagnoses that are out there, too.

It would be easy to hear all this hard news and become discouraged and angry and bitter, but it wouldn’t change a thing. In fact, it would just slow down the process of learning what God has to say about all these recent challenges. I lay in bed the other night just thinking, “Heaven must be incredible! These things are hard, God, and if these are some of the “light afflictions” and the joy really is that great… no wonder John didn’t have the vocabulary to tell us all about heaven in words that we could all easily understand at will. Dear God, help us focus on THAT.”

I mean, think about it! The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus went through all of that agony, took on all the sins of the world, endured the turning away of His Father (!), was despised and rejected by men (then AND now!)—all of that!– “for the joy that was set before Him.” He did all of that just to make sure He could take us with Him and keep us with Him forever because the joy that is coming is SO MUCH BIGGER than our deepest pain in this world. Wow.

And yet we waffle in our belief. We lose sight of the goal and choose to be less some days. We forget that our inconsistencies can keep others from seeing His light…and in doing so, we make it easier for the world to deny Him even now.

One thing is certain in this life. Hard things will happen, but wait! There’s something else that is just as certain:  God will be there with us in the midst of it…and He wants, more than anything, to have us all with Him forever. There is promise in that. There is hope in that. There is healing in that. I need all of that and so do you!

So here’s the next step today:  we get to choose. We get to choose what and WHO we believe, and we get to choose how we’ll live, and we get to choose how we’ll share HIM—how we’ll LIVE HIM—before the world who is ALSO dealing with these hard things…without Him.

Here’s what I know: I can’t fix the hurts here or wave away the hard news.  What I can tell you is my deliberately chosen response to these things:

  1. Heaven is gathering a new fascination for me simply because my Jesus is there and He’s got a great and growing collection of people I love who have already found themselves there, too.
  2. I’ve got a life to live here that makes other people want to go along with me as I travel there.
  3. Until that happens, I’ll be…

 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12:2

Want to go with me?

Grace & Peace!

cropped-heart

Identity Secure?

I found out this week that someone was trying to use my name…and that they were also trying to use my debit card number…and it wasn’t me. I wasn’t alarmed when my card was declined while trying to buy fruit at the Kroger store, but I did follow up on the matter and I’m really glad I did.

My first call was to my banker, who heard my voice and called me by my first name. It was exactly what I expected of her because we’ve known one another for years. We’ve talked many times–in and out of her office. We’ve worshiped together, exchanged stories about God’s goodness, and prayed together about matters of concern to each of us. She knows me by more than just my name or the string of numbers which represent me on her computer screen. She immediately took safety precautions and started the necessary procedures to take care of the matter for me. Her response reminded me of why I chose to do business there in the first place and reinforced that decision in a major way.

“Annoyed” doesn’t even begin to touch how I feel about some nefarious person trying to steal from me and others using my card number, but the fact is that sometimes that kind of thing happens in our electronic society where we’re known by numbers instead of by face. It means we must be on our guard–and it makes a strong argument for using cash!

As I monitored my accounts in the early morning hours, the following thought occurred to me:  I’m so glad that can’t happen in Christ!

My true identity is not one marked by a specific sequence of numbers and it can never be stolen…electronically or otherwise. My true identity as a child of God is safe because I am HIS! I am safe and secure in Him. I am loved by Him. He knows my voice and, even better, He knows my heart. I am deeply and personally known by Him and He is always watching over me.

I am comforted by that. You can be, too. Do you have that kind of security?

“See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me.” Isaiah 49:16 

“But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him.” I Corinthians 8:3 

cropped-heart“O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.”   Psalm 139: 1-5

Grace & Peace!