Happy New Year everyone. I’m sure you are all back in full swing of life after the holidays. For some it’s a relief to settle down into life again and for others it may still be a little crazy. According to the commercials we all need to join that gym and find our bodies again and of course as we are organizing ourselves we need to organize our homes. So my question to you is, ‘ how is that new years resolution working out for you?” I’m not knocking anyone who has made a new years resolution, in fact I admire the tenacity and determination you have. You have made a commitment to do something to better your life and that is very commendable. I on the other hand don’t make resolutions because I never follow thru with them; actually I barely get them started. But there is something that I started over forty years ago that has changed and is still changing every area of my life, has held my interest and has continually exercised every part of my being inside and out. That something is my relationship with God through his son Jesus Christ. Now my friends that has been quite a workout for me as I have allowed him access to areas of me that have been dark, stubborn, rebellious, and angry and I could go on and on. He has taken me to mountaintops and very low crevices that I wasn’t sure I would get out of. He has laughed with me and cried with me has embraced me and talked with me. He has corrected me, healed me and delivered me, from me, and most of all he has never left me but loved me through it all. Again I could go on and on. You see I looked up the meaning of resolution and it means “ a firm decision to do or not to do something. Yes I have had to make resolutions all along my journey and relationship with Jesus, but I want to make those daily and as I’m led, I don’t want to let something go until a new year, I want to make that resolution right away.
The resolution I made over forty years ago as stated in Philippians 3; 14 “ I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. V16: “ let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.”
My encouragement to you and even to myself is to press on in Jesus for He is our goal and our prize is eternity with him. Make that daily resolution to listen and be led to allow him access to you. It’s that Christ like glow that conquers the day. May your New Year be filled with all of God and his best for you. And that’s “mylivinglife”
That’s what they say about this time of year from Thanksgiving to January 1st.Although I’d like to share with you that just because it titled “The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year “ it doesn’t mean it is. Actually for more people than we will know it is the most depressing time of the year. Life doesn’t stop with bad news, tragedy or loss of any kind when the calendar turns to this time of the year. Quite the contrary, the bad news comes, tragedy hits and loss happens. For some loss has already happened and this time of the year makes it harder to bear. For those in mourning it doesn’t turn into laughter and joy just because the song is being sung. The loss of a loved one is a very real and traumatic thing that happens to us all. Whether it’s expected or unexpected it’s all trauma and it hurts. So what does one do during such a time as this when there is no joy? First of all it’s OK to cry. There is healing in tears and second don’t deny the pain and heartache you feel, for in denial one tends to withdraw within themselves. When this happens it’s much harder for one to reach out for the comfort that is so desperately needed. Lets reflect on a story in the scriptures that is a very good example. In John 11:17-45. This is the story of Martha and Mary when their brother Lazarus died. They both were very troubled and mourning his death when Jesus came back into town. In the story Jesus called forth Lazarus from the dead but that is not the part I want to talk about. It’s that place that yes they questioned where Jesus was and why he wasn’t there when their brother was dying but it’s also the part of the scripture that tells us how they in their loss and heartache allowed Jesus into that place to comfort them and help them. It’s that place that we so often close off to God and to others when we are hurting so bad that we can only see the darkness. Mourning the loss of a loved one is inevitable, we are humans living in a fallen world. It’s a part of being human, not the best part but most definitely a part. Before Jesus ascended to the Father he told us he would send us a comforter. Jesus himself said I will give you peace that passes all understanding. Jesus himself is peace. Jesus came to give us life and life more abundantly. How then does the trauma of loss and bad news bring us such despair and rob us of life and peace, and keep us form being comforted?
Another example I would like to point out is when Jesus was on the cross and at that moment the he bore all of our sins on himself and the Father looked away because in him there is no sin. Jesus cried out in agony to the Father saying “My God My God why have you forsaken me?” It was the sin that separated Jesus from the Father and that brought the most agonizing reality to our savior because the presence of the Father wasn’t with him. Jesus died to reconcile us to the Father and nothing will stand in the way of that relationship unless we let it. We are loved with a perfect love and we are given the keys to the kingdom. We shouldn’t be moved away from that gift, that reality and that relationship by what happens here. Yes it hurts beyond words and yes it feels like the life has been sucked out of us. But it hasn’t if we don’t let it. Just like Mary and Martha, they took their sorrow, heartache and loss to Jesus. They still had questions but they allowed him into that place in their hearts. For me the holidays have brought great sorrow. My brother had big plans to join us on Thanksgiving after being away for several years in the service, and as the day grew closer and the excitement was mounting we lost him to a drunk driver in another state. During the holidays that was the most festive time for my mother. Her body could not fight the cancer and the battle was lost on new years day, and for my youngest sister of forty who was a widow and the mother of four young children, her battle to cancer was lost on January 29th. The lights still shine and the music still plays “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” and it doesn’t stop the loss and the heartache. But with my heart open to the one who is peace and the comforter whom Jesus sent to me. I’m one with the Father and yes it still hurts and yes I miss my family but my joy is complete and my life is full. I’ve been given the keys to the kingdom and lights are bright and the songs are being sung, because I’ve chosen life. Life here in the now and life eternal. For those who are mourning loss of any kind, its ok to cry, it’s ok to mourn and it’s ok to ask a question but take all of that to the one who came to give us life more abundant here and eternally. Be honest with yourself and with God so in that confession there is no denial and your heart opens up to the life giver. No matter what time of the year it is, it can be the most wonderful time if we allow ourselves life to overcome the loss. Blessings to you in whatever time of the year you are in and may you allow the giver of life into your life.
Today I’d like to talk about trusting the Lord. This is what you always hear when your struggling with something, like finances, addiction, marital problems, children, your job. All the areas of life. So how does something so cliché and simple work? Is it really as simple as trusting God? The things I mentioned above are only a few areas of the things we can trust God in. Proverbs 3:5 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding”. The meaning of trust is the assured reliance on the strength, ability and truth of God and nothing else. I’ve been a believer for a long time and I thought I trusted my Lord in all the areas I needed to. But I just found out different. Oh how I love how the Holy Spirit continually reveals to me things that are keeping me from that fullness or complete relationship with my God. Let me explain with a visual that has helped me over the years. At salvation we ask Jesus into our lives and he comes to live in our hearts. So I’ve actually pictured the Lord in my heart. This is my literal sense of being. One day many years ago I was standing in my living room and It was as if I saw Jesus stand up on the inside of me and stretch his arms and legs out and say to me, “get the garbage out.” Wow that was interesting since Jesus forgives our sins and it’s removed, but at the same time I knew there were things in my life I was struggling with even with Jesus on the inside and he was telling me they were in his way. Or in his space, so to speak. Well obviously, it’s been years later and I’m still “getting the garbage out”. Oh how I am so thankful for grace and mercy. So periodically I’ve asked the Holy Spirit to reveal anything that is in the way of my relationship with my Lord, so I can deal with it and “get it out”. So here’s another visual that has helped me. I picture my heart as having many chambers. The chambers represent each area of my life. The scripture says to trust God with ALL your heart. As the Holy Spirit reveals an area in my heart that I’m not trusting God, He also reveals with such love my sin of not trusting God in that area and how I’ve been holding on to that area and in what ways. So the other day this happened. I was so shocked because I thought I was trusting God in this particular place. So after repentance and awe I gave that place or chamber up and let my Lord into that place in my heart. It’s an awesome feeling of Gods love, grace, mercy and peace when this happens. So I know now that Jesus my Lord is getting all my heart. It may be in pieces as it’s revealed to me but it’s my will for him to get it all. So you can ask the Holy Spirit also if there is an area in your life that is hindering your relationship with your Lord, so you also can let him into that place in your heart. And that’s living life.
As a believer who has a burden for the lost, God blessed me with a sister in Christ who is also a prayer warrior with me. We spend much time in prayer for our families, friends and even our foes. We have a huge outreach at our church for the nations and praying for all those listed is endless. Nonetheless God has our hearts in this and we are relentless warriors on the behalf of many. I’d like to say that every family member near and far are truly Gods own and I’m sure those of you reading this can say the same thing but truth be told the answer is no. I wish, trusting God and God is faithful, and Jesus is the Savior are but a few phrases we use as we wait for salvation for those we are praying for. A couple weeks ago we were praying over one of our children again, and the scripture came to me in Galatians 4:19 My little children, of whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you. I decided to read the whole chapter to get a better perspective as to what Paul was saying. Paul begins the chapter reflecting on the law in the Old Testament. Then moves into the fullness of time when Christ was sent as the Messiah to bear our sins and bring us eternal life with God in heaven. Throughout Paul talks about the bondage we were in without Christ and the freedom we have in Christ. He share his own body scars from being tortured and imprisoned and his thankfulness for the love of the body who had not judged him but embraced him to the point of wanting to give all they had for him. Paul is writing to a body that he is not physically close to him and he has learned that they are falling back under the law, not believing and living under Gods grace. In verse 19 he is in agony for them as he says “ I am again in travail for you until Christ be formed in you.” It seems there are some in our prayer time that we truly travail for in agony until Christ be formed in them. Those who know the truth and the way of salvation, but don’t seem to have that revelation that gives them the power to stay the course. In scripture I can always find where God has set the course before us and a brother or sister in Christ has had the same heartache as I am experiencing. Paul said it well “ I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you”. I will stay the course and stay in travail until Christ be formed in those God has given me to pray for. It’s the Holy Spirit who brings conviction and draws people unto Jesus. It’s the Holy Spirit who brings us into all truth, teaches us and brings revelation to us. So together with the Holy Spirit I will travail, believe and trust for Christ to be formed in them to stay the course to eternity.
For the past several weeks I have thought much about identity and names. This has me thinking about how important our name is and how much it’s linked to our identity. Proverbs 22:1 says that “ A good name is to be more desired that great riches.” Or in some translations “ a good name is greater than gold.” There are different scenarios in life concerning the name that seems to lead to the same equation of who you are and your identity. One scenario is a blessing for our family but at the same time sadness for another family. One of my sons married a wonderful woman many years ago. In this marriage she brought with her two beautiful young children. We immediately embraced them as our own and now they are grown adults. When our grandson was about to be married he came to my son and asked him to adopt him. This totally took us all by surprise because there is a bio father alive. Without hesitation my son began the process of adoption. It was not difficult because of our grandson being an adult. The adoption went through right before the wedding and we now have a grandson and granddaughter with our name. Soon another adoption went through and it was for our great-grandson who was our grand daughters son when they married. I have often thought about how traumatic of a choice that was for our grandson to relinquish his biological name to bear the name of his step father. All seem to be very happy and thriving in their new identity. Another scenario is a young adult who went through great trauma as a very young child and continued on through their early teens. The two people who gave them their name at birth left this earth when they were still a preschooler and then ended up in a very abusive home until their early teens. I have watched this person struggle in ways that tell they are holding on to the things that they think gives them their identity and security but at the same time they are so insecure and unhappy. These wounds were put on them by others in their young life and now as a young adult they bears the scars. My prayer for them is that they will cry out to the one who can give them true identity and security and that is Jesus. Another is a young teenager who has again been abandoned and neglected all through their formative years. They have an opportunity to be adopted but they aren’t sure about changing their name. They seem to be holding on to the only identity they know. My grandsons decision to change his name was a willful and thought through choice. He isn’t struggling with an identity crisis. The wonderful thing about him is he knows who loves him. The others however are struggling with who they are and they are needing to know they are loved. They don’t’ know what love feels like, looks like and seem to be holding on to a false love. Philippians 2:9 tells us that the name of Jesus is above all names. In him we will have first eternal salvation but peace and security. We will be one with him. In Jesus we will have a name, and know who we are, he tells us we are His. I pray for the walls that have been built up around these hearts, to keep true love out, will begin to crumble. So that they can begin to receive true love, identity and purpose that they were birthed for. To watch an identity crisis play out in one’s life in heartbreaking. It truly takes the love of God in one’s heart to break through the wall and let that person out. 1 Peter 4:8 says“ love covers a multitude of sins.” In these people I see deep wounding and rejection. It’s Gods love that covers sins but it also fills the heart. Opening ones heart to receive love from another human and even God is often a very difficult thing to do when one has been abused. But once we choose to love and be loved and choose forgiveness that love that Peter talks about covers those sins of abuse. Accepting Jesus as your savior is the beginning of eternally knowing Gods love and who we are in Christ and who he is in us. Then we will come to know who we are inside and out.
While reading John chapter 4 I was struck by what happened to the woman at the well. I know much has been said about the woman at the well, but when scripture comes alive in you its worth talking about. It was while she was talking to Jesus a couple of things stood out. One that was when Jesus told her “ that whoever drinks from the water that I give them shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.Then, she asked for that living water. But then the second thing is, He brings her to the place of confessing her sin. Oh how I love Jesus, he is truly the way, the truth and the life. He presents life eternal, brings us to repentance and we confess our sin accept Jesus as savior and lord and are saved. Then the third thing that really struck me is that he filled her with that living water she asked for. Jesus said that the well of living water would spring up to eternal life. That eternal life welled up in her and then she went back to the men in her city and told them all that Jesus had said to her. The interesting thing about that to me is that her words were living water springing up to eternal life to those men and then they went to find Jesus. They said they believed because of the words of the woman, “ He told me all things that I have done.” Oh but then after they found Jesus they said to the woman. “ It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the savior of the world.” That living water, full of life and revelation that leads to eternal life. That’s what our lives say to those we speak to about our Savior, out Lord, our Jesus. For our living lives, filled with living water that flows out of us to cause others to seek after the savior on their own until they find him is glorious and beyond human words to explain. Its eternal! And that’s living life.
One of the things I love about my job is the interesting people who come in to the store. A few weeks ago an older woman came into the store and as I was helping her I asked her what project she was working on. She told me and we talked about it for a minute but them she said to me “ hold out your hand I want to give you something” I was not sure what to think but I held out my hand anyway. She placed in the palm of my hand, this little rock that was painted like a ladybug. As I looked at it she began to tell me that she finds these little rocks and paints them to look like little bugs of some sort. This happened to be a ladybug. She then went on to tell me that she selects certain people to give them too and I was the one she selected that day. She went on to tell me that she gave it to me to pray for me and that it was to remind me to pray for someone and her. I felt honored that she chose me that day and placed the rock in my pocket. I did pray for her and someone else that day every time I put my hand in my pocket and felt that rock. But then it ended up on my dresser. Today as I was dusting I saw that ladybug rock and was reminded not only of that beautiful lady but, of what that ladybug rock meant. So now it’s in my office next to my bible and my computer fulfilling it’s purpose to remind me to pray for that precious lady and someone else today. My prayer for that precious lady is for her health and a steady hand to make those little rock bugs and the boldness to reach out and encourage others to pray.