Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Looking Ahead

I work part-time at my church and part of my job is planning big events for the over 50's crowd.  The past few weeks, I spent quite a bit of time putting together a bus trip for the fall to the Ark and Creation Museum in Kentucky, and I'm pricing out a group Bible Study Cruise for February 2021.  

I've been flipping the pages of my calendar ahead by the days, weeks, months and even years as I make plans for the future.  Sometimes, I’m ashamed to say, I forget what day of the week it actually is because I'm looking ahead to the next big event.

The discussion about these future activities are exciting even though they can be months or years away, but as I review the details and make plans for these events before I know it, they have arrived.  They really aren't that far away after all. 

There was a time in my life, when Believers looked ahead far more than we do now.  There was a time when we talked about the coming of the Lord with excitement and expectation.  There was a day when we tagged this phrase at the end of every future event.  

"... if the Lord tarries."  

Once the normal conversation of a Christian sounded a lot like this:

“I’ll be there on Friday, if the Lord tarries.

“Next month is our vacation to Lake Michigan, if the Lord tarries.

“My wedding is in four months, if the Lord tarries.

Do you remember saying that?  

We were looking, planning, expecting for His coming.  How exciting that was--looking ahead!

The Bible tells us to occupy until He comes--to make ourselves useful for the cause of Christ, but in Philippians 3:20 it also reminds us of this very thing...F
or our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

And in Titus 2:13 we cling to this promise--
looking forward to that wonderful time we’ve been expecting, when his glory shall be seen—the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.  (TLB)

I've had my share of looking ahead for the next big events, but there is none more exciting nor more annticipated than this one—His return!

...come Lord Jesus.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Look What You Did!

Have you ever said this to someone?

"Look What You Did!" 

Depending on your voice inflection, the meaning of this statement could be either affirming or disparaging.    

If I used a tone that expressed a 'shame on you' then the "Look What You Did!" phrase would show that somebody did something that upset me.  

But, if i used a tone that expresses pride in an accomplishment the meaning would be much different even though the words remain the same.

In the story of the healing at the Gate Beautiful, a similar expression is used.  When the crowd saw the healing of the crippled man, they said with awe and wonder, (paraphrasing here) "Hey, Everybody!  Look What Peter and John Did!"  

Then later in Acts 3:11-21, Peter sets the record straight by giving Christ the credit, but not before he takes a jab at the same people who crucified Christ.  Peter gave them a "Look What You Did!" with a tone of shame on you.

This Easter season, we all have an opportunity to express our gratitude, awe and wonder when we say to Jesus, "Look What You Did!" 

In 1 John 3:1 (CEV) it says, "Think how much the Father loves us.  He loves us so much that he lets us be called his children, as we truly are..."

Because of what Christ has done for us, death has been defeated.  His act of love was for us.  We have been set free from the sin that had us bound.  This is the kind of love that the Father has given us.

With much gratitude and awe, I say to Jesus again, "Look What You Did...for me!"

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Worth It

Our son tapped one of the maple trees in our yard a few weeks ago.  He was able to collect about three gallons of sap in a matter of hours.

The whole process was labor intencive.  First, he collected the sap, then he boiled it for a long time on an open fire in the back yard.   (He's old school.  No indoor, electric stove cooking for him.)  Then he filtered the liquid.

The longest part of the process was boiling the sap over the open fire to refine it.  After the fire process, the maple syrup was still dark and cloudy from the open fire, but once the sticky substance dripped through the filter, out came an amber colored syrup that was pure and clear.

All the debris and impurities were gone.  The only thing left was pure, sweet, maple syrup.

In the spring, nature tells the maple tree to release its sap.  If someone takes the time to tap the tree, and put in the labor, the return will be great.   Our life'a journey is a little bit like this.

The Lord wants to refine each of us--if we let Him.  He's willing to put the time in on each one of us, if we're willing to go through the refining process.

Here we are, bursting with potential and possibilities, but we must submit to a spiritual refining just like the sap from the maple tree.   Endurance, fire, and filtering must all take place in our lives to produce the best product.

As we surrender our lives to the refining fire of God and the filtering of the Spirit, the necessary purging of all impurities will make us refined like silver.

Psalm 66:10 in the NET Bible says, For you, O God, tested us; you purified us like refined silver.

Our son was pretty proud of that syrup, and I saw all the work he put into making it.  The weather was cold and the fire needed wood and the sap needed to be stirred.  And he was steadfast as he patiently put in the effort for the finished product.

Why?  Because it was worth it!

This is how God looks at us even during the refining process, his eyes of love are always on us.

For you are a people holy to the LORD you're GOD.
He has chosen you to be His people,
prized above all others on the face of the earth.
Deuteronomy 14:2 (NET BIBLE) 

Whatever stage of the refining process you're in today, hang in there, because you're Worth It!

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Missing Pieces

A few weeks ago, my granddaughter who is 7 yrs old was trying her best to communicate with me but we had come to an impasse.

What I saw and heard was disrespectful behavior.  So, I did what any good grandma would do...I tattled on her.  I felt the behavior needed to be dealt with by a parent.  That's the beauty of being the grandma--we don't have to do the disciplining anymore!

The mom stepped in and punishment was doled out for the offense.

A bit later, her father sat down with her to follow up on what had happened.  Enough time had passed to give my granddaughter the ability to tell the whole story and that's when her mom and I got the missing pieces in the story.

My granddaughter had been warned by her mother that there was an area in her brother's bedroom that was dangerous.  (a fireplace from 1883) When her younger brother was getting too close to the area of concern, my granddaughter attempted to protect him by repeatedly hitting him.  (It seemed logical to her.  After all, she was saving his life.)

And that's when grandma stepped into the situation.  I saw only one part of the picture, and when I asked her to stop hitting her brother, she yelled at me, "NO!" multiple times.  When I asked her to leave the room, she again responded, "NO!" more than once.

That's when the tattling took place and the punishment was given.

When her father spoke with her a bit later, he helped my granddaughter understand how she could have handled the situation without being disrespectful to her grandma or hurtful to her brother.

The punishment was adjusted once all the pieces were in place.

This experience with my granddaughter caused me to think how easily a person can react wrongly...when they don't have all the information.  (Oh, how I've...been there and done that!)

Proverbs 18:13 (NET) gives us all a great reminder.

The one who gives an answer before he listens--that is his folly and his shame.

Okay,  I'm not the only guilty party in this story.  Let's just say, we were all a bit at fault...well...except the father.


That's so like our Heavenly Father.  He is quick to listen, and with Him there are no Missing Pieces.

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