A Life Empowered

The hike was her first. At age six she needed an occasional hand from her Mom, Dad, or Grandpa to climb over some of the larger rocks and logs that were sometimes encountered on the steep mountain trail.

After an hour of walking on the tree covered trail the path finally flattened out. Tall Ponderosa pines whispered above the four hikers as gentle breezes found their way through the tree’s lofty branches. After a few more minutes of  hiking, the crude trail opened up to a beautiful lush green meadow. Nearby, a small wooden bridge leading to the meadow traversed a little creek that gently gurgled along its banks. Tiny yellow and white flowers dotted the the lush mountain oasis, tended by numerous songbirds, which added to the cheery scene as they sang and chirped while darting with flashes of bright colors through the gently swaying grasses.

This regal meadow scene was surrounded by soaring snow covered mountain peaks that rose like rocky edifices from the earth. The sound of cows mooing in the distance were complemented by the lazy clanging of their cow bells. Evidently a herd of cattle spent the better part of their Summer grazing upon the rich supply of food and plentiful mountain water.

Grandpa leisurely walked the way across the meadow with his granddaughter. Mom and Dad sat near the little bridge on the skirt of the meadow under the shimmering Aspens, taking pictures and watching as the two started their walk across the meadow.

About midway the into their walk, the cows who had been grazing on the other side of the meadow, spotted the two hikers. Being curious creatures, they gradually moved as one group towards them. The little girl watched with fascination as the cows steadily closed their distance.

In time the two were surrounded by fifty to sixty cows, each wearing a copper colored cow bell that clanged with each step they made. Close up the animals were huge! The little girl appeared dwarfed by their presence.

Her Grandpa paused and took her picture with the cows while the animals milled about in the background. The cows kept their distance while looking curiously at them. Soon the little girl pulled out a small yellow disposable camera from her pink backpack, something her parents had given her prior to her big hike to the meadow. She evidently wanted a picture of her Grandpa, ideally just like the one he took of her. He dutifully followed her every direction so that she could get him framed in the perfect picture with the cows as the backdrop.

All the while this was going on, she never once was afraid or concerned about the presence of these enormous animals. Occasionally an independent minded cow would get a little to friendly and try to approach them; but Grandpa was used to being around such animals and would shoo them back a bit.

In her mind why should she be concerned? She was with Grandpa, a man that loved her, who would never place her in harms way. He seemed to understand all the things in the world that she didn’t know about. Certainly he knew they were safe standing on the dirt path in the middle of a mountain meadow surrounded by a bunch of curious cattle. The experience was one she would always remember.

As believers and followers of Jesus Christ, we too should have a similar degree of confidence in our Heavenly Father, just as this young girl did of her grandfather.

For believers our encounters with God are through the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, the one whom Jesus promised would come after his death and resurrection. In our case, we most likely met the Holy Spirit during the period leading up to our saying “yes” to Jesus; for it’s the job of the Holy Spirit to bring about conviction of heart that leads to conversion (John 16:8-11). Conversion is the human’s turning to God. It consists of a negative and a positive element: repentance, that is, abandonment of sin; and faith, that is, acceptance of the promises and the work of Christ.”(1)

From the moment of our decision to follow Christ in faith, we are assured of our place in Heaven. Like Jesus, and because of His work on the cross, we too have overcome death. With death behind us it’s now possible for us to look forward to life in the future with confidence and peace. Charles Wesley once wrote the following lyrics in a hymn that captured this powerful realization of Christ’s work for us. In part he wrote: “Where, O Death is now thy sting?…”(2) Indeed we have much to celebrate when it comes to our decision to respond to the entreating’s of the Holy Spirit and to place our faith in Christ.

Thankfully the Holy Spirit doesn’t simply leave us hanging after we’ve made the choice to follow Christ, He remains steadfast in our lives each and every moment. Jesus told his disciples that through the Holy Spirit they would be enabled and empowered to do works far greater than even He had done in his earthly ministry (John 14:12).

That same empowerment extends to you and I today, as the Holy Spirit is present within each believer. He empowers us to do things that would normally be beyond our natural capabilities and strengths. Yet when we look back through the milestones of God sized assignments in our lives, we can’t help but to acknowledge that our apparent accomplishments ultimately found their roots in God’s empowerment via the Holy Spirit.

One need only to look at the lives of the disciples to see this to be true. In the scriptures we are presented with twelve individuals that accomplished incredible feats in just a few years after their encounter and choice to follow Jesus. They could not have by their own strength managed to have shared the gospel and carried the message of Jesus such that over two thousand years later, the gospel and good news of Christ is still changing millions of lives. Their success was not a function of their own innate abilities, rather it’s origins were from the Holy Spirit. These individuals were associated with the initial spread of the Gospel throughout the entire Roman empire! (3)

Scriptures record that thousands of Jews placed their faith in Jesus (Acts 21:20), and these were not ordinary Jews, they were committed Jews sold out to their own way of life. Luke recorded that these were people that were “zealous for the law.” This would have meant that a choice to follow Jesus was one that likely came with a steep price. Many may have had to give up respected social positions, they were likely rejected by their families and suffered great economic hardships for their choice in following Jesus. Despite the costs they embraced the message of the gospel.

It would seem unlikely that these hardcore steadfast individuals would have given much heed to the message of the gospel were it simply delivered to them by uneducated fishermen, a hated tax collector, and a former Jewish leader (Paul) that abandoned his place in society to follow Christ. Yet they were moved to follow Jesus. Why? Only the Holy Spirit could account for such empowerment. The Bible tells us that many other prominent members of society outside of Jewish circles also believed and placed their faith in Christ (Acts 17:12).

That same Holy Spirit that empowered these normal everyday people is as available to you and I today as it was for the disciples then. I would strongly encourage you to embrace the peace that comes with knowing for certain that death no longer has hold of your life. You need not fear it.

We as believers are indwelled by the Holy Spirit, who is God, and the Bible tells us that God has his best in mind for you and I, and that his best includes God sized assignments that you and I could never accomplish without direct empowerment from the Holy Spirit.

Are you in the midst of a God sized assignment? If so, take a moment and ask God to empower you to accomplish whatever it is that he has set before you. Trust him to give you the abilities and resources to accomplish that which he has desires you to complete.

It is the desire of Jesus that we live our lives and live them to the full (John 10:10) We can only do that if we are in total reliance upon the Holy Spirit to empower us and that we genuinely believe that the work of Christ was sufficient to overcome the “sting” of death.

 

 

 

 

**************************************Notes************************

(1) Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013), 795.

(2) Logos Hymnal, 1st edition. (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995).

(3) G. W. Bromiley and J. Orr, “Christianity,” ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1979–1988), 661.

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2017 FullLifeWord

 

Changed In The Midst of Prayer

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.” -John 14:12 (NASB95)

I love a good movie, one that draws me in with mystery and wonderment. In the movie,  “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” in which the main character, Indiana Jones (Played by Harrison Ford) had to pass through several tests to reach the Holy Grail, learned that one of the tests he would have to pass was called the “leap from the lion’s mouth.”

With his father close to death and the grail the only hope to save him, Indy rushes through a rock archway below a carved lion’s head and finds himself standing on the edge of an enormous deep canyon that drops away into utter darkness. On the opposite side of this chasm is a rock wall with a doorway. But in between there’s nothing but air and no clear means to get to the other side. With no other options, and time running out, he does the only thing he can do; he looks straight ahead and steps out into the gaping chasm. Instead of falling to his death, his foot mysteriously lands on a solid surface, almost as though he were standing on a clear glass bridge.

I loved this scene because as the viewer, I was pulled all the way in and not able to understand initially why Indy didn’t just plummet to his death. But it’s when the camera shifted to the right that the viewer suddenly sees a bridge across the deep canyon in which the walking surface has been perfectly painted to match the opposite side of the canyon wall, thus from the perspective of the walker, the bridge was invisible. It’s only when the perspective changed that the carefully camouflaged bridge became evident.

Often God is about changing my perspective on many things in life. There was a time where I struggled with experiencing the intimacy of prayer that Jesus experienced with His Father. Today that experience is no longer a mystery, it is an intricate element in my walk with God.

Oswald Chambers once said; “It is not so true that ‘Prayer changes things’ as that prayer changes me,…”

How often it is that I have gone to the Lord in prayer asking Him to change a circumstance in my life, or to soften the heart of a person that needed to hear the Gospel, or to show another person that they are loved by Him.

Yet it was me that needed to change to be available for Him.  It’s been through the intimacy of prayer that I have allowed my Lord to mold and shape my heart to serve Him. God equips us to do good works (2 Tim 3:17) and He gives us the tools to do so (Romans 12:6). It is His desire that we experience ministry to others, that we become more like Him because of our encounter the Living God.

God is all-powerful, He could easily “do” for us, but that’s not how God works. He loves us, he wants to develop in each of us our personal and unique character. We each have a place in His Kingdom.

Jesus has gone to the Father, He will return one day, and when He does, we will want to hear these precious words; “Well done, good and faithful servant!” But to hear those words will require that I have allowed the hands of Jesus to mold my heart His way, to guide me in a shift of perspective and see life through His eyes with a completely surrendered spirit.

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2017 FullLifeWord

Picking The Teams

It might have been September or early October, I can’t remember for sure, far too many years have transpired by now for me to be exactly confident of the date, I just know it was the Fall shortly after school started and I was in the fourth grade.

It was hot, the fields around the elementary school were dry, the grass on the hills devoid of any sign of green, save that of a few hearty Oak trees. I squinted as the sun beat down on me and my twenty or so classmates as we stood noisily in a row out on the blacktop. An occasional flash of yellow could be seen as the wings of a grasshopper would momentarily appear when the shadow of a child frightened it into flight.

Two boys, the most athletic of the class, were standing in front of us, carefully evaluating the pool of potential kickball teammates.

I hated this part.

The part where one after the other the kids would all be picked. Each Team Captain would take turns, back and forth, pointing to one of us to join their team. Soon there would only be one left.

Mostly that was me.

Just when I thought the experience would be over, the real dread and humiliation phase would begin. The conversation would typically shift from picking teammates to a negotiation between captains as to which team would be stuck with me.

This was worse than simply being last. I knew I was nothing but the kid with the crooked teeth, kinda gangly, and holding no appreciable athletic skills. I wasn’t particularly very good at anything, even academics. Eventually the teacher, against the visible and at times audible protest of one or both of the team captains, would put me on one of the teams.

Years later, I learned that unlike my elementary school team captains, when God is the team captain, He doesn’t  look at abilities or talents (Something that comes from God anyway), or how one outwardly appears. Rather he looks with great compassion at the heart.

Many examples of God’s choices are illustrated in the Scriptures. By any standards other than God’s, none of these individuals would have made the cut given the assignment that God had in mind for them. In one instance, God chose a young boy that was nothing but a simple shepherd, yet he grew up to become a great king (2 Samuel 2:1-7), God also chose a guy named Moses, who never led anything but sheep in a pasture, to lead God’s people out of captivity from the Egyptians. (Exodus 3) Later, God trusted a prostitute by the name of Rahab, who probably spent a lifetime never trusting anyone, to protect Joshua and his men from certain capture. (Joshua 2)

God continued to choose in like manner, when he came to us as Jesus. He chose lowly fishermen (Matthew 4:18-20), a disrespected tax collector (Mark 2:14), and others that society generally held in very low regard to serve as His early disciples. These twelve and ultimately countless others would serve as the engine that propelled the gospel of Christ into virtually every part of the world; the message of God’s gift of eternal life ultimately bridged virtually all social and economic barriers.

When I was sixteen, I finally figured out that I didn’t need to worry about abilities, talents, or good looks when it came to having a relationship with Jesus. In fact, there was nothing I had in my life that I could offer to God except myself and a willing heart.

I realized then, that Jesus had already picked me to join His team, He had all along. He had been knocking on the door of my heart (Revelation 3:20) and asking me to open that door and allow Him to enter my life. I had simply not opened the door. One evening I made the intentional choice to respond to His gentle knock, his open arms, and accepted the fullest expression of His love for me through his death and resurrection.

That evening, I prayed and surrendered my life to Jesus. I trusted that the work He did on the cross was sufficient, and in that moment I officially joined His team.

I’ve never looked back. It was and remains the best decision I’ve ever made. My eyes became open to the world in ways I had never thought possible. It was very much like having transitioned from seeing the world in black and white, to seeing the world from God’s perspective, in full color with a greater understanding. God has since done things in my life that I could never have done on my own; He has blessed me in more ways than I could count. And best of all, I have the assurance that I will get to experience Him for eternity!! Death and the fear of death no longer have mastery over my life.

Jesus said that he came to give us life and help us live it to the full. This is how God intended us to live our lives out.(John 10:10) Sure we’ll still face difficulties, troubles, heartaches, and all that comes with life, Jesus told us we would, but we’ll never be alone for He has overcome the world. (John 16:33)

In the final analysis, I came to realize that I was picked by an eternal team captain that leads His team to victory through his boundless love, compassion, and sacrifice of self.

Remembering the True Enemy

“Katniss, when you are in the arena, you just remember who the true enemy is.”
― Suzanne Collins, Catching Fire

When I visit with my Mom at her nursing home, we talk about a variety of topics. Often these topics are the same ones we covered in previous visits, although from her perspective they’re all new.

Despite her loss of memory, I’ve noticed that almost every visit incorporates some type of discussion around spiritual matters. We’ll talk about various passages in the Bible that she will bring up; each of us sharing our thoughts and ideas about a particular passage.

The last time we met, we spoke of a passage in the Gospel of John, in which Jesus encountered a woman from the Samaritan town of Sychar.

Jesus of course was a Jew, and she was a Samaritan. Historically, these two peoples did not see eye to eye, in fact, a great deal of animosity and friction existed between both groups based upon events far back in history. Things were so bad that they could hardly be in proximity to one another, and would not typically speak to each other or accept food or drink from one another.

Jesus initiated conversation with her, and in doing so, broke social protocol by simply asking for a cup of water. With this, their dialogs begin, and soon thereafter she learned who Jesus really was, the promised messiah; God who came to save those that would place their faith in Him. She quickly saw his love and compassion, how it spanned and overcame all of the history of hate, hurt, and mindless harm that had come between the two people groups.

As my mom and I shared about this passage, we begin to imagine what a scene that must have been. What peace and joy that must have existed in that town as they experienced firsthand, the love and grace of God. Many lives were forever changed in the days that followed as the townspeople came to recognize and place their trust in Jesus. Old ways of thinking died, and new ways begin.

For some, it may have been the first time they’d realized that their common enemy was not found in their history of hate and distrust of each other, but rather, it was sin, a condition that caused an absence of a personal relationship with God, and allowed the effects of evil to cloud their minds and hearts.

Scriptures remind us that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood,” rather our struggle is truly against the “spiritual forces of evil.” It was evil that kept hatred and anger alive between the Jews and Samaritans for many years, blinding them to the truth about God and His love for them.

As I’ve looked at the headlines during the past few weeks, my heart has been profoundly, yet unsurprisingly saddened, to see how little we have progressed in two thousand years since that unique encounter in the town of Sychar.

Regrettably, sin and evil feature prominently in our news and daily lives, but the scriptures offer hope, news of a different sort. The real Christmas story, is the story of God coming to this hurting world in the person of Jesus. He went on to overcome evil at the most basic level, and to bring us into a right relationship with Him.

I pray that as we celebrate Christmas this year…that we not only remember the real reason we celebrate, but that we also never forget “who the true enemy is.”

(“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” – Excerpt from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia.)

Followers

An interesting phenomenon has developed over the past several years.

It’s the idea of “followers.”

It’s really quiet an interesting study of social behavior.

Internet sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vines, blogs such as this one, and others have built into their structure, this idea of having “followers.” People in the internet world simply click “follow” as an indicator that they are interested in what you are publishing or saying.

They then become a follower.

The system has become so normative across so many social platforms that it has been monetized. In the case of YouTube for instance, users with large followings can actually be paid for growing the number of followers that are active on their account.

Gaining visibility is the name of the game, and in our society, it would seem that the stranger, the more bizarre one can become, the more followers one can obtain.

It has been said that one of the strongest and most important psychological traits for the average person, is the importance of being accepted by others. Many have stumbled on this one trait. We often mistakenly attach it to our self-worth.

There are those whose measure of success in life is counted by the number of followers they have attracted. Such a perspective appeals too those who believe their personal value lies in the quantity of the followers they have accumulated.

Now that we have made “following” a metric on the internet, by monitoring and in some cases receiving payments for the number of followers we have, one has to wonder about the effect on the individual, and eventually society as a whole.

Yet the idea of social popularity and followers was a struggle long before the internet showed up.

The Scriptures record this about Jesus; that “a great crowd of people ‘followed’ him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick.” (John 6:2)

Many followed Jesus in His day because of what they saw him doing. It was unusual. Healing the chronically ill or feeding thousands from a few meager loaves of bread and a few fish, that type of news traveled fast, even in AD 33.

Thankfully Jesus was not the selfish and insecure individual that needed to do whatever he could do to get more people to follow Him. In fact, scriptures record that he didn’t go with the popularity model; rather he lived in reality and presented truth, truth that was often hard for a self-centered society to hear. (Some things haven’t changed much…)

When it comes to popularity, people are fickle creatures. A few verses later in the same chapter, we see that when Jesus began to share on a deeper level, a level that required life changes, “many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” (John 6:66)

The tendency today is to focus on fitting in at all costs. The internet has brought to the social table great visibility, and to a certain extent, another channel of social pressure to help us conform to the latest social cause or fad.

It takes real strength of character to be willing to follow Jesus, to not worry about what others think. It takes fortitude to stand up against the majority who believe that “might makes right”, that truth is whatever fifty-one percent of the people think is truth.

I think one only needs to see the news to see how well that system is working.

Thankfully Jesus is always available to us. He is the God of “do-overs” and “fresh starts.” Jesus tells us that we need only to choose to follow Him, and by doing so, we must choose to un-follow the alternatives.

Take a moment right now, think about your life. How’s it going? Are you taking the wide easy road, the road that everyone else is traveling on? Deep down, how satisfying has that choice been?

Do you want to start over, do a do-over in your life?

Here’s how:

  1. Admit to God that you have been traveling on the wrong road of life. That you’ve been living a life that has not been honoring to Him.
  2. Agree to do a total U-Turn in your life. To abandon a lifestyle that has never really satisfied you down deep. Redo your priorities, so that God is at the center of every part of your life. Tell God that you love Him and that you will follow Him all the days of your life! (Even when it’s not the popular thing to do! )
  3. If you do this as an act of faith, then the scriptures tell us that “Whoever accepts and trusts the Son gets in on everything, life complete and forever!”

You can talk to God by praying, using your own words. There is no special formula. Just pray from your heart to God, and He will save you. If you feel lost and just don’t know what to pray, here’s a prayer of salvation that you can pray:

“Dear Lord,

I admit that I am a sinner. I have done many things that don’t please you. I have lived my life for myself. I am sorry and I repent. I ask you to forgive me. I believe that you died on the cross for me, to save me. You did what I could not do for myself. I come to you now and ask you to take control of my life, I give it to you. Help me to live every day in a way that pleases you. I love you, Lord, and I thank you that I will spend all eternity with you. -Amen”

 

The Depth of Love

Recently, I saw a demonstration of the harsh environment of the ocean in a news report. Scientists were showing the effects of water pressure on various objects at depths of fifteen thousand feet. These various everyday objects were taken by a deep sea submarine to the great depths of the ocean. When they were returned to the surface, they did so, crushed to a fraction of their original size. All this owing to the great pressures found at such incredible depths.

This poignant picture caused me to consider the strength of love. Love faces great pressures each day, pressures from the effects of our lives, from the challenges we face, from our choices, and I suppose ultimately from our natural hearts. We naturally do not possess the shielding required to preserve ourselves under these conditions.

Thankfully we have a place we can draw upon to build up the strength, to love ourselves and others, in the face of the many great difficulties and challenges of this life.

I speak of course of the love of Christ.

According to the scriptures, God’s most amazing and eternal love, has been given to each of us who trust Him and have surrendered to Him, “…God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”(Rom 5:5)

And this love that He has given us can never be taken from us. “…neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”(Rom 8:39)

The scriptures tell us that love has many qualities, including the fact that love seeks to trust, to hope, and to persevere.

Life is hard. And sometimes those closest to us are the ones that say or do things that can really challenge us. For the Believer though, we must seek to view those times through the lens of God, utilizing the Love that he has placed in our hearts. With this love we must seek to exhibit His patience to those we love, as He does each day for us. After all, none of us are very far from His Grace. For that we can be thankful.

To love someone deeply, is to not be easily angered when they do unloving things, to not dishonor them, to not keep any record of wrongs, and to remember, that in the end, true love never fails.

Let me conclude by sharing an excerpt from the Apostle Paul, a note about love that he recorded in a letter to the members of an early church, in the city of Corinth in about AD 55. His observations about Love are timeless.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

Grace in Restoration

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” (1 Peter 5:10)

I walked into my friend’s large auto shop, and on the floor, near the drive-in sized roll-up door, were countless rusty and corroded parts. Barely discernible in the middle of all these parts, was the large rusty frame of an old farm tractor. My friend, who loves to restore such antiques, stood by it with an oily wrench in his hands and broad smile on his face.

That afternoon he told me all about this tractor. He proudly told me how he and a friend had spotted the old tractor in a field as they were driving along a highway. They contacted the owner of the property, an old farmer, and he was more than happy to get rid of it. He took a small sum for it, kind of shaking his head and wondering why on Earth anyone would ever want to buy such a broken down piece of machinery.

The longer my friend talked that afternoon the more enthusiastic he became. We visited for a while, and then I wished him luck on his tractor restoration project and headed home.

About two years later, as he and I were talking and catching up, I asked him about that old tractor. He beamed with pride and pulled up a series of pictures on his computer showing the entire restoration process. The result was amazing!

There it was in the final picture, fully restored, just like it rolled off of the factory floor back in 1948. I could hardly believe the complete transformation that I was looking at.

Every detail, every part, all the internal gears, wires, pistons, the countless thousands of parts we don’t see, but are critical, had been lovingly, and sometimes abrasively worked on, to restore them to a new condition. He shared that there were times when the project hit some rough patches, and the going got tough, but through it all, he kept at it.

The entire process was also very costly. There is nothing cheap about restoring an old tractor. Yet once the work was done and the bills were paid, one could hardly argue with the complete transformation that was shown in the pictures. And I know the transformation was complete, inside and out, because he showed me pictures of the tractor being driven in a parade. This was not simply a cosmetic restoration.

The term “restore” is mentioned over a hundred times in the Scriptures.  Most dictionaries define restoration as “a return of something to a former, original, normal, or unimpaired condition.”

In the grand scheme of life, the Scriptures are all about restoration, humanity’s restoration to a right relationship with our Creator. We are restored via Jesus Christ, who in effect “paid our restoration bill.” His restoration is complete, from the inside out, there is nothing cosmetic about the work that Jesus does. Ultimately, even our physical bodies will one day be restored to the mint condition our Creator envisioned. (I could use a little of that right now…but I’ll have to be patient.)

In the meantime, I am reminded of how important it is that that I too have a mind of restoration.

The Psalmist shared: “Restore us again, God our Savior…” (Psalm 85:4) Thankfully we worship a God of new days, a God that seeks to restore us to himself with an infinite degree of patience. There are times I have to go back for multiple restorations. I have to be restored again, and again, and again. (Thankfully God never closes the garage door.)

Those closest to us are also undergoing restoration. There are times I need to remember how much grace God has given me every time I show up at the garage for another round of restoration. I need to give that same compassion and grace towards others while they are being restored. After all, restoration is a process, sometimes it takes years to get the rust off of all the parts. Some of the parts that need restoration lie deep within our lives; they’re the hardest to reach.

Yet Jesus promises us, that for those who trust Him, there will be full restoration. As believers, we need to be like Jesus. I know it’s hard, but we need to be patient, not only with others, but patient with ourselves.

By the way, you have permission to have setbacks during your restoration; they happen. God will ALWAYS be present with you as you are seeking restoration, no matter what it is in your life that needs to be restored. I can tell you from personal experience that the wait is worth it.

Not all restorations are equal. Some restorations involve our closest relationships, those with our spouse or children. Restorations can range from recognizing our need for eternal restoration with God through Jesus Christ, to the more mundane, such as restoring a relationship with a child or family member that perhaps we were short with, or perhaps we said some words that came spilling out in a moment of frustration.

In extreme cases, where major restoration is underway, we may feel completely overwhelmed, the circumstances of life may seem like this restoration is beyond anything that God could ever fix. During these deepest darkest moments, we may want to give up, but that would be human thinking at play.

The Psalmist wrote the following,  because he realized that no matter how hard the journey, that if God was involved, then restoration would happen!  ”Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.” (Psalm 71:20)

The Apostle Paul reminded us later that restoration comes only when we surrender. It is in our weakness that we are restored and not in our own strength. Jesus shared that “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

I encourage you to never give up on God no matter how hard or hopeless your restoration project may seem, God seeks to see us restored!

Copyright 2013

Granting Ourselves Permission

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

Sometimes in life we just need a friend to come along side and give us a word of encouragement.

I recently had the privilege to provide a few words of encouragement this week to a person that the Lord had been putting on my heart.

What a blessing it was to do so!

As part of those words, I shared a passage from Matthew 11:28 in which Jesus reminded me that He is available to each of us, to lay our burdens down at His feet, to receive the rest He is offering us.

Life has a way of tiring us out, and we often grow weary, not necessarily from a big single burden, although that can be the case, but often it is the weariness of carrying a bunch of small burdens.

When we carry those burdens, and if we’re the type of person that finds it hard to ask for help, we soon find ourselves pretty worn out. And worse yet, we start to feel like somehow we don’t measure up, or that we are in some way failing either ourselves or those closest to us, or we feel guilty because we can’t seem to handle whatever burden it is and we think we should be able to handle it.

Soon the joy in our heart is robbed.

If you are one of these people, let me start by sharing that you are perfectly normal. You heard me…perfectly normal.

Do you know why?

Because we are not perfect!

Sometimes we just need someone to take the initiative and give us permission to ask for a chance to rest.
Wait no longer…Jesus gives you that permission. In fact he offers you the rest you need with no guilt! No strings attached…

Do the burdens of life just go away? They can, but mostly they don’t. But if we can rest, He can give us the insight, grace, and strength to go beyond.

The Bible says that we are one in the body of Christ. (Rom 12:4) Meaning that each of us who have received Jesus into our lives are in fact part of Him. A healthy body has parts that work together to keep the whole functioning well.

If you’re weary, remember that Jesus has given you permission to rest with no guilt attached. Ask God to bring a person to mind that could give you some respite to, and then go ask them. Chances are they would be honored to help you.

If you’re the one being approached by another seeking rest, count it a great blessing that you can worship God by filling a practical need.

If God brings a person to your mind that needs rest…show them your love by sending them a note, let them know that they can claim the rest that Jesus offered, and then offer yourself as that person who can help them!

Do you know why rest is so important?

When we are resting, our minds are not cluttered with the many burdens’ we are carrying. That means when God speaks to our hearts, we have a chance of hearing Him. If we can hear Him, He will give you the means to help you release the burden you are carrying.

I wonder how often I have not heard God because I felt guilty, or worried what others might think if I took some time to rest.

So take a moment and rest…be still…“Be still and know that I am God….”(Psalms 46:10)

 

 

Copyright 2013