He Uses It For Good

When I make a bad decision, I often experience negative consequences.

When you make a bad decision, in most situations, you will also experience negative consequences.

I don’t think any of us enjoy dealing with the consequences of our bad decisions.  Sometimes the consequences have long-term affects on our lives.  It’s hard.

But what’s even harder is when I make a bad decision, sometimes you experience negative consequences from that, too.  We live together in this broken world.  A couple of examples of this are deadly car accidents and forest fires started by a person throwing a cigarette out of their car window.  There can be huge consequences to many people when one person in these situations makes a bad choice.

People often ask, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”  This is why.  We all experience the pain and results of other people’s wrong decisions.  My world blew up when a young man decided to kill my son who was a Phoenix Police Officer.  The hurtful consequences of that choice have been huge, wide-spread and never-ending.

I have learned that my best response to this tragedy has been to turn to God.  I’ve been getting as close to God has I possibly can.  He is my comforter and my anchor in the midst of this dark storm of loss.  And I have watched him pick up the pieces of my broken heart and use them for good.  God has given me the opportunity to share my journey on this extremely tough road of grief in this blog as well as a different blog – Myfamilybleedsblue.com.   Many people have told me it has helped them put words to their own experience and not feel so alone.  It has encouraged them to turn to God who comforts us and can help guide us into a positive tomorrow.

Paul knew that this was one of ways that God can bring good out of bad things that happen to us.  “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves received from God”. 2 Cor. 1:3.

It was a huge blessing to me when God gave my pain a purpose.  I can’t change what happened, but I can share the comfort I have received from God in the middle of my heartbreak with others.  I can let God use my ‘bad thing’ and do something good with it.

Only God can do that.

Thank you, Abba Father.

Don’t Waste Your Time

How many hours a week do you watch TV?

How much time do I spend on social media and other aps on my phone?

Do we organize our lives so we can catch every game – baseball, football, basketball or whatever game is on?

How much time do you spend playing games on your various devices?

None of these things are bad….unless we do them a lot.

So much wasted time.

I have gained a new understanding these last 5 years since my son was killed of how very short our time here on earth really is.our-life-so-easily-snuffed-out

We are a flame that can be snuffed out in an instant.

We are a flower that blooms and then quickly fades.

We are but a whisper in the winds of time.

Let’s not waste it.

Paul encourages us to ‘Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”   1 Corinthians 15:58.

This is one my favorite verses in God’s word.  I love the fact that nothing I do for God and with God is a waste of time.  All of it has eternal value.  That’s extremely encouraging to me.

When I think of all the time and effort and concern I’ve spent on things that were temporary and fleeting….

wasted time.

None of us have time to waste.

Please help us keep focused on you, Abba Father.

The Way

The Way we should begin our day.

The Way we should end our day.

The Way we should live our lives.

In Acts 19 we are told that people were starting to call Christianity ‘The Way’.

I like it!our-treasure-map

The Way to love.

The Way to joy.

The Way to find purpose, our path, the direction we should go.

The Way to what we’re all looking for.

Unfortunately, we can be easily distracted and lose our Way.  Do you ever get distracted?  Probably a better question is – when was the last time you got distracted and lost your way?

Have you found yourself thinking that ‘stuff’ will make you happy?  And you became obsessed with ‘more’?  I have.

Or we start thinking that a person will make us happy – a new boyfriend because the current one doesn’t know how to make us happy, a new wife because the current one isn’t making us happy, a new church because the pastor in our current one isn’t making us happy.

We can get lost in thinking our job or career should be making us happy so we spend too much time there trying to be successful and ‘happy’.  Maybe one more raise or promotion will do it?

It’s easy to get lost in all the ways we see others searching for happiness.  I made a bunch of mistakes myself going down the wrong roads, looking in all the wrong places but never finding ‘The Way”.

Until I focused on my personal relationship with God.

Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37

It’s The Way.

They Could Not Be Stopped

They were cursed.

They were threatened.

They were hunted.

They were jailed.

They were whipped and beaten.

They were killed.

But they could not be stopped.

Gamaliel advised the religious leaders in Acts 5 – “Therefore, in the present case, I advise you: leave these men alone!  Let them go!  For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail.  But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” vs 38-39.

The verdict is in.jesus-was-not-of-human-origin

Jesus was not of human origin.  His Great Commission for his disciples – then and now – to go into all the world and preach the Gospel making new disciples was not of human origin.

When they tried to stop the Good News of Jesus from spreading, the Pharisees found themselves fighting against God.  You know how well that worked.

How many believers are there in the world?  How many churches?

How many Bibles do you have in your house?

God was not stopped…..

and he will not be stopped.

We know the end of this story.

We love you, Abba Father.

With Jesus

They were unschooled, ordinary men.

But the religious leaders were astonished as Peter and John stood in front of them, telling them what they knew about Jesus.  These fishermen were eloquent and compelling.  They were passionate and knowledgeable.

It was clear to those listening to Peter and John that these men had been with Jesus  –

and Jesus had transformed them.  Something was significantly different about Peter and John.

* Jesus had redeemed their lives from sin and death and given them the power of the Holy Spirit who was now living inside of them.

* They spoke with authority about their personal experiences with Jesus.

* They had courage beyond that of a normal person.

The religious leaders didn’t know what to say or do so they let Peter and John go with a warning not to speak of Jesus again.

“But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you or to him?  You be the judges!  As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”  Acts 4: 19-20.

Brave.

Committed.

Not intimidated by the those in positions of power.

Nothing was going to stop Peter and John from sharing their personal experience with Jesus.  We know the truth about Jesus today because they did not stop talking about what they had seen and heard.

Dear Father, Please help us be as brave and committed as Peter and John with sharing what we know about Jesus.

Do You Feel It?

It burns.  Do you feel it?

As I read God’s Word, the truth burns through the mountains of lies and confusion that our culture is busy building up all around me.

I’m a thinker, not a feeler so reading and studying God’s Word rocks my world.  God’s word feels true.  It feels powerful.  It feels right and good.

The ‘feeler’ in me wakes up as God speaks to me through his Word.  My ‘feeler’ confirms for me that this is my Father God teaching me what he wants me to know.  As I listen, God’s words burn into my brain.  I feel the truth etching itself on my soul, creating a desire inside of me to know God better and love him more.

I know what the two men were talking about when they walked with Jesus after his resurrection on the road to Emmaus .  They didn’t know who he was at first, but when their eyes were opened, Jesus disappeared.  And they asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us when he talked with us on the road and opened the Scripture to us?” (Luke 24:32)

I can relate.  God’s truth has burned down to the center of my being and I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot!  This Truth gives purpose to all the craziness in this world.  This is Truth that I can hold onto as the storms of life rage around me.   This Truth is filled with light and love and grace and peace.

Yes, it burns.  And it is good.

Do you feel it?

What Are You Looking For?

They looked,

but they were looking in the wrong place.

Have you ever found yourself looking in the wrong place for something you wanted?  I have.  It’s a confusing experience.  Lots of disappointment.

After Jesus was crucified, he was buried and a large stone was rolled over the front of his grave.  Three days later, Mary Magdalene and several other women went to the tomb with burial spices to finish anointing Jesus’ body.  His body had been hastily placed in the tomb because he died right before the Sabbath so they couldn’t complete the work.

Now the women came to finish the preparation of his body for final burial.

Imagine their surprise when they saw the huge stone rolled away from the tomb with an angel sitting on it!  The soldiers guarding the tomb had fainted when the angel appeared so they were laying all over the ground in front of the stone.  

Then the angel spoke to the women, “Don’t be afraid.  I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified.  He isn’t here!  He is risen from the dead, just like he said would happen.”  Matthew 28: 5-6.

Jesus was no longer in the grave.

He was alive!

He is alive!

Jesus left earth but he send the Holy Spirit who lives inside of each person who puts their faith in Jesus.  The Spirit guides us and encourages us – helping to transform us from the inside out.

Today, many people are still looking for what only Jesus can give.  They are looking for things like fulfillment, peace, guidance, purpose and love.  But our world continues to disappoint us with only fleeting glimpses of these things.

Jesus was, is and always will be The Way.  He guides me on the right path, teaches me his unchanging truth and has given me eternal life with him.  My eternal life has started here on earth and will continue when Jesus walks with me into heaven some day.

I have found the Way.

What are you looking for?

Today

It should have been me.

The thief up on the cross next to Jesus was sentenced to die for the bad things he had done.

That was me….before I put my faith in Jesus.

My rebellion, self-centeredness, and lack of compassion are a few of the reasons I should have been on that cross.

The Great News is Jesus was up there on the cross for me…..and for you.  He who knew no sin became sin for us.  He bore the weight of all of the world’s sin – once and for all.  You and I can be redeemed from spiritual death by accepting the free gift of salvation that only Jesus can give.

As I read this account in Luke 23, I visualize Jesus turning to me, looking me in the eye and saying, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” vs 43.

For the thief, it was that day.  Oh, glorious day!

For me, it probably won’t be today – although it could be.

And I’m ready.

There will be come a day for me when it is ‘today’ because I have committed my heart and life to Jesus.  This passage in the Bible reassures me.  The thief did nothing to earn his way into heaven.  He put his faith in Jesus and it was done.  He didn’t say a prayer or say specific words and he was never baptized.  Jesus knew the thief’s heart just like Jesus knows my heart.

This passage also tells me there is no waiting – no purgatory, no additional steps.

Today.

In paradise.

Thank you, Jesus 

He Prayed for Me

And he prayed for you.

One of my favorite things about the Chronological Bible is we are reading about Jesus’ last days before his crucifixion in the week leading up to Thanksgiving.

It’s so appropriate!

The holiday reminds me to be thankful and God’s Word reminds me the most important thing to be thankful for – Christ’s sacrifice for me.

For God so loved the world…

Life everlasting with my Abba Father.

I love reading the prayer of Jesus in John 17.  He included us as he prayed to his Father for his disciples. “My prayers is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me – so that they be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (vs 20-23)

We know Jesus because the disciples faithfully shared with others the Truth they had seen and heard.   And we pay it forward by sharing what we have seen and heard about the Jesus with others…

in gratitude for what Christ did for us.

May we be found faithful witnesses to your love and grace, Abba Father.

Words that Changed My Life

They challenged me.

They held me accountable for what I had been saying my entire life.

About 30 years ago while reading my Bible, I heard Jesus say these words to me,

“If you love me, keep my commands”.(John14:15)

If I loved him?  I was shocked.  I had been saying I loved Jesus since I was old enough to talk.  I was brought up in a Christian family who lived out their faith in a small Christian town.  For much of my childhood, I thought everyone was a Christian because everyone in my life went to church.

I remember seriously being in love with Jesus when I was younger.  I read my Bible and talked to him all of the time.  Somewhere along the way, I slipped into being more of a ‘cultural Christian’ than actually having a relationship with God.  I went to church, I served at church, I gave money to the church, I participated in small group Bible studies and I talked about loving Jesus but God really didn’t have a big place in my daily life.   My Bible was gathering dust, but I still said I loved Jesus.

Then the Holy Spirit convicted me with these words, “If you love me, keep my commands.”  He made it clear to me that he wasn’t talking about the 10 commandments in the Old Testament.  Jesus had fulfilled all of the old law and given me two new commandments.  The Holy Spirit pointed out only two.

The first – I need to love the Lord my God with all my heart, all my mind and all my soul.  The second – love others as myself.

These are it.  Everything else falls under these two commandments.

The Holy Spirit told me if I really loved Jesus, I would strive to keep these two commandments.  If I didn’t start sincerely trying to obey these two, I needed to stop saying I loved Jesus.

I was blown away!  I had never taken the commandment to love God first seriously.  I was a wife and a working mother of two small kids at the time.  I had so many responsibilities and things to do I just couldn’t imagine adding all the stuff it would take to love God first!

But there was no way I was going to stop saying I loved Jesus.  No way.   I knew it was a part of who I was at the center of my soul.  So I was going to have to try loving God first and figure it out as I went.

It didn’t take me long to realize when I put God first, he helped me with everything else.  He helped me be a better wife, a better mother, a better daughter and sister, a better employee, a better boss, a better friend – he made my entire life better.  Putting him first in my life made my existence so much more meaningful and ‘worth it’.  He filled the empty spots in my heart and made me whole.

When I put God first in my life, he taught me how to love others.  As my life filled with his love, it overflowed to those around me.  I didn’t have to try to obey the second command – it naturally happened as the love of my Father transformed me from the inside out.

One verse piercing my soul through the Holy Spirit changed the trajectory of my entire life.

Thank you for opening my eyes to your Truth, Abba Father.