This Can’t Be Good

This is not going to turn out well.

These thoughts often go through my head when things happen in my life that I don’t like, didn’t plan for and I know they are going to be difficult to deal with.

But I have learned, these events look very different when I look at them through a rear view mirror.   I realize that- every time- these tough experiences took me in a new direction where God wanted to bless me.  I’ve had several situations happen in my life which took years of work to maneuver through only to realize that God had a long line of blessings waiting for me on the other side.  I’m trusting God right now that the same thing will happen in relation to the death of my son.  Because of the great loss here on earth, I know there’s a good chance that I won’t realize those blessings until I’m sitting at the feet of my Father in heaven.  But it will happen.

I’m sure the new Christians in Acts thought that the wave of persecution which began after the Holy Spirit came to them was a very bad thing.  Christians were hunted down and killed by people like Saul whose name later changed to Paul.

The persecution separated the Christians and send them out through the regions of Judea and Samaria.

“But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went.”

Do you see what I see?  What Satan meant for evil, God used for good.  It’s certainly not the plan for evangelism that anyone would pick, but it worked.  People all over the country heard about the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ because of the growing hostility to Christians.

It didn’t look good, but God used it for good.

This is how I choose to look at tough situations in my life.   God can bring something good from it.

He always has.

He always will.

Thank you, Abba Father.

They Looked For Him

They looked,

but they were looking in the wrong place.

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.”

Jesus was no longer in the grave.

He was alive!

He is alive!

He 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 disappoints 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 don’t have to look any farther.

Thank you, Jesus.

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, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

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 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 specific words and he was never baptized.  Jesus knew his 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 

Sifted

What does it mean to be sifted?

Ash is sifted to find anything important or useful in it.  Wheat is sifted so the unusable chaff is separated from the valuable grains.

I know what it feels like to be sifted.  My world shook when my son,  David Glasser, who was a Phoenix Police officer was shot and killed in the line of duty on May 18, 2016.  Parts of my life crumbled.  My hopes and dreams for him were stripped away.  All of his future disappeared, leaving gaping holes full of hurt in my world.

And what was left?

I had to dig deep…..

very deep,

into my faith and what I knew to be true in order to stay standing in the middle of the devastation.

Harsh sifting.

So Jesus’ words to Peter in Luke 22 stop me.  “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat.  But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail.  So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.”

Satan asked to sift the disciples – this is not the first time I have read this but it’s the first time it has sunk in.  Satan knew that Jesus expected the disciples to share the Great News of salvation to world so the disciples became a pivotal target for Satan.

Jesus knew that Peter would deny him three times in one night.  Major sifting.  So Jesus was encouraging Peter that his faith could not only withstand the shaking it was going to get, it was going to become stronger.  Through this experience of denying Jesus, then repenting and turning back to him, Peter would be more prepared to help strengthen his brothers.

I have learned there is purpose in the pain when I let God control how it all shakes out.  My prayer is that my sharing this with you will help strengthen you when you are sifted.

Thank you for your truth, Abba Father.

There is a Place for Me

A place is prepared for me.

It has my name on it.  My ‘forever home’ is in my Father’s house.

Jesus is there right now preparing my place.  And – at the right time – he’s going to come back, take my hand and walk with me into heaven.  When it’s the right time, I will go to be with him – forever.  Maybe we’ll ride up on a cloud. 

Jesus promised me this in John 14 and he always keeps his promises.  He also says, “And you know the way to where I am going.”

Yes, I do know the way.  I have been reading and studying God’s revelation to us for many years.  The whole Bible is God’s love story.  God loved me and sent his son to pay the price for my rebellion and sin so I could be set free here on earth and then live forever with him in heaven.

Are you coming with me?

Amen.  Hallelujah!

Thank you, Father.

The Way to Peace

Where is peace?

The way to peace is illusive.  It’s hard to find.  If you find it, it’s hard to keep.  One text, one thought, one facial expression and – poof!- it’s gone.

I’ve found that it’s easier to feel peaceful in the mountains or at the beach – closer to God’s creation.  Many of us flock to those places on vacation…….looking to have a good time and, possibly, a few moments of peace and calm.

Jesus wept for Jerusalem in Luke 19 while saying, “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace.  But now it is too late, the peace is hidden from your eyes.”

The Good News for us is that peace is not hidden from our eyes.  Jesus is the way.  Jesus can give us the internal peace that nothing else – including the mountains and the beach – can give.

When we look to Jesus for peace, we will find it.

Thank you, Jesus.

It Breaks Through

So much noise.

Too much information.

Bombarded by distractions……

and then God’s voice breaks through.

Clear.

Strong…..

making more sense than all the chaos around me.

One of my favorite images of God comes from the story that Jesus tells us in John about the Good Shepherd.  “He calls his own sheep by name and leads them on.”  “The sheep recognize his voice.”

I recognized his voice.  How?

It’s simple but not easy.  After reading the entire Bible eight times, I know when God is speaking to me because he is speaking his words – the words I have read over and over.  I recognize his truth because I have seriously studied the Bible for over 30 years.  I’m not a pastor or a theologian.  I’m just an average person who really wants to hear God and know the truth.

I have been asked, ” how do you know it’s God and not just your own voice telling you what you want to hear?”  When what I hear lines up with what I’ve read and studied in God’s word, I have no doubt that it’s his voice.

Important point – messages from God will be consistent with more than just one verse in the Bible.  The only way to really know it is from God is that it lines up with what God says about this topic over the entire Bible.

One verse can steer me in the wrong direction.

One or two verses taken out of context can tell us lies – nothing close to what God really said.

Be very careful with the ‘life verse’ concept.  The only way that works is if you understand what God says regarding the topics in that verse through the entire Bible.  Otherwise, it can be a shortcut that takes you down a dark path – a path where you hear what you want to hear because you are not recognizing his voice.

The closer I get to God, the easier it is to hear his voice.

Thank you for speaking so clearly, Abba Father.

My Fears

What am I afraid of?

What are you afraid of?

This world can be a very scary place with evil lurking around every corner.  The worst can happen in an instant –

I’ve been there.

So it seems logical that you and I would be afraid……. until we read what Jesus says to us in Matthew 8, “Why are you afraid?  You have so little faith.”

Wow!  Jesus directly correlates the fact that I am afraid to how much faith I have.

God is telling me that my fears mean I’m not trusting him.

I know this is true for me.  When I am worried, I am not trusting God.  The amount of my fear is a clear indication of the lack of my faith because I know God is in control.  He has a plan and purpose.  There is nothing that happens to me that has not gone through his hands.

So what am I afraid of?

My worst fear – that something bad would happen to one of my children – has already come true for both of them.  My daughter got cancer and my son was a police officer who was killed in the line of duty three years ago.

What a huge waste of time and effort fear is!  It didn’t change anything that has happened to me.

God has used these experiences to teach me many things.  One of them is to lay my worries and fears at God’s feet and leave them there.  He is the only one who can do anything about them.

It’s a fact that he loves me and wants the best for me.  He is faithful to walk beside me when bad things happen, helping me to grow my faith and trust in him.

Fear comes from a lack of faith.

Thank you for your faithfulness, Abba Father.

What Do I Choose?

Do I choose to be healthy or unhealthy?

” Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body.  When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light.  But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness.”  Jesus tells us this very important truth which affects our whole body.

My eyes determine my emotional, mental and spiritual health.

What am I looking at?

What am I focusing on?

What am I watching – letting all of it go directly into my brain?

What am I reading?

Who am I watching?

Who are the people I’m surrounding myself with who are influencing me?  What behaviors and values do I see in them?  Are those the same values and behaviors I want in my life?  I’m not judging them, I’m trying to make good choices about what my eyes regularly see – because it affects my whole body.

Do I want to live in the light?  Or in the darkness?

I choose.

You choose.

It all goes into our brain through our eyes.  Thoughts become attitudes and attitudes become actions.

Healthy or unhealthy – it’s our choice.

Please help us be very careful about what we let our eyes see, Abba Father.

Would You Like to Get Well?

Is anybody feeling sick?

Lonely?

Angry?

Confused?

Empty?

Sad?

Stuck in a dark place?

I have been in all of these situations.

When Jesus says, “Would you like to get well?” to the lame man at the Pool of Bethesda, I can relate.   Several different times in my life I have needed healing. (picture is from my visit to the ruins of the Pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem) A couple of times it was physical healing but more often it was mental, emotional or spiritual healing.  So I asked and Jesus healed me.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have some physical issues like compressed disks in my neck.  God must have a different plan for those because, no matter how many doctors I see and how many times I have asked, God has not healed them.

Looking back, I can see that Jesus has been in the process of healing my spiritual, mental and emotional issues ever since I put him first in my life.  One step at a time.  Perseverance in running this race of faith is the key – it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Every once in awhile God throws in some of his special ‘magic’ where he opens my eyes to something big – I call those epiphanies.  I will have a sudden deeper understanding of a significant truth or God will show me how he is already working out something in my life.  That’s always an exciting experience!

Anytime I feel lonely, unhappy, angry, confused, empty or stuck, I know I need to spend some significant time with God.  He reorganizes my thoughts, straightens out my emotions and calms my soul.

Sounds like healing, doesn’t it?

Thank you, Abba Father.