Don’t Waste Your Time

I’m amazed by how much time some people spend on trying to predict the end of the world.  There are whole religious groups that keep coming up with a new ‘date’ when Jesus is coming again to earth.

I know other people – and not just a few people – who study Revelations excessively, tearing it apart and memorizing it in an effort to figure out the final events leading up to Satan being thrown into his eternal lake of fire.   Yep, Satan is finally going to get his reward for messing around in our lives, lying to us and distracting us.  That’s my favorite part of Revelations.  And it will happen after Jesus comes back so I don’t have to watch for that –  he will have all of my attention.

All of this effort people put into predicting the end of the world doesn’t make sense to me.

Jesus told his disciples (and us) that it is not for us to know the date and time the Father had chosen for his return.  What part of that don’t we understand?

Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians that ‘the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night’.  After reading this, my conclusion is that all the predictions are going to be wrong.

All of them.

I shouldn’t waste my time on them.  You shouldn’t waste any time on them, either.  Trying to figure out the events leading up to the end of the world is not how God wants me to use my time here on earth.  I have personally learned a huge lesson on just how short my time is here – I’m a whisper.  I need to use that time well.

Paul goes on to say, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

THIS is what I need to be doing.

Encouraging others.  Building others up.

Loving God.  Loving others.

Jesus was very clear on how we are to spend our remaining days here on earth.

The end will come when nobody expects it.  Don’t worry – none of us will miss it because……

 

Please help us focus on the right priorities during our short time here on earth, Abba Father.

 

I Have Received the Message

A message has been sent to me and to you.  And part of the message is to pass the message we hear on to others.

Paul tells us in Acts. 23, “Fellow children of Abraham and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent.”

I have heard this message because God sent it to me.  You have heard this message because God sent it to you.

When I heard this message and accepted God’s free gift of grace, I became free.  My eternal life with God started right away – while I am still here on earth.

Life here on this broken planet makes more sense to me the closer my relationship with God becomes.  God’s blessings flow down on me despite my circumstances here in this place where Satan prowls.

After receiving the message, I have the responsibility to pass it on to others.  That’s what I’m doing.  And I will continue to do this until the day that Jesus takes my hand and I step into heaven.

This same message of grace and freedom has been sent to you.  Have you accepted it?  Have you passed it on?

Please help us share your Great News with others, Abba Father.

What’s Next?

I know God is in control.

My entire life, I have experienced the goodness of God and his faithfulness.

I trust God’s promises that he is working things out in a good way for me.

It’s just hard to see the good sometimes.  It’s difficult to understand how God will accomplish his plan through the circumstances he has orchestrated in my life.

As I’m reading through Acts 10, I just have to stop and underline, “While Peter was wondering about  the meaning of the vision.”

Peter had just seen a vision of a sheet coming down from heaven containing all kinds of animals which Jewish law forbade him to eat. “Then a voice told him, ‘Get up, Peter, kill and eat.”  Peter responded that he had never eaten any of these unclean animals.  And the voice replied, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

This happened 3 times before the sheet was taken back up to heaven and didn’t appear again.

What was that all about?  The law about not eating unclean animals went way back to Moses’ time.  Surely God wasn’t changing the law after hundreds of years?  What was going on?

I’ve been there.  I am there.  I know God is working his purposes out in my life but I see things happening that just don’t make sense.  Then I’m left wondering about the meaning of what just happened – just like Peter.

And, while I’m wondering – just like Peter – God starts to reveal his purposes.  While I’m wondering, God opens my eyes to the next step of his plan.

One of the next lines in this scripture is “while Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you.  So get up and go downstairs.  Do not hesitate to go with them for I have sent them.”

Do not hesitate.

I have experienced the Holy Spirit actually talking to me in my mind – explaining what is happening.  More often, he will direct my attention to what’s happening in a way that opens my eyes to what God is doing and the pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place.

The Spirit told Peter, “Do not hesitate.”  That takes a lot of trust.

This account of Peter’s experience encourages me.  God was changing the law and he was accomplishing it through Peter’s immediate obedience.  God was teaching Peter very important lessons regarding his plan for the Gentiles.  God was flipping Peter’s religious world upside down, making him lead the way into this new and controversial area.

Peter obeyed.

And the Holy Spirit poured out upon the the Gentiles through Peter’s words.  Everyone believed and was baptized.

Peter would never be the same.  He didn’t know any of this was going to happen when he started getting the vision.  He just hung in there, believed, trusted and obeyed.

Just like I need to do when I’m left wondering what God is doing.

Just like you need to do.

Please help me be obedient, Abba.

Suffering

I’ve never talked to anyone who liked to suffer.

It feels like being a child of God should equate to an easier life filled with beautiful moments.  But that’s not reality.  Life on this earth is heart-breaking and painful – even for the children of the King.

At least we’re in good company.  Look at the suffering of God’s perfect son – Jesus.

And the suffering of the apostles.  In Acts 5 we read that the apostles were whipped by the Sanhedrin for teaching the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ and then released.

“The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.”

Rejoicing because they were worthy of suffering disgrace for Jesus?  What a surprising attitude!  The apostles are role-modeling for you and for me a life that is totally sold out to Jesus.  They had given up all the joys and comforts of this world and had fixed their eyes on heaven.

Amen.  Let it be so with us, Abba Father.

Why?

Why me?

Why now?

Why more?

We often ask these questions when trials and tough issues come our way.

When I ask this question, God gives me answers.  One of the answers is Romans 5.  “Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

I have learned to watch for God moving in my life as I’m persevering through trials.  Where is he re-molding me?  What thoughts is he renewing in my mind through this suffering?  What is he washing out of my life through all of these tears?

I know he is building my faith as I persevere because it’s never more obvious to me how much I need him than when I’m going through a painful experience.  And I have watched him strengthen my character as I persevere.  He reveals areas of weakness in my thinking and replaces them with his truth.  He tests my convictions and transforms me as I ask for wisdom in my trials.

Through all of this, he gives me hope.  I can see him working.  My trust in God grows as I watch him bring light out of the dark sufferings in my life.  He has a purpose.  He has a plan as he draws me closer to him.

As I count on him, God covers the pain with his grace and love – every day.

This is why.

Thank you for answering my question, Abba Father.

Fighting My Battle Well

It’s not easy to fight the battle well.

It’s not easy to consistently stay in line with God and keep the faith.

It’s not easy when so many others around me reject God,

or shipwreck their faith with really bad decisions.

In his first letter to Timothy, Paul challenges Timothy to fight his battle well and hold onto his faith.  And then he tells Timothy to pray for all people, including the kings and all of those in authority.

Pray.

How much different would our country be if everyone prayed for our government leaders instead of criticizing them and spending all of our energy spreading the scandals?  I think we would be pleasantly surprised by how much God can do in correcting the things that are wrong in our government and in our world.  If we would pray.

Paul tells us that our prayers please God who wants all people to be saved by knowing the truth.  “Therefore, I want people everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.”

It’s almost the new year.  Let’s fight the battle well in 2018.

May the way we fight the battle please you, Abba Father.

 

A Christmas Blessing – Colossians 1, 2017

I have not stopped praying for you.

I have asked God to help you know and understand the purpose he has planned for you.  May his Spirit give you wisdom for the journey.

May you live a life that pleases our Father God – spreading love and joy everywhere you go.  May you grow in your relationship with God and become strong in your faith, having great endurance and patience.

May you gratefully praise our Father who has saved us and adopted us as his children.  We are his holy people who will live eternally with him in heaven.

Thank you, Abba Father, for rescuing us from darkness by giving us the free gift of salvation through your son, Jesus.

Please bless all of us this Christmas as we celebrate the birth of our Savior.

A Bad Exchange

Taking steps forward – not backward.  Growing in goodness – not growing in selfishness.  Softening my heart – not becoming bitter and cynical.

Change can be good – or bad.  It depends on how and what I’m changing.

I’m reminded of this as I read God’s word to me in Romans when the Gentiles rejected God.  “Their thinking became futile and their hearts were darkened.  They exchanged the truth about God for a lie.”

They changed – in a bad direction.  They became defined by worthless thinking and dark hearts.  They based their lives on lies, turning away from the One True God.  Then they took it a step farther – they encouraged others to do the same thing.

They became filled with envy, murder, strife and deceit.  They became slanderers and gossips, God-haters and boastful.  They had no understanding, no love, no fidelity and no mercy.  And they approved of their way of life.

Just thinking about what their days were like and how it must have felt to live like they were living turns my stomach.  What about you?

They lived worthless lives doing exactly what Satan would like all of us to do.  Satan could ignore them – they were sold out to his lies and they had given in to his schemes.  They were no threat to him.  His work with them was done.

Exchanging the truth for lies is always going to be a bad exchange.  I’m so glad we’re all on this journey towards the truth together so we can keep our compass pointed right at God.

Thank you, Abba Father.

 

You Are A Letter

You are changed.

I am changed.

When we accept Jesus as our Savior, his spirit comes to live inside of us.

He speaks to us.

He loves us.

He redeems us.

He changes us – when we listen and obey.

Paul writes about this transformation in his second letter to the Corinthians.  He calls them “a letter from Christ…written not with ink but with the Spirit of the Living God, not on tables of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”

You and I are Christ’s letter to our world – not written in ink but communicated by how much we love God and how much we love others.

Faith, Hope and Love…

and the greatest of these is love.

We love you, Abba Father.

 

His Child

Redeemed from paying the price of my sins for all eternity.

Redeemed from trying to be ‘good enough’ to get into heaven.

Adopted by God.

I feel it –

don’t you?

Every moment, I feel God’s love – not as a servant or friend.  But as his child.

God tells us through  Paul in Galatians that he sent the Holy Spirit into our hearts and the Spirit calls, ” Abba, Father’.

Daddy.

This has a very special meaning to me because my earthly father went to heaven almost 40 years ago.  My heavenly Father has been my only Father here on earth for a very long time.

And my spirit calls him ‘Daddy”.

I know my Abba wants the best for me.  I know he can do anything – nothing is impossible for him.  He works good out of evil.  He forgives.  He is patient.  He loves me enough to discipline me……and comfort me.  He is faithful.

My identify as a child of God is the most important thing in my life.

Thank you for being both my earthly and heavenly Father for all of my adult life, Abba.