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A couple of nights ago, my 14 month old grandson discovered the joy of jumping off of the hope chest at the foot of my bed into my arms! He is an avid climber, and it appears that he is equally as fascinated with sailing through the air. I brought away three important truths from our game:

1. My grandson has a lot more energy than I do – we literally did this over and over and over for an hour before he decided to move on to something else. Even though I was ready to stop playing, I didn’t because he wanted to play. The sheer excitement of jumping off of the chest, sailing through the air, and landing in my arms brought such delightful squeals of joy that I couldn’t resist him.

2. My grandson had absolutely no fear of falling! He knew with 100% certainty that I was going to catch him every single time! He didn’t question it, he didn’t doubt it…he simply trusted that I would never let him fall.

3. At first, I was very close to the chest, but as the game went on, I inched farther and farther back. It did not phase him at all. His previous jumps had given him the confidence to jump farther!

Every truth of this game is a truth we can apply in our walk with Christ. He loves us and delights in our joy! When we squeal in excitement, He smiles. He loves us so He hangs out with us right where we are! He always wa to spend time with us no matter what we are doing! We can trust Him to be there to catch us ever single time we fall! We don’t have to fear because He is never going to let us go! And our previous jumps of faith give us confidence for the future jumps that may  be a little father than we have ever jumped before! No matter how far that jump of faith is, our Father is right there waiting to catch us, smiling the whole time!

 

 

 

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Have you ever been in a season of life that seemed to be marked by a never ending onslaught of painful blows?  I have!  In fact, I am in one of those seasons right now.  I feel like I can barely catch my breath from one blow before the next one comes crashing down on me.  I am trying hard to hang on to my faith as I try to navigate through the blows crashing over me, but some days, I feel as if I’m just hanging on by a thread.  A few days ago, as I tried to catch my breath from the latest blow, I just looked up at the sky and said, “Lord, I can’t do this anymore!  What are You trying to teach me because, apparently, I’m just not getting it?”  He didn’t answer me until a couple of days later when I was reading my daily devotional.  As I read that night, I came across this verse:

“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12:2

As if a light bulb in my head went off, I dawned on me that Jesus endured His suffering because He kept His eyes on the prize.  He didn’t allow His focus to be set on the situation He was encountering…He focused on the end result.  I realized that I needed to stop focusing on what was happening at that very moment and focus on the eternal picture.  Is it easy?  Absolutely not! Has it taken all of my trials and tribulations away?  Absolutely not!  Has it brought me some peace I desperately needed?  Absolutely!  I can be more at peace because I remember that, in light of eternity, some of these blows just don’t even matter and the ones that do, God will take care of them.  My job is not to fix all of the problems, but to turn to the One who can.

 

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”…surely we must be reading that wrong! Surely there must be some sort of miscommunication here between God and us! Surely this was supposed to say “hate your enemies and curse those who persecute you”, right? Try as we might to make this verse say something different, something more pleasing to our ears, something that comed a little more naturally to us, we can’t! It’s right there in black and white and God did not misspeak! He meant exactly what He said. We are commanded to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us! So, let’s get busy loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us! Easier said than done, isn’t it? How in the world does God expect us to love people who have hurt us, done us wrong, and who possibly may hate us? How does He expect us to pray for those who are intent on bring us pain, who are hurting us, and who live to see us destroyed? He expects us to do that which seems impossible through Him and through Him only! It is no surprise to Him that we cannot love our enemies and pray for our persecutors on our own! He knows that, in our humanness, if is virtually impossible for us to do what He is asking us to do. However, even though He knows we can’t do it on our own, He doesn’t take the command away. He still expects our obedience. Why? Because He knows we will have to depend on Him to do it and He knows that our obedience will bring us peace where conflict once resided. He knows our obedience is in our best interest, so He asks us to do the impossible! What will our answer be?

Trials, tribulations, difficulties, heartbreaks, hardships, and tragedies…no one is excluded from them and everyone has felt that devastating pain that  accompanies them.  It is usually in these tumultuous times that our character is shaped and molded more than at any other time.  The question we have to ask ourselves is will we look more like Jesus when we make it to the other side or will we look less like Him.  The answer to that question is highly dependent upon who or what we worship as we go through those times.  For most of us, myself included, our natural inclination is to pour all of our attention onto the situation that is causing us the problem. In essence, the situation becomes the thing we bow to or worship.  The problem becomes our god because we set it above all else.  We lose sight of who we should really set our eyes on and the problem becomes bigger and bigger until it is all we can see.  Every moment we allow this “god” to be our focus, we are drawn farther and farther from God.  We start to doubt His love, His goodness, His power, and His ability to take care of the situation.  The farther away from God we drift, the less our character will look like His.  On the other hand, if we set our eyes on Jesus and focus on who He is and what He can do, we will begin to see from an entirely different perspective.  As we give God our attention, He becomes bigger in our eyes and suddenly, that situation that was overwhelming us becomes smaller and smaller.  When we recognize who He really is and how small our situation is in comparison, we understand that He is more than able to take care of us.  As we see Him in the reality of who He really is, we cannot help but worship Him, and as we worship Him, He works a miracle in our heart and transforms it into His own image.  The very situation that once threatened to destroy us is the very thing that draws us closer to the Father as long as we keep our eyes focused on Him.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  Romans 12:2

“Be alert and of sober mind.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  1 Peter 5:8

I’ve read this verse many times and I’ve come to the conclusion that the “someone” Satan is looking to devour is not just any “someone”.  In fact, I’m convinced that he’s looking for a very specific “someone”…a “someone” who is trying to do something for God.  The moment you try to do what you feel God has called you to do is the very moment he goes into action to try and destroy you.  If you’re a Christian, he knows he can’t have you, but he also knows that he can wage a war on you strong enough to stop you from doing what God calls you to do.  And if he can stop you from doing God’s work, he can stop your godly influence on the world around you. We have to realize that he will go to any length to stop anything associated with God.  We have to realize that Satan hates God and he hates anyone who calls God their Father.  He will do whatever it takes to hurt us, to deceive us, to make us doubt God, and to cause us to go astray.  We cannot just sit back and let him have his way with us.  We have to stand up and fight.  He’s not just an imaginary figure in a red suit with a pitchfork…he is a real enemy who must be dealt with if we are to live with any type of victory in our lives.  We have to take his attacks personally because they are personal.  He knows you and he knows me.  He knows our strengths and he will stay away from those, but he also knows our weaknesses and he will do everything in his power to use them against us.  He knows every flaw in our armor and believe me, he aims his arrows right at them.  We have to be  ready to fight the moment our feet hit the floor in the morning.  But don’t fear…we are not fighting this battle alone.  We have a Savior who is willing and able to go to battle with us.  We have a Savior who fights on our behalf in ways we can’t even see.  We have a Savior who has already won the war.  Victory is already ours…fight like you believe that!

“Surging waters cannot quench love; floodwaters cannot overflow it.” Song of Solomon 8:7

I read a story today about a family in Houston whose parents just lost everything in the floods from Hurricane Harvey. They said when they went into their house, it looked like a war zone. Inside the house, they found a Bible on the floor. They noticed it was open to the page that had the above verses on it. When they shared it with their mom, despite losing everything, she just smiled and thanked God for always sending her exactly what she needed when she needed it. What a powerful testimony of her faith in the Lord! And what powerful verses sent by the Lord to reassure His children in the midst of devastation. His message to all of us is the same…NOTHING can quench His love! NOTHING can stop His love! No matter what is happening in our lives, His love is a constant. Hold onto that promise when the waters rise, when your strength fails, and when the odds are stacked against you!

As I was reading tonight, I came across a definition of “blessing” that really jumped out at me.

“A blessing is anything that can be categorized as an expression of God’s goodness and love toward us.”

It’s so easy to think of blessings as things we can see and touch, but when we think like that, we really limit our scope of what God lavishes on us daily. Sometimes we miss out on God’s blessings because they come to us in a different way than what we expected. For example, we may pray for something only to have God tell us “no”. It’s easy to feel that the “no” isn’t a blessing, but the truth is that God only tells us “no” to give us a much better “yes”.    Maybe we miss out on blessings because we have grown so accustomed to them. How often do you think of the roof over your head, the clothes on your back, the food in your kitchen, etc. as a blessing? What about love, joy, peace, grace, mercy, and forgiveness. If you are anything like me at all, you take these things  for granted because they are just a part of your everyday life. The very fact that they are so much a part of your normal life is a blessing in itself. What about prayer or the ability to read God’s Word? The fact that we can communicate with God and have access to His Word is a blessing. God has blessed us beyond measure. In fact, His Word says He has given us every blessing in heaven, and if we are not careful, we will overlook them.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” Ephesians 1:3


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