A Time for Reflection
This time of year offers an opportunity for a very special perspective as we stand between two years. One is behind us and the other lies before us; which makes this a perfect time to assess our spiritual growth throughout the past year. Personally, I like to begin with asking myself questions. Did I reverence God as the sovereign LORD of all creation with my life? Did I honor him daily as his child with my actions, my words, and all of my heart? Did I do all I could to advance his kingdom in this city, in my community, to those around me? Was his desire for all of mankind to be saved and to worship him, a priority thought in my mind? Did I USE the gifts he gave me to bless the kingdom in Port Huron? Did I do my share to bless others, especially my spiritual family? Was I truly thankful for everyday he gave me, and for my blessing of daily bread as he provided for all of my needs? Did I really express gratefulness for all he has blessed me with? As I eagerly asked him to forgive me for the sins I committed, was I also equally eager to forgive others who wronged me? Help me Lord not to be a hypocrite. As this year has been full of diverse temptations, did I ask God as my protector to shield me in my weaknesses, and to keep me safe from the evil that lurked all around me? Finally, in my weakness and limitations do I, in faith believe God is all powerful and unlimited in all things? Did I take my cares and concerns to him acknowledging that his wisdom is infinitely higher than mine? Did I do better this year in giving him control of my life than in the past, so that in all things he would receive the glory?
Undoubtedly, the real application of the Lord’s prayer is not just something to say, but intended to be put into action in our daily lives.
So, how did you do in 2018 for the cause of Christ? Could you have done better? Will you vow to do better in 2019?
Continue to grow and be blessed. Blessings.
Grandpa, some ninety plus years, sat feebly on the patio bench. He didn’t move, just sat with his head down staring at his hands. When I sat down beside him he didn’t acknowledge my presence and the longer I sat, I wondered if he was ok. Finally, not really wanting to disturb him but wanting to check on him at the same time, I asked him if he was ok. He raised his head and looked at me and smiled. “Yes, I’m fine. Thank you for asking,” he said in a clear strong voice.
”I didn’t mean to disturb you, Grandpa, but you were just sitting here staring at your hands and I wanted to make sure you were OK.” I explained to him. “Have you ever looked at your hands,” he asked. I mean really looked at your hands?” I slowly opened my hands and stared down at them. I turned them over, palms up and then palms down. No, I guess I had never really looked at my hands as I tried to figure out the point he was making. Grandpa smiled and related this story:
”Stop and think for a moment about the hands you have, how they have served you well throughout your years. These hands, though wrinkled, shriveled, and weak have been the tools I have used all my life to reach out and grab and embrace life. They put food in my mouth and clothes on my back. As a child my mother taught me to fold them in prayer. They tied my shoes and pulled on my boots. They have been dirty, scraped and raw, swollen and bent. They were uneasy and clumsy when I tried to hold my newborn son. Decorated with my wedding band they showed the world that I was married and loved someone special. They trembled and shook when I buried my parents, my spouse, and walked my daughter down the aisle. They have covered my face, combed my hair, and washed and cleansed the rest of my body. They have been sticky and wet, bent and broken, dried and raw. And to this day, when not much of anything else of me works real well, these hands hold me up, lay me down, and again continue to fold in prayer. These hands are the mark of where I’ve been and the ruggedness of my life. But more importantly, it will be these hands that God will reach out and take when he leads me home. And with my hands He will lift me to His side and there I will use these hands to touch the face of Christ.”
When my hands are hurt or sore I think of Grandpa. I know he has been stroked and caressed and held by the hands of God. I too, want to touch the face of God and feel His hands on my face.
Many are facing this Holiday without loved ones who have passed on. May this story help ease your hurt and give you peace. May the love of God embrace you as we too look forward to God taking our hand and leading us home. Blessings.
Borrowed- author unknown
More than a Baby
He sent a baby. Didn’t see that coming. Oh, we knew he would send something, or someone. And it was going to be awesome…..and terrible. Truth be told, we deserved “terrible” more than “awesome.” For thousands of years we gave lip service, and not much else. We worshipped ourselves, did our own thing. We hoped for a king who would destroy our enemies while overlooking the fact that our sins were just like theirs. But sending a baby? What was he thinking? We wanted a sword swinging, curse flinging, doom bringing, King on a big horse- we got a baby.
Born to a not quite married girl, in a nowhere town, in a shabby room. Maybe we weren’t the only ones who didn’t see that coming. The devil didn’t seem ready for it either. I mean, none of it really makes sense. Baby, nowhere’s-ville, father goes absent, twelve unemployed guys in his posse. Religious people opposing him, nailed to a tree, naked, humiliated right in front of his mother and AWOL from the tomb few days later. He came as a baby. One of us. Walked with us. Ate with us. Loved us! Told us to do what he did, and then he told us we’re good, he can boogie now. And so he did. Straight up. What a story! Not what were we expecting. But exactly what we needed. That baby was God and King and Savior. Who knew? Not me. Didn’t see it coming. Thought He would come with fire-and all cheesed off. We deserved no less than hell. He gave us heaven. That baby….wow! He was more than a baby. Glory to God in the highest….Peace on earth.
Respectfully borrowed from
Patrick Mead, 4th Ave Church of Christ Franklin, Tenn
Living Free from Distraction
One of the challenges of living for Jesus among the lost in this world is staying focused. Life is full of many ups and downs, as well as things coming at us from all directions. Therefore, it is easy to become distracted from where we are going. Perhaps this is one of the ploys of the evil one, if so, it is very effective. When the apostle Paul admonished us to put on our armor in Ephesians 6, it brings two important thoughts to my mind. First, I am engaged in something that requires armor. Even though I do not see an enemy, it is obvious there is one, because my daily living requires armor. Secondly, this armor must be sufficient for my battle because God himself chose it. It is when we fail to put on our armor, that we get “gobbled up” by life. Suddenly, we find ourselves in situations that should be foreign to a child of God. It is while we are in these “pig pens” (as was the prodigal son), that we soon notice our behavior takes on actions that disappoint God- however, we continue anyway. How it this possible? How can we get so engrossed in our stuff that living for Jesus no longer is paramount in our minds? Simply put, we forget who we are and where we are going. And most importantly we forget who we belong to. The Hebrew writer if asked would simply tell us, we have taken our eyes off of Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). Unfortunately, this is easy to do when we feel the “fix” for our troubles lie within us. As a reminder, God has made us many great promises, and taking care of us through all of life’s challenges is just one of them. Let us always put our hope and trust in God by resisting the urge to rely on our own strength. The only way we will survive the war and bring glory to God, is to fix our eyes on Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. Blessings.
I sit here today straddled on the fence where great joy and great sorrow meet. Recently, I sat with a dear brother in Christ. As I watched him struggle for every breath, we talked about what was to come next. He is in hospice, and is fully aware that his time is on this earth is rapidly coming to an end. As he struggled to breathe, I asked him if he was afraid to die. It was with a gentle smile in his eyes he responded, “no.” What a great moment. Part of me wanted to break into tears knowing this was the last conversation, as well as the last time I would see my brother on this earth. At the same time, I wanted to cry with great joy for the assurance our loving father has given us at the cross of Calvary, that even death cannot separate us from our God, and beyond this earthly existence, eternal life awaits. Oh what joy!! Only God could turn a time of mourning into dancing. As I sat, I recalled those comforting words from Revelation 14:13 reminding us “blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.” As well as Psalm 116:15 “precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants.” As we talked, I expressed to him how much I loved him, and of the sizable imprint he has left on my heart. After we prayed, I headed for the door. I paused, and as I turned, I told him again how much I was going to miss him, and with a smile in my eyes through the tears I told him, I would see him again when we all will be rejoicing- in heaven. As I think about it, I just want to cry out because God is so good, good even beyond words.
Sometimes we need to just stop and meditate on how wonderfully blessed we are, to serve a loving God and to have a savior who endured a painful, humiliating, ugly cross, yes… for even us;
so that we can rejoice in the midst of sorrow. Blessings.