What happens when our lives start to fall apart?I'm not talking about those little things that happen: the speeding tickets, the kid's "F" in math or the flu just when you needed to be up and around.I'm talking about those things that tear your heart apart and make you question your ability to go on.
Let's be sure we're on the same page.The death of a parent or a spouse is traumatic.But, if that person was 80+, you can't say it was an unexpected shock.Some things are traumatic, but to be expected.Sure they hurt, but that's not what I'm talking about.Let's go deeper than that.
Consider the person who was just diagnosed with a life threatening disease; or, the woman with a family who just discovered that her husband of 25 years is leaving to be with a younger woman.Consider the parents whose young daughter was just raped or molested by a teenage boy; or, the parents of that teenage boy.Think for a moment about the parents of a child who was just killed by a random drive-by shooting.These are the things that make our souls cry out, "God!Why!Where is your love?"
What can we say to these people whose lives have been thrown into such turmoil?Is there anything that can offer consolation?
At this point, most articles would talk about all the philosophical reasons for not giving up.They would discuss those who depend on you and how everything is always darkest before the sun comes out.You might hear some very good advice and some legitimate reasons to be encouraged.The world is not without those who really want to help you through your suffering and hardships.Unfortunately, most of the world's advice does not offer true healing; it only offers acceptance and survival.Can you really be healed from hurts so deep?It depends.
It depends on your love for Jesus.Do you only love Him when things are going well or will you stick by Him and lean on Him even in your darkest hour?Will you shake your fist at God and curse His name when your life is falling apart; or, will you fall to your knees, thank Him for loving you and humbly ask Him for mercy?
Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:28-29)Unfortunately, it's hard to go to someone if you don't know where they are or how to get to them.
If you what to find Jesus, He's as close as your knee is to the floor."Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."
Jesus said,"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." (Matthew 5:8)Have you ever longed to see God or to walk beside Him in the cool of the evening?Have you ever listened to testimony of people who audibly heard His voice and longed to hear Him yourself?Is the yearning for the physical presence of God something that fills your heart?
"Before long, the world will not see Me anymore, but you will see Me.Because I live, you also will live... Whoever has My commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves Me.He who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I too will love him and show Myself to him."(John 14:19-21)
What may be known about God is plain to see because God has made it plain for us to see.Since the creation of the world, God's qualities - His eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly visible, being understood from what He has made, so that we are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20)If you want to see God, look at His creation.
Look at a tree, grass, a rose, a child or a mountain or the night sky.Everywhere you look, the things of beauty that you see are from God.God's magnificence and His glory are revealed in His creation.Open the eyes of your heart and the eyes of your body and ask God to reveal Himself to you.Revel in the majesty of His work and let the heavens declare His glory and the skies proclaim the work of His hands.
Father, show us your heart and your love by allowing us to truly see the things of your creation.Grant us the wisdom to see through the eyes of our hearts and with the mind of our Savior Jesus.Grant us Lord, the peace and joy that comes from knowing you, up close and personal; not as some distant, far away God.Help us to open our eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to You, so that we may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Your Son Jesus in who's Holy Name we pray, Amen!
"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus."
We're cat people... always have been.For the past 13 years we've been blessed with "Maxi." He's one of the only cats I've ever seen that will come to you when he's called or follow you when you go for a walk.About 4 years ago, we got Chloe (or she got us - I'm still not sure).She's a typical cat with a mind of her own and the proper "cat attitude."
A few mornings ago as I was waking up, I noticed she was lying at the foot of our bed.Petting a cat with soft smooth fur and listening to that gentle purr is so relaxing... What a wonderful way to start your day.So, I called her.
"Chloe... Chloe... Come here kitty!"Nothing!She didn't even turn her ears.After a few more unsuccessful calls, I decided to give the covers a gentle tug, just to get her attention.Still nothing.Next, I tugged harder.She noticed; but, nothing.Finally, I yanked the covers and definitely got her undivided attention.However, instead of coming to me as I wanted, she jumped down and left the room.
As I watched her tail disappear around the corner, I thought of Jesus words: "How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing." (Matthew 23:37)As those words kept playing over and over in my mind my eyes filled with tears at the truth of those words.Jesus is always calling us but we don't know His voice (or if we do, we ignore it).Sometimes, He'll give us a gentle tug, just to get our attention; but, we still ignore Him.Then, when life finally comes crashing down on us as the result of problems in our marriage, our jobs or our health, instead of running to Him, we jump down and leave the room.
Folklore tells us that cats have 9 lives.The Word of God tells us that we have eternal life.Where we spend it depends entirely upon whose call we answer.
Jesus said, "I am the bread of life.He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty." (John 6:35)
"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus."
- Philippians 2:5
August 4, 2005
Today's devotional is a break from our normal tradition.We rarely publish anything that isn't written by one of GospeLines' staff or writers.However, this poignant story has such a powerful message that we felt we should share it with our readers.
We apologize that we do not know the author.If anyone of you knows the source, please let us know so we can give proper credit and thank the author for sharing this wisdom of God with us.
During World War II, a US marine was separated from his unit on a Pacific island.The fighting had been intense, and in the smoke and the crossfire he had lost touch with his comrades.
Alone in the jungle, he could hear enemy soldiers coming in his direction.Scrambling for cover, he found his way up a high ridge to several small caves in the rock. Quickly he crawled inside one of the caves. Although safe for the moment, he realized that once the enemy soldiers looking for him swept up the ridge, they would quickly search all the caves and he would be killed.
As he waited, he prayed, "Lord, if it be your will, please protect me. Whatever your will though, I love you and trust you. Amen."
After praying, he lay quietly listening to the enemy begin to draw close. He thought, "Well, I guess the Lord isn't going to help me out of this one."Then he saw a spider begin to build a web over the front of his cave.
As he watched, listening to the enemy searching for him all the while, the spider layered strand after strand of web across the opening of the cave.
"Hah," he thought. "What I need is a brick wall and what the Lord has sent me is a spider web.God does have a sense of humor."
As the enemy drew closer he watched from the darkness of his hideout and could see them searching one cave after another. As they came to his, he got ready to make his last stand. To his amazement, however, after glancing in the direction of his cave, they moved on. Suddenly, he realized that with the spider web over the entrance, his cave looked as if no one had entered for quite a while. "Lord, forgive me," prayed the young man."I had forgotten that in you a spider's web is stronger than a brick wall."
We all face times of great trouble. When we do, it is so easy to forget the victories that God would work in our lives, sometimes in the most surprising ways.As the great leader, Nehemiah, reminded the people of Israel when they faced the task of rebuilding Jerusalem, "In God we will have success!" (Nehemiah 2:20) Remember: Whatever is happening in your life, with God, a mere spider's web can become a brick wall of protection. Believe He is with you always. Just speak His name through Jesus His son, and you will see His great power and love for you.
~ Author Unknown
August 5, 2005
A small shop in Ludington, Michigan has a sign in the window that reads:"Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% what we do with what happens."In other words, how we respond to our circumstances is far more important than our circumstances themselves.
People say they're bitter because of the things that have happened to them.They've been treated unfairly or with disrespect.Maybe they've been forced into situations they did not want - situations that caused harm to themselves or to someone they loved.
Is their resulting bitterness a result of those circumstances or is it a choice?If it's a result, then shouldn't all blind, deaf, or otherwise handicapped individuals be bitter?Of course, many people with handicaps of all kinds are bitter.Maybe they're bitter because of why or how they became handicapped; or, maybe because they see their handicap as unfair or undeserved.
However, not all people with handicaps are bitter.Many are filled with joy and laughter - They relish every moment of life - not because of their condition; but, in spite of it.These people have chosen to rise above their circumstances and embrace life rather than rage against it.
The ultimate Man of Peace was rejected and scorned by His own people - Driven out of His home town - Betrayed by one of His closest friends.He was beaten, whipped and nailed to a cross because He offered love instead of pain; peace instead of bondage.
In spite of this horrific treatment, He was able to look beyond all His personal circumstances and say, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34)
Why is it so hard for us to resist the greed and ignorance in our world that causes so much pain?Greed and ignorance may cause much pain and suffering; but, that's no justification for us to become part of the evil it produces.
No matter what your circumstances, you can choose to bring light into the world or to bring darkness.Does your life produce light that shows the world the Spirit of Jesus; or, does your life bring on darkness?Jesus said, "...let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)