This has been a very difficult year and as we approach the end I felt like we needed some encouragement that no matter what comes our way we will get through this.
We are broken. We are broken. We are broken. We are broken. We are broken. We are broken. We are broken. We are broken. We are broken. We are broken. We are broken. We are broken. We are broken. We are broken.
What are doing with the broken pieces? When glass shatters we sweep all the pieces away. We make sure the are no stray pieces that might cut us. We never stop to look at those pieces on the floor. How could something that seems so strong be so fragile? How could something that was once so beautiful be now considered trash and thrown away?
What would happen if were to look at those broken pieces, pick them up and instead of throwing them away we found a way to put them back together again? What if we took them and said “this isn’t trash, these pieces represent a future and a hope.”
We are standing in the midst of broken glass right now and we have a choice. Are we going to see trash? Or are we going to see opportunity. A chance to make something better. A hope and a future.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord and I will bring to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive. (Jeremiah 29:11-13 NKJV)
Whenever I the hear the words “be prepared” I think of the 1994 version of The Lion King. I can clearly see Scar walking through the canyon as he’s singing to the hyenas about how he’s going to be king. He was painting a picture of abundance and a life of ease. But Scar’s plan failed. Why? For the same reason some of our plans fail…lack of preparation.
See for the entire time Scar was singing to the hyenas he never once stopped to think about what it actually took to be king. Sound familiar? Not the king part but how often do we rush through things without really taking the time to consider what goes into bringing our dreams, thoughts, aspirations into being. In other words preparation requires actions. There is a process of getting from point A, an idea, to point B, a tangible outcome. What are those steps? It depends on the outcome you are trying to obtain.
If you are in need of a job at least one of your steps should involve getting a resume together. If you’re interested in purchasing a home, finding out how much of a home you can afford would be a very important step in your journey. But the most important thing we need to remember as we take these steps is to practice patience.
God will often give us dreams and desires but He doesn’t always, if ever, give us the time frame for when those dreams or desires will come to pass. What He does tell us is that we should always be prepared. In the parable of the 10 virgins all ten knew their husbands were coming home but they didn’t know when. Only 5 of them took measures to ensure they had light to welcome their husbands home should they return at night. (Matthew 25:1-13)
Our entire life is in preparation for the day when Jesus will return. Are you taking steps to ensure your light is shining not only for drawing others to Jesus but also for when Jesus comes for the church? Have you asked Jesus into your heart? Have you asked Him to forgive your sins?
Scar miscalculated what it would take to be king. Have you miscalculated what it would take to have eternal life?
“Good evening. This is the helpers hotline. How may we help you?” “Thank you for taking my call. I’m stuck in a revolving situation of pleasing people. I get so focused on making sure there is peace and everyone’s feelings are right that I don’t know who I am. I agonize over every decision that I sometimes become paralyzed with fear and no decision get’s made. Or I start rethinking decisions I’ve already made. Or give explanations to people that don’t necessarily need an explanation. I am tired of feeling this way. Please help me.”
Does this sound like you? If not be thankful but if it does, know that you are not alone because this was me. I have lived most if not all of my adult life watching it from the sidelines. Decisions were made based on how it would affect others not how it would affect me. Don’t get me wrong there are times when the best decision isn’t a personal gain but it’s best for someone else. It’s good to sacrifice for others but the problem comes when sacrificing becomes your way of life. Where you start to wonder where you begin and others end.
Living my life from the sidelines has also caused me to say yes to things I should have said no to and vice versa. I’ve moved out of an apartment into a roommate situation that was not good for me. I’ve taken or left jobs trying to make other peoples lives easier. There are friendships I didn’t cultivate because I was too focused on other people I thought were my friends. Striving to please people will not only lead you away from your purpose and blessing but most importantly it will lead you away from Jesus.
When I stop and think about what I’ve missed out on by putting others ahead of Jesus; ahead of what He wanted for me and what He created me to do I honestly get sad. But then I start thinking about how God is a God of forgiveness and how He continues to give me chances to get it right and that fills me with joy and hope.
Everyday I wake up is a chance to put God first in my life. That doesn’t apply just to me. Everyday you wake up is an opportunity to put God first as well. Have you taken that opportunity?
We are rolling right along into 2020. A new decade. Some of us made resolutions to get healthy, save money, become a better person and hopefully we are working to keep those resolutions. But there is one resolution that I don’t usually hear people making at the beginning of January…the resolution to develop a relationship with God. More importantly to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
The entire world, not just the sports world, has been shaken by the death of Kobi Bryant, his daughter and the other people that were on the helicopter. To me it feels like when Princess Diana died. Everyone was asking why? How? And who is to blame? Nobody, including myself, stopped to ask if her soul belonged to the Lord. Admittedly that’s not a question I can answer, only God can but if you are living, breathing and in your right mind it’s a question you should be asking yourself.
You don’t have to be famous for your life to end in an instant. How many people who have never been in the entertainment industry, never been a sports star or never even been on the news, died in a car accident, random shooting or simply fell asleep and never woke up? While we hope to have a long life it’s not something we have any control over.
So as we continue to move through 2020 stop and ask yourself this one question…if you were to die today, would you be confident in knowing that your soul is safely in the hands of Jesus?
This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live. (Deuteronomy 30:19 NIV)
Who are you? This isn’t just a song by The Who or the theme song to one of my favorite t.v. shows it’s a question we should be asking ourselves not just once but every day…sometimes multiple times a day. Why? Because while the core of you stays the same, who you are is ever changing. Just as where you are right now isn’t where you were five years ago, 6 months ago or even an hour ago who are now isn’t who you were before.
We meet people, have conversations, encounter situations, have near misses or have accidents that all chip away at the veneer we so artistically and painstakingly put together to keep us safe and secure. Every once in awhile someone actually gets all the way through that veneer. That’s our moment of truth. Our fork in the road. Do I let them stay there? Do I allow who they are help shape me on a deeper level? Or do I quickly push them out and being the work of patching up the hole they created?
Staying on the surface is so easy for us. Mainly because it’s comfortable and it gives us a reason to be able to say “nobody loves me”, “I’m so alone”, “Why don’t I have any friends?” Basically it’s an excuse to blame others for how things are turning out in our lives. About six years ago I was driving home from church school and I was hit with an overwhelming sense of loneliness. I began to think that I didn’t have any friends and that no one loved me. Logically I knew that wasn’t true but I was so in my feelings it took me days to get out of it.
To be honest this feeling of loneliness was always there as a low hum but it would get louder the closer it got to my birthday and the holidays. But instead of drawing closer and closer to God and others I became more and more withdrawn. I kept going to church and to work but day by day, year by year my thoughts became more of a comfort than spending time with God and with friends & family. I became a pro at faking fine not only with others but with myself. Everything came to a head towards the beginning of last year. It became harder and harder for me to get out of bed each morning. I went to work, did just enough and couldn’t wait to home and back to bed.
I was reading bible plans, listening to gospel music and listening to preaching. I was attending bible study and being taught the Word of God but every Sunday I would come to church and break down. Eventually I came to the end of myself and realized that something had to change. I called my doctor and got medication for depression & anxiety. I called a therapist to talk through things I should have dealt with a long time ago. But most importantly I continued to talk to God. Bit by bit I began to become more like myself. I began to laugh again. I began to have the desire to help out in church again and my desire to write came back.
However, I still found myself asking who I was and what He wanted from me. This question of identity is something a lot of people struggle with regardless of age, race or gender. I believe that’s why God is constantly telling us how much He loves us. I recently had a conversation with my brother that I’ll admit was hard to have but it was necessary. He challenged me to accept that God loves me. Accept that I am worthy of love. Accept that I am more precious than diamonds. Accept that Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross was not for me to just exist. Accept that my life has meaning and a purpose. Accept that I am a child of God and I challenge you to do the same. After that conversation, I went and saw the movie Overcomer. One of the characters was asked to read Ephesians 1 and 2 and write down all the things that God says we are. I decided to read it and discovered that He says I am chosen, I am loved, I am holy without blame, I am adopted. He takes pleasure in me. I am accepted. I am redeemed. And that’s just in the first seven verses of chapter 1. But here’s the thing these statements don’t just apply to me. God’s word applies to everyone who chooses to believe it and that includes you.
I intend to live with these words in my heart. What about you?
There is a scripture in the book of Daniel that I constantly mull over time and time again. To me this scripture defines the entire book but it should also define our lives as Christians. The scripture is Daniel 1:8 which talks about Daniel making the decision not to defile himself with the king’s food and wine. I actually wrote another post about this in 2016 but I can’t seem to let it go.
So much of who we are in God starts with a decision. Are we going to allow God to be our Lord and savior? That’s the first big decision we have to make. Giving God our heart meas we understand that we are sinners desperately in need of a savior. Someone who can not only take away our sin but also provide the guidance needed to walk a life filled with purpose. Which brings me to the next question. Are we going to allow God to reshape us? Allowing God to save us isn’t the only life transforming thing that God wants to do for us. He wants to continually remove what is in us that are not reflective of Him. He wants to give us His peace, joy, grace & mercy. And not just for us to live a better life but also for us to extend that same joy, peace, grace & mercy to others as well. Our lives should be lived past the four walls of where we live, work or attend church. Our lives, just as God’s love, should have no borders.
So let’s get back to Daniel. I’m pretty sure his resolve started long before being a captive in Babylon. He was already a man of great character. Hardworking and teachable. He had to exhibit these traits prior to exile otherwise he wouldn’t have been chosen as one of the children to stand in the king’s palace. And it wasn’t just Daniel who made the decision to be a man of character. He had friends who made that decision early in life as well. I just finished a bible plan focusing on associations-the people we hang with. It got me thinking about where I spend my time and who I spend it with which leads me to another decision we have to make. Are we going to allow God to lead us to the people we should have in our lives? Are we going to pay attention to the unsettling feeling we get about someone or some place? Or sometimes the feeling isn’t unsettling but there is an instant connection and sense of ease that tells us “this is right”. The point is regardless of the feeling, unsettling or instant connection, we should pray to God for direction.
Once again back to Daniel and his friends. Before captivity they constantly talked to God and during captivity they continued their conversations. Because of their conversations with God Daniel understood that the decree not to pray to anyone but the king was a trap. Daniel continued to pray just as he had always done. Shadrack, Meshach and Abednego knew it was wrong to worship other Gods and never bowed to the image of Nebucadnezzar. Their resolve almost cost them their lives but they held fast to their decision to worship the one true God and allow Him to lead & guide them.
Because of that Nebuchadnezzar came to believe in God and made a decree that others in the kingdom believe as well. Three teenage boys made resolution to follow God which lead a king and a nation to believe.
What will your resolve lead others to believe about you and most importantly about God?
This week’s spotlight features Trey Lorenz, Witness, Mandisa and Austin French.