Be the Change

Be the change you want to see in the world. – Mahatma Gandhi

My oldest daughter while in high school began sharing church signs with a friend of mine.  They would text them to each other anytime they passed one. Funny how we can drive by these signs and hardly notice their meaning, but if you stop and read these signs many times they will prick your heart and soul.  One day I drove by this one and it has become a motto I try to live by in my life.

I was challenged by this church sign to look at the world around me and even the way I see others.  I can’t expect people to change around me without role models of Christ touching their lives.  I can’t bring Jesus Christ to others if I don’t step out of my comfort zone and live among unbelievers.  I will not always meet God’s expectations and unbelievers will see me as a hypocrite because I am a sinner and I will fail, but I will always pull myself up by God’s love and mercy and strive to Be the Change I want to see in our world.

I am drawn to Esther once again and her willingness to step out of her comfort zone.  She put herself in the firing line to be the change for her people.  I stop and think could I be Esther?  Could I step out of my life and stand in the gap for others?  Joshua 1:9 reads, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”  I honestly am not sure that I can, but I believe that if I truly lean on God as Esther did that I could do what is right for others around me.

Change is usually a dreaded word in our lives.  We worry about change in our lives.  We are uncertain that change can be good, but if we look at how our lives can change other’s lives then we can see God in our lives.  We are reminded of God’s constant in our lives in Deuteronomy 31:6, “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”  God is with us even as we stand in the gap or on the firing line when we are following his guidance.

Esther found herself in a position – “…And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14.  – to be the change for her people.  As the Jews stood to be annihilated by Haman’s order, Esther stepped out in Faith into the King’s Court where her presence could have brought her death.  Yet, “(2)And when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, she won favor in his sight, and he held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand.  Then Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. (3) And the king said to her, “What is it, Queen Esther?  what is your request?  It shall be given you, even to half of my kingdom.”  (4) And Esther said, “If it please the king, let the king and Haman come today to a feast that I have prepared for the king.” Esther 5:2-4.  The King found favor when he looked upon Queen Esther and was moved to give her any request that she had.  As I read these verses, I can only see God working in both Esther life and King Ahasuerus’ heart.

“The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”  Psalm 18:2 gives me the strength to be the change in the world.  I may only be a small change, but I know that when faced with the opportunity with God as my rock  I walk the path of being an example of Christ.  Although, I may grow and change in my walk with Jesus Christ.  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

Closing Verse:  2 Corinthians 4:16-18

16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.

17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,

18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Challenge:  What would it take for you to Be The Change for others?

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Opening my Heart to God’s Love Story

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I ran across an old screen saver for my phone just the other day that reads, God is writing my love story.  As the month of February begins, I realize that so far this year has been full of tears of joy, tears of sadness, and tears of anger.   I find myself drawn to scripture and searching for God’s plan, God’s path.  I wonder sometimes if I have missed a turn or signpost from God.  As I look to the future and ponder my past, I can’t help but wonder if I am meeting the plan that God has for me and for my life.  Then I see the phone screensaver and realize that God is still busy writing my love story.  All is not lost and hope is still abundant with His grace and mercy.  Romans 5:5, “and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”  My heart is full of the hope from God as the future lies ahead.

A recent sermon on first chapter of Esther prompt me to reread the this old testament book.  Esther’s story full of joy, pain, and anger reminds us how God’s plan works in our lives and in the lives of those around us.  Esther remained true to herself and her people and King Ahasuerus loved her and God provided for her and her people.  Esther walked both through joy that filled her soul and the pain that shattered it knowing God was present.  Esther 2:17 reads, “the king loved Esther more than all woman, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.”

The ebb and flow of our lives are sometimes shattered by pain or fills our souls with joy. These are moments that God is intense and full in our lives.  This is when He is writing our story by placing us in the midst of conflict or gladness to direct our lives for His Glory.   This intensity is found in Esther and her decision to follow the love story God was writing for her and her people.  ” For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish.  And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”,  Esther 4:14.   Sometimes it is hard to reach for God at both the lowest and highest points in our lives, yet these are moments that God has allowed in our story in order for us to glorify Him.  Psalm 86:12 reads, “I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.”  Are we choosing to Glorify God and share His love for us with others around us?  Are we glorifying his name forever?  Matthew 6:21 reminds Christians that “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

As Valentine’s Day arrives, I ponder my heart and God’s love for me.  What is the love story he is writing for me?  What part of my story is left to be written?  Am I listening to him and following him?  I remember to love God as the wisdom from the parable of the Good Samaritan teaches in Luke 10:27, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

As I walk through this year and see what it will bring into my life, I lean on his word which comforts me with “What no eye has seen , nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him–.”  1 Corinthians 2:9.  I know he is writing my story, preparing my path and my future home in heaven.  As February turns to spring and spring to summer, I will turn my focus on the journey God has for me by preparing my heart to listen to his guidance.  Proverbs 16:9 tells me, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”

Looking backwards from today, I see the story that he has already written.  So much to be thankful for, so much to worship and praise him for.  Although sometimes life seems unfair, if we stop and look back at the story he is writing we will see His Glory.  I yearn for the rest of the love story God is writing for me.  I strive to be patient as I move through my life and listen to his guidance.  What does God have in store for me?  for you?  How Esther must have felt when she looked back at the love story God wrote for her?

Closing Verse:  “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.  And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”   Ezekiel 36:26

Challenge:  Search Scripture and your heart today for the wisdom of God’s word for your life. God is already writing a great love story for you.   “…nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:39.  Stop and wait for his guidance in the next chapter he will write.

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Searching for the Truth

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We move through life with ups and downs, but sometimes when we hit the downs in our lives we wonder Why God?  Why Now?  As I write this post, I watch someone I love struggle through deep pain and shock.  All I can do is turn to God in prayer and pray for peace in this situation.  “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7.   May God bring peace through understanding as the search for the truth begins.

Truth, something so simple yet so complicated.  How many times have we ourselves spun webs only to next find ourselves snagged in a web spun by someone else.  We have heard so many times in our lives that the truth will set you free.  Scripture says this in John 8:32, ” And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Jesus speaks of the truth in John 18:37, “Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world–to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”  If you are someone seeking the truth in your life, then turn to scripture, turn to his word and open your heart to his love, peace, and grace to be poured forth.

The opposite of truth are lies.  Lies that maybe labeled as protection will one day only cause devastation. How many people can one lie hurt.  Right now I watch three people who I love more than life suffer from a lie labeled protection.  Doing the right thing sometimes can be so hard, we can defend our choices so many different ways, but we forget to step into someone else’s place and try to feel what it would be like to be in their shoes.   Somehow the truth always wins and the consequences and devastation of the lie follows as the truth finds the light.   This devastation is more than most people really bargain for when they spin a web of lies.  We are warned in God’s word in 1 John 1:8, ” If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

I pray for these three people and others who have to walk down the path of lies that others paved for them, but I cling to this verse each day in Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things will work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”  These words give me hope and I pray provide peace to those suffering now that God will bring good into their lives through this pain.

Thankfully we have a heavenly Father who stand in righteousness and truth.  Who opens our eyes to the truth of Jesus Christ so that we might find ourselves in his glory one day.  The glory that will reveal all the truths of this life. My prayers for those suffering comes from Matthew 7:7, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

As I watch those close to me suffer I pray Psalm 43:3, “Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!’  I remind my loved ones and others of the poem in the Challenge below because God is carrying you through this trial.

Closing Verse:  “These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace;”  Zechariah 8:16

Challenge: My challenge is for us all to remember where God is in our trials….

 Footprints in the Sand by Mary Stevenson

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there were one set of footprints.

This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from
anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.

So I said to the Lord,
“You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during
the most trying periods of my life
there have only been one
set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most,
you have not been there for me?”

The Lord replied,
“The times when you have
seen only one set of footprints,
is when I carried you.”

Mary Stevenson

 

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Grieving

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“One of the hardest things you will ever have to do is to grieve the loss of a person who is still alive.”  Anonymous

I read this quote the other day and my heart was touched and felt God’s hug. This quote has such deep meaning in my family today, yet I know so many others suffer along with us.  Over the years, I have heard so many people question their grief and why it is happening to them.  In the midst of such pain, it is easy to cry out and blame God for allowing such a burden to be laid at our feet.  I have thought and wondered the same many times, but watching my mother in law perish before our eyes is a deep grief that at times makes my husband and I feel numb because we know that the pain of the end is still in front of us.  Today she does not even know us when we walk in the room.  She can’t really remember the details of her past (or so we believe).  She lives in tiny moments as they pass through her head which can be in the moment or in the past but the connections to the people around her are not made, so she can not call our names and does not act as if she knows who we are when we enter the room.  I know she would not have chosen this ending for herself because she would not want her son and granddaughters to be grieving for her loss even as she lives.  Why has God chosen this path for her?  for us?  I can only find solace in scripture. Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

She is just one among us who is lost yet lives.  Accidents, illnesses, diseases, and age strips so many that we love from our daily lives.  This pain is sometimes hard to bear and even harder for others to understand.  We can be angry with God and turn from him, but watching the pain within our family has lead me to God as the one who truly understand.  God, who was stripped of his son, sacrificed his son, delivered his son to the enemy, that we might all live.  Scripture also reminds us that God allowed his Son to endure Hell for us, “(In saying, ‘He ascended,’ what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth?”  Ephesians 4:9.)  He understands our deepest grief like no one can.

So as we grieve daily for the loss of my mother in law from our lives, and await her entrance into his hands, we are thankful that she will one day enter the gates of Heaven.  We know she loves God, believes in God, and will one day walk with God in a body that is not mangled by a debilitating disease.  This is our greatest gift from her, her love for both God and his son Jesus Christ.  The words of Psalm 119:50, “This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.”

We must find God in this grief and loss and believe that his son Jesus Christ gave us a future to rejoice.  1Peter 1: 6-7 reads, “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith -more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire- may be found to result in glory and honor at the relegation of Jesus Christ.” This reminds me of one of my husband’s favorite songs, “One of These Days” by FFH. Be sure to read all the lyrics sometime, but this particular line is a reminder that grief will pass for her and for us and one day only Joy through Christ will exist.

One of these days I’ll finally be
In a place where there’s no more need
No more pain and no more grief
No more foolish disbelief
And all the joy there will be
When at last we finally see
One of these days

Closing Verse: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:  a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up, what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance..”  Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

Challenge:  When your heart feels bitter in the pain of loving someone you are losing, turn to God and scripture and find peace in his arms.  God is your Heavenly Father who knows your grief and will soon bring you to a time to dance in his glory.

 

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