Finding God in my Mirror

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Constantly, I battle within myself over my outward appearance, and this ultimately effects my inner self.  My blessing has come with age as I am able to accept who I am both inside and out.  Yet, from time to time I drift back into my negativity which affects those close to me.  Although verses of scripture tells my heart that God is with me and loves me for who I am, I always find a way back down that dark path.  One of my favorite scriptures that I open often is found in Matthew 6: 26, “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”  I know God is there in my mirror, but sometimes I just fail to see him loving and caring for me.

Last week was one of those weeks, when I just could not find the good in myself.  I just looked in the mirror and saw this person that I did not want to see looking back at me.  Instead of heeding 1 Peter 5:7, “Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”  I cast my negative doubts on others like my husband.  He carries the burden of not being able to help me through the valley because this is not his valley.  But, I drag him down into it with me anyway each time I go down this dark path.  He is a loving husband who always has the right words that I just fail to hear.  His constant love and devotion always brings me out of the valley and reminds me of Proverbs 16:24, “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”  I must hear his words which are from the Lord in order to heal my body and my soul.

As I ponder the reflection in the mirror this week after I have found my way out of the valley, I realize that God does not really look at me the way others do and the way mirror reflects.

1 Samuel 16:7 reads, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Knowing now that God looks at my heart, I need to stop pursuing the mirror and focus harder on my heart for the Lord using the words from Proverbs 23:12, “Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge.”  This scripture causes me to reflect how focusing more on my heart might help my view in the mirror.  Can I and will I find God in the mirror?

I spend more time reflecting now on who I really am and the gifts that God has given me.  This is the only way I can focus myself away from the dark path.  I make peace with the spirit God has given me.  1 Peter 3:4 reads,  “But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”  I grasp for this verse and the message it writes on my heart.  I am precious in his sight.  Once again, I can stand on the mountain top and look in the mirror and see the gift that Christ has given me.  I see my new self given to me through Christ sacrifice on the Cross.  “And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”  Scripture from Colossians 3:10 brings this comfort to my heart and the image I see in the mirror.  I am blessed!

Closing Verse:   “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:10

Challenge:  Are you finding God in the mirror?  Are you focusing on your heart so it will shine through on the outside?

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Happiness is a Choice

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I ran into this quote just the other day, “Happiness is not something you get, but something you DO,” by Marlene Cox.  As I thought about the quote, I noted how it connected to our family motto, “Happiness is a Choice”.  My husband has been quoting this for years in our home to both myself and our daughters.  A simple reminder that we are in charge of own happiness.  Sometimes choosing happiness means serving the Lord and doing his will.  His will leads to my salvation.  Isaiah 12:2 reads, “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.”

For some reason this past school year has been a challenge, and I am not sure I can put my finger on the reason.  Over the course of this year, I have learned to lean on the words of our family motto, “Happiness is a Choice”.  I have to keep reminding myself that I have to choose happiness in my life because it will not choose me.   As this year has been a struggle, I have found myself turning more and more to the Lord.  As I write these words, I realize maybe God is trying to get my attention.  Maybe he is focusing me more on Him and His Word.  I seem to be looking at life different from the past, and I don’t mean this as a “bad thing” just as a “different thing”.  So in moving through such a different time in my life, what has God taught me?  

I must find my happiness in the Lord.  Psalm 100:2 reads, “Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!”  The Lord has clearly shown me that I will never find happiness in my work and those around me.  As scripture in Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  I know that as I dig deeper into his word that I will find a clearer path to walk.  People will never put me and my work as high as the Lord will.  Each day as I have struggled through a morning or a day, the Lord has reminded me that he determines my path and my worth.  I just have to do his work each day and he will bless me. And I have been blessed to have the chance to see my life’s work and its impact and now to look forward at what my future may hold.  I tried to follow the path the Lord has prepared for me.  I pray I have, and do, and will continue to serve him and be an example of his loving grace.  I am reminded of Acts 2:28 and for some reason it gives me peace, “You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.”  One day I will stand in the presence of the Lord and my prayer is that I will hear him say the words of Matthew 25:21, ” His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master’”.

I have to close with how God is really working in my heart this week.  I have not been feeling well or sleeping well and that leads to being a negative person.  I can remind myself that I have to choose happiness, but God decided to just slap me across the face.  First on my drive to work the KLove morning team was discussing the difference in happiness and joy.  Just thinking about the two made me realize “Happiness is a Choice = Joy”.  Things may not always be going the way we want, but Joy is always in our hearts because we are saved by the blood of Jesus Christ.  After arriving at work, my daily inspirational calendar read, “What are three things that are making you happy RIGHT NOW?”  Here are my three at that time:

1. Loving God

2. Gracious Husband

3. Hot Black Coffee

I can’t lie that is what I wrote down.  I am a blessed woman.  I choose Happiness!  “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.”Philippians 4:4

Closing Verse: “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,” Psalm 30:11

Challenge:  When you are having one of those days that get you down = Choose Happiness.  Better yet, write down your three things that are making you happy at that moment.  God will show you his grace.

 

A Christian New Year: Meeting Jesus During Holy Week.

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“He is not here, but has risen.” (Luke 24:6)

Looking back over the Lent Season and more specifically Holy Week, I am reflecting on my relationship with Jesus.  This time of year is a like the new year, I realize that I need to tend to my relationship with Christ in order to grow stronger like the mustard seed in Jesus’s parable found in Luke 13:19, “It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”.  How did I tend my garden during Holy Week.

Holy Week began with Palm Sunday the reminder that Christ humbly entered into a week of suffering both knowing and understanding what the end would bring.  Jesus entered Jerusalem as a humble King but left crucified on a cross.  How should we as Christians reflect on this week and apply it to our lives?  Palm Sunday was a day I spent in reflection of the beauty around me, my family, and the life that God has blessed me with.  I was reminded of Christ as my King and Savior.  Also, sadly on this past Palm Sunday I was reminded of the violence that so many Christians suffer around the world just as Christ suffered to bring us to salvation.  The violence around the world and especially Palm Sunday must cause God to grieve for his people and his people must wonder what the future will bring as we move through Holy Week during such a volatile time in our world.  Palm Sunday reminds us that Jesus is peaceful and bring peace to our lives even in the midst of chaos.  As Holy Week begins my focus for the week even in my busy life is the walk with Jesus through this week.  I read his entry to Jerusalem and paused at Mark 11: 7-8, “And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields.”  Palm Sunday for me was a day of reflection with little distraction from tending my garden.

Each day since Palm Sunday, I tried to understand Christ’s walk to the cross, and the lessons he taught the disciples and left for me during these last days.  He was preparing them for what they were going to witness in order to share the Gospel moving forward after the crucifixion, and he was preparing his people for a future with a resurrected Savior.

Monday, as I worked, I remembered that on this day Jesus entered the Temple in Jerusalem to find practices that where not for a house of the Lord.  Jesus drove out those who bought and sold in the Temple by overturning the tables.  He spoke in Matthew 21: 13, ‘He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”  Jesus did not show anger according to the disciples, yet spoke the truth of what he saw happening in the Temple.  He protected God’s house.  As I worked this day, I remembered Jesus and this frustration and walked through the day with Jesus as my focus.  Hold your tongue, speak truth, show love is my focus for this Monday of Holy Week.

The next day, Tuesday,  Jesus was met the Temple leaders who tried to question his authority.  Christ spoke and taught this day in parables as he spoke to the leaders and prepared his disciples for his coming death and resurrection.  As I read the lessons Jesus taught on this Tuesday before his death, I search for the lessons these parables can teach me today.  One parable is the parable of the Two Son’s (Matthew 21: 28-32) which illustrates Jesus rejection by his own people.  The lesson that Jesus has taught me today is to be careful and remember to humble myself before God and ask for forgiveness of my sins.  I tell students that their character is what they do when no one is looking, but I must remember that God is always watching and Jesus has reminded me of that today while reading the parables he taught on this Tuesday before his death.

On Wednesday, Judas conspires to betray of Jesus, yet in the evening Judas rebuked Christ for allowing Mary to wash his feet.  I try to get inside of Judas’s mind.  What was he thinking?  Did he love Jesus?  Was the money worth this betrayal?  Was he considering backing out?  I have never heard the term “Spy Wednesday”, but as I researched some of this Wednesday of Holy Week, I found this reference to this day.  Matthew 26: 14-16 clearly speaks of Judas’s betrayal, ” Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.”  This makes Wednesday a strange day to walk through.  Knowing what Christ knew about his future, about Judas, yet continuing to love through the pain he must have been bearing this week.  I find myself in prayer and thankful for the sacrifice Jesus has made for me.

Maundy Thursday has arrived and Jesus is preparing for his Last Supper and the final directions for his disciples.  He breaks bread and washes their feet showing his servant example to prepare the way for their ministry. John 13:5 shares Christ service to this disciples, “Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”  He poured out his love on his disciples knowing the outcome he faced within hours.  This Thursday I find myself focussing on God’ beauty around me.  The world he has created for me, yet his greatest gift he sacrificed for me.  I don’t stop and focus on Christ enough and show his love to others.  I fail to wash the feet of those around me as the example Jesus left for me.

Good Friday or “Black” Friday is here.  Why is it Good because Jesus suffered the unthinkable death and descended into hell to wash us clean.  He suffered so that we might not.  Jesus brought the “Good” back to his chosen.  He chose to suffer so that we would not have to even though we are more  deserving of this death.  I am humbled at his gracious love for me.  I can not get enough of the beauty around me and the handiwork of God.  As I watch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico, I know he painted a beautiful picture for me that I did not deserve.  I am extremely humbled by his mercy.  So many years ago this Friday ended as described in Matthew 27:51, ” And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.”

The darkness of Saturday has fallen as Jesus death is real. His final words still ring in their ears and as I read them this morning they linger in my thoughts all day.  ‘When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.’  John 19:30.  It is hard today to really imagine the pain those close to Christ must have endured this day and the separation that Christ endured for us from his Father.  But the pain for his mother is something I can not imagine.  What she must have suffered watching him die on a cross before her eyes?  Even though Mary knew he was special and in God’s hands, the pain must have been crushing for her.  Saturday must have been a dark day for Mary as she grieved the loss of her first son.  This Holy Sabbath for the Jews must have seemed empty for many.  I know I feel the emptiness of this day, but long for the Glory Easter morning will bring.  A sense of renewal once again is coming.

Easter morning is here and I wake to a sense of peace and rest.  I walk through the day thinking of his sacrifice and glory.  I am indeed saved because Matthew 28:6 tells me, “He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.  Come, see the place where he lay.”

Closing Verse:   “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Challenge:  Have you stopped to humble yourself before the Cross?  The cross which bore your savior so many years ago.  Even though Holy Week has passed don’t forget to stop and tend your garden.

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