What is the point?

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What do workers gain from all their hard work? I have observed the task that God has given human beings. God has made everything fitting in its time, but has also placed eternity in their hearts, without enabling them to discover what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there’s nothing better for them but to enjoy themselves and do what’s good while they live. Moreover, this is the gift of God: that all people should eat, drink, and enjoy the results of their hard work. I know that whatever God does will last forever; it’s impossible to add to it or take away from it. God has done this so that people are reverent before him. Whatever happens has already happened, and whatever will happen has already happened before. And God looks after what is driven away.~Ecc3:9-15 (CEB)

What is the point of it all? I have been reading Ecclesiastes so I know that I am not the only person to ponder this question. Earlier in Chapter 3, the author talks about how there is a time for every season in life. A time to be born… a time to die… There are times in my life that everything seems to be going well. God gives me these times so that I can show the world how to live a life of blessings while still fully in tune with God. Other times I find life miserable and full of difficulties. God has allowed these hard times so that I can show the world how great our God is and that being His child brings great peace and joy despite hardship.

It is easy to become disillusioned with the circumstances of life compared to others’. The Psalmist writes about this in Psalm 73 “I saw the prosperity of the wicked.… Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure.… When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God” (Ps. 73:3, 13, 16–17) When I come into God’s presence He gives me peace and joy that surpasses it all. When I read the Bible it helps me to keep my focus on Him and not my current situation.

So what is the point of life here on earth, whatever moment I find myself in? The point of my life is to bring Him Glory. From the coffee break I take on my porch swing, to the words I say to a friend, to the boundaries I set for my kids and the walks I take with my husband, it should all point to Him. “So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, you should do it all for Gods glory. “ ~1Cor 10:31 (CEB)

May my life this day Lord, point to Your glory. From the words I speak to the actions I take may it all be done to reflect Your love and grace in my life. Amen.

Perfect love casts out fear

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There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. 1 John 4:18 (NRSV)

For about 3 or 4 weeks now, every time I turn around I have heard messages about the “spirit of fear”. 1 John 4:18 tells me that love and fear cannot hang out together. In fact, perfect love (God’s love) casts out fear. The Bible tells me that fear does not come from God: For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. ~2Tim 1:7 (KJV). I love how the King James Version says that God gives a SOUND MIND. When my heart is anxious there is no soundness to my thinking!

On Saturday I heard a wonderful speaker/author, Jana Spicka, give a message on relationships. What kept jumping out at me was how the destroyer of many relationships is fear. Fear leads to self-loathing, doubt, indecision, fear of outcome, exaggeration, control… but perfect love casts all these things out.

Now this morning I open my email to read the daily Henri Nouwen post I subscribe to and find these words: “The world enslaves us with fear; the Spirit frees us from that slavery and restores us to the true relationship.  That is what Paul means when he says:  “All who are guided by the Spirit of God are sons [daughters] of God, for what you received was not the spirit of slavery to bring you back into fear; you received the spirit of adoption, enabling us to cry out, ‘Abba, Father!'”  (Romans 8:15).”

God will equip me for His good work (Heb 13:21) All I must do is remain in His love. To remain in His love I simply need to allow myself to be guided by the Holy Spirit remembering to whom I belong. Not to the world, but to God. Perfect Love will cast out my fears.

Heavenly Father I thank You for surrounding us with words that speak straight to the places where fear lives. I thank you for sending Jesus into the world to conquer the world so that we do not have to be defeated and enslaved but instead can be confidant, living as a child of God.  I thank You for the spirit of power, love and sound mind that You instill in me. Amen.

Direction

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I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the LORD; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope. When you call me and come and pray to me, I will listen to you. When you search for me, yes, search for me with all your heart, you will find me.~Jer 29:11-13 (CEB)

While I was using the navigation app on my phone I missed an important turn. Right after I took a right I didn’t realize my phone was telling me to stay right for another turn. When I realized what the app wanted me to do, it was too late to make the turn. My phone could have said, “Well that’s it. Since you are too stupid to understand what I am telling you, I am going to leave you to figure out what you need to do next.” No, my phone didn’t ridicule me or berate me for being confused. It simple recalculated the road to adjust to where I was at the moment, leading me to other roads that ultimately got me to my intended goal.

I have seen the Holy Spirit working in my life in the same way. When I think I know the path that I am supposed to be on but then realize that I am lost and confused, I do not find myself abandoned by Holy Spirit. No. I cannot mess up God’s plan for my life. When I take a wrong path the Holy Spirit simply recalculates  to adjust to where I am at the moment, continuing to lead me in the way I need to go. Now I could be upset with the detour I have taken or I can sit back and calmly realize that God is still in control of my life. His plan for me includes those times that I take back over the direction I am headed.

There are no words to match the feelings that well up inside me when I realize that there is NOTHING I can do to mess up my God-given-destiny. Despite myself, God will get me where He plans for me to be. That’s kinda humbling.

Father  in heaven, thank You for never leaving me where I am at but taking me on to what You have planned for me. Amen.

A letter written for me

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All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work. ~2Tim 3:16-17(CEB)

One of many things that fascinate me about the Bible is how it can speak to me as an individual. This is what sets scripture apart from all other writing. It speaks to every person from every background and every generation. In order to accomplish this it was written in symbolic language.

“A symbol is a representation of a greater reality. The symbol is not the reality but points to it. In order to grasp the truth of a symbol one must not look “at” it but through it to the greater reality that awaits discovery but the one who has eyes to see and ears to hear (Matt 11:15).” ~ Rueben P. Job

Jesus spoke in parables so that his teaching would have universal and singular appeal, and for that reason he taught through parables (Mark 4:33-34). If I carefully search each Bible story it will reveal hidden truth that suits my life’s situation. If I do not take the time to search the scriptures deeply, the symbols will remain nontransparent.

It is important that I take time every day to read scriptures as if it was it was a letter written just for me – as if the writer was thinking only of me when writing. Through analogies, metaphors, parables, I can enter into a personal dialog with God. There are questions that I can ask to help me understand what insights God is trying to speak to me: (1) What is this scripture saying to me about God? (2) What is this scripture telling me about myself? (3) What is the scripture saying to me about how God calls me to be in service to Him?

Heavenly Father, I stand amazed at how You speak to me today through something written over 2,000 years ago. Train me in the way that I need so I may be equipped for Your good work. Amen.

Prayer for the reader

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Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive. ~Matt 21:22 (NRSV)

Not just in the Psalms can prayers be found but throughout the Bible. They are beautiful and I love when I come across them in my Bible reading. Here is a prayer that I want to share with you. Paul has written this prayer to the Ephesians but we can claim this prayer for ourselves today.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. ~Eph3:14-21 (NRSV)

Heavenly Father, I embrace this prayer as my own today. Grant strength and power through you Holy Spirit. Allow Christ to dwell in my heart so that I may know that love that surpasses all knowledge. I pray for You to work in me to accomplish abundantly more than I can ever imagine for Your glory and honor. Amen.

I know who holds tomorrow

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Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.~ Phil 4:4-7 (NRSV)

“Rejoice in the Lord always” doesn’t end with,”unless you are doing something really important”. No, it’s a command, “Rejoice always”. When I am consumed by my problems – my family, my job, my life, I am actually conveying the belief that my circumstances are more important than God’s command to always rejoice. In other words, I am saying that I have the right to disobey God’s command because of the magnitude of my responsibilities. My focus on my problems puts my problems first. This is a form of idolatry- taking my focus away from God.

Following the command to rejoice always is the command to not worry. Worry implies that I do not trust God with my circumstances. Is not the God who flung the stars into space not big enough to handle my problems? Is not the God who moves continents not strong enough to fix my situation? Is not the God who sent His only Son into the world to die on a cross for my sins not loving enough to hear my prayers?

Being stressed says that what I am involved in, merits my impatience, lack of grace toward others or my tight grip on control. Worry and stress say that I have forgotten that it is really not about me. God has a big picture and I am a part of it. The picture isn’t about me. The picture is God’s.

The chorus from a song has been running through my mind today, ” There are things about tomorrow That I don’t seem to understand But I know who holds tomorrow And I know who holds my hand.” So what do I gain from putting God first and trusting Him to take care of my tomorrows? Verse seven says that the peace that passes all understanding will guard my heart and mind.

No matter how hard I try to control the situation, I don’t know what tomorrow looks like. I do know, because the Bible tells me, that I am to always rejoice, to give thanks in every situation and to not worry. I also know that the One who began a good work in me will bring it to completion (Phil 1:6).

Heavenly Father, may I live this day trusting that you hold all my tomorrows. When feelings of anxiety creep back in, may that be my signal that I have lost my focus reminding me to look back to you. Amen.

Just a vapor

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Pay attention, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such- and- such a town. We will stay there a year, buying and selling, and making a profit.” You don’t really know about tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for only a short while before it vanishes.~James 4:13-14 (CEB)

What if tomorrow is too late? What things am I putting off to tomorrow that should be done today? It is easy to go about thinking this is just another ordinary day. What would I do differently if I knew tomorrow wouldn’t come?

On an average day, I am caught up in myself. On an average day, I don’t consider God very much. On an average day, I truly forget that I am just a vapor. “The LORD does indeed know human thoughts, knows that they are nothing but a puff of air.” Psalm 94:11

If I knew that I would not be here tomorrow would I give more? Love more? Would I be braver to say the things that must be said? What should I do differently today in case tomorrow never came?

Lord, may I not live this day as if I will live forever. Amen.

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