Monday, January 11, 2010

A Season of Trials

Life, lately, has been a series of somewhat rough times. Health issues... financial woes... home repair emergency... things like that... all starting back shortly before Christmas. Even with lots of prayer and time in the Word, my life circumstances haven't changed a bit ... in fact, it seems more and more keeps piling on... but last night God brought to mind the verse where Job says "Though you slay me yet I will praise You." I am choosing to do that as best I can. This life was never meant to be easy. I prayed a couple of months ago and asked God earnestly to make me more like Jesus and I believe that is part of all this. He is growing my faith.. bit by bit. I am a stubborn tough root that needs a lot of pruning and hoeing and work!

So here are a couple of scriptures that have really spoken to my heart today:

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us. Romans 5:1-5

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:6-7

It is really comforting, to me, to know that we don't go through trials and suffering for no reason. God uses everything in our life.. even what we perceive to be bad. And often it turns out that bad is actually a path to better... God's better!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Narrow or Broad... which do you choose?

We are reading through the New Testament in 40 days as a church, so we are in Matthew right now. Read lots of familiar stuff today, but this one small part really popped out at me:

Matthew 7:13 & 14 Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

That is a very sobering thought and also one that applies to life choices other than salvation (the most important choice). We so often view this as a passage for the lost, but I think there is a great message for Believers here also. It is easy to go along with the crowd on the broad road... to do the thing accepted by the world... but it is much more difficult to walk through that narrow gate and do what Jesus would have you do. To stand firm and be set apart.

While the easy (broad) way seems easy at the time, it does lead to destruction.. even if you are saved and your eternity is secure, the enemy can use that broad way to destroy your witness and your testimony and steal that abundant life Christ offers. That narrow road choice may be tough, but it brings life.. abundant life... now and eternally!

Friday, January 1, 2010

2010's Word of the Year

Shortly before Jan. 1, 2008, I read an article and in it the author talked about picking a word for the year. The word was to sum up what they hoped or expected for the coming year. I liked the idea. So I asked the Lord to show me a word for 2008... sort of a theme for me. 2008's word was Gratitude and I strove to develop an attitude of Gratitude.. thanking the Lord for all He provided and did. 2009's word was peace. I really wasn't sure why God lead me to that word, but I knew that I peace is something I seek often. Interestingly, there have been a lot of times and situations over this past year where peace would not be the norm. And yet, I have found peace in the midst of those times through the Prince of Peace.

Now it is 2010 and I have again been searching for a word. God spoke it to me a couple of days ago, but I don't like it. So I've tried to find another one, but He keeps speaking the same word... CHANGE.

I know that 2010 will be a year of change. My older child graduates college and then moves out of state to pursue her Master's. She has lived at home for 22 years, so this will be a big change. My younger child graduates from high school and while he is going to live at home during college (we have an awesome Christian University here), it will still be different. He will be pretty much here to sleep, eat and grab laundry! My mother is 78 and while still active, I am starting to see changes in her... changes that remind me how short our time is here and changes that require me to do a bit more for and with her. We continue to adapt to having 2 young dogs (still puppies) in our home... to getting older ourselves... to new opportunities like leading Bible study and being involved with a new ministry at church... my husband's secure job with the government may not be so secure after the legislative session... financial crunch is affecting us like everyone else and with 2 in college that it seems tighter than ever... so yes, we are feeling change and see more coming.

Certainly there are changes in our country and world. From health care reform that really helps no one... to more divorce... same sex-marriage being legalized in more states... more people choosing to live together and have children without ever getting married... and more and more folks who dislike Christians and our faith and feel free to show their feelings.

So no, CHANGE is not the word I would have chosen. But then 2 things hit me. One, I want to change this year in one specific way. I want to be more like Jesus each day than I was the previous day. That is my constant prayer. I know it is God's desire to make me more and more like His precious baby boy and that only happens through change. And two, while things are changing all around me I can count on one thing not to change.. Malachi 3:6 says "I the Lord do not change." That is a promise!

In the midst of change, I can hold on to the fact that God is still God.... He is still my Father, Rock, Redeemer, Deliverer, Strong Tower, Provider, Friend, Lover of my Soul, Savior... He is still with me.. He still never slumbers... He still watches over and guides me... it is still impossible for me to be separated from His love... and so much more!

CHANGE might not be fun, even when necessary, we can make it through by keeping our focus on the One who does not Change... GOD!