Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Finding Peace in the Dark

My heart has been aching the past several days over the broken hearts and the sorrow that many of my friends and fellow church members are experiencing since the untimely passing of one of our dear friends last weekend. Their suffering burdens my heart for them and so prompted me to write this blog about finding peace in the dark.

"Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." Romans 12:15

My hope is that if only a few words brighten their day, the Holy Spirit used this opportunity to give them peace and encouragement during their time of great sorrow....

There are many people facing heavy burdens and sorrow over the loss of loved ones, broken homes, broken marriages, and uncertain futures.

In our darkest moments of life, we may not always understand the reasons we are having to endure but even though we find ourselves fumbling in the dark, we can find ourselves in the embracing arms of Christ. He is in that dark room with you, and even though you can't see Him, He is there waiting to embrace you. If you reach for Him, you will still be able to feel His presence. You can reach to Him by touching Him through His word, prayer, and following His example.

Christ told us there would be times of trouble and heartache we have to face, but we have to trust in God that He is working out something beautiful in us. We may not be able to see it now, but we can trust that one day we will. God molds us through our experiences and how we react to those experiences, reflects the faith and life we live through Christ.

"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7

I find encouragement through times of darkness in the book of John, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

Even in the midst of great suffering, Jesus is our champion! Jesus is our victor and gives us the strength to endure any fear, worry, or problem we face. We can be greatful in Him that no matter what trials and tribulations we face, our faith in Christ and His grace overcomes the worries and cares of this world.

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts by troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Stains of Life

It's spring time and you can just about guarantee, if you have kids that play outside you will undoubtedly have the "trophy" grass stain. I'm sure you can agree, that no matter how hard we try grass stains are just about impossible to remove from clothing. Parents and kids may look at the stain a little differently. Kids look at it proudly because it testifies to how hard they worked at playing the game. Parents look at it and cringe knowing that it is going to be just about impossible to get the stain out. And, no matter how hard we try to get it out, there is always remnants of stain visible. Many times, we either resort to throwing the garment away, or getting rid of it in a garage sale.

Grass stains and sin are very similar. As we look back and reflect on our past, I'm sure for some we see stains. Many people may look back and remember all of the good times they had playing the game of life and are proud of the experiences they have lived and the fun they had. Some people may look back and remember those times as not their best. You may have experiences in your life that you want to forget; stains that just don't seem to go away.

We may not be able to remove the stains that cover our lives, but there is one that can! Jesus Christ is the only stain remover we need. He has the ability to wipe us as clean as snow. It doesn't matter to Him what stains we have from our past. His love is unconditional! No matter how deep the stain, God loves us anyway! Even though we are not worthy to be cleaned and are covered in the stains of sin, if we ask for forgiveness through Jesus, He wipes us clean.

1 John 1:8-10 "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be liar and his word is not in us."

Through the eyes of Christ the stains are gone! "Therefore there is now no condemation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death." (Romans 8:1-2) He doesn't remove us or discard us even though we may see our stains as hopeless. He completely washes us as clean and cherishes us as new in His sight.

"Have mercy on me O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion, blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin." (Psalms 51:1-2)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

How Do You Want To Be Remembered?

Going to funerals is never a pleasant experience, but we usually go to pay our last respect to someone that we loved or that made an impact, directly or indirectly, on our life. Typically during the service we listen to stories of close friends and family reflecting on memories of good times with the deceased. Last weekend, after attending a funeral, I thought about "How will people remember me?" If you were going to die today, what will people remember you for?

We don't like to talk about death, or even think about it, but if what we say, do, and how we act impacts what people think about us, or how they shape their opinions of us, then if you were going to die today, what would others say about you? What will be your legacy?

Would people say you were really good at your job and that you made a lot of money? Would they say you were a nice person and a good neighbor? Would they say you were generous to others and were charitable to those in need? If we were honest with ourselves, would we be able to say with confidence we were leaving a positive footprint on the world? Will our children remember us as a parent that spent time with family, cared and loved their children and spouse? Or would we be remembered as someone who held grudges and gossiped about others?

Everyone wants to be remembered as someone special. Someone who wasn't rude, selfish, or fake. Most of all, I think Christians should want to be remembered as someone who loved God and people. Are you currently living as a witness to others around you that you are a follower of Christ? Ephesians 2:9 says "For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

As you reflect on these questions, think about this..... Are you living out the plans God has for your life and is that reflected in the way you are living and in your relationships with others?

Think about Joshua. (Joshua 1:7-9) He was known as a servant of God. (24:29) His calling from God was to become a leader. God made a promise to Joshua that he would never leave him or forsake him. God promises the same for us and just as He instructed Joshua, God wants us to be strong and courageous. He wants us to live out the lives he has planned for us and rely on Him when we are weak. It is only through God that we can live a life that glorifies Him. If we remain focused on God,  it will be reflected in how we live, work, and treat others we encounter in our lives.