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Gracefully Removing the Labels That Hurt

Ugly LabelIn my current Bible study class, we’re studying the topic of grace. In this past week’s lesson, we looked at the story of The Woman Caught in Adultery. You can read the story here if you are not familiar with it.

To summarize, this woman was dragged before Jesus by a group of legalistic religious leaders who were using her to trap Jesus. They wanted to know if He would enforce the letter of the law and have her stoned or deny the law and condemn Himself. They thought they’d wrangled Jesus into a no-win situation. But Jesus simply told them to let whoever among them who was without sin throw the first stone. The crowd slowly dispersed. When the woman realized that no one had condemned her, Jesus told her that He wouldn’t condemn her either. He told her to go and sin no more.

At this point in the lesson, our group leader asked us what we thought became of the woman. My imagination grabbed hold of that question, and I found myself thinking about it long after I’d gone home.

The Bible doesn’t answer this question for us. We like to hope that after an encounter like that . . . with Jesus . . . in person, the woman went away changed, happily following Jesus and living according to His Word.

Realistically, though, this woman would have had some issues to work through. The religious leaders exposed her sin to the whole community. The people hadn’t stoned her, but she bore a label anyway. Adulteress. Dead woman walking by Jesus’ mysterious grace. How did her husband and family feel about her sin? Her lover’s wife and friends? Was she welcome at the Temple? In the market? Or was she branded an outcast? Shunned?

When people receive grace from Jesus and try to change their lives as a result, people who liked the way they were often try to pull them back into sin while people who were hurt by their actions are afraid to trust them. Jesus lifts people like this woman up out of the dirt, telling them to go and sin no more, but other people continue to throw dirt at them behind His back. If they throw enough dirt, people who are trying to change are tempted to give up in despair.

Label of GraceI don’t know if this is what happened to the woman or not. I’d like to hope everyone there was changed by that encounter with Jesus that day. I’d also like to hope that, even if the crowd wasn’t changed, the woman knew Jesus forgave her and found His grace to be enough. (It is, you know. This is true.) I hope that, if this woman did find herself a Scarlet Letter outcast, she chose to leave what she no longer had anyway in order to stay close to Christ. If you are in this situation yourself, clinging to Christ is the key. Let Him strengthen, teach, and encourage you as you pray He’ll also work in the lives of those who are causing you pain. “Come near to God, and He will come near to you.”James 4:8

When I consider this Bible story from the what-happened-next point of view, I realize how important it is to follow Jesus’ example of grace. As His impromptu object lesson revealed, we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We find those words in Romans 3:23 followed by these, “and have been justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Justified: Just as if I’d never sinned. I learned that definition so long ago, I don’t even remember where. But it’s a perfect reminder here. When someone receives Jesus’ grace, that grace removes the sin labels. Therefore, our grace has to stop seeing those labels, labels that are no longer there. The shamed and humiliated adulteress has become the beloved daughter of our King. We need to learn to welcome her as our new sister and friend.

Since the afternoon of that Bible study, God has been working hard on me. He’s been bringing names to mind—people from the past, sometimes very long ago, whom I’ve labelled with concrete signs. The labels stick to people who’ve hurt me—or mine. I forgave but left the labels on . . . to protect myself . . . just in case. These labels don’t say things like adulteress. Instead, they say, “Dangerous! Beware.” These labels must come down. I must ask God for the grace to pray them down. I must entrust my heart to His care, and trust His work in their hearts as well.

At the same time, I’m realizing that there may be people out there I’ve hurt. Not intentionally, but maybe through a careless action, a misspoken or misinterpreted word. I’m asking God to give them grace for me—maybe even, if needed, give me the opportunity to make things right. I’m asking God to heal wounds given and received by filling all our hearts with His grace. May all the ugly labels go away.

Will you pray with me?

Father, thank You for the grace You offer. Help us to receive it. Help us to pass it on. We’ve all sinned and fall short of Your glory, but You sent Your Son to make it right. Help us to remember the gift we’ve been given at such great cost. Help us follow Christ’s example toward us. Please make all the ugly labels go away. Help us to see each other as You do, so we can encourage each other along. Thank You, Lord. Amen.

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A Snippet from Luke 12

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Dear Readers, Friends, Family, People Who’ve Just Stumbled onto This Blog and Who are Just So Welcome to Do So—

I realize my posts this summer have been a little more scarce than usual. Sometimes life gets crazy and steals all the words away. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking of you. I just had to give myself a bit of space through a busy, and sometimes emotional, summer break.

But now we’re all moved into our new home. We’re done travelling for a bit—a little bit. Our cantankerously sweet, little dog has travelled to his final resting place. (Sniffle. Tear up.) Our home-from-college son has returned to his studies. (Choke back tears and smile for his joy–which is our own. We miss them, but we’re so proud of our boys!) Now I’m ready to reclaim the order of my quiet, little world and write again!

I know, I know. Experts say that real writers write through chaos. That may be so for some. Me—I journal through chaos, process experiences, then write, really write, when everything settles down. That’s how I roll. I’m pretty sure I’m still real.

But I’m not really reclaiming the order of my quiet, little world. Instead I’m going to have to learn how to write through chaos. I raised three boys while writing my first book, so I’m sure it can be done. Stay with me as I get around to telling you what’s going on . . .

When my husband and I first became empty-nesters, I thought I’d have hours and hours and hours of time to write. (When the established empty-nesters stop laughing their silly heads off, I’ll continue . . . any time now . . . we’re waiting . . . okay, that’s enough!)

My first clue that those hours of time weren’t going to materialize came when our family scattered. Seriously, my immediate family, i.e. children, parents, siblings, are a whole new diaspora, currently dwelling in seven states, covering three, almost four, corners of the US. This may not be as unusual as I think. But there just aren’t enough hours to spend with them all, so when we find time we visit because we love our people!!! And we savor every moment with them.

Which brings me to the new reason those hours of time aren’t going to materialize:

Soon, we hope and pray, we’ll have another person to savor moments with!

Yesterday we turned in our applications and other paperwork in order to adopt. That means we’re officially expecting another child now! An older child; not a baby. A daughter! And I’m just as nervous about making this announcement as I was about announcing the expected arrival of our biological children. I know a lot will be different, but I’m amazed at how much is the same.

  • We can’t even begin to imagine what life with this new person will be like.
  • We know she’ll turn our lives upside-down.
  • We know we’ll cherish her no matter what because love is a choice and family is precious and each child is a hand-picked gift from God.
  • We cannot wait!

We’ve wanted to do this for a long time. We actually started the process back in Colorado in 2005. But God slammed all the doors shut back then. He knew there was a storm coming, that our energy was needed elsewhere, that maybe we weren’t as ready for this new adventure as we thought we were. We thought those doors were closed forever, but . . .

Now, we feel as if we’re waking up and finding ourselves in the waiting room we didn’t even realize we were still in. We’re noticing that the doors are all wide open now, and we’re peeking through with anticipation, almost disbelief. Can this be real? After all this time, we can proceed and prepare to bring our daughter home!

Of course, we’ve only just started the process, so we’re still in the waiting room. But soon, hopefully very soon, we’ll have a new child! Please keep our family in your prayers.

Sometimes when we’re watchful and ready, it seems the doors will never open, the Master will never come. But how amazing it will always be when He finally does, whether He’s bringing the answer to a prayer, fulfilling a dream, assigning a task, or taking us home.

Father, thank You for sweet surprises. Please keep us watchful and alert, ready to act. Show us Your way—in Your time. Amen.

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Book Review: “It’s Good to Be Queen”

Its Good to Be QueenIt’s Good to Be Queen by Liz Curtis Higgs is a book every woman should read. Told in the style of The Girl’s Still Got It, It’s Good to Be Queen is a detailed commentary disguised as a fascinating story full of practical truth women can strive to apply to life. The book is based on 1 Kings 10:1-13, the Queen of Sheba’s visit to King Solomon. Higgs takes this passage apart, verse by verse, phrase by phrase, to introduce readers to this historical queen. Sometimes she uses her imagination, but she always tells when she’s doing so. The Queen of Sheba was a real woman, and Higgs shows readers that we’ve much to learn from her. The ten chapters of the book teach traits we’re wise to develop in our lives and tell us, through the queen’s example, how we can begin to do so.

Each chapter starts with a fictionalized, personal letter from the Queen of Sheba that reads like a journal entry. This is followed by the verse or verses we’re looking at in the chapter then Higgs’ detailed commentary presented in a style that’s insightful and fun. The book ends with discussion questions, a study guide, and notes full of references to sources for further study and Bible passages to look up. Higgs has done her homework; this study is complete!

This engaging book is ideal for either personal or group Bible study. I thank Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers for sending me a complimentary copy in exchange for this honest review.

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Questions to Ask When People Bring Hurt

1 Peter 3-8n9“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”1 Peter 3:8-9

If only everyone would follow Peter’s instructions found in these verses, our world would be a happier place. Just imagine if everyone tried to see the other’s point of view, to be sympathetic, to love, to show compassion, and to act with humility in all situations.

Sadly, not every does. In fact, everyone doesn’t—at least not in every situation all the time. This may be why Peter devoted one sentence to how to conduct ourselves positively and two to what to do when others don’t. In this world, we will encounter evil and insults. We need to know how to respond.

Here are three things to ask when deciding how to repay evil with a blessing:

1. If Jesus were in this situation, how would He handle it? When we don’t know the answer, we can study to gospels and ask God’s Spirit for help. The better we know Jesus and His way, the more naturally we’ll follow in every circumstance.

2. What might God be trying to accomplish in this other person’s life? Depending on how well we know this person, the answer may be obvious or hard to determine. Either way, we can take what we know to God as we talk with Him about the situation and pray for the other person.

3. How might God be able to use our response to this event? Asking this question takes the focus off ourselves and our personal injuries. We can trust God to help us and to heal us regardless of what the other person does or has done. Therefore, we are free to pray for the one who hurt us, to seek that person’s good.

When we repay evil with such a blessing, we enjoy personal peace, we help to bring healing to the situation, we offer good to the one who hurt us, and we send a message to the world. All of these honor God because as Christians, we are being watched every day. Unbelievers want to see, to test, how we handle life. Our reactions to evil and to insults teach them about Jesus Christ.

Father, that’s a sobering thought. When someone hurts me, my response can’t be all about me. But, thanks to Jesus, it doesn’t have to be. I can trust You to take care of me. Help me to offer blessings to others to encourage the world to seek You and to do good. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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We Follow the One We Choose to Trust

We Follow Who We TrustA few years ago I did a series at Wildflower Thinking called The New Spice Rack Recipes. My brother had learned that salt was my seasoning of choice and decided to correct that by buying me a new spice rack for my birthday. I decided to take the hint and determined to find at least one new recipe every month that featured one of the spices from my new spice rack. The series ran until I’d used each spice at least once.

The series came to an end, but my cooking adventures did not. Since then, our family has had to give up soy and gluten, and I’ve had to learn a whole new way to cook. But the spice rack project prepared me for this adventure. I’m not a great chef, but I can no longer say I’m not a good cook. I’ve been practicing and learning to enjoy the process, too. In fact, I suspect my earlier cooking issues came from being impatient, from trying to hurry the science up. (And if you don’t believe that cooking is a science, then you haven’t really learned to cook.)

For Christmas this past year, my son and daughter-in-law gave me a new cookbook called The Gluten-Free Table by Jilly Lagasse and Jessie Lagasse Swanson, aka Emeril’s daughters. I’ll confess, it intimidates me. I’ve only tried one of the recipes so far—but it was so good! Pan-fried Flounder with Lemon Garlic Butter. It totally takes the healthy out of gluten-free! That’s probably why it’s such a hit in our house.

I made this recipe the other day. The sisters excel at step-by-step instructions. (Something I’ll need to remember as I boldly attempt some more of their creations.) But as I was following these instructions, I found myself revising them. I’d see a simpler way to get from one step to another—less mess, fewer dishes. I’d wonder why they included the extra steps. Then I’d figure there probably was a perfectly good reason, but since I couldn’t ask them, I’d do things my way. The recipe came out fine, but I can’t help but wonder if following the recipe exactly would have made a difference—would have made it even better! What do these sisters know that I don’t? (Probably, quite a lot!) I may never know, however, because the fish turned out really good, and I had less mess to clean up. (Remember that theory of my earlier cooking issues? Evidently I’m still a work in progress.)


Mark 8:34 says, “Then [Jesus] called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’” Earlier Jesus had called Peter and Andrew to follow Him (Matthew 4:18-20). They did. He called Matthew to follow Him (Matthew 9:9). He did. He told the rich young ruler to sell all his possessions and follow Him (Matthew 19:21). This man did not. Finally, Jesus called anyone who wants to to follow Him (Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, and Luke 9:23). The choice is ours.

This decision to follow Jesus, however, isn’t just a one-time choice. We choose to follow Jesus, then we choose to keep following Him. Just as I had to choose to follow the Lagasse sisters’ step-by-step instructions or not as I worked my way through their recipe, we have to choose to follow Jesus’ leading moment-by-moment, every day, as we work our way through life. Some people in the Bible followed Jesus, then turned back when the journey got rough (John 6:66). There will be times when our journey gets rough, when our journey gets messy, when we think we see a simpler way. In these times, we’ll choose to follow—or not. And life may become easier for a time if we do not, but, unlike with the flounder recipe, in the end we won’t get the desired result unless we follow Jesus and do everything His way.

Earlier I mentioned that as I was preparing the pan-fried flounder, I often wondered why the Lagasse sisters told me to do some things. I don’t know them personally, so I couldn’t ask. It’s similar with Jesus. I do have a personal relationship with Him, and He doesn’t mind if I ask why. But He doesn’t always choose to answer this question. I think this is because He is teaching us to trust. We show our trust, we practice our trust, when we choose to follow Him no matter what. And in the end, this is healthy for us.

Jesus loves us. He wants what’s best for us. He’s continuing the work He has begun in our lives. Let’s cooperate. Let’s follow. Let’s trust.

Jesus, thank You for being perfectly trustworthy. Please help us to follow You faithfully each day.

Disclosure

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Appreciating a Good Day

“Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord.” -2 Kings 19:14

Father, it’s been a really bad day—I mean really, really, really bad. I’m ready to move to Australia with Alexander. Or maybe Montana will do. Seriously, Lord. Everything has gone wrong. Everything! So I’m dropping everything right now and coming to You. Please turn this day around. Please let the rest of this day be good.

Didn’t you just talk with Your mom?Appreciating a Good Day

I did!

What part of everything going wrong was that?

Conflicted pause for thought.

Okay, Lord, that part was actually, pretty good. We talked about all kinds of random things and nothing of particular importance and just enjoyed each other’s company for a while. I’m really glad she called.

So not everything has gone wrong today.

Well, no. Not that. But everything else, Lord! It’s been an exceptionally hard day.

So you didn’t enjoy that lesson I taught you during quiet time?

Oh! I forgot about that! That was so good, Lord. Every passage I read emphasized a different aspect of the same thing. I love it when You orchestrate a lesson that way! I’m still processing it.

I can tell. And what did you do after that?

I ran! Five and half miles today! I think I’ve finally recovered the stamina I lost during our move.

And what did you say to me while you were running those miles?

Oh. I was listening to Mandisa’s Good Morning. My MP3 player chose it twice today! She sang, “I went to bed dreaming. You woke me up singing,” and I said, “Thank You, Lord! This truly is a good morning.”

I remember that. So this is how you define a really, really, really bad, let’s-move-to-Montana day?

Silence

Lord, I guess there’ve only been a few rough moments, and I guess I let them get to me. I’m sorry about that. Thank You for helping me to see that this day, this day You’ve given me, is good. Thanks for Your presence and Your patience. And thank You for meeting with me. As I continue on from here, help me to focus on the good—even as I muddle my way through whatever frustrations may come. I love You, Lord. Amen.


Whether we’re receiving devastating news, like Hezekiah did (Click here to read the story.), or encountering more obstacles than anticipated in a given day, it’s good to know we can stop and spread our problems out before the Lord. He’s already aware of what’s going on. He’s ready to offer assistance, wisdom, and, sometimes, a gentle nudge into a better perspective. We just have to remember to take our troubles to Him.

Thank You, Lord. Amen.

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Book Review: “Against the Flow”

Against the FlowIf you’ve ever really wanted to dig deeply into the book of Daniel, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism is the perfect book for you. It’s intense. It takes time to absorb. But it is worth the work. Author John Lennox will lead you through every chapter Daniel, carefully explaining the culture, the events of the time, research and opinions of other experts, and the book’s application for Christians today.

Lennox’s explanation for the arrangement of the book was especially helpful. His insights into the work God was doing in Nebuchadnezzar’s life, especially as compared to His choice of treatment of other gentile rulers in Bible times, revealed much about God’s gracious character, plan for all humankind, and attention to individual lives. Lennox’s analysis of Daniel’s visions and prophecies is useful and hopeful. His comparison of Daniel’s response to the culture he’d been taken into to what our response can be to some of the issues in our own society makes this book especially relevant.

This is the second book by John Lennox that I have read, and I was greatly impressed by both. This author has a gift for seeing and presenting truth clearly. He knows the Bible and the God Who gave it to us. We live in a world full of confusing ideas. Lennox helps his readers sort them out and, firmly, but respectfully—as Daniel did—stand on truth.

I thank the Litfuse Publicity Group for sending me a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this honest review.

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Living in the New-Covenant Kingdom Now

Purple Flower“But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.” –Deuteronomy 8:18

A new thought came to me when I read this verse this morning. When we compare the old and new covenants of the Bible, we talk often about the fact that anything accomplished by the old sacrificial system was temporary, so that those sacrifices had to be offered again and again and again. Jesus’ sacrifice, the sacrifice of the new covenant, happened once for all people for all time. No sacrifice for sin will ever be required again.

Deuteronomy 8:18 hints at another difference between the two covenants, though. Whenever the old covenant is referred to, the rewards for honoring it are temporary things. Throughout the Old Testament, God promised His people wealth, land, long life, big families, and status. Jesus, in the New Testament, didn’t promise any of those things. In fact, regarding this life, He promised suffering!

Don’t get me wrong. People in the Old Testament suffered, too—and sometimes for reasons they couldn’t understand. But when they did, their restoration or “happy ending,” so to speak, involved only temporary things. Joseph became a ruler, second only to Pharoah, and was reunited with his family. Job got his wealth, family, and reputation back. The Israelites in exile looked forward to the day when God would restore His Kingdom on earth.

But God had a bigger plan. Jesus talked about it all the time before His death and resurrection, but His followers couldn’t understand until after those events. When Jesus died and rose again, He brought the hope of eternal life into the picture in a whole new way! He tore the veil between the physical and the spiritual. Because of Him, we live with a dramatically different understanding of what it means to be saved. Before the resurrection, people expected to be saved for this life. After, they knew Jesus had saved them for eternity!

None of the disciples got a “happily ever after” ending like Job did. All were martyred except for Judas, who took his own life, and John, the beloved disciple, who probably suffered more than any who were killed! At the very least, he had to wait the longest to be reunited with Christ in that promised heavenly home.

New-Covenant KingdomBut none of them were looking for Job’s happy ending. Their hearts were set on eternity. Yes. Jesus promised them suffering, but He also promised freedom from sin, comfort, strength, character, wisdom, His Presence, the fruit of the Spirit, citizenship in His Kingdom, adoption into His forever family, a new name, an eternal home in Heaven, crowns they’d be honored to throw at His feet and so. much. more.

If we’re looking for wealth, health, and status in this world, we’re living with an old covenant mindset. Jesus invites us to follow Him and His disciples into His New-Covenant Kingdom now.

Jesus, this life can be confusing, disheartening, even hurtful sometimes. But we choose to trust You. Our hope is not for the rewards this world can offer but for the eternal ones that You promised. Help us to keep our focus on eternity with You as we faithfully serve you here. Help us to boldly follow the example those early Christian set, knowing that eventually, just like Your beloved disciple did, we’ll see You face to face in our new home. Nothing can separate us from Your love! Amen.


Giveaway news!!! If you have a Goodreads account, there’s a Home Is Where God Sends You giveaway going on now! Click here to enter.

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Confronting Others God’s Way

“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.” –Matthew 18:15, NLT

Purple PansyConfronting someone we care about is hard. In fact, the closer we are to a person, the harder a confrontation may be because we fear rejection, hard feelings, even loss of relationship if the discussion is not well-received. That’s why we must carefully consider how we’ll handle confrontation when it’s necessary.

When someone we care about offends us, we have options to consider—lots of options! Sadly, not all of these are healthy, but all of them are hard. In fact, the healthiest choice may actually be the hardest one of all.

Let’s consider some of the ways we may choose to deal with an offense:

1. Retaliation. At first, this probably feels like the easiest option—if not the most tempting. An eye for and eye—a tooth for a tooth. Exact justice so all’s fair. Revenge is sweet, isn’t it?

Not really. Especially if we care about the person we’re getting vengeance on. Now we’ll not only have to suffer with the pain of having been offended but also with the guilt of having offended someone else and, possibly, the end of a relationship. At the least, damage on both sides will have to be repaired. Retaliation may feel good for a moment, but once that moment passes, we’ll have a bigger mess to clean up.

2. Avoidance. This may seem like an easy option, too—unless we live with the one who has caused us pain. Even then, it’s possible to go about our business pretending that what happened didn’t really bother us. Denial can become our happy place! But only for a time.

The trouble is, when we choose avoidance or live in denial, we’re actually waiting for the one who hurt us to come to his or her senses, apologize, and make things right. But how can another do this if he or she doesn’t even know we are hurt? Eventually, we’ll become frustrated and impatient or the unknowing offender will repeat the offense, pushing us to confront in anger or to make our withdrawal from the relationship permanent. If we care about the person who has offended us, we’ll want to avoid this.

3. Gossip. This one disguises itself as asking for help. We go to a disinterested (or overly-interested) third party with the story of our wound, inviting that party to give us advice or intervene on our behalf. At the very least, this newcomer will give us sympathy . . . we believe.

Unfortunately, this only burdens the third party in an unfair way. The matter to be resolved is between the offender and the offended (unless, according to Matthew 18:16, we’ve already confronted our offender, who then refused to acknowledge any wrong-doing). Once we tell our side of the story to a third party, that person will feel obligated to act—to confront for or with us, to talk to the offender to hear his or her side of the story, or to confront us with the offense that we are now guilty of. Worse than that, if the one who offended us learns we’ve talked about the situation to someone else, the offender will feel offended, too. We’ll find ourselves owing two people an apology instead of receiving the apology we believe we deserve. I don’t think any of us wants this.

4. Direct Confrontation. I’ve already said that this may be the hardest option, but it’s the only one that keeps us from committing a wrong ourselves, from taking bitterness or malice inside of ourselves. And, like pulling a bandage off, it will hurt for a moment, but then it will be over. We’ll be able to see healing—even if the offender responds negatively! Just telling someone they’ve hurt us, getting it off our chest, begins to free us of the pain inside and allows us to move forward in a Christ-like way—so long as we’ve confronted in a Christ-like way.

Before we confront, we pray for wisdom. We ask God for the timing and the words and the love we’ll need. We also choose to forgive. We decide to offer grace before we know how the offender will respond. In doing so, we put the value of the person and the relationship above the hurt of the offense. Once we know that our heart is in the right place, we find a convenient time to meet with the one who hurt us and gently and respectfully state our case. Our goal in doing so is understanding, reconciliation, and peace. If the one we are confronting cares about the relationship, he or she will work with us toward that goal. If not, we go back to God for direction from there, knowing we’ve treated our offender as Christ would.

Jesus loved us, forgave us, and offered reconciliation before we even knew we’d done wrong. He gently confronts us by His Spirit and through His Word. Then He leaves the response up to us. When someone we care about hurts us, we can follow His example, asking for His Spirit’s help as we confront . . . in love . . . gently . . . for peace that’s real.

Father, when we need to confront, help us to do so boldly for the sake of the relationship and the good of everyone involved. Amen.

Other verses to consider: Hebrews 12:15, Romans 12:18 (The links will take you to the verses at BibleGateway.)

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Full Life

SnapdragonsThe thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” –John 10:10

Jesus came that we might have life–full life, also known as abundant life, life overflowing with blessings from above. When I think about this statement that Jesus made, I often think of eternal life–in Heaven, with Jesus, some day. But I think Jesus meant more than that. I know that life–with Him, on Earth, right now–is richer because of His presence. When I let Him, He helps me see troublesome things in a more positive way by reminding me that He’s in control and working for good in spite of the bad. Jesus also helps me enjoy the real significance of life’s blessings: they are gifts from Him.

Unfortunately, there is a thief out there waiting to steal, kill, and destroy my positive outlook and joy. He doesn’t want me to be happy, now or ever, and will grab any opportunity to mess with my friendship with Christ. When problems come, this con artist tries to discourage and depress. When all is well, he tries to make me forget from Whom the good times came.

Thankfully, Jesus warned us about this troublemaker as He promised full life. If we focus on Him, He’ll protect us from the thief. He’ll stand by us when life seems dark or sad. He’ll send reminders of His love through good and bad, surprising us with blessings we’d never expect. We need only look to Jesus to enjoy abundant life.

Jesus, You came to give me life–a life that begins right now! I’ll count on You to protect me from the thief, while thanking You for every good thing that I see. Your friendship comes first. Thank You, Lord! Amen.