John 21: 18 NIV “Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go."
I admit I am getting old. Last year, it was eye surgery. This year, my heart had problems. I have arrived at my senior years. During my recent surgery and hospital stay, I had to give up privacy and control. I believe God and a lot of other people are in control of much of my life. When the doctor said I needed surgery, I said okay. When the nurse told me to sit up or lie down, I said yes. When bad things happen, I find acceptance to be my first goal. I found a feeling of serenity in turning my will and my life over to the care of God. My second goal is to control my attitude and my actions. I try to thank God and find happiness in all circumstances. Every morning, I have to acknowledge that God is control of my life. I then pray for the wisdom to decide what to do. To do as I am told is a challenge. I have to be like a puppy and sit, stay, and heel…and heal.
In the scripture, Jesus was talking about Peter and what his later years and death would be like. Peter would be made to carry burdens, even as Jesus carried his own cross. I am not special, and like Jesus and Peter, I should expect to have some burdens. As the burden Jesus carried led to the salvation of the world, I hope that as I carry my burdens, I can help make this world better.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. AMEN
Proverbs 3: 5 KJB Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
We trust in things of this world every day. We sit down on a chair, trusting that it will support us. We turn the key in the car ignition and believe that the manufacturer has created a functioning vehicle. It is very human of us to trust like that, but the chair could break under us, or the auto may not start. This verse tells us to trust Him, the only reliable source of guidance, aid, comfort, and support. We are unable to see the full picture of our lives, but He can and has our best interests at heart. Rest in that knowledge! He will never fail us!
Father, please remind us to always trust you, the Creator, and not the created.
Hebrews 1:14ESVAre they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?
I enjoy TV programs about genealogy. In this season’s Finding Your Roots, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg told of her heritage. Her Jewish parents modeled powerful behaviors, helping Russian Jews escape during the Cold War. In the 1890s, her great great grandmother brought 4 small children on a ship to the USA. They survived on food given by upper level passengers. In 2015, Sheryl and her two small children relied on their strong foundation of faith and help when her husband died unexpectedly at 47. She studied resilience through her grief. She discovered that people surviving incredible challenges were not strong all the time. Concentration camp survivors told of drawing strength from the person next to them. The next day, it was someone else’s turn to have hope for two.
As I shared this with a friend, she told me of the strong support she received when her father passed. The woman mopping the floor at the time shared her strength and faith. My friend strongly believes God put that woman there at that particular time. A man waiting for a liver transplant in the hospital gave her great strength when her mother died. She never saw either of them again, but God had placed them right there, just as fellow passengers were Godsends for the immigrants, and for just a bit, fellow victims at the camp were strong enough for two.
Have you ever experienced God’s amazing presence in this way? Have you ever been God’s hands and heart for someone, whether you realized it or not?
O heavenly father, the opportunities to serve you abound. Help me to always be mindful of serving as your hands and heart to those around me. AMEN
Job 12: 7-10 But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.
Singer-songwriter Pete Seeger is responsible for many iconic American folk songs, including If I Had a Hammer, and Where Have All the Flowers Gone? He also put words to a cornerstone of my faith: “Every time I’m in the woods, I feel like I’m in church.” There is a sense of reverence with God’s creation; that sense of unequaled awe at the majesty of it all. The grandeur of the mountains, the life-giving cleansing of pure waters, the interminable heavens, the infinite intricacies and variety of life; this is His creation. Well versed praises of His wonders are sung in Psalms 104, “How Manifold are Thy Works!”
Spending several days hiking through wilderness regions in 2017 reinforced my appreciation of the gifts that He has given us. How can one not feel the omniscient magnificence of what He has created--the intricacy of interaction that provides for the balance of life in His creation? I am thankful for the blessing of standing in His presence and being a part of His creation each day, whether it is west central Ohio or hiking at 10,000 feet.
Isaiah 55: 12 “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”
John 14: 1 “Do not be worried and upset,” Jesus told them. “Believe in God and believe also in me.”
Lent. It is a season of forty days where we are refreshed! We walk with Christ on his Journey!
We attend special services and read daily devotions! We sacrifice something important to us!
On day forty-one, do we go right back to how we were before? What about the remaining days of the year?
I have in the past participated by giving something up, such as my favorite beverage or sweets. I attend all the special services and try really hard to be conscious of my behaviors and read my daily devotional. Is this enough?
No, it isn’t. While I try so hard during Lent to better myself, why don’t I do so the rest of the year? I try to have a good heart and help others and do what is expected of me—the key word being try--but am I actually being a good person and who God wants me to be?
No, I am not. I am constantly in a state of worry about not doing enough, not giving enough, and not being enough. The worry overtakes me and I become my own worst enemy. I make things complicated. My worries have caused loss of self-confidence, friendships that meant the world to me, and fear of change. I need to remind myself to just breathe.
This past year was full of more changes than I’ve ever endured. My dad had heart attack. We lost my uncle to suicide. My grandpa—my last grandparent--passed away. My youngest daughter graduated, and now my oldest is moving into her own home. I lost my best friend through lack of communication, not listening, and jealousy. Change is hard, but it can be good. Yet sometimes it brings worry. God was with me through all these changes this past year. Why wouldn’t I be there for him all year, as well? Why do I allow myself to worry when I have God on my side?
Christ wants us to walk with him every day and it is very easy to forget that when there is not a special service or season that is put in front of us.
St. Matthew 26: 30-35 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus told them, "This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: "'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.' But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee." Peter replied, "Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will." "Truly I tell you," Jesus answered, "this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times." But Peter declared, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." And all the other disciples said the same.
How many times have we dismissed or forgotten God and Jesus? How many times have we denied Him for fear of what others would think? How many times have we laughed at someone because they are different or poor or homeless? Jesus said, “If you do this unto the least of these, you have done it unto me.” Yes, Peter denied Him and went out and wept bitterly. Peter did not lose hope. He stayed with the other disciples, and in fact, he was the one who went to the tomb. After the women found the tomb empty, Peter went to investigate and found the linens in the tomb.
Yes, we deny Jesus, but He forgives us. We must stay with other disciples, knowing that no one is perfect and all have sinned and fallen short of the kingdom of God. This is a time to wash our clothes clean and hang them out to dry for all to see. Peter knew that the other disciples didn’t judge him, just as we should not judge our friends when they stumble.
Love grows here. The unchurched see how we treat our friends. They watch us. Are we showing love?
Dear Lord, Forgive us our sins. May we not find fault in others, but only find love. AMEN
Many of us are not very good at listening. I think it is because we are too busy thinking about how we will respond, and we don’t really pay close attention to what is being said. Think about how it feels when you have something important to say or share and it seems like no one is hearing you. It has been said that we have one mouth and two ears so we should spend twice as much time listening as talking.
When it comes to our relationship with God, we want and need him to listen to our prayers. How often do we spend our devotional time reading scripture and praying without having a time of silence to listen for God’s response? “Be still and know that I am God!” is the first part of Psalm 46: 10. In this verse, the word still comes from a Hebrew word meaning to let go or release. Before we can really listen to God, we need to submit ourselves to Him. When we realize that we can’t control life and that God is ultimately in control, we can truly start to perceive what God has in store for us. After all, He is our Creator and His plan is perfect. We simply must let Him orchestrate it.
Heavenly Father, We long for an intimate relationship with You. Let us understand that prayer is a two-way street, and that we need to be still to discern Your will for us. AMEN
Psalm 139: 4 I praise you because I am fearfully & wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
This verse has taken on a significant meaning in our family. It was our niece Chelcie’s favorite Bible verse. She loved it so much that she had it tattooed on the inside of her wrist to remind herself daily how important she was to God as his child. Sadly, we lost Chelcie suddenly on New Year’s Day. The grief has been almost unbearable for family and friends.
Like many of us, Chelcie balanced work life and home life. She often commented on how blessed she was to have such a loving husband, children, family, friends, and a career she enjoyed. In stressful times, she told me she simply looked at her wrist as a reminder that God was in control if she let him be.
Lent is a time to reflect on how much God loves us and focus on ways to get closer to Him. God hasn’t promised that the journey will be easy, but He does promise that He will walk with us, love us, and help us if we simply let Him. Sometimes it’s difficult to pause and look deeply at ourselves. It can be downright scary. We may have to sacrifice something important, like our time, and let someone else take control.
Who do you want in control of your faith journey?
While we miss Chelcie terribly, this verse is now providing comfort to so many. I often see it posted on Chelcie’s Facebook page to honor her. She taught all of us a powerful lesson in her short time on this earth: to keep the faith.
May your journey during Lent reaffirm that God is guiding your path.
Gracious God: Help us to remember that you are always there during the best of times, and especially during the most difficult challenges. Guide us on the journey you’ve called us to take. AMEN