Evidence

“Peace is the evidence of a life of forgiveness.” Lysa Terkeurst

Did this quote stop you in your tracks like it did me? It makes perfect sense, I just do not always put the two together. However, if you think about it, watch people who live peaceful lives, do you ever hear them talking negatively about others? Do you hear them string out their offenses like Christmas tree lights? They make the choice to forgive and therefore live peaceful lives. They are like bright candles that draw you in and you know something is different about them. You want to keep company with them and learn what is the reason for their peace. Now we know, they forgive. Sure would make the holiday season much more enjoyable if we go ahead and forgive before we gather around tables and trees. I will go first. Join me?

Unexpected and Undeserved

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” James 1:17

Have you ever had one of those birthdays that just seem to keep going? This has been my experience this year and I kinda like it. There have been so many sweet gifts, texts, messages, cards and surprises. I have so much to be grateful for, all unexpected and undeserved. A reminder of His grace.

In the midst of all the celebrating, I have missed my mom more this year. She was an incredible gift giver and each one had so much thought behind it. Her cards were a work of art and communicated her heart. Her and I had a hard time telling each other how we felt sometimes, so a card gave both of us an opportunity to tell one another that we loved each other.

I had talked to the Lord about this hurt, but no one else. Somethings are just between the two of us. So, with only Him knowing how my heart felt, you have got to hear about the unexpected surprise I found today.

One of our children left a pair of shoes on the stairs for days. I found the owner and went to put them in their closet. On a high shelf I saw one of my moms baskets that I have and pulled it down. Inside was the best cookbook of all time and a few other treasures. There was this notebook that was divided by months and had everyone’s birthdays recorded. Each month had a pocket that would hold cards. I flipped through and guess what I found in the pocket for October? A card for me!!! Can you believe it? More than nine years ago, my mom bought a card for me, not knowing she would not be alive for my next birthday. Only the Lord could have known exactly what I needed. He is a good God. I pray you know Him.

One

“There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms.” Ezekiel 37:22

We let the kids pick a story out of their Gospel Project Bible every morning to read during breakfast. One of the boys picked the account of the Lord bringing dry bones back to life. It is phenomenal! In that same chapter is an assignment the Lord gave to Ezekiel about writing the name of the two kingdoms on sticks and then making them become one nation. If He did it then, will He do it again for America?

I had a picture of two sticks, one inscribed with Republican and the other Democrat. Only the Lord can bring these two “kingdoms” back into one nation. Can you even imagine what that would be like? What would the nightly news sound like? I am going to pray.

Lord, our nation needs you to bring us back to one. We have made such a mess and it is impossible to bring unity without You. Each party, which neither give us much cause to celebrate, has strong convictions. Both have ideas that line up with your Word, both have some that do not. Bring us back to the cross. Bring us back to your feet, let us see the nails driven deep to pay the price of our sin. May it daily remind us of the deep wedge our sin is causing in this country. You died for the sin our nation has committed and continues to commit against You. May we accept your death on our behalf and raise us up out of these grave circumstances we have chosen. As You did in the days of Ezekiel, do it again today. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Reverse

“The secular mind always maps out for itself a way in which self can work and become great, but the Lord’s way is quite the reverse.” C.H. Spurgeon

How I wish I would have had this quote when I was younger. It is so simple and yet shouts of dependency on our Lord. This may sound completely opposite to the worldly mindset many have taught and lived by, but I think that is the point. The Bible is full of examples of people who trusted God’s map for their lives and not their own. Take the life of Queen Esther for example. She was an orphan, raised by her uncle and became queen. Not only that, she went to the king at the risk of her own life and saved the Jewish people who lived in the kingdom. She saw a need and stepped up to help. Who could have mapped out such a plan other than God?

So many unknowns right now and maybe your carefully laid out plans are not working. What are we to do? Perhaps we can follow Queen Esther’s example and see who around us might need our help. Is there a single mom, widow, new business owner, college student or a close friend who needs you to come alongside and support them? Could this be part of His plan for you that you would have missed if allowed to continue your own plans? Do you have the time now to make a phone call, write a note, extend a dinner invitation or buy a cup of coffee? Who needs reminding that are loved and seen by their Heavenly Father?

You might not be asked to rescue an entire people group, but you can be used to rescue one who is struggling. An encouraging note, text, phone call, etc., can mean the world to someone. I know that it greatly encouraged our oldest daughter, when a family in her new town invited her over for dinner. She felt loved, seen and cared for and only God could have worked that plan out. He is amazing like that. We can ask Him today what His plan is for us. We can choose to trade in our map that builds our kingdom of one for His eternal one. One will end with you and the other has no ending. I am going the reverse way. Join me?

*Her shirt happens to say fully loved:)

Repair

“And they shall rebuild the old ruins, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations.” Isaiah 61:4

A quick demo clip from a home building company caught my eye last night. The company made the comment that they demolished a home, that had 57 years of memories, in 3.5 minutes. I thought I might cry. Their point was tearing down the old to build the new. I get it, but who made those memories?

The house reminded me of the stories I hear of businesses, marriages, families, relationships, and the list could go on. Why is demolishing the easy answer? Could we not rebuild, repair and raise up instead? Oh, things might need to be taken down to the studs, the foundation shored up and even added on to, but wouldn’t it be worth it? Perhaps the outcome would be unrecognizable, but maybe that is the point.

In the verse from Isaiah, we see the desolation goes back generations. Maybe we can apply that idea to our own lives. Is there some undealt with family ruins? Have we let it continue? Could be it has nothing to do with our families at all, just our own sin? Friends, there are ruins a plenty right now and becoming more and more evident. What can we do to get the repair process going? I know we can start with prayer. We can start by asking the Lord to search our own hearts and minds, point out our sin; He is full of grace and mercy. If we each took our own sin to the Lord, repented, asked for forgiveness and lived free, we might see others differently. Can you even imagine the “houses” we would see?

*Caught this heart in our home

Anxious Heart

“Say to those who have an anxious heart, ‘Be strong; fear not’…” Isaiah 35:4

Anyone have an anxious heart today? What is causing your anxiety? Perhaps you need the words from Isaiah reminding us to be strong and not to fear. We could give a long list of the fear possibilities, but let’s give our hearts a bit of a break. Instead, we can choose to obey the word of God and ask Him to give us strength. Anything we try on our own is temporary and incompatible to what He can supply.

Sounds much easier to tell you to do this and I can keep spinning in an anxious twirl. However, that is not something I can do, ask you to do something hard and not live it myself. So, let me pray for us both in this space today.

Lord Jesus, we need what you have, strength and peace. We look around us, listen to the news, hear about hard places people are walking, sickness lurks, so many unknowns and we can cave in anxiety. I know this is not your desire for us. So we ask you to rule our minds and calm our fearful hearts. Others are watching, Lord, and we want to reflect you. As your child, remind us that we are watched over, cared for and loved. Give us faith when so much is uncertain. Give us eyes to see those who are drowning in fear. Use us Lord to love anyone you place in front of us. As you said through Nehemiah, “the joy of the Lord is your strength”. We ask for your joy to be our strength, for ours is failing. You are God and we are not. We trust you to be who you have always been. In Jesus name, Amen.