Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Remembrance of That Last Day

One day I was working at the computer, music playing in the background. My youngest daughter comes to me with tears in her eyes, she was 8 years old at the time. "Mommy," she says, "this song bothers me." "Why?" I ask as I sit her on my lap and wrap my arms around her. "It makes me think of Grandpa too much." Then we both had tears in our eyes. My husband's father had passed away very suddenly almost 2 years ago. She was still missing Grandpa very much and we all had moments of missing him. Dad had a cardiac arrest, his heart just stopped while he was driving his gravel truck with a full load of gravel in it. We'd been told that when your heart stops, your brain can still function for about a minute. So dad knew enough to put his signal light on and turn his steering wheel right ever so slightly so that his truck drove into the pasture instead of oncoming traffic. He would've been gone by the time his truck had hit the fenceline. His truck finally came to a stop near some corrals between two dugouts. That was my father-in-law's last day on this earth.

The song that was playing on the CD that was hurting my daughter's heart was called "Last Day on Earth" sung by Steven Curtis Chapman. In the song he talks about how he's watching a funeral procession go by and he's praying that God would comfort the broken hearts of those that were saying goodbye. Then it makes him think of what his own last day on earth would be like and how he should live each day. Before he breathes the air of Heaven, how should he be living on his last day on earth. He talks about how if he doesn't see tomorrow here on this earth and instead is face to face with Jesus in Heaven, will he hear the words 'well done' from our Lord.

WOW! Extremely powerful words. This day, today, could really be our last day on earth - we don't know when we'll breathe our last breath or how we're going to die. I asked my daughter what this meant to her, what the song and Grandpa's sudden death was saying to her. This is what she said, "That when we die, we don't want to keep people guessing if we're in Heaven or not and to make sure that while we are living here that we're living for Jesus." Very profound words. Her greatest concern is that Grandpa is in Heaven. We didn't get a chance to ask Grandpa if he was sure that he was going to Heaven and we regret that now. But God has given us some wonderful signs of hope that someday we will see Dad/Grampa again.

The Bible tells us that Jesus is the only sure way into Heaven. God says that we must believe in His Son, who came down to earth, died for our sins, and rose from the dead to give us eternal life, and is now waiting for us in Heaven to come and be with Him forever. Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through me." (John 14:6) How should we be living on this earth? How should we be living each day? We should be living our lives for Jesus and our goal should be to become like Him - to love and forgive like Him and to strive to live a life of purity and honesty and most important of all to believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior. Nothing else matters - we can do good things all our life, but if we don't have Jesus, all those good things won't get us anywhere. Everything in this world will eventually come to an end, our lives will end. Where will we be? If we choose not to live for God, and there will be some that will choose that, we are missing out! We only have two options - Heaven or Hell. The 2nd choice is not a good one, trust me. There is nothing else out there - we don't just exist here and then are dead forever. There's so much more to life than this very short one here on earth. We were made for Heaven! God created us to live with Him but sin got in the way. He gives us a free choice because He's a loving God and doesn't force us to do anything - we have the free will to live as we choose. But, I tell ya, choosing not to live for Him is the biggest mistake we could ever make. Let's be certain of our destination and give our lives to Jesus so that we can have the confidence that we will live the rest of our lives eternally with Him in Heaven.

That is how I want to live my last day on earth.

Steven Curtis Chapman's website is www.StevenCurtisChapman.com

Monday, January 16, 2006

What is Love?

In the most recent months, love has really been on my mind. It's so easy to become confused about love and what it really means. I've read 1 Corinthians 13 many times this past fall and have tried to apply it to my everyday life. That passage is often referred to as the Love Chapter of the Bible. Love covers a lot of things - it covers absolutely everything. Check out this picture. God's love is the most powerful thing on this earth!

I got a lot to work on - it'll take me a lifetime to attain this kind of love! To really love, God tells us in His Word that we are to love one another for love is of God, that God is Love (1 John 4:7-10). We are to "love your neighbor as yourself" Matt. 19:19. He also tells us that the greatest commandment is to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind" Matt. 22:37. A Greek word to describe unconditional love is the word 'Agape' . This world's love is very conditional and is confused so often with lust. God's love is agape but world's love is often lust. I heard someone say, "I love my wife but I also love....tacos??" How can we say those two things in the same breath if we truly understand the real meaning of love? If we truly understood the real meaning of love we would not use it so lightly.

This is God's love - true love. It never fails, it never gives up hope, it never talks wrong of others, it never loses faith, it is never boastful or proud, it never keeps a record of wrongs, it never gives up, it always endures, it is kind, it is patient, it rejoices when the truth wins out, it is never jealous, it is never irritable, it is not rude, it does not demand it's own way, it does not rejoice in wrong things,.... WOW! What a goal that I desire to live up to! But how can I possibly do this on my own strength? It is impossible! How wonderful and relieving it is to know that this is not something that I can simply attain to and strive for on my own - God is there to help me! He is there to love me so that I can love like Him. God loves me so that I can love others! What a relief! God is so faithful! His love is so faithful! God loves me so I can love others!! There are people in each of our lives that are difficult to love and to like but with God's help, we can love them, I can love them. And with God's help, others can love me when I'm difficult to love or to like.

Let's remember why God sent His Son down here to earth as a baby - to die on the cross for our sins so that Jesus could rise again and give us eternal life. So that we could have a hope that goes beyond this world. John 3:16 says that God so loved the world that He sent His one and only Son and that whoever believes in Him will never die but will have eternal life. What a promise! Do we love others enough to share that promise with them? Would we want that promise shared with us? I know I sure would. This world is going downhill very quickly. We cannot put all our hope in this world because nothing in it will last. The only lasting value on this earth is the relationships that we have with other people - those that we love. There is nothing that we can take with us to the life beyond this one - everything and everyone dies eventually. Love is the only thing of lasting value. How we learn to love here on earth is our testing ground.

"Lord, teach me to love the way you want me to love. Love for You, for my husband, for my children, for my family, for my friends, for my neighbors - and anyone in this world is my neighbor, it's not just those that live near me. Help me not to get your true kind of love confused with the enjoyments of this world and the twisted way that this world teaches us to love at times. Teach me to love your truths always and to love your ways and your laws in order that I would be completely obedient to you in all circumstances each and every day. It's so wonderful to learn and grow each day Lord. I never want to lose that desire to follow you and to learn what it means to love you with all my heart, with all my soul and with all my mind. Teach me that Father. In the precious name of Jesus I pray, Amen."

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

God's Blessings in the New Year

What a wonderful God I serve! We serve! He is so good! He does such a fantastic job of looking after us and guiding us day by day. I don't know how people can choose to live without Him. Life is already so full of confusion and hurt - why not let Him figure things out for us rather than trying to fight our own daily battles in this hurting world.
The journey that God has been taking me on in these past few months have revealed so many truths to me that it has been astounding. So many times we have been deceived over and over again by the master deceiver, our enemy, Satan. So many times he comes as an angel of light to manipulate and deceive our lives and to tell us so many lies. We cannot go through our day without God's Divine Intervention in our lives and His Divine Protection. We need Jesus! There's a song with that title and some of the words, "When will the world see that we need Jesus?" When will it? The world defies God and goes against His Will so many times. Romans 12:2 says "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is." That is my desire! That on a daily basis, God would continue to transform my mind into the likeness of Christ and that I would be protected from the manipulations and the deceitfulness of the enemy.

Lord, open my eyes that I may see. That I may see what You are doing in the world around me. That I may see the lies around me and claim the truth over my life and the lives around me. That I may see what you are doing in my life. That if there are things in my life that don't honor or bring glory to you, that I would have the desire to change and to step away from those things and the courage and strength to do it. I love you God! I praise you for all you have done in my life and I praise you for all you will be doing in my life. I thank you for the challenges because they have only brought me closer to you. May my life be an offering to you and bring you glory, praise, and honor. In the wonderful name of Jesus, Amen.

It is exciting to me everytime a New Year begins. I look forward to what God is going to do in my life and in the lives of my family each day. We are all on a journey with Him and it is joy to live for Him. Is it easy all the time? No, it can be quite difficult. Oh, but the blessings that come with that journey are literally out of this world. Guaranteed! :-) TRUST GOD! I've learned that we need to trust God in capital letters. TRUST That is my journey for this year, simply to TRUST because He knows best and He sees the whole picture.

God bless you this New Year.