Strengthen Others

What has Jesus brought you through that He wants  to use so you may “turn and strengthen others”?

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that Your faith may not fail.  And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.    Luke 22: 31-32

When life sifts you, Jesus prays for you.  Jesus knew Peter and knew what Peter would do in the coming days.  Yet He still loved him and prayed for him, even in Peter’s betrayal.  It is the same with us.  Like Peter, we must turn back to Jesus.  We must repent.  Or if the trial is not caused by sin, we must run to Jesus in the midst of it. We come through the sifting of Satan only by the prayers of Jesus which give us the grace and power we need to move beyond these places of sifting. This truth gives us much hope in our daily struggles.

But notice this verse does not leave us there.  Verse 32 ends in this way, “And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers”. John Piper says about this verse: “Jesus provided for the ten by providing for Peter.”  As the Lord strengthens us in our life’s siftings so may we, in turn, strengthen others. As He builds our faith, we can be used to encourage and build up each other.  It is never only about us individually.  God wants to use every  sifting, every failure, every blessing, each trial for His glory.  This is done by sharing with others the work of God in our lives so others may be strengthened.

How does this walk out in your life today?  What has Jesus Christ brought you through or is now bringing you through that He wants you to use to “turn and strengthen your brothers and sisters”?  We each have a place in this, so obey and be a part of the process of God’s plan.  Nothing is wasted!  God is glorified and we all grow!

Feeling Invisible?

You are not invisible to Him. He sees. He knows and He loves you. And when all is said and done, He is the Only One who really matters.

Do you ever feel invisible?  Maybe you are a stay at home mom with your baby or toddler or several little ones. Maybe you are homeschooling your older kids.  You change diapers, wipe noses, settle quarrels, and clean spills.  Many days may go by without hearing a thank you, you do not get to punch a time clock or get that pay check…  Or perhaps you are an empty nester and just not quite sure what to do with yourself at this new place in life. Maybe you are working at your job day in and day out, but no one seems to notice and promotions pass you by.  Who sees, who cares, who notices, who knows?

In Genesis 16 we find God revealing Himself to an unlikely woman. Hagar has been banished by Sarai after it was found out that she had conceived a baby by Abram. The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness. She is given instructions by him and also promises, but the part I want you to see is the truth that God saw her. He knew where she was and what was happening with her. One of God’s descriptive names is revealed to Hagar; El Roi, the God Who Sees. Hagar says in verse 13,”You are a God of seeing. Truly here I have seen Him who looks after me.”

You are not invisible to God. He sees. He sees you right where you are at this moment in whatever place that may be. Whether in your wilderness, your emptiness or your pain. When you feel invisible, you are not invisible to your Father God.  And who better to see us, to meet us, to know us than the One who loves us. He sees what you do; the way you love and teach your child, the lullabies you sing to them at night, the thankless jobs you do day in and day out. He sees the kingdom work you do in your own home and He sees the Kingdom work He is accomplishing in your own heart as you go through these days.

You are not invisible to Him. He sees.  He knows and He loves you. And when all is said and done, He is the Only One who really matters.

My January Memoir

Life is in the eternal, in the plans and mercies of God to lead us in those plans.

The past days, as I have cleaned out clutter, reorganized spaces, and rid myself of the seldom used things; I find these hours are much more than utilitarian.  I love January.  I love fresh starts and new beginnings.  I actually love to clean out what has become rubbish and organize my stuff for easy access and streamlined appearances. Call me crazy, but these tasks give me a great deal of pleasure.

Memories flit through my mind as I clean out the “boy’s room”. These boys are now in their 30’s.  A photo, a book, a card takes me to a former time when they ran around my knees, climbed into my lap and generated fun chaos in my now quiet home.  As I perform these practical tasks, my heart moves to the spiritual lessons amidst these activities.  I believe God speaks to us often during our days and we in turn can converse with HIM. (What  a privilege to share thoughts with the Creator of this universe, Who is my Father!)

The first of these lessons is the one of thankfulness that comes forth as I glean the blessings of those days.  I am thankful for who these young men are today and that they were loaned to me to train and love.  I am also reminded that life is not in our stuff. As I discard different items, I hold on to the memories associated with them and store them in my heart. Life is in the eternal, in the plans and mercies of God to lead us in those plans.  Did I always know what I was doing as a young mom? No!  Did I do it all right?  NO!  But nevertheless, God used me in those places during those days to teach and develop my sons, (and also me) to become the people He intended us to be.  He was in control all the while and I never was.  Yes, I did have responsibility to help clear out the rubble, to bring some order and discipline to their lives as I now bring to their former room.  But all along God was in control and now at my stage of life, I see His hand and heart guiding me all through  those days.

I pull aside some of the toys, (30 year old Stars Wars figures), books (Hardy Boys and a picture Bible) and a steel drum from a long ago trip.  I will give these to their sons to play with and am reminded that along with these retro toys I can share with this next generation of boys the truth I shared with their dads.  God reaches down through the generations with the same Truth.  May I take time to share these important things with this next set of boys. May I not attempt to “win them over ” with stuff, but invest my love and time and prayers to contribute to their growth spiritually… to invest in the eternal.

So clean out that attic, organize those kitchen cabinets, but search for your own lessons.  Let God speak the miraculous among the mundane.  Listen with a heart of praise and gratitude to a Father who has redeemed you from the chaos and rubble of sin to give you abundant life,  joy unspeakable and His very own peace.  Allow Him to clear and clean out the attics of your wrong thinking, the closets of your fears, and the cabinets of your worries and settle down and abide in the clean, orderly, home of His Heart…

Don’t Miss the Message of the Manger

God laying in a wooden trough, born to die on a wooden cross,

Though it is good to look upon the face of the  Babe,

The One Who came down from His throne,

But remember the story did not begin there

Nor does it end there…

So look into the past and then see beyond,

And don’t miss the message of the manger.

God swaddled in flesh on a journey prescribed long ago,

In earth bound dress, like us in every way,

Except never by sin swayed.

God laying in a wooden trough, born to die on a wooden cross,

To be both the Lamb and the Priest,

Victoriously battling death, He gave us peaceful relief.

And though the angels sang and the shepherds knelt nearby,

The moment was a somber one,

For this baby was born to die.

To die for sins He had not done, to end the curse as God’s own Son,

To bear the bruise but crush the head,

To take my sin and shame instead.

That Bethlehem night so long ago,

Shines through the ages to us all,

The manger was not where it all began,

But in the heart of God, long beforehand.

When Eden’s gates closed, the plan was in place,

To open them again in the name of grace.

So when we look at the manger and consider its’ babe,

Do not miss the message that brought us the WAY.

Jesus opened the door, He brought us peace,

At a great, great price, He put salvation in our reach.

The wood of the manger, the wood of the cross ,

The nails in His Hands, the nails in the trough,

It all is the picture, the whole story must be seen,

Don’t miss the message, it must be received.

                                                             JL

Hebrews 2:17- Therefore He had to be made like His brothers in every respect, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

Grateful Children

Grateful children are not born. They come here demanding us to meet their needs, as we should.

Grateful children are not born. They come here demanding us to meet their needs, as we should.  As these children grow older, they can grow more demanding rather than less. How can we raise grateful children? Should our children learn to be grateful?

When we look around us these days and listen, we hear the words, thank you, far too seldom. We live in a world that is increasingly of the mind set that others owe me, that I am entitled, that I deserve everything. I believe that one of the greatest lessons we teach as parents is that of teaching gratitude. Psalm 107: 7 simply says, “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good.” Teach your child this scripture along with so many others you can choose from in the Bible. God commands that we give thanks. In order to learn to be grateful to Him, our children must be trained, yes, I said trained, to be grateful for all that is given to them. It would be desirable for our children to run to us expressing their gratitude and at times this can happen. Just as God loves it when we run to Him daily to thank Him for His abundant gifts and blessings.   More often though, He hears us asking for more and more, just as our child may continue asking, not satisfied with what she already has been given.

When our children were small, we made a concentrated effort to train towards gratefulness. When given something, they would have to respond with  a “thank you”. After they had eaten a meal around our table, they would have to say, “Thank you for the good meal. May I be excused?” (Sometime they would leave out good, but would still have to say thank you.) It even became a sing-song response. They were required to write thank you notes as soon as they could print. Were these thank yous coming from their hearts?  Not most of the time, but it was building the habit in them until their hearts could know true gratitude.

Hopefully as they responded with gratitude to their parents and others, they would learn to respond the same way to their Father God one day. The value to not take gifts of any kind for granted, no matter how great or small and to see all of life as a gift from a good God is priceless.

Now I do see gratitude in the hearts of our grown children. They often say thank you and express appreciation. That does not just happen. For a number of years it was mostly something they had to say, but gradually it sinks in and they become grateful people and grateful people are more joyful. We would often say to them, “Gratitude affects the attitude!” And it does…..

see also; An Arrow in the Hand of a Warrior….