When there is a loss, God provides a gain

By JC

With thanks to Dr. B., whose wise words inspired today’s post.

When people ask the question “Why?” to God, whether it is, “Why is there evil?” “Why didn’t You answer this prayer?” “Why did You allow this?” or “Why did they die?” an approach might reference we are the clay (Isaiah 64:8), His thoughts are higher (Isaiah 55:9), and God’s response to Job (Job 41:11). That is certainly one method to understanding the questions we have of God.

Another approach says to look to God’s character. Of course, we read the Word to understand who He is and what His patterns are – His character. No matter how much we question Him, He is Love, He is Truth, and He is Light.

Credit: Snow

I want to highlight one such pattern – how each time someone in the Bible lost something, there was a gain. We could look at Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:35-43) or Peter’s mother-in-law (Matthew 8:14-15) – they lost a life or lost an illness (were healed). I want to focus on Lazarus.

“A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. This is the Mary who later poured the expensive perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair. Her brother, Lazarus, was sick. So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, ‘Lord, your dear friend is very sick.’ But when Jesus heard about it he said, ‘Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.’ So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, he stayed where he was for the next two days.”
John 11:1-6

Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters, yet, when there was a cry for Him to come because Lazarus was sick, He did not answer that cry. He did not come. At least it appeared He did not answer, because the people making the cry wanted Jesus to answer, “I am coming now.”

We offer up many prayers, daily, about all kinds of things. I do believe that we have hopes of how He will answer our prayers or we might think we already have the best answers: “I have put a lot of thought into the matter, Lord. I saved You the trouble – here is the answer to my prayer.”

Even the Son of God prayed, “Thy will be done” (Matthew 26:42). So, if the Almighty Son of God submitted to the Father when He prayed, how much more shall we?

I am not suggesting it is wrong to ask for specific things, but, rather, that whatever we pray, before we say “In Jesus’ name, we pray,” add in “Thy will be done” and work hard to mean it.

The sisters of Lazarus wanted Jesus to come right away. They thought He could heal him, like He had so many others. However, He failed to answer the way they wanted and expected. Instead, He let two days pass before making the journey.

“Then [Jesus] said, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.’ The disciples said, ‘Lord, if he is sleeping, he will soon get better!’ They thought Jesus meant Lazarus was simply sleeping, but Jesus meant Lazarus had died. So he told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead. And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.'”
John 11:11-15

Jesus had a reason, He always has a reason. And if we claim to believe in all of Scripture, then we believe all the verses that talk about how much He loves us and how all things work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28).

We also would claim to believe Genesis 50:20: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.”

Out of a loss, God brings a gain. We may not see it right away or even this side of Heaven, but trust His character, trust who He is.

“‘Where have you put him?’ [Jesus] asked them. They told him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Then Jesus wept. The people who were standing nearby said, ‘See how much he loved him!’ But some said, ‘This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?’ Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. ‘Roll the stone aside,’ Jesus told them. But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, ‘Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.’ Jesus responded, ‘Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?'”
John 11:34-40

Jesus shows up after Lazarus has been dead for days. The sisters, who earlier had been so eager for Jesus to heal their brother, now discouraged Him – Lord, the smell.

Jesus was undaunted by a stench, He had bigger things in mind – that the glory of God Almighty would be shown. No smell was going to stop Him from glorifying God.

As we go through life, there will be stenches we must endure in seasons where God is waiting for the right time for Him to receive the glory. Your time of stench in the tomb may be four days, it may be four years. However, trust in these things:.

  1. Jesus knows exactly where you are. He has not forgotten about you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)
  2. Sometimes, you need to be still and ask Him to help you deal with the stench while He is waiting on the right time. (Psalm 46:10)
  3. Know that He is at work while you are working through the stench. (Isaiah 43:15-19)
  4. Know that when He is ready to release you, there will be an incredible gain. (John 10:10)

Never take your eyes off Jesus, never stop believing in Him, never stop trusting Him – through loss of freedom due to a quarantine or loss of a job or loss of your retirement because of the stock market – never stop trusting Him.

When you waiver, read the Bible. See His character, His heart, and His patterns – when there is a loss, He provides a gain.

“So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.’ Then Jesus shouted, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, ‘Unwrap him and let him go!’ Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen.”
John 11:41-45

Everyone thought Lazarus was dead – they buried the man. He began to stink. Then, Jesus showed up, and the loss became a gain – a life was restored better than before and most important, God was glorified. People came to know God’s character through Lazarus’ death and Jesus’ miracle of bringing life to where death reigned. That is His pattern. Cling to who He is, not what is going on around you.


During these chaotic times, when I feel overwhelmed with bad news, I listen to “It Is Well (With My Soul).” Because you know what, brothers and sisters, it is well. Jesus Christ holds our very souls, so it is well.

Credit: Bethel Music (YouTube)

The walk of faith

By Snow

For my 7th birthday way back in 1982, gifts from my family included a baseball bat, glove, and ball. I was thrilled to begin learning how to play, for I had watched my older brother play in a school or recreational league in the late 1970s. I soon learned that catching and hitting a baseball was not nearly as easy as he and his friends had made it look.

In the backyard with both my brother and father, I struggled as they tried patiently (and sometimes impatiently) to teach me the basics.

I can still hear them, saying each time I swung and missed or failed to make a catch: “Keep your eyes on the ball,” as if that was the secret of the whole thing.

While the advice was confusing at first, it eventually resonated, and sure enough, with some practice, I learned how to catch and hit.

There’s a Bible story that provides similar advice to what my family gave, but about life rather than baseball. When the apostles are alone on a boat on rough seas in the early morning hours, they observe Jesus walking on the water. They are so shocked, they at first think He is a ghost, but Jesus tells them not to be afraid.

“Peter, suddenly bold, said, ‘Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come ahead.’ Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, ‘Master, save me!’ Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand.”
from Matthew 14:28-31

As a new believer reading through the entire Bible for the first time a couple years ago, I was not surprised that Jesus could walk on water. I had first heard this portion of the story when I was a child.

No, the surprising aspect of this story for me was that Peter walked on the water, too. Peter, who really wasn’t so different than you or me.

His faith allowed Peter to walk on the water towards Jesus, but why did he sink?

He didn’t keep his eyes on Jesus.

Instead, Peter allowed himself to be distracted by the waves and wind – by fear.

We are living in bizarre times. Fear in the form of panic is spreading much faster than the coronavirus possibly could. Fear is a weapon of the enemy, and there are those who use fear for their own means. For ratings. As power grabs. To control.

I know what it’s like to live in fear. I used to let fear control my every action. I was afraid to drive. I was afraid to speak to people. I was afraid to go places alone. I was often afraid to leave the house at all.

All of that has changed since I accepted Jesus into my life as my Lord and Savior. What Jesus didn’t immediately lift away, JC, my true love, has helped me overcome.

Virus or no virus, I will not lock myself away again. I lived too long like that. I refuse to let anxiety and fear control my life any longer. I will not give the enemy a stronghold again.

To be clear, I am not recommending being foolish. Everyone should take common sense precautions. To do otherwise would be to test God.

“You must not test the LORD your God.”
from Deuteronomy 6:16

No, what I am saying is remain calm and rational. While chaos churns around you, keep your eyes on Jesus. That really is the secret of the whole thing.

For those of us who are saved, death is not something to fear. If Jesus wants me to die of the coronavirus, then I will die of the coronavirus. Panic won’t change that either way.

I would prefer to continue living, though, for JC and I still have much to accomplish for Jesus before we go to the Perfect Place. We have only just begun – until Jesus says otherwise. He has the perfect plan, executed with perfect timing.

“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. […] The LORD says, ‘I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.'”
from Psalm 91

Credit: Snow

While I did learn to catch and hit, I unfortunately wasn’t destined to play on any teams. I still love watching baseball in person, though, or, oddly enough, in movies like Field of Dreams.

As much as I’d like to throw the ball around with someone, I don’t have anyone to do that with these days. I think my brother has gotten too old! He never takes me up on the offer.

My glove’s ready, though. When that time comes and my number gets called, I’ll remember to keep my eyes on the ball and, most importantly, on Jesus.


Heavenly Father,

We lift up all those affected by sickness. May You heal them and bring them comfort. May You calm any hearts stricken by fear and panic. May You fill leaders at every level with wisdom and compassion; lead them to salvation or on a closer walk with You; for those who will not accept You, use them for good anyway. Please help all of us keep our eyes on Jesus.

In the blessed name of Jesus we pray.

Amen

Grateful leaps

By Snow

Something about Leap Day has always fascinated me. Perhaps it’s the uniqueness of it. No other day disappears from the calendar for three out of four years.

[Trivia Interlude: Did you know that the birthday of legendary comic book superhero Superman is often celebrated on February 29? There have actually been quite a few dates used to represent Superman’s birthday over the years, but I’ve known about this particular date since I was in high school. The reason for choosing February 29 dawned on me the other day.

Remember, according to the classic George Reeves Adventures of Superman television series and earlier sources, Superman is “faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!”

Leap Day.

Get it?

They can’t put one past me. At least not for more than three decades. Perhaps for my next trick, I’ll figure out why Pi Day is celebrated on March 14.

I happen to know JC dislikes puns, so she won’t enjoy this portion of the post. I’d better move this along.]

Credit: JC

Every day is a blessing from God. As an “extra” day, we should use February 29 to give extra thanks to God. I have been spending Leap Day listening to gospel music, mostly Mahalia Jackson. What a gift from God she was. She passed away before I was born, yet the gift of Mahalia lives on for all of us thanks to her recordings.

Though I, of course, had heard of her long before then, I first started exploring her music three weeks ago when I was looking for a traditional version of a hymn. Her amazing voice blew me away. I’m now working my way through some of her early recordings, during her years with the Apollo label (1946-1954).

For those of you who have dropped by for the first time and are wondering what this place is all about, JC and I also today published a new page:

About Beloved Walks

Or maybe you’ve been here for awhile and are still trying to figure this place out. You can access it through the link above or clicking “About” on the main menu.

Let’s see, it’s been over a month since I’ve checked in with a post here. I had that little stretch where I was writing a post almost every day in January. That seems so long ago now.

I am enjoying and becoming more comfortable in my new job, a true blessing from Him. I am so grateful to Jesus for all of the wonderful aspects of my life.

Heavenly Father,

Thank You for the many blessings You have placed in my life. Special people, like my best friend and true love, JC. My family, even if they drive me crazy. My friends, even if I drive them crazy.

Thank You for my home, plentiful food, warm clothes, and all of Your other provisions. Thank You for love. For Your love, unconditional and eternal.

Thank You for forgiveness. For loving me despite my many faults. For helping me to trust You. For forgiving me when I don’t. For counting every tear.

Thank You for everyone that has ever visited this little blog. May they find what they seek.

In the Holy name of Jesus I pray.

Amen


“What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man. When that happens, be happy! Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, their ancestors treated the ancient prophets that same way.”
Luke 6:22-23


Thank you for reading. May Jesus bless you today and every day.

I gotta close with some Mahalia this time. Bask in her light.

 Credit: Taddypoe (YouTube)

The root cause of the failure of marriage

By JC

I know that secular statistics say that money and communication are the causes for divorce. I propose another root cause that is based in Scripture. The failure of marriages can be traced back to the parties failing to fulfill their Biblical roles.

In this piece, I am going to step on toes. But, Snow and I have committed to be unfiltered here, no matter how controversial what we say may be. The goal is to challenge your perspective. Perspective is everything, but that is an entirely different post.

In the Bible:

“For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. And we are members of his body. As the Scriptures say, ‘A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
Ephesians 5:22-33

When either of the parties disobeys or chooses not to fulfill his or her Biblical role or is ignorant of it, the enemy reigns. These roles also apply to non-believers because God created marriage, so it is only by His playbook that a marriage will be in line with its design. While unsaved people can still have great marriages, anytime you do not follow the instruction manual, things will not be optimized.

What about if only one of the people is fulfilling his or her Biblical role in marriage? That is where we run the risk of stepping outside of God’s design. For example, if the wife respects her husband as he disobeys Scriptures, is she endorsing non-Biblical behavior?

We are called to obey God above everyone else.

Credit: JC

What if the husband loves the wife, but she does not respect him? I suggest that it goes back to whether the husband is obedient to God. If he loves her, but disobeys Scriptures, I would offer that is human love, not Biblical love. As defined by the verses above, Biblical love is “as Jesus loves the church.”

So, when a husband loves his wife, but is disobedient to Scriptures, he is failing in his Biblical responsibilities.

It is mighty difficult to respect someone who claims to know Jesus as his Lord, yet refuses to obey most, if not all, of the Scriptures.

But what about those husbands who love their wives, but are disobedient occasionally (as we all are)? Then, as wives, we need to pray for our spouses and fast for them; wives are the “helpmates” (Genesis 2:18).

As wives, we are commanded to respect our husbands, not love them. There are a lot of thoughts that can be said about why that is, but the point of this post is the root cause of the failure of marriage. Wives are to respect and submit to their husbands as the husbands obey Scriptures. Notice how we go back to the obedience of the husband. Wives are not commanded to submit to a husband who is disobedient to God.

If there are issues in your marriage, it is certainly worth praying over these verses to see where is the breakdown. Is the husband obedient? If he is, is the wife respecting him? If not, the enemy is using your marriage as a playground.

Why did God let me down?

Please see JC’s “The Cycle of Trust” for background on today’s post.

By JC

So many prayers for healing. She was so young. Maybe I did not pray enough. Maybe I did not pray the right way.

I have heard non-believers say, “How can a loving God allow that?”

When you are crushed and cannot breathe, yet the hits keep coming, believers ask that, too. I do.

I begged Jesus through sobs of pain. Crying out, “Please help, Jesus. Please.”

Nothing.

Silence.

I watched her take her last breaths while in pain.

I prayed for her to be healed, but I also know that we are to pray for His will above all else. So, I dutifully prayed, “Father, please heal her. If that is not Your will, then please allow her to pass peacefully in her sleep.”

That is not how it happened. It was not peaceful or painless.

If another believer were to ask me, “How can a loving God allow that?” I would quote Isaiah 55:9: “For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

I would also say that He loves us more than we can understand, so there must have been worse things ahead. Worse pain, things unbearable to see. So, He called her home before things reached that point.

Haven’t we been through enough? So much death and pain in such a short time, so many loved ones gone despite prayers and fasting. Why God, why do we now have to go through this, too? We are still recovering from the last tragedy. The last wounds are still raw.

“Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.”
2 Corinthians 12:9

I believe Scriptures. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God. I believe He died for my sins. So, I read this verse and know it to be true. But God, how weak do I need to be?

The pain is more than I can bear, Lord.

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”
Psalm 34:18

I seek You. Why am I seeking, though? I have the Holy Spirit. You are already right here with me. Help me to feel You. I need You, Lord. I need to remember that I am not like King Saul.

“Now the Spirit of the LORD had left Saul, and the LORD sent a tormenting spirit that filled him with depression and fear.”
1 Samuel 16:14

You will not remove Your Holy Spirit from me.

“God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.”
2 Corinthians 5:5

I do not have to fear like King David, when he saw the Spirit removed from Saul and penned Psalm 51.

“Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.”
Psalm 51:11-12

While this pain is unbearable, I cannot let my heart doubt You or Your love.

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
Proverb 4:23

My own heart works against me.

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?”
Jeremiah 17:9

So, where do I go from here? I am to guard my heart, which is desperately wicked, but I cannot guard it properly.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6-7

But because I believe Jesus is the Son of God, I have His peace that is beyond understanding. I have peace when I should not. I have peace when the world says, “How can a loving God allow this?”

The answer is, I do not know. I may never know this side of Heaven. But I know God is love (1 John 4:16).

I also know I am not to focus on such thoughts, nor allow my heart to ruminate on such things.

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
Philippians 4:8

It is not easy. Pain crushes. Feeling like God let you down crushes.

I do not believe that time heals all wounds. Instead, I believe that you find your new normal. Through Jesus, you find the way to move forward with the hole in your heart and determine your new normal.

Why did God let me down? I don’t know that He did. I know my heart is telling me that, but my heart can be wicked.

No, I cannot guard my heart. I need Jesus for that. We must stay anchored to Him for peace and joy that is beyond understanding.


“Good people pass away; the godly often die before their time. But no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭57:1‬

Credit: JC

Dear God, please forgive me

For background on today’s post, please see previous posts where JC has shared her story – including “Spiritual Abuse” and “The Cycle of Trust.”

Credit: JC

By JC

Dear God,

Please forgive me. I am sorry. I am sorry that I did not trust You during my storm.

Funny thing is that I know the story about the disciples and You sleeping in the boat, commonly known as “Jesus Calms the Storm”:

“Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples. Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, ‘Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!’ Jesus responded, ‘Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!’ Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm. The disciples were amazed. ‘Who is this man?’ they asked. ‘Even the winds and waves obey him!'”
Matthew 8:23–27

I read your Word everyday so I know this story. And yet, for a long time, I have doubted Your control over the storm I am in. I never said it that way or thought about it that way, but that is what I did. While I never doubted that You love me, I was not hearing from You. Despite my faithful prayers, the many times I cried and begged for an answer, You were silent. I felt like the disciples – scared and crying out, “Lord, where are You?”

I prayed to You, Lord, asking for You to bend me and break me to Your will. I kept handing over the situation to You, reminding myself of Philippians 4:6: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”

But then I would take the situation back from You:

Lord, You are not moving, I do not see anything improving for months and months, despite my prayers and fasting and my broken heart. I do not understand, I know You love me. I have been a Christian for over a decade, so I know what to do when prayer goes unanswered–Fast, ask God if there is unconfessed sin in my life, check if what I am asking is in line with Scriptures, talk to Godly people, and sometimes understand no answer is an answer.

I was trying everything just to survive.

Then, I was listening to K-LOVE at work this week and I heard this: God waits until you truly surrender to Him. Then, He kindly says, “My child, I was just waiting for you to be done.”

That hit me hard. I was trying to do this or that. While I was praying and fasting and removing sins from my life, I had not fully surrendered to You. It was unintentional, I believed I had surrendered. But, what I was saying was “God, please fix this . . . just not that way please.”

I was not fully surrendered to You. I then started praying, “Lord, please do whatever You want. I no longer care. Just please do something.” [I am not recommending this exact prayer, as I had a bad attitude.]

I spent a few days praying this and inviting the Holy Spirit to work on my bad attitude.

Then, You moved.

And You moved in a big way.

I am sorry I did not trust You. I am sorry I kept handing over my burdens and then taking them back. I am sorry I did not fully surrender to You.

Thank you, God. You have taught us so much. May we never forget these lessons:

  • You provide (Philippians 4:19)
  • Trust in You (Proverb 3:5)
  • Be still (Psalm 46:10)
  • “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything” (Philippians 4:6)
  • Rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4)
  • Owe no one a thing, except love (Romans 13:8)
  • Love Jesus first
  • Seek first the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33)
  • If it’s His will, He will
  • “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28)
  • “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good” (Genesis 50:20)
  • And nothing can separate us from Your love (Romans 8:38-39)

Amen


Doctor Lois Evans, beloved bride of Texas-based pastor and author Doctor Tony Evans, went Home on December 30. Doctor Evans on January 5 provided a poignant sermon as a tribute to her, embedded below or available directly on YouTube. JC notes, “He talks about being close to God, how you can hear and see Heaven when you stay close to Him. She trusted Him in her death. We must always stay close to Him and trust Him no matter what.”

 Credit: Tony Evans (YouTube)

Too great to understand

Credit: JC

By Snow

In the course of our lives, there are people who touch us, inspire us. People who help us become who we are. Perhaps a teacher…a grandmother…your mom…a best friend…a coach…a co-worker…an uncle…a sister…a pastor…an aunt…a brother…maybe even a niece…a nephew…a son…a daughter. Whoever your special people are, these people who have touched your heart, have you told them how you feel? Have you thanked them?

If they are still alive, seek them out. Call them. Write them. Visit them. Do anything to let them know.

Life being what it is, it may seem it is “too late.” Perhaps they have passed away, for instance. In that case, you can still write them a letter only you will ever see. Still express to them what they meant to you. Still thank them. Or, perhaps, seek out a close member of that person’s family. He or she would probably love to hear what their relative meant to you.

I’ve had a number of people who have been critical in my life so far, who have touched my very soul. I’ve talked about a couple of them on this blog, and there are others. I am blessed, very blessed to have had many loving, caring people in my life.

I realize, however, that not everyone feels that way. Maybe your life so far hasn’t been what you hoped it would be. Maybe you can’t think of even one example of someone you’d like to thank right now.

And that’s okay.

Because I have an example for you. Someone that loves and cares for you unconditionally. And that is Jesus Christ.

Imagine the greatest love ever, whoever you have loved or has loved you the most, and you are not even close to how much Jesus loves you. His love for you is infinite, as vast as the universe.

He knows everything you ever did (John 4:29) and ever will do. Think about that for a moment. The power of that. Jesus knows everything about you, yet He still loves you. Fully.

You may have broken every single commandment, but He still loves you.

You may have hurt every single person in your life, but He still loves you.

Every single person in your life may have hurt you, but He loves you.

He gave up His life for you, died for your sins and mine. The sins of all humanity, past and future.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
John 3:16

If you already know Jesus, then you know what I’m talking about. Take a moment to thank Him. For everything good in your life. For all of your blessings. Are you praying to Him every day? Are you reading the Bible every day? Are you listening for Him? Don’t just bide your time here on Earth, make the best of it. Spread joy. Spread the light. Spread Jesus.

If you don’t yet know Jesus, then I ask you, I beg you to take a moment to consider this gift He is offering you.

You need only to believe in Him as God’s Son, who died for you and rose three days later, accept Him in your heart as your Savior, and He will forgive your sins and grant you eternal life in the Perfect Place – Heaven.

While this locks you in for a wonderful afterlife, it also gives you an opportunity for a new life right here, right now in this world. Open your heart, and He will use you. Open your heart, and He will show you His plans for you. Open your heart, and you will know the depth of His love.

You will be a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). You will see the world in a whole new light. What was dark before, you will fill with His light. What worried you before, He will battle for you – indeed, He has already won.

Thank you for reading. May Jesus bless you.

Who will you inspire?

Credit: JC

“I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.”
Ephesians 3:16-21

An opportunity for great joy

By Snow

As mentioned yesterday, I’m going to be writing daily posts for the next couple of weeks. I usually won’t decide the content in advance – though I do have a few ideas I’ve been tossing around for some time now that may show up.

Today, I want to take a look at an excerpt from one of my favorite books of the Bible, James.

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.”
James 1:2-8

I love the outlook on life this passage promotes. We are not promised easy lives, and some seasons will be harder than others. When we hit obstacles, though, James says we should learn from them in order to build our characters.

However, what if you don’t know what to do? The answer is simple: Ask God.

This is one of the reasons it is so important to pray and read the Bible daily. When a crisis comes up in your life, you will already be used to speaking with Him and hearing His Word. If you do not already read and pray daily, I encourage you to do so. Start with a few minutes a day and see where it goes. In our fast-paced world, taking time to speak to Him as well as read scripture is a wonderful way to relax and relieve stress.

Credit: JC

Before I was saved, I very much believed in God. I prayed to Him mostly for “big things.” I remember in high school, for instance, praying over and over in my head, “Please don’t let my mom die” during a surgery she had where there were serious complications and she lost a lot of blood. I did come close to losing her that day, but God indeed saved her, and I was blessed that she lived nearly another 30 years – brightening so much of my life.

One of the things I failed to do before JC led me to Jesus, though, was pray to God daily in order to establish a personal relationship with Him. I sure was missing out. Connecting with Him in this way brings so much joy and peace. I can feel Him in a way I never could before.

In addition, while I had attempted to read the Bible once or twice as a kid, I only made it as far as Leviticus in the Old Testament. I do remember reading some of the New Testament, though – as I found the red ink for the words of Jesus fascinating.

Once I was saved back in June 2018, reading the Bible became part of my daily life, just as much as praying. This quiet time makes all the difference. I have read the full Bible three times since then, with two more read-throughs in progress on various plans. I do not claim to be an expert, far from it. However, I feel it is important that we all read and absorb the Word for ourselves.

Before I was saved, my priorities were all wrong. I loved God, sure, but He was that powerful figure I went to when I needed something. As far as my day-to-day life, I didn’t see how He fit in. I was serving the wrong masters – trying to fill holes in my heart and in my soul with stuff, food, and other destructive habits. I am sure He wanted to help me. In fact, I know He did, but I was too disconnected. Until Jesus.

As we encounter challenges in our lives, we must seek Him out. Find Him in the situation. Take a moment. Take a breath. Listen. He is there. And when we encounter similar circumstances again down the road, we can say, “I’ve seen this before. I’ve got this,” and face the situation with more confidence. Because, after all, Jesus has you.

Thank you for reading. May Jesus bless you.

How will you commit to God in 2020? We have 12 suggestions

Credit: Snow

By JC & Snow

Happy New Year! As the sun rises on the 2020s, this is a perfect time to take stock of your life. Many people will make “resolutions” that will be all but forgotten by this time next week. What is the point of doing that?

Instead, we suggest that you make daily commitments for your soul. Here are some to consider:

  1. “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
  2. “Rejoice in the Lord always” (from Philippians 4:4).
  3. Meditate on Scripture day and night (Joshua 1:8).
  4. “Owe no one anything, except to love each other” (from Romans 13:8).
  5. Provide God a contrite heart, not sacrifices (Psalm 51:16-17).
  6. “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name” (Psalm 100:4).
  7. “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done” (Philippians 4:6).
  8. Remember that “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28).
  9. Be holy (Leviticus 20:26).
  10. “Seek first the kingdom of God” (from Matthew 6:33).
  11. “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ […] ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these” (from Mark 12:30-31).
  12. Serve widows and orphans (James 1:27).
Credit: JC

“I am the Lord, who opened a way through the waters, making a dry path through the sea. I called forth the mighty army of Egypt with all its chariots and horses. I drew them beneath the waves, and they drowned, their lives snuffed out like a smoldering candlewick. But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and owls, too, for giving them water in the desert. Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed.”
Isaiah 43:16-20

For both of us, 2019 was a year full of change. Except for giving birth, just about every other major life event that can happen to someone occurred to at least one of us in 2019 – much of it chronicled here on this very site. It was a year of blessings and tragedy, and through it all, we had Jesus and each other.

As the above excerpt from Isaiah says, though, “forget all that.” For you, that may mean forgetting 2019. Or it might mean the 2010s. Or even your entire life to this point.

Forget all of it.

Jesus is about to do something new in your life. Focus on what He is about to do. Look for Him. Feel Him.

Watch as He makes a pathway for you through the wilderness. Watch as He brings you water in the dry wasteland.

He is always there with you. He has a plan, and you are in it. He has already begun. See it.

Thank you for reading. May Jesus bless you in 2020 with peace, love, and joy.

For He shall save His people from their sins

By Snow

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.”
Matthew 1:18-25

It is Christmas morning. I am running late for a family gathering. I just finished wrapping the last of the presents. I haven’t even showered yet. With absolutely nothing planned in advance, what better time to start writing a blog post after nearly three months of silence on my part?

This is my first Christmas morning “alone.” Of course, I am really not alone. I always have Jesus. I always have God. I always have the Holy Spirit. I have even felt my mom, who passed away in May, flit in and out a couple of times today.

While I cannot be with them today, I have also been looked in upon by my beloved and by my friends. In fact, when I was feeling down a few minutes ago, I instantly received a text message from a friend, followed by another from my beloved. Like I said, Jesus is with me and looking after me. I am blessed.

Some of us will spend time today with family and friends. Gifts might be exchanged. The shopping frenzy just ended, and the return frenzy is about to begin.

Let today, though, be a moment of peace. For today, we celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Breathe.

Enjoy your family. Enjoy your friends.

And if you find yourself “alone,” remember, that you are not truly alone. Jesus is with you. Feel Him.

Once you have accepted Jesus in your heart, no one can separate you from Him and His love. For that is the ultimate gift, His gift to us.

Jesus came here to our sinful world not to receive gifts, not to take residence in a grand palace and rule from afar, but to serve others. His life and death, indeed, was in service to all of us. His life is a perfect example of the loving humans we are all capable of being, as creatures designed in His image.

While we cannot achieve the perfection of Jesus, we can strive to improve ourselves and how we treat others every day. In this world, we are faced with many temptations. It is easy to take the route of negativity, but what does that accomplish? Look on this world with positive eyes. Find the good in others. Find ways to spread love. Find hope.

No, we are not perfect. Even the best of us is still a sinner. That is why it is critical to understand the importance of the birth and death of Jesus. He came here not only to serve as an example but to sacrifice His life for our own. Through His death, all of our sins are forgiven and eternal life with Him is ours — as long as we believe in Jesus and accept Him in our hearts.

No matter where you fall on the scale of sin, you need Jesus, and He is waiting for you. Even if you have broken every commandment at least once, Jesus will still forgive you and grant you eternal life.

Even if you consider yourself a “good person” who does many good deeds, you still need Jesus to forgive you, for you are still a sinner. You could never do enough good deeds to make up for your sin. Only Jesus can pay that price, and He already has.

If you already know Jesus, then stop for a moment.

Feel Him.

Feel His love.

Thank Him for the many blessings in Your life. Every breath is a blessing.

Breathe.

If you don’t yet know Jesus, why not reach out to Him today? Pray with me. Use my words or your own. He will know what your heart wants to say.

Jesus,

I open my heart to You, the Son of God. Thank You for dying on the cross for the sins of humanity, including my own. Please forgive me my sins. You were resurrected after death. Please grant me eternal life to be with You always. I need You, Jesus. Please make me a new creation and open my eyes anew. I give my life to You, Jesus. Please fill me with Your love and the Holy Spirit.

In Your blessed name I pray, Jesus.

Amen

Credit: JC

I am thankful to Jesus for making me a new creation. For forgiving me my many sins. For showing me the potential He sees in me. For showing me the depths of a love I never knew possible. For Mom. For my beloved. For my family. For my friends. For His provisions. For every breath. I thank Jesus.

Merry Christmas, everyone. Thank you for reading. May Jesus bless you!